Monday, July 30, 2012

More Summer Vacation, please!....

Well, it's Monday my friends. We started school today. We got through our lessons, but it was a little bit like herding cats. A lot bit like herding cats.  The kids weren't bad. They just didn't want to do school. Which is not at all unusual.
To be quite honest, I didn't want to do school. I was enjoying my summer vacation. I got all kinds of things done. Except rest. And you know what? I've had a sinus infection all summer. No wonder I've felt like dirt all summer. I just thought it was because I was old and had little kids running around all day. And then, my eyes would start burning. For no reason. I thought I had allergies. So I took these eye drops my optometrist prescribed, but they never did any good. For some reason, though I kept taking them. And I took all kinds of Benadryl, but that never really helped either. And then some days I was just exhausted. And I didn't really know why. Finally, I went to my allergist and she said I had a sinus infection, did a CT scan to confirm and there you go. She gave me some medicine and I've never felt so good. You know, you never really know how bad you felt until you finally feel good and then you realize how bad you really felt.  So, anyhow, I'm almost done with the antibiotic and I feel good. But, I'd really like more summer. There are things we didn't get done. We never got up to the mountains to play in the lake. We didn't go out for ice cream. We didn't swim nearly enough. But, now, school is back in session. For us at least. But I'd sure love a little bit more summer!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

On your Mark, Get Set....

and tomorrow we will go. To school that is. In a previous post, you saw that we drove all the way to IKEA in W. Sacramento to get new furniture for our homeschool room.
Well, here's what it looks like now and I am very very pleased. It was worth the long trip, the semi-trucks and the meltdowns in the store.
We now have two computers and two computer desks. The storage unit in the middle is wonderful. It has so much space and everything is organized. We have four desks here in the middle. A lot more space than our former table had, but somehow, it seems to take up less room. I have no idea how that works.
We used this cabinet (Vika Alex) as a table leg, and to hold the kids' books.
It really holds a lot of stuff in there. This cabinet is really supposed to hold a computer tower. You can see the hole in the back there for the wires. But, it works to hold books and pencil boxes, too.
So, there you go. We are ready to start. I think! Well, whether we are ready or not... we're gonna go!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Nectarine Jam


I made nectarine jam this morning. Don't ask me why. I mean, I like nectarine jam, though strawberry and boysenberry are definitely my favorites.  But, we had these nectarines on the countertop and they were going bad (I am not a fan of nectarines. They are a little tart and a little too acidic for my liking!) so I made jam out of them. I felt like I had to.  Reminded me of the scene in one of my all time favorite movies "Steele Magnolias" (this is the move that I've seen dozens of times, but I still cry every time!), where tart-tongued Ouiser replied, when asked the question why she grew tomatoes if she didn't like them ... "Because I'm an old southern woman and we're supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don't ask me those questions. I don't know why. I don't make the rules!"  So, I don't know why I made nectarine jam this morning. That's just what you do when you have too much fruit. I don't make the rules!

 I made cooked jam. Freezer jam is easiest, but it really only tastes good if it's made with berries. Other kinds of fruits don't do well raw, for some reason. I made peach freezer jam one year and threw it all out. It tasted weird.
So I peeled the fruit, and chopped it in the food processor. I had mostly nectarines, but a few apricots got thrown in there. They were just sitting on the counter top getting too ripe. I figured, it couldn't hurt. It's always fun to mix up the fruit a little.

Cooked jam is more work. And you have to actually seal the jars, as opposed to just screwing on lids and sticking it in the freezer.
It turned out really good. It's chunky. I didn't chop the fruit up that much. And it tastes very nectarine-y. Good stuff!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Memory Work!

In the homeschooling community there are about as many philosophies of education as there are homeschooling families. I'm sure it can be very overwhelming and daunting to a new homeschooler, but it's important that you determine what philosophy you subscribe to (or which ones you kind of mish-mash together) because that helps you plot the course of what and how you teach. I've mentioned before that I hold to the neo-classical model of homeschooling, as described by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise in their landmark book "The Well-Trained Mind". Now, I don't do everything exactly as they lay out, but I do follow their methodology for the most part.  And one of the things a classical education stresses in the early years is memorization.  Children memorize so much more easily the younger they are, so in the primary grades the kids memorize lists of helping verbs and prepositions, definitions and all sorts of things. I also try to be always working some poem or other, Scripture verses and something for history.  This year in Bible we'll start out by memorizing the Nicene Creed. I love the Nicene Creed. It's description of who Christ is is just beautiful. ".... God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made..." We'll also be memorizing Isaiah chapter 53 and Philippians chapter 2. Last year we memorized my favorite poem of all time, "Solitude" by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.  "Laugh and the world laughs with you, Weep and you weep alone. For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth but has trouble enough of its own."  This year we will start off with "The Wind and the Moon" by George MacDonald and also be doing "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, "The Mock Turtle's Song" by Lewis Carroll, "The Quality of Mercy" by William Shakespeare, ("The quality of mercy is not strain'd. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.") as well as a few others.We memorized the Pharaohs one year in history, and last year we memorized the kings of England, most important events in world history, and started the Presidents of the United States. This year we'll continue working on the Presidents and memorize the first half of the Declaration of Independence.  "When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another...."  There are so many beautiful words written that just need to be committed to memory and what better time in life to do it than when you are a child.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ahhh, Thursday.

It's Thursday. Today is Thursday. I went around all day yesterday thinking it was Thursday. But it wasn't. It was Wednesday.  I know, I am so mixed up.  So, today is Thursday and I am determined to get some headway in getting us ready to start school on Monday.  Yes, our summer is short around here.  But, I like to run a 9-weeks-on/1-week-off school schedule throughout the year. It keeps us all from getting burned out.  Even burned out from summer vacation.  We do take two weeks off during Christmas. Hubby generally has time off then and there are always family things to do so, it's just better to take the full two weeks off and be done with it.  I'm looking forward to starting school.  We just re-did the school room. I'll post pictures when it's all done. There are still some odds and ends that need to be fixed and it's just a mess. But, I am very very happy with the furniture we got from IKEA. It looks better than the stuff we had pieced together with old dressers and a tv stand (I know, pathetic!). We have a lot more storage and a lot more room in general. In the words of my favorite ex-con, "It's a good thing!"  We're also tweaking our curriculum a little. I hate tweaking too much, but when something isn't working, you do have to make changes. One of the biggest changes is in math. Duh-duh had some troubles with math. Some of it is he just struggles with math, but some of it also was his teacher. Last year in November we had this huge blow up, tears were shed and I just said, "Fine, no math until after Christmas." I needed a chance to get my bearings. So, after Christmas we started again, but I left him on his own and he did a lot better. It was then that I realized that I was part of the problem.  So, this year, he'll be doing a computer based math program called "Teaching Textbooks". It's all independent, the lessons and exercises are all on the computer. So, he can go at his own pace. I think he'll enjoy that. Of course I had to put Bubba on it, too. But, I'm also continuing with Singapore Math with him. He needs the challenge. And what's a little extra math gonna hurt? We're staying with Rod and Staff for grammar. It's an excellent program, the lessons are short and to the point, but they are challenging and get the job done. We're sticking with "Story of the World" for history. At least until we finish this book. We stopped in the middle. That'll take us through the Civil War. Then we're going to California History.  That should be fun. I've got some field trips in mind and it should be a good study. And of course we're continuing with Latin. We use Memoria Press' Latin curriculum.  Duh-duh will start with Prima Latina, which is a gentle introduction. I was looking through Bubba's curriculum and they really ramp up the work this year. We'll see how he does. He's capable of doing the work. Just not so willing most of the time. So, I'm looking forward to starting the new school year. It's been a nice summer, but summer can't last forever.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Effort: I have none!

You know, I was complaining to my mom once about why things are so hard for me. I feel like I can't get anything done and when people want to get together for lunches or have me do something it's just so hard. So, I don't do anything.  Mom told me, it's because it takes an effort on my part and I have no effort left. And she's right. Having children this age, everything is an effort and finally I just run out of it. It takes all I've got to just keep body and soul together, everyone fed and wearing clean clothes, much less be able to do swim parties, have people over for dinner or this, that and the other.  But today was kind of cool. A friend of mine from church invited herself and her daughter over this afternoon. They were going to a play at the community theater in our town and wanted to come over for a visit after.  The play lasted long, and it was about dinner time when they finally made it over, so she brought fried chicken and I made up some quesedillas (our usual Sunday night supper) and some tasty salsa and we had a nice evening visiting. I was so glad she invited herself over. Because, I just wouldn't have done the inviting. Not that I don't like her. She's great. And I do like entertaining. But, once again..... it's that "E" word. But she put out the effort and for that I am thankful. And we had a fun evening.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

IKEA: It's not just a store, it's a destination!

Well, I finally did it. Took my maiden voyage into the hallowed halls of IKEA.  I'd heard of IKEA before.  It's a Swedish home goods store. I've even been the recipient of some products from this wonderful store, but I had never been there. But then, we started looking in to re-doing our homeschool room and I looked at a lot of pictures on blogs and such and a lot of homeschool rooms had IKEA furniture and storage pieces. So, we went on the website and decided this was the way to go. However, the nearest IKEA was a 3 1/2 hour drive away. You know, it was kind of strange because of the four closest IKEAS to us, they were all 3 1/2 hours away. In different directions. But, since their shipping costs were about four times the cost of the actual product, we felt it would be worth it to take the drive.  So, we picked the one that seemed the easiest to get to, which was in West Sacramento. Bay Area and LA traffic just didn't appeal to me. So, yesterday at 8:30am my mom, my three girls and I piled into my dad's pick-up truck and headed north. It took us a lot longer to get there than we expected. There was road construction and big trucks and we missed the I-80 turn off twice, and of course we had to stop at a rest stop for a potty and rice krispy treat break.  We finally got there at 12:30 and it was lunch time. We decided to eat here at the best burger joint in town. You know, this place is amazing. It's a wildly successful fast food chain, but do you know what it offers? Hamburgers. French fries. Drinks. If you want variety, you can have your hamburger with cheese.  The menu consists of two small panels with large print. And yet.... everyone loves this place.
So, we finished eating and then went shopping. I have to say, this place did live up to its reputation. It's truly amazing.  We found our furniture first and then did some browsing. I got some serving bowls, a silicon basting brush and a big cheese grater. The browsing wasn't quite as much fun as it could have been due to the nearly constant melt-downs from my 3 year old. And she screams loud. I tried to remain calm and ignore her. I wasn't about to take her out to the car or just leave. I drove 4 hours to get here. I'm not leaving just because of a screaming child.  People were looking at me and I just kept looking at glasses. I mean, it's not like I was beating her or anything. She eventually calmed down. Until the next thing set her off.
We finally made our way through the store.  The way it's laid out is interesting. You start at the front and then make your way through all the departments and then you arrive at the check-out at the end and leave. So, this is what we ended up with. And this stuff was heavy.  But, my mom and I managed to get it loaded and we stopped off at Starbucks before we headed home.
It was about 4:00pm when we finally left Sacramento. A lot later than we had anticipated, but those kind of trips are always like that. Everything takes longer than you thought.  We hit traffic and road construction, of course. Had Taco Bell in Merced for supper (Missie Lou was in heaven, fast food twice in one day) and made it home a little after 8:00pm. It was a good day, and I think it was worth the drive!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Crash!

Jumping your bikes on make-shift ramps made out of pieces of a broken dresser propped up with scooters is all fine and well until somebody gets hurt.  And that's just what happened this morning. The kids finished their breakfast and chores in record time this morning because they wanted to get outside and play on the bike ramps they made yesterday.  All was going well and then, through the window, I hear a crash. I held my breath. And then..... the screams. The hysteria.  "Hmm," I thought to myself. "I'd better go change the baby quick because I may not have a chance to for a while!"  And then the door burst open, and Missie Lou came stumbling in, completely hysterical, followed by her two brothers. Now, granted, she was pretty skinned up and bleeding, but she also tends to be a bit of a drama queen. So, I got out the first-aid kit and cleaned her up. That wasn't easy. She was still screaming pretty good.  The neighbors were probably thinking that a lion was chewing off her arm or something.
But, we got the owies cleaned up, anti-biotic applied,
bandages big and small to protect the wounds and tylenol... just because.
I tucked her in on the couch under a blanket, gave her a snack and read some Fancy Nancy books and she seems to be doing all right. Don't know if she'll be doing much bike jumping for a while. But then again, she's a pretty tough cookie.
After all the commotion settled down, Bubba made the profound comment, "Maybe we should wear knee pads, elbow pads and helmets when we're doing this!" Hmm! Ya think?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Not Here Today!

Today I have the privilege of guest posting for my dear blogging friend Arabah Joy. She is a truly amazing woman and I am honored to help her out a bit as she's busy getting her family ready to move overseas to continue their mission work! So come on over.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer on the Farm!

I've said this before, but I would love to live on a farm. As it is, we live on a street. Well, not on the street. As in sleeping beneath a lamp post or under the freeway. We live in a house on a typical size lot in a small town. We have close neighbors.  But, that doesn't mean we can't have our own little farm. And we do.Look at these tasty morsels. Wouldn't you love to sink your teeth into one of these? They came off our fruit salad tree in the back yard. They are ripe and delicious.
Our Red Flame Grapes are coming off the vine, too and they are wonderful. The kids love them. They're as sweet as candy.  We also like to do some experimental farming. This year we are growing cantaloupes on a trellis.  Yes, that does create a problem because as the melons mature, they get heavy.
So, I thought of a creative way to solve the problem. Hopefully it'll solve the problem.  Pantyhose.  And this is really special pantyhose. It's from my wedding. See, being the prepared bride that I was, I didn't buy just one pair of pantyhose. I bought a 6-pack. Just in case. You never know. Well, nothing happened to the ones I was wearing, so I ended up with 5 extra pairs of sparkly sheer pantyhose.  And they've been sitting in my drawer for 10 years now. I mean, really! Aside from your own wedding, where on earth are you going to wear sparkly sheer pantyhose?  But, I kept them because somehow I felt they were.... sacred. They were from my wedding. But tonight I finally decided to get over that. And I cut them up!
And put a small melon in a section and tied them to the trellis. So, hopefully that will support the melon as it grows and it won't fall off the vine before it ripens.
It should work. I hope it works. I don't see why it wouldn't work. The pantyhose stretches, so it should give the melon room to grow and it's sheer so the sun can get to it.  So, that's our experiment for the summer. I'll let you know how it works!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Summer Reading, part 2

I just finished a great summer read! "The Dressmaker of Khair Khana" by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon.  I picked it up from the library several weeks ago. I have no idea why. It was in the biography section, which is where I'm usually to be found. But, generally, I tend to go for huge thick biographies about famous historical people. And then I slog through the book and it takes me forever to finish it.  It took me several years to read "John Adams" by David McCullough. Fortunately I bought the book. I'm in still in the middle of the 900 pages of "Peter the Great" by Robert Massie.  And I just couldn't finish "Mary, Queen of of Scots" by Antonia Fraser. The library actually gave me that book. (Don't ask me why. It's not a very interesting story.) I still have it with the book mark in the middle. Now, it's not that these are awful books. Quite the contrary. They are wonderful books. I felt great when I finally finished "John Adams".  He was an amazing man and McCullough wrote a superb bio on him. It's just that.... these books are rather densely written. You have to concentrate. I'm loving "Peter the Great" right now, but I have to devote some uninterrupted time to reading it or then I just get lost. You know what I mean? When something breaks my concentration it's hard to get back because I have to figure out.... now, where were we in the battle with King Charles of Sweden? And who are Peter's allies? And who is King Stanislaus?  So, anyhow. This book is not typical of something I'd pick up, but for some reason it caught my eye and I started reading it. It's a very interesting book. It definitely held my attention, but it was one I could read while the kids were at swimming lessons and I had to keep one eye on a toddler who likes to get into my wallet.  So, what is this book about? Basically, it's about a woman named Kamila who lives in Kabul, Afghanistan. She was 19 when the Taliban took over and her world (and every one else's) turned upside down over night. She was enrolled in the University, but the Taliban forbade that, so she had to stay home with her sisters. The economy collapsed, and they had to figure out a way to earn a living, so she started a dressmaking business that flourished and gave work and hope to many women who lived in their neighborhood.  The readers on Amazon didn't give it very high marks. Probably because it's a rather light read.  But, I thought it well written and fascinating. Sure, I'd heard of the Taliban and how awful they were, but as I read about how these people were forced to live and how they found a way to survive and thrive in their circumstances.... I was just stunned. It was a real window into a world that I have no knowledge about. I have an easy life. Americans have easy lives.  Anyhow, it's a good book, and I'd highly recommend it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

It's Friday....

Picked up Bubba today from camp. Well, I didn't pick him up from camp. I picked him up from church. But I had no idea when they were supposed to get there. I called the church this morning about 9:00am and asked them when the kids were getting back from camp. The secretary hadn't a clue. I was a little irritated. So, I'm trying to figure out what to do and I called my mom. It's always a good idea to call your mom when you don't know what to do.  She said, well, just go down to the church around 11:00am and wait. That's about the time they usually arrive. She said I could drop the other kids off at her house while I waited so they wouldn't drive me crazy. Well, I thought that was an ok idea. It would have to do, since I didn't have any other ideas. So, after swimming lessons I drove to my mom's and dropped the kids off. While I was there Mom said, "Why don't you call S (my cousin, her son was up there, too) and ask when she's going to pick up T."  That sounded like a great idea. I called my cousin.   She wasn't home, though. Her daughter answered the phone and said, "Oh, she's gone to pick up T from camp!" Great, I'm just in time. My parents live about 10 minutes from the church so that should be perfect. But as I'm driving, it occurs to me that she probably wasn't driving to the church to pick up her son, she was probably actually driving to camp to pick up a load of kids and bring them home. Well, I went to the church anyhow. I had a book and a water bottle. I waited for an hour. It was really hot in the car.  Occasionally I turned on the car and ran the air conditioner. My cousin S showed up with her car-load of boys, but that wasn't the car Bubba was in. I talked to her for a bit, but she had to get going. So, I got back in my hot car and waited. Finally, the car that had Bubba in it came.  The man who was driving said, "I would have called you, but Bubba didn't know your phone number!" Ugh!  I guess I know what we'll be working on from now on.  But, Bubba had a good time. He didn't take a shower or brush his teeth once. And he learned how to make all sorts of new noises.  And the scientific way to shoot a rubber band. So, I guess his first experience at camp was a success.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

You Eat What You Can....

and can what you can't!  Well, I'm starting to experience the consequences of planting eleven tomato plants in my garden this summer. We've been eating a lot fresh, to be sure. My favorite summer lunch is a fresh tomato, quartered, sprinkled with salt and pepper with chicken salad in the middle. Yummy!
But, you can only eat so much fresh and then you start to figure out what to do with the rest.   That's where preserving comes in. I know, everyone has pictures in their minds of their moms or grandmothers standing in the kitchen on a hot summer afternoon, with sweat pouring down their faces and jars and jars of produce covering the countertops. Then, there's the mess to clean up. Not something you'd really like to be doing yourself, right? It's just as easy to buy a can of tomatoes at the grocery store.  Well, sure, maybe it is, but there's just something about canning your own produce. It's satisfying and you know where your food came from and how it was grown. And you don't have to make a day of it. This morning I canned three jars. That's it. Didn't take long.  Not much mess.
But, three jars here and three jars there, soon you've got yourself a good pantry full of canned tomatoes to use in soups, spaghetti sauces, whatever you want to make. And it helps you keep up with the onslaught when your garden really starts producing.
I prefer to can the Roma tomato.  Today I canned mostly Romas, but I did have a regular one in there.
Romas are meatier and have less juice.  And you can see the difference here. I stuffed both jars full of tomatoes. Packed them down. The jar on the left contains the Romas. The other jar is the regular tomato.  The jar on the left clearly has more tomato. I don't know if it makes a difference to you, but I'd rather have more tomato than juice.
So, I'll probably do this throughout the summer as my tomatoes continue to produce. Fifteen minutes in the morning is pretty doable!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Camp!

Oh, how I loved church camp when I was a kid. As soon as they announced registration (usually at the beginning of summer) I had my bags packed. Even though camp was like 2 months away. I loved it. And the camp our church went to had a very very distinctive smell. There's a shrub called Bear Grass (other people call it different things and I looked it up on-line and that's not even the real name, I have no idea what it's really called) that has a very pungent smell. I don't find it offensive, others do.  Anyhow, this shrub grows all over the place at camp and when you get home and open your suitcase, all your clothes smell like it.  Whenever I smell that smell, I think of camp. Anyhow, I loved camp. I loved that big bell they rang at meal times and chapel times. I loved my own bunk and sleeping in a sleeping bag all week. I loved my counselors. Camp was the highlight of my summer for 8 years of my life.  I even counseled up at camp for a few years after I was too old to attend as a camper. So, this year, Bubba went to camp for the first time. He left yesterday. He had no idea what to expect, so I would say he was neither excited nor apprehensive.  But I know he's going to have a good time. I packed his bag yesterday. Six pair of clean underwear. I'm expecting all six to come back unused. I still remember one year at counselor training for junior camp (which is the 4th-6th graders), the director told the counselors for the boys to take their kids swimming every day. He said, "I'm tired of having moms call me every year saying their boys brought home their suitcases at the end of camp and it hadn't even been opened!" So, if the boys at least get a swim in, they should stay relatively clean. And hopefully change their underwear.  I did send a toothbrush and tooth paste, soap and a wash cloth. I told Hubby, even if he doesn't use them, I would be remiss as a mother if I did not pack them.  So, he's gone this week. It's pretty quiet around here.  We'll miss him, but we know he's having a great time! And I know he'll come home Friday smelling like Bear Grass.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Encouragement for the Lord's Day!

I'm home again on a Sunday morning. I guess the more kids you have, the greater the chance that someone will be sick on a Sunday. Last night Cee-cee threw up. Hubby, being the wonderful man that he is, took care of it. Fortunately, she only threw up once. But, we decided to keep her home this morning, and I think that was a good call. She's not 100%. She has one of those useless low-grade fevers - 99.9. It's like, what do you do with that?  She's in bed now. I was reading her a book and she just kept kind of "shrinking". So, I asked her if she wanted to lay down in her bed for a bit and she said "yes". So, I put her in bed, gave her a few books to look at and told her that she could get up when she wanted if she was feeling better. I went into the kitchen, made myself some iced tea, came back to check on her and she was asleep.  So, I guess she needed to stay home. I spent some time in the Word this morning, since I couldn't go to church. I mentioned in my previous post that things were kind of difficult around here, and I needed some encouragement. Over the past years the book of Isaiah has always been an encouragement to me and so I went there.


Isaiah 43:2-5  "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.   Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you;" 


Oswald Chambers said in "My Utmost for His Highest" on June 25, "My attitude as a saint to sorrow and difficulty is not to ask that they may be prevented, but to ask that I may preserve the self God created me to be through every fire of sorrow.  Our Lord received Himself in the fire of sorrow, He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour."  And then he says on June 26, "The grace you had yesterday will not do for today.  Grace is the overflowing favor of God; you can always reckon it to draw upon.... Prayer is the exercise of drawing on the grace of God.  Don't say - I will endure this until I can get away and pray.  Pray now; draw on the grace of God in the moment of need."


I realized that this week I had become lax in spending time in the Word of God. I hadn't been praying much. There was the holiday in there, Hubby was home for three days, we'd been busy.  But I know where I need to go for grace and for strength and for help. 


John 16:33  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."



Hebrews 13:6  So we can confidently say, "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?" 
(all Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version of the Bible)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A Hard Week!

I haven't been posting much this week. Sorry! It's been a hard week. And when I'm having a hard week, I'm not much for talking about it. I don't want to come across as a whiner for one thing. I know that so many people out there have it so much harder than I do. Life is hard. I know that.  I also don't want to bad mouth my kids and complain about them, especially when they're (well, one of them is) the cause of the difficulties. I just don't think that's appropriate, do you? Probably not!  So, unfortunately, when other thing that are un-postable are in the forefront of my brain, I'm AWOL from my blog.  But, I thought I'd sit down for a quick minute while Hubby is away from the computer (he's working on his Sunday School lesson for tomorrow and took a quick break) and scribble a few words.  I really love working on my blog and I miss it when I'm away from it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Rite of Passage!


 It's one of those things every kid has to do in order to call himself a "Real Kid!"  Yeah, right up there with popping wheelies on your bike and perpetual skinned knees. It's "Learning to Start a Fire with A Magnifying Glass and Paper!" There are a lot of variations. Of course there's the whole "Burning Ants with a Magnifying Glass", but that's kind of scary. For the ants.  And you can also burn leaves. But, my boys learned on paper.
 They were having a really good time this afternoon.  Got a little smoke going. Burned a few holes in the newspaper.  And then... all of the sudden, I'm finishing up my lunch (the kids had long since gone) and I'm looking out the sliding glass door and I see Bubba running first one way screaming.....
and then the other. I knew he had gotten a little carried away and was now panicking! But I also figured there wasn't a lot of danger since he was doing it on the concrete.  So, I went out and helped him out with a bucket of water.
So, now we have a few guidelines.  Like, you can only burn paper in the backyard under Mom's supervision with a bucket of water handy. Oh, and the neighbors have to burn paper in their own backyards. Once I looked up and I saw three other kids getting ready to burn holes in their own papers in our backyard. That's when I put my foot down. I don't mind my own kids becoming little pyros, but I am not about to risk my home to the arsonist tendencies of the neighbor kids. Mean ol' Mom!

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Culinary Delights of an Grown-Up Vacation!

Everyone knows when you travel with children, there is a certain way that you eat. You generally choose family friendly restaurants that are fairly noisy, have a kids menu and are inexpensive.  Or, you choose Mexican restaurants because they serve you chips right off and that's a good way to keep your kids quiet while you wait to get your food. Of course, you end up taking half the kids' meals home with you because they filled up on chips while you were waiting. But, whatever. That's what you do with kids. Now, when it's just grown-ups.... that's when you can have fun. This vacation turned out to be the best eating vacation we've had in a long time.  And it kind of happened inadvertently. See, one of the problems with eating at restaurants is that it's easy to overeat. And, if you overeat at lunch and don't do much in the afternoon you are not really hungry for dinner. But, you want to eat at a nice place, so you go there, not terribly hungry, they serve you delicious food and you either eat it all, not really enjoying it to the fullest and then leave stuffed and uncomfortable. Or, you don't finish and you feel bad.  That's what happened to us last time we were in Pismo Beach.  The first scenario, that is.

So, as we left the Valley on Saturday I was already kind of thinking about lunch and what to do about it.  We had breakfast at home, and since I was in a rush, I only ate a couple of muffins and a cup of coffee. But, I thought, when we get to Monterey, I'll have clam chowder in a bread bowl, which I love.  We got to Monterey about 1:30pm and the place was a zoo. We didn't even get off the freeway. I couldn't imagine fighting the crowds at Fisherman's Warf, so, we thought that we'd just travel down Hwy. 1 and find something along the way. Well, every place to stop was packed. The parking lots were full, people were parked along the sides of the highway and I kept thinking, "No! I don't want to stop and deal with people." I hate crowds.  So, we just kept going. And going. And going.  Finally, it was 3:30 in the afternoon and we just decided it was too late to have lunch and we'd try for an early dinner in Morro Bay.  Which actually solved another problem being.... it's in touristy town in the middle of summer near a holiday. If you try to eat dinner at 6:00 you're going to wait for an hour for a table. And I hate waiting.  So, we get to Morro Bay, which is this charming little coastal town beside a huge rock called..... you guessed it - Morro Rock.  Of course the town's  packed and crowded with people, but we managed to find a parking space right across the street from Dorn's.  I'd heard of Dorn's before, but it's a little spendy, so I'd never been there.
But, we were hungry and had skipped lunch, so we figured that we'd just stay. It was 4:30 by then and so we walked in the door and I asked the hostess if they were serving dinner. Yes, they were, and they showed us to our table. No waiting at all. We had a very nice waiter and he read the specials and the ling cod with lemon cream sauce sounded good to me (actually, at that point anything sounded good) so I ordered that and didn't get the salad but went for the soup. I always get salad, but the soup sounded good - summer corn soup. And let me tell you, I scored with that soup. It was delicious.  And then the entree' came, and it was delicious. No problems here cleaning our plates. It all worked out perfectly. We had a great dinner that we were hungry for and appreciated, we didn't have to wait, and we left the restaurant  at 6:00 and had the whole evening to enjoy. We checked into our hotel and then went to the Pismo Beach Pier and had icecream cones and people watched for a while. It was a wonderful evening!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dragging Out our Anniversary as Long as Possible!


You know, I'm not one to limit a celebration to only one day. If a celebrating a birthday can last a week or two, I'm all over that.  Well, our 10th Anniversary Celebration has lasted two weeks now, and I'm not complaining. Hubby and I took a quick little weekend getaway to the Central Coast and had a wonderful time.  Our favorite place to go, just the two of us, is to Pismo Beach. It's so nice there. We stay at the same hotel, which has an ocean view from every room, (it's kind of hard to see the ocean here, because every morning it's foggy, but it's there!)
each time we go. Now, that probably sounds like we go a lot, we don't. We maybe go once every year or two, but when we do go, we stay there.  When you find a place you like, you go back! This year we decided to take the long, but scenic, route and drove down Highway 1 from Monterey to Pismo Beach. It's a long, curvy road that hugs the coast, but it's gorgeous! The water was this sparkling aqua in the sunshine and then you'd go around a curve and it would be so foggy and cloudy ahead you couldn't tell the difference between the ocean, the clouds and the cliffs.
Today we visited a couple of missions. The missions started by Fr. Junipero Sera in the late 1700's played a huge part in California history.  There are twenty-one of them along El Camino Real (the Royal Road) and many of them are still operating Catholic Churches.  This one was a lovely one in San Luis Obispo.  We toured it and enjoyed walking through the gardens.
 
After a long walk along the beach and a delicious lunch (I'll have to devote an entire post on our culinary adventures. We ate so well.) in Cambria, we visited Mission San Miguel Arcangel in the tiny town of San Miguel, which is just north of Paso Robles.  That was an interesting little side-trip, too!
I'll have to post more about the details later! But I have to say, all in all we had a wonderful trip.