Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Appalachian State University Gospel Choir

On Sunday we drove out to Boone to visit Sarah. She is in the ASU Gospel Choir, and they had their year-end concert Sunday evening. I am trying to figure out how to load some of the video I took of her concert, but in the meantime, you can go here to see a bit of the that Amanda took with her camera, and you can go here to see a bit of a concert they did last year at a church in Raleigh. Gospel Choir is very SPIRIT-ed, and the audience usually gets into the performance right along with the choir, with a lot of clapping, swaying, 'amen's, and 'oh yeah's!
I love it!

Sarah has finals next week, and then will be leaving with her Honors class for a 2-week trip to Vienna, Austria! We brought home a little bit of her "stuff" on Sunday, but Mark will be driving out there next week to bring home the bulk of her dorm room contents. Next year should be interesting when we'll be taking/picking up TWO students and all their belongings! We might need to rent a U-Haul!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Here is the plan for this week:
Sunday (visit my daughter at college today - 3 1/2 hour drive each way!)
B: Cold cereal & milk
L: (picnic) Chicken salad sandwiches, cut up fruit, homemade choc.chip - yogurt cookies
D: Pizza ( out )
Monday ( bake bread today)
B: oatmeal, sliced pears
L: turkey - salsa roll ups, applesauce
B: banana muffins, smoothies
L: tortilla pizza
D: Stuffed baked potatoes ; spinach salad
B: oatmeal, oranges
L: turkey hot dogs, french fries, baked beans
D: Spaghetti w/ spinach, garlic, parmesan, chopped tomatoes ;
homemade whole wheat Italian bread
B: whole grain pancakes ( w/ choc chips for kids), sliced strawberries
L: chef salad
D: Meatloaf, baked sweet potatoes, green beans
B: Muffins, smoothies
L: Yogurt, pb & j sandwiches, apples ( Co-op day )
B: French toast ( w/ homemade ww bread ) , orange juice
L: cold pizza, trail mix, apples, carrot sticks, cheese sticks (pack lunch - soccer tournament)
D: Chicken Enchiladas, brown rice w/ salsa, spinach salad
I usually have a dinner menu plan for the week. Every Friday night is homemade pizza night, and Wednesday night is pasta night. But recently, as we've had to tighten our belts a bit more, I've done 2 things that have helped save money on groceries. The first is switch from using my debit card to using cash, and the second is planning not only dinner, but breakfast and lunch each day as well.

I am less likely to throw extra things in the shopping cart when I have a certain number of dollars in my wallet that has to last the whole week. It is too easy to lose track of my spending when I use the debit card. So my goal is to spend no more than $200 a week on groceries/ paper supplies / cleaning products for the five of us at home - which includes an 18-y-o bottomless pit, a 14-y-o, and a 9 -y-o who is apparently going through a growth spurt!

And having a plan for breakfast and lunch helps the older kids, especially, from not emptying the pantry/fridge of items I was planning to use for meals later in the week!

In addition to saving money, it is also very important to me that we eat good, wholesome, healthy foods, so I avoid prepared and processed foods. I cook most things from scratch and bake bread each week. I use butter instead of margarine, whole wheat flour instead of most white flour, and olive oil or canola oil instead of shortening or butter when I can. I limit my use of sugar, include fresh fruits and vegetables as often as possible, eat more chicken than beef or pork, and drink water instead of sweetened drinks.
See more Menu Plan Monday links here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Homeschool Senior Group Pictures

Yesterday we did Senior group pictures in caps & gowns at the seminary campus. This time we had a beautiful, sunny day for pictures. Here are 16 of the 20 Lighthouse seniors participating in the 2008 graduation ceremony. Four were missing because of work or other commitments.

Woo Hoo!
Graduation is only 6 weeks away!

Don't they look great?

This is my third time graduating one of my children ~ and it gets sadder each time! Pass the kleenex...

Eric with pals Samantha and Savannah

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Just a Bit of Life

What have we been doing since my last post a week ago? Well, let's see what I can remember.

Friday was our TOG Co-op, so I was up quite late on Thursday night making up questions for our Jeopardy game. A sampling of last week's questions:
  • Name the first 5 Roman Emperors
  • The heart of the Roman city was a large open space surrounded by markets, temples, and government buildings. What was this place called?
  • Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of Senators led by Brutus and Cassius on what day in 44 B.C.?
  • Name the long period of relative peace and stability experienced by the Roman Empire from 27 B.C. to A.D. 180.
  • With what was Jesus charged before the Sanhedrin? With what was he charged before Pontius Pilate?

Jason's friend Tyler came over Saturday morning and stayed until the next morning, as his parents went on an anniversary get-away! That made Jason happy! He had a soccer game on Saturday morning, and his team came back from a 0-3 deficit at half time to win the game 5-3!

Saturday afternoon, Amanda and I went to the movies with Eileen and Ellie to see "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed!". I enjoyed this documentary, about the bias against the theory of Intelligent Design that exists in the scientific and academic communities. Contrary to most of the loud criticism about this movie, it isn't promoting Intelligent Design as much as showing how the intellectual community ridicules, stifles and attempts to silence ANY questioning of the theory of Darwinian evolution.

Monday and Tuesday afternoons, Eric and Amanda did our annual standardized testing, which is required for homeschoolers here in North Carolina. Check that off the list.

When I took Jason to science at the Barton's on Monday, I brought a bag of Prairie Gold/Bronze Chief wheat kernels for Tammy to grind in her mill. I made a loaf of Italian bread to go with dinner that night, and baked a loaf of sandwich bread as well as some dinner rolls the next night. Soooooo delicious!

Today we had art class, and we made "stained glass windows" from black construction paper and colored tissue paper. We also did some blind contour drawings and cross contour drawings of a pair of boots!

And on "American Idol" - tonight Carly Smithson was voted off the show! Well, I was shocked. I am shocked each week that anyone but Jason Castro goes home! I just don't get that boy! I mean, he's got a nice smile and seems likeable enough, but talent? He has no range, no dynamics, no depth! The two Davids are definitely Top Two - but 2 years ago, who would have thought that Chris Daughtry was not a Top Two finalist? Oh, the drama...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Living Safely Versus Living Boldly

Yesterday morning, as I was reading Day 1 of a new 30-day devotional called "Seeds of Change" from Show Hope, I was convicted of something. Every night, as I say bedtime prayers with Jason, I pray for the health & safety of my family, as we are scattered in various places - at college, in the Army, at work, driving around town, playing sports, just hanging around at home, etc. I'm a mom. I worry about my kids or husband getting sick, about accidents, about bad people, about natural disasters, about war. I want us all to be happy and healthy and whole, all the days of our lives! But here was this short little devotion talking about "An Invitation to Adventure".

"We were created for adventure. The evidence is there in our movies, our stories, and even our lives, as the constant battle is waged between striving to remain safe versus bravely stepping out to live the full life that God offers."


Stepping out in faith.
Getting out of the boat.
Living life to the fullest.

Not necessarily safe. But if I want to live a life that has purpose and glorifies God, helping the hurting, caring for orphans and widows, discipling my children, making a difference.... then I have to be willing to step out of my comfort zone and sometimes take risks. And if I want my children to live that way as well, then what should my prayer be?

"There is nothing safe about God's invitation. All adventures carry with them some level of excitement and hazard, and we cannot remain safe and comfortable and still go on a God-sized adventure. But God doesn't call us to be safe, He call us to be bold and courageous [Joshua 1:9], and we can trust that even our safety will be taken care of by the One who invites us to bravely step out in faith. As C.S. Lewis says in the Chronicles of Narnia when speaking of Aslan, 'Of course He isn't safe, but He is good.' "

We can choose what is easy, what is comfortable, what is safe. But at what expense? How much of the abundant life that God wants for us do we miss out on?

I don't think I can stop praying for health and safety, BUT... I think I'll be adding a prayer for boldness and willingness to be God's hands and feet...for courage to take that step of faith in obedience, even when it doesn't make sense...for lives that make a difference in the world and most importantly, in God's Kingdom.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Penny Wars for Orphans

My daughter just completed a fundraiser for the Kolfe Youth Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in her dorm at college, where she is an RA. It was International Week, and each dorm held a fundraiser for an international charity. After reading about Kolfe on my friend Eileen's blog, Sarah knew she wanted to do something to help.
(read about the Kolfe Youth Center, an orphanage for boys ages 12-18 at
The Forgotten Boys , and watch the slide show here.)

They held a Penny War! Her dorm has 8 floors, with about 36 students per floor. In the lobby, they had a table with a large jar for each floor. All during the week, students could drop pennies into the jar for their floor, and the floor to collect the most pennies at the end of the week won - something - I don't know, a pizza party, maybe. Now the cool twist was that coins other than pennies - nickles, dimes, quarters - were NEGATIVE points in a jar. So students would drop those coins into the jars for other floors, hoping to boost their own floor's chance of winning the prize. At the end of the week, the dorm had raised over $200, which they are sending to the Gladney Center for Adoption's humanitarian aid fund for Kolfe.

Matthew 25:35 -40
Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?"
The King will reply, " I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Steven Curtis Chapman Concert - An Unexpected Blessing!

Amanda and I received an unexpected blessing when we were able to serve as volunteers at the "Show Hope" booth at the Steven Curtis Chapman concert in Roanoke Rapids last night. Show Hope is part of Shaohannah's Hope, an organization founded by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, to engage the body of Christ in caring for the world's approximately 16,200,000 orphans and also to help remove the financial barriers to adoption through providing grants for those families choosing to adopt.

We weren't planning to go - Roanoke Rapids is an hour and a half away and we don't have money for things like concert tickets. But we found out on Wednesday from our friends the Mestases, who received a grant from Shaohannah's Hope to help with their recent adoption from Ethiopia, that there was a need for volunteers for Saturday night, so I emailed the contact person and we were accepted. That meant a free T-shirt, free seats in the concert, and since the Mestases already had backstage passes, we got to go with them to meet S.C.C. after the concert! All in exchange for spending time before the concert and during intermission passing out brochures and holding buckets to collect money for the "Change for Orphans" campaign, which they do at every concert. At the end of every concert, the money collected during the evening is given to a pre-selected family who is in the process of adopting a child, to help make their dream a reality! This night, the audience donated $3000, plus an additional $1000 from an anonymous donor made it a gift of $4000 for a sweet family from Fayetteville who is adopting an 8-yr-old boy from China.

I love Steven Curtis Chapman's music! It was awesome to see a crowd of people made up of teenagers, parents with small children, middle-agers, grandparents... all ages were there, all enjoying the music and the atmosphere of praise and worship. The concerts are real family affairs - even on the stage! Steven's sons, Caleb (19), and Will Franklin (17), perform on stage with him, playing guitar and drums and doing backup vocals.

Carla has a great video of the evening, including some more pix of Show Hope volunteers, on her blog here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gotta Brag

Okay, I'm claiming a mama's right to brag on her kids a little. We found out today that Eric and Sarah were BOTH awarded scholarships for next year by our electric cooperative! The amounts aren't gigantic, but it all helps! And the lady said there were a lot of applicants, and the judges didn't know until they were done that they had picked a brother and sister.
I'm proud of you guys!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

I made baked chicken "nuggets" for lunch today, and they came out really good, so I thought I'd share the recipe!

3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size chunks
1 egg
1 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
1 cup crushed cornflakes
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. parsley

Beat the egg in a bowl with about 1/2 cup of water. Drop in the chicken chunks.
In another bowl, mix the bread crumbs, crushed cornflakes, salt, garlic powder, and parsley. ( I made my bread crumbs by putting a thick slice of dry homemade wheat bread in my blender )

Spray a baking sheet / jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Drop chicken into crumb mixture, a few at a time, and toss to coat. Move to baking sheet. Fill baking sheet, keeping pieces separated.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes.

They come out crusty on the outside and moist on the inside.... yummy! I served them with honey mustard dip and chunks of watermelon.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Drivers Ed

Child #4 is taking Drivers Ed this week! Nothing like seeing your baby behind the wheel of a car to make you realize she is growing up! Well, she's not behind the wheel yet... got to get those 40 hours of classroom time in before she can do that. :-)
We are blessed to have a class just for homeschoolers, which allows the kids to get their classroom time done in one solid week, rather than having to enroll in an afterschool class at the local high school. An employee of the driving school which contracts with the local school district conducts the class. The state pays for it. After the classroom part, she'll have to sign up for 10 hours of driving time with the instructor, and then will be eligible to get a driving permit when she turns 15 this summer.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Danger of Homemade Bread - An Allegory

Once there was a community in which most people had been raised on enriched, white, store-bought bread and saw to it that their children were fed the same. The hope was that the children would grow to be big, strong, and well-nourished so they could live productive lives and be a credit to the town. The bread was provided for the children by means of a community tax and was distributed on a regular basis to all community children irrespective of size, shape, or color.

In this town there lived a woman named Matilda, who had three children. She had given the matter some thought and had done some reading and had concluded that she could provide better nourishment for her children by making her own whole-wheat or even white bread. After further thought she decided she would try it out. Now, Matilda was aware that what she was doing was decidedly "odd" and that she might get some flak from her neighbors. She was, however, determined to provide what she viewed as best for her children. 

She began to make her own bread and no longer used the Bread Distribution Service. She continued to pay the community tax for bread; and, in addition, bought ingredients for her own homemade bread. Sometimes when Matilda and her children were seen in public during the Bread Distribution Hour, people would ask her, "Why aren't your children eating?" She tried to explain that she made bread for them and that they ate it with the family, but found that most people thought that was illegal. She begin to fear that people would think her children weren't being fed (though they looked well-nourished) and that the City Fathers would think she was an abusive parent. She began closing the windows on baking day so the aroma wouldn't get out of the house and having the children eat their bread during the Bread Distribution Hour so they wouldn't be conspicuous. 

She tried to keep a low profile to avoid detection. However, rumor that there were some families making their own bread reached the offices of the City Fathers. The City Fathers decided a law needed to be passed to deal with the situation and define what was legal. There arose a great debate. Some said it was basically the parents' responsibility and privilege to provide bread for their children. Others said parents didn't know how to make bread and it should be mandatory that they obtain bread from the Bread Distribution Service. There was some fear expressed that children might starve if there weren't some guarantee that they were receiving bread at home when their parents took them off the Bread Distribution List. Others expressed concern that all children were entitled to an equal bread-making opportunity, therefore making one's own bread was very unfair to the other children who were unable to be given such an opportunity. Some wanted the law to require that the parents go to bakers' school; some that they have required ingredients for the homemade bread, some that there be a schedule of baking days and assigned times for the eating of the bread. 

Eventually, it was decided that the parents who chose to make their own bread needed to submit a recipe card demonstrating that the bread they fed their children would have at least some sort of flour, oil, and liquid. They also needed to be sure to feed their children on a regular basis. Matilda was elated! She had been afraid that the requirements of the law would be much more detailed and demanding. She recognized that there were those in the city who were violently opposed to the home-baked bread idea and that they would probably seek to have the law changed some time; but, for the time being, she felt much easier in mind. She was so used by this time to keeping a low profile in her baking that it never occurred to her that that should change. This writer however thinks that Matilda and other home-bread bakers should let the delicious aroma out to waft over the neighborhood. I also believe it would be beneficial if the community at large became accustomed to the idea and began to learn how tasty and nutritious homemade bread can be. This would, I believe, help to counter the weight of tradition on the side of the Bread Distribution Service should opponents of home-baked bread try to change the present law. People who bake their own bread to feed their children need to work to educate the public as to the beauties and benefits of bread baking!

Author unknown

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Recipe for Success

Today's topic for Home Education Week over at Principled Discovery is "Recipe for Success" -

share a recipe…figuratively, as in two parts love, one part creativity, or literally, as in a super quick, nutritious meal your kids scarf up. Think about what you do in the day, what helps keep it organized and you sane (or how you got past that need for organization and saneness!), and curriculum materials you find effective.

First, here are some tried and true recipes that have given my kids hours of fun.

Simply pour about 2 cups of cornstarch into a mixing bowl, and add enough water to make it soupy. Pick up a fistful of the sloppy mixture and sqeeze it. It should hold together and feel a bit dry. Open your hand and watch the mixture melt before your eyes and drip through your fingers! Punch the oobleck in the bowl. Then slowly push your fingers into the bowl. Oh so much fun!!!

You need:
Borax ( find in the laundry detergent aisle)
Elmer's white glue
food coloring

Make a solution of 6 T. water and 1 tsp. borax in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix 1 T. glue, 1 T. water, and a couple of drops of food coloring. Stir a scant 2 tsp. of the borax solution into the glue mixture. Stir until it gets thick. Knead the Gloop until it is pliable. Then roll it, bounce it, stretch it, pull it, snap it.... it is similar to silly putty.
* make sure child is old enough NOT to eat this
Store in a ziploc baggie in the fridge

Salt Dough
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
3 cups boiling water
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 T. vegetable oil

Place flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Add boiling water all at once; don't stir yet. Let cool for 10 minutes. Now stir with a wooden spoon, and then when it is cool enough to touch, knead by hand to squish everything together. Add oil, and knead some more to form a smooth dough.

Great fun for studying geography! Make relief maps on stiff cardboard (pizza boxes work great) by drawing the outline of the landform and then covering with a layer of salt dough. Add mountains, rivers, lakes, etc. Let dry for several days, and then paint with tempera or acrylic paints.

Now, for my homeschool "recipe for success" - flexibility, fortitude, patience, and laughter.

  • flexibility - remember that you are a FAMILY, not a school; there WILL be interruptions, there will be illness and out of town guests and errands that must be run and broken down appliances and bad attitudes ... all those things that need your immediate attention; it is okay to go with Plan B or C once in a while; come back to Plan A as soon as you can

  • fortitude - homeschooling isn't for the faint hearted! There will inevitably be obstacles, criticism, and difficulties. Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary says that fortitude is passive courage, the habit of bearing up nobly under trials, dangers, and sufferings. Just understanding that there will be trials and difficult days helps us not to panic; notice the word "habit" - a habit is a characteristic acquired through repetition! Homeschooling gives us lots of opportunity to practice fortitude!

  • patience - people will often say, " I just don't have the patience to homeschool!"; but patience is an acquired virtue! it is similar to fortitude - a habit that comes with practice; it is important to recognize that children and adolescents are not miniature adults, but are immature in their thinking and in their responses; it is my responsibility as the adult to set a good example and to remain calm and steady - even if I don't "feel like it".

  • laughter - Proverbs 17:22 says " a cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones"; have fun together as a family - tell jokes, play charades, go camping, sing silly songs; sometimes it is important to just put aside the "to do list" and enjoy being together

As far as curriculum that I find effective, after 10 years of homeschooling I found a curriculum that pulled together all the elements I would have included if I had written it myself - Tapestry of Grace. TOG is an "integrated, unit-study approach to Classical Education" that is organized around a chronological study of history; utilizes wonderful living books; includes lesson plans for K-12 so all your children are included; and covers history, literature, writing, geography, worldview, fine arts, philosophy, and church history. It isn't the easiest or cheapest thing around, but it is wonderfully rich and varied and reflects a biblical worldview, showing both the good and the bad of the history of mankind, but through it all the threads of God's amazing grace and purpose for his creation. You can try a 3-week sample of TOG for free, either Go to Egypt or Sail to the New World. (I'm trying to get hyperlinked buttons for these loaded onto my sidebar, but right now I'm having "technical difficulties") TOG isn't for everyone, but it is worth checking out if it sounds appealing.