Tuesday, October 30, 2007

1st Bloggiversary

I actually missed it in the middle of our busy weekend. But, amazingly enough, it's been a year. So, if you're reading this won't you please leave a message in the comment box so that I can see the faces behind the numbers. :^)

Pretty please. With a cherry on top.

Yes, Jesus Loves Me

Jack O'Lanterns

Ethan's is two sided.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday Thirteen - Halloween stuff for kids

  1. Billy Bears's Halloween Party - this is the ultimate for printables! If Walgreen's ever gets my color cartridge refilled properly, I'm going to print out several Halloween games like bingo, memory, tic tac toe, and dominoes and take them to get laminated. We'll throw in our Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin game and a few from food packages and magazines and are having a Halloween themed game night for family night tomorrow. Oh, and print some Halloween math here.

  2. Pumpkin Simulator - try this virtual pumpkin just for fun or to test a design.

  3. Writing Paper

  4. Picture Frame to print and color

  5. Make a Salt Dough Pumpkin Patch

  6. T-shirt iron-ons

  7. Pumpkin Stencils

  8. File-Folder Game: Pumpkin Patch

  9. Pumpkin Predictions math

  10. Homemade costume ideas

  11. Printable Halloween masks

  12. Spider Cupcakes

  13. Candy Corn Pin - we made these a few years ago - so fun! - and we still wear them.

First Football Practice

Ethan was thrilled to have his first flag football practice.
I not only enjoyed watching him, but also enjoyed
a rainbow in the clouds,
some geese flying south,
a stunning curve of sunbeam shafts in the sky,
the fall colors,
and the gorgeous view of the mountains from our hilltop YMCA.
None of the nature shots were worth sharing,
but I got some cute shots of my boy.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A Country Drive

35 minutes on backroads to Brian's grandma's house. 35 minutes of horses and beautiful trees, scarecrows with pumpkin faces and...turkey vultures. Yes. Four, big turkey vultures in the middle of the road. Four, big turkey vultures just waiting for us to slow down and check them out as they flew to nearby branches and cautiously watched us open the Steve Green blaring van door to take their pictures. Gotta love a drive in the country...

Make-up artists

Girls. Every time I turn around they're back into my make-up. Dare I tell Anna Kate that she applies lipstick and mascara with amazing skill for a girl of four? Or that painting a bedskirt with my brand new mascara may be a new art form, but I really like traditional art? And Rose? She's definitely still in training. But not by me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Jesus is a great person, guys"

Anna with her puppy in the stroller: "Come on, Pup. Let's go tell these people about Jesus so that they can go up to Him."

Anna facing imaginary audience: "Jesus is a great person, guys. Ya gotta believe Him so that you can go up to Him."



Anna Kate after singing along with Steve Green's "You Shall Love the Lord Your God": Mommy, I love Jesus soooo much. I love him with my whole body - even my blood and my bones!"


The sunrise today was beautifully orange cast through the mist. This night owl doesn't see too many sunrises, but now that they come later I'm able to enjoy them. :^)

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! ~Psalm 115:1

Receive the Glory
by Bob Kauflin
© 2004 Sovereign Grace Praise (BMI)

Not to us, but to Your name alone
Be all the glory, the glory, forever
For Your faithfulness and steadfast love
Receive the glory, the glory belongs to You

All that we’ve accomplished
You have done for us
And any fruit we harvest is a gift from Your hand
We are only jars of clay that hold a priceless treasure
And we exist to bring You pleasure, O God

Only by Your mercy can we come to You
Though we deserved Your judgment
You have called us by name
So we glory in the cross of Christ that made us Yours forever
That joined our lives together to sing

to hear the melody go here and enter the title

Monday, October 22, 2007

400th post - reflections and a question for you

Yep, can you believe it?! I thought about insisting that you delurk, but decide to just warn you that my first blog anniversary is coming up this weekend and I'll be asking then instead. :^) I've had so much fun writing, and so much stress trying to figure out how to make up for the time that it takes, but all of the friends I've made make it so worth it.

Now on to the question, my kids loved the fall scavenger hunt we did a couple of weeks ago and are begging for another. Do any of you have a handy list on your blog or that you've found or a link to some other outside autumn nature activity that we can do for school? I'm sure I could probably find them if I looked, but it occurred to me that it might be easier to ask my friends.

graphic from Anne's place

Friday, October 19, 2007

Scavenger Hunt

A couple of weeks ago, we took this scavenger hunt list, and headed to a local university campus. We had fun finding all of the items even though we never got a chance to identify them as thoroughly as I'd planned after we got home. The kids learned new things about decomposition, fungus, and leafless trees (and even how to pee in the woods when you're too far from the bathroom - wiping with a leaf was a highlight - sorry if that's way too much info, but it was very funny!).

Is this the ugliest duck ever, or is it just me (and my kids)?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Jesus, Thank You

I had to download this from Sovereign Grace this morning. This and "There Is a Fountain Filled With Blood" are our songs to learn this week.

The mystery of the cross I cannot comprehend
The agonies of Calvary
You the perfect Holy One,crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me

Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You

By Your perfect sacrifice
I’ve been brought near
Your enemy You’ve made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end

Lover of my soul
I want to live for You

© 2003 Integrity's Hosanna! Music (ASCAP)/Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lunch in miniature

Walmart actually had miniature grapes. Combined with PB&J on mini waffles and drinks in dixie cups, my kids were enchanted.

Gluten Free Baking Tip

I forgot this very pertinent piece of information. Only very moist things like cakes and moist muffins and pancakes will survive being reheated or eaten the next day. If you want to eat most muffins, waffles, or breads another day freeze them immediately after they're mostly cooled, within an hour is best. If they're frozen immediately, then thawed in the microwave to eat another day, they'll be yummy and taste fresh instead of like paper.

Oh, and kind of a connected tip here, make a batch of cupcakes and freeze them (iced or uniced is fine, but the iced will have runny icing when you thaw them in the microwave- my husband loves to eat them frozen.) Any time you need to go to a party, you can just grab a couple to take along and thaw.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Help, I Have Celiac Disease!

This is definitely the first reaction when finding out that you must eliminate all wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats from your diet - and that most foods at the store will contain some questionable ingredients and no allergen label for gluten. Here is the front-line info that you need.

First: Basic, Easy Survival The fastest, easiest thing to do to survive first is to not try to substitute the way you used to eat, but to eat differently. You don't have to read ingredients if you buy lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh meats. Start shopping the outside of the grocery store rather than up and down the aisles. Think South Beach/Atkins Diet. Your grill can be your new best friend. Make simple rubs for meats and grill your veggies too, then add fresh fruit. First try cooking like this, then you can start looking for other products that will start to be more like some old favorites. Don't be discouraged! This is harder and more time consuming, but it could also be much healthier for you. As you find meals that you like, write them down on a list. When you have seven dinners, seven lunches, and seven breakfasts, you have a weekly menu! When you have twenty-one of each (you may not need that much variety for breakfast and lunch), you have a three week menu that can be rotated, and you only will need new recipes or foods when you want to find them for a little variety or special occasion. It's also easier to make extra of your dinner and eat leftovers for lunch than it is to find specific "lunch" foods. Or just grill an extra piece of meat and cut it up for a lunch salad. Stick to major national brands for condiments and other processed foods ( to get started at least). They will either have a full disclosure policy on allergens or a phone number on their label.

http://www.allergygrocery.com/search.php these are ready made food or mixes that are free of allergens. They are very expensive and vary in taste, but convenient. We rarely buy stuff like this, just a few cake mixes or packaged cookies occasionally. You can learn to do it yourself if you want to.


Okay, for flour substitution. There are many choices. Many are healthier (whole grain or bean blends), but I went with this because I can get it cheaply and it substitutes well for plain white flour. Mix 6 cups of rice flour, 2 cups of potato starch ( not the same as potato flour) and 1 cup of tapioca starch (tapioca flour is the same thing) - I think this is a Bette Hagman blend, she writes gluten free cookbooks. You can get these flours at a large health food store, but I get mine at a local Asian food store for much less. Then get a bag of xanthan gum at the health food store. It's expensive (about $13 for a bag), but lasts a long time (probably at least a year for one person). You can then substitute your flour blend cup for cup for regular flour. Add xanthan gum to improve texture and prevent the crumbling that is characteristic of gluten free baked goods.
Addition of xanthan per cup of flour is:
1/2 tsp for cakes
1 tsp for breads or pizza
0-1/2 tsp for most cookies

Cookbooks. Our library system has a bunch that you can try out. The only one I've ever bought is The Kid-Friendly Food Allergy Cookbook(Hammond). She doesn't use weird ingredients and actually made all of her cakes and muffins with plain rice flour and no xanthan, so it's an easy place to start. I just went through my collection of cookbooks and marked anything that I could use with a tab. There are a lot of recipes that are easy.

Pasta. Our Walmart actually carries rice pasta (De Boles, I think). Not my favorite pasta, but it makes a mean baked ziti (I'll put that up soon.). Tinkyada Pasta Joy is good pasta that comes in several shapes. Gluten free pasta will not hold up well in leftovers like soup. If you want to freeze soup, freeze it without the pasta and add the pasta when you reheat it. I like to make a big batch of chicken stock with onion, potato, and carrot before winter colds set in, then I freeze it in individual portions, thaw it out and add pasta when someone gets a cold or the flu. (There are some commercial brands of chicken rice soup that are GF, and you can always skip the expensive GF pasta and use rice instead for a lot of things.) Okay. My favorite pasta if you want it to look and taste like real pasta is Bionature's pasta. You can get it at Whole Foods and maybe Earth Fare. Corn macaroni is available and tastes good in things like pastitio. For the cheapest alternative, the Asian store sells many kinds of rice noodles. One is called Newton Rice Sticks made with rice and corn flour. It makes a very thin (like linguine) clear pasta. It doesn't look like regular pasta, but it tastes great doused in spaghetti sauce for good old spaghetti.

Pizza. Whole Foods has a gluten free bakery in NC, so in addition to the other brands of GF foods they sell, they have a frozen section of their bakery goods. They are wonderful! The pizza crust is delicious and the hamburger buns thawed also make good pizza crusts.

Desserts. The best cake mixes we've used are by the Gluten-Free Pantry. All of the health food stores and some grocery stores carry them. Pamela's Cookies are yummy. Enjoy Life and Glutino are two other excellent brands for packaged cookies, pretzels, etc. The sticker shock is high on these, but don't forget ice cream, milkshakes, pudding , popcorn, corn chips, tortilla chips, and jello desserts are usually naturally GF.

Cereal. I don't know if you are avoiding oats as well. That narrows this category down considerably. We eat oats, so let me know if you do. Some regular grocery stores carry several gluten free cereals, as do the health food stores. Cocoa and Fruity Pebbles are GF. check Kix and Cocoa Pops - I don't remember if they have oats. Most instant grits are okay. Ingles also carries gluten free waffles. Lifestream taste better than Van's. We like Van's now too, but the taste buds adapt. I remember not liking them at the beginning, but the Lifestream waffles, particularly the Mesa Sunrise, are yummy. You can also make eggs, smoothies, Carnation instant breakfast, rice pudding, sausage, bacon, and other non-bake options for breakfast.

RECIPES! - baking tip - GF baked goods tend toward dryness. Choose recipes with added moisture, such as eggs, banana, pumpkin, or other fruit.

Pancakes and Waffle Mix

1 1/4 cup GF flour blend
2 T sugar
2 T baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 T oil (opt)
1 tsp xanthan

I like to add pumpkin. Just a couple tablespoons greatly improves the flavor and texture without tasting like pumpkin, add more if you want them to be pumpkin. Also try adding flaxseed for whole grain flavor and extra fiber, blueberries, chocolate chips (esp. in waffles), grated apple and spices.

PB Cookie

1 cup Peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg

Mix and put on cookie sheet. Bake 350 for 8-10 minutes.

I have zillions of other recipes I'd be glad to share. Let me save you the trouble of trying three recipes to find a decent version. Also let me know of anything else you need information about or want to find.


Faith doesn't wear the eyeglasses of this world.
Faith doesn't live by sight.
Faith is the reality of hope.
Faith is the reality of vision;
Beyond me.
Beyond the mall.
Beyond means.
Beyond moods.
Faith is assurance.
Faith is conviction.
Faith is understanding.
Faith knows what it means to be held.
Faith praises Him in the storm.
Without faith it is impossible to please Him.

Free Stock Photos.

Catching Up

My weekly statistics reports show that you've been checking on me despite my lack of posting. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers, friends. As you probably assumed, it was a busy week.

The visitation for Brian's grandpa was Thursday evening and despite spending 4-5 hours looking for a babysitter and calling about a dozen people, I just couldn't find anyone able to come to our house early enough for me to go with Brian. (The visitation was 45 minutes away and started at 7PM. Thursday at 5;30 to 6 is a terrible time to find a babysitter between dinner hour, sports practices, music rehearsal at our church...) My best friend was finally able to arrange for my kids to stay with someone from our church for an hour until she could pick them up and bring them back to our house to take care of them, but Rose melted down on the way to the car and I just couldn't drop her off at someone's house that she didn't know like that. So I cried. And felt like a loser. And sent Brian by himself. And played UNO with my kids. And it really was okay even though I wasted an entire day and it didn't work out the way I wanted and I was frustrated and... but I digress. I knew that they needed a good night's sleep in their own beds so that they wouldn't be tired and cranky at the funeral.

The funeral on Friday went very well. Brian said that the grace was tangible. Brian gave a message and we're losing count of how many people have told him that he's missed his calling (because God, of course, only calls eighteen year old college freshman and if you didn't get the memo then you must have missed it...oh, no, digressing again...), the children sang "Oh, How I Love Jesus" without refusing to look at the audience, playing with the microphone too much, or jumbling the verses (thanks to many prayers on their behalf), and Brian's mom asked that I sing"O Glorious Love". Grandpa wrote some songs to Jesus and a young lady from his church sang one of those as well. A former pastor who now works with a mission board was flown in on a private plane by a friend in order to speak at the funeral between his previously scheduled meetings, and his sweet current pastor spoke as well. The children, particularly Anna, have had a number of questions. Anna's center on death and heaven. Ethan's are more mummy and Egypt related. Not the best topic to have just studied.

They had an enclosed hutch (with an air system and everything) at the funeral home full of brightly colored little birds. Rose loved them. She somehow got fixated on the mystery that "birds eat seeds. Mommy eat seeds." She said this several times to my amusement. She has really had a language explosion and is doing a really good job of potty training herself too.

Well. I've probably forgotten a bunch of stuff. I have a zillion pictures of things I want to post about from the past couple of weeks. I'll try to get those caught up too.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Update, Wednesday 12:15 AM: death to Life. See Brian's message for the funeral.

Well, my last update was quickly overturned. Papa was taken to a nursing home Wednesday but only stayed about an hour because they realized that they could not supply the amount of oxygen he needed, so he was returned to the hospital (gotta love how they figure this stuff out ahead of time!). The doctor there was surprised that they had released him and said that he should never have been moved. It was also determined that he was unable to swallow and by this weekend the prognosis is quite a bit different. He is still unresponsive and has double pneumonia and they don't expect him to pull through. So Brian's family would appreciate your prayers. The hopital is 40 minutes away from the closest family members now and others are travelling hours to be with him for a while. Someone is with him all the time, so there is a lot of back and forth and a lot of exhausted people involved. Brian, though, actually commutes to work, so his job is only ten minutes from the hospital. He's grateful to be nearby and able to visit each day.

So "not knowing what a day may bring forth" is a very accurate description of life right now. Plans change in a minute. So if I'm scarce, I'm sorry - at least you'll know why.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Anna's Math

Anna's learned to print her numbers and is doing simple addition. Ethan decided to challenge her tonight and I think she did beautifully.

Ethan: What do you have when you cut six in half?
Anna Kate: Half of six
Ethan: What do you get when you cut seven in half?
Anna Kate: One stick!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Collecting Books

Tonight I enjoyed flipping through a newly thrifted book, Celebrating Family Traditions : An Idea and Keepsake Book by Helen Baine Bland and Mary Seehafer Sears. Books about holiday and family traditions are one of my favorite genres to collect. They always inspire me to enjoy each new day and make the days special for my family and friends.

I have a particular thrift store that is my favorite. Children's books (no matter how small, large, inexpensive, or valuable) are 50 cents and adult books are 75 cents for paperback and $1 or $1.50 (they keep changing their prices) for hardback. You really can't beat that. I usually spend too much, but I actually added up the retail price of my last cache - $85. I paid $7.50. My family traditions book, a book of patterns and ideas for shrinky dinks, a good quality workbook/activity book on outer space (that I have another brand new copy that I picked up a few months ago there - 2 new workbooks for $!), a hardcover storybook of the Sleeping Beauty ballet, about 6 Level 1 or 2 easy readers that didn't have dumb story lines (or no storyline), a hardcover If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, a large knock knock joke book for Ethan, and I think a few more. Considering that I also got practically new Land's End and American Eagle shirts for Brian for another $7.50, I didn't feel too guilty.

I also collect good parenting/tips books, beautiful storybooks, and lots of other children's books, especially nonfiction and classic fiction ( and right now large quantities of early readers). I love Trixie Belden, finding them at a low price can make my day - I only have a couple. Also some cookbooks, historical and good Christian fiction, Christian marriage and romantic idea books, books on home education, or just education in general, music books, homemaking books, and other Christian living, theology, etc. books - anything that intrigues me and doesn't look like fluff. I try to hone in on my kids favorite stuff too, so I look for bug books and ballet books, and if I ever find any Max and Ruby books I have a two year old who will be very happy with me and a library that will be relieved to have theirs back in circulation.

What kind of books do you like to collect and where do you find them cheap? And for that matter, if you're like me and love all of the books you have too much to part with them - where do you put them???

graphic from Anne's Place

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Fairy Tales

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."

"When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking."
~Albert Einstein~
Fairy tales are more than true: Not because they tell us that dragons
exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
—G.K. Chesterton