Saturday, February 27, 2010

Happy Birthday, Baby!

Today is the day. My baby girl turned 6. How did that happen? I ask that every time my kids have a birthday. I just don't understand how the time went so quick. Here's my ode to the baby girl.

Amazingly beautiful is my baby girl. When she was a baby, I was walking down a busy street with the kids and the baby when a woman stopped her car. She leaned out her window and said, "That is the most beautiful baby I have ever seen." Thank you, now move, you're blocking traffic. When we were being baptised, she looked up and stared at our pastor. He was speechless for a few seconds, just staring and smiling at her. He finally looked up at the congregation with a goofy grin, and said, "I'm sorry, I'm in love." She just smiled at him and he smiled right back. He was kind of goofy for awhile after that. She has these gorgeous "mood eyes". It's the same concept as a mood ring from the seventies. They are mostly green, but change with her mood. They can be deep green, or sea green, or as blue as the sky. Of course, she gets her good looks from her mother, even though she looks just like her father.

Amazingly smart is my baby girl. When she was four, she decided she wanted to learn to read. My other two kids went to public school to learn to read. I didn't have to teach them. After a quick stumble, mostly my fault, she picked it up. She loves to read. She loves to go to the library and get chapter books. Shesd reading on a second grade level, and she's not technically out of kindergarten yet. Her brother and sister started teaching her addition. I'm scared she's going to work through her first grade math I got her for next year, so I have a second grade back up, just in case. She learned her numbers knowing that there was value to them. She knew what 1 was, how many 2 was, etc. She knew her letters and the sounds they made before she could read. She is scary smart.

Amazingly funny is my baby girl. She would tell knock knock jokes at 3. She didn't really understand them, but they were funny. She loves to make funny faces and noises. I love the innocence of her comments. Sitting at a traffic light that had just turned green the other day, I hear from her, "C'mon, people, the light is green. Get movin'." Yeah, she got that from me. She dances around the house singing funny songs. She makes us laugh and roll our eyes at the same time.

Amazingly full of love is my baby girl. She loves to be held and cuddled. She gives kisses all the time. She likes to hold hands. She loves to be with her family. She would prefer that we all slept in the same bed, but I have to draw the line somewhere. She loves her family, she loves God, and she loves her friends.

I am so proud of the person she is becoming. She has developed her own personality, her own quirks. She is loving and kind and smart and beautifil and funny. She is so great for this family and we are blessed to have her. I think we'll keep her, but only until forever is over.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl. I love you so very much.

Have a great day!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Alpacas in Pictures

This is my babies with one of the alpacas. She was extremely gentle and didn't fuss at all. Seeing as how there were at least 20 kids there, that's a good thing.
These are the alpacas starting to run. The kids, all of them, would come up behind them and they would start to run. It was like an alpaca stampede, only they would run around us instead of over us. Good thing, huh?!

This is the cutest little guy ever! He would chase the kids down and try to shove his head under their hands. He wanted to be pet all the time. He was so very soft! His fur was amazing. It was COLD that day and if he wanted to snuggle, I was all for it.

This is the baby petting an alpaca. This is the pet of the owner's son. He would come home from school and hang out with her in the field. He would kick his soccer ball around and one day, she head butted it back to him. Now they play soccer together. She is great with kids and seemed to be very calm during all the commotion.

This was the first alpaca we saw. It just walked straight up to the fence and greeted us. It stood patiently while we took pictures. Until it had had enough. But it took awhile for it to get tired. We were like the papparazi since none of us had ever seen one.
It was a great field trip. We had so much fun. The kids ran and chased alpacas and chased each other. I'm just glad the alpacas didn't chase back. Fun, fun, fun.
Have a great day!

Friday, February 19, 2010


When I was a kid, my mom would let my sister and I pick the veggie for the night. She would get to pick one night and I would get the next. She would always pick green beans. Mercy, I could not stand green beans. I just knew she picked them night after night because she knew I couldn't stand them. No, it was because she liked them, and I didn't like them. To get back at her, I picked a veggie that she despised. That was the wonderful Brussel sprout. I love those little things. I thought she was going to pass out when she had to eat one. As the years have gone on, I love them even more. I tell most people that and they generally have the same reaction- Blech!!

We had our Valentine's exchange at the park today. Wouldn't you know that Brussel sprouts came up. I was asked how to cook them because they can be so bitter. Yes, they can be. Here's a recipe that I got from Emeril Lagasse when he was on Good Morning America. My hubby will eat the sprouts this way, so I am sharing with you. I'll fill you in on my tweaks because some dietary restrictions came up in the conversation. Hold on to your hats.

Brussel Sprout and Cheddar Cheese Bake

4 slice bacon, diced
1 cup onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbls unsalted butter
1 lb Brussel sprouts, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chicken stock or water
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded sharp cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cook bacon in a saute pan until crisp and golden. Remove bacon from pan and set aside. Add onions to the pan and cook until wilted. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan and add to bacon.

Add Brussel sprouts to pan with unsalted butter. Cook until they start to brown. Add chicken stock, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Flip sprouts and continue to cook another minute or two. Remove and mix with bacon, onions, and garlic. Toss together and pour into a 10 X 6 baking dish. Sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Serve immediately.

First of all, I put everything in the dish I'm going to cook it in. I am not making another dish to wash. The recipe says to add Brussel sprouts 1/2 at a time, as well as the stock, salt, and peppers. My pan is big enough that I can do all of them at the same time. You don't have to use bacon. You could actually brown the Brussel sprouts in olive oil instead. It's about flavor. I like the bacon, so I use it. The reason for the unsalted butter is because of the salty bacon. If you have unsalted use it. If you don't, then don't. I use home made chicken stock. If you have a brand that you prefer, use it. Publix is having a buy one get one this week. If you are avoiding dairy, I'm not sure what to tell you. If any of you have a suggestion, please feel free. Maybe a nice goat cheese instead if that's acceptable. I would use a strong cheese. Use something that is equivalent that you can eat.

So there it is. My family's favorite Brussel sprout recipe. I like them steamed with butter. I have another that I will post at another time, but my timer is going off and hubby just got home. Dinner!

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


This is one of my favorite times of the year. I have spent hours and hours doing reseach and it's finally time. I get to order curriculum! I am so very excited.

I had one silly moment. Well, at least regarding this. I have a feeling that the baby is going to blow through her first grade math. I still want her to do a first grade math, but I think it will be relatively easy for her. She's doing a lot of the basics now, but I haven't taught any of my kids beginning math. The big girl and the boy were in school for that. I wanted to have a back up plan for her. I found on my shelves Teacher's Guide Part 1 of Horizons 2d grade Math. I needed the second part that has the answers, extra worksheets, and tests. I put out a call to my homeschool group. We had done Horizons with the boy and I still had the 3d grade curriculum. Only I didn't. I had the 2d grade. Exactly what I was looking for. For some reason, I always think he's a grade ahead of where he really is. So, that being said, if she does get through her math as quickly as I think, I have a back up. The math I was saving for when she's in 2d grade. Whoo hoo!

Here's our list of curriculum for next year:

Science- God's Design for Life: The Human Body. I actually bought this last year at convention becuase I knew I wanted to cover the human body. We are using their Animals book this year, and we all really like it. It is multi-grade and can be easily supplemented if I need to. I also have a great book that shows different views and functions of the body. Way cool.

History- American Heritage Studies. We are taking a break from Story of the World. I need a break. That and I think we need to focus a little more on the important foundations of this country. So much going on in the world today. We will be doing a study of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. I am super excited about this. And the studies were free. You gotta love that.

Bible- We are doing character studies and an Exodus lap book. I also have a Bible study that I bought last year that I will start using this year, and continue next year. It was a little intimidating when I got it home, but I think I'm ready to tackle it.

The boy- he is doing LIFEPAC for his math and language arts. They have worked so well for him this year and we are going to continue that path. He loves them and he gets a great sense of accomplishment when a workbook is done.

The big girl- she is doing Switched on Schoolhouse for her math. That is a computer based program made by the same people that make the boy's curriculum. This year is pre-algebra for her. I can teach her just fine, but she wants somethig a little flashier than her boring book. Fine. We'll see how she likes it. She will be doing Reading Comprehension in Various Subject Matters for her language arts. It encompasses reading, comprehension, and vocabulary. The subjects are broken down into literary groups, so I will supplement that way. If it's poetry, we'll talk about different poetry styles and write some of our own kind of thing.

The baby- she will be working on Modern Curriculum Press (MCP) Math as a first grade curriculum. I like the bright colors and the scope of information covered. I think the book will keep her occupied and will appeal to her. When she's done, it's Horizons Math. For language arts, she will be doing Explode the Code, Books 4 and 5. Along with that she will start a grammar workbook for grades 1-2. We have all been happy with the Explode the Code books. It seems to have really opened up her reading. The grammar will just be a couple of days a week.

Extras- I have a typing program that I want the kids to work on. It's one of those things that they will need to be able to do in this technology age of ours. And I still have that Spanish program from Tell Me More! that we need to get to. Need to find the time somewhere for that. Just a couple of days, not every day for extras.

That's the run down for now. I love searching and looking and finding what I think the kids will like and learn with. What are some of your favorites?

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Doing and Eating Well

We're still here, I promise. I've been posting on my other blog. The topics were just a little more adult than I wanted to post here. On a side note, I really like the looks on people's faces when they find out I have a blog. I really like it when they find out I have two blogs. And I Facebook. I'm cool like that. Anyway...

Hubby and the big girl went to a youth leadership conference this past weekend. They both said it was amazing. It was put together rather quickly by the Florida Conference. We did several quick fund raisers at church and were able to pay for motel rooms for everyone. There were five of our youth that went. The workshops were all done by youth from various churches. Hubby said it was quite good for as little time as they had to put it together. The band was rocking apparently. I really don't like missing a rocking band. I love live music. The band was part of a youth group from one of the churches. It inspired our kids to want to put together a praise band. We have several very talented musicians in our group, just no outlet. We would also need someone with musical ability to lead them, but that's another story for another time. The kids, and the adult chaperones, learned alot about listening to others. They will each present at least one thing they learned at all three of our services next Sunday. We are trying to show a bigger youth presence at church so the congregation knows they are there. It should be interesting.

There has been very good food rolling through this joint lately. I feel like I am finally out of my food rut that I had been in for most of the summer and part of the fall. It helps that I got a crock pot. I love my crock pot. I used to not like the food that was cooked in one, but either the recipes have gotten better, the pots have gotten better, or both. It helps to have tasty recipes. There are so many good sites out there for those.

I made an Italian Wedding Soup Sunday. I didn't make it in the crock pot, but here's the recipe. And as always, I tweaked it. I just cannot leave well enough alone. I got both recipes from Recipezaar. com. Once again, don't be intimidated by the amount of ingredients, you add a bunch at one time. The prep is what takes the most time anyway. The italics are the ingredients from the swcond recipe. Everything else was pretty much the same. Here we go:

Italian Wedding Soup

4 oz Italian sausage, casings removed or bulk
8 cups chicken stock
1 or 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 or 2 cups chopped escarole
1/4 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced celery
1 minced garlic clove
2 Tbls chopped red bell pepper
1 cup Italian pastina or orzo pasta
2 eggs, lighlty beaten
salt and pepper

In a large stock pot, brown the sausage, add garlic and onions when almost done. Add chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Add chicken and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes over low heat. Add escarole, bell pepper, salt, and pepper. Add orzo or pastina and cook until tender. In a small bowl, beat eggs lightly. Add slowly to soup until fine threads form. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 20-30 minutes. Pour into bowls, and garnish with parmesan cheese. Serve with crusty bread and a salad.

I didn't have escarole, but I did have Swiss chard. It was fantastic. You may have to add a little water or even more stock when cooking the pasta. It will soak up quite a bit. If you like yours a little soupier, you may want to add more stock or water anyway. It was quite thick. The chicken will cook qite well, but don't worry about one inch cubes. Mine was still partially frozen, so I just sliced it into chunks. I also used half a red bell pepper. I wasn't about to measure tablespoons of it. We ate it for 2 days until it was gone, gone, gone. It was so good on cold, chilly days.

The boy, the baby, and I sat around most of Saturday in our pajamas. We played the Wii until I thought our eyeballs would fall out. I popped some corn and we all decided that we wanted to watch Tinker Bell. I had never seen the very beginning. I didn't realize it until we watched it. We finally got out of the house about 4 o'clock, but only to go to the grocery store. We did get showers and brushed our teeth before we went.

Sunday was busy as usual. What happened to day of rest? Oh, yeah, that was Saturday. Hubby and the big girl got home, unpacked, ate lunch, and rested for about an hour or so. Then we went to a party for our friend, A. It was exactly one year since she had come home. She was adopted from Ethiopia and it was time to celebrate changes and home comings. She is such a beautiful girl, inside and out. Love her, love her, love her. Then we went to get hair cuts. Yeah, we walked out. They didn't even acknowledge that we had come in the door, so we left. Then off to youth. Hubby was so tired by the time we got home. I think his second and third wind were long gone by that time. We ate dinner, then I sent everyone off to bed. I spent a little quiet time and off to bed for me, too.

See, we're still here. And we're still boring. I need to get school started. I've run over my alotted time by 15 minutes. Now, I have to find somewhere to make that up.

Have a great day!

Monday, February 8, 2010

We Heart Alpacas

I tried uploading pictures, but all the connections aren't there from when I got the computer back. It's very frustrating, but I'll do the best I can in print. As soon as I get it figured out, I'll post the pics. On with the show.

We took an impromtu field trip today. One of the moms from the chatboard set it up. There were quite a few families there and we got to meet some new to our group. We went to Acres of Angels Alpacas. I wasn't sure until probably Saturday if we were going or not, and decided what the hay. It was cold this morning, too. I had the kids in two shirts with jackets and coats. I was hoping the alpacas were ready to snuggle.

The first alpacas we saw were the soon to be mamas. They were so stinking cute. They really are beautiful animals. They gestate for 11 1/2 months. At that little piece of info, I was extremely glad we only do 9. They were friendly and polite. I do mean the alpacas and not the kids. The kids were, too. We got to go into a pasture with mamas and their babies. There was one little guy that loves to be pet. He was black and soft and fuzzy and so sweet. He even followed the boy around for a little bit. The boy loved it. It was like having a pet. We were handed treats and allowed to feed them to the animals. We stayed there for quite awhile and then moved on to look at the two different kinds of alpacas that they have on the farm. I meant to look up the names before I started blogging, but it's been that kind of day.

Here are some facts we learned about alpacas:

  • They are related to the camel family.
  • Their wool is extremly soft and very valuable.
  • They will spit at you. If they feel threatened, that's how they warn you off.
  • They have a three sectioned stomach, as opposed to the four stomachs of cows.
  • They only have upper teeth in the very back to help grind their food and chew their cud.
  • Whatever color the wool is close to the skin, the animal is considered that color. For example, if the alpaca is brown, but the wool is white close to the skin, it's considered white.
  • White is the dominant color of the alpaca. They are mountain, cold weather animals. It works as camouflage.
  • They do not like to be alone. To start a farm or herd, you must start with two.
  • You do not brush or wash alpacas like you might a horse. They need to stay just like they are, grassy and all
  • They do not have lanolin in their wool.
  • Their wool is extremely soft.
  • I want two alpacas.
  • They are not pack animals. They are not large enough to carry alot of weight.
  • They should not be ridden. (I had to ask that one for the kids. You know the boy would jump on if he had half a chance.)

That third to the last one should actually read "we". We want alpacas. Not that we would really get two, but they were such great animals. They only get to about 200 pounds (a large male) and can be very gentle creatures. The owners' son had one that is his pet and will play soccer with him. I thought that was way cool.

We were given a small packet of alpaca wool before we left. It is so soft. I love the way it feels. You can make yarn out of their wool and crochet with it. The owner had two teddy bears that were made from alpaca wool and they were super soft. All the kids wanted one. I keep thinking about a sweater or a blanket. There, now you already have an idea about what to get me for Christmas.

After the field trip, we went to a park that is relatively close and had lunch with a couple of our home school families that hang out with pretty regularly. It was a new park for my kids and they loved it. It was easily twice the size of our regular Friday park. It is definitely a winter park, though. There is no shade over the play ground. That is too much for summer time here. Then it was home and a giant nap.

It was a great trip. I wish hubby could have been there, but somebody has to keep us in the style that we have become accustomed to. And poor baby has had overactive sinuses for a couple of weeks now. It's starting to make him feel bad. I too over today and put him on a regimen of double Juice Plus, Fenugreek, and acidophilus. Hopefully, he'll start feeling better in the morning. I'm taking as good of care of him as he'll let me.

If you are looking for something fun to do with your kids, contact the alpaca farm. Go see an alpaca show. Or visit some at your local fair if they have them. They are beautiful, gentle creatures. And next time you come by the house, you never know. We may all have new sweaters.

Have a great day!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Updates and Sniffly Noses

It's Friday and guess where we aren't? You guessed it. The park. The baby and the boy both have sniffly noses. The boy has these super sinuses that are constantly draining. I know, candida cleanse. Somehow, it just hasn't happened yet. Anyway, it's cool and windy and I don't want to take the chance that it will grow to something bigger and badder, so no park. The park is off a little lake and the wind coming off that bad boy is not fun when it's cool outside. Fenugreek all around.

Instead of having fun with my friends, I mean the kids having fun with their friends, I'm doing laundry. It needs to be done. One of the other things I don't like about cooler weather is jeans. They take up so much room in the hamper. That and the fact that I haven't done any laundry in a week makes it add up. Hubby finally got the laundry soap made yesterday so today is my day. We use an all natural laundry detergent that you mix with water. I really like it. It's probably the best detergent we've used. I've noticed that the colors don't fade as quickly in the clothes. It takes the sweat smell out of hubby's uniforms, and it lasts forever. Most of the time, our detergent only lasts a couple of weeks and then I have to get more. This has lasted over two months and is a lot cheaper.

The kids are listening to a Percy Jackson book on CD. They were interested in the movie trailer so we borrowed the book from the library. We had to start with book two, since book one was out. They are really good books. They are about a boy that is the son of Poseidon and involves Greek mythology. I was never very interested in mythology in school, but these books actually make it interesting. We finished the second and are working on the first. I need to request the third one since the kids are almost done with this one.

We finished Mutiny on the HMS Bounty. It was a children's version, since I haven't read the original. I don't know if the kids would like it, or if it would be too much for them. They did enjoy the version we read and so did I. When we go to church on Sunday, we'll peruse the library and see what our next dinner book will be. Now I have them working on some books about Galileo Galilei and Thomas Jefferson. They are two of the inventors we covered at co-op on Tuesday. I figure if I borrow a bunch of books from the library, the kids can read at least two of them. I usually make them read at least one about every inventor, but the library didn't have any about our third inventor, so the kids got off lucky this time.

Tonight for dinner we are having homemade sour cream enchiladas and Spanish rice. I cleaned out my recipe box and took out all the ones that I've never made, the ones I've lost interest in, and the ones that I thought I would never make or make again. I came across the recipes for the enchiladas and rice and added them to the menu. The only thing I had to get from the grocery store was sour cream. Wouldn't you know they had it on sale? I love it when that happens. I did make the pulled chicken and sesame ribs that I posted previously. They were so good. The chicken we had on sandwich rolls and they had soaked up all that good liquid. The ribs were melt in your mouth tender and were so good with the potatoes. My friend Melissa had posted on her blog a challenge about using the ingredients you already have in your pantry to make meals for a month. I'm working on two weeks at a time. I also base our meals around the produce from the co-op. That helps, too, knowing what I have and what I might need when I plan a menu. Do I need to go to the grocery store or want to go to the grocery store? I'm still working on it.

Yesteday was our 15th wedding anniversary. When hubby and I got married, people actually took bets as to how long it would last. People in Vegas will bet on anything. I won, but I don't know how to collect. It's alright, though, because I got the best prize ever. My inlaws kept the kids and hubby and I got to go see The Book of Eli. It was not what I expected, but it was much, much more. It opened this great dialogue between hubby and I about following the bible or following God and which is more important. I am planning a blog on the other page about that one. While we were watching, I had all these thoughts and ideas and couldn't wait to get them down. I still can't. I just need to organize them a little first. We both really enjoyed it, but it is not for kids.

Monday we have a field trip to an alpaca farm. I haven't told the kids yet. We 're going to meet some of our friend sthere and learn all about alpacas. It's great that we're doing animals for our science this year. This ties right on. We still have our field trip to the radio station coming up and I need to get off my butt and call the carriage museum again. I have left a couple of messages, but no one has called back. I'm starting to get a complex, but I shouldn't take it personally. I'm just wondering how bad do they want to schedule a field trip? I'm not the one losing business, so whatever. I'm hoping the Indian pow wow comes back this year. We had such a good time last year. It happened to fall on the baby's birthday, so that was cool. We'll see what happens. I love field trips. I love to go new places and learn new things. The kids are like sponges. They soak up everything. I love to watch their eyes light up when they figure out something new, or experience something different.

Hubby and the big girl are going on a youth leadership weekend with the church. They picked several youth for this and the big girl was one. There are two boys and three girls going. Hubby is going as chaperone for the boys. If he doesn't go, the boys don't get to go. He is excited about it. He feels like it will give him some additional skills in helping the youth at church. I think it will give him more confidence in dealing with them. And since he is the high school boys counselor, it gives him time to bond with two guys in his group. I think the big girl will hopefully gain some self confidence and maybe knock a little edge off her shyness. She is so excited about going that she keeps talking about it and talking about it. We still have a week to go. I would say I'm tired of hearing about it, but I'm not. I love the excitement in her voice. She was a little worried that hubby would get the job in Texas and she would miss it. Hubby has already said he will tell them he has to be at a conference that weekend. If he doesn't get the job because of that, then we stay here. No harm, no foul.

And the job in Texas. No news yet, but the job posting ended Wednesday. The supervisors usually take until Monday or so to look through the applications and decide where to go from there. We may hear something next week, we may not. We are looking at housing and homeschool laws and what is available for dance and banking and stores, just in case. We don't want to get caught unaware. Hubby and I have decided that if we can find something, which are slim pickings, we would actually like to rent for 6 months to a year. That way we can see if we like the area, or find a better place to live, or whatever and we aren't stuck with a house in a place we don't want to be. As soon as we know something, I'll let you all know.

That's the update. Apparently, I decided today was the day to be long winded. I will take this opportunity to remind my commentors that I do not use names of my children or hubby on this blog. I try to keep things as general as possible. Please do not use names, except mine, or reference where we live any more than what I have. It helps keep us a little more safe. I use first names or initials for my friends, but I do not get any more specific than that. Thanks for your understanding.

Have a great day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

I Did It

It's not that bad, so calm down. I added my blog to Facebook. I'm not sure that was the smartest thing I've ever done, but I did it anyway. Hubby says it's just another reason to get on Facebook. Well, there is that. It's also a way to get my blog read. Isn't that why people have blogs? One reason anyway. And I can always take it off.

To any new readers, comments are always welcome, as long as they are not vulgar or uncomplimentary. I do accept constructive criticism. I also have the power of the delete button.

I originally started this blog as a way to update friends and family that are far away about what we are doing with our days. Most of the time, it's pretty boring. Most of the exciting stuff happens on the other page. Enjoy!

Have a great day!