Tuesday, January 31, 2012


"I'm going to be really mean just to get my inner peace."
- Kelsey

"What's going to happen when the ice melts?"
"It's going to turn into ice cream!"
-Conversation between me and Connor

Monday, January 30, 2012

Connor's First Lesson

Tonight was the first time Connor got to give the Family Home Evening lesson.

His lesson was about how special our bodies are and they are gifts from God.  I helped him by asking him questions.  Here's (more or less) how it went.

Mommy: Connor, how many hands do you have?

Connor: Two!

Mommy: How many fingers do you have?

Connor: Five!

Mommy: How many feet do you have? 

Connor: Two!

Mommy: How many noses do you have?

Connor: One!

Mommy: How many ears do you have?

Connor: Two!

Mommy: Is your body special?

Connor: I can go poo-poo in my pants!

Mommy: Who made your body?

Connor: Jesus!

Mommy: Why did Jesus make you a body?

Connor: So I can go poo-poo in the potty!

At this point the family dissolved into laughter and that was the end of the lesson.

P.S. By the way, Connor was supposed to say "Because He loves me."

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Talented Sister

See what Gwen made for Olivia?

She's so talented.

p.s. Olivia is the one who picked out the horse patch.  Gwen did the rest.

Chicken Minis

Over the past 18 months Kelsey has had repeated problems with stomach pain.  At first we thought it was all intestinal.  It started with a partial bowel obstruction in the fall of 2010. We started giving her a lot of aloe vera juice which seemed to help.  Often, however, she would complain that her stomach hurt.  I went through all the possibilities I could think of - from food allergies to reflux to gall bladder problems to a kink her intestines.  And though we did find a minor food allergy (egg whites), and and she had another partial bowel obstruction in the spring of 2011, we haven't really isolated the problem.  So far, we have identified eggs and chocolate as giving her trouble - though only if she has a lot at once - and we finally got a referral to a GI doctor and have an appointment in March.

However, in desperation, I decided early this year I was cutting out all the junk food I could from her (and the family's) daily diet.  This is no mean feat, considering Kelsey's favorite foods are pizza, chicken nuggets, and corn dogs.  As a general rule, Kelsey will not eat any chicken if it's homemade.  However, I have finally found the exception: Chicken Minis.

These are basically nothing more than itty bitty, homemade, baked chicken nuggets.  But everyone loves them - almost as much as I like to make them.  Why?  Because I finally learned about "the secret".  The one that explains that you don't need to individually hand coat every single little piece of chicken when making homemade chicken nuggets.  (Plus, the ingredient list is awesome - including milled flax seed and plain yogurt.)  And Kelsey?  She'd eat them by the pound if I let her.

Note - this recipe doesn't have quantities.  I don't measure anything when I make it, and it's really hard to screw up.  So, if you are a die-hard-follow-the-recipe person this is a great time to live a little and give it a try anyway.

Chicken Minis

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Plain yogurt
Bread crumbs (plain, whole wheat, Italian - you choose!)
Grated Parmesan cheese
Garlic powder
Milled flax seed
Salt/pepper to taste

Cut your chicken up into bite-size pieces.  You can make them as large or small as you'd like - I usually aim for about 3/4-inch cubes.  The main thing is you want to have them all about the same size so all the pieces are done at the same time.  Then, put the chicken into a bowl (preferably one with a fitted lid) and stir in just enough plain yogurt to coat the pieces lightly (see picture).  I learned the hard way that if you dump in too much yogurt they don't bake up very crispy.  And who likes mushy nuggets?  No one in this house!

 In a small bowl, pour a bunch of bread crumbs, milled flax, and Parmesan cheese.  Sprinkle a little garlic powder and salt/pepper.  Mix well.

Dump about half bread crumb mixture on top of the chicken, and fit the lid on the bowl.  
Shake it up. 
Dance around your kitchen. 
Embarrass your children.

Take the lid off and peek at it.  If the bread crumbs are evenly coating the chicken, you can either stop there, or add the rest of the crumbs for that extra crunchy nugget that we all love.

I usually stir in the rest of the bread crumbs with a spoon to try to break up any of the chicken clumps.

Spread on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 until done - about 15 minutes or so.

 See how much is actually left in the bowl?  Amazing, isn't it?

When checking for done-ness, be sure to cut open your fattest nuggets.  As long as there is no pink or "translucence" in the middle of the nuggets you can safely eat them.  Dip them in your favorite sauce (which is ketchup for my kids) and enjoy every crunchy, nutritious bite!

Camera Upload

I really should upload the pictures from my camera more often.  I would blog more.  I uploaded numerous pics and videos today.  Here are a few random ones from our lives over the past few weeks.

Connor has a few fetishes.
  1. A shoe fetish.  Especially my shoes.  Especially if I leave them out - though he HAS been known to raid my closet for high heels). 
  2. A boot fetish.  Snow boots, rain boots, cowboy boots, work boots - you name it.  
  3. A glove fetish.  I bought him his own, but he still insists on wearing mine.  It's very inconvenient when he leaves them all over the house and I can't find them. 
I happened to catch him indulging all three fetishes at once.  Wish it was a better picture, but he wouldn't stop moving!

Since Christmas I have finally organized a "craft closet" for the girls.  It makes my life so much easier when they are bored and wanting to watch TV.  Rather than caving in, now I can say, "Why don't you go craft for a while?"  Olivia has been re-discovering the wonders of Play-Doh.  This looks almost good enough to eat!

Kelsey made a colloid the other day.  What's a colloid?

colloid (kol'oid) [key][Gr.,=gluelike], a mixture in which one substance is divided into minute particles (called colloidal particles) and dispersed throughout a second substance. The mixture is also called a colloidal system, colloidal solution, or colloidal dispersion. Familiar colloids include fog, smoke, homogenized milk, and ruby-colored glass.

In this case, we made it with water, food coloring, and corn starch and called it "Blue Goo".

The other day I was desperate to distract Maddox so I stuck a Christmas bow on his head.  He loved it and we played with it for quite a while.

Kelsey found another place to put it.  She said he was a bunny.

And speaking of Kelsey, she was busy doing tricks.

And where was Connor?  Let's just say it was one of those days... (Notice how he's eating snacks from Maddox's baby snack holder thingy?)

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Kelsey is so funny.  She's really good at stating the obvious in such a way that it often cracks me up.  For example:

Yesterday she was working with me at the table and Maddox was climbing on her chair.  She leaned over and smelled his diaper and said, "Maddox has a stinky diaper.  It smells like a dead skunk."

This afternoon she was talking with a new friend who had complimented some of Olivia's artwork hanging on the wall.  Kelsey said, "Yeah, she's pretty good.  She's related to my dad."

Friday, January 20, 2012

If You Give a Kid a Camera...

I uploaded pictures from my camera the other day.  I realized I haven't been taking all that many photos lately, which would explain my lack of family blogging.  However... Connor has, apparently, been taking pictures on the sly.  Some of these actually aren't bad!  The first one is my favorite, I think.

Now the only question I have is whether he should get in trouble...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Way Too Late...

I know I'm up way too late.

I should have been in bed well over an hour ago.

But somehow... it just didn't happen.

I started playing with the template designer on Blogger.

Do you like the new look?

Did you ever notice the last one?

And while I'm at it, I have the music player set so that it doesn't automatically come on anymore.  What's your vote - do we keep it that way?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Peace... Finally

This has been quite a year for us school-wise.  I feel like we have had a lot of back-and-forth and a lot of angst on my part about what the right thing is to do for our children's education.  Part of my angst was caused by a lack of understanding what my fundamental principles about homeschooling were - specifically, WHY was I homeschooling?  And, as with most things in life, if we don't have an underlying principle to guide us, we can be buffeted around by others' opinions, the current stress levels in our lives, and our own emotions/guilt.  I needed to know the WHY so I could have peace.

One big source of confusion for me were the many well-meaning parents in the homeschool community decrying all public school education as being inferior to a homeschooling education.  Homeschooling is portrayed as "the higher calling" and therefore, if you stop homeschooling then you have not let your child live up to his/her fullest potential.  However, there are many great families that I admire that have their kids in public school.  I see the parents as being spiritually grounded, and they have bright, well-adjusted, talented kids.  The evidence I had in front of me was that all of public school was not wretched.  How could I resolve this seeming contradiction?

Finally, it dawned on me. 

There are some truths and rules in life that are not negotiable or subjective.  The nature of God.  The 10 commandments.  The laws of physics.  Math.  But there are some things that are subjective.  Such as the right way to parent your children.  Potty-training.  Sleep-training.  Discipline.  Chore assignments.  Education. 

That's right.  I said it.  The best way to educate each child is subjective.  It is based on that child's needs, your family situation, and even a parent's personal desires.  (For example, a parent who doesn't LIKE learning really shouldn't be homeschooling their child.)  So with that realization, I could stop and evaluate exactly how I WANTED to homeschool my children.

The verdict?

I primarily want to homeschool my children through 1st-5th grade.  Beyond that, I am open to my children returning to public school. 

I know this may seem backwards to a lot of people (because let's face it, kids get meaner and naughtier the older they get), but it all comes down to the WHY I homeschool.  I've summed it up in 5 points:
  1. I want more time to interact with and raise my children before sending them "out into the world".  Hopefully, this will set the groundwork for a good, strong parent/child relationship and allow me to be the voice in their head through their teenage years.
  2. I want to teach my children to enjoy learning.  I want them to have the opportunity to explore the things that interest them, and not be burdened with excessive home work and stress that comes in the later grades of elementary school.  This includes the stress that is put on the entire school (teachers and students) with the emphasis on the standardized tests every year.
  3. I dislike the stress that it causes me to have a constant stream of spelling lists, vocabulary words, reading assignments, and other work coming home every week.  As I've said before - homework assignments to kids in elementary school are homework assignments to the parents.
  4. Younger kids learn best by experience.  That means field trips.  How many trips do the kids in school take a year?  They need to learn something outside the same 4 walls every day.
  5. If there is ever going to be a time that individuality and creativity is crushed out of a child, it is going to be in elementary school.  I don't blame the teachers - they really are doing their best.  But it's hard to manage a class of 20+ young boisterous children and get anything done.  So they resort to conformity.

With this knowledge and understanding supporting me, I have been able to approve of Olivia's desire to join her friends at school this semester.

In some ways I will miss her.  She is growing up into such a beautiful, good, young lady.  Ben, Olivia, and I have taken a lot time making this decision.  Olivia has a lot of reasons for wanting to back to the public school arena, despite the things she's going to miss about homeschooling.  I am proud of her for the thought, consideration, and prayer she has put into this decision on her own.  And how do I feel about it? 

I have peace. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012


This Sunday morning before church I was working on a musical arrangement I needed to finish for the youth choir.  I was softly singing along, and got to the end where the sopranos have a big finish going up pretty high. As soon as I finished Olivia called from across the room, "Momma, are you okay?" (She sounded genuinely concerned.)

"Yes," I replied.  "Why do you ask?"

"Well, you sounded like you were dying or something."

I'm insulted.

Friday, January 6, 2012

One of our Favorite Things

We love enchiladas in this house.  And not those creamy chicken-full-of-sour-cream-and-cheese ones, either.  (Although, admittedly, Ben and I do have a soft spot for those.)  These are the kind with the home-made red sauce.  We will ever be indebted to Barbara (and you know who you are!) for first giving us the idea for these super-easy enchiladas.

I literally have used this recipe to use up dozens of leftovers - especially of the chicken variety.  And I do mean ALL KINDS of leftovers - pork, ground beef, even BBQ chicken, once.  We just chop it up, mix it with black beans and little sauce, and we are ready to go!  They have all tasted wonderful.  And so, after Christmas when we had a ton of leftover homemade chicken tenders... guess what I was making?

That's right.  Chicken and black bean enchiladas.  I also discovered an easier way to assemble these babies, which I thought I would share for those of you who may be interested.  Read on to find out what it is...

As a side note, you can make these enchiladas with any type of meat/poultry/beans that you have on hand, but my favorite combination by far is the black bean and chicken.  I have also made it with meat and cooked veggies, like peppers, onions, and zucchini.  That was also delicious!

Quick & Easy Enchiladas
Enchilada Sauce:
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 c. salsa
1/2 to 1 pkg of taco seasoning

Small taco-size tortillas, flour or corn
Black beans
Shredded cheese (save some to sprinkle on top!)

First, gather the ingredients for your sauce.

Pour the tomato sauce into a small bowl or measuring cup, then refill the can with salsa.

 Add salsa and taco seasoning to tomato sauce and stir.  I find that some taco seasonings are spicier than others, so if I'm not sure how much I need, I use half a package.  The next time I can always add more if I need to.

Once you've got your sauce ready, start preparing your filling.  Take your leftovers and chop them up or shred them.  The chicken tenders I was using were a lot easier to chop than shred, so that's what I did.  Notice I left the breading on?  That's because these are really hard to screw up.

Add black beans.  I used a can of black beans because it was what I could get my hands on quickly.  Just toss them in a strainer in the sink, rinse them, and add them to the chicken.  Voila!

Now you will want to season your filling so it tastes kind of Mexican and not blah and unseasoned.  I have done this other times by adding cumin, salt, and pepper, maybe some lime juice.  However, the easiest way to do it is to just stir in a few spoonfuls of the enchilada sauce.

Now here's my "quick and easy" tip. 
In the past I have assembled the enchiladas putting in one filling at a time.
Chicken?  Check.
Beans? Check.
Cheese? Check, check!

Although it takes more time, this is a good way to make a variety of types of enchiladas at the same meal.  For example, Olivia doesn't like black beans but prefers plain chicken enchiladas.  I can do that when I don't mix the filling ingredients.  Or maybe I am using up more than one kind of leftovers - like taco meat and garlic chicken.  I don't want to mix those, either.  But when time is of the essence, you really can just dump it all in the same bowl if you want to.  Including the cheese.  I did, however, use two different kinds of cheese.  The bowl on the left is the pepper- jack (yum!) and the bowl on the right is colby-jack.  You can mix in as little or as much cheese as you'd like.

 Next, before we start rolling, we must prepare the pans.  Coat with cooking spray and spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan, like so.  This is also when I turn on my oven to start preheating.  You'll want to bake these at 375 (cold filling) or 400 (warm filling).

Next, place about a quarter-cup of filling in each tortilla.  Roll up enchilada style and place into pans.  Spread a little more sauce on top.  You're not going to be drowning these things in sauce, but you do want to have a coating of sauce on the outside of the tortillas to keep them soft while you're cooking them and to add flavor.

 Next, sprinkle a layer of cheese on top.  Since I use more than one type of cheese, I sprinkle whatever cheese on top that I used in the middle so I can tell them apart.  Notice - pepper jack on the left, cojack on the right.

Bake in your oven for 25-35 minutes or until all the cheese is melted.  I forgot to take a picture of the finished product until after dinner.  This is all that was left...

And they make GREAT leftovers the next day!  In fact, Ben requests that I make extra on purpose so he can take them for lunch for the next few days.

I'm telling you.  If your family is into Tex-Mex, you will want to try this and soon!


Months and months ago I got my hands on a metal plaque that I wanted to make over into a new Family Home Evening chart for our family.

Finally, the day after Christmas, I started it.

It involved the use of scrapbooking paper, glue, laminating, clear coat, and even magnets (so we can move the pictures around each week).

I'm so proud.

Lookin' Good!

I have such beautiful girls.  

They got some new clothes for Christmas (thanks, Aunt Janice!!)

Aren't they growing up fast?

Something to Gnaw On...

Ben noticed our dining table was chewed up the other day.  

Want to guess who has been gnawing on it?

Maybe it was this culprit?


It was this one:

Little stinker.