Happy Valentine’s Day

Love is patient,  love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others,  It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,  it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I Corinthians 13:4-7

More often than I care to admit, I don’t love the way I should.  Thanking God today for his perfect love. Grace feels good.

Ash Wednesday 2016

The first day of Lent and I overslept.  I woke up later than I planned and immediately started thinking I’m failing my new commitments on the first day!  By the time I woke up this morning, according to my self imposed schedule, I should have already completed prayer time and exercise.

Then I heard the question in my head, “Why is that failure?” God is so faithful to remind us of his truth versus the enemy’s lies.  The truth is the only failure is giving up.  I chose not to.  Even though I was “late” I had plenty of time to sit and be blessed in his presence this morning.  I am so thankful I did not rush off to the next thing.  I was able to write down the following prayer:

Lord,

Please be with me today and silence the voice of the enemy that tells me there is no way I can succeed.  I must rest in your strength to accomplish anything you have called or are calling me to.  You have not taken away this cup.  Help me to focus on your will.  There is so much that needs to be cleaned from my heart that I didn’t even know resided there.  Lord, please bless this day of beginnings.  Amen

I fasted today for the first time in a long time.  I had intended to do a Daniel Fast this morning, but during my TAG (Time Alone with God) I felt led to go without food this first day of Lent.  My schedule for the day was truly turned upset down, but I felt calmer than I have in weeks.  I guess the word would be peaceful.  I am looking forward to this season and seeing God work.  I would not presume to think that everyday will feel like today, but I feel like God blessed my effort to not give up this morning and obey his voice.  Lord help me to listen intently for your voice and to obey quickly. Thank you, Lord, for a day of blessed beginnings!

 

About Mardi Gras…

Happy Mardi Gras ya’ll!

This has been my hardest Carnival Season to be away from New Orleans.  I haven’t lived in New Orleans in over 20 years, but so many family and friends returned home to celebrate, and I wanted to be there too. My children have fully embraced their Louisiana heritage and were almost as disappointed as I was.  Because they couldn’t share in the revelry in New Orleans, they decided to share some of the holiday with their CC classes.

I was really proud of my babies!  They told about the history and traditions of Mardi Gras and then shared one of our homemade King Cakes.  After the presentation, however, it made me sad to realize how many people outside of New Orleans really don’t know anything about the true meaning.  Many of the moms commented they had no idea it had Christian roots and thought it was merely a chance for drunken debauchery.

Many outside of Louisiana don’t realize it is a holiday that traces its origins back to medieval Europe and has been in America since 1699.  Many don’t realize Carnival Season begins with the celebration of the three Kings, or Magi, that visited Jesus after his birth on the Twelfth Night.  Or that is a family affair with parades and marching bands, tailgating and dancing, toys and coveted throws, parties, King Cake and lots of good food. All of that comes to an end on Mardi Gras Day.  A legal holiday in Louisiana since the 1800’s.

The kids and I talked a lot about what Mardi Gras meant to me growing up with people these last couple of weeks. Not just the fun, but also the feeling that we were preparing ourselves for Lent.  “What are you giving up for Lent?”, was a common question during Carnival Season.  I haven’t observed Lent myself in a few years, but all this explaining tugged on my heart.  Carnival addresses the carnal, the flesh, that Christians seek to subdue during Lent in honor of our Savior’s sacrifice.

I think it has particularly resonated with me this year because I’ve been struggling greatly with my flesh lately.  Anger, resentment, doubt, confusion, and lack of discipline have been thorns in my side that desperately need to be addressed.  I plan to observe Lent this season and it’s time of refinement.  I pray God will mold me as I seek to sacrifice, fast, and pray with a more specific focus.  I hope you all had a Happy Mardi Gras.  Here’s to Lent and a shinier you!

 “But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

 

Prayer for February 6, 2016

I wrote and prayed this prayer a few days ago, but I have been feeling a strong need to revisit these words everyday. It was a plea from the heart of a struggling homeschool mother for herself and her family, but we all struggle.  I’m going to keep praying this prayer.  I felt led to share it and so here it is.  May God use it to bless you too.

Lord,

Be with us today.  Help all of us to focus on you and your will for us today.  Help us, but me especially, to be content in the place you have us in right now.  Let me not miss out on the blessings you have for me today by focusing my attention on the things I don’t have.  Help me to stay in my lane and appreciate all the ways you are molding and growing me today.  Let my attitude be pleasant and my words be kind.  Help me to bridle this wild loose tongue of mine.  Be in my heart, so that my actions may be covered in your love.  Help me to grow in wisdom and discernment.  Teach me to be more organized, but help me to remember nothing is in my control.  And when I feel out of control, let me remember to reach for your hand because only you hold me and calm it all.

Amen

Grilled Chicken with Roasted Eggplant

DSCN2039My oldest loves to learn about other countries and cultures.  She often checks out books at the library about countries she would like to experience.  This year in CC we are studying ancient civilizations and many of her books have coordinated a great deal with our curriculum.  My sweet children are a lot like their mother.  They love to relate to anything through food, and they have been asking most of the school year to cook some of the food from one of these books.

I agreed to let her choose a meal for dinner.  She and her brother wanted lamb kebobs from Turkey.  I love lamb, but I’ve never been brave enough to cook it myself.  With our budget, I couldn’t imagine spending the money for the lamb and not cooking it properly.  I managed to convince them that we should try the recipe with chicken instead.  Chicken is so far from lamb it’s ridiculous, and part of me felt really horrible about it.  I told them we would still use the same spices and flavorings.  I forgot the oregano at the store, so we made some adjustments with Italian seasoning.  It may not be authentic to the book, but this recipe was inspired by a recipe from the book on Turkey.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts cut into cubes
  • salt to taste
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • 1/3 c lemon juice
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 Tbsp. dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. course ground pepper
  • about 10 mini sweet bell peppers, cut into large pieces
  • 1 large eggplant cut into cubes

In a blender, combine the salt, pepper, onion, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and Italian seasoning.  Blend until it forms a paste.  Place the cubed chicken into one gallon sized Ziploc bag and the eggplant and peppers into a separate bag.  Pour half of the marinade into each bag, seal, and massage the bags to make sure the paste covers all the meat and veggies.  Place the bags in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.  We let ours sit for 2-3 hours.

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Remove the meat from the bag and place onto skewers.  Heat your grill pan or grill, and spray or coat with oil to prevent sticking.  I used medium high heat.  Place the skewers on the grill pan and cook until you see beautiful grill marks and your chicken is cooked on one side.  After about 10 minutes, turn the chicken over and continue until cooked through.

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You can skewer and cook the eggplant on the grill as well, but I did not have enough space.  Instead I roasted the eggplant in our oven.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Spread the peppers and eggplant on a large greased cookie sheet.  For easy cleanup, I lined my sheet with aluminum foil and then greased. Bake until the veggies are tender, about 30 minutes.

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Before

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After

We served the chicken and veggies with rice and salad. A healthy dinner served and lots of happy faces!

Science Rocks!

I have not been online in a bit.  I have been sick on and off for the past few weeks, but today I was feeling better, and decided to have some science fun with the kids in school today.  As always, anything that allows us to incorporate food into our lessons is a huge score!

We started the lesson by reviewing some of the CC Science memory work from the last couple of weeks.  I had the kids answer the questions, “What are some parts of the earth?”, and “What are some types of rock?”.  We then re-read passages from two of our library books to elaborate on the memory work.  We used Geology by Frank H. T. Rhodes and the Earth from the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Books Series by Susanna Van Rose.

The activity ideas for the day were found on this great blog, Beakers and Bumblebees Blog: a Journey through fifth grade Science class!  As always I used whatever we had on hand at home. First we created an edible model of the layers of the earth using the cut off bottom of a cake ice cream cone, cake frosting, chocolate syrup, and a hard candy.  The cone was our crust.  The frosting was our mantle.  The syrup was our liquid outer core, and we used a lemonhead breath mint as our hard inner core.  We read and talked about the hydrosphere, biosphere, and atmosphere while we ate our models.

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Next we sang the song we found on the blog and started working on making our rocks.

We will we will rock you!
we will we will rock you!
Volcanos erupt with lava so hot
it cools and hardens and its igneous rock cuz
rocks can change…all over this place…
they weather, and melt, and get rearranged!
We will we will rock you!
we will we will rock you!
Rock gets weathered into tiny tiny rocks
layers and layers get piled on top
it gets compacted, its elementary
this rock will become sedimentary
we will we will rock you
we will we will rock you!
Any type of rock under heat and pressure
becomes metamorphic and that’s for sure
cuz rocks can change, all over this place..
they weather, and melt and get rearranged
we will we will rock you
we will we will rock you!

The kids loved the song!

First, we made metamorphic rocks by using the heat and pressure from our hands to change snickers bars into deliciously rearranged rocks.  We placed the candies into Ziploc bags and then smashed away.DSCN2019 - CopyDSCN2021 - Copy

Next, we used a candle to demonstrate how igneous rocks are formed.  We compared the melted and cooled wax to the lava that flows from volcanoes to create igneous rocks.  We then melted our own chocolate “rocks”, you may call them chips, and allowed them to “flow” over waxed paper and cool.  My son said it was the best rocks he had ever tasted.  There’s something special about a dark chocolate igneous rock. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture. I think I was a little too messy by that point or fighting the littlest to let the chocolate cool.  I know there was an incident with the candle.  You’ll have to trust me.

We ended the lesson by making our edible version of sedimentary rocks.  We began by taking a few cookie “rocks” and ” weathering” them until we were left with crumbs.  By weathering I mean dropping them and banging them against things.  Isn’t that what the wind does?  We poured those into ramekins.  We found more sand in the form of brown sugar and layered that on top.  Next a few larger rocks that resembled dark chocolate chips. For the final layer of rocks we used mini marshmallows.  We read about fossils and their deposits in sedimentary rocks and used butter as our oil deposits created by those dead animals.  We placed the ramekins in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes and allowed them to cool.  After lunch we unearthed our sedimentary rocks for a crunchy dessert.

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Thank goodness we had a really light breakfast this morning because we pretty much ate nothing but sugar the first half of the day.  Had I planned better, I would have spaced those out over a few days.  There is certainly something to be said for feeling better and being out of bed!  And yes, I know this was crazy to take on my first day back.  I’m paying for it now, because I’m exhausted.  Good night!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baking Season Pics

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Neapolitan Cake

I never got a chance to fully go through baking season, so I thought I would post a few pictures of some of the goodies the kids and I baked up.  It should be obvious why my pants are a little tight.

 

 

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Carrot Cake Cheesecake

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Orange Cranberry Coffee Cake

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Red Velvet Cheesecake

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Strawberry Minnie Mouse

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Lemon Pirate Ship

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1st attempt at Homemade Gingerbread House

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Texans Jersey