Friday, March 28, 2008

Teaching the catechism

For the past two weeks, the kids and I have been working through a family devotional book entitled "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade:

This book takes you through the entire Westminster Shorter Catechism. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with the shorter catechism, check out this website: Historic Church Documents.) Each question is broken down into six days of family devotions that are challenging and thought-provoking for any age. You can make it as difficult or as easy as you'd like, whatever works for your family. My kids and I have thoroughly been enjoying it. I highly encourage you to look into this book if you're looking for a high-quality family devotional book to work through.

A funny little kid-ism:
Every morning before breakfast, I've been gathering all three of my kids on the couch for "catechism time". So one day, Benjamin (my 3-1/2 yr. old) beats me to it and announces to everyone that "it's time to do the caterpillar". It was so cute!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

27 week old baby

This isn't our kiddo, but it's a 3D image I found online of what a 27 week old baby would look like. So amazing...

And here's what things look like inside.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My sister's new blog!

Yea! She finally did it! My sister started her own cooking blog!!! I just had to share it with you ladies. Enjoy!

Cyndi's Kitchen

Your Favorite Sites

I was wondering what websites you mothers of preschoolers frequent when looking for *free* crafts, printables, and activity ideas for your children?

Here are a few that I have on hand:
-Kid Zone
-Family Fun

Money Saving Mom

Found yet another cool website: Money Saving Mom

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hollandaise Sauce

RD and I recently discovered that we like asparagus. We got this incredibly yummy recipe for Hollandaise Sauce from our dear friend, Rebekah M. It was SO GOOD! (It could very well be used on other veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, etc.). My kids devoured it and kept asking for more!

Hollandaise Sauce
(makes 3/4 Cup, enough to cover one bunch of asparagus)
3 egg yolks
1 Tbls. lemon juice
1 Tbls. water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut up
Salt and pepper to taste

In a double-boiler, combine yolks, lemon juice, and water until slightly heated. Add cut up butter and stir constantly with a whisk until butter melts and the sauce thickens. Salt and pepper to taste. (If sauce separates, simply re-stir it.)
*Note: does not reheat in microwave well. Egg yolks cook and get lumpy. Try reheating in a double-boiler again.

Mall Pretzels

Here's another classic recipe from that's a must try if you like those chewy hot pretzels from the mall. Putting all chemicals, MSG's, and preservatives aside, this is the closest I've ever come to making something at home taste like something from a restaurant/store. It was rated 4 stars (out of 5) by 483 cooks.

Mall Pretzels
1 (.25 oz) package active dry yeast
2 Tbls. brown sugar
1-1/8 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups warm water (110F)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
2 cups warm water (110F)
2 Tbls. baking soda
2 Tbls. butter, melted
2 Tbls. coarse kosher salt

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast, brown sugar and salt in 1-1/2 cups warm water. Stir in flours and knead dough on a floured surface until smooth and elastic (about 8 min.s). Place in a greased bowl and turn to coat the surface. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.

Combine 2 cups warm water and baking soda in a bowl or square pan.

After dough has risen, cut into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3 foot rope, pencil thin. Twist into a pretzel shape and dip into the baking soda solution. Place on parchment paper covered (or greased) cookie sheets and let rise 15-20 min.s.

Bake at 450F for 8-10 min.s or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse salt, garlic salt or cinnamon sugar.

We did 6 with butter & salt and 6 with cinnamon & sugar.
Here's what our "dessert" pretzels looked like:

Cucumber Sauce for Gyros

My parents came down from Michigan the other weekend and we made Gyros. SO GOOD! I found this amazing recipe for cucumber-yogurt sauce (on, of course). If you like gyros, you gotta try this sauce!

Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled, grated & squeezed as dry as possible
2 tsp. red (or rice) wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and allow to set at least 1 hour in fridge. (The longer the sauce sets, the tastier it gets.)

Here's our finished Gyro
(cucumber sauce, gyro meat, tomatoes, onions, & feta cheese)

Cleaning Frenzy

Not sure if it's the weather (spring fever) or the nesting instincts of pregnancy, but lately I've been spurred on to organize and beautify my home. Here's my latest project (the bathroom sink) from 3/15/08:





ahhh... SO much better!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Update on homeschooling in CA

HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association): Update--Defending Homeschool Freedom in California

The following is an update on the developing situation in California
from Michael Farris, Chairman, Home School Legal Defense Association.

State Superintendent Supports Homeschooling

On Tuesday, March 11, Jack O'Connell, California Superintendent of
Public Instruction, announced that he believed that homeschooling is
still legal in California. O'Connell's statement is welcome news. To
read it visit http://hslda. org/elink. asp?ID=4893 . Some might
conclude that the statement ends the controversy. However, it is not
the end of the matter; it is just an important step along the way.

His clarifying statement was probably the result of the massive public
outcry against the February 28 decision of the California Court of
Appeal which effectively ruled that homeschooling is illegal in
California unless conducted by a credentialed teacher and that parents
have no constitutional right to homeschool.

O'Connell's statement is helpful, but the courts will undoubtedly take
the position that their determination of the meaning of state law is
final even though they should give serious deference to the position
of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

It should also be remembered that local school districts make the
decision about when to initiate prosecutions for truancy, and they are
not officially controlled by the state agency on these matters.
However, many local officials may be influenced by O'Connell's
positive statement.

Did the February 28 Ruling Intend to Affect All Homeschooling

Some have contended that the decision of the Court of Appeal in In Re
Rachel L. only affects that particular family. While a court order can
only direct one family to stop homeschooling, the case clearly sets a
legal precedent that will be binding against all other families if
this case is not reversed. (Technically, the decision is binding only
in the Second District which consists of Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo,
Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. However, other appellate
districts will normally treat it as persuasive precedent. If ratified
by the Supreme Court of California, it formally binds all California

There are two basic issues in the case:

1. Does state law allow parents to homeschool without a state teaching

2. If not, is this law unconstitutional?

Below are three short quotations from the case which give the clear

"It is clear to us that enrollment and attendance in a public
full-time day school is required by California law for minor children
unless (1) the child is enrolled in a private full-time day school and
actually attends that private school, (2) the child is tutored by a
person holding a valid state teaching credential for the grade being

"California courts have held that under provisions in the Education
Code, parents do not have a constitutional right to school their
children in their own home."

"We agree with the Shinn court's statement that 'the educational
program of the State of California was designed to promote the general
welfare of all the people and was not designed to accommodate the
personal ideas of any individual in the field of education."

In the first quote the court makes it clear that it believes that
parents may not operate their own private schools. In the second they
deny that a parent has a constitutional right to homeschool, and in
the third they concur that California law does not accommodate parents
pursuing their own education program for their children.

As you can see, the decision is categorical and was not written to be
limited to just the facts of this case.

Due to the scope of the court decision, HSLDA is pleased to be working
with other self-identified pro-homeschooling organizations, including
Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA), Homeschool
Association of California (HSC), California Homeschool Network (CHN),
and Family Protection Ministries (FPM) in order to oppose this ruling.
We are all in this one together.

What is HSLDA's Immediate Plan of Action?

We plan to:

1. Support the family's petition for review to the California Supreme

2. File an amicus brief on behalf of all our members, and others we
represent, if the California Supreme Court accepts the case for

What Can California Homeschoolers Expect in the Short Run?

We believe that it is highly unlikely that local officials will begin
proceedings against homeschool families until this present case is

This ruling has obviously caused great concern among California
homeschoolers. We want to remind all California homeschoolers that you
should stay calm in the face of this decision. Please continue to
operate your homeschool, because we believe that our interpretation of
the law is correct and will ultimately prevail in the court system.

We must remain vigilant, however. If you are a member of HSLDA, and
you are contacted by a school district, please contact HSLDA

Long-Range Solution

On another front, later today I am meeting with a half-dozen
congressmen to plan a strategy to push for a constitutional amendment
on parental rights. We have been receiving numerous calls from members
of Congress wanting to respond to this decision. See
http://hslda. org/elink. asp?ID=4891 for more information.

Final Thoughts/Conclusion

The way the homeschool law has worked in California for the past two
decades has been successful for all homeschoolers. If we can keep
what we have today that would be a significant victory for homeschool

We also understand that the current situation has caused much stress
for California homeschool families. We are praying, and we encourage
you to pray, that the threat we face will be swiftly removed and that
homeschool freedom in California will be preserved.

We have seen God's hand of protection on the homeschooling movement
for the 25 years we have been working together for this cause. There
is no reason to begin to doubt God now.

Michael Farris
Chairman, Home School Legal Defense Association

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

Developing Family Teamwork

Read a really neat article that speaks exactly to what we're trying to incorporate into our own family. A must read!

12 year old prodigy

This was such a neat story & interview, I just had to share it!

Check it out here!

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Here's me at 23 weeks.

National Anthem

This was amazing!

Broke down and joined...
I've been getting a lot of new recipes from this website and have been thoroughly impressed. All recipes are rated/reviewed which makes it very easy to pick a recipe you want to try. After many months of using their website, I finally decided to join. Now I can keep recipes in my "box" and rate and review the recipes I try. You should really check out this site if you're looking for a recipe. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Chocolate Coffee Cheesecake

Last night I made a very yummy new cheesecake recipe. I figured a combo of the two most glorious foods (that is, coffee and chocolate) would make a wonderful tasting cheesecake.

I made my own graham cracker crust (for recipe, see below).
Since I didn't have graham crackers on hand, I crushed some cappuccino cookies I found in the pantry.
It added a nice coffee flavor to the crust.

Going in the fridge.

All done!


Graham Cracker Crust

1-1/2 cups crushed graham crackers (or cookies)
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

In a small bowl, combine the crumbs and sugar; add butter and blend well. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-in. pie plate.
Refrigerate for 30 min.s before filling OR bake at 375F for 8-10 min. or until crust is lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack before filling.

Chocolate Lovers Cheesecake

4 (1 oz.) squares semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbl. coffee-flavored liqueur (OR 3 Tbl. strong black coffee; OR 3 tsp. espresso powder)
2 eggs
1 (9 in.) prepared graham cracker crust

Preheat oven to 350F.
In the top of a double boiler, heat chocolate, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool to lukewarm.
In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and coffee flavoring until smooth. Slowly beat in eggs, one at a time. Blend in melted chocolate. Pour filling into crust.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 min.s or until filling is set. Allow to cool. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Marinated cucumbers

Marinated Cucumbers
(from the kitchen of Rebekah M.)

1 sliced cucumber
1/4 cup white vinegar (or lemon juice)
1/2 Tbl. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. dill

Mix and let set in fridge for at least one hour.
Recipe doubles well.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Why Western civilization must learn to procreate or perish

A must read article from Stacey McDonald's blog: read it here! This was an article actually written by Rod Dreher from the Dallas Morning News

Get's you thinking...

24 weeks and counting...

Every time I feel the baby move about inside me, I marvel at God's creation...

Monday, March 03, 2008

Arianna's new chore

Arianna is now in charge of washing all kid plates, bowls, cups, and utensils. She is loving the opportunity to "work" with water and bubbles. She does such a good job at it, too.

Starting dishes (complete with cheesy grin)

All done!

*Oops... she's not wearing pants. ha ha ha*

Personality Quiz

If any of you are interested in taking a free online personality quiz, click here. It tells you what your personality strengths and weakness are. It also explains your emotions, how you are as a parent, how you are at work, and what you are like as a friend. I found my results to be pretty true to who I am. Have fun. Let me know what you think.

Invisible Mom

*My mother-in-law sent this story to me in an e-mail. It was so touching and fitting that I just had to share it. May it be an encouragement to you moms.*

Invisible Mother.....

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this ? Can you tie this? Can you open this??

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!?

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof, No one will ever see it. And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

12 Foods to Eat Organic

12 Foods To Eat Organic

I found this on the MSN website. According to the article, these are the top 12 foods to purchase organic if an entirely organic diet is too expensive.

Tomatoes & strawberries

Potatoes & Peaches

Milk & Lettuces

Grapes & Coffee

Celery & Capsicum

Beefs & apple

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Something new we started...

On account of my latest desire to involve the kids more and more in household chores and activities, today the kids started something new...
making their own beds.

They did pretty good, eh?

Another thing that I did today was rearrange the microwave cart so the cereals, raisins, honey, and napkins were kids accessible. Now they can help set the table and get their own breakfasts ready.

They are really enjoying the extra responsibilities they've been given here lately. I've been trying really hard to look for creative ways to involve all three kids in my activities and they are having a blast. I thought chores would be a drudgery, but they are finding great joy in them.