Moon Pies?….Kinda

Moon Pies?....Kinda

So while studying the Moon, we needed something more for our kiddos to make the connection between the Phases of the moon, the changing of the month, orbit and so on…they got the gist but it wasn’t enough.
With our kids, interest is a first priority cause they can tune you out OH SO MASTERFULLY! Thankfully inspiration hit (my good ideas are never mine 🙂 ) and I remembered some buttercream frosting in the fridge (Homemade and thus thicker than store-bought, made with vegetable oil spread actually)
We rolled 3 dollops of the plain white frosting into about 2inch diameter balls, for the Full and 2 Gibbous Moons, then stuck them in the freezer.
Then we mixed some cocoa powder into some white frosting to make the dark portions on the white frosting balls (Gibbous Moon Phases).
Next we mixed some peanut butter and cocoa into some of the white frosting and made 5 more balls (approx. same size as others) for the other Phases (2 crescents, 1 New, and 2 quarters).
We stuck those in the freezer for a bit and then “frosted” them with the leftover white frosting to make them look like the other before mentioned Phases of the Moon.
Anyway, the best part was it didn’t take long, the kids could do the majority of it, and they were totally focused.
While the “Moons” were freezing we cut up the papers and wrote the names of the phases on them, used some yellow playdoh for the side of the sun and our well-played-with-clay was all rolled into a ball to make the earth. Then we got out our “Moons” and set them up on the correct label and Voila! A memorable and tasty model of the Phases of the Moon!
P.S. The added bonus was that tonight was our Family Night and this Science activity took care of our family treat too! 

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Romantic Rendezvous

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Since Marvel and I won’t be able to celebrate on the actual Valentine’s Day, I wanted to “surprise” him with something special before he left. The limits were diet (we have a lot of food sensitivities at our house), time, budget, and no babysitter.

Well, I don’t think anything turns out the way I have it pictured in my mind but considering having to do our school responsibilities, restock our nearly empty fridge, teething baby that’s transition from 2 naps to one, and getting (threatening?) the kids to bed early (can someone tell me why kids NEVER go to bed early when you want them to?)….it turned out presentable and my hubby was happy so all’s well that ends well.

So here’s how it went.

First I made a simple invitation to leave on his computer screen while he was showering in the morning (sorry, didn’t get a picture of that one before it got destroyed).

Then we finished up with school and thankfully he took two of the girls to run errands with him, so I just took my son and baby to the grocery store.

Came home and Engineer helped me put groceries away and make the lemonade (which I added the raspberries to later) while I got the bread sticks going. Another set back was the bread didn’t rise???!! (Still no idea what I did differently) Which is why they became bread sticks and I have that corny bread heart 🙂

I cut up the filling for the Beef Milanesa Roll (I made this up  that day, you can get the recipe here), being sure I cut up enough to make something similar for the kids on the actual Valentine’s Day. When I  got to the mushroom cutting I just chopped them all and made a mushroom soup that could cook while I finished preparing the beef.

I rolled up the Milanesas and made the sauce, poured it on and popped in  the oven. Then I got the first pan of breadsticks ready, cleaned up a bit and then stuck them in  the oven.

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Next I made the layered Maple Spice Cake (get it the recipe here) that is one of the few desserts my Marvel will eat,  and put in in the oven as well ( just cut it into a heart BTW). By now the soup was cooked and I turned off the heat for it.

I got the potatoes peeled and cooking in the pressure cooker. Then I made the breadstick heart and put them in the oven as I took the first pan of breadsticks out.

Got the kids bathed and in bed, cleaned up my mess, mashed the potatoes and made the salads and finished the lemonade….then off to make myself look like I hadn’t been cooking for the last couple hours;)

While I got ready I “set-up” the room with candles and our wedding playlist of music and made everything pretty.

After I was presentable I made up the plates and set the table and called Marvel to the table.

He’s always so cute and makes a big deal when he knows I put a lot of effort into something for him. He’s such a keeper:)

So….it was really a nice evening.  We ate dinner with a real conversation, no interruptions! Watched a movie…well, I watched a movie. As usual, he fell asleep and I got one of the action movies he likes so I couldn’t turn it off ‘til I found out what happened….and then couldn’t sleep cause I thought I was being chased all night:/ …And…. Well…there may or may not have been more to the evening but I’m not tellin’… 😉

Lovely Beginning

Image                                             Here are our “Heart Maps” thus far!

To begin this Valentine’s week we started our day with practicing a new song. Well, a new old song. It’s called “Love One Another” and is based on John 13:34-35. We learned it a couple years ago but then it occurred to me that my now almost 4 year old didn’t really have the attention span at that time to learn it so we’re doing a review. It’s beautiful and brings a wonderful spirit to start the day and lead into our devotional. An added plus is that there is a sign language tutorial (wow, that must be a REALLY old video!)  that goes along with it that we’ve been learning/reviewing as well. My kids all love music and sign language (it’s our second language we’re learning at the moment), but my daughters LOVE this! They are both VERY kinesthetic learners, especially Fiesta, whom defines the saying “she was born dancing.”

In place of journaling time this week we are also working on “Heart Maps”. I was really interested in doing this to help my Engineer especially with his writing skills (and motivation 🙂 but I knew it would be a fun thing for Fiesta and Elf would love to tell me stories about it later on. Plus I was just genuinely interested in what things they all considered important! Today I really didn’t give them many guidelines other than draw a heart and draw or write things that are important to you inside of it. We are going to expand on this as the week goes along so that they can hopefully include everything inside the heart that they hold dear.

I was reflecting tonight as well that we could also use this Heart Map to reflect on one of our Family Night lessons we had a few weeks ago in which we learned about the first commandment (Exodus 20:3). At the time of the lesson we discussed how anything can become a “god” to us and if we start to place it before our one and true God it will lead to unhappiness. I think that reflecting on this commandment WITH the Heart Map will help my kids conceptualize this connection better.

Looking forward to a week filled with focusing on Love!

It’s Your Call

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Walking through “Las Piedrotas” in Tapalpa, Mexico. Can you see the little munchkins waiting on me up there? 

Sometimes answers are like walking out of a cave into the bright sunlight. An instant warmth and sense of deep awareness.

Other times it’s more like waking when it’s still pitch black outside, an then watching as the shadows slowly disappear, and the sun takes its’ rightful place in the sky. Blackness fading away to grey and finally a bright yellow of newness and understanding.

Yep, sometimes the answers come very clearly, very forcefully, there is no doubt. But many times, or should I say, most of the time, my answers come with a little insight here and a little more there. Like a sculptor that methodically chisels away at a block of marble to release the masterpiece waiting beneath its’ surface.

I’m dealing with one of those right now. The second method. The slow elimination and determined chipping away. You see, I know there is a God. I know He is there. I know he listens when I pray. I know He answers. But just as any loving parent, I believe He knows that we cannot just be given the answers to all of our questions and problems. Sometimes He answers immediately and clearly. Sometimes he leads us and guides us almost just as clearly. And sometimes I think he says, “It’s your call”.

I detest this answer. I don’t want to make the call. I don’t know that I’m ready to make the call. All by myself? All on my own? But am I really on my own? No, not really. He’s my Father. He’ll tell me what He thinks, but not directly, not obviously. I must search. I must listen. I must quiet my soul in order to hear.

That is what I’m in the midst of right now. It’s actually a question I ask myself every year. Am I still sure that we should be homeschooling our children?

For the first few years, I really felt a calling. I KNEW it was what we needed to do. As our journey embarked I soon discovered that our first child would have significant struggles in any other school setting, which added confirmation to our decision.

Then a few more moves, a few more children, a few changes of employment and a plethora of changes to our homeschooling….I felt I was starting to “get it”. I felt like we could make this work. I felt a culture forming that I craved. I smiled. We can do this.

But as I just told a dear friend who is struggling with the same decision, for different reasons…Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And just because you shouldn’t now, doesn’t mean you can’t later. There is a plan and a time for everything.

A couple years ago my husband started making the steps and changes necessary to be completely self-employed. At the beginning of this year we made the final and complete leap into the world of self-employment. This means he is working from home whenever he is not attending meetings, giving trainings and/or travelling. It has mostly been a gradual change and we thought that we were figuring it out. I have always tried my best to help with my husband’s work when he was an employee and now even more as we have a family business. But I admit, I am both hesitant and ignorant. Sometimes I just don’t know what in the world I am doing! I really don’t want to mess something up that is that important. Other times I feel like if I put too much into it than I’m neglecting my responsibilities as a mother and teacher. It’s always been a difficult balance, for me.

Over the past few months I have been reflecting a lot on my priorities in order to create a good balance and decide where I need to make improvements. It was amongst this journey that my husband asked one day, “Are you sure we are supposed to be homeschooling?”

At first I was a bit flabbergasted. Though not involved with the process much, he has always been very supportive of my endeavors.

Unfortunately, I continued to react with my natural responses to his critiques….defensive mode on….How dare he… After all we’ve been through? Does he not see I’m trying my best? Doesn’t he see that the kids learn better this way?

Wait….wait for it…ok, now reflection hits….but this is my husband. My eternal companion. My best friend. What if he’s right? What if I’m doing something wrong? What if I need to have my focus elsewhere?…..

Well, very long story short, by the end of the day I was an emotional mess. I have since been spending the majority of my thinking time grappling with this subject. I’ve searched, pondered and prayed….even fasted. I feel my answer is….It’s your call….not really what I was looking for….definitely not the easy route. I have already been guided. For the moment I’ve decided to finish the school year and come to a final decision by our summer break.  I know the answer will come. Hopefully it’s before I become a habitual insomniac 😉

To all of you who’ve struggled with this, or a similar decision….what helped you?

Tea Time!

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When my Mom came to visit and brought the oldest girls each a  miniature tea set we knew a party was in sight! Today, we held a traditional British tea….well, minus the tea, (for religious reasons we only do non-caffeinated herbal teas) or cream (we don’t do dairy either), or crumpets (I don’t think I even know what a crumpet is….), and I’m not sure they dress up as ballerinas and princesses at tea time in Britain….BUT, we did have some fabulous Rose Hip tea, with some homemade miniature whole-wheat, dark chocolate cookies, and tried out our British accents. Pretty sure Fiesta and Elf are now obsessed with the word “Certainly”, although Elf says “Sutanly”! Engineer started out enthused about the idea (I think mostly for the cookies 🙂 and then after repeated attempts to try to rope him into our imaginary British world he ended up finishing his cookies like this:

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It’s tough being the only boy in the house! 😉

The Blessings of Disappointment

Image  We found out that we were expecting our second child while visiting my husband’s family in Africa. I fainted on the beach!  

 Have you ever heard that song, “Sometimes I Thank God for Unanswered Prayers?” by Garth Brooks? Are you like me and seem to have this little scenario of how things are SUPPOSED to go and what is SUPPOSED to happen in your life? Is it just me or does NOTHING EVER go the way you pictured and then you get peeved and moody and maybe even a little pouty? The last few years when I go through these moments I usually end up laughing at myself because I KNOW I AM NOT THE ONE IN CHARGE. Then I reflect and see how if it had gone my way I would have missed out on A LOT of personal growth.

When we first got married, Marvel and I had a five year plan that included building our own home in rural Idaho, both of us finishing our second degrees, him moving forward in his steady and stable job, me moving forward with my teaching in public schools, and various other goals that mostly involved our own personal growth.

Instead, we had our first child six days after our 1st anniversary, he finished his second degree while I BARELY finished my first, and then he got an opportunity to move his career into an international scene. It wasn’t OUR plan, but we felt almost as if we were being led by angels. Once we gave up OUR plans everything fell into place and we moved forward into an experience that continues to teach and stretch us beyond anything OUR plans had imagined.

Another example was when we set up our “family plan” of having our children with two years between each one. After Engineer was born, we used no forms of birth control. 2 ½ years later we looked at each other and our one child and thought, is this it? I became almost obsessed with the idea that I needed to be pregnant and felt like I had done something wrong.

When I finally poured out my heart to my Heavenly Father and felt his assurances that HIS plan would be best, I let go. Fiesta was born a little over a year later and looking back I can see how HIS plan was indeed the best and I was able to grow and help Engineer get a head-start on academic skills that he has to work harder on than most, to master. It was during this time that we decided to homeschool.

Then there are smaller examples. This past week we had a family vacation planned. It was highly anticipated because we have been saving up for it and waiting for my Mom and Step-Dad to come visit so we could all go together. We had the place, the dates, the activities and the excitement all ready to go.

Well, then our van broke down, we fixed it and decided on a shorter trip. The van broke down ¾ of the way there, at night. BUT, we broke down in a town (not in the middle of a Mexican highway where towns are scattered like those in Montana). We broke down RIGHT IN FRONT AND 10 MINUTES BEFORE CLOSING TIME of a mechanic’s shop. There was a nearby safe hotel and restaurant and a bus station to take us the rest of the way to the beach while the car was fixed. There were about a MILLION inconveniences and I still feel like I’m recuperating from our “vacation” but you know what? We were safe, the kids still had a great time (mom doesn’t let me jump on my bed but the hotel bed…hahaha), we still got to see the ocean, and both Marvel and I had plenty of time to catch up with my parents. PLUS, since we had to shorten the trip Marvel and I got back in time to fix some emergencies with his business and an ESL program we help with, that could have become disastrous in our absence. I don’t believe in coincidences.

All I’m saying is that God is OUR FATHER. He ALWAYS watches out for us and guides us. Is it easy? I know that my life, even with the change in plans is a walk in the park compared to many. I needed to write this to remind MYSELF that MY PLANS aren’t always what’s best for me and my family. So, maybe MY PLAN of by now already having been in the full throws of my “Life Cleanse” for 2014 isn’t the best for me….I’m guessing that because now my kids all came down with the stomach flu in the middle of the night….;)

News!

Hey Everyone! 

Just to let you know that I (finally) updated my “About” page! It only took me a year to introduce the whole family 🙂 Check it out and get to know us a bit better. As I type there is a flurry of preparation to leave for the beach, a LONG awaited short vacation that we’re all looking forward to. When we get back look out for my upcoming posts on my 2014 LIFE CLEANSE, a self-improvement program that I made up for myself this year to revitalize and create change that is needed in my own life. We’ll talk soon!