Friday, August 31, 2007

I Could Never Do That!

This is what I hear over and over again when people learn that I homeschool my kids. I can understand that would be someone's first instinct. Homeschooling is a demanding career (yes, I consider it my career) that takes a lot of dedication and time. But you know what? You could homeschool if you really wanted to. Don't misunderstand me - I'm not saying that I believe that everyone should homeschool, that all other educational forms are wrong. But I do want to encourage those who are considering it to understand that it is possible for the vast majority of people. I'd like to look at some of the reasons I've heard regarding why people feel homeschooling wouldn't work for them.

  1. I don't have the patience to be with my children day in and day out - This is probably what I hear the most. And it's also, to me, the funniest reason people give. As if homeschool mothers are somehow magically endowed with super-human amounts of patience. Trust me, nothing could be further from the truth. There are many days when I feel like I'm going to lose it and have really ugly thoughts running through my head. But the trick is, unless we put ourselves in situations where we can learn patience, we never will. It's like that old cartoon where someone is praying, "God, give me patience...And I want it now!" As you homeschool, you will develop the patience that you need, but yes, it's a process.
  2. My kids would never listen to me - Well, no, maybe not at first. They are used to seeing you as secondary to their teachers, academically speaking. How many of you have heard (or said to your own parents), "That's not how the teacher said to do it!"? But over time, they would learn to respect you in your position as teacher. And if you handle the transition right, they might even embrace you as teacher before you know it. Now, I'll agree that this is easier if you homeschool from the start. But if you allow them time to de-school you will make the transition easier on all of you and allow you and your child the opportunity to re-build your relationship in a new way, as both teacher and parent.
  3. We need the money my job brings in - Far be it from me to judge anyone's finances. I know that there are families out there that truly struggle and need that second income. But I also hear this from people who live in a big house, take expensive vacations, drive expensive cars and spend like it's going out of style. Which is fine - everyone has the right to spend the money they earn in their own way. But I would just challenge you, if this is the only thing holding you back from homeschooling, to really consider your spending habits and see if they line up with what your priorities are. There are many resources which can help you cut expenses. There are even studies showing that the income most women bring in goes mainly to support her career anyways, once you consider childcare costs, wardrobe expenses, eating out because Mom's too tired to cook, increased tax bracket, etc.
  4. I'm not smart and/or educated enough - There are so many wonderful types of curricula out there which lay everything out for you, this is SO not a problem. While I think I'm a pretty intelligent woman (if being able to answer almost every question on Jeopardy is any indication - LOL!) and yet I didn't finish college. I learn with my kids. If they ask me a question I don't know the answer to, we look it up and learn it together. Now, my particular area of weakness is math, so I've ordered a program for my kids this year that is completely on the computer - teaching, explanations, answers, you name it. These same types of programs exist for almost any subject you can think of. Lack of confidence in yourself should not hold you back - there are ways around it, I promise.
  5. My child needs socialization - This is another one that makes me laugh. Now, I know that there are some crazies out there who keep their kids home and don't let them out of the house. But the vast majority of homeschool families are actively engaged in many, many things which put their child/ren in contact with other kids on a regular basis. What is socialization exactly anyway? It is the process of learning one's culture and how to live within it. How often in life are you confined for 6 hours a day with people of your own age and socio-economic level, as if often the case in school? I'm guessing not much. As an adult, I have friends who are much younger and much older than myself. Homeschooled children generally participate in life with their parents on a more regular basis since they spend more time at home - they visit banks, stores, run errands, etc. All the while learning how to live, how to communicate with adults, how to behave, etc. An excellent post on the subject can be found here. On top of all this, who is it you want to be socializing your children - 25 other children the same age or yourself? Who do you want your children looking to for guidance? Who should be the one influencing your child? If you think that pre-teens and teenagers who spend all their time with their friends don't look to their peers more than their parents, you need a wake-up call. Studies show that most teenagers say that their main influences are, in this order: 1) peers 2) media 3) school 4) parents. Did you catch that? Parents are at the bottom of the list.

I'm not trying to say that you must homeschool. The purpose of this post is just to clear up that I am not some amazingly special person because I homeschool. I'm just a regular mom who struggles - I struggle with all these issues above. But I overcame my fear of all of it to do what I feel is right for our family.

I just want to let anyone know who is thinking about it, but too scared to try it - YOU CAN DO IT! Just open yourself up and allow God to give you the strength you need. He'll give it to you.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Be careful what you wish for!

Updated: Well, obviously, nothing is ever as good as it seems, LOL!!! Hubby only gets 4 weeks vacation, I don't know where the heck our friend got the idea of 40 paid holidays!!!, and there is no way we will be banking anywhere close to what I posted below. In fact, at this point (4 months in) we are still just trying to get caught up on paying off debt. Still, we are enjoying life and the opportunities living in the Middle East brings.

If you've read my blog for any length of time (heck, I've only been doing this for a few months - you probably have had cheese in your fridge longer than you've been reading this blog!), you know that one of my primary goals in life is to move out of South Florida. After planning moves to both Colorado Springs and then Knoxville, I'm still here. Following our recent trip to Tennessee, we planned on next considering either Jacksonville or Gainesville. Until now.

We are seriously considering moving to the United Arab Emirates, a small country on the Persian Gulf. This came completely out of the blue following an email from a colleague of Hubby's who has recently moved there. It would really be an amazing opportunity for us - salary almost triple what Hubby makes now, 5 weeks paid vacation, 40 paid holidays, full medical coverage for the entire family and paid-for tickets for the family to come back to the States every year. On top of that, there is no income or sales tax there and the first $80,000 is non-taxable to the U.S. We might be able to bank over $70,000 a year.

Plus it would be a wonderful opportunity for the kids to be able to experience a different world - a new culture and language. With the large amount of vacation time Hubby would get, we could travel to Europe and explore the world. We'd also be nearer to Hubby's side of the family, including a sister who lives about an hour from where we are thinking of. It would be a temporary situation, since we'd want to return to the U.S. once Emily is ready for college in about 5-6 years, but what an amazing few years it would be!

Here's a picture of Dubai, the city we are looking into:

You can see it's a very modern city. In fact, from everything I've read, it's a wonderful place to live - very child-friendly, extremely safe, politically neutral, very Westernized. It seems to be a huge resort place for Europeans - like Vegas without the gambling. They even have an indoor ski center!!

While nothing is set in stone yet, there is a lot to think about if we were to move forward with this plan. There would be a lot to work out. Please pray for us for wisdom and for God to either open or close the doors, as He wills. I have to admit, this isn't what I had in mind, but it would be really exciting!

Thankful Thursday

Here we are again on Thursday, with our weekly reminder to take time out and thank the Lord for all He has given us and done for us. It's a shame, really, that we even need a reminder. Every day ought to be filled with thanks.

  • I'm thankful that God has been guiding and leading me in new directions lately. I've been finding myself willing to think new ideas, try new things, stretch myself. Things that might have been painful before are now manageable and sometimes even exciting.
  • I'm thankful for my mom's visit. We had a really nice time together, did lots of fun stuff and it was good to see her...
  • Not smoking! After smoking for almost 50 years, she is kicking the habit. She didn't smoke the whole week she was here, though a little bird told me she lit up as soon as she got home. She's on a brand-new medication that supposedly kills the nicotine addiction.
  • I'm thankful for Sonlight. It's wonderful to be just a few days away from the start of a new school year and not have any worries or stress over it. I love what we'll be studying and can't wait to start. And this is the dirty little secret of homeschooling: the moms enjoy the learning as much as, if not more than, the kids.
  • I'm thankful our hurricane season has been quiet thus far. And praying it stays that way!
  • I'm thankful for the upcoming long weekend and that Hubby has come up with some fun plans for us.
  • I'm thankful for the library, a homeschool mom's best friend!
  • And, finally this morning, I'm thankful for Benedryl, because I have mosquito bites all over me!!

If you could use a lift and hear more about what God is doing in the lives of others, be sure to stop over at Sting My Heart to read more testimonies of God's mercies in people's lives!

The Last Days of Summer

As summer winds down and fall picks up, I find myself looking forward to getting back into a routine again. In the same way that I anticipate summer for it's very lack of routine, I now find myself craving it. It's funny how the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, isn't it? I suppose it's just that everything is good in moderation.

We haven't formally started school yet; then again, we never formally stopped school over the summer. But, come Monday, we'll jump in with both feet, starting full-time school. This week, I'm focusing on getting "life" in order - cleaning, laundry, streamlining, etc. Then Hubby decided he'd like to make a visit down to Key West on Saturday. We haven't been in years and the kids have never gone. I think what triggered it was some game show question about the southernmost state. Which is technically Hawaii, but Key West has the southernmost point in the continental U.S., which apparently made him decide we need to go. Then we'll spend the rest of the nice, long weekend relaxing.

So now I find myself immersed in making plans and schedules and resolutions, like I do at the start of every school year. I promise myself that this year will be different; that I'll magically have been transformed into someone who actually sticks to the plans and schedules and resolutions. Then real life knocks and I fall back into my old habits.

I'm still thinking through all this, but so far what I do know is that this year's curricula is, naturally, our most challenging yet. As I've looked through the reading assignments, I'm wondering how my kids will slog through some of it. We'll be doing Sonlight's Core 6, which is the first year of a two-year World History course. I'm going to continue having the kids do most of their work on their own, but I realize that there are some subjects that will work better done as a group, small though it will be! Those subjects are:
  • Bible reading, memorization and study

  • History

  • Read Alouds

  • Dictation

  • Spelling

  • Grammar

  • Poetry
That leaves the kids with managing their time to cover these subjects:

  • Vocabulary

  • Readers

  • Science

  • Math

  • Creative Writing

  • Current Events

  • Arabic

Of those, 3 (science, math and Arabic) are computer programs that they can work through on their own. I'll be available for help for everything, but I really would like them to be responsible for their own scheduling.

Within the next few days, I'll be putting together some more thoughts as I prepare to enter a new school year - on the atmosphere I'd like to create, on taking care of myself and my family, and on our educational goals. I think without having a destination in mind, you'll never get where you are going. So even if I don't succeed at ALL of what I'm aiming at, I'll probably still be better off than if I didn't make a plan at all, right?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday

One of the things I'm really trying to work on in my life is being healthier. I've been looking for recipes that will help me in that way, but I'm pretty picky about what I eat. It really has to taste good - and this sandwich does.

I know it sounds wierd, but if you try it, I bet you'll love it just like I do. It's my favorite sandwich ever and that's saying a lot for a girl who is not a nuts and sprouts kind of gal.

Tomato & Avocado Sandwich
2 slices of whole wheat bread, toasted
1 thick slice of ripe avocado
1 thick slice of tomato (the fresher, the better)
Handful (?) of alfalfa sprouts
Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper to taste
Put it all together and enjoy! It's totally healthy and totally delicious. I know, I know. It sounds like such a strange combination, but I love it. The whole wheat bread is great for you, tomatoes will give you anti-oxidants, the avocado provides you with healthy monounsaturated fat, and sprouts are packed with nutrients! And that works for me!


I'm so sorry I didn't get to this earlier today. Once I dropped my mom off at the airport, I came home and absolutely crashed, taking a 2 hour nap! Then it was time for dinner and dishes and time with Hubby...well, you know how it goes.

But, as promised, I'm here to offer up two yummy sounding recipes. I know I said in my last post that I would wrap up the Paula Deen series today, but I actually think I'm going to finish up next week. This week I'll do a cake and pie, next week I'll pick something out of the cookies and confections category.

First up we'll look at the Carmel Apple Cake, served at The Lady and Sons, then Praline Pumpkin Pie. I know it's a bit early for that, but with fall coming and all...

Carmel Apple Cake w/Carmel Topping
Serves 15-20

2 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 1/2 cups diced apples, canned or fresh

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together eggs, sugar and oil. Add flour; mix until well blended. Add vanilla, nuts, and diced apples. Spread into a lightly greased and floured 13x9 inch baking pan; bake for 45-60 minutes. Cake is done with toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. When cake is done, punch holes in it with a knife and pour topping over it.

3 sticks butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
Heat all ingredients over medium heat. Bring to boil, stirring constantly. Let boil for 2 minutes. Pour over warm cake.

Praline Pumpkin Pie
Serves 6-8

1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
1/3 cup plus 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
One 9-inch unbaked pie shell
3 whole eggs
2 eggs, separated
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground mace (optional)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Blend pecans with 1/3 cup brown sugar and softened butter. Press gently with back of spoon into bottom of pie shell. Blend all remain ingredients except egg whites and granulated sugar. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 50 minutes. make a meringue by beating egg whites until stiff, adding the granulated sugar while beating. After pie has baked, remove from oven and cover with meringue. Return to 425-degree oven just to brown meringue.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'll be Running Late Today

I know it's my day to finish up the Paula Deen series with a scrumptious dessert or two, but it will have to wait until later in the day. It's now after 1 a.m. and I've got to get off to bed and tomorrow my mom leaves for home, so the kids and I will be spending some quality time with her before her flight. Then, because my kids will be, you know, crying their eyes out and all, I've promised to do something fun with them after the trip to the airport.

But I will give you a teaser and say that one of the desserts I'll be posting is Caramel Apple Cake. Now doesn't that just sound like something you could jump into and swim around in? I mean, who doesn't like caramel apples?! Check back later in the afternoon for the recipes.
Monday, August 27, 2007

Menu Plan Monday

It seems that I have somehow gotten off-track from my regular menu plan, so I have all this food that I haven't used up yet. Since money is a little tight right now, it's happening at just the right time! I'm going to use up what I've got to "make-do" until Hubby's next paycheck. Here's the plan:

Monday ~ Chicken Parmesan, salad, roasted broccoli, garlic bread

Tuesday ~ Shepherd's Pie, salad

Wednesday ~ Chicken Stir Fry, rice

Thursday ~ Roast Sticky Chicken, mashed potatoes, corn

Friday ~ Taco Salad

Saturday ~ Spaghetti, salad, garlic bread

Sunday ~ Pizza topped with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella & basil

I'll need minimal groceries for the week, which will make Hubby happy, and we'll still eat well! For more great menu plan ideas, check out The Lazy Organizer, home of Menu Plan Monday.

Marriage Monday or "How To Get Married Without Dating"

I've mentioned a couple of times that Hubby and I did not date before our engagement and I always knew that I would have to post about it. Now, Christine has given me the perfect opportunity. The Marriage Monday topic for this week is reminiscing about the early days of our relationships. The anniversary of our engagement is just a couple of weeks away, so it's fun for me to take a few moments and remember that exciting and amazing time in my life.

I was 24, young and idealistic. I still had plans of returning to Europe some day and maintained a lot of my friendships there. But there was this guy. He was a deacon in my church; single, friendly, godly - the total package.

The hitch was that the church we were attending discouraged dating, instead promoting something called, "Perfect Choice." The theory went that God could and would, if allowed, arrange a marriage in the same way He did for Issac and Rebekah. If one felt, after taking the time to pray about it that there was "someone" you believed God was leading you toward, then you would talk to the pastor to "submit" that name. He would then inform said person, who was then to take 30 days to pray about it and ask God to reveal it to him/her. If, at the end of this time of prayer, that person came back with the other person's name, believing that God wanted them to marry, then they became engaged. I know - it sounds crazy.

I had been noticing Hubby-to-be, but hadn't really thought seriously about pursuing any relationship. Then one night we had carpooled with a few other people to a Singles event. As we drove back to the church, I looked over at him and clear as day heard God say to me "This is your future husband." I don't say that lightly. I had never before and have never since had that happen to me. I was so stunned I didn't speak the rest of the way and couldn't even look at him. This was July 25.

For the remainder of the summer, and probably even before then, I tried to avoid him. I wanted anything that did happen to truly be God-led, not because I was flirty or initiating anything. I served as a greeter and there would be a greeter and a deacon at each doorway into the sanctuary - I would see where he was and go to the door farthest away. I would park my car away from him if I could. I was trying desperately to keep my emotions under control. Whenever I thought about him, I would turn it into praying for him. We had never been alone, nor did I have any reason to believe he felt the same way I did.

I was adamant that I would never "submit" anyone's name - that should be the man's job, right? So I waited out the summer, jumpy any time he was near. Finally, near the end of August, I felt convicted that I was to submit his name - that I was allowing pride to stand in the way of God's plan.

Then Hurricane Andrew hit. In the midst of all the devastation, it didn't seem appropriate to bother the pastor, so I put it on hold. Finally, in mid-September I saw an opportunity to speak with the pastor following a Friday night service. Afterwards, I was a nervous wreck. A group of us singles went out (including Hubby-to-be) and I was sick to my stomach, convinced he must have seen me speaking to the pastor.

There was a Christian seminar that many people from our church were attending in town the next week. Hubby-to-be had asked me to ride with him. Of course, I said yes. I mean, I figured I had 30 days while he was supposed to be praying. I could finally relax, right? Well, on the second night of the conference, during a break, he asked me to step outside with him. And he proposed!

Believe it or not, before the pastor even spoke to him, Hubby had gone to the pastor less than 48 hours after I had spoken with him to submit my name! The pastor asked him if we had been dating and when Hubby vehemently denied it, the pastor told him that he'd better get a ring because God was working here! In all the cases of "Perfect Choice" there had never been a case where both people, who really hadn't dated, approached the pastor at basically the same time.

So, of course I said yes and we were married just 5 1/2 months later. There were some very difficult adjustments, natural since we really didn't know each other. But the knowledge that our relationship was truly ordained by God and a result of prayer has gotten us through all of that. We are very much in love and it's been a wonderful 15 years!
Sunday, August 26, 2007

Phew! That was a chore!

At my dear hubby's request, I have deleted his name for each and every post on this blog. It seems he and I have differing opinions with regards to the security risk blogs pose. But in an effort to honor and respect him, I've done as he wished and removed his name. From here on out, he will be known simply as, "Hubby."
Saturday, August 25, 2007

Back to Basics

Ok, for this Smart Habit Saturday I've decided that I need to go back to basics - the Flylady basics, specifically. Now, I've tried to do Flylady more than once and each time get overwhelmed by the emails and find myself unable to keep up. But there are some basic habits that I found very helpful which I've let slide lately.
First is making the bed as soon as you are out of it. My bed gets made every day, but not right away anymore. It contributes to a feeling of disorder and chaos, so I want to get back into that habit.
Secondly, I really want to start wearing shoes all the time. I'm so tired of my dry, cracked heels and I know that this makes a difference. This is a biggie for me because I HATE wearing shoes. But if I can get myself into this habit, I know it will pay off big dividends in the tootsie department.
And thirdly, I really would like to stick to my routines. It seems as though life has been so crazy busy lately it's been really hard to be in a routine of anything. But, once my mom leaves and summer ends, we'll be jumping back full-force into schooling and life will, by necessity, slow down. I'm hoping that means that routine will be a household word then.
For more smart habits, be sure to check out the link above!
Friday, August 24, 2007

My 100th Post!!

Well, I've reached a milestone in the bloggity world - my 100th post! I can't believe how much I have come to enjoy both writing and reading your comments. It's become a real highlight of my day. God has used this humble little blog to reveal new truths to me, to grow me. Thank you for joining me on the journey.

And now, in a blogosphere tradition, it seems I am to post a list of 100 things about myself, in honor of this 100 post achievement. I'll post the list below, but do have a small favor to ask of you. Even if you've never commented before, or if you've just found this site, or if you are a regular reader and commenter, I would really appreciate it if you could come out of the woodwork and comment at least this one time. Pretty please? It would really mean a lot to me.

Ok, on with the list!

  1. I love God
  2. He loves me
  3. I cry at everything – happy, sad, frustrated; I’m a regular waterworks
  4. I have enough hair on my head to safely cover the heads of 3 other people plus myself
  5. I love homeschooling my kids
  6. I love to curl up under a blanket when there’s a thunderstorm outside
  7. I have moved probably over 25 times in my life
  8. And lived in 4 different states and Europe in the process
  9. The foreign country I lived in was Austria
  10. I spent my 21st birthday in Salzburg trying to retrace the steps from “The Sound of Music” where the kids sang their way through the town– “Doe a deer, a female deer…”
  11. I was there doing mission work to refugees from behind the Iron Curtain & the Middle East
  12. Due to our experiences while there, my best friend & I swore we’d never have anything to do with Arabic men
  13. We both married Arabs
  14. I love to travel – seeing and experiencing new things is a rush for me
  15. I don’t like ice cream
  16. Or chocolate
  17. Or most sweets
  18. But I love salty stuff like nuts, chips, and popcorn
  19. I’m seriously addicted to Pepsi
  20. My mother and I don’t agree on whether or not I’ve had my tonsils out, but I’m right
  21. My sister and I don’t agree on who was babysitting Amanda Gates when she had a tick on her stomach and it needed to be removed, but it was me, and I’m right
  22. My husband and I don’t agree on how we spent our first New Year’s Eve together, but I’m right
  23. Some people claim that I have a bad memory, but I don’t believe them (and I’m right)
  24. I love to cook
  25. But I hate to do the dishes
  26. I actually like doing laundry
  27. But I hate putting clothes away
  28. I hate hurricanes
  29. I never wear a watch
  30. I love board games
  31. But I crave alone time at least once a week or so
  32. I have horrible handwriting
  33. And I’m not good at math
  34. But I am a grammar and spelling stickler
  35. My musical tastes are very eclectic – Christian contemporary, country, hymns, heavy metal, pop, southern rock, swing, classical – I love it all
  36. I hate to wear shoes
  37. I love to read
  38. I prefer non-fiction to fiction
  39. Unless it’s a Jodi Picoult novel
  40. I’m a huge Denver Broncos fan
  41. Me, my husband and my kids were all born in the month of April
  42. My middle name is Lee. I’ve always hated because I feel that’s the masculine way of spelling it. My parents should have spelled it Leigh – that’s prettier and more feminine, isn’t it?
  43. My favorite perfume is “Paris” by Yves St Laurent
  44. Jon Bon Jovi is my imaginary boyfriend
  45. I tend to fall off boats – even the bumper boats you find at amusement parks. It’s quite embarrassing
  46. My husband and I never dated before we got engaged
  47. And we were only engaged for 5 ½ months before we got married
  48. I love old movies, especially ones with Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant
  49. My favorite tv show is “Lost”
  50. I like Sawyer more than Jack
  51. My favorite reality show is “The Amazing Race”
  52. I’m really good at Trivial Pursuit
  53. I started wearing glasses in 5th grade
  54. Started wearing contacts in 9th grade
  55. About 7 years ago I had Lasik and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done
  56. I only paid $512 to get both eyes done
  57. I had a "friend in high places" at the eye hospital
  58. As a teenager the majority of my life was spent at the roller skating rink
  59. I still love to roller skate
  60. If I could get on a plane and go anywhere in the world, I’d go to Italy
  61. I once told a friend I would be miserable to be a housewife in the suburbs
  62. Now, there’s nothing else I’d rather do
  63. I wish I had a fireplace
  64. I’m on a first-name basis with the local librarians because I’m there all the time
  65. I’m definitely a night owl
  66. Who is striving to be a morning person
  67. But not really succeeding
  68. I believe the worst part of being a woman is having to shave your legs
  69. Well, that and having periods
  70. I currently run the church bookstore
  71. I’ve previously been on the children’s ministry staff and the Women in the Church council
  72. I love to float in the pool
  73. But I don’t like the beach
  74. I like to play The Sims
  75. I own way too many cookbooks
  76. I love to sing Schoolhouse Rock songs
  77. My head is too big to wear hats
  78. I’m very self-conscious about that
  79. I used to always peek at my Christmas presents
  80. When I was 15, I peeked at one and when I saw it was a gold bracelet, I took it out and carefully re-wrapped the present, planning to put it back before Christmas morning
  81. My mom found it in my purse first
  82. But I was in the ER when she found it, so I didn’t really get into trouble – too much
  83. When I was about 4, we lived in Pittsburgh in the same apartment complex as several Pittsburgh Steelers players
  84. While playing in the sandbox, Mean Joe Green came up and sat with me and I ran screaming home to my mom because I was scared. He followed me home and apologized to my mom for scaring me. Hey, did you ever see Mean Joe Green up close?
  85. At Halloween, I was too scared and/or embarrassed to trick-or-treat at his apartment so my sister asked for extra candy for me
  86. I have the most wonderful kids in the world. I know you probably think yours are, but I’m right
  87. I have issues with being right (see #’s 20, 21, 22, 23 and 85)
  88. My parents made me move in my senior year of high school
  89. I still haven’t forgiven them for it
  90. I’m a procrastinator
  91. I think Crockpots are one of the best inventions in history
  92. It seems that we always end up with weird neighbors – they are either extremely anti-social, totally dysfunctional, or (I swear I am not making this up!) bigamists with two separate families at the same time who vacation together! Ick!
  93. I am 39, but never remember how old I am. I seem to always tell people I’m one year younger Not intentionally, I just forget. But this has nothing to do with #23
  94. I’m a registered Republican, but wish there was a “Christian” party – where the poor and needy are cared for and Biblical values are respected. Why is that so hard?
  95. Jesus died for me
  96. I seek to serve Him and do His will
  97. I fail, but He forgives
  98. I like to talk, but doing this list has been really challenging
  99. I wouldn’t change anything in my past because it made me who I am today
  100. I’m finally done with this list!

Don't forget to leave a comment!!! Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I Believe. Help My Unbelief

17 And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. 18 And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” 19 And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” 20 And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. 21 And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. 22 And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” 23 And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” 24 Immediately the father of the child cried out [4] and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9)

You know, I have to admit something. And it really pains me. I've been a Christian for over 20 years - I should know and trust that God really does answer prayer. And yet, this weekend, as our pastor prayed in church that Hurricane Dean would cause minimal damage and no loss of life as it struck and battered Mexico with sustained winds 160 mph, I have to confess that I said, "Yeah, right." I found myself laughing (I might even call it scoffing), much the same way that Sarah laughed when God let her in on the little secret that in her old age she would bear a son. And then that's exactly what happened.

When, oh, when will I learn and understand that our God is a miracle worker? That, as the Creator of all there is, He does indeed have power over all things? Why do I find it so hard to believe that He can indeed do as He wills, regardless of how grim the situation looks?

Now, I'm not saying that just because we pray about something, we will automatically get our way. We all know someone who we've prayed for who wasn't healed. Or been in a tough situation financially that wasn't miraculously resolved. Or something like that. We've all seen prayers go unanswered. At least that's how it seems to us. God, in His wisdom, allows what He wants to happen - to teach us, to build a testimony of His grace, to work out His plans...

And yet this doesn't mean we shouldn't pray. We are commanded to pray. But even though those prayers may not be answered in the way we would like, we must pray with belief, not with doubt. I should have known that God could steer that storm to an area where people didn't live. I should have known that He could take a monster and tame it. I should have known that God can do whatever He chooses.

And I should have believed it.

Thankful Thursday

There is so much to be thankful for. No matter what is going on in your life, the very fact that we live and breathe, that we are saved by grace, that alone is is reason to praise Him. But here are a few things this week that I am especially thankful for:
  • I'm thankful that my mom is here visiting
  • I'm thankful that my children are happy, healthy and whole
  • I'm thankful that I got our new curriculum
  • I'm thankful that my brother-in-law, a confirmed bachelor at 49, finally found someone to share his life with and is now engaged
  • I'm thankful for our beautiful home
  • I'm thankful that Hurricane Dean did not come here and for the fact that as a Category 5 storm, it didn't do more damage and that no life was lost in Mexico. Having survived Andrew, I know what a Cat 5 storm can do and this is a miracle
  • I'm thankful I discovered blogging - it's become a type of therapy/journal/sort through my thoughts on life place, and
  • I'm thankful for you, for the very kind words and comments you all offer and for the support you've shown as I learn the fine art of blogging

May God bless you and keep you this week! For more Thankful Thursday participants, visit Iris at Sting My Heart

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday - Peace

Ok, this isn't really a traditional "tip" or anything. It's more like a revelation that I've had about something that has made a huge difference in the peacefulness of my spirit. Since making this one small change in my life, I have noticed a dramatic decrease in the amount of angst and stress I feel.

What is this miracle cure, you ask? Well, my friend, it's simple. You see, it all started a couple of months ago when our family (well, let's be honest here, it was hubby and I - the kids were kicking and screaming all the way) decided to turn off the tv for about 6 weeks. We went all out, having the satellite service disconnected so we wouldn't be tempted. Since we turned it back on, one thing that we haven't added back into our viewing time is local news. And I don't miss it at all.

Local news is generally filled with "If it bleeds, it leads" type stories - murders, rapes, robberies, accidents, etc. Not the kind of thing I want to have filtering into my mind. And the non-sensationalistic stories they offer are, for the most part, useless. If I need information on the weather, I can check that out online. For national and world news, there are other stations that offer that. These alternate resources don't make me fearful and worried about living in my town. They don't pretend that all is right with the world, but they focus on the big picture. Heck, I know that there's crime out there - I don't need to hear all the gory details!

So, that's my tip for the day. If you watch local news on a regular basis, try going without for a week and see what a difference it makes. For more great ideas, head on over to Rocks In My Dryer for more Works for Me Wednesday ideas!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Southern Sides

So my mom is coming this afternoon. We'll have a fun week together, I know. My mom is one of those people who have no inhibitions whatsoever. Once, she threw a package of meat at me in the store just to see the embarrassment on my face. Another time, in a movie theater, where thankfully it was just us and my kids, she honestly laid down and rolled down the aisle just to make the kids laugh. She even went so far as to intentionally knock down a basketball display at K-Mart, while I ran frantically around trying to pick them up. There are other stories, trust me many more, but I don't want her to sue me for defamation of character. Though they would all be true. If you ever meet her, ask her why she was sitting on the floor at Target. That's all I'm gonna say about that.

Plus my brother, who lives about an hour from me, called the other day to say he's moving to New Jersey. Tomorrow. So he'll be coming down to see the family and say his goodbyes this evening.

And now, on to the promised recipes: Savannah Red Rice and Cheese Biscuits, from Paula Deen's The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah. And if you start talking with a Southern drawl, don't blame me. These recipes are that good.

Savannah Red Rice
Serves 4-6

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped bell pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup diced Hillshire Farms sausage
One 14 1/2 oz. can crushed tomatoes with juice
1 tablespoon Texas Pete or other red hot sauce
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup water
3 chicken bouillon cubes
Pepper to taste; salt to taste if desired
1 cup uncooked white rice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan over medium heat, saute onion and bell pepper in butter. Add sausage; heat until mixture is slightly browned. Add tomatoes, hot sauce, tomato sauce, water and bouillon cubes. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Stir in rice. Pour mixture into greased casserole and bake for 45 minutes.

Cheese Biscuits
Yields 8 large biscuits

2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup Crisco shortening
3/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, and sugar together using fork; cut in shortening until it resembles cornmeal. Add cheese. Stir in buttermilk all at one time just until blended. Do not overstir. Drop by tablespoons (Paula recommends using an ice cream scoop to give biscuits a nice shape) onto a well-greased cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Both these items are on the menu at Paula's restaurant and the Cheese Biscuits have become one of the signature items. They are even served to those waiting in line. And trust me, there is a line!! I've seen it for myself!
Monday, August 20, 2007


For several weeks now, it seems as though the message the Lord has for me is that worship is so much more of a heart issue than it is a performance issue. I mean, I am a contemporary worship style of girl. I love, love, love contemporary worship. Our church is more of a traditional type, with some new worship and some hymns - a blended format. To tell the truth, in my opinion it's a weak area for our church.

However, I have been so strongly convicted about my attitude with regards to this. Worship is really NOT about how good the music sounds, or even about the feelings it stirs up within me. It is about declaring the praises of God - the Creator, the Savior, the Alpha and Omega. It is so NOT about me. Foolishly, I've always felt that I needed the music to be a certain type or quality to for me to really "get into" worship. Now I realize that all I really need to "get into" worship is an understanding of who God is and who I am - a wretched sinner saved by the grace of a God who has more mercy and love than I can even imagine.

Yesterday, our new pastor began his ministry at our church. As I was excitedly talking about it with a friend, he commented, "Oh, I don't really care. All that matters to me is the worship - not the preaching." I was so shocked I didn't know what to say. How could you claim that the preaching of the Word of God is, if not irrelevant, than secondary to the emotional feelings brought about by good music? How can we truly praise a God we don't take the time to understand?

This conversation brought into sharp focus the errors of my own views of worship. I was deeply convicted. Throughout Scripture, but perhaps nowhere more than in Psalm 119, we are told that it is through the understanding of God and His ways that we are led to praise Him. Please don't misunderstand - I am not claiming in any way, shape or form that worship is not important. On the contrary, I believe what the Westminster Confession states, that the chief end of man is to "glorify God and enjoy Him forever." Worship is vital - it is the main purpose of Christians. However, what I'm concerned about is where the motivation for that worship comes from. Does it come from a humanistic desire to get ourselves into an emotional, feel-good state? Or does it come from an understanding heart overflowing with thankfulness for all that God has done?

"I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High." Psalm 7:17

This is what happens when you procrastinate

Ok, I've known for weeks that my mom is coming on Tuesday. But here I am, on late Sunday night, thinking of all that I need to do before she arrives. And I could just shoot myself! Why, oh, why do I put everything off until the last minute? Why must I be one of those people who thrive under pressure? Here's a picture of what my day will be like tomorrow.
  • First thing, head down to Wal-Mart before it turns into a zoo. Need to get groceries, return some clothes that I had bought for Daniel and get a new swimsuit for Emily since hers has mysteriously stretched out to say, oh, a size 20. Not sure what happened there.
  • Upon returning home, I need to straighten up the guest room, otherwise known as "the junk room." Ok, I don't really call it that, but that is indeed what it has become. The kids play in there, everything that we don't know what to do with gets put in there, etc. You know what I mean. The linens need changing, there are boxes of toys sticking out from under the bed that need to be moved, the closet needs to be cleaned out a little, the shelves, the floors...oh, just everything! This could take 2 hours.
  • I need to wash my back windows. Now, to get the picture of this you must know that the entire back wall of the house is French doors. With tiny little window panes. So we are talking about cleaning over 100 little window panes. Ugh. But this is one thing that my mom always gets on my case about, and the one thing that my husband asked me to do last week, so I have to get to it.
  • Clean the bathrooms
  • Do the laundry - we had guests this weekend and every towel was used for the pool!
  • Get to the library to pick up materials they are holding for me

That doesn't even count all the other general cleaning (dusting, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the kitchen well, etc.) that you do when you have people coming. I know it's my mom, but I like everything to look nice.

And now, I am off to bed to rest and prepare myself for a day of whirlwind activity tomorrow!

Menu Plan Monday

This week's plan is adjusted a little bit from my normal 8 week plan (which I have vowed to myself not to link to again for at least two weeks - but if you are interested, check out the Homemaking label). The reason for going "off-plan" is that my mommy is coming to visit and she just prefers a different style of food, shall we say? She's not so adventurous as to try out new things, so we'll be sticking to the tried and true this week!

Tuesday ~ Baja Beef & Beans with Tex-Mex Rice, salad

Wednesday ~ Stuffed Shells Florentine, caesar salad, garlic bread

Thursday ~ Shredded Beef Sandwiches, coleslaw, chips

Friday ~ Chicken Parmesan, salad, broccoli italiano, garlic bread

Saturday ~ Burgers, potato salad, chips

Sunday ~ Pasta Primavera

Monday ~ Family recipe alert!! Uncle David's Spaghetti & Meatballs, salad & breadsticks

Looks like we'll be eating well this week! Yummy, yummy! For more delicious ideas and menus, check out
The Organizing Junkie.
Sunday, August 19, 2007

Please Pray for Jamaica

As category 4 Hurricane Dean heads directly for Jamaica, please pray for the people of the island. We have several families from Jamaica in our church - even our new pastor and his wife (who begin today! yippee!) are originally from there.

Having been through and seen the devastation caused by Hurricane Andrew, I'm particularly aware of how frightening it can be. Please join with me in praying for safety and protection for the people of Jamaica, and later the Yucatan Penisula.

Have a blessed Sunday!
Saturday, August 18, 2007

Smart Habit Saturday

Good morning, everyone!! Welcome back to Smart Habit Saturday, hosted by Lara at The Lazy Organizer. Last week, the habits I wanted to work on were getting back into the habit of exercising for 30 minutes a day and to have some devotional time before going online in the mornings. I'm happy to report that I'm doing better on both fronts. Not perfect, but better. I picked up a copy of Nancy Leigh DeMoss's book, "A Place of Quiet Rest" and I highly recommend it! It has really been challenging me about my ideas on "quiet time" and encouraging me to spend more time just sitting before my Savior.

The first chapter was all about how we women give and give (until it hurts) and end up drained and exhausted. By pointing out how even Christ, who was fully God as well as fully man, needed to be refreshed each and every day by spending time alone with the Father, Miss DeMoss has made me realize that I'm not a failure for feeling frustrated, overwhelmed and out-of-sync. What I am instead is lacking in time with my Father. That is the solution. I cannot give constantly without being constantly renewed.

My goal for this week is to have fun with my mom while she's here. That should be easy!!

Have a great day!

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Passage of Time

My sweet daughter is off this morning on her very first "official" babysitting job. I say official, because she's been asked to babysit several times before, but the parents have always asked to leave their child here at our home. I suppose that is because there she's under my supervision, therefore, their child is as well. Which is fine. But now, someone has placed enough confidence in her to entrust their very precious children solely to my daughter's care. And I'm a wreck.

Not because I don't think she'll do a great, no, fantastic job. She has gone through the Safe Sitter course, where she was trained in CPR and how to handle tricky situations like misbehaving children, minor injuries, safety, etc. She loves children and is terrific with them. In fact, when her birthday fell on a Sunday this year (12 being the magic age when you can work in our church nursery) she was so excited because she would be able to volunteer the very day she turned 12! She volunteered at VBS and I was told several times that she was one of the best and most responsible crew leaders I had in the preschool area. So it's not that I worry about her abilities.

The reason I'm a wreck is because this is a significant step in her becoming an adult, in my mind at least. No longer needing a caregiver herself, she is now the caregiver. She's grown so much in the last year. She often makes dinner entirely on her own. She can do her own laundry quite well. She's proven herself to be very responsible as she's taken on more and more responsibility with her education. She's beginning to set goals for herself. In short, she is growing up into a very fine young lady.

God grants us these children but for a very short time, in which we are to disciple them, raise them to be productive adults, and teach them how to love and raise their own family. I read a quote somewhere, and I apologize for forgetting where, but it said, "The days are long, the years are short." That struck my heart, because, yes, indeed the days are long as a stay-at-home mother. And when you homeschool, they are endless, it seems. While other mother's children go off to school, our's remain with us all day, every day. It can be exhausting. But never forget that the years are short. Most of us will have our children with us for about 18 years. That sounds like forever, but in reality, the time flies by.

It seems like yesterday that I had an infant and a toddler, nursing one with another one at my feet, while I stood in the kitchen, talking on the phone and stirring spaghetti sauce. Then as each moved into their school-age years, they seemed so grown up. And in just a few short years, they will each move into adulthood to seek out their own lives.

So moms, don't forget to hug your children and, even when you are weary remember that you have been granted a very precious gift - the gift of time.

And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” Hebrews 2:13
Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ugh! Sorry!

Well, I don't know what this means, but I am suddenly finding spam in my comments section. Therefore, I have gone ahead and enabled word verification. I hate doing that when I leave a comment, but now I see the benefit. I guess I'd rather have to spend a couple extra seconds typing in a word than accidentally click a link that I'd probably regreat.

Hopefully you'll feel the same way and still continue to leave comments for me. It makes it so much more fun when I feel like someone out there is reading and "gets" what I'm talking about!


Ok, I am mighty excited about this, internet people! My church is hosting a fantastic concert with Shane & Shane, Bebo Norman, and Monk and Neagle.

These are amazing artists and if you live anywhere in my vicinity, you should make every effort to get tickets and come out for a great night of worship and praise! A portion of the proceeds will be donated to GriefShare, a Christian ministry that provides guidance to those who have lost a loved one. Let me know if you need more info!
Note: Edited to remove identifying information at Hubby's request.

Thankful Thursday

And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy! Psalm 107:22

You may have noticed that I did not participate in Marriage Monday this week. Probably, you didn't notice, unless you are stalking me through this blog and, frankly, I don't quite think I've reached "stalker-worthy" status yet. But trust me, I didn't participate.

There's a very good reason for this - this week's theme was how hard times have shaped your marriage. And, truthfully, we really haven't experienced any hard times. Oh, sure, we have had our disagreements, even full-fledged arguments. But we have never been faced with anything which shook us to our core - no illness, or loss; no serious relationship issues. We have been truly blessed. And that got me thinking about how much I do have to be thankful for right now. Life is good. There are a million little things that make me happy. Here's a few of them:
  • My mom is coming to visit next week. She and I are best friends and we always have a lot of fun together. Plus my kids are bouncing off the wall to see her.
  • Hurricane (or soon-to-be anyway) Dean is not coming here, according to the latest forecasts.
  • My box of books from Sonlight arrived today. As I mentioned in this post, that's one of the best days of the year around here. I've spent the whole evening perusing through different books and can't wait to get started on our next homeschooling adventure - World History!
  • We finally (after 3 months!) rented out our rental home. It even worked out perfectly with the tenant signing a 9-month lease. Unusual, but that leaves us free to put it up for sale in 9 months, 12 months after buying it - exactly when we would meet the criteria for not having to pay a ridiculous amount of taxes on it.
  • My father-in-law apparently suffered either, a) a heart attack, or b) a serious bout of pneumonia and is now home recuperating. We don't know which because my husband's family is notorious for not keeping us informed (they don't want us to worry) and we've heard two different versions. But I'm thankful that whatever it was, he survived it and is on the mend.
  • The situation with our small group is resolved. No one is willing to take up the leadership reins, so it will come to an end, but at least I don't have to deal with the stress it was creating in my spirit. I'm also thankful that the responses to my half-written email were generally kind and supportive.
  • My experiment in letting the kids be more independent in their school work seems to be paying off. Emily has shown quite a bit of initiative to get her work done promptly. Daniel is still not there, but his attitude has improved greatly from last week.
  • Finally, High School Musical 2 airs tomorrow night. I'm not thankful for this because I want to see it myself. But wow I can stop hearing about how Emily "can't wait for it to start!!!" You must imagine that quote in a screeching, high-pitched 12-year-old-girl-who-is-about-to-swoon-voice.
  • God opened a door for me to spend time with and help my neighbor today. Now, this isn't the really annoying one, but it is the one that I see most frequently (since her son practically lives here) and I have felt led to start being more of a friend and a light to her. Nothing big happened, just a neighborly favor, but it gave us a chance to really talk like we never have before.
  • Our new senior pastor begins his ministry at our church this Sunday!!! We have been without a senior pastor for over 18 months now. While we do have other pastors on staff, it's kind of like everything has been in a holding pattern. I'm hopeful that this will be a new start for our church and that some of the people who have left will come back.

So there you have it. Lots of wonderful things that God is doing in my life. None of them huge, but to me, they are signs of His grace. His lovingkindness endures forever! Amen!

Be sure to visit Iris at Sting My Heart to find lots more stories of God's faithfulness and our thankfulness!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday!

I know you all think that my home is flawless. After all, I'm a stay at home, homeschooling mom, right? And we have nothing to do all day but clean house (when we aren't eating bon-bons on the couch!). Well, I hate to burst your bubble, missy, but my home isn't perfect. I keep it mainly neat, if you don't count the kids' bedrooms, but there's always been a deep dark secret in my home...

Unless you breathe in and then that secret is out and not going anywhere. Unfortunately, for years I have been plagued with "Stinky Garbage Can Syndrome." Yes, SGCS is a serious matter that causes your otherwise lovely home to have an indescribably "off" smell. Hubby doesn't like the small garbage cans that fit under the kitchen sink that you would change very often. Nor does he want us taking out the garbage unless the bag is completely full. He worked hard to earn the $$ for that garbage bag and we'd better darn well get all the use out of it we can! So this left us with tall, stinky garbage cans.

Until now. Yes, I have found the easiest secret for removing the odors. I don't know how it works, but it does. All you have to do is fold up a section from the newspaper and put it in the bottom of the garbage can. Voila! The paper absorbs the odors like magic. I even keep extra bags in the bottom of the can and when I reach in to get a new one, I don't smell anything. It's a miracle, I tell you! Simple, cheap and fast! That works for me!

To see more great ideas to help you live your everyday life, head on over to Rocks-in-My-Dryer for more wonderful tips!

An Oops That God Used

We all know that there are no accidents, that God is sovereign, right? After all, I'm a good Presbyterian. Ok, well, I go to a Presbyterian church, but I never really refer to myself as a Presbyterian. I'm a Christian. I think denominational labels are divisive and silly. But I digress.

Anyways, as I mentioned here, Hubby and I have been rather frustrated with our in-home Bible study that we both lead and host. Several of you gave really thoughtful and helpful insights, for which I am truly grateful. I took them all into consideration and shared them with my hubby. After some prayer and discussion, we set a course of action. He thought the best move was to remove ourselves from leadership of the group and ask for someone else to take over leadership. This is a natural outflow of where our lives are right now - we've both kind of ramped up our careers (his=engineering, mine=homeschooling) and also an effect of the burnout we are feeling with the lack of commitment from most of the group.

So, the plan was for me to draft an email informing the group of this decision, which we would then pray over and polish. You already know where I'm going with this, don't you? So I work on the letter this afternoon and hit "Save." Since I didn't want it to accidentally go, I didn't put an addressee in and it bounced up an error message that I had to put it in to save it. So I put in the addressee list and hit the enter button. And I walk away.

When I come back a few minutes later, there's a message from one of our small group people. With no message title. About how she won't be able to lead either. Yes, that's right, the letter went out. No polishing, no praying, not even a signature at the end, for goodness' sake! I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and tried to call Hubby. He wasn't available. I try to call another friend, who's in the group and knew of our struggle. Not available. I'm feeling sick and panicky at this point.

End result is, Hubby loved what I had written, incomplete as it was. My friend wrote back a very supportive email. Another member wrote back some kind of facetious comment. But basically, it seems that no one is going to step up to lead the group so it probably will die a natural death. And I'm ok with that. As Jess said in her comment to the original message, "when stuff that used to bring me joy starts to feel really hard and not work as well, sometimes it can be a sign for me that the grace to do it is lifting." I really feel that's what is happening here; that God has done whatever he wanted with this group and now it's time to move on.

I am left feeling very relieved that we've dealt with it. A lot of resentment was building up and now I don't have to feel that way anymore. That's a real load off my mind and heart. God is good.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Headin' Down South (Well, North for Me!)

It's that time once again, boys and girls! Ok, so, there realistically probably aren't too many boys out there reading this. But if there is, here's a recipe that is sure to delight the manliest of men! It's Paula Deen's from The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook.

Bourbon Beef Tenderloin
"This recipe is for the grill. Beef can also be cooked in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Use a meat thermometer: rare - 115to 120 degrees, medium rare - 130 to 135 degrees, medium - 140 to 145 degrees. Buy a whole tenderloin, about 4 1/2 to 5 pounds and have the butcher remove the 'silver' connective tissue."

1 cup bourbon
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup soy sauce
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups water
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1 beef tenderloin, silver connective tissue removed
Oil for grill

Prepare marinade by combining bourbon, brown sugar, soy sauce, cilantro, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, water and thyme. Be sure tenderloin is trimmed of any fat and connective tissue. Fold tail end back so it is of uniform thickness and secure with a butcher's string. Pour marinade over meat, cover and refrigerate for 8-12 hours, turning several times in that time. Prepare grill or preheat oven to 350 degrees. When grill is ready, place meat on oiled grill, reserving marinade. Cook over high heat with lid closed, turning often; occasionally baste. Cooks rare in about 30-45 min. in the oven. Serve with Horseradish Cream on the side.

Ok, now my mouth is just sitting here drooling, but I know I have to give y'all the recipe for the Horseradish Cream still. Let me just enjoy the thought of that yummy beef for a moment...Ok, ready to move on!

Horseradish Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup horseradish, drained

Whip cream until stiff. Stir in horseradish, mixing well.

Yummy, yummy, yummy! Next week, I'll cover two bases and post the recipes for both Savannah Red Rice and for the Cheese Biscuits, which are one of the signature items at Paula's restaurant, The Lady and Sons. And, yes, I'm scooting through those quickly so we can move on to dessert! What are you gonna do, tell my mommy?

Aw, shucks!

I'm honored to have received the Nice Matters Award from Tammi over at ValleyGirl. Tammi's blog is one that I've just found recently, but love for her portrait of life, love and learning in the country. Thanks, Tammi, and I look forward to getting to know you better. Here is the meaning of the award,
"This award is for those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration. Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world."
I'm grateful that the jumbled thoughts and humble ideas I have fall under this category in some small way.
And now, I'm asked to bestow this award on someone else who has similarly inspired good feelings and a positive influence on me. There are so many people who I could name, but recently I discovered Jess at Mourning Into Dancing. She is so much like me - striving to honor God in her life, but not really sure how to always accomplish that. But her posts are so beautifully written and you can just see her heart for God. She challenges me and encourages me to live more fully in God's presence.

I Like Mike!

I don't have a lot of time before the family comes trooping in the door for dinner, but I wanted to share with you all who I'm supporting for president, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee. If you don't know much about him, please go here and read Jess' magnificent post on why he would make an amazing president. Let me know what you think!

Huckabee 2008!!

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree

Well, let it be known that I am the Queen of Listmaking. I reveled in making my 101 in 1001 list. I exulted in making my 8 Week Menu Plan (I know, you are tired of seeing this link, but seriously, it's one of the best things I've ever done!). I found joy in making up my Household Routines. I've already got my 100 Things About Me list ready for my 100th post. My mother makes fun of me because I am constantly making a list about something.

And now the list-making gene has manifested itself in my daughter.

She came to me yesterday with her "List of Impossibilities," a list of 15 things she'd like to accomplish in her life, but which she sees as so far out of reach as to classify as an impossibility. She wanted me to help her try to reach some of her goals. So after explaining to her that everything on her list is perfectly attainable, we started working on how to make her dreams happen. Here is her list (my comments in blue):

Emily's List of Impossibilities
  1. See an R-rated movie. Now, this really bothers me. But I told her she can do this when she is an adult. She asked if she could watch, "The Passion." I told her yes, so this will be one thing down when she gets around to doing that.

  2. Get a manicure. To which I said, save your $$, baby, just like I have to!

  3. Go swimming in the lake. Umm, this I kinda have a problem with since we have seen alligators in the lake and all.

  4. Get into college. I'd say we have time to work on this one!

  5. Meet a celebrity. Ugh, I hate that she has fallen under the spell of "celebrity fascination."

  6. Learn to drive. Again, time to work on this one. Please, lots of time. I'm getting a headache.

  7. Be on TV. I have no idea how to get this one. Oh! I should remind her of when her choir was featured on the news a few years ago. The cameraman focused on her for quite a long shot.

  8. Babysit for at least 4 hours alone. God heard her prayer on this one. She was called this morning for her very first "solo" babysitting job. It will go from 9-2 or so and it's the first time she'll be babysitting at the child's house, rather than here at our house. She's thrilled!

  9. Go on a boat. Um, I'm not helping her with this one. I fall out of boats. Seriously.

  10. Drive a golf cart. Well, luckily for her Grandma and Papa just bought a golf cart for toodling around their neighborhood, so next time we visit, I'm sure this wish will be fulfilled.

  11. Win a game of miniature golf. I'm the putt-putt champ in the family, so I'm not goin' down without a fight. She'll have to practice her little butt off to beat me!

  12. Have a smooth face. Ah, puberty. All I can tell her is keep her skin clean.

  13. Cook dinner 3 nights in a row. She's welcome to do this anytime if she's willing to learn new recipes and not just expect us to each baked chicken and roasted potatoes 3 nights in a row.

  14. Grow her hair down to her elbows. I'd go for this if she starts actually brushing it!

  15. Learn to swim without using goggles. This I can't help her with, she's just gotta push herself to do it.

So those are my daughter's goals in life. Maybe I should add one in for her - to not become a slave to lists!!

Monday, August 13, 2007

And so it begins...

It looks like we have our first real contender of the 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Tropical Depression #4 has formed out in the Atlantic and looks like it's headed straight for us. Predictions are that it will be near Puerto Rico and be a Category 2 storm by Saturday.

Hmm. My mom is supposed to fly into town on Tuesday. Of course, these two events would have to coincide. "Welcome to Miami, Mom! Here's a hurricane panel - now get to work! Oh, and by the way, is electricity important to you while you are here?"

Ah, the joys of living in a hurricane hotspot!

Menu Plan Monday

Ah, here I am finally joining in on Menu Plan Monday! I have to tell you that having my 8 week menu plan has made things so much simpler! There are very few repeats, so neither I nor my family gets bored with the meals, plus shopping and planning are a breeze!! This week, I am on week 3, but there are a couple of adjustments as we'll be having guests on Saturday AND I got a fondue pot this weekend as a gift from my sweet hubby. I've been wanting one for ages (my favorite restaurant is The Melting Pot, but it's so expensive!! Now I can make a delicious fondue dinner at home. In fact, last night we did chocolate fondue for dessert. The kids had a blast!

So here's our adapted menu -

TuesdayCrockpot Mexi-Chicken, Rice, Salad

Wednesday - Tostadas

Thursday – Fondue Sampler (shrimp, steak, chicken, and veggies- dipping sauces on side)

Friday -Potato Lover’s Salad

SaturdayMahlouba, hummus, salad (our guests are former missionaries to Jordan, hence the Arabic menu!)

Sunday – Sloppy Joes, Cole Slaw, Chips

Monday - Roast Sticky Chicken, Salad, Green Beans
So, if you are looking for more menu plan ideas, pop on over to the Menu Plan Monday home and check it out!


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