Saturday, February 28, 2009

How Spoiled We Have Become

Emily showed me this hilarious video. Her teacher showed it to her class the other day. It is SOOOO true. I will warn you that there is a bad word (beeped out) and a bit of other iffy language, but I think it's worth the attitude adjustment it will bring. It may just help you realize that life is much better than we realize.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Educational Philosophy IS Important, Apparently

Yesterday I went to my very first event as the mom of school-attending children. A meeting was called at the school to discuss the high school math program. While I don't yet have a high schooler, Emily will be one in the blink of an eye so I, and several other parents of 8th graders, attended.

Now I was totally clueless as to why the meeting was called. I do know that Emily has been complaining mightily about her math class. Homework is neither collected nor checked, let alone counted towards the grade. She says that her teacher doesn't really explain how to do things. I dismissed most of the complaints as being the mere grumblings of a girl who doesn't like math (a situation I am intimately acquainted with unfortunately!!).

Well, come to find out, she's right. All the way from kindergarten through 12th grade it's the same. The school has adopted a philosophy of being "inquiry-based," which means allowing the child to find the answers for themselves. Sounds good, but I don't think it works in practice, particularly in math.

In fact, it's working so poorly that the entire high school is being allowed to re-take their semester exams because such a high percentage of children got D's and F's. This will only happen, though, after mandatory math labs - 5 days a week! - for a month so they can get caught up to where they should be.

The department head defended her position, stating that they wanted to help children learn to think for themselves. Ok, I can understand that. But she said that they don't want to just give children the formulas or an explanation of how to find an answer. But isn't that what math is all about? I don't know anyone who would initially look at the equation 6C x 9(42 + c) = 83 and have any clue as to how to proceed without direction from a teacher.

As proof of this, a huge number of families have hired private tutors to help their kids. Let me tell you, for what we are paying in tuition, I can't imagine having to pay someone else to teach my kids what they should be learning in school. And many children were told that their parents were not to help them with their homework in any way!! Um, excuse me, but I am still the parent and I am ultimately still responsible for my child's education. That is the homeschool rebel in me coming out, but no one is going to tell me if my child is struggling that I can't help them understand. I'm not talking about doing the work for them, but talking them through the process.

I just don't get it. For many years we all managed to do this. Our teachers managed to collect, grade and return our homework, learning what we did and didn't understand in the process. The teachers helped us learn how to do these things and we learned. It was simple.

According to the information given in the meeting today the teachers will be moving towards a more direct teaching style and away from the inquiry based model. I hope that's true. My daughter and son, along with many other kids, deserve that much.
Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Well I have a lot to be thankful for this week. Some things that I thought were bad that turned out to be not so bad, especially.

* I'm thankful that I'm more hopeful for our little dog, Snow. She injured herself on Tuesday night and was unable to walk or to use her hind legs for the most part. After a trip to the vet yesterday morning, I was devastated. According to him, her prognosis was not good and she might need to be put down. He told us to give her three weeks to see how she did and if she hadn't recovered by then we'd need to consider euthanasia. After spending the day crying off and on (we've had her 9 years), I did some research on the internet and found it's not as grim as he made it out to be. Yes, it will be a slow recovery, but 4/5 dogs do recover. Instead of the 3 weeks he gave her, we should allow for 6-12 weeks for healing. I went to bed feeling so relieved!

* I'm thankful for the internet. While there is plenty out there that ranges from harmful to just plain stupid and wrong, it may have just saved my dog's life. Not to mention all the wonderful helps I find in my attempt to be a great wife and mom - parenting help, delicious recipes, organizational tips, and wonderful blogs to find encouragement and laughter (see sidebar).

* I'm thankful that now I understand what's going on in my kids' math classes. While I know my kids and know that they are not math savants, I've been shocked to see how poorly they've been doing. During a parent meeting this morning, I learned that the school's educational philosophy is one I had never heard of. They have been "inquiry-based" rather than "directed learning based." Which basically means the teachers don't directly teach the kids how to do the work, but rather let them figure it out for themselves. The problem is so bad that they are having to let the entire high school re-take their semester exams (following intense math labs to get them all caught up). Hopefully the school has figured out that it's not working and changes will be made. I'm just glad to know it's not just my kids!!!

* I'm thankful for the amazing weather we continue to have. Beautiful blue skies, temps in the high 70's to low 80's. Soon enough I'll be complaining, but it's beautiful right now!

* I'm thankful for God teaching me new things all the time. Right now He's working on teaching me not to be led by my emotions. To stop and think things through and seek out truth, rather than feeling. It's a lesson I really need to learn and learn well.

* I'm thankful for my husband. Tomorrow is our 16th wedding anniversary. While there have definitely been ups and downs in our marriage, I know that we are truly meant to be together. He's a wonderful, godly man who takes care of our family beyond measure. I love him and I'm proud to be his wife.

For more Thankful Thursday posts, visit Grace Alone.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Handy Field Guide for Drivers in Doha

In an ongoing effort to make the world a better place, may I present "A Handy Field Guide for Drivers in Doha."

(Yes, yes, I realize very few drivers in Doha will ever read this. Just play along, will you?)

Let's just go over some basic rules of driving that seem to have gotten lost in the sandstorms of Qatar.

1) When one is turning left, it is normal to get into the left lane to wait your turn. Attempting to make a turn from the right-hand lane (particularly when the left-hand lane is not a dedicated turn lane, but truly all the time) is just bad form. I realize that occasionally, the right-hand lane may be shorter, so you feel the need to lessen your own wait by risking creating an accident, but this is just wrong. LEARN TO WAIT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE DOES!!

(And, yes, this includes you, sir, who screamed at me for calling you "stupid" yesterday. While I did throw my hands up in the air and shake my head in disgust, I did not, in fact, call you stupid. You ARE stupid, but I didn't say it. The fact that you pull up next to me and point for me to let you over does not negate your stupidity.)

A sub-section of this little rule is that it is extremely rude to be in the far right lane of a multi-lane left turn area, but expect to do a U-turn. It's NOT OK to get to the front of the line, slam on your brakes during a green light, and wait until the light turns red to make the U-turn, holding up everyone behind you. If you have to do a U-turn, get into the inside lane in the first place.

2) That little paved area that separates two directions of traffic? That's called a median. It is not a lane especially set aside for those of you who are too important to wait in a lane of traffic unlike the rest of us poor souls. When you pull out of traffic, onto the median and drive up to the front of the lane, it indicates that you consider yourself superior to the rest of us. It's not nice. Don't do it. LEARN TO WAIT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE DOES!!

3) There is a prescribed number of lanes per road. Just because you can squeeze your car into a certain area doesn't mean it belongs there. A shoulder of the road is not a lane. If there is 3 feet of road between me and the curb, that plus the curb is not a lane for you to get into. Stay where you are and get into a real lane. LEARN TO WAIT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE DOES!!

4) Two-lane roads are generally not one-way unless specifically marked. This means that if there is a lane of cars waiting, you cannot just pull into the opposite lane of traffic and drive up to the front. First of all, it's dangerous. Secondly it's just plain rude. LEARN TO WAIT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE DOES!!

5) Right-turn lanes are not meant for people who are going straight but in a hurry to use as a way to skip the lane. DO NOT drive all the way to the front of the turn lane and then sit there and wait for some poor fool to let you in! This blocks everyone else from using the lane to, oh, I don't know - actually turn right!! LEARN TO WAIT LIKE EVERYONE ELSE DOES!!

6) When travelling through a round-about, stay in your own lane. Yes, I know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Tough! If it takes you an extra 3 seconds to get through the circle because you can't just cut in and out of the center lane (where I already am, forcing me to slam on my brakes), that's just too bad.

7) Speed kills. Slow down for goodness' sake. When you are so close to me that I can't see your headlights, flashing your headlights at me does no good. Stop trying to intimidate people by riding their bumper and slow down. There is nothing so important that is worth your life (or mine!!).

8) For the love of all that's holy, buckle up your children!!! If you are stupid enough not to wear your seat belt, don't inflict your stupidity on your children. They don't like it? Tough! Be a parent and exercise some authority. With the way people drive, you are placing their lives in the hands of all those other crazy people.

And while we are on the topic of children, please stop letting your children stand up and stand in the open sunroof while you drive full-speed down the road. God forbid something should happen and your child be thrown out onto the hard pavement. No one ever plans to be in an accident. You will have no warning and no opportunity to save them should something happen. Protect them before something happens and you have to live with it the rest of your life.

The basic rule? Consider that you are NOT the most important person on the road. Everyone has somewhere to go and something to do. You are not more important than the rest of us. Take your time and we'll all get where we need to go safely.
Sunday, February 22, 2009

Collected Thoughts from My Time Away / Menu Plan Monday

** Though I really love blogging, it was nice to have a break and not feel pressured to come up with something interesting to say. Yes, I realized that my life is really not that interesting!

** There is just too dang much homework being assigned in my kids' school. I spent hours upon hours doing homework, studying for tests and helping with projects this weekend. When, exactly, are they supposed to relax and be kids. This is one reason I am such a strong supporter of homeschooling. I'd give anything to still be able to do that here if the situation allowed it.

** My daughter is enrolled in a math class. Not a "scale model construction" class. Why on earth was it necessary to assign this project?!?! (If her math teacher reads this, I still love you, Mrs. L. I just don't think this was necessary - why couldn't they just figure out scale on paper?!?)

** My friend is leaving Doha and is giving me a bunch of stuff!!! Yippee!! I'm so excited - shelving (which I'll use as a pantry), a tri-level corner table, a small table and chairs for my kitchen, a computer desk, a monitor, and more!!! Though I hate it when friends move away, I love it when they bless me with stuff they don't want to move!

** Ok, I think I'm a step closer to going to the doctor. I know, I know - I've been putting it off for a ridiculously long time. But at least I've identified which hospital I want to go to. Now I just need to call and see if I need to make an appointment or just walk in. I've got several issues going on right now that warrant medical attention, unfortunately. I think I have an eye infection (ugh!) and I injured my shoulder while working out about a month ago and it's not healing well. I've got pain most of the time and it's not getting any better, so I guess it's time to do something about it.

** I have a new follower that I know nothing about except that she's Romanian. Welcome!!! Bun venit , prietenul meu! I have a deep love for the Romanian people and at one time hoped to go there to do mission work. God lead me to another call, but my heart still loves the people of Romania.

** So now you see why I needed a break. There just is not too much going on in my brain right now!

Sunday - Cornflake Chicken, rotini with broccolini and garlic, salad

Monday - Salmon, herbed couscous, caesar salad

Tuesday - Lemon & rosemary chicken, roasted potatoes, tossed salad

Wednesday - Shepherd's pie

Thursday - Spaghetti with Italian sausage, tossed salad and garlic bread

Friday - Chicken stir fry and white rice

Saturday - Lentils & rice with a lemon-dressed salad

So that's what we'll be having this week. Thanks for stopping by!! To those of you who have been patient and encouraging to me during my little vacation, thanks!
Saturday, February 21, 2009

Almost Over!!

Well, I've been on hiatus now for about a week and I'm ready to come back. Except I can't.

I don't remember teachers assigning such massive amounts of homework over the weekend when I was a kid. I've been working with my kids Thursday afternoon, an hour or two yesterday and all day and they still are nowhere near done. I'm totally overwhelmed and I'm sure they are too.

Now I know all you moms who have been sending your kids off to school are laughing at me. But let me take off my hat and give you a little bow because you are amazing to have been doing this for years! Trust me - homeschooling is much easier!

I've got other things to say, but no time at the moment - a scale model piano is waiting to be assembled. I'll be back in full swing on Monday, once I get the kiddies off to school tomorrow and catch up on my house maintenance. Thanks for your patience!!
Saturday, February 14, 2009

Going Quiet

I'm going to be checking out of blogland for a bit. I'm not really sure how long, but I need to spend some time "going quiet." Rethinking alot of things, re-evaluating life in general, that type of stuff. Nothing's wrong - I just need to focus on "real-life" for a bit. Hopefully I'll be back soon.
Thursday, February 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

To be honest, I'm not feeling particularly grateful today. A brown haze has settled over our town, thanks to a violent sandstorm. It seems to have permeated my spirit as well, making me feel listless and discontented. And yet, I've been learning lately that my feelings aren't to be trusted.

Unlike much of the world which tells us to "follow our heart," I'm learning that we actually need to, instead, "lead" our hearts. During my study of the book of Esther (the Beth Moore one), it's become clear to me that people who follow their emotions without question often end up regretting both their decisions and their actions.

The only thing that can really be trusted is the Word of God. His promises are true. Satan is a master of lies and manipulation and his favorite target is the mind of a Christian. He loves to plant seeds of falsehood and fear. But I have determined that today I'm going to call him by name and refuse to listen to that which would steal my joy.

In reality, I do have much to be thankful for. Here's just a few of the things:

  • I'm thankful for my husband. He is wise and godly, compassionate and tender. I'm so grateful for our marriage.
  • I'm thankful for my children. Though at times I feel like they make me nuts, they are actually very good kids with tender hearts and are very loving.
  • I'm thankful for my extended family. They are supportive and encouraging.
  • I'm thankful my husband has a job in this turbulent economy.
  • I'm thankful for our church which has been a source of encouragement during our transition here in Doha. They have provided wonderful tools for growth in my relationship with God during a difficult year.
  • I'm thankful for friends who make me laugh, who stay in touch and who listen when I need to vent.
  • I'm thankful that we are in Doha. While it's certainly not a perfect place to live, it's much better than I imagined it to be and it's allowing us some wonderful opportunities.

God is good. That's true. I love Him. That's true too. But what's even more true is He loves me. And that's all I need to know.

Be sure to visit Grace Alone for more Thankful Thursday posts.

Two Very Different Days in Doha

The last couple of days has seen Doha sitting in the midst of two very different weather events.

Tuesday we woke up to heavy fog. Given how dry Doha is, I was totally surprised by it. As we drove to school, I could barely make out buildings across the street. Here's a shot taken by someone from up high in a skyscraper just to give you an idea of how thick it was.

The fog burned off by late morning and life moved on.

Yesterday there was, thankfully, no sign of fog as I drove the kids to school. It was a bright and clear morning, definitely nicer than the day before. After dropping off the kids, I made my way to Bible study. When I came out, the sky looked yellow. As I walked around the wall of our church, I saw the most wind-whipped sandstorm I've ever seen. I rushed to the car, covering my mouth and nose, grateful to have sunglasses on.

Driving home was quite and adventure. I've never heard so many sirens and see so many police cars since we moved here. Sitting at a roundabout where the main post office is located, I couldn't even see the building. As I drove along the waterfront, there was no sign of water at all - just a brown blur after maybe 100 yards. Here's a shot of that to give you an idea of how pleasant it was.

Lovely, isn't it?

Fortunately, the worst of it had died down by the time I went to pick up the kids from school. It's still pretty icky out this morning, but at least it's not as thick and heavy as it was.

I'll be back later with today's Thankful Thursday post. Got to get the kids off to school!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Wow! Are we back to Monday already?! Time has really flown by for me this week.

Last night, I had a new experience. One I'm not hoping to repeat anytime soon. To make the Stuffed Squash that my husband likes so much I use a pressure cooker. It was a gift from my mother-in-law and I really like using it. I don't use it for much else, and I probably should because it's a great time-saver. For years growing up I'd heard about how dangerous pressure cookers are. I never had a problem with mine. Until last night.

Have I ever mentioned that attention to detail is not my greatest strength? I was busily rushing around the house, trying to get things picked up before Hubby and kids arrived home from AWANA. I popped in through the kitchen, glanced at the pressure cooker and thought to myself, "Let's open it up so Hubby will smell it when he comes in."

Did I think, "Hmm, has all the pressure been released?" Did I take a moment to notice if the little button that pops up had gone all the way down?


As I slid the locking mechanism to the "open" side, there was a huge explosion of steam and squash and tomato sauce. Thankfully, none of it got on me, but it was all over the wall, the stove, the floor, the spices on my lazy suzan, the microwave. Everywhere.

Lesson learned. Slow down and pay attention to what I'm doing.

Anyways, here's what we are having this week:

Sunday - Koosa Mahshi (stuffed squash in tomato sauce)

- Emily's cooking up chicken for us so it's up to her what she does with it

- Spaghetti with meat sauce, caesar salad, garlic bread

- Salmon, rice and a tossed salad

- Pasta alfredo with garlic roasted green beans

- A night out with Hubby for Valentine's Day!!!

So that's what we'll be eating this week. For more menu ideas, visit The Organizing Junkie!
Sunday, February 8, 2009

Please Pray

Can I please ask for prayers for a sweet kid here in Doha? His name is Micah and he's Emily's age. He's been very sick for several days now and has now been hospitalized. They believe it may be Dengue Fever (which he may have contracted on a recent trip to Malaysia). According to his mom, he will be one sick cookie for a week or so - high fevers and vomiting, so he's very dehydrated.

Micah is a great kid - funny and smart and dead-on in his relationship with God. If you wouldn't mind offering up a prayer for him and his family, I'd really appreciate it!
Saturday, February 7, 2009

No Regrets - Day 5

I am a big, fat liar.

I know that I said I would do the No Regrets posts every day.

I know I promised a few days ago that I would post the next segment that day.

Didn't happen.

What can I say? Life intervened and between a sick child, being swamped with homework for the first time ever, a migraine, and various activities in-between I just haven't been able to get to the post.

So let's look at it now. As I mentioned, this day was about taking care of yourself. The title of the chapter was "Oxygen Mask" in reference to the airplane announcement to put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping other people.

Question: How would you rate your health in each of these four areas - spiritual, physical, emotional and relational - from one (terrible) to ten (fantastic)? What's the greatest challenge to improving your health in these areas? What can you work on to work through this challenge?

Spiritual - Rating: 4

I have to admit that I am seriously lacking in my daily walk with God. Well, in the disciplines of that walk anyways. While I feel I do pretty well at keeping a constant conversation with God throughout my day, I still feel that I am not drinking at the well of the Word enough. Nor do I have really deep, long times of prayer. I am empty most of the time, spiritually speaking. I'm not getting the nourishment I need. It's like living on a diet of candy bars and soda. This results in my not having an even-keel and losing my temper and getting easily frustrated. During this challenge time, I would like to spend more time in the Word. I think that would be a major factor. Also, I need to practice being still and being in God's presence.

Physical - Rating: 4

Not doing too well in this area either. I've fallen into the trap that many mothers do, paying so much attention to everyone else at the expense of taking care of myself. As my lack of attention to my own needs has decreased, my weight has increased, my lack of energy has has increased, my self-esteem has plummeted and my general well-being has suffered. I've not been eating right (either in what I'm eating or how much I'm eating). I've been exercising, but only minimally. I don't get enough sleep. During this challenge, I want to up my exercise level (both in time and intensity), start eating better and drinking more water, and get to sleep by 11:00, instead of 1 or so. I also plan to make an appointment for a general check-up.

Emotional - Rating: 6

Well, I am very in touch with my emotions, that's for sure. However, I tend to be over-emotional, wearing my heart on my sleeve. I have gotten better at flying off the handle over the years (although having a teenager in the house is putting that to the test!!), but still occasionally do. However, I think the test of having moved to a very different culture in a foreign land has helped me to see that I'm stronger than I gave myself credit for previously. During this challenge, I would like to practice walking away and taking a breath when I feel myself at the verge of an outburst.

Relational - 8

This is an area where I would say I do better than others. While it has been difficult to leave my very well-established social circle back in Miami, I think I'm well on my way to building up a new network here in Doha. I've begun to connect more and more with women here. With regards to my marriage, I think that Hubby and I are in a pretty good place right now. There are some issues, as always, but in general we seem to be connecting pretty well and on the same page most of the time. During this challenge I want to step out in faith and invite another couple over for dinner to continue to build friendships and go on two dates with Hubby.

So there you have it. I'm blessed that my husband is encouraging me to put myself on the front burner for a while and take care of myself. I have a lot of work to do, but I don't want to give up in my efforts to improve in every area of my life.
Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Well there have been some big changes in our home since my last Thankful Thursday post. For the first time ever, my children are enrolled in a traditional school setting. Also, I've begun to serve on the Women's Ministry Leadership Team for our church. As well, Emily is preparing to go on an outreach trip to Jordan in April over spring break. These things have kept us hopping.

I have a lot to be thankful for. Here's a few things that are on my mind today.

  • I'm thankful that my children both got a place in the school of our choice. Schools here generally tend to be packed and it's not uncommon to have children at home for months while you wait for a place to become available for them. It was totally God's hand at work.
  • I'm thankful that Emily seems to be thriving. She's coming home every day happy and bubbling about all that happened that day. (On a side note, Daniel is NOT adjusting so well, so prayers for him would be appreciated. He's just finding the transition from the laidback style of homeschooling to the structure of a traditional school setting frustrating. Yesterday he was complaining that he had to keep his head up ALL day and his neck was sore because there were no headrests. ROFL!!!! He's used to chilling on the couch while he does his schoolwork.)
  • I'm thankful for the group of women in my Esther study's small group. They are an amazing group of women with wonderful insight whom I've really gotten to enjoy getting to know.
  • I'm thankful for my husband and the care he takes of me. He's told me that I need to place myself above other priorities for now and not to worry about the house and all that it demands, but to make sure that I get to the gym regularly, go the doctor for a long overdue check-up and just tend to myself. Sometimes it's easy to get bogged down in all we have to do as stay-at-home moms, but it's good to be given the blessing to be a little selfish sometimes. (Incidentally, this will be the topic of my next No Regrets post, which is a couple of days overdue as I've just been overwhelmed with homework and not feeling well to boot. I'll get it up later today.)
  • I'm thankful for the amazing weather we've been having here in Doha. Cool in the evenings and highs of about 75. Perfect!!! (Must remember this in July when it's 120 degrees!!!)
  • I'm thankful for God having His hand over every aspect of my life. Through this study of Esther, I'm realizing more and more how nothing is coincidence and it's all part of His plan.

Ok, that's it for today. I'm off to the gym to work out and then to the grocery store and home to laundry and cleaning. I want to give big kudos to those non-homeschooling moms out there who do homework with their kids every night. Trust me, this is MUCH harder than homeschooling!! At least when you are the teacher you know what the assignment is!!

For more Thankful Thursday posts, be sure to stop by Grace Alone!

Monday, February 2, 2009

No Regrets - Day 4

Question: What are the current barriers to spiritual health in your life? In other words, what keeps you from connecting to God as your primary source of spiritual life?

Gosh, this is a hard one to answer. I guess I have periods where I am feeling like a spiritual giant and very, very close to God and then I have periods where I feel so very far away from Him. Of course, I know that He is still there, right there with me, but I have tuned Him out. I think the biggest barrier to my spiritual health is related to yesterday's question. I just keep my mind too busy, too amused, to spend time with Him.

I'm the kind of person who hates quiet. I turn on the radio as soon as I get in the car. I turn on the tv, even if I have no intention of watching it, just for the noise. And yet I know that we are called to be still. How else can I know my God if I don't spend time with Him? How can I have a conversation with Him if there is always something else taking up my attention? I keep my mind so busy with noise that there is no opportunity for His still, small voice to get my attention.

I'm working on it. I really want to live my life intentionally - working towards prioritizing those things which are really important to me (my walk with God, my family, my health), instead of allowing those things which are merely easy to be my focus. I think that by consistently reminding myself of what is really important, I can manage to tune out that which is merely there and available. Sometimes it's hard to dig through all the nonsense our world fills us up with, but it's necessary to get down to the treasures which lie hidden.

Menu Plan Monday

Back to menu planning!!! I don't know about you all, but I thrive on list-making. I love the feeling of knowing what I am doing, what I need, what's next. Even though it sounds as though you are being constrained, in reality I find it very freeing. Having a plan allows me to accomplish my goals in a timely fashion and move on to more spontaneous things, while still feeling good that those "must-do's" are already done.

Here's our menu for this week:

Sunday - Country Corn Chowder (recipe below), cheese biscuits

Monday - Seared salmon with garlic aioli, brussel sprouts, couscous and a tossed salad

Tuesday - Koosa mahshi (stuffed squash) and a chopped salad

Wednesday - Roasted Chicken, BLT potatoes, garlic green beans and a tossed salad

Thursday - Hamburgers, potato salad and chips

Friday - Tuna Casserole and a tossed salad

Saturday - Homemade pizza

Country Corn Chowder

  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 vegetable boullion cubes (chicken is ok too!)
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 1/2 t. sage
  • 1/2 t. oregano
  • 1/2 t. thyme
  • 1/2 t. pepper
  • 3-4 cups corn
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped

Bring water to boil and add potatoes, onions, celery and onions. Add seasonings and let simmer until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, saute peppers and scallions in the butter. Set aside. Once potatoes are tender, remove about 2 cups of the vegetables from the soup. Puree what's left (a stick blender is great for this!) and then add back in the vegetables you removed. Add the corn and the sauteed peppers and scallions. Allow to simmer, stirring often, until corn is heated through.

* * * * * * *

So that's it around here. Simple, good food. Yum!!

In other news, after starting school last week, the kids have now been on a four day weekend. Not bad, huh? 4 days last week of camp-like fun, a four day weekend and when they go back tomorrow they will only have a three day week! A pretty nice introduction to school, I'd say!!

I'm off to start my "list" that I mentioned in yesterday's No Regrets post. No more computer for me till it's done!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

No Regrets - Day 3

Question: What was the bigger time waster in your past week? What was the payoff for you? Did it distract you, entertain you, allow you to avoid someone? Is there a way to use your time differently and have a greater, more significant impact? Maybe you need to watch less television and to read more, or perhaps instead of surfing the Internet, you could go for a walk or get some other exercise. Come up with a short list of alternate activities you can pursue the next time you are tempted to waste time by default.

Not surprisingly, my two biggest timewasters are the ones mentioned above - tv and the Internet. Both of these suck me in and cause me to waste away hours every day. I would wager to say that my payoff is in the fact that I just don't like doing the things that require effort on my part - cleaning the toilets, hanging laundry, exercising, even reading the Bible as it requires thought and concentration.

Honestly, I prefer to be amused. Jess over at Making Home wrote an excellent post on how our modern day amusements are dulling our minds. It's a very thought-provoking piece that I've been mulling over. Here's one of the best parts:

We are in danger of being lulled to sleep, mentally, emotionally, culturally, and SPIRITUALLY-- by our amusements. When our days and nights are filled with technology, news, and fantasy games, and our homes, garages, and storage buildings are filled with toys, electronics, appliances, decorations, stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff..., our minds are in danger of being overtaken, not only by our stuff (although I would argue that most Americans are indeed fixated on stuff), and not only by our amusements (although I would argue that most Americans are indeed fixated on amusements), but also by a creeping indifference to the dying, the poor, the uneducated, the spiritually dead people around the world.

When I think back to the "olden days," I think that an entirely different mindst was in place. People worked hard and took satisfaction in a job well-done. Entertainment options were limited, at best, and often consisted of a family sitting together at night reading aloud or playing music together. Yes, the work was back-breaking and time-consuming. But the family worked together and it wasn't an option. Survival often relied upon it.

Now obviously we can't go back in time. But I can try to adopt a similar mindset of work before play. I can take pride in my work and in accomplishing my goals. In order to try to escape from the mindless drivel that often occupies much of my day I want to establish a habit of making my list of goals for the day (including exercise and time with God, as well as homemaking responsibilities and enrichment activities - reading, etc.). My goals is to refrain from using both the television and computer until after I've completed those tasks.

I want to keep my mind, body and soul engaged with what I'm doing. I want to focus on the things that matter to me.

The hours and minutes I waste can never be regained.


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