Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Growing Up

My son is actually 6 years old today.  His little face has been the same since he was a new baby.  It is always funny to see his baby pictures.  He truly has only grown a little bigger or gained a little more hair.  His face always has stayed exactly the same.  But today as I look at my little boy I see that his baby face is changing.  His smile shows where his two BIG boy teeth are coming in.  His little face is growing longer and he looks less like my baby boy and more like a big boy each day.  He's still only an inch taller than his baby sister, but he's changing and growing. 

I think back to six years ago today.  I was laying down with my husband beside my head.  I had a c-section.  I knew he was a boy.  It was pure joy hearing him cry and knowing he was fine, he was really here.  The baby boy I had longed for and bought clothes for, seven years before he was ever born.  Here he was.  He was born at 7:47 am and people joked that we should name him Jet Boeing.  Ironically he loves airplanes and hopes to be a superhero for Jesus that flies planes when he's grown up.  He was a tiny baby.  He fit perfectly into an adorable blue and red premie outfit with a puppy on it.  With his dark brown eyes fixed on me, I looked into his tiny face and my heart melted.  This was my baby boy.  Since that day he's had me.  With one look into his dark brown eyes I'm mush.  When he was a little older he would wake up every night stand up in his crib with his thumb in his mouth and his sippy cup tucked under one arm.  He'd holler for me and then just stand there waiting for me to scoop him up and let him cuddle next to me for the rest of the night.  My sweet little baby no longer sucks his thumb or carries sippy cups under his arm.  He no longer wakes up to cuddle, but when he wakes up we do still get cuddle time. I can't believe my baby boy is no longer a baby or a toddler.  I'm amazed at how he's growing! 

It seems like turning 6 is a big deal.  He's going into 1st grade, he knows how to read and is great at games like Uno and Cadoo.  He comes up with amazing funny jokes and his stories are so creative.  I look forward to seeing all that God has in store for him.

I want to enjoy this time, while he's still little enough to cuddle, stills likes me to sing to him and give him kisses (even in public).  I know one day he'll be taller and maybe more easily embarassed.  One day he won't fit on my lap anymore.

I'm glad that today he's only 6!  God help me to enjoy today and not worry about tomorrow.  Help my son to grow into the man you want him to become.  Bless my son Lord on this his special birthday!  

Dino Themed Party: How about a Brachiosaurus Cake!

No party is complete without a birthday cake.  My son wanted a Brachiosarus.  Talk about a challenge.  I looked on line at lots of dinosaur cakes but none were Brachiosaurus ones.  So I had to figure it out myself. 

First, I baked 4 round cakes.  I used my hot cocoa cup cake recipe.  I then chilled them for 2 hours in the freezer. I prepared a large cookie sheet covered in wax paper.  I then began cutting the cake and gluing it together with frosting. Take two of the round cakes, slice off the bottom to lay them on their sides.  Like shown below.  These are the body of the dinosaur.  With frosting "glue" the two rounds together and glue the bottom to the pan you set it on.  Take the slice from the bottom and cut them into the 4 feet.  Again attach with frosting glue.  Then cut a tail and pieces to stack for the neck and head.  As it settles the head with lean back more.  We propped up the head for a paper towel roll made to look like a tree. You can then frost the entire dinosaur the way you desire. 
I purchased colored butter cream frosting from Whole Foods to use on my dinosaur.  I practiced for weeks before wasting money on natural food dies that didn't work well with the frosting.  So I opted to just buy a couple pounds of colored frosting from Whole Foods.  It was only $3.00 a tub, the natural food coloring at our local store was more than $8.00 so I think I got the better deal! Once you frost the cake do not put it in the fridge or freezer that will cause condensation.  Leave it out. 
We frosted the paper towel rolls to look like trees.  He wanted a red and green dinosaur.  The colors were very light as they were plant based natural colors, but it worked fine for him!

Hope your Brachiosarus birthday cake is extra yummy!  Ours sure was!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dino Themed Party Pinata Directions

My son will be six tomorrow.  Makes me want to cry when I think about how quickly he's growing.  It's excited to watch his little boy face change.  It's wonderful to hear him read to me and watch him run and play.  It's bitter sweet though to see that he's growing up and changing and won't always fit on my lap or want to cuddle.

We threw him a party and as you probably guessed based on the title, it was all dinosaur.  I made a dinosaur pinata. We played pin the tail on the Brachiosaurus, toss the dino egg (water balloon) and we had a three legged race.  While a t-rex chased the children.  I wouldn't do the 3-legged race again, at least not with little kids. Let's tie their legs together and watch them try to run and fall on their faces, what fun, (oops.)  They still had fun and no one really got hurt, so that was good!

So first up, you have to prepare your pinata.  Plan it out a few weeks before the actual party.  I mixed oat flour and water in a bowl.  I started out with a one to one ratio, but I then needed to add water to thin it out.  I tried tissue paper and news print, but I would recommend copy paper.  You need fewer layers with copy paper.  The plus to the way I did it is that I could see what layer I was on.  So perhaps use different colored paper for each layer.  You need at least three layers.  I did 5.

Materials:
  • flour
  • water
  • 2 inch wide strips of paper
  • construction paper for tubed neck and tail
  • balloons (large for body, small for head)
  • toilet paper tubes for leg 


 I placed a bowl under the large balloon to hold it in place.  I made a construction paper tube for the neck and tail, and taped them to the balloon.  Also tape on the toilet paper rolls.  Then start adding your layers of paper dipped in the flour and water mixture.  Make sure to cross them over each other.
Allow 24 hours for each layer to dry.

 When it is hard enough that you can't push and feel the balloons inside, you can paint it and stick a knife in to pop the balloon in the body and make a small hole to insert the treats.
We found great little stretchy dinosaurs, along with Dino sponges and stickers from the Dollar Tree.  Those all went into the pinata.  It was taped shut.  I then used a rope to wrap around it and hand it in the tree.  Great FUN.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Charlotte Mason Style- Tea Time

I was inspired recently by an article on Ambleside Online about tea time.  Charlotte Mason lived in Europe in the 1800's and of course they observed tea time.  As I read the article I thought about how around 2:30-3:00 my kids need an afternoon snack and if it's missed they are more cranky.  What a great way to spend quality time with my kids during their "snack" and at the same time be teaching them about etiquette, serving, and enjoying great poetry or Psalms and wonderful chatter. 

So today I pulled out the box of fine China that I was recently given.  It's been in a box in my closet for months as I didn't want it to break.  I carefully got it ready and set the table.  I started boiling water and pulled out the Cherry and Blueberry tea bags from my cupboard.  I remembered the article and how they usually had cream and sugar with tea.  I've never had cream in my tea before and we didn't have cream on hand so I poured a little cup of milk and brought out the honey.  I told the kids I was getting a surprise ready and they should play quietly until I called them.  While I was doing this my oldest kept calling to me, "Mom, I'm really hungry!"  Good thing I was in the middle of cutting carrots.  I set out their tea cups and saucers and then a small dessert plate with carrots, blueberries and a yummy artichoke dip for the carrots.  Once it was all set out I called them to the table.  I didn't have a nice tea pot just a glass measuring cup. 

I invited them to sit in special spots and then served them tea.  I used a bit of an ancient and asked if they'd like a spot of cream.  Their little bodies transformed before my eyes from wiggly hyper children to calm little beings. Their eyes were wide and they nodded at each thing I offered them.  We all carefully sipped our tea.  We talked about things they wanted to share with me and then I read some of A. A. Milne poems.  We laughed about Binker and the boy getting extra chocolate because he had an imaginary friend.  My kids started bubbling over with things to tell me.  Yet they were not yelling or hyper they were taking turns sharing little things they thought were important.  I listened intently, looking at each little face, smiling and taking in what they had to say. 

When we were done we carefully washed and dried the china together and found a new home for it in the kitchen, not hidden in my closet.  The kids all asked if we could do this again.  My littlest said, "Mommy can we do this everyday and every-night and everyday?  This is fun, Mommy."

I think that says it all.  Can anyone say JOY of LEARNING

To read the article that inspired me to start tea time follow the link:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Handicrafts: Charlotte Mason Style

I love being able to home school.  It allows us to take the time to teach my children things they show interest in. I enjoy being able to teach them things they can use in the future.

When my oldest was 4 I began teaching her to sew.  We would have date nights and work on sewing.  I had no idea I was doing Charlotte Mason Handi-Crafts, but in reality I was.  My daughter learned how to make a pillow very well.  She went on to make many pillows to sell at our local church to help the church raise money.  She also learned how to make pillow dolls which she gave to almost every family member.  Now 4 years later she has begun to learn how to knit without a loom.  She's also great at beading and regularly makes jewelry.  The amazing thing about this is seeing how she can use it for God's kingdom.  Recently she sold jewelry at a benefit for my friend with breast cancer.  It brings me joy that she can use these God-given talents for His kingdom. 

I think Charlotte Mason was right on when she talked of the importance of handicrafts.  This year my son is going into 1st grade and he's going to learn wood working skills.  He's excited about it.  He's going to learn to make a wooden car. It's something that he can use later on and it teaches him that he can work with his hands and create something for himself and others.  My 4 year old daughter is also excited about sewing.  I made her an outfit the other day out of a skirt that got to small.  I used the top to make into a pair of shorts.  She was fascinated by the whole process and wanted to learn it all.

I have to tell you as a child an elderly woman took the time to show me how to sew.  She wasn't of any relation to me but she invested that time into me.  It was not something I continued with and so I lost a lot of the knowledge of how to sew and what patterns were saying.  But I remembered that time she took with me and I remember the pj set I made vividly.  There was a joy in making something you can use.  As an adult I re-learned to sew and honestly I'm not the best.  Most patterns make no sense to me.  Yet I can sew now and I can find tutorials or ask my mother in law what to do.  It still brings joy knowing I can make clothes for my kids or toys for them. 

Spending that time with my kids teaching them something like this brings us closer together and it's a very fun part of "school". 

To see more about Charlotte Mason or handicraft videos follow the links.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Becoming a little more Charlotte Mason Styled

This is my fourth year of homeschooling.  I love it, but that hasn't always been the case.  When I was brand new to homeschooling I kept trying to join groups, to have the accountability and to make sure my kids learned everything they needed to learn.  Let's be real, I also wanted my kids to learn more than they needed to know.  It gave me pride to say things like, "My daughter  is learning the timeline from creation to present day and she's 5."  Looking back I was not instilling a love for learning, I was jamming facts down my kids throats hoping they'd be able to spew them back at me. 

Now I have a little more relaxed approach.  I try to expose them to great books, and poems.  We spend a lot of time reading through out the day.  We go to the library once a week and regularly check out 30-40 books and read them all before the week is up. We spend time coloring and doing crafts and doing nature studies.  I didn't realize I was really doing something that had a name.  For a long time when my daughter was younger we'd go outside and find bugs and rocks and my daughter would sometimes draw what she found in little random paper she stapled together.  Recently I found out that was actually doing a Nature Study and Notebooking!  Now we go a little further in depth, we look up the birds or the berries and find out what they are.  It's amazing how much my kids learn from just going on a walk. 

A couple of years ago we made a poetry notebook.  It had poems and they would illustrate the poem and we'd memorize it. We didn't read a lot of poetry or study one poet.  We just memorized a few poems.  The great thing about this is my children still have their notebooks and they still like to read through the poems and see how they drew a couple years ago.  Recently I started reading the poems by A. A. Milne after Bible during breakfast. They've loved it and wanted more each day.  They've asked for certain poems by name and they've started making a poetry notebook again.  I love that poetry uses a different type of language and the vocabulary is rich!

I've always liked Charlotte Mason and the workshops on her style at home-school conferences.  Yet I was often not using her principals.  I've found that doing it her way is increasing my kids love for learning.  Using short 15 minute lessons for math has by far been the greatest help to our math struggle.  My daughter knowing that she's not going to have to sit there till she finishes a lesson if even it takes an hour frees her to not worry about it.  She knows when the timer goes off her math is done.  A perk to this is she has in fact started finishing a whole lesson in her 15 minute time slot.  That's pretty exciting!

I'll share more about becoming a little more Charlotte Mason styled this week.  If you want to learn more about Charlotte and her methods please look at these links:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Gluten Free Pizza Crust Recipe, You ROCK!

So my kids love pizza.  What kid doesn't, right? For a long time they couldn't have pizza while we were figuring out the allergies.  Being that my son was allergic to rice we couldn't eat most gluten free pizza because they use RICE flour.  It was a travesty.

Then my darling husband worked many hours trying to perfect a gluten free pizza crust recipe.  He believes pizza crust is supposed to have a certain texture, and taste to it.  I tried over and over to make a crust recipe, but none met his high standards.  So emerged his creation.  What a delight, what a moment.  The kids coronated the event with a song dedicated to his gluten free pizza creation.  It goes... (drum roll please)..."Pepperoni Pizza You rock, you rock. Pepperoni pizza, you rock, you rock! You ROCK!"

So this is my darling husband's very own Rockin Gluten Free Pizza Crust Recipe
Ingredients:
1/2 c. tapioca starch  
1/4 c. millet or oat flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dill
1 egg
1/4 c. milk (any kind)
AND
Toppings of choice



Directions:Mix the dry ingredients together, whisk in wet ingredients.  It will look somewhat thin and runny, it will rise, don't worry. Pour into a pie pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 13 minutes. Take out and top.  We usually make three of these batches. One we don't put any sauce on, as my youngest is allergic to tomatoes. The others we sauce, add cheese, and turkey peperoni, or sliced peppers and olives and little more cheese.  After adding toppings bake again for another 6-10 minutes, until the cheese is nice and bubbly! Take out, cool, cut and eat.  Oh and you must bee bop and sing along, Pepperoni Pizza you rock. 

Hope you enjoy this yummy gluten free pizza crust recipe.  It has delighted my family.  So dig in!



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Holy Spirit

My pastor started a series a few weeks back on the Holy Spirit.  It has been helpful to reflect on my thoughts, experiences and feelings about the Holy Spirit.  I was one of the many people who experienced the "abuses" in the name of the Holy Spirit.  For years when I heard people say the words "Holy Spirit" it  made me uncomfortable because of those experiences. A few years ago I realized this uncomfortableness and asked God to help me through it.  I know that I believe in the Trinity of God, and that includes the Holy Spirit.

I know that God, through the Holy Spirit has led my husband and I many times.  From moves to dealing with money and family relations, many times the Holy Spirit has guided us.  Yet, I still clung to this feeling that HE was somehow odd or strange, due to the things I experienced in non-scriptural churches.

I've been excited as our pastor has pointed out the presence of the Holy Spirit throughout scripture.  One I have been meditating on and excited about is found in the very beginning.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." Genesis 1:1-2

It is so great to see the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God right there from the beginning, hovering over all things. The same Spirit of God, the same Holy Spirit is in me today, directing me, guiding me and showing me the way.  That is so amazing to think about.   I thank the Lord for HE is Good.  I'm grateful to have this wonderful, all knowing, powerful God living in me through the Holy Spirit.  When I don't know what to do, I can call on him and ask for guidance.  When I feel a nudging from within I can know that the Spirit of God is directing my path.  It can be as easy as the nudging in my heart recently to do 5 day club, or to reach out to a neighbor I didn't know.  God loves us all and he has plans and desires that are GOOD, we need to not be afraid, but accept his Spirit, the Holy Spirit to dwell in us to direct us and allow us to be all that God intends us to be.

Will you listen to the Holy Spirit this week guiding you? Will you become divided following after your own will, not having or listening to the Spirit? Will you stay in the love of God?  Will you stay in love with God?  May you walk in obedience to him, the Holy Spirit, and be filled with his mercy and knowledge of what you need to do for your week.

But ye, beloved, remember ye the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; That they said to you, In the last time there shall be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts.These are they who make separations, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 
Jude 1:17-21

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

God is Good

As I've watched my best friend deal with breast cancer, I've been amazed by her and by God.  As we were talking last night about things we've seen God doing she reminded me how we can only see a tiny portion of the masterpiece God is creating.

Through ups and downs, infections and trying to raise little kids while battling cancer I've seen her grow.  She does not wavier or doubt God's goodness.  She knows he is good.  She trusts his judgement and she praises him for each thing, good and bad. 

A couple months ago she was growing thinner by the day.  One evening while I was staying with her I was scared as I listened to her labored breath.  Since then though, the cancer numbers have gone up and the cancer has spread according to scans, she seems better.  She has God's peace.  She is gaining some weight back.  Her energy is improving.  She's able to hold her 6 month old baby, when she couldn't just a couple months ago.  She laughs and jokes just like she did back in our college days.  God is good!

The medication that she takes via IV once a week was causing severe shortness of breath and vomiting and fevers.  We all prayed hard for her as she went in this week, and she had none of those side effects.  God is good!  She came home with an appetite and though she was restless she wasn't miserable like the week before.  She was able to be with her children, to laugh and to create memories.

So many people have been touched by her story, and her strength.  She repeatedly points to Jesus and says, "He's my strength".  When doctors are in shock she's not in more pain, for how far it's spread she points to Jesus.  When people are amazed that she's up and around, she points to Jesus.  When she deals with the workers, doctors, nurses and home health people she is not bitter or chaotic, or unsure of her future, she is full of love and grace and peace and hope and she points to Jesus.

In all of this I can say God is Good.  I'm glad that He sees the masterpiece and only shows me a tiny bit at a time.  In that tiny bit I see His hand at work, changing hearts, building connections and showing HE is GOOD. I can thank Him for my dear friend, for all her improvements.  I can thank Him for each day.

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His loving kindness is everlasting.
Psalm 136:1

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Gluten Free Tortilla & Crepe Recipe

Who says that breakfast burritos have to be for breakfast?  I prefer them for supper. My husband came up with a wonderful gluten free recipe that works for both crepes and tortillas.  We enjoyed these wonderful gluten free dinner burritos!  I believe they are a new favorite with everyone.  The recipe is so versatile as well.  You can use it for a regular taco, a burrito, a lovely fruit filled crepe.  Whatever you can imagine this go to gluten free thin pastry is perfect!




 Gluten Free Tortilla & Crepe Ingredients:
1 c. gluten free oat flour 
1/2 c. tapioca starch
1/4 c. brown rice flour
1/4 c. quinoa flour
dash of  salt
2 c. milk (any kind)
2 organic eggs
1 1/2 t. honey




* A revision: I recently made these but changed the flours to not have rice.  I also added one more egg due to using coconut flour. The revision was the following 1c oat flour, 1/4c tapioca starch, 1/4 c millet and 1/4 coconut flour.  It turned out great.  We used them to make cheese crisps. The kids LOVED them!

Directions:
Mix the dry ingredients together, whisk in wet ingredients.  Pour into a griddle that is heated at 350 degrees. Swirl the pan to make a very thin layer of batter. Cook for about 30 seconds on each side.  Set them aside.  If you are making a crepe you can use a little more honey for sweetness.  You can also exchange buckwheat flour for the brown rice and quinoa if you don't like the taste of quinoa.

Add-Ons:
We then made scrambled eggs with cheese, and Applegate Farms chicken sausage to stuff into the tortillas along with some salsa.  Another combination would be to make them chicken tacos with  avocado.  After having burritos for the meal we had yogurt and blueberry crepes for desert using the same great gluten free recipe.

I hope you will enjoy this versatile recipe.  It makes great gluten free tortillas or gluten free crepes.  After trying out this recipe please share what great add-ons you used.  Enjoy!