Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Meal Planning

I would not ever say that I just love cooking. It is a big blotch on my home making resume, but it is true. I cook because I have a big husband who would NOT be happy to eat cereal or refried beans every day!

I love to sew, organize, clean... I really don't even mind doing laundry... but then there's the eternal question... "What's for dinner?" AAAAHHH....

When I was placing my book order a few weeks ago, I splurged on something for me... I have had this book circled in the Rainbow Resource Catalog for a year or so now, and I am so glad that I finally got it!

The book gives menus (main dishes, side items, and one special dessert & snack per week) for 13 weeks (5 meals/wk). Included are grocery lists for each week and time schedules for when you should start things during the day! (So that it is all hot at the same time!) It also includes chapters on Breakfasts and Lunches, Eating from the Garden, Special Events and Holidays, Quick Tips, Starting out Right, From Scratch, and the Family Table.

The best part about this book is that all of the meals are NORMAL FOODS that are affordable and that my family likes! There are not a bunch of recipes with things like hearts of palm and leeks... Instead, there are recipes for things like pot roast (yes, I need a recipe for pot roast!), pork chops, and chicken alfredo.

I doubt that this is the magic feather that will make me eagerly anticipate meal preparation, but I am hoping that it will not be quite so laborious! Yesterday I got my menu listed, grocery list, and went to Kroger, Sam's, and Wal-Mart. I decided to use Week one over two weeks, and supplement other meals with things from the mark-down meat bin and sale ads to fill in the gaps. I also shopped for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks for two weeks. Hopefully, I can stay out of Wal-Mart until the middle of the month! (That will free up extra time for meal preparation!)

A good friend of mine has also started a blog, called Meal Planning with Connie. It is a very helpful resource for menus, recipes, and kitchen tips. She also does give aways and other neat things! Check it out- a great one to follow!

Works for me... History

I have kind of dropped the ball on curriculum... I am picking it back up and going to the subject of history. This is my favorite subject, albeit a subject I know very little about.

I have been greatly helped by the book lists and big brains of the people who organize Excelsior, the co-op we are doing this year. Next year we will not be participating, but I will continue with the same style of teaching.

I have mentioned before that we go through the cycle of history in 4 years, and we do this 3 times through. Last year was Creation until the fall of Rome. This year is the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation. Next year, we will study early explorers and history up to 1815.

I am learning history as we go... for me, this is one of the best parts of homeschooling! For example, I am sure that 1815 is not a completely arbitrary date, but I have no idea why it is significant. This summer, as I read and compile my syllabus, I am sure I will get to that!

I use the Veritas Press cards as a starting place, but I also pull in some other sources. The Veritas Cards are really just a source guide in themselves. On the back of each card (which describes an event or topic in history... 32 per year, chronological order), there are books and page numbers of sources with information on the topic. In addition to the sources used in Veritas, I like reading the Story of the World series and some of the Beautiful Feet books.

Most of our history time is spent with me reading out loud to all four children. They branch off into independent work during reading time, when I try to coordinate the literature reading with what we are studying. I also have the girls complete some assignments, map work, etc. that the boys do not.

Friday is our special day to review what we have learned and complete projects or activities. I really like the History Pockets series, and I also like time lines. Time lines are especially helpful to show the time relationship of events... for example, Jerome was writing the Vulgate during the lifetime of St. Augustine! Or, St. Benedict was creating the monastic rule around the same time that Justinian was ruling the Byzantine Empire!

The more I study history, the more I see how much I missed in school!

Running Shirts

Nashville has me in the mood to post some of my favorite running T-shirt sayings. I will qualify here and now... just because I think some of them are funny does not mean I would necessarily wear them or put them on a kid's T-shirt! (Don't worry, Spartan moms; my rule is no arrogance, nothing inappropriate, and nothing too boastful.)

Disclaimer aside, here goes:

A lot of people run a race to see who is fastest. I run to see who has the most guts.
--Steve Prefontaine

Does this shirt make my bottom look fast?

Fartlek: It's a running thing

Pardon our dust

How's my running? Call 1800-Eat-DUST

Running is a mental sport... we are all insane!

No hard courses... just soft runners!

I'm the fast woman your mama warned you about

It's the lioness that hunts

The truth is, you CAN run faster. Sometimes, the truth hurts.

(front)I want to run with the Kenyans!
(back) Where'd they go??

Run hard, run fast, but just KEEP RUNNING!

This sport can result in injury, dismemberment, and even death.


Here's one of my top favorites, and yes, I do own this one:
Trample the wounded, hurdle the dead...RUN!

Have you seen any other cute running shirts? What did they say?

Discovery in Nashville

We are friends with a family who is very familiar with their roots in the South. This fascinates me, and I have often wondered about my heritage. OK, let me level with you. Really, I wanted to have a confederate veteran somewhere in there, so that I could possibly go to a hoop skirt ball one day!

There was extremely fast internet in our hotel lobby, so I decided to check it out on Saturday afternoon. I found a very distant cousin or uncle who had posted a great deal of helpful information.

It turns out that my direct relatives were some of the first settlers in Kosciusko, MS. In fact, the town was named by a great x ? grandfather, Samuel Dodd, because of the fondness an ancestor had for Thaddeus Kosciuzko, a general for George Washington. Before coming to MS, the family had been touched by the revivals in the 1700s in Virginia. Apparently, they were a godly family with a Christian heritage. These relatives were actually descendants of the first baptist preacher in the US (Roger Williams from Rhode Island).

My great, great, great grandfather, Robert B. Webb, did not participate in the war between the states, He was against the expansion of slavery into new territory, and chose not to fight. This ended up working in his favor, because he was then allowed after the war to serve as sheriff, treasurer, and in other capacities.

Although I did not have any direct descendants fight for the Confederacy, it turns out that R.B. Webb's father, my gggggrandfather Micajah Webb, was somehow related to General Robert E. Lee through his mother's side of the family! Can't get any more Confederate than that!

R.B. Webb's wife, Matilda Boyd Webb, had a very complimentary eulogy in the newspaper. It seems that she was a kind, godly servant of Christ.

R.B. and Matilda had a daughter named Evelyn Webb Dodd. While at school in Oxford, MS, she and two other friends started Delta Gamma Sorority. There is even a historical marker on her headstone in the Kosciusko Cemetery! Evelyn Webb married Samuel Lapsley Dodd, a banker, and one of their daughters was Mary Dodd.

Mary Dodd married Jefferson Ward Crosier, from Ohio. They had one child, Lapsley Ward Crosier. Mary died when my grandfather, Lapsley, was still a boy. Jefferson Ward Crosier remarried a lady, and apparently she "took the money and ran" with the family inheritance that should have gone to my grandfather. (It was through my grandfather's mother.) My great grandfather died the year I was born, so I don't remember him. At some point, he and his wife had moved to Memphis and become co-owners of the yacht club. Lapsley grew up and married Van Chaney Crosier, and they had 8 children. My father was the baby of the group! His name is Robert Lapsley Crosier... now we know where the Robert and the Lapsley came from!

I thought this was a great experience in giving history a face. Sometime in the next week or two, I plan to go to Ole Miss and see if the Delta Gamma house has any pictures or information on Eva Webb. This summer, I want to take the kids and head down to Kosciusko to check out the cemetery and visitor's center. The first baptist church is built on the homeplace of my ggggrandparents, and I thought they might have some historical information as well.

Nashville Weekend

Last weekend, Scott and I got to do an extremely rare thing. We got to go out of town without children, with another grownup couple, and stay in a hotel... 2 nights!

I was supposed to run the Nashville marathon... until, of course, I got my stress fracture. Nathan was supposed to run also, but he had been sick and thought it best not to run while coughing up green stuff. (understandable!) We decided to carry on with our plan, since we had hotel rooms and babysitters reserved.

On Friday night, we arrived in Nashville, got checked in, and went to the Expo Center to pick up my $250 T-shirt, as I like to call it... once you factor in doctor's costs and race fees! Saturday was spent hanging out, watching ESPN and Animal Planet, reading, and checking out Bass Pro. Not too exciting, but definitely relaxing!

Saturday night we went to a little juke joint near our hotel... We all enjoy live music, and these two guys were really good! They played old country hits, and we stayed for about an hour after we had finished eating to listen and sing along!
Here are Ginny and Nathan at dinner
Scott and I at dinner
The best part about the whole weekend was not worrying about the children. Scott's mom had come up for the weekend, and we knew she could handle everything. I felt kind of bad, though, because "everything" involves an awful lot when it comes to our family! She chaperoned a field trip, took the kids to park day, took them out to eat, went to Wal-Mart, made sure the chickens were fed and put up, checked on the cats and kittens, AND played doctor to one of our dogs. (Mercy conveniently skinned herself and required many, many stitches two nights before we left!) All of that was just on Friday! Yikes! Enough to make any mom tired!

We had a wonderful weekend, and can't wait too see you in 3 weeks, Nana! :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

knitting pattern

I thought some of you might enjoy this knitting pattern. These dishcloths are very easy to knit, and they make great gifts.

Use the 100% cotton yarn (each ball can make two discloths) and size 7 needles.

Cast on 4 stitches, and then knit the 4 stitches. (Note: You are beginning in a corner and working out, and then you will work back down to the opposite corner)

Knit 2, yarn over, knit to the end. Continue the pattern of knit 2, yarn over, knit to end until there are 38-40 stitches on the needle.

Now you will begin the decrease...

Knit 1, knit 2 together, yarn over and knit 2 together, and knit to the end. Continue this pattern (each time you will have a net loss of 1 stitch) until you are back down to 5 stitches on the needle.

When you have the 5 on your needle, you are ready to cast off. Knit 2, loop the first stitch over and off the needle. Knit another stitch and loop the first stitch over and off the needle... continue until you have cast off all stitches.

Weave in the ends and enjoy!

Special Dinner

Many years ago, Scott lost his wedding ring while visiting his Aunt in Florida. He was cleaning out from under her dock, and the ring caught on a branch... It was not to be seen again.

Recently, the kids and I decided we would get him a ring and surprise him with it. This was a great idea, but saving money out of the grocery budget each month was easier said than done!

(Did I mention that my 5 year old ate 5 eggs, 1/4 lb ham, and a hamburger bun for dinner last week?!?)

After a few months of turning up empty-handed, we hatched a plot. I went back to cleaning house for a lady once a month. We agreed to save most of the money and use a little each time for some sort of treat, like a coke from Sonic... bribery for secrecy... just a treat for helping me and doing school independently... you be the judge!

The first time we cleaned, Scott was out of town; no problem. The second time, we told him we went to the house to discuss school and have lunch... technically not a lie, because we did discuss school and have lunch. This week, because it is Spring football and Thursday was also the district track meet, I managed to avoid all questions in the few moments we saw him before bedtime!

Friday after Excelsior, we picked up the ring and got some special dinner items. Steak! Sweet potato fries! Salad! Cheesecake! YUM!!! We got home as quickly as possible and changed into dinner attire, set the table, and got food ready. I had left a message for Scott to call me when he was on his way home, and all of our plans were hinging on him getting the message. He did indeed call, so I stuck fries and rolls in the oven and threw the steaks on the grill. (Special thanks to Papa John and my over-the phone steak grilling 101 class!) When he drove up, the boys were out front to keep him detained while we put food on the table. When he came in, this was his place setting...

I couldn't believe it! We never get to pull off surprises, but we did it! He was thrilled, although we are still speculating as to whether it was the ring or the steak that had him excited! :)

Here is the delicious cheesecake. After Sarah had eaten her fill, she leaned back, groaned, and said, "Oh, now I know why rich people are fat!" That gave us all a good chuckle!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter (Part 2)

I really like this picture of Scott and Will, but Scott said that he didn't realize how old he looks!
The Pitt family: Hillary, Levi, Evelyn, and Adam

Oh, my, here comes trouble!
Sarah, Josh, Hannah, Will
Josh, Sarah, Evelyn, Will, Levi, Hannah
Happy Easter! We are off to church!After church, we headed home for Easter dinner. My parents drove down from Memphis after their early service to join us. We also had the Stephensons, our friend Darren (in from Louisville), and the McCallums. I wish I had taken a group picture!!!

Scott and Adam after lunch and getting ready to go shoot
H & H, Inc.
The girls with their Papa (my dad).
Levi on the tractor... Country boy stuck in Memphis! :)

Easter (Part 1)

We had a great end to our Easter break... My sister and her family came to spend Easter weekend with us! The kids love playing with their cousins, Evelyn and Levi! Evelyn and Levi are 13 months apart like my first two, and it is funny to see them and remember how crazy things were for me. Levi LOVED the chickens... when they got to our house on Saturday, he did not want to come inside! We grilled out deer burgers, and the guys went shooting.

Here we are at breakfast on Easter morning.... Hannah, Josh, Will, and I enjoying some sourdough rolls.

Sarah, lookin' cute in her bunny ears...
More from the breakfast table... My boys' expressions got me tickled in this picture... typical.
Adam with Levi and Evelyn before church
Hannah and Evelyn before church

Favorite Day

When we arrived home from Chattanooga, I got a special surprise... My book orders had all come in! Hooray!!! This is always my favorite day of the year! I love unpacking the books and seeing all of the fun things we will read and do in the next school year!

I realize that this year is not even complete, but I like to have my order completed and on hand by the beginning of summer. That way, I can spend a few weeks over the summer working on my history syllabus, reading lists, and other lesson plans.

Chattanooga Day 3 (Part 2)

Christy... this is for you! Here is the picture of the house. In the photo of the original house, there was no chimney, and the house was only one room deep... You could see a ladder propped up on the back of the house in the photo, and from the upstairs the way it is now, it looked like the first way of accessing the loft area was from the outside. At some point, they doubled the depth of the house, adding another bedroom, indoor stairway, bathroom, and kitchen across the back. Later, an enclosed porch/laundry area was added. At some point the porch was changed from just a lean-to type roofline to the gable roof that you see now. You can see the hill going straight up in the background, and the spring and springhouse are just behind the house, a little to the left. (not in the picture)

More pictures from the Children's museum... They had an art area where the kids could participate in a lesson and do some other hands on activities. This is Josh working on his painting.

In the hands on area, the boys spent quite a while working with clay and sculpting. There were pictures of famous pieces of art all around, and the boys were excited to see and recognize the Mona Lisa and the Arnolfini Marriage.... Here is Will and his hut (upstairs had been an exhibit about different types of housing)
Josh working with his clay piece
The rooftop was my favorite area. I don't know if it was because I enjoy physics, rainbow colors, or sunshine... probably mostly the sunshine! It was a beautiful day! There were several different hands on ways of demonstrating machines: levers, pulleys, etc... Here's Josh pulling himself up using a rope and pulley.
Sarah and Ben worked together to lift a very large ball quite high using a series of pulleys.
There was also a bubble blowing place on the rooftop. The man in the picture was filling up the tank while we were there... Bev and I were cracking up because he started singing, "Who can make a rainbow... the bubble man can," and being really goofy.
Will using the pulley chair...
This was a neat screw demonstration that required the kids to work together and spin themselves around at the bottom. Sarah, Olivia, Josh, and John were working on this one.
Ben, Will, and Sarah in this tall tower/observation area.
Once we got back to the house, I was ready to put my foot up and take a break. (Will and I on the porch) The kids were not as worn out as the grown ups, and they spent about 3 more hours playing cowboys outside!
The next morning we headed out very early to get home to Mississippi. Thanks, Norm and Bev for your hospitality! We all had a wonderful time, and my children sure enjoyed playing with yours! :)

Chattanooga day 3

The next day, we geared up and headed back downtown for the Children's Museum. Here are the kids on the front steps. On the top row: Rob, Will, and Josh Bottom Row: Olivia, Sarah, Jon, and Ben

Above: Ginny and I waiting to go in to the exhibits.
Olivia, Rob, and Josh posing under the arch we built.

Josh (with his picture face) at the archeology exhibit. They had several bones buried under sand, and kids could "excavate" with paintbrushes and little brooms.

There was also a water works exhibit. The kids got to experiment with locks and dams.

Chattanooga Day 2 (Part 1)

When we got up the next morning, we had breakfast and headed off to the aquarium. Here we all are right outside. From left to right: Sarah, Olivia, Rob, Jon, Will, Josh, Ben

Whenever we try to take Josh's picture, he doesn't look directly at the camera, and we never get his eyes open. After much coaxing, we usually end up with an expression like this one above. The one below is typical of the first three or so tries!
There was a touch tank area in the salt water building where the kids could touch a stingray and a small shark!

We also got a very special treat! Beverly knew the penguin trainer at the aquarium, and we got to have a behind the scenes look at the penguins and several other animals. Here is Will posing with a corn snake!