Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's been such a hard week

Like pouring tea in a tea cup...with a fire hose...
And I know that this is all for His glory...but where is the glory in this?
I just have to trust that it's there.

Psalm 55:22
Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you;
He will never let the righteous fall.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Some of the very yummy supper recipes I printed out for my binder

Obviously some of these are healthier (quicker, more expensive, etc) than others, but they are all so good!

And because I love y'all here is my own personal, oh so incredibly creative, recipe for Pork Lo Mein which I ate all the time when I was growing up in Germany. Yes, German people like Chinese food, too:)

Pork Lo Mein

4 thin sliced boneless pork chops
½ bag broccoli slaw
½ onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
6 servings cooked spaghetti
Soy sauce
Chop the pork chops into small pieces and toss them in a bowl with some soy sauce while you cut up the onion and garlic. Heat a large pan with plenty of oil over med-high and stir-fry the pork. Remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the onion to the pan and cook until brown, then add the garlic and the broccoli slaw. Turn the heat down to medium and stir for a few minutes until the veggies are cooked but not limp and the garlic is brown but not burnt. Add the noodles and enough soy sauce to lightly coat the noodles to the pan and stir until heated through.


I'm not going to count how many times I went through a drivethru last week. I'm not proud of it and frankly my memory isn't that good. Could the greasy burgers be clogging my brain?
Probably. And either way, it's just got to stop. It's not healthy, it's too expensive, it takes too long and requires using precious gasoline that could be used to take us somewhere fun...and I'm just sick and tired of rotating Zaxby's, Dairy Queen and Burger King.
So I'm working on a new plan...a binder (you saw that coming, didn't you?). Everything I need to plan meals in one handy place.
I started with a list of everything we like to eat for supper (I'll add breakfast and lunch in soon) and then I divided the list up into sections...beef, pork, chicken, pasta, etc. Then I printed a blank calendar and jotted down what kind of meals I need on which days. I need to have something in the crockpot on Wednesday so we can eat before church and Casey can eat when he wakes up. On Saturday we like to have a big family dinner with dessert. We like something fast and kid friendly on Fridays - sometimes I make something different and "grown up" so Casey and I can have supper together after the kids are in bed.
Then I started printing recipes for all the foods on our favorites list. I probably could've put this part off for awhile, but sometimes I get a little carried away. I put them all in the binder with tabs separating each section. Then I made a list of everything we already have in the freezer and cabinets and made a plan to actually use it. Five pounds of hamburger in the freezer? Fine. Flip to the beef section and see what's for supper (and what else to use all that hamburger for...).
Now, HOPEFULLY, I can get back on track with buying groceries and cooking at home. As one final motivational boost I'm planning things I *like* to cook for at least the first few days. Now I'm off to make a pretty cover and make sure my pearls and high heels match my apron:)

ed to add...the fabulous Other Shannon posted on the same thing today! Two Shannons on the same wavelength...hmm.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Are women "allowed" to work? (this is going to take a minute, y'all...)

by Susan Mink Colclough

What a silly question, huh? Sometimes I wish I wasn't "allowed" to work and had nothing to do but lie around on my sun porch sippin' mint juleps all day. Wouldn't that be lovely? But I do work and so does every other mother out there. So the question I suppose is more about money. Should married women and mothers work for money or work only at caring for their homes, children, and husband? Or maybe making money is fine...after all the Proverbs 31 woman made money, didn't she? Maybe the issue is where a woman works. It's fine to work from your own home but not to go out of your home to work...but that doesn't seem logical. No one is saying that women are literally never to leaves their homes. What if I work from home but occasionally have to go to the post office to mail something or a college nearby to teach a class...? What if I start a little company selling hairbows over the internet and the company takes off? Am I allowed to hire staff? Rent a storefront? Take some business courses? Or must I insist that my husband give up his job and come home to be the CEO of our hairbow empire?

I'll admit that I've thought lots of times that women should stay home, especially women with small children. I really do believe that the best place for little ones is in their own home with their own mommy. I adore being home with my kids and I honestly can't imagine what it would be like to have to go back to work 9 to 5, 5 days a week and leave them in daycare. I feel deeply for women who must live that way when they'd much rather be at home with their little ones. All of that is why I was so astonished at the sheer excitement I felt when I heard Sarah Palin was going to be John McCain's running mate.

Was I selling out my ideals? Or, infinitely worse, was I selling out God's Word? I know all the reasons why I think Sarah Palin would make an excellent VP. I also believed that women should be "at home." But what I realized was that I didn't really know why. In puzzling it out I've read what the Bible says and I've read what others I respect say that the Bible says. And while I won't pretend to have figured it all out, I have a much clearer picture of what I believe.

Voddie Baucham, who I greatly respect, has written an interesting article about the Proverbs 31 woman (I wish she had a name!) refuting that she is a Biblical example of a "career gal" and he makes some excellent points. I agree that the argument that she had a career in the way we define it is pretty thin. And certainly nothing in Proverbs 31 negates Titus 2 where women are called to be "busy (or keepers in the KJV) at home." The way I see it, Mrs. P31 is doing all of the things she's doing...making sashes, buying a vineyard, etc...to take care of her family. The vineyard would've been an excellent investment for a family who who ate raisins and drank wine, much like a modern wife might buy a cow for her family. The money from the sashes probably went to buy things for her household...they same way I sold too small clothes at a consignment store and used the money to buy clothes my kids will need for this fall. She's using her talents and skills to run her home and serve her family. What if she were to take on other jobs in the process of serving her family and her community? In this day and time that might mean serving in her church or in a charitable organization or in the neighborhood school. It might mean beginning a business to provide something her family or community needs. Maybe she's concerned about the quality of water her family drinks so she starts a bottled water company or she's concerned about the environment her children will inherit so she starts lobbying her government about it. Sometimes taking care of our home can lead us out of our homes. The thing that matters most, I believe, is a woman's heart attitude. Is she trying to find self-fulfillment? Make more money to have more things? Escape? Feel important? Is she putting her own ambition before the family God has given her? Or is she trying to follow God's call on her life? Trying to serve? And, perhaps most telling, do her husband and children feel cared for?

In Proverbs 31, since her husband and children praise her, we can assume she was doing a good job and no one felt that her vineyard or sash-making was taking up too much of her time.

Now I know, for me, taking care of my husband and kids and home and serving my extended family and church family is all I am able to do. It takes all of my time and energy and focus. Actually, scratch that. It's much, much more than I can do in my own power. But I don't try to do it in my own power (well, I do sometimes, but that's usually a disaster and not worth talking about right now). God gives me what I need to do this job because He's called me to do this job. I have to believe it is the same with any job He calls us to do. And so that is where I've landed. Should most wives be at home with their children? Probably. It's a big, big important job and we need to get it right. But each woman must do what God calls her to do - regardless of the cultural norms. For many of us bucking the culture means staying home. But some women will have to buck the sub-culture...the one that says women are only "allowed" to work at home. Because it is possible that God may call a woman to run an organization or a business or a country. And if a woman is called by God, then we would do well to support her.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

At my house this week...

This week has been so busy that I've hardly had time to sit down. We took the week off from school last week and getting back in the swing of things this week was more of an effort than I thought it would be. Especially since we had so many other things going on.

One great thing required absolutely no efforts on my part whatsoever...my baby sister's birthday. She turned 19! Isn't she gorgeous? Well, when she's not making funny faces. But she makes funny faces a lot, so...Anyway. Not only is she gorgeous, she's kindhearted and principled and generous and hysterical. She's in college, planning to be a missionary. Now what does such a wonderful girl want for her birthday?

I went through all of the kids clothes this week, switching from summer clothes to fall. I had to leave a few short-sleeved shirts and shorts in the closet though because it's still pretty hot around here. I also pulled out all of the clothes in storage - sorting some to sell at the big consignment sale and putting anything that will fit into the right closet. Levi has a ton of hand-me-downs to grow into from his cousins and of course jack and Christian have hand-me-downs from Levi. Christian will wear the clothes that Jack wore last winter. He's only two pounds smaller than Jack right now and they're a year and a half apart. At any rate, Brenna is the only one that needs clothes - for the boys I'll probably just pick up a few things to freshen up their wardrobes. I have a nice list put together for Brenna - the big pre-sale consignor's sale is Tuesday night. I can't wait!

My pastor's wife and our Sunday School Superintendent came over to go over the church website with me and to work on updating our church policy manual. It was so nice to talk to other grown-ups. I'm planning on having them over for lunch sometime soon now that I've seen the kids will behave. Just as soon as I get over this awful cold/sore throat!

We also finally had our lunch at Pizza Hut for reading 30 books in August. It was lots of fun. The kids really enjoyed getting to go "out" to eat instead of just bringing something home. I think for this month we'll pick a different prize. For one thing I want them to read for the pleasure of reading not just for the prize and for another Mommy's not up to taking four kids out to eat by myself every month:)

Our homeschool group got together on Friday and that went really well. All the kids were divided into groups for reading groups (book clubs for kids!) and art classes, free play and volleyball (for the big kids). The moms are even discussing starting our own bookclub. This will be a once a month thing and we're also having a picnic at the park day once a month. That leaves one Friday a month for playdates and field trips and one Friday for me to regroup!

Now I'm off to get started on lesson plans for the next few weeks.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Wedding Shower

My aunt and I gave a wedding shower this weekend for my cousin Brandy. I love showers, but they're always more work than I remember. This one was very worth it, though. There were lots of guests and Brandy got lots of good gifts. I always remember how much Casey and I appreciated all the shower gifts we got. And when I think about starting out a brand new household now with everything getting so expensive so fast...well, I'm glad we could all help out a little.

And it was just so much fun to get to see everybody and visit. When I was growing up I loved going with my mom or Granny or Grandma to showers. It seems like women don't get together for things like that as often anymore - we're just all too busy and I think we've forgotten the value of these "girl's only" events. I think I've started Brenna off on the right foot, though. She had the best time yesterday at our girl's only party:) She helped and visited and had a ball (until a precious puppy made her temporarily lose her cool). It's all she's talked about today!
ed to add...
Since we're probably going to be giving another bridal shower in a few months, I'm going to post the menu here so that I can find it later on:)
Sandwiches - pimento cheese, chicken salad, and...?
Shrimp cocktail dip with crackers
Endive with herb cheese
PepperJack cheese straws
Chex mix
Brownie bites
Cheesecake dip with strawberries
Chips and dip
and Cake!
Strawberry punch (thanks, Melanie, for the recipe!), iced tea, and co-cola:)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I don't know what to say except that I couldn't not post this.

Thanks, Barbara.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Some of the books we read in August

This was our first month of school and we read thirty books! Well, we wrote down thirty books...I think we probably read a good bit more than that because we didn't count the books Levi takes to bed or the books we've already read a hundred times. I just keep track of the books that were new to us or that Levi read and insisted I write down.
Bread and Jam for Frances falls in that second category. Levi reads this one all the time and Brenna loves it too. I'm especially fond of the descriptions of food...the lunch her mom packs at the end is so lovely! It always inspires me to try to make nicer meals (Frances's mom doesn't serve fish sticks!) and it really helps the kids to be less picky!
The Frog Wore Red Suspenders was full of funny poems. Being a Georgia girl, I especially like the one about peanuts! The pictures were funny, too. Levi picked it himself and he read it several times - always a good sign.
I loved Little Farm by the Sea. Beautiful pictures and I loved the way the family pulled together to do farm chores. It was a neat introduction to seasons, too.
As part of our history study we read One Small Blue Bead and it was very good. I wanted to avoid any discussion on evolution for right now and since the drawings in this one looked a little like Neanderthals I was a little concerned, but the book doesn't mention anything like that. It actually led to a great discussion about the Tower of Babel (check out this book on that) and how in a few generations, people could have come to believe they were the only ones on Earth. Also, the young man in the story shows a real servant's heart and that impressed me:)
Another history book, Seeker of Knowledge, was a very good story. Well worth the read when I overheard Levi telling his granny about the Rosetta Stone! It was inspiring to read about Jean-Francois Champollion's passion for his work.
The last book we read for our list was Brenna's favorite. If Everybody Did is a very funny look at what would happen if everyone had bad manners. The kids were cracking up over the very simple black and white drawings (we checked out the older hardback copy from the library).
Now I have to plan a day to take them out for a pizza lunch and decide on a shape for our September reading window. I'd like to use apples, but do I really want to cut out 30 or 40 apples? But I do have a lot of red construction paper....

Monday, September 01, 2008

Library Day

Since Levi was a baby we've been going to the library on Tuesday mornings for Storytime. There've been lots of times when we didn't go for a few weeks, but for the most part it's been a pretty constant thing. Now that he's starting to outgrow it and we're getting so busy, it was tempting to find another time to run in and pick up the books I put on hold. But I really wanted the little kids to get to go to storytime, too, and I really want Levi to have time for browsing through the books so I settled on a trip to the library every other week (with occasional quick stops on errand days just to pick things up or turn things in). I'm planning to let Levi browse while I take the little ones into storytime when he gets completely bored in storytime, but that hasn't happened yet so we just go early to browse.

The second problem was that Levi wasn't really browsing - he went to the same sections every time (Transformers, Ninja Turtles, trains...not my idea of quality reading material) and I'd have to drag him to look at anything else. So when I saw this idea I knew it would be a perfect way to get him reading different things. I limited it to four 'required' books since I knew I'd already be picking out a pile to bring home and I added the call numbers to introduce that idea to him. I showed him where to find the number on the book and explained that if the call number fits between the numbers on his card, it counts for that section. He didn't quite get that until I explained that it just has to start with the same number, then the light bulb came on:)

I printed out the card using clip art and pasted it on a scrap of card stock, then laminated the whole thing with packing tape. I use that stuff for everything - it was on my school supply list:)
(ed to add - I hope the picture is legible. My camera is acting up again!)