Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Pumpkin Seeds

My favorite part of Halloween is the pumpkin seed baking!!

It seems every year I am trying to find a new and better way to roast these little guys. They turned out great this year. Thought I would share the recipes.

I have made these sweet and spicy ones before and decided to try them again this year. They are really different and yummy.

First you clean off the seeds. I just take out the big chunks of pumpkin and wash the seeds in a colander.

Then spread about a tablespoon of olive oil on a cookie sheet and dry them in the oven flipping every fifteen minutes or so. Just till they are starting to turn brown. I did it at 350 for about a half an hour.

Then take 1 1/2 tbls. oil and put it in a sauce pan. Heat. Add the seeds and 2 tbls of sugar. Cook until the sugar melts. About one minute.

Transfer to a bowl with these spices mixed in it.

3 tbls. sugar
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 ginger
1 pinch cayenne

coat and let cool.

With the seed from our second pumpkin I tried this new salty version. It turned out really good.

Clean the seeds then put them in water. 2 cups of water for every 1/2 cup seeds. Also add 1 tbls. salt for every cup of water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 10 minutes. Drain. Spread a tbls. olive oil on a pan and bake in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes. I was worried the consistence would be weird but they are so good and very salty. Infused with it!!

Happy Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Thoughts on the Golden Compass

Okay, I am sure I am going to get into trouble here. But here it goes.

So, it wasn't too many years ago that there was a big uproar about the Harry Potter books. And I didn't join in I just didn't have kids the age to read them and I have too many other books I wanted to read. I have never been one to accept what the majority of people say about something without really looking into it myself. Especially if it is the Christian right community that is saying it.

I also think that if you tell your kids not to do something it becomes a lot more appealing.

So, as the kids got older I could see that the Harry Potter issue was going to come up. But I hadn't read them and I didn't feel comfortable just throwing them in the ring with it. So, I said we would get the books and read them together.

We read the first three books together and the kids and I both loved them. The fourth is not age appropriate, I feel, for the little guys but Faith has read it and Mike and I are reading it right now.

With that said here comes the "Harry Potter" of 2007. Some may disagree but this whole Golden Compass nonsense is in the same league. And frankly I am getting a little tired of the email going around. I just wonder if the people who are forwarding the email could say that they had actually read the book. I have not read the book so I will not judge it. But I did go to Phillip Pullman's personal website and found something interesting. He is The Orchard's target audience!! Here is the quote and I will tell you what I mean

question: His Dark Materials seems to be against organised religion. Do you believe in God?

"I don't know whether there's a God or not. Nobody does, no matter what they say. I think it's perfectly possible to explain how the universe came about without bringing God into it, but I don't know everything, and there may well be a God somewhere, hiding away.
Actually, if he is keeping out of sight, it's because he's ashamed of his followers and all the cruelty and ignorance they're responsible for promoting in his name. If I were him, I'd want nothing to do with them."

Wow that is really telling. What he says isn't against God it is against his followers. Christians. And can you blame him? I am a Christ follower and I have seen some pretty ugly stuff, out of myself included. The whole goal of the Orchard is to reach out to people just like Mr. Pullman. People who have been hurt by religious doctrines. Those rules that say you have to be a certain way for God to love you. That if you just follow these simple rules you will be acceptable in God's eyes. These things are not true! God loves you where you are and he forgives you even when you can't forgive yourself!

Now, I am not saying that I am going to go out and purchase the book and give it to my kid for Christmas. But I am going to get it from the library and read them before I write them off as vile and worthless. And if after I read them my kids want to read them we can read them in an educated way and discuss them.

Hiding from the culture around us is not going to make it go away. Understanding it helps us to relate to it though.

Just my two cents worth.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Canasta Victory

Another busy weekend. But it was good. Friday we went to the Field Museum in Chicago. The kids loved seeing the mummies and telling their Daddy every thing they have learned. It was awesome to hear that they really have been listening!!

Yesterday was a great day at church. Awesome worship!! Great message on Control. Wow that is a hard one for me. You mean I am not in control???!!!

Then we met at Paula's house for linner and Canasta. Terri and Dave came and the women were more than victorious. We creamed the guys three times in a row. And I can brag here because it has been rough going for us ladies the last little bit. But yesterday was a great day for the girls! I have to say I really enjoy playing with Terri and Paula as partners. And the victory dancing in the kitchen afterwards isn't too bad either!

School is moving right along. We are studying five of the major holidays of the Jewish faith. This week is Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah. Reading through some of Leviticus. We read 1-5 this morning and the kids had a good time dramatizing it.

There have been quite a few questions about the Pharaoh from friends and family. He is fine. He is pretty dry and so we have not changed his salt in a while. I am worried about this temperature outside. Not sure if he is frozen or drying now!! I am tempted to leave him in the salt a little longer. We are going to take him out and weigh him and see how he is doing today.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Have You Ever Thought?

Have you ever just thought that maybe our society has gone a little over board on the whole safety seal thing.

Okay let me explain. Today as I was scrubbing the bathrooms and I got the new bleach bottle out, to rid the shower of the mystery smell that appears once every few months, I unscrewed the lid and low and behold there was a safety seal/tab.

That got me thinking. And I am sure there are some just exceptionally smart people out there that will probably have a great answer for this, but, what in the world are they trying to protect us from here? I mean it is BLEACH!!! We are not going to be ingesting it or rubbing it into our skin, washing our hair with it or soaking in it. What is it exactly that they are trying to prevent someone from adding to this bleach?

Just a thought.


When you Give a Pig a Pancake

Sunday night as we were about to sit down to dinner I looked at Seth and he looked a little odd. He was kind of squirmy and had a sneaky look on his face. I asked him what was up and soon realized that he had Harley on his lap. Here is how the conversation went;

Mom- "Seth we are not going to eat with the guinea pig at the table."

Seth- "Why not?"

Mom-"Because people just don't eat with guinea pigs on their laps."

Seth-"Some people do"

Mom-"What people do, name one"

Seth-"I don't know but i am sure some people do."

Mom- "Well we don't put him away."

Have you ever eaten with a guinea pig on your lap?



In the spirit of Egypt I picked up Margaret George's historical fiction novel Cleopatra. It has taken me five weeks to read the 957 page book. Having finished it last night, I can say, I am a little sad for it to end. What a great book!!

George is an exceptional author. She really finds a way to keep things historical while adding in a touch of fiction to keep things going. She did a nice job of presenting "her side of the story". George talks in the author's notes about how not only was Cleopatra's side of the story kind of wiped out, since she was not the victor, but also the leading writers of that day were her enemies. They did not have a lot of good things to say about her. But through her research she was able to uncover a lot of great stuff about Cleopatra that, in the past, has not been focused on in other accounts of her life.

Any ways, it was a great book if you like historical fiction do not be turned off by the size of the book. It is totally worth the time.

But you may want to buy it so you don't have to renew it three times like me :)


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Have No Face...

Because these guys rocked it off last night!! Oh man!! What a great concert! Reliant K was great but for some reason their vocals were hard to hear.

But when Switchfoot came out it was AWESOME!!! So much energy, great sound, and just an incredible performance.

The venue was fabulous also. It was at Star theater in Indiana. Not a huge venue and we had great seats.

Except for the unsupervised 12 year olds behind us :) Yes, I am getting old.

Man, if you get the opportunity to see Switchfoot in your area take it!! You will not be disappointed.

Now, I have to function as a teacher and mom on less than my usual sleep. Wish me luck!


Monday, October 22, 2007

What a weekend!

Wow! What a weekend. I feel whooped. Mike left early Saturday morning for Fuel and then stayed at church to get ready for the first Saturday service. I made Faith's Halloween costume so that her and Kylee could go to a party Saturday night and after I had the girls off to the party the boys and I went to church. Mike has a great post with pictures here.

Then Sunday I went to the second service in Wahabu to be a small group leader to the third grade girls. Those girls crack me up! They are so funny.

The fam. and I stopped at the ever nutritious and delicious McDonalds on the way home (Faith only eats salad there, oh and french fries) and then we came home. Mike crashed and I headed to the library to get the books that had NOT been put on hold for me. But, they were all there on the shelves. Came home and spent the rest of the afternoon/evening planning for school this week.

So we start another busy week. Lots going on. Tomorrow night is Switchfoot and Reliant K. Oh man!! I can't wait. I will have pics and much much more on wed!!!


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dropped the Ball

Oh!!! I am so mad at myself right now!! I think I got over whelmed this last week. Lots going on. And because of that I didn't get my books reserved for the coming week. I don't know what I was thinking!!! I have been doing it on the previous Monday, that way they have a week to get them at the library and if I have to buy them I have time for the bookstore to get them.

But I didn't do it.

Luckily most of the books were at the library so I just have to wait till they compile them. I am praying they do that on weekends. I may stop there and find out.

But Kylee's literature book which she is to read 50 pages in I had to buy. And they said it won't be in for 4-6 days!! Not their fault. Mine.

I am frustrated mostly because I have been feeling like I have things so organized and I have been so put together and then I make this giant error!

Okay I feel better for venting. I wish I had someone to blame other than myself. Maybe I could blame it on the dog. That would make me feel better.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Two New Recipes

Tried a new recipe last night. The kids and I had planned on making Lentil soup last night and fig cakes to go along with our unit. I found this recipe and made a few adjustments. I added half of a package of Jimmy Dean Hot sausage (browned), chicken broth instead of water, no vinegar and 1 tsp of cumin. Also as it cooked I had to add about 4 more cups of water to it because it seemed that the liquid boiled out of it. But it was sooo good. The kids all loved it, it is a keeper. When we went to the grocery store they did not have any figs. I went to two stores and gave up. So the fig thing didn't happen. Am I sad?

We also made Challah bread. It was listed under Egyptian food. It was really good and easy to make.

2 cups warm water or milk
2 pkgs dry active yeast
6-7 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 t. salt
1/4 cup oil
1 egg

I used my kitchen aid mixer to mix the dough then let it knead it for me for about five minutes. I covered it with a towel and let it sit for about 1 1/2 hours. The kids enjoyed rolling the ropes out and helping to braid them together. Then we just covered it and put it in a 250 degree warmed oven turned off for about 30 minutes. I baked it for 20 minutes at 375 until it was brown. Kind of a sweeter bread but really good. And remember the trick to great bread is great ingredients. Buy good bread flour and I don't mean the stuff at the corner grocery. I have tried it and it is inferior. Sams has a brand called Bakers & Chefs and it is the best! Not expensive and it makes superior bread. I don't know what the difference is but it just works better.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Coloring Fun

So, yesterday as I was at the bank with the kids they noticed the bank was having a coloring contest. As I reached up to give each kid a sheet, a memory came flooding back. Here it is

When I was in high school I had some great friends. We were a pack of girls that hung out together all the time. We loved to hang out at parks and swing and color. Yes, I said high school. And since I lived right down the street from the high school my friends and I came home to my house every day for lunch. My mom stocked the fridge and cabinets for Alicia, Renee, Angel, and I so that we could eat there. Every day. My parents loved doing it. Thought it was great to have the kids in the house before and after school. They knew that if I was there with my friends then they knew where I was. I understand this concept as a parent now.

My dad especially loved having all my friends there and thought of them as his daughters. So one day when he was at the grocery he saw they were having a coloring contest. And knowing that we loved to color he picked up some sheets. He also knew that we were too old to enter the contest so he brought the sheets home and told us that he would run his own little contest and if we did our best and turned them into him he would judge and decide the winner. And being the goofy 15 year olds that we were we went along with it.

So we did our best, I mean we really put our heart into it. We took it very seriously and got a little competitive. Then we turned them in to him.

You can imagine our surprise when we walked into our drivers ed class the next day and saw there on the wall our four coloring sheets up on the board. My dad had taken them down to the school and given them to our favorite teacher. Mr. Adler. He was a riot. And he loved a good joke. So he took the pictures and put them up in the class. He explained to the class what had happened how we had "entered" this coloring contest and then had his classes vote on which was the best.

Yes, it was humiliating. But only for a moment. Mostly it was just fun. And what a great memory. I don't remember who won. I am guessing it was Renee since she was an artist, but I am sure that I thought I got robbed at the time. Yes I was competitive even then.

As I told this story to Mike this morning he laughed so hard he cried. then I called my dad and all I had to say was I got the kids coloring sheets for a coloring contest....and he was laughing hysterically.

Thanks for the laugh Dad.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Teaching Moments

I'll admit that while I love this new curriculum we are using, it is kicking my rump!!! Seriously!

The kids like it and I feel like we are really getting into some great stuff but I am working really hard too! That's okay I just think that after this first 9 weeks we will be deserving a week off.

We are on week six. Last week's focus was on Abram's home town of Ur. We did a little studying on Mesopotamia. That was cool. This week we are reading all the rest of Genesis 23-50. It is cool to read about the people God uses to do His work. I am loving the conversations with my kids about the stupid mistakes these guys make. We may not make the same mistakes today but the same idea. Kylee was blown away by the father/ son trend of saying their wives were their sisters to get out of trouble but it in turn that getting them into trouble. She said she couldn't understand why the sons' would do the same things the dads did. Yeah, that doesn't happen today does it? Ha! We got to talk about how sometimes a parent's bad choice does get carried on in the children, whether that be anger, language, eating habits, drugs, alcohol, whatever. It was a great conversation.

For specials this week the kids made cardboard box looms and they are weaving mats. I think it is a lot harder than they thought it was going to be. But they are doing great. Also we are making Lentil stew on Thursday and fig cakes. I am not so sure about the fig cakes but I will put on a good face. Not a big fan of the fig.

So other than being wiped out things are going great. Three more weeks than we get a break!


Friday, October 12, 2007

More than One way to Skin a Cat

It is moments like these that I feel so completely technologically inept! I wanted to post the pictures from Seth's birthday with text but spent about 45 minutes this morning struggling with it. So finally I posted the pictures and decided that I would just add the text to another post. So here it goes.

The first pictures is a picture of Seth with his birthday meal. He requested steak wrapped in bacon, baked potato, corn, cheese and garlic biscuit, and root beer.

The next picture is of his cake. Seth really wanted to play basket ball this fall but being on limited income we can only do so many extra curricular sports a year. Seth had his with baseball in the spring. It is now Joshi's turn. But we did tell Seth that if he wanted to have us sign him up for fall basket ball than we would but that would be his birthday present. He said that is what he wanted so we did. That is when he decided that he wanted a chocolate cake with coffee ice cream inside, and it had to be shaped like a basket ball. (his daddy also brought him home a bag of candy and a starbucks card).

The third picture is of him getting his candles lit...Are some of those trick candles?

Next he is directing us in the birthday song.

The fifth picture is the cheesy smile picture.

And finally he is blowing out his candles. Or trying to :)


Seth's 7th Birthday Bash!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Seth!

I have a feeling this is going to be a book. Sorry.

I can't believe my little boy is seven today!!! Seth's birth brought an amazing thing into my life. The relationship between a mom and her son. Now don't get me wrong, I love and adore my girls and we have a special relationship as well, but let's face it they will always be their daddy's girls. And I love that for them and their daddy.

I will never forget the day that we found out we were having a boy. You see Mike had made it very clear that if the third child was not a boy than we were stopping. He didn't want to be totally out numbered in a house full of girls. So I got this book and read it from cover to cover. But even though we had bought the book and followed it's advice I still was totally shocked when the ultra sound tech said,"It's a boy!"

I had a little freak out. I mean I had two girls I knew what to do with those. I knew how to care for them and dress them and... a boy seemed out of my league. I didn't even have brothers! What had I gotten myself into.

He was due on October 14th but we were hoping for the 10th. His birthday would have been 10-10-00. But he waited till the 11th. We had a delivery room full of people. Friends and relatives I thought it was great. Lots of tears and excitement. I had had an epidural so really it went very smoothly. Until after he was born and the drug lady said as she was leaving make sure you drink lots of caffeine.

What? I thought that was a strange thing for a doctor to tell you right after you have a baby. But then I tried to sit up. And felt like someone had dropped an anvil on my head.

It was decided that I had an epidural headache. From what I understand it is when the dura sac is nicked and begins to leak spinal fluid. I was told you could do a blood patch which is where they do another epidural tube but this time fill the tube with your own blood and this patches up the hole. I was told this was very dangerous and could cause me to have all kinds of problems. The other option was to drink lots of caffeine and lots of fluid and hope it patched on it's own. I went home with the headache a day later.

Two weeks I lived with this headache. I could never put into words what this headache was like. Unique, because all you had to do was lie down and it completely disappeared, but lift your head and there was nothing you could do to make it go away. It provided all the effects of what I hear a migraine does for you. Now I think back to it and those first two weeks, they were a blur. I lost all my baby weight because I couldn't eat, but I also couldn't hold my baby unless I was laying down, as soon as I would pick my head up I felt like my brain was banging against my skull.

After two weeks Mike called the hospital back. The people in the ER freaked and said to come right in. That they should never have let me go an that i could have had a seizure! So I went back in had the blood patch, which hurt like I can't explain, but after it was over my head was instantly clear. Amazing.

After recouping from the blood patch I was able to start enjoying my new little boy. What a sweet baby!!! He was a great kid. Slept great, ate great, very happy guy. And he still is!

Today he is in second grade and loves school! He loves to learn new things, play with his friends, play video games with his dad, ride his bike, and read. One of the most unique things about him is his generous spirit. He really is so kind and loves to give things to people. He will spend all his points at church just to buy his brother a toy. For a while he opened a shop in his room,of his toys, but everything was free. I pray that God would continue to bless him and that he would always keep that generous spirit and help this world out in mighty ways.


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Guinea Pig Powers

Somehow a 5 oz animal has accomplished something that I have, to this point, not been able to accomplish. The girls set their alarm for 8 every morning and therefore have forty five minutes to eat breakfast, brush teeth, make beds, dress and do hair. This sounds like a reasonable amount of time but for some reason it hits 8:45 when they are supposed to be practicing their instruments and the girls have eaten breakfast, but that's it.

But since Harley has been in the house, everyone has been up dressed, brushed, fed, and ready for their day by 8:20!! What is that? I can't explain it....

The power of a guinea pig.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Meet Harley

Some may say I am crazy, and maybe it's true, but what can you say when he has birthday money and this is how he wants to spend it?

Seth received money from his Nana and Papa for his birthday and he wanted to invest in a hamster. The problem with this is that I have a huge fear of hamsters, gerbils and lets go ahead and throw mice and rats in that little list. I just don't like to touch them, so much. But, I did have a guinea pig in college and knew they were fun and gentle so I thought I could handle that.

He bought Harley and his cage, food and bedding and is already planning future purchases for his pet with his allowance.

I was really proud of Seth to pick something that lasts. I think sometimes kids, my kids, have a tendency to waste their money on toys and junk that just break and they get bored of it too quickly. Now I am not saying that Harley's newness isn't going to wear out and he may start getting less attention but I am encouraged that Seth picked something he is going to nurture and care for. He knows it is his responsibility and he will have to clean his cage once a week and feed and play with him. And he has accepted that challenge. I know he will do great. All four of the kids love animals and have always done a great job taking care of their dog. They have spoiled her and loved on her to the point that she is such a baby!!

I think a lot of parents shy away from adding pets to their home because they don't want to care for them. But I think that if you do that you are setting that child up to fail. Why not give them the responsibility and hold them to it? Why not encourage them to stand by their commitment and finish what they start? I am excited about Seth's new responsibility and so far he is doing great! I know he will be a great guinea dad!!


Friday, October 5, 2007

College 2

I got some great responses from you all about my college question! Thanks for your encouragement.

I spent some time yesterday looking on-line and trying to decide what I might want to do. I ended up finding out that the college that I got a good deal of my major credits in Humanities from, NAU, offers an on-line BA degree in Humanities! I am pretty excited about that. I think if I could just finish up the last bit through the same school than I wouldn't have the headache of transferring credits to another university and all the mess that goes along with it.

I already got a call from the Arizona University online program people. They have already sent off information in the mail to me.

I think I may try applying on-line and then go from there. I went to ASU for a year after NAU so I have credits from there to transfer back to NAU. I would really love to speak to a counselor and find out what I really need to do to complete this thing.

I am pretty nervous. I haven't written a college level paper in 11 years. I am not sure I can still do it. Also, the classes will be higher levels and I am not sure how much I remember from the previous classes. But I think that if I commit to this I need to really commit and finish this time.

I will post about it when I know what is going to happen. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement.


Chicken a la Pharaoh IV

Pharaoh's stats today: 3 lbs 7 ounces. That means he lost a whole pound in a week!! His skin is really dry and he has shrunk quite a bit. He does have an odor but it isn't a bad smell. I can't really explain it. But you don't forget it. Someday I am sure I will run across a similar smell and I will be able to say,"Man, that sure smells like a partially mummified chicken!" That will make it all worth it.

And I bought other Ziplock bags, bigger, and they worked perfectly. So there was no ripping or tearing today.


Thursday, October 4, 2007


I went to college for three years and never finished a degree, but came close. I never regretted the decision to stop my studies and become a full time mom. I know I am intelligent and never felt the desire to go back just to get a piece of paper that somehow validates your education.

Until recently.

I don't know what it is and maybe it will pass. But I have this strong urge to have my credits from the three colleges I went to transferred to a local university and try and complete what I started.

We don't really have the finances right now to put into my education but it might be something I will be looking into in the future.

I am not sure it is something that is worth the time pursuing. I know I have lots of credits towards a degree in humanities and I know now I would want a degree in something more practical so I don't know how those credits would even transfer over.

Just a thought. What do you think? Should I pursue it or just be happy with what I have?


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Park, It's about 300 Cubits Away...

This weeks history focus is on the creation of the world. This curriculum presents Moses' story and times he lived(hence the pharaohs and Egyptian mythology of the last couple weeks) then goes back and presents the stories of creation, the flood and the Patriarchs that Moses would have written down for the Israelites in the wilderness.

Today we got through Noah. The study suggests measuring out the Ark in cubits. I went through several feelings with this project.

My first was, "That sounds great! The kids learn so well with hands on projects and I really think that this will bring it home just how big the Ark was. And they will learn how long a cubit is!"

My second was,"I don't know if I really want to look like a weirdo going up and down my street. I mean my neighbors already think I am strange with my kids at home all the time. Maybe we should skip this."

My third was,"okay kids here is your string."

So we each got an 18 inch piece of string (1 cubit) and started down at the park. I now know that my house is just a little longer than 300 cubits from the park at the end of our street. I am also sure that my neighbors think I am a crazy women but, oh well. I wish I had a picture of us all lined up with our strings.


Monday, October 1, 2007

Reading Lists

Last school year we had reading sheets, for every 5 books they got a small reward and every 50 (for older), 100 (for younger), books they read they got a date with mom or dad. This was not such a great system for everyone. Great for Josh who could sit down and have 10 books at a sitting read to him. Great for Seth who was just starting to read and could complete a book rather quickly. Great for Faith who reads 5 books a week. Not so great for Kylee who read and read but just couldn't read as many books as the others.

So this time around I decided to do it by minutes instead. There are four goals and after each goal they will get a date with mom or dad.

So far the kids totals since we started our school year (we just started our fourth week of school this week) are:

Faith- 16 hours

Kylee- 13 hours 45 minutes

Seth- 11 hours 30 minutes

Joshi- 8 hours 15 minutes

I am totally blown away by them!! I knew Faith was reading a lot but I am so happy to see Kylee so motivated. They can not time any of their school reading it has to be all independent time reading. And let me tell you these totals are to the minute!!! They actually take the timer with them and time themselves!! Too funny!! I keep telling them they can round the times and they don't have to time themselves but they want it to be right on.