"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

John 10:10

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Garden green beans

My garden green beans have been quite productive this year. When I dig in to a fresh batch of green beans, I feel like I am sitting in my Grandma's kitchen. They didn't have air conditioning in their old farm house, and there were usually fresh cut flowers on the kitchen table. There was always an abundance of homemade food, and green beans were one of the best.

To prepare green beans like Grandma, fry some bacon with olive oil in the bottom of a heavy stock pot. Remove the bacon, saving the bacon drippings in the pot. Cut the bacon in to bite size pieces. Add the bacon, green beans, and enough water to cover the green beans back in to the pot. Bring to a boil. Simmer until green beans are tender. The simmering part usually takes longer than you think. Add a touch of salt and pepper. Delicious!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The biggest (and most deserved) lollipop ever

Whew. My van and I are tired. We've been doing a lot of running around this week. Madeline and Lydia have a girls club at a friend's house from 9 to 11 in the morning. We hurry home, eat lunch, then head to swimming lessons from 12:30 to 1:00. Go back home for rest time and supper. Then it is off to Vacation Bible School from 6:00 to 8:00. That is a very busy week for this happy-to-just-be-at-home family. Leading a class full of preschoolers at VBS is enough to wear me out. With everything else on top of that, I'm tired. Thankfully, I have had the neighbor girl here to stay with the little girls during some of the running so I don't have to buckle and unbuckle them twenty times a day.

Swimming lessons have been interesting. Madeline has been a superstar. She has generally been afraid of the water. These past few months have been a breakthrough for her, and she is now loving it. Lydia, on the other hand, has been a challenge. The first day she screamed the entire time. It went like this:

Teacher: We are going to practice the back float now.
Lydia: I DON'T WANT TO GET MY FACE WET! I DON'T WANT TO BACK FLOAT! I DON'T KNOW HOW TO BACK FLOAT! (in a very loud voice while kicking her legs)
Proceed like that for 30 minutes.

I left because I couldn't handle it and thought maybe she would do better without me there. The teacher was great with her, stearn yet encouraging. I know that Lydia was feeling a tremendous amount of fear. I also know that she has got to get over this fear and learn to swim. So, we went back the next day. I made a deal with Lydia: If she doesn't scream, she can pick out whatever piece of candy she wants from the store. She still screamed.

Today, she did not scream at all. She had a few moments where she was starting to lose it, but got herself under control. She wouldn't jump in to the teacher, so another teacher had to dunk her in. But overall, she did great. It made me get a little verklempt, watching her and imagining all the courage she had to summon. Don't tell, but I think she might have even had a little fun. I am so proud of her. On the way home we stopped at Walgreen's, and this is what she picked out:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dairy free smoothie

We are an eggs and bacon family. Mark grew up with his dad making a full breakfast every morning. He wanted to carry on the tradition. Thus, every morning we get a full breakfast, compliments of my beyond fabulous husband.

With Cora stuck in her no eggs no dairy diet, breakfast is now a problem. She can only eat so many Cheerios and bananas. One solution I have found is this delicious dairy free smoothie. It is packed with nutrition and keeps you full for a long time.

Powerhouse Smoothie
1 1/2 C. orange juice
1 1/2 C. rice milk
3 bananas
3 C. fruit
3 Tblsp. ground flax seed
handful of spinach
Mix all in blender.

Just so you know:
I freeze over ripe bananas in a Ziploc bag. When it is smoothie time, I simply take my bag of 3 bananas from the freezer and blend.
The fruit does not have to be exactly 3 cups. Use whatever frozen or fresh fruit you have available. We have used strawberries, blueberries, and peaches. All are delicious.
You can not see or taste the spinach. It adds a power punch of vitamins and nutrients without your kids knowing about it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

What is a Classical Education?

There are many answers to that question. Here are my key elements of a classic education:

1. It teaches children according to the trivium. During the first four years of a child's schooling (approximately 1st through 4th grade), children love to learn and memorize. This is called the grammar stage. They are little sponges. It comes easy for them. So, we fill that sponge up. During these years we immerse the child in stories, facts, and ideas. They also do a lot of memorizing during this time. They may not understand everything they learn but we pound the pegs in so that later when we dig deeper, they are familiar with the ideas. The second four years of schooling (5th through 8th grade), we teach the child how to think. This is referred to as the logic or dialectic stage. This is when they really start asking why and want a decent answer to that question. We teach them logic. They learn how to work through ideas, finding the fallacy and truth in them. The third stage of learning (9th through 12th grade) is the rhetoric stage. During this time they learn how to express ideas. They gathered the information during the grammar stage, thought about the information during the logic stage, and now speak and write about what they think about these ideas during the rhetoric stage. The trivium is sometimes compared to a computer: input (grammar), process (logic), and output (rhetoric). This is how children naturally develop, and we teach them in accordance with these abilities.

2. It is systematic. Classical education works through history chronologically, integrating science, literature, and art developments during these same time periods. Every four years, corresponding with the trivium, we will cover all of world history from creation to modern time.

3. It embraces the great books. During high school, our children will be reading unabridged original books, not textbooks or watered down versions. This can occur because they have been exposed to these ideas before. This last year we studied ancient times. We read a child's picture book version of "The Odyssey." In four years, we will again study the ancients. This time we will read a more difficult version of "The Odyssey." By the time we reach high school and read the original "The Odyssey," it will not be too intimidating because we are already familiar with the story.

4. It teaches Latin. Yes, I know that no one speaks Latin anymore. However, Latin is the base for many modern languages. If you know Latin it will be much easier to learn other languages. The process of learning language is a good exercise for the mind and forces you to understand the grammar of English. Latin also gives you a head start in other areas where Latin word roots are used such as science and law.

Disclaimer: I did not learn this way so I am relatively new to these ideas and in no way an expert. There are many different thoughts about what constitutes a classical education. This is just how I hope it looks at our house.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Here's what I'm thinking

My mind is full these days. Here is a little peak inside...

I've been trying to figure out why there are so many more people with allergies today than there were even ten years ago. Something has to be causing it and there has to be something we can do to stop it. I am reading some interesting material and trying to get my mind wrapped around this. In the end, we are all in God's hands. But what do we do for our part in his stewardship? This is leading me to reading labels. It is surprising and unsettling what you find. I picked up my deodorant. The active ingredient in my deodorant is anhydrous. Seriously? I have driven the truck for my dad a couple times, pulling an anhydrous tank behind me. His instructions: If you go in the ditch or have an accident make sure you run away as fast as possible. This is the active ingredient I am putting on my skin, the largest organ of my body? I know it is a minuscule amount compared to an entire anhydrous tank. Still, isn't that kind of strange? I'm working on all these things, trying to get my sweet Cora more healthy.

We are going to start school again in August. That is not far away. I am a little panicky about how this is going to work now that Cora is very mobile and I will also be doing a little school with Lydia. Um, how am I going to get it all done?

Thankfuly, God's grace is sufficient for me because His power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Monday, July 12, 2010

We're back!

We enjoyed a splendid week away. We did a lot of swimming, eating, golfing, shopping, and enjoying our family's company. I'll hopefully have more pictures coming soon. For now, here is a picture of our girls on the patio of our condo, right on the lake.

Isn't it beautiful? Yes, the lake and the girls.

I love traveling, but I also love coming home. Vacation is wonderful. But for a mom with young children, it is not necessarily relaxing. You know what smart thing I did this time? I washed all our laundry in our condo's washer and dryer. We came home with suitcases full of clean clothes. I love it. Today, instead of being swamped with laundry, I picked a bowl of green beans from the garden. The girls are tired and resting. Their toys seem new again. I am catching up on mail and computer stuff. I am planning for the rest of the summer. You know you've had a good vacation when you are ready to get on with life again.

Monday, July 5, 2010


I came into the sun room yesterday and found Anna working on this...

I asked Anna what she was doing. She said, "Her is going on vacation." Well, yes we are! We leave tomorrow morning for a 6 day getaway with my parents, sisters, and families. If you are counting that is one 7 year old, seven children age 4 and under, and one just about fully cooked babe. Plus a stellar papa and nana. Oh yeah, and 6 super excited mommies and daddies.

Our van is loaded with snacks, leapsters, golf clubs, swimsuits, and a puke bucket for car sick prone Anna. We don't have anyone strapped to the top or a horse in the back like Boots' van, but we're ready to go!