Friday, September 30, 2011

Sea World Mammals

We had a great time again this year at the homeschool day at Sea World.  Daddy got to join us this year (can't believe it has already been a year since he had poison oak).  They only had 2 shows this year, the seals and dolphin, so the girls were a little disappointed to not see Shamu.  They did get to feed the dolphins and both of them did it this year.  More pics to come soon.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

beautiful things

Had a great time last night at David Crowder Concert.  We met my cousin in line, the line that went down Red River, the length of 7th Street and half-way down I-35 access road.  It was worth the wait.  DCB is my favorite Christian Band, and he takes up half of my 6-disc CD changer.  I knew all of the songs he sang, there was isn't anything new, but got to hear a really great new band Gungor.  Highlight song for me for the evening was Beautiful Things by Gungor.

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all
All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

MIA again

I have no idea where the past week went.  I have been dealing with allergies, we went to Sea World, hosted a fashion party and had family here for the weekend.  Oh yeah, thats where the week went. 
My friend Shileen has been deep cleaning her house and I have been trying to keep up with her.  I have cleaned out pantry/laundry room, under the sink, utensil drawers and this week I have cleaned out the craft closet, R2's closet (the girls closet was done last week), and today I am suppposed to clean out mine.  I think I am going to pass b/c Ben and I are going to see my mostest favoritest band (quoting Bella), David Crowder tonight.  So, I will try to catch up tomorrow while the girls are at art lessons, maybe.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

MiSSionS MonDaY

One hundred years from now
It won't matter
What kind of car I drove,
What kind of house I lived in,
How much money I had in the bank,
Nor what my clothes looked like,
The world may be a little better
Because, I was important
In the life of a child.
As a teacher, I tried to live by these words and hoped that it was more than one child's life that I was impacting that day.  Today, as a look at my kids I hope that I am instilling this attitude in them every day to serve and respect others. 
Children's Cup is having their annual back-to-school project and unfortunately I have waited till the 11th hour to encourage you to help send a child back to school in Africa (backpacks are due in Louisiana Sept 30th). 
Public school is not free in Swaziland and Mozambique.  Children's Cup is hoping to send 150 of their kids back to school this January.  They are 50 shy of their goal.  For $150 YOU CAN SEND A STUDENT TO SCHOOL FOR ONE YEAR!  Maybe $150 is too much for you, but if it isn't, you have the opportunity to be important in the life of a child this year.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pioneer Farms Field Trip

We joined our homeschool friends recently for a trip to the local pioneer farms.  I had no idea this gem was so close.  It is 99 acres, but a little too rugged for our citified stroller.  This pic is the last time R2 smiled all day.  You would think he would enjoy offroading, but I guess not at this early age.  It was a great learning experience.  Bella captured the majority of the day for me. 
They learned quit a bit including all about outhouses and it only got up to 90 degrees. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hatch-Lime Shrimp Tacos and Black Bean Salsa

Shrimp Tacos Ingredients:

1 hatch chili pepper; seeded and diced
1 TBS olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 lime (juice and zest)
2 tablespoons cilantro; chopped
1 pound shrimp; peeled and deveined

1. Mix the pepper, olive oil, cumin, brown sugar, lime zest, lime juice and cilantro in a bowl and and let marinate for 20 minutes.
2. Skewer the shrimp.
3. Oil up the grill and grill the shrimp until cooked, about 2-3 minutes per side.  I grilled them on the George Foreman Grill and served on par-baked HEB tortillas (I will never go back to regular tortillas again).

Salsa Ingredients:
2 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t white sugar
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t cumin
2 T chopped cilantro
1 (15 ounce) can black beans; rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can sweet corn; drained
1 red pepper; diced
1 jalapeno; seeded and diced
2 green onion; sliced
1. In a small bowl, mix together balsamic vinegar, oil, salt, sugar, black pepper, cumin, and Za’atar.
2. In a medium bowl, stir together black beans, red pepper, jalapeno, green onions and corn. Toss with vinegar and oil dressing, and garnish with cilantro. Cover, and refrigerate.

I tweaked the recipe from my baking addiction so that I could use hatch peppers. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

favorite thing about Daddy

Happy Birthday to the bestest Daddy.
Dada - Read

his whiskers - Lsndry

his hugs and tickles - Bella

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jellyfish Can't Swim

We have several devotional books that I read out of for the girl's character development (1/3 of the home school education requirement for the state of TX).  One of my favorites is Jellyfish Can't Swim.  It is full of tidbits on animals and how we can learn from them.  The jellyfish just goes with the flow being carried about to and fro.  Eventually he ends up on the beach, dries up and dies.  We don't want to go with the flow just b/c it is what everyone around us is doing. 

On a side note, I am totally addicted to pinterest (where I got the pattern for jellyfish).  Today is grocery shopping day, and I WANT to go.  We have cooked meals everyday this month without duplicate and we have had the best meals i.e. not just entrees. 
Bad side - I want to make desserts.    I made these.  Mine did not turn out pretty, but OMGosh YUM!  I used dark chocolate and Smart Balance Peanut Butter.  You have to get the pretzels really small or they look like bird nests dipped in tar.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

crafty with food

We read the story Why the Crab has No Head and the girl's surprise lunch that day was a crabby sandwich.  I had hoped they would develop a taste for new foods, they did try fresh mozzarella (eyes) and radishes (mouth), but not sure they enjoyed anything but the croissant and the carrots (claws are red bell pepper and eyes olives). 
The girl's cooking project was to design a lunch including items such as pretzels, apples, raisins, string cheese, cucumbers, and carrots.  LE created Granny.
Mimi, please make sure Gran sees this.  She said the cucumbers made perfect Granny hair.  She also created our house out of pretzels.  Bella created herself with pigtails.

Monday, September 12, 2011

yum- braised zucchini and grape tomatoes

Braised Zucchini and Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes

2 zucchini, washed and sliced lengthwise
12 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
salt & pepper
1 small bunch basil, torn or cut into large pieces
Heat olive oil in large skillet with high sides or braising pan. When it shimmers, add zucchini and cook quickly until browned. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Add a little more olive oil to pan and add garlic. Saute briefly, 30 seconds-1 minute, then add cherry tomatoes. When tomatoes begin to soften and release juices, add zucchini back to pan, season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Add basil, toss again, and serve hot or at room temperature.

I am LOVING pinterest.  It is my virtual cookbook.  Found this recipe and tweeked it for our family.  We have zucchini, grape tomatoes and basil growing in the garden, try to keep garlic in bulk.  This is my new fave side dish.  I served it with Hoison-Glazed Turkey Meatballs.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

10 years

I can remember in school having to interview my great-grandmothers and grandparents where they were on events like D-day or when Pearl Harbor was attacked.  I never thought in my lifetime there would be an event that defined my generation.
I was teaching pre-kindergarten at Shoreline Christian School.  Ben and I had just moved away from our families, the first time I had ever lived outside of my hometown with the exception of college.  My mom had flown home from Chicago the night before.  My director came into tell me the news and misquoted the news that the flight was from Chicago. 
During my kids' p.e. class I went to the nurse's office where we had a t.v. set up for teachers to see the news on a snowy screen.  By that time the second tower and the pentagon had been hit, but it was still unknown as to why.  It was the most awful feeling.  I called my mom in tears, just the thought that she had flown one day later.  That was when I found out the flight was not from Chicago.  She told me I needed to be more concerned with Ben's little brother,  Ethan who had only enlisted in the army on July 11th.
It is so crazy how different our lives were altered by one string of events.
Thank you, Uncle Ethan for serving our country for the past 10 years.  Thank you to my cousin, Jeff who serves his community every day as a fireman.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Owl and The Pussycat

This school year, I am trying to reinforce the literature we read with projects.  I want to tie cooking, crafts, science and even math to the book ideas.  I found this cute owl pattern on pinterest and knew right away I wanted to tie it into the Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear and Jan Brett.  The girls love pb and honey sandwiches, so it was no stretch to get them to eat their art, but hoping to try other foods if they are more presentable.
Jan Brett is one of my favorite authors and illustrators for children's literature.  She has the most beautiful art work.  Some of my faves include The Hat, The Mitten, Armadillo Rodeo, Gingerbread Baby and The Night Before Christmas.  If you are looking for a library book or great gift for pre-k to 1st grader student or teacher you cannot go wrong with something by Jan Brett.

Friday, September 09, 2011

he did it!

We have forward progress.  At nine months and 1 week, Read finally decided Daddy's smart phone was worth crawling for.

Bringing up Girls excerpt

My friend Cari posted this and it was so good I could not wait another day to share.  If you are a mom to girls (or even sons interested in girls) you need to read.  Ordering this book right now.
The Charm Bracelet

Sweet sixteen had finally come! I never thought I'd make it. But I did. And it was amazing. My parents threw the birthday party of the century, and I had more people over than I could count. The whole day had been awesome. But as I watched the sun begin to set, I knew the best part was soon to come.
It was late in the evening. Confetti had been swept up, helium balloons had started to sag, and gift wrapping had been folded neatly and tucked away for my mom's later use. As I sat at my window studying the dusky sky, Dad peeked into my room with a smile.
"Ready to go, Sweetie?" he asked.
Was that a trick question? I wondered as I scrambled to my feet. I'd been waiting for this night for five long years, and it was finally here! I was now officially allowed to date!
The plan was for my parents and me to go to my favorite restaurant on the night of my sixteenth birthday and officiate the agreement, go over standards, and discuss rules and such. And now we were finally on the way.
I sat across from my parents in a quiet corner booth. Having just placed our orders, I figured it was time to get on with it. "So, I can go out with any guy I want to, right?" I squealed, hardly able to contain my excitement.
Mom and Dad chuckled. Dad answered, "Well, we agreed to that, didn't we?"
"Sweet!" I exclaimed, doing a little victory dance in my seat. My parents had held me off for years, but now that the time had come, they would let me date any guy I wanted! Of course, they knew I had a good relationship with God and wasn't too short on common sense, either.
"Now wait just a second," Mom interrupted with a smile. "You have to agree to a little something yourself."
I was expecting a lecture of some sort, so I was already prepared. "So what do I have to do now?" I asked, leaning forward on my elbows.
"Just open this," Dad answered, producing a small white box. He gave a mysterious smile.
I hesitated a moment before removing the curly pink ribbon. I slowly opened the lid and saw a beautiful silver bracelet. But not just any bracelet. It was a charm bracelet. And they weren't just any charms. They were gemstones, small but gorgeous. A dozen dainty charms dangled gently. "Wow." I didn't know what else to say. I wasn't expecting this at all.
"Now you have to understand this isn't just any bracelet," Mom informed me.
"I know," I said. "It is so beautiful!" I studied it closer. There were six small charms alternating with six tinier ones. The smaller ones were a deep blue. Sapphires, I guessed. And the other six were each different. One appeared to be just a rock, one was pink, a white one, a red one, green, and.....was that a diamond?
"This charm bracelet is symbolic," Dad explained, leaning in closer to study it with me. "It represents you and your purity. This is what will guide you through your dating relationships. Your mother and I can only tell you what's right. We can't make you believe it yourself. Hopefully, this will."
I looked up solemnly, "I'm listening."
"This represents the first time you hold a guy's hand," Mom said, pointing to the gray one. "It's just a piece of polished granite. Seemingly cheap, yes, but it's still a part of your bracelet. This is pink quartz."
Then she gently rubbed the next one between her fingers. "It represents your first kiss."
"This green one is an emerald," Dad continued. "This is your first boyfriend. The pearl is the first time you say 'I love you' to a man other than me."
I giggled. This was so amazing.
"The ruby stands for your engagement. And the diamond represents the time you say 'I do,'" Mom finished.
After letting it all sink in, I cleared my emotion-clogged throat. "What are the six tiny sapphires for?" I asked.
"Those are to remind you how beautiful and valuable you are to us and to God," Dad replied. "Now, here's the hitch in all this, the one and only rule you'll ever have to follow when it comes to dating."
Only one rule. Sounded good. But little did I know.......
"Whenever you give one of these actions of love - a kiss, an 'I love you,' a hand to hold - you also have to give the recipient the gem to match."
I must've misunderstood. "I have to give him the gem?"
"You have to give it to him," Mom restated.
I was silent for a moment. I thought they must be joking. But they weren't even thinking of cracking a smile.
"But Daddy!" I suddenly shrieked. "These are insanely expensive! I can't just give them away!"
He gave a soft, loving chuckle. "Did you hear what you just said?"
I thought about it.
"Baby, your purity, your heart, they're far more valuable than a few little rocks. If you can't find it in your heart to give away your little charms, I don't think you would be giving away the things they represent."
I could feel my insides melting, ready to gush out my tear ducts. On the one hand, it made me feel valuable and precious. But on the other, it made me furious. It made no sense. But it would.
A few weeks after that night, I was hanging out with my friends at the beach. Chad wouldn't swim because I wouldn't swim. I was more interested in reading than getting caked with sand, and he was more interested in sitting with me than swimming with his buddies. He was sweet. He was cute. He tried to hold my hand.
I was thrilled for a nanosecond when a certain piece of ugly granite flashed through my mind and made me move out of his reach. I was severely annoyed - annoyed at my parents, annoyed at my bracelet-turned-handcuffs, but most of all, annoyed at myself. I was letting a little rock dominate my romantic life.
I furiously glared at it during the whole embarrassing walk to the bathhouse. But then God hit me upside the head with a shocking epiphany. I couldn't give up my little chunk of granite. It was part of my bracelet, which in a sense made it a part of me. I wouldn't be whole without it. It wasn't a priceless gem, yet it was still valuable. It made sense after that.
Kevin came along eventually. We had fun. We hung out a lot. I thought I might love him. I thought I might tell him so.
I thought of my pearl.
It turned out I didn't love him as much as I thought I did.
So my parents had been right. They couldn't make me believe the things they wanted me to believe. So they let God and my bracelet do the work instead. Among the four of them, I figured out how valuable I was. How valuable my purity was. How not valuable guys were who were just wasting my time and emotions. If they weren't in it for the whole bracelet, why should they get one part of it.
Nate. He thought my bracelet was awesome. So he never tried to hold my hand. He never tried to kiss me. But he asked me to marry him
I never knew that so many years of torture could amount to so much happiness. I'd thought it was silly. I'd thought it was overrated. But now, I have never been more glad of anything in my life.
As I gave my husband the charm bracelet in it's entirety, i wondered why I had found it so hard to hang on to those little rocks when it was so amazing to give them all to the man I truly loved.
But it didn't end there. Now our daughter wears it.  - Raising Up by Dr. James Dobson

Keepers of the Faith

The girls and I are part of a local homeschool group that has many clubs and opportunities for homeschooled children.  That is how we found our art tutor and now this week we joined Keepers.  It is very similar to girl scouts except it is biblical based.  At our first meeting, the girls learned to sign their names and several new words including juice and cookies, hmmm.  They are both super excited about the club, especially the sashes, b/c Ruby has one, although she is a bunny scout. 
This year the girls will be learning Ephesians 6:10-18.  Plus they have the opportunity to earn badges in culinary arts, music arts, creative skills, fitness, serving others, etc.  I am really excited and hoping this turns into a life-long passion for them.  I was a brownie and a girl scout and I have many fond memories from those events.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

the zebra

I am quite jealous of my six year old who can draw better than I can.  Found this on the easel.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

chocolate play-dough

This year we are going to cook at least once a week.  This week's project was making chocolate play-dough.  When I was teaching I loathed play-dough, it is a germ factory for young children. At home there are far less sneezes landing in my play-dough and I can make a new batch fairly easily.  I have a ton of play-dough recipes and this is my favorite one b/c the only ingredient I do not regularly keep on hand is the cream of tartar ($2.50 in the spice aisle).
Oh, if only it tasted as good as it smells.  This dough is NOT edible!

2 cups flour
2 cups water
1 cup salt
4 T cream of tartar
2 t vegetable oil
food coloring

I added 2 t vanilla and 3 T cocoa instead of food coloring.
Mix flour, water, salt and cream of tartar and oil in suacepan.  Add vanilla and cocoa (or food coloring) to mixture.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat when dough forms a ball.  Cool 5 minutes before using.
We read the book Hershey's Kisses Addition Book when we were finished and made mini kisses to add with.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

30-something birthday weekend

I love that my birthday almost always falls on Labor Day weekend.  My mom always celebrates her birth week, I think it is perfectly fitting that I get a weekend.  Ben took off Friday and we dropped the girls off at my friend Z's house for the morning. 
He gave me two choices for my birthday - mani, pedi and massage or shopping.  I presented option #3 of mountain biking and Torchy's Tacos.  He said heck ya, and concluded he was the luckiest guy in the world. 
I had a much harder ride than the last time we went out, Walnut Creek is a bigger area and much more advanced than I remembered.  I got a little bruised up, but managed for a good hour. 
On Saturday morning, I taught my aqua class and one of my class members greeted me with a balloon and KIND bars.  On Saturday, we spent the day at the pool and had Cheesecake Factory take-out and put the kids to bed early.  We watched a not so great movie starring some of my fave actors and my Reese.  On Sunday, we attended 2 churches and spent the afternoon playing games and napping.   I got a new, much shorter haircut and highlights. I bought me a new bottle of nail polish and got 2 massages from the hottest masseuse on the planet.  And as soon as I drop 3 more pounds I am rewarding myself with a pair of skinny jeans, so I got it all this weekend.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Young at Art

The girl's first art lessons went great.  They learned about the color wheel and used water colors to paint.  Landry does not like to paint b/c she has a hard time controlling the paint brush compared to a pencil.  Bella loves to paint.    There are only 3 kids in her class and the other child was too scared to stay, so the girls had their own private lesson.  I am very excited to see what becomes of their talent and know God has special plans for their gifts.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

one-on-one time

This past week was Daddy-Daughter Date Nights.  On Tuesday, Ben and Bella went out for frozen yogurt and saw Winnie-the-Pooh in the theater.  Mommy, LE and R2 stayed home and played games and watched Wipeout (LE's choice, not Mommy's). 
On Thursday, Ben took LE to see Kung Fu Panda 2, Mommy got to stay home and enjoy a night of popcorn and My Little Pony.  Let's just say I think Ben got the better end of the deal in entertainment. both times.

Friday, September 02, 2011

3/4 of the way

He's into waving, saying Da-da, dita (sister), getting up on his hands and knees, eating veggies, standing up (supported) and belly laughs.  He is not into saying Mama, forward progression, or being alone.  He has entered the seperation anxiety stage, which means bedtime has turned to tear time.  He does not like to be alone and he cries when he sees anyone going up the stairs, even if he is sitting on the floor being played with.  He got a new tooth this (three total now).  He is still a great kid and I cannot wait to see what the next 3 months will hold.