Monday, January 31, 2011

The Day We Ate Three Breakfasts (and no lunch)

Do you ever have one of those days that your eating ends up a little 'off'? 

Usually we have breakfast around 8, lunch around 11 or 12, and an afternoon snack.  And sometimes a morning snack.
But for whatever reason, today we ate breakfast, then breakfast, and finally... breakfast again.
Breakfast One happened in shifts: Dale and I had cereal around 7:45.  Tyler had banana, toast, and milk around 8:00.  And Alan finally had toast and chocolate milk 8:30-9:00ish.
By 10:00 Dale and I were getting hungry again, so at 10:30 he and Alan and I took a break and had scrambled egg burritos.  With cheese and salsa, of course.
Tyler missed Breakfast Two because of his nap, so I fed him a plate of leftover noodles before we headed out for a couple of errands.

By the time we got back, it was nearly 2:00 and we were all four hungry again.  What better time for strawberry banana smoothies and leftover biscuits with honey butter?
With three breakfasts, I don't know if that makes the chef's salad we ate at 6:00 supper ...or lunch...?
I do know bedtime snacks are approaching soon.

Bowl of oatmeal anyone?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up - Wrapping up January

This week was hands-down the best week of school we've had in 2011!  
(So what if it is only the 4th week?) 

We got a lot done, and all relatively smoothly.  Of course, instead of leaving me feeling satisfied, I keep seeing all the more that I want to do!  There's always next week, right? ;)

Looking back:
Together we...
- Read and discussed Matthew chapters 8-19

- Made great progress in memorizing the Beatitudes
- Began a Beatitudes lapbook
- Added to his weather lapbook (clouds, raindrops, and hailstones)
- Practiced spelling Long U words
- Reviewed capitalization of proper nouns, etc
- Continued practicing 'borrowing'

- Reviewed the letter 'O'
- Water colored an octopus
- Made a tp tube octopus
- Played playdough
- Finished pages in his BIG Bible Activity book
- Worked alphabet puzzles
- Read lots of books with me

- Stacked blocks
- Had naps
- Did cute stuff

- Worked on Bible School plans
- Made next week's menu and grocery list
- Finally fixed that pesky page Tyler tore out of my Bible weeks ago (Matthew 5,6,7)

Looking ahead:
Dale - 
 - Measuring length
 - Long O words
 - Sentences and questions
 - Finish Lapbooks (weather & Beatitudes)

Alan - 
 - Letter 'P' words and activities

Together - 
 - Matthew 20-26 or 28
 - Art of Africa

 - Dentist appointment
 - Lesson plans for Dinosaur unit
 - Prepare for first VBS meeting

And hopefully....I would like to make snowman cookies, candy houses, and fit in a couple of piano lessons for Dale.

Linking up to:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Insights and Incisors. Or: Our Visit to the Dentist

I took Dale and Alan to the dentist this week.  It was our first visit to a relatively new pediatric dentistry office nearby.  What an incredible place!  If more grown-up dentists went to those lengths to make going to the dentist that appealing to adults people would be lining up to get in.  But then adults aren't as easy to please as kids, so maybe that wouldn't work after all.

At any rate, this office was super-fun and kid-friendly.  Dale and Alan and Tyler and I got to stay together for the whole process, exams and everything.  The extensive paper-work I signed before-hand said siblings over 2 weren't usually allowed to stay together (in case the first one got panicky and scared the second) but I guess we all behaved ourselves well enough the staff never batted an eye.

There were toys galore in the waiting room and the exam room.

The exam room was outfitted with a flat exam 'bed' instead of a chair, and a flat screen tv mounted on the ceiling.

Dale had his cleaning first and did great.  Even though he was a little bit nervous, Alan climbed up next, a perfectly willing subject.  However, he quickly got a little squirrelly because of the bright lights in his eyes.  This obviously wasn't the first time the hygienist had heard this, because without missing a beat, she asked Alan if he wanted to wear sunglasses.  His response?  With hands firmly clamped over eyes, "Yeahdude."  Yeah dude?  Had to be the nerves talking there.

So anyway, Alan did great for his exam too, wearing a cool pair of shades the whole time.

Meanwhile, Dale is checking out all the toys in the exam room, including a largish stuffed monster thing with a humongous set of dentures.  Something very much like (if not identical to) this:

Now, in true homeschooler style, the week before our dentist appointments we checked out a tooth book from the library.  A book Dale happens to find hilarious.  So there we sat in the exam room and Dale starts messing around with Denture Monster's great big chompers.  As he points out each tooth he says to me, "Hey look Mama! Incisor, incisor, canine, premolar....".

At which point the hygienist lady turns away from Alan's Stevie Wonder exam and eyes Dale with her own look of wonder and amazement.  "Are you going to be a dentist!?" she laughed. "Where did you learn that?"  As Dale started to explain about the book he had read a second hygienist came into the room to deliver a message.  Hygienist one immediately relates to hygienist two the tooth-naming recital she has just heard and Dale goes back to his playing.  Meanwhile, I sat in the corner trying to hide a foolish grin the size of Denture Monkey over there.

All told, the rest of the visit, including x-rays and exams went very well and the boys left with their pockets stuffed full of toys and stickers and sugar-free lollipops.

We're all looking forward to our next visit.  I'll think we'll 'brush' up on enamel, dentin, pulp, and roots for that one.  Never know when you might need to impress someone!

*This post contains affiliate link(s). If you decide to buy something from Amazon from my link(s) I might make a few cents.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pintos Under Pressure

A recent twitter conversation with my blog friend Karen and an exchange of recipes with my sister led me to thinking about my collection of cheap eats frugal recipes, particularly the ones using beans.

I like to include one or two meatless recipes in each week's menu to make our grocery budget stretch a little further.

The simplest, most classic of these is a pot of pinto beans and a pan of cornbread.

Those two items can be a meal all in themselves, but they also open up the possibility for all sorts of add-ons: mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, greens, squash, or ham (in the beans) are some of my favorites.  And a pot of beans is always good with barbecue, fried fish, or chili.

Thankfully, making pinto beans is not a huge undertaking, and only takes an hour, no soaking required!  How, you say?  I make them the way my Mama taught me, the way her mama taught her - in a pressure cooker!

For 1 pound of pintos:
Sort and rinse beans.
Heat approximately 2 1/2 quarts of water in pressure cooker, uncovered.
Place beans in a second pot, and cover with a couple inches of water.  Bring to boil and allow beans to boil for 5 minutes.  During this time, bring the water in the pressure cooker to a boil also.

Drain beans into a colander, discarding the dark "poot water".  (Well what would you call it?)  Immediately add beans to the boiling pressure cooker pot and simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

Add 1-2 Tbs sugar and 1-2 Tb of oil to beans.  (Also good: black pepper, sliced onion, sliced jalapeno, and/or cooked ham.)  Place lid and 'jiggler' on cooker, according to manufacturer's directions.

Once pressure is up and the 'jiggler' is spitting and hissing and jiggling, allow beans to cook for another 25 minutes.  (This is a good time to make your cornbread.)  Remove cooker from heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. DO NOT REMOVE 'jiggler' yet!!!

I speed up the cooling process (and slow down the cooking process) by placing the cooker in the sink and running cool water over the lid.  You can gently poke the jiggler to tip it - if no steam hisses you are probably good to to ahead and remove the lid.  Be careful!!!

Add salt to taste.

Monday, January 24, 2011

January 2011

It has been brought to my attention that the ol' blog has sat empty and quiet for an unacceptably lengthy bit of time.

I can assure you, we are all alive and well.

What have we been up to?  So far in this month of January...

 - We celebrated a birthday, with lots of family, chicken & dumplings, and, of course, cake!

I found the idea for the bear cake here.  Among the birthday cakes I've made, I give this one extremely high marks on the "easy" scale.

It was Dale's idea for Tyler to have a bear cake, since that is one of his favorite words.  Yes! He has words!
Bear (beah), uh-oh, and Mama.  And he's close on 'baby'.  I don't let the 'mama' thing go to my head, because evvvvverybody is 'mama': Mama, Daddy, Dale, Alan, Gramps, Mimi, Grandma.... you get the picture.  He 'talks' all the time with his own made-up baby words, and keeps us laughing with his baby silliness.  I know I'm not the first one to say it, but who needs tv when you have a 1 year old around??

-  We played in the snow!

Yeah, yeah, it's old news now, but it was already old news before the stuff even melted, ya know?  

Snow around here is pretty rare, especially a decent amount.  

But for it to still be on the ground 5 days after it fell?  That's almost unheard of in these parts!

- We went to Grandma's.  Since we missed our Christmas visit due to illness, we wedged in a long-weekend trip to Arkansas. 
While there we took a trip to the Historic Arkansas Museum. 
Museum exhibits: great.  Posted requests not to use your flash: no-so-great.  Other than being admonished twice (two very different exhibits) for using my flash, we had a great time!
On the way home, we stopped to see my sister and brother-in-law at their new house!  They fed us a yummy lunch, too! 

- We are busy learning.  After taking it lightly for the month of December, we spent the last two or three weeks wading back in to full-swing school.  Dale is learning 'borrowing'.  Did you know 'they' don't call it 'borrowing' anymore?  It is now "renaming" or "regrouping".  I like "borrowing" myself.  We have started the New Testament and are taking our time reading through Matthew and memorizing the Beatitudes.  We are finally finishing that weather lapbook we started I'm-not-telling-how-long-ago. 

Alan and I are still working our way through the alphabet.  The letter of the week this week is "O" for 'octopus' and 'ocean'.  I'm very pleased with how Alan is coming along in his pre-reading skills; he can recognize most beginning sounds, many ending sounds, and a few sight words. I often find myself wishing I planned more 'fun' preschool stuff for him, but have to remember not to overlook the things that seem so simple to me, yet so much fun to him.

Thanks for checking in, and stay warm, friends!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

One year ago today...

Amazing how much they change in one year's time, isn't it?  We went from that....

to this....

Happy Birthday, dear Tyler!  
We're all as crazy about you now (more!) as we were that first day. :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Is it just us?

Or are kids tough on stuff?

Or maybe it's just boys?

It seems every time I turn around something else is broken, bent, or torn.

Sometimes it is fixable.  Sometimes it is ruined.

We are trying to instill a respect for belongings, and the responsibility of care, without leading to a love of things.

People are more important than stuff.  But people need to take care of their stuff.

Sometimes I think if they would only use things for their intended purpose, in the way they were intended to be used, then maybe so much wouldn't end up broken.  But where is the room for creativity?  For invention and exploration?

In the end, I've decided this issue is like so many others, and there isn't one answer.  It depends.

So we continue.  To teach them to take care of their things, and the things of others.  To value people more than stuff.  To show grace when it truly was as accident.  And to discipline when it wasn't.

Is it just us?  Or do too many things get broken at your house, too?

P.S. I am not incriminating Alan with these pics of him.  I just happened to like them, and the fact they contain approximately 1,000 pieces.  Also, there wasn't anything broken today.  No 'straw that broke the camel's back' and led to this post.  :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

How many times in one post can I say "red-eye gravy?"

Seeing as how the last week of our Christmas break was slightly interrupted, I didn't get around to cooking our ham until New Year's Day.  And since it was served up more as an afterthought than as part of a Big Dinner I started thinking about other ham-related things.

Like Red-Eye gravy.

Red-eye gravy and grits first came to mind as we were eating supper Saturday.  It took 24 hours for it to come to fruition, but after church Sunday evening we finally sat down to our Big Country Breakfast:

Fried ham
Scrambled eggs
red-eye gravy

I had to cheat on the grits and make corn meal mush, but it served its purpose just the same, because that meal was all about the gravy anyway.  

This is a good time to mention I find it interesting that this sauce is called 'gravy'.  It has no thickener and is hardly more than pan juices.  It doesn't matter to me what to call it, I always enjoy it!

Here's how i made mine:
1/2 - 3/4 c pan drippings left from baking the ham
1/2 c black coffee
I added an additional 1/2 cup or so of water because the drippings were SO salty.  I was glad I left the grits/mush a little lacking on salt; the gravy made up for it.

I heated all that together in an iron skillet in which I had just fried some ham slices.  (Also - made sure to leave  some fatty edges on for frying to make good pan drippings.)

That's it.  Salty ham juice and leftover coffee, but sooo good!

Searching the web for directions for it, I learned that red-eye gravy is almost exclusively a southern thing.  Which got me wondering about all of you... have you had red-eye gravy?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Christmas Chronicles, 2010

This was the second oddest Christmas I can remember experiencing.  The first was hands-down the year of Alan's transplant.  But Christmas 2010 had its fair share of trials and weirdness.

I have decided to record it all here to be able to look back on it an marvel in years to come. :)  So... you ready for the run-down?

It went something like this:

December 22 - A close family member (who shall remain anonymous) was involved in an accident at home.  This led to several hours in the ER and a week of recovery (at their home), but very, very thankfully, no permanent damage.

December 24 - My grandmother (who has been in the nursing home and very frail, and will henceforth in this blog post be referred to as 'G') started having extra problems.  My dad spent a large portion of the Christmas Eve party on the phone with the doctor and nursing home.  It is also noteworthy that my sister and her new husband spent Christmas with his family, and their absence was felt by all here!

December 25 - First thing in the morning, G was taken to the hospital.  Dad was there with her until early afternoon, and Christmas dinner was delayed until he got home.  Even then, the prognosis he brought home was not encouraging, and no one felt especially festive.  However, opening presents with the boys served as a fun distraction for a little while.  Mom and I went to the hospital to visit for a little while in the late afternoon, then Dad spent the rest of the day there.  Greg and I came home with the boys, cleaned the house, and packed for the trip to Grandma's.

December 26 - Got up early to finish cleaning and packing before church.  Dale started 'acting funny' while we were at church.  He laid down while the rest of us ate, and, sure enough, when I checked him after lunch he had a fever.  Not knowing where that would lead, we called Greg's grandparents (our first planned stop before heading to Grandma's) to cancel that portion of our trip.  Mom and I went to visit G at the hospital while Gramps kept Alan.  Greg had Dale, because we were trying to keep him and Alan apart.  By the time we came back from the hospital Alan  had a fever too, and not long after I got home with him.... he threw up. Three times.  Long story short, he and  Dale both had fevers all through Sunday afternoon and evening.  Dehydration is always a concern for Alan, so we did our best to keep fluids in him.  But in spite of our best efforts the fever burned it all up, and by bedtime Alan was showing signs of dehydration.  So, off to the ER we went.  We arrived home 6 hours later (4 in the morning).  Mimi and Gramps went home and we fell into bed for a few hours.

December 27 - This day involved a lot of sleeping (Greg and me) and a lot of snot and sneezing (me).  Seems I had me a cold.  Great.  By bedtime I was feeling pret-ty rotten.  But the boys were just about back to their usual selves, so it was looking like a trip Grandma's might still be a possibility.  Meanwhile, my grandmother was still in the hospital, but would hopefully be returning to the nursing home in a few days.

December 28 - Early this morning our family got a call that G had fallen at the hospital and broken her hip.  She was transferred to a bigger hospital in a bigger town, where she, my parents, and several other family members spent the entire day in that ER.  A lot of scary things happened throughout that day that had everyone prepared for the idea that G might not make it.  She was scheduled for surgery to repair her hip.  On the homefront, I now had a fever.  And Greg had the cold.  All things considered, the trip to Grandma's was finally officially cancelled.  

December 29 - I spent the day at home getting better.  Greg spent the day at home getting worse.  The rest of the family spent the day at the hospital with G, comforting, helping, making decisions.  My sister arrived for a couple of days to be with everyone.

December 30 - Another long day at the hospital with G.  I was well enough to go along this time.  Greg stayed home and kept the boys, even though he now had a fever and was feeling pretty yuck.  We all made mention several times throughout the day that this was Alan's 3-year transplant anniversary.

December 31 - Surgery day.  Considering G's condition, this surgery was very risky.  However, it was also very necessary.  Once again, we all prepared ourselves to say 'goodbye'.  Early afternoon G went into surgery.  A short time later the surgeon came out to report that, surprisingly, G had done very well.  With the hurdle of surgery over, the family prepared to help G (and each other) through the recovery phase.  My sister went back home.  Greg was finally feeling better from the cold.  Is it any surprise none of us stayed awake to ring in the New Year?

So while our story of Christmas 2010 could have been sung as our own version of "The Ten Days of Christmas" (Threeeeeeee E.R. visiiiiiits!!! Two pukey kids, and one very high risk sur-ge-ry), it still held plenty of laughter, love, peace, and hope.  No matter the circumstances of our planned celebrations the fact remains that 2,000 years ago, a Savior was born.  And as my Daddy says, no matter what, "Life is good, because God is good!"

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3

Happy New Year to all of you!!  Praying you have that 'perfect peace' through life's storms and surprises.