Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Good Idea

This morning as the temperature was -12 degrees F or more, with windchill even further in the double digits below zero, we bundled up the chitlins and drove to get haircuts. I used this time to continue our current read aloud, The Silver Chair, which if you don't know is the 4th book in C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia series. We arrived back home in time for lunch, and the temperature was still in the negatives, but at least now in the single digits.

Wednesday afternoons are spent at piano lessons for Hannah and Ellie while I take the three youngest grocery shopping; then it is time to visit the library, finish any other errands before arriving back home in time to unload everything and have supper ready by 6:30 when David is finished with Catechesis classes. But today I didn't need to grocery shop, I had gotten my fresh fruits and veggies the other night while they were at swim club practice. So what was I going to do for an hour while waiting on piano lessons?

I didn't want to wander around Wal-Mart or any other store, the little ones would just get antsy and bored and I would lose my temper. I didn't want to go to the library since we would be doing that after piano lessons. I couldn't go to a park or sit outside in the van, it was way too cold for such options.

Then I remembered Burger King. It is all of a mile away from the piano teacher's home and it has an indoor play-place. I drove there, bought a cup of coffee for me, a glass of water for the youngest and while I sat and kept warm, they ran in their stocking feet up, down, and around the tunnels and slide. Oh boy did they have fun being loud, running (without mom hollering at them to stop running in the house), stopping to quench their thirst, chasing each other up, playing train on the slide down. Oh boy did I have fun, sipping coffee, watching them expend energy, refilling their water glass numerous times, and enjoying the hour wait. We even had the place to ourselves, quite convenient.

Upon leaving all three of them asked if we could do that again. It seems that they would prefer running and playing during that hour to mom hurrying them through the grocery store. Who could have guessed? Well, I suppose it would be nice of me, I could do my shopping a different day like I did this week. That would make it nice for the little ones who so often get dragged along to all the older kids activities. I'll just have to remember to bring a book next week.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Whole Wheat Bread

2 envelopes dry yeast
3 Cups water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup dry milk
1/4 cup honey
2/3 cup ground flax
2-3 tsp salt*
2/3 cup cracked wheat (I've been using wheat germ)
3 Cups whole wheat flour**
4 Cups bread flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water with brown sugar. Add butter, dry milk and honey. Add flax and cracked wheat. Combine salt and flour and add to mixture. Mix well.*** Knead on floured surface. Place in greased bowl, turning dough once, to grease dough. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch down, let rise about 1 hour. Shape loaves and place in 3 greased 9x5 loaf pans. Let rise 1 hour. Bake @ 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

*She doubled the original recipe which meant it should be 3 tsp salt and she uses 2 tsp. I've been using about 2.5 tsp.
**I put in the whole wheat flour, mix it in and then let my Bosch tell me how much bread flour to put it, so far it rarely has come to the full 4 cups.
***I get to this point and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then I come back and knead it in the Bosch before placing it in a greased bowl.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I Finally Did It!

Yeah! After only 4,987,309,827 tries (okay so give or take 4,987,309,817) I finally was able to get my whole wheat bread to rise, look nice, and be edible. Yeah!

This is a recipe a lady in our church shared with me about 6 months or more ago. She had brought over a fresh loaf, we loved it, she gave me the recipe, and it has never worked. I've tried, and re-tried, and re-tried, and re-tried again, but it would never raise into a nice loaf. She wondered why I kept trying, at times so did I, but now I'm glad I did.

I kept trying because the taste was so good. The whole family really liked it. I would try other whole wheat recipes in between trying this one and in between giving up all together and buying bread at the store, but still the hands-down (or would that be mouth-watering?) favorite was the one from Marlene (no not Looper Marlene in case you're wondering).

I also kept trying because this recipe makes 3 loaves at one time and I liked that. That would mean I wouldn't have to make bread every day, or every other day, or every other every-other day.

Yet another reason to keep trying was that I didn't want to fail. I knew, deep down, that the only way to get it right was to keep trying. If the family didn't mind eating my mistakes over and over and over and over again, I should keep feeding them.

Finally today, it paid off. Yeehaw! Three loaves of bread, two nicely shaped in bread pans that rose, look so nice, and feel so light; and a third that due to the fact I only have two bread pans was shaped into a round "rustic" loaf and baked in a pie tin that also rose, stayed in its shape and was gobbled up completely for lunch with chili.

Now I might have to make it more often than I think, but since I have it figured out, that wouldn't bother me too much. What always bothered me was the failure. But today I'm not a failure and I'm going to gloat in my glory, pat myself on the back, and grin from ear to ear.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau

Since it has been cold here, currently it is -18 F, I've been working on editing my Germany pictures. I thought I'd share with you the pictures of Mad King Ludwig's boyhood home and his famous castle. It began snowing while we were there and it added to the experience.

Some of the older people chose to ride up in the horse-drawn carriage, instead of walk all the way up and back down.

Once at the top, the view, even amidst the snow-fall was breath-taking.

On the way up and down we saw views like this lovely fresh mountain spring.

At the top you're greeted with amazing views of the castle itself.

They don't allow pictures taken inside so I bought an inexpensive guide book that has all the pictures of the inside rooms and the descriptions. Well worth the cost.

Back down in the valley we had time to get a bite to eat. Unfortunately everything was closed except for one or two very expensive restaurants. We didn't choose that option because a. we didn't want to spend the money and b. we didn't want to spend the time it takes to eat a restaurant meal.

But do you see that white building down the way? There, just beyond the yellow building? That is where you buy your tickets; inside was a pretzel case, we bought one of those and ate it. That was enough to keep us going until supper. If you were to look right while standing here you'd see Neuschwanstein, and if you would look left, Hohenschwangau.

Here is Hohenschwangau. We didn't tour it but the parking lot where our bus had to park was right below it. Beautiful places these were. It is fun to re-live the experience through the pictures.

Ad this is one of my my favorite pictures. There were still roses blooming and then the snowfall on top was simply beautiful.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Good Food

I wanted to share some tasty recipes with you that are new to me but now are included in my must make again category.

First, Mini-Chicken Turnovers from Taste of Home Magazine. I made these last Saturday night for our annual Altar Guild Epiphany Party held at the parsonage. They were fairly easy to make. Instead of chicken, I used leftover pork from a roast we had eaten a couple of days before. I also doubled the recipe. This made about 70 with leftover meat. Today for lunch I spread this on homemade wheat bread, added a slice of cheese and toasted them under the broiler. Very good!

Second, Joy's Prize-Winning Trifle from the All Recipes website. This was the dessert I served at the party. Yum! I had forgotten to take out my frozen strawberries, so I didn't use those, but the kiwi and bananas and pineapple didn't really need them. It made such a pretty dessert and filled my trifle bowl to the very top and beyond; the kids even liked it. Oh and I only eat homemade Angel Food Cakes, therefore I made my Great Aunt's recipe which was thick and added to the fullness of the trifle.

Third, Boston Baked Beans from Hillbilly Housewife. Kim recommended this site on Loopers and when I was perusing it, I found the baked bean recipe. I made it the other night for supper. These tasted very good and they were super easy to make. Mine were done at 5 hours and just starting to get dry, so beware when you try them yourself. I made the full recipe in order to freeze some like the Housewife suggests. The three younger kids didn't like them as well, but I think over time they'll come to love them as much as the rest of us did.

Fourth, "Maple-Buttery Corn Muffins" from There's a Chef in My Soup by Emeril Lagasse. We gave this cookbook to Hannah and Ellie for Christmas and it is a winner. You'll have to borrow it from the library or purchase it at the store, this is a great cookbook for kids (and us parents). So far we've loved everything we've tried. These corn muffins tasted great with the Boston Baked Beans and Fried Ham.

Last but certainly not least is Whole Cranberry Sauce. Follow the directions on the back of the Ocean Spray cranberry bag or look here. It is super simple and tastes great. My kids have been eating it stirred into plain or French vanilla yogurt for a snack after swim club practice.

Cold Snap Leads to Work

We are having a very cold, cold-snap this weekend. Temperatures are suppose to stay below zero and let's not factor in the wind chills. It is the perfect days for snuggling up with the kids to read stories and watch movies. I'm looking forward to this. We need time to cuddle and catch up on our history reading.

This year we are studying Explorers to 1850. We are currently reading about the beginning of the slave trade using Story of the World as our main guide. Mrs. Bauer also puts in a lot of world history into her books which is nice. But one can only go through so much in a year, so instead of delving as deeply into the chapters on India and China, etc., I'll just read through them and we'll talk about them. But I won't have the kids do any written narration, although they often like to color the pictures provided in the student book while I read. By doing this and not being able to play outside, we'll be able to read several chapters and catch up from our long break during November and December.

Isn't that a great thing about homeschooling? We can follow along catching up quickly or slowing down as needed. We can start our science reading or history reading over hot chocolate at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. Or we can get up and start subjects early in the morning, whatever works for the family's life which can change as the dynamics of the family change.

But we must not let our freedom turn into chaos. There should be some structure, some order to the day which allows for the greatest freedom. RPW has some good thoughts on this, you can read them here. When we as parents or children know what we can expect, our days and chores and learning move along quite nicely. Setting up a schedule, however loosely you define it, I really believe benefits life. But don't fall into the trap that since today didn't go well, you've failed; just start tomorrow over back on track. Knowing what is coming, being able to adjust to life, that is how a schedule helps. Use it as a tool to help your days go more smoothly, but don't use it as a noose to strangle the fun out of the freedom gained by scheduling your days.

Now would someone remind me of this in a couple of weeks?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

J. S. Bach

Here are two places in Erfurt we visited .

This is Bach's House. We didn't have time to go through the entire home, but we did have the opportunity to hear a half hour presentation on the music of the time on the actual instruments of the time. That was really neat. One of the interesting things was that the presenter spoke first in German and then in English with nary a breath in between. I had to listen closely in order to make sure I didn't miss anything by "tuning out" when he was speaking in German.

This is the church in Erfurt where Bach was baptized and also was organist. For many, many years the organist of this church was a descendant of Bach. Luther also preached at this church.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Shower Thoughts

Last night after tucking in the little munchkins, I took my shower and started thinking about, well, showering. How good it feels to be washing away all the dirt and grime, sweat and oil, and feel clean once more. I remembered how when I'm sick and I don't shower due to not getting out of bed, the moment I do, I always, always feel like a human being once more.

Then I thought about how after the kids bathe (or when they were younger I bathed them), I love having them cuddle on my lap, and I smell the soap and shampoo, the cleanness of them and smile. It is one of my favorite things. Then I started thinking about how that is like baptism.

In Baptism God washed away all my filthy, dirty, rags. He scrubbed me clean and made me whole, new, perfectly human as He intended. He calls me by name, draws me to Him and smells the blood of Christ's righteousness, Christ's cleanness, Christ's wholeness on me and smiles.

And that made me smile, to think that my heavenly Father loves it even more than me to smell the cleanness of His children.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

And the award goes to... and a whole host of others. As I was catching up on blogs since vacation, I read Cheryl's post on her new Aardie. I followed the link and saw this whole list of winners and happened to find my own amongst the many.

Thanks Orycteropus Afer, I am greatly honored to be numbered among the many award winners who are far better than I can ever even imagine.

Two Memes

Jenny tagged me awhile ago about listing some Christmas wishes for the future and I'm finally getting around to it. Here goes:

1. I wish that I would be organized enough between Thanksgiving and Christmas that we could actually still do some school work.

2. I would like to have whatever congregation I happen to be worshiping in, sing like it is Christmas.

3. I would like to be able to buy presents for all the children easily without having one child whom I cannot think of a single thing to give, which happens every year in this house.

RPW tagged me for this one:

Two names you go by: Glenda and Mom
Two things you are wearing right now: Jeans and tennis shoes
Two of your favorite things to do: nothing and reading
Two things you want very badly: to go to Germany with my kids; all my siblings to be brought into the one true faith
Two favorite pets you have had/have: Dandy, our sheltie when I was growing up and Missy, our sheltie now.
Two people you think will fill this out: you and you (feel free to play you who are reading.)
Two things you ate today: pizza and oranges
Two people you last talked to today: Hannah and the violin teacher
Two things you're doing tomorrow: cooking and cleaning
Two longest car rides: Minnesota to Florida via Ohio, Virginia, Carolinas, Georgia on the way down and Florida to Minnesota the "normal" way home.
Two favorite holidays: Easter and Christmas
Two favorite beverages: Alcoholic: good beer, non-alcoholic: Coke

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Life Happenings

We had a nice vacation last week. First we traveled on a very cold New Year's Day morning in which the kids enjoyed looking at sun dogs to Paul and Lori's arriving in time for supper. The kids enjoyed playing with their cousins and David and I enjoyed visiting with Paul and Lori.

Friday saw us saying good-bye to Paul and Lori and saying hello to Ralph and Amy. Since we were "passing through," we stopped and spent the day with our good friends. It was too short, but sweet and we bade them farewell after a delicious supper and finally arrived at Jenny's late that night.

Jenny and Miguel were married on Saturday, Jan. 5th in a simple church ceremony. Since David and I took the pictures, I'll post some once I download them. It was good to see Mom and Lynn and Andy once again, and to meet Miguel's family.

We worshiped with Laura on Epiphany Sunday, and look forward to doing so again when we can stay for Bible class and cash in our rain check for brunch. :-) We then packed the van and headed for home, driving in that awful fog nearly the entire way. Fortunately we weren't in or delayed because of any accidents.

Monday we spent putting things away and cleaning in preparation for starting back to schoolwork on Tuesday. That night was the first night of winter swim club. We signed up Nathan and Abby and had fun watching them learn. Coach said they did alright, they didn't complain or cry, which is what he looks for. So with time, they'll get stronger and more accurate on their strokes. They enjoyed it and felt pretty proud of themselves. For Hannah and Ellie it was simply old routine, they are improving quite well.

Today our first day back to school after the break went well. We've had to rearrange the schedule a bit, and there was some grouchies, but they didn't rule the day. I'm amazed that the kids remember what they do. When starting up History, they were able to answer the questions about the pilgrims and Squanto for review. When I pulled out the science book, I saw that I had read the entire chapter on Mercury but we hadn't completed any notebook pages. While drinking our hot chocolate, I asked them what they remembered and wow, did they remember quite a bit. So out came the notebook pages and they worked on that, which means tomorrow we can do the experiment and move on. Yippeee!

As for me, I've successfully completed all but one load of laundry and broke my crock-pot. That mess ensured that my laundry closet is now swept clean and mopped. Now I guess I'll have to go on a search for a new one.