Saturday, January 29, 2011


This is how they're fixed in my house.

First I make the enchilada sauce.
In olive oil saute one chopped onion and a half chopped green pepper.

Isn't it pretty?  Doesn't it make you smile?  It makes me smile.

Add the tomato sauce and the chilies.

Stir them in.

Add 2 tsp of chili powder,  1/2 tsp of garlic powder and a 1/2 tsp of sugar (I leave it out).

Stir it all together and let it simmer.

Meanwhile,  in another skillet brown a pound of ground beef, adding your favorite taco seasonings.  I used salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and a little garlic powder.

Add a can of black beans.
Oh I know that you could use a can of refried beans which is quite wonderful.  Simply heat them, and then spread some on the tortilla prior to adding the meat.  But I have silly children.  Children who think refried beans look and taste gross.  But children who think black beans are delicious and love to have them mixed in the meat.  And I'm their silly mother who caters to those particular silly taste buds, so I grabbed the can of black beans and not the can of refried beans from the cupboard shelf.

Also add a cup or so of your favorite shredded cheese. This time I used a Mexican cheese blend I picked up at the store when it was on sale.  Other times I've used cream cheese, which is rather yummy.

Stir it all around so it is all mixed up, and then turn off the heat.

Now put some on a tortilla.
Oh and I know that at this point I could have added some more cheese, but I didn't want to this time.  But I have done it other times, and it is good that way, very good.

Then roll it up, putting it in a greased pan.  Repeat until you run out of tortillas or meat mixture or both.

Pour the enchilada sauce over all.

Spread it out nice and evenly, and then put the pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for thirty minutes.

Take out after about 20 minutes and sprinkle more cheese all over the top, return to the oven to finish the baking, allowing the cheese to melt.

Then remove from the oven, place on the table, and let the feast begin.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Simple Pleasure

Sauteing peppers and onions makes me smile as they always look so pretty in the skillet.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Ironing has never been a job I enjoy and so I try to rarely do it.  I have learned though that a good iron makes it much more bearable, even enjoyable.  I was telling my friend Jenny that what I need now is a good ironing board.  On my current cheap one the legs are bent in such a way that the top tilts at a precarious angle.  One slight bump and it topples, along with the iron and the item being ironed. I scream bloody murder  more than once when ironing.  And I always think of this funny clip from one of our favorite comedians.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Kristi wrote about her one word for the year.  Ever since I read it, I've been thinking about what my word might be.  There are so many that could work, but I keep coming back to the first word I thought of when I originally read her post, NOW.  As in, what can I do NOW to meet a goal?

What can I do NOW to drink more water in a day?

What can I do NOW to keep up with the laundry?

What can I do NOW to have more time for self-indulgent reading?

What can I do NOW to grow in faith?

And there are many more questions just like this.  The word NOW, for me then, is a way to keep me aware that the choices I make at this very moment have consequences down the road, either for good or ill.  To that end, what I should be doing NOW is getting off the computer so that I can begin to work through my to-do list for the day.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

More on Scheduling

In my last post I shared how I've made a schedule and life is good - relatively speaking.  My friend Susan asked some good questions and I thought I'd share some more of my thoughts in a new post.

She wrote:

 "'re basically saying that you set up your schedule with the acknowledgment that you can't fit everything in, so you make the decisions about what will go by the wayside, and schedule the rest accordingly. I think what I do is to make the decisions day-at-a-time (or week-at-a-time) as to what becomes a priority, so that it stays in a state of flux. This has the benefit of allowing everything to get some attention, but the downside that nothing gets abunch of attention."

Yes this is right.  For me, right now, my schedule is made so that I know what schoolwork needs to get done and that we do it.  For a year and a half now or so I've not had a real schedule, we just flew by the seat of our pants.  And although we still got things done, it didn't run smoothly. I felt like I was always yelling at the kids and they were always bickering or arguing with me.  I was tired of that (you would think it wouldn't have taken me so long, but I am a bear of very little brain and apparently thick skin) and so back to a schedule I went.

So our days are filled with fitting in our subjects amongst instrument lessons and practice.  Playtime and computer time are now delegated to after hours.  On our days off from school work, I have a list of chores I want the kids to accomplish that day before they're free to do whatever they'd like.  Those I usually list on our whiteboard the day before or the morning of and when something is done, the child puts his initials beside so I can quickly see and check.  I've also taken to putting my own list on the whiteboard, so I can see what I need to do and the kids see that Mom's not just sitting around while they do all the work.

My chores are typically laundry, planning the meals for the week, planning the school schedule for the week, baking bread, and cleaning the bathrooms (a chore I actually like).  I also like to grade anything I didn't do and make sure I have copies of things ready for the upcoming week.

Susan also asked me about how I handle interruptions and she gave me a few examples:

"Family funerals. Kids' (or my) illness. Computer virus so bad that everything has to be wiped and reinstalled. Putting in the garden when the weather allows. Dad dying. An intense stint of speech therapy. Car shopping. "

These are tough and they really do throw the schedule out the window.  Illnesses, death, computer viruses are all things we can't plan and they seem to always happen at the worst time.  I think I would simply do what I could given the situation.  If only one child is ill, what can I get done with the others?  If more than one is down for the count, how can I keep the healthy ones staying on track and what can I accomplish on house chores that I normally don't get to? With a funeral, especially of family, I can see that the schedule would go out the window as we mourn for however long we needed, and somewhere down the road pick back up where we left off.

Then Susan wrote:
"Sometimes I can get our version of schedule/routine going for up to 8-10 weeks, but never have I managed longer without some sort of wallop to the routine. (I almost wonder sometimes if an organized schedule is a marvelous tool for some people, but would be an idol for me, and so God will not allow me to have it in the way I desire.) "

I want you my dear friend and all my readers to understand, this schedule/routine never stays for very long.  The last time we did a school schedule was by far the best and it lasted for about four months - which isn't much longer than your 8-10 weeks.  My advice in writing was that I find I can accomplish so much more in my children's education if I have a schedule to follow.  Once we're done with the current books for the year, we always take a break and I no longer have a schedule.  Instead I decide day to day what is going to happen and what is going to get done.  This is probably one of the biggest reasons I donate so much to the library during the summer because I don't have to be in that town each week for piano lessons, so we don't go and books become long overdue.

So my scheduling is mostly school work related.  I want to work hard and I want my kids to work hard so that we can finish the Math book, the Latin book, the Science book, get to the certain point in History, and whatever else so that summer time is fun time.  I'm budgeting the time I have now with the things I need and want to accomplish.

If it works for you to make those decisions day to day or week to week - do you see that you are scheduling?  It might not be on a fancy color-coded spreadsheet with timers.  It might be chicken scratches on the back of slips of paper, but if it is helping you stay focused to get things done (whatever those things are) , they you're budgeting your time.

And I think that only the Queen of England or tv sit-com moms are the only ones who can successively do a schedule for any length of time.  The rest of us do what we can, when we can, learn from the ebbs and go with the flow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Different Way to Think About It

My husband's nature is to keep track of every little penny that comes in or goes out, therefore ever since we've been married we've used different computer programs to aid in our tracking.  We've also tried a budget numerous times over our seventeen year marriage but it never seemed to work quite right until we found, and began using, the program YNAB.  The budget is the main part of the program.  Using this program means you have to do a budget because keeping track of the checkbook and the petty cash are supplementary to keeping you on your budget.  It took us a few months to get used to it and to trust our budget.  To realize that what was listed as money available was there EVEN IF it wasn't in our wallet.  It really has been freeing.

I began to think about their first principal, "Give Every Dollar A Job" in relation to time in my life.  Why couldn't that same principal work for budgeting what needs to be done and what I want to get done?  Especially in regards to home educating my children.

So I got back out my school schedule template to revise it.  What subjects needed to be studied every day and how much practice time was needed for instruments?  I began to assign a job for each hour during the day for each child on their own sheet.  This took a little time and a lot of thought.  Because I had to make sure that I didn't schedule two kids to be practicing the piano at the same time or me to be teaching two kids at the same time different subjects.

I made mistakes, but they were easily correctable because I had decided that I would print a schedule off each week for each child.  That enables me to see what is coming in the new week that might change things, or allows me to correct something I forgot or didn't schedule right at the beginning.  So the five sheets hang on a door and as the week moves along, I write on a post-it note reminders to myself about what to add or change next week.

The kids have enjoyed being able to mark off what they have accomplished and I've heard less complaining (notice I didn't say "no") from them over getting work (school and house) done.  I have enjoyed looking at the day and asking what do I need to get done now, and then looking back over the week and seeing what has gotten done.  I also like that I can direct the kids to their sheets to see what they should be doing and if it is done, they have free time; they like that too, although I don't know if they would admit that.

My budget of time isn't perfect, but it is a good start.  It has been freeing to use it again.  It has allowed me to enjoy free time because I don't have the nagging feeling of undone tasks burdening me.  I haven't been able to sit and do scrapbooking during my free time yet, but I do hope that as I continue this budgeting of time, that will be easier too.  Now that I know how the week will go with school and housework for the most part, I think I'll be able to budget time in for scrapbooking.

One thing this budgeting of time has done for me is given me more time, which sounds ridiculous, but it has.  Now I know what I need to accomplish each day, so I don't sit and get lost in cyberspace, or in a book, or in a movie.  And when I do, it is because I have to time to do it and I'm not regretting all that didn't get done that day.  The other advantage of budgeting my time is that when life throws a curve ball, I know where to get back on track.  I can see if what school we missed is something that really should be done today during the free time, or if it can wait till tomorrow's scheduled time.

Our family is a list-making, schedule-type family to begin with, but I think that whatever your normal style, budgeting your time can help.  But keep it simple, knowing what you can handle.  My schedule is for my family, and your family is different, but we all have to eat and wear clothes and do our other duties.  So is there a way for you to budget your time better?  I challenge you to think about it and see if there is.  I know I've benefitted from budgeting my time better.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A "Kids Say the Darndest Things" Post

In Matins this morning Pastor read Matthew 5:13-20 which is the part of the Sermon on the Mount about Christians being the salt and the light of the earth and Christ coming to fulfill the Law.

After the reading, he asked questions of the children in attendance (my five children and two others ages 6 and 2 who are also homeschooled).  One question was, "What did Jesus call Christians?"  After several incorrect answers (listening skills need to be worked on), Pastor tried to help.  He said, "What do you put on your eggs in the morning?"

The six year old piped up, "Oh I know . . . pepper!"

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Definitely Not a Chinese Mother

I read this article, while sitting on the couch, watching an NFL football game with my husband while some of the kids were making a movie in iMovie, and other kids were playing a game on the iPod Touch.  I get the feeling I'm a Western Mother.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Postlude Premier

Look who played for the very first time in church:

She played "As With Gladness Men of Old" for the postlude after the Epiphany service last evening.
She did a nice job, and it helped that her family composed one-fourth of the people in attendance.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Time to Get Back To Work

Family is all gone, the house is pretty well picked up, it is the 11th day of Christmas, and it is time to get back to the "normal" routine.  But it won't be easy, the Bermuda Triangle of Productivity will be there trying to suck me in and lose all my good intentions.  I've given my husband permission to be the watchdog, and yank me out as necessary.  Besides it is for the children that I need to model better behavior, especially how to get back on the horse after falling off; a skill I would think that should by now, be so ingrained in them, they'll never have a problem in their lives, but alas that sinful flesh clings to them as well.