Sunday, February 28, 2010

Another gem running public education


From the American Family Association:

Kevin Jennings is an open homosexual who is now serving the Department of Education as President Obama's "Safe and Drug Free Schools" czar.


Jennings is the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), which pushes so-called "anti-bullying" policies which even GLSEN admits are really about promoting "affirmation" of homosexual behavior in the school system.



Jennings is intolerant of the "religious right," 90% of whom enroll their children in public schools, and said in a 2000 speech "I'm trying not to say '[F---] 'em'...I don't care what they think. Drop dead!"



He wants homosexual indoctrination of students at all levels, having written the forward to a book entitled Queering Elementary Education, and saying in 2004, "Ex-gay messages have no place in our nation's public schools...There is no ‘other side' when you're talking about lesbian, gay and bisexual students."


By his own admission he failed his legal duty to report what he believed to be a case of statutory rape when a young student approached him for counsel after the boy had been preyed on by an older adult in a local bus station bathroom. Jennings' main piece of advice: "I hope you know how to use a condom."



He writes in his 2006 memoir without any remorse of frequently getting "drunk and stoned" when he was a teenager.



I checked the website of the US Department of Indoctrination, I mean, Education, and sure enough, Kevin Jennings is listed at the top of their "Key Staff" list.

My husband recently preached a sermon entitled "The Children Against the Parents", in which he addresses some more of the negatives of public education.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Oh, what to do?

We had a major marriage-related drama in our house today that wore on the whole day, and I'm guessing it will resume tomorrow, because no amicable resolution was reached. No, I'm obviously not talking about my own marriage.


Miriam (3), who has been pretending to be John's (5) wife for the last year and half, today decided she wants to be married to Isaac (7) instead.

John could not be any more distraught if he were actually going through a real divorce. He has been "married" to Miriam since he was three, so pretty much as far back as he can remember. He has been a great "husband" of sorts, such as always sharing things with her, helping her, letting her go first, etc. even if he didn't feel like it because he was trying to be a nice husband. Seriously. They have like 20 "kids" together (stuffed animals), and he knows all their ages, names, and personalities inside out. He has cried for hours about this issue today. Then he got so into it that he started yelling at Miriam, saying: "Why do you want to marry someone else and do wrong and commit fornication?"

Miriam just wants to be married to Isaac now, who so far has been pretending to be her dad. She likes to be a tease and a bit of a rebel, so the drama is only fueling her fire. I was trying to reason with her, as well as John and Isaac, about how this is all just pretend, etc. but John argues that she should not be allowed to pretend doing wrong.

Isaac, sweet as he is, has never met an opportunity to dish it out to John that he didn't embrace wholeheartedly, so trying to reason him into continuing to pretend to be the "father of the bride" has not worked so far.

Solomon is on John's side and is refusing to officiate the wedding. But now John is worried that Isaac and Miriam might get my husband to do it, which I'm sure he won't consent to seeing John's almost-nervous breakdown.

But even if he won't do it, John is offended that Miriam WANTS to marry someone else, even if she isn't able to. I can see his point.

Becky is "off the market" as a wife since she has been "married" to Solomon for several months now, so she can't be a stand-in wife for Isaac.

Where did all this go so terribly wrong???!? And what's the solution? I mean, I have been telling them all along that they were not really married, that it was just pretend, and that in real life you can't (or won't want to) marry your relatives, etc., but I think because they are little they took it a bit more serious than I thought.

I guess it beats the 10 and 12-year olds I see making out in public these days - no joke! Today was my second time witnessing that. The first time I saw it, the mom of one of the kids in question was standing right there, watching as her son, who looked hardly any older than Solomon, and his girlfriend, were walking around the park holding hands and hugging, with another couple of the same age right behind them (their friends, I'm guessing). Even the punked-out and obnoxious-looking older teenagers next to me turned their heads in shock and couldn't believe it. Something tells me that if kids that age act in such a way, they are watching things they shouldn't be on TV, and do not get enough age-appropriate cuddles and affection from their own family at home. Very sad, really.

Which brings me back to the problem on my hands. I am not looking forward to trying to mediate more marriage problems tomorrow. Ideas, anyone?



Thursday, February 25, 2010

Recipe for Sunflower Seed & Honey Wheat Bread

I know I have shared several bread recipes here recently, but this particular one is our family's current favorite. It was featured in the Taste of Home magazine a couple of issues back, and I have baked about 40 loaves of it since then.


Ingredients

  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast (that's 4 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 3-1/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 1/4 cup bread flour (I use vital wheat gluten instead)
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 cups whole wheat flour - you can substitute with part white flour if that's what you prefer
  • 1/2 cup sunflower kernels
  • butter for brushing

Directions


  • In a large bowl, combine water, oil, honey, salt, and yeast. Add the bread flour and whole wheat flour. Knead until smooth. Add sunflower kernels, and continue kneading for about 5 more minutes. If you have a stand mixer (like KitchenAid), use the kneading hook and speed 2.

  • Place mixing bowl in a warm, draft-flee place. Cover and let dough rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

  • Punch dough down; divide into three portions. Shape into loaves; place in three greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pans.

  • Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

  • Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately brush tops of loaves with a stick of butter. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

I like to slice all three loaves as soon as they have cooled down. We usually eat one loaf right then, with butter and honey or fresh, raw cheese on top. The other loaves get bagged and frozen.


I have been very good about sticking to my plan of not purchasing any commercial bread products, including organic and all-natural varieties. In the last 6 months or so, I could count on one had the times that we ate store-bought bread, although I have to admit that I did buy English muffins, bagels, and such a few times more often.

My next goal is to modify the recipe to make 5 loaves, which is how many pans my oven will hold at one time. Then if I made two back-to-back batches (as I now do with this recipe), I would be able to make 10 loaves in one day with not much more time or effort than it takes to make just one batch of three. Ten loaves is about how much our family goes through in one week, accounting for the fact that I like to give away a loaf of bread here and there to friends at church.

Please let me know how you like the recipe if you give it a try.

Skiing Again?! part one

On Feb. 23, I went skiing with Isaac (John was to little) (I was lucky that I even came, because it was up to Isaac (it was his birthday trip) if I would come). I'll tell you, but first you need some facts and definitions. Here:

Fact#1: There IS NOT ANY flat when you are on the slopes.

Fact#2: At first, I couldn't put my skis on very well.
Definition#1: accidental turn----------------------when you turn by accident, possibly when your skis shift.

Definition#2: natural crash:-----------------------------------------------the opposite of falling from throwing yourself down

Note:*means I might have got helped by a stranger

Now here is the story itself:

We finally get to the the ski place after a looooong drive (it was not the one I went to for my first time). Dad needed to be in the middle of us the three of us, (I was on his left,Isaac on his right) because then he could give us a push to help us get out. Now I had been scared that on the chairlift, even with Dad boosting me, I WOULDN'T BE PUSHED OUT COMPLETELY!!!!! However, as soon as we started to ski toward the line, Dad and Isaac switched around by accident. (comment me and I will explain to you how that could work) This meant that Dad could boost Isaac, BUT NOT ME!!!!! How I was scared! I had never done that before. But, I got off better than I skied. I was not used to slopes with no flat parts.

I started to ski, but then I ran into a layer of snow that was lower then the one I was on. It was a natural fall, but a remarkable one. Those layers of snow actually, by accident, turned into a 1"-6"jump! Dad was way behind (I was going way faster than him) as I flew into the air and landed in the snow*. (remember fact#2) When Dad finally got there, it took a long to get those skis on, but I got 'em on. Again too fast. Again a crash, but it was because I threw myself over*. Again Dad far behind me. And again a hard time putting on my skis. Now ahead of me was a steep slope, and I had to ski down it. Usually, when I get too fast I have a natural crash, so I didn't want to go down that slope.Dad told me you have to ski in a zig-zag pattern. However,I can't and couldn't curve skiing. Dad claimed that you had to be skiing to curve. I couldn't swallow
that that was true, but Dad forced me to ski down the slope. I gathered all the nerve I had and got ready to go. I sat down to do something with my skis when.....





WWHHOOOOOOOOOOSSSHH!!
I was skiing on my back at about 40 m.p.h., my pants, jacket, sweater, long-sleeved shirt,and undershirt in tact...except for on my back! My pants, jacket, sweater, long-sleeved shirt,and undershirt,around my back, WERE PULLED UP 2-3 INCHES!!!(nobody saw it, because I was skiing on my back.)Just when I started to slow down, I tried to stop, but I couldn't!(remember fact#1)All of the sudden I make an accidental turn. I plopped into a pile of snow. At least, I was only about thirty feet from the end of the slope. Then I had to dodge signs that say slow. But it was easier than I thought. I get to the end of the slope and ski to Dad. But I got a little too fast and almost hit a gate. Even worse, I almost hit a snowboarder that was by the gate! I shouted "EXCUSE ME!"and told him that story from my first time skiing where I almost hit the crowd of people waiting to ride the chairlift. If you haven't read the blog post "My Skiing Experience" the story of me almost hitting the crowd of people waiting to ride the chairlift, here is only the part about that story:

Pretty soon, I was in the place where all the buildings are.All of the sudden, I had a crowd of over 100 people!I had to throw myself down.

Please read the post below "Skiing Again?! part two" and read about when I skied a green circle.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cutie Pie

Having had two kids' birthdays in the last couple of weeks, please bear with me as I post too many of the 250+ pictures I took (seriously) on my blog here.

Part One today is Miriam opening a gift from her Grandma in California, something I captured at a rate close to 24 frames/second; with the sweetest of them uploaded for your viewing pleasure. Yes, I am not ashamed to say that I am extremely biased and think my kids are the cutest ones around.


I love the combination of pinks, stripes, and a tutu.


She patiently fiddled with the ribbon.

Reading the card before opening the gift. How very well mannered.

Love the look of concentration on her face, and the clenched little fists.

A book!

She immediately started "reading" it.

Love her smile. Wish I could kiss her right now.

The very pleased birthday girl.

Countless time since then, Solomon, Isaac, and I have been sweet-talked, guilted, cajoled, begged, and convinced into reading the book just one more time. It's been a couple of days since I last read it, so I'm guessing it must have accidentally slipped under the sofa or be in some other hidden place. That would be something to investigate tomorrow.

Thank you, Grandma!

Something old, something blue

Today, digging through a box of old memorabilia, I stumbled across the positive pregnancy test from when I found out I was pregnant with Solomon. Excited, I held it up to him and said: "Oh, look!".

I immediately knew by the excitement in his eyes that he thought I was pregnant right now, so I quickly turned over the stick where I had written his name, "Solomon". Still, he didn't get it and asked excitedly: "Are you pregnant?". He was quite disappointed when I told him I wasn't.

Then he wanted me to go buy a test stick just to make sure I wasn't. I told him I knew I wasn't pregnant a few weeks ago, and that it would take a couple more weeks before I would need to consider taking a test. He was skeptical about how I could be so confident, but I left it at that.

Poor baby. I also found the tiny white-and-blue hat that my midwife knitted for Isaac while I was in labor with him seven years ago.

Did I already mention how they grow too fast?

Friday, February 19, 2010

In case you were wondering

In case you have ever been to our house and found yourself wondering where all those stains on the sofa come from, wonder no more.

This is the reason. A very cute reason, if I may add.


What, me?

Technically, the older boys each get handed a wet rag on Saturdays as part of our weekly housecleaning, their job being getting rid of those stains the best they can. Solomon or Isaac even vacuum the whole sofa every week. Still, they are no match for the messes that this little girl cooks up all the other days.

But she sure is irresistibly cute about it.


Step 1: Rub sticky, sweet, and/or greasy food all over sofa evenly


Step 2: Assess and take aim


Step 3: Move in for the kill!


Step 4: Don't let minor distractions get to you.


Step 5: When you are full, sit pretty and pretend that nothing ever happened. Keep your eyes open for the next opportunity to make a sticky mess.

Sure, I could have a battle of the wills and enforce a strict "eat at the table only" policy. But I would have missed these sweet shots. So instead, please consider yourself advised not to wear an Armani suit when you come to my house and plan to sit on the sofa. Not that I have any friends in Armani suits, or that people who do wear them would ever want to come by my house. And if they did, the stains on the sofa would likely not be the only or first thing they would object to.

Not that I have anything against people in Armani suits. I don't, because I have never met one as far as I know. Just theorizing.

In the spirit of all things grubby, here is Becky after she insisted on spooning her oatmeal into her mouth all by herself.

Can you please stop taking unflattering pictures of me?


How can I get out of this high chair and back onto the sofa?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A peek into our school room

We continue to greatly enjoy using "Galloping the Globe" for all subjects aside from Math and Language Studies. The book can be used either for one or two years, depending on whether a family wants to spend one or two weeks on each country. We have certainly been more on the slow side, due to a combination of studying each country in great detail and doing lots of related activities, and also adding other neighboring countries to our studies (such as studying North and South Korea, rather than just one of them as suggested in the book).

This week, we are learning about the Netherlands. Here is a brief overview of what we will be covering:

Geography: learning about polders

History/Biographies: Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Vermeer

General: non-fiction books about the Netherlands

Literature: children's and picture books that relate to the Netherlands or one of the subjects covered this week, such as "Boy Who Held Back the Sea", "Hans Brinker or the Silver Skates", "The Hole in the Dike", "Rembrand's Hat", etc.

Science: non-fiction books about flowers, particularly tulips

Art: learning how to draw various flowers and other plants


Some activities I hope to be doing this week include:

- color and label a map of Holland and the Dutch flag
- cook a Dutch meal
- taste Dutch cheeses such as Gouda or Edamer
- make, draw, or color windmills

The book suggests several other activities, such as making cheese or going bowling (which apparently has its origins in the Netherlands.

The "Bible" section of the book also gives references to verses that tie in with subjects and ideas covered in the books they suggested for this week. This is a wonderful resource and time saver.

Having a curriculum that our whole family is excited about has been such a blessing. The biggest benefit to using this type of unit study has been that we are all learning about the same subject, but on different levels according to everyone's abilities. Another plus is the fact that we get all the books from the library, at a rate of about 50-70 books per country we cover. I have learned more from teaching my own children than I did in all my years at school. Most importantly, perhaps, the children continue to be very excited and happy about learning, and I am just as excited about teaching them.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Miriam!

Our sweet little Valentine's baby Miriam is turning THREE today. In honor of all things lovely and pink and girly, her special breakfast will consist of strawberry scones and freshly juiced pink orange juice (from blood oranges).

I'll be posting pictures of the birthday girl later, but I wanted to share the recipe for the scones in case you need last minute inspiration for your special loved one(s) this morning.




Ingredients


1 cup hulled and finely diced fresh strawberries
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar, plus a little for sprinkling
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A lemon, for zest
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon light cream1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions


Heat your oven to 425ยบF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, using a few spots of butter or cooking oil to stick it in place. Set the baking sheet aside.
Strawberry Scones - Step 2 Place the diced strawberries on several sheets of paper towel to absorb their juice. Meanwhile, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Zest half of the lemon into the ingredients, taking care to remove just the outermost skin and not the white pith.
Cut in the butter until the flour-coated pieces are the size of peas. Add the strawberries, tossing them gently with a fork to coat them.
Make a well in the mixture. Blend the 1/2 cup of light cream and the vanilla extract in a measuring cup and pour them into the well. Using as few strokes as possible, gently stir the dough until it forms a ball. Let the dough sit for 1 minute.
Clean and flour your hands and dust your work surface with flour. Place the dough on the floured surface and knead it gently three or four times. Transfer it to the large baking sheet and pat it into an 8-inch circle. Using a lightly oiled pizza cutter or a serrated knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges, as you would a pizza. Use a small spatula or pie server to carefully separate the pieces, leaving at least an inch between them. Strawberry Scones - Step 6
Brush the tops of the scones with the remaining tablespoon of light cream, then sprinkle the surfaces with sugar. Bake the scones until the outsides are crusty and starting to brown, about 18 minutes. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then slide the parchment and the scones onto a wire rack to cool for another 20 minutes before serving.
Recipe and photos courtesy of Family Fun.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Merry-go-round

This is from "Zoo Lights" back in November.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Birthday Portraits

I'm unloading more of the photo truck on you today. Just this morning, I took the kids in for their birthday portraits, and I thought I'd share them with everyone here.

John had turned 5 in December, but I never took him for his pictures because it was such a busy time already. I figured it wouldn't matter if I combined him with the other two kids whose birthdays are this month.

Miriam will be 3 this Sunday - my sweet little Valentine's Day baby. Isaac's birthday is next week, he is turning 7. Wow, I cannot believe how fast they are growing up!

Isaac and Miriam are having a joint "Knights and Princesses" birthday party next weekend, and I have been very busy planning it all. I sewed Miriam a princess dress just for the occasion, so naturally, she wanted to wear it in her portraits. That, and her "high heels" she found at the Dollar Tree earlier this week, and has been obsessed with ever since.

When Isaac and John found out that Miriam was dressing as a princess, they wanted to dress up in their knight outfits that they got for Christmas. When Solomon heard that, he decided he wanted to be in the pictures as well, dressed in the dragon outfit that he likewise just got for Christmas. Not wanting to make Becky feel left out, I dressed her in a pretty princess-like dress as well, and we did a shot of all five kids in addition to the birthday portraits I had originally planned for.






Isaac's portraits

He brought two different knight outfits to wear. The one in this photo was bought ready, we gave it to him for his last birthday.




John's portraits


He is trying hard to look fierce in this one. The mismatched, white-and-red socks don't help with that. :)



Miriam's portraits









If you like their outfits, these are the patterns I used: knight tunics and princess dress, dragon costume. I don't know if other kids like to dress up as much as ours, but for now, I just cherish the fact that they are so playful and imaginative.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Some long overdue photos

I have been meaning to put these up for a while now. Sorry it's taken me until February to get the Christmas pictures on here. Life has been busy.

Pictures from Christmas


All kids in front of the tree


Opening presents on Christmas Eve




Among many other gifts, our kids got a box of costumes that a friend of mine and I sewed for them. Of all the things they got, some of which were much more expensive than these clothes that were made mostly from scrap fabric, they loved these the best by far. Not one day goes by that they don't dress up as something or other. The sets they got for Christmas included cowboy stuff, cook's outfits, knight costumes, and pirate clothes, all with skirts as well as pants so all kids could use them. I also sewed Solomon a dragon costume that he has been wanting for a while.



Miriam playing with her new toy on Christmas morning, and my husband in the back playing a board game that John got as a present.




Miriam eating her favorite fruit. I order tangerines in 25 lb boxes through a co-op, and they disappear VERY fast.


Miriam is positively obsessed with this nightgown. She will never put it in the wash, I have to just take it from her when she takes her eyes off of it for a second, and then be sure to have it washed and dried in time for that night. She carries it with her everywhere she goes.




Making pizza

John and Solomon


Miriam



John and Miriam




Isaac




Solomon



Below are a bunch of miscellaneous pictures that I took with my phone. My regular camera is broken and does not work reliably, and when it does it is usually out of batteries. These aren't the greatest quality photos, but I thought they were too cute not to put up here.

This was at Wal-Mart, right after Christmas. The kids were still super excited about their costumes, and were begging me to let them all wear them to the store.



Isaac in Solomon's costume. He was my mannequin while I was sewing it.


Isaac and Becky with the storytime tepee that I sewed as a gift for all the kids. I read to them for at least a half hour each night, and they like to cuddle up in there with pillows and blankets while they listen. It's great for winding them down before bed.



My husband and Johnny building a Lego set that John got from Grandma for Christmas.



Solomon embroidering and sewing a pillow for his stuffed animals. He also made a matching "comforter" for them all. After that was all done, he started a really cute pillowcase for Miriam and is going to finish it for her birthday this Sunday.


Miriam after getting her hair trimmed. She asked me to buy her the glasses, knowing I couldn't say "no".


The two girls fell asleep in the car on the way home holding hands. Miriam likes to hold Becky's hand in the car a lot. They are such sweet and loving sisters.



We went on a factory tour of an olive mill for a field trip, and enjoyed some Italian gelato as a special treat afterward.





Becky's face, after Miriam accidentally knocked her out of the swing and onto the grass below. The fat lower lip covers up where Becky's bottom teeth actually cut all the way through the skin right under her lip. Ouch!



The kids and I hiked into a canyon on another one of our field trips. It was just absolutely beautiful.








Our dog's birthday party - it was all the kids' idea.






Got a very sweet gift from my oldest today: a red rose, an "I Love You" balloon, and a note that says: "You are the best Mom in the world. You're very fun, playful, creative, e.t.c." What a sweetheart!