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I should be packing and cleaning...but I had to tell you about this wonderful, absorbing book called Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer by James L. Swanson. I'm halfway through and can't put it down. This author writes historical nonfiction like a novel. He uses primary sources from actual letters, speeches, telegrams. I want this guy to write MORE.

Check out his website:

C.J. Mahaney said he slowed down reading this book toward the end because he didn't want it to end. I would agree!

Slim PIckin's

Between illness and getting ready for a looooon driving trip, it will be pretty sparse around these parts. Expect the occasional posts, but I still have to get my chores done and start packing! Both of the grown ups in this house have terrible sore throats and doesn't help the equation either.

I was searching for some ideas for our upcoming almost cross-country trip and I found the most fantastic website:

It's full of fun games for all ages of kiddos (even babies and toddlers), snack ideas, and general travel trips.

Even though I've taken many road trips with my kids, I still saw some ideas that made me go "DUH! Why didn't I think of that?" (like covering the seats with old sheets so it's easier to clean up crumbs and packing homemade snacks in ziplock bags instead of dumping money at the gas station for snacks)

So happy clicking!

You MUST see this movie. It is so good we're having a girl's movie night at church to watch it, and I'm very selective what we choose. There is not one inappropriate scene. While there are very mature themes that are not suitable for children (but definitely teenagers who watch with their parents), the story is one of the most beautiful I've ever heard. In fact, I'd venture to say that Bella has become one of my favorite movies of all time, right up there with Anne of Green Gables! Excellent, excellent, excellent. I've already purchased it. :)

If anyone has any credibility, Kendra Fletcher over at Preschoolers and Peace, does. She did an outstanding post about getting babies to sleep through the night that I think anyone can appreciate. I do something similar, but she explained it so well I wanted to link to it today.

Sleeping Through the Night

Do you like to read in bed when your spouse would like to sleep? Do you find yourself in hotel rooms or tents with children who must must sleep, but you don't want to?

Then the LIGHT WEDGE book light is for you!

I know I sound like an infomercial, but honestly, I've owned the paperback size and the original and both are fantastic. The light doesn't go all over the room like other lights (or flashlights) and it's also a bookmark. When I travel, I ALWAYS bring my Light Wedge. I would have one caution, though, and that is that they are not indestructible so be careful. I cracked the corner off my smaller one. It still works, but is annoying. So just store it in a book or its carrying case.

Timberdoodle, a homeschool resource company (and one of my favorites), has them at a great price.

OK. I have to admit being pregnant is HARD for me so I don't crave this like I did before I was pregnant with this fourth baby. But living in the boonies has forced me to figure out ways to keep fresh produce tasty and healthy for my family, especially salads.

I have a mixture of healthy greens I prepare ahead of time and keep in a large rubbermaid container in the fridge and I add different stuff to it each day for lunch for variety and healthful eating.

Here's what I do:

1 bag of hearts of romaine lettuce
1 bag baby spinach

Chop the hearts of romaine, rinse it, and spin it in a cheap salad spinner from Walmart. Getting that excess water off the leaves helps it to stay fresher, I'm convinced. Now wash the spinach, too. Sometimes I also peel and shred a bunch of carrots since my kids seem to eat shredded carrots better than chunks of carrot.

Now think of the possibilities!

Asian salad:

boiled, shelled edamame (soybeans)
sliced almonds
drained, canned mandarin oranges
chopped red bell pepper
chow mein noodles
Newman's Own Sesame Salad Dressing

Mexican Salad:
(this is a great side for enchiladas or burritos or whatever that's healthy!)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can yellow or white hominy, drained
1 can corn, drained
chopped tomatoes
crushed tortilla chips
Salsa Ranch dressing

Tuna and White Bean Salad:

1 can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white tuna, drained and flaked
shredded parmesan cheese
Fat Free Italian Salad dressing (I like Walmart's brand)

Italian Salad:

1/2 c shredded mozzarella
1/2 c turkey pepperoni, chopped
Big crunchy croutons
Any kind of Italian salad dressing (I have a great recipe on here for a Creamy Low Fat Italian dressing

Now let your imagination go and create your own!

I found this by accident but thought it had some great nuggets of truth in it so I figured I could pass it along to all my pastor's wife readers. And I'm sure if the rest of you read it, your pastor's wife would thank you. :)

Here's the link.

This is one of my most requested recipes so since I had to type it up for a friend, I figured I'd post it here.

These get devoured at church dinners, though they take a bit of last minute preparation.

Chicken and marinade:
3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 T chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 c water
1/2 c lime juice
2 splashes liquid smoke
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper

Combine all this and refrigerate either overnight or for a few hours.

1 can black, beans, drained and rinsed
1 /2 c frozen corn, thawed
1 1/2 c shredded cheddar, mexican blend, or pepper jack cheese
1 pkg egg roll wrappers
1/2 bottle canola oil

Saute chicken with the marinade until cooked through. Chop chicken into smaller pieces. Then in a bowl, combine chicken, black beans, corn, and cheese.

Follow the directions on the egg roll package for how to roll an egg roll (they have diagrams which make it easy) and fill them with the chicken mixture. You need a small bowl of water to get your fingers wet so you can seal the egg rolls.

You can also assemble them ahead of time, cover them with a damp paper towel and put them in the fridge. They are best fried right before you eat them because they don't reheat well.

Fry egg rolls in oil (preferably in a fry daddy) until golden brown. Keep a close eye on them so they don't burn.

Drain on paper towels. If desired, slice lengthwise and arrange on a platter (I only do this if I'm taking them somewhere).

Serve with Chipotle Ranch sauce:
1 c prepared ranch salad dressing
1/4 c salsa, strained of chunks but RESERVE the liquid, so strain it in a measuring cup
1 1/2 T chipotle sauce, or to taste

I found this in my google reader this morning and thought it as so good I had to share it. I'm excited about the fun my kids will have with Phil Vischer's new idea, Jelly Telly.

Here's the link with the interview.

My dears, I have a love/hate relationship with my mop. I use the Libman Wonder Mop. I like it because I can take off the mop head completely and machine wash it. I like it that I can wring it out without getting my hands wet.

But it doesn't seem to be able to scrape all the dried on crude that abounds in my kitchen, especially under the high chair.

SOOOO...what do you use? Why do you like it?

Wise Words

For all my "aloneness" in homeschooing in the desolate West with few other like-minded families, there is one family who live in my neighborhood and they've been homeschooling at least 10 years. They've faced a lot of what I have and their oldest just completed his first year of college.

The mom and I have been meeting off and on to pray together for our kids and we met this past week. She said something so profound to me that I can't get it out of my mind.

We were discussing (well, maybe I was complaining...) how moms make kids do all the mundane "boring" stuff, like cleaning and school, but dads get to have all the fun with the children. She said, "You know, it's like a continuum. Dad is extreme fun and extreme disciplinarian. If you get in big trouble with mom, then to dad you go. But mom's purpose is all that stuff in the middle, the daily stuff, the steadfast routine. And kids remember both!"

I just really liked the spin she put on the differences in roles and purposes for both mom and dad. Very cool.

I just got finished watching this movie and I had to write about it while it was fresh in my mind.

I've been anxiously awaiting this one from Netflix for a while now for a few reasons.

Not that you'd probably know it from my writing on this lowly blog (I'm convinced I've lost brain cells with each pregnancy...) but I was a member of a nationally titled forensics team in college. I'll admit debate was certainly not my strongest event, but I was passionate about all things public speaking. So obviously this movie piqued my interest. I mean, when you're on the speech and debate team, no one is terribly interested at your school outside your own squad. So a movie about debate? COOL!

Additionally, while in high school I was privileged to take a college credit American History class with an outstanding teacher (who later left the public schools and taught at a more suitable place: one of our state universities). The pivotal assignment for the class was a research paper and if you were enrolled in this class then you got a pass to the university library, the big one, the REAL one at the BIG school down in the city. Oh boy was this a big deal to a lowly 16 year old girl. I drove down there with my temporary library card, checked out a monstrous stack of books and lugged them home feeling like "big" stuff. And I scoured that stack for weeks typing on an old dinosaur computer (remember this was 1995).

My topic was one I saw lacking in my history books and it intrigued me, particularly because I had actually faced racism in my own neighborhood school. What was the demise of the civil rights movement as a movement? If all the laws were in place, did these organizations, who organized Freedom Rides and sit-ins all over the South, just dissolve with no purpose? Did they morph into something else? Why don't I hear about the Congress of Racial Equality anymore? We certainly haven't arrived.

So I wrote and wrote and wrote (and got an A, for which I am still proud).

With that said, this movie suited many of my personal interests. And I'm being vague on purpose so as to not spoil anything with my pseudo-review.

Overall, I liked it. A lot. There were funny parts that only a nerdy debate-type person can appreciate. It was loosely based on a true story from the 1930's, and as a period movie it was fantastic. Denzel Washington's character inspired like Robin William's teacher did in Dead Poets Society. Of course, there's the predictable Hollywood influence of a love story (involving a brief inappropriate scene that could have been replaced with a simple kiss and made this movie acceptable to show to students, but that was a previous post, huh?) James Farmer Jr. is played by Denzel Whitaker and I think he was my favorite part of the movie.

There are some historical differences in the movie, but I still enjoyed it and would recommend for adults.

you must pick up out of the bathroom window the dead buzzing insect you sprayed from 6 feet away as your shivering 5 year old little boy stands by with soap in his hair and sans pajamas.

If I'm brave enough to observe it maybe I'll get online and see if I can figure out if it was a wasp, a hornet, a big bumble bee...or I might just humor the kid and put him to bed...

Got any other funny "you know you're a mother of boys when" for me?? Then post them in a comment. It should get pretty funny!

My friend has written such an articulate post about worship that I absolutely had to share it tonight.

Well done, my friend!

How I'd Like To Do Church

These were a huge hit this morning so I had to share the recipe with you. I adapted it from one at my favorite recipe site

1 c water
1 c plain yogurt
1/4 tsp. vinegar
2 c flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs

Combine water, yogurt, and vinegar in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir with a whisk. Add yogurt mixture and eggs to flour mixture, combining well. Put in waffle maker according to manufacturer's directions.

These are light, crisp, and delicious!

I'm the worst laundress on earth. Even my husband admits that's not my strong suit. He'd rather have a Derby Pie...Anyway, I cannot stand to do laundry but the part I like the least is folding it and putting it away.

Now when you've got three kids, are pregnant with your fourth, have two little ones who routinely wet the bed, are a bit queasy most days, live in the parsonage where you must keep up with your chores (at least in public areas), homeschool at least one kid through the summer, maintain a large flower garden and six Square Foot Gardening boxes, you need some help, yes?

So my boys are 8 and 5 and each one has a laundry basket. There is one hamper in their room, which is the 8 year old's job to lug down the stairs for me, but each boy has a basket. When I'm sorting the clean clothes (I also just wash almost everything together on cold, with the exception of some shirts and sweaters.), I just put each kid's clean stuff in his basket. I don't honesty care how their drawers look as long as they close and I can't see the clothes. You've just gotta let something go! They don't necessarily need orderly drawers.

Besides, I'm tired.

We've been using this kindergarten curriculum for a few weeks now since my son is all about wanting to read.

I've looked at my neighbor's old KONOS books. I've read The Well-Trained Mind. I've read Mary Pride's Complete Guide To Getting Started Homeschooling (an excellent read, comprehensive in scope, for the person investigating homeschooling). I've called Sonlight and talked to them about their curriculum. I've used all Abeka as a beginning homeschooler. I've had moments where I wish there was just ONE way of schooling so that I didn't have to make a decision.

But using My Father's World has become my answer. Sure, it took me from first grade to fourth grade with my oldest of figure it out, but MFW is a combination of unit studies, Charlotte Mason (with the focus on living books), and Classical (teaching Latin or Greek, which we probably won't do, actually, and history taught chronologically). There's a good balance of work and fun. I feel like it takes the best from all the approaches that I like, especially the BOOKS.

Let me describe briefly what we did yesterday in kindergarten for our first lesson on the sun.

Math for kindgarteners is counting to 100, doing a calendar, using Cuisinare rods to form the letter S, counting those rods.

Reading instruction involves teaching the /s/ sound, cutting some stuff, touching the textured S as we discuss words that begin with that sound, reviewing other sounds as we've learned them.

The Activity Guide section of the book has a lot of ideas and something I've learned is that you don't have to do all of them. In fact MFW has a message board that has been absolutely invaluable. Today we're suppose to make raisins from green grapes, but a lot of moms said it took too long and wasn't really worth the effort. I think that's good to know! I've had my share of project busts! What we did, upon suggestion from someone at the board, was lay out 109 pennies side by side on our kitchen floor to represent the fact that it takes 109 earths to cross the diameter of the sun.

The Curriculum recommends a 6 day lesson cycle, with the sixth day a book day, but I've read again on the board that it's better (and simpler!) to just spread those books throughout the week so yesterday we read two scientific, factual books about the sun. Today we have some literature books about the sun on the agenda.

I've found my niche! FINALLY.


If any of you have had morning sickness, I need you to post your best remedies! Mine has just started in full force just now at 16 weeks (I'll be 17 weeks on Tuesday.).

Have you had it start this late before???

So weird, but it's making me SO unmotivated...

That would be the question a lot of people would ask. If you know your baby has a grapefruit size tumor attached to her still in the womb, why bother? Just have another one, right?

Because this family knew that this baby was precious, even though she hadn't yet been born. At her 23 week ultrasound, the doctor discovered a rare tumor that had attached itself to the baby. The only solution:

Take the baby out of the mom, perform surgery, then put her back in.

And it worked.

Click the link and see photos of this fantastic, adorable, miraculous baby, Macie Hope.

I wish pro-choice advocates everywhere would realize the depravity of their logic that this baby isn't a baby at all.

Macie Hope has a bright future ahead of her!

A good friend of mine loves old movies, and there are lots I enjoy, too. Recently she loaned me a DVD collection with Doris Day and Rock Hudson that included a movie called Pillow Talk, made in 1959. Let me say that they have fantastic chemistry on screen and that the movie was cute in general. But as I was watching it, I wondered if I'd let my children sit through it.

Why? Well, surely a movie from 1959, the era of Leave it to Beaver and the Dick Van Dyke Show, must be wholesome and uplifting?

There are some aspects of the movie that are: the goal for the young woman is to settle down and have a family with the man of her dreams. The womanizer, Rock Hudson, mends his ways and pursues the driven career-girl and eventually wins her over. The physical affection between the couple is relatively innocent most of the time.


When Rock Hudson's character, Brad Allen, has a button he can push in his apartment that transforms his place into a love nest, complete with a fold out bed that mechanically pops out, the lights going down, the record player starting...How do I explain what's happening to my children?

"Oh, he's just having a sleepover." ???

Another scene shows the two of them in a split screen, each in the bathtub covered with bubbles on the phone. It's very sensual and made me feel embarrassed even though I was watching by myself. What do I say to that?

" probably wouldn't want to talk on the phone in the bathtub because you might drop it in and electrocute yourself? And it's immodest to let anyone see you bathing...Let's fast forward-"

Not to mention the outright deception Hudson's character pulls off. Granted, he does face the consequences of his actions, but it's still painful to watch.

In researching the history of the movie, I discovered that even Rock Hudson was hesitant to make this movie because he thought it was "too racy". (Of course, the tragic turn of his life might become a post in and of itself someday. It's terribly sad. At any rate...)

In many ways, this movie isn't much different in its subtle messages than a modern movie. Sure, there may not be as much skin, but there's plenty of sexuality implied. Would a kid "miss it" and just enjoy the movie, especially a romantically minded little girl or teenager? I think kids pick up on more than we realize.

You cannot assume that just because a movie is rated G or PG or is one from the '50s it must be OK. We have to watch each movie with a discerning, even a critical, eye, asking, "What message is this movie trying to communicate?"

I'm not a total fundamentalist here on movie watching. I think I was just taken back at how not much as changed at all over the years in Hollywood. And the movie caused me to keep a more watchful eye on what my kids are absorbing in the media. I'm also reminded of the extremely helpful site over at Focus on the Family that reviews media called Plugged In.

Be vigilantly on guard for your family in the culture.

As always, dear Karen articulates this morning what I long for my homeschooling to be. If you're a homeschooler or thinking about it, please go over and read her definition of a "relationship homeschooler". My prayer daily is that I would love my children and my husband as Jesus does, to see them as precious in his sight, and my work around here, which so often frustrates me in its mundaneness, would be for his service.

So I'm taking Karen's wonderful thoughts on what this means and what it looks like as my own. I know I'm a miserable failure on so many levels, but in her Titus 2 way, Karen gives me hope.

Here's the link.

Over at Thatmom and over at True Womanhood there have been some lively discussions lately about all this STUFF. I've been fascinated by it, honestly, and we've been talking a lot about it around here.

I think one reason I'm so interested in these links between patriarchy, as taught by Doug Phillips at Vision Forum, the complementarian view of men and women's roles, and homeschooling is that every homeschooling magazine I read seems to assume that GOOD homeschooling families have lots of children, never use birth control, live in the boonies, start their own home churches, raise animals, dress like Laura Ingalls Wilder, not send your girls to college EVER, never speak in church if you're a woman, always be a keeper at home no matter WHAT.

So, here's the THING that bugs me.

I'm complementarian to the core. I believe in distinct gender roles, ordained by God, and that there is an order to the family that is right and good (husband, wife, children). I believe I am to submit to my husband, yielding to his ultimate decision in matters. I think in general it's best for a wife to stay home and raise her own children rather than ship them off to daycare. I think I am called to homeschool my children, but if there was a Christian school around I would be sending my children there in a heartbeat.

What I'm bugged about is that I am being lumped together with folks like Doug Phillips because I believe in these distinct gender roles. Suddenly, being a complementarian equals being a patriarch.

I just don't think this is right or fair.

With that said, I had to post this hilarious link about the very things that set off the alarms in my brain a few years ago when I began receiving Vision Forum materials. I've removed myself from their mailing list. I've also removed myself from any association with my state Christian homeschooling group because all their conferences have Vision Forum types as the speakers.

Here's the link.

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