Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Valentine

With Zachary and me on the edge of my parents' frozen pond.

Kayaking with Elizabeth and Zachary in the Gulf of Mexico.

With Ryan and Zachary.

With Elizabeth on a boat ride.

Clowning around with the boys on his birthday.

And with the girls. Guess which university's teams he supports.

Baptizing Ryan.

With Catherine.

With all 4 kids on the campus of his alma mater a couple of years ago.

Enjoying time with his Dad.

Happy Valentine's Day, sweetie!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

Pinto Beans

Here's my version of pinto beans. I'm serving these for dinner tonight.

1 pound dried pinto beans, washed
8 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped jalapeno peppers

Soak beans in a large pot of water overnight.

Drain beans and refill the pot with chicken stock and enough water to cover the beans with 2 inches of liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Stir as needed to keep beans from sticking.

(Some people don't add the salt until after the beans are cooked, but I think they are better if the salt is added at the beginning.)

Stir the tomatoes, onion, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, and jalapeno peppers into the beans. Continue to cook, uncovered, for about an hour.

These make a very easy main dish for your meal. I serve them with homemade corn bread. Just right for these cold winter nights!

Dead Cattle

Human lives weren't the only casualties from the tornadoes that swept through several southern states on February 5.

You might want to skip this blog entry if the sight of dead animals grosses you out.

One of my sister's and BIL's neighbors is a cattle farmer. He lost about 300 cattle in the tornado that went through their properties.

This cow was lying outside the fence beside the highway. Don't worry, I didn't actually walk up beside it. My mom took this shot out the window from the passenger side of my van. As we were pulled over on the side of the road, I could see a front end loader driving along the shoulder behind us. As we turned around in the van, he scooped up the cow . . .

. . . for deposit in this pile of other dead cows (right in the center of the picture).

The cattle were later buried in one of these holes dug on his property.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Tornado Damage

We spent yesterday with Robin and Tommy (my sister and brother-in-law) as they continued to sort through items scattered by the Tornado that hit their home on Tuesday evening.

This view is of their home as you start up the hill towards it. They live at the end of the road, so if you're driving here you're going to their house. You can see a little bit remaining of one end of their home through the trees. They chose this spot to build their home because of the great view from on top of the hill and the many beautiful surrounding trees.

This is coming a little closer to the front of the house.

This tree snapped right into two pieces.

When they pulled up to their home on Wednesday morning to get their first view of the damage in the daylight, all 4 of their dogs came running to greet them. They were all very glad to see one another! The dogs are staying with a neighbor for now until the upheaval of these first few days is over. (Haven't they got some of the most gracious neighbors in the world?)

This is what the back of their home looks like now. The tornado took out the center of the house and left a little bit standing on each side. Robin and Tommy had some of their clothes still in their closet. My parents took 20 loads to the laundromat on Wednesday and we brought home with us for washing a few quilts, blankets, etc., that we were able to gather from around their property.

Seth wasn't quite so fortunate. The clothes he found are either very high up in trees, or torn/ripped beyond repair.

The remains of Tommy's shop. This is where he kept most of his tools.

The view from their back porch where they saw the tornado approaching (by the light from the lightning). Thank the Lord they saw it coming and had plenty of time to get to their neighbor's basement.

These two wooden dog houses in the center of the picture never moved from their original spots.

Tommy and Papa (my dad) sort through various items. Look at how the tree was split in the right-hand side of the frame.

Clockwise from top left - Robin, Mama (my mom), Catherine, and Elizabeth. Robin needed all the caffeine she could get.

Two electricity trucks and a police officer's vehicle on the road in front of their house. At one time on Thursday, there were 9 electricity trucks lined up on their road. The trucks came from Little Rock, which is about 120 miles away.

Current view from their back porch.

The two Catherines (my Mom and daughter) take a break from their clean-up duties. They actually found a couple of chairs to sit on.

Tommy hopes he'll wake up in the morning and find it's all been a bad dream.

Papa finds something else worth salvaging.

Saint(s) Valentine

When I was a child, Valentine's Day meant receiving valentine cards from my classmates and boxes of those little multi-colored heart-shaped candies with messages imprinted upon them from my parents. (What were those candies called?)

When I got a little older and began dating my husband, I looked forward to Valentine's Day because Joe always sent a dozen red roses to my office. (In a previous life, i.e. before becoming a mother, I practiced as a CPA.) It was fun to display them on my desk and they smelled heavenly!

During most of that time, it never crossed my mind that there was a history behind the day and that it was actually named for someone.

Actually, it is named for two people. Both were thought to be martyrs of the early Christian church. One Roman history includes two Saint Valentines who were beheaded on February 14, but there has been great difficulty in sorting through all the legends concerning these two men. Another history suggests that the two men may actually have been only one person.

Our family has enjoyed reading Saint Valentine each year during February to remind ourselves of the origins of this holiday. The book is illustrated with beautiful mosaics. It also tells about the origins of sending love messages on February 14.

Saint Valentine

My sweet husband still always remembers Valentine's Day, and I am looking forward to the special date night he has planned this year!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Last night my sister and brother-in-law (BIL) lost their home to a tornado here in Arkansas.

They live out from town and can see several miles off their back porch in the winter time. They were under a tornado warning, and saw it coming by the light of the lightning.

They jumped in my BIL's pickup and headed to their nearest neighbor's home which is the neighborhood gathering spot during bad weather since they have a basement. My sister said there were about 12 people in the basement bathroom.

The tornado took the house above them (as in literally above the basement they were in), as well as the house right down the road. All of the vehicles at the neighbor's home (including my BIL's pickup) were undriveable since they were covered in fallen trees and parts of the house.

My sister and her family had to walk to their home down the dark road, and found that they no longer have a home.

Thank you, Lord, that they are all SAFE. Thank you that they have neighbors who open their home to others. As of this morning, there are 13 people who died in the storms here in Arkansas and several more in surrounding states. Three of the 13 Arkansans are from the county where my sister lives. We haven't yet learned their names.

I'm reminded once again of the power of nature and the mystery of tornados. My sister said that while they were in the basement, they heard loud popping and banging sounds above them for what seemed like only 3 or 4 seconds and then it was all over. In that time the house above them had disappeared. The tornado was reported to be moving at 50 mph, so it didn't stay long in one place. When they walked back to their home, they found my sister's and my nephew's automobiles still in the same spots where they had left them beside their house, but the house was gone. On my sister's road, the tornado took the house where everyone was huddled, skipped the next house, and then took the very next one. Weird, huh?

My sister and her family will be staying with my parents for a while. They all live a couple of hours from us.

They will assess the damage this morning in the daylight and begin picking up the pieces (literally and figuratively).

I would greatly appreciate your prayers for them during this time.

This picture, taken a couple of years ago, is of my daughter, Catherine, with one of my sister's family's 4 dogs. Their dogs all stay outside, and when they went back to their house last night, two of the dogs were there. They are hoping that the other two will be there today.

My parents with their grandchildren (and a couple of significant others) on my sister's back porch a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Just in Time for Super Tuesday . . .

Mom and Pop Home School has graciously created and uploaded to their blog FREE Election Notebooking Pages for this year's presidential election. They are excellent.

As of today they have two posts that contain pdf files ("Meet the Candidates"; "Primary Elections") along with several links to educational/political sites.

They will be adding additional notebooking pages each week as we move through this political season.

I've printed these off and we're going to work through some of them tonight as we watch the election results from the different states.

Thanks, Mom and Pop Home School, for this great FREE resource!

To help you fill in the "Meet the Candidates" section of the Notebooking Pages, go to Arkansas Family Council's 2-page Presidential Voter's Guide. It summarizes each candidate's stance (Supports or Opposes) on the following topics: Pro Life; Marriage; Stem Cell Research; Gun Control; Taxes; Iraq Withdrawal; and Education.

And don't forget to vote!!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Red Bush Tea

Have you read any of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books?

I learned of this series several months ago, and the first book hooked me. I promptly set about reading through all of them. The novels are set in Gaborone, Botswana and feature Precious Ramotswe as the protagonist.

The series author, Alexander McCall Smith, was born in Rhodesia (what is now Zimbabwe) and lived in South Africa for a while as an adult. So along with enjoying the detective storyline, you'll learn many things about the traditions and culture of Africa.

One of the traditions I enjoyed learning about was the consumption of Red Bush Tea, also known as Rooibos (roy-boss). The tea is grown only in the Western Cape province of The Republic of South Africa, which borders Botswana. Precious and her employee, Grace Makutsi, enjoy a cup of this tea several times throughout each day.

I decided I wanted to try a cup of Red Bush Tea after learning that it is full of antioxidants and has no caffeine. I set about googling for a way to purchase it, and ended up buying it from a company in Canada. I bought the loose tea instead of tea bags.

I use my coffee pot to make the tea (please don't tell any real tea drinkers that I don't have a tea ball), and I love the taste of it. I've enjoyed several cups, and will have to make another order soon. (If you decide to try Red Bush Tea, please consider ordering from a Fair Trade company.)

If you think you might enjoy the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, I recommend beginning with the first book and reading in order of publication.

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (Book 1)

The 9th book in the series will be available in April.

Enjoy your books and your tea!

February Goals

Two goals for February:

Our church is sponsoring a mission trip to Mexico this summer, and there is a fundraising garage sale planned for later this month. My goal is to find 30 items in our home to donate.

Over the years, I've collected a few cookbooks in addition to printing off recipes online from various sources. My goal is to weed out several of the cookbooks, as well as organize all the various pieces of loose paper into a nice, tidy, labeled binder.

Good luck with your goals!!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Growing in Grace Magazine

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."
2 Peter 3:18 (KJV)

Growing in Grace, an online magazine for girls, made its debut yesterday.

From their website:
Growing in Grace Ministries is a group blog/magazine that
desires to bring inspiration to young Christians ladies who are striving to live
a virtuous life and grow in God's grace.
Several of the February articles have hidden giveaways. You can subscribe to be notified of new postings.

Check it out with your daughters!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Weekly Reporter 2/1

I posted earlier about our field trip this week to a World War II Exhibition.

Elizabeth finished Singapore Math 1A and moved into 1B. And she finished her second 1st grade reader and moved into the third one. She worked in her Memoria Press copybook, and in another copybook that I bought to go along with SWR. She took dictation of a few sentences, and worked on making her small r's look like r's instead of v's. Her FLL book should come in any day now.

Catherine finished up the fractions work in her math book. I love the way Singapore presents fractions; their method really helped her cement her understanding this week. She completed List 5 in Megawords 1 and the A&I for week 1 in Homer A. For Latin, she completed Exercises 1.9 and 1.10 in her textbook, and worked through all 12 exercises for chapter 1 in the workbook. She enjoyed these books in her TOG reading:

Blackthorn Winter

Roger Williams

Zachary and Ryan worked through Lessons 8.1 - 8.3 and 9.1 in math. They worked on Henle quite a bit, did a little in Diogenes, worked through a chapter in Interactive Science, and read through some of the lessons in Runkle's Geography. Here's a sampling of what they read in TOG this week:

Our Island Story

Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim's Progress

Hope you had a good week!

World War II Exhibition

We went on a field trip this week to a WWII Exhibition. All of the items were loaned/donated by Arkansans who served in WWII. It was very well done. There were audio/video links alongside many of the displays where you could hear the story behind the items directly from the veteran. The display was sponsored by the Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN). AETN has put together a website with hours of video featuring these veterans. In Their Words will eventually include still photos of all the items we saw this week (along with the corresponding audio/video) as well as interviews from 100 or so more veterans who want their story to be heard. Our docent stated that many states are working on similar projects with their veterans to capture the first-hand memories of WWII before all of that generation has passed. Of the 16,000,000 Americans who participated in WWII, only 3,000,000 are still alive today.

(NOTE - The above linked website includes the following WARNING: "As you search our archives please be aware that interviewees discuss the horrors of war in graphic detail." So you might want to preview before allowing your younger children to watch.)

January Goals - Update

My January goals are listed here.

My homeschooling paperwork is in much better shape than it was at the beginning of the month.

For decluttering, I was successful about 1 out of every 3 days during the month. I could have done much better, but I am thankful for what I got cleared out.

On to February!!