Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lunchtime and Free Tips!

Pizza cutters - they are not just for pizza anymore! I have heard of people using scissors to make cutting their kids' food up easier. But, I find a pizza cutter is easier to work with. I don't have to pick the food up to cut it, and it's faster. I have a few that I keep on hand to cut the kids' food for them. They work great for cutting waffles. I stack 2 waffles on the plate and cut it across into 4 strips. Turn the plate and cut again 3 times. Voila! Much easier than hacking at it with a knife. How old fashioned!

I use a pizza cutter for pretty much all of my kid-food chopping. Chicken strips, toast triangles, even pizza!

After cutting the pizza into wedges, I cut up to, but not through, the crust.

Then I cut it across until I have it all in little squares.

I am left with a tasty crust piece that I can steal for myself if that child is too young to notice. a hem! I mean a young child could choke on the tough crust.

I also use it to make Logan's Monkey Bread. I have to quarter the biscuits in the recipe, so I just use the pizza cutter and it makes the job much easier. So dust off that pizza cutter and keep it handy.
Amazing what happens when we think outside the box. Even if it is the pizza box!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fear Factor.

We are planning a family camping trip with some close friends. Hanging out and relaxing. Spending a little time on the lake. I love these people and I am very excited about this trip. Well, let me clarify that. I am very excited about spending time with our friends. The rest of the trip involves camping. Camping!

I know - lots of people love camping. I want to love camping. I just have some issues (read: phobias) to deal with first.

Mainly, it's lake water.

And ocean water (more specifically, Gulf of Mexico ocean water).

Oh, and pond water.

Creek water, too.

Really any water I can't see through.

Pools are nice.

As long as they are clean and well maintained.

I went water skiing one time. I forced myself into the water and got over it. Unfortunately, I didn't think the whole thing out and realized I was going to be stuck in the middle of the lake by myself when I fell until the boat could turn around to get me. So, when I fell I didn't let go. Instead I chose to hang on and bounce violently across the lake. Kind of like tubing - without the tube. The only thing that saved me was that I was wearing a two-piece. When I felt the bottoms were giving, I reacted and grabbed them. I'm glad I reacted because if I had to think about it I'm not sure what I would have chosen. 1.) Let go and be stuck in the middle of the lake or 2.) Bounce across the lake mooning everyone we passed. hmm.... That would have been a tough one.

Needless to say, I have not tried water skiing since.

My mind seems to exaggerate what I can't see in murky water. The creatures that might brush by my leg terrify me. The germs we will inevitably swallow completely gross me out. And I am not only fearing my own life, I have a hard time watching others as they frolick happily in what my mind has rendered tainted and polluted. Yes, I said my mind exaggerates it. Yet, I can't seem to get over it.

How will I get a handle on this before our trip? I haven't even touched the other issues I have with camping. I'm stuck on the lake water for now.

I do know one thing.

I'm wearing a one-piece on this trip.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Better Than Saturday Morning Cartoons.

Breakfast as a family on Saturday mornings - that's our thing. We call it our Big Breakfast. The menu varies between pancakes, waffles, and french toast. This morning, we had chocolate chip and blueberry pancakes (separate batches), scrambled eggs, and fruit. Everyone has their favorite choice, but no one complains about what is served because I don't think what is on the menu that morning is what we all care about. It's being together when we start our day. After a long week of Dad having to leave every morning, we all enjoy sitting down and just being together.

What I love about it is that it is something we all work together on. There is an excitement in the air that I can't explain as the kids help me get everything ready. Notice the berry arrangement. Tate and Ellie spent some serious time on that display. Oh, and the basketball napkins - I hear this is the latest craze in all the big magazines. Very haute couture!

Tate exclaimed that my breakfast tastes just like IHOP! At first, I was taken aback and a little offended. Then, I remembered that the statement came from a ten year old. That made it quite a compliment and I was very flattered.

This morning was the first Saturday we have been able to do this in a while. Someone said it takes 3 weeks to get back in the groove after a 1 week vacation. Boy, were they right! It seems like we have not slowed down since we got home - and I am feeling it. I think that made our open calendar today even more precious to me this morning.

The rest of the day was spent doing things around the house that we haven't had time to work on. I have had many people asking about Tony's arm and how he is feeling. Thank you. He is slowly recovering and is using his arm more. Today, he built a birdhouse with the kids for their science class. It's a little late, but building a birdhouse with one arm can be challenging. I guess I'll give him a break.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Reaching Out to Others

My husband hurt his arm at field day last Sunday. He fell during one of the races and tore the ligaments in his shoulder. When we met back with our PE group yesterday, one of the sweet families offered to bring us a meal. Actually, their daughter brought it up and their mom wanted to encourage that gift her daughter has of wanting to bless others.

So, tonight we were well fed and well blessed! We ate barbeque chicken, yummy rice, broccoli, rolls, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. We are all stuffed! I would have taken a picture of all of that food, but I thought of it too late.

I am thankful for friends that are not too busy to stop and reach out to us. I know too many times I am so busy that I don't even realize when there is a need. I am too consumed in my own life and needs that I am not sensitive to those around me. But - that's not how I want to live my life. It's also not how God calls us to live our lives. He wants me to have a servants heart and put others before myself. We can certainly get so caught up in serving others that our families suffer as well. I just don't want to have so much on my schedule that I don't have time to serve others. I don't want to use my family as an excuse not to reach out.

I heard a very good sermon series from Andy Stanley. It was called Margin. Just like a book would be hard to read if there was no margin around the pages, our lives need some margin. He spoke about how we generally do not have enough margin in our lives. Everytime we have an open spot on our calendar, we feel we can fill it. Everytime we have some extra money, we feel we can spend it. Then, when we are needing a break, we have no extra to pull from. I need to stay aware of leaving some margin in my time. That way, when someone has a need, I can see that need and dip into that margin I left on my calendar and reach out.

So, on that note: When you take someone a meal, what do you like to take? I generally switch it up each time. I would like to put together a basic meal that I take. That would take away some of the stress of trying to figure out what I am going to bring. Then, I could also try to always keep those ingredients on hand so I can take a meal anytime without having to run to the store. Maybe I could also keep some homemade cookie dough in the freezer, ready to pull out and make fresh cookies at a moments notice. I might eat it all though. {grin}

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Egg-cellent Idea!

Have you ever thought of something and just wanted to tell everyone you know? I have - and I am busting to let it out. It's probably not life-changing and won't bring world peace, but I am nevertheless very excited to share it with you. I think I am so excited because I have what seems like millions of tips and tricks running around in my head that I have read over the years. For example, I know that WD-40 cleans crayon marks off anything, beautifully. And, that cornmeal kills fireants (yes, even in Texas). But those are other people's tips. This is a tip I know I have never heard of. I have never read it anywhere. I am claiming it. I thought of it. And, I will share it with you.

This idea came as a spin-off of someone else's tip I have in my repertoire. It is to spin an egg to tell if it is hard-boiled or raw. It kind of works. But sometimes I would question the spin and really still not be sure which one it was. This left me being very cautious about separating the boiled and raw eggs in the fridge, which took up precious space. But - I had another problem. Time would pass and I would forget how long ago I had boiled those eggs. Then, came the idea!

Are you ready?

Hold on to your hat!

I wrote the date on each boiled egg with a pencil and just put them back in with the raw eggs.

Simple, but pure genius - I know!

I used a marker so the date would show up better in the picture. I will be sure to share my wealth of knowledge in the future with you. Oh, and if you have heard this tip before - please do not tell me.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

On Your Mark!

I remember Field Day when I was in school. It's not a fond memory. I think I came in last in every race I ran. I always felt like I was running really fast, but then one by one all of the other runners would pass me until, eventually, I ended up last. I know you feel sorry for me, but don't. I'm over it. (kinda)

But I have good news - my kids did not get my tortoise-like running genes. That means they can have good memories of their Field Day. We meet with some other homeschooling families once a week to play different sports. The sport changes every month. In the Spring, we have track and field and end it with a Field Day for the kids. I am so glad to be involved with these other families. The kids learn more than sports. The focus is on good attitudes, character, and being encouraging to others. It's heartwarming to hear these kids cheering each other on. God calls us to be encouraging to each other and build each other up. We honor Him when we do this. Sports can make them healthy and strong both inside and out.

We're Back!

Can you believe it? This is the first time the kids have ever seen snow! This was in the parking lot when we first got to Copper Mountain (hence the handicapped parking sign). I think they would have been happy if we just let them play in there the whole time. It would have been cheaper, too!

Bear was a trooper with her one arm. Yet another lesson I need to learn from my kids: Don't focus on what is not how I want it - just focus on the fun stuff! Kids sure do know how to enjoy life.

Colorado is such a great place to visit. It has so many beautiful areas to see. While we were there, we also visited Focus on the Family and played in their super-cool kids area. The kids loved all of the Adventures in Odyssey stuff. They have a recording studio set up where the kids can read scripts and record their own Adventures episode. Apparently, if you know what you are doing, you get your name on the list first thing in the morning in order to do this. (we didn't know what we were doing.) oh well.

We loved spending time with our family. The kids especially loved their cousin's service dog, Rudy. It is incredible the training these dogs have. Rudy even put a marker in his mouth and "signed" Bear's cast! The kids came home with some high expectations about tricks they thought they were going to teach our dogs. ha! That didn't last long.

Well, it's good to be home. It takes a while to get back into the groove of things, but we're getting there.