Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!


And it's a White Christmas in Alabama!

Merry Christmas to all my friends far and near!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

As Christ Loved the Church

Today was the day of my Annual Christmas Freak-Out.

You know, that day when you realize that Christmas has all of a sudden snuck up on you, and staring at your list you start to hyperventilate, panic, and take your stress out on all those around you?

Not pretty.

This year, I appealed to my sweet husband:  "Honey, I feel the annual Christmas Freak-Out coming on."  He and I looked at the list, and. . . . wonder of wonders. . . . he took over half of my errands upon himself.  He's been out for 3 hours.

He hates shopping.

He hates running errands.

He hates crowds.

But he's doing it for me.

That's pretty Ephesians 5, don't you think?

Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.

I"m so blessed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Joseph: Another Look

The story is oft-told, and a familiar one.   A tired husband, a young wife large with child, a long journey.

Have you ever wondered why?  Why would Joseph take such a long journey, when Mary was clearly in no condition to travel?  I've been on a few bumpy tractor rides in my day, relatively close to my due date, and let me tell you - that was no picnic.  Why would Joseph take her far from her home, her family, her women relatives and friends who would likely be the ones to assist her in her hour of need?

Well, there was this census, you see.  Joseph and Mary had to go there to register. 

Or did they?

Consider this:
In the Middle East, men usually represent their families in any official or legal matters.  Why did Joseph take Mary with him to Bethlehem for the registration?  The easiest explanation is that he was unsure what might happen to her if he left her in Nazareth without his presence to protect her.  It behooves us to see Joseph as a hero of the story without whose courage and understanding of the prophets there would have been no Christmas story to tell.  (Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels, Kenneth O. Bailey, p.46)
The picture of Joseph, protector of his bride, is a new one to me.  Mary was known in Nazareth - known as the one who was with child while betrothed.  Not an honorable position; recall the taunts of those in Jesus' own hometown, "Isn't this Mary's son?"  What could have happened to her - the supposed unfaithful one - without her faithful husband's protection?  Recall the Old Testament penalty for adultery. . . . . .

To me - this is yet another remarkable instance of God's providence.  To give Mary such a husband, such a man, that in his integrity, care, and faithfulness he would take her on a most difficult journey, a journey that would result in her Son being born in the city from which the promised Messiah would hail. . . . . . . . only a sovereign Lord.  Another detail in the marvelous Christmas story that just astounds me.

And by way of recommendation, Kenneth Bailey's book, Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes is simply fascinating.  Not a light read, but sheds amazing light on the gospels when seen in light of the Middle Eastern culture and customs of Jesus' time.  If you receive any gift certificates, I'd highly recommend it.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Sentiments: Let the Stable Still Astonish

Let the Stable Still Astonish
 by Leslie Leyland Fields

Let the stable still astonish.
Straw–dirt floor, dull eyes,
Dusty flanks of donkeys, oxen;
Crumbling, crooked walls;
No bed to carry that pain,
And then, the child,
Rag-wrapped, laid to cry
In a trough.

Who would have chosen this?
Who would have said: “Yes,
Let the God of all the heavens and earth
Be born here, in this place?
Who but the same God
Who stands in the darker, fouler rooms
Of our hearts
And says, “Yes,
Let the God of Heaven and Earth
Be born here –

In this place.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Social Network Christmas

(hope no one finds this irreverent - I though it was pretty well done - but NO, I've got no plans to return to fb anytime soon.)


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Glorious Impossible

Because I'm on a YouTube kick, apparently. . .

And because I got to play a super-fun gig this morning, featuring this song, which is permanently stuck in my head.

Not a bad thing, methinks.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Truer Words

Love is. . . . Part Two

Hot on the heels of my last post (and yes, I've recovered nicely from the whole persimmon issue, thankyouverymuch), I stumbled over to the blog of one of my favorite people in the whole world, Marcia Somerville.

She has some pretty insightful things to say about love.  Here's an excerpt to get you started:

God gives all of his disciples the same amount of limited amount of time each day, and a host of choice points. Those choice points are tests: how will you react and respond to the people and situations you encounter today in a world full of sinners? The results of our reactions and responses to the tests shape us and others. That’s how God sanctifies us, and forwards His amazing plans. God gives all of His people others to love each day as part of His training process. But, to only a chosen few of His children, God gives homeschooling. We homeschooling moms are assigned a very limited number of people, who matter to us greatly, to love. Being imperfect, we often fail. Being our Father, God knows what He’s up to. He’s changing us into the image of Christ by the perfect means for each of us individually. If you are homeschooling because of a call of God on your life to do so, then this is the context in which you are to walk out the primary commands of God: love Him and love your neighbor as yourself.

Go read the rest here.  You won't regret it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Love is. . . . .

. . . .ok, if you thought I was going to quote that cheesy 70s line, "Love is never having to say you're sorry" you're W-R-O-N-G.

Because we all know that love means having to say "I'm sorry"on a regular basis.

No, tonight love is processing a whole PILE of persimmons through a food mill - hand cranked - because your dear husband hasn't been able to get to his pet project.

That project being harvesting the tons of persimmons from our prolific tree in the backyard.  He was so faithful in waiting until after the first frost, researching how to make persimmon jam, picking up the fallen fruit, enthralling the kids with the tales of this wonderful food right in our own backyard.

And now, with bowls of mashed persimmons, full of seeds and skins, taking up space in my fridge:

Love is staying up late, watching Young Victoria on Netflix, and running a hand food mill, covered in persimmons.

I love you, honey.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

On the Ugly Head

In my house, lately, there has been a lot of talk about. . . .well, a lot of things. 

Most of them serious.  A couple of them funny.  And there's one theme we keep coming back to over and over again.

We don't know what in the *world* we're doing.

Who was the humorist who said something like, "I used to have no children and plenty of theories of parenting; now I have plenty of children and NO theories of parenting!"?  OK, so we're not quite there yet, but as we enter this new, interesting, challenging season of life . . . with job searches and college decisions and general parenting issues. . . . .

. . . we don't know what in the *world* we're doing.  (Editor's note: I usually have a pronoun problem.  You know, attributing things to sweet hubby when it's really just my issue at hand?  But this time - I think I can safely say it's a 'WE' issue.)

But there's this Ugly Head that keeps rearing itself - the Ugly Head of Perfection.

You know,  'cuz we're Christians and all, we have to have it All. Together.  
Know what direction our family is going in, set our goals, check 'em off once reached.  Never question God or ourselves, but walking confidently through life towards Victory, always upwards and onwards, straight paths ever higher and on into glory.

But the truth is - life. is. messy.

Really messy.

And most of the time - especially lately -  we struggle to know the right thing to do.  We can't act confident, or as if we have our acts together.  Because - we don't.

We'd rather cry out with the Psalmist:
  Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
   Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
Why do you hide your face?
   Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
   our belly clings to the ground.
Rise up; come to our help!
   Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! (Psalm 44: 23-26)
 And - interestingly enough - we've had enough conversations with friends lately that have made us realize that the Ugly Head of Perfection needs to be soundly beaten back from our midst.  Enough conversations where the other party expresses with wonder, "You too?" and there is a fellowship in the pain and confusion, a sweet embrace of the reality that says yes, we are hurting and yes, we are broken, but God - He is sufficient.

We do no service to walk in the pride of our flesh, setting ourselves up as those who have all the answers, who are living lives free of questioning and struggle and pain.  We do no service to our Savior to pretend that we can program our lives onwards and upwards, with ever-increasing victory call, when the truth is that we need His grace to even take the very next tiny baby step.

We do no service to those around us, when our desire to appear "perfect" stems from pride, deadly pride, and would point those nearest to us away from Christ, and onto out poor, sinful souls.

So if you catch me raising the Ugly Head of Perfection -

Would you help me beat it back?

I think we'll both be better for it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Hey Mama, Where's Baby Jesus?"

Good question.

See, we have this tradition - I hide the Baby Jesus figures out of our nativities.  Then, on Christmas morning, part of our morning "festivities" includes finding the 4 or 5 Baby Jesus figures that I've hidden throughout the house.


I can't find them.

See, last year I put them somewhere really, really safe. 

So safe, I can't find them. 


Anyone up for a game of, "Find the Baby Jesus", about 26 days early?

. . . and Now for Something Completely Different

(Yes, I'm a closet Monty Python fan.  Just to clear that up.  But really, how do you jump from bereavement posts to shameless promotion???)

For years and years, we've done the Christmas Card/Letter tradition.   We love sending out pictures and an update - hopefully our friends love reading it!  But mostly, I love seeing the names of all the folks on our card list: friends from high school and college, colleagues from my first teaching job, relatives far and near.

This year, I've been thinking about using Shutterfly's Christmas cards: for family with a whole bunch of kids, they have over 369 designs that use more than 3 pictures!  I'm thinking this one might work:

 And how convenient -  it even has the right letter in the middle!  I'm hoping I can come up with enough cute pictures of my kids to fill the spaces - and if I know the kids, they'll make me put the dog in one, too.  More fun than sending the cards is receiving them, and each year we plaster our doors with the greetings we get from far and near.  

I know, I know - e-greetings are cheaper.  There's just something special about having a holiday card in your hand, to look at as you pass it taped to your door.  We also like to save all of our cards in a basket - each night at dinner, we pick one card and pray for the family who sent it to us.  (That's a hint:  if you want to be prayed for, send us a card!)

Last year, Kathryn purchased a lot of gifts from Shutterfly - they were so sweet!  She gave Yurii a monthly calendar, and I'm thinking that this stationery would make a cute gift as well. 

So, there you have it.  My shameless plug . . . but really, even though I *am* getting 50 free cards by doing this, I really do  think that Shutterfly has cool stuff.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Random Happenings in Pictures

And now. . . . a picture heavy post to catch you all up on the various happenings from the last week!
(and my apologies - some of the pictures look a little wonky- don't know what's up with that, and I'm too tired to fix it)

Science Class!  
Just because this was a fun picture. . . an experiment on dissolving substances; Hannah and her friend Anna Kate were working together

Farm Day Field Trip at the Bailey's
Amy got tired of walking, so Evan carried her - I was thankful!
Evan was thankful too, once Amy got her hands off his eyes and nose!

The Bailey's Barn

Mike Bailey, friend and farmer extraordinaire
Christmas at the Caroline House
Kathryn and her friends danced for our church's outreach  (she's the 2nd from the right on the bottom row)


 Thanksgiving with the Prewitts
It was wonderful to spend Thanksgiving with my Dad's side of the family - no one was up to any cooking, so a big thanks to my cousin Lisa for the invite!
Mom gets to hold Linley, my cousin Allisha's 3 mo. old cutie pie

Cousin Nathan and his wife, Megan - I told them to pose, but Nathan was more interested in the pie than in his wife!

Amy had fun playing with Ali, my cousin Jessica's daughter.  Girl time!

Hannah took on Logan (Nathan's son) at the pool table - I think she kept him honest!

Believe it or not, this was only PART of the crowd!  I think there were 32 of us there!

Uncle Frank and Dad - posing with Amy's tiara. Classic!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Dorothy Bingham Ward
Jan. 17, 1919 - Nov. 19, 2010

I miss you already, Grandma.

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints."
Psalm 116:15

On Waiting

There's a whole lot of "hurry up and wait" going on in my house right now.

{Back story:  my grandmother was given 48 hours to live.  9 days ago.  There is no medical reason she should be with us, but apparently God has decided He'd like us all to know who exactly is in charge.}

Our suitcases are packed.  Each day, we've been wearing our "traveling clothes" in case we have to hop in the car.  My fridge is stuffed with food that no one is allowed to eat, since we might need it for the car trip.  The activities we canceled this week in anticipation of traveling Monday are remaining canceled. . . .which leads to an odd, a very odd calmness.

This morning, as I awoke to yet another morning of not getting "the call" in the middle of the night, I got to thinking.  (Dangerous habit, I know. . . )

I'm waiting and watching for my grandmother to pass away.

But. . . 

Am I waiting and watching for Jesus with the same anticipation, the same readiness?

I think not.  Even though Scripture is replete with admonitions to wait and watch for the return of Christ, I find myself tied too closely to this world.

The hard thing is the balancing act.  As I find myself waiting for "the call" about Grandma, I'm often in a wash of indecision and exhaustion, as if the act of waiting has sapped all of my energy for accomplishing even the most basic of tasks.  (Case in point - I've actually started and stopped this blog post about 3 times.)

So this is what I'm wondering.  If I'm to wait for Jesus' return - and indeed, the possibility of my own death before He comes - then how do I do that, and do that well?  How do I love my husband and my children, and yet keep God's kingdom first?  How do I enjoy the blessings of the day, and yet long for the greater blessings of heaven?

It's an interesting tightrope, this walk of waiting.  I'm not doing so well with this immediate waiting.  Hopefully the Lord will use this as training in my life, to help me learn to wait and watch for Him more fully.

Until next time. . . .  

Monday, November 15, 2010

On Asking, "Why?"

The past week, I've been living with my cell phone permanently attached to my body.

You see, 400 miles away, my grandmother, my precious, 91-year old grandmother, is dying a slow, long, drawn-out, painful death.

And those around her ask, "Why?"

This weekend, a family was driving home from a talent audition.  A teenager ran a stop sign and plowed into their van, killing the mom and her two sons.  The teenager had minor injuries.

And those around them ask, "Why?"

There are atrocities unspeakable in every corner of the world. . . . wars and unrest and famine and abuse and slavery. . . . .

And the world asks, "Why?"

Our friends had a beautiful, healthy baby boy last week.
A missionary we know was healed from her severe neck pain after prayer.
Our family has been provided for - miraculously - over and over again.
I woke up this morning, opened my eyes, and found my heart beating and my lungs inhaling and my brain functioning.

I have yet to hear a "Why?"

Only a "Thank You!". . . and sadly, sometimes not even that.

Now it's my turn to ask, "Why?"

Why do I question the bad, and not the good?
What makes me think I deserve only the good portion, never the bad?

In the words of Job,
 Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?
He is the Creator, I am the creation.  I cannot - I dare not - understand His thoughts and His purposes.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)
May I receive from His hand blessing and trial, and give Him praise and honor all my days.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Argument Builder - A Review

If I were playing the word association game at a party, and someone said, “build”, I would not immediately reply with “argument”.  To my non-trained mind, an argument is something that just happens spontaneously, and usually when my emotions are running high.

Enter The Argument Builder: Constructing an Argument Piece by Piece by Shelly Johnson, published by Classical Academic Press (CAP).  I’ve used their Latin materials for a few years now, so when I had the chance to review a copy of Argument Builder, I was intrigued.  Even more so when I read this passage from the first chapter:
Right now, you might feel a little uncomfortable with the word argument because it seems that it always involves fighting, tension, hostility, and hurt feelings.  Although this unpleasantness can be present when people argue, it doesn’t have to be.  The Latin word argumentum means ‘evidence’ or ‘proof’.  Therefore, when you have an ‘argument,’ it means that you supply the evidence or proof for what you believe.
From the forward, the purpose of The Argument Builder is “to train you in the art of building a strong argument”.   Using the Common Topics method, developed by Aristotle, the text takes you through all five of these common topics (Definitions, Testimony, Comparison, Relationship, Circumstance) while developing a hypothetical argument about curfew. 

The text is comprised of 25 chapters, with an appendix on debate techniques.  Each of the first 22 chapters includes a exercises not only in defining terms and answering basic questions about the topics introduced, but also in analyzing and identifying arguments from a wide variety of authors, scholars, and statesmen.  The final 3 chapters of the book cover a cumulative review, a brief introduction to logical fallacies, and instructions on how to hold a debate.  The Teacher’s Edition - a necessary component - includes not only the answers to the text exercises, but suggestions and recommendations for extending the material.  For further support, CAP also offers an online class taught by the author.

I am particularly thrilled to find this text - we’ll be adding it in for our high school students, as a component of their logic/philosophy studies.  Especially attractive to me is the author’s inclusion of primary source documents  from history as a source of analytical exercises. The Argument Builder is easy to understand, clearly laid out and provides great training in analyzing and building arguments.    As a high school course, this could be done in one semester by an ambitious student, but might be best spread out over the course of a year, especially if you intend to include the debate component. 

Paired with Discovery of Deduction, another CAP title, the Art of Argument makes the study of logic understandable and accessible to high school students, homeschooled or otherwise. 

Now for the nitty gritty:  I was provided a free review copy of this text in exchange for this review.  I would have panned it if I didn’t like it - I’m honest like that - but really, it’s a great text.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Motivation, Anyone?

The past three days, I've been watching episodes of "Hoarders", via the magic of Netflix.

The past three days, I've also deep cleaned two bathrooms, purged my wardrobe, filed a huge box of papers, and cleaned off the permanent clutter piles in our main living areas.


I think not.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday's Sentiments: The Gift

This past week, I was given a precious gift.

The gift of time.

I was privileged to spend over two days with my grandmother, sitting and watching and listening and praying. 

Sitting holding her hand as she slept.

Watching as my mother and my aunts cared for her with dignity, grace, and selfless love.

Listening to her precious voice, as we talked of heaven, of cooking, of caring for our families, of no more pain or sadness.  Sharing our love for each other.  And saying. . . . honestly. . . . I will miss you.

Praying.  Prayers that God would ease her suffering.  That He would bring her home soon.  Prayers of thanksgiving for having this woman, this strong, amazing woman in my life.

In all likelihood, I was given the gift of seeing my grandmother one last time, and knowing it was the last time.  The gift of saying all that was on my heart, and receiving her love in return.

It was hard, bitterly hard.

And priceless.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Overwhelmed. . . . . .

and grateful.

Those two words sum up - pretty succinctly - how I feel this week.

I'm so overwhelmed by life.

I'm so overwhelmed by the grace of God.

I'm so grateful for His Love.

And I'm so, so grateful for the Body of Christ, near and far, who intercedes on our behalf.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - True Road Sign Edition

(Posted because - you know?  I needed to laugh about something this week!  True road sign in Mississippi.  I'm. Not. Kidding.)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday's Sentiments: Hanging by a Thread

“If you are hanging on by a thread right now, 
make it a thread attached to the hem of Christ’s garment. 

It will be enough.”        

Jared Wilson

(with thanks to Not Just an Ordinary Life - a very inspirational blog)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Well, Now We Know What God Thinks of THAT Plan!

This could be another, "Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men" post, really.  But in the interest of not boring you, dear readers, I'll change it up a bit.

Some of you may know that my dear, 91-year old Grandma is on hospice care for colon cancer.  Has been for 14 months.  The running joke around here is, "Grandma didn't get the memo that hospice means, 'You're dying.'  She thinks it's code for, 'Nice nurses come and visit every week.'"

Last Friday, Grandma took a definite turn for the worse.  She collapsed and (mostly) no longer has the use of her legs.   {Here's why I say, "mostly" - overnight Sunday into Monday, at 3 a.m. she got up and WALKED from her bed to her chair.  With no cane.  Yup.   That's my Grandma.)

Tuesday morning, my mom contacted me and let me know that she had had a (TIA) stroke, and could only say, "Yes" and "No".  She wasn't taking in much food/water at all.  In a frenzy, I started making plans.  Negotiating work schedules and classes and commitments, we decided to leave today (Thursday) if she got very bad.  If Grandma hung around, I had decided to rent a cheap-o car and drive up to Indiana for the weekend, after my science class on Friday, just to be there for my mom.

Fast forward to this morning.  I wake up and it's clear - I'm S-I-C-K.  As in, stomach bug, can't get out of bed, lying around in misery, trotting in and out of the bathroom sick.

Not fun.

I got out of bed about 45 minutes ago, and took a shower.  That felt heavenly!  So with only 3 bites of eggs and 10 saltines to credit to my account today, it's pretty obvious.

Not going anywhere tomorrow.  And sometimes, it takes God allowing a nasty stomach bug to make me realize that maybe it wasn't such a good plan after all.

The downside?  I had to cancel Science Class, b/c I'm just so weak. 

The upside?  Would you believe. . . .Grandma has her speech mostly back.  She's had a "good day" according to my Mom.

I'm thinking I might go shop for her Christmas present.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What's Underneath

Just got in from what was *ostensibly* an "Educator's Night" at McWane Science Center, with four friends.  You know - offer door prizes, free food, and an iMax movie, and the teachers come en masse.  That kind of Educator's Night.

So after suffering through processed lunchmeat and chips (the free food), not winning any door prizes (oh, well- the free house cleaning would have been nice!), and deciding that we were starving and didn't really want to stay for the iMax, one of our hip-and-trendy friends we all decided to hit a happening, hip, and posh area of town for some appetizers.

In we go - giddy from a night of laughter and camaraderie - and request a table on the patio.  We settle in, place our order.

I'm definitely out of my element here.  Looking at the slim & trim, perfectly coiffed and highlighted 'do's, trendy outfits.  Everyone "has their game on", as they say.  It's all so - glitzed.  Perfect.  Very southern.  Very wealthy.  Very "in crowd".  I feel like an 8th grader with bad acne and glasses.

Annie notices them first.

At her feet, there are a host of slugs, crawling on the cement flower boxes.  After some deliberation, we decide to just ignore them.

I'm next.  Looking down, about halfway through our munchies, a Big. Juicy. Cockroach. crawls across the patio.  Right. Under. Our. Table.


I didn't say anything - no one else noticed.  (OK, so I told everyone later.  They would have screamed if I had told them while we were eating.  I knew it.)

But it struck me.  Here, in Perfect Land - bugs.  Icky, creepy, nasty bugs.  Right underneath our feet.   Seems like a lesson to me somewhere.  You think?

(Oh, and E, P, A, and L.. . . . .THANKS for a very, very fun night!  I love y'all!)
(How's that for southern?  ;-) 

Friday, September 24, 2010

:chirping crickets:

That's the only sound I hear right now.

The Two. Certain. Someones who were whispering until waaaaaaay too late have finally quieted.

There are 6 Boy Scouts and 2 Dads asleep (I think) in tents in our yard.

An almost 6-year old is asleep in my bed, a consolation prize on the Eve of the Birthday.

One who is full of college-applying, ballet-dancing to-do lists has shut down for the night, and the One who would stay up until midnight reading has closed the chapter and shut off the book light.

It's quiet.

Like this blog.

I've got about 20 posts written in my head - there have been yummy Crock Pot meals, several birthdays and memorable moments - but somehow, at night, I'm spent.  We're in a busy season.  That's what I get for having 4 kids born between August 18th and September 25th, eh?

Tomorrow we ramp up again, with breakfasts, and driving, and parties, and celebrations, and sleepovers, and more celebrations, and orchestras. 

It's a joyfully, stressfully, happily full life. 

And right now. . . . . . . it's quiet.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tired, much?


Last night, we had an Amazing. Awesome. Fabulous time hanging with some new friends

Until wa-a-a-a-ay past my bedtime.

Today, I went into crisis mode, to get ready for my Kindergarten Science Explorers class that meets at my home one Wednesday a month.

Library, to get books?  Check.

Parent-teacher store, for magnets?  Check.

Lesson plan?  Check.

Piano students rescheduled?  Check.

And then I realized. . . . .

Class isn't tomorrow.  It's next week.

Going to bed early?  DOUBLE-CHECK!

(at least I'm ready ahead of time???)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

It's Legal. . . .and It's Delicious**

Well, folks - when the cat's away, the mice will play. . . . . . with their crock pot, that is!

Y had to work tonight, so for dinner I whipped out a recipe from a great cookbook I got from the library:  "Brinner" French Toast Casserole.   Breakfast for dinner - how fun!

First step:  Spray the inside of your crock pot with non-stick spray.  
Cube a loaf of cinnamon-raisin swirl bread, layer it inside with pats of butter.
(Good thing I went to Aldi's this morning!  It's a bargain at only $1.19 a loaf.)

Next:  The egg mixture.  8 eggs, whole milk, half-and-half, some syrup, a bit of cinnamon.

Pour over the bread cubes.  Smush 'em down a bit, so they get nice and soaked.
Mix together butter, brown sugar, and oats.  Sprinkle this topping over the bread mixture.

. . . then, let the Crock Pot do its magic!  3 hours on high, let it sit for 15 minutes, and. . . .

. . . yummy, cinnamon, easy, French toast flavor!

I served it to the kids with bacon & canteloupe - and there was just a smidge left for Y to have a sample.  A hit!  The only down side - I can't see myself making this for a Sunday breakfast, since I'd have to wake up at 5 to start it.  Might go on our Thanksgiving Day breakfast menu, though!

**Editor's note:  I must explain the title to this post, which was suggested by my kids.  About 6 years ago, my kids interviewed my brother and sister-in-law, who were living in Kabul at the time.  During the interview, Nathaniel found out that there was a Burger King at the military base just outside of the city.  The following is a transcript of the interchange that followed:

"And sometimes, we go on Operation Whopper. . . .we seek out a hamburger!" (my bro)
"Is that legal?" asks wide-eyed Nathaniel.
"It's legal. . . . . and it's DELICIOUS!"  (my brother's amused reply)

Since then, it's been a family joke.  And now. . . you're in on it!**

Monday, August 30, 2010

Crock Pot Monday: Sour Cream Pork Chops

Yes, it's yet another installment in. . . . . . . Adventures in Slow Cooking!  

Today started our regular fall schedule - and Monday is our busiest day of the week.  No problem, thinks I!  Time to whip out. . . . . 
Sour Cream Pork Chops (from

First step:  dredge the pork chops in flour, and brown in a bit of oil

Second step:  Ignore the dog, sitting pathetically at your feet, drooling over said pork chops.

Third step:  Put pork chops in slow cooker, and top with sliced onions.
Fourth step:  Add 2 c. of chicken boullion.  (Hint:  I have fallen in love with "Better than Boullion", it's a chicken base with NO MSG.  Yummy!)

Let cook for 7-8 hours.  I used boneless chops, so mine only needed about 6 hours.

Fifth Step:  Take these sweet girls to ballet.

Sixth step:  Convince your husband to finish the recipe, because you realized you won't be home in time to finish the recipe.

Only kidding.  Kind of.  Here's what he did:  Remove the pork chops from the crock pot.  Mix together 2 T. of flour and 8 oz sour cream, stir into crock pot, cook on Hi for 10 minutes.  Make a bunch of egg noodles. . . ..  .
And serve the yummy pork chops for dinner!

And the reviews:

Taste:  ALL of my kids gave it a HUGE thumbs up!  Y. even commented how good they were . . . do you think it was because he helped?  ;-)

Ease of prep:  OK, really it was pretty easy.  HOWEVER - I'm spoiled after that tortellini recipe!  Seriously, I will make these again - but NOT on a Monday night, when I don't have any time to fool with making a sauce in the 30 minutes between when I get home and the boys leave for Boy Scouts.

Overall?  We have a winner!  Definitely adding this one to my permanent menu.

Stay tuned for our next installment. . . . . Slow Cooker French Toast Casserole!  Who's coming over?

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Quick update, and then it's back to our regularly scheduled blogging:

We are all home!  Yurii went and relieved me yesterday afternoon.  Nathaniel was discharged this morning before lunch, so we're all together, resting, and recovering. . . . . (mostly from our shock at how much $$ the antibiotic was.  Yikes!)

And thankful.  So thankful that he's responded well to treatment, and that is wasn't more serious.

And thankful for all of my friends who've called to check on me - what a blessing!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Unexpected Biology Field Trip

So, Nathaniel & I are on an unplanned biology field trip - to Children's Hospital.

Turns out, he's got a nasty-looking staph/strep infection on his leg that requires 24 hours of IV antibiotics.  SO. . . . . . .


Not exactly.  I'm hanging with my boy - who is feeling better, thankfully! - here in the hospital.  They're expecting to release him tomorrow morning.   We'd appreciate your prayers for a quick recovery. . . .

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Crock-Pot Thursday: Tortellini Bake

. . . and thus begins a new series, in which I experiment on serve my family a different crock-pot recipe once or twice a week.  Interested?  Read on.

First up:  Tortellini Bake, submitted by prariegirl (from the WTM message board)

The hardest part of this recipe was finding the frozen tortellini in our newly messed-up remodeled Wal-Mart.  Of course, the fact that I was chatting on the phone with an old friend, dispensing homeschooling advice, did NOT help my powers of concentration.  After about 4 passes through the frozen food aisle, I located the desired item:

3 bags - about right for our large-ish family.

And here's the recipe - if you can even call it that!

Drag your slow cooker out from the back of the cupboard.  Dust it off.

Put one bag of tortellini inside.  Cover with some spaghetti sauce (I didn't measure.  It was enough to cover, but I could still see the tortellini).

Top with about 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers.

Turn the slow cooker on low.  Go outside, work in the garden, clean your house, read a book - whatever you want for about 2 hours.

Serve with a large tossed salad to hungry, happy family.

I have to say - for my first entry in the  Great Crock Pot Experiment of '10 - this is a keeper!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

and the winner is. . . . . .

The Plants and Pillars Film Festival!

Last week, we attended an absolutely extraordinary event, planned and executed by this remarkable 16-year old young woman. . . . . . . . 
. . . with the help of her family and friends.    Jessica Pritchett had a big, big vision.  She pulled together a film festival, complete with 16 entrants, a panel of judges, awards, and a crowd of over 150 in attendance!

 Yurii was asked to open the evening with a few remarks.  He was compelling as he encouraged the audience to think about the purpose for their filmmaking:  The purpose - Is it noble?  The form - Is it excellent?  The content - Is it true?

Next we were treated to brief clips from each of the entrants.  After the clip, the cast & crew of each film came up for recognition.  Here's the cast of Uncovering Truth (well, the ones that could make it that night!),  gathered on stage.

The moment we all were waiting for. . .the awards!

After watching those clips, I don't know how the judges were able to make any decisions.  There were some pretty unbelievable films entered!  

It was just like the Academy Awards. . . .well, kind of.  Minus the designer gowns and bad jokes.  But we had many different award categories:  Best Scenery, Best Director. . . .you get the idea.  And just look who won Best Actress!

Yes, Emily.  Our Emily!  She played "Charlotte", the lead female in Uncovering Truth.  I only wish I had a quick camera for her reaction when her name was called. . . priceless!

Then the big award.  Best of Festival. . . . . 

Uncovering Truth!

A stunner!  We were fully expecting a different film to win.  Really!  It was such an exciting and happy moment for our family:

 And another one of my favorite shots - two girls, passionate about serving their Lord through the medium of film.

What a great night!  When I think about all that went into making it happen. . . .there are only two words I can think of:

Congratulations, Jessica!
(and I think she'd like me to add a few more. . . . . yes, I will call your mother to schedule a dinner!)