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!)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sunday's Sentiments on Saturday: We are not Orphans

This spoke to me today, deeply.  With gratitude to Aaron Armstrong over at Blogging Theologically

We are not orphans, for “the Lord is risen indeed.”

The orphan has a sharp sorrow springing out of the death of his parent, namely, that he is left alone. He cannot now make appeals to the wisdom of the parent who could direct him. He cannot run, as once he did, when he was weary, to climb the paternal knee. He cannot lean his aching head upon the parental bosom. “Father,” he may say, but no voice gives an answer. “Mother,” he may cry, but that fond title, which would awaken the mother if she slept, cannot arouse her from the bed of death.
The child is alone, alone as to those two hearts which were its best companions…

But we are not so; we are not orphans.

…There is one point in which the orphan is often sorrowfully reminded of his orphanhood, namely, in lacking a defender.

It is so natural in little children, when some big boy molests them, to say, “I’ll tell my father!” How often did we use to say so, and how often have we heard from the little ones since, “I’ll tell mother!”

Sometimes, the not being able to do this is a much severer loss than we can guess. Unkind and cruel men have snatched away from orphans the little which a father’s love had left behind; and in the court of law there has been no defender to protect the orphan’s goods. Had the father been there, the child would have had its rights, scarcely would any have dared to infringe them; but, in the absence of the father, the orphan is eaten up like bread, and the wicked of the earth devour his estate.
In this sense, the saints are not orphans.

The devil would rob us of our heritage if he could, but there is an Advocate with the Father who pleads for us. Satan would snatch from us every promise, and tear from us all the comforts of the covenant; but we are not orphans, and when he brings a suit-at-law against us, and thinks that we are the only defendants in the case, he is mistaken, for we have an Advocate on high. Christ comes in and pleads, as the sinners’ Friend, for us; and when He pleads at the bar of justice, there is no fear but that His plea will be of effect, and our inheritance shall be safe. He has not left us orphans.

Now I want, without saying many words, to get you who love the Master to feel what a very precious thought this is, that you are not alone in this world; that, if you have no earthly friends, if you have none to whom you can take your cares, if you are quite lonely so far as outward friends are concerned, yet Jesus is with you, is really with you, practically with you, able to help you, and ready to do so, and that you have a good and kind Protector close at hand at this present moment, for Christ has said it:

“I will not leave you orphans.”

(from Till He Come, by C.H. Spurgeon)

Monday, August 16, 2010

14 Down, 12 To Go

. . . . first days of school, that is!  Yes, I am officially past the half-way point. . .this is our 14th "First Day of School", and as Amy is starting Kindergarten, I've got 12 left.

You can start praying for me now.  Thank you.

*Warning!  This is a picture-heavy, grandparent-friendly post.  If seeing pictures of my kids drives you crazy, read no further.  You've been given advance notice. **

We usually have a special breakfast each year, and this year I took Amy to our new Dunkin' Donuts.  (Yes, I'm still a Yankee at heart.  I prefer Dunkin' to Krispy.  There you have it.)  She thought the donut balloons were cute, and got her own chocolate donut in a bag.  Happiness.

My big Kindergartener!  Emily made her own school box. . .  it's purple, there in the picture.  She's got her favorite bug, and is ready to go.

Each year, I make the kids fill out a "First Day of School Questionnaire".  Yep, I still have the one Kathryn did when she was 4!  This is Nathaniel measuring Amy, to see how tall she was for her to write down on her paper.

And now. . . the Cast of Characters!
Amy, Kindergarten.  Ready to go!  I can't believe how big she is. . . . sniff. . . . .

Hannah, 4th grade, age 9.  She's going to be my big science helper this year - she'll be helping Amy by teaching her Sonlight Science K each week, with my supervision.  Should be fun!
Emily, 6th grade, age 11.  Why do they grow up so fast?  (And. . . would you believe she's excited about learning Latin?  Yay, Emily!!)

Speaking of growing up . . . .this boy will be 14 in two days.  Entering high school.  Wow.  He's embracing his new work load - I'm so proud of him.  He wanted to move his desk back downstairs, said it was too lonely & quiet up in his bedroom.

Excuse me while I get a tissue.

*tears up*

Kathryn.  Her last year.  I'm having a moment. 

She was actually pretty funny about this picture.  She wouldn't let me in until she had it arranged - and she piled ALL her school stuff, plus her laptop, on her desk.  Check out this picture:
(play I-Spy.  See the driver's license/learner's permit in the picture above the camera?  And the knitting?  She'll be busy, I tell you!)

The whole gang, posed on our front steps:

And a funny picture, because they wanted to:

Couple more random pictures/happenings:
The look on her face says it all.  She's Pretty. Excited. about school starting!

This is Amy.  While I was helping the older girls with their math lessons, she snuck into her book basket, pulled out Go Dog Go, and read it.  Unfortunately, that book was planned for her to read in, oh, March.

I guess we can skip that part of the reading curriculum, eh?

Finally:  If you've read this far, I've got a story for you.

During lessons this morning, Amy spent a LOT of time drawing on the white board.  (Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of it.  Boo.)  She kept saying she was drawing her "paper city", and insisted I make it with her today.  I had NO idea what she was talking about.  At all.  But kept placating her to get lessons done.

Finally, it was the hour of decision.  Amy became almost frantic, because no one seemed to understand what the paper city was.  Enter Emily.  Somehow she listened, understood, and helped her little sister make this creation:

It's an almost exact replica of a city scene from our Wii game, entitled, "I Spy".  THAT is what Amy had drawn, and then dear sweet Emily replicated it.

I could kiss her.

And that moment, that "my-big-sister-understood-me-and-made-a-paper-city-for-me" moment, is reason #2,396 that I homeschool.
Onwards and upward to Day Two. . . . .

Friday, August 6, 2010

Back to School with Dante and His Inferno

There is another circle of Hell that Dante neglected to mention. . . . .

Back-to-School Shopping.

I'm not talking about the fun stuff:  pens, notebooks, highlighters, folders, paper.  You know - office supplies.  There is a theory about homeschoolers, you know. . . . . . that we were the ones who drooled over new school supplies.  Give us a set of file folders, some highlighters, and a Trapper Keeper and we're happier than a tornado in a trailer park. The allegation that we homeschool our children only so we can feed our addiction is unfounded.


Don't ask me how many file folders I own.


I'm talking shoes, people.  I'm talking, "We've-got-five-kids-and-their-feet-don't-seem-to-ever-stop-growing" shoe shopping.

As it is tax-free weekend here in Alabama, I decided to go out today, before the crowds hit in full force and most of the sizes are gone.  We head down to the local Target, seeking shoes.  The girls have been informed:  a) we're looking for sneakers and b) if they are cooperative, I'll buy them each a Frosty.  I figured this shouldn't be too bad - the boy is at camp, so I'm down to four kids.  Right?

First mistake:  walking down the aisle where these beauties are displayed:


Now, at this point, I'm trying valiantly to steer each girl to her own section:  Kathryn happily off to women's, Emily straddling both girls and women's, Hannah wandering around in boots, and me steering Amy to sneakers.

Sneakers.  NOT sparkly shoes.  Sneakers.

After offering her 4 different choices, she's not happy.  They're not sparkly enough.  In desperation, I let her try on the desired sparkly pair - size 12.  Too big.  Size 11 - too small.   She's melting down, the other ones keep bringing me shoes to try on between the 5-year old's sobs.  

Another mother - with one perfectly behaved preschooler - walks right by me.  I can feel the condemnation.


Finally, I offer this line of hope:

"Amy, sweetie, maybe those 12s will fit you for your birthday.  I could buy them and save them for you."

Stare of incredulity.  "MOM!  YOU TOLD!"

"What?  What honey?"

"YOU TOLD MY PRESENT!  That is NOT allowed!"

Amy=1        Mom=0

Next try:  I find shoes that look like this:

OK, I know they're not sneakers.  But they had sparkles, and they're casual enough for her to put on a "go places".  (Besides - we probably have some old sneakers somewhere that fit her.  I'm just sayin'.)

They fit.  Amy's happy.  I'm happy.  All the other girls have found shoes - even Hannah found sneakers she likes.  With monkeys.  Sweet.   Quick swing back to school supplies, fight the crowd for a few pencils and planners, and we're on our way.

We make it through the checkout line, and Kathryn takes one look at me, and hands me a Starbucks gift card from her purse.

I love that kid.

And as far as I'm concerned - Yurii can take Nathaniel out on Sunday afternoon for his shoes.
I've no intention of visiting that particular circle of hell again.

Until next year. . . . . .

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Homeschool Freebie: President Timeline

 Anyone up for a freebie? 

Thanks to the WTM Forums, I heard about this nifty deal:  if you sign up with C-SPAN classroom, they will send you a free (yup, that would be FREE) wall timeline of all the American presidents. 

Quote from their website:

C-SPAN is delighted to announce our new American Presidents Timeline poster for classrooms. The 6ft long poster details the lives and public service careers of every president, plus key historical events, Supreme Court cases, and technology milestones throughout 280 years of Presidential history. They are free of charge to C-SPAN Classroom members. 
Quite a find for a family beginning to study the 1800s, no?

It is, however, 6-feet long.  Let the search for wall space begin!

Free President Timeline

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sunday's Sentiments: Marriage At the Foot of the Cross

Last night, we went to our first Southern wedding.  And the first wedding where our daughter's friends (therefore, our friends' children) got married. . . . .it was beautiful, and joyful, and gospel-centered.  I usually boo-hoo big time at weddings, but this time I kept it in check. 

Of course, this was a July wedding, in 100-degree heat, in Alabama.  My own theory is that I didn't cry b/c all my tears were diverted to sweat my glowing countenance.  Yes, my friends informed me that southern women do not sweat, they just glow.  There was a whole lot of glowin' going on last night!

(And yes, I did inform Kathryn that if she got married in the summer in the south, I wouldn't be in attendance.  And I was only partly kidding.)

I will admit, there is always one part of weddings that gets me.

Every. Single. Time.

The vows.  When two starry-eyed, happy, blissful individuals stand together, gaze into each other's eyes and take their solemn vows. . . . .

To have and to hold, from this day forward
for better, for worse
for richer, for poorer
in sickness or in health
to love and to cherish 
'till death do us part.

. . . and last night, I couldn't help the tears.  And the prayers.  Because they don't know. . .they can't know. . . . and I certainly didn't know. . . .the implications of those vows.  And they don't know. . .they can't know. . . and I most certainly didn't know. . .that there is no human way to fulfill those vows.   Soon, all too soon, they will learn - as we have - that loving your spouse unconditionally is a soul-humbling, heart-wrenching, prayer-inducing proposition.  And the only place - the only place - where we can find rest for our humbled souls, a balm for our wounded hearts, and answers to our fervent prayers is at the foot of the cross.  In the majestic, humble, gracious, loving arms of Jesus.

Which is why I found it so inspiring that they had this beautiful arrangement placed in the large room where they were married:

Daniel & Victoria, we wish you all of God's blessings as you begin your marriage. . .at the foot of the cross.

But on a lighter note, I had to include this:  The Mashed Potato Bar!!!

 You get a scoop of mashed potatoes in a martini glass (hold the olives, please!), then move down the bar to add your toppings:  bleu cheese, chopped ham, grated cheese, butter, sour cream, crumbled bacon, and - gasp! - sauteed mushrooms and onions in gravy!

Filling the glass of . . .mashed potatoes!
Bon Appetit!