July 2009


We celebrated M’s third birthday this week.  We just had a small, family affair.  This was fine with M, as I think she was more concerned about the cake and presents than who was in attendance.  She and I have been discussing her cake for about a month now.  She has deliberated between a “hot-dog cake,”  a “corn cake,” an “ice-cream cake” (at least this one was doable!), and several others.  I finally convinced her to go for a carrot cake with raisins and pecans.  She was game, so the decision was made.

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I baked the cake the night before.  However, when I wound up short on carrots, and saw my surplus of zucchini, I figured, “why not?”  So, the cake turned into a carrot-zucchini cake.  I made the cream-cheese frosting that morning, and got it all iced.  Daddy came home early, so when the kids got up from their naps, we decided to have an afternoon party.  Then, we discovered a problem…I had forgotten the candles!  I had forgotten that I threw them all away after they melted during our last move.  Daddy got creative though, and we had tea-lights to the rescue!  (Does a 3-year old really care anyway?) 

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We all thought the cake was absolutely delicious!!  No doubt this cake will be added to my recipe box! 

After cake, she got to open presents. 

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Unfortunately, I am a bad influence and chew gum to keep me from eating when I shouldn't.  After our experience with JR learning to chew gum, we made a rule that you have to be 3 years old to chew gum in our house!  So, the highlight of her party was JR's gift--a pack of chewing gum!

Unfortunately, I am a bad influence and chew gum to keep me from eating when I shouldn't. After our experience with JR learning to chew gum, we made a rule that you have to be 3 years old to chew gum in our house! So, the highlight of her party was JR's gift--a pack of chewing gum!

Grandma sent her this adorable, hand-made apron.  She has wanted one for some time for when she helps me cook.  I guess I need to bake some cookies or something with her now!

Grandma sent her this adorable, hand-made apron. She has wanted one for some time for when she helps me cook. I guess I need to bake some cookies or something with her now!

I can’t believe my little girl is 3!  It really seems just yesterday I was rejoicing at her little kicks and bumbs inside my belly.  Now, to see her blossoming into a little girl, having completely left the baby stage behind, is a strange feeling when I let myself think about it.  In fact, just yesterday, she was asking me when I would teach her how to read!  I really don’t think I am ready for that yet!! 

I love you, M!

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I am thrilled to report we finally completed all 100 lessons of JR’s reading lesson book, “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.”  At times, it was monotonous and boring, other times were repititious, and yet other times were exciting.  It has been a wonderful experience for JR as a a student, and me as a teacher.  JR has dealt with important life lessons such as stick-to-it ‘iveness (is that a word?), attitude control, persistance, consequences for poor performance, and reward for hard work.  I have learned patience, to use daily consistency as a tool in teaching, and flexibility in assignments and situations.  (I still need to improve on daily lessons though, or we may have some difficulties completing everything next year!) It was a great preparation for our first official textbook-year, which will begin in the next 2 weeks. 

When we reported the great news to S last night, he was so thrilled, he decided on an impromptu ice-cream treat to celebrate.  There was just one problem, this decision was made while driving to teach a class at church.  That meant our little ice cream celebration had to take place AFTER the class.  So, there we were, sitting in Applebees (close to the church and $1.99 ice cream shooters) with 4 tired children, at 9 pm.  All that didn’t matter to JR, though.  He was so excited to have this little unexpected party, and he willingly gobbled up every bite! 

Nothing, however–not even the mile-high ice-cream mud pie I had last night–compared to the treat I received this morning.  You see I had told JR that he wouldn’t have to do any lessons for the rest of the week if he finished his book.  Yet, after breakfast this morning, I walked into our office and discovered this:

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A kodak moment if there ever was one!  M had actually pulled the Bob Books box off the shelf and was looking through them.  JR decided to read her a story.  I don’t know if he got all the words right, but, honestly, who cares?  How priceless to see that maybe, just maybe, JR has finally learned to find fun and enjoyment in reading.

It has always fascinated me how completely unique children are.  Personalities and habits differ so much, even at the infant age.   If you throw in a different genetics on top of everything else, the differences get even more interesting.  Take food habits for example.  JR and M both wanted to eat solids by 4-5 months of age.  With JR, he was eating like a pro after only 2 or 3 bites of rice cereal at his very first feeding.  M took a bit longer, but we realized it was simply because she didn’t care for rice cereal.  Once we introduced the veggies, she was an eager participant.   A seemed interested around 6 months, but had a great deal of trouble getting the hang of it.  He tended to gag a lot.  We actually gave him a break for about 2 weeks and tried again, and he has been eating ever since. 

Then came N.  N is now almost 6 1/2 months, and has not shown the least bit of interest in food.  I realize that solids at his age aren’t a necessity, but after another appt with the pediatrician really encouraging me to get him started, I agreed to try.

First bite:

"What did you just put in my mouth?!"

"What did you just put in my mouth?!"

 Bite 3:

"Would you take a hint and stop putting that stuff in my mouth?!

"Would you take a hint and stop putting that stuff in my mouth?!

 I decided to spare you photos of the next few bites, as they involved gagging and vomit….lots of vomit!  That’ll teach me to give him a bottle within 12 hours of a solids intro! (kidding)

Bite 7 or so: (I lost count with all the vomit cleanup).

"That stuff is disgusting, and I have had it!"

"That stuff is disgusting, and I have had it!"

Just for the record, while it may sound like I just fed him too much,  those 7 or so bites totaled about 1 tablespoon of rice!  So, it looks like I am going to wait a few weeks with N before trying again.  He had, by far, the most violent reaction of all our children.  Not impressed is an understatement! 

“You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.  You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.  You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.  You cannot further the brotherhood of man by encouraging class hatred.  You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.  You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.  You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.  You cannot build character and courage by taking away initiative and independence.  You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could do for themselves.”

Quote by Abraham Lincoln

This bread is the perfect all-purpose, daily use bread.  I have used it for sandwiches, french toast, egg-in-the-holes, grilled cheese, and garlic bread.  It has worked every time.  It freezes well, which is nice since the recipe makes 2 loaves, though the frozen loaf tends to be a bit more crumbly than the first, fresh loaf.   FYI, the original recipe came from http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/blog/honey-whole-wheat-bread, but I have tweaked it just a bit for our tastes. 

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6 cups whole wheat flour, divided
2 cups warm water, divided
1/2 cup honey
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. melted butter

1. Mix 3 cups of whole wheat flour with 1 ½ cups of warm water in a large glass bowl. Allow this to sit for about 30 minutes. This will break down the gluten and help the bread to rise better.
2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup water, yeast and honey. Allow this to sit for about 10 minutes, or until the yeast is activated and mixture becomes bubbly.
3. Add salt, melted butter and yeast mixture to the flour and water mixture. Gradually add the remaining three cups of flour and stir well.
4. As the dough becomes harder to stir, pour it out onto a clean counter and begin to knead the dough. Add a little flour if needed to keep it from sticking. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes.
5. Place the ball of dough back into the bowl and cover it with a cloth. Allow the dough to rise for one hour, or until it has double in size.
6. Using a floured hand, pull the dough out of the bowl onto the counter. Knead for just a minute or two until the air bubbles are gone.
7. Cut the dough in half with a large sharp knife.
8. Shape each section of dough into a loaf and place them each in a buttered bread pan.  Rub coconut oil on the top to help prevent drying out.
9. Cover and allow 45 minutes to one hour to rise again.
10. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes, or until the bread sounds hollow when you thump the top of it.
11. Allow the bread to cool for 10 minutes, and then remove it to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Notes:  This recipe is designed for freshly milled flour.  If you use store-bought, you will need about a cup less.  To shape it, I cut it, then use my rolling pin to roll each section into a rectangle, roll it up loosely, tuck the ends, and lay it in a bread pan.

Enjoy!

Yesterday, we finally got all the pieces to our mill assembled and secured to the counter.  Although I am perfectly capable of grinding the wheat since it isn’t difficult, I am blessed to have a husband who loves to play with new toys.  He offered to do the grinding, and I happily accepted!

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Since my recipe is a whole wheat bread, I decided to use hard red wheat berries.  We happen to like the nutty, rich smell and flavor of whole wheat.  After grinding away for about 15 minutes (at a very relaxed speed), I had about 7 cups of freshly milled flour.  Then I set to mixing and baking.  A few hours later, I had 2 beautiful loaves of Honey Wheat Bread, and a house that smelled absolutely delicious!

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Stay tuned for this recipe!

I saw this video some time ago, and was blown away by the powerful meaning behind it.  I came across it again recently, and I wanted to share with you.  It is such a beautiful picture of who Christ is and what He does for us.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyheJ480LYA

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