Friday, June 20, 2008

Celebrating 13 years and Quest Complete (almost!)

We are so proud of Kory who turns thirteen in just one week! We will miss his actual birthday, so we've been celebrating this week. Here he is at the end of a treasure hunt last Saturday where he found (in Kayla's garden house) a new inflatable kayak.
On Tuesday Kory invited 4 friends to go to a local athletic club and spend 2 hours in their rock wall room. The six boys had the room all to themselves since they are all homeschoolers and were able to go in the morning.

Dustin, Kory, Cooper, Cody, Mark and Mike.
They had two "belayers" helping them, and if they weren't "on belay" they were only allowed to climb up to a certain height.
Cooper has been complaining all week of sore forearms, back and neck - I think I know why!Then the boys came home and made "hobo dinners" on a campfire in our backyard. They wrapped ground beef patties, carrots, potatoes, onions, butter, salt, and pepper in a foil pouch and laid them on the coals. A short while later they were able to dig in with a cream soda and root beer toast! Kory requested an ice cream cake. With inspiration from my friends Betsy, I crushed rice square cereal with gluten free chocolate chip cookies and a few tablespoons of butter to make a crust. (Bake 15 min @ 350) Then I spread softened vanilla ice cream on top of the cooled crust and chocolate syrup on top of that. I let that layer freeze for a while and then spread chocolate ice cream with a topping of more crust crumbs and drizzled chocolate syrup on top. It was a big hit!

We're also proud of Kory's efforts to complete the Quest that we challenged him to on his 12th birthday. His woodworking project was a bookshelf - it needs one more coat of paint (hunter green) and he'll be all done.
His sewing project was a pair of flannel pajama pants. He did a great job on these and wore them all winter.

And he completed a 5K race in December in 27 degree weather! I enjoyed training and running it with him and lately he's been asking that we run another to get him ready for all of the running he'll have to do once football starts in August.

Other things Kory completed were:
a 5 mile hike (round trip) to the summit of Mt. Toby
leading a week of family devotions - he chose the topic of prayer
played a Christmas carol at our Christmas Eve Service
NavPress Design for Discipleship Bible study guides

And read the following books:
More than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris
Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris
Master Plan For Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman
The Unaborted Socrates by Peter Kreeft
The Kneeling Christian by an Unknown Christian

And yet to complete:
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
Memorizing Apostle's Creed
Familiarizing self with Westminster Catechism ( a little work done here)
Service Project (Had one lined up that didn't work out)

Also, we asked the men who had met with him on his 12th birthday to follow up with one-on-one time as he turns thirteen. He's spent time with two of these men over breakfast, hiking, and getting to be a helper at a high school base ball game. We're so thankful for the role models he has. Kory is a great kid and blesses our family continuously with his maturity and service.

Gluten Free Friday

I made this dish from The Summer Book by Susan Branch for a mission team that was here a couple of weeks ago and I'll be making it tomorrow for a going away party/baby shower for our friends Austin and Sara.

New Lane Peas

2 10 oz. packages frozen baby peas
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cashew nuts
2 green onions, minced
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp garlic salt
salt & pepper
4 slices bacon, crisp cooked and crumbled

Thaw peas in colander. Gently combine all ingredients except bacon. Cook bacon and drain on paper towels. Crumble over salad and chill.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day Weekend

We celebrated a bit of Kory's 13th birthday as well as Father's Day this weekend. We knew that on Saturday we would be giving Kory the gift of an inflatable kayak that we'd been planning all year, since we will miss his actual birthday while we are in Switzerland.
So, we also planned a picnic dinner at Cranberry Pond, a beautiful pond just north of where we live and near Mt. Toby, so that he would also be able to use it before we left.
So that we could all get on the water, I thought an inflatable two-man raft would be a great Father's Day gift for Robert. We enjoyed spending several hours on the water, hiking, or picnicking until evening. The kids just love being in or near water, and this water was even a decent temperature!
We all recalled fond memories with Dad over the past few years - "he lets us get iced coffee," "watch Rocky movies," and "we're glad he's a preacher because we get to hang out with cool college students" were some of the comments.
I could think of a thousand ways these kids are blessed to have Robert as their dad, and I wish they could appreciate all of them now - consistent family devotion time at breakfast, reading aloud great books (Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings), praying with each kid at night before bed, coaching their baseball team, Friday breakfast dates, loving and serving me, being a faithful yet humble follower of Christ. I take such comfort in all of these things, and pray the Lord uses each one to grow our children to be men and women who look just like him in character and strength. I am so grateful.

Menu Monday - A Week of Gluten Free Meals

Monday
Crispy Coated Chicken Breasts, Warm Potato & Lentil Salad, Pear & Walnut Salad, & Corn-on-the-Cob
Tuesday
Mexican Chicken & Rice Salad
Wednesday
House Church Meal: Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Peas, Salad
Thursday
Beef Tips w/ Gravy, Rice, Salad
Friday
Chicken Taco Salad
Saturday
French Bread Pizzas & Salad
Sunday
Hamburgers, Black Bean Dip, Cantaloupe
(Father's Day Picnic Dinner!)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Gluten Free Friday

Just thought I would post a couple of the popsicle "recipes" I've been using. Again, these are inspired by the book Smoothies: 50 Recipes for High Energy Refreshment. The kids are really enjoying these and so far I think the favorites are the ones that follow.

Honeydew Mint Popsicles

2 cups fresh honeydew, in chunks or diced
2 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped
1/2-3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 Tbsp maple syrup

Blend all ingredients together and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze until hard - 3-4 hours or overnight.

Cherry Chocolate Chip Popsicles

1 1/2 cups frozen cherries (or fresh)
1/2 - 3/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1 Tbsp maple syrup

Blend, pour into molds, and freeze. Mine were a bit "liquidy" so the chocolate chips sank to the bottom of the mold which became the top of the popsicle. No one seemed to mind this, but fresh cherries may have less liquid than the frozen, and adding a banana may also help with consistency.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Anniversary and Heat Wave Here!

I realized the other day that I started this blog a year ago today. I was thinking mainly of the upcoming publication of my book when I started it, but now it is really just a fun way to keep in touch with friends, family, and fellow bloggers. Regarding my book though, I've sold close to 100, which is actually a lot less than I originally thought I would have sold by now. What I've learned is that marketing could be a full time job, and I already have a few of those! I do plan to advertise on a major Celiac website soon, as I've accumulated the costs for advertising there which are pretty steep! So hopefully that will help things along.In other news, IT WAS 100 DEGREES here today! At least that's what the temp registered on our van display. The kids were watching the display as we ran errands hoping it would get to 100. It was at 98 when we started out. I pulled into the post office parking lot and everyone started screaming, "IT'S 100,! IT's 100!" Seems like just a few weeks ago I was whining about the cold, and now I'm complaining about heat! Actually, I'm trying not to complain, as I'd MUCH rather be hot than cold!
We went to a local pond today to picnic and swim with friends, ran some errands, went to our CSA farm for the first time of the season, and when we got home the kids went straight for the water hose and tarp for a makeshift slip 'n slide! Not very many people have air conditioning here, so outside in the shade sometimes feels better than in the house. (We have a few window unit A/C's , but try to use them sparingly. They have definitely been on the last couple of days!)


And the heat has turned my smoothie making into popsicle making! I was inspired to do this by a local woman who is famous for her homemade popsicles. They are on sale at our farm, and each Saturday at the downtown farmer's market. I talked to her this past Saturday, and told her about my efforts at popsicle making. She said she uses smoothie recipes too, so I must be on the right track! Pictured above are Pineapple Mango Pops - just frozen mangoes from Trader Joe's, canned pineapple, a bit of the pineapple juice, and yogurt.
And these are Strawberry Cheesecake - frozen strawberries, sour cream, cream cheese, and yogurt! I've also made Honeydew Mint, Banana Chocolate Chip, and Cherry Chocolate Chip. So far they are a big hit - and so much healthier than anything I can find at the store. I even ordered a 10- popsicle mold from Target online this week - excitement! This mold I've had for about 15 years from a Tupperware party.
Hope you're staying cool!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Finished!

This weekend was full of endings. We finished school on Friday. (Mostly because the teacher was more than ready.) The kids each had their last piano lesson of the year and performed in a recital on Saturday. And the boys played their last baseball game immediately following the recital.It was Kayla's first recital, and she was stunned to see her name listed FIRST on the program. She had butterflies, but she performed "Firefly" perfectly!
Cooper was the second to perform, (we asked to be at the beginning of the performance because of the baseball game), and did a great job playing "The Mermaid." This may be Coop's last piano recital, as he is becoming more serious about guitar.
And here's Kory playing Pachelbel Canon. He can now hire out for weddings! Kory is really playing well, and goes to the piano often during the day to play something.
And speaking of weddings....we'll be having another one in the fall! Some of you know our dear friend Lois who was in our youth group in Austin, TX and then joined us here in Massachusetts to be on staff at Mercyhouse. Well, after having attended over 40 weddings as a bridesmaid, florist, wedding planner/consultant, or simply a guest, she is finally having a wedding of her own to the above pictured young man named Patrick! We are beside ourselves with joy! Patrick is a wonderful man - on staff with a ministry at the university here and a huge part of the life of our church. He also helped Robert do some coaching this year and is a great mentor and role model to our boys. As one wise woman at church put it, "Patrick is the smartest man in our church." She's right - Lois is a treasure!The boys do have a couple of make-up games, and possibly some play-offs - though our record doesn't indicate that as a real possibility. So, we finished up our weekend of "finishes" with some local ice cream - and they even serve gluten free cones!

Menu Monday - A Week of Gluten Free Meals

My friend Kim, who just found out she has Celiac, asked me to post our breakfast menu. I used to post it, but it was so redundant, I stopped. The meal corresponds to the day of the week by their first letters - except for Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays - unless you allow that "c"ereal and "S"unday correspond by sound at least!

Monday - Muffins & Grapefruit
Tuesday - Tacos (Egg, Cheese, and Salsa)
Wednesday - Waffles (Trader Joe's Frozen) & Sausage
Thursday - Bagels (GF French Rolls from Whole Foods) & Scrambled Eggs
Friday - Fried Egg Sandwiches
Saturday - Pancakes & Sausage (or Bacon)
Sunday - Cereal (or "S"moothies would work - we had them yesterday!)


Last Week's Dinner Menu:

Monday
Chili, Baked Potatoes, and Salad

Tuesday
Mexican Cornbread, Black Beans, and Salad

Wednesday
Hamburgers, Baked Beans, Mexican Dip, & Watermelon (at house church)

Thursday
Rosemary Garlic Baked Chicken (Whole), Broccoli/Carrots, & Oven Roasted Potatoes

Friday
Broiled Lemon Pepper Salmon, Wild Rice, Green Beans w/Walnuts, & Salad

Saturday
Leftovers (Chicken, Potatoes, Brocc/Carrots)

Sunday
Breakfast Tacos

Friday, June 6, 2008

For the Birds

We (Kayla and I) spent time yesterday afternoon doing more work on the coop so that the chicks could possibly spend the night (and hopefully the rest of their lives!) outside. This entailed pulling some HUGE weeds out of the yard and the coop, "sewing" the rows of chicken wire together with wire "thread" along the sides so there would be no gaping holes for predators to use, and stapling the bottom of the chicken wire to the framing for the same reason.Actually, Kayla just entertained chickens and showed them around their new home while I worked. She is now affectionately known at our house as the "Chicken Mama."
The chicks are about 5-6 weeks old now - not sure exactly how old they were when we got them - maybe 5-6 days.
She put food on their ramp so they would learn how to go in and out of the coop.
This is a view of the inside of the coop - the laying boxes- there are 5 boxes- and the feeder.

"Free Ranging" in our backyard!
The chicks really enjoyed their afternoon in the yard of their coop- eating spiders, worms, and grass. The coop still had no roof, so I nailed a tarp over it in order for them to spend the night. I wasn't aware that we were expecting some pretty heavy rain, and this morning the tarp was only covering the coop halfway. Last night, in my tossing and turning (my body ached from all the weed pulling and hunching over) I dreamed that there was a bear in our backyard. I feared that the chicks may have been hurt, but when I checked them early this morning, all the girls were fine and staying dry in the covered area.
All in all, they are fairly low maintenance "pets," but I have lost some sleep over their well-being on a couple of occasions!

Gluten Free Friday

My friend Anne left a comment with this recipe a few weeks back. I think I've made them at least 3 times since she mentioned that these are a favorite treat of her daughter's and hers. Thanks, Anne, for this quick, easy, and delicious gluten free treat - we even took them on a homeschool group picnic yesterday!

A & J's Chocolate Crispies

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
4 Tbsp peanut butter
3-4 cups GF crisped rice cereal

Melt chocolate chips in small pot or place in glass bowl and melt in microwave. Stir in peanut butter until well blended. Add cereal and stir until well coated. Drop spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and freeze for15-20 minutes. Store in a plastic bag or other container in the frig.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Kindred Spirit Turns 100

In the mail this week, we received a copy of the AAA Times. (We're not members, so I'm not sure how that happened!) The front cover story was about taking road trips from the New England Area. Canada was highlighted, especially since North America's oldest city, Quebec, is turning 400. Another Canadian destination spot mentioned was Prince Edward Island. The island will be alive with activities in celebration of Anne of Green Gables' 100th birthday.


Robert opens the AAA Times and announces: Wow! This is the summer to go to Canada - Quebec turns 400 and Anne of Green Gables turns 100.

Kory: She's dead, right?

Robert: Ummm, she's not a real person.

Kory: Oh yeah. My bad.

We actually did make the pilgrimage to Prince Edward Island about 7 years ago - the second summer we lived in Massachusetts. Drove all the way up through Maine, into New Brunswick, and all the way to Nova Scotia. We stayed on the Bay of Fundy (known for some of the highest tides in the world) and then drove across a very long bridge (maybe the longest) to get to PEI. We toured Green Gables, drank raspberry cordial, and sat on the beach and watched the sunset. Robert's cousin Courtney came along as a help with the kids, and I sent her a copy of the book Anne of Green Gables to read as preparation for our trip.
(Remember this, Courtney? Shame on us - neither of us had read the books when we were girls!)

So if you need summer vacation plans, I would highly recommend these places - absolutely beautiful. But beware the fans of Anne - they are a devoted group!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Avocado Avalanche

Been meaning to post this one for awhile. I received another care package of avocados a few weeks back! So exciting. The return address was San Antonio, TX and there was a nice note inside telling me to enjoy them - but no name.
It didn't take me too long - a quick email - to find out it was Jack, a wonderful man and special friend of my good friend and former Spanish teacher, Kelly. (That's not what I call her though - can't get past the formality of "Miss.") They are a wonderful pair, and along with a team of others have an exciting summer of mission work planned together in Africa - visiting Compassion International sponsored children and working in Ugandan IDP (internally displaced) camps. And after that, who knows? He has my approval as husband material, and let me tell you, it was not so easy to get.
The avocados may have been a bribe!?
(P.S. Jack does not like this picture of himself. He's even more handsome in real life!)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Life Ruined at age 11 - Mother and Saxon Math Alleged Perpetrators

Actually, he is still alive and well, the one who spoke these words numerous times in a variety of ways in the last two weeks....

"Mom, why would you want to ruin my life over a little thing called math????"

or

"Is ruining my life what you really want to do, Mom? Over math? Really?"


If you consider having to re-do missed problems a life ruining event, you might be in for some real devastation in the future.

I like this mom's explanation for the need for accuracy in math, and my fifth grade teacher used to repeatedly quote the famous, "'Close' only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." It makes more sense to me all the time.

We are finishing school this week, but this child won't be the most relieved.
That person will be me!

Menu Monday - A Week of Gluten Free Meals

Monday
BBQ Chicken, Baked Potatoes, & Steamed Broccoli

Tuesday
BBQ Chicken Wraps, Chips, Fruit

Wednesday
Grilled Chicken, Potato Skins, New Lane Pea Salad, Cheese and Green Chili Polenta
Dessert: Pecan Pie & Blueberry Pie with choice of vanilla or coffee ice cream
(We hosted a mission team from Oklahoma this night - they did a lot of painting and clean up jobs around our church!)

Thursday
Cornmeal Crusted Baked Cod, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Green Beans with Goat Cheese & Walnuts

Friday
Robert & Mel out to Blue Heron Restaurant (Thanks to Sarah & Ben for their gift card!)
Kids: Omelettes

Saturday
Chicken Curry with Peas & Brown Rice
(This recipe came from the below mentioned Nourishing Traditions. I soaked the rice all day in water and kefir to break down the starches and phytic acid. It did seem easier to digest. Also, I spent a good amount of time at the bulk bins of spices at Whole Foods - fenugreek, cardamom, turmeric, clove. It was fun to try this new recipe and the taste was great. Now, how to store these new spices???)

Sunday
Leftover Chicken Curry