Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving




Y'all know I'm a sucker for children's books, right?  Love 'em.  Even more than children's books?  I love Christmas children's books, so I jumped at the chance to read and review The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey.


The story begins with Nick, dragged along with his father to do some last-minute Christmas shopping.  Gift giving is far from his mind, however--he'd rather think about all the things he wants for himself--when he chances upon a mall Santa, who tells Nick a story that changes his perspective.

The mall Santa tells the story of another Nicholas, who lived long ago.  In the legend, Nicholas sees needs all around him, and wonders how he can help.  One snowy Christmas eve, Nicholas remembers visiting the holy land and how his mother told him about the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus.  He remembers that Jesus is the greatest gift, and decides to give gifts on Christmas to those in need.

This is a really sweet story, and I love that the author emphasizes Jesus' birth as the reason for Christmas and the reason for giving gifts.  Nicholas is merely responding to God's gift with joy and generosity.  While the exact details of the life of the original St. Nicholas are unknown, I love this author's interpretation.  The illustrations are gorgeous as well.

Bottom line: This is a sweet story, which emphasizes the importance of giving.

I received this book for free from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Menu plan for the week of October 27

Almost November already!  Can you believe it?  It's been crazy warm around here--it just doesn't seem right that Thanksgiving could be just a month away, but there it is.


The craziness of football has ended, but we still have activities 3 nights a week, and basketball starts next week, adding one more evening to our running.  It's not crazy busy, but it is still busy.  And we've still got to eat...and AKD needs the laptop to do homework, so I'd best get to this week's menu.


Supper:
--Pizza Casserole, green beans, salad
--Chicken broccoli braid, broccoli, salad
--Out to eat birthday supper
--Cheesy mini-burgers, brown rice, mixed veggies
--Waffles, bacon, fruit
--Tuscan chicken sandwiches, lazy bread, pesto yogurt, salad, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
--Chicken with peppers and artichokes, zucchini "noodles"


Next Monday:
--Taco Bean Soup


Other:
--Greek yogurt
--Berry parfaits (in a half-pint mason jar, layer 1/4 c plain or vanilla Greek yogurt and 1/4 c. frozen mixed berries.  Repeat layers.  Add the sweetener of your choice, if desired.  Allow berries to thaw.  Just before serving, top with 1-2 T chopped pecans or granola.  Mix and enjoy)
--Canned pinto beans
--Oreo truffle spiders (birthday treat)
--Lemon poppyseed and almond poppyseed friendship bread (because AKD needs a side by side comparison to decide which he likes better)
--Grilled chicken for lunches and snacks
--Granola?  I've had the ingredients for 3 or 4 weeks, just haven't gotten around to making it!


Um...wow.  That's quite an ambitious list!  What's on your menu this week?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Menu plan for the week of October 20

Busy week, y'all.  Busy week.  But what else is new?  Let's get right to it, shall we?

Here's what's on the menu this week:

Supper:
--Grilled chicken, salad, garlic bread, corn
--Chicken with peppers and artichokes, zucchini "noodles"
--Spaghetti and spaghetti squash, meat sauce, green beans
--Hamburgers, buns, salad, mixed vegetables, jello
--out to eat
--Breakfast for dinner
--Chicken broccoli braid, broccoli, salad

What's on your menu this week?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Glutton for Discipline

Howdy y'all.  Remember the other day when we played everybody's favorite game, "Do You Know What This Means?"  Remember?  That was fun, wasn't it?

Remember at the end, when I said some random passersby accused me of being a glutton for punishment?  This was on my 5th time up (177 + 66) steps that day, so I had a lot of time to think about that on the next (12 x 177) + (1 x 66) steps that day and the next.  At first, I agreed.  I was punishing my body.  It had been bad and I was being punitive.  But the more I climbed those steps, over and over again, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn't what it was about at all.

The steps were not punishment, they were discipline.

Punishment is the infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense.
Discipline is the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior.

I would go as far as to say that discipline is about showing someone they can behave another way.  That it is possible to do something else.

This is the first time I ever really understood the difference. 

I wasn't asserting my authority over my body just because I could or because it made me mad, I was training my body to do what it should do.  I was teaching myself what I should be doing instead of...what I have been doing.

You know how I knew?  That this venture was about discipline, not punishment?  Because when I was done, standing at the top with frost on my shirt, sweat streaming down my face, and my legs feeling astonishingly jelly-like, I felt pretty darn terrific.  Almost like I could do anything.


3,405 steps climbed...and still smiling.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Menu plan for the week of October 13

Hey y'all.  I have something to tell you about which I am super excited.  Are you ready?  OK, here goes:  football season ends tomorrow.  Yes!  Football season ends tomorrow!  I am so very excited to be able to plan and eat meals like a normal person* again.  Because from Wednesday on, the activities start at 6:30 instead of 5:30.  Whoo hoo!

Alright, here we go:
Supper:
--Slow cooker quinoa chicken chili, salad
--Hot beef sandwiches, buns, broccoli/cauliflower/carrots
--Mexican chicken quinoa casserole, salad, green beans
--Cool ranch chicken tostadas with taco toppings
--Nachos (beef/turkey or left over cool ranch chicken), taco toppings
--Pork chops, roasted Brussels sprouts, applesauce
--Bacon wrapped wienies, mixed vegetables, roasted broccoli

Monday supper:
--Chicken broccoli rice casserole (from the freezer), salad, applesauce

Other:
--Friendship bread (double chocolate, almond poppyseed, 2 starters for the freezer, 1 starter to remain on the counter)
--Lazy woman's bread (buns for the hot beef)
--Non-fat plain Greek yogurt

What's on the menu at your house this week?

*Is it "normal" to plan meals?  I mean, I don't know how you'd negotiate the grocery store otherwise, but seems like there are a lot of folks out there who don't plan meals.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Do You Know What This Means?

This week, instead of a week in review post, I thought we should play everybody's favorite game: Do You Know What This Means?

What's that?  It's not your favorite game? Well! You must not have been playing it right.  Are you ready?  All right.  Here we go.

We'll start with an easy one.

There are flannel sheets on our bed.
Do you know what this means?

That's right!  It's getting to be good snuggling weather.  Also?  I just love this headboard and that wall color.

Ok.  See what's going on here? You can totally do this.

Next one: my husband attempted to roll a kayak in our living room.
Do you know what this means?

Yes!  My husband is a little strange.

And?  We're going to have to make room to hang a 6th boat from our garage ceiling.

Alright, up next: There's a bunch of random stuff in our bathtub.
Do you know what this means?

Absolutely!  We're not going to be taking a bath for a while.

Also?  The carpet guy still hasn't shown up.  Sure would have been nice if our new carpet had been in town on or before the scheduled installation date.

See?  Isn't this so much fun?  Last one:

These pictures are on my phone.

The waterfall at river level.

A staircase so tall you can't see the top.
 
The waterfall from above.
Do you know what this means?

Uh huh.  My calves are really sore.  Also?  I gained and lost a lot of potential energy this week: 17 x 177 +  6 x 66 steps worth over the course of 2 days.

Also, also?  Random passersby on the trail think I'm a glutton for punishment.

What happened in your neck of the woods this week?

Saturday, October 11, 2014

God Gave Us Angels by Lisa Tawn Bergren: A Review


 
In God Gave Us Angels by Lisa Tawn Bergren, as always, Little Cub is full of questions--this time about angels.  What are they?  Where are they?  What do they do?  What is their purpose?  As always, Papa patiently answers each of her questions, while the two explore the glorious arctic landscape.
 
For example, Little Cub asks, "What do angels do all day, Papa?" 
 
To which Papa replies, "Angels live to serve God.  Whatever he wants them to do, they do.  And he loves us.  So sometimes they bring messages from him to us.  Other times they guard us or even fight for us.  And they're always worshipping God."
 
I liked this book.  As always, Laura J. Bryant's illustrations are beautiful, and the text is engaging and easy to understand.  God Gave Us Angels is a great addition to the God Gave Us series, following the same question and answer format as the rest of the books.  I love this format, because it's so true to life.  Children ask questions, and while Papa Bear always seems to know the answers, I don't.  These books are a great resource to spark discussion of spiritual things with young children.
 
Bottom line: This is a great starting point to help answer your own child's questions about God and angels.
 
I received this book for free through Blogging For Books in exchange for my honest review.
 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Menu Plan for the week of October 6

Good Monday morning to all!  This is the day that the Lord has made!  Let us rejoice and be glad in it!  The sun is shining, and it's the perfect day for a new start!

I'm feeling terribly slow and uninspired this morning, so I'm hoping that positive affirmations along with lots of exclamation points will do the trick and get me going.

So far, not so good.  *Sigh*

Here's what's on the menu for this week:

Supper:
--Taco Bean Soup
--Leftover shredded pork and chicken, tortillas, taco toppings
--Grilled chicken, salad, corn
--Soup from the freezer, toast or rolls, carrots
--Pizza and chicken pizza, raw veggies
--Scout Campout/soup for the mama
--Baked bone-in chicken breast, baked sweet potato wedges, mixed vegetables or roasted Brussels sprouts

Next Monday Supper:
--Slow cooker quinoa chicken chili, corn bread, salad

Other:
--More applesauce.  Because 32 quarts just isn't enough. 
In related news--we're taking orders for quarts of homemade applesauce.  It's free--just please bring our jars and bands back when you're done.
--Granola.  Because I didn't get to it last week
--Apple pies--for our church's Turkey Dinner

Friday, October 3, 2014

This week in review

Hey y'all.  Happy October.  And happy Friday, too.  I have just about half an hour here before I need to start tidying up (so when the kids come home from school in a couple of hours they'll have something to mess up--I'm thoughtful like that), so I thought I'd spend it with you.  Also?  Something happened this week.  You know, besides football, football, and more football.

You may remember that we had to change our weekend plans early on in the summer to redo some landscaping.  We had to redo the landscaping because our basement was soaked.  Soaked, I tell you.  I'm talking pools of standing water.  We ended up tearing out our carpet and padding and transforming it into a tasteful lawn sculpture (yup, still there).  All summer long we had exposed tack strips, and no carpet, in our basement.  During that time we had 3 sets of guests who had to sleep in Bubby's room because we were afraid to let them in the basement lest their tetanus shots prove insufficient to protect them.  We had 4 people sleeping at one time in Bubby's 12 ft by 10 ft bedroom for 5 nights.

Finally we made the time to have the carpet guy out, made a decision, and order the carpet.  It was set to be installed on Wednesday, and the carpet guy said it would take about 6 hours.  Tuesday around 12:30, I got a call from the carpet guy telling me the installer had an opening in his schedule and could he get started today?  Installer showed up at 1 and was gone by 4, leaving gorgeous, soft cushy carpet in his wake.  We all (and I do mean all) had to go down and roll around in it.  I am so pleased with our choice.

Tuesday night?  Football.  But not just any football game or practice.  MC's team played so well, the best they have all year.  It is so gratifying to see the boys improving over the course of the season.  And they beat the team to whom they had lost two times previously.  Both of those losses were heartbreaking, with the other team scoring the winning touchdown within minutes of the end of the game.  MC recovered a fumble and sacked the QB, as well as making some great tackles.  We call him The Finisher.  Someone else will be holding on to the ball carrier, and the opposing player will just be dragging our boy along on the ground (our team has a lot of very small players).  Then MC will run in and knock him down.

We've had a lot of rain this week, which meant I've been spending time indoors.  Kind of a bummer, considering how much I love to be outside, but that's meant I've been able to do a little baking.  I came across a recipe for Lazy Woman's Bread that I'm working on today (OK, not really working on, since it's so easy)--I just might be sharing it on the blog next week because it's so versatile and easy.  Easy, easy!  No kneading!  And you can just store it in the fridge until you want fresh baked bread and then bake it!

Thursday morning I hung with my mom friends.  We're reading and discussing the book of John.  You know, John from the Bible?  'Cause that's how we roll.  That afternoon I made my rounds, completing 4 more mystery shops.  Still love shopping, secret agent style.

I also bought a bunch of eggs.  They're on sale this week for a dollar, so I bought 4 dozen.

I'll just pause here while you work through your shock and awe.

Back now?  OK, so I bought 4 dozen eggs, yes, and in the interests of full disclosure, I already had 1 hard boiled egg, 8 raw store-bought eggs, and 8 yummy, rich, home grown eggs from a friend (saved for Saturday morning breakfast, donchaknow?) 

What in the world am I going to do with more than 5 dozen eggs?  Well!  I'll tell you.  I'm going to freeze them.  Yes!  You can freeze raw eggs.  I'm not sure if I'll freeze any scrambled or whole eggs, but I'm going to freeze some egg whites in my trusty ice cube tray (hopefully one egg white will fit in each depression).  Once they're frozen, I'll pop them out and store in a zipper lock freezer bag until I want to use them.  Love it.  Egg whites are such a great source of almost pure protein.  But don't tell my friend you can freeze eggs, 'cause she might not give me any more! ;)

And...that's my time.  You've been a great audience.  I'll be here all week...

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Love Undone by Cindy Woodsmall: A Review

A Love Undone by Cindy Woodsmall is, at its core, a love story.

 
Old order Amish Jolene Keim is on the verge of marriage and her own happily-ever-after, when tragedy strikes, changing her plans and her life forever.  For 10 years, Jolene throws herself into family life, but she yearns for a family of her own.
 
Andy Fisher is a horse trainer, and father to a sweet 9 year old boy.  Andy is a grass widower, which means his wife abandoned him and their son.  He is unable to divorce or remarry, according to Amish traditions.
 
When the two meet, they're attracted to each other, but their love is forbidden by their church.
 
I really enjoyed this book. It is well written and the story is compelling.  Ms. Woodsmall navigates the world of old order Amish brilliantly, and includes enough context for readers who are not familiar with Amish customs to be able to follow along.  The characters are believable and feel like friends. 
 
This was another of those books where I knew what was going to happen, but I had to keep reading to find out how the story was going to get there, and I was a little sad when I came to the end.
 
Bottom line: this is a great old fashioned love story.  Highly recommend.
 
I received this book for free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door: A Review

In Conrad and the Cowgirl Next Door by Denette Fretz, the first thing Conrad packs when heading to Uncle Clint's ranch to learn to be a cowboy is his Mega Ultimate Extreme First Aid Kit.  It's a good thing, too, because learning how to be a cowboy is a lot harder, and more painful, than he thought.  Conrad has a lot to learn about being a cowboy, but the most difficult part is dealing with the neighbor girl Imogene Louise Lathrop, who knows all the rules and loves to hold her knowledge over Conrad.


This is a cute book with beautiful illustrations, and I liked it.  The story conveys a moral message about forgiving your enemies, but I feel like the final few pages detracted from the message, when Uncle Clint tells Conrad, "Forgive your enemies.  It messes up their heads."  That doesn't seem like a good motivation for forgiveness, or a prudent thing to say to a child, however true it may be.

Bottom line: this is a cute book, but I would buy it because my kid likes cowboys, not for the moral message.

I received this book for free from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Menu Plan for the Week of September 29

Happy Monday, y'all.  Have you noticed the lack of "this week in review" posts around here lately?  That's because pretty much all we do is go to work and school and then go to football.  Then we go to bed, get up, and do it all over again.  There you go: this week in review for the last month. 

Only a few more weeks of football and then we can start eating like normal people again.  It has been a real challenge coming up with meals that can be eaten in shifts 4 times a week, and I am so looking forward to not having that constraint anymore.  In the meantime, here's what's planned for this week.

Supper:
--Leftovers/fend for yourself
--Baked oregano chicken, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot medley, applesauce
--Angel hair or spaghetti squash with meat sauce, garlic bread, green beans
--Italian herbed chicken mozzarella melts, salad, leftover veggies from other nights
--Pulled pork sandwiches (BBQ sauce optional), coleslaw (for the hubs), salad, corn, applesauce
--Hamburgers (bun optional), salad, grilled broccoli, jello
--Ham, au gratin potatoes, green beans, applesauce

Next Monday:
--Taco Bean Soup

Other:
--Apple Strudel Muffins
--Pumpkin Cookies--made from the pumpkin Bubby grew in the school garden
--Applesauce (and possibly some pear/apple sauce, too)
--Granola
--"Skinny" ranch dressing (made with my homemade Greek yogurt and my homemade ranch mix)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Menu Plan for the Week of September 22

Hey all.  No time to chat, but I just wanted to take a minute to get our menu plan up.  You know, just in case you're wondering what's for dinner tonight.  Here ya go:

Supper:
--Pizza, salad, corn
--Chicken or beef tacos with flour or corn tortillas, taco fixings, pears
--Mini pizzas, salad, orange Julius (MC's Family & Consumer Ed homework)
--Pesto chicken skewers, grilled veggie skewers, cauliflower/broccoli/carrots
--Sausage & white bean soup, tortilla chips, veggies & dip
--Southwest chicken and beans, rice, salad
--Ham, au gratin potatoes, green beans, applesauce

Other:
--Greek yogurt
--Hummus
--Almond butter

Have a great week!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Menu plan for the week of September 15

Hey, all. Our current meal challenge?  We need to leave the house by 5 pm, four days a week, and by 6 pm on the 5th.  Leaving at 5 means we have to eat at 4:30.  But no one's hungry at 4:30.  And we don't get home until 8, at which time showers must be taken and beds gone to.  But we soldier on... And no one has actually died of hunger just yet.

This week we're having guests.  Which is good, because guests can put the meatloaf in or whatever as I'm shuttling kiddos to activities.  At least they won't go hungry.

Here's what's on the menu this week.

Supper:
--fend for yourself/supper at Cub Scouts
--Hot beef sandwiches, carrots, salad
--Southwest chicken and beans, corn, salad
--Spaghetti with marinara & meatballs, spaghetti squash, green beans, salad
--Grilled chicken, spinach & strawberry salad, grilled asparagus
--Turkey wild rice meatloaf (and a beef/sausage meatloaf for the less adventurous among us), mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, peaches
--Grilled Pork chops with portobellos in red wine sauce, grilled broccoli, applesauce
--Pesto grilled chicken skewers, grilled veggie skewers, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots
--Beef or chicken tacos with corn or flour tortillas, taco toppings, black bean & corn salad, pears


Breakfast/Other
--Gluten-free pancakes
--Grandpa R's chicken & rice soup
--Sausage & white bean slow cooker soup
--Pumpkin pie energy bites 
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