Monday, 28 February 2011


Here are a few I snapped this week.

Elijah is a pianist.

At the funeral

Playing at my parents' house.

Spotted this bald eagle just 3 houses down the road from us. I whipped out my camera and he started to leave the scene.


I mentioned earlier that we went to a funeral. My family already knows that it was for my Uncle Elmo, my mom's brother-in-law. He was a home missionary to the deaf, and founded the church I attended as a small child. My mom's family is close, and Uncle Elmo asked to remain a part of it when his wife died 23 years ago. He had cancer for several years, so his passing wasn't unexpected, but still grievous. The timing was odd, as he died on the day of his mother's funeral. She was 101; he was 75.

At the family dinner before the funeral, an old friend teasingly asked how many of my children he could take home with him. I laughed him off, but Ella was listening and turned to him and said, "You can take Riah!" :-)

Traffic was the lightest I've ever seen on the highways between here and there, and I missed rain in all legs of the trip though there was flooding in Oklahoma City, and heavy rains here at home.

We recently got a wall calendar from for "free" - we paid about $5 for shipping - and it's pretty nice. I was able to choose pictures from our Flickr page and place them on the months of my choice. I chose a design I liked, typed in notes on significant dates, and paid with PayPal. It arrived in a sturdy flat box and is of decent quality.

My brother ordered some stuff through my Amazon widget, and it worked! His making one extra click that day (to come here first rather than go straight to them) made me $25. Thanks, Zane! Feelin' the love.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Travelling without Bob...

... is much noisier. :-)
I took the children down to my parents' house for 2 days to attend a funeral. Bob stayed home to work, which meant I got to drive the van (3rd time ever!) inter-state. Being thus forced to pay more attention to goings on, I have decided Americans need to re-vamp the driver's test. Here are the suggested new questions:

1. The passing lane is best used for _____
a. passing a slower vehicle
b. slowly cruising, oblivious to the world around you
c.testing out your cruise control settings

2. The turn signal (indicator) is used for _____
a. signaling when and in what direction you intend to turn
b. keeping rhythm for your internal music
c. There's a signal?

3. The best way to distract the driver of your vehicle is ____
a. jump up and down in the rear-view mirror
b. make sudden loud noises
c. cry and whine
d. all of the above, simultaneously

4. The best way to freak out other drivers is to _____
a. weave across the lane markings right as they come even with you
b. constantly change speeds
c. drive with brights on

5. When the sign says "work zone - no passing" you should ____
a. hurry up and pass
b. slow down to match the traffic around you

6. Cell phones are for ____
a. music, texts, internet
b. talking it up
c. when you're not driving

7. When there's an accident in the other lane the best thing to do is ____
a. suddenly slam on the breaks in the hope of causing a matching accident
b. speed up to get through the mess as quickly as possible
c. slow down in case of emergency workers exiting the scene

And one thing I can't figure - why is it that cars with out-of-state licenses are always the ones speeding? Don't people know they are more likely to get a ticket when they are foreigners? Ever hear of "When in Rome, do as the Romans do?"
Anyway, we made it in spite of all the stupid people out there. Of course, I never made any mistakes. ;-)

Thursday, 17 February 2011

A little help from Sam's club

To give you all a shudder of horror, here is Bob's and my bedroom BEFORE we went to Sam's Club. This is how we were living. I didn't hang up the clothes for the picture, but I didn't get the next load from the couch either, so I think it's honest.

Then we bought the Total Closet Organizer, and tidied up a bit. Everything that was in the room is still in the room, plus the clothes from the couch. I didn't hide anything in the closet. :-)

The plan is to eventually move the bed out to the old storage room, and to make this whole room a closet for all the children (and maybe us, too). I'll have my cross trainer in the middle of the room, so I can work out and watch them hang up their clothes. But for now, we are happy to not be walking over boxes to get in bed.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


In attempting to "monetize" my blog, I signed up to be a Vision Forum Affiliate. This means, if you follow my link to Vision Forum and then buy something, I get a percentage of what you buy. The only problem is, I can't remember my username or password for the affiliate's site, to get a banner for my blog. I could email them, but it's kind of embarrassing. So, anyway. This link should work, if you want something right now. I'll eventually figure it out.

I edited it so "this link" is actually a link now. Told you I was a dork. :-)


Seeing as how we are "poor" now, haha, we have been eating oatmeal a lot at breakfast. It's cheaper than cold cereal, and without all those additives I feel better about serving it. So anyway, two things I've learned.

1. The difference between "regular" oats and "steel cut" oats. Here in America we have "old fashioned" and "quick" oats - these are both versions of rolled oats. Then there is also this mystery substance known as "steel cut oats." All the health nuts promote this version, but I never knew why. All the stores that sell SCO have them in cans, so you can't see them to tell there's any difference, and they cost about 6 times as much, so I never bought a can to check. Here is Huntsville, Arkansas, is a small store known as "the Pantry" that I've mentioned before. They sell bulk food, mostly in plastic bags. On the back shelf is an area dedicated to oats. Old fashioned and steel cut. They are the same price per pound, and you can tell at a glance they are not the same thing.
I bought some SCO and then looked it up online. It seems SCO are to OFO as raw sugar is to white. OFO are toasted, steamed, rolled, and cooked again. SCO are simply chopped up. So while both are officially "whole grain," SCO are much less processed. That's why the whole-food type people are so excited about them. The thing is, since they aren't pre-cooked, it takes longer to cook them at home, so I don't know if it really helps to have them less pre-processed when I have to process them. Anyone? Regardless, the cooked product is nuttier, with a more varied texture, than rolled oats. Some of us like rolled; some like cut.

2. What to do with leftover oatmeal. As we cook oats for 9 people at one time, sometimes there is a bit leftover. One day some people weren't feeling well and so ate less, leaving quite a bit in the pot. I didn't want to waste it, so I searched for leftover oatmeal. I found a recipe for cookies, and made them, but they weren't very good. The other thing I found has changed out lives. (Sounds nice and dramatic, doesn't it?)

Take leftover oatmeal and spread it on your face. Rub it in good, as you want the "juice" more than the flakes. Let it dry for about 10 minutes, and then go rinse it off. This is an awesome facial treatment that will leave your face softly glowing for a day or two. Cured Taryn's blackheads in one treatment. Makes me look pregnant. Cheap as dirt, quick and easy to do. I'm actually wondering if toddlers have such nice complexions because they get food all over their faces when eating. :-D It's a little slimy at first, but really worth it.


I'll keep this brief in order to maintain my family-friendly status, but just have to share.

Last week Bob took us to Target and distracted the children while I did some personal shopping. (He also picked up a nice looking ice cream maker). Can I just say, the proper undergarments really make a big difference.

Today, in the car, Ella asked me (several times, because I couldn't quite figure what she was getting at), "What are these things that are sticking out up here?", gesturing with her hands in front of her chest. :-D It's okay to laugh; I am.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Good news

Those of you who pay attention on Facebook already know this, but...

Bob is now employed! He is working for the Huntsville Wal-Mart, 40 hours per week (M-F, daytime). He was so excited that they liked him, he forgot whether he's to go in on Monday or be called in on Monday. Any rate, he has to do a drug test and provide some references, but he's in. The store manager was pleased with him, and told him that he will start off in the advertised position (stockist), but his immediate supervisor has been promoted to management in another store and Bob will move up to that position soon. We shall see. It isn't meant to be a career, just a way to make some money.

In other news, I got the bathroom walls painted. Bob wanted to do a "weathered" effect, so it took 3 coats so far, by brush, and needs a top coat on Monday. It looks really neat, and i think the whole thing will be nice when it's done. Of course, progress will be slower now that Bob's working, but we'll probably get more school work done.

We got all the wall paper off the hall and one wall in the living room. About 1/4 of it has been washed and scraped free of glue as well. We plan to paint it white, to be a clean background for all our pictures and decorations.

I cooked all day yesterday. Made yogurt in the crockpot (it's a little runny, but tastes fine), made "artisan" bread that is super easy and super yummy, and chocolate chip cookies from the King Arthur Flour book. They don't look like that special, but I think they are the tastiest choc chip cookies I've ever had. As well as making a decent supper.

The snow hasn't melted yet, so Bob took the children to Jesse's Mom's house to ride behind his 4-wheeler in an inner tube. It was a lot of fun last time. I'm home with Elijah so he can nap. I'm also trying a Lentil Chili recipe for lunch. Better go check on it.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Cookbook review

At an auction recently I obtained The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook. Am I ever glad I did!

I was going through the book to mark the recipes I wanted to copy to my personal files, and 8 out of 10 recipes sounded good. After a few pages I gave up and decided I just had to keep the whole book. Not only does it have some delicious-sounding recipes like "The simple but perfect pancake," "Stuffed French toast," "Parisian Street Vendor Crepes," there are also weight/measure charts (very handy for my British recipes), and nice tidbits on the history of the recipes, and some explanations of the effect of various ingredients.

Did you know that there are two kinds of croissant? One kind is made by a pastry chef, without yeast, and one is made by a baker, with yeast. I made the recipe with yeast, and we liked it very much. But it was that recipe that prompted my complaint with the book. The recipe clearly states the recipe makes 24 croissants, but when you get to the cutting instructions it says to take a whole recipe and cut it to 12. I checked the no yeast version and it said to roll out a 1/2 batch at a time, as it should have here. There was also a typo on the amount of butter, stating that 1 3/4 c butter is equal to 3 3/4 sticks when it is actually 3 1/2 sticks. (For those crazy Americans who measure butter in "sticks".)

Another recipe I tried turned out delicious. As it's a bit easier than the croissant, I thought I'd share it with you all.

Apple Dumpling Slices
10 Tablespoons butter (5 ounces)
2 cups water (16 ounces)
2 cups sugar (14 ounces)
2 cups all-purpose flour (8 1/2 ounces)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk (2 5/8 ounces) (I used a bit more than this)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups peeled, diced apple (I reconstituted 1 cup of dried apples that we happened to have)

Preheat oven to 350* (180*C). Melt 4 T of butter in 9x13" dish (glass or ceramic is preferable); set aside.
In saucepan, heat the water and sugar until sugar melts.
Combine flour, powder, and salt; cut in remaining 6 T butter. Stir in the milk just until dough comes together. Chill the dough while preparing apples.
Turn dough onto floured surface and knead it gently until it's somewhat cohesive. Roll it gently into a 10x15-inch rectangle. Mix together the apples and cinnamon and spread them over the dough. Carefully roll the dough into a log, sticky-bun style. It may tear, but don't worry; mend it as best you can.
Cut the log into 16 slices; arrange over the butter in the dish. Pour the sugar syrup over the slices and place in the oven. Bake 40-45 minutes. The dumplings will be lightly browned on top of a still-very-liquid syrup. Be careful moving the dish.
Serve the slices with the syrup poured over the top.

or not

Just a minor correction. Remember the other day when I said that Elijah was talking?

He's not any more.

Pretty much ever since I wrote that, he's stopped talking altogether. He points and says "da" about everything. He has many interests, but just one word. Oh well.

We did have one major milestone - Elijah is now weaned. I've let all my children self-wean, but everyone else has done it by their tenth month. Elijah was almost 15 months.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Why one should show tolerance

We've had snow on the ground since Tuesday, and Bob has been chafing at staying indoors. Yesterday we finally broke out and puttered around Huntsville. We went to the "Pantry" - a small bulk grocery and deli run by Mennonites - and drove around a bit. Where our county road intersects the US Highway, the vehicle in front of us stopped and the driver got out, waving us around him. (This sort of thing happens all the time in England, but rarely here.)

So today we worked all morning, and after lunch went to Springdale for building supplies. At the same intersection, the car in front of us stopped and the driver got out, but only for a second. So I said, "Why is everyone stopping there??!" As the words left my mouth, Bob braked to stop at the stop sign, which happens to be at the bottom of the hill. And the thick blanket of snow that had been on top of the van since Tuesday all came sliding down the windshield. So, yes, we had to stop and Bob got out to scrape off all that snow and clear his line of sight.

We all had a laugh, and I hope I learned a bit about patience.

Friday, 4 February 2011

hey, a post!

To make things easy on myself, I'm going to put up a note I wrote to a friend who asked for some info on our family on a variety of topics. Hopefully nobody minds. :-}

Dresses: We teach the girls to wear dresses, and so now they want to. Simple answer. We aren't so narrow minded to think that dresses are the ONLY thing ANY woman should wear, but we do think it's the BEST thing for US to wear. I believe the Bible teaches a Christian woman should be modest and feminine. That leaves a lot of room for interpretation, and each woman/family has to work that out for themselves.

Big family: I "do" it only by the grace of God. I am by nature very quiet and orderly and bookish - not a "people person." I think God sent me the children to challenge my comfort zone and make me grow. :-) I have wavered on the idea throughout my life. At times my life's ambition was to be a hermit. At other times I imagined I'd adopt and have 20 children. I never thought I'd marry a man who would work through things together with me. Anyway, about the time that Azariah was born, I started thinking about what God wanted for me in that department, instead of just thinking about what I wanted. I dug out my concordance and topical Bible, and the more I looked the more I found about how much God loves and desires children. Never saw anything about limits, or spacing, or prevention. So we went for it. :-) We've had to revise our position as time went on, and because I'm overweight and prone to joint problems, I have tried to space the children a little farther apart than would happen naturally, but I still look forward to the next one.
For the daily managing, it all kind of goes together. Since I have several children, it follows that some of them are older, and they help out a lot. Since we homeschool, I don't have to compete with outside influences as much, and the children are more what we've trained them to be.

Homeschooling: The best part? That's a hard one. I could be super-spiritual and say the best part is knowing that I'm doing what God has called me to do. Or I could be self-effacing and say the best part is not having to deal with the school personnel and programs. :-D I enjoy going at the child's own pace. Naysha is 8 and just now starting to read, where Riah is 6 and reads everything. Of course we are working with Naysha, but she's not under tremendous pressure to "catch up." I enjoy the freedom of time; that we can all go to activities during the day, or stay up late on a week night if needed. I like that Bob and I are the main influence on our children - they aren't teased or bullied into conforming with ideas we don't approve of.

Religion: We attend a little non-denominational church, and we teach the Bible, as plain and simple as we can. We read the Bible together (a chapter or less) every morning and evening, and discuss what we've read. We try to explain the hard stuff, but we don't "explain it away."