Thursday, February 27, 2014

Train Ride to Alton...Angela's Wedding

Back in June of 2013 Layne and I rode the Amtrack to Illinois. The scenery was amazing and the ride was an adventure.


Sunrise

Getting close

Saint Louis Arch

Some of the bridges appeared to be very old.


The dining car...expensive.




The view from our seats.



I loved the isle markers. Simplistic and beautiful.

Best buddies reunited.
Wedding hair prep!

Tough guy, Steve aka Pop-Pop,  trying not to cry.






Lifelong friends


Guess who has to hold the dress?


I love this one.



Kenny, the barrista was rude and did not want our business.








Kyle's face says it all...gross!



Trying to take a...

picture with ...

Kristen is soooo...

HARD!



A two story train with teeny tiny staircases.



Friday, January 24, 2014

Brand New Journey

    The title is a bit misleading. This journey began almost a year ago. I went with a friend, Annette, to an Open House for a local Classical Conversations community. I am a veteran homeschooler, but something had really piqued my interest about Classical Conversations.
    That morning I awoke with an excitement for a day out, lunch, and the slight possibility of a pedicure. We normally wouldn't splurge for lunch and a pedi, but that day was special, it was Annette's birthday.
    I was needing a change and had been praying for His leading. I remember the song playing in my car  was "Speak to me for I am ready to know Your will and know Your way. You have called me I will answer speak to me Lord I'll obey." This next part brings tears to my eyes and I think of it so often. I was praying that the Lord would give me a sign,  that even I would recognize. Would you believe that within two blocks there were two men standing in the Walgreens parking lot, each holding a sign with a single word...JESUS? Get it a sign from Jesus? How literal, I thought. By this point the tears were streaming down my face. He really is listening. What was about to happen? Who would I meet? Would I be different? I wasn't sure, but I recall a boldness within my spirit. I met up with Annette and her daughter Katie-Beth. Together we joined in their opening program. They prayed, recited scripture, sang a song, said the pledge, and divided up into their groups. I have teenagers so I went and sat in on a Challenge class. Annette and KB went to a Foundations class. I loved everything I saw and the manner it was presented. Soon the kids took a break, giving the director, Laura, and myself a chance to chat. Laura suggested, that I would be good for the program and  Kristen, another director,  said the same thing. Little did I know that was just the beginning.
    I couldn't wait to get home and talk it over with my husband. He was supportive and agreed it sounded like a good fit. Now what? Well, we prayed and prayed some more. Together we decided on four things that we felt like needed to happen. One, the area manager would call me, not the reverse. Two, the funds would be available. Three, I would have enough students to make a class. Four, they would offer a contract. All four happened and they happened very quickly. Little did we know Layne had said a prayer of his own. See, that particular campus met on Monday's and Layne has plans every Monday with my parents and has had these plans his entire life. So he prayed if it was the Lord's will to join a CC community they would meet on a different day. Well, the community I joined was a different one than the one I had toured and they meet on Wednesday's. So as a family we were unified in our decision and felt a peace about the future.
   In the coming months I read a pile of books, articles, and watched many webinars. I also went and trained at a Practicum.
   I remember hosting my parent orientation and thinking why am I NOT nervous? I've always been  that shy girl with the nervous stomach. Any new situations, a test, anything and barf. Yep, nervous stomach. So, here I am about to speak in front of these parents and I'm confident. Seriously not my normal but somehow knowing I was on the path the Lord wanted for my family gave me exactly what I needed. Then, the first day of school came and went without that same feeling. I found my groove and fell in love with my class. They each have something different they bring to the table. I couldn't have asked for a better year.
   I am equally excited to have signed a new contract for next year and I'll be moving up a level. I love this phrase from my contract, "I hope you have prayed diligently about whether to continue in this role." Wow! When we have meetings, we open and close with prayer. It makes a wonderful working environment and a place for my boys to grow. Each of the directors I work with are Godly women and I know I can count on them for support.
  I have learned so much in the past year. The main thing being, pray for the Lord's will and the strength to stay within His will. Talk to Him daily...He's always listening.
  Oh and yes, we all got pedicures that day!

Classical Conversations....Explained

    Many of you have asked about Classical Conversations. How does it work? If you only meet for one day a week how do you get all your work done?
    I am going to attempt an explanation. In Classical Conversations, or CC, there are three levels, Foundations, Essentials, and the Challenges. So right away you can see a difference...no grade levels. A child begins  in Foundations and builds, just like it sounds, a firm foundation.  The Essentials program continues building on that foundation and adds the essentials of grammar and writing. Lastly, are the Challenge levels where we begin to hone these skills and teach them various things like defending their faith.
   Our community meets on Wednesday's. I arrive early and set up our room, including tables(the boys actually do all the lifting).  We begin with a period of devotions and jump right into math. As you might have guessed each kid is at a different level in math. However, math is math at any level so we review formulas, vocabulary, and do some mental math too. I incorporated an interactive math journal for a hands on activity each week. We can review and preview the weeks work as needed.
  We spend an hour on each of our subjects and each student is expected to do the same at home during the week. I hand out an assignment sheet each week, with each subject listed. CC day is a time for labs, speeches and presentations, group discussions, projects, and SO much more. We cover math, Latin, writing, apologetics, science, and geography. All in a days work! We are trained to model a classical education and give our students the tools they need to learn. We utilize the three stages of learning, the trivium. First comes the grammar stage, memorizing facts and such. Next, the dialectic stage which is discovering how those facts relate. Lastly, the rhetoric stage, applying those facts.
    Our mission is to know God and to make Him known.
    Our model is to combine a Biblical worldview and classical tools.
    Our method is to equip parents and encourage students.
   I can't say enough about this company. My whole year has been such a positive experience and I have grown too. Visit www.ClassicalConversations.com to learn more. Find a local community and attend an information meeting and an open house.
   I am happy to answer your questions just leave a comment.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Refried Beans

Here is another recipe that serves more than one  meal. I'll make  this recipe about once a month and let me tell you it makes a lot. A crock pot full in fact, this would be perfect for pot-lucks. I actually get three meals from this one batch of beans and each is different. Before I mash my pintos I remove 4-6 cups and reserve for later. So our first meal is re fried beans and I'll serve with taco's, taquitos, or chimichangas. Then we'll have beans and cornbread with fried potatoes and smoked sausage on another night. Lastly, we have simple bean burritos with chips and salsa on Sunday before church. I found this recipe on Pinterest or click here.

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs pinto beans( I found mine at Dollar Tree...cheap trick)
1 large onion, chopped (I used onion powder since my family doesn't care for onion)
4 Tbsp. jarred minced garlic (Also found at Dollar Tree)
*Up to 2 1/2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin
10 cups hot water

* You can use as little as 1 Tbsp. It depends on how you like your beans.

Hamburger Steak or Juicy Burgers

I have used this recipe as a hamburger steak(with baked potatoes and a salad) or just a great burger. I've even doubled the recipe having hamburger steaks on a Tuesday evening. Then had left over hamburgers on Sunday afternoon. I love a good recipe that make two different meals.

Ingredients:

2 lbs ground beef 85/15
sesame seed buns
1/2 cup of grated Monterrey jack cheese
1/4 C BBQ sauce
season and salt to taste
I added onion powder

Mix all ingredients and shape into patties. The recipe I first tried said to make a small dent in the top of the patty. This is what prevents the patty from becoming a dome. I've done mine in a skillet, on a griddle, and on my George Foreman grill. I found the George Foreman to have the best results. For a quick clean up: When you remove the burgers replace with a wet paper towel. The residual heat will steam away the burned on grease and makes for an easy clean up.

Fun Facts

Here are a few of my favorite fun facts from our daily work this year.

Did you know...

A dolphin sleeps with one eye open.
An octopus has 3 hearts.
"Go" is the shortest complete sentence in the English language.
A starfish has at least five arms and hundreds of feet.

A full moon is nine times brighter than a half moon.

World War 1 ended on November 11, 1978, at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of the year.
The word silent contains exactly the same letters as the word listen.
That a turtle can breathe through its butt hiney.
About 25% of an apple's volume is air. That's why it floats.
The White House has 28 fireplaces and 32 bathrooms.
A billion seconds equal 31 years.

A raven can make 33 different sounds.

To get Heinz ketchup to come out of the glass bottle faster, hit the "Sweet spot" on the neck of the bottle where it says 57.

There's a town in Wales that has 58 letters: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Sleeping burns about 65 calories an hour.
A drive through the Lincoln Tunnel into New York City takes you 97 feet beneath the Hudson River.
The longest blue whale ever recorded was 106 feet long.


Aren't these fun?