Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Fun!

These are the Texas Elves! If you want to see the Disco Elves, you'll have to visit Super's blog. Then there is the World of Elves according to Tutone. (updated 12/24/08.)

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!
Here are some of my favorite pictures from this year!

Here is Super, myself and Tutone at my bil's wedding in October.

These are of the boys at my bil's wedding. I love the ties that they picked out!

And these were pictures of all of us at the Grand Canyon. What an awesome trip!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow Angels

You knew I would have to do it, right?

OK. If you don't watch football, then you didn't know, because you didn't even know it happened.

I'm not going to get into the whole argument about whether or not, Welker should have done it. They called him for a penalty. He will probably get a fine on top of that.

But for me, it was fun to watch. Because although I hate snow...I love the Patriots. I love angels. And I love that he played college football for a Texas university. Maybe not "The" University of Texas, but my second favorite Texas university.

Merry Christmas, Wes!

Christmas Countdown

We've been doing the pre-Christmas hurry and scurry in our house. I'm sure your family has too! Finishing those last things on the huge list of things to do can be nerve racking. But since I'm the one who put all these things on the list I have nobody to blame but myself!

Phil, who was out of town working for a good portion of December, flew back into town on Wednesday night. As soon as he arrived, we ran right out to the stores with thousands of closest friends. Everybody's favorite is last minute shopping, right?

Here's the deal. You have choice. You can make friends with everybody in line or you can be hassled that there are too many other people in line. I choose to make new friends. My goal on these shopping trips is to find the one person who looks like they haven't smiled in at least a week and talk to them. Phil doesn't find this nearly as entertaining, but he has certainly gotten used to me. Besides, in Texas, I fit right in! When we moved here, the first week someone else started a conversation with me while I was standing in the grocery line FIRST! I thought, "I am finally home!"

On Thursday evening, we had the boys' friend over. They decorated a gingerbread house...and my floor...and the dog who was laying on the floor. I don't know how clearly you can see in this picture, but those little dots on the top of her head are not just because of a bad picture. Those are sprinkles. Nasty! You can see their gingerbread house creation on our school blog.

On Friday and Saturday, there was more shopping. The big present was a digital piano. Everybody is very excited about that! So our front room has now become the library and conservatory instead of just the library. Super is also getting a violin. I wouldn't tell you, since he reads this blog, but he already knows!

There have already been fights over the piano. We have had to set the timer so that turns on the piano are distributed fairly. Tutone was even heard to say, "You play Wii first. I want to play piano first." Super responded, "No, you got to play first yesterday!" Imagine fighting over playing piano first, and not Wii!

Today, we got our Christmas cards made and most of them addressed. That was a big accomplishment! Tomorrow I have to mail them. All the presents have been bought, but they still have to be wrapped. Most of our baked goods have been distributed, but I have a few left that need to be handed out. Oh and of course, the last week of the advent calendar. Can't forget that!

I hope that even with your big to do list, that you too are finding time to have fun with your family. We have been having a great time with all the activities on our advent calendar. We have been taking some time to play our new piano together, as well as play Wii sports. By the way, if you ever play Wii bowling with me, I need room...lots of room.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Calgon Take Me Away!

Have you ever had one of those days? Well, my family had a few right in a row. It was definitely a "Calgon, take me a way!" kind of week. I wonder if they make Calgon in chocolate flavor?

Please forgive me that the Advent Calendar did not work yesterday. It should be working now. Thank you for your patience! I hope you are having fun with your children and the activities.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Speaking of Angels!

Here are some new pictures of Babybird!

Isn't she adorable? My boys love the way she is holding her hands in the first picture. They told me that she obviously already knows how to say her prayers before she goes to sleep! Too cute!

Monday, December 8, 2008

...Crazy for Christmas!

There are many things that your children can do to help you around the house. My children have produced a video to show you how they help me around the house at Christmas.

If you are looking for activities to do with your children, that are a little more, well, constructive than these, you can find an advent calendar at the bottom of this page. Just click on today's or any past day's square and it will take you to the activity for that day! Have fun and God Bless!

...The Butterfly Award!

I was given "The Butterfly Award" from my friend Tammy over at Adventures on Beck's Bounty. Thank you! That was so cool!

Now, I have the honor of awarding ten more blogs with "The Butterfly Award". The Butterfly Award is given from one person to another for the coolest blog. It's one of those pass it on things so...here are my choices...

1. The Frans Clan
2. Counter Cultural Mom
3. Counter Cultural School
4. Homeschool Dawn
5. Trusting in Him
6. The Song in My Head
7. Lessons from the Barn
8. Grace for my Day
9. Sprittibee
10. Dawn Writes

Now they get to pass it on...

...Not a Creature was Stirring...

...except for a mouse...in my attic! Don't think for a minute that just because I like football that I am tough. There are many things that I am a tomboy about...I like sports, but I am a girl!

Now I like animals as much as the next person, unless the next person is Super, of course. So I need to find a way to kill this mouse before Super decides that we need to keep it...or the dog decides to eat it and Super is scarred for life...or Tutone decides that a great way to torture his brother would be to turn the mouse into a science experiment. Sigh.

But whatever we were feeding that mouse seems to be making it stronger not killing it!

Want a great mental picture? Midnight last night....me in the attic...with a broom...and my whistle! And the kids saying, "Mom! What are you doing?" But I didn't hear any more mouse noises! Maybe I gave it a heart attack with the whistle. Here's hoping!

...Tree Trimming Time!

I love Christmas!

My friend Lauren is very particular about things, as is my husband Phil. Whenever I give them give them a hard time, they back each other up by saying, "There's nothing wrong with that." So when it comes to this time of year, they tease me mercilessly that here is something that I am particular about...my Christmas tree. For some reason, this is something that they both are NOT particular about. And this time, I don't get it!

But still people ask me, "How do you make an artificial tree look that way?" Here's a few tips on how to make your artificial tree looks it's best...

1. First, use lots of lights. Use at least 100 lights per 1 foot of tree. I prefer 150 per 1 foot. (I got that from my mother. My father LOVES it!) The first time I explained to Phil how I wanted it done, he looked at me and said, "Ummm...yeah. You can take care of that!" Now we have a prelit tree!

2. After the lights are on your tree, run one or two garlands (depending on the height of your tree) along the pole. This will hide the metal pole and make the tree look fuller.

3. Once the branches are spread out look for holes. If you can see through the tree to the other side, take a solid color, shiny ornament that matches your tree color, and stick it inside the tree. This accomplishes two things. One, it fills in the hole to make the tree look fuller. And two, it reflects back the light make the tree brighter and more colorful.

4. I will admit this is a personal preference. When I start to put the ornaments on the tree, I separate them into colors and types. I divide my tree into four parts, then I divide the ornaments into four parts. Each side of the tree gets an even amount of types of ornaments and colors, so that things are spread out. Not too many colors are put together. Finally, when I start working on one side of the tree, I divide it again, into three parts - top, middle, and bottom -- and I do the same thing.

And now you finally understand why nobody will help me decorate the tree at church except my two best friends - my husband and Lauren. Thank you Lauren and her children for helping me decorate all those trees at church last week. Love you!

Off to decorate our house!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Celebrating the Season!

My dear friend Molly @ Counter Cultural Mom is hosting a blog carnival. I had heard of these but I had no idea what they entailed. Little did I know how easy they were! Uh oh! Watch out world! Anyway, Molly's blog carnival is Celebrating the Season. She asked us to share our favorite Christmas music and books.

My favorite Christmas carol is Hark the Herald Angels Sing. The lyrics were written by Charles Wesley, who was the brother of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church. However, the tune was originally very solemn. A hundred years later, Felix Mendelssohn composed a cantata to commemorate the invention of Johann Gutenberg's printing press. It was the English musician William H. Cummings who took Mendelssohn's composition and adapted it to Wesley's lyrics.

My reason for loving the carol is more simple than it's history. When I was a little girl, my grandmother gave me a music box. It was a silver angel that spun in place. The song it played was Hark the Herald Angels Sing. There are many modern versions available. Charlotte Church has a gorgeous voice. I find her rendition the most enjoyable.

As for Christmas literature, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a must read. If you have only watched the movie, you are missing out! Written in 1843, Dickens wrote the book to revive his dwindling checking account and instead revived the dying Christmas traditions in Victorian England. That's quite an accomplishment! Shortly thereafter, Queen Victoria began sending out official Christmas cards. Victorians were excited about celebrating Christmas again because of one book. If you are looking for a book on tape to travel with this season, I suggest A Christmas Carol narrated by Patrick Stewart.

Of course, Dickens went on to write four other Christmas books. They are filled with strong moral messages. Worth reading for older students, I would not suggest them as a read aloud for younger ones. Of the other four Christmas books, I enjoyed The Cricket on the Hearth, but nothing can match Dickens' A Christmas Carol. I am sure that's why it sold six thousand copies in one week. Quite a feat in those days.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

She's No Angel...

No, I'm not talking about myself. Although I could be...but I'm talking about my dog. I love angels. I collect them. So when the kids talked me into that cute little fuzzy puppy and asked to get her, they said, "And we will take care of her, and you won't ever have to do anything for her, and we could name her Angel."

Now, she's a huge 75 pound dog who sleeps with - you guessed it - us and snores incredibly loudly all night long. Then tonight, as I was typing my Corinthian Christian Academy blog entry, I kept hearing this strange sound downstairs in the kitchen. It sounded like someone doing the dishes. Hmmm...but I could hear Super and Tutone in Super's room decorating a Christmas tree. (Yes, he has his own.)

I thought maybe it was Phil. But it sounded strange, like the same sound over and over again. So, I called downstairs, "Honey?" The noise stopped. But Phil didn't answer me. Then about 45 seconds later the noise started again. So I called, "Honey?" and started walking down the stairs. No answer, this time the noise didn't stop but seemed to get louder and if a noise can get faster, the noise got faster. At that point, I knew what it was!

I crept into the kitchen to try and catch her in the act. If you could have seen her, you would have laughed. I, on the other hand, yelled! She was standing at the counter licking a plate from dinner. But it was the way she was standing, as if she was a person. And she casually just turned and glanced at me over her shoulder as if to say, "Is there a problem here?"

No, she's no angel. It's too bad I love her! But there is no way she's sleeping in my room tonight!

Remind me to give you my slow cooker Pot Roast recipe! Apparently, 2 out of 2 preteens and 1 out of 1 dog agree that it rocks!

Mommy? Is that Santa Claus?

If you have ever turned around in the store and wondered if that child was talking about you, then it's time to start thinking about that "diet" word again!

In my last article on this topic, we were left looking at an extra large turkey's butt. Now we are wondering, "Did I really have to eat the whole thing?" Last week, I suggested that everyone might want to pick one thing a week to change. The choices were accountability, water, food journals, food choices, and exercise. It seems like everyone I know chose accountability. And they chose me as their accountability partner! I was left telling 35 people my most intimate secrets, so I might as well admit to everyone here, since that's pretty much my whole readership of this blog anyway...I gained 1 lb. Bummer!

Just a quick word of caution about what accountability is and what it isn't. See, when we chose accountability last week, we weren't supposed to brag to everyone about how bad we were. That's not what accountability is! Yes, you are supposed to be honest. But it's not about bragging. I'm not asking for horrible feelings of guilt. I'm not going to make everyone go in a room and say 6 "Hail Marys" and 2 "Our Fathers" or anything. But guys! Come on! Let's at least make an effort here!

Accountability is about support. Find someone who is serious about losing weight. This is the person who you can call or email and ask for advice. Find someone who has been there. Trade recipes and ideas. Discuss the things that are difficult. Come up with ways to overcome it. Pray for each other! Accountability is not about whether or not you lose weight this week, but if you have a partner and you trade information in a supportive manner. Bragging about what you shouldn't have eaten isn't supportive!

I'm not going to go into great details here about my journal. People who chose me as their accountability partner will hear all about it. I tried and I failed on the weight loss. I'll get back on the horse again this week. I'm pretty sure that pound will be gone at the end of the week. But I did well on my accountability goal. I have plenty of partners! My change this week is...more water. (I know, can you believe it? Can I really drink MORE water? I think so!)

If you need to, try that accountability thing again. Otherwise, move on to the next step! Good luck and God bless!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this great day, before we stuff ourselves, before we watch hours of football, and before we even take time to enjoy our families, let us be sure to thank our God for His many blessings.

Do you know the history of Thanksgiving? In school, we learn the first Thanksgiving was the Pilgrims celebrating in the Plymouth colony. But who was the president who made Thanksgiving a national holiday? Did you know it was Abraham Lincoln?

In survey after survey, our country has picked Abraham Lincoln as one of the "best" presidents. From the 1948 Schlesinger poll to the 2o05 Wall Street Journal poll, Lincoln has been ranked as one of the top 3 "best" each time. I wonder if any of the people surveyed ever read what Lincoln wrote, any of his speeches, or any of the proclamations his signed. What makes Lincoln one of the best presidents?

I think his Proclamation of Thanksgiving holds some of the answers. It was actually written by his Secretary of State, William Seward. That in no way makes the words no less meaningful to Lincoln himself, who had shortly before committed his life to Christ. His willingness to sign the document speaks boldly. Would a president today have this kind of courage?

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Welcome to the World!

Congratulations Leigh and Thad on the arrival of your baby girl! Here is a picture of Leighbird and her beautiful new Babybird.

Leigh keeps texting me about how in love she is with her baby. Who wouldn't be? Look at her! Look at both of them! Who wouldn't be in love with either of them? We sure are!

Leigh, may God bless you and your baby. Let God guide your path as you parent your child. As you look into your baby's eyes, this may be the first opportunity that you have had to understand the true meaning of love. Just think, if this is how much you love your baby, how much more must God love you?

We are always here for you whenever you need us! We love you!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

...Does this Pan Make my Butt Look Big?

Have you given up on not gaining weight this holiday season? Have you made up your mind that you'll just "lose it after the holidays?" Statistics show that most diets started in January fly right out the window by February. And before you give me a lecture on how statistics can be manipulated...C'mon! This time, you know it's true!

What should you do about it? If you start with baby steps, you will be on a roll by the time Christmas is over. And I don't mean a buttered roll!

Why don't diets work? Because they are "all or nothing", you are on them or off them. There is no accounting for real life. Plus, we don't like change. If you make small changes, one per week, by the end of a month, you will have made a big change in your life, and it won't seem like such a shock.

Pick one of these things per week. Then the next week, do the one you picked the week before and add a new item. You'll be on your way to a successful plan before the new year. Everyone else will be making New Year's Resolutions, while you are looking great at the New Year's Party!

1. Accountability. Every good plan starts and ends with accountability. If you don't have someone to do this with, chances are you won't stick to it. Get a group of friends, online or "in real life" and dare each other to stay on track! I am thankful for my Team Central group. Without them, I wouldn't be where I am today!

2. Tracking. No matter what system you use, keeping a food journal is vital! Having to write down what you eat will make you think about it before you put it into your mouth. I keep mine on a computer spreadsheet to make it easier Because I am boring and eat the same foods from day to day and week to week, I can just cut and paste.

You should take this on in two parts. One week write down everything you eat and evaluate it at the end of the week. Then the next week, change what you eat or when you eat based on what you learned from the journal.

3. Water. Drink 10-12 glasses a day if you want to lose weight. And coffee is not water. Water is water. I am very annoying about water. Just ask any of my friends.

Want some "water science"? Sure you do. Here's an interesting fact. Fat tissue has less water in it than lean tissue. Muscle tissue is about 75% water. Brain tissue is about 70% water. Men are composed of 60% water, while women are composed of 55% water. The more fat tissue you have, the less water you have in your body. Each day humans must replace 2.4 litres of water, some through drinking and the rest taken by the body from the foods eaten. Check out your average store bought water bottle. That's right, it only has .5L of water in it!

What does all this water do for you? You mean besides becoming the mechanism for transporting carbohydrates and proteins that your body is metabolizing as food in your bloodstream? Or transporting waste material out of your body?

4. Exercise. This is often the hardest thing for moms to add. We don't have the time. We don't have the money. It's too cold outside now. The list goes on and on. Here's my advice. You make time for the things you like. So find something you like to do and do that a couple of times a week. Do you like to walk around the mall? Bring the strollers and briskly walk around the mall with a friend. Start slow. If you have more than 40 or 50 pounds to lose, it's going to be tough to start something. But you can do it.

I don't like to shop. But I love to swim. My husband got me swim lessons at the Y. I know, he's the best. He knows that I will go and do that. Do you like tennis but you are afraid to start again? Go hit a ball against the wall of a building for 20 minutes each week. Someone in your neighborhood will watch your kids for that short a period of time! Trade "babysitting" time with them. We all make excuses and call them reasons. I do it to. But you know in your heart, that like the Nike commercial said, you need to "Just do it!"

Don't make me come over there with my whistle!

Thank you to my friend Lisa W. in Maine, turkey farmer extraordinaire of Whit's End Farm, for the picture! And to my friend Beth G. in Texas for the great timely reminder on the need for coaching this time of year!

Yes, I cheated because I have already listed both these ladies as "not my Secret Sister". Here's today's hint...this was dedicated to Sharon in S.C., a nurse, who gives great advice!

Monday, November 17, 2008

...More on...My Inmates and Our Asylum!

The other day I told a neighbor that surviving parenting is 3/5 God's grace, 1/5 training, and 1/5 ignorance. (The ignorance is on your part, by the way!) Apparently, my children have been surviving on a little less training, a little more ignorance, and a lot more of God's grace!

This segment on chores is dedicated to Siobhan, who for some reason loves it when I talk about chores! She must be a neat freak or something!

The first part of any chore retraining effort is finding out what is not getting done properly. After school today, I decided to follow my children around as they did their chores to do just that. This is what I found. I hope you will enjoy it more than I did...

Usually, your coach isn't the person to call you for a personal foul. But since these were so flagrant, I think it was justified! In typical athlete fashion, my players complained, "Hey, how come I got called for the foul on that, he was the one who ___!" Sigh.

I said, "I look crazy in that video!" Tutone said, "Yes, you look like you usually do when we are done with you." At least he admits it!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

...The Inmates Have Been Running the Asylum

Several days ago, my friend Dody from Alaska pointed out how many days there were until Christmas. Very nicely, I asked her to stop it!

It's not that Coach Mom doesn't like to plan ahead. We all know that's not true. But this fall has gone by fast! And now...

There are only 40 days left until Christmas!

I know, now you are asking me very nicely to stop it. But according to the Organized Christmas website, I am way behind. As I look around my house, I realize I have been very busy. And the boys have been taking advantage. Chores have slipped.

As much as I have enjoyed converting this blog into my family's blog in addition to the "Coach Mom" advice column, as much as I have enjoyed the Giving Thanks Challenge (which will continue in the sidebar), and as much as I have enjoyed being nominated for the Homeschool Blog Awards (which is kind of like the closest feeling I will ever get to being nominated for the Heisman), it is time to get back to the roots of this blog! And it's time for my boys to get back to business. I just heard a loud scream from the other room! I think they know I'm coming for them.

So I am taking the day off tomorrow, to watch football, of course. Then next week I hope you will enjoy cleaning our house and our hearts together for Christmas!

...Texas Rocks!

Good morning from beautiful central Texas where high winds last night ushered in cooler temperatures today! When I woke this morning and it was 45 degrees, I was reminded...I am thankful for Texas!

My husband thinks this weather is great. It is his birthday weekend, so I guess I'll be happy for him, since it's not like the weatherman asked my opinion. Personally, I was happier yesterday when it was in the 80s. And that's just one of the reasons why I love Texas, because the cool weather months don't last long. Also, the colder temperatures don't get as low as they do in many other places. Often, I will say to my dh, "It's freezing!" and he will give me a look, being from New England and all, so then I say, "OK, it's 'Texas freezing!'"

Some things I love about Texas besides the weather...football...the awesome people...football. Have I mentioned that I like football? But I really enjoy the people here too! The "cowboy" spirit that people poke fun of in movies and on TV about Texans have turned my sons into polite conservative Christian young men.

But even Texans know, that they have a different way of saying things than the rest of the country...

Texas Sayings

If it's cold, then..."It's hog killin' weather."
If she's crazy, then..."She's two sandwiches short of a picnic."

If he's not smart, then..."If dumb was dirt, he'd cover about an acre."
If you're happy, then...you are as "happy as a gopher in soft dirt."
If they did something immoral, well then..."They ate supper before they said grace."
If he's lucky, then..."He's riding a gravy train with biscuit wheels."
If he's nervous, then...he's "as jumpy as spit on a hot skillet."
If you are out of money, then...you are "so broke, you can't pay attention."
On the other hand, if you are rich, then...you are in "tall cotton."
Do you need to relax?..."Don't get your cows runnin'!"
Are you a little full of yourself? Then...you are "all hat and no cattle."
And my personal favorite, when I've done this before, then...."This ain't my first rodeo."

How many of these have I heard ? 7, but then again we live in the suburbs.
How many of these have I said? Hmmm.....
I wonder how many of these Beth G. has said. Hmmm....

Friday, November 14, 2008

...Enjoy this Repeat

Dedicated to my friend Sharon in NC...this is one of her favorites...

...Never Do This...

Originally posted Sept. 2, 2o08

Here are some cleaning things that I found out the hard way. If you are a new mom or a young mom, or if your mother is making you read this because she is one of my friends, then please read this carefully and learn from my mistakes.

Things I Found Out the Hard Way

Change the vacuum cleaner bag at least once a month. Check every week to see if it is full. Trust me, just do it. Full vacuum cleaner bags will explode all over your carpet. My husband will tell you that when we first got married I didn't even know there was such a thing as a vacuum cleaner bag.

If you do not change the air filter in your central air, ice will form on it and then water will leak all over the floor when you switch over to heat. This will happen especially if you live in one of those states where the day you turn off the air conditioner is the same day that you turn on the heat.

"Unattended" laundry in the washer will get black spots in it and will smell like cheese. Forever.

You know that "capacity" suggestion on the washer? Uh, yeah. That's not a suggestion. King sized comforters do not belong in a regular sized washer. PTL, I found this out before we got the one that has the door in the front!

"Uh oh" is never a good sound if one of your children is standing near a bathroom or a kitchen sink. You know what? Scratch that. You never want to hear your children say "uh oh" ever.

If you leave a cucumber in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator for too long, it will turn to liquid.

Oh and that reminds me...food left in the freezer too long doesn't taste real good.

Red food coloring doesn't come out of anything easily, that includes kitchen counters. So you might want to cover things with wax paper first. A lot of wax paper.

Children should not be allowed to clean a room without it being inspected more than one week in a row. No matter how good they usually are. Just take my word for that. Inspections good.

And if you ever come over to my house, you are not allowed to look in one of two places. My bedroom closet and my schoolroom closets are off limits. That's where the mess is! LOL! They get cleaned more often than they used to though!

When I left for college, my parents cleaned out my closet, and they found book from the library that was due two years before. Whew! They were not happy! Use Library Elf
It works!

...By Request...this repeat

As they say..."bump"...this repeat comes from earlier in the week...you lazy bums!

After watching the following PSA, I have found a few more things for which I am thankful. Watch...

I am thankful that my husband knows how to deal with all of the cables in the back of my TV! I am thankful that he can take care of my computer. I am thankful that he encourages me to learn more about my computer, although who can keep up with the rate of change of technology? Well, he can, but it's his job! And I am extremely thankful that he purchased my DirecTV package so that I can watch all my football games in HD now, and I do not have to wait until February.

Thank you honey!

And to those of you who got a big laugh at John McCain's daughter (not really) just remember, your day is coming!

Disclaimer: I cannot be held responsible for any of the other videos this site puts up so do NOT click on those!

Happy Birthday, Honey!

Isn't it amazing how birthdays are sometimes grouped in a family? Earlier in the week was my cousin Leigh's birthday, and today is my husband's birthday, two of my favorite people in one week!

Happy Birthday, Honey!

For those of you keeping track of my thankfulness list, yes, I did list my husband twice. If you were married to hunk like him, you would too!

In Phil's honor today, I will not be posting much. I am going to be a good wife and spend some time with him. So I hope you enjoy the repeat from earlier in the year.

The boys made their Dad a birthday video. We hope you will enjoy watching it with him.

If you are wondering why the bed is in the way, it's because there is only one "safe" place to be during Tutone's safety dance...and that's far away! This is not the first time Tutone and Coach Mom have tortured Super this week. You can read more about that here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

...For my TOG friends!

One group of friends I have met online is TLT. They use the same unit study homeschool curriculum, Tapestry of Grace, that I do. In the past, I have discussed how vital I think it is to get involved in a group like this! Today, I have a special message for those friends because I am thankful for them!

First, to Lisa W. in Maine...As I pointed out earlier, I love learning about my friends who raise animals. I thought it was awesome to hear about your turkey crop last year! So this video is for you. I hope that none of your turkeys behave like this one...

Our group has an event every year called Secret Sister. The most important part of Secret Sister is that we vow to pray for each other through out the year. But another fun aspect is that we buy our Secret Sister an ornament. The guessing of who was assigned who has already begun. It has sent the email traffic through the roof on our yahoo group so in order to make things a little easier, I will be posting my hints in a column on the sidebar of my blog. If you want my hints, you will have to come here.

So far my very helpful hints have been...
1. My Secret Sister has children.

2. She uses Tapestry of Grace.

3. She has a vowel in her name.
(This elicited discussion on whether or not "y" was a vowel...yes, it can be.)

4. My first "real" hint, my SS celebrates Thanksgiving in a special way.

5. Today's hint...my SS has not mentioned by her first name so far today in any "Coach Mom Says..." posts.

...My Friends Are My Estate!

"My friends are my estate."
- Emily Dickinson

"It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lately, we see so many things on the internet about friendship that we have become almost immune to it. And yet, besides the grace of God, it is the fellowship of family and friends for which I am the most thankful. My friends, I hope we will have fun together for years sometimes enjoying our stupidity, and sometimes forgiving it!

The internet has added a whole new dimension to friendships. You know what's great about internet friendships? Is it the fact that you can pretend to be a woman when you are really a man? No, that's not it! That's just one of those urban myths, at least that's what I tell my husband when he teases me about my friends. No, the great thing about internet friendships is that you meet people who have experiences that are so drastically different from your own.

I've always been a suburban girl. I like living that way. But it's fun to meet people who grew up in the country. It's fun to meet people who grew up in other countries! I am daily surprised by things that I take for granted that other people don't have. Thank you friends for teaching me about the world!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

...Riding Around The "Rock"

Poor Super is having a bad day. First, he had to get up early to have his braces adjusted. Then, he was subjected to riding in the car with his embarrassing mom!

One of the sadistic pleasures of getting older is that you are no longer afraid to embarrass your children. You know that you are not cool anymore. You are not fooling yourself or anyone else. But you know whose fault it is that you are not cool! So why not have some fun and give them a great lesson in humility in the process? Mean, yes. Fun? Also yes.

I have discovered a little known way of earning some extra Weight Watcher Activity Points...dancing in the car. Now before you think that I am being unsafe, it's mostly at stop lights. Mostly.

This is absolutely mortifying to Super. But Tutone long ago discovered that if you are part of the joke, the joke isn't on you. So this morning, on the way back from the orthodontist, we danced in the car. And Super laid down in the back seat of the car, hoping against all hope that we would not pass anybody that we knew. Fat chance of that once we pulled into our subdivision. Ah...good times. Good times.

...Happy Birthday, Leigh! Part 2

As Tutone was mulling over my blog this morning, his take was...

Tutone: "Leigh must be cracking up over that story you told about her!"
Coach Mom: "I hope so! She used to love stories about when she was bad."
Tutone: "Who doesn't? I'm making history now!"
Coach Mom: Sigh...

You've got to love that boy!

Leigh was definitely the perfect woman to be his Godmother. Which reminds me of another great Leigh story...

About two years ago, the family was walking to the pool. Leigh and Tutone were walking ahead, holding hands. Tutone looks up at Leigh, and in his bragging Tutone voice (read: trash talking) says loud enough for the rest of the family to hear, "I have the best Godmother in the whole world. I have a much better Godmother than anybody else!"

Leigh answered, "That's not very nice. It's true. But it's not very nice."

Happy Birthday, Leighbird! You and Tutone are the perfect pair!

...Happy Birthday, Leigh!

Today, I am thankful for my cousin Leigh, because it's her birthday! God has blessed us with a beautiful woman in Leigh! So thank you, Lord, for her life! Happy Birthday, Leigh!

Leigh is infamous in our family for her once dynamic personality. She has grown up to be a beautiful and restrained young woman. It gives me hope for Tutone, who has taken her place as the wild child! Full of energy and umm...determination, Leigh gave her mother, Lynne, quite a ride the first few years of her life!

My husband, Phil used to give me a hard time about telling stories about Leigh. But Leigh knows I tell them because of how much I love her and I love her spirit. (And it's a good thing, since now we have Tutone!) When she was in her early 20's, when she would see me, she would say, "Tell me a story about when I was bad!"

In honor of her birthday...here's my favorite.

When Leigh was about 2, I was babysitting her (translation: I was talking on the phone). Leigh, who we called Leighbird, was standing at the front door looking out the window. She was also eating a bowl of Cheerios with milk. Next thing I know (because like I said, bad babysitter!), she dumped the Cheerios down the front of her diaper and ran out the front door. I guess she couldn't figure out another way to take the Cheerios with her and run away. I started chasing her down the block, but I couldn't keep up with her, mostly because I was dying laughing, because milk and Cheerios were running down her leg. Luckily, the person I was talking to on the phone lived up the block, and he ran out of his house and scooped her up! That's the last time I talked on the phone while watching her! (At least if I was smart, it would have been. ;) )

But now that Leigh is expecting her own baby, her perspective has changed a little. When I found out about Leigh's impending blessing I asked her, "Do you want me to tell you a story about when you were bad?" She said, "I know! What am I going to do?" The answer is the same thing we all do. Pray hard that you end up with a child like someone else! And when you don't, pray harder!

Here is a slide show of my gorgeous cousin Leigh. Happy Birthday Leighbird! I love you! You are going to be a great mother!

BTW, Leigh, you will notice that in the picture labeled Easter Sunday 1985, you are wearing...that's right!...green jellies. I told you that story was true! I sure wish I had a picture of those Cheerio legs!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veterans Day! Part 2

Once again, I want to say thank you to the men and women of our military who have served our country so faithfully! But now I'd like to say thank you in a more personal way.

I am fortunate enough to come from a family where the men have taken their duty to their country seriously. Many of my family members and friends have served in a branch of the armed forces. I would like to say "thank you" to them today.

To my great grandfather...
Leon Sumner Peao, U.S. Army, WWI

To my grandfathers...
Leon George Peao U.S. Army, WWII
Francis Scott Dam, U.S. Navy, WWII

To my father and my father in law...
Allan Scott Dam, U.S. Navy
Daniel Joseph Osip, U.S. Navy

To my husband...
Philip John Osip, U.S. Army

And to our extended family...
Phil's uncle, Wilfred T. Sullivan, Sr., SGT, U.S. Marine Corp, Korea
Phil's cousin, Tom Sullivan, U.S. Air Force
Phil's brother, Damien Osip, U.S. Air Force
my cousin, Tim Slowey, U.S. Army, Iraq
my sister Meredith's fil, Ramon "Jay" Chezem, U.S. Navy, Korea
my sister's Meredith's bil, Justin M. Chezem, MAJ, U.S. Army

And to our dear friends...
Derek Viljoen, U. S. Army
Phil Kost, U. S. Army

The following is a slideshow of some of the people I mentioned above. Some are not in uniform, but I'm sure you can forgive me! You know how it is to go through boxes of pictures, especially while teaching school!

...I'm Thankful for the help at Thanksgiving!

My husband loves to cook. Unfortunately, he doesn't get much time during the week. Fortunately, this means he likes to do most of the cooking for the holidays! This is another reason for me to be thankful at Thanksgiving! I can watch football and he can make the turkey in the turkey fryer. Even so, I can appreciate some good humor when it comes to holiday food preparation. I have certainly prepared food for large parties!

This video makes a good case for why my husband prepares the turkey. While it is not based on my life, I think we can both see it happening!

I think we should leave the turkey preparation to my husband. What do you think?

Disclaimer: Remember there are other videos on this site that are not appropriate so click on them at your own risk!

...I'm thankful for friends...

One of the things that are great about my friends is that they make me laugh. I don't know why they think I am funny. I think it's because they are so funny that when I am being sarcastic, they think I am being funny too! Either way, sometimes friends make the greatest...sparing partners!

Lately, I have been collecting recipes to put on this blog. This is the time of year when life seems to get away from us. Strangely, people think that since homeschoolers are at home, that we have more time to cook and clean. Now that's funny!

This recipe helpfully comes from my friend Sharon in NC.

Gracie Allen's Classic Recipe for Roast Beef

1 large Roast of beef

1 small Roast of beef

Take the two roasts and put them in the oven.
When the little one burns, the big one is done.

Ummm...thank you Sharon! Now, where is that Chili recipe you promised me?

Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Veterans Day!

My Thankful Challenge post today...I am thankful for our military. I am thankful for those who have served. I am thankful for those who are serving in the military now.

Many times in our house, we have discussions about etiquette. I know that's an outdated ideal in many homes across America. But it was important to both my husband's mother and my mother, and these ideals have been passed on. My mother will be happy to know that we actually do use the Emily Post book she gave us for a wedding present! It's not just a paper weight! (I can see all my readers trying to imagine just how Tutone reacts to these conversations. That's for another post on another day!)

So I asked my husband, who served at one time in the Army, about Veterans Day etiquette. Although Veterans Day was originally meant to honor those who had served in foreign wars, such as WWI and WWII, with the decline of respect for our nation's military it has become more than acceptable to honor anyone who has prior military service. On this day, etiquette be darned! Thank anyone who has worn the uniform please! And then do it again on Armed Forces Day, which next year will fall on May 16, 2009.

A Veteran's Day Tribute, By Joanna Fuchs

If someone has done military service,
They earn the title "veteran," and more;
They earn our deep respect and admiration;
That they are special no one can ignore.

They sacrificed the comforts we enjoy;
The list is long of all the things they gave;
Our veterans are extraordinary people;
They’re loyal, dedicated, true and brave.

When terror and invasion were real threats,
They showed us they could handle any storm.
We owe our freedoms and our very lives
To our veterans, who served in uniform.

Our veterans should be celebrities;
They’re exceptional; no other group compares.
We’re grateful for the many things they’ve done;
They’re always in our hearts and in our prayers.

We owe our veterans support and friendship;
Let no one ever question what they’re worth.
These men and women served us and our country;
Our veterans--the very best on earth.

Monday, November 10, 2008

...More Things to Be Thankful For....

After watching the following PSA, I have found a few more things for which I am thankful. Watch...

I am thankful that my husband knows how to deal with all of the cables in the back of my TV! I am thankful that he can take care of my computer. I am thankful that he encourages me to learn more about my computer, although who can keep up with the rate of change of technology? Well, he can, but it's his job! And I am extremely thankful that he purchased my DirecTV package so that I can watch all my football games in HD now, and I do not have to wait until February.

Thank you honey!

And to those of you who got a big laugh at John McCain's daughter (not really) just remember, your day is coming!

Disclaimer: I cannot be held responsible for any of the other videos this site puts up so do NOT click on those!

The Giving Thanks Challenge

Thank you Leah in Iowa, for the Second Annual Giving Thanks Challenge! And for reminding us to take time this month to be thankful! Doesn't it seem like the American way to skip right over Thanksgiving and move right onto Christmas? That might not bother me so much if I thought that we understood, as Americans, the true meaning of Christmas.

Being thankful is so important!

So visit Leah's blog and start your list of things to be thankful for!

Now you may be wondering why I listed Kleenex as today's item for which I was thankful. I am not trying to be irreverent. I am being serious. I'll be honest that there is some humor in it, but still I am thankful for it. When we say, "Thank God!" and we really mean that we are being thankful to God, is that irreverent? I don't think so. Something to ponder, I guess. It depends on where your heart is I guess!

If you lived in Texas in November, you'd be thankful for Kleenex too. Apparently, it is Cedar season. I did not know that before we moved here. I love Texas with my whole heart. And I will put up with any allergies that it throws our way, especially since mine aren't the ones that are that bad. ;)

This morning poor Super sneezed and then came running across the school room with his hand over his nose yelling "Gross!" Ahhh...life with boys. I would think it was a cold but then I remembered, that's why they call it Cedar Fever. So it looks like an autumn of Claritin and Kleenex for him. That's why this morning I am thankful for Kleenex.

Although I looked across the school room a little while ago and he had two pieces of Kleenex stuck up each side of his nose. That's nasty. I told him I was going to take a picture and put it on my blog if he didn't stop. That fixed that problem. ;)

On to why I am thankful for you, my friends! I couldn't do this without you! Please know that you give me the encouragement and wisdom every day to make it through this journey of homeschooling!

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you."
Philippians 1:3

Friday, November 7, 2008

...Eww What's That?

Actually, Coach Mom didn't say "Eww what's that?" Tutone did. As promised, I have a few slow cooker recipes for you. But our first recipe comes with a story about my youngest son, who is generally not a picky eater, but those of you with picky eaters will appreciate it.

Tutone: "Why is there green stuff in the crock pot?"
Coach Mom: "That's chicken."
Tutone: "Chicken shouldn't be green."
Coach Mom: "The chicken isn't green. It's pesto. It's on top of the chicken. That is what is green."
Tutone: "Food shouldn't be green."
Coach Mom: "Tutone! You eat green food all the time. Apples are green. Limes are green. Many of the pieces of candy I have seen you eat are green."
Tutone: "Well, I don't think that I am going to like pesto."

6 hours later...

Tutone: "Are you going to make this again next week? This is the best food we have had in two weeks."

OK. So now I should be happy because he liked dinner, right? But instead I'm more than a little irritated because...hey! What do you mean this is the best food we've had in two weeks? What about....sigh!

So without further ado...here it is...green chicken!

Pesto Chicken

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of celery soup (I use the 98% fat free)
1 cup milk (I use skim)
1 envelope pesto sauce

Serves 4-6 depending on ages of your children!

Place chicken in slow cooker. I put my chicken in while it was still frozen. Pour all the other ingredients over the chicken and cook on low 6 hours. Serve over fettuccine.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

And Now for a Word from Our Sponsor, Part 2

My husband let me know the other day, that it was I that had missed the point of his favorite commercial. Who me? Miss a point? Am I blonde? Oh, yeah.

First of all, I did get the actress' lines wrong. But the point that I missed was that my dear husband was saying that his favorite part of these commercials, the part that reminds him of me, is that the Mom is constantly there "giving it" to the boys. She doesn't let them get away with anything. He was admiring her. He wasn't saying she was crazy. He respected her toughness.

So my apologies to my lovely husband. And you will see, that he is number 2, on my list of things that I am thankful for! I love you!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

...It's Time to be Real!

This week my friends were talking about cleaning lists again. Isn't it amazing how often this topic comes up? But this time, Martha Stewart's name came up. I started thinking about how my feelings on Martha Stewart have changed over the years.

I used to love Martha Stewart when I was younger. Before I got married and had kids, I bought all her magazines. You know, before I had to pay for things myself. Isn't it amazing what a dose of reality will do?

How do I say this nicely? I am a Texan in spirit, but not in speech, so it never really sounds quite as nice when I say something. See Texans are fiercely independent and tough but then they say "Bless your heart." I've got the one, without the other. I'm a little more the bull in the china shop type. (I heard that Sharon!)

I am sure I could do all the things in the Martha Stewart magazine, if I had the money to employ the staff that she does. But even more than the staff, it is the money to purchase the materials . Early on in her career, her work really was simpler. But it's easy to pick on Martha Stewart, everyone does. It's a horse that has been beat to death. It's a problem that extends far beyond Martha Stewart.

Every time we go to the grocery store, we are bombarded with magazines. You attempt to avert your eyes from the tabloids and what do you see? You see the decorating magazines. Those seem harmless. After all, they are about your domestic art. In a way, it's about your family. It's like a trade magazine for housewives, right? Except for one thing, they are designed to make you spend money.

You know what it's like for women? It's like seeing all those airbrushed women on the covers of fashion magazines. You see enough of that and you think you have to look like that. Well, we see enough decorating magazines and we think our houses should look like that. Or that we have to serve food that looks like that. Or that when we throw a party, it had better look like that. It's unrealistic. It puts an undue burden on our husband's wallets. And we put undue pressure on ourselves. (If my husband is reading this, and wonders if I am feeling a prick of conscious about Christmas magazines, yes, yes, I am. I am working on it.)

Ladies, let's take those masks off. I believe God wants us to be good stewards rather than a good Stewart. He wants us to be who He created us to be. There is nothing wrong with decorating your house. Certainly you know, based on the lists that I have published here, that I believe there is nothing wrong with cleaning your house! And you know how much I love throwing parties, and theme cooking! Housekeeping is an art. But it doesn't have to be expensive. It only takes you.

If you really believe that He created you to be like Martha Stewart that is awesome! But if you don't, and you have been trying to reach that bar of perfection and it is doing nothing more than making you miserable, then may I suggest a more simple approach? I refuse to advertise any one show, especially one I rarely watch, but I know that those decorating on a budget shows seem to have inspired my sister Robin.

God gave you special gifts. Your creativity, your ingenuity and your family's personality should be the things that are reflected in your home. Above all else, when people come into your home, they should know who your family serves.

Monday, October 27, 2008

...And Now for a Word from Our Sponsors!

Have you ever wondered how much of our every day life and speech is influenced by the latest commercials? Lately, I have noticed that you can tell which channels people watch by what kind of commercials they repeat. For instance, if it's not a commercial shown on a sports network, chances are good that my kids and I haven't seen it. If it's not a commercial shown on a political news network or a kids channel, then my sister Meredith has not watched it.

Some of my favorites lately...

My boys seems to be entertained primarily by fast food commercials. Marketing money clearly well spent, since I fathom that pre-teen boys were probably their target audience!

Super shared this little bit of logic the other night over dinner. He tried to become very serious and asked me, "If vegetarians don't eat meat because they love animals so much, then aren't 'meat-a-arians' the real tree huggers?" Then he looked at me and smiled his "Get it?" smile.

Without skipping a beat, his brother Tutone deadpans, "It's a personal choice."

I swear they practice these skits before they come to the table. And before you ask, yes, we have covered carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores in homeschool. That's the joke. They call it a "meat-a-tarian" in the commercial. ;)


Phil gives me the "hairy eyeball" every time the roll over minutes commercials with the whacked out mom comes on. Apparently it reminds him of somebody he knows. I have no idea who. ;)

In the latest one, the two sons are arguing because one son has the "new minutes" and the other son has all the "leftover minutes". During this argument the mom comes in to, you know, ascertain the problem. She leans over and mixes up all the minutes and asks them if they can tell now who has the "new" and who has the "leftover". When they respond, "No." She repeats, "No? No?" like she is about to lose it.

This actress portrays perfectly a Mom on the edge. Whenever she talks to her sons, she points at them and widens her eyes. Phil finds eerily familiar. The actress probably has sons herself.

My response? Moms wouldn't lose it if sons didn't fight over ridiculous things!


My friend Molly has had it rough with sick people in her family this year, poor thing! With no medical background, I am constantly dispensing unsolicited medical advice. But of course, I always caveat it with an oldie but a goody. "I'm not a doctor..." of course, I don't play one on T.V. so I have to change it.

My email usually goes, "I'm not a doctor, and I don't even play one on T.V." and then straight into my advice. To be fair, and Molly will back me up on this, my advice is usually that she needs to call the doctor right away.

But Molly hit me back with a good one today. And it's new! We will not get into specifics about what was wrong with her poor little guy this morning. It was pretty gross! But after I dispensed my advice, (and prayers!) she responded, "I know you aren't a doctor, but you did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, right??"


...One Week to Go!

I will not pretend that I am not politically active! Nor will I pretend that I don't lean towards one political party over another! However, I generally do not use this blog as a political soap box.

One thing of which I am a really big advocate though (ask my poor husband) is using your right to vote. Yes, I am the obnoxious person who wears their "I voted!" sticker all day long so everybody can see it in the grocery store. You know why? Because, it's important!

Imagine my surprise then, when recently, while I was researching my genealogy to find an ancestor who felt even more strongly about it than I did! My great grandfather, Chester Allan Smith, was a lawyer in Illinois in the early 1900's. I came across an interesting newspaper article in the "Daily Review" from Decatur, Illinois in 1909. Wasn't I honored to find out that Chester Smith was one of the fighters in Illinois for the Women's Suffrage movement!

He went from town halls to churches to any soap box that he could stand on and shouted down every dissenting voice! The newspaper called him "entertaining". Men and women alike thought it was silly. They did not believe that women would ever be allowed to vote. And yet state by state, women's suffrage was adopted until finally in 1920, women were allowed to vote in their first presidential election.

How much more life does it give the study of the history of this country when you realize that your family was a part of it? Studying my family's history has given me an even greater appreciation for our country's history. But when it comes to your right to vote, no, even more than that, your duty to vote, one thing holds true...it doesn't matter when your ancestors got here!

Whether your family was first off of the boat (1633!), whether your family was already here when the English (let the argument begin) got off of the boat, or whether you are fresh of the boat (like my husband's family), you are here now! You are an American! You are making history!

Don't make my great grandfather's voice have been a waste of time! I don't care who you vote for! OK, I'm lying, I care! But still, use your voice, it's your duty!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

...Let's have a Chili Cook Off!

Now that autumn is here, I am planning on making Chili at least once a week.

I'd love to have your Chili recipes, if you are willing to share. So let's have our own Chili Cook Off!

My boys will be the judges. And you could possibly win...absolutely nothing.

But you would have bragging rights! What's better than that? I will put it in print that you made Tutone's All Time Best Chili List.

I know that serious Chili makers are very protective of their award winning Chili recipes. But if you are willing to share, I promise never to enter your own recipe in a Cook Off against you. Besides what are the odds? ;)

Time to go! The Texas game has started! Hook 'Em!

Friday, October 24, 2008

...I am blessed!

As I listen to Super and Tutone downstairs "making their lunch" (translation "fooling around"), I wanted to take some time to appreciate my friends at the TLT group. If you are not part of a homeschooling group, I cannot stress enough how edifying it is. Of course, it has to be the right group. And the right group for me is not going to be the right group for you. But my friends at Tapestry of Grace Loose Threads are the right group for me! Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you are given some grace when you wonder off topic...

Thank you, Marsha, for all of the extra work you put into Secret Sisters!

Thank you, Molly, for coaching Coach Mom! Not an easy task I can tell you that!

Thank you, Siobhan, for going Irish with me once in a while!

Thank you, Anita and Sharon, for emailing me and checking on me when I go into my cave!

Thank you, Kelly, for always being quick to respond to my messages!

And all you other TOGers, thanks for all the great ideas and encouragement that you give me!

Love you guys!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

...Stay Fit for Fall with these Slow Cooker Recipes

Chili Challenge

Do you have a great chili recipe that's tasty and healthy? I'd love to hear it!

Here's mine. And it's only 6 WW points (for a cup)!

3 lb ground turkey, browned
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes with jalapenos
1 can of black beans, drained
1 can of corn, drained
1 package of McCormick's new Slow Cooker Chili seasoning
1 tsp Hershey's cocoa powder

Stick all of the above in your slow cooker on an 8 hour setting. That last ingredient was a secret so don't tell anybody ya'll!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I made this earlier in the week and it was fantastic! It felt like Chinese food to me!

boneless chicken breast, cut into strips
1 can pineapple chunks, drained (save juice)
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
1 rib celery, sliced
4 medium carrots, sliced

Put all of the above in the slow cooker, with the vegetables on the bottom and chicken on top. Now you have a choice, you can pour a jar of sweet and sour sauce over it and be done. Or you can make your own healthier substitute. I thought you'd make the right choice!

juice you saved from the canned pineapple
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tsp lite soy sauce
1/2 c. brown sugar

Stir together and pour over the rest of the ingredients in the slow cooker. Put on the 8 hour setting. Serve over rice. I usually use a 1/3 cup of brown rice.

...Use your Slow Cooker to Save Time!

Fall is here and that means cooler temperature! Yes, we do get "cooler" temperatures in Texas. It's just that what we call "cooler" and what you call "cooler" aren't exactly the same thing.

With cooler temperatures, I am reminded of my old friend the slow cooker. Don't you just want to call it that other name? But I don't want to get into trouble with some trademark infringement attorney, so I won't. I also love my bread machine! You can use these two appliances to create both a healthy meal and save yourself time at the end of the day.

Now, before you start complaining (don't make me come over there!), let me explain how the slow cooker saves time. Yes, you still have to brown meat. Yes, you still have to chop vegetables. But, the difference is you do it in the morning, when you are still fresh. At this point in the day, you haven't fussed at, I mean taught, the kids all day. You will have valuable time leftover in the afternoon to grade papers or better yet, go to the gym!

Also, if you smart (and there is no arguing that we are both smart and beautiful, right?), you will use your kids to brown the meat and chop the vegetables, so there you go! Time saver! While you are fixing breakfast, have one child chopping vegetables and another child browning meat.

The bread machine is also a valuable asset. Many people get this as a wedding present and then don't use it. So if you don't have one, check Craig's list or garage sales. You might just be blessed to find one. You can make many healthy recipes with it including a great tasting pizza dough!

I promise, whatever it is your family likes to eat, you can find it in a slow cooker recipe. Don't believe me? Check on the internet. Just go to Google and type in the name of your recipe with slow cooker before or after. Go ahead. I'll wait. See? I told you!

Later, I will give you some of my favorite slow cooker recipes. Right now, it's time for school!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

...Fall is here!

Today, we had our Fall Festival for one of our local homeschool groups. We are fortunate to live in an area of Texas where there are several homeschool groups. I know this will come as a big surprise to you, but I belong to more than one of them. And I am actually thinking of joining one more!

The festival was run like a carnival. There were many different booths for the kids to go to. Being Texas, there was a steer roping contest, of course! Even though the steer wasn't real, I still got a kick out of it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out plans had changed and I didn't have to man the “Rocket Launcher” booth. Last time I had this booth. My friend Anita suspects it's because I have boys. Instead I got the croquet match booth, which I thought would be fun! I remembered playing croquet with my grandmother when I was a little girl. This was nothing like that.

Of course, it's not a secret I have boys. Other species have special calls that they use to call their babies. Human moms with boys have a special call too. Like when you go to the library, and in the distance you see one of them shove the other one into a bookshelf, that's when you use your special call. It goes like this...."KNOCK it OFF!" Then they have a special response, it goes like this..."What? He tripped." Anyway, I'm pretty sure this is how I always manage to get stuck with the rocket launcher booth instead of something cute like face painting.

But maybe...one of these days...I will have a granddaughter. Of course, my mother-in-law constantly reminds me that she was waiting for the same day. I don't know how that's my fault.

...You Like Me!..Homeschool Blog Award nominations

I've always wanted to do an impression of Sally Field! Well, since you can't see me, you'll have to use your imagination!

Thank you Molly for nominating “Coach Mom Says” as Funniest Homeschool Blog. Wow! When she first told me, I teared right up. I won't pretend that's not easy to do...but still! It's nice to know that people are reading this blog, and actually taking it the right way! You know what they say...if you don't laugh, you'd have to cry!

If you want to vote for this blog as Funniest Homeschool Blog, I mean, even if it's because you think it's the funniest looking, you can go over to the box on the right hand side and click on it. Follow the directions from there. And visit my friend Molly at counterculturalmom.blogspot.com to be really inspired as a woman! To get great homeschooling ideas you can visit her at counterculturalschool.blogspot.com. Many of us are voting for her as Best SUPER homeschooler. I am voting her counterculturalmom blog as best encourager!

I did not realize how long it had been since my last post! Coach Mom has been spending some extra time coaching the kids and herself! Although, you wouldn't know it from the house! Hmmm...maybe there is a direct correlation between my bossing you around (I mean, dispensing advice) and my getting things done around here. Yeah, that's it! The more time I spend blogging the more I get done around here. Justification. I like it!

Actually, we have been running like crazy between school, scouts, and sports, plus a recent trip out of state. In 9 weeks, we have taken quite the tour of the western part of the country...Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of Texas that I had not seen yet! But now I am ready to settle down and stay at home in Texas for a while. Get back to normal! Well, as normal as this family gets anyway!

The email questions have been piling up and I hope to get to a few of those later in the week! Thank you so much for all of your support!

Don't forget to checkout the Homeschool Blog Awards! Vote for Molly! She rocks!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

...It is a Vegetable Even If It Tastes Good!

Straight from the Coach Mom "E"-mail bag is this question...

"What about if the only veggie they like is one smothered in ranch dressing??"

Ahh...good question. Call me if you know the answer, ok? I'm kidding. Sort of. Listen, who wouldn't rather eat a vegetable dipped in ranch dressing which has 14 grams of fat per 2 tbsp. serving. Most kids try to put at least a tablespoon on each piece of celery! Tutone tries to rip the pieces of celery into three smaller pieces so that Super won't fuss at him about "double dipping"!

So what do we do about this problem?

There are a couple of solutions.

1. You could try a substitute to the ranch dressing. Buy fat free ranch dressing.

2. If your kids don't like the taste of the fat free ranch dressing. Buy a packet of ranch seasoning and mix it with fat free sour cream instead.

3. If your kids don't like the taste of that, have them stir it up. It's amazing how much better they think something tastes if they make something themselves. Tutone has been known to pronounce his tacos were the "best in the world", simply because he made them.

4. Try a different dressing altogether. I like to get the Italian Seasoning packets and mix that with fat free sour cream instead of ranch. My own version of "Cream Italian" dressing. Check out some online recipes. And once again, have your kids prepare it.

5. "Jazz" up the veggies. Have fun with it. Cut celery at the bottom in 1/4 slices and place it in water for a couple of days. Watch it fan out. Make it into a science experiment. Use a special ridged cutter for your carrots.

6. Have "Chinese" food night. Get out a pan and let your kids stir fry the veggies. Put in some light soy sauce and garlic. Serve it with chicken and rice. I have been getting the new Chinese dinner kits but only putting in a small amount of the sauce and not using the corn starch at all. Plus adding a ton of my own veggies. Presto! A Chinese food dinner that is a lot healthier than eating out and the kids cooked it themselves! It's bound to be a hit!

Family Fun magazine has lots of great ideas on how to make eating your vegetables fun. Check out their website for more ideas! They have a recipe section and a picky eater section!

That's my biggest advice for solving this problem. Whether you serve your veggies raw or cooked, have your kids be a part of preparing them. My kids have eaten some of the craziest things because they had fun doing it!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

...Give them a Choice!

I find that pre-teens and teenagers are a lot like two year olds. Except taller...and heavier...and not as cute. But I digress...as usual. My point is that when your child was two, your pediatrician may have advised you that for your own sanity, you should give your child a choice. Would they rather have green beans or carrots with dinner? It's time to bring that trick rabbit back out of the hat again.

Notice that I didn't say you should give them a choice about whether or not to eat vegetables at all. I said to give them a choice about which vegetables. When you sit down to plan out your menu for the week (You are doing this, right? You can't afford not to!) , include your children in the process.

Everybody has vegetables they like and don't like. You would be surprised. You may think your child doesn't like vegetables. But if you really start to talk it out, you may find out they don't like vegetables from a can. Or they don't like cooked vegetables. There is nothing wrong with that. Just find out what vegetables they will eat and include those in the plan.

Listen I hate to get all "modern" on you, I mean we can do this old fashioned way if you want and tell your kids to just "do what you say and not what you do" if you want. But wouldn't it be better for everyone if they were enjoying the experience and learning that healthy food doesn't have to "taste yucky"?

My husband hates lima beans. He says that they are not food. He said God made them so that we could keep them in the freezer and use them as an ice pack if someone gets hurt. But that's pretty much the only thing he won't eat, so I can work with that. I don't like frozen vegetables unless it's green beans, which is fine because fresh veggies are better for you anyway. My kids don't like cooked veggies unless they are stir fried. That's easy! I usually just put out a big basket of mixed raw veggies with our meals. And they eat them!

But if I hadn't taken the time to find all this out, I would have spent 20 something years arguing every single night with somebody. Now is that the way you want to end your day? I sure don't.

True story. My sister hated lettuce when she was a kid. She probably still does. My Dad insisted that we had to have a salad every night with our dinner. It is really healthy to do that but it made her truly miserable. And my Mom ended being the bad guy. Of course, it didn't help that it turned into a power struggle. Every night the girl would sit over that salad and cry. It can't have tasted any better with all those salty tears in it.

One night, my Mom was completely fed up and she told her, "I don't care if you sit there until you are eighty, you are going to finish that salad!" My sister looked up at her with tears streaming down her face and said, "When I'm 80, you'll be dead." My other sister and I just stopped in our tracks. We seriously thought that girl was going to get it. My Mom just laughed and said, "Then I'll come back and haunt you." LOL!

Now I ask you...didn't you already have a hard enough day? Do you really want to put yourself through that? Just find out what vegetables your children will eat and give them those!

...We Are the Real Punch Line in This Joke

Don't you love email forwards? I get a lot of them. Some of them are funny. Have you seen this one?

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.


Eat and drink what you like.
Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

I thought it was funny. But then I realized, most people read this and just laugh and move on. They don't realize, the problem isn't speaking English. It's the American attitude that causes heart attacks.

You see, until this millennium, the "supermarket" was primarily an American phenomenon. Now, in more urban areas of Europe and Asia, this trend is changing. But we have proudly had supermarkets for a long time. In this modern era, we have achieved even great feats. TV dinners have nothing on us! We are excited that we can make dinner in 1 minute or less. Dinner is in a bag and you can heat it up in 5 minutes. Everything you need is included. We think if it takes longer than 5 minutes, then we have done something wrong. That's attitude #1 that has contributed to this problem -- processed foods. Our foods lack fiber and vitamins!

I am not asking you to spend hours in the kitchen each night. Meals can take less than 30 minutes to prepare and still be healthy. But we will come back to this later.

The other thing that people in other countries do is use other methods of transportation besides a personal vehicle. I can hear it now. Brakes squealing everywhere! "What give up my car?" That's not what I am saying. Let's face it. America is not built with a village mentality in mind. Most of us are not within walking or bike riding distance of a market, library, or our work place. Especially with what bad shape we are in. Oops, did I say that out loud?

All I am saying is that we need exercise. That's how God made us. And since America is not set up the way other countries are, you are going to have to look for that exercise. We can "brainstorm" about this later too. Right now I just want you thinking about what I am saying. This is attitude #2 of what goes into making that joke true. That is, until "The Western Culture" started influence other countries. Sometimes good things come with bad side effects.

You can fix this though! You can change it. Instead of being the punch line of this joke, get out there and get a new attitude. Let's teach our children Paul means when he says...

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)