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 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 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 to be really inspired as a woman! To get great homeschooling ideas you can visit her at 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!