Wednesday, January 30, 2008

We're playing to #2 today...

This is part of our homeschool curriculum for kindergarten. We've really enjoyed listening to new sounds and learning the names of the composers. The curriculum we bought has a suggested activity for each piece and they encourage listening to one song each week, instead of listening to the whole cd at once. The first piece is Clair de Lune and the activity was watercolor painting. You should have seen them move their brushes to the music. It was pretty inspiring.

My dad is encouraging me to expose them to jazz and other genres of music too, which we will do. Does anyone know of similar cds for kids in other genres?

Our favorite meal... for now

In an effort to save money, I have started to make black beans and rice once a week. In order to make it more fun and less bland, I make fresh salsa and guacamole to go with it. Add some sour cream, chips, and cheese and it's a feast. The salsa is more my sister's creation, or at least her version of a true Mexican salsa (approved by our friend Damien, who is from Mexico). I'm sorry Katie if this is missing something. If it's horribly off, we'll call it something else. ;) Also, for people who like spicy food, you can add as many peppers as you want to make it spicy. We don't, because we want the kids to eat it, but knock yourself out.

Here are the recipes...


Fresh Salsa

1 ½-2 lbs. tomatoes, diced
½ lb. *tomatillos, diced
**nopalitos (1/2 a jar), rinsed and diced
1c. diced red onion (or more)
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled and minced
1 bunch cilantro, rinsed and minced
jalapeno peppers (1-3, or more OR leave them out), seeds removed and minced
juice of two limes
salt and pepper to taste

*tomatillos look like tiny green tomatoes covered in green paper-like leaves, usually found by the tomatoes and avacados at the grocery store
**nopalitos are found in the Mexican food section in a large jar—they’re green strips of cactus, which sounds weird, but they’re delicious

Wash all of the produce and cut them as small as you can. Place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix well. You may want to cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for a bit in order to let the flavors mix, but you can also serve it immediately. It’s usually better the second day.

Also, if you want to save time, you can use your food processor to cut them instead. This will make the salsa more pulpy and less chunky, but it will taste the same. Just be sure to process them one ingredient at a time.

My sister Katie portions it out into mason jars and gives some away, but I think she makes a bigger batch too. You could double this and make it for gifts though.


Fresh Guacamole

2 soft avacados
1 clove of garlic, smooshed with your knife
juice of one lime
1/4c. of salsa (fresh salsa above works great)
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of crushed red pepper

Place all ingredients into the food processor and process until uniform. You may also smoosh it up with a fork if the avacados are soft enough, but then you will need to mince the garlic too.

Black Beans and Rice

½ bag of dry black beans
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic, smooshed and minced
bay leaf
2 T. olive oil
4 t. chicken soup base*
3-4 c. water
1t. cumin (lots more if you like it)
1t. chile powder
salt and pepper to taste

Place beans in crockpot and cover them with about 3 inches of water. Cook on high until soft (about 3-4 hours). Then, add the next five ingredients to a dutch oven and sautee just until the onions are translucent. Drain and rinse the beans. Add beans, water, soup base and seasonings to the pot. Simmer until thick and heated through. Serve over hot white rice along with sour cream, tortilla chips, cheese, salsa and guacamole. Yum.

*most black bean recipes call for a ham bone, esp. the authentic Cuban ones, but we don't eat pork (that's the royal we). This is an attempt to break the pork-only black bean mold. So, pork lovers can throw a hambone with the beans in the crock pot and then you can get your toxin fix. ;) All in fun of course.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

quote borrowed from Beth

You know how people sometimes have a favorite quote at the end of their emails? My friend Beth sent out an email recently, with this powerful tidbit attached. It's beautifully, painfully true and it forces me to take a closer look at my whining heart.

To be grateful for an unanswered prayer, to give thanks in a state of interior desolation, to trust in the love of God in the face of the marvels, the cruel circumstances, obscenities, and the common place of life is to whisper a doxology in the dark.

Brennan Manning

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Republican Ticket Predictions by Matt

If Romney wins FL, then Romney/Giuliani will fill the Republican ticket. 
If McCain wins, he and Huck will run together. 

The GOP claims that any of their guys can beat Hillary or Obama. Is this just the standard optimistic political rhetoric? 

However it pans out, in a decade we'll look back to Ron Paul as the voice in the wilderness calling out with only a minority listening.....

My stab (hack?) at the gift of political prophecy. 


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


After a lot of wavering and indecisiveness, I finally purchased a homeschool kindergarten curriculum for Dana. It's called My Father's World, for those of you homeschooling geeks. It's pretty awesome too as it incorporates some great teaching techniques like "bundling", phonics, lots of reading, and plenty of hands-on fun. Thankfully, it starts out with a transition phase to get Dana and me used to the whole homeschooling thing. The best part--it's not expensive.

We've only homeschooled for two days, but Dana is loving it and he's really excited about homeschooling in general. It's also had some other cool ripple effects. 1) Dana has asked me a lot of questions in the last two days. 2) He's happier and his eyes are lit up. 3) My relationship with Dana is much better, I think because he's getting more encouragement from me and less criticism. He's been so bored that he's been in a lot of trouble over the past few months, so the change for the better is pretty nice.

Granted, we're on day 3, so obviously we haven't gotten very far. I'm sure there will be conflicts, but for now, I'm happy to have the excitement of a new and pleasant thing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Friday, January 11, 2008

Did you watch the Republican Primary Debate on Fox last night?

If you didn't catch it, check it out on Fox via the internet. It was a very good debate, and pretty entertaining too. I don't know that I've ever written much political comments, but here goes. I'll probably regret it tomorrow.

A few thoughts:

-Prediction: If Romney wins, Thompson will be his running mate.
-Prediction: If Huckabee wins, McCain will be his running mate.
-I really like Huckbee and Paul. Romney's such a slimy politician, and H and P are much more honorable, worthy-of-your respect leaders. Unlike Bush in the pre-election debates, Huckabee calls the press on their hypocrisy (in reference to the faith-litmus test) and he answers the questions he's asked with wit and in detail. It's obvious that he heard and understands the question as well as the touchy issue he's been asked to address. Compared to all the hot air blowing around, he's a breath of fresh air.
-The Republican party must really hate Paul. They were downright rude and condescending in the debate--well Huckabee wasn't condescending. Paul would never run as vp, but if he did, he and Huckabee would be an awesome team.
-So nice to hear candidates discussing overspending and encouraging the entire nation, down to each family, to cut debt. I love the dual approach of lower taxes AND reduced spending. Huckabee's plan is particularly nice.
-This is a sad comment on our culture, but I don't think Thompson, Paul, or McCain are electable for President, and it's mainly because of their age. Thompson is the most extreme example. He looked terrible last night, but I think most people would have a hard time voting for someone who looked old. Romney and Huckabee are the opposite... in their prime, charismatic faces, healthy color to their faces...

Unrelated comments:
-If I had to choose between Romney and Obama for president, I would easily vote for Obama. I want to hear more from him.
-I do not like Hillary's politics one bit. She and Romney seem to be in the same slimy politician camp, where everyone's filthy rich and power-hungry (emphasis on filthy, not rich). They're very sketchy.

drippingly sweet

Sorry for the overly-saccharine post... today it seems a little dramatic and sappy

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Kitty has a home

"Cutie Pie" now has a home. After much snuggling with the kids last night, we handed her off to Scott Gast and he took her home to his family. They have a bit more room for her to roam and their kids have been begging for a cat. Dana's pretty sad, because they had a special bond. He named her "Cutie Pie", because he said she was the cutest cat in the whole world. He really did adore her and it seems that Cutie Pie reciprocated the adoration. She slept curled against him last night until Scott came. Had we kept her, I'm sure they would have been good buddies. Matt and I really considered keeping her, but between my allergies and Bailey's nutso-ness, it just didn't make sense. The fact that we even considered keeping her though is proof that she was the sweetest cat I've ever known. Last night Scott even asked Matt, "Are you sure you don't want to keep her?" She's so obviously a beautiful little creature.
The silver lining was that it was a great lesson for Dana. We talked about how God cares for even the littlest and most helpless animals, like poor Cutie Pie with the hurt eye. God brought her to us to help her and find a home for her and God cares for Dana the same way, only so much more. I think it was the first tangible example for Dana of the way our strong and mighty God orchestrates every little detail to care for his own broken and helpless creatures. Hopefully, he'll think of this sweet stray kitty when he feels lonely or sad and remember that God cares for him. At the very least, I've learned a lot from this.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Anyone want a sweet kitty?

Those of you who have heard me rant about the cat situation with our neighbors, laugh if you will. I have always been a cat lover, I just love the cats who love me back and don't poop all over my basement, but I'm off topic.

A very sweet kitty, whom the kids have named Cutie Pie, has adopted us. She wants to come inside and cosy up. The kids adore her, but I'm allergic to cats. She's got an injured eye (nothing gross, but it's clouded over like she's blind in it). She seems to be afraid of other cats and doesn't want to be outside. She's also very friendly and very tolerant of the kids manhandling her. We think she must be an indoor cat that escaped. We'd take her to the pound, but she's such a sweet little thing. She would make a great pet for someone. Any takers?