Monday, October 31, 2011


 I hosted my former blogging friend and now real-life friend Terry and her 5 (fabulous) daughters for tea on Friday. Everyone needs to make these Killer Brownies.
 Look at my turtles! Marie got them for me when she went to Hawaii. They sell them at Wal-Mart there. Wow!
Here's my poor cat. We took him in to get neutered and found out she needed to be spayed instead. So we changed her names from Hobbes to Mittens. That Cone of Shame did not work for her at all.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Seeds

I know that when most people carve a pumpkin, they want to get rid of the messy, seed-filled pulp found inside as quickly as possible.  They are really missing out on a tasty snack, though!  I have always roasted my pumpkin seeds by tossing them in olive oil and salt, but I have found a much, much better recipe! This time I used butter and added cinnamon - and the result was the Best. Pumpkin. Seeds. Ever.  You really must go out and buy a pumpkin, carve it up, and roast the seeds now. You won't be sorry.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
1 1/2 c. cleaned pumpkin seeds
2 TB butter, melted
pinch salt
dash cinnamon

Toss the seeds in the remaining ingredients and spread them on a baking sheet.  Place in a 300 degree oven for 45-60 minutes, until golden brown. YUM. These are especially tasty right out of the oven!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


In honor of the fact that the high temperature for today is 57, I thought I'd share the many things I love about Autumn:

Fall decorations popping up around the house...

Rosy cheeks and warm, comfy clothes...

All things pumpkin! These were turned into puree and roasted pumpkin seeds...

Evidence that the house feels chilly from open windows...

Roast turkey with gravy and the three gallons of turkey stock I made with the bones...

Really, what's not to like?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Women's Work

I bet some of you just cringed when you saw the title of this post! Truth be told, I grew up in a home where the division of labor fit right in with "traditional roles." Because of this, I learned to cook, clean, and babysit, and my brother learned to fix things, mow the lawn, and set up a business.  I don't ever remember my brother cooking something in the kitchen, and to this day I have never started a lawn mower.  The cooking and cleaning were never referred to as "women's work" in my house - in fact, my father is just as good a cook as my mother! Regardless, the words weren't needed to express the general idea.  I don't disagree with that idea completely, either.  I have grown to love domestic duties, and am happy to leave the fixing and outdoor work to my husband.  He equally loves the outdoor "man's work" and is happy to leave the cooking and cleaning to me.  Even so, I really want my boys to be comfortable in a kitchen and taking care of domestic duties.  It is my belief that early marriage is beneficial, and hope my children will seek God for a quality spouse sooner than later in their adult lives.  But the reality is that people are waiting longer and longer in our culture to marry, and my children will no doubt be influenced by our culture.  I want them to be able to take care of themselves if they should find themselves living on their own.  Even if they do marry young, I would love for their wives to be surprised by a meal cooked by their husbands that isn't a chore to choke down.  To that end, we have started cooking lessons.  My boys love watching me in the kitchen and are quite excited to be learning a few skills.

Today we made banana bread! Aaron, my pickiest eater by far, wasn't super thrilled with the end result, but he was nearly giddy to be able to make it!  I am still holding out hope that he will outgrow his picky eating...
The bread is made with whole wheat flour and sweetened with honey, so our baking lesson also included health lessons about fiber, whole grains, processed vs. unprocessed food, and God made vs. man made sweeteners.  I am so proud of my boys for all they are learning!

Banana Bread
1. Place butter in large mixing bowl.  With a wire whist blend in remaining liquid ingredients one at a time:

1/4 c soft butter
1/2 cup honey
2 eggs
3 medium bananas, very ripe
3/4 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

2. Place flour and nuts in medium mixing bowl.  Thoroughly blend in remaining ingredients with a mixing spoon:

3 c whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 c chopped walnuts, optional (we used them)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp salt

3. Blend dry ingredients into liquid ingredients until just mixed.

4. Scrape batter into greased loaf pan and set pan in center of a 325 degree oven.

5. Bake for 70 minutes, and cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a clean surface to cool.

The Others

 Dog (AKA Ready)
Cat (AKA Hobbes)

Seriously Troublesome
Exuberantly Happy
Tiresomely Naughty
Daringly Cute

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ripe Lemons

 Aren't they pretty?!

 What should I make? It has to be something good.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why Why Why

This is the way my day started out. Don't let the calm, neat, orderly and idyllic scene fool you.

This is where the day has gone. And that was after the cat stepped in his poop and tracked it all over the house and the massive clean-up that ensued from that.

My Definition of Clean clearly not the same as theirs.

Over the weekend, we gave the boys the task of cleaning their room.  When they went to bed last night, it actually looked pretty good.  I could see that there were still quite a few things on their dresser and desk that could be put away, but overall, it looked like they did a decent job.  But something in me just knew I needed to take a closer look.  This is what I found:

I decided to look under the bed, behind the door, and under the dresser and nightstand.  I used my kitchen broom to sweep everything I found into the center of their room.

I think there's a bit more work for them to do! Or, as my husband would say, "There's still some chicken on the bone."

The boys haven't seen this pile yet, but you'll kow when they do.  The wailing it is likely to cause will be loud enough to be heard around the world.

You know, this reminds me of something my mother used to do to me when I was a girl...oh, shoot.  I'm becoming my mother.  Bwahahahahaha!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Six Stitches

After his unfortunate run-in with a bowling ball...

Ethan is now the proud owner of six stitches.

He's not too much worse for the wear!

Details to follow tomorrow - right now I've got to head to work and then my church small group!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Two Rings

Here is the ring that broke on Del's car that caused it to have to be towed home. We had to buy a new cable for it because they don't sell just the ring. Dad and Del fixed his car in about 3 hours. It broke on Sunday and they fixed it on Monday.
 This is the same ring that broke in my van on Thursday...with me and all six of my kids in the Pediatrician's office. Lovely. You can see the tiny ring fits inside my wedding ring; it's a size 5. Such a little thing and it brought down both our vehicles in four days. Del and Dad make a good team; they fixed my van at the pediatrician's office in about 40 minutes.
Here's my ring on my hand for some perspective.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Say What?

Aaron and Ethan decided about 2 weeks ago that it was time to start writing their Christmas lists.  The lists have gotten quite long already and are filled with so many Lego sets that Jerry and I would have to take out a second mortgage to get them all.  For some reason, Ethan has changed his mind on it all.  He came up to me tonight and said,
"Mom, I'm not going to do a Christmas list any more.  It will be more fun that way.  I mean, I liked the gifts you chose for me last year that weren't on my my Bible.  It's a good Bible, except when I get old I'm gonna need glasses to read it because the words are really small."
Man, I love that kid.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

El Shaddai

With my Ladies Bible Study group, I am studying the book, Lord, I Want to Know You, by Kay Arthur.  It is a study of the names of God.  Having grown up in church, I am quite familiar with all of God's names.  I know what they mean and have probably heard a sermon or other teaching on them, but do I *know* them?  Do I truly live as though the are all absolutely true?

So far we have looked at:
  • Elohim - The Creator God
  • El Elyon - The God Most High, Sovereign
  • El Roi - The God Who Sees
  • El Shaddai - The All-Sufficient One
Each lesson, though short, has impacted me in a new way.  It is great to be reminded that God created everything for his glory, and that each creation was intentional! (Even my flaws were intentionally created by God - chew on that one for a minute!) I felt completely reverent and in awe realizing that my God, the one who took the time to create me just so, is also the Most High God, sovereign over everything.  Isn't it amazing that with all the power He has, He still takes the time to know me?  I was encouraged that God truly sees everything that is happening on earth.  Not only does he see it all, he cares about what is happening, and is involved in caring for us.  He actually has a plan for us all - even those who don't know him personally - and makes sure it is accomplished.

This last week, I was especially struck by El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One.  In today's English, we use the word sufficient to mean, "just barely enough." I got to thinking about that, though.  If something is sufficient, it is enough. If I have sufficient food for today, no one goes hungry.  If I have sufficient gas to get to my destination, I don't have to stop to refuel.  If I have sufficient money to pay my bills, I do not run out before they are all covered.  If I have sufficient grace to make it through any situation, I...well, what does that mean?  It means God is my protector, the unconditional lover of my soul.  When I run into the arms of my El Shaddai, I never come away wanting. This covers all my weaknesses!  As I read about it, I got the image of my body as a glass shell.  Most of it was filled in with the image of me, but there were big empty spots and gaps where my patience should have been, my compassion, my self-control...But when I turn to El Shaddai, I pictured him being poured out to fill in all the gaps that were in my glass body "container." He is enough for each of those weaknesses! This also covers all the unpleasant circumstances I face. All. Of. Them.  When we suffer loss, He is sufficient.  When we face illness, He is sufficient.  When we face the rebellion of a child, He is sufficient.  When our source of income is suddenly gone, He is sufficient.  When our spouse does the unthinkable, He is sufficient.  When we face death itself, He is sufficient.

II Corinthians 12:9, "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."

Hebrews 1: 3: "The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." (emphasis mine)
How would I be different if I lived with a full understanding of God as my El Shaddai?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cream Cheese Muffins

Several years ago, I started truly researching types of food and how our body reacts to different foods.  I began to look at GMO foods and issues, read a lot about eating local, in season foods, studied traditional foods (along the lines of Nourishing Traditions), and watched Food, Inc., Supersize Me, and other documentaries about the SAD (Standard American Diet).  I decided that our current way of eating was going to have to change.  I started eliminating processed foods from our diet, adding coconut oil, and trying some grass-fed meat options. 

Then, of course, the bomb dropped - food allergies. I had just begun a gradual overhaul of our entire way of eating when I learned that Jerry and my boys were allergic to all of God's green earth, and began a new research project - how to cook without any recognizable ingredients.  It has taken two years, but I now have a decent repertoire of recipes that the whole family can enjoy, and my boys' are healing - they are truly totally different after two years of treatment! 

Since all of that happened right after I had a baby, and I was only focused on learning how to cook non-allergenic foods for a long time, my weight got a bit out of control.  So once I re-learned how to feed my family, I began to try to lose some weight and figure out how to incorporate the changes I had started to make three years ago into our new-normal allergy-friendly eating plan.  It has taken some major creativity, plus some trial and error, but I finally have a plan that works! We now eat only foods our grandmothers would recognize (Which is really saying something since one of Jerry's grandmothers was born in 1899!), with a few exceptions, of course!  I don't worry about fat in our diet, but use non-hydrogenated fats, such as coconut oil, butter, and olive oil. We have learned to eat quinoa, millet, and add whole grains of all sorts to our diet.  We have eliminated about 80% of the chemicals we used to consume, and rarely consume corn syrup anymore. I have learned to be satisfied with a meal that consists only of meat, fruit, and vegetable much of the time, and no longer eat very many starches.  The result? I have lost a ton of weight and finally like the way I look, my kids are healthier and don't feel like they're missing too much, and we all enjoy the occasional treat and have discovered which of our "coveted foods" from before really don't appeal anymore.

A recent picture to document the end of my weight loss journey.

I've ended up using many low-carb recipes in my efforts to avoid wheat (for my allergic family) and other starches (for me).  I thought I'd occasionally share some of these recipes here, knowing full well that most of the world doesn't eat the way I do.  But if something I put out here looks good to someone, I'm happy to share.  I know my Green Smoothie wasn't a big hit, but these are much more normal looking, and really tasty! (I promise.) I enjoy a couple of these for breakfast or one for a quick snack.  They are best fully refrigerated.  It is like a mini-cheesecake, really!

Cream Cheese Muffins (Sernicki)
  • 24 oz cream cheese, softened
  • sweetener: 1 cup splenda or sugar, or 1/2 c. honey (honey changes the consistency some)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 c. splenda or sugar, or 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • optional: 1 TB cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. 

Blend together cream cheese and sweetener.  Add vanilla extract.  Add eggs, beating in one at a time.  Pour into 24 paper cupcake liners (you MUST use liners with this recipe) in cupcake pan, filling liners about 2/3 full of batter.  Bake for 40 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes.

While muffins are cooling, beat all topping ingredients together. Spoon a bit of the topping onto each muffin, where an indention has formed from the cooling.  Return to oven for 5 minutes, then remove and cool. 
Even with another layer of muffins on top of these, this container empties quickly at my house since all 5 of use enjoy these!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Don't you just love...

...a man in uniform?
After much debating, Ethan decided to join Cub Scouts this year.  Now that he has had a chance to do a few outings and activities, he is very glad he did! Isn't he such a cute Tiger Scout?

Sunday, October 16, 2011


It's very difficult to get a good, natural-light picture of Isaac.
 "Hey, what is that thing?"

 "Here, give it to me a sec."

"If you're not going to give it here, you can't take a picture of me."

See what I mean?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Rock Candy

When we were at the National Scouting Museum a couple weeks ago, Ethan bought a kitchen science kit.  One of the projects was making rock candy, and of course - that was the first one he wanted to do! So we boiled the water and sugar, added coloring and flavoring, and dropped the string with a paperclip attached to the end into the solution.  And we have waited, and waited, and waited.  It has been almost a week now, and although the solution is crystalizing, the sugar crystals are not just clinging to the string and clip, but rather forming a crust of crystals across the top of the solution and sticking to the sides of the glass.  Is this normal?

This picture was taken after 3 days of letting the solution sit out to form sugar crystals...

If you have ever made rock candy this way before, I'd love to hear your insight.  I'm going to have quite a time getting these glasses clean...

Friday, October 14, 2011

School Check-Up

Today we finished 8 weeks of our planned school year! It has gone by very quickly, and I thought it might be a good time to review what we are doing to make sure we have the best year possible! I thought I'd just go down the list of my final curriculum choices that I posted a while back.

  • Homeschool Co-Op: We LOVE our co-op! The boys look forward to Thursdays because they cannot wait to go to their co-op classes.  I think they have really enjoyed being with other home-schooled children and have also enjoyed getting some things that they just don't get at home! (It is hard to play dodge ball with just the 3 of us...) Andrew is in Mother's Day Out at our church on Thursdays, so not only do the big boys get some fun classes, we get to work on school for a few hours together with absolutely no interruptions, and I get to go grocery shopping by myself.  Yesterday, Jerry and I even met for a lunch date out!
A & E show off their Folk Art paintings - the first project they did in their art class! Who knew they had such talent? It sure isn't from me!!

  • Sonlight Core B+C: This is turning out to be a good history and read aloud core for us.  We started reading Gladys Aylward yesterday, and I must admit that I'm a bit bummed that we have to wait until Monday to hear more of her story! My boys are also loving learning so much about world history.  The have gotten into coloring a flag for each country we talk about and taping it to the wall around our world map. I love that they took the initiative to do this themselves! 
  • E chilling in the recliner I sit in to do read alouds.  This chair has become a favorite "chill out" spot for the whole family.
  • Rod & Staff Miller Series: I am enjoying using these books to supplement our Bible readings, and my boys really like the character quality workbook we are going through this year.  They look forward to starting a new page and I am enjoying the way they are searching through the Bible to find answers. 
  • Ethan *loves* Rod & Staff workbooks!
  • Language Arts: I still love the Rod & Staff English curriculum.  This is my first year to use their grade 1 curriculum (I didn't start Aaron in it until grade 2) and Ethan is enjoying it.  He is getting a great foundation on how words are put together, and he loves the craft worksheets that go with each lesson.  I also still love the way Bible lessons are woven into each grammar and reading lesson.  I am glad we switched to Spelling Power, too.  Aaron's book is teaching him much more than what we used last year. 
  • Some cut-out people from one of Ethan's craft worksheets that go along with his reading.
  • Apologia Human Anatomy and Physiology: I cannot say enough about this curriculum!!! We are absolutely *loving* science this year, and we have loathed it until now.  The workbooks that go with this are amazing and the reading keeps the kids' attention! I highly recommend this series! 
  • After each system we study, we add a layer to our "person" in the workbook.  We just finished muscles!
    Mummifying an apple...
    Making an edible cell.  It's hard to go wrong with a science activity involving large quantities of candy!
  • Math: Aaron is really coming along with math now that he is using Abeka.  He is also understanding the concepts in RightStart's level B that he did last year much better hearing it with Ethan again this year.  I was concerned that he would resent having to do it with Ethan since he already did it once, but he is enjoying how quickly it makes sense now that he is seeing it for the second time.  I will keep him in Abeka, though, because it is taught in a way that simply clicks for him.  However, Ethan is doing perfectly in RightStart, so it looks like we will be a "two math curriculum" family.  It's only money, right??
Andrew has been much easier to deal with this school year.  He still wants to get in the middle of what we're doing, but hey! I just look at that as him getting some of his learning done early!

Finally, I was told by many that having a dedicated school room was a nice idea in theory, but that we would abandon it within a few weeks.  I don't know why we are the major exception to this statement, but we are still using and enjoying our school room. Other than Aaron escaping to a quiet spot to do his math work while I do reading with Ethan, we do all of our school in there every day.  My boys are able to understand that once we move to that room, we are there to learn.  They go to their seats at the table many  mornings without me asking and wait for me once they see I am headed that direction.  They have personalized their end of the table with a few items they enjoy and are staying much more focused when I am reading to them than they used to when we were sitting where ever we happened to be.  Jerry is also very grateful that the piles of books stay in there and not all over the living room! A nice plus has been that we have made a habit of deep cleaning the school room every Friday together, so the boys are taking some responsibility for keeping their learning environment neat and clean.  I don't think we'll be abandoning the "school room" idea any time soon!
Aaron hiding on my bed with his math work.  When I walked in the room, the cat was curled up at his side!