Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Inspiring Tuesdays - Quotes that Challenge us to Live Better - George Washington Carver

I think life is all about perspective.  We get so wrapped up in our everyday lives that we often become very inward focused.  We think about what will make us happy, successful, comfortable, really the list goes on. One thing I pray my husband and I are instilling in our children is to live beyond themselves.  This world is made up of different people with different needs and this life that has been given to us is not all about us.  We have to look beyond ourselves to really see others.  For today I want to bring you a quote that helps to keep life in perspective.  It is from one of the greatest Americans that has ever lived.  George Washington Carver.

How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong. Because someday in your life you will have been all of these. - 
George Washington Carver

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Creamy Vegetable Noodle Soup

I absolutely love vegetable soup.  Topped off with cheddar cheese and sour cream this recipe is sure to please even your most pickiest eaters.  We eat soup all year round and tend to have vegetable soup early in the week especially if we have had a weekend full of junk food :-)


1 can of Cream of Chicken soup
4 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 medium onion chopped
1 clove of minced garlic
1 tbsp of olive oil
16 oz of frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup (or more) whole wheat rotini pasta
1 to 2 tsp of chili powder
salt to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions al dente

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent.  Add in chicken broth and cream of chicken soup and bring to a boil.  Once boiling add in the rest of the ingredients.  Cook until vegetables are done or to desired consistency.  Add cooked noodles cook about 3 more minutes and serve warm.

Top off with cheddar cheese and sour cream.  Serve with crackers

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Help Your Children Master Math Facts with XtraMath

You have to take a look at a free program online that will help your children excel with their math facts.  A good indicator of how well your child will do in math is how quickly they can recall and understand their math facts.  In a world full of computers and calculators I often fear our students don't get a solid foundation in mathematics.  I can't tell you how many kids I have seen in middle school that can't do basic fundamental math.

XtraMath is a math facts fluency program that helps your child master addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts in a fun interactive way.  The program assesses where your child is and tailors problems to their level.  The lessons are short enough to be done in just 5 to 10 minutes each day.  Visit their website at www.xtramath.org for more information.

Click here for a short video about XtraMath

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Inspiring Tuesdays - Quotes that Challenge us to Live Better - Janice Mayo Mathers

This Tuesday I would like to bring you a quote from Janice Mayo Mathers.  This quote really hits home to me because I am really evaluating priorities right now.  There is so many things pulling at our time and attention it is often hard to even find the time to sift through them all.  However, I know the closer we are to God the easier it becomes to distinguish between good priorities and God priorities. I pray this quote will offer you some insight when looking at your to do list for today.

"Sometimes my expectations lead to discouragement or exhaustion, but God's expectations bring rest and balance." - Janice Mayo Mathers

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Yummy Spinach Breakfast Smoothies

OK I know it may sound yucky but thanks to my very good friend Patricia my family and I are trying to eat healthier.   You see Patricia is taking this nutrition class and I am reaping the benefits of getting all of this healthy insider information for free.   Recently, I discussed with her how it is almost impossible to get my middle daughter to eat vegetables.  It has really been a challenge up until recently.  Patricia simply said why don't you try putting it in a smoothie.  So lo and behold I introduce to you the perfect make-your-4-year-old-eat-veggies breakfast smoothie:

Half a blender full of spinach leaves
2 tablespoons of milled flax seed
1 banana
2 handfuls of blueberries
1/2 can of pineapples with juice or 1/2 pack of strawberries
Some crushed ice
Keifer yogurt (this is optional but I use it for protein)
Some Agave Nectar or Honey

The kids love it and ask for it every morning.  Thanks so much Patricia!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

2nd Grade Homeschool Curriculum - What Are Using This Year

It is now April and I am reviewing what we are using as far as curriculum to try to decide what I want to keep and what I would like to change for next year.  So this post will just include the books and resources we are using.  I will have a future post that will discuss why we are keeping what we are keeping and why we are changing what we are changing.  As you probably guess from the variety of resources I am an eclectic homeschooler.  So here we go:

The Bible
DTLK Bible Activities  - online resource

Language Arts:
Hooked on Phonics - I have an older version that is a hand me down from my nephew
Readingresource.net - online resource
Various online reading sites


Various Library Books
Harcourt Trophies Reading Series - Banner Days

Math, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies - I call this my substitute teacher.  This is an online educational curriculum.  Perfect to use as a supplement or as part of your primary curriculum. I used this solely for social studies because I did not have a separete Social Studies curriculum.

Other Resoures:
I use various online websites and resources as well.  I will post many of these resources at a later date.  In addition we use the local library a lot.  It's amazing what is out there for free!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Inspiring Tuesdays - Quotes that Challenge us to Live Better - Howard Hendricks

Have you ever fell into the trap of feeling like you have to be everything and do everything for anything to get done right.  I know I have and you know what the result is?  One tired, burned out, cranky, unhappy Mama.  Back in November of last year Bishop Birt from Redemption Outreach Ministries in Prince George, VA gave a sermon at our church.  Something I really took away was a quote he shared from Howard Hendricks:

"The secret of concentration is elimination"

Since then I realized this quote has been used in management books, countless blogs, and commentaries.  I believe it resonates with people because it screams truth.   We must find those things God has called us to do in our present season of life, concentrate on those things, and eliminate distractions.

What is God calling you to right now?  Is your life so full of noise that it's hard to hear God speaking?  Challenge yourself today to eliminate those areas of your life that are preventing you from being what God is calling you to be.  It's been said a million times but it is so very true - Less IS More.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Delicious Minestrone Soup

This soup is so easy to make and I am sure you already have all the ingredients on hand.  Top this off with a bit of cheddar or parmesan cheese and it is absolutely delicious.

1 chopped onion
1 teaspoon of olive oil
2 teaspoons of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
4 cups  chicken broth
1 (16 ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano already added in
3/4 cup of diced baby carrots
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
some fresh spinach

In a pot saute onion with olive oil until onion is tender.  Add all remaining ingredients (except spinach) and cook until macaroni and vegetables are tender.  Add spinach and cook an additional 5 to 10 minutes.  Enjoy

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stopping to Take In God's Beauty

Recently during a drive home I was in awe of all of the beauty that the coming of spring brings. Driving up through the entrance of my neighborhood my breath was taken away by the beautiful white flowers lining all the trees down the street.  It was as if God himself was laying out a welcome mat just for me welcoming me home and into the new season.  My mind also went to a life changing sermon I have listened to many times before from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The sermon is entitled "The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life." There are so many levels to this sermon and my intent is not to cover them in this post.  I simply want to point out part of the sermon where King describes how in order to have a complete life we have to reach for God.  That is, that we need God.  He speaks of how we can get so wrapped up in the things of this world that we either miss God or fail to even see his hand.  In the rush of everyday life I could have easily whizzed by all these trees and thought very little of them.  Instead I chose to think of the beauty and glory of God.  He loves us so much and has surrounded us with such beautiful things if we only take time to stop and notice. Below is an excerpt from Dr. Kings speech.  I hope you find it as inspiring as I have.

"Now a lot of people have neglected this third dimension. And you know, the interesting thing is a lot of people neglect it and don’t even know they are neglecting it. They just get involved in other things. And you know, there are two kinds of atheism. Atheism is the theory that there is no God. Now one kind is a theoretical kind, where somebody just sits down and starts thinking about it, and they come to a conclusion that there is no God. The other kind is a practical atheism, and that kind goes out of living as if there is no God. And you know there are a lot of people who affirm the existence of God with their lips, and they deny his existence with their lives. (That’s right) You’ve seen these people who have a high blood pressure of creeds and an anemia of deeds. They deny the existence of God with their lives and they just become so involved in other things. They become so involved in getting a big bank account. (Yeah) They become so involved in getting a beautiful house, which we all should have. They become so involved in getting a beautiful car that they unconsciously just forget about God. (Oh yeah) There are those who become so involved in looking at the man-made lights of the city that they unconsciously forget to rise up and look at that great cosmic light and think about it—that gets up in the eastern horizon every morning and moves across the sky with a kind of symphony of motion and paints its technicolor across the blue—a light that man can never make. (All right) They become so involved in looking at the skyscraping buildings of the Loop of Chicago or Empire State Building of New York that they unconsciously forget to think about the gigantic mountains that kiss the skies as if to bathe their peaks in the lofty blue—something that man could never make. They become so busy thinking about radar and their television that they unconsciously forget to think about the stars that bedeck the heavens like swinging lanterns of eternity, those stars that appear to be shiny, silvery pins sticking in the magnificent blue pincushion. They become so involved in thinking about man’s progress that they forget to think about the need for God’s power in history. They end up going days and days not knowing that God is not with them. (Go ahead)"

If you would like to read or listen to this sermon in its' entirety please visit the following link:
 The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Inspiring Tuesdays - Quotes that Challenge us to Live Better - Rachel Scott

This Tuesday I would like to bring you a quote from a truly unique and special young woman.  Her name was Rachel Scott.  If you have never heard of Rachel Scott she was the first victim of the tragic Columbine High School shootings on Tuesday, April 20, 1999.  She is considered by many to be a modern day martyr.  Upon her death one of the shooters, Eric Harris, asked Rachel "Do you believe in God?"  Rachel replied, ""You know I do?". Eric then replied, "Then go be with him," he then shot her point blank in the head.  Rachel left a legacy of kindness and has spurred a movement called Rachel's Challenge.  To learn more about Rachel's challenge visit: http://www.rachelschallenge.org/ .  Sarah Scott, Rachel's cousin, spoke the following words during Rachel's funeral.  Rachel wrote these in Sarah's school yearbook:

"Don't let your character change color with your environment. Find out who you are and let it stay it's true color." 
 - Rachel Scott

I hope you are inspired to always be true to who God made you know matter what life brings your way.  I have been truly inspired and challenged by Rachel Scott.  I recommend the following book for those of you interested in learning of her acts of kindness towards others.
Chain Reaction: A Call to Compassionate Revolution   -     
        By: Darrell Scott, Steve Rabey
"Chain Reaction: A Call to Compassionate Revolution" by Darrell Scott 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Easy Kid Friendly Recipe - Flax Seed Pancakes

If given a choice my children would eat pancakes every morning.  With this in mind I at least try to make them as healthy as possible.  This recipe will yield two batches.  Usually I make two batches at a time and freeze the second batch for a "quick" breakfast morning.  Why buy frozen pancakes in the store when you can make your own.

Flax Seed Pancakes - yields about 24 pancakes
3 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs
2 cups of soy milk
1 cup of regular milk
6 tablespoons of canola oil
4 tablespoons of ground flax seed

1. Stir all of the ingredients together in a bowl.  Add milk if mixture is too thick.  Batter may be a little lumpy.
2. Pour a small amount of batter on a hot griddle.  If your griddle is not non-stick you may need to slightly grease the surface before adding batter.
3. Cook over medium heat, flipping the pancakes half way through.

Top with Agave Nector or Pure Maple Syrup - don't buy the fake stuff :-)
On occasion I have used Sucanat instead of brown sugar if I have it on hand from the whole foods store.