Friday, April 29, 2011

Unfolding MRSA

Don't worry, I don't have it.  My kids don't have it.  John doesn't have it either.  I had the opportunity to review a unit study about MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus).  I have heard a lot about MRSA in the news, and I even know someone who has had it.  So, I was glad to have the chance to learn more about it with my kids in a way they could understand.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine has put together a series called, "The Curiosity Files: Explorations with Professor Ana Lyze, Expert in Outlandish Oddities."  This particular unit study I worked through with my children was about MRSA.  Some others ones they have published deal with the blue diamond, dung beetles, red tide, and quicksand, just to name a few.  These can be purchased through the The Old Schoolhouse Store.  They come in the form of an e-book which you can download and then print out the pages you want.  They regularly sell for $6.95, but currently MRSA, Cicada-Killing Wasp, Dung Beetle, and Red Tide are only $1.00.

The MRSA e-book was designed for students ages 8 through 13 and includes a complete explanation of what MRSA is, what causes it, who can get it, how it is treated, and how to protect yourself from getting it.  There are  3 different vocabulary lists.  Right after the discussion of the above topics, there is a short "MRSA Glossary."  About one third of the way through the e-book, there are two more spelling/vocabulary lists: one for elementary students and one for junior high/high school students.  If the two grade-specific lists were placed directly after the MRSA discussion, the short "MRSA Glossary" would not have been necessary.  There is something I don't like about the lists.  The "MRSA Glossary" contains words that aren't on either of the other lists, words like strain, symptom, and virus, but superbug and antibiotic are on both lists.  I agree with not giving elementary students harder words like nosocomial, but a word like culture should be able to be understood by elementary students.  You may want to tweak your student's spelling list a little to better meet their needs.  There is a quiz after the discussion that can be given to determine what material was learned.  It seemed to me that some of the information was deeper than an 8- or 9-year-old would be able to grasp, so I was pleasantly surprised when my 9-year-old could answer virtually every question correctly.

Being a unit study, this e-book includes other school subjects besides the obvious - science.  There are activities for math, language arts, art, music, etc.  I appreciate the teaching on the metric system that is included and also the multiplication, or large-number addition, that is needed to see how many MRSA bacteria would be present after 12 hours.  As I was doing the math activities with my children, I realized that they were not labeled for elementary or middle/high school.  The discussion of the metric system seems to speak more to the younger range of ages, although it is completely and easily understandable by older students.  Right after talking about exponents, which is a topic for older students, the study teaches them how to read large numbers.  There should be a heads up that this section is for elementary students.  It seemed a bit silly to be "teaching" my 13-year-old how to read large numbers.  There is also a typo that I noted, which until I realized it was a typo, made it slightly confusing to read.  On page 26 in the paragraph before the challenge, all of the numbers should have an exponent of 0 (zero); they should not read 20; 30; 50; 2,345,6780.

There are great topics to research for writing assignments for all levels.  I appreciate that there are cluster webs, flow charts, etc., to serve as aids in the writing assignments.  There are also activities for learning about acronyms and acrostics.  There are word searches and crossword puzzles, which are labeled as elementary or middle/high school.  There are also a number of Bible verses shown in manuscript and cursive for the students to do copywork.  Speaking of verses, because this unit study was written from a Christian perspective, there are activities that include Bible study, which I thoroughly enjoyed doing with my children.  It also helps them to see how God is involved in everything they are learning.

There are some good ideas for art projects such as making a safety poster about MRSA.  This could be enjoyed by all ages.  The coloring page that is included seems a bit useless to me, especially because it has no caption to let the student know what it is they are coloring.  Instructions are given for a putting together a lap book.  As far as music goes, I didn't enjoy the activity listed in the book; we were to clap out a rhythm while "chanting" some phrases about how to avoid contracting MRSA.  It was a bit hard to understand.  I did, however, like the bonus activity where the kids could create lyrics based on what they had learned about MRSA and put them to a familiar tune.

There are science experiments included in the e-book.  The ingredients for the bacteria experiment list nutrient agar and petri dishes, each with an asterisk beside them, but there is no explanation that I could find for the asterisk.  Most likely, you will have to purchase these items from a science supply store.  I order my supplies from a science store online.

For history, the students are to make a timeline, and the e-book gives them a list of dates and names and "Major Events in the Fight Against Infection."  They are to then choose one of these events or scientists and write a research paper or a newspaper article, prepare a monologue while acting as one of the scientists, or write a short children's book about the life of the chosen scientist.  I like a lot of the ideas this unit study has for further study.  They are very creative and will certainly help the student to enjoy the topic.

Physical education was not forgotten.  A game of Tag for elementary students is suggested where the student who is "It" is MRSA and runs around "infecting" the others players until the last player who is uninfected wins.

There didn't seem to be a lot for the high schooler or gifted middle schooler in this unit study for really in-depth study until about two thirds of the way through when they are given a huge research project to do that would require around 20 hours or more.  This project would most certainly cause them to learn a great deal more about MRSA than is contained in this e-book.  It encourages them to present their research in a multimedia format.  Here, as well as throughout the unit study, many helpful websites are provided for further learning.  Also, a list of books for further reading, as well as answers to all of the activities, is included at the end of the e-book.

As I did this e-book with my children, there were only a few things I didn't like, which I have detailed above.  I don't think I would have chosen this topic on my own to teach my children, but I am glad I had the opportunity to review this and use it because it is extremely interesting and has a lot of wonderful activities in it.  The small things I didn't like are significantly outweighed by the good things that are contained in this study.  This is well-written, although it could be proofread a bit better to eliminate typos and grade-level designations could be more prevalent.  At $6.95 per e-book, it is a great deal.  At the current price of $1.00, it is a steal!

If you have questions about these unit studies or any other products The Old Schoolhouse Store sells, you can contact them through the contact page on their website or by calling 1-888-718-HOME.  Their address is PO Box 8426; Gray, TN 37615.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Unfolding a Homeschool Year - Part II

When I wrote objectives for what we were going to cover this year in school, I decided to teach on a few topics for art and music that I could not easily find an already-written curriculum.  The few things I did find did not suit my taste, so I created something myself.

I wanted to teach my kids about American music in the early 20th century.  While there were probably a few types of music that were popular depending on the region in which folks lived, I chose to teach about ragtime, jazz, blues, swing, etc., the type of music that was most prevalent in the southern and eastern regions of the U.S.  In order to teach about these types of music and their respective composers/musicians, I needed to do some research.  I read a lot of library books and internet articles.  I learned about the musical theory of the songs as they were played, about the history of the people influential in the style, and about cultural issues, including the fact that most musicians at this time were African American and were, at that time, not accepted by the majority of society except for their musical talents.  When teaching my kids, we obviously listened to a great deal of music on CD.

The great thing about doing a study of this sort is that it lends itself to so many more topics.  For example, we learned that Scott Joplin, famous for the ragtime song, The Entertainer, played his music outside of the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.  We were able to research the history and purpose of the World's Fairs.  We were able to learn what sorts of entertainers and exhibits would have been present at the World's Fair.

You may wonder why we started with Scott Joplin since, as can be seen by the date above, he lived mostly in the late 19th century.  Joplin was considered one of the prominent figures of ragtime music, and it was ragtime that developed into jazz, which was the next style of music we studied.  We ended our study of these styles of music with Frank Sinatra, which led to many interesting discussions about the mob and who they were.

For art, I chose to forgo the usual study of color and symmetry but, instead, decided to look at architecture as art.  We looked at a handful of famous buildings and bridges.  We learned about their designs, their designers, their histories, etc.  As with our music "program," we were able to learn so much more than just how a structure is built because each of the structures we studied has its own story.  We could tie our music class into our art class because a lot of the structures we studied were built in the early 20th century.  We could study the history during the time period, things like the Great Depression, World War I, etc.

So that the kids would have hands-on learning for their art class, I purchased 3D foam puzzles of the buildings and a wooden puzzle of a bridge for them to put together.  When we studied the Statue of Liberty, I purchased cooper sheets and Wilton cake pans, and they molded the copper inside of the cake pans just like men molded the Statue of Liberty inside the wooden forms they created to make her back in the 1800s.

I enjoyed teaching these classes so much to my own children that I have offered to teach them at our co-op next year.  This will require a little more preparation and creation of homework so the high schoolers can earn credit towards graduation, but I certainly don't have a lack of material to use.  I'm glad I have a whole summer to prepare, though.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Unfolding a Homeschool Year

We finished our school year officially on April 1st.  We still have some 4H meetings and a few Fridays with our co-op left, but we don't have to count any more school days.  As I begin to put together portfolios for each of my kids to turn into the local school district, I can't help but reflect on the things we learned this year.

Jacob tackled algebra 1 and geometry this year.  From a previous post, you know that I was not happy with the curriculum I chose for him.  I have a feeling, though, that when he uses a different curriculum next year for Algebra 2 it will seem simple.  The problems in this year's curriculum were sometimes very difficult to figure out.  Hopefully there will be somebody out there who is willing to buy it when I put it on eBay.  ;-)

Nate loves math, so he didn't have much of a problem with it.  Paige says she hates math, but she is good at it...when she applies herself.  She began to learn how to multiply and divide this year.  Hopefully, the multiplication and division in 4th grade will come a little bit easier to her after she's had a summer to process it.

Science is an easy subject in our house.  All 3 kids LOVE science, and there always seems to be a science class at our co-op each year.  I taught a class about natural disasters to Jake and Nate's classes.  It was a fun class, but it backfired a bit when we started having strong thunderstorms this spring.  Moms were telling me how frightened their kids were when the thunderstorms started after what they had learned in class.  They were all afraid there was going to be a tornado.  Of course, it didn't help that we've had a few tornado watches and at least one touch down in the next county.

This semester I am teaching human anatomy to Paige's class.  We made the human body out of card stock which functions as a flap book.  As you build the body, beginning with the skeleton, you can easily teach about the body as it is put together.  Here is a link to the book on Amazon if you are interested in it: The Body Book: Easy-to-Make Hands-on Models That Teach.

Nate learned about Geology, and Paige learned about animals.  Jacob continued his learning of chemistry.  The kids had so much science through our co-op that I didn't have to do to much at home.  We participated in the science fair this year, too.

Spelling has been relatively easy over the years.  I don't use a spelling book.  I use the dictionary.  I will go through the dictionary and pick out words appropriate for the levels of each of my kids.  Jacob's list, since he is in 7th grade, is more of a vocabulary list.  He spells very well, so I concentrate more on the meaning of words.  Nate has some vocabulary, but he is not a natural speller.  So, I concentrate more on spelling.  In the beginning of the year, Paige did not spell well.  All of a sudden, it clicked with her, and she started spelling difficult words with ease.  So, I will challenge her by throwing in a few words that wouldn't normally be found in a third grade list.  I have them write the words out 2 or 3 times a day and also spend a day writing sentences using each of the words.  Every Thursday they have a test on the words they had for the week.

Tomorrow I will let you know what I chose to do for art and music this year.  I was not thrilled with the usual ideas for these two subjects, so I decided to loosely put together my own curriculum.  This is another thing that has spurred my love of writing.  Being able to research different topics and put what I have learned down on paper is something I thoroughly enjoy and then being able to pass that learning onto others is a bonus!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Unfolding a Disney Vacation, Part V - To Rent a Car or Not

Happy Easter, everybody!  While I am waiting for my potatoes to bake in the oven so that I can make twice baked potatoes, I thought I'd get back to blogging about making travel plans for Disney.  Once you arrive at the airport you have two main choices, as I see it.  You can rent a car or you can rely on Disney's Magical Express.  The first time we went, we rented a car; the second time we drove our own minivan the whole way down.  This time we will use Disney transportation.  At least 10 days before your flight, ( recommends at least six weeks before your flight), contact Disney at 407-W-DISNEY and inform them of the name of your airline, your flight number, and your arrival time into Orlando.  You can also let them know your departure information.  You will receive special luggage tags in the mail that you place on each of your bags so that the Disney staff will know which bags to take from the baggage claim area once you arrive in Orlando.  This means YOU get to bypass baggage claim and go straight to the Disney Airport Welcome Center where you will board a motor coach which will take you to your resort.  Disney staff (cast members) will then deliver your luggage to your room for you.  If your flight arrives after 10 p.m., however, you will need to gather your own luggage.  This way you will have immediate access to it once you reach your resort.

If you choose not to rent a car during your stay, you can use Disney transportation to get from your resort to the parks and back, your resort to another resort and back, and even to Downtown Disney.  Depending on where you choose to stay, you may have the option of using a boat, monorail, and/or the bus.  If you are depending on Disney transportation, like we are this time, you can still easily rent a car for one or two days if you want to venture away from the parks.  You may want to visit Universal Studios, Sea World, or even Kennedy Space Center. has a great web page that details options for renting a car once you've arrived at WDW.

Have you opted to rent a car so that you don't have to depend on the bus or the monorail?  You will feel a bit freer to plan your days, but you will have that added expense (which is why we are choosing to forgo the car this year).  Located in terminals A and B of the Orlando International Airport are the major car rental companies.  There is no need to have a shuttle transport you to any of these.  Some of the companies are Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, and Thrifty.  (We rented from Thrifty when we went to Disneyland in California last year and were very happy with that experience.)

The size of the vehicle you rent and how long you will be using it will determine your cost.  Most companies have specials listed on their websites.  You can also sign up to receive emails about specials they may be running.  Some, like National, have huge discounts if your trip is within just a couple of weeks of the special they're offering.  Some also have free membership programs that can fetch you a deal.  You can also find coupons in various places such as the Entertainment Book.  Whatever you do, DON'T PAY FULL PRICE FOR A RENTAL!!  There are so many companies vying for your business that you really can get a great rate if you are willing to shop around and watch for the latest specials.

We got an added bonus when we went to California last year.  I got the best rate on a vehicle I could find.  When we got there, the Thrifty employee asked us if we'd be willing to drive a Ford Edge with Arizona plates on it since we were planning on flying home from Arizona.  The edge was an upgrade and would have been a lot more expensive, but he was willing to give it to us for the same price.  Would we mind?  Of course not!  It was a nice surprise.  I almost didn't believe him.  I figured there had to be some catch, but there wasn't.  We were just doing them a favor.

So, it's up to you.  If you are a planner and don't deal well with things out of your control, like how long it may take to get back to your resort after a long, hot day at the park, rent a car.  If you are willing to be completely laid back and don't care how long anything might take, forgo the car and use Disney transportation.  If you plan to go when the parks are not crowded, Disney transportation may be a breeze.  It all works together.  Make sure you plan what will be best for you and your family.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Unfolding another Good Disney Movie

I love free stuff!  Have I said that before?  I joined Disney Movie Rewards a couple of years ago.  When you buy Disney movies that have a small red star that says, "Disney Movie Rewards," in the lower left hand corner of the DVD case, there is a sheet of paper inside the case that has a reward code on it.  You can also enter information from your ticket stub for certain Disney movies that you see in the theater.  You, then, get reward points which you can redeem for free items.  There are figurines, posters, keychains, and more, but my personal favorite is the free movies.  I just recently received three free movies with the points I had accumulated.

One of the movies is called The Other Side of Heaven.  It stars Anne Hathaway and Christopher Gorham.  I didn't know anything about this movie when I chose it, but it was free so at least I wouldn't be out any money if I didn't like it.  I just watched it today.  It is the true story of John Groberg, a missionary to Tonga.  I'm always a bit leery when "Hollywood" makes a movie about a missionary.  It turns out this movie was well made.  I don't think I want my kids to see it because there are some issues that Groberg deals with that aren't appropriate for young children, such as cultural norms that are discussed or a couple of gory situations.  I appreciated the fact, though, that Disney wasn't at all afraid to let the story of Christ be told or show a missionary who wasn't afraid to stand by his convictions no matter what situation presented itself.  A couple of times I was sure the movie was going to end in tragedy.  I wasn't familiar with Groberg's story, so I found myself praying he'd make it back home.  I really enjoyed this movie.  So, if you are looking for an inspirational, clean movie, I recommend The Other Side of Heaven.  

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Unfolding a Garden

We are moving!!  Sometime...maybe next year around this time...hopefully.  I have an issue with being decisive.  How about this?  We want to move next year around this time.  We met with Sherry Tom on Tuesday night who is a Century 21 agent and friend of ours to see how much our house is worth and find out what we have to do to get our current house ready to sell.  We have to paint most of the interior of the house and mulch the backyard.  Mulch is the preferred covering since grass doesn't grow in our backyard.  I guess if we hadn't dug down 12 feet so that our yard would be flat we might be able to grow grass back there.  It's doubtful, since we have trouble keeping it alive in our front yard.  We just don't have the green thumb that our neighbors have.  Hey, but we have a pool!  Hopefully that'll be a selling point.

Why are we moving you ask?  We want to buy a small farm, a farmette.  Why a farmette?  I would like to have a huge garden to grow all the things I love to eat.  You may have noticed the contradiction - I don't have a green thumb, but I want to grow a garden.  Did you read my blog when I talked about how I'm a visionary?  This is probably another case in point.  I think once I got it started and scheduled the time to get out into it to plant and weed and water, etc., I could be good at it, though.  Once I saw the fruits, or vegetables, of my labor, I'd get excited and want to do it the next year.

We also would like more land than the 0.2 acres we have now.  Why?  I don't really know.  Paige wants a horse.  She is a visionary, too!!  LOL!   That horse will probably never materialize.  The kids all want a dog, but I don't like cleaning up dog poop.  They say they'll do it.  We all know how long that will last.  Maybe if we get enough land, the dog can do what he needs to do at the back end of the property, no pun intended, and it won't need cleaned as often.  We came from 2 acres, but it was a bowl of unusable land.  We will be looking for something relatively flat.

I will post my progress of readying this house.  It should be interesting to watch what happens from the first stages of painting to the packing to the sign going in the front yard to finding the house we want and then the move.  I'm glad we have a year.  This is probably the best planning we've ever done in our almost 17 years of marriage.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Unfolding Organization

I was asked by a first-year homeschooling mom to post something about organization, but when people mention my organizational skills I laugh so hard I cry.  Well, at least on the inside.  It would probably be rude to laugh in front of them.  Maybe I shouldn't feel that way, but I don't think I have any organizational skills.  Organization is definitely not a gift OR ability God gave to me.  I love to research and teach; these are my gifts.

However, I will try to give you an idea of what I do.  As I have thought about writing this, I have already come up with things that may help me.  You probably already do these things, but for me it will be a new experience.

I work 39 hours a week as a medical language specialist (aka medical transcriptionist), and I homeschool our three kids.  I also teach two classes at our homeschool co-op on Fridays and lead a 4H project one Thursday a month.  I write my blog.  I sometimes teach Sunday school.  I sometimes sell on eBay.   I try to get laundry and dishes done.  Have you ever read an ingredient list on a packaged food product?  The ingredient that is most abundant is listed first; the item that is least is last.  That is how my list of my activities is ordered.  Do you notice what is last?  The house.  That is what gets done when I have time or when it absolutely has to be done, like when we have no spoons to use to eat our cereal in the morning or the kids begin to say, "Mom, I have no clean pants."  You may wonder where in that list are the things I do for me such as reading or crafting.  The time spent doing these things is negligible so they aren't even included.  LOL.  I'm just kidding.  I get around to doing at least one thing I enjoy at least once a week...sometimes.  I digress.

For my job, I keep to the same schedule every week.  This ensures that my work gets done.  I'm sure if I didn't have a schedule I'd be working 39 hours straight starting Friday at 12:01 a.m. in order to get done by Saturday midnight.  I also schedule school.  It fits in between my morning and afternoon hours of work.  My preparation for co-op and 4H happens usually in the evenings before I start working at night.  So, it seems that I am organized to a point, and it is because all those things are scheduled.

Perhaps scheduling is the key to organization?  It seems to work in order to accomplish all of those tasks.  I will try scheduling the rest of them.  Maybe Monday becomes laundry day, and Tuesday becomes a day of vacuuming.  Of course, the kids can help with these things.  I can't be expected to do all of the chores (refer to previous post on the chore chart).  I have also decided to create a to-do list.  This is the thing that most of you probably already have.  I'm a little slow.  :-(

A few months back, I finally realized that because of my aging brain, or because I just have too many things to do, I need to write all of our activities and appointments down on a calendar so that I don't forget anything.  It works.  If I write down all of the other things that need done, maybe they will get done, too.  I'm one of those people who thinks of everything that needs done and feels so overwhelmed that I don't do anything.  I think I would function better if I could check things off of a list.  When one thing is erased, the list would then become smaller and feel less unsurmountable.

I will write my lists and mark my calendars and let you know how it goes.  Maybe when someone asks me in the future how I can be so organized I won't laugh but will be happy to share my secrets.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Unfolding a Disney Vacation, Part IV - Flying

Just sprinkle the pixie dust and you're off!  Oh, wait.  Call Dumbo.  Maybe he can get you there.  Hmmm.  You'd think a trip to Disney would give you access to some of those flying characters.  That would make getting there a little easier.  Until imaginary characters become an option for travel arrangements, we must choose another means of transportation.  I will try to detail some of your choices for airline travel.  I am not an expert on this, as I have only flown Southwest into Orlando for reasons I will detail below, but I will do some research so that you know what is available.

There are quite a few options for flying into Orlando (MCO airport code).  Airlines that fly into Orlando that are most likely to be accessed by people living in the continental US include AirTranAmerican AirlinesContinental,  DeltaFrontierJetBlueSouthwestUnited, US AirwaysVirgin America,and Virgin-Atlantic, to name a few.  There are international flights and other smaller airlines that fly into Orlando as well.  I have provided the link to each airline.  Just click on the name of the airline to go to their website.

Now, each airline has its own rules as far as paying for your luggage to fly, how far in advance you can make reservations, check-in arrangements, etc.  We have flown Southwest in the past because they do not charge you for your first 2 checked bags, and their prices are some of the least expensive around.  They have a "Ding" widget you can place on your computer and an app for the iPhone that informs you of current deals based on where you live and the destinations you choose.  You can find them by going to the Southwest savings page.  They post their airfare 6 months in advance, and you can sometimes find one-way flights for as low as $49.  These are usually the "Wanna Get Away" deals and are not refundable.  So, be sure you want to travel on the specific dates you choose.

American Airlines charges $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second bag as do United, US Airways, and Delta.  AirTran charges $20 and $25.  Frontier charges $20 and $20.  JetBlue does not charge for the first bag but charges $35 dollars for the second bag.  This airline could be a good choice, especially if you have small children who wouldn't need a lot of room in a suitcase for their clothing.  You could use the excess room for souvenirs and not have to pay for a second piece of luggage on the way home.  If you do choose to take an extra suitcase for souvenirs, try to make sure it is a suitcase that can fit inside another one so that you aren't paying for that bag both ways, especially since it'll be empty on the way down.  In my previous post where I talked about accommodations, I mentioned that some rooms have a washer and dryer.  Some resorts also have laundry facilities available even if your room does not have them.  With the ability to do laundry just once during your stay, the need for more than one bag per person can be reduced.

Seeing as there are so many options when it comes to airfare, I suggest you begin looking at the different airlines' websites to get an idea of up-front fees and decide what you are unwilling to pay for, such as baggage.  Your location will also determine what airline you cannot fly on.  I live in Pittsburgh, so Virgin airlines are not a possibility since they don't fly into Pittsburgh.  Once you've narrowed your search, try the widgets and savings apps for each airline left on your list.  You'll most likely get the best prices through these programs.  Otherwise, starting about 6 months out from your planned travel, begin checking the websites of your top choices almost daily by inputting your itinerary.  I have gotten great deals in the morning which are gone by the afternoon.  It pays to check back often.

You can also go to websites like Expedia or Orbitz and input your information.  You will then get a list of all airlines and flights, including the number of stops the flights make, how long the layovers are, and prices.  I usually just check Southwest, though.  I trust their quality.  I know I'll get a great deal at some point if I am persistent, and I am familiar with their check-in policy.  That reminds me...whichever airline you choose, become familiar with their boarding procedure.  You may be required to check-in online (this could give you a better seat if it is open seating than if you waited to check in at the airport).  You may be required to print out your boarding pass.  Just check the airlines' websites for additional information.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Words of the Day

Today, I decided to define two words.

1.  grace: the free and unmerited favor of God
2.  mercy: leniency and compassion shown toward offenders by a person charged with administering justice
(These definitions came from

The reason I chose these words is because last Sunday, while listening to a friend teach the Junior High Sunday School class, he talked about Rahab, who was a prostitute in the book of Joshua, who was shown grace and mercy by God.  This caused me to think about other people in the Bible who were, by today's standards, completely sinful yet were accepted into God's family in spite of everything they had done in their lives.

Even though Rahab had been living a life where she was regularly selling herself, God used her to hide the spies who were sent to scout out the Promised Land.  We later see her in the genealogy of Jesus Christ himself.  She had been forgiven.

Do you know the story of King David?  He was already married, but he committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed to try to cover up his sin, yet David is regarded as one of the godliest men in Scripture.  How can that be? God showed him grace and mercy.  He deserved to die for his sins, but God knew what was in his heart.  We can read in Psalm 51 David's prayer to God, asking forgiveness for his sins, asking God to cleanse him.  This is what God requires - a penitent heart.

Think about the Apostle Paul.  He was a horrible, horrible person.  He persecuted Christians.  He had them arrested and even gave his approval to the stoning of Stephen.  On the way to Damascus to arrest more Christians, he had an encounter with God.  He was shown grace and mercy.  He was forgiven.  God knew what a powerful witness he would have and what great things could be done through him for the Kingdom of God.  Paul, however, was humble as a Christian.  He gave God all the glory for what his life had become.

We all do things in our lives which separate us from God.  In God's eyes, one sin is no worse than another.  The only sin that could truly separate us from God's love forever is never accepting His GIFT of salvation.  A gift implies that it is free.  We can never earn it.  On the flip side, there is nothing we can ever do that is so repulsive to God that He would turn His back on us.  The Scriptures are full of people who have been accepted into God's family despite all the things they have done.  Don't let your past be your stumbling block. Don't miss out on the richness and joy of a life with Christ.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Unfolding a Vision

There are so many things I love to do; some of them I do well.  I often think about how I could earn a living doing the things I love to do.  That's where it ends for me most of the time.  I have come up with ideas for different events that have come to fruition, but I have not been a part of them myself.  I love to brainstorm and create.  Why is there a gap between the vision and the implementation?

I love to bake.  I love to do crafts.  I love to write.  I think I could make money doing any of these things.  I have gotten good feedback on some things I've written lately, which encourages me to write more.  I enjoy writing this blog...most of the time.  There are so many topics I'd like to write about that they are all swimming around in my head.  I need a fishing pole to catch just one.  That would make things a little bit easier.  I think I could write three posts a day on this blog, but I'm sure that would be a bit overwhelming to those who read it.  Tonight, I wanted to write about a book I read, about a movie I just watched, about something from Scripture that has been on my mind since last week, about spending time with family yesterday and today.  It was hard to pick one, so I chose to write about not being able to choose something to write about.

Many years ago, John and I went to a marriage conference.  The only thing I remember from the whole weekend was a description of the difference between a man's mind and a woman's mind.  The speaker said, "If you think of your mind as a closet, when you look inside a man's mind, each specific event or issue in his life is in its own little box placed neatly on a shelf.  Not so in a woman's mind.  Everything is just scattered all over the floor."  My issue right now is that when I open the door everything spills out into the open room because the number of visions and ideas have gotten to be too much for my closet.

Today, I entered a recipe into the Pillsbury Bake-Off.  It is a version of a recipe I have had a vision of for 2 years.  I finally did something about it.  Now I need to get moving on some of these other visions I've had, like writing a book.  But, again, I have an issue.  The longer I sit around thinking about writing a book instead of actually writing one the more ideas for books I come up with.  Now I have to pick what type of book I want to write.  It never ends.

I enjoy being a visionary, but I'm getting to the point where I'd like to do something constructive MYSELF with the ideas that I have.  Well, perhaps tomorrow I'll pick just one of those blog ideas I mentioned earlier, just to get something done and to make more room in my closet.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Unfolding a Disney Vacation, Part III, Deluxe Resorts

The first time we went to Disney World (WDW), we stayed at Port Orleans - Riverside, which is a moderate resort.  During that trip, as I mentioned before, we purchased a time share.  When we went back to WDW the following year, we stayed in the Beach Club Villas portion of the Yacht Club and Beach Club which is a deluxe resort.  This year we will be staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which again is a deluxe resort.  The other deluxe resorts are the Wilderness Lodge, Contemporary, Polynesian, Grand Floridian, Boardwalk Inn, and the Swan and Dolphin.

Since the Disney Vacation Club (time share) gives you points that you can use to purchase accommodations, it makes sense to purchase the most comfortable places available - places with a great deal of room, a complete kitchen, washer and dryer, and at least 2 bathrooms.  Villas that are available to DVC members are also available to everybody else, but they are quite pricey.

The deluxe resorts offer rooms that are the same as other hotel rooms, but they offer more in the way of amenities and ambiance.  Some of these resorts have the monorail system running through them: Contemporary, Polynesian, and Grand Floridian.  Probably one of the biggest advantages of the deluxe resorts is their close proximity to the parks.

If you check, you can see the listing of each of the deluxe resorts and what they offer, as well as photos and most current pricing.  Click and scroll down the left side and choose a resort.

My recommendation is that if you are visiting Disney for the first time choose a moderate resort.  They have a great deal to offer including a lot of activities right there at the resort.  They have wonderful full-service restaurants, and the pools are spectacular.  If money is not an object, choose a deluxe resort.  I do recommend a villa.  Having a bedroom for John and me that is separate from our children for the week we are on vacation is priceless, and we do enjoy all the extra room.

I like the idea of having a kitchen while on vacation.  Some have said that while they are on vacation they don't want to cook.  I understand that, which is why I buy items at the grocery store that are simple to prepare.  We have cereal for breakfast.  We may have pancakes one morning.  Pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, etc., are items most likely to be served for dinner.  Having a full kitchen with a refrigerator comes in handy at WDW where the meals you order at full-service restaurants can feed two people.  So, unless you plan on splitting a meal, you end up with leftovers.  A quick trip back to the room to put them in the refrigerator will ensure a delicious meal when you heat it up in the microwave at some point later in the week.  We usually eat lunch in the parks because we are so busy enjoying them that we don't want to go back to the resort.

Some have also said, "I don't want to have to do laundry while on vacation."  I understand that, too, but when you are trying to cut down on luggage or space in luggage in which to pack souvenirs it is convenient to do maybe 1 or 2 loads in the middle of the week and just wear those same clothes again later in the week.

So, have you made a decision as to where you'll be staying?  Next time, I'll discuss airline reservations and car rental.

1.  When should I go?
2.  Where should I stay?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Unfolding a Movie

While I wait for my work computer to boot up again after crashing on me, I thought I'd post about a movie John and I watched recently..."127 Hours."  The idea of someone being trapped in a chasm for 127 hours and amputating his own arm to get free was intriguing to me, simply because it was based on a true story.  I love movies that are based on true stories.  They are usually very inspiring - emphasis on usually.

"127 Hours" is rated R and for very good reason.  I didn't count the number of times the actor portraying the main character used the F word, but it was a good thing most of the movie didn't include any conversation because then I could turn the volume down as low as it could go without muting it.  I didn't have to worry then that my kids were trying to sleep in the room right above where our television sits in the living room.

There were also things he did while he was stuck that would fall under the area of TMI (too much information).  Do we really have to know that he almost peed his pants?  Do we really have to know that he "relieved himself," while he was by himself (if you catch my drift)?

How about when he cut his arm off?  Did we need to see him ripping out his nerves?  I don't usually have a problem with blood.  I even thought about going to med school while I was in college.  I've seen animal guts in my grandfather's garage, as he was a taxidermist, but why does it make for good TV to have so much blood and swearing?

Right before watching "127 Hours," we sat through "Secretariat" with the kids.  There wasn't one single swear word that I can recall.  There was no indecent exposure of one person in the movie.  Nobody was cutting anything off in this movie either.  It also was based on a true story.  This movie was so incredibly inspiring I almost cried at the end.  It was inspiring to watch the story unfold of this woman who believed so much that she could turn around her father's horse farm that she didn't let the negative attitudes or the practical solutions deter her from a seemingly impossible outcome, and she did it all with dignity and class.  Maybe she did swear in real life, but it wouldn't have made the movie better if they had shown that.  Maybe there were some inappropriate relationships or things done that happened with other people involved, but it wouldn't have made the movie better to tell us that.  What is this Hollywood philosophy that says people will only really enjoy a movie if it has swearing and s_ _ and gore in it?  I can tell you that it doesn't make me enjoy a movie more.  It detracts from the impact the movie might otherwise have had.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Unfolding another Recipe

I am scheduled to make the baked goods for the adult table at our homeschool co-op tomorrow.  I told my friends I'd make cinnamon cheesecake squares.  When I taught a cheesecake class at our 4H group last semester, it was the last recipe we made before the class was over.  I was told by one of the mom's a few days later that "it was to die for."  I cannot take the credit, as I found the recipe on the internet.  So, before I give you the recipe, let me give you the website where I found it,

Leslie's Cinnamon Cheesecake Bars

2 8-oz. tubes crescent roll dough
2 8-oz packages cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Layer 1 package crescent rolls on bottom of an ungreased 9x13-inch pan (press it to fit).  Mix cream cheese and 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla.  Add to top of crescent rolls.  Layer the second package of the crescent rolls to fit on top.  Melt margarine.  Pour over top.  Mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.  Sprinkle on top.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Yield: 24 bars

*I use reduced fat crescent rolls and only 6 tablespoons of butter instead of 8 (1/2 cup).

These really are so good it'll be hard to eat just one.  There are a lot of calories in them, though.  You can't say I didn't warn you!

Word of the Day

There are a lot of different and interesting words in the W section of the dictionary.  Today's word is:

wunderkind: a child prodigy

It is from German and is pronounced like 'voon-der-kint.

Were you a wunderkind?  Do you know a wunderkind?  Do you think they know what the word, wunderkind, means?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Unfolding a Disney Vacation, Part II

Have you decided when you want to go to Walt Disney World?  Now, let's try to decide where to stay.  There are many different options.  You can obviously stay off site in a hotel or rental home that is not on Disney property.  You will pay $14.00 to park every day when you get to the park.  If you stay on property, your parking is free, and you also have the option of using Disney transportation.

The resorts at Disney are divided into Value, Moderate, and Deluxe resorts.  The price is the major factor in this distinction, as there are activities galore at every resort, and there is excellent Disney theming every where you can stay.  Again, has a page that describes all the resorts and amenities that are included in them.  It is located at

The value resorts are All Star Movies, All Star Music, All Star Sports, and Pop Century.  The All Star Movies and Sports resorts can only accommodate 4 people, but the All Star Music resort has family suites that can accommodate up to 6 people.  The price per room at any of the resorts depends on what time of year you go, which is why that was my first step in this process.  The seasons are broken down into Value, Peak, and Regular, for different times of the year with more expensive periods being during holidays.  Weekends are also a different price than weekdays.  The value resorts do have food courts and pizza delivery, swimming pools, and bus transportation.  They do not have full-service restaurants, room service, or on-site recreation.

The moderate resorts are the Caribbean Beach, Coronado Springs, Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, Port Orleans - French Quarter, Port Orleans - Riverside (where we stayed in 2008).  Again, each of these has a different theme.  At Fort Wilderness, you can pitch a tent or stay in an air-conditioned cabin.  Port Orleans has a jazz feel to it and is very picturesque as it sits along the Sassagoula River which has a boat that can transport you to Downtown Disney.

Port Orleans - Riverside
Boatwright's Restaurant at Port Orleans
Partially made boat hanging from the ceiling

Port Orleans - French Quarter
This was taken during a horse and buggy ride, so it is a little bit blurry.

Tomorrow I will discuss the Deluxe Resorts, as there are more of them than Value and Moderate, and they offer many more amenities.

Word of the Day

Has anybody been to the turnverein lately?  MW says it comes from the Greek language.

turnverein: an athletic club

It is pronounced like turn-ve-rin (long i).

Wouldn't it just be easier to say the athletic club? Perhaps that's why we don't use this word anymore.  :-)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Unfolding a Disney Vacation

Due to some feedback I received yesterday on my Disney post and because I had already decided to detail the planning process for anybody who might be overwhelmed with planning a Disney vacation, I will be trying to go through the process as well as I can.  I'm sure everybody has their way of doing it, so I will be giving my own perspective. There are many books on the subject.  I will try to let you know about some of them as I write these posts.  I will intersperse the Disney posts with my regular writings.

One of the first things you should do when planning a Disney vacation is decide when to go.  The two times we went to WDW were both the second week of May.  This is a very good time to go, as the spring break crowds have left, and school has not let out yet.  While riding the tram on our 2009 visit, the tram driver told us it was a good day for the Magic Kingdom the day we went as there were roughly 29,000 people there.  This sounds like a lot except for when you think about how big the park is, 107 acres.  With all the rides and shows that are available, this group of people is easily spread throughout the park so that congestion is minimal.  This year, we are going in November.  We were going to go the first full week until we were told, again by my cousin, that that is usually "Jersey Week."  The New Jersey teachers have a convention in WDW, this year November 10 and 11, during which time they usually spend the week before visiting the parks with their families.  I wanted to go in November to beat the Christmas rush and still be able to see the Christmas lights in all the parks and resorts, but we are not going the first week. has a webpage that lists all the events that occur during the year at WDW.  It tells you the best times to go based on the weather, which is another reason why May is a great time to go.  The summers in Florida are unbearable, so I would recommend not going at that time.  Look at MouseSavers list of events, especially the less-known events.  Based on your likes and dislikes, you may want to avoid the weeks the cheerleading competitions go on or Pop Warner Week when the parks and value resorts are full of football players and cheerleaders.  In June, they have Star Wars weekends, but the first week of June is also Gay Days.

Another website that lists a lot of the special events throughout the year and in the various parks is is another site to check out:

A very helpful book that I purchased the first time we went is called PassPorter's Walt Disney World.  Check it out at  They offer a sneak peek inside the book at with 44 free pages.

Word of the Day

The English language is sometimes hilarious.  We have taken so many words from other languages and other time periods and made them our own.  Take this word:

flibbertigibbet - a silly flighty person

It is pronounced like fli (short i)-ber-te (long e)-ji (short i)-bet.  It comes from Middle English, which is English in use from the 12th to 15th centuries.

Have you ever heard of this word?  Do you know any flibbertigibbets?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Unfolding Disney

I love Disney World!!  We went as a family for the first time in 2008.  My cousin, Keith, helped me plan the trip because he has been there probably a dozen times and is very knowledgeable about where to get information, what sorts of things we should do and see, etc.  As I planned the trip, I came to the realization that you need to have a degree to plan a trip to Disney.  To help me just a little bit more, I booked our trip through Small World Vacations.  This was extremely helpful for a first time trip.  I also obtained a great deal of information from websites like  They have photos of resorts, maps, restaurant guides, prices, menus, a section with tips from other Disney-goers, etc.  Discounts and information can also be found at  This site has discounts on park tickets as well.

While there in 2008, we didn't spend all the money we had taken with us, so we went to an informational meeting with Disney Vacation Club.  We were on our way to the airport, so a meeting that was supposed to take 2 hours took 45 minutes, including us signing paperwork and handing over a deposit equal to the money we had left over.  The special they were running that year for folks who signed up was a free year's worth of points.  DVC operates on a point system.  The least amount of points you can initially buy is 160.  This is what we get each year.  The time of year you decide to go to Disney, the length of your stay, and the resort in which you stay determines the amount of points you will use, and you can bank points for the next year and borrow points from the next year.  So, you could potentially use 3 years' worth of points in one stay.  This makes for a very nice vacation.

Upon signing up, we received 320 points.  So, we decided to take my cousin and his family with us the next year as a thank you for helping us so much with our first trip.  We stayed at the Beach Club Villas right behind Epcot at my cousin's request.  It was a good choice!

Last year, we used our points to go to Disneyland in California.  Now we can say, "Been there, done that," and we never have to go back.  In my opinion, Disneyland pales significantly in comparison to Disney World. We only spent one day at the 2 parks they have in California.  There were some interesting things there that aren't at Disney World, but they don't make it worth going back, ever.  I think I could spend weeks at The World and never get bored.  I truly feel like a kid there.  I can have fun and just relax.  Those commercials where the adult turns into a kid are true!

This year, we are staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge at the request of my children.  I was able to snag a savanna view room so that we can actually look out our window and see safari animals.

View of lodge from the swimming pool
Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of
I am sure I will have many more posts about Disney as I get ready for our trip.  I will try to post some things that I've learned along the way that may help others if they are planning a trip to The World sometime soon.

Word of the Day

Today's word may be known to a few of you.  It is not the name you give your dog.  ;-)

fido: a coin having a minting error

If you find a fido, you can make a lot of money if you sell it, but please don't place posters around the area looking for fido.  ;-)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Unfolding a Chore Chart

Years ago I was trying to find some easy way to assign chores to my three children.  I came up with the following idea:

I purchased the wooden board at a local craft shop and the hooks and metal tags at Wal-Mart.  I just hand screwed the hooks into the wood and wrote one chore on each of the tags.  I separated the board into 3 sections, one for each of my children, and put their initials in the blocks on the left side.  They each have 5 hooks for a maximum of 5 chores a day.  The far right hook is where they put the tags once they have completed the chores for the day. 

Most days I do not give them 5 chores.  It will usually depend on the state of my house and how long it has been since those things have been done.  I used to try to give age-appropriate chores to Paige when she was younger, but she is capable of doing all of the chores now.  I need to buy new tags so that I can update the chores and add new ones since the kids are older than when I started this.  They can now do things like load the dishwasher or clean the inside of the refrigerator.

Some days I let the kids pick their own chores, within reason.  They even like to switch chores sometimes, which I will let them do from time to time.  So long as it gets done, I don't usually care who does it.  I have been quite lazy lately with giving them any chores besides unloading the dishwasher and gathering the garbage.  Maybe this will be the impetus I need to get them busy again.

I had a friend tell me I should sell these.  That is a great idea, but I am giving away all my secrets here on my blog.  However, if you would like me to make you one, I can do that.  Just let me know.

Unfolding Amazing Moms

My post the other day about reality caused me to think about those whose realities may be difficult, which led me to think about friends I have who are moms with children with disabilities of various types.  This, in turn, led me to think in general about the amazing moms I know, not just moms with children with disabilities.

I have said that God knows what He is doing when He chooses parents for the children He creates, especially the children with disabilities.

I used to work for the W.I.C. program in the mid '90s.  Women would come in with their children under age 5 to see if they were eligible for help with groceries.  I remember a mom who came in with both of her children; her older son was a teenager who had cystic fibrosis.  As they entered the exam room, she attended to her son with CF in the most loving way.  She made sure he was sitting securely in the chair.  She helped him walk even though he was much bigger than she was.  The tender way she cared for him has remained a very vivid memory for me.

I have a friend who has a son with autism spectrum disorder and OCD.  Her daughter has a genetic heart condition.  This friend of mine is one of the most tenderhearted people I know.  The love she has for her children is so evident to me.  She is always driving them to the doctor's office, rearranging her life to be sure they have what they need.  I think about all she deals with in her life and am amazed by the strength she has.

I have another friend who has a child with some psych issues, but when I think of her and the way she loves her children it is more than the way she loves this child of hers that makes me call her amazing.  She has a handful of children; she treats each one like he/she is her favorite.  She is always striving to find out what the best thing is for them.  If she tries one thing and it doesn't work, she tries something else.  She never gives up no matter what life throws at her, and she has had some hard things to deal with in her life, her family comes first.  She will put other things on hold so that her children have what they need.  I think a lot of us could say, "I do that.  I make sure my family has what they need."  We do do that, but there are just some really special things about these friends of mine that makes me want to mention them.  I could go into more detail, but I don't want to reveal their identities any more than I already have.

I think about my friends who have or who are adopting children from other countries.  It amazes me when I think about the things they have to go through to finally get their children into the U.S.  I'm not sure I would have the patience to deal with that.  They have so much love for others, and I am blessed to know them.

There are moms who don't work so they can be at home; there are moms who work at home so they can be at home but still work to help provide.  There are moms who have to work outside of the home, but they still find ways to have the best quality time with their children; their love is no less evident.

There are moms I know who have recently lost a child.  Their strength to deal with their grief and keep on going amazes me.  I pray I never lose a child but, if I do, I pray I would have the same strength.  Those who go before us are an example to us when we face the same situations in the future.

I know so many amazing moms.  I have only mentioned a few but that, by no means, diminishes the amazing qualities of the ones I haven't mentioned.  If I know you and you are a mom, there is something about you that makes you an amazing mom!!!

Word of the Day

When my kids were studying for the spelling bee, we came across an interesting word.

tchotchke: knickknack, trinket.

It is a Yiddish word.  It sounds like choch-key.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Word of the Day

Since it is matutinal, I will get my word of the day posted so you can use it.  ;-)

Can you guess what it is?  That is right:

matutinal: of, relating to, or occurring in the morning: early.

It is pronounced like ma-chu-'ti-nel with a long i in the 'ti part.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Unfolding Reality

The end of yesterday's blog talked about reality.  I said I might talk about the reality I've created for myself.  I decided to go ahead and do just that, but of course I had to get out my trusty dictionary.  I hope you don't mind.  I know, I know, everybody knows what reality is.  I can't help it.  I like my dictionary.  I just thought I'd dig a little deeper.

Merriam-Webster (furthermore referred to as MW) says reality is the quality or state of being real.  Now it's crystal clear, right?  Don't you just hate circular definitions?  Well, let's see what real means: not artificial or illusory, genuine; of or relating to practical or everyday concerns or activities.  MW also says reality is the totality of real things and events.  I like these two definitions.  They say a lot about what reality is.

When I listen to the news or read the newspaper I am not getting the total picture.  The news is more often than not depressing.  We are only hearing one tiny piece of the story.  I believe the media has created the "reality" we live in.  We fret over things the government is doing.  We worry about things going on in the world that we hear about on TV.  Why do we worry?  Why do we focus on one tiny slice, one tiny bad slice?  Look at the total picture.  The totality of real things and events is so much bigger than the tiny slice.  There are so many wonderful things going on in the world.  There are people to be honored who don't get honored.  There are funny stories that never get told.  There are practical or everyday concerns or activities that we must live out daily in our lives.  These things don't make good stories for the media.  They only tell us about the things that make good headlines.

How about "reality" shows?  Come on, really?  We're supposed to believe they are realistic?  Yes, every day I have a camera in my face recording my every word and following my every step.  Real means not artificial.  It means genuine.  Are you real?  Are you genuine?  I know some people who try to be, only to get "slapped in the face."  You must be real.  If you are not genuine, you are not living in reality.  You are creating an illusion for yourself and those around you.  Don't let one person's bad day or mean words cause you to change your reality.

Let me challenge you to be genuine, no matter what.  I can't help but think how our genuineness might help someone who is struggling with some issue.  If they know we are honest and trustworthy, maybe we can help them to see that there is a bigger picture beyond what they are dealing with, the proverbial silver lining or light at the end of the tunnel.  Hopefully we can help them emotionally and spiritually.

There is more good than bad in this world.  I firmly believe that.  We need to not get bogged down by the bad things we hear or see; they are not the TOTAL story.  And don't forget: Be real!!

Word of the Day

I decided to stay in the Q section of Merriam-Webster's dictionary for today's word.  It doesn't seem like the Q words are very nice.  Maybe that is why there aren't very many of them.  Remember yesterday's word was quidnunc.  I chose today's word before I read the definition.

querulous: habitually complaining

Hmmm, I suppose a lot could be said about that one.  We are probably all querulous at times.  I know I am.  So, I will just leave it at that.  ;-)

I think I'll find a word in another section tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Unfolding Integrity

The word of the evening at our Junior High meeting was INTEGRITY.

Here are some definitions, according to Merriam-Webster:

1.  firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: INCORRUPTIBILITY.
2.  an unimpaired condition: SOUNDNESS.
3.  the quality or state of being complete or undivided: COMPLETENESS.

Synonym: HONESTY

The students were challenged to live a life of integrity.  We should all live a life of integrity.  We should be who we are in all situations, unless of course you have multiple personalities and that is your excuse, but I don't think there are too many of us who fit into this category.  Do you act a certain way with one group of people and a different way with another group of people?  If so, why?  Be who you are.  Don't compromise who you are to win the approval of some group you don't think will like you if they really knew you.  What a tiring life to lead having to be a different person with different groups.  I would think that would get confusing.  I would forget eventually who I was supposed to be with which group (my memory isn't what it used to be).

Someone at youth group shared the story of a woman who raises her hands in praise to God on Sunday morning and says hi to her in the halls of the church, but last summer was seen swearing at a lifeguard at a community pool.  That is not a life of integrity.  What is the purpose of trying to make it look like you've got it all together if you don't?  We all live on this earth together.  There is not one of us who is perfect.  We should care for one another and help each other through the hard times.  If you are struggling with something, don't act like everything is okay.  Ask for help.  There is someone nearby who will take care of you.  Better to admit you are struggling with something so it is out in the open than to hope no one who sees you on Sunday will see you any other day of the week.  To me, there is integrity in admitting a fault or admitting you are struggling and asking for help.

What about your job, be it out of the home or in the home?  Do you work with integrity?  Do you do your best?  Are you kind to customers in front of their face and behind their backs?  Do you complete the task you are required to do?  Are you able to live your life without being corrupted by the bad habits of others?

One area I struggle with as a mom is playing the martyr.  I have been given 3 beautiful blessings that I get to share my day with and train them in the way they should go.  I allow my role as mom and wife to be corrupted by my own selfishness.  I allow it to be tarnished by my attitude.  Instead of being a blessing to my husband and my children, I sometimes throw myself a pity party.  That is very convicting now that I am admitting it.  I tell Nathan all the time not to throw a pity party for himself because I don't go to them.  :(  I guess I really do.  The biggest thing that causes me to lose my "integrity" in this role of mine is - it is such a stupid thing - housework.  Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who does it.  It seems no one else sees what needs done.  Oh, woe is me! Why am I the only one who has eyes to see the mess that has overtaken my humble abode?  How can no one else feel the overwhelming burden of the sink full of dishes or the mountain of laundry?  How is no one else suffocating from the dust...SNAP OUT OF IT!!  Perhaps they have a better handle on reality than I do.  Is the housework really all that important?  Granted, we need clean dishes, and we need clean clothes; but perhaps if I had a schedule or perhaps if we had a system in our house where the kids could sort their laundry or load the dishwasher...Oh wait, that'd be my fault, too, that we don't.  I like my dishwasher loaded just so, and who will scrub out the stains on the clothes?

Perhaps tomorrow's blog will be about stepping back and reassessing the reality I have created for myself and seeing what I can change so that my life will have more integrity, more soundness, more completeness.  Maybe along the way I will help someone else.  Remember, we all live here together, and we need to support each other through this life.  Until tomorrow...

Word of the Day

Did you use quinquennium in a sentence yesterday?  Nathan enjoyed being able to say he is 2.2 quinquennia old.  He will probably never forget that word.  It'll be added to his vocabulary which includes words like thrice.  What 2.2 quinquennia-old says thrice?

Here is today's word (from the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate 11th edition):

quidnunc: a person who seeks to know all the latest news or gossip: a busybody

Do you know anybody like this?  Doesn't sound so mean if you say they're a quidnunc as opposed to a busybody, almost like it is code.  I hope you don't have to use this one today.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Unfolding the Dough

     I love to bake, but I hate yeast.  So, I don't often bake bread.  I love the taste and smell of freshly baked bread, but yeast and I just don't get along.  Maybe it has something to do with the time it takes to make things with yeast - all that waiting around for it to rise.  Maybe it has something to do with all those steps to get to the final product.  Whatever the case may be, it is a huge accomplishment if I even get to the point of making something that has yeast in it.  I did just that today!

      I made No Knead Whole Wheat Rolls.  I got the recipe from a Taste of Home email I received this morning.  The recipe and picture can be found at Taste of Home: No Knead Whole Wheat Rolls and can be printed out from their website.  I read the directions and decided it would be simple enough to make these.  It only needs to rise once for 30 minutes and then again for 8-12 minutes.  I didn't have to knead it.  I could make it in my mixer by adding all the ingredients at the same time and mixing for 3 minutes.  Besides, the ingredients were intriguing: honey, molasses, and Italian seasoning.

      My yeast had been sitting in the refrigerator for quite a while, so I took it out and let it come to room temperature before using it.  I then followed the directions for making the rolls.  After letting my rolls rise for the first 30 minutes, I could tell that the old struggle I had with yeast was alive and well.  It did not double in size.  My inexperience with yeast caused me to move forward with the directions.  My second rising for 8-12 minutes yielded the same pitiful results.  I baked the rolls anyway.  They were heavy like water balloons and just slightly doughy, but they were delicious.  I make them sound so appetizing, don't I?  Really, they were so good that two of my kids ate them for snack tonight instead of anything else they could have chosen.  They want me to make them again and again.

      Perhaps my yeast was too old.  The temperature of my water in which I dissolved my yeast was just right, so it couldn't have been that.  Thankfully I have a huge block of yeast I purchased at CostCo almost two years ago that I haven't opened yet.  The date on it says it is good until May 2011.  I've got a lot of baking to do in the next month so I don't waste all that yeast.  Maybe the next time my bread will rise like it is supposed to.  Here is the recipe.  I have Greek seasoning in my cupboard.  I think I'll try that next time.

No Knead Whole Wheat Rolls  from Taste of Home

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1-1/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the remaining ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes (dough will be sticky). Do not knead. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.  Stir dough down. Set aside 1/4 cup batter. Fill muffin cups coated with nonstick cooking spray half full. Top each with 1 teaspoon reserved batter. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 8-12 minutes.  Bake at 375° for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 1 minute before removing from pan to a wire rack. Yield: 1 dozen.