"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." Albert Einstein

Monday, June 27, 2011

Crock Pot Baked Potatoes

My friend Pamela posted this recipe on a board we visit. Her description - A.W.E.S.O.M.E!!!! I agree. Super wonderful, especially in the blistering heat when you do not want to turn on your oven. 


CROCK POT BAKED POTATOES

Scrub potatoes
Soak potatoes overnight in water with sea salt
Poke holes in potatoes
Coat potatoes with olive oil
Stand potatoes up in crock pot on their ends

DO NOT ADD WATER to the crock pot
Put lid on crock pot
Cook on high for four hours

Summer Reading

Bookcase in my tiny living room. I LOVE books in the living room. Actually in every room. Thinking about it, I have at least one bookcase in every room of my house except the bathroom and that is only because of a lack of space. 

I am free to read!!!!! I have stayed up late reading into wee hours of the morning. I have woken in the morning to my books next to me and have lazed in bed reading for a few more hours. I've finished 3 books so far and have to share two of them with you - so,so, so good.

"The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" - a wonderfully fun read. Loved it! Charming and beguiling are great descriptors. Less than half way through the book I looked up the authors to see if there were more of the books as I was falling in love with the characters. I was saddened to learn that the principal author, Mary Ann Shaffer, passed away before completing the book. I am so glad that her niece, Anne Burrows, finished it to share with the world. The entire novel is a series of letters which is something new to me. It was so much fun.It made me want to pick up a pen and write lovely letters to all I know. I also realized how different letter writing is and how much I can improve. The book also made me want to discover some books that are mentioned that I have never read. And it made me miss book groups I've participate with in the past. Sharing a book together is wonderful bonding - like a secret treasure you found together. When I first moved to Oklahoma eight years ago, I joined a book group. Loved it. Most of us read the books and freely shared our love/hate relationships with them. Once, Caroline choose the book "The Secret Garden" as the book for the next month. We got to together but with all the busy-ness of that month, it was one of the rare times that no one had read the book. We spent the evening visiting instead. I was able to get to the book a month or so later and I. LOVED. IT. I will never forget whispering together through most of the next meeting with Caroline, sharing our favorite parts and what we took away from it. It made me just bubble to share it with her and find that she loved it too. Caroline is now a published children's author, (and her book is wonderful!) We rarely see each other, but in the words of Anne Shirley, she is a kindred spirit.

The other book I want to share is "Mama'a Bank Account" - love, love, love this book! Super easy read that I may read to my 3rd graders this next year. Much along the lines of "Cheaper by the Dozen" - oozes so much family goodness, fiscal responsibility and gospel messages. This is a great family read aloud.

I also want to link Montserrat's (of Chocolate on my Cranium) summer reading program. Such a great idea. I may do it for myself or start it for my students.

And lastly, two huge thumbs up for www.abebooks.com. I bought a ton of books from them for $1.00 each. I have been extremely happy with all of them. Full book shelves make me happy!
The bookcase in my bedroom. Running out of space. Must be about time to move to a bigger place because getting rid of some of my books is not an option. 

A Day in my Life

I wrote this May 17 but never had time to edit or publish.

6:00 Alarm goes off. Up. Read some scriptures for my lesson. Start cover letter for Resume to ELL director.

6:40 Shower

6:55 Wake Ryan, dress, make up, etc,

7:20 leave the house, drop off Ry, drive to school.

7:50 Pick up students (all 29), handle problems, work out lunch issues, finish 3 fluency tests

8:45 Morning meeting

9:10 - 11:00 Space unit with students

11 pick up sack lunches, take back to room and monitor kids while eating and recess. Show Spanish speakers new English games on computer and how to play.

12 Drop off kids at Super kids day. Run home to get dvds, laptop, portable dvd player, and Japan box.

12:25 pick up McDonald's lunch for Mrs. Brinson (another teacher) and myself - eat most of mine in the car.

1:00 unload everything ( 2 trips) set up "Tangled" movie (because Super Kids Fun day is cut short because of weather), help Meg (another teacher) with her dvd, open Japan box, set up Estella (part-time aide) with corrections, clean off desk.

1:30 Pick up kids early from super kids day. Bring back and handled problems, soaking wet kids, bathroom for everyone, move desks and set up for movie with popcorn. Review rules and necessary items for zoo tomorrow.

2:00 Start movie. I work on Zoo folder, groups, etc. at desk. Actually sit for first time all day. Monitor kids.

3:15 Movie is over. Parents picking up because of huge thunderstorm outside.

3:30 - 4 get kids out the door. People everywhere with parents trying to pick up kids. CHAOS!

4:30 Go to the bank and exchange Ryan's mangled $20. He ran over it with the mower on Friday.

5:00 Home. Cleaned up the kitchen and started the dishes soaking. Start a load of laundry

5:30 Set up the printer to the laptop and look up scout merit badges stuff. Print and staple packets of the current merit badges Ry is working on - Reading, Cooking, Personal Management, Personal Fitness, & Citizenship in community. Remind Ry to get uniform.

6:20 leave for Scouts

6:30 - 7:10 teach scouts Citizenship in the Community.

7:20 - 7:40 drive to North Edmond. Talk to friend Shara on the way and see how things are going with daughter difficulties.

7:40 - 8: 20 pick up Japan stuff from Garretts. Brenda shows me how to have the kids make a Samauri soldier hat. Go through stuff and she tells me what most of it is.Can barely get huge box into my car.

8:30 - 9:00 drive back to church. Talk to Cindy on the way. Oil light comes on 1/2 a block from the church.

9:00 - 9:30 Ryan and I clean the church - garbages, bathrooms, fountains, and general pick-up.

9:30 walk to nearest gas station and buy 2 qts. of oil. Return and put in car.

10 drive home. Ry grabs some food in front of an old episode of MacGyver. I wash the dishes, switch the laundry and sweep the floor. Make brownies.

11 get Ryan in bed. Finally sit down to check email. Respond to 2-3 emails. Read some of the SS lesson for Sunday.

11:30 get brownies out of oven. Go to bed. Actually lay in bed exhausted but unable shut off my brain for 30+ mins.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Motherhood

I have some thoughts I'd like to share about motherhood. I've thought about them for a long time, so hopefully soon, I will find a way to share them on paper (monitor?) in a concise, intelligible manner. In the meantime, I ran across this artist and this talk that she gave at BYU education week. Wow. I love what she says about being a mother and family. I went through the 31 domestic paintings first and then went back through them as I listened to her talk (it is about 20+ mins. long.) and then fell in love with them, or rather the message they share and the thoughts, determinations, appreciation they have inspired. Which one is your favorite and why? (I'll share my favs and why in a couple of days.)
Julie

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Make It Happen

Sorry it has been so long since my last post. Lots of rocking about in the boat on what appears to be the same sea has had  me less than enthused to chronicle it all. But I am back now so....

Family Home Evening. Our church encourages us to spend time together as a family every Monday night. They encourage it so much that no other activities are never allowed on Mondays. It is essential, sacred family time. Family Home Evening was a hit and miss growing up. I can only imagine how hard it was to corral 6 kids and as I was older, our schedules were all over the place. Interestingly enough, I do remember a long stretch of Family Home Evenings around the time I was 12. I don't remember the sibling 'discussions' (fighting) although I am sure there was some. I don't remember the lessons. I do remember learning the words to the hymn "Choose the Right" and every time I hear it or sing it, it takes me back to black vinyl couch, the house on Sherman street, and my family. I do know that I felt the spirit during some of the Family Home Evenings because I remember the feeling.

Family Home Evening has been a bit of a hit or miss with my family as well. Our family dynamic is completely different than the typical. It is just Ryan and I all the time. It has felt silly when I tried to have family night the typical way and we would trade 'jobs' - one give the prayer, the other the song, back to the first for a lesson, etc. Ryan and I talk all the time and I found that many of our FHE lessons felt forced, canned, spiritless especially in contrast to our many other discussions. And sometimes it felt like the activities highlighted the fact that we are only two rather than being fun activities together.

I prayed about it. I started gleaning bits from friends and my testimony of FHE began to deepen. My friend Kim mentioned that their family had been working on it - no matter how short that they spent some time together each Monday night and that they called it Family Home Evening - that is was a distinguished time for her kids. My friend Alisa shared some of her family nights on her blog and I noticed that they did FHE right after dinner, around the table. Another friend, Lindsay, constantly links her discussions to lds.org and the wealth of clips/discussions there. Hmmmm. Ideas began to form. I began to desire it more for my family. My heart started to want this - This was essential to my family.

As I continued to pray and ponder how to make this something special for my family, some inspiration came. First, I moved pizza night from Friday to Monday. Perfect idea because pizza holds an allure I will never understand. It made Monday nights instantly special and helped with accountability - no FHE = no pizza. And I made FHE part of dinner. We rarely (never?) skip meals so if they were tied together... the logic followed we wouldn't skip FHE.

The next thing I have done is to add more 'people' to our family. Ryan loves movies and tv. He is very visual. So I decided to base our lessons on what I could find on lds.org. I have found therre are TONS of video clips. This has made a HUGE difference for us. Now, it feels like we are both learning rather than one teaching (preaching) and the other hearing the lesson (lecture). By 'inviting' others voices has really helped our family nights feel different, special, unique.

So here is how last night looked in our family:

Prayer- over the food and FHE

Lesson - while we ate grilled cheese sandwiches (we are saving $ for vacations so no pizza for a few weeks), we watched a clip on Chastity on lds.org. Then we watched the video on Joseph in Egypt and discussed his story from the scriptures and finally,  we watched a clip of testimonies on chastity from other youth. We talked about it. Since neither of us are dating, we talked about attitude, discussions with friends, choosing friends, and media- issues of where we are now.  We ended the lesson with reading For the Strength of Youth section on Chastity and deciding that next week's lesson will be on Family.

Activity- after the lesson, we drove over to the car wash and vacuumed out the car. It took 10 mins. of vacuuming to get it cleaned out if that tells you anything.

Treat - We came home and had graham cracker/chocolate bar 'cookies'. I had planned to roast marshmallows and have s'mores, but Ryan didn't want to take the time to roast them. Works for me.

Prayer - we ended with our family prayer for the evening.

I share all of this only to share my conviction that Family Home Evening is about your family. Make it work for you. Make it unique to everyone else. Make it a tradition. Make it memorable. Make it yours. Make it happen.

I also share this because being a single parent presents challenges. Being a single parent of an only child  presents challenges. Both are challenges that are not always represented in FHE lessons, manuals, crafts, or examples. Challenges that require thinking outside of the box.

I am a gleaner of ideas, creator of none so I would love to hear from any of you with additional ideas, FHE hits and misses, the good and the bad, what works for you and what doesn't. Most importantly- make it happen.