Life Well Spent

July 29, 2010

This past week, nothing has been going as planned.  But I’ve learned this week that that’s okay.

Tim’s dad is dying of cancer.  He has such a will to live, but his body does not.  Today, he’s still in the hospital recovering from a hard night.  He’s letting go, but slowly, very slowly.  He doesn’t want to give up, even if his body wants to and all of us are saying that it’s okay.  But his time is rapidly running out.  He’s beginning to need blood daily to survive.  We’ve all said our good-byes and so now we’re just waiting.

But it’s made me think.  I’m not afraid to die; I know where I’m going.  But it’s made me think about how I want to live my life.  It’s so easy to get busy and let life pass you by.  Tim’s dad is only 51.  While he knew the cancer may come back, he lived as though it wouldn’t.  Granted, I don’t know his heart.  In some ways I think that it was smart and in other ways, I’m not so sure.  Things like this make you want to hold your kids tighter, breath deeper and enjoy life to the fullest.

People always say, “life is short”; but I think it doesn’t sink in until someone you love or are close to dies or goes through something traumatic.  We fill our lives with stuff, instead of people.  This week I’ve been learning that without Christ the road ahead is worth nothing.  I have a hope and a future.  It’s only with Christ that I can live a life well spent.


What I’ve learned thus far about homeschooling…

July 22, 2010

Here it is, nearing the end of July and I’m gearing up to start another school year.  Sure, we only did preschool last year, but I treated it as if I were “really” doing school.  Which, in a sense, I was.  Even this year, I don’t have a teacher coming over to check up on me or anything as Hannah isn’t old enough to “officially” start school, but I know she’s ready.  So we’re doing Kindergarten anyway. Then next year we’ll sign her up as a first-grader.  Caleb is starting preschool this year.

Our first day of school is August 2nd.  We do school 4 days a week with the last day being a catch-up and book day.  We have a week off every month and the months of December and April we’re doing mini-topics and breaking away from the norm by having a lot lighter schedules those months.  We should be done with Preschool the end of May and Kindergarten the middle to the end of June.  Then we’ll have July off as our summer vacation and start it over again.  The weeks we have off every month are designed both to be a break and a catch-up week, if we need it.

I’ve learned some things while homeschooling preschool with Hannah.

#1: School at home doesn’t have to look like school at a public school.  This for me was the hardest hurdle to get over.  We don’t need to work on Math for an hour, if they get it, just move on.  While we do have a table that Hannah does work at, we also do a lot of school on the couch.

#2: Sometimes you need to teach something several ways before they get it.  This was another hard one for me.  I would get frustrated because Hannah wasn’t getting what I was teaching.  I wanted her to be able to read, right now, even if she was only 3.

#3: Have a support group.  What I mean by that is, have a couple of people you can go to to vent when you’re frustrated.  Someone to bounce ideas off of or someone to suggest something in a way that you didn’t think of.  Tim is the main member of my support group.  His style of teaching is so different than mine and he suggests things that sometimes I knew but needed reminded. “Hannah IS only 3, ya know, most kids her age CAN’T read yet.”  He’s my level head.

#4: Figure out a time to do school that works best for you and stick to it as best you can.  You don’t have to start school at 8am and go until 3pm, like a public school.  I have found that our best time is in the morning.  So, we do school right after breakfast.  On a good day we have time to do chores and go outside before lunch and then rest time.  However, morning is also the best time to get everything done, so sometimes it doesn’t work so well.  Because we do school 4 days a week with the last one being a catch-up day, I have the chance to also use that one day for appointments and such.  I try to grocery shop on Saturdays (partially to catch the Farmer’s Market in the morning).  I’ve even heard of people starting their school day at 3p.

#5: Homeschooling is a commitment and should be treated as such, but it’s also flexible.  It’s way too easy some days to give in to the temptation to not do school, for the 2nd or 3rd day in a row.  That being said, one of the nice things about homeschooling is it’s flexibility.  Too nice a day to stay inside?  Go for a nature walk or a zoo or a Pioneer Village… You can turn just about anything into a learning experience.  Just make sure you aren’t doing more field trips than actual school.

#6: My attitude affects my child’s ability to learn.  I found this to be true with Hannah when I changed my attitude and stopped expecting too much out of her.  Suddenly, she learned the things I had been frustrated about and more.  It was then that I realized school had started to be fun again.

My goals this year are:

*to catch anything that Hannah might have missed, since we’re repeating what we did last year (I used the Kindergarten curriculum last year as preschool).

*Let Hannah go as far as she can handle with Math (a subject she loves).

*Teach Caleb colors, shapes and numbers.

*Try to keep the atmosphere one of fun, most of the time.

*Try to have some deadlines on when to finish work.  (This is something, I’ve been told that people from homeschool backgrounds generally struggle with.  In the real world, you don’t have all day to finish something.)

So, we’ll see how everything goes.  Another thing I’ve learned is that sometimes, it looks great on paper or in thought, but is hard to do in practice.

Happy learning!

May God bless your socks off!


Pasta Di Vinci

July 21, 2010

Tonight we had one of Tim’s favorite recipes.  Pasta Di Vinci.  The recipe is a mock up from The Cheesecake Factory.

1 (1 lb) box penne pasta
3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 large red onions, finely chopped
4 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained or 1/2 cup button mushrooms quartered
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 cup madeira wine (deep red)
1/4 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup milk
3 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Parsley
1 Tbsp Flour
1/2 cup Water


  1. Follow the directions on the box for the pasta. Make sure you cook them “al dente”.
  2. Saute onions, mushrooms and garlic in 1 Tbsp of the butter until tender.
  3. Remove the onions, mushrooms and garlic and set them aside until later.
  4. In the same pan, cook the chicken, stirring frequently.
  5. Remove the chicken and it aside until later.
  6. To the same pan, add 2 Tbsp butter and melt over a low-medium heat.
  7. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and stir to make a roux.
  8. Slowly add in the wine, water, milk and heavy cream, stirring constantly.
  9. Cook over a medium-high heat until thickened – Stirring often to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  10. Add the parsley and let simmer for a few minutes.
  11. Add the chicken, mushrooms, garlic and onions back in and simmer for 2 more minutes.
  12. Pour over the pasta and optionally serve with Parmesan cheese.

And the verdict…

One satisfied husband and two happy children… life is good.

May God bless your socks off!


Before and After

July 21, 2010

This week in Flylady ( we are in the master bedroom.  It has been since before Ethan was born that I was really able to clean the bedroom.  Vacuum?  I don’t even remember the last time.  So I thought I’d surprise Tim, who really loves the bedroom clean, with cleaning it today.  So, after putting Ethan down for his morning nap, I tackled it.  I had lots of energy as Ethan gave me about 8 1/2 hours of sleep last night (one 5hr, one 3 1/2hr).


Never knowing exactly how long Ethan was going to sleep, I allowed myself only a couple small breaks.  Three hours later, with a couple of he did/she did arguments and making lunch, I have a nice clean bedroom.


I do agree with Tim, I love a nice clean, picked up room.  Not perfect, but lots better.  I still intend to clean the carpet, but that can wait for another day.  Now, 15 minutes a day of upkeep, can help me to keep it this way.

May God bless your socks off!


Happy Birthday Stephen!

July 21, 2010

Tonight we celebrated my “little” brother’s birthday.  Granted, his birthday was really yesterday, but that’s okay.  It’s never too late (or early for that matter) to celebrate.

The menu for supper tonight was broiled steak (yes, he was disappointed it wasn’t grilled too, but it was late before we got to start making supper), corn on the cob,


and layer cakiewiches.

Happy Birthday, Stephen!

What’s in a name?

July 19, 2010

If you noticed, I changed the name of our blog to “Joy in Training”.  I’m not sure as yet, if this is what it will continue to be, but for now, it’s what it will stay.

Joy, as a verb, is defined as : to experience great pleasure or delight.  I think it is possible to expierence pain and joy at the same time.  In that, life happens and is often painful, but I also believe that life is what you make it out to be.  If you think that life sucks, than it will.  Even if you are blessed beyond measure.  Right now we are experiencing, a life coming to an end, a job that is stressful right now and other mishaps.  Yet, in the pain and stress, we try to laugh.

Kids are so good about keeping things from getting too dark and dreary.  Some days I feel down and out and Caleb will run to me and smack into my legs wrapping his arms tight around me telling me that he loves me or Hannah will come over and kiss my cheek.  They remind me that there is always hope, always something to look forward to.

This morning, we were talking about birthdays and how old people are and Hannah said, “On my birthday, I will turn 5.  And then, I will turn 6!”  Her birthday isn’t until November.  I told her she had to turn 5 first.

As we get older, we stop looking forward to getting older.  We tend to stop looking forward to everything and instead, look back.  Wishing we could re-live that moment again.  My prayer is that, while I do want to look forward to vacations, 1st days of school, Ethan crawling and so forth, that I don’t forget to live in the now, embracing in the joy God has placed in front of me, now.

So, I am ever in training to learn how to live a joy filled life, even amongst the sorrows.

May God bless your socks off!


White Chicken Chili

July 19, 2010

Tonight we had chili for supper.  While I love the red chili most people think of when you say, “I had chili tonight”.  I try not to have it too often as tomatoes is what sets Tim’s heartburn off.  He loves it and will eat it anyway, but I try not to infuriate it.  I love White Chili, and since I happened to have 3 c of diced chicken and chicken broth in the freezer already, this was a snap to make!


1Tbsp oil

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, mined

3 c chicken broth

2 (15oz) cans white northernbeans

1 (15oz) can garbanzo beans

3 c cooked, diced chicken

1 (4oz) diced green chilis (I put only half the can in)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I don’t put this in, as half of us like hot stuff and the other doesn’t)

2tsp cumin

1tsp oregano

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (I don’t put this in, as half of us like hot stuff and the other doesn’t)

1 c shredded cheese (I used Monterey Jack cheese) (Optional)

4 sliced green onions (Optional) (I didn’t have any of this)


Heat oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or heavy saucepan.  Add onion and garlic.  Cook 2 – 3 minutes.  Process 1 c chicken broth and garbanzo beans in food processor or blender until smooth.  Add to onion and garlic mixture.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium-low.  Simmer 20 – 30 minutes.

Garnish with cheese and green onions and serve with cornbread.

Serves 8

May God bless your socks off!