Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mother's day message

In a relay race, runners take positions on a track or a course and each gets to run part of a race. The captain chooses one of the runners to start the race. This runner sprints toward the next colleague with a small aluminum tube called a baton. The baton is then passed from runner to runner until the last of the group crosses the finish line with it. It may be that these races originate from a type of ancient currier system where instead of a baton, a message scroll may have been passed from town to town changing runners in between so that no one messenger would have to run an impossible distance.

When the first runner in a relay is nearing the second runner with the baton, the receiving runner looks behind them and sees the first runner nearing. This is a sign for the second runner to begin their run. The baton is passed mid-run from one runner to the next, without the receiving runner looking back. How does the receiver know when to put out their hand and grasp the baton? The first runner calls out the word “REACH!” and the receiver puts back their hand accordingly and feels the metal cylinder thrust into their waiting fingers. A race can be lost by dropping the baton or failing to pass it properly.

All my life, I have waited for my turn to carry the baton of motherhood. I have watched my forerunners carefully and learned many things. I wanted to prove that I was a good runner and that I would not drop the baton. In my mind, I could here my mother coming near, preparing me to run, and calling out “REACH!”

“REACH, for every good thing in life!”

“REACH, out to others in need!”

“REACH, for your goals and dreams!”

“REACH, into the past and learn from generations before you!”

“REACH, for understanding and knowledge!”

“REACH, for strength and courage!”

“REACH, toward your Father in Heaven and His son Jesus Christ!”

I have heard in my heart the call to REACH mature motherhood and carry this baton that bears with it a message:

“You are a winner as long as you are running the race!”

I am thankful for a loving mother who blessed me with my body that may run,

and taught my spirit to REACH!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Give the gift of family history for Christmas

A very inexpensive idea for teens and adults in your family: Search out the family tree and make a lovely print out of their pedigree going back five generations. You can laminate or frame it. It makes a thoughtful gift and helps pass on a sense of belonging. It's super great if you have photos for some or all of those on the family tree, but it's not necessary.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book/toy combos for gifts

Toy/book combos as gift ideas: Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks, with a plastic Indian, The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop with the klutz castle building cards which comes with a tiny knight, Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder with a rag doll, The Littlest Matryoshka by Corinne Demas Bliss with a set of matryoshka dolls, Butterflies for Kiri by Cathryne Falwell with a package of origami paper, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig with a red marble, Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming with some real tulip bulbs, Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett with a set of mixing bowls and a wooden spoon or apron and potholders and a gingerbread man cookie cutter, Stranger in the Woods by Carl Sams and Jean Stoick with snowman accoutrements, Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor with dress up clothes, Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh with primary color finger paints.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Can you home school and still let your kids attend public school?

Yes you can! This year I'm giving myself a bit of a break by putting my twins in half day kindergarten and my big girl in third grade. I think at the ages they are now, it would be beyond me to sit with them each day and try to do school work. I also have my little one to think about. She has always had older siblings around and this will give me some one on one time with her. School starts in two days. So why did I spend half an hour experimenting with surface tension with my kids? Why did I have them draw observations of the experiments? Why did I correct their spelling in their science notebooks? Because I love to teach, and I am still a home schooling mom and we are still a home schooling family. The kids enjoyed the hands on learning. I learned that my son was much better at drawing than I thought he was. I saw my big girl take extra time on her handwriting and was able to give her praise for improving her skills. I will continue to lead my children in math, science, reading, and history. Teach them geography and math skills. We still go to the library often and currently I'm reading the Guardians of Ga'hoole series with my oldest. I showed my kids where Hurricane Irene was on a map. These kids need more than public school to truly thrive. I love being a part of their education too much to stop. I don't know if next year will be public school or home school, or both. But I'm looking forward to quieter afternoons with my pre-schooler and much learning with all my children. It's going to be a good year!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

My first no sew rag rug!

You can find a great tutorial at

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A fun craft/recycling project

Recently, my daughter Brindy has learned to sew little pillows for her brother's and sister's stuffed animals. To encourage her new interest and help her stay organized, I pulled together some materials for a sewing box and let her decorate it with foam stickers.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My YouTube Debut

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Playing dress-up

Holy weight loss goals Batman! I thought I'd wow the kids and show off my wedding dress, with me in it! I wasn't sure I could do it. Last time I tried I couldn't get it zipped nohow. But after a few months of self discipline, healthy dieting, and exercise, here I am in my teeny tiny dress!
(Pay no attention to the just-out-of-the-shower hair)
This one makes me look like I had my forehead flattened as an infant, but it's just Katy's photography work:)
Happy mom of four!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Fun cards, and Brindy's book club

First of all, I just have a confession to make. I made a mistake and went a whole $4 over on the groceries this week. Very bad I know, but hey, I'm human and I wanted a huge pile of fresh fruit! Now with that out of the way, here are some pictures of the cards and stationary I have been making from catalogs and magazines. Click to see larger image!
These cards were made from pieces cut from magazines. There's a lot of blank space on ads and also some very nice designs that you can layer and then mount the entire thing on card stock or any heavy paper to make post cards, or greeting cards, or even full pages to write a letter on! It's really fun and easy and super relaxing! Try it! Go see what you can find in that stack of outdated catalogs and get to work!

Here are some pics from some of Brindy's book club meetings she is having once a month with her little friends. It only lasts an hour. I usually make some treats for it (I like that sort of thing) and each girl brings a book to share with the others. Sometimes we exchange books until the next month's meeting.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cyndi's Teriyaki Chicken tutorial

This is yummy and easy even if it isn't authentic!
It's kinda pretty too!
Start with legs and thighs. Frozen will take longer so I try to use thawed.
Arrange chicken in baking pans.
You need black pepper, ground ginger, brown sugar and soy sauce.
That's it!
Sprinkle brown sugar over chicken.
Next shake plenty of ginger over chicken. Yum!
Sprinkle a little black pepper. Freshly ground is nice if you have it.
Shake soy sauce over your chicken. So pretty!
Oven at 400
Place the chicken in and turn about every fifteen minutes for that golden brown color. It takes about an hour to finish from thawed. A little longer for frozen. Check carefully to make sure chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear before serving. The extra sauce is good over steamed rice!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Being flexible is important

I was looking at the dinner menu tonight and something really bothered me. I was making delicious sloppy joes and serving green beans from a can. Now Joes are finger food (even if I do use a fork). So I thought about it today and decided to change the vegetable to baked sweet potato fries. Now that's more like it! Then I realized I should have a dessert to serve my company, so I decided on key lime bars. I spent 4.70 at the produce stand and got a bunch of sweet potatoes. This is why you have to keep a few dollars around for the week. It's going to be a great dinner tonight!

Monday, March 14, 2011

This week's grocery/menu examples

On the dinner menu this week we have:
Monday: Biscuits and gravy w/ mixed veggies
Tuesday: Sloppy Joes with green beans (missionaries eat with us that night)
Wednesday: Home made pizza
Thursday: Potato soup, green jell-O
Friday: kids eat boxed mac and cheese, mom and dad eat dinner at church social for adults
Saturday: Chicken veggie stir fry over rice
Sunday: Beef stroganoff, green beans, wheat rolls

Since gas is so expensive now, I'm giving up my end of the week trip to WinCo, and instead I'm spending more on Mondays and making sure to pick up food storage items at that time. I still leave about $10 in the food budget in case I need to run to the store during the week for something.

First I make a list of what I need to make the menu work, then I think about things I want to stock up on. Here's what my list looked like before shopping today. I always estimate before I shop. It was over to $80, but I was assuming the actual cost would be a bit lower on some things.

Milk x2 6.00
Sour cream 3.00
Eggs (18) 3.00
Butter 2.50
Ground sausage 3.00
Buttermilk 3.00
Ground beef (2lbs) 6.00
Burger buns 2.00
canned green beans x2 2.50
tomato sauce x4 2.00
Evaporated milk x2 2.00
green jell-O 1.00
boxed mac' n' cheese x6 3.00
beef steak 4.00

flour x2 6.oo
sugar 5.00
laundry soap 6.00
tuna x4 3.00
corn x2 1.50
pancake mix (10lbs) 7.00
shortening 3.00
salt 1.00
applesauce 5.00

Now they did not have pancake mix in the 10lb bags like they usually do, so I bought peanut butter instead. Other than that and four pieces of bulk chocolate for the kids, I stuck to the menu. Here are the actual prices I paid. (Same quantities as listed above)

Milk 4.67
Sour cream 1.18
eggs 1.85
butter 3.51
ground sausage 2.78
buttermilk 1.86
ground beef (3lbs) 8.00
burger buns 1.96
canned green beans 1.16
tomato sauce 1.92
evap. milk 1.78
green jell-O .35
boxed mac n cheese 2.52
Beef steak 3.31

flour 5.56
sugar 4.42
laundry soap 6.22
tuna 1.92
canned corn 1.16
peanut butter 4.67
shortening 3.64
salt .42
applesauce 2.92

Don't ask me how I was so far off on some things. I was just not thinking straight, but with the two totals here's the difference. My estimate would have cost 80.50 before tax on the laundry soap. My actual cost was 68.82 including tax on the laundry soap and chocolates for the kids. That leaves me with 11.18 left in grocery money for this week, and I got that in exact cash back so there's no chance to over spend. When I get a bit more food stored up, I'm going to try doing this shopping at Safeway or Fred Meyer for a month just to see if it can be done at a conventional grocery store. How do your local prices compare?

Shopping with kids

Today I thought I'd try to get back into home school issues since that was why I started my blog in the first place. This applies to anyone who has to shop with kids though. Read on!

The number one rule about shopping with kids is: Don't! If at all possible, leave them at home!
Obviously this isn't always an option or I wouldn't be posting about this.

When you have to take them along, spend some time in the car outlining a few basic rules. Here is our list of rules for shopping with Mom:
1) Stay together! Safety first. Everyone needs to keep up and stay as a group in parking lots, store isles, and lines.
2) No yelling! It's just bad manners.
3)No asking for anything! This is my rule. It makes it easier when I can show my kids that I have a list in my hand and say "That's not on the list." But really the kids have learned not to ask at all.
4) No yanking on, riding on, walking in front of, or pushing, or pulling the shopping cart! If you've ever tried to get around with four kids yanking on a cart, you understand why I have this rule.
5) Finally, no touching any merchandise.

These are my rules, and we review them in the car on the way to the store.

Now we know that children respond well to rewards and praise, so when I take them with, I remind them that if they can obey the rules (and make the old folks smile at us), they can each choose one piece of chocolate from the bulk bins at the end of our shopping trip. I am really strict on this. If they don't earn it, they don't get it. That way, they know I mean business. They learn fast.

One more thing we do every time: Potty first. I don't mean before we leave the house. After all, the grocery store is like 15 minutes from home. A lot can happen in that time. When we get in the store we make a beeline for the restrooms. Everyone goes, and everyone washes their hands. Then we go back and get a cart and get going on our list.

I've also started teaching my kids to stand back against one side of the isle while I look for an item on my list. This keeps them out of the way of other shoppers and gets lots of smiles from old folks:)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

March menu

A little late, but here are some dinner ideas for March. Still going strong on $80 a week!

Lasagna, green salad, wheat rolls
Roast turkey breast, mashed potatoes, stuffing
ham fried rice, fresh orange slices
buttermilk pancakes, sausage, applesauce
Mom and Dad eat out/kids ramen w/babysitter
Grilled cheese, tomato soup or chicken noodle soup
Hot dogs on buns, baked beans, jell-O (Doritos were on sale so we had chips too)
Spanish rice, green beans, corn bread
Home made macaroni and cheese with little smoked sausage, broccoli
chicken and dumplings
cheeseburgers, tater tots
tuna noodle casserole, peas, whole wheat rolls
chili, corn bread
sausage gravy on biscuits, mixed veggies
sloppy Joes, green beans
home made pizza
potato soup, green jello (St. Patrick's Day)
(adult church social-kids boxed macaroni and cheese)
chicken stir fry over rice
beef stroganoff, green beans, wheat rolls
chicken pot pie, oranges
baked potatoes
chicken enchiladas (church potluck)
Chicken fettuccine Alfredo, broccoli
salmon, rice, carrot raisin salad
Chicken rice a roni, mixed veggies
Navy bean soup, corn bread
broccoli beef, steamed rice, wheat rolls
Spaghetti, garlic bread, corn
Breaded fried fish filets, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Love Game

We call it The Love Game. We play it about three times a year, but we always play on Valentine's Day. It was easy to make, even though it took a few minutes of my time. I have been able to fit it into a manila envelope where we have kept it save for almost three years! Each family member takes a turn rolling the die and moving the pawn. (I made mine from a wooden turtle cut out from a gift tag, and hot glued to a metal bobbin for an old sewing machine) If you land on a music note or a heart, you choose the appropriate card. The music cards have songs about love that the kids know from church. We sing the song together as a family during the turn. Then the next person goes. The heart cards say things like "shake hands" or "say I love you" or "blow a kiss". These actions are done on that turn and then it goes on. We play until the pawn moves around the board once or twice, depending on how much time we want to spend on family night. The board is laminated with contact paper and the cards are heavy card stock.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Best pizza dough recipe and tutorial

This is an ordinary glass bowl. Glass it the best kind to proof yeast in.
Warm water goes in the glass bowl. 1 1/2 Cups of warm water.
Put 2 Tablespoons of plain white sugar in the bowl with the water.
This is just plain active dry yeast. Nothing fancy. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons over the sugar water.
This is the yeast sprinkled over the sugar water. I'm making this as easy as I can.
Now set a timer for 10 minutes while the yeast gets all foamy. That's called proofing the yeast.
You cat get your pizza pans ready while you wait for the yeast to proof. I don't actually like cornmeal on my pizza. I'm thinking of using just the cooking spray.
Here are my pans sprayed and sprinkled.
Here is my creamy yeast water.
Side view.

Nothing fancy. I use extra virgin olive oil. You need 2 Tablespoons of the oil, and 2 teaspoons of salt.
Oil and salt go in the bowl with the yeast.
There's something beautiful about making pizza. Give it all a stir.
If you have the option, you can dump it all in the kitchen aid now. Otherwise, start stirring in flour with a wooden spoon.
Add one cup at a time, mixing on low speed all the while.
Use the dough hook, but you knew that!
Not sure why I am posting such a useless picture. Add flour until dough stops sticking to the sides of the bowl. It's 4-5 Cups depending on how you measure your flour.
I preheat the oven and then set the dough on the stove to rise.
Cover dough with a towel. Shhh! It's sleeping. Actually, you may turn out the kitchen lights as yeast likes the dark best. This rising step takes only 45 minutes to an hour.
While you're waiting for the dough to rise, you can start chopping your fresh ingredients. Usually, I use green peppers on my pizza, but this week red were half the price of green. I also like to chop my Canadian bacon a bit so it is more evenly dispersed. This is the best part of pizza making: you get to do things your way!
My dough has doubled. Time to make pizza!
Now that I'm getting my hands in it, I had to put the camera down. If you love thin crust, roll out that dough, but if you like the fluffy crust you get at most take out places, stretch, pull, and toss the dough until it fits your pan. This recipe makes two pizzas, so cut it in half first!
Here is a Pineapple and Canadian bacon ready for the oven. Want the sauce recipe? OK, I'll go dig it out of my saved files. Be right back!
(While I'm gone, why don't you enjoy these photos of my finished pizzas?)
Three of the four I made last Tuesday for dinner with the missionaries.
Another angle.
Some close up action! Pepperoni!
There's that Hawaiian again, cooked this time!
Gotta make at least one plain cheese for Brindy!
Ok, now I'm back with the sauce recipe. Here it is:

Pizza Sauce by Cyndi

1 Can tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 pinch black pepper

Place sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until warm. This makes enough sauce for the two pizzas you will get from one batch of dough.

The final bit of instruction is to turn your oven up as high as it will go to cook your pizza. My oven stops at 550, so that's what I use. It takes about six minutes to bake each pizza seen above.
The missionaries thought this was Papa Murphy's take and bake pizza! When I told them it was home made, they said it was the best home made pizza they've ever had! It's not hard to make really really really good pizza! You don't even need sea salt and mineral water like some you tube videos show! Have fun!