Saturday, June 28, 2008
I posted this today on my SmallWorld Reads blog as part of Sunday Scribblings, but it seems quite appropriate to post here, as well, slightly edited for a homeschooling audience. I spent most of today at our local homeschooling convention, so I have this particular type of "vision" in mind.
My family does not have a vision statement. It is something of which I am occasionally made aware, with a twinge of guilt, at this time of year. At the homeschooling conventions which are hed nation-wide in the summer, new homeschoolers often attend workshops called something like, "Getting Started in Homeschooling." And at these "Getting Started" type workshops, parents are often encouraged to write a family vision statement.
There are loads of "Getting Started" advice on websites, too. Like this from Trinity Prep School:
Developing a family vision statement .... or in my case, a paragraph, requires one to reflect on core family values. What is your vision for your family? Think long term .... what legacy do you want your children to pass onto THEIR children? Choosing action verbs in stating core values, creates an overall implementation plan.
And this one from Victory Coaching:
A well written family vision statement will answer life’s great questions: Why am I here (purpose)? Where am I going (vision)? How will I get there (mission)? What's important and right (values)? It is like a compass that guides your course. When referred to regularly, it helps to shape the goals you set and the decisions you make that will lead to your desired destination.
And so here's why we don't have a family vision statement: I think they are silly. For us. We are not the kind of family to create "an overall implementation plan." Oh, I could think of lots of "action verbs" that state our core values: Laugh. Love. Serve. Learn. Enjoy. Climb. Read. Smile. Encourage. Embrace. Believe. Imagine. Create. Breathe.
But a written vision statement? It's just not for us. It's not that we take one day at a time necessarily. We have basic goals. We make schedules. We have dreams and hopes for our children. But somehow the formality of a written vision statement seems too cumbersome and business-like.
Still, every year about this time I wonder: should we write a family vision statement? Nah. I'll stick with my list of action verbs.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Field Trip: Cherokee Caverns
This past week Caroline and I have been fairly consumed with preparing for our Geology Day for American Heritage Girls. This year we were joined by several families from the two Knoxville troops, also. It's exciting to be able to have troops now to do events with here! (Background: our troop was the first in Tennessee five years ago; now there are about 8 including our two sister troops in Knoxville.)
Our day started with a tour of a little known cave in this area, Cherokee Caverns. Once a popular tourist attraction, the caves were heavily vandalized in the 1980s and are only open a few times a year and for special groups tours now. Pretty much no one in our whole group of 60 people had ever heard of Cherokee Caverns, so this was a great discovery (or rather a tip passed on from one of our moms).
It was pure bliss to step out of the hot sun and into the coolness of the cave. And after 2 hours in the cave, we were all rather chilly and happy to come out into the sunshine. For about 4 minutes. The next 2 hours--after lunch--we spent working on the geology badge in the mid-day sun. We were all melting (and so were the Snickers bars that we brought to demonstrate the core of the Earth and plate tectonics). But we all had a great time anyway. I did come home and collapse for awhile, appreciating the luxury of air conditioning.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Recipe: Cornell Barbeque Sauce
Cornell Chicken Barbecue Sauce
(This is for 3-4 breasts or you can use thighs, drumsticks, etc. Just double for a crowd.)
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup oil (I use canola)
1 1/2 TB salt
1/2 TB poultry seasoning (I've also used Jerk seasoning)
1/2 tsp. pepper
That's it! Whisk it all together and marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, but overnight is even better. Grill chicken when you're ready!
I hope you try this incredibly inexpensive and easy sauce! I know it doesn't sound like much, but it is fabulous.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
It's a perfect summer day here in our own small world. I've been enjoying a unique week of relaxation. My schedule has been tremendously lightened in activities this week, and I've done crazy things like read in the middle of the day and nap.
But I think I might concentrate better when I have a full plate. My senses are more sharpened, and I'm more aware of my calendar.
Which comes in handy. Calendars are for things like appointments, lessons, practices, events, meetings, and birthday parties. Birthday parties? Birthday parties? Yes, so this afternoon, while I was napping like a slug, Jesse took a phone call from my friend asking, "Where is Duncan? Emily's party started at 3:00!"
Where is Duncan, indeed. Outside playing at the neighbor's, completely oblivious to the calendar, as was his sleeping mother and reading father. I am mortified. I am pretty sure I've never completely forgotten a party before, and this is one of our closest and oldest friends.
I know she will forgive me, and I know she will understand. But still, I am mortified. No more naps for me.
So anyway, I was taking a nap because I stayed up really late last night waiting for Jesse to get home from a concert. Actually, it was a very cool night for him. Our friend Mike, who heads up Feed Your Faith, was co-sponsoring a This Beautiful Republic concert up in Knoxville. He took Jesse and two of his friends along with him to help set up and tear down for the band, unload and load up equipment, etc. Of course the best part was that they got to hang out with the band and have dinner with them. This is totally Jesse's favorite thing to do, so that was awesome. I did, however, have to stay up until he got home around 1:15 a.m. And of course I had to read before going to sleep, so I was up late. (This is all part of my excuse about why I was taking a nap.)
Normally I wouldn't be the one staying up waiting for our son to get home (not that he's ever come home at 1 a.m. before), but Randy and Laurel were having a wild adventure at the Lost Sea for our American Heritage Girls Father/Daughter overnight. The Lost Sea is an awesome cave with America's largest underground lake, and our dads and daughters did the special overnight adventure.
I have one more thing to say, and then I need to watch Dr. H. cook supper. (I was going to say that I need to fix supper, but it's Saturday night, and that means Dr. H. cooks!) Laurel and I made the easiest and cutest apron today, and a few days ago we made an adorable tote bag. All you need are dish towels, a sewing machine, and a tiny bit of sewing skills. Go check out Laurel's blog for pictures and a link to how to make these!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
In the Smokies: Selected Reading
We spent much of Sunday in the Smokies—the perfect Father's Day gift for Dr. H. The day was absolutely perfect in every way. Having these beautiful mountains 20-30 minutes away is amazing. I often forget that the Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in the U.S., with 9 million visitors each year. We used to avoid going to the Smokies on weekends from June-October because the traffic can be bumper-to-bumper, and that is not a pleasant way to spend one's day in the mountains. But we know lots of off-the-beaten path places now that are quick to get to and very quiet, and there is just nothing like being in the mountains by the river on a hot summer day.
If you haven't visited the Smokies, please don't let the 9 million tourists scare you off. Only 1 million of them actually do more than drive through; the other 8 million spend most of their time doing stuff in Gatlinburg. If you want a serene mountain experience, you may want to consider avoiding the touristy and heavily trafficked Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. There are many other entrances to the park that are quiet and beautiful, including Townsend, the tiny town just south of us.
I'm going to share a few of our favorite books about the Smokies. My favorite kids books are these two written by Lisa Horstman: The Troublesome Cub and The Great Smoky Mountain Salamander Ball. Another must-have if you are visiting the park is Who Pooped in the Park? (These are available for all the national parks, so be sure to get the Smokies-specific one.) I love this beautiful Appalachian ABCs, and Cynthia Rylant's When I Was Young in the Mountains --the story of a childhood in the mountains--is pure poetry. Speaking of poetry, Nikki Giovanni is from Knoxville, and I love the picture book based on her poem "Knoxville, Tennessee."
For young adults (and adult readers, too), Catherine Marshall's Christy is a classic. This is the story of a privileged young society woman who goes to teach school to the mountain kids in the Smokies. For younger readers, there is a good series of chapter books based on the novel Christy; my 10-year-old loves these books. She also loves the Mandie books by Lois Gladys Leppard, which all take place in and around the Smokies.
I've noticed that the Southern Literature challenge is a popular challenge this summer in the book blog community. I am a huge fan of Southern Lit, both classic and contemporary. A few of contemporary authors whose novels take place in and around the Smokies are Sharyn McCrumb, Adriana Trigiani, and Robert Morgan. In She Walks These Hills, McCrumb weaves a modern-day mystery in with a mountain legend. I'm not crazy about McCrumb's Elizabeth MacPherson mystery books, but I absolutely love her Southern mountain novels. Others include If I Ever Return, Pretty Peggy-O; The Ballad of Frankie Silver; The Songcatcher; The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter; and a couple others. While each novel stands on its own, many of the same characters appear in all the novels.
Adriana Trigiani has a collection of three novels--Big Stone Gap, Big Cherry Holler, and Milk Glass Moon--that take place over in Virginia. They're not exactly Smoky Mountain lit, but the characters and dialect would fit right in here. I've just noticed that there is a fourth in the series now, Home to Big Stone Gap, which I'll be adding to my TBR list.
Robert Morgan is one of my favorite Southern writers. He is much more lyrical than Trigiani and McCrumb. I haven't read all his books, including his newest one Boone, but I love what I've read: This Rock, The Truest Pleasure, Gap Creek, and The Hinterlands. His characters, dialect, setting--everything is beautiful and true to the area. You can imagine Morgan as an oral storyteller in each of these books.
One more fascinating novel that takes place in the Smoky Mountains is Francine Rivers' The Last Sin Eater. The story is about the old folk custom of a community "sin eater," who is said to absolve the residents of their sins by "eating them." I had never heard of this odd custom until reading this book, and I found the concept fascinating.
All of the above reading material provides a great introduction to this unique mountain area. I would be remiss if I didn't recommend a couple of great guides for once you are actually in the Smokies. Dr. H. has two favorites. Hiking Trails of the Great Smoky Mountains by Kenneth Wise is his favorite for family-type hikes and excursion. For tougher, more backcountry hikes, he recommends Hiking Trails of the Smokies, which is published by the GSMNP service.
Have I whet your appetite for the Great Smoky Mountains? Even if you can't come for a visit, you can get a taste of the Smokies in these books.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I Got Distracted
See, here's the problem with summer projects, or projects of any kind, for that matter: I get distracted. These past few days we've actually had some good soaking rains, and I had to get out and work in the flower beds while I could. I have 2 major flower beds at this house, both of which have several sections within them. I also have about three other smaller flower beds, and a vegetable garden. Usually I get distracted and flit from one area to another, but tday I tried to be focused and stick with one flower bed, and I really made some good progress.
So that particular flower bed--the first one you see when you pull in our driveway--is looking much better. I still have a bunch more perennials to plant and more mulch to put down, but it looks like we may have another rain and a couple of days in the 80s coming up soon.
If I work fast, I might be able to get to this next flower bed, which is possibly even more daunting:
My house is a filthy pit, but I feel satisfied anyway. Painting the kitchen and cleaning can waiting until the long, hot, dry days of summer set in.
(And I'm glad I'm not a manicured-nail kind of girl. I have some seriously scary looking dirt under my nails.)
Friday, June 13, 2008
Our Year of American History
Back in November I blogged about how I was making adjustments to my beloved Sonlight material to better match my younger two children in 1st and 5th grades. As I explained in that post, I dropped the spine Sonlight offers for American History: The Landmark History of the American People. We also dropped a few others and added in more hands-on activities. The result has been wonderful. My daughter began this year saying, "I hate history," and I can happily say that she now loves history. Adding in all the hands-on activities was exactly what she needed. We took the year slowly, not adhering to any particular time-frame. We began with Native Americans and went through the Constitution. I thought we might finish with Lewis and Clark, but we didn't quite get that far. I look forward to starting next fall on the trail of those great explorers! I think we'd all agree that one of the best parts of the year was making our Revolutionary War lapbooks. Well, that and our trip to Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown! And so, our year in American History: Unit 1: Native Americans The Story of the USA: Chapters 1 & 2 North American Indians (Marie and Douglas Gorsline) If You Lived With the Sioux Indians (Ann McGovern) Om-Kas-Toe by Kenneth Thomasma Evan-Moor History Pockets: Native American American Indian Prayer Guide Come Look With Me: American Indian Art Various recipes from the internet, including Indian fry bread and Maple Popcorn balls. (During American Heritage Girls summer camp, we did the Native American badge and primarily used More Than Moccasins as a craft and food book. I highly recommend this.) Unit 2: Columbus The Story of the USA: Chapters 3-5 Pedro's Journal by Pam Conrad Unit 3: Jamestown The Story of the USA: Chapter 9 Pocahontas and the Strangers by Clyde Robert Bulla A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla My America Series: Elizabeth’s Jamestown Colony Diaries: Our Strange New Land; The Starving Time, and Season of Promise Movies: Story of Pocahontas (Nest Family Movies); Disney's Pocahontas Unit 4: Mayflower Story of USA: Chapter 10 If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620 (Ann McGovern) American Adventures #1: The Mayflower Adventure (Colleen Reece) Dear America: A Journey to the New World (The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple) American Family Paper Dolls: Pilgrim Period (Tom Tierney) Colonial Kids: An Activity Guide to Life in the New World (Laurie Carlson)—begin various crafts, recipes, etc. Unit 5: Plymouth The Light and the Glory: Chapter 6-7 American Adventures Series: Plymouth Pioneers; Dream Seekers; and Fire by Night. Movies: William Bradford: The First Thanksgiving (Nest Family Entertainment); Squanto: A Warrior’s Tale (Disney) Pilgrim Coloring Pages Pilgrims from American Family Paper Dolls Unit 6: Life in the Colonies (late 1600s-1770) Story of USA Book 1: Chapters 11 & 12 American Adventures: Smallpox Strikes The Witch of Blackbird Pond The Sign of the Beaver (novel and movie) Colonial crafts from Colonial Kids: braided rug, sock dolls, Colonial crafts from Colonial America Easy Projects: log cabin for Sign of the Beaver Dear America series: Standing in the Light: The Captive Diary of Catharine Carey Logan (1763) Unit 7: Countdown to the Revolution (1770-1775) American Adventures: Boston Revolts Johnny Tremain Movie: Johnny Tremain Colonial America Easy Projects: Boston town meeting, map of Boston What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? Can't You Make Them Behave, King George? Unit 8: The American Revolution (1775-1776) American Revolution: A Magic Tree House Research Guide (Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce). Fantastic guide to life in the colonies and the American Revolution. Great amount of information—not too much and not too simplistic. Boston Tea Party: Excellent picture book of the events leading up to the Revolutionary War. Meet George Washington George Washington's Teeth: a picture book describing the real story of GW’s “wooden teeth.” The timeline at the end is especially interesting. George Washington (video—Nest Entertainment, Animated Hero Classics) My America Series: Hope's Revolutionary War Diary: Five Smooth Stones; We Are Patriots; and When Freedom Comes Phoebe the Spy Meet Thomas Jefferson And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? Hands-On History American Revolution projects: Boston Tea Party flip book, Mini-book of Paul Revere’s Ride, Declaration of Independence quiz panel. Websites: Paul Revere's Ride (http://www.earlyamerica.com/paul_revere.htm) and here http://www.cvesd.k12.ca.us/finney/paulvm/h1_midride/ridepages_nosound/ridefset.html American Independence (video—American History for Children series by Schlessinger Productions) History of US flag coloring book dowload (www.hellopress.net/free%20downloads/May-July/US_Flag_Coloring_Book.pdf) Make Revolutionary War lapbooks Source for famous quotes Unit 9: A New Nation Chap. 1 The Story of the USA, Book 2: Chap. 1 and 2 If You Were There When They Signed the Constitution Shhh! We're Writing the Constitution! Family Trip to Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown! Unit 10: Moving Westward The Cabin Faced West (to be continued next fall!)
Heart of the Matter Meme: Father's Day Edition
I don't know that this is necessarily my favorite picture, but this is the most recent one of Dr. H and the kids during our trip to Yorktown/Williamsburg/Jamestown. Favorite pics might be more along the lines of Dr. H. holding each baby for the first time, pushing Duncan on his bike, reading a book to Laurel, on the beach in Hawaii with Jesse... But I am feeling too lazy to hunt down those photos.
And anyway: this is us, now. This is who we are. And in this picture are just a few great things about Dr. H. as a father that I can see, and probably you can't.
• For one, Dr. H. lets our kids be who they are.
* He likes to take off his shoes and wade in the water.
* He climbs on rocks.
* He doesn't have to talk all the time. He appreciates that some moments are bettered savored in silence.
* He is laid back and relaxed, truly maintaining a policy of flexibility. On this afternoon, for example, we had planned to eat dinner at a beach-front restaurant. But the younger kids couldn't resist the draw of the water, and within 5 minutes they were too soaked for a restaurant. Instead, we ordered pizza back at the hotel.
• He grows with our children. His parenting style evolves with their different ages. He is always willing to adapt as their needs change.
* He values us.
And that, my friends, is a very short list based entirely on the photo above. I could list a hundred other qualities that make Dr. H. such an awesome father, but really, he simply is.
Monday, June 9, 2008
To Mexico, At Last
These past few days we've been blessed by getting to spend time with our sweet friends, the Hancocks. Casey was our minister for the first five years that we lived here. And beyond that, Casey and Teri were our wonderful friends. We shared a lot of joys and a lot of sorrows together during those five years. When we came to this area, Libby was just 9 months old and Laurel was not quite two-and-a-half. Here they are now, at nine and ten.
I'm seeing a short-term mission trip coming up in the next couple of years...
Monday, June 9, 2008 - Happy/Sad with you
Posted by Jennifer in OR (220.127.116.11)
What a bittersweet moment with your friends! I'm glad you had this time with them.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 - Don't forget...
Posted by anotherblogonthefire (18.104.22.168)
there are short-term mission opportunities in PNG, too!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008 - Untitled Comment
Posted by Anonymous (22.214.171.124)
I'm so glad to read this! :) I'll give the link to Tina, too. I can't believe the kids are that big; I remember when they were born.
Thursday, June 12, 2008 - Untitled Comment
Posted by Jess (126.96.36.199)Hi there. I have been reading your blog for a bit now, and feel compelled to reply to this post. I'm a military wife, so I know all too well the pain of saying 'good bye.' I could have written your post many times over, only changing the names, reasons, and locations.
I just wanted to offer hugs and prayers of support.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Spicy Pork Cutlets
Spicy Pork Cutlets
1 (1-lb) pork tenderloin
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. rosemary (cut up)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
2 tsp. olive oil
2-3 gloves garlic, minced
Mix all the ingredients except the pork in a small bowl. Slice pork into 12 medallions. Place each pork slice between two sheets of plastic wrap and flatten with your hand to about 1/4-inch thick. Rub the spicy mixture over both sides of every slice. Spray your broiler rack with cooking spray and place pork on rack. Put in broiler pan and broil at the top rack, as close as possible to the heat, for about 4 minutes on each side. This timing worked perfectly, but our oven tends to run a bit hot. You may want to keep your oven door open while you broil to make sure you don't scorch your delicious supper.
We served this with Pioneer Woman's Crash Hot Potatoes, which were just okay. I think a perfect accompaniment, if I were the kind of person who made side dishes with any kind of regularity, would be mashed potatoes, green beans, and cantaloupe (to cut the spiciness).
Sunday, June 1, 2008
We officially ended our school year on Friday, so I'm ready to face the summer projects. I'm trying to be a realist this year. I have just a few projects planned that absolutely must get done:
1) First and foremost, paint the kitchen.
2) Next, the sunporch must be straightened and made clutter-free.
3) Figure out how to use my new space.
So those are the projects. This week I have two goals. First, I'm going to get the keys to my parents' new house (they are still in New York working toward putting their house their on the market) and take a couple of loads over there. And second, I'm going to finish getting the last chunks of wallpaper off. (And as a separate goal, I'm going to get this year's school books and such put away!)
So tell me about your summer projects!