Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blogging is slow when I’m reading books.

I think Lots of moms can relate to the ebb & flow of reading. Sometimes you can read lots and other times, months go by without reading a book more than 20 pages for the kids.
Then it depends on the type of reading. I go through phases of what I am reading. Is it for Self improvement; pure joy; fiction; non fiction; dieting; parenting; homeschooling; unschooling;
Spiritual reading; lives of the Saints; art; travel; history; catalogs or magazines?

Lately I’m devoted to reading Revelations of Divine Mercy – Daily Readings from the Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska. I've kept up since January, especially during Lent and during the Divine Mercy Novena.

Lissa lent me Homeschooling with Gentleness, A Catholic Discovers Unschooling. I enjoyed that.

Lots of blogging moms are reading. Mitten Strings for God Dawn @ "By Sun & Candlelight" was doing a book study. She was posting chapter by chapter.

Eat, Pray, Love
Under the Tuscan Sun

Monet and the Impressionists for Kids

Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Md Mate

Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles: Winning for a Lifetime by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by
Eckhart Tolle

How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk

ScreamFree Parenting

Prince Caspian

The Dawn Treader

The Silver Chair

I guess I should give my opinions ...... but it is taking so long to just type up the titles.......
I'm not good at writing what I think about books.
Also, I have to let a books sit and stew for a while in my brain to see what sinks in, if anything!

I also go with the flow of TV. I’m devoted to Project Runway. I like The Hills and I am waiting for Grey’s Anatomy to get started again. We never got into American Idol this year. But we sometimes are lax until the last 4 and then watch the final competitions.

My favorite this Spring was “The Biggest Loser”. I’ve never watched much of that show. I saw the finale of the last season and the commercials for the Couples Loser interested me. I watched a few shows here and there, but it wasn’t until the last 4 episodes that I was hooked. Rather I was emotionally involved. I was so into the weigh ins I had to have tissues nearby. The best episode was the next to last one where the 2 women were above the yellow line. You would think I was related to them I was so happy for them and proud. Actually quite amazed to see the 2 women lose more weight than the men, especially at how much weight they had already lost, how thin they already were!! I was thrilled to see that Ali won! That was great. Too bad the show ended just as she won?? We didn’t get to see her and her family rejoicing!!

Baked Ratatouille by me

In a continuing quest to eat healthy, get the kids to eat veggies and lose weight I’ve been doing lots of reading. I have 3 books by Marilu Henner, 2 by Suzanne Somers and borrowed another from the library. I also tried a few more from the library: Lose 21 pounds in 21 days; The Cortisol connection; The Sonoma Diet

In Suzanne Somers' book Eat Great, Lose Weight she has a Yummy recipe for “Candied” tomatoes.

I made them a long time ago and remembered how I liked them.

I looked it up and she suggests storing them in olive oil in the frig. I’ve found there is enough liquid to store it fine, without adding more oil (=calories).

They make a terrific side dish or use it over chicken breasts. The can be used in omelets or served over grilled bread or cannellini beans.

To prepare them: Slice in half and place cut sides up in baking pan, drizzle olive oil & then generously salt each half. Bake @ 325 for 2 hours.

While shopping I found a group of 6 tomatoes on their vine at the store; Deep red and looking great. I remembered that this would make a lot of liquid in the bottom of the pan, so I added some asparagus, zucchini cut up small to the bottom of the dish. The results were absolutely delicious!

I like it best over whole wheat pasta or rice.

I made it again 2 days later, adding balsamic vinegar. Again delicious!

I was making it in my Henn 9 X 13 casserole. HPIM4469-1

The next time (only a couple days later) I tried an extra large amount of veggies in the covered baker and it was fabulous. I held a Pampered Chef show a couple months ago just to get that covered baker.HPIM4463

I took a large bowl of my veggies over to a friend's house for her to try (to make sure I wasn’t imagining it). She said they had it over spaghetti and loved it.

Tonight I made it again and layered the zucchini HPIM4467 and yellow squash on the bottom in larger pieces.

Then I laid 2 chicken breasts on top of that. I drizzled a little of pampered chef’s garlic canola oil on the chicken. Then the asparagus followed by diced large tomatoes and a couple handfuls of grape tomatoes on top.

Then add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, oregano, pepper & salt. It turned out fabulous. My DH had 2 helpings.HPIM4471

SO I’ve been calling my dish Ratatouille…. to try and get the kids interested in it…. but they haven’t been! I’ve been eating it for dinner and lunches. I think, I hope, it is very healthy and a great way to get my veggies. I’m very happy to eat it if it helps me lose weight.

I looked up ratatouille and it is actually cooked on top of the stove. In a big pot it is like a stew or soup. Some recipes also call for sautéing the veggies before adding the tomatoes and liquid. Plus they always call for eggplant, and I haven’t tried adding that yet.

I looked up braising, which is close. That is done in the oven in a covered baker. It starts out dry and then becomes filled with liquid. The juices cook the food and add flavor. But braising is usually for meat.

I looked up stewing, which it could be. But again, I make it in the oven not on the stovetop.

On Wikipedia I found an interesting article about “Confit Byaldi” which started as ratatouille, and is used as “THE DISH” in the animated Ratatouille movie.

I think it might try it that way. It looks pretty too.

Well you have read this far…. I hope you try my ratatouille and let me know, please, how you like it!

I also wanted to add how much I love the Rice Cooker I got from Pampered Chef. I like how it cooks in the microwave for how long you set it for. It doesn't get forgotten on the stovetop, boiling over, cooking dry, burning, etc. Also the cleanup has been soo easy. I've beenn making 2 cups of rice with 3 1/2 cups of water. I cook on High for 6 minutes then on 50% power for 15 min. Though it is done, I leave it in the cooker with the lid closed until we are close to serving to let it continue steaming. It tastes so much better than the stovetop way too.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Pine Crosses and exploring our hillside

Alice @ A Number of Things posted during Easter week about Pine Crosses.
It is amazing that nature and the pine trees "know" when it is Easter and when to top the ends of its branches with tiny crosses.
We have a hillside with a few pines and I've never noticed crosses at the tippy tops over the 8 years we've lived here! But I'm not much of a nature girl.
We went out onto the hillside to show the kids and take pics. The crosses were so high in these tall pines that I really had to use a zoom to get up there.
Our pines are very large. I noticed the upright yellowish growths all over the tree, but they seem to only make the crosses at the top and highest edges of the tree. I bet it has something to do with the sunlight. Our home is on the shady side of the trees, the north side. I’m not going to climb high enough on the hillside to see the south side. Our hill is quite steep. I don’t know if you can tell how steep it is by the pictures.
Derek is pointing at a new baby tree growing up ahead.
I have never climbed very high on our hillside. When we first moved here I was 7 months pregnant. Then I had a fear of leaving my baby & toddler while I climbed a hillside and my mommy brain was scared of falling and getting hurt while my babies were left alone. I never thought about climbing up it again until I was pregnant again. So it has not happened.
I do look out and up at that hillside everyday -- while I stand at my kitchen sink.
I will mention that I helped rake the bottom section of the hillside up to the first ravine 2 summers ago. Today is the highest I’ve ever climbed and that was barely past halfway. But I was willing to do it in the name of nature and learning. So here are the pics to prove it.

Here is a picture looking down on our yard. You can see the tree edges on the left is taller than our house, and the one on the right is pretty big too.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Field trip to Point Loma Lighthouse

It was a beautiful clear day to be outside in the fresh sea air and visit the old Point Loma Lighthouse.
The kids pose in front of the lighthouse.

Here is Katie at the top of the ladder leading up to the light. That is as far as you can go.
In the lighthouse the doors and windows are covered with glass and the rooms are decorated for the 1880's time period. You can peek into the rooms to see what life would have been like for the Lighthouse Keeper Captain Robert Decatur Israel, his wife Maria the Asst. Keeper and their family of 3 sons and a niece.
There is a living room and kitchen downstairs. Then you climb a tight, steep winding stair to the next floor where there are 2 tiny bedrooms and a storage room between them. I wonder where all of those kids slept?

Next we walked around admiring the ocean views and the abundance of wildflowers in many colors.
We tried to watch for migrating whales, but didn't see any.
We did look down at the tidepools that we visited a few weeks ago.
Then back for a pose in front of the Lighthouse that mimics one of several years ago.

Back in 2006, my cousin Amy was out for a visit. Before we took her to the airport, we made a stop at Cabrillo Monument and the Lighthouse.

I took the picture of the kids in the "gutter" in front of the lighthouse and they have not forgotten it. So they wanted to pose the same way for this year's picture.
MARCH 2008

APRIL 2006

Funny how Derek's feet are out in front of him in both pics. His hair, however, has turned darker.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

ice cream sandwiches by the pool

Katie & Derek are taking a snack break
and having their ice cream by the pool.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Palm Sunday Altar Servers

We were all excited to see on the schedule that Geoff & James were assigned as Altar Servers on Palm Sunday.
Last year, their first opportunity to serve on the Altar was on Divine Mercy Sunday.

Here are pictures I could get. There were palm bearers in the way and they were moving fast into the church.

Geoff is the second man carrying the crucifix covered in palms.

Fr. Matt follows up the procession, James is in front of him. He is the shorter boy closer to the yellow flowers in the first picture and on the left side in the next picture.

We were additionally blessed to have our friends, the McCallums meet us for Mass. They arrived early, saved our seats and the kids loved sitting together. They are Katie's godparents. She likes calling their kids her god-sisters and god-brothers.
After Mass we all went back to our house for a wonderful lunch, playing, swimming & the parents were in the jacuzzi.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

So you are thinking about Homeschooling?

An old friend that I lost contact with emailed me and said she was thinking about Homeschooling.

Do you know of any resources, books, or websites that offer data and info. about Homeschooling?

There are MANY PROS, or else no one would homeschool :)
My relationships with my children are the best ever. Of any pro that is the best one.

God gave you your children, to be raised and nurtured by You. Not by teachers at school all day and by the influence of 30 little kids all day and their young brains.

Do you want your children "attached" to you and your love & values or "attached" to their peers and what children teach other children?
*see the book - Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers (Paperback)by Gordon Neufeld (Author), Gabor Md Mate (Author)

There are lots of cons, but those are mainly when Other people are not supportive, or other people push what Society Thinks is "Normal" on you and you worry. YOU have to be strong and know that You make the best decisions about Your children/family and YOU know what is BEST.... Not society.

Google homeschool and just start reading.
I still do it ALL the time and read and study about it all the time.

I read the blogs of Homeschool moms around the country & world and what they do and have tried and works for them or not.
(there are lots of smart HS moms in England, Australia, Canada & New Zealand.... Also USA moms that are around the world with their husbands job or military)

I'm on a bunch of Yahoo Group lists that have wonderful women there that give TONS of advice and help.

I belong to lapbooking, Charlotte Mason, Catholic Homeschooling, tidal homeschooling, unschooling, california homeschool and our city groups.
Do a search and join some groups. Sign up to get "group" email that comes once a day. Read it if anything interests you, delete it if you don't.

Check out California Homeschool Network's website.
They have all information you might want to start with on their website:


Other families that we know all homeschool very differently from our home's version.
It really depends on your children's ages, abilities, interests & Yours.
Every home & family will have their own reasons, curriculum, rules, groups, classes, friends, park days, and everything.

One thing you will come to is choosing what method of homeschool you want.

I'm on my 3rd or 4th way. We did Seton Homeschool.
But ended that about Spring last year.
We started with a Charter School this year. But we left that school earlier this month.
Now days we are doing more Unschooling.

I recommend reading lots of books for lots of views of other homeschool families.
All of these books I got at the local Library.

In the Catlog Search, look up "homeschooling", "home school" or "homeschool" for different titles. Also "Learning", "learning at home" or "unschool".

The 4 best books that helped me know God was calling me to homeschool:

The ABC's of homeschooling / Vicki Caruana. Caruana, Vicki.

Home sweet homeschool : a survivor's guide to giving your kids a quality education / Sue Maakestad. Maakestad, Sue.

Homeschooling : take a deep breath--you can do this! / by Terrie Lynn Bittner. Bittner, Terrie Lynn, 1959-

Homeschooling for excellence / David and Micki Colfax. Colfax, David.

Books I own, you can borrow:

Catholic Homeschooling by Mary Kay Clark

The Catholic Homeschool Companion by Maureen Wittman & Rachel Mackson

A Catholic Homeschool Treasury by Rachel Mackson, Maureen Wittmann

the unschooling handbook by Mary Griffith

Things We Wish We’d Known edited by Bill & Diana Waring

Designing your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist

Other books I’ve read that all have something helpful from the Library:

The unofficial guide to homeschooling / Kathy Ishizuka. Ishizuka, Kathy.

Home schooling on a shoestring : a jam-packed guide / Melissa L. Morgan & Judith Waite Allee ; [edit Morgan, Melissa L., 1958-

Homeschooling, the early years : your complete guide to successfully homeschooling the 3- to 8-year- Dobson, Linda.

The homeschooling handbook : from preschool to high school, a parent's guide / Mary Griffith. Griffith, Mary, 1953-

Teach your own : the John Holt book of homeschooling / John Holt, Patrick Farenga. Holt, John Caldwell, 1923-

Home learning year by year : how to design a homeschool curriculum from preschool through high school Rupp, Rebecca.

Family matters : why homeschooling makes sense / David Guterson. Guterson, David.

Home Learning Year By Year : How To Design A Homeschool Curriculum From Preschool Through High School / Rebecca Rupp. Rupp, Rebecca.