Had fun playing with my Cricut machine.

Had fun playing with my Cricut machine.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cake + Teenager = Lesson In Contentment

Contentment & The Pre-Pre Med’s Birthday Cake sums up a lesson learned.
I got this really cool idea to have a ER, well now known as an ED birthday party theme for the Pre-Pre Med homeschooled young man. He corrects me on this every chance that he gets ;-0

You see back in the 'old days' as he would say, hospitals only had 1 room for emergencies, hence the name "EMERGENCY ROOM". Now hospitals have more than 1 room and so they are now deemed "EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS." In light of this I thought what better birthday party theme to go with? lol.

I had this really cool cake in mind, ya know the Mejier version of an AWESOME Cake Boss cake...lol. I even explained what I wanted twice to the cake decorator. I warned the Pre-Pre Med homeschooled young man that "I don't think the cake lady understood what I wanted, she kept drawing and crossing things out." I was thinking how hard can this be? I want a cake that says EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT at the top and then a large blank space for me to put my own decorations on.

Fast forward a week and I pick up the cake the morning of the party and it's not the right cake. The girl said "Well I can take this one with the polka dots on it and write emergency department on it." Dare I even laugh? They were large pastel polka dots and he is a 14 year old boy." hahaha. I just said "No, I will just take the other cake." As I walked away discontented, the Pre-Pre Med homeschooled young man put his arm around me and said "Don't worry about it, I like it, it's fine."

I liked it better once I got the Lego doctors, nurses, surgeon, patient, gurney and other equipment on the cake. ( with a little help from a friend). I am still trying to figure out what some of the things are that the cake decorator had drawn on the cake...lol.

Earlier tonight, the day after the party, Pre-Pre Med homeschooled young man was cutting himself a slice of his cake and he thanked me for taking the time and effort to get the cake for. He told me that even though it was not the cake that I had wanted, that he was happy with it. He even said "You could have just thawed out one of those giant cookie cakes we have in the freezer."

So this is where contentment factors in. I already had a cake in the freezer, but I wanted more/better. We teach our kids day in and day out about math, science, grammar and history, but what do those things really boil down to? Smarts, yes smarts count for something in life, but contentment factors into our every day lives. Yet it is so easy to forget that fact and busy ourselves with all sorts of school stuff. Nothing like a teenager to teach you about the facts of life.
"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
I am learning, but sometimes I need a teenager to teach me and keep me grounded.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Back To College For Me (part 2)

In my last blog post I said we would revisit "How to survive gluten free when you are away from home and there is a slight glitch in the food planning." So here we go...

When you have to be gluten free for medical reasons you just can't cheat. After sending in all my forms for the Academy that we were attending, I thought that food would not be an issue. So I just brought a few snacks with me for the 4 day adventure that we were embarking upon. But there was a glitch.
Day 1. My cooler was packed with some string cheese and deli meat just in case (can you tell I have traveled a bit in my day? But when I opened it up the night of Day 1, the ice packs were warm and so was the food. It had been in there about 12 hours and I had to toss out the food. So I had about 1/3 of a can of Pik*Nik original shoestring potatoes, a jar of peanut butter and 3 of the new Aldi Foods Live Gfree gluten free bars on my person. Not enough to live on for four days.

I head to dinner...it was a catered in picnic, I had a plain salad and HUGE baked potato. YUM! that I parked my car 5 miles away from our dorm on campus and one of the Headquarters staff members graciously took me in her own car in the pouring rain to the grocery store. A store that I was not familiar with and I rushed through and grabbed some lunchmeat and canned fruit, we had things to do that night and we needed to get back to the dorms. What I did not notice was that the lunchmeat package (though it seemed large) contained two servings of meat; the slices were thin but folded over in the package to make it look larger. So note to self, look at number of servings on package!

Day 2. Found hard boiled eggs and some fruit on the buffet that was away from anything containing gluten. Got in the lunch line early and got to the salad bar before it got too messy. Grabbed some veggies, black olives, and a slice of deli meat from my stash. Dinner grabbed a slice of deli meat from my stash. The Chef did tell me that everything was gluten free including some sort of a pasta dish with shrimp in it that night. The pasta looked too good to be true to be GF and he turned out to be wrong when I asked another worker, thankfully I did not eat any. Skipped dinner, but later in the night at the bowling alley I was able to buy a water and PayDay candy bar (It was the highest protein candy bar I could find).

Day 3. Chef tells me that the sausage links (but not the sausage patties, weird I know, why add gluten to sausage, they were Vegan so maybe that is why?) are GF...YIPPEE!! Boy hot food never tasted so good. I think it was Cheri that told me they had Udi's bagels up on the bread bar, they did, (no gluten free toaster for those with Celiac Disease...remember that 1/65th of a teaspon of gluten is enough to cause our small intestinal villi to die off, so skip the regular toaster.). I've never eaten an Udi's bagel before since they cost around $7.00+ for 4 bagels. That morning I had part of a cinnamon raisin one, I wrapped the other half in a napkin to take with me to put peanut butter on later for lunch. Felt like I was stealing until one of the other chaperones pointed out a sign that said "Take a snack for later." But sadly, the bagel did not hold up for lunch, it was hard as a rock and crumbled (yeah, gluten free is not like the real stuff).

We were having Papa Johns for lunch, but thought I better skip that not knowing about the lunch meat being GF or not and if they had changed gloves. So I thought I would pop into the dorm dinning room to see what was for lunch. I talked with the Chef and he tells me that I can have anything on the main buffet except the hotdog buns. YES! Hot fresh food...remember that sheer irony I mentioned in the previous blog post? The sheer irony of the gluten free green beans, mashed potatoes and turkey breast meal that was on the lunch buffet, the one day that was not included in my meal plan card...LOL. I have witnesses that can testify to my saying the night before this meal appeared on the buffet "I want something hot like green beans, mashed potatoes and turkey." Poof there it was! I'm thinking the Lord was trying to teach me grace and humility through all this.

Headquarters staff went above and beyond to get me fed, again one of them took me to the grocery store earlier in the day, I got more lunchmeat and more canned fruit. That night was the big banquet and awards night, they brought me Chipotle's rice and braised carnitas and it was so good!

Day 4. I had bacon and fruit.

So all in all I survived, thought I might have lost some weight, but some how I stayed the same, even with all the walking we did and water I drank. Yes, I could have cheated, gotten very ill...did I mention all that walking...lol...don't want to get ill from gluten when there are no restrooms nearby!!!

A few parting thoughts:

There is nothing more freaky than not having access to food you can eat, I know of all the things to have to worry about in the world, but it can freak you out!

Things might appear safe to eat, but are they? Scrambled eggs were offered pretty much every day, but I was told that they were not GF. So always ask, institutional food is not made the same way we cook at home; it's made to withstand heat and to not dry out on buffet lines. Think about times you have gotten sick eating scrambled eggs at IHOP or other chains, many add pancake batter to make fluffy omlets.

Even when you think all will be well with your trip, camp or other outing, always bring some foods that you can eat, because no matter how well things are planned out, glitches will occur. Glad I got to live through the glitches with a great group of people!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Back To College For Me (part 1)

We have had some very busy days this summer. We drove over 3,000 miles, visited my Mother in the hospital, packed up all her personal belongings, sold her house and car, spent a day at the Gulf of Mexico, went to the Creation Museum, found some great hotels in the process, attended an academy for 4 days and (taking a big relaxing breath since we are almost done with all our running) spent 2 days at the medical school working on Problem Based Learning. In a later post, I will have some pictures to share.

The Homeschooled Young Man learned a lot at his Molecular & Cellular Biology Academy that was held at a major university and had an AWESOME time. I might add that I had an awesome time too! I got to chaperone a fun group of girls and had a great time with some of the other chaperones on my dorm room floor (and from other floors too). The Young Man met a girl that wants to be a Physicians Assistant, always cool to chat with another teen that has a passion for real life things and not just for playing video games or watching the latest movie.

One of the chaperones on my floor Cheri, homeschools and we were up late chatting about health, kids and of course, a topic that is always close to my heart HOMESCHOOLING! Pretty cool to hear about how others educate their children, each has a different approach, but our hearts are in the same place: creating a learning environment for our children to thrive in, teaching a love of learning for a lifetime and guiding our children to attaining their goals and dreams.

Toss Kruti into the mix (another chaperon on my dorm room floor) and we had it made in the shade! (though we did sweat a lot!!!) The three of us meshed, laughed, chatted until the wee hours of the morning. Then woke a few short hours later to tackle the day and lead our charges. I think the only thing missing was a nice pot of hot tea! Next year girls.

What chaperones look like when they sleep 15 hours over the course of 4 days lol. After the month I had just lived through these two ladies were like a drink of cool water in a dry and weary land. I thank them both for that. My soul has been refreshed and I am ready to tackle life again.
On a side note Kruti lives about 15 minutes from where I grew up and she knows the Mom of a girl (Lana Banana) I went to grade school and middle school with. Pretty neat.

Met some other chaperones along the way that we spent evenings visiting with while the teens enjoyed their playtime (bowling, billiards, giggling, dancing, did I mention giggling? LOL)

I so enjoyed meeting the chaperones that had graduated from the university, I liked hearing about what it was like back in the day and how things had changed, such as less grassy areas, new buildings, a sorority house no longer on campus etc.) I also enjoyed hearing about what their teens were interested in and their goals in life and what they were doing to achieve them.

Kruti and I had a chance meeting (you know me, nothing is by chance it was providential) with a young man that we found out lives near me. He has friends that attend the medical school program with the Homeschooled Young Man. Please pray for the teen we will call him C, he has some dreams and desires for the future, but needs some good guidance to get there. Several chaperones had to walk I would say about a mile with C (Kruti & I hung back with C) and just about the time we got to our destination, I asked him something like "So what did you think of being stuck with these two moms on the walk over?" C says "Well at first I was thinking, gee I'm stuck walking with these 2 Moms, but now after spending time with you both I am glad I did, I learned a lot." What a blessing to hear a teenager that is going into his senior year of high school say this. Remember the saying "People don't care what you know, until they know you care!" I said goodbye to this young man on the last day, shook his hand and told him "I expect to hear great things about you in the future."
Another blessing of the academy was seeing some kids that were loners, who liked to listen to Ipod, watch sports on TV or read by themselves brought out into the fun by some other teens who took the time to approach them, spend time with them and help them to enjoy themselves. Remember the saying "People don't care what you know, until they know you care!" I'm thinking that this blog post might have an underlying theme to it. To see these teens laughing, smiling, and having a new spring in their step was awesome to watch.

Here is my top 10 list for the academy...

1) Late night gatherings in the lounge (why do we always get a second wind when we put the children to bed?) LOL

2) Texting to Kruti but accidentally sending it to the case manager of the hospital that my Mom is in...lol. And the case manager sending back a text answering what I texted for Kruti...lol. Texting my husband saying "2am bathroom break, missing you and I love you, can't wait to be home with you!" and sending it to my Pastor by accident, who replied that even though it was 2am he was happy to see that my husband and I were still in love! Note to self  DO NOT TEXT late at night when you are tired, because bad things can happen. My SIM card is all goofed up.

3) Meeting "The Other Guy" one of the chaperones that I nicknamed when we were playing board games with the teens, he had stepped out for a minute while I was writing names down on the score sheet and I did not know his name. He was homeschooled all the way through high school and talked to me about his life growing up and his college experience (if I remember right electrical and/or mechanical engineering). I am refreshed and ready to jump into the coming school year full force because of "The Other Guy." I got a free homeschool convention to boot (I think Kruti did too).

4) The topic of raising poultry came up at the academy and here is a picture showing the difference in a meat bird and a laying hen.

One of our meat birds (fryer) we call them Frankenstein Chickens

Our laying hens resting up in the pine trees.
  5) Getting rides in the mini busses that they called "Turtles", my tired brain found that funny. One of the teens had on a backpack that was a green turtle shell (she wore it for several days) and I would picture that backpack every time someone would mention the "Turtles". LOL

6) The sheer irony of the gluten free green beans, mashed potatoes and turkey breast meal that was on the lunch buffet, the one day that was not included in my meal plan card...LOL. I have witnesses that can testify to my saying the night before this meal appeared on the buffet "I want something hot like green beans, mashed potatoes and turkey." Poof there it was! I'm thinking the Lord was trying to teach me grace and humility through all this. Headquarters staff went above and beyond to get me fed. I got Chipotle's rice and braised carnitas that day. More in a later blog post about how to survive gluten free when you are away from home and there is a slight glitch in the food planning.

7) Seeing the teens work together (delegates, planning committee and others) to make things happen.

8) The Awards Night was really neat for the Homeschooled Young Man because he had just this week finished reading the book Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris. I think that this book should be required reading for all 13-17 year olds.
What it's all about! Thank you 4-H!!!
9) For the chaperones that are interested here is the blog post on favorite gluten free recipes. There are other recipes on my site, but these are my top ones that I rotate through on a monthly basis.
Adoptive Mom Homeschooling An Only Child: My Favorite Gluten Free Recipes from 2012:

10) My favorite gluten free brands Better Batter (expensive but makes WONDERFUL breads & dinner rolls that freeze well), Hodgson Mill, Schar, Bob's Red Mill and Bisquick Gluten Free.

(hope this all made sense, going to bed now  ;-)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What's Your Thing?

Warning Momma brag, for all Momma's out there.

Had one of the very best smiles when the homeschooling young man finished up his last module at the medical school. The topics were on Networking and Professionalism. I asked him as we drove away, what he had learned. I had the rear view mirror pointed in his direction. He smashed himself down into the seat as far as he could and just giggled. (Do almost 14 year old boys really giggle?)

"You know...."(boy).

"What do I know?" (me)

"You know!" (boy)

"What do I know? I was not there, I don't know what they taught you." (me)

"Well it's everything you have taught me." (boy).

I was just beaming and grinning from ear to ear and he knew it too! LOL... Yes, I do know something ('Hallelujah Chorus' playing from above!) and that something is Networking and Professionalism. I said "I am so glad that you did not have to wait like most kids do, until they are around 30 years old, when they realize that Mom actually does have some knowledge....lol."

Later I was sharing this story with my husband, he told me "You don't know Networking! YOU ARE NETWORKING!" "You know everyone and everyone knows you!" "It's just a part of who you are and how you are, you live and breath networking." "It's your THING!"

Sometimes it just feels good to know that you have "A thing", I think as homeschooling Momma's it's easy for us to lose just what our "thing" is. My husband has now asked me what his "Thing is." Not sure but going to have to think on that one.

What is your "thing" and have you lost it? Or do you cultivate it?


Monday, May 26, 2014

Summer School Or No School?

What do you do in your homeschool for summer?

I remember the fun times of summer school in high school. We did not have air conditioning in our summer home when I was growing up. Though the house was on the lake and had wonderful breezes blowing through pretty much all the time. It sure was nice to be in that air conditioned school on really hot and humid days. Summer school was a time to reconnect with friends, enjoy getting to know school teachers better, since they were more relaxed and not so rushed. As well as a time for getting classes out of the way.

If you mention summer school to most teens today, they totally freak out and can't imagine enjoying it. A big plus to homeschooling is that we can instill a love of learning in our child, it's not a chore, learning is a wonderful part of life.

Our summer school this year looks like this.
We have a combination of Algebra II, Keyboarding and Biology going on right now. Subjects that the homeschooling young man finds fascinating and enjoyable...well with the exception of keyboarding, that one will be a chore for him since he likes to type his "OWN WAY" lol...

He is signed up for a college composition class this fall and he needs to learn to type faster so he can get all his compositions and term papers done for that class. 'Cause this Momma ain't gonna type 'em for him...lol. Am I a bad Momma for that? Nope, just a Momma teaching her child life skills.

Along the way he has some volunteering and job shadowing plans for the summer + days of free reading, Lego's and finishing up 4-H County Fair projects.

In addition to some light schooling we will be working on life skills as usual, taking a trip or two and enjoying the shade of the patio and sun on the deck.

So what are your plans for summer?

Have a wonderful Memorial Day!


Saturday, May 10, 2014