Saturday, November 30, 2013

Canning with My Pickle Boy

It is no secret that Caleb loves dill pickles.  There is never a shortage of pickles in our house.  Generally I make our own pickles with a fresh dill, garlic and jalapenos from our garden.  Over the last several years while I get the brine ready for the jars my pickle boy takes car of cleaning and chopping the cucumbers.  Today we made eight quarts of dill pickle slices for sandwiches.  

I enjoy canning and the kids are practically pros by this point.  We enjoy strawberry jelly, blueberry jelly, apple butter, salsa and even cake! Every season we usually make sure in addition to our pickles, we have homemade salsa, canned peaches and some type of jelly.  

It is one of the most enjoyable things we do as a family!  Jon is a pro at setting the gage on the canner and sterilizing jars! The process is much easier now that the kids can all wield a knife! 

You are to take every kind of food that is to be eaten and store it away as food for you and for them.  Genesis 6:21

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dallas Symphony's President John F. Kennedy Memorial Concert

Caleb and the other members of the Sixth Floor Museum's Youth Advisory Committee have prepared for the events surrounding the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.  

Many of the kids participated in the JFK Day of Service at the the JFK Learning Center in Dallas.  This is the school where the kids have worked the last two years painting murals, and quotes on the wall.  Today they served organizing the library shelves and doing much needed service projects around the school.

Tonight several of the youth joined the Dallas Symphony Orchestra's Teen Council had a  rare opportunity to speak with Composer Conrad Tao before the Dallas Symphony's President John F. Kennedy Memorial Concert. Images of President Kennedy were shown above the ensemble in Dallas, playing Tao's, "The World if Very Different Now" at the Myerson Symphony Center.   Click HERE is the write up from the New York Times.  Click HERE to read the write up in the Dallas Morning News.

to them I will give within my temple and its walls
    a memorial and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
    that will endure forever. Isaiah 56:5

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Home School Recital

It's that time of the year again for our annual PEACH home school group recital.  It is a chance for the kids to showcase their various talents.  The evening includes the recital portion along with a baking competition and an art competition.  This year with over 200 people in attendance we enjoyed everything from classical music solos, violin performances even Mary Had a Little Lamb in Russian!  

The art competitions was equally diverse including Lego sculptures, quilted pieces even charcoal drawings of Dr. Who characters.  The kids received ribbons and gift cards for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place by age division for the art competition and the baking competition.  

Abigail played two of her Simply Music pieces for the recital, Sit By My Side and Ballad.  Caleb got his dream job along with his friend David of judging the baking competition.  Seriously, sampling 30 some pieces of baked goodness, what teenage boy wouldn't love that job!

We love our home schooling family and it has been so wonderful watching these kids grow up!  It is pretty neat to see their various hidden talents revealed! 

For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands.  Lord, how great are thy works!
Psalm 92:4-5

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

It's that time of the year when the Gungan's host a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for our home school friends.  It is that time when Mrs. Gungan invites the kids over, gives them the history of the first Thanksgiving and then follows up with a test!  She cracks me up!

The kids also participate in crafts and games followed by a lunch including a few iconic Snoopy items like popcorn, pretzels and jelly beans!  While the kids enjoy lunch they watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special! 

The older kids are great at helping the younger guys with their crafts.  All of the kids make a list of thankfulness.  

Here is a flash back at previous Charlie Brown Thanksgivings, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2011.

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Colossians 3:15

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

George W. Bush Library Tour

We actually got to tour the George W. Bush Library today, unlike our last visit, no bomb threats!  It was fascinating primarily because much of the history took place in the kid’s lifetime.  There were things they recalled from hanging or dimpled chads; hurricane Katrina; 9/11; Saddam Hussein; economic crisis; and many factors that have led up to our current political climate. 

The museum is 14,000 square feet and filled with state of the art interactive, electronic exhibits.  We arrived at 10:45am for our 11am tour and didn't leave until sometime after 4pm, that is how much the kids were enjoying it.  We even had lunch in '43' the restaurant in the museum.  I highly recommend the sea bass and brown quinoa! 

There are some features for younger children, but I would recommend it for children who are at least upper middle school age and older.  I am fairly confident the kids took every interactive quiz in the museum from foreign policy to the three branches of government.  They really enjoyed the Decision Points Theater where you were briefed by various advisors and then would need to make an executive decision.  The moderator would then state how the audience had electronically voted and then what the Presidents actual decision was and the subsequent outcome. 

The Oval Office and adjoining Rose Garden were a huge hit or course.  If you are in the area do not miss the awesome attraction!  We will me back even though we have read every placard, every photo caption, it was just that good!  Abigail even discovered a career goal when she found out there is a head Pastry Chef at the White House.  Imagine all day long to be in charge of making sweets!  And yes, the Secret Service to permit flaming desserts, we read it on a placard! 

When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes[a] and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.  Deuteronomy 30:1-3

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Friends and Fun

Tonight was a just for fun night hanging out with church friends.  After church the youth headed to Main Event in Frisco for some bowling, laser tag, video games and pizza.  

It has been nice that the last couple of days that the kids have had activities Caleb can drive them.  I might be a little neurotic that they text me when they arrive safely and text me again before they leave.   I don't think I'm ready for him to head to downtown Dallas, I'm slowly adjusting to the six lanes of traffic from here to the church building.  

bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Service Saturday

Service projects are my absolute, hands down, favorite activity for the kids!  Life will present itself with lots of 'fun' moments, but looking for ways to serve other people is a talent that is developed.  Today the kids in the youth group broke up into groups and went to members homes and helped out with various projects.  Caleb and Abigail were in the same group and served the Rains family, who have contributed so much to our congregation.  

The boys raked leaves, cleaned out gutters and did other odd jobs while the girls put up Christmas decorations and worked inside.  Our children have been blessed with surrogate grandparents here in Texas and I'm so pleased they can serve them in a way we would minister to our own family if we were in Oklahoma. 

Abigail grabbed a few jars of the apple butter we made to share with the families.  She got tickled when Matt, our youth leader asked her, "do you home schoolers just not watch t.v. and sit around making jelly?"  It's funny because Matt was home schooled too and gets the stereo typical attitude about home schooling. 

Children’s children are a crown to the aged,
    and parents are the pride of their children.

Proverbs 17:6

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Classical Book Club - Huckleberry Finn

Ms. Kathy does a great job of organizing and facilitating our home school Classical Book Club each month.  She has so many plates spinning at one time, I have no idea how she keeps them all going!  I do know that my kids love the investment Ms. Kathy has made in their lives.  

This month the kids read The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and tonight they got together to discuss the book.  Imagine twenty-some kids getting together to discuss classical literature that won't be a part of their grade or show up on any transcript.  They do it because they enjoy each others company and because Ms. Kathy has shared her passion for great literature with them and it doesn't hurt that she always has great snacks! 

Last year we were blessed to see Casa Manana's production of Tom Sawyer.

whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Dance for Charlie

On the first of the month area home schoolers get together at a local church for English Country Dancing, think Downton Abbey!  Parents and families participate and the caller will walk you through each dance one or two times before they actually dance.  

Tonight Caleb's friends from the Dual Credit Club at Collin College Preston Ridge Campus held a benefit dance for Team Charlie.  Charlie is a beautiful four year old who has been diagnosed with leukemia.  All funds raised from the dance, concessions, etc. went directly to offset the cost of Charlie's medical treatment.

Many of our home schooling friends were there!  It was fun to see the kids put their cotillion skills into practice! Great organization, great event, great cause, thank you Dual Credit Club! 

Here are a few pictures from previous dances, 2013, 2012, and even 2011.

The human spirit can endure in sickness,

    but a crushed spirit who can bear?

Proverbs 18:14

JFK Living History - Newman Family

The Bill Newman family stopped by the Sixth Floor Museum today to a full audience for a Living History event.  The entire family was present including sons Clayton and Bill.  They shared their story of what they saw and heard on that fateful day on Dealey Plaza.

Mr. Newman has always maintained there were multiple shots from the direction of what we now refer to as the grassy knoll. In his Dallas Sheriff's Statement on Nov. 22, 1963 he said, "I thought the shot had come from the garden directly behind me, that was an elevation from where I was as I was right on the curb."

Caleb and other members of the Youth Advisory Committee acted as greeters and ushers for the sold out event.

The YouTube video is an interview in Dallas less than an hour after the horrific incident.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Boxes and Boxes and Boxes of Blessings!

The last several months the food at the pantry has been a little thin, especially with the government shut down holding up the delivery of the prepaid items coming in from the North Texas Food Bank.  The good news is many of the public schools have food drives throughout the month of October and that food is beginning to come in to the pantry. 

On Monday volunteers from Metro Relief picked up at the area schools.  The haul of food was just amazing! In our spare time this week, we worked alongside other volunteers sorting cans of food, and probably only made it through 1/3 of the donations.  

Metro is expecting more donations in the coming week.  All of the food needs expiration dates checked and sorted by food types so that it can go on the shelves in the coming months.  It is truly amazing how the community is better equipped to meet the needs of their own than the federal government! 

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-14

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Weekly Visit to the Batting Cages

Our weekends have been packed with softball games meaning that during the week we have softball practice and batting practice; not to be confused with piano lessons, or speaker's club, or classical book club, or drama club or Bible bowl, or the volunteer work we do!  

Some days I wonder when life got so busy!   It is a blessing that we can drag the kid's laptops with us as we run from one event to another.  I do worry about the kids being too busy and having too much on their plate but there probably isn't a mom around who doesn't have the same concerns.  

For now I'm happy Abigail has a Christian coach on a team with a fellow home schooler.  I feel blessed that piano is taught by a Christian mom who has home schooled for years, and that most of their activities are by role models I treasure having in our lives! 

Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
1 Timothy 5:1-2

Dallas Symphony Organ Odyssey

If I was asked what is the greatest perk of home schooling, I suppose I might be expected to pontificate on the benefits of a customized education; or perhaps quote statistics on the achievements of home schoolers; but honestly, the greatest perk is the field trips!   Seriously, we study the fine arts at the Dallas Symphony, Dallas Museum of Art or the Dallas Opera.  We study political science at the Sixth Floor Museum or the Bush Library.  

Today we attended the student performance Organ Odyssey at the Dallas Symphony.  The program featured music written specifically for the organ. The Dallas Symphony's organ has 4,535 pipes and each piece was performed in tandem with over 90 musicians.  

A couple of the highlights were Johann Strauss II's Space Odyssey and one of Papageno's songs from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Magic Flute, which we saw last year at the Dallas Opera.  

And all the people went up after him, playing pipes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound.  I Kings 1:40

Monday, November 4, 2013

Caleb is Driving

It seems almost surreal that Caleb could possibly be old enough to drive!  I'm not sure where the time has gone, it seems like just a few days ago he was pushing his Little People school bus around the pool table. 

Six months ago he got his permit and today at the six month mark he was able to take his driving test.  We did the online parent directed National Driver Training program.  It was really easy to use and he enjoyed it.  It is structured so that  the student must achieve a 90% mastery of the material before moving to the next section.  

Having completed his six months and one day with his permit and completion of the on-line program he went today to take the driving portion of the test.  Thirty minutes later he was an official licensed driver!  

Because that Frankie doesn't drive and for various medical reasons will never drive this was a bittersweet milestone to me. As today approached I was excited for Caleb and equally heartbroken for Frankie.   I did not share those feeling with Caleb because I didn't want to take away from his big day.  But being the incredible, amazing, awesome kid that he is, when we got home he asked Frankie to go with him on his maiden voyage without a parent to take her to Sonic!   She beamed the rest of the day!  

Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Luke 6:31

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Last Game of the Season

Last game of the season for fall ball, beautiful weather, and sweet girls calling out their goals for today's game as the go through their stretches.  These girls are such a super group, I love that before every game they take turns stating their goals, and saying what they really like about other members of the team.  The coach really keeps their chatter upbeat on game days.  

Today was another successful day at home plate for Abigail.  She had a throw down to 2nd and 3rd for two outs.  She had two at bats with a single and a double.  

She was catching for Julia and Sarah who were both throwing really well.  It is a shame that the season has come to a close because the team is really starting to play well together.  Ah, but there is always spring ball! 

I will make them and the places surrounding my hill a blessing. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing.
Ezekiel 34:26

Bible Bowl: Life of Moses

Bible Bowl is in full swing.  Right now we have 18 kiddos working their way with me through the Life of Moses. With today's class the Israelites are now moving out of Egypt.
I love the heart of these kids, they are willing each Sunday for almost six months of the year to spend an hour and a half learning Bible.  In addition to the time commitment on Sunday the kids spend an equal amount of time in personal study and homework throughout their week.

Keep my commands and you will live;
    guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.
Bind them on your fingers;
    write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 7:2-3

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Glenn Beck's God, Guns & Giving

Today we joined hundreds of others in Dallas at Elm Fork Shooting Sports for Mercury One's "God, Guns & Giving" charity event.  It was a fabulous star-studded event including Glenn Beck, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell.

Abigail was very excited to see Liberty Treehouse's Raj Nair and ex-CIA Agent and NYPD Intelligence Division Specialist turned Blaze Editor Buck Sexton.  We love watching Liberty Treehouse and The Real News on the Blaze.    

Frankie and Abigail participated the kids gun safety class.  As many times as we have been to the gun range and shot Frankie has never wanted to have anything to do with shooting.  She generally brings a book to the gun range, puts in her ear protection and stays away from guns.  The gentlemen at Elm Fork were amazing and gingerly walked Frankie through the safety and handling of guns.  She was so proud of herself that she went on through the course of the day to re-visit the kids range and shot three separate times.  What is amazing is she hit the target every single time.  We joked the rest of the day that she had super sniper powers! 

Glenn Beck puts on quite an event and the money raised for Mercury One's charity will do great things!  

Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.  Nehemiah 4:17-18

Friday, November 1, 2013

Canterbury Tales Drama Performance

This year our PEACH Drama Club has selected the Canterbury Tales for our Spring performance.  It is a collection of stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer at the end of the 14th century, during the time of the Hundred Years' War.

Caleb will be portraying the host, "Harry Bailly": The proprietor of the Tabard Inn where the pilgrims to Canterbury stay before beginning their journey. He accompanies the pilgrims on their journey. Harry Bailly devised the scheme of the tales, proposing that each tell two tales on the way to Canterbury, and he frequently mediates arguments between pilgrims and suggests who shall tell the next story. He has a bit of a class complex, and can be seen regularly toadying up to the upper-class and higher-status characters.

One of the characters Harry Bailly encounters is Chaunticleer, the rooster.  He is peerless in his crowing, has seven companions, the most honored of which is his wife Pertelote.  Abigail will be portraying Pertelote, the hen.  In this modern telling she is described as a Jersey girl with a bit of an attitude!  hmmmm, I can't imagine why she was drawn to that role!

"Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world." 
1 John 2:15-16