A Wise Son

A wise son brings joy to his father. Proverbs 10:1a

Today we celebrate Samuel’s graduation from high school.  It has been a joy to homeschool him and we are very proud of all that he has accomplished.  Over the last several years we have become more advisers than teachers, planning and overseeing his work rather than instructing.  He has had many wonderful tutors through high school who have contributed to his education; we could not have done it all ourselves.

Most of all, he has been a blessing to our family and his daily presence will be missed when he begins college in the fall.  He will still be living at home, but he won’t be here to tuck Little Man in for his nap or drive Ladybug to her piano lesson.  Samuel has always been exceedingly dependable, even throughout the tumult of the past three years.

It has been a joy to watch him develop his skills as an athlete and musician.  He enjoyed running X-country and track this year and made it to State in both sports.  Along with some siblings and friends, he recently created a music video.  If you or your kids are into music and film, you can appreciate how much work goes into something like this!  They uploaded it to YouTube yesterday and it already has over 1, 000 hits.

As we see him graduate, Russ and I wish we could go back and do some things again. We lost a lot of time with our older children these past few years, but they are remarkably resilient.  We are very thankful for the young man Samuel is becoming and we know with deep assurance that God has a wonderful plan for his life. What a blessing and privilege it is to be part of it.


How About Recipes?

Forever Day 2010

Many of us have the daily task of feeding our families and it is a lot of work.  Most nights I cook for eleven to thirteen people, and often more.  I can’t say that I love to cook, but I do love sitting at the table with my family and enjoying a good dinner…and that means planning, shopping, and cooking.  Noah does my grocery shopping, which is a lifesaver, and just think of all of the good preparation it is giving him toward living on his own.

I got an email today from Chris, a reader who recently brought home two new children from Ethiopia.  She said,

…we’re now a family of 8 kids.  Growing into a larger family, I am now looking at cooking a bit differently. (smile!)  I was wondering if you, or your readers might be able to share some of their favorite meals that they make for a crowd?  Of course with lots of young kids, I’m not able to spend lots of time in the kitchen, so any quick fixes are always a great find!

It is hard for me to choose one recipe; however this is a more recent favorite.  We love burritos, but it takes a long time to pass each item around the table for people to build their own.  My friend, Beth, shared this recipe in our church cookbook and it is a huge hit with my family.  I serve this in warm, soft tortillas and then each person adds lettuce, tomato, salsa, and other fresh ingredients.

Beth’s Tostada Bake

1 lb. hamburger

1/2 c. chopped onion

1 pkg. taco seasoning (I use chili powder, garlic salt, and cumin)

8 oz. tomato sauce

16 oz. refried beans

4 oz. chopped green chiles

2 1/4 oz. sliced olives

1 c. sour cream

1 egg

2 c. shredded cheese

Cook hamburger and onion.  Stir in taco mix, tomato sauce, refried beans, green chiles, and olives.  Spread into 8 X 8 baking dish.  Mix cheeses, sour cream, and egg.  Evenly spread cheese  mixture on top.  Bake 30 min. at 375 degrees.

I double everything except the meat and bake it in a 13 X 9 pan.  It takes minutes to throw together. I like to cook hamburger in large quantities and freeze it in quart bags (approx. 1 lb. each) for quick dishes like this.  Put this in warm tortillas and you can’t go wrong.

Let me know if you try it!

Let’s each take a few minutes to share a quick, yummy recipe that a busy mom (or her helpful kids) can fix for the family.  We can encourage each other and make our families happy at the same time.

If you would like the recipe for the Honey Curry Chicken we had on Forever Day, you can find it in THIS POST.  I’ve adapted it quite a bit, substituting olive oil and chicken broth for the butter, and my family loves it both ways.   We top it with green onions, chopped red peppers, peanuts, coconut, and anything else that sounds good.  It is another easy meal for a busy day.

Let’s have fun with this.  Which recipe will you share?


Family Favorites: Picture Books

A friend suggested that I do a series of posts about our Family Favorites. I’m not sure that anybody will care much about our faves, but on the other hand, it could be fun. Plus, you can add your family favorites in the comments and then we’ll have a nice resource going for everyone.

We are a book-loving family, so I decided to start off with something that my kids could participate in, Favorite Picture Books. We’ve got a hefty collection of them and have spent hours reading these old favorites. A few have been loved so much that we are on second or third copies.

Rusty decided to get technical and set up an online poll which made my survey feel much more official. We brainstormed a list of picture books we have enjoyed over the years and I emailed the poll to all of my big kids. The younger six don’t have email accounts, but I helped them add their votes.

[This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]

Here they are, in order:

1. Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes

This is a funny book for all ages, even adults. We bought our first copy in 1991 and have not grown tired of it.

2. Officer Buckle & Gloria by Peggy Rathmann

This is another funny book, and is extra humorous to us because my brother-in-law is a police officer. We gave this book to our nephew, Jack, for his second birthday.

3. The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant

I love the message about extended families featured in this book. I’m not a huge fan of the illustrations, but the story is good enough to make up for them. Some of my kids love the silly illustrations, which may explain why they voted it #3.

4. Island Boy and Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney

Lovely illustrations and touching stories are featured in these two books. Island Boy is Russ’ all time favorite picture book. Last year I found a hard copy being sold by a man in Maine who included a personal note and a photo of the actual location of the story. I was so excited to give it to Russ for Christmas. Miss Rumphius is a long time favorite; we always think of the Lupine Lady when we see lupines.

5. Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Another favorite by Kevin Henkes; I guess we appreciate his sense of humor! This is a perfect book for children who have unusual names.

6. The Biggest Bear by Lynd Ward

Originally published in 1953, this book probably wouldn’t be a Caldecott winner today due to its non-PC storyline…but we like it! The illustrations are especially wonderful.

7. Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Both of these stories feature kind relationships between people and animals that will make you smile. When we lived in Ithaca, NY, we traveled to Boston where we saw the sweet little duckling statues in the Boston Public Garden. I have photos of Sweet Pea and Mimi sitting on the backs of the ducklings.

8. Jamberry by Bruce Degen

This was Eby’s favorite book for the first year he was home and I read it many, many times.

9. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Dimples likes this book!

10. The Big Alfie and Annie Rose Storybook by Shirley Hughes

I love all of the books in this list, but I can still remember the day many years ago when I discovered the books of Shirley Hughes tucked on a bottom shelf in the Ithaca library. Her sweet illustrations and simple stories appealed to me and before long we had read all of the books available. We own at least four of her books and I always look for them at books sales and in used bookstores.

It was downright painful to limit myself to ten favorites (and I managed to squeeze in two extras), so I am compelled to include the other books from our original list: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Angelina Ballerina, Angelina’s Birthday, Corduroy, Curious George Goes to the Hospital, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Honeybee wanted to vote too, but didn’t know all of these books. She voted for a few and then added two of her favorites, Green Eggs and Ham, and Laura’s Christmas. Both are for much younger children, but she loves reading Dr. Seuss to the little boys and has been drawn to Laura’s Christmas and other books in that series since she arrived home.

I have a few personal favorites that didn’t make the cut, mostly due to the fact that we found them after our older kids were beyond picture books. Boo and I love Flora’s Blanket and checked it out from the library many times when she was three and four. We also have enjoyed THE GUINEA PIG ABC, a slightly quirky ABC book, but it is out of print and not always easy to find.

I recognize that I haven’t listed the books that are new to us since our Ethiopian children joined our family, especially books featuring black children, African culture, and adoption. I think those deserve a post all their own. If you have suggestions for that list, send them my way.

We also haven’t touched on Bible storybooks, chapter books, non-fiction, my bookgroup reads, the list goes on and on. I love books, I only wish I had more time to read…

I hope you’ll find a new friend on this list that you can pick up next time you go to the library.

Leave a comment with your favorite picture books!

Coming up next week: Favorite Bedtime Songs