Sunday, September 18, 2011

Surgery #1- July 27, 2011

Just wanted to let everyone know Dominic did great with his surgery!  The surgeon said everything went just as expected and he lost only 1 ml of blood.  He is still intubated and he is medically sedated for optimal pain control.  I am sending this picture so you all can see him.  Thank you all so much for your prayers and thoughts today.  I have no doubt that they all helped so much with the surgery.  We praise God in the good and the bad, but boy isn't it nice to have some good!!  I will continue to keep you all updated.  Thank you again.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vetro Glass Blowing

Our little home school co-op goes on alot of field trips... but this one takes the cake as BY FAR the coolest one we've been on all year.  We visited the Vetro Glass Blowing Studio ( in downtown Grapevine which is owned by our friends and fellow homeschooling family, the Gappa's.  David and his apprentice's were so great with the kids (and adults too!) explaining what all the equipment was, how it works, what they were doing with the molten glass, and so forth.  We got to learn how the glass comes to them, see the clear glass inside the 2000 degree plus furnace, how they blow it, layer it, add color, shape it, and eventually turn it into a piece of art.  You could hear "oohs" and "ahhs" all around as he and his apprentices blew the glass, turned it, molded it into various shapes, applied some serious fire, and eventually into a beautiful plate that was being mounted above a local homeowners fireplace (that lucky dog!).  Enough with the talking- check it out:

David on the right talking with the apprentice

David explaining the color he just added

David is shaping the piece as the apprentice is carefully blowing it

What started as a small ball of glass is now a beautiful plate-
watching this part was really cool!

That's a massive blow torch!

After the piece was done, the kids got a close up look and feel of the 2000 + degree furnace

A happy audience!

We're excited!

Jake after the presentation

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The Ploughshare

Last week, my friend Wendi and I went to a sourdough bread baking class in Waco at "The Ploughshare" (  It is run by a group of people who about 30 years ago, decided they wanted to learn to live off of the land in a self-sustainable way of life, and as Theresa, one of the first on the Waco land, put it "we didn't know that potatoes grew underground and corn grew above ground" when they started.  This community has created a culture of people (working on the 3rd generation now) who know how to do the crafts of old, including their very own Gritsmill, blacksmithing shop, construction and furniture carpentry using hand tools, manual plowing,  homesteading (dairy, meat, work animals, vegetable production), kitchen skills such as bread and cheese making, canning, and various household skills such as soap making, knitting, weaving, sewing, and so forth.  Basically, these people know how to do everything they need to be completely self-sufficient, and now their community is large enough, they have the man power to do it as well.  Theresa told me they had such a hard time in the beginning, using books and trial and error, learning all of these skills, that they decided holding classes to teach the public these old time-honored skills would be valuable.  Now, they have a whole community, and business, of teaching the old arts... and I for one, and a fan!

The Original Homesteading House

The view from our classroom

The working stone ground, water powered Gritsmill (they mill flour and corn here)

The Blacksmiths Shop

... and the blacksmith... the smell of sulfur was really strong!

The actual stone mill the flour is milled in.  The miller explained that you have to be very careful the flour doesn't catch fire due to the heat and friction, which is where the expression "keep your nose to the grindstone" came from- you can smell it burning before it combusts!

The wheel that powers the mill- very cool, and quiet

Now, you might be saying to yourself "okay, that sounds fine... but you went to WACO to learn to make bread!  Come on!"  You have to understand, this was just as much about the experience as it was about the instruction.  Yes, I could check out a book in the library on "how to make sourdough," but how boring is that!  And besides, I would have missed a great opportunity of being exposed to this different culture, and quite honestly, just a plain old good time and day out!  After all, my friend and I are moms of 4 kids each, 5 and under (okay... that counts the unborn babies... but still!) who are homemakers and homeschoolers... we NEEDED a break!

In the class, we learned the basic chemistry of ssourdough and how to make biscuits, pita bread, artisan loaves, pizza crust, and my favorite, cinnamon swirl bread.  As I reproduce the recipes at home, I will share them here, under "recipes," so keep an eye out :)

Our classroom- there were 8 students and 4 teachers

Yummy sourdough biscuits

My pita's puffing on the 500 degree hot stone

Rolling the cinnamon raisin swirl bread

The cinnamon raisin swirl loaves before they were baked- can't you just smell the goodness!

Me showing off my yummy pizza

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Short's Barber Shop- Unlicensed and dangerous!

You may remember that I am the official Short boy barber.  When Mike was in the Police Academy, and I was in school, we were, how do you say... broke.  So, I bought some clippers, watch the enclosed DVD and gave Mike his first of many bad haircuts :).  As time went on though, I got better, and by the time he was actually on the streets, I was pretty good.  Hey, a hair cut a week adds up when you are pinching pennies!  So now, since I know how to do my one style (military fade), all the boys get the same haircut (just at different lengths).  It's fun for me, and Mike likes his barber to be on call 24 hours a day (he often reminds me around 10 pm that he needs one... sigh...).  Besides, where else can you get a haircut with a kiss?

Well, since Mike is going back to work tomorrow, and he says he's a meaner officer with a fresh hair cut  (Sorry about all you drivers:)  ) , today was hair cut day.  So, Jake, Anthony, and Mike all got their hair cuts, and if I do say so myself, they all look pretty darn handsome!  Mary got a "hair cut" too- really just me making scissor sounds near her so she thinks she is getting one.  Mike likes long hair on girls, so I won't be cutting her hair for quite some time... and by the way, this also accounts for my long hair- I've been growing it our since he told me he likes it best long (after 7 years of marriage I might add!).  We'll see if this long hair survives the last 2 months of pregnancy... in the middle of the HOT part of the year...

Mike and Mary are not pictured... and no, the boys aren't mad, they're intently watching an old school GI Joe cartoon we found at the library.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hundred's Chart- English and Latin

In an effort to make learning Anthony's numbers up to 100 into a kinesthetic activity (I mean, come on, you can only write a hundred's chart so many times!), today we put together a Hundred's chart the size of the kitchen table.  I cut index cards in 1/2 and wrote on each a number, 1-100, mixed them up and told him to sort them.  He loved this activity.  He first sorted all of the "one's", then the "ten's", etc, all the way up to the "nineties".  Then he sorted each category to put them in order- the final product was an impressive hundred's chart he felt good about.  We did this in both english and latin (roman numerals).  The english he breezed through, the latin was a little more tricky, even I had to cheat a bit to make sure I was getting the names correct :)  We'll get there though!

To store these numbers, I punched a hole in the top right of each card and secure them with a ring I got at Office Max.  This makes the cards easy to find, keep them organized, and it's easy for him to flip through when we practice.  I have done the same thing with all of his syllables we've been working on for latin reading.

You can see how proud he is after he finished his english numbers!

A close up of the english numbers all assembled

The roman numerals were a bit more challenging.. not to mention it was nearing lunch time!

A close up of the latin... makes my head spin!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Whoel Grain Bread = Super-stardome

I have been making my own whole grain bread for a couple of years now, and let me tell you something ladies, there is NOTHING like the smell of fresh bread baking to make you feel all warm and fuzzy, excited and calm, and like the world's greatest home-maker/wife/mother/super-lady... ever!  During the easy times, I try to make 4 loaves at a time in the oven and freeze 3 for later in the week, in the less easy times I have a bread machine adapted recipe that turns out wonderful, and in the "this is too hard, I need help!" times, I buy bread at the store... not too proud :)!

So, over the past 2 years, I would say I'm 50/50... 50% homemade and 50% store bought.  But you just try telling my 2-year-ago, new to bread-baking, convicted self that I would be buying bread from the store... gasp!... I would have said you were Crazy and swore I would NEVER do that again.  Well friends, life happens, and I have come to learn that home made bread should be a treat, not ANOTHER weight holding you down.  So, if you are doing good with the rest of your life, make this delicous recipe... if not, the store stuff sure is good, and sometimes if you're really feeling down, plop the bread machine recipe in and make yourself feel like at least you can do something right :).

Although I'm in an "easy" place right now, I have whole-heartidly embraced the bread machine.  I can prepare it in 5 minutes, during one of our schooling breaks, and by dinner, I AM super-mom (imagine how I feel on the days when not only is all the schooling done, but the house is clean, the laundry done, AND homemade bread is on the table!!).  I plan to have Anthony proficient in placing the ingredients in the machine soon, so then HE can be the celebrated super-boy at dinner, and eventually, when the kids are older and I need more for them to do, well be back at the 4... ehhh... maybe 8 loaves a week, hand kneeded and baked in the oven.

Traditional (oven) Whole Grain Bread
Makes 2 loaves  (double for 4 loaves... obviously...)

2 1/4 c water, warmed (or milk or buttermilk)
1 3/4 T yeast (not rapid rise)
1 c whole (not instant) oats
1/2 c + 1 t honey
6 T butter, melted
3/4 T sea salt
1 1/2 T Vital Wheat Gluten (optional)
5 1/2 c whole wheat flour

-Mix 1/2 c warm water, 1 t honey, and yeast, cover and allow to foam about 5 minutes
-In mixer (ONLY if you have a heavy duty one, if not, place in a very large bowl as this recipe will burn up your regular mixer!) add all other ingredients, except flour
-Add yeast mixture to rest of ingredients
-Add flour
-kneed 20 mins if by hand (come on, feel the burn!), 10 mins with a mixer
-place in a buttered bowl, cover with a towel, and place in a warm place, let double in size.
-punch... yep, literally punch... down, re-kneed and divide in 1/2
-shape 2 loaves by rolling the dough out into a rectangle and tightly rolling them into a spiral
-place in a buttered bread pan seam-side down
-set in a warm place and let rise until doubled in size
-place in a COLD oven THEN turn oven on to 350 degrees, bake for 30 mins
-Enjoy the best bread you've ever sunk your ever-livin'-teeth into!

Bread Machine Adaptation
Now, to give credit where credit is due, a lovely momma from the CLAA adapted this from the recipe above... thank you woman for this heavenly, life saving recipe!

-In seperate container, mix 1c + 2T warm water (or warm milk or honey) with 1t honey and 1T yeast, cover and let bubble for 5 mins
-In bread machine pan (with it in the machine, bottom stirrer on) add:

1/2 c oatmeal
3T butter, melted
1/4 c honey
1.5 t salt
1T Vital Wheat Gluten (optional)
2 3/4 c whole wheat flour
water and yeast mixture

Set to "quick whole wheat" setting, feel good about all the extra time you have now, eat a piece of chololate and wait.  In about 2 1/2 hours, guilt-lessly enjoy your homemade bread slatered with REAL butter... mmm... You WILL be a super-star!