Sunday, July 31, 2011

What's Cooking?

Jessica is the only one who cooked in June! She made:

Green Bean Casserole
16 oz bag French green beans cooked
can cream of chicken soup
cooked bacon crumbled
salt and pepper
can French fried onions

Combine beans, bacon and soup. Add ½ can onions. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Top with the remaining onions and bake 5 minutes more.

Baked Corn
2 cans cream style corn
2 tbs. butter
4 tbs. sugar
4 tbs. flour
4 eggs well beaten

Combine ingredients. Pour into greased baking dish. Bake at 350F for 35-45 minutes.


Kayla made cupcakes, linguine, Alfredo sauce and canned peas!

Adam made:

Meatshell Potato Pie
1 can tomato soup
1 lb ground beef
1 egg slightly beaten
½ c bread crumbs
2 c mashed potatoes
¼ c shredded cheese
cooked bacon crumbled

Mix ½ can soup, beef, egg and bread crumbs. Press firmly into a 9" pie pan. Bake at 350F for 25 minutes. Frost with potatoes. Top with remainder of soup, cheese and bacon. Bake 10 minutes more.

Tyler made Mexican Shepherd's Pie:
1 lb lean ground beef
½ cups slice green onions (our chef left these out)
1 c thick salsa
1 ½ tsp chili powder
¾ tsp cumin
11 oz can mexicorn drained
1 pouch Betty Crocker loaded mashed potatoes (these sell by the pouch, not in a box)
1 1/3c water
2 tbs butter
1 c milk
½ c shredded cheddar cheese
1 med tomatoes cut into wedges
tortillas chips

Cook ground beef and 1/4c of the onions in 10" skillet until beef is cooked through. Stir in salsa, chili powder and cumin. Spoon corn evenly over beef mixture in skillet. Cover and cook over slow heat until thoroughly heated.

Meanwhile, in 2-qt saucepan, heat water and butter to boiling. Remove from heat and stir in milk and pouch of potatoes with seasoning until just blended. Let stand 1 minute. Beat with fork.

Spoon potatoes over the mixture in the skillet. Spread evenly. Sprinkle with cheese and remaining onion. Cover and cook over low 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Arrange tomato wedges around potatoes. Garnish with tortillas chips.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mission Team Update


The team has been very busy. We went to see the Grand Canyon last week (21st). They have finished pouring the porch, and they are now working on painting the building. We will be able to finish this project. We were working on the water line, but will not be able to finish it because the septic tank needs to be pumped. Yesterday we saw a hail storm coming and took the tents down. The kids are staying dry and safe by staying inside. The girls are staying in the church, and the boys are staying in the bus. It is very rainy. Some tents were broken in the wind. The electricity was out, so we were glad we had propane. Saturday will be our sightseeing day. We will be back on Aug. 2nd. We did not have a vacation Bible School because of the rain.

Hopefully the next report will be that they are safely back in FL.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

This & That

Life is constantly changing around here. And as the start of school approaches, there are even more changes to the schedule and lifestyle.

First there was the matter of trying to figure the best school for each child this year. I don't like changing schools, but sometimes it's the best thing. Remember that last fall I took Adam out of a large public school where he was constantly in trouble to a small charter school where the teachers could keep a close eye on him. It got his attention and I would just as soon leave him there his last two years, but they don't have sports. To me, behavior is more important than sports, but he feels ready to go back to the public school this year and concentrate on sports and studies. I'm giving him the chance. He's been out running--between rains--to get ready for cross county. He already has tumbling and gymnastics on Thursday, and works four days a week (my limit for him) so he'll have to shuffle his schedule to accommodate cross country and homework.

Jasmine got a place in the charter school for fall, 5th grade. It's challenging academically as they tend to load on the homework and this is not a good thing for Jasmine, but the behavioral standards are much higher and that is a good thing. Many children from our church and dance attend so she'll have friends there. She would be okay in public for 5th but then she'd be off to middle school and there are a lot of bad attitudes, addictions and other things she'd be exposed to there. Those of you who know her background know that would not be a good thing. She needs to decide if she's going to join band in 5th or 6th grade. She is limited on instruments due to the missing bones in her left hand, but the director (who attends our church and plays in orchestra with Jessica) thinks she would do well on trumpet but would really like her on french horn.

I got the fall dance schedule yesterday and am trying to juggle it to get the classes everyone most want. The main class for the twins is tumbling 1 at 2:45 Wednesdays, and it's going to be a real challenge to get them there on time. I'll have to pick them up at the bus stop and go straight there having them change once they get there. I'll need to find someone to bring Jasmine from the school to the dance building by 3:30 for her jazz and then tap class. She will go on the church choir from there so will leave the house at 6:10 a.m. (transfer bus) and not get home until 8:30 p.m. on Weds. If it's too much for her, we'll have to rework things. Last year she went to dance and on to church choir and missions, but she had an hour at the house between school and dance.

On Thursdays Kayla can take jazz/tap combined while Jasmine has tumbling 2 and then Jessica has tumbling 3 right after them so they can work on homework during that hour together. Thankfully all the dance classes are on Wed & Thurs for us unless the girls add ballet or lyrical. Jasmine wanted musical theater but it meets too early to get her there.

We are not sure about soccer at this point. I need to talk to the girls when they get back Aug 6. Jessica also will have Explorers and she'll probably try out for Explorer's SWAT and color guard. She is going into her sophomore year of college as a criminology major so the Explorers programs are good experiences for her. She's just so busy between college, work and activities.

The good thing is, if any child gets stressed from the schedule, things can be dropped. I make up a big wall calendar of everyone's schedule and make sure that there is plenty of time for homework, family activities and just plain free time. For my crew, free time has to be structured though or we end up with behavioral issues. Those of you who brought children from the O. with us have probably found the same thing to be true.

I'm a teamKid coach now, and Jasmine will return to teamKid once she's back from her trip. Jessica has been invited to help with teamKid too once she's back. That is our church's Sunday night program for kids up through 5th grade.

We were planning to move Tyler to the college Aug 19 but found out we have mandatory new student orientation at Jasmine's school, and it's also the twins first grade orientation day. Rick could take Tyler, but Ty wants all of us to go. And I want to be there too. But Rick could always take Ty Friday and Jessica and I could take the rest of his stuff on Saturday. We'll have to see what works out best.

Jeff has finished the first part of basic training and is going to paratrooper school! Really interesting since he's not too thrilled with heights. He hasn't contacted us, but he left a message on Adam's facebook wall.

It's been pretty rainy the last three weeks so we've been entertaining ourselves here.

Kayla helping the boys with push ups.

Kaleb, Adam and I played marbles.


After meeting the Duggars and getting a copy of their book signed by all the kids, I decided to try some of the recipes. The directions aren't detailed so there is some guess work. I looked the recipes up on their website and they are the same, so if you want to try any of them, go to their website. The broccoli soup is broccoli and lots of whipping cream plus velveeta. A little too healthy for some of my kids : )

The apple dumplings were really good. They are made with crescent rolls, apples, gobs of sugar and even a can of Mountain Dew. How could you go wrong with that? We cut 15 minutes off the cooking time or the rolls would have been burnt. (Maybe they completely cover their in sauce and then they wouldn't get brown so quickly)

This soup is made with beans, diced tomatoes, chicken breast and fresh chopped cilantro and lime juice. I used 1/3 of the cilantro that it called for. Found out I'm not really a cilantro fan, but the others ate it.

Of course they added cheese and sour cream....

Rick and I? Well, our activities consist of holding things together and getting everyone where they need to go when they need to go. Rick is really good about that. Driving around and running errands drives me crazy, but it doesn't faze him. He's also really good about being involved in their activities. He coached both the twins' soccer team and basketball team. Part of the reason was bonding and attachment issues of course, but the other part is just that he's a good dad :)

I have a new update on the girl's mission team, but I'll save it for another day since this post is already so long.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Middle School Survival Manual

With the start of school just days away for some and weeks away for others, I'm recommending my middle school book to those with children going into 6th or 7th grades. Maybe even 8th. This official Concordia blurb about it is HERE.

You can read chapter one HERE. It'll only take a minute, so give it a try.

From the back cover:
School takes up a good part of your day, so make it the best part.

In the Middle School Survival Manual, you'll learn not only how to survive but how to make each day great because God is with you.

Inside you will learn to:
Give your grades a boost
Make testing as easy as 1,2,3
Face life in a new school
Deal with old and new friends
Live your faith at school
Plan your own activities
And lots more!

School requires dedication and work on your part, but with God at your side, you'll be amazed how things work out.

Q&A with the author:
that's me : )

Q: What inspired you to first write the Junior High Survival Manual and the revised book, The Middle School Survival Manual.

A: I taught a 5th/6th grad combination class at a Christian school for a year. During that time I taught them not only textbook material, but also how to take notes, study for tests and other skills they'd need to be successful in school. I decided to put it in book form. I added sections about friendship and peer pressure because those are a big part of middle school. The book was originally a junior high survival manual but most school systems have gone to middle schools now. Also the style and some of the content was out of date so it was time to update it. After all, who heads to the library when they are assigned a report anymore? Students simply look things up on the Internet.

Q: What did you change in this new edition?

A: The book is more interesting and reader friendly. This book uses quizzes to introduce some of the topics. The older version read more like a textbook or class lecture. This new one should draw in more of the reluctant readers. The content is mostly the same but the presentation is different.

Q: What kind of feedback have you received on these guidebooks for middle school students?

A: I've heard from teachers in Christian schools who have used the book as a textbook for incoming 6th or 7th graders. Some schools and churches have written to let me know that they've given out the book as a gift to graduating sixth graders. It's always nice to hear that the book is being given out or used in a classroom and that the skills in the book are being passed on to students.

Q: Anything else you'd like people to know about the book?

A: The students who most need this book are the ones least likely to pick it up and read it. I'd love to see more Christian schools use it in class. It would work well to teach a chapter one day a week for the first grading period for incoming sixth graders. There are discussion questions at the back of the book for this purpose. The book could also be used in small group settings at church or in programs for at-risk youth. I think we need to work hard to get the book into the hands of those who need it most and be willing to work through the book with them.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Girls

Updates from the girls' mission team are few and far between now due to lack of Internet. In fact, there has only been only one update since they arrived in Arizona two weeks ago. It was called in by a leader:

The team has been busy digging a lot of water lines. They are working on getting connectors and have found the leaks. However, they cannot do anything else until the septic tank is pumped. They have found the lines and made a map.

The team has also started on the porches in front of the doors. They are digging foundations for the porches. They plan on pouring a porch by a side-door tomorrow. It will be an 8X8 pad with a covered entryway. The kids are hard workers!

The weather has been rainy which is unusual this time of the year. They are also experiencing some dust storms which blow the tents around. Last night, the team was treated to Navajo tacos provided by the missionary.

Next week the team will be helping run a neighborhood VBS for three afternoons. They are planning on going to the Grand Canyon and the Painted Desert next Thursday. One highlight was Bessie’s (who lives next door to the church) son-in-law taught the team how to lasso a pole. They really enjoyed that. Please continue to pray for us!

The team will leave AZ on August 1 and should arrive back at Merritt Island on the 3rd.

In other girl news, I am working on getting Jessica's scholarship reinstated in time for the fall semester but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. We'll have to pay up front but then can get it back if the scholarship goes through. The GPA is close. One teacher turned in a wrong grade and has promised to fix it. Hopefully that will give her the .1 she is short. All of this came up very recently so Jessica does not even know about the issues yet.

Jasmine has been offered a place at the charter school we applied for. She was 19 on the list a few weeks ago so some people must have dropped off or previous students moved or changed schools. This school will be challenging for her, but it has higher standards for behavior and that will be a really good thing in two years when she goes into middle school. Many students from our church attend this school and some of the teachers are from our church. Several of the dance students attend this school too so Jasmine will know lots of other students when she starts.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Firstborn is 21 part 2

My son the ham. Thankfully this is the only drink he wanted for his 21st brithday. He's a good kid. Thank you Jesus.

Twenty-one looks younger and younger!

He was tossed up between this cake and a cake with Woody from Toy Story : )

The three littles each kicked in $4 to get him a mug with some photos of fun times for him to take to college.

Toaster from Grandma Sims for his college room.

Check from Grandpa and Grandma Cassel. I think he already has plans for it : )

Aunt Lou got him this blanket, a sheet set, a pillow and this bin for his college dorm room.

We told him this birthday would be stuff he needed for college so imagine his surprise when he pulled a towel set out of the waste basket and found a Nintendo 3 DS.

From Uncle Ken

From Adam

My Firstborn is 21!

Tyler arrives July 23, 1990. I won't tell you any labor and delivery stories. Those stories are now 21 years old too!
North Dakota

Getting ready for his first birthday party. About 30 people came from the base chapel. Ty was quite popular in the chapel.

One! Anyone remember this?

We moved to Okinaway when Tyler was 15 months old. Yeah, I was A LOT skinner. And a lot more active.

South Dakota--Cubbies



Jasmine's adoption

Florida. Ty helped me coach soccer.

I don't have a picture of him yet today, so I'll post some later and end with this one of his graduation.

I am excited to see all that is in store for Tyler as he heads off to college three hours away from us this fall. I know God has great plans for him, and I can't wait to see them unfold.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TYLER!!!! Always remember Jeremiah 29:11. Don't settle for less.