Moments of Joy: November 2015

Last month, I offended your eyes with monstrous mullets, so I will share a more lighthearted and pleasant tale today.

person in Darth Vader costume having lightsaber battle on a barren planet

What an amazing woman my mother is — the way she overcomes through daily trials, a recent family tragedy, her long-term health problems.  Over the years her level of health has varied.  The last few weeks it seems to be on an upswing, and I’m so happy to see it.

I have grieved for my mother because of her health and all the tough times she’s been through, during the past few years especially.  I have grieved because of her suffering and sorrow and because there is so little I can do to lighten her burdens.  Everyone has burdens in their lives; I realize that.  But this is my mom, so naturally I want her to have no burdens!

On this brisk, sunny morning my parents surprise us by stopping by to say “Hi” on their way home from a shopping trip.  Just the fact that my mother can run to the grocery store makes my heart happy after watching her spend months at a time being house-bound due to her illnesses.

Mom walks in with a smile on her face and a (slight) spring in her step.  It’s a good day for her today.  I smile in return as I welcome her with a hug.

Upon entering the living room, my mother spies a heap of Star Wars figurines piled in the middle of the floor.  She asks my daughter what they are and promptly plops down on the floor and starts sorting through them.  (On the floor!)

My daughter shows Mom how her big space ship toy opens with all it’s banana-headed droids inside.  Then she explains each action figure as my mother holds them up with questions like “What is this creature?!  Is that its brains or its hair hanging down the back?”  My father and I look over her head at each other and grin.

Soon, my mother notices a larger item lying to the side of the pile.  “Oh…a lightsaber!”

A few seconds later, she and my daughter are up on their feet, cloaked and masked, engaged in a wild one-on-one battle.  I carefully grab my camera to capture the scene.  After a few quick snapshots, my father and I concentrate on protecting ourselves from the wildly waving plastic weapons while we laugh at their antics.

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen my mother “playing.”  So fun!  I hope today’s happy moment is one of many more to come…


Giving Thanks and Getting Cornbread Dressing

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  It’s not about the presents, the candy, or the decorations; it’s about being thankful for what you already have.

The focus of Thanksgiving is love, appreciation, and family.  (And food, which is always a favorite topic of mine!)

Happy Thanksgiving; ceramic pie dish with pumpkin lid with squash and corn around it

Every fall I decorate with this ceramic pumpkin dish, and I bake a pie or put a special treat inside for Thanksgiving day.  This year, my husband has an extra-wide smile on his face because the dish is full of pralines, his favorite dessert!

I was looking back through old photos today and recalling fun thanksgiving memories and family traditions:

  • My daughter and I taking walks to gather pretty fall leaves to display down the center of our table.
  • Setting out homemade decorations like squash and corn from the garden and pretty fall images overlaid with scriptures about being thankful.
  • Spending time outside with our dogs and chickens and jumping into piles of leaves.
  • Gathering pecans in the yard, then cracking them in my Dad’s workshop near the toasty wood stove.  He mounted a heavy-duty nutcracker onto a homemade bench.  A quick flip of the handle, and the cracked nut falls into a container that hangs underneath — so easy!
  • Did I mention the traditional Thanksgiving meal?  Mashed potatoes.  Purple hulled peas.  Homemade pie.  It’s all so delicious!

One of my favorite Thanksgiving foods is my mother-in-law’s dressing.  Hot or cold, fresh or old, it’s so tasty I can eat it as a meal by itself!

People can have strong opinions about who makes the best dressing, but her’s is the one I prefer over all the others I’ve tasted.  She makes it slightly different each year because she doesn’t follow a recipe, but it always tastes great.

A few years ago she tweaked her recipe in an attempt to make it more healthy, and it was particularly delicious to me.  That afternoon, I sat her down while the process was still fresh in her mind and worked out the following recipe, which she is graciously allowing me to share with you.  It’s a little different than typical dressing because it does not contain sage (we have a family member who can’t eat sage).

“Healthy Cornbread Dressing”

Prepare cornbread and cooked chicken before making the dressing.

2 cups white corn meal mix
1 large egg
1 cup milk

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine dry mix & milk, then add egg. Make sure the batter is thick, not soupy.  Put 2 Tbs. oil in 10″ iron skillet & preheat pan on stovetop until oil is hot. Add batter to skillet & bake about 20-30 minutes until lightly browned.

Boil 2-3 chicken breasts in plenty of water so you will have lots of broth. Season with salt, pepper, & a little Mrs. Dash Table Blend (contains: onion, black & chili peppers, parsley, celery seed, basil, bay, garlic, etc.)

1 10″ skillet of cornbread, crumbled small
2 Tbs. ground flax seed
1 Tbs. Mrs. Dash Table Blend 
3 large eggs
4 slices dry bread
Salt & pepper to taste

Then add:
Chicken or turkey broth — add enough to make it soupy (If you don’t have enough broth, add canned chicken broth.)
2-3 cooked chicken breasts, chopped

Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour, or until lightly browned.


Want some dessert to eat after your dressing?  Try my best friend’s New-York-Style Cheesecake recipe!  Such a sweet delight!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions or treats?


What is it?

Macro Mysteries logo small

You’ve likely heard the story from the bible about God miraculously feeding manna to the wandering Israelites, but do you know what the word “manna” means?  When the Israelites went outside and saw the food for the first time, they said “What is it?”  In the Hebrew language, that question is expressed through one word: “Manna?

I broke out the camera today for the first time in weeks, and I’d like to present another of my macro mystery photos that may have you asking “What is it?”  If you think you might have the answer to that question, please leave a comment to let me know what you believe the subject of the photo is.

macro photo of a forest of mysterious white spikes

I’d love to hear your guesses on this one!  The answer will be revealed in a few days…

~~~ ~~~~~~~ ~~~

{The days have flown by and the answer is in.  “What is it?”  Go see!}

Absolute Perfection Is Not a Required Course

I will never be absolutely perfect in everything I do, but am I pushing this unrealistic expectation onto my children?

This great article by Cristina provides a reality check to help us balance our children’s homeschool education.

A Homeschool Mom

“Education helps you to be a well-rounded person, period. It teaches you how to take in information and data, process it, and use it for life building…”

~ Yolanda Adams

Well-Rounded_StudentI remember the days when being ‘well-rounded’ meant you were given an education which covered a wide base of learning, allowing you to be well-informed and well read. Now, it seems being ‘well-rounded’ has taken on an entirely new meaning. To be truly ‘well-rounded’ your child must excel. Not in merely one area of study, but all.

Have we stopped to consider how much pressure we are putting on our students by expecting them to excel in every area of study? It’s not enough that our children love writing and read voraciously. They must also take higher sciences and maths. Your child is an incredible student, but their education would not be complete without a rigorous sports program and several years…

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