Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dinosaur Dig

Connor and I went on a little excursion today...we joined 15-20 other kids for a dinosaur dig in Bladensburg, MD. OK, so dig is a bit misleading as you don't actually dig. We found out that paleontology is not as fascinating as they make it look on television. You're not actually digging as much as you are walking around observing what is on the surface and if you find something protruding then you dig just around the object to determine what it is and only go as far as the object goes.

But we learned SOOO much about fossil finding. We learned about the difference in dirt and whether you can find prints or actual objects (teeth, bones, wood, etc). We first hit an area where prints have been found...we weren't warned beforehand that we'd need to be master climbers to accomplish this feat. So being 7 months pregnant was not favorable in these conditions. You can see from this image the steep slope we were working on, Connor was not hindered by the slope, but I only ventured about half-way up.

Here's Connor with his bag full of fossils.
This red dirt is where you'll find prints, not objects. The soil has been exposed to air which is why it presents rust colored and the rocks are called iron stone. Any fossil matter that was trapped in these layers would not have been preserved as objects due to the air exposure, however air does not effect a footprint, which is why this is where we were looking for prints. Connor's convinced he found a print of a baby duckbill platypus...we really found nothing more than some really cool iron stones sans prints.

We then moved to another site where we could search for actual objects.
We saw the dirt changing from red to grayish-black. This indicated the soil was once covered in water which kept the fossil matter from being exposed to air and therefore would become intact fossilized objects. We learned that bone takes on the coloring of the soil it's in so the bones or teeth that were to be found where we were looking would have been black, not white like we'd expect. We also learned that teeth are always shiny (not sparkly, but reflective as if they've been polished). If you find something resembling a tooth, it should have a shiny, reflective coating, like enamel I guess, if it's not reflective it's probably not a tooth, but probably a rock that has a tooth shape.

At this new site we did not find dinosaur parts, either...we did find lignite, a form of coal, petrified wood and plant fossils. We expected to see leaves like we have today on most of our trees, but learned that flowering plants did not exist 100 million years ago, which was the age of the site we were exploring. Instead of broad leaves they were more like pine needles. We found quite a lot of plant fossils in this particular area.

So we did not feel like we had truly gone on a dinosaur dig as we didn't find anything related to a dinosaur and we didn't dig. However, we learned where and how to look for fossils, which is knowledge we'll be able to apply for the rest of our lives!

By the end of the day, I was hobbling along like a senior with arthritis in my back and Connor was bouncing around saying, "But you said this would be an all-day event!" We were gone for over 6 hours, that's all day to me...especially when I missed my daily nap.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Parental Bragging

Once again, you've been warned :) Some people don't like to hear parents brag about their kids, but seeing as this is my blog, my children and I'm a proud Momma, look out!

Our kids have been sleeping in and business has been slow for Al so we've been a bit relaxed on our morning wake-up time the past week or two. We've actually slept in as late as 8:00am this week. This morning was one of those slow, sleepy mornings. Isabel got in bed with us at 6:00am and with it still being dark and the window was open as it rained outside, I was able to convince her to go back to sleep for awhile. Around 7:20am Connor came into our room to announce the tooth fairy had visited with him and left some money. Then he left the bedroom.

I was in and out of a light sleep for the next 15 minutes or so when I heard the clanking of dishes in the kitchen. Jane was not home so I knew Grandma wasn't making breakfast and Grampy had already left for work...so who was making the noise? I listened for a few minutes trying to dicipher whether food was being made or dishes were being pulled from the cabinets. Then it hit me...the kids are doing their chores! Part of our morning routine before school is everyone has a chore and we rotate them each week. This week Lillee had dishes and I figured she was clearing out the dishwasher as she's a really responsible kid. I woke Al, shared my theory on what was going on and then snuck to the door to peek into the kitchen for clarification.

There I saw Connor removing dishes from the dishwasher. He would put a bowl on the counter, then hoist himself onto the counter, open the cabinet while ducking his head under it and then put the bowl away.
He did this over an over until he had the entire dishwasher empty and everything was in it's proper place.

I called Al from bed and we stood at the bedroom door, peeking through a crack like two kids trying to get a glimpse of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. The spell was broken when Lillee came through the kitchen and headed straight for us, we knew we'd not be able to watch any more. Connor cheerily told Lillee good morning and explained that he was doing her chore for her and he wanted to do everyone's chore this morning!

I don't think Al and I could have been more proud. Connor took it upon himself to do something really nice for other people without hoping for a reward in return. Maybe we should all wake up with money under our pillows, it seems to have started Connor's day with a desire of serving others.

Now I have to switch gears and do a quick Isabel brag. Isabel is 2.5 years old and participates in our morning school exercises which include:

Pledge of Allegiance
Articles of Faith (we learn a new one each week or two)
Monthly Family Goal
Weekly Quote & Scripture
Weekly Primary Song (we're working on learning the songs for the Primary Program at church)
Presidents of the Church
Presidents of the United States (we focus on one president per month, learning interesting facts and history)

Then we start into work books, experiments, etc. By this point Isabel has lost interest or she grabs a coloring book and colors while we do handwriting or math. At 2.5 I did not expect her to sit for so long through our daily opening exercises but she does. Not only does she sit through them, she's learning! She can lead us in the pledge of allegiance with very few promptings...she knows the entire pledge! She also has memorized the first four articles of faith. Last night when we were giving out dots, Al decided to do a little drill to see who knew information about the presidents we're studying this month (Brigham Young and George Washington). Isabel was able to identify George Washington by picture and when asked who Brigham Young was she smiled and very matter-of-factly said, "Prophet."

I know home schooling is not for everyone and there were times over the past couple of years that I thought I couldn't do it myself, but when I see how well my children are learning things that are important to our family, I know we've made the right decision. I'm having a hard time keeping up with the kids! I've been a member of our church for 5 years (5 years tomorrow, actually) and I've not memorized the articles of faith, yet. Connor knows 8 of the 13, already. I think home schooling is going to be as beneficial to me as it is for our children but it's going to be a lot of work for me to keep ahead just enough to be able to teach them :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Scones & Jam!

I have had large quantities of frozen fruits in the freezer for a long time now and decided it was time to use them up. I decided to make a strawberry sauce for a pound cake and ice cream dessert. I filled a pot with frozen strawberries, added some pomegranate syrup and balsamic vinegar (I don't like sickeningly sweet toppings for ice cream, I prefer a little tangy over something sweet). I reduced this down to a nice thick sauce and made a delicious layered dessert.

I was still left with about 10lbs of frozen strawberries to deal with. So in the pot they went and I made strawberry jam! I ended up with 3 quarts of jam and the kids were dying to try it. I did not use pectin, as I did not have it on hand, the jam is a bit thinner than store-bought jams so I felt we needed something a bit more substantial than toast for the jam. I've had a sweet tooth the past two days so when I started to ponder desserts using jam, scones came to mind.

I dug out my favorite scone recipe...this recipe is one I've used for years and absolutely adore! I don't care for traditional dry scones so this recipe is perfect as it makes the most moist, buttery and melt-in-your mouth scones.

1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
1 egg

In a small bowl, blend the sour cream and baking soda, and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a large baking sheet.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in the butter. Stir the sour cream mixture and egg into the flour mixture until just moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead briefly. This is a moist dough so only use enough flour to keep from sticking to your work surface. Pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick round. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 12 wedges, and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. I also use cookie cutters, especially for Christmas morning breakfast fun, try not to overwork the dough when reshaping excess from cookie cutters.

Bake 18 - 22 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown on the bottom. Tops may not appear to be browning so watch the bottoms.

Connor has become a bit leery of trying new foods this past year so we've created a reward system for him trying new foods. For every 10 new foods he tries, he can have anything he wants for dinner. Now, Connor being the wonderful kid he is, has not figured out that anything could be ice cream, cake, candy, etc. He asks for Frosted Mini Wheats almost every time. Anyway, sorry for the tangent. Connor was not so sure about eating the scone...even though I told him how much he'd love them. He replied with, "I don't want to taste the scum!" Then Lillee chimed in, "I want a scum, I love scum!" This is her response to anything that someone else may be getting and she feels she might miss out on.

I gave the kids the option of hot scone with butter and fresh canned strawberry jam or cinnamon sugar.

After one bite, they were all in love with the scum and begging for seconds within no time. Cinnamon sugar was the favorite amongst the kids, Al included, but I preferred the strawberry jam.

It's official, he's a big boy now

In August, when we visited the dentist, we were warned that Connor had 4 loose teeth right in front. We've discussed losing teeth and what will happen, how it won't hurt and the tooth fairy, of course.

On the way to swim lessons on Wednesday, Connor was eating an apple when he exclaimed about his tooth being loose. Now he's been wiggling it for 2 months saying how it was loose so I was not shocked by his announcement. When he opened his mouth I saw a bit of blood around the tooth and realized he'd given it a good jar with the apple bite and sure enough, it was really loose.

For the past 24 hours Connor has not stopped wiggling that darn tooth. Here he is showing off his loose tooth.

We've attempted yanking it with fingers, but haven't put forth a lot of effort to really pull it out. At dinner tonight, Connor was having some cooked baby carrots when he started giggling and laughing and pointing at his mouth in a very excited manner. He stuck his tongue between two lower teeth and was thrilled that the tooth was out!

The excitement quickly faded when I asked where the tooth was...it did not appear to be floating around his mouth, it had not fallen out on his chair, it was no where to be seen. You guessed it...he swallowed his first tooth. The tears began to flow quite freely as he realized he had no evidence to present to the tooth fairy.

Boy, did Al and I have to think quick how to resolve this problem. Al thought he'd be slick and grab a piece of cauliflower (our other dinner veggie tonight) and pretend to fish around in Connor's mouth and pull out a pretend tooth. He guarded the cauliflower carefully so Connor could not inspect it too thoroughly. I pointed out this was not a good plan by spelling the word T-R-U-T-H to Al. He shrugged, agreed and waited for me to have a brilliant idea since he'd already presented his own.

I explained to Connor that we could write the tooth fairy a letter and Al offered to take a picture for evidence I liked my plan sooo much better!

We just finished the letter to the tooth fairy and Connor explained in great detail how he was eating a carrot, swallowed the tooth and he hopes the tooth fairy gives him "some cents." Al & I laughed heartily as we both interpreted it as "some sense."

Well, we were sad that the first lost tooth of our first born child will be gone forever...but nothing with Connor (or any of our children, for that matter) ever proves to be normal.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Guess what I was doing?

For those of you following my week, you should be able to easily answer this question...guess what I was doing at 4:00am this morning? Did you guess, "Not sleeping." You're right!!! About a month ago, my sister-in-law sent out an email saying she had been awake since 3:00am because she couldn't sleep. Trying to be funny I told here, "Not sleeping at 3:00am as the mother of 4 boys?!?! I can sleep anytime, anywhere." Well, this past week I've definitely come to realize that I was wrong.

So all week, something has had me up at 4:00am...Isabel coughing, a baby using my bladder as a trampoline or just general insomnia. Last night was no different. Al ended up getting sucked into watching TV (he NEVER watches TV so this was quite a shocker) and did not come to bed until 3:45am. Yep, I woke up...and although he was exhausted and fell right off to sleep, I was wide awake; partly because I had crashed and was snoring by 9:00pm...so technically I had already had a full night sleep by 4:00am.

Well, I got up, read some emails, putzed around the internet for a bit and then went back to bed about 5:15am thinking I would be back up in no time...Isabel was bound to come get in bed with me, right? I was wrong, she didn't get up until after 7:00am this morning!!! She hung out by herself for awhile and Lillee didn't wake up until 7:30am. It was like a miracle morning :) Everyone had slept in and after all the kids piled into the bed we didn't get up until 8:00.

I was able to get my work done this morning, do some school with the kids, bake my sister-in-laws amazing bread recipe to create delicious breadsticks and cinnamon rolls for my luncheon with 8 women and 11 kids without much effort. A good night of rest ( with drooling and snoring, of course) can make all the difference in the world!

And flowers always help! Thanks mom, I needed a hug :)

Morning preparation

The Lego meeting turn out was much smaller than anticipated!!! Which means, easier to manage and less stress for me...well, at least now that it's over. Let me share how our day went.

Isabel has had croup all week and not slept well, has been whiny and cranky and just a real stinker to deal with. She wants food....nope, she doesn't want food. She wants juice....nope, changed her mind again. She wants to read...nope, you guessed it...changed her mind. She always changed her mind AFTER I had already completed the task. So anyway, it's been a challenging week with her.

She's been getting into bed with Al & me every morning around 4:30am - 5:00am. Well this morning she slept in until 5:58am. However, I woke up at 4:01am and couldn't get back to sleep....until 5:45. Yeah, go ahead and snicker or shake your head, I know you understand how miserable a feeling that is.

Lillee has also decided that this week was the perfect week to test how long she can possibly wait before going potty. Let's just say her timing stinks. Literally1 I went into the bathroom this morning and all I could smell was urine. So by 7:00am, I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor with a brush and cleaner in hopes of getting rid of the disgusting smell before 11:00am when I was anticipating a slew of kids coming over. We all spent the entire morning scrubbing and cleaning the house like I've not taken the time to do in a long while.

Not that the chore of scrubbing the bathroom is ever complete...while we finished dinner tonight, Isabel wanted a bath and we were giving in to every whim by the end of this day. After completing our night time routine and preparing to put Isabel and Lillee in bed I thought, "I'm in the home stretch!!!" However, Connor informs me that Isabel pooped in the tub, with all the tub toys in there, too. Just when I thought I was going to have a few minutes to myself, I am left disinfecting the tub and all the toys. Ok, to be honest, I rinsed everything thoroughly in hot water and will disinfect in the morning.

The weather was beautiful out today so we opened the windows, cleaned top to bottom and it felt so good. Well, I take that back...it feels terrible, right in my lower back. But I feel like I accomplished so much. And I'm hosting a luncheon tomorrow so the house is already clean. I'm exhausted and ready for a nice, long night of sleep...one of those really deep comas where you wake up with drool coming out of your mouth and your throat hurting from snoring so loudly :)

Monday, September 15, 2008

How do I always do it to myself?

So our oldest child is only 5, starting his kindergarten year of school at home, and I feel the need to provide him with educational opportunities above and beyond what the school system provides, because we can. That's one of the flexibility perks of homeschooling. However, I seem to take things way beyond what they really need to be...in most everything I do. Then I begin to feel overwhelmed, worn-down and burnt out.

So here's what I've done. I've offerred to head up a Jr. First Lego League for six kids ages 6-9. I've offered to head up (not teach, but organize) a dinosaur class for 5 weeks where the we visit the National Zoo (to look for animals that resemble dinosaurs), the Museum of Natural History bone hall and dinosaur hall, and go on several digs. The idea is that the teacher is presenting how scientists “reasoned” their way to the concept of a dinosaur... what information we have and what we’re lacking. On top of these things, we have weekly swim lessons, regular school at home, involved calling at church...oh and yes, a new baby on the way.

Me, who has a history of bed rest and preterm delivery, feels compelled to add on these extras as if I can take on the world and never slow down. Why can't I see what I'm getting myself into before jumping in? Do I ever truly learn my lesson? It appears the answer is, "No.

I decided to put a calendar on my refrigerator to help keep me organized. As I put it on the fridge this afternoon I began writing in this week's plans...FULL already! Everyday there is at least one major soiree and most days there is a Dr appt. or swim lesson thrown in to the mix, as well. My husband, as supportive and wonderful as he is, just chuckled and shook his head when he heard I'd have 13+ kids and 5-6 parents here on Thursday and then Friday I'll be hosting a luncheon for 6 of my friends and 9 kids. Thank goodness my sister-in-law provided me with a wonderful bread recipe that my family has been loving so I can easily make bread sticks and cinnamon rolls all at once for our luncheon.

It all comes together and I'll crash by the weekend, but we'll have a fun yet wild week...wait, it's only Monday...YIKES!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

School days...mostly a haze

I struggle to be organized, which is why I try so hard to always have a plan. I don't deal well with stress or sudden change; this usually ends in someone getting yelled at for no good reason, then I feel guilty and have to apologize and it's just a sad cycle that doesn't need to happen.

I'm very excited about homeschooling and look forward to all the fun things we have planned for the rest of this semester, but I have just realized I have to be VERY flexible because something always comes up.

For example, this morning Lillee woke up late (this NEVER happens) and I knew something was wrong. Sure enough, she's sick. She has a croupy cough and sore throat so we headed to the Dr first thing this morning and it threw off the whole day. We were having our air ducts cleaned today while the Dr appt was going on, but fortunately my husband had a flexible schedule today and came home for a bit while I had to run out. We played tag and he headed back to work while I made lunch and got the kids down for quiet time (the most blessed time of the day!!! The older kids watch a movie while Isabel naps and most days I nap, too). Well, today Isabel couldn't nap because the vacuum for the air duct cleaning was so loud so we all had quiet time. I enjoyed some snuggles with sick Lillee and grabbed a few seconds of shut eye while Barbie was dancing on the TV. I had to cancel my 12:30pm meeting because things were just too crazy to have a meeting while the vacuum was going, all three kids were up and the TV was on. So that was pushed back until 4:00pm. Fortunately, Al wrapped up early at work and was able to run to the store to get Popsicles for Lillee and then get home in time for me to get a 1.5 hour nap before my meeting (I know, I've got a good man).

I was able to get through my meeting, but this left dinner on Al's shoulders so the kids had some macaroni and cheese then went for milkshakes (Lillee's throat was the excuse, but who doesn't love an excuse for milkshakes). Which lead to bath time and then I broke our regular routine, put on a movie to wind the kids down before bed.

So with all we had going on today, which should have been a school day, did not result in much school. We did research the Woolly Bear Caterpillar we found on our nature walk yesterday and discussed his care through the winter as we put together a habitat for him. And we did a fun story telling exercise where the kids get three random cards with pictures on them and then have to make up a story using the three elements. But this has been typical the past week or two. Every day something comes up and we don't complete our full routine. I know Connor's getting more in our partial routine than he would get in a full day of kindergarten, but I have such good intentions...I just can't always follow through all the way.

In the past, I would have skipped my nap and used that 1.5 hours to accomplish more but I'm finding that I really need that nap each day. When does life slow down? Wait, I really don't want it to slow down...I love my life, I'm just overwhelmed some days....you too??? PHEW! I know I'm not alone, I just need to whine sometimes :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Family Government

We've found that our kids don't appreciate their things. Toys end up scattered all over the house throughout the day and I spend a lot of time yelling to get kids to pick things up (especially since I'm having a harder time bending over as the pregnancy progresses and this baby slips down even further). Al had a frustrating Sunday morning with the kids (while he allowed me to take a luxurious nap before church) and decided it was time for a change. He started gathering toys that were left lying about and told the kids he'd throw them away. This did not go over well with the kids, but he was hoping to sort of shock them into, "Take care of it or lose it."

After some discussion between Al & I on Sunday we decided to dive right in and make some changes and iron out some details through our weekly family meeting after church. So we sat down with the kids and started negotiations to establish family government.

What is family government, you might ask? We basically had a meeting with the kids to discuss specific things they can expect from our family government - protection, food, shelter, safety, allowance, rules and consequences, learning opportunities, you get the idea.

Once we determine what our government will do for us, we discussed family government rules (laws). We kept it simple to start with, especially since our oldest is only 5years old. The rules are pretty basic- don't hurt others, respect others spaces and things, listen without talking back (a few of the struggles we deal with daily). Then we worked out consequences and rewards.

Now I'm not a big fan of allowances for chores. I feel that everyone has a role to play in a functional family and we all do our part because that's what is necessary, not because we're paid to do so. So we decided that allowance is simply something the government will provide and each person is responsible for completing their chores and if they don't, they pay mom (or someone else) to do the chore. Much like in life. If there's something you don't want to do, you find a way to pay or barter for someone else to do it for you. Afditionally, the timing to discuss allowance couldn't have been more perfect as Connor came home from church this very same day with a tithing envelope! We knew it was time to approach the subject of allowance and an understanding of money. We hope to get into some personal and family savings concepts, but we decided too many new ideas at once might be overwhelming.

We did decide on a reward system. We'll be using dots, (small glass beads like the ones you find in the bottom of vases with artifical flowers) and the kids can earn their dots. Our morning routine starts with everyone getting up at 6am, we have breakfast together, read scriptures, have devotional and then begin our day. The kids get dressed, brush teeth and do chores (we have three chores we rotate each week). They can receive a dot for each of the above items. We start these by 7:00am and complete them by 7:30 am. If a kid is dragging behind (Connor tends to forget what his task is and instead of getting dressed sits on the floor and plays with his toys which results in mom yelling at him to "GET DRESSED, NOW!"). So if Connor, for example, we're dragging and hasn't completed the above items then not only does he not get his dot, he has to begin paying mom by 7:30. If he's not finished by 7:45, he pays mom again. If all goes smoothly we begin school at 7:30 with a clean house and fed children.

Once school is over each child can receive a dot for school and then we have a free day to do whatever we'd like. At 6:00pm, the dot system begins again. We start cleaning at 6:00pm. ALL toys must be off the floor of each room of the house or it goes into a trash bag. We figure this is a way to weed out the toys the kids are not so excited about. We stash the toys until the end of the week when the kids can use their acquired dots to "buy back" toys or they may save the dots and once their dot jar is full then can turn it in for a big prize...for example, a one-on-one trip for a milkshake with mom or dad, a chance to go swimming, a free movie pass or whatever seems to be of interest at the time.

We have last call for food at 6:30 (this hopefully elminates kids lying in bed whining for food). While the kids have a snack we have family reading time, our book right now is Peter and the Starcatchers. Then the kids can get dots for brushing teeth, putting on pajamas and having a clean bedroom before going to bed.

Day one was most effective...we gathered an entire trash bag of toys! We plan to keep the toys for three weeks and if they're not bought back by week three then we assume they're not very important and it's time for them to go. Goodwill will love us for awhile!

We learned about family government from a wonderful woman by the name of Nicholeen Peck http://teachingselfgovernment.com/. We met Mrs. Peck at an LDS homeschooling conference earlier this year and found much benefit in her system of self government. We were also influenced by another homeschooling couple from the same conference who shared their dot system. We use our dots differently, but the original idea was not ours. I also gathered some ideas from Al's brother and his wife who have started using a self government system for their older children. We took all these ideas and tailored them to our needs for a smoother running household where hopefully there will be less surprises and mom can stop yelling so much!

We'll keep you posted on how things are progressing and what is working and the things that aren't working.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Politics...you've been warned

If you don't like political discussions, you have the opportunity to stop reading at this point. Otherwise, I cannot contain my thoughts any longer. I am not wishing to debate with anyone, nor ruffle feathers...I just wish to record my thoughts, right now.

In the past 3 days, I've been in some discussions with women from all walks of life concerning Sarah Palin; some of these discussions have resulted in hot tempers and hurt feelings and some even resorted to name calling...fortunately these discussions happened via the internet :)

So here's what I have to say, "I LOVE Sarah Palin!!!"

Is it too late to switch the ticket to Palin/McCain 2008? OK, I don't know that I would truly go that far but I've not been a McCain supporter in this election and struggled with who I might vote for in November. And then the pit bull, Sarah Palin, stepped out of nowhere and finally conservative women had someone they could proudly stand behind!

Now I'm not one of those women who feels a need to have a woman representing me in politics at an executive level. However, I do appreciate having a leader who can understand who I am as a mother and that is rare in women in politics. I am encouraged that Sarah Palin considers herself a hockey mom before mentioning that she's an accomplished woman in politics. I value, higher than any part of me, being a mother. I do not resent giving every moment of my day to my family, that is my role, that is my desire and I am proud to serve in this capacity. There will come a time when my days of motherhood are not so frenzied and I may have other factors defining my daily routine, but I hope I never lose the definition of being a mother...even when my children are grown.

I have mixed feelings about Sarah Palin having such young children and pursuing the VP position. However, our founding fathers had to leave their families for weeks and months at a time to attend planning sessions far from home without telephones, airplanes, internet and other conveniences of staying in touch with family. The founding fathers NEEDED to make those sacrifices to their families for the betterment and future of our country and I'm grateful for their sacrifices. So I can appreciate Sarah Palin's desire to make a difference and make those sacrifices to her family.

I am energized with hope for our country! I am grateful for McCain's acknowledgement of the success our troops in Iraq are having and how close we are to winning this war, rather than walking away from it and surrendering. I appreciate that he has fought for freedom himself and believes that our country comes first. 9/11 resulted in patriotism soaring like we have not seen in a couple of generations. We need ride that soaring patriotism, to get back to the basics of serving God and our country and understanding what this country was founded on. Note: This was composed before John McCain's acceptance speech on Thursday night, but I was excited to hear him also mention getting back to basics!

The Constitution has not been wholly taught in public schools since the 1950's! Let's get back to the Constitution, read it and understand it for ourselves so we can sufficiently defend ourselves from the government our founding fathers were hoping to defend us from.

I don't know all there is to know about Sarah Palin and I don't know how McCain nor Palin will do when (yes, I'm hoping for when, not if) leading this country. But when I think and pray about the state of our country and how I can help, I feel good about voting for Sarah Palin. I'm warming up to John McCain, but still not a staunch supporter of McCain. I think he made a brilliant move by choosing Palin as his running mate and I gained a lot of respect for him as a man who is out to win this election.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Zucchini Bread Recipe

I'm not sure how to post recipes without making a thread for them specifically, so here goes:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts

Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

I snagged this from www.allrecipes.com, as it came with great reviews. I always alter recipes so here are my changes. I used half soft white wheat, half all purpose flour, omitted the walnuts and added cinnamon sugar to the top of one loaf and extra dark chocolate chips to the other loaf. I would have used half oil (or less) and half applesauce if I had had any unsweetened applesauce on hand. I added about 3 cups of grated zucchini and most of it's juices which made for really moist bread, but required a longer cooking time, but still around 60 minutes as the recipes states.

I have a large summer squash left and since we're back in town I'm hoping to bake it up soon. I'll take pictures this time :)