Archive for October, 2010

Drama Camp, Cousins, and the Cupcake Angel!

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

What a week!

For the past several years, my children have participated in an outstanding

Anna got into the "hair dance!"

Christian performing arts camp called KidShine. It is a much anticipated week full of singing, dancing, and acting from 9-3 each day. Each year, I am absolutely blown away by the quality of the performance at the end of the week… solos! puppets! comedy! choreography! “This is a well done production,” remarked my father-in-law as he enjoyed watching all the campers, but especially his grandchildren, perform last week. “I mean, I’ve been to lots of kid shows and so many of them are just b-a-a-a-d!” Not KidShine!

Nathan and cousin Jeremy on the air guitars

Making our week of drama camp even more exciting, my sister and her children traveled up from Georgia and joined us. This meant fun for sure, but it also meant a whole week of packing 7 lunches each morning, a FULL 12-passenger van multiple times a day, sleeping bags everywhere, nearly impossible bed times, A LOT of energy, and 13 people at every meal. To minimize the chaos, my sis and I have the implementation of this week down to a science and the secret is simplicity. This is the one week my children get convenience foods in their lunch bags. We pull out the freezer meals. We do a few meals out. We do not make cupcakes for drama camp…

Anna on her birthday with some of her drama camp friends

…Except for that the last day of camp was Anna’s birthday. Her friends wondered if her mother would be doing anything. Then the dear parent coordinator volunteered to do it for me! She is truly a saint. She spent all her waking moments of the week with 50 drama campers, coordinated countless details, and offered to make my child birthday cupcakes because I’m busy. Ummm…. no!

So Thursday night, after teaching two classes, transporting Esther and my niece, Abby, to co-op classes (they are too young for camp), picking up the seven campers, driving children to dance, picking them up and making a decent dinner for my parents who were joining us (making our total occupancy 15!), and checking ahead for lunch fixings for Friday for my in-laws, brother-in-law and niece who’d be joining us, my sister and I cleaned up the kitchen and dreaded the task ahead… cupcakes for campers.

Just as I was kicking myself, thinking, “Why didn’t I just pick up already made cupcakes at Wal-Mart today?” my mother asked, “Byron, will you please go get the cupcakes out of the van?”

Yes! She said cupcakes! Having no idea of my after dinner plans, she bought the exact number of cupcakes I needed. “I just knew I needed to buy them!” was my mother’s explanation for the divine inspiration to purchase them. I’m serious!

I remember participating in a Beth Moore Bible study a few years ago and hearing her by video encourage women to look for “God moments” in their days. It’s so easy to be amazed by coincidences and forget that our Heavenly Father really cares about little details of our lives. I truly don’t believe my mother bringing me cupcakes was a coincidence! My mother has never brought cupcakes to my house (candy, cakes, and countless other treats, yes… but not cupcakes!). It blessed me. It was a message to me from God himself. “I love you… you can use these, right?” He answered a prayer that I didn’t even pray.

It’s been a busy week. But a visit from the cupcake angel certainly helped!

The cupcake angel and me


Thursday, October 28th, 2010

Anna is fifteen! I am so proud of the young lady she is becoming. She is beautiful… inside and out.

For Anna (written two years ago on her 13th birthday but truer than ever now!)

October 29th, 1995
After a long long long long wait for me
You arrived not a bit late…
But first thing in the morning on your due date!

After two missed nights of sleep
My eyelids would hardly lift
But upon my first glance of our baby girl
I was in awe of God’s precious gift!

That first year was precious-
Each day sweeter than the day before.
As you become aware of your surroundings
You became more and more adored.

Before you reached the age of two
You became big sissy to – guess who?

Then a few weeks before turning four,
Big sissy again –

TWINS! Yes, two more!

And around the age of seven…
Sarah arrived – another little piece of heaven!

Puzzles, baby dolls, coloring, lots of stories, helping me with everything, play-doh, patty cake, hide and seek, princesses, tea parties,

You and Daddy playing at the pool. You are five and already a dare devil!

pretending, playing outside, fresh air, picking flowers, dress up, sew toys, nap time everyday, baking cookies, bringing me diapers, peek-a-boo with babies, playing with siblings, dinner together, staying home most of the time, school work in the morning but learning always, church on Sunday mornings, Bible time with Dad, sewing doll clothes with me, making birthday cakes, looking forward to visits from grandparents, holidays, and in all these things thanking God for the gifts that they are. Living life together and learning to love Him more through it all. These are the things that defined those years when you were small (and much of it these years as well…)

Lots of work
But lots of joy

Sometimes, I’d hear from nay-sayers,
“Just wait”
It’s easy now, but it won’t stay that way!!!

Once you have a teenager
Things will change.
She’ll think you haven’t a clue!
It’s easy now-
Just wait… you won’t know what to do!

That time has come
Yes, you are 13!
And sometimes I wonder
“What did those “just waiters” mean?”

My 13 year old…
Loves God, her parents and her siblings. She adores our baby, Esther. She makes pizza for our family (and pancakes, cookies, cakes, and other yummy things). She is my right hand. She gives great hugs. She has a very funny sense of humor and makes us laugh. She loves people. She plays games with everyone. She is fun! She is a wonderful knitter and has a gift of teaching others that skill and a heart for blessing others with her work. She is a beautiful dancer and uses her talent to worship the Lord. She recognizes that all her gifts come from Him. She is kind. She blesses me daily. She is learning to think Biblicaly and often has insight during our Bible time that encourages me. She is also learning to give her days to the Lord and do what is right. She is on her way to becoming a godly woman. She is my daughter and I am so thankful for her.

Happy birthday, Anna
I love you!!!


Someone Else’s Law

Monday, October 25th, 2010

A few years ago, Bethany, then about seven, asked me at the dinner table, “Mommy, do you think I’m not a very good person because I wear jeans and shorts?” I had absolutely no idea how to answer her question but I knew I needed to say something. She was distraught. Obviously, she’d  been thinking about the modesty issue even though at the time she didn’t even know the meaning of the word. After asking her some questions, it became clear that she’d been told by a friend that girls should  not wear pants or show their legs past a certain point because it wasn’t ladylike.

Bethany is a rule follower. She keeps us all on track and she didn’t want herself, her mother or sisters breaking any dress codes! She questioned our family’s standard of modesty that night which resulted in a very thought-provoking conversation with the children. How thankful I was for my husband’s perspective. He said, “Bethany, *Susie’s daddy likes the little girls in his family to wear dresses, and that is fine. There is nothing wrong with dresses. However, wearing a dress doesn’t make you a better Christian. That is *Mr. Smith’s rule for his daughters. It is not my rule for mine. I promise, if you ever wear anything that I find inappropriate, I will tell you. Trust me. I want you to be a lady, and you are!”

“What if she asks me why I still wear jeans?” Bethany inquired. “You just smile and tell her that our family doesn’t have that rule,” Daniel replied.

“Should I wear a dress when I’m around her just so she doesn’t feel bad?” Bethany continued. “You may wear a dress anytime you wish, but don’t pretend you follow her family’s rules,” answered Daniel.

“What if she doesn’t want to be my friend anymore?” was Bethany’s last question. “Honey, that would be her loss.  Love her and I’m sure she will love you too. If she isn’t kind because you don’t have the same rules as she, there is nothing you can or should do.”

Relief swept over Bethany’s sweet little face. She left the table that night, happy that she could hang upside down on our monkey bars in her jeans!

Recently, I listened to Sally Clarkson, one of my favorite authors and speakers, talk to writers. She said, “Why would you allow someone else’s law to put you under guilt? Jesus felt compassion for the multitudes. Compassion is better than passion.” She went on to challenge writers not to “put women under the pile of legalism.”

Can I just say “A-men?”

The story of Bethany and her seven-year-old modesty dilemma immediately came to mind. Females start early looking around to see what the “rules” are. Little girls who look to their friends for life’s rules grow up to be women who look to other families or authors or speakers. We are prone to taking notes on how others “do life.”

She homeschools. Should I?

He says I should always spank for that offense. Should I?

I wonder if I should let my baby “cry it out.” This family says it’s the only way to get any rest.

She doesn’t wear make-up and has beautiful long hair. Am I too worldly because I won’t go in public without lipstick and I keep my hair short?

She is having such good results with her Classical education curriculum. I ought to be more structured too.

She doesn’t use the church nursery. Maybe I shouldn’t either.

Their family doesn’t do sports. Am I too worldly because I love them?

Their family doesn’t watch any tv. Maybe we shouldn’t either.

She bakes her own bread and cooks everything from scratch. What is wrong with me?

Will my girls go to college? This family says “no way!”

… And the list could go on forever.

Ladies, take it to your father. Very often, the Lord uses others to teach us. I’ve learned to cook, sew, make bread and I’ve been challenged in my parenting and walk with the Lord by dear friends who do things differently than I. However, I’ve also been presented with many ideas that just weren’t for our family. There have been times when, like Bethany, I wondered if I was wrong. I felt insecure. That feeling means it’s time to pray and seek answers.

Sally went on to encourage women to use their words to encourage others. “God may one day say, ‘I gave you the gift of communication. How did you use it for the glory of my kingdom.”‘ Again, I say “A-men!”

Bethany’s daddy, with a smile and a wise word, set her free from guilt she shouldn’t carry from a law she wasn’t asked to follow. Our father can and will do the same for us. We only have to ask.

Lord, May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart to pleasing in your sight. May I seek you and you alone for direction for my life. Help me to encourage my sisters in Christ to seek after you in all things as well. A-men.

*Susie and Mr. Smith are not their real names. And… this family would never impose their family rules for modesty on another. Often, we assume folks are judging us when in fact, they are not. (A topic for another day! 🙂

Apple Recipes

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

5 bushels (in 4 baskets). Total cost - $15. Will make lots of applesauce!

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

I hope so! If this familiar saying is true, the Jobes should be quite healthy this year. It’s been apple week for us and we’ve certainly put up enough apples for all 8 of us to reap health benefits all year!

First round of cooked apples (about a bushel)

The children helping to make our applesauce

Every other year, I try to make about 100 quarts of applesauce. That’s enough to last us about two years. It’s quite a production but the children all help and it’s SO WORTH IT to have homemade applesauce all year. Because I can “clean up” our local

Our Victorio Strainer in action

orchard for $3.00 a bushel, the applesauce is practically free! One bushel of apples yields

75 quarts in two days!

about 15 quarts! Yes, a very reasonable side

dish! The key to making lots of sauce is having a Victorio Strainer. This tool separates the apple waste from the sauce meaning the apples can be cooked in their skins which is where the vitamins are! After cooking the apples, I put them through the strainer and then can the applesauce. Sometimes I sweeten the apples just a little with brown sugar and cinnamon. Often I don’t. It just depends on the sweetness of the sauce. This year’s was good to go without any added sugar!

All my children love apple butter. Last time I did apple butter, we were out of it by Christmas so this year I am making lots!

Apple Butter: 6 qts, unsweetened applesauce, 3/4 cups apple cider vinegar, 1 T lemon juice, 1 jar cinnamon candies, 16 cups sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 t salt, 1 T cinnamon, 1/2 t cloves, 1/2 t allspice.

Combine all ingredients in a big kettle on stove. Bring to a slow boil, being very careful not to burn. Let simmer 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally. Will decrease by half. To check for doneness, spoon onto a plate. Water shouldn’t separate from butter. It will look thin, but will thicken as it cools. Before canning, mix with hand mixer to give it a smooth buttery consistency. Fill jars to 1/2″ from rim and place in water bath for 20 minutes.

This is the first year I’ve put up apple pie filling. This recipe came from my friend, Martha

First ever canned apple pie filling! Yum!

Greene, of Marmee Dear’s Home Circle. I credit Martha for teaching me how to make bread with The Breadbasket Cookbook. I remembered seeing her recipe for pies in a magazine. Regretfully, I did not keep it. Last week, I contacted Martha and asked if she’d share her recipe and was so thankful she did! I knew a recipe from her would be one that is tried and true and worthy of my trust! 🙂 Tonight I made my first pie and it did not disappoint. I think next time I open a jar I’ll do and apple crisp!

Apple Pie Filling: Peel and pare apples into a large bowl of water with Fruit-Fresh or a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning of the apples. Mix in a large stock pot: 4 1/2 cups sugar, 1 c cornstarch, 1 T cinnamon (I used more than the original 2 t), 1/2 t nutmeg (I used 1/2 t allspice and 1/2 t cloves and no nutmeg) and 1 t salt. Stir in 9 1/2 cups water. Cook, stirring constantly, until thick and bubbly. Stir in 3 T lemon juice. Have clean canning jars prepared and filled with peeled and pared apples. (You’ll need 6-8 lbs of apples. Cram the jars full!) Be sure to drain apples well from the water they were standing in after they were peeled. (I blotted them with paper towels.) Pour thickened filling mixture, while still hot, over apples in jars. Use a spatula to disperse the filling around the apples and remove any air pockets. Clean jar rims and adjust lids and rings. Process in water bath for 20 minutes. Let jars cool, rinse and store in the pantry. To make pie,pour 1 qt. jar of your homemade apple pie filling into an unbaked pie shell. Cover with a top pastry and flute edges. Make slit or vents in top shell and bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.

My last recipe to share is a delicious apple cake from my real-life friend, Barb, of My Sister’s Kitchen. This cake is moist, yummy and smells heavenly while baking! I’ve made it three times already this month! A big dollop of whipped cream is a must on top!

Fresh Apple Cake: Mix together 2 cups sugar, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup oil, 2 t vanilla, 2 t soda, 1.2 t salt, 2 c flour, 2 t cinnamon, 1 t cloves, 1 t allspice, and 1 cup nuts.

At this point the dough will be very stiff. Add 5 cups diced apples and at this point mix lightly or you will have an applesauce cake! I use my apple corer/peeler/slicer and cut them up small. This saves a lot of time! Bake in a 3 qt. dish at 325 about 50 minutes. This cake burns very easily so it’s important to use a glass baking dish and check  for doneness with a toothpick.


Esther helps "do apples."


Friday, October 8th, 2010

Relevant is a conference for Christian bloggers. It’s sold out. It starts on a Thursday. It doesn’t make sense that I can attend and I may not (um… most likely) won’t be able to go.

I saw information about it a couple of weeks ago and dismissed it. It’s not practical. It cost money. It’s coming up in just two weeks and I am not, by nature, very spontaneous. This is normally a good thing. It’s hard for a homeschooling mom (or any mom for that matter!) to be gone a couple of days. I talked myself out of even discussing it with my husband.

After attempting to mentally dismiss the conference, I wrote about potty training. This post, which was written for about thirty women in my church, was read by a thousand. It seemed to resonate with many and I am thankful. I don’t desire to have a widely-read blog, but I do desire to minister and encourage women. This has happened a couple of times through my posts and I am amazed that the Lord brings people to read anything I write. Very humbling.  The Lord is encouraging me to continue and I don’t know why.

… And I keep thinking about Relevant, the conference for bloggers. And I pray about it, and I’m having a hard time dismissing it from my mind.

I want to go. Mentors of mine – Sally Clarkson and Ann Voskamp – will be there. I spent a whole year studying Educating The Wholehearted Child with a group of ladies in my home. This book encouraged me in my early years of teaching my children. Over the years, I’ve bought many copies to give to mothers with homeschooling in their hearts. Sally has ministered to me through her blog and her books more than any author I can recall. Ann Voskamp’s writings minister to me as well. I read Holy Experience as often as I can. Friends of mine, Crystal, whom I’ve never met and Sarah, my real life friend who goes to my church, will be there.

I read Sally’s blog post this morning and cried. Her post on loving Jesus in the busyness of life resonates deeply with me. I saw she’d be at Relevant and found myself praying that I could somehow attend. I mentioned this desire to Sarah who sent me to a contest. I entered at A Million Boxes and part of the entering process is to blog about the give-away.

We’ll see. Not winning means someone else needs to go more. I believe that. Yet if I win, I am going to thank the Lord for such a  gift and make every effort to be there!

Pink Puppy PJ’s and Pretty Paint

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Christina recently bought face paint at our new Michael’s store. Christina is an artist. Christina is thirteen and a wonderful, big sister.

Esther likes paint. Esther was thrilled to be Christina’s palette. Esther is two and is very blessed to have big sisters who love her. Some children her age only receive such color at once-a-year Fall festivals, ya know!

Yesterday, Esther stood perfectly still while Christina painted her face to match her pretty, pink puppy pj’s. Esther was so happy with herself that she wore her “make-up” go “Gaggle-cwub.” Gavel club is a high-school speech club. Families attend and serve as the audience. It meets twice a month and is an event our whole family enjoys. Yesterday, it was merely an opportunity for our nearly three-year old to show everyone high-fashion Esther-style!

Yes, we love this child. She makes us smile… a lot!

Thoughtful Thursdays

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Esther takes pre-ballet!

Thoughtful Thursdays… I am not sure how our home school co-op came up with such an alliterative name for our weekly classes, but I do know that for me, surviving Thursdays takes thought – and a great deal of it!

These little darlings are going to be sheep in the Christmas recital!

The packing alone is a monumental task! Thursday mornings I assemble my classroom materials for the two writing classes I teach, get Esther dressed for ballet, and then proceed to feed everyone breakfast and pack seven lunches and two dinners. The children must remember their notebooks for writing, dance clothes (which include multiple shoes, leotards, tights and hair pins), and their music for band as well as their instruments. Christina teaches a few little girls a hand- sewing class so she brings her supplies for that.  Bethany, Nathan and Sarah take track after ballet while the older girls go to Appalachian State University and participate in a science lab. Thus track clothes and lab notebooks must be remembered as well.  Track ends at 7:00. Lab ends at 8:00.  It is a full day that includes writing, art, dance, band, track and a science lab! Our 12- passenger van is packed as if we are taking a trip off the mountain!

While I teach my first writing class, Anna and Christina babysit Esther for me. During my second class, Esther takes pre-ballet and she just loves it! I am so thankful she can participate in an enjoyable activity while I am away from her. All week long she talks about “my baway cwass with Miss Webecca!”. I’m so proud of her for paying attention and learning because she is the youngest little dancer in the group. I’ve never had one of my toddlers take a class so this is a new experience for me too! After my second writing class, I take Esther home while my other children take either band or art. She is able to get a much needed one- hour nap before I must chauffeur dancers from one church to another. My vehicle has been named “The Ballet Bus” because it is full to the max at 3:30 on Thursdays, transporting ballerinas!

Dinner on Thursdays is squeezed into the hour most of us wait for lab to end. Thankfully, it’s family night at Earth Fare so for just ten dollars, I can feed Daniel and me and all my track stars eat free! You can’t beat that for organic and healthy food for eight!

I won’t lie. By Thursday evenings, I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck. I am seriously tired.  The thought occurs to me, “Maybe next year we’ll give Thoughtful Thursdays a rest!” We unload the van. The children put their things away and they smile. “Thank you, Mama. Thursdays are so special. We love taking classes and seeing our friends,” I hear as I tuck tired dancers, runners, artists and musicians in bed.

The children are right. Thursdays are special. As I put my feet up and breath a sigh of relief, I make a mental note to go to bed a little earlier next Wednesday night. Thursdays require thought for sure, but the effort is well worth it!