Riverbend Ramblings

~Riverbend Ramblings~
The days are long, but the years are short.
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Thursday, May 31, 2007
Pleasant Dreams

This week I've been doing some detailed cleaning in my bedroom. One of my chores today was to change the sheets on the bed.

My sweet mom, who knows I love nice linens, blessed me with this luxurious Croscill 420-thread-count sheet set a few weeks ago when she came for a visit. Today I finally washed them and put them on my bed.

I can't wait to pillow my head tonight. Sleeping on super-soft sheets is one of my favorite things.

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Summer Break
We just finished up our first year of Patch the Pirate Club at our church. We had a great group of children particpate in the program. They memorized Bible verses, kept a daily devotional journal, and learned a lot about making right choices. They also blessed our church family with special music one Sunday night each month.

We had a special party last night to celebrate their accomplishments. Bookworm busily worked in the kitchen all afternoon baking chocolate chip cookies and fudge brownies loaded with pecans. My 9 year old is such a blessing in the kitchen! We ended up freezing some of the cookie dough because we had too many cookies for our small group of kids. You know me--I'll use anything as an excuse to bake some sweet treats.

My co-captain helped me choose this year's Sailor and Pee-Wee of the Year award winners. The winners were chosen based on their improvement in Christian character and their spiritual growth. After our snack time, the kids enjoyed playing "Mother May I" outdoors since the weather was so nice.

While I'll miss my Wednesday night visits with the Patch Kids, I have to admit that I'm ready for a break from teaching the class each week. Between homeschooling, preparing Sunday school lessons, coordinating our church nursery, and directing our Patch and Pee Wee Clubs, I do occasionally feel a bit of burn-out. I'm looking forward to sitting in on the Wednesday night Bible studies during the next couple of months and getting my batteries recharged. Mr. C just started a series on soul winning that I'm really excited about.

After all, teachers need good teaching, too.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Wordless Wednesday

Lil' Nut is consoled after a terrifying ear-piercing experience with a treat from the candy machine.

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Healthy Turkey Meatloaf
For the past several weeks I've been steering away from ground beef at the grocery store. The price of beef is skyrocketing, and it's not the healthiest thing to be eating, either. Ground turkey meat is leaner and less expensive than ground beef. I can purchase the 93% lean ground turkey in bulk packages for less than $2 a pound. Most people who do not care for ground turkey usually complain about about its texture or that it's bland. I've found the key to cooking with ground turkey is to use a variety of spices and seasonings in the recipes. Even my pickier eaters haven't seemed to mind the switch to turkey one bit. In fact, I don't think they've even noticed! I made turkey meatloaf on Sunday, and it was a huge hit with the whole family. This is a very low-fat, high-protein dish, so it's actually good for you! You can substitute bread crumbs for the barley or use regular or reduced-fat milk, but it tastes great just the way I prepared it. It didn't dry out in the oven, and it had a lot of flavor. We used the leftovers to make sandwiches for lunch today. Several of you requested the recipe after I posted my weekly menu, so here it is; enjoy! Healthy Turkey Meatloaf 1 Tbs. olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 1/2 pounds ground skinless turkey 1/2 C. barley 1/2 C. skim milk 1 egg white, lightly beaten 3 Tbs. ketchup 2 Tbs. grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 tsp. garlic powder 1/2 tsp. basil 1/4 tsp. thyme 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper 1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a loafpan with non-stick cooking spray, such as Pam. In a small skillet, heat the oil and saute the onion until tender. 2) In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and blend well. Shape the mixture into the loaf pan. Bake until browned and cooked through, 50-60 minutes. Allow the meat to stand 10 minutes before slicing.

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Monday, May 28, 2007
Remembering~ Memorial Day 2007

Happy Memorial Day, everyone! This year I have probably reflected more about the meaning of this holiday than I ever have before. I'm one of the blessed ones who has never lost a close friend or loved one in battle. I haven't attended a soldier's funeral. I have not had to fully realize the price that has been paid to secure my freedom.

This morning I spent some time online reading tributes and looking at photographs of some of the brave men and women who have lost their lives in the fight for freedom. So many smiling faces, so many dreams to be fulfilled; yet they gave all without regret or apology because of their love for our great country. How humbling to know that they died for you and for me and for generations to come!

Yesterday Mr. C preached a message about remembering the faith of our spiritual forefathers. If you've read Foxe's Book of Martyrs, you know about the torture and cruel deaths experienced by many who refused to recant their belief in Jesus. These are all historical accounts of what people endured for their faith. Hebrews chapter 11, the Bible's "Hall of Faith", speaks of the torment experienced by those who stood firm in the faith. We should be encouraged to stand strong for Christ in the midst of the godlessness we see around us. Hebrews 12:1 reads, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us..." Our spiritual forefathers endured so much more persecution than we will ever imagine or face ourselves. We should not shrink from being the witnesses that God wants us to be. These Heros of the Faith contributed to the spiritual freedom we have today in America: the freedom to believe and worship as we choose.

On this Memorial Day, let's all take the time to remember those who have died for our freedoms both on the battlefield and at the stake. Remember the sacrifices they made, and remember the sacrifices that our U.S. military and their families are making today while the rest of us enjoy a holiday.


Menu Plan Monday~ May 28

I've been cooking with ground turkey a lot lately, and we're actually really enjoying it! Sam's Club has lean ground turkey for a very affordable price, and it is so much better for you to eat than ground beef! The key: lots of seasoning! :-) I'll try to post a couple of turkey-inspired recipes later this week. For more great menu ideas, head over to Laura's.

Sunday~ turkey meatloaf (it's actually delicious!); baked potatoes; steamed veggies; creamed corn

Monday~ We'll be away from home today, so the cook gets a day off! :)

Tuesday~ grilled chicken; tossed salad; corn on the cob

Wednesday~ turkey burgers; oven roasted potatoes; vegetable medley

Thursday~ fettucini w/broccoli alfredo sauce; baby peas; salad; garlic toast

Friday~ pizza; fruit salad


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Freedom Is Not Free
by Kelly Strong

I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it, and then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He'd stand out in any crowd.
I thought how many men like him
Had fallen through the years.
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom isn't free.

I heard the sound of TAPS one night,
When everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That TAPS had meant "Amen,"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No, freedom isn't free.

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Friday, May 25, 2007
Friday's Favorites
I recently posted about my favorite china. This year for Mother's Day my mom and kids blessed me with a lovely basket to add to my Summer Chintz collection. I was absolutely shocked when I opened the box! I am thankful that I have such a thoughtful family.

Show and Tell with Kelli

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Wordless Wednesday
Brotherly Love
Mickey Mouse & Lil' Nut


Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Home Again!
Last week we made a quick trip down to Florida. One of our elderly relatives passed away, so we went down for the funeral. It only took me about 2 hours to pack for 5 people, which was a new record for me. Most of the time I pack way too much stuff, but this time I only packed what we actually needed for a three day trip. The unpacking was so much easier when we got home because we didn't have oodles of clothes and shoes to put away.

While in Florida, the kids enjoyed swimming in Mimi's pool.

We also had fun visiting the grandparents. Here's Lil' Nut giving some sugar to Pa Pa.
Grandma made her delicious banana pudding. Our family devoured the whole bowl of pudding in about 10 minutes.

My husband had the honor of preaching the graduation service for the Christian school at our home church. Time is sure flying by; some of these kids were my students when they were in elementary school! Many of the alumni were there, so we visited with some of our "old" friends.

We headed home with three kids instead of four. Mickey Mouse will be spending the next few weeks with his grandparents and NO GIRLS!

Thanks to those of you who were praying for our safety on the roads; the smoke from the Georgia/Florida fires was pretty thick for about 100 miles on the drive home, but praise the Lord we made it through without any accidents or interstate closures. Mr. C was in a hurry to get home, but he still stopped for us to eat at my favorite highway restaurant.

This week I'm playing catch-up around the house and nursing a little cold I picked up somewhere. I also need to file all of our year-end homeschool reports and pack up our school books, but I'm not in a hurry to get everything done. One day at a time! :)

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I'm going to be out of town for a few days. I'll check in with you all next week!

Image courtesy AllPosters

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Family Fun

Yesterday our family went to Stone Mountain Park. The weather was perfect--sunny, but not too hot. We missed not having Mickey Mouse with us, but he's having a blast visiting his grandparents in Florida right now

Here are the girls all ready to go into the 4D Theatre.

They had lots of fun playing in the huge treehouse.
We rode the lift to the top of Stone Mountain. You can faintly see the Atlanta skyline in the background.

There's nothing I like better than spending the day with four of my favorite people!

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Monday, May 14, 2007
Weekend Review
I am in recovery mode after a very busy weekend! I spent all day Friday decorating for our Mother ~ Daughter luncheon at our church. I had a couple of ladies help me get things set up, but my mind was just spinning with all of the last-minute details. I was worried that I would overlook something important, but thankfully I had written everything down on a very long list that I referred to constantly.

Our luncheon theme was "Vessels Unto Honour" based on 2 Timothy 2:21, "If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work."

Our special guest speaker, a pastor's wife, did a wonderful job sharing some practical ideas on how we can be used by God in our everyday lives.

My camera batteries died before I got many pictures taken, but here are a couple from the fellowship hall that I took just before our meal. We used lots of flowers and greenery. The rest of the program took place in the main auditorium. We had a variety of vessels and pottery around the platform, but unfortunately I didn't get pictures. It looked so lovely!

one of the tables
coffee/dessert table

The best part of the day was having my mom with me. She drove 8 1/2 hours to spend the day with me and the girls. Thank you, Mom! I was so busy running around that I didn't get to spend much time with her, but it was still great to have her with us.

Mother's Day was actually more relaxing for me. We had good services at church with quite a few visitors for Mother's Day. Several special moms were recognized with a beautiful rose: the oldest mom present, the mom with the most children present, the mom with the most visitors present, and the mom with the youngest child present.

Mr. C and the kids took me out for lunch after church. I had requested Cracker Barrel, but apparently a couple hundred other moms picked the same place. :( We headed down the road a bit farther and found a nice restaurant with delicious food and a much shorter wait time. :) I even got a catnap before heading back to church for the evening service.

I plan on getting some R & R on Monday. I hope you all have a great week!

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Friday, May 11, 2007
Friday's Favorites
Since Mother's Day is just a couple of days away, I thought I'd share my all-time favorite Mother's Day gift for Show and Tell.

This ring was given to me 7 years ago for Mother's Day. I remember busily getting myself and two little ones (ages 2 and 4 months at the time) ready for church that Sunday morning when Mr. C handed me a gift bag with a little box inside of it. I was shocked when I opened the box and saw a beautiful diamond ring. I don't remember the ride to church that morning; I think I floated there on a cloud! :)

Please don't think that I always receive such extravagant gifts on Mother's Day; I don't! Usually I get something small and nice (like a Yankee candle) and lots of homemade cards from the kids. Now that they're getting older, I can look forward to them making breakfast for me, too. The gifts that mean the very most are the smiles, hugs, and kisses that my children bless me with every day of the year.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007
Spring Cleaning~ The Front Porch
I have finally finished all of my spring cleaning projects! My final area that needed sprucing up was the front porch. After brushing the cobwebs and pollen from the ceiling and walls, the rocking chairs got a good wiping down. They are actually all in need of a new coat of paint, but that project can wait a while. :)
I hung out a new decorative flag that I found last fall for 75% off. I like the cute little buttons on the center of the flowers.

Our front porch is now ready to welcome guests to our home. Although completing all of my spring cleaning chores took me a lot longer than I originally anticipated, I'm so glad that I persevered! How are you coming with your spring cleaning list?

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Spring Cleaning~ The Back Porch

During the winter months our back porch became a dumping ground for things that needed to be stored somewhere or donated. The kids' toys tend to migrate on the porch, too. There are umpteen pairs of shoes right next to the back door. We usually enter our home through the back door, so I've had to constantly look at the mess--not a pretty site!

Since it seems that warmer weather is here to stay, I decided this big spring cleaning project would be great for Tackle It Tuesday. I started out by removing ev-er-y-thing from the porch. Our backyard quickly took on the look of a junkyard. Toys and furniture were sprawled everywhere. Next, I got out the leaf blower and blew all of the debris and pollen off the porch. The walls even got a good scrubbing with some hot, soapy water.

I vacuumed the chair cushions and washed down the table and chairs. No more green pollen!! All of the outside shoes were placed on a little storage rack hidden in the corner. Now visitors don't have to trip over our shoes when they enter the screen door. We sorted through the toys, threw away all the junk, and put everything back in its proper place.

Now we can enjoy our back porch again! The seating area overlooks the garden and Koi pond. I love having my early morning quiet time out here. It's so peaceful to sit and listen to the gurgling sounds of the little waterfall in the pond. Sometimes the kids do their school work here, too.

Whew! It feels so good to have this area tidy once again! I think I'll be able to finish up my spring cleaning tomorrow. Are you tackling any projects around your home today?

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5 Minutes for Mom is hosting a big Mother's Day give-away! One of the prizes is an Apple iPod (which I would have no idea how to use). Check out the details here.


Monday, May 07, 2007
Weekend Review
Happy Monday!

I had such a fun time on Saturday! My good friend Mrs. O, (who is also a pastor's wife) invited me to attend her church's Mother ~ Daughter luncheon. Mr. C kept the three younger kids so that Bookworm and I could enjoy a special day together.

The theme for the luncheon was Cherish the Memories. The items on the communion table represent momentos of days gone by. The table centerpieces were simple and elegant. Mrs. O is a very talented lady and a gifted decorator! She had some great helpers, too. Many of the ladies displayed family photos in keeping with the theme.

Mrs. L, one of my best friends from my home church in Florida, was the guest speaker. She shared her testimony of what she's been through the past few years. Her husband (my husband's best friend) was the youth pastor at our home church. He was really on fire for the Lord! In the fall of 2003 at the age of 28, he was diagnosed with cancer. He went home to Heaven just 4 1/2 months later, leaving behind his loving wife and two sweet babies. Mrs. L knows first-hand what it's like to have your hopes and dreams for the future shattered in the blink of an eye. She encouraged all of us ladies to cherish each moment we have with our families and those we love. Needless to say, there wasn't a dry eye in the room when she was through speaking!

After the luncheon was over I had a chance to do some shopping in the area with Mrs. L. We enjoyed having a chance to visit since we only see each other a couple of times a year. After an hour and a half drive back home, Bookworm and I were two tired girls, but we felt very blessed to be able to spend the day with good Christian friends.

We had a first-time visitor in our services on Sunday, so you-know-who will be baking cookies this week. :-) It's always encouraging to meet new folks and have an opportunity to minister to them.

This week will be a busy one for me. Tonight we have our monthly ladies' fellowship at church, and I'll be spending the next few days preparing for our Mother's Day luncheon at church scheduled for Saturday. I still have two more areas that are in need of spring cleaning, and I hope to finish them up by Wednesday.

On the homeschool front, we only have two weeks of lessons left--yeah! We'll be doing some unit studies and review over the summer, but our official school year will end in just a few more days. The kids have already started the countdown.

Even though this is a very busy time of year, it's a good kind of busy. I have two of the world's greatest job titles: pastor's wife and homeschooling mom. I'm humbled by God's goodness to me, and I plan to cherish and treasure the moments God gives me.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

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Personalized Purse Picture
I've entered a few blog contests since I started blogging, but I never really expected to win anything. A couple of weeks ago I entered Jennifer's contest for a personalized purse picture. You can imagine how shocked I was when I found out that I had actually won.

I had a tough decision to make: which one of my four kiddos would be the recipient of a piece of custom artwork??? I knew that Mickey Mouse wouldn't be interested--no pretty stuff for him! The little girls share a room together, so it wouldn't be fair if one had her name on the wall and the other one didn't. Bookworm was the child who really needed some artwork on her walls. Since her room makeover a couple of months ago, we still haven't put anything up! I emailed Jennifer a picture of Bookworm's quilt to give her an idea of the room's color scheme. I had no idea what Jennifer would come up with, but I trusted her abilties. :-)

Just a few days later I received a carefully packed box in the mail. I couldn't wait to see what was inside. A sweet note from Jennifer was the first thing that caught my eye.

Underneath all that bubble wrap was Bookworm's personalized picture. We used one of those Command Hooks from 3M to hang it on her wall. Jennifer painted the canvas and then applied the purse using coordinating scrapbook paper. She added bows and a cute little button as accents.

Now, here's the part that you're not going to believe. Jennifer was able to perfectly coordinate her design with Bookworm's bedding. Are you ready to see the result?


Is that custom art or what?? It's a little hard to tell in this picture, but there are little flowers on the purse that match the flowers on quilt. The stripes matched perfectly, too! Jennifer did an unbelievable job. She is a very talented artist and has been painting some lovely pictures lately and posting them on her blog. Please take a moment to visit her and let her know what a fabulous job she did on Bookworm's purse picture.

Jennifer, thank you for sharing your talent with our family. Bookworm is thrilled to have something so wonderful on her wall. :-)

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Friday, May 04, 2007
Friday's Favorites
Kelli has invited everyone to participate in a weekly feature called "Show & Tell Friday" where bloggers share their special treasures. I have sporadically posted about some of my favorite things, and I'm so excited that Kelli came up with this great idea!

Today I'm sharing this pretty little teacup and saucer that I inherited from my maternal great-grandmother, Sadie. She passed away at age 90 when I was in the 6th grade. Even though I didn't know her very well, I do remember taking a few trips to visit her when I was growing up.

In my great-grandmother's younger days, she and my great-grandfather did a lot of traveling. My mom remembers receiving beautiful dolls from around the world from her grandparents. Sadie was a very dignified lady who enjoyed the finer things. After she passed away, my great-aunt handed a few of Sadie's teacups down to me.

I recently began researching this particular pattern and discovered that this set was made in Occupied Japan between 1946 and 1952. The rim is scalloped and trimmed in gold. The pastel flowers give the cup and saucer such a feminine look. Although this set has a bit of monetary value, I wouldn't sell it for anything. It is a link to part of the history of me, and it is one of my favorite things.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007
A proficient-in-training

Bookworm just completed her third year of piano lessons. I can't believe how the time is flying!

I think that Elizabeth Bennett would say that Bookworm plays "quite well." Mrs. D, her piano teacher, commented to me about the amount of practice Bookworm puts in each week as compared to her other 9 year old students, but I chalk it up as another blessing of homeschooling. Piano practice is a part of Bookworm's daily routine, just like arithmetic or language arts. Missing practice doesn't happen very often because Bookworm has made practice a habit. She actually loves to practice! (Especially if Mommy leaves her alone and doesn't critique her efforts.)

We never pressured Bookworm to take lessons. She has just always loved the piano and had a desire to learn. I'm so very glad that she has chosen to put her focus on playing an instrument that can be used to serve the Lord instead of putting all her effort into sports like I did when I was growing up. Looking back, I would much rather have developed a talent that I could use throughout my life to bring glory to God and bless others with.

Bookworm's spring recital was just a few nights ago, and the whole family enjoyed the performances given by all of the students. Bookworm played three selections: What A Friend -Converse, Horse Drawn Carriage -Faber, and You Are My All in All -Jerrigan.

I wanted to share some of the pictures from the recital, but, horror of horrors! I accidentally deleted them from the camera! I'll have to post them when my mom sends me copies of the ones she took. Until then, here's a look at the lovely roses Bookworm received after the recital. She can't wait to dry them and use them in a crafty project.