Riverbend Ramblings

~Riverbend Ramblings~
The days are long, but the years are short.
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Friday, August 31, 2007
White Chip Chocolate Cookies

For all of you cookie-lovers out there, here's my recipe for White Chip Chocolate Cookies. You can substitute any type of chip or add nuts as well. It's kind of fun to change a recipe up just a bit. :)

I always set out all of the ingredients that I'll need before I actually start putting the recipe together. Cleanup is much easier when everything is grouped together instead of spread out all over the kitchen.

White Chip Chocolate Cookies

3 C. all-purpose flour
1 C. white sugar
1 C. brown sugar, packed
1 C. (2 sticks) butter, softened
2/3 C. baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 C. white chips (I like Nestle's)

Beat butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla at low speed. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Slowly add the flour mixture to the mixing bowl. Stir in the chips. Place rounded spoonfuls of dough on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Sometimes I make a double batch and freeze a few dozen dough balls. We can always have fresh-baked cookies in a pinch.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!
50 years ago today...two became one.

These are pictures of the different cakes at the 50th anniversary party for Mr. C's parents. All of the cakes were just amazing! Mrs. Congdon, the "cake master", is talented beyond belief. I was too busy during the celebration to take many pictures, so you'll have to wait for more until I receive copies of the ones taken by our friends and family.

The party was a huge success, and we are so appreciative of the many folks who put so much time and effort into making it such a memorable event.

The church's gift to Mom and Dad was an Alaskan cruise. They are on a plane bound for Seattle as I type this, and they'll emabark on their cruise tomorrow morning. We are so excited for them!

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Thursday, August 23, 2007
I'm glad to report that everyone around our house is feeling much better. :) We took it easy in the classroom this week by starting our lessons later than usual each morning and relaxing in the afternoons. We still accomplished a lot, so I don't feel bad about us taking the next few days off. We've already completed four weeks of school!

Tomorrow I'll be spending the day packing for our quick trip to Florida. Mr. C prefers to drive at night (no potty stops to make or meals to purchase), so we'll be leaving after the Reformer's Unanimous meeting at our church tomorrow night. It usually takes us about 6 hours to make the drive at night if we're really moving along adhering to the speed limit.

Mr. C will be preaching on Sunday at our home church in Florida where his dad pastors. My in-laws are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this weekend! The church is hosting a huge anniversary party for them after the Sunday evening service. The kids are so excited to be heading "home" for a few days. They've been talking all week about going swimming in Mimi's pool, and they've been working on a special song that they want to sing during the service in honor of their grandparents. We're looking forward to a wonderful weekend. I'll share some pictures when we get back next week.

Today was my first trip into town this week. Bookworm had her piano lesson, and then we stopped by the library to pick up a few books. Bookworm has been living up to her nickname; she's read five books this week, each of which have at least 150 pages. I wonder where she gets it from. :) I grabbed a couple of books to read in the car on our trip so that I don't drive my husband crazy. I get a teensy bit nervous traveling on the interstate with all the big rigs and incapable drivers. I trust Mr. C's driving abitilies completely; it's all the nuts on the road that I'm afraid of.

Tonight I thought it would be nice to just relax a little bit before our busy weekend. I've been in the mood for a Jane Austen movie lately, so I checked out Sense and Sensibility at the library for me and Mr. C to watch tonight. I'm sure he's been dreading it looking forward to it all day. I made a little snack for us to munch on during the movie. Jane Austen and chocolate cookies--it doesn't get much better than this.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tamara at Training Hearts is hosting a "Pass the Button" giveaway. Entries will be accepted until this Friday. You can read all the details here.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Part of my early morning routine involves boiling a cup water in the microwave and making hot tea. Using a teapot would be much more charming, but I'm all for convenience. The little girls' room is right next to the kitchen, and if they heard a kettle whistling they would be out of their beds waaay to early.

One morning a couple of months ago I plopped my cup of water into the microwave and hit the beverage button. When I heard the "beep", I opened the microwave door and realized that the water was not hot. I assumed that I had set the timer by mistake, so I once again pushed the appropriate button and waited impatiently for the water to heat. Again, cold water... and a faint burning smell. Yep, my microwave bit the dust. Everything was working except the most important part: the element that actually emits the micro waves!

Did we have money in the budget to replace the microwave? Nope! It wasn't too hard to live without the microwave since my stove and oven work just fine. I did, however, miss the convenience of being able to reheat food quickly. I won't tell you how many times I took the wrapper off a bag of microwave popcorn and set the timer on the microwave and then had a DUH! moment and remembered the microwave was out of commission.

Well, the Lord must have had pity on me because He provided money for a new microwave. We were even blessed enough to find just the one I was wanting on sale. Mr. C installed it a few days ago, and we're thoroughly enjoying radiated food once again. This new little beauty has a lot of features the previous model didn't have, and I've also come to the conclusion that it has way to many buttons on it. I really like the programmable nite-lite and the "mute" mode. Now when I'm boiling my water in the early morning hours, I don't have to worry about waking up the kids with that dreadful "BEEP, BEEP, BEEEEEP!" Just one problem: if I don't hear it go off, I completely forget about it.

ETA: Thank you all for your prayers on behalf of the sick little angels. They are all improving. Unfortunately, they shared their sick germs with Mommy and Daddy. :(


Monday, August 20, 2007
Happy Monday!

I hope your week is off to a good start. I spent the weekend at home with Lil' Nut, Curly Girl, and Mickey Mouse nursing runny noses and sore throats. Although I was sad to miss our church services Sunday, I did enjoy some extra cuddle time with my coughing, sneezing little angels. I've been pumping them with herbal remedies and washing my hands every time I turn around. I'm praying that sickness in our house is short-lived as we have plans to travel later this week.

One of the blessings of modern technology is being able to listen to good preaching via the internet. On Sunday I listened to the services from our home church in Florida. Although it wasn't exactly the same as being in church, my heart was encouraged by the good gospel music and Bible preaching.

Speaking of sickness and computers, our computer has been infected by a horrible virus. Mr. C brought home the laptop from his office for me to use while he works on de-bugging the desktop. Hopefully it will be up and running again soon.

In closing I want to welcome a few new readers that have been commenting lately. My schedule has been pretty busy the last couple of weeks, but I'll do my best to get around to visiting all of you soon. Have a wonderful week!

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Saturday, August 18, 2007


I'll rejoice in the Lord for this beautiful day,
For the great blessings He has sent my way.
For feet to walk and eyes to see,
And the gift of God that set me free.

I'll rejoice in the Lord for ears to hear,
And in His precious Word that calms all fear.
He gives joy and peace to the troubled soul,
And through His promises we are made whole.

I'll rejoice in the Lord for supplying my needs,
I'm far more important that the birds He feeds,
I'll praise Him daily for His encompassing love,
For showers of blessing that come from above.

~ Hugh Lee Stevenson

Image here


Friday, August 17, 2007
Some people are so nice...

I was pleasantly surprised to discover this week that Mrs. U blessed me with the Nice Matters Award. Mrs. U's blog was one of the first ones I read when I started blogging. I've always enjoyed her recipes and homekeeping ideas, and I prayed for and rejoiced with her as her family's adoption dream became a reality. If you haven't visited Making A House A Home, head over there right now!

One of these days Mrs. U and I are going to get together in person since we don't live all that far apart. I can just imagine enjoying some good fellowship and lunch (perhaps at Cracker Barrel?) with her and cute little Elizabeth. Thanks, Mrs. U, for sharing some bloggity goodness with me.


Today for Kelli's Show and Tell I'm sharing a couple of paintings that are very special to me.

When I was 14 years old, I signed up to take a 3-day summer art class at a children's museum taught by Robert Butler, a Florida painter famous for wildlife and landscape art. You can see some of his original works and prints here and here.

My mom went out and purchased all of the supplies needed for the class, and I was so excited when the day arrived for the first session. My joy quickly turned to trepidation when I walked into the studio and saw a room full of adult students. I was the only student under the age of 35. They obviously had all painted before; I was a novice.

Each morning I really didn't want to go back to class, but I stuck with it. I struggled to keep up with the rest of the students, but Mr. Butler was very patient with me and continued to encourage me each day. When the three days were over, I had an almost complete painting. The only thing missing was an egret that I didn't have time to add. I was still pretty happy with the end result.

Mr. Butler's painting has the egret.

My painting is missing the egret.

As I said my goodbyes to Mr. Butler, my mom asked him if he would be willing to sell the painting he had done during the class. He said that he had never done that before, but he graciously agreed to do so for a very low price even though his originals go for top dollar. Mr. Butler wrote an encouraging note to me on the back of his original. He also sketched the egret on the back of my canvas for me to use as a guide when I added mine.

I never did finish the painting, although I'd still like to. I'm not a very artistic person, and soon after I did this painting I picked up athletics as my hobby instead.

Mom had both of the paintings mounted in matching frames. They've hung side by side in her home until recently. Now they're at my house, but I haven't hung them on the wall yet. I'm going to have the canvases cleaned first.

I would never consider selling Mr. Butler's work. These two have to stay together.

My painting on the left; Mr. Butler's painting on the right.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What happens when your little grocery unloader accidentally leaves a roast in the car in 100 degree heat and it's not discovered for several hours?

I guess all those coupons I used at the store made up for the money in the trashcan. I think that I need to start double-checking the trunk when my helpers are through emptying it. :)

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Joy at Joy in the Journey is hosting a weekly "Cherish Your Children" feature. Each Tuesday she's giving an idea for us to implement in our homes as we endeavor to cherish our children. You can find the first two challenges here and here.

Now, I don't get me wrong, I LOVE my children. However, I'm guilty of getting wrapped up in the daily grind and forgetting to savor the moments with these precious little blessings God has given me. Joy's challenges are helping me reflect on my role as a mommy and enjoy my children even more.

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Monday, August 13, 2007
Riverbend Academy

~Welcome to Riverbend Academy~

For those of you touring the Homeschool Open House, I'm so glad you've stopped by to visit!

Our Family
I'm Mrs. C, a pastor's wife and homeschooling mommy of four blessings. We are in our fourth year of homeschooling.

Bookworm is 9 years old and in the fourth grade. She loves horses, books, and writing her own "novels".
Mickey Mouse is 7 years old and in the second grade. He enjoys drawing, climbing trees, and playing ball with Daddy.
Curly Girl is 5 and has just started kindergarten. She spends most of her time playing with her dolls and snuggling with our kitten.
Lil' Nut is 3 years old. She tags along with her brother and sisters and wants to do whatever they're doing.

Why We Homeschool
There's an easy answer to this one! We believe that teaching our children at home is what God wants us to do. Our children grow best in the nest. :)

How We Homeschool
When we started homeschooling, my years of experience as a Christian school teacher led me to choose A Beka for phonics and math in the early grades. As my children grow older, I plan on adapting our curriculum to what works best for each child. I'm becoming more comfortable branching out and trying new things. I guess I'm now officially an "eclectic homeschooler". I'm also converting to schooling year around with several breaks throughout the year.

This Year's Curriculum
math~ A Beka

language arts~ A Beka

vocabulary~ Wordly Wise 3000

art~ How Great Thou Art

history~ state history study Exploring Georgia

science~ Apologia's Zoology I: Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day with living books and nature notebooks

Before Five in a Row

Five in a Row

Our Daily Schedule
I'm a scheduler by nature. With four children, it works for me! Managers of Their Homes has been a wonderful tool to help me accomplish a lot in our day without a lot of stress. Homeschooling With A Meek and Quiet Spirit has also been another tremendous encouragement to me.

I start my day at 6 a.m. Before the children get up I have my time with the Lord, get myself ready for the day, and do a load of laundry and a few chores.

Here's what our daily schedule looks like:
7:30-8:30 kids wake/breakfast/chores
8:30-9:00 circle time/Bible/pledges/hymns
9:00-11:30 individual tutoring time with Mom/seatwork on core subjects
11:45-12:30 lunch
12:30-1:30 history/science/literature
1:30-2:00 outside play
2:00-3:00 quiet time
3:00-3:30 snack/chapter book read-aloud time with Mom
3:30-4:00 choretime
4:00-5:00 freeplay/outside play
5:00-6:00 supper hour
6:00-8:30 evening routine/family time/church activities

While our schedule may seem daunting, it really isn't. The schedule is simply a tool used to help us accomplish more without all the stress. Some days we have to throw the schedule out the window for one reason or another, but we try to stick to it for at least the school portion of the day.

Our Classroom

We are truly blessed to have a real one-room schoolhouse in our backyard. You can see the before and after pictures of the recent remodel here. Our schoolhouse is small, but it's just the right size for everyone to be able to work and still be close to Mom. We don't have all of the distractions that we were bombarded with in the house. The kids can work at their desks, solve problems on the white board, or sprawl out on the floor with a favorite book. There's an art center for all of their art supplies and a science center for displaying their creepy-crawlies. I've got plenty of storage space and room to display visuals. When the weather is nice we enjoy having class outdoors, taking nature walks, and exploring in the woods. We also take quite a few field trips together as a family.

I hope you've enjoyed your tour of Riverbend Academy. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about our homeschool. I'll leave you with a verse that I've claimed for this year.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. ~Galatians 6:9 KJV


Friday, August 10, 2007
Our Schoolhouse
When we were house hunting a couple of years ago, finding a home with extra space for a homeschool room was my top priority. The home we ended up purchasing didn't have any extra living space that we could designate for a classroom, but the storage shed in the backyard definitely had some potential.

Fast forward two years. This summer we finally got around to cleaning out the shed and transforming into a functional learning center. We still had quite a few unpacked boxes of "stuff" from our move that I had to sort through. Mr. C found a new home for all of his tools and spent several weeks working on the building in his spare time. Here are some "before" pictures.

This is what it looks like now.

After lots of scrubbing and organizing, ceiling repairs, and installing new carpet and an air conditioner (Praise the Lord!), we are now enjoying our wonderful classroom.

In the next few days I'll be giving a tour of our little one room schoolhouse and sharing more about how we homeschool.

Thanks to Kelli for hosting Show and Tell.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Go Figure
While preparing for our school year I recently revamped our MOTH schedule. Quiet Time has always been scheduled during a two-hour block each afternoon. However, since Lil' Nut decided a couple of months ago that she didn't require a nap anymore, I shortened Quiet Time to just one hour. That gives everyone just enough time to rest and relax for a little while before our read-aloud time and chores.

Lil' Nut has some new-found freedom. She can play quietly on the floor or look at books, but she's not allowed to come out of her room or be noisy. She was so excited to not have to spend QT in her bed anymore, and I imagined that she would happily play the hour away hosting a tea party for her dolls. I've been popping in to check on her each afternoon, and this is what I've been finding.

Now that she doesn't have to stay in her bed, she's actually wants to--and she's falling asleep! Today when she woke up she said, "I was feeling a little bit lazy, and my bed wanted me to rest on it."

I've learned something important, though. If you don't wake said three year old up at the end of Quiet Time, she will be wired up and ready to play at bedtime.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Happy Monday! After Sunday's refreshing services, I'm ready for another week. Like most of the rest of the country we've had some very dry, very hot weather the last couple of weeks. I'm praying for rain. Everything is starting to get that parched look, including my skin. ;)

I really enjoyed the weekend after our first week of school. Saturday morning I spent some time relaxing on the back porch with a good book. The morning slipped away before I knew it! I took the little girls with me to the grocery store while Mr. C and the older kids went on bus visitation. I didn't know they were having a huge kids' event at the store, including free hot dogs, drinks, snow cones, and games. I think it was a back-to-school party. They even had a treasure hunt inside the store. We put on cute little aprons and went around to stations where the girls decorated their own cookies and sampled everything from watermelon to ice cream. The girls had a great time. I wish I would have had my camera with me. Needless to say, my shopping trip took about 2 hours longer than I expected.

I rushed home from the store to prepare for company. We had invited a family from church over for supper. They were supposed to arrive mid-afternoon to help with some of the renovations in the schoolhouse. Well, they were right on time. They were ringing the doorbell about ten minutes after I walked in the door. At least I had some help bringing in the groceries. :) We had a great time fellowshipping with our friends in spite of a couple of mishaps; our gas grill ran out of gas. That would happen on one of the rare occasions I buy steaks.

Mr. C and his wonderful helper from Saturday will be laying carpet in the schoolhouse this evening while I'm off at our monthly ladies' fellowship at church. Hopefully I'll have some schoolhouse pictures to share with you in the next couple of days.

Image from AllPosters


Friday, August 03, 2007
Friday's Favorites
I tried something new this week that I had never done before in my life. Yes, it was earth-shattering. I'm sharing it with you today for Kelli's Show and Tell.

What was this new, amazing activity??? Cross-stitch. Yep, that's it. I've always joked that I can't sew a button on a shirt, although I do know how to thread a needle. That's been pretty close to the truth. I've never done any type of handwork before.

I thought that embroidery would be a relaxing hobby, something that I could do in little snippets of time. Not too long ago I signed up to receive a beginner's cross stitch kit in the mail. It was absolutely free with no strings attached. The kit sat in my nightstand drawer for several weeks before I was brave enough to open it up and read the instructions. I'm a visual learner, so while the instructions were helpful, I would have sailed right along if I had a living, breathing person showing me step by step what to do. I finally got the hang of it, and several evenings later I completed my first little project: a potted cyclamen.
The perfectionist in me had so much fun creating all those neat little rows. I'm a little embarrased to say that it probably took me about 6 hours start to finish, but maybe that wasn't so bad for my first attempt. ;)

I'm hooked, no doubt about it! Next up: a bookmark.


Thursday, August 02, 2007
I have been so busy the last few days that I haven't even had time to blog about how our first week of school has been going. The kids have adjusted well to being back in the school mode. Mom, on the other hand, is exhausted! I know that with prayer and a few more days of acclimating to our new schedule I'll be just fine. I'm definitely looking forward to the weekend! :)

Today Bookworm and Mickey Mouse spent some time designing covers for their zoology notebooks. They'll be using these notebooks to record what they're learning about in science class.

We also conducted our first zoology experiment. All of the kids participated, right down to the three year old. I've been amazed at how she's been so interested in everything the older kids have been studying. Our focus for the experiment was air pressure and how it relates to a bird's ability to fly. For our experiment, we used a cup full of water and two straws. One of the straws was cut so that it was 1/2 inch above the rim of the cup. The other straw was held at an angle and used to blow air over the immersed straw. As a result of the lower air pressure being blown over the straw, water came up through the straw. The kids had so much fun sputtering water all over the place, and they now have a better understanding of one of the principles of flight.

This afternoon I headed to town for Bookworm's first lesson with her new piano teacher. Mr. C and I have been praying for quite a while that the Lord would provide for a smooth transition when the time came to switch teachers. Today's meeting with the new teacher was such an answer to those prayers! She and Bookworm hit it off right away, and I can tell that Bookworm is going to thrive under her instruction. The Lord teaches me to trust Him completely in so many ways. My nature is to fret and worry about something like this change, but there is great peace that comes from leaving all the details to Him.

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