Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Letter 2009

Dear Friends and Family,

As I look back on 2009, I rejoice is seeing how faithful God has been to us. John’s carpentry job petered out early in the year. He tried selling security systems, but has returned to handiwork and lawncare. There has not been much call for either of those recently, but we hope both will pick up in the coming year. In the meantime, God has provided for all of our needs and many of our wants.

One fun adventure we had in the Spring was a trip to our Nation’s Capitol. We stayed with John’s brother Bob and his wife Sandi. We went during what we hoped would be the height of the Cherry Blossom Festival, but the weather was cold and rainy. Instead of walking around to see the monuments, we drove by them and went to various Smithsonian Museums instead. Everyone’s favorite was The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport. It is part of the Air and Space Museum and has many planes in a large hangar. The boys espescially enjoyed seeing the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and the Space Shuttle.

In August, we were invited to a wedding in Roanoke, VA. While John was game to try driving up and back in the same day, I was less enthusiastic. I asked various cyber-friends if anyone had some floor space in the area and we ended up staying with a dear Christian family about 30 minutes south of Roanoke. We made new friends and had a blast at the wedding. Afterwards, we drove home on the Blue Ridge Parkway, passing the place where John asked me to marry him many years ago.

Another highlight of our year was also courtesy of Bob and Sandi. They used some of their timeshare points to provide us with a suite to stay in at Myrtle Beach. We went in early December and had a wonderful time. Even though, once again, the weather was cold and rainy, we found plenty of fun things to do including swimming in the indoor pool, floating in the heated lazy river, and playing on the PS3 in the Game Room.

The children continue to grow at alarming rates. Sarah is 14 and taller than her mother! She is 5’10 ½” and I think she is hoping to reach 6 feet before she is done. Trey will be 13 next month and is anxious to pass mom in height. He, like all the boys, loves all things Lego and all things Star Wars. Many hours are devoted to building Star Wars scenes out of Legos in our house! Bobby just turned 11 and his favorite interests are Batman and bicycles. William, soon to be 9, loves playing computer games and goes through withdrawal if he doesn’t get a daily fix. Jeffrey turned 7 in August and he and Sarah had a great pool party at Beth May’s house. Rebekah will be 3 in February. Words cannot convey the delight she brings to our lives.

I continue to enjoy homeschooling the children. I also was able to worship God more through music this year when I auditioned for and made the new Fountain Inn Chorale. Our Christmas Concert included works by Shubert, Byrd, and Lauridsen. I am looking forward to rehearsals resuming in the Spring. I also sang once with the Palmetto Hills Presbyterian Church choir when they were in need of an additional soprano and hope to do so again.

Our prayers for you in the coming year are that God would reveal Himself to you in new and awesome ways and that He would draw you closer to Himself.

Merry Christmas!

John, Marty, Sarah, Trey, Bobby, William, Jeffrey, and Rebekah Moir

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Our field trip to Cowpen's National Battlefield

Tuesday, October 6, 2009, we went on a field trip. We left around 8:30am and drove to Gastonia, NC. There, we went to Mary Jo's Cloth store. What a great place! Fabric everywhere. Much, much, much more than any fabric store around here and at reasonable prices. I bought material for two jumpers - one is a deep purple and the other is Lorraine Blue.

Next we drove to the Discovery Place Museum in Charlotte. Many of the exhibits were closed for renovations, but that just meant we weren't so overwhelmed and the crowds had stayed home. The top floor, where we started, had many experiments for the children to try. Levers, pulleys, wedges, optical illusions - we were entertained there for quite a while. Plus, they had a toddler play area in one corner so Rebekah and I could enjoy some special one-on-one play time.

The floor below had their special exhibit - Pirates and Sunken Treasure. We learned about recovering treasure from below the ocean and how strong hurricanes are, plus saw many artifacts. And of course, the boys loved the pirate-y stuff.

We had intended to go from there to Cowpen's, but it was still early, so we went to King's Mountain National Military Park. We watched a movie about the battle that happen there (239 years, less one day from when we were there), and then walked the Battle Field Trail, with wayside exhibits teaching more about the battle. It was interesting to learn that the battle took place from about 3:00pm to 4:00pm. We did it from 4:00 to 5:00, but if you account for daylight savings time (not used then), we were there about the same time.

From there, we drove to Cowpen's National Battlefield. The Overmountain Victory Trail Volunteers had a program telling, through narration and reenacting, of the journey patriots from Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina took to get to King's Mountain (including an overnight stay at Cowpen's) and of the battle. They even enlisted the children there to help portray tired Patriots. They were supposed to gallop in on pretend horses and then, at the right moment, lie down and pretend to go to sleep. Of course my boys collapsed in exhaustion with exaggerated falls. As Trey noted, "That's what happens when actors marry!" LOL

It was a wonderful day full of opportunities for learning and great memories.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Our annual trip to Six Flags over GA

For the past few years, the children have earned free tickets to Six Flags through their reading program. One of the MOMYS (Mothers of Many Young Siblings) organizes a group for homeschoolers. I also get a free ticket as their teacher. :-)

This year, we went on July 20. It was a wonderful day! The weather was perfect - sunny but not too hot. Best of all, Trey did not throw up! The previous trips, he has always gotten very sick before we even get out of GA.

Sarah was too old to earn a free ticket this year and she doesn't like amusement parks anyway. (What's up with that?) She asked if she could stay with Aunt Beth, which was fine with all of us. The night before we went, we realized that bringing Rebekah would only strain our day more. She also went to Beth's and they all had a wonderful day according to all reports.

We got to Six Flags at around eleven o-clock after a brief pitstop at the GA Welcome Center. We paid extra and parked in premium parking which was well worth it. I handed each boy a bagel and a bottle of water and we headed for the park. I had paid for a ticket for Li'L John on-line and printed it at Beth's when we dropped the girl's off, so we were able to go right to the entrance gate. I was surprised when security told me I wasn't allowed to wear a bandana in the park, but when I explained it was for religious reasons, they allowed me to keep it on. I think if it had been plain white like I usually wear, it wold have been fine. They said the problem was gangs wear certain printed bandanas so they have banned all printed bandanas.

The first thing we did was split up to go to our favorite roller coasters. I took Bob, William, and Jeffrey to Dahlonga Mine Train. It is a moderately thrilling coaster which was just enough for us. Okay, a bit much for William. He had been sad up to that point that he wasn't tall enough for the Superman:Ultimate Flight. After the Mine train, he wasn't sure he would ever go on a roller coaster again. He was okay once we got off, but he was screaming the whole way around.

John and Trey went on Goliath. The Six Flag site describes it as "It’s big, it’s mean, and it wants to take you for a ride. Meet Goliath—the gigantic steel coaster the other rides call 'Sir.' " Ask them about it sometime. They love to describe it in detail.

We met up near the carousel. Jeffrey rode it 5 times. There are other rides near there that the children enjoy. Bob rode the hot air balloon ride 3 times (at least) and Trey and William drove the Hanson cars. Some of the boys also rode the Rockin' Tugboat. John and I sat and rested in the rocking chairs around the carousel.

Next,we headed for the bumper cars. The line was quick, so the boys went on it again while I took someone (Jeffrey?)to the restroom. We briefly considered going on Splash Water Falls, as it had just opened, but the line was already very long, so we headed out of the park for lunch.

There was a nice, covered area near the entrance where they sell tickets on the more crowded days. This day the area was mostly deserted. I left John there with most of the boys and walked to the car with Trey to get lunch. I got new water bottles for everyone and Coke for John and me. I was able to fit all that in my backpack along with the bologna. Then I just had to carry the sandwich rolls and pretzels which all fit in one ziploc bag. Once back at our "picnic area" John made the sandwiches and we had a nice relaxing lunch.

When we got back into the park, we headed for the Gotham area. Trey and Bob rode the Gotham City Crime Wave (swings ride) and then we all looked at the Bat Mobile. After that, the boys wanted to go to the go-cart ride. They were so disappointed that it cost extra. :-(

We rested for a while in the Thomas the Tank Engine area while the boys played on the playground. Then they decided if the couldn't do go-carts, they wanted to drive something. I took Bob to the Hanson Cars while John took the other boys back to the bumper cars. We agreed to meet up at the Log Flume. We should have meet at the carousel again, as there is so much there that the boys enjoy.

Our last ride was the Log Flume. Jeffrey didn't want to go but both John and I did so he had no choice. William was nervous at first, but he decided to enjoy it and did.

That was our last ride for the day. We didn't have much traffic on the way home and got to Beth's around 8:00. John dropped us off and and went to get some McDonald's for dinner. He got gas while out and returned the Suburban to his parents after dropping off dinner.

All in all, a wonderful day. And Trey never got sick. :-D (By bedtime, the other three boys felt yucky, but no one did get sick.)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crockpot recipes

Okay, some friends on Facebook want my crockpot recipes, so here I am to type them out. At least this way I will still have them if my hard copy disappears. The bean recipe is posted further down - just do a search.

Macaroni and Cheese
8 oz. dry macaroni, cooked
2 cans (13 oz. each) evaporated milk
3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I sometimes use Sargentos Mexican 4 cheese blend)
3 TBSP melted butter (I just put room temp. butter in the crockpot on low when I start to cook the macaroni) 1/4 minced onion
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Combine all ingredients in crockpot and mix thoroughly. Cover and cook on Low for 3-4 hours.

Pot Roast
A hunk of beef - I buy whatever is on sale really cheap
Morton's Nature's Seasons Seasonings Blend (or your favorite seasoning blend)
Dried Minced Onion
1 cup prepared beef broth

Liberally coat beef with seasoning blend and onion on all sides. Put it in crockpot. If desired, add veggies (carrots, potatoes, whatever) and pour in beef broth. Cook on low all day.

Crockpot Stuffing

First thing I do is make Herb Bread.
Place in the bread maker in the order recommended:
1 1/8 cups water
1 egg
2 Tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried parsley
1/8 tsp. celery seed
1/8 tsp. sage
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup oats
2 1/2 cups bread flour
2 1/2 tsp. yeast
The center always falls on the loaf for me. I'm not sure why, but since I am using it for stuffing, I don't care.

Once the loaf has cooled, I cube it and toast it on low heat for a few hours in the oven to dry it out. The stuffing recipe calls for 12 cups dry bread cubes. I believe I usually add some regular bread to make up that amount.

For stuffing:
1 cup butter
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. sage
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. thyme
2 eggs, beaten
4 cups chicken broth
12 cups dry bread cubes

Saute celery and onions in butter until softened. Mix with spices, eggs, and broth until well blended. Add bread and stir to blend. Cook in crockpot on high for 45 minutes; reduce to low and cook for 6 hours.

"Baked" Potatoes

Wash potatoes and dry thoroughly (otherwise they will get rusty from the foil). Prick with fork. Wrap them in foil. Fill Crock-Pot with 6 to 12 potatoes. Cover. Cook on Low 8 to 10 hours (High: 2 1/2 to 4 hours).

French Dip
Hunk of beef, with fat trimmed
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 beef bouillon cube
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. garlic powder

Put beef in crockpot. In a medium bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients. Pour over beef then add enough water to almost cover meat. Cover and cook on low 10-12 hours, or until beef is very tender. Remove meat from broth and fork shred. Put meat on sandwich rolls and serve with broth for dipping.

Smothered Cube Steak
Cube Steaks (It's a thin steak usually tenderized by poking full of holes. Often used for minute steaks)
Beef Gravy (see below)

Pour gravy over steaks and cook on low 8-10 hours.

Beef Gravy*
1/4 cup butter
1 onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups beef bouillon

Melt butter in saute pan. Cook onions in butter until translucent. Stir in flour. Add bouillon and bring to boil. Stir and boil for one minute.

* I double this recipe to use with Cube Steak recipe.

Tropical Chicken
4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 8 oz. cans pineapple chucks
6 Tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated ginger

Place first three ingredients in crockpot. Combine last three and pour over chicken. Cook on low 8-10 hours. Serve over rice, if desired.

Garlic Brown Sugar Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup vinegar
1/4 cup soda - Sprite, 7-up, whatever
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and pepper

Place chicken in crockpot. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook on low 8-10 hours. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta, if desired.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Our Field trip to Washington DC

On April 4th, we left for our trip to Washington DC and area. We got a later start than hoped for, but that's to be expected, right? We were glad to have the DVD's to help pass the trip, although our portable DVD player gets tired and stops working after a while. We stopped at a rest stop for lunch and were asked if we were part of a church that required us to wear red and yellow. LOL I explained that was just to help keep track of the children.

We arrived and Uncle Bob and Aunt Sandi's house around 6:30pm and quickly got settled. Sarah and Rebekah slept in Katelynn's old room. The boys slept in the basement on couches, a futon, and a mat. John and I each got a couch in the living room. That night for dinner we had Papa John's Pizza. After dinner, the children stayed up watching the first part of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars" on Uncle Bob's projection screen.

The next morning, we were up and out early and drove to Maryland to attend Bishop Cummins Reformed Episcopal Church with the Crums. It was a lovely Palm Sunday service. Unfortunately, Trey and Jeffrey didn't feel very well. Even Rebekah was feeling less than great, probably in part due to lack of sleep. After the service, Jeffrey threw up on the front steps of the church. *blush* Trey was considerate enough to wait until we got to the Crums' house. Jeffrey felt better after throwing up but Trey was sick until Monday morning. He was a real trooper though - he sat at their outside picnic table with an empty ice cream bucket. The rest of us had a nice soup and salad lunch, and then visited for a few hours before we drove back to Uncle Bob's house. After a quick dinner of sandwiches, the children watched the rest of Clone Wars.

The next morning, Trey was feeling better, so we drove into DC. It was raining on and off, so we didn't get to see the monuments up close like I had hoped. Perhaps next time. Instead, I took the children to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. It was very crowded (a rainy day during Cherry Blossom Festival) and overwhelming. The lines were way too long for the things I wanted to see (the Lincoln exhibit and The Star Spangled Banner), but we did see the Ruby Slippers and go through an exhibit on home construction and one on Edison.

Instead of the picnic on The National Mall I had planned, we went back to Uncle Bob's house for lunch. On our way to DC in the morning, we had stopped at Einstein Bros. Bagels and so we had bagels for lunch. Yummy!

After lunch, we drove to the newer Air and Space Museum called The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. It is near Dulles Airport and is the nicest of the Smithsonian Museums in my opinion. One thing that makes it particularly nice is lots of chairs for tired mamas. It is a huge museum, but with lots of fun stuff to see. The boys especially liked seeing the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the fastest jet in the world. Seeing a Space Shuttle was cool too. Trey still preferred the Patriot's Point Museum in Charlotte, SC though, as they let you touch the planes there.

Back to Uncle Bob's house for dinner. I had made Beef Stew before we left home and froze it. John heated it up and served it to us, Bob and Sandi, and their houseguest, Natalia. While it was heating, Natalia was very sweet and played piano with Rebekah. She further endeared herself to me by having seconds on the stew! After dinner, the grown-ups watched Dancing with the Stars. Tivo is neat!

The next day was Zoo day. First, we drove to Tyson's Corner Center and went to the Lego Store. For the boys, this was the highlight of the trip. They each got a Lego set,mostly with their own money. They were extremely disappointed that we didn't let them open them until the morning after we got home. After a quick lunch at McDonalds, John drove us to the National Zoo. On the way, we drove through Chevy Chase and saw lots of cool, old apartment buildings. By the time we got there, Rebekah was asleep in her car seat. John elected to stay with her while I took the other children through the Zoo. We loved it! Their favorite animals were Sarah - the pandas, Trey - the diamondback rattlesnake (near which he found $10), Bobby - the armadillo, Jeffrey - the tiger, and William - the red pandas.

While we were in the Zoo, John found a really cool park with a winding road through it called Beach Drive. It was refreshing to drive through the park before hitting the traffic on the Beltway. When we got home, I spent time getting packed and organized for our trip home. For dinner that night, Bob treated us to Five Guys Burgers. Mmmmm... Then the boys watched Spiderman while the grown-ups fell asleep watching the result show for Dancing with the Stars and girl's basketball. The boys were pratically the last ones asleep with the movie ending at 11:15!

The next day, we had a long trip home. I don't know about anyone else, but I was sure glad to sleep in my own bed that night!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Return of the Daughters DVD

I had been wanting to watch this for a while. I had read so many good things about it. What a blessing that a friend from the Patriarch's Wives Yahoo Group offered to send her copy around to anyone interested in seeing it.

John and I watched it over two nights with Sarah. We all enjoyed it. Sarah is renewed in her desire to live a life in service to the Lord. She still would like to design modest clothes, but sees more how she can do that here at home and hopefully someday, as a cottage industry to help her husband as she raises her own family.

Sarah also asked if we could read and discuss the book Before You Meet Prince Charming a chapter at a time with her. We have already done that this week for the first two chapters. We hope to do a chapter a week from now on.

In God's perfect timing, I found out that the curriculum Far Above Rubies was on sale. I was able to order the full curriculum on CD. Sarah will start that when she finishes this school year. The only other thing she will need is math. Of course, she will still sit in on our family history and science unit studies.

Also, I was able to get the Bible study Raising Maidens of Virtue. Sarah and I will start that after we finish Before You Meet Prince Charming. For the boys, I got Little Bear's Outdoor Adventure Guide for the All American Boy.

I guess this post isn't as much about the DVD as about the journey God is taking us on that started with us watching "Return of the Daughters". If you would like to read more about the DVD, check out this blog post I found:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What we are doing in school these days

For Bible, we are reading Matthew. I hope to finish by mid-February and then skip to I Corinthians.

We are continuing to do Considering God's Creation as our unit study. This week we are studying rocks including minerals, crystals, and precious stones. In addition to the study guide, we have books and some videos about rocks. jeffrey seems very intrigued and has taken to searching for rocks in the yard.

We are also trying to get an overview of American History before we hopefully go to Washington DC this spring. I have an Abeka book I picked up at a garage sale called Our American Heritage. It gives brief (3-5 page) biographies of famous people in American History, starting with Columbus. Yesterday we studied Miles Standish and today we will learn about Squanto. We also have some animated videos to go along - Animated Hero Classics and some Jean Fritz books.

This in addition to our reading, writing, and arithmetic keep us just busy enough. :-)