Friday, October 11, 2013

No matter how it tried...

I recently found a poem. I'm in love with this poem. My kids are working on memorizing it.

All the water in the world
No matter how it tried
Could never sink the smallest ship
Unless it got inside.

And all the evil in the world
and every kind of sin
Can never harm a human soul
Unless we let it in.

-Author Unknown

I think this is a powerful message, and especially powerful for children. The world is crazy right now. There are so many things that are out of our control. There is so much sin, hatred, and sadness plaguing the human race. And, if we don't know better, we could feel like it's enough to drown us where we stand.

But we can be untouchable! We can create homes - and even better, HEARTS - where sin isn't permitted. Where we can feel a refuge from the storm, and a safe place to rest our heads regardless of what is happening outside our doors. Heavenly Father has given us the power to do this! It's just up to us to keep the water out of the boat. And, when that water gets in, because that water DOES get in, we can use the Atonement as the bailing bucket.

What a blessing.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Favorite fall recipes

I'm not a great summer recipe gal. I mean, I manage to keep my family fed during the summer months, but it's just not my forte. And frankly, I get sick of it. By the end of the August I'm done with salads and quick-cook meals. I'm ready for hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meals. And I'm ready for SOUP. Oh, I love soup. I cook it in the middle of the summer on a regular basis because I love it that much. Been hiking on a sweaty mountain? Let me treat you to a nice, steaming bowl of tortilla soup. Yeah. That's right.

I have lots of fall and winter recipes that I really love - things like a meal in a pumpkin, white chicken chili, shepherd's pie. But there isn't anything I love more than a bowl of simple Butternut Squash Soup. I found a recipe I loved years ago, but haven't been able to find it again. This resulted in me being forced to come up with one on my own. Thankfully I remembered the general gist of the recipe. Because, while I may enjoy doctoring up existing recipes and making them my own, I'm not so great at generating actual recipes from thin air.

Here is my favorite fall soup. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup

6 cups diced butternut squash (I used to actually gut a butternut squash - and I still will every now and then - but Target sells frozen butternut squash, so I use two packages of that. Because I enjoy my life outside of the kitchen.)
1 apple - your choice of type
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 large baking potato, or 2 small, chopped with the skins still on.
4 cups chicken broth
Generous splash of apple cider if you're in the mood.

Put it all in a crockpot on low for the day. When everything is cooked through and tender use and immersion blender (or transfer to a regular blender) and blend until smooth. Then add 1/2 C - 2/3 C heavy cream. Salt to taste.

Goes great with a salad and crusty bread. Or just stick your face in the pot with a straw and go to town.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From my email...

This is the email exchange we had this morning. I copied it directly from my email, so you'll have to read it from the bottom up.

Yeah. It's been that kind of morning.









There they go milking the system. Perhaps they have already figured out that jail rocks...

Chase


On Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:59 AM, Anna Rawlins <> wrote:
Right? I kept thinking that. In my head I was all, "DON'T MENTION THE UNLIMITED CABLE AND FREE LAW DEGREES!!!!"
 
Also, you know you've left them in solitary for too long when the sad silence becomes enthusiastic play sounds with all the kids in there. Dang it!

From: Chase Rawlins < >
To: Anna Rawlins <>
Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 9:48 AM
Subject: Re: It just got real

Awesome. I'm so glad you are my wife. I love you.

Also, don't let them find out what prison life is really like. I hear it's pretty nice...

Chase


On Wed, Sep 25, 2013 at 9:44 AM, Anna Rawlins <> wrote:
After yet another morning of the kids pitching a fit when I ask them to get out their books and join me at the table, I sent them to bed. Then we had a lovely talk wherein I presented them with two choices: Obedience, with it's freedom and ability to make choices; or disobedience. I told them that in real life when grown-ups choose to disobey the law of the land they are put in jail where they are forced to do hard work and they don't get to make choices. But grown-ups who obey the law get to choose what they do with their life. So I told them that since they had chosen disobedience I would have to treat them like prisoners who disobey the law - after all, they are big kids now, so I might as well treat them like grown-ups. I gave them the list of things they would be cleaning, and informed them there would be no play time and no Webelos for Cameron tonight.
 
Then I told them that because mommies are sometimes nice, they give kids a second chance (but only a second chance...not lots of lots of chances at being nasty). I told them we could start over, and they could think about it. They can choose obedience to the law of the land (in mommy's land, the law is doing schoolwork and chores cheerfully, after which they can enjoy freedom and choices), or they can choose disobedience to the law of the land, with it's resulting imprisonment (chores all day, no free-time and no activities/privileges).
 
They're thinking about it. I'll let you know what they choose.
 
p.s. I really hope they choose disobedience one of these days. I've got quite a list of work to be done, and I think it would be a lovely taste of real life.

Monday, August 12, 2013

For reals this time

Remember that post from last year? Sorry about that. Do you forgive me yet?

If you're not my Facebook friend (hey, let's fix that!), you may have missed the big announcement yesterday. We are having another baby on January 31st!! I swore up and down we weren't going to do an announcement about this. But last week Chase decided it was time to tell the kids. They are so excited they can't contain themselves. Sophia specifically couldn't contain herself at church yesterday. She came home and confessed that she told Sister Hunter, Sister Bales and all the kids in her class. But that's okay! Because they don't know me.

Yeah, Sophia. Right. I KNOW EVERYONE.

Anyway! Baby number five is definitely on the way. We were thrilled when we found out in late-May, but by early-June I was feeling the repercussions. Morning sickness took the wind out of my sails big time. All of those big plans for schooling through the summer? GONE. All those fun weekend trips around the state that we planned for some killer family time? GONE. My ability to clean a house and cook a meal in the same week? GONE. I'm still having a tricky time with my gag reflex, but I'm feeling much better these days. At almost 15 weeks I'm also losing the ability to suck in my gut. Not that I was great at it before, but it's becoming more noticeable by the day. Gone are my 25 year-old muscles with their sweet elasticity. My future plastic surgeon (yes I just said that - this temple needs some remodeling) can go ahead and plan that trip to the Caribbean. But whatever! Totally worth it to have another squishy, cuddly baby to carry around on my hip. And I happen to think we make extraordinarily adorable babies. So bring on the stretch marks!

Other than baby, there isn't much to catch up on. The kids finished out the school year successfully. They still think homeschooling is fantastic, so we plan to continue this fall.

Cameron and Miles enjoyed their first summer on swim team and had a great time at their first (and only) meet. Swimming has definitely become our family sport. Sophia is looking forward to joining the winter team with the boys this fall. She's worked hard and can now swim across the pool all by herself. The winter team will be perfect for helping her maintain and develop her skills.

Haley made big strides by finally potty training 10 days before her third birthday. And oh yeah, she turned three! She continues to be a challenge and a treat simultaneously. She can enchant and exasperate like no one's business! We sure do love that girl of ours.

Chase has stayed busy at work. His company was just sold last week, and he's currently working through the transition. He's also gearing up for another year of teaching early morning seminary (a scripture study class for high school age kids). He loves doing it, but it will be interesting to see how we all fare once the baby arrives!

Next week we head out of town for cousin Taylor's wedding in Iowa. We can't wait to see our Kilgore family. I've had lots of time to reflect on family this summer and have determined that I was born into, and have married into, the greatest families that have ever existed. I'm surrounded on all sides by generous, loving, amazing people! I'm incredibly blessed to be a Kilgore-Rawlins. I love this family of mine.

Monday, May 06, 2013

The Life and Times...

The last couple of months have been busy! The good busy, fortunately.
So far so good with homeschooling. Cameron is finally getting caught up with math. When we pulled him out we decided to go back and reinforce things he had already covered because it was a really hard subject for him. He's doing really well now and we're all thrilled.
 
Sophia spends most days with her nose in a book now that she's an official reader. She's working ahead of grade level at the moment (she would have started K in the fall) so I'm busy trying to figure out what curriculum to teach her. Miles and Cameron will be doing the Trail Guide to Learning unit study curriculum, but it's only adaptable down to second grade, so I may write my own curriculum to accompany it at the first grade level. We'll see about that...
 
If you study mummies, you should probably take turns wrapping each other up in toilet paper. But feel free to skip the part where you remove the brains and vital organs...
 
Miles' brain continues to amaze me. One of his math assignments instructed him to draw a hat on the second penguin from the right. This is what he came up with. If you can't see, the penguin is wearing a sombrero - with tassels - a waist scarf and saber, and the penguin next to him is clearly impressed, saying "he is cool". And we have stuff like this every day.
 
At the end of March we hit the symphony with our homeschooling friends. Our kids take amazing pictures.
 
When Miles does especially well on xtramath.org he likes me to take a picture to send to daddy.
 
Sometimes when we're bored we take a field trip.
 
In March we headed north for spring break. Our Iowa cousins came for spring break a few years back and we've been dying to return the favor. Chase and I amused ourselves on the journey by taking LOADS of pictures of ourselves. It got kind of ridiculous.


 

Don't you just love the people?
 
We took a day and hit up the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. I will have to come back and upload the rest of the pictures because my phone is being lame and won't let me right now. Boo! At least I have this lovely one of Owen and Gaby and the giant Archimedes Screw. (Incidentally, Cameron learned about Archimedes in his Life of Fred math books and thought it was only mildly cool to see the Screw. I thought it was amazing. C'est la vie.)
 
They had snow! That's the spring break dream for our southern kids.

 

We also celebrated Easter and had a blast at Nana and Grandpa's annual Easter Egg Hunt.

Nana goes all out with the activities. She must be exhausted at the end of these events, but she loves to organize it. She's a pretty fun Nana and her grandkids are wild about her.

I just really wanted to include this picture.
Carry on.
 
 

And I'm still teaching piano five days a week. I have wonderful students, so it's a complete joy.

 

 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Still alive!

Okay, now we've been through a couple weeks of this homeschool business and I'm still convinced it is going to be great. We've had awesome days, we've had lots of "do overs" especially after bad attitudes, and we've had more snuggles on the couch than in the six months leading up to starting!

But it's not perfect. We're just figuring things out day by day. The thing I'm struggling with the most is to let go of MY expectations. I'm trying harder to rely on the Spirit to help me in this effort. I firmly believe that these are Heavenly Father's children and He won't abandon me. He knows Cameron, Miles, Sophia and Haley better than I do, and He wants them to learn, grow, and flourish. I need to do my part (preparation, striving for more patience, teaching the kids to diligently work towards goals), but I can't cut Him out of the process. So I'm working on that:)

Cameron is really enjoying homeschool. I'm learning to lay off a little - I think that helps! I've discovered that a lot of the books I was trying to push on him were way over his reading level, which explains his reticence. Instead of ditching the materials we're doing lots of reading aloud, and we found him some new reading material on his level. Everyone is happier now that that fight is over!

Miles is Miles. He's busy and happy all the time. He loves doing his school work. He also seems to have my love of reading, and would sit and read all the live long day. Amelia Bedelia and Frog and Toad are his books of choice at the moment. He's rocking math and history as well. I've been so surprised at how well he internalizes what we're learning. If you're interested to learn about nomads, early farmers, and the fertile crescent, you should ask Miles. Be prepared for him to show you EXACTLY how a shaduf works, though.

Sophia can't stand being left out of anything! As a result, I think she's going to be schooled right along with Miles. They're only 21 months apart, so I'm not really surprised. She's definitely not on the same level with Miles' reading, but she's incredibly proficient with math. Her handwriting is the only thing lagging behind, so we're just not worrying about it much. She can write as much or as little as she wants at this point. Her favorite thing to do is the handwriting app on our kindle fire.

Haley is amazing. She has finally reached the perfect height for reaching onto the counters, which means nothing is safe. She also knows how to push a chair or stepstool over to the counter/bookshelf/filing cabinet and get whatever she can't normally reach. So I really, truly mean it when I say nothing is safe. Sigh. She's a serious handfull! Sometimes she feels very in the way, and I question why I started homeschooling while she's still so young. But then I remember this article I read when I began seriously considering homeschool. I'm so glad for this reminder. The best thing that should come out of this grand adventure should be deep, rich relationships within our family.

So there you have it. I'm still alive, the kids are still (barely, at times) alive. We're all still getting our feet under us, but having a good time doing it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

We're homeschooling! Wowza!

Last Wednesday was our first official day of homeschooling. It was horrible, if I'm being honest. I was anxious all day long! My biggest fear about homeschooling is that I will leave out something critical and my children will be poorly trained for the world ahead of them. Because of all my anxiety I was frantically rushing through each subject and assignment so when I hit a roadblock (Cameron not wanting to read the books I had painstakingly picked out for him)  the day just kind of went south. I kept thinking, "WHAT HAVE I DONE?!?!?!" But we plugged on and finished our work for the day.

Thursday was better. Not perfect, but better. I could see the ways that I needed to lighten up. No teacher is able to stick perfectly to their lesson plan every day, and you have to be able to roll with the punches. So I tried to dial down the crazy and I felt much better at the end of the day. And wouldn't you know it? With me being less of a stress case my kids were less of a stress case! And I started to see how maybe this is all going to work out.

So here we are, five days in and I'm feeling like this is all going to be okay. Here are a few pictures from our first days!

Cam is working in a really great watercolor book.
 
Volcano!
 
Geography puzzle
 
We spend a lot of time reading. Sometimes in weird places.
 
Miles coloring a picture of a prehistoric farmer using a shaduf.
 
Haley building a dinosaur at the museum.
 
Cameron being forced to read classical literature in addition to his favorite stuff.
Not quite as happy about it.