Monday, December 22, 2014

Chorizo and Goat Cheese Quiche

I made this on Saturday and Sam said it was the best quiche he has ever had, and not just because he is not normally a fan of quiche. :)

Chorizo and Goat Cheese Quiche

I used ground mild italian sausage, no oil, and regular milk.  It was delicious.  I was hoping to have it for lunches this week but there isn't any left.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Photo Challenge Day #20

Tree Topper - This tree topper was made for me by a student 3 years ago.  I love it!  It sits on top of my tree at school.

Simple Sesame Noodles

I made this recipe last week and everyone liked it.  I stir-fried udon noodles and added in chicken, poured the sauce over everything in the pan, then served in bowls with chopsticks.  Delicious!

Pioneer Woman's Simple Sesame Noodles

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Photo Challenge - Day #17

Christmas Presents - Here they are unwrapped.  We did manage to wrap the kids' gifts and stocking stuffers tonight, so that feels like an accomplishment.


I didn't talk to one person yesterday who mentioned the school shooting in Pakistan.  Is it because it feels "commonplace"?  Is it because it happened in Pakistan?  Is it because talking about it normalizes it?  Lessens the horror?  Even my twitter feed was pretty quiet.

I read the news stories in the afternoon and felt sick.  This world seems so very scary.  If children in school are not safe, who is?  I don't have any profound thoughts, but know that my prayers are with the families and the rescued children.  Does Pakistan have the resources to meet the emotional needs of the children who survived?  

My heart is hurting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why Are Manger Scenes So Weird?

We acknowledge our brokenness, and God responds with a kiss on our sweaty faces and goo-covered foreheads. Reminds us that even though we make mistakes and bad choices, we ourselves are never a mistake or a bad choice. Instead, we are always a chosen miracle. And when we feel totally broken, that’s when we’re the most beloved. Always. Each of us. Just as we are.
Like the dirty shepherds who were invited to see for themselves, or the rough fishermen who were called to be followers and friends, or the young couple who found themselves parents of a child without respectable explanation for its parentage, we are all part of an ongoing and endless process of redemption. 

Here's the article.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Photo Challenge - Day #15

Favorite Holiday Songs - I really like them all.  They are all I listen to on the radio from Thanksgiving until Christmas.  My favorite songs on the radio are Sleigh Ride, Let It Snow, and It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.  My favorite Christmas carol is O Holy Night, with O Come, O Come Immanuel following close behind.

10 Days Until Christmas (written on Sunday)

This has truly been the fastest December that I can remember, perhaps they will continue to get faster as I get older and older, and if so, yikes!  Even though it seems to be coming quickly, it has been a more relaxed Christmas preparation time for us.  I have everything in Google Calendar, I know everything will get done by Christmas Day, and so I'm not worrying about it.  Today's task is to wrap all of the gifts.  Speaking of which, I organized all the presents, and all three of the children's gifts, plus their stocking things fit in a large Amazon box.  I didn't spend any differently this year, but none of them had anything very exciting on their lists, and obviously they didn't have anything large.  I got the teacher gifts ready yesterday and wrapped presents for my students with Sam's help, so I should be able to get it all done this afternoon.

Tonight Amelia, my grandmother and I are attending a Carol Sing-along at a church in Whitinsville.  I love church Christmas programs, especially ones where you get to sing also.  They always help me focus on God and remember what we are celebrating.  We always read "The Jesus Storybook Bible" as one part of our family readings.  The purpose of the book is to show God's plan from the beginning of time, as they call it, his "secret rescue plan".  With the birth of Jesus, the secret rescue plan enters its final years, after thousands of years of preparation.

Amelia and I went to the see The Nutcracker at Walnut Hill School in Natick.  This is my third year going.  A former student is in it and it has become a nice tradition.  This was Amelia's first time seeing a ballet and she enjoyed it.

In school we have been feverishly working on a Christmas gift for their parents.  The other 3rd grade teacher does the same project, but works on it each Friday starting in September.  I decided to do it all in two weeks, which has been exciting, and I'm sure the students will be relieved when it is over. :)  We're almost done, just finishing the assembly this week.  I'm thankful to get back to a somewhat normal schedule this week.

Last week, we went on a field trip to Blue Hill Weather Observatory.  It is the oldest working weather observatory in the US.  It's a very old building (1885) and the staff (3 men) are very dedicated.  They (ETA: not the current three men, of course) have recorded the weather every single day since it opened in 1885, amazing.  We definitely enjoyed our visit, even standing on the roof with the weather instruments in the freezing cold, with a snow squall.

Today is a bye week for hockey which feels luxurious.  Yesterday Lucy had a basketball game which they lost.  I grocery shopped yesterday, instead of today, which almost makes all this extra time today feel luxurious.  It just feels like a good day...

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Photo Challenge Day #14

Christmas Tree - Toby made this in 1st grade and every year we hang it up as part of our Christmas decorations.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Photo Challenge Day #12

A Beautiful Sight - Tonight we created a gingerbread village.  The village itself did not turn out beautiful, but we had a beautiful time as a family, lots of laughter, mixed with some 12 year old angst and a 5 year old's obsession with rule following (which meant she had to make her house look just like the box).

They were supposed to look like this:
We got this:

A Wake-Up Call From a Stranger


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Photo Challenge Day #11

Green - I had Toby take a picture of something green.  This is what he found.

Raising Children

 “Now a word to Christian parents, remember this: no matter how hard you try to bring your children to God; no matter how faithful you may be in the nurture of your children, the choice ultimately must be your child’s. And remember this well: although we are not perfect, your Lord is. If we are obedient to his commands, faithfully teaching our children about him, hope remains for us and for our children. In God’s providence, our children can turn to him, even on their death-bed, because, because we have not neglected to teach them the truth.” - Norman Carson

Monday, December 08, 2014

Photo Challenge Day #8

Ornament - This ornament was given to me by a parent.  It's a beautiful bee, which helps me remember our exciting bee unit last year, but also reminds me of the excitement of starting my new program/class last year, where we can spend a quarter delving deep into learning about bees.

Head Scarf

Every week in Children's Church when it is play time, Amelia gets this pink thin blanket and wraps it around her head expertly and then heads off to play.  She would have fit right in at the Muslim school.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Photo Challenge Day #7

Bright - Today we celebrated M's first birthday, bright candle, bright future.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Photo Challenge Day #6

Shopping - This was my final Christmas shopping purchase!


I've read two books recently.  I actually read each of these in one night and in the bathtub. :)

The Mourning Hours - This book deals with a possible murder by their son/brother and how their family deals with it.  Would you support your child no matter what or would you feel swayed by public opinion?

Reconstructing Amelia - Her daughter dies.  At first she thinks it is suicide, then a text message tells her otherwise.  Delving into her daughter's social media life turns up answers.  This is a book for 2014, how is social media playing into our teenagers' lives?

I also watched Mom's Night Out.  I had no idea it was a faith-based movie.  I kept being shocked by all of the references to God.  Sam only made it about 20 minutes in.  I watched the whole thing, but it wasn't good.  I looked it up afterward and discovered that it was faith-based, yes, I'm not the brightest sometimes. :)

Friday, December 05, 2014

Photo Challenge #5

The Temperature Today

Photo Challenge #4


Each morning my class starts the day with a song.  Normally we do patriotic songs and songs that go along with our yearly school theme, but in December we sing Christmas carols.


Christmas Decorating Day

Sunday was Christmas Decorating Day for us, one of my favorite days of the year.  It was earlier than we normally do it, but waiting until Dec. 6 or 7 seemed very late.

Setting up the Nativity

Writing wishes for our wish ball ornaments - This is year five.  It's fun at this point to look back at our wishes from other years.

 This was Amelia's year to put the star on.

 Happy Birthday to Jesus cake with sparkling cider and cocoa

Thursday, December 04, 2014


 The night before Thanksgiving, I bought various frozen foods for dinner.  Amelia came downstairs and was completely thrilled with this tv dinner.  Her first words were, "I didn't know we had this great tray!"  I explained it came this way and she thought it was the best meal she's ever had.  Great.

She's been asking us to go in the attic and find my 30 year old Care Bear for almost a year now.  Our attic is a mess and we didn't know where it was.  When Sam was getting down the Christmas things, he found the box with my stuffed animals.  Amelia was very excited, although she doesn't think Bedtime Bear is quite as soft as he should be.

Toby dressed Amelia up in his hockey gear.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Photo Challenge Day #3


I had a lovely evening with Jenny tonight, shopping and dinner.  We've known each other for about 32 years and "best" friends for 25 of them!

First Winning Game


Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Photo Challenge Day #2

Favorite Holiday Movie

Movies aren't really my thing.  When I was younger, I used to like "White Christmas" but I actually think it's quite boring now, not that I've watched it in years.  I also used to love the 1961 Babes in Toyland and I've passed that love onto Toby only, and only because of the battle scene at the end.

I just looked through the Top 50 Holiday Movies online and none of them are doing it for me.  Number one was "It's a Wonderful Life" and I've never even seen it.  Looks like I'm going to fail the photo challenge on Day #2.

Let's go with the old grinch.  I still enjoy that one.  How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) Poster


Amelia:  Ice skates are normally symmetrical so when I dropped some purple paint on one skate I made sure to put it on the other skate also.

Me (stopping what I was doing and actually listening): What did you say?

Amelia repeats her statement and shows me the picture.

Me:  Where did you learn about symmetry?

Amelia (incredulous):  Pre-school!  And Kindergarten, of course!

Monday, December 01, 2014

Photo Challenge

I had pinned this a long time ago and then put it in Google calendar to look at the last week of November.  I'm going to give it a try.  December Photo Day Challenge

Day 1:  Your View Today

Here's what I see every day that I am at work.  (I had the children all turn around so their faces wouldn't be showing.)


We had a fabulous Thanksgiving and weekend, lots of time with family.
On Wednesday, we had a half day of school and I finished making my Thanksgiving dishes:  Pistachio-Goat Cheese Ball, Coconut Macaroons, Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars, and Sausage-Apple-Leek Stuffing.

Sam got out of school 2 hours early due to the snow!  His first snow day/early release since high school!

We headed to my parents on Thursday for Thanksgiving, had a quiet day at home on Friday with an afternoon/evening hockey game at the DCU center.  Saturday, Sam worked in Boston and we went to Lucy's first basketball game of the season, which they won!  Today was our official tree decorating day, along with Toby's first winning hockey game!  Exciting times!  It's possible his team won because Grammy and Grandpa Bowler were at the game, so they might have to come every Sunday...

Now it's back to work on Monday.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Cooking

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!  And once again I get the fun of making food for Thanksgiving.  This year I am making eight dishes.  One appetizer, three sides, and four desserts.

I felt motivated to begin on Tuesday night instead of doing it all on Wednesday afternoon and evening.  I was able to make four of the dishes which is great.  Wednesday should be a breeze now.

I made:

Cranberry Sauce (with orange zest and juice)
Avalanche Cookies 
Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake

We have a half day on Wednesday, along with a snow storm, so I'll start cooking the rest when I make it home.  Let the fun begin!

Friday, November 21, 2014

How to Make Roasted Vegetables for a New Friend with a Cold

This was in the latest Reader's Digest: Dining with a Friend but it used the title above. I loved it.  I since have tried to get the books from the library but since they don't have them, now they are on my Amazon wishlist and I've added the blog to Feedly.

I loved that the roasted vegetables "recipe" was at the end because while I was reading I was thinking that it sounded like the perfect winter meal.  What I liked best about the article though were the lines about friendship.

"I was homesick...for the friend who I liked to sit with on winter evenings, drinking wine and talking about things that really happened and thoughts that we really have - a rare conversation, generally.  How many times do you talk about what's really going on with someone who will tell you what's really going on with her?"

The answer for me is seldom.  I love to listen to others, but I'm less inclined to want to share my true thoughts, the things I worry about, dream of, and am constantly planning for.  I don't like being vulnerable and I don't like explaining back stories, and I'm never quite sure why anyone would be interested anyway.  When I do have these rare two-way conversations, I enjoy them and appreciate them, but I'm normally content not opening up that far.

My mother is the main person who I share things with, because I know she cares, and she listens.  Perhaps unfortunately for her, she gets to hear the most.  She's the closest to knowing my thoughts, but even with her I can tend to phrase things carefully.  I'm probably odd.  I often think I am.  Sharing my feelings and things that really matter to me does not come easily.  I like to keep them close.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reader's Digest Humor

The office Christmas party is a great place to catch up with people you haven't seen for twenty minutes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


I've recently read this book through twice.  Reformed: What it Means, Why it Matters  It's short, 64 pages.

 I teach at a school that was begun by the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) and continues to be supported by that denomination.  I come from a Baptist upbringing.  I attended the school as a child without a problem and have taught there for five years without running into any glaring differences.  This is partly because I've never had a firm knowledge of the differences between the two denominations.  It is all much clearer now after reading this book.  For the past few years, I have done web searches, talked to a few people, trying to find an easy way to have the differences laid out.  This book very clearly lays out the Reformed faith.  Reading it has led to some good discussions between Sam and I, along with various friends.  I feel much more confident in what I believe, which leans towards the reformed side, while still having some question areas.  I'm never going to be one who feels the need to have every bit of theology ironed out.  I believe there are core beliefs that each Christian needs to have, but I also believe that much is not iron-clad, simply because we truly don't know.

One thing that I really appreciate about the Reformed faith is the belief in the sovereignty of God.  Here's a quote I especially like:  "Reformed teaching points us away from our own efforts because those cannot make us right with God...Reformed teaching points us to what God does and what God promises to do for us, in us, and through us that we cannot do for or by ourselves...This deeply felt confidence and assurance is, perhaps, the most precious contribution of the Reformed tradition to the Christian church as a whole."  This of course brings up the predestination vs. free will debate.  I find it a relief to come down on the predestination side.  "God is in control.  God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves...Because God is in control over everything I can be sure I'm right with him - not because I'm strong enough or good enough."  I feel like I have spent many years feeling like it was me, me, me.  Even with all of the "It is by faith you are saved" faith has always felt very works-based to me.  I remember years ago talking to Sam and he said something along the lines of "But that's because you think you need to earn your salvation."  I had never thought it through that way before.  I don't know if this came from the particular church I attended growing up, from doctrine I have heard, or just the personal expectations I put on myself, but I'm trying at this point to rest on the fact that God chose me.

I'm far from an expert and don't have a desire to be a theological expert, but I am thankful for the opportunity to explore my faith and theology a bit more at this stage in my life.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pioneer Woman Cookbook

This past week we had the Scholastic book fair at our school.  As teachers, we go through and create a wishlist basket of books we would like for our classroom.  Then as parents come in to purchase they can also purchase a book from our basket if they want to.  This year I put the The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays in my basket, simply because I wanted it. :)  A mom bought it for me which is very exciting.  I spent some time looking through it this past weekend.  I'm definitely going to make the maple bacon scones.  I don't own many cookbooks because I get all of my recipes online, but this one is well-laid out, has some great recipes for each holiday, and I'm looking forward to using it!

ETA:  I made the maple-bacon scones on Monday night.  They were fabulous.  Everyone liked them!  And they tasted like maple and bacon unlike the cookies I made a few weeks ago.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Happy Birthday, Granny!

Yesterday we celebrated my grandmother's 85th birthday.  Fabulous party at my aunt's house.  I enjoyed getting together with family that we haven't seen in some time.  It's wonderful to have a grandmother who we can spend time with and who shows her love to us in so many ways.  We love you, Granny!

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Last weekend I made two desserts/snacks that a teacher at school brought in previously.  They are both super easy and yummy.  They certainly aren't fancy and use things like Ritz crackers, so if you feel like that is beneath you, these aren't for you... :)

1.  Need:  Ritz crackers, bag of unwrapped mini rolos.  Do:  Place Ritz crackers on a cookie sheet.  Put one rolo on top.  Place in 350 degree oven for 3-4 minutes.  When you take them out, put another Ritz cracker on top and push down the melting rolo.  Place in refrigerator to harden.  Enjoy.

The main reason I like these is because when we first moved to China, finding food we all liked was an issue.  In China they sold packages of Ritz crackers with chocolate in the middle.  I lived on them for at least a month.  These are just like those except with a little bit of caramel also.  Using the rolo makes the whole thing uniform instead of trying to spread melted chocolate.

2.  No Bake Avalanche Cookies  - Rice Krispies, white chocolate chips, peanut butter, and mini-marshmallows.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

My Favorite Verses

Lamentations 3:21-23New International Version (NIV)

21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


When we were at Disney this summer, Toby had falafel for the first time and loved it. On Sunday, Sam and I took him to Sahara, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Worcester.  Toby ate two orders of falafel and Sam and I enjoyed lamb kabob sandwiches.  A co-worker has highly recommended Amsterdam Falafel in Somerville, so we will have to try that out at some point.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pops Concert

Saturday night was the WCS Pops Concert.  The concert was great, fun songs and sing-a-longs.  Unfortunately I couldn't see my children playing at all due to the new set up/hall they used, so the pictures are scarce.