|Self Portrait by Virginia Knowles in January 2012|
Self Portrait by Virginia Knowles in 1979
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For many of us, self image is tied up in what we do and who our friends are. It could be related to what church we attend, or how many children we have, or how we educate them. That has certainly been true for me. It has taken me a long time to shake that off and realize that while those things certainly affect my life and say something about what I value, they do not define me. And the expectations should not crush me when they no longer apply to where I am in life.
I think that especially rings true this week, since I just enrolled two more children (girls in 1st and 5th grade) in the neighborhood public school where their 3rd grade brother started in November. (Here they are on their first day of public school with our next door neighbor in the middle.) Now I don't have any elementary age kids at home, and the four in public school outnumber the two (boys in middle school and high school) still at home. Since I have written (books, articles in international magazines, my own e-magazine, blogs) and spoken (conferences and support groups) so much about home schooling for the past 14 years, I gained a reputation as a home school guru. I know many of my friends and cyber acquaintances will not understand our choices and even question my sanity and my morality. This will not be the first time. Oh well! My husband and I are the ones responsible for making decisions about what is best for our family at each season of life. Right now this is what we can do with what we have. I think this will prove to be a good move, at least for the rest of this school year. Then we will reevaluate for next year. (See Do It Well, But Keep It Humble.) Anyway, this week has been a flurry of filling out papers, taking kids for medical checkups, picking up immunization records, and buying school uniforms (solid red, navy blue or dark green t-shirts or polo shirts, and khaki or navy bottoms, no denim, no basketball shorts).
With some of my newfound extra time, one of my goals in the next few months is to get the house in order and keep it that way consistently. (No small task with 10 people living here!) This morning I had to rewrite our family chore chart to accommodate the change in schedule. I think I made it a bit more simple to follow. Instead of switching chores every day (for variety), I have assigned chores to be done every day (for simplicity) -- at least for the five younger kids. Let's just see if this helps people remember what to do -- and then do it!
Also, I want to be a little more intentional in the kitchen, focusing on nutrition and variety. I think we're all getting tired of the same old same old! Sometimes we have to mix it up a bit, taking inspiration wherever we find it: friends, restaurants, blogs, on-line recipe sites... This week I tried baked chicken thighs covered with bread crumbs seasoned with rotisserie chicken seasoning and garlic pepper.
Last Saturday, our church organized several Dinner with Friends parties. Once you sign up, you are assigned to a group of eight. The point is to get to know other folks whom you might not know as well. My husband and I had met everyone before, but had only had regular interactions with the host couple. We had a great time chatting, especially when we pulled out some conversation starter questions that the dinner organizers had provided to each group. Oh the stories these peeps can tell!
|Our hosts Cathy and Bill, |
business people who lived in the Virgin Islands for a long time
and who have a real heart for serving the poor
(see her collection bear for the hungry here)
|Mike and Vicki, |
seminary professor and Christian school teacher
|Candice and Ed,|
on staff for nearly three decades with Campus Crusade (now known as CRU),
most of it in Poland and England
Each couple contributed to the meal. One made delicious beef stroganoff (I'm going to try this out and blog about it later), another brought a lovely gourmet salad (complete with hearts of palm), and another brought grapes, cheese & crackers, and scrumptious hot roll appetizers with cheese, ham and onions baked in. I am making myself hungry just typing this. We brought the dessert: lemon raspberry cheesecake and blueberry cheesecake. Yes, I could have made it all from scratch with fresh cream cheese to prove myself as a capable homemaker, since I haven't yet attained the status of Kitchen Guru. Instead, I chose to go semi-homemade, starting with a boxed mix. I'd enjoyed some lemon raspberry cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory (thanks to a gift card from my sister-in-law) and decided to try to replicate it. I mixed a little lemon juice with enough powdered sugar to sweeten it, then added three tablespoons to the cheesecake mix that my daughter Naomi prepared. Since this would increase the amount of liquid, we substituted a can of evaporated milk for some of the regular milk to make it thicker. I'm not sure that helped any since it was still a bit softer than I would have liked. In hindsight, I realized I could have just reduced the amount of milk. All told, I made two lemon cheescakes and two plain cheescakes, leaving one of each at home for the kids. At serving time, we set out a tub of whipped topping, a bowl of blueberry pie filling, and a bowl of raspberry sauce (a bag of frozen berries, thawed and smushed to a thick sauce with a little sugar added). Everyone enjoyed it, so score one for the Kitchen Wannabee!
I am thankful for the Dinner with Friends. Good fellowship, good fun, good food! Have you ever done anything like this? Why not try it?
I haven't written any other blog posts this week, but here are three links and short excerpts for Friday Favorites. You won't mind that I'm posting these on a Thursday, will you? Just a little early!
Last Week I Was Wide-Eyed Innocence
by Tonia at www.studyinbrown.com
by Karen Campbell at www.ThatMom.com
You may also wish to read a related post from last summer:
On Mommy Blogging: Image, Identity, Authenticity and Freedom
You can find more food ideas here: Recipe Box
Click here to see Ann Kroeker's Food on Fridays
I'd love to see your comments! Please leave one!