Saturday, December 31, 2011

Low Carb Eating


Make-Ahead Meatballs

In September we went back to Low Carb Eating around here. After my dad had a horrible reaction to Statin drugs, his doctor told him he needed to go on an Atkin's type diet. Ryan does much better on the diet as well. I'm not sure of my dad's cholesterol numbers but Ryan's off his Diabetes meds and totally controlling his blood sugar with diet. We've done okay over the holidays and even hosted 2 gatherings, I supplied food that they could eat and had everyone else bring the goodies and other sides.

Note: the kids and I are not on this diet but if we eat cereal and bread at breakfast, lunch, and snacks then we don't need carbs at dinner to balance. I sometimes make pasta or potatoes if the main dish needs it but I've stopped making rice since the kids really don't like it and my mom and I don't need the extra carbs either.

Dinners now look like a high protein main dish, a huge salad, and a vegetable (if I'm good, 2 if I'm really on the ball). Ryan and dad take care of their own breakfast and lunches- lots of eggs, sausage, cheese, and fish (for my folks). Dad makes jalapeno omelets that Jonah and Tovah really like and I found a baked omelet roll recipe that I want to try using jalapenos instead of ham. I'm finding Pinterest to be very helpful when searching for something new, I just need to make a low-carb board so I don't have to go back and weed through the pasta recipes.

Some of our favorite dinners (I'll link to the recipe if I have one):

  • Make-Ahead Meatballs- I'll type out the recipe at the end of this post
  • Upside Down Pizza
  • Corned Beef- I can't find the link or recipe, but basically after boiling it you glaze it with Honey Mustard and brown sugar and broil until bubbly. My family went from Corned Beef haters to lovers! I boil it with the cabbage and carrots but make oven fries out of the potatoes and the kids are happy.
  • Creamy Chicken Picasso - I also did a variation on this with my homemade enchilada sauce
  • Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork - I got an enamelled dutch oven for Christmas just to make this recipe
  • Cream of ??? Soup- 12 years ago when we first did Atkins I found that Alfredo Sauce in a jar has relatively few carbs and when thinned with 2-3c of milk makes a wonderful creamy soup. I add whateer I have on hand: cooked chicken, cooked bacon, broccoli, sauteed mushrooms, sauteed onions and peppers (red and yellow are my favorite), cauliflower, spinach. Ryan made a variation in the crockpot for a work potluck that he really liked- italian sausage and spinach. Once I had some leftover baked potatoes and I fried them up and let the kids add them to their own bowls- actually that night I just made basic soup and let everyone build their own bowls, it was the best option because no one threw away mushrooms they didn't want.
  • Roast Beef or Pork
  • Roast Chicken- I do 2 at a time in my Pampered Chef baker with lemon pepper, garlic, and chili powder

During the fall we grilled everything- chops, steaks, veggies; but even though our BBQ is under cover it's just too cold to stand out there most nights. We've cut back on Taco Night because my dad and Ryan only get Taco Salad and neither is excited about it. I'm going to try adding some dried beans in and see what happens, mainly because we are getting a little tired of meat all the time.

Make-Ahead Meatballs
10# hamburger
6 eggs
1 onion, finely minced so the kids don't see it
2t salt
2t black pepper
2t garlic powder

Mix well. Shape into 1" balls (I use a med. Pampered Chef scoop). Bake at 400-deg. for about 15 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle. Makes 160 meatballs. Freeze in meal size batches.

For our party I just transferred them into my crockpot once they were baked. I served BBQ sauce and Swedish Meatball Gravy (I had packets from Ikea) and cranberry sauce on the side. I also served Chicken, Sausage, & Peppers- I doubled the recipe and as each step was finished I added it to the crockpot.

Has our grocery budget gone up? I'm not sure that it has, Yes, I'm buying a lot more meat but I'm not buying a lot of snacks or baked goods or convenience foods and those are what always seemed to drive our bill up at Costco. Since I've been on break we've taken the time to go to Winco and Cash & Carry when we shop. During school Ryan usually does our shopping and I don't know if he'll continue.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Our Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas! The biggest news is Ryan finished his RN in August! We aren't counting how many years its taken him, as he started his prerequisites when he got out of the Navy in 1992... Now we wait for an RN position to open up in the NICU.

Tovah presented Ryan with his pin at the pinning ceremony at Lower Columbia College in August. It was a long summer, he had clinicals 4 days a week and worked the other 3. Thankfully he did his hospital work at our local hospital. It was rather funny, the other students were astounded by how many of the staff and patients he knew, I think he got tired of explaining how he knew each person but when you live most of your life in the same small community, you have connections, people who don't live in small towns just don't get it.

Nathan came home from Afghanistan March 28. One of his first visits was with Grandma Hendrickson. Sadly, she passed away June 20. We are thankful that she only had one bad day and was able to die at home in her blue chair, just as Ryan had promised her.

He reenlisted in August and leaves for Scout school in March, then he will be stationed in Colorado. I guess we'll be making a road trip in the next year or two.

Ryan and I celebrated our 23rd Anniversary with a weekend in Seattle. We toured Safeco Field (we're sitting in the visting dugout), Smith Tower, had lunch at Ivar's on the waterfront, did Starbucks and Pike Place Market, and finished off with Mary Poppins at the Paramount and a night at the Hyatt.

The end of the first day of school

Rush and Tovah started public school this fall. Rush is in 11th grade and enjoying band and drama and wanting to get his driver's license. Tovah's in 3rd grade and has to be reminded by her teacher that she isn't there to socialize (umm, what about socialization?) She's excited about all aspects of school and is excelling academically. They both are looking forward to baseball season in March and Rush is talking about running Cross Country next fall.

Arin and Isaac are in a school at home program that will carry their transcripts. Arin is in 9th and enjoying taking a Biology class with other students, they are looking forward to going to Alaska in May. He's started wrestling for the high school team and has a great attitude, he's discovered that he loves to run so I foresee Track and Cross Country in the future.

Isaac is in 8th grade and takes all his classes at home right now. He's on the Chess team and enjoys going to tournaments. Grandma and Grandpa are going to take him to Spokane in April for the Middle School/ High School State Chess Tournament.

Jonah's in 6th grade and is also homeschooled. He'll also be playing baseball this spring.

The 4 boys are still active in Scouts and next summer Rush and Arin will be working on their Eagle projects. Rush, Arin, and Isaac will all be eligible for High Adventure. Also Jonah will go to Camp Hahobas for a second year. It'll be a busy summer...

In June I'll be completing my AA from Centralia College and I got my acceptance letter from The Evergreen State College this week. I will be doing the Spanish program next year but not sure what else I'll focus on. Ryan is starting his BA in Medical Informatics in January as well.

Life is busy but I don't think I would want it any other way. A busy life means we are healthy and that we have the freedom and opportunity to pursue our interests.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Eagle


Coming home the other afternoon I noticed this eagle in the tree across the street. I ran inside to get my camera and called the kids to come downstairs to see.

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Monday, December 12, 2011

Shepherds (the Bible kind, NOT real ones)


Today is my first real day of Christmas Break (the last 3 days of last week didn't count, but more on that later, maybe). Tovah stayed home from school with an awful cough but no big deal. At 8:30 the phone rang and our friends at Black Sheep Creamery needed some shepherds for the class of first graders that were coming out to  the farm this morning. Could one of the boys be there at 9:30, in costume? I figured Arin would want to do it, he loves to dress up. As soon as Jonah was reassured that he would be a Bible Shepherd and not have to mess with the sheep as a real shepherd he was in, Isaac negotiated it as school for the day, and Arin wasn't really given a choice. Problem: it's 25-degrees out there and all our shepherd costumes are for little guys (like, we could have outfitted most of the first graders from our costume box) but nothing for big boys. Polypropolene took care of the cold and grandma and grandpa have bathrobes so we were off.

The first grade class from the Christian School arrived all dressed up ready to learn about being a shepherd and meet some sheep (and eat a cool Shepherd's lunch of bread, cheese, and fruit).

The teacher read them a couple of Christmas stories in the barn while they are distracted by the hay, the sheep, the smells, etc.

Who's this in our house?

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid... And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Luke 2:8,9,15,16

These shepherds look like they got woken up and put on their bathrobes to see what was the matter.

Have you ever met a sheep? Jonah spends a lot of time down there and he knows what they are like and avoids spending too much time around them. They are utterly stupid and too stubborn for their own good. There is nothing cute and cuddly about them and they usually run the other way when they hear their Shepherd's voice. Hmmm, cuts a little too close to home for some of us....

Note: these are all straight out of my camera and I can see the need for some Photoshop editing but I wanted to get this post up, it's been too long since I blogged. Also we've been home 2 hours and I'm still cold with all my layers on and a big cup of hot chocolate inside me.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Completed the Bible in 90 Days!


I finished the Bible in 90 Days 2 days early on October 6. I'm really glad I did it and I may even do it again next summer, but right now I'm really glad its done.

The pace was really hectic especially on top of school and life. I felt like I was racing through at 70 miles an hour and if I blinked I missed a whole book (hey, there went Haggai...). I think I'd like to spend some time in Hebrews now and I really want to finish reading Francis Chan's Crazy Love.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Living in a Changed America- Thoughts on 9-11


 I remember that morning- we woke up to the news of the 2nd plane hitting the Tower. It still seems surreal, we had gone to bed the night before listening to Tom Clancy's Debt of Honor and in that half waking state when the radio first came on I couldn't figure out why the plot had changed. It was horrifying to fully wake up and realize that it was all too real. This week it seems like every news story and everyone's focus has been on the 10th Anniversary of 9-11. Ryan watched 102 Minutes that Changed America and a Nova DVD, Why the Towers Fell with the boys. We didn't have TV at the time and only dial-up internet so we had the radio and still images and didn't have the TV news on all day so I'm not sure the boys were really aware of what had happened- they didn't see it. Nathan was 12 so I'm sure we talked to him about it but the other boys were 6, 5, 3, and not quite 2. They got some of it when Nathan went to Afghanistan for a year

I think everyone is now more fully aware that bad things can happen. Terrorism isn't just something that happens on the news "over there" somewhere but its something that can happen to people we know and love. But the terrorists weren't able to damage what makes us Americans: our optimism and our independence. We're thankful for the people who sacrifice their lives for our freedom.

Last night I was camping with our Boy Scout Troop. Most of the boys were only toddlers and don't remember when it happened. This morning we talked to them about what happened. I asked the older boys if any of them remembered being able to go out to the gate at the airport to meet a plane? No, but one of the 18 year olds could remember when you could take more than 4 oz. of fluid on a plan. (And some hadn't ever been on a plane- this is Lewis County afterall.)

These boys were only a year old on 9-11-01

Sights such as this flag ceremony yesterday bring me to tears. These boys are our future and they make me proud.

"Cross over before the ark of the Lord your God in the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder,...that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ' What do these stones mean to you?' These stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever." Joshua 4: 5, 7

I listened to this interview with Tami Michaels and her husband on the radio Saturday morning. It's as close an eyewitness account as you can get. They were across the street in the Millenium Hilton.

Monday, September 5, 2011

First Football Game: The Beginning of a New Era


Friday night we went to our first football game as a family. It was the inaugural game in the new Pirate Stadium (I guess they are calling it The Brig, at least they did on the Seattle news I saw later that night). It supposedly has 4 times the seating of the old wooden stadium on the hill and every seat was taken Friday night. Lots of people didn't even try to get in the stands and just stood on the track. The bathrooms and concession stands aren't finished but the lights, stands, and field were ready for the game (thanks to the late nights all week they worked over there). It was pretty exciting to come home one afternoon and see that the lights were on.

Tovah had soccer practice so we missed all the pre-game activities. We arrived just as the game ball arrived by parachute. I don't have any pictures of the first quarter because by the time we found my folks and the kids and got the camera out I discovered my card was in the laptop and not in my camera. I have a second card now but it was in my camera bag in the car so I had to wait until the end of the first quarter to run back out to the van and get it.

Rush is in the pep band, his job seems to be to hold his cymbals so the drummer can use them as a high hat. He's the one with his back to me, talking to his friend Jesse. This is the best picture I could get from the nosebleed section. Next game I'll stay out of the stands so I can get some better pictures.

The Pirates got 3 touchdowns the first quarter.

The view of Mt. Rainier from the stands. The sky is pretty hazy from the heat and lack of rain. Some days the mountain is so clear you can almost see hikers on it.

Final score 39 to 14- it was a good game. The Wahkiakum Mules were a pretty good team. TransAlta matched a lot of the contributions for the stadium and made the project possible. They also paid for a fireworks show after the game. Our local State Legislator works for TransAlta and his wife teaches at Adna. They were sitting behind me at the game and his wife and I were giving him a hard time- the TransAlta part of the sign is lit and the Pirate Stadium isn't, something's just not right about that...

After the fireworks Tovah and I had to drive home in Adna traffic (only on game nights) while everyone else decided it would be quicker to just walk. We had a good time. The boys all have ASB cards and my folks got Senior Sports passes so we'll probably go to all the games. The next home game is against a big school from up north and is a non-league game on a Saturday night that Ryan is off so it will be a true family affair.



We took 2 days at Ocean Shores for our vacation this summer. We couldn't get down there at all last year with the school schedule. Ryan took a night off and we had to be back in time for Back To School Night. We packed light to fit in the Pilot, but took the essentials: swim suits, electronics, books, snacks, food for lunches and 1 dinner. We ate dinner the first night at the restaurant at the hotel and the hotel had a continental breakfast with waffles each morning. I finished 2 books and got caught up on my Bible in 90 Days reading. Ryan got about a third of the way through the Tom Clancy we got at Christmastime.

"Hurry up, Mom!" The walk to the beach gets longer each year | Playing tag with the waves

When we drove down on Sunday we drove out of sunshine and temperatures pushing 90-degrees into a wall of clouds and chilly temps. Monday we woke up to glorious sunshine and the wind wasn't even very bad. We headed to the beach in the morning in case the clouds were coming back in the afternoon. The hotel has an indoor pool so we weren't worried about swimming in bad weather.

The waves were filthy looking. Ryan said thatit's expected that we'd start seeing junk from the tsunami this fall | Rush was Here | Red Shirts have a low life expectancy... | How can I expect the kids to be mature when this is what I get from their dad?

Friday, September 2, 2011

First Days of School


School started on Wednesday. We came home from the beach on Tuesday in time to unload, unpack, and get to the High School for Back to School Night. It's very efficient: schedules, lockers, ASB cards, pictures, buy logo wear, and even free dinner for the family all in a 2-hour window. The cheerleaders were having a Root Beer Float fundraiser and towards the end of the evening and our energy I gave each of the kids a dollar to get one, but they ran out of root beer when they got to the front of the line. Not a problem, we'll grab a 2 liter at the little store on our way home and still get home in time for baths and an early bedtime. NO root beer at the little store. No big deal, there's another store 3 miles from home, we'll run there. NO root beer. At this point Ryan just wants to run into Walmart to grab the root beer and get home. I make him stop at the 3rd store on the way to town because really, it'll make a better facebook status this way. The third story didn't have root beer so we ended up at Walmart.

Tovah was fretting about not having an alarm clock to wake her up and would I get her up in time.... I figured she'd be up at the crack of dawn. We prepped her lunch (we've been looking at bento sites all summer) and made sure their bags were packed before a 9 o'clock bedtime.

Ready to go to their first day of public school. We dropped Rush off first and didn't even make it out of the parking lot before he called to say he forgot his gym clothes.

Tovah's friends from fastpitch came and found her on the playground (and their mom's came and found me). She was off and already having a great time.

She's off to Mrs. Johnson's third grade class!

We went home a bit shell-shocked to think we'd actually done it and sent her to public school. When we got home we jumped into homeschooling mode and finally ordered Jonah's curriculum (I think of it as waiting for the summer rush to end). We met with Arin & Isaac's supervising teacher and finalized their subject choices. Then we went to the library and out to a Not-Back-To-School lunch at Burger King.

Waiting for the bus to bring them home at 3:10.

I'm still getting looks and one-syllable grunts from Rush when I ask about how its going, but Tovah's having a great time. Today she's trying out hot lunch for the first time and when I broached the subject of dropping her off at school in the mornings when my school starts, she wants to ride the bus.

The boys started in their books yesterday, we're still waiting for several subjects to arrive but this eases us into the schedule. We finally went through the Scout books and merit badge blue cards to see what they need to work on, this has been on my To Do list all summer (or at least since Isaac and Jonah came home from camp). This morning I thought it was going well and everyone was on task until I went in to take a picture of Arin studying in his room and found him in his pajamas, needing a shower, watching a movie on the personal DVD player so obviously we need some reminders of school day expectations.

We had to rearrange the school room for Isaac to have some work area. He and I can share the table now that its turned sideways. I thought I had a leaf for this table, but evidently, I don't. One big change for him, we decided he wouldn't take Biology (he's only in 8th grade so it wouldn't count as his lab science requirement) from Mrs. Witt so he'll be doing A Beka Science of the Physical Creation

Jonah got everything finished and is playing quietly on the DS. Note: all the books on the couch are either going into our yard sale or getting sold online- we're done with them and I needed wanted some more space on the bookshelves. I need to be outside sorting stuff for tomorrow but I'm waiting for Arin to finish.

Rush is playing percussion in the pep band, so tonight we'll all be going to the very first football game in the brand new Adna stadium. They've been working on it every night this week and it's still not finished, but they have to play in it- I'm thinking it'll be a Sani-can event.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

2011-12 School Plan (Updated)

~ erica

Is it okay to plan/ start a new school year before you finish the paperwork for the year before? Maybe I'd better work on the kids' assessments today... I sat down last spring and wrote out a preliminary plan for curriculum this year. I still think its a sound plan but I think I need to add a few more things. This morning I started clearing books and homeschool stuff that we are never going to use off the shelves and found a couple of things that I think we should use such as Greenleaf's Old Testament History and the Learning Language Arts Through Literature Orange Book on doing research and a report (I've got the old set and can't find a link to it). Tovah found an Origami book and is busy using up the paper I've had on the shelf for 23 years, I guess its time to let it go!

Jonah: 6th Grade
Bible/ History: Greenleaf Old Testament History, Breakout: How to Share Christ
Reading: Pathways Readers & workbooks New Friends and More New Friends
Math: Math-U-See Delta
Language: Word Roots, LLATL Orange
History: WA State History
Science: Geology MB, Scout stuff
Building Thinking Skills
Health: Baseball, Swim lessons, Scout Stuff

Isaac: 8th Grade
Bible/ History: Greenleaf Old Testament History
Language: A Beka Language B, LLATL Orange/ Research project, Vocabulary
History: WA State History Our Northwest Heritage
Science: Geology A Beka Science of the Physical Creation
Math: Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra
Building Thinking Skills

Arin: 9th Grade
Bible/ History: Greenleaf Old Testament History
Language: IEW Structure and Style, LLATL Orange/ Research project, Vocabulary
History: WA State History Our Northwest Heritage
Science: Geology Apologia Biology
Math: Teaching Textbooks Math 7
Building Thinking Skills

I need to have them do some placement tests for Teaching Textbooks. Also I need to go through their Scout books and current Merit Badge Blue Cards to see what they need to finish up and start to stay on track (this has been on my To Do list since Spring Break). We haven't met with Isaac and Arin's supervising teacher yet and haven't ordered any curriculum but I think we'll get started after Labor Day with what we have on hand- finishing last year's Thinking Skills books, Merit Badge work, LLATL, and Greenleaf. I did a review for Timberdoodle on the Word Roots and Building Thinking Skills and liked them so much we plan to continue using them. I'll probably have Jonah do the literature sections of LLATL while the other 2 only do the research and report units. Wednesday nights start on the 14th and Jonah will get his Breakout book then. We plan on getting another gym membership so we'll swim once a week and they'll go to the gym at least once a week. Jonah is old enough now to go through the training and use the treadmills and exercise bikes. They like to climb the rock so we may try and add that a couple times of month. Of course, it all might change after our meeting with their teacher...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Fair


The last hurrah of summer before we change gears to Back To School/ Fall mode

Linking up to the L.E.N.S. Photo Challenge: Summer {End}

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

So Much Yarn!


This is what I got for my birthday (as well as a new Bible in New Kings James to replace my NIV that the cover is falling off). Ryan sold a bunch of his nursing books and knew I wanted some yarn for my birthday (okay, the catalog with the shawl has had a prominent place on our desk for weeks). He let me pick out the extra sock yarn to get to $50 for free shipping.

This yarn will make this shawl.

photo source

I don't usually wear shawls but I love the colors of the Seasons shawl and the look. I'm thinking in the gray days of February and March it will keep me warm and make me feel like spring.


3 sets of sock yarn. The darker red is Gypsy Tonal and it'll be fun to knit a pair of socks with an intricate stitch pattern (I'm hoping its not too dark to see the stitch definition).

The multicolored is called Juice Box and it makes me happy just to look at it.

The plain yarn is a silk merino blend that I plan on dying with Kool Aid. I'm tending towards the blue or a dark green but I have a feeling Tovah will have a say in the color choice. I ran across this chart by Tried & True and it was my first ever pin to Pinterest

photo source

This should be enough yarn to keep me busy all winter especially since I have 3 projects I am currently working on: a cardigan that Ryan ordered me from Knit Picks for Mother's Day, a pair of herringbone socks that I am knitting out of the possum yarn a friend brought back from New Zealand for me, and an R2D2 hat for a guy I went to high school with. I thought it would be easy to whip up and I'd get his done and then make them for the boys.... the beanie was quick and easy but the details are going to be the death of me.