Name this fruit

Anyone recognize this fruit? I had never bought one before but Costco had them for such a great price, I couldn’t resist.


The children, always open and eager to try new foods (ha!), were SHOCKED to see the seeds inside. How can they know what fish eggs look like? Really, I have to wonder what kind of science they are taking at their school.

None of the children liked the fruit at all. Joshua said it was too much like cantaloupe (and this is bad how?) and rejected even his small little bite. Daniel and David, who both LIKE cantaloupe , weren’t impressed either. Hmmm. I think this is one of those cases where you just keep presenting a new food until it’s not ‘new’ any more. Theoretically that works for picky eaters. I’ll have to ask my sister-in-law (who has a picky eater or two in the family) to report on that theory. Eliz, any thoughts?

Needless to say, I made up a fruit smoothie this evening (including this mystery fruit, banana, frozen blueberries, milk and honey) and all the children loved it (except for that cantaloupe hater, Joshua).

I know some people have smoothies on a regular/daily basis. We fix fruit blends more in the summer when it’s warm. Hard to really cozy up to a glass of iced drink when it’s grey and cold outside. Still, what a great snack – sweet and healthy – I may need to get back in the habit.

papaya two


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P365 – Day 56

What a day! It’s evening and the house is finally quiet. Daniel did a great job of cleaning up the kitchen from dinner (a rather impromptu affair but still involving dishes and food to put away). Joshua helped me put together a lunch for Tim, so that is all completed. Rachel and Sarah did some laundry for me which is always a tremendous help.

Just before bed time the little ones were restless and starting to lean toward becoming downright rowdy. Rachel graciously (she only charges me a nickel per book, which I think is a pretty good deal) took them to the living room to read some books.



Our Sunday School class was very small this morning. Nonetheless, we had an excellent discussion of the first part of I Corinthians 10. Daniel and I worked in Sarah’s preschool class during the second hour while Rachel helped lead worship for the elementary age kids and Tim took the rest of the children to church.

After church we went to Target – mainly to stock up on cereal (great prices) and a few other things. I had my camera with me and almost took a picture of our cart full but was afraid to shock my readership with the amount of sweet cereal that ends up on our pantry shelves. I’m not even going to mention the rogue package of Pop Tarts that somehow managed to find its way in to the shopping cart.

By the time we got home I was thoroughly hungry and practically shoved aside the family in my rush to get inside and make myself lunch. That’s what happens when you work in the preschool room and miss out on the Sunday sermon, all your base, 4 year old tendencies rise right to the surface. After lunch we got an e-mail about an important (last minute) meeting that we needed to attend. Whew, not much time for resting or relaxing. No naps for us.

When I was growing up my parents always took a nap on Sunday afternoons. I’m afraid my mother spent most of the time trying to keep us quiet, while my dad dozed fitfully to the sounds of “Shhh, quiet, you’re father is trying to sleep. Why don’t you take a little rest as well.” Followed by our ‘helpful’ cries of, “OH! Guys!! Dad’s sleeping, be quiet!!!” shouted up and down the stairs. I doubt Mom actually got a nap herself until my brothers hit high school. At that point it was routine to come by our house on Sundays and find a movie playing quietly in the background and all sorts of people (some of them even related to me) relaxing and napping in the family room.

The meeting went very well although it was draining. I did manage to score a latte in the process (always a plus in my book and one of the great joys of holding meetings at coffee shops).

tim coffee shop

We had about an hour until our next outing so I snuck into my favorite quiet spot, my cozy bed. We have a heated mattress pad which is wonderful! I use it every day and am completely spoiled by never having to get into a cold bed. Tim gave it to me for Christmas last year and it’s probably one of my all time favorite presents. It makes the bed all toasty and warm – nothing like sliding under those pre-heated covers. We also have our down comforter on the bed (wedding present from my mom’s siblings – thank you!!!!) with a denim duvet cover. Add to the mixture lots and lots of pillows and it’s just a dreamy spot.

Tina – try not to sweat just hearing me talk of down comforters and electric mattress pads. What’s the temperature in Thailand this week?

Mind you, it wasn’t a very “quiet” quiet spot since the three younger children kept popping in to tell me different things and eventually Tim came upstairs to read The Silver Chair to the kids in the hallway. Still, it was a moment of solace and I claimed it as MY TIME (all 15 or 20 minutes of it).

Right around dinner time we went to the Concert of Prayer at the church. It was a good time of singing and prayer. I was pleased to see a woman from our small group. We sat together and even got the chance to be in a “prayer huddle” for part of the time.

It is interesting to me how God orchestrated the events of the day. He knew we weren’t having Small Group in our home and could afford the time for an afternoon meeting. He also knew I would be in Sarah’s classroom during church and arranged for a special worship service to be scheduled that evening. He’s so creative and all-knowing and loves ME.

Tim was a sweetheart and filled the van up with gas after dropping us off at home. I managed to come up with a dinner that would feed the hungry masses while he was gone. We watched the end of a movie and were settling in for the evening when I got a phone call. Turns out there was an important e-mail waiting for us on the computer and needed some attention. So much for relaxing over the last bit of the day.

I am really in awe of how my dad, father-in-law, and other pastors, handle the many relationships of their church flock; the ups and downs, trials, conflicts, and joys that come with working closely with a diverse (and flawed) group of people. The small bit that I have experienced over the years (and today in particular) was exhausting. I am so thankful that Tim and I have been committed and faithful in our prayer time, both alone and together, since the beginning of the year, as it is only through God’s grace and strength that we can meet these challenges with humility, love and patience.

Truly we can hold firmly to those familiar verses in Philippians 4.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

It is one thing to know the verses, to memorize them and it is altogether another to live it and see God’s faithfulness shine through them.

Be sure to lift your pastor and his family up before the Lord.


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P365 – Day 55 (Forts and Food)

Sigh. I think they are out to get me. If I didn’t know better I would think Daniel had read my Fort blog and was eager to push my buttons and test which was stronger, my love or my hatred of forts.

beginning of a fort

This used to be my living room.

Daniel, however, doesn’t really read this blog. Joshua and Rachel are regular subscribers. Joshua reads faithfully each morning, forgiving me graciously when I am slow to post, and Rachel catches up every other day or so. Daniel looks over the pictures but doesn’t actually bite into the meat of the blog. If he did see the fort blog, he probably focused in on the photos and went away inspired.


Underneath this mess is some nice living room furniture – and maybe a child or two.

I don’t really blame them. It’s rainy and cold, perfect Fort Building Weather. Here is Fort Number One – a true masterpiece.

fort 1
sarah and the fort

How could the boys resist this face? It cries out for some fort building assistance.

As the day progressed and players changed, another fort evolved in the living room. This one involved secret paths and tunnels, going under, behind and, in some cases, through, furniture.

david and the fort

going through

Here she goes! Sarah climbs her way THROUGH the coffee table.

here she goes

To offset the distress of all this fort building mess, I turned quickly to chocolate and got Rachel started on some chocolate chip pancakes.

rachel 1
rachel bakes
rachel eats

Thankfully Rachel was willing to help in any way she could. Actually what happened was I told the kids they could have pancakes for breakfast if they wished. Since I did not leap up with great vim and vigor in the morning – being the serious student of Saturday morning sleep – Rachel decided to make the pancakes for the family. Way to go, Rach!!

These pictures were taken later on in the day, when there was some leftover batter and everyone begged Rachel to add chocolate chips and fix a few pancakes for snacking.

Our game of choice today (yes, as accused we are a SERIOUS game playing family these days) was Puerto Rico. We played it Friday night with a friend from church and were eager to play again (especially those of us who lost, oh that would be ME!!).

Puerto Rico is a fun game. It’s creative and interesting but not too difficult or competitive. I especially missed the Burts, today, when we played. They would like this game and wouldn’t mind the several hours that it takes to play. The only problem is only 3 to 5 players can play. That would mean if all four adults played then only one child could join us. Something to think about. I wonder if you could combine two games and include more players. We find to have the best prices on these Rio Grande and May Fair games.

The grey day and chilly temps required some nice hot apple cider. Tim’s sister, Posie, gave us some of these drink packets for Christmas one year and the children are hooked.

apple cider

I bought this box at Costco.

Daniel and Joshua set up the game while Rachel worked on the hot cider. Tim did a little computer work while waiting for the game to be ready.

daniel and the game
tim works

We had to work hard to get Rachel to join us for a game of Puerto Rico. She had the (VERY misguided) impression that the game was either boring or too difficult for her. Reinforced by mugs of hot cider, we marched forward.

hot cider trio

All of our prodding and begging and arm-twisting worked because Rachel, not only played the game, but won the entire thing! I’m sure it was all those chocolate chips that gave her the strength to overcome her worries and come out triumphant.

Again I was driven to some serious chocolate. This time I took no chances and went straight to the pantry for the right antidote (chocolate has medicinal properties, right?) and placed it in Joshua’s capable hands.

chocolate brownie mix

Worrying that regular brownies would not sufficiently console the group of Puerto Rico losers, I steered Joshua in the direction of something, shall we say, MORE chocolatey.

chocolate pizza recipe

Any time you have the word chocolate and overload near each other, you are bound to end up with something delicious.

Joshua, a true son of his chocolate-loving parents, more than outdid himself with the chocolate pizza. He fixed the brownies on a round pizza pan, adding chocolate chips to the batter, then frosted them. Next, he sprinkled two types of chips on the top and drizzled chocolate sauce over the entire concoction. Rachel said it was BEYOND chocolatey and went into some other realm of sugary goodness. There was a manic sort of jittery look to the children after they had their slice of ‘pizza.’

Of course, we sent them straight to bed. Isn’t that what good parents do? Feed their children sugar and caffeine and then expect them to settle down to sleep?

chocolate pizza

Ooey, gooey goodness. Why do chocolate desserts have such lethal names? Death by Chocolate or Devil’s Food Cake. I’ve even seen Triple Bypass Chocolate Fudge. And why are chocolate treats referred to as sinful?

Excuse me as I try not to drool. I had better end here.


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P365 – Day 54 (Civil War)

History was never one of my favorite subjects. In fact, I have to say I don’t remember a single history course from high school. In college I took the one required class but all I remember is the exam (and how thankful I was to pass).

Homeschooling has completely changed my attitude towards history. I have grown to thoroughly love history. I find it thrilling to dive into the different periods of history and study the people, places and events. Our homeschooling curriculum, Sonlight Inc., is what I credit for my transformation. Sonlight’s approach is to make history a living subject. We read fascinating books that take us through the different years in time.

All of the children enjoy history, but Joshua is probably the most interested in the subject. It is because of him that I agreed to teach a Civil War class at our homeschooling co-op. Of course, there is a big difference between teaching your own children and a class room full.

For example, I can send my children to their rooms. I tried to send these co-op kids to their bedrooms but they just looked at me blankly. My own children have a healthy fear (uh, respect) of our “principal,” a.k.a. Dad. These other students don’t even know Tim much less worry about getting one of his famous lectures.

In our school, we snuggle up on the couch and read books for hours. Um, that doesn’t seem to work with a co-op class. In the Duckabush Academy we can stop and take a break if mom/teacher needs a cup of coffee or a little nap. At co-op we have tables and chairs and NO couches anywhere in sight. It’s VERY difficult sneaking in a nap on those plastic chairs, not to mention the looks you get from the other teachers.

This week I missed my chance to have coffee by five minutes. Sigh. It was bad enough I was settling for old coffee, but it turned out they had packed away the microwaves and I had missed my chance even for a reheat. That would NEVER happen at home. Coffee is just too important to me.

So, you see there are many challenges to teaching a co-op, and it is a great sacrifice on my part to be a brilliant, creative instructor for a bunch of couchless, microwave-hiding kids. Thankfully the classes are small and the periods relatively short in duration.

One advantage to having your son (who is completely obsessed, I mean interested in, the Civil War) in your class is that he will often help come up with creative ideas for the lesson plans. Sometimes, if you are very quick-witted and clever, you can hand practically the entire class over to such a beloved son. And, if you are especially sneaky and cunning, you can fool him into thinking he’s just “helping” and that you are actually teaching the class.

This is the primary book I’m using for the course. It has worksheets and maps and offers a general overview of the war.


Such was my success this week. The library has a wealth of videos/dvd’s featuring the Civil War (it being a rather pivotal war in the history of our country) and I have checked out as many as I think appropriate. The ones produced by Schlessinger media are particularly well done. Joshua is more than willing to sacrifice his time to preview the videos and see if they are appropriate for our class.

Here is what we watched in class.

civil war video

The subject for our study this week was the Battle of Bull Run, the first major battle of the Civil War. The story itself is interesting as people gathered to watch the battle, going so far as to bring picnic lunches and blankets. Not content with letting me give a simple lecture on the Battle of Bull Run, Tim and Joshua came up with the idea of re-enacting the battle with toy soldiers. Who, I asked them, was going to create such a wonderful presentation. I spent some time online researching the details of the battle. Joshua poured over the different websites and began taking notes.

“Do you want to teach the class this week, Joshua?” I inquired (a plot beginning to hatch in my devious mind). “Uh, of course not, Mom,” he replied, beginning to sketch out a rough map of the battle ground.

By the time the night ended Joshua had taped paper onto a large piece of plywood and drawn out the map of Manassas Junction. He also made up a list of the main commanding officers and detailed events of the battle. Here he is plotting how to organize the re-enactment.

plotting battles

In the end, Joshua practically ran the entire class. We watched part of the video and then Joshua took over. He handed out assignments to the students – General Johnston, General Bee, Commanding Officer Beauregard and so on – and then gave them a representative amount of toy soldiers. I pretty much sat down and mourned the loss of my hot coffee. Joshua took us through the entire battle, having the kids move their soldiers up and down the countryside as was appropriate. It was great! We not only learned about the choices that led to the Confederate’s victory but got to play with toys (maybe this is a little bit like our school at home).

joshua's battle

A little more time and Joshua would have painted the battle scene true to life. Salt dough maps anyone?


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P365 – Day 53 (Fort in a …)

I have a true love/hate relationship with forts. I know, this is a strange thing to admit, but they say it helps to share these kind of deep seated struggles.

Exactly who “they” are I’ve never been too sure. One day I might run into one of “them” and when I do I want to be ready.

Back to forts.

I love forts. I love the homemade forts that involve pillows and blankets and chairs arranged strategically around the room. I remember spending hours making forts with my three brothers (of course, those often involved weapons of some sort, depending on if we were fighting Indians or robbers). As a long-time babysitter, I have built many a fort in my time.

I hate forts. This is where the hate part of love/hate comes in. Forts make a mess in so many different ways. First, they are usually placed in the very center of a room so the entire area is unusable – you can barely walk through the room. Also they require blankets dragged from every corner of the house (“How did you get that collection of Mexican blankets down? They were packed away in the garage!) and, of course, books (the biggest and heaviest ones possible) pulled off bookshelves to “stabilize and secure” the fort.

The older kids spend so much time building “cool forts” for the little ones that we often have to put school on hold, just waiting for the building process to complete. They take such a long time and involve such creative planning that I sometimes wonder if we need a permit of occupancy in order to start playing.

Sigh. These are the crazy, twisted, mixed feelings that I live with in this house of kiddos. Thankfully I have a blog, so I don’t have to suppress these conflicted emotions any longer.

Today Daniel left our school reading time to “make a quick fort for David and Sarah.” Cue a rather long break. Joshua has taught Daniel well in the fort making business (if only there was some money to be made in this line of work). Daniel often creates elaborate reading nooks and fun spots for the younger two children.

Today was no different.

tub fort

Yes, that is a bath tub. Yes, if you look closely you can see the face of my six year old son. Yes, that is a crib mattress on top of bathtub and six year old.

Rub a dub, dub, two kiddos in the tub.

david and sarah

Having the time of their lives. “Can we sleep in here?”

Daniel pulls back the mattress to reveal the children. Unlike my own childhood, where forts were modeled after military structures (the Alamo comes to mind), these kids usually bring in a pile of books and a few toys. You never know when a good football might come in handy.

daniel and kiddos

Ah, it’s most likely because we are doing such a wonderful job as homeschoolers of instilling a love of reading and quiet play. Or … maybe this is just the one spot in all of the house were they can have some peace and quiet and actually finish a book without being interrupted. Hey, is there room in there for me?

The fun lasted until the blankets started getting wet. Not sure how that happened. Hmmm? Can’t imagine. The subliminal messages were too hard to resist; both of the younger children begged to take a bath later on in the day. I guess you can take the kid out of the bathtub but you can’t take the bathtub out of the kid. No wait, that makes no sense at all. You can take the fort out of the bathtub but you can’t take the bathtub out of the fort.

Do you ever get the feeling that some people shouldn’t blog late at night?

2 Obscure Movie Quotes for the Day:
1. “Lex, why do so many people have to die for the crime of the century?”
“Why? You ask why? Why does the phone always ring when you’re in the bathtub?”

Which leads to the next one (different movie).

2. I never put a phone in a shower before. Do you get many calls in here?
A steady stream.


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