Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Consuming Christmas

I've got to tell you this Christmas stuff is awesome!
 

They dressed us up in these great big red bows.  Looking pretty snazzy, right!
 
 
Then we got to lay on the rug by the Christmas tree in the big room.
 
 
I mean we never get to do that!  You better believe we took full advantage of the moment.
 
 
Before long we settled in to hear the Christmas story.
 
 
Then it was time to root around in the presents.
 
 
Turns out there were bones in there for us.
 
 
But we had to have a little help to get at them.
 
Yep, Christmas was so good...
 
 
I literally ate it up!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Visitors from Afar

The month of December has brought visitors from afar to Bethlehem uh, I mean Rock Hill, SC.  They did come from the far east, although not quite as far east as those original visitors and they may not have brought gold, frankincense and myrrh but they did bring gifts of encouragment and news.

I give you the Three Wise Men Wild Kids...


and their parents who managed to avoid the pictures.  It was so encouraging to hear David and Laura testify to the faithfulness of God during and after the flooding in Niamey.  Not only that but I also had fun playing with the kids, reading books and filling up the "kid time" tank in me.

I've been filling another kind of tank hanging out with the next visitor from afar.


Crystal!  We've been filling up the tank marked "chocolate" - especially today as we went to the Cheesecake Factory in Uptown Charlotte to celebrate her birthday.  Mmm, chocolate and cheesecake - is there a better combination?


And now, just for a little something crafty, here's the gift I made for Crystal.  My personal favorite is the whale one in the top right hand corner.


I know I've used this verse before here on the blog but Proverbs 25:25 is so applicable, "Like cold water to a weary soul is good news from a distant land."  These visits have brought refreshment and encouragement as I continue to be concerned for my colleagues and the situation in Niger.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Little Christmas Cookie Miracle

Today was a full on baking day in the Botheras' household.  My brother wanted to bless the people in his workplace with some Christmas treats.  There are over 70 truck drivers so we had to get down to work.  A whole lot of ginger snaps, sugar cookies, chocolate crinkles, peppermint crunch cookies, chocolate chip cookies, rice krispie treats, brownies and cherry kiss cookies later...
 
 
what to our wandering eyes should appear but a brother bent on evil intent.
 
 
Check out that eyebrow! 
 
Every man must make his contribution.  But don't worry though it may appear so, I assure you, his was not a little bit of spit to hold the decoration in place.
 
 
In actual fact, Kent thought we may have overdone it a bit (Surprise! Surprise!).  So he called some friends of his who have a ministry to the homeless in Charlotte and inquired whether they might like to have some cookies for the people who came through their doors tomorrow.  And this is where the Christmas miracle happened.  They were planning a party for tomorrow but somehow the person who was supposed to make the treats wasn't able to do it.  Did they need cookies?  Absolutely! 
 
Wow!  We all had a smile on our face after that phone call.  Kent listened to the Holy Spirit as he placed these friends on his heart and we were able to meet a need we didn't even know about.  That made all the hard work even more worth it!  And that was our little Christmas cookie miracle.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's been 4 years!

That's right! It's been 4 years since I strapped on these puppies!


So last weekend, just for fun, I went down to Atlanta to hang with my friend Jen and her nephews who are into hockey.

While I practiced my triple axel stroking, Jen practiced a technique known as "boarding it" (aka: sticking close to the side of the rink) which by the way, she totally mastered despite the rugrats doing hockey stops in front of her.  It's a little grainy but I love the incensed look on her face here!


We spent some time in the penalty box



trying to look very innocent and sad. 

Then we took picture proof that for a moment in time, Jen courageously struck out for the center of the rink. 


Well, okay, we were only one step closer to the center of the rink!  Who's counting anyway?


We ended the evening on ice too, taking in a Gwinnett Gladiators game with our friend Amy.  A special treat, indeed!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mended

Driving home last night, I was listening to "Mended" by Watermark and it so perfectly expressed what I see God doing and the praise that he deserves.  I am so thankful that in our brokenness there is One we can go to who brings healing.  He reaches into our lives and redeems us from our sinful situation and restores the wasted years.  And He is to be praised!


Mended
by: Watermark

You repair all that we have torn apart and
You unveil a new beginning in our hearts and
We stand grateful for all that has been left behind and
All that goes before us

You've got all things suspended
All things connected
Nothing was forgotten
'Cause your love is perfect
You are our healer
And you know what's broken
And we're not a mystery to you
(to you, oh Lord, to you)

We will dance 'cause you restore the wasted years and
You will sing over all our coming fears and
We'll stand grateful for all that has been left behind and all that goes before us

You've got all things suspended
All things connected
Nothing was forgotten
'Cause your love is perfect
You are our healer
And you know what's broken
And we're not a mystery to you
(to you, oh Lord, to you)

Bridge:
Lord, you mend the breech
And you break every fetter
You give us your best, for what we thought was better
And you are to be praised
You are to be praised
You are to be praised
You are to be praised
You are to be praised

You've got all things suspended
All things connected
Nothing was forgotten
'Cause your love is perfect
You are our healer
And you know what's broken
And we're not a mystery to you
(to you, oh Lord, to you)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Table Licking Good

On Tuesday I drove up to Greensboro to have a cookie making day with my friend Karen and her family.  The kids were super excited and anxious to help in any way they could.

 
Stirring
 
 
Beating
 
 
Unwrapping
 
 
Sugaring
 
 
Yummo!
We partook of some of the deliciousness and then we headed out for a "sleigh ride" also known as a ride around the neighbourhood to see the Christmas lights.  A blanket to be bundled in was a requirement.
 
 
But my favorite quote of the day came from the two year old pictured below.
 
 
"Look, Auntie Beth!" she declared in the middle of the cookie making process, "I'm licking the table."
 
You have it on good authority - this day was table licking good! :)


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Reminded


Last week I was reminded of why I do what I do.
What I do is teach children.
Why I do it is simply because I love children! 
Interacting with them energizes and gives me joy.

One rarely gets a chance to step back from one's job and take a complete break.  But this time at home is just that for me.  Aside from a few children here and there, I have mainly been interacting with adults.  I didn't realize that I had been missing interaction with children until I stepped in front of a whole group of First through Eighth graders at Wesley Christian Academy.

At Wesley Christian Academy each class has a Care and Share project for which they are raising funds.  One of the Grade Two teachers, who is herself a missionary kid, chose, with her class, to raise funds to help the restoration process at Sahel Academy.  And so it was that I received an invitation to share Sahel Academy's story with the First through Eighth graders in a special assembly.

 
Cindy arranged this amazing opportunity for me.
 
 
Four of her students introduced me.  The little boy on the end, who happened to be missing his two front teeth, got stuck with my name.  It came out sounding kind of like "Miss Bufferas."  So cute!
 
 
 Mid-Assembly
 
 
 
After the assembly, I was invited back to Cindy's Grade Two classroom where I answered some of her students' questions, read to them from a book that my Sahel Second Graders had created and just generally talked their heads off. 
 
My favorite moment came after I had used a couple of big words - ingenious and deducted- and I stopped and declared my undying love for big words.  One little girl in the back piped up and said, "I love big words too!" Not a second later, the girl behind her looked at her and exclaimed, "You don't know any big words!"  Oh goodness!  I just wanted to bust up laughing! 
 
I walked away from Wesley Christian Academy feeling exhilarated and full of joy, having been reminded that there is a very good reason I teach.  It's because I love it!
 
 
At a time when I am taking a step back from my passion, this reminder was a precious gift from God!


Friday, November 2, 2012

A Birthday and a Barrel of Monkeys

Today is the birthday of my one and only brother so I thought I would do a crafty post in his honor cause crafts are totally his thing!  No, the real reason is that I just want to show you his birthday card.
 
 
I'm really thankful for a brother that laughs with me!  It's such an encouragement.  Kent, I'm look forward with great expectation to what God has in store for you in this new year of your life.  May you embrace the challenge and find Him faithful!
 
And while I'm sharing cards, there is this one that reminds me of the Barrel of Monkeys game that I used to play with when I was a kid.
 
 
Love these monkeys - they are too cute!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Great Experiment: Part Three (In Which My Brother Gives His Expert Opinion)

The Great Experiment continues.  I have tried out three new recipes all of which are Niger friendly.  In other words, without too much difficulty or substituting they could easily be made in Niger.

First up is something sweet for a change.  Everywhere I look there are pumpkins and so I've had quite the hankering (yep, a hankering) for pumpkin and chocolate mixed together in something delicious.  I chose this recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.

Mmm, warm & buttery goodness!
Stop whatever you are doing and make yourself some.  It's delicious and it even makes enough to share with a friend!

Next up is this recipe for Lemon Chicken


I started making this before I realized that the recipe called for the chicken to be marinated in the lemon juice.  Oops!  So I just poured the juice over top and let it cook away.  It was very lemony on the outside.  Maybe marinating it would have allowed the juices to permeate the chicken.  Anyway, even though the lemon taste was a bit overpowering, I actually enjoyed this recipe.  The only thing that was kind of tricky is figuring out what to eat with it as sides.  Any ideas?

Last up is actually a recipe for Shepherd's Pie that my cousin Cheryl gave me.  She fixed it for us and it was delicious so I thought I would give it a whirl too. Simple (especially if you cheat and use instant mashed potatoes) but very yummy especially the topping!


Here's the recipe: 

Cheryl's Shepherd Pie

1 lb ground beef
1/2 C. chopped celery
1 small chopped onion
1 clove garlic minced

2Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1 C. boiling water
1 beef bouillon cube

3 C. mashed potatoes

Brown beef, celery, onion and garlic in a frying pan.  Drain off excess oil or liquid.  Stir in flour, salt and pepper.  Add bouillon cube and pour boiling water over top.  Stir until boiling and thickened.  Spread in 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.  You can add a layer of vegetables if you so desire.  Cover with mashed potatoes.

Topping: 

1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup croutons (crushed up a bit)
1/2 cup shredded cheese 

Melt butter.  Stir in croutons until coated. Sprinkle over mashed potatoes.  Then cover with shredded cheese.

Bake uncovered in oven at 350 F for 30 minutes or until heated through and potatoes are browned.  Serves 4.

Well it turns out that my brother is a faithful reader of my blog.  So he has been read in and understands his role as a guinea pig in The Great Experiment.  As a result, he was coerced into offering his expert opinion on the Shepherd's Pie and here's what he had to say:


Funny guy!  The conversation got even better when I thought I had accidentally deleted his critique.
K:  Phew,  I've successfully avoided my 15 minutes of fame.
B:  If you think you are going to get famous on my blog, you are sorely mistaken!  Well, look at that,  I've located the video. 
 
Kent, you're time has come!  If I hit the big time, I am sure it will be all because of the Grey Poupon comment. Thanks for participating with enthusiasm in my crazy little experiment.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Some New Children's Book Picks

There's something about being able to put a children's book in your hands, flip through it's pages enjoying the illustrations and discovering a great new story that's just flat out nice.   Around back to school time, I was sad when I didn't discover any great back to school books to take back to my classroom.  But I wasn't disappointed last week when I visited my local Barnes & Noble bookstore.  I found a whole lot of inspiration and made a very long wish list.  However, I restrained myself and only walked out with three new books and here they are.

The first is The Monster's Monster by Patrick McDonnell.  I found this one looking through all the Halloween books.  I'm not really big into Halloween so I like the fact that it isn't a scary book even though it's about monsters.  Basically there are three little creatures that are endlessly debating about which one of them is the scariest monster.  Finally, they put their heads together to create the scariest monster ever.  He comes out looking like Frankenstein but he happens to be a very grateful monster and that changes the atmosphere completely.  One of my favorite aspects of the book is that the change in atmosphere is reflected in the illustrations which go from being dark and gloomy in the beginning to sunny and bright at the end.  I think it would be a great book to use at the beginning of the year to talk about using good manners and being polite.  I also think that it has lots of potential for use in my Writer's Workshop.
The next book is called Mousetronaut and it is written by the astronaut Mark Kelly.  This is a partially true story about a mouse that embraces space and ends up saving the day in the space shuttle.  What I love about this book is that Mark got the idea for his story on one of his missions where there was one little mouse out of eighteen that didn't cling to the mesh during the mission but instead floated effortlessly around the cage.  This book would be great to use during a study of space.  But it would also be a great mentor text in Writer's Workshop when talking about where authors get their ideas from. 
 
The last book I purchased is It's All About ME-ow by Hudson Talbott.  This book is written from the perspective of an older and wiser cat giving advice to kittens and preparing them for a life of charming their humans.  It has a little bit of history, some great diagrams and advice and a whole lot of humour.  It would be a great mentor text for how to or process writing and for writing from a perspective other than your own.  If you wanted to encourage your writers to include things like diagrams and captions this would also be a great example after which they could model their writing.



These books make me anxious for a new little crop of writers!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Great Experiment: Part Two


You may remember that I made a deliberate choice to leave all my recipes in Niger.  Instead of trusting in my tried and true recipes, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to branch out and try new recipes that I have been pinning in the last year or so.  You can read all about the first five recipes I tried right here.  But now it's time to reveal my latest adventures in the kitchen.

First up, is Cheesy Baked Ziti found at The Recipe Critic.
Yummo!  I followed the recipe as is and it was delicious.  I've made a version of this in Niger but the sausage and pepperoni mix added a different sort of flavouring.  I highly recommend this one.

Next up is this recipe for Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup found at Random Thoughts and Thrills
Now admittedly, this soup probably didn't have a chance of success in my book because I happen to love my Mom's Tomato Soup recipe but I tried it because it looked deliciously cheesy.  I was not impressed.  However, my brother (not sure that he realizes he is a guinea pig) raved about this soup.  He thought it was hearty and filling so there you have it.  You can make it and decide for yourself.

Moving on to The Pioneer Woman and her Pepperoni Pizza Burgers.
I followed the recipe on these except for the fact that I did not use the mix of sausage and hamburger.  These were good but I think my favorite part was the toasted bun for my burger.  A toasted bun for a burger is a great idea for all future burgers but instead of toasting it in the frying pan, I would toast it in my toaster oven.  One less dish to wash!

This past Sunday I dropped a dozen eggs on the floor and nine of them broke so I was looking for a way to use lots of eggs which led me to make crepes.  The joy of eating crepes was kind of killed when we discovered mold in the syrup we had been eating.  Yuck!  Needless to say there were leftover crepes so I decided to try this Mushroom Ham Crepe Casserole

 
I followed the whole recipe except for making the actual crepes since that had already been done. I also substitued cheddar for the gruyere cheese. I was skeptical about the nutmeg/mustard combination but it turned out yummy.  The best part about this recipe is that all the ingredients are available in Niger.
 
Wow!  After posting all these recipes it would appear that I am totally obsessed with cheese which is not entirely untrue.  I do love it! 
 
Well there you have it - Round Two is complete.  Hope you find something delicious and new to try today.



Sunday, October 14, 2012

When It All Goes South

It's that beautiful day when you decide to take a walk in the Wisconsin Wilderness.
 
 
You can't help but drink in the glory of fall
 
 
and all of it's accompanying colors.
 
 
Throw in a gently flowing stream and now the experience is twice as good.
 
 
As you head back down the path, you feel compelled to catch this moment,
 
 
this walk with friends in a picture.
 
 
It's good.
 But it would be so much better if everyone was in the picture
 
 
and that's when it all goes south!
 
Good thing there was a husband to capture a better moment in time.
 
 
Friends from Toccoa Falls College & ATL - Heather & Susan
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