About Me

My photo

I'm a stay-at-home Dad suffering from Fibromyalgia. I homeschool my daughter and lead worship at my church. I'm also a gamer and a geek and proud of it.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Life is so not cool

I have come to the conclusion that life is so not cool right now.I have all these ideas running through my head that I want to implement, like sharing our awesome European vacation or the web-comic that never gets past preliminary sketches. That is mostly if not all the fault of my fight with a chronic illness. My Fibromylagia flared up big time over the last few weeks culminating in a "break down" of sorts after our church's VBS. I pushed myself to hard to be everything everyone expected me to be and I paid the price. There is only so long someone can ignore chronic pain before it consumes them. I'm better now though still not 100% and I realize that I need to take things slower and go back to pacing myself. To that end my blog posts are going to be fewer and I will be doing one post on Europe instead of the 6-8 part series I had planned. As far as the web-comic I will be once again putting that project on hold, as School will be starting up soon. On a related note Monday will be my last day at my part-time bookkeeping job. I hope to share more of my thoughts on worship and ideas about managing a household from a guy's perspective and I do have some new recipes to share, it's just going to be a while until I get around to posting.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Vanilla Panna Cotta with mixed berries

This year for our Independence Day cookout I decided to make panna cotta.  I first had panna cotta on our wild European vacation,  and it was love at first bite. It was simple to make that I felt a little guilty serving it to guests. Panna cotta is basically a dairy pudding made with gelatin, and it is extremely delicious.

Vanilla Panna Cotta

Ingredients

2 cups whole milk ( 1 percent will work as well)
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
A pinch of salt
1 tbsp of vanilla extract
2 cups assorted fresh berries

Directions

1. Sprinkle geletin over milk in a saucepan and let stand for 3 to 5 minutes
2. Heat milk over medium heat until geletin dissolves approximately 5 minues.
3. Add cream sugar vanilla and salt and continue cooking mixture until sugar completely dissolves 5 - 7 minutes
4. Remove from heat and pour into containers. (I used plastic wine glasses from the dollar store and filled them approximately 2/3 full). Allow to cool and place in refrigerator to set.
5. Once set add mixed berries on top.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Transformers

Ok so I went to see Transformers Age of Extinction on Friday, and we'll quite frankly it has come in at number 5 in my top movies of 2014. I have to mention that it was also the 5th movie I've seen this year so coming in at number 5 was not a major accomplishment. To be honest it probably won't be at number 5 for very long.

I don't want to give any spoilers but lets just say that a movie that is only 15 minutes shy of 3 hours should probably been made into two movies. The movie suffers from too many protagonists, too many antagonists, and too man u subplots. And as cool as Optimus Prime riding on a robot dinosaur is the lead up to it felt forced.

Overall it delivered in terms of special effects and action but the confusing plot and general length of the movie left me feeling disappointed.

So the current ranking is now

1. The Lego Movie
2. Captain America: Winter Soldier
3. Maleficent
4. X-men: Days of Futures Past
5. Transformers: Age of Extinction

Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Movie Madness

So we went to see Maleficent this week and I have to say it was really good. I liked the back story and the twists on the original story. It was definitely a step up from the animated film and Jolie's performance was superb, but I wouldn't expect anything less from her.


Overall Maleficent ranks in at number 3 on my favorite movies of 2014, slightly edging out X-Men Days of Futures Past, but still a ways behind Winter Soldier and my number one, The Lego Movie. So Transformers comes out today and yes I will be seeing it, hoping it will prove better than the last two sequels.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Our Wild European Vacation - Prologue

So we just finished our 2 week long European Vacation where we visited Rome, Italy and the southern coast of Sweden. I will be chronicling our travels over the course of the summer, but first I wanted to share some encouragement and advice if your thinking about taking an European Vacation.

Research, research, research

I can not stress this enough. When ever you plan a trip whether at home or abroad take some time to read up on your destination. Find out what is there to see and do, what is the climate and weather forecast, and how much will things cost. When planning our trip to Rome we picked up travel guides from AAA and also viewed travel videos on YouTube. Rick Steves has some great videos here https://www.youtube.com/user/RickSteves.

Pack light and pack smart

Most airlines allow one checked bag and one carry-on piece of luggage per person, some also allow for n additional personal item as well, i.e. a laptop bag, purse, or camera bag. The maximum allowable weight for checked luggage on an international flight is 23 kg or 50 lbs anything over that and you will either be charged extra or they might not allow the bag on at all. Also keep in mind that souvenirs will add to the weight of the bags on the return flight. You will also want to pack a change of clothes in your carry-on luggage.Why? you might ask, because checked baggage can sometimes get lost in transit, especially if you are switching flights half way through your trip. Also, instead of packing one bag per person consider distributing everyone's clothes equally between all your bags. For example, instead of all my clothes being in one suitcase I placed three complete outfits in each suitcase, My wife and daughter did the same. This was to make sure if a bag got lost, everyone would still have clothes. It also evenly distributed the weight across all three bags. Also remember the 3-1-1 rule: 3.4 ounces (100 ml) bottle or less(by volume)of any liquid placed in a 1 quart (1 liter) sized bag per person. This rule is for carry-on luggage, larger sizes can be carried in checked baggage.

Don't Be Afraid to Try New Things

This should be obvious but you may want to prepare your picky eaters to attempt new and exciting things. this goes for you too, mom and dad. Go with the expectation that you will try at least two new dishes if not more. For example, While in Rome both my wife and I decided that we wanted to try Gelato, honestly we had never had it before, and carbonara. Not only did we try those but we also fell in love with panna cotta, and the lemon ravioli my wife had one night was out of this world.

Dress to Travel

I'm not saying you have to throw on lederhosen like the Von Trapps, but you should be mindful of what to wear. First you need to be conscious of how airport security works. Don't wear anything metal if you can avoid it, gold doesn't set off the metal detectors but steel does, so no watches or bracelets. No belts unless you absolutely need one, you will have to remove it to go through security. You will also have to remove your shoes, at least in the USA, so wear something that can be slipped on and off easily. Also no pants with chains or excess rivets unless you like being patted down.With all that being said I recommend wearing comfortable tennis shoes and loose fitting jeans or khakis with a t-shirt or polo type shirt. Keep in mind that the plane is Air Conditioned and is usually a might chilly so unless it is a short flight I don't recommend shorts. Depending on when your flight is scheduled you may be sleeping in these clothes so again keep them loose and comfortable.

Secure Your Valuables

When ever I travel to a large tourist city, even if it is just a day trip to New York. I always keep my wallet  in my front pocket. I've never been pick-pocketed, and I don't plan to be, so I don't make my self a target. Women are not immune either so I recommend either ditching the purse and getting a wallet to put in your front pocket also or if you are using a purse, use one with an adjustable shoulder strap and wear it with the strap crossing your body keeping the purse itself close to the front of your body. Also. as I told my daughter if in a crowd hold onto your purse keeping it against your body, it makes it more difficult to snag and thus reducing your likelihood to be a target. I also recommend that if your hotel room has a safe that you use it. There is no reason to carry all your credit cards and money with you every time you leave the hotel room.

Have Fun

It's vacation after all it should be fun and stress free. Don't try to see and do everything in the country or city you are visiting, just do the things that will create the best memories and remember to plan in some down time to just relax.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Finding Balance

I have been sufering from horrible migraines the last three weeks which have been directly caused by a lingering sinus infection. After repeated failed attempts to rid myself of the infection through natural means (forget water boarding lets just use a netipot on terrorists), I finally broke down and went to the urgent care to get some good old fashioned antibiotics, and some prednisone for the swelling. I know some folks don't like traditional western medicine,  but sometimes it really is just what the doctor ordered, and those that know me know my mantra in all things is balance.

This whole thing got me thinking. As always my thinking brought me back around to my faith in God. I have always tried to base my walk with God on balance. God is the all powerful creator and as such we need to approach Him with all the awe and and reverence that He deserves. He is also our source of comfort and help, He is father (i.e. daddy) to the fatherless,  Husband to the widow, and brings Joy to those who mourn. He is Lord and King, the righteous judge, the drill seargent if you will bringing discipline into our lives. He is also our closest friend and confidant, giver of mercy, and lover of our souls. He allows tradgedy to befall us yet never what we cannot handle and always works things out for our greater good, though we may not realize it at the time.

Worship becomes more of a conversation and a journey through song to where God wants his people to be

This balance naturally influence me when selecting songs for worship each Sunday. The first thing I do is ask 'what does God want to sayto his people this week through worship and what does He want from us in return.' Worship becomes more of a conversation and a journey through song to where God wants his people to be, preparing their hearts to receive the word that will be shared by our pastor. The I try to balance a healthy respect for past traditions and a need to continually move forward when it comes to the actual selection of songs, balancing both traditional hymns and choruses with more contemporary songs, always deferring to which ones will forward the theme God has given me. One of my guiding rules is to select one traditional hymn each week (this doesn't always happen, but the majority of the time I can find a hymn that will flow both thematically and musically). I also like to include songs that that speak about our God to others and songs that allow us to express ourselves to God directly. I do have some personal preferences as well, like wanting the opening song to have some element of inviting people into worship and the closing song having an anthem quality to it.

GOD should always be the focus of our worship.

The most important aspect in our worship, not just our songs by he way, is authenticity. People, whether they are in our congregations on Sunday morning or our next door neighbors,  need to see us worship i.e. serve in Spirit and in Truth. We don't need to puff ourselves up, our worship services are not a concert, and you are not the star. GOD should always be the focus of our worship.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Irish Soda Bread

So We just had our annual Missions Convention at our church, and since we had newly appointed missionaries to Ireland visiting we prepared a meal featuring some Irish fair. I had the opportunity to tryout a new recipe that went over so well that I will be adding it to my repertoire permanently. Since St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner, I have decided to share.

Irish Soda Bread


INGREDIENTS:

4 cups of all purpose flour
4 tbs of sugar
1/2 tbs of Kosher salt
1 tsp of Baking Soda
4 tbs of butter (half a stick)
1 egg
1 tsp of orange or lemon zest
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
flour for the raisins

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Cut the butter into small cubes and add to the flour mixture. Mix until combined.

In a separate bowl lightly whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and zest. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Add flour to the cup of raisins or dried cranberries and mix until they are coated. Add the fruit to the dough and mix until thoroughly combined.

Turn the dough out on a well floured board or table and kneed it a few times. Make sure the board has plenty of flour as the dough will be sticky. Form into 2 - 4 loaves. (You can bake it as one large loaf but I find  the smaller loaves are easier to deal with. Place the loaves on the cookie sheet and cut an 'x' in the top of each with a serrated knife. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a baking rack and serve warm or at room temp.

Note: though not 'authentic' the combination of cranberries and orange zest is out of this world.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Quick Update...

So I haven't kept up with my blog lately but it really wasn't entirely my fault. It all started almost two weeks ago when I was going to post a worship article on a Wednesday morning. That was the morning my shoulder decided it did not like living in it's socket. So that put me out of commission for a few days. (I did the bare minimum that I needed to get stuff done.) Finally Monday rolled around last week and I thought I would spend the evening getting some writing done. Apparently that was not to be as I started to feel pale while waiting in the line of the bank and ended up with a full on Stomach Virus that landed me in bed all day Tuesday. Felt better on Wednesday and had to play catch up with our homeschooling and I had to work in the afternoon and Church that night. Thursday I was still feeling pretty run down but I thought I was on the mend, that was until Friday morning when I woke up with a scratchy throat and a runny nose that wouldn't quit. So now It is Tuesday and I am finally starting to feel better. Hopefully I'll get an opportunity to get some writing in either tonight or tomorrow. This Friday is the first day of our Homeschool Co-op's Spring Semester and I will be teaching 2 classes this time around. The first is a music class for 2nd and 3rd graders focusing on percussion instruments. The second is a class on the Ten Commandments for 3rd graders. should be fun.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Teaching Tuesdays: Making Music

So this semester at our homeschool co-op I will be teach a music class to 2nd and 3rd graders focusing on percussion instruments. This got me thinking about all the ways you can incorporate music into our homeschool programs. First off I think we can all agree that music is highly beneficial to our children's learning, both from an cultural and educational standpoint. Music is one of the few things that can unite people of different cultures all over the world. Studies have also shown that music helps with cognitive ability and logical reasoning.

So how do we introduce music to our children? Many of us have little if any musical background, but that is no excuse in our modern day and age. With the internet we can research almost any topic, music included.

The first thing I would recommend is letting your little ones drum. give them some pots and pans and some chop sticks or pencils and let them experiment with different items. Let them discover that each item has a distinct sound. Older children can learn to repeat patterns and eventually create their own rhythms. 

Musical instruments don't have to be expensive either. Sand pails make excellent drums and don't discount those toy xylophones when teaching about toned percussion. Again older students can use them to create their own compositions. Also inexpensive kits that include tambourines and hand bells are great for little ones to express themselves.

Music can also help to enhance learning especially when it comes to memorization. Set a list of facts to a well known nursery rhyme and you have a powerful mnemonic. For example sing the following to the tune of This Old Man:

North America
South America
Europe, Asia, Australia
Africa and Antarctica

I mean how many remember School House Rock. You can still get them on DVD and there are plenty of Geography and Bible memory song CDs out there.

So next time your homeschool lessons seem to be dragging try adding a little music to the mix and see where it goes.

I would love to here how you use music in either your homeschool or classroom. Leave a comment below!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Stocking Up

So over the holidays, I was perusing my local Ocean State Job Lot when I came across an interesting cookbook. It's called "The Stocked Kitchen Cookbook" and after reading the back cover blurb I was intrigued. The cookbook  stated that with their one shopping list I could prepare over 100 different recipes. Hey I was game.

After reading the introductory pages and scanning some of the recipes, I decided to use their system. Though I would of course modify it because I can never leave anything alone.

The system is fairly simple, I'm sure most folks use a similar system but it was something I hadn't really thought about. The basic premise is that you have one master grocery list that contains everything you need to make all the recipes in the book. It's similar to using a build to list in a restaurant for ordering. Of course as I said before, some modifications needed to be made. For instance, the list included herbs de provence, and poultry seasoning, neither of which I will use, the first due to allergies abd the second due to personal preference, there was also very few sundry items on tge list. Also there were certain items that were missing from the list that I use in many of my own personal recipes, ie. allspice.

After revamping the list based on my own personal tastes, I went through my kitchen and crossed off the items I already had on hand. Then I went shopping.  The benefit of this was that I now had all the ingredients on  hand for anything I wanted to make. I was even able to use a recipe I found online right away because I had all the ingredients on hand.

Overall the system, or at least my modified version, is working for our home. So what about you? Is there a system you use to keep you pantry stocked? Let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Busy Season

So after a longer than anticipated hiatus,  I'm back! So to catch everyone up on what I've been up to, here is the run down. We finished our fall semester of co-op ( I was extremely proud of my recorder class and their performance of ' Home on the Range'),  pulled off a Christmas cantata,  celebrated Christmas,  and just celebrated my birthday. Speaking of which my wife and daughter decided to pool their resources and get me a tablet. I'm so excited to use it this week at worship team practice to read my chord sheets.

So as I said I'm back, and I just wanted to apologize for not writing in so long. I've been busy with my new part time job, but that really isn't an excuse. I just fell into a pattern of not writing and that is not a good thing. Im going to strive to write more this year, I know I've said that before, as I really want this blog to be something people really want to read.

Anyway, I've got to head off to that part time job I talked about. I'll write again soon as I have some great ideas for homeschool resources, new recipes and organizational tips, and of course stories and insite gleaned from being a worship leader.