Cooking for a crowd

Recently I’ve taken up the task of cooking for a dinner at church on a fairly regular basis, so I started to search for “cooking for a crowd.”  It was really sad that I’d get recipes that has 6 servings and that is defined as a crowd.  I guess I’m always cooking for a crowd then.  And maybe having hung around too many home school families with families of unusual size (okay I like Princess Bride and the ROUS’s reference–rodents of unusual size and that’s almost how people today react to even our family with just four kids), six almost seem like a non consequential number when it comes to cooking.

At some point, I’ve done full multi course meals for up to 50 people and since I like baking, I’ve done enough to feed people at church functions.  So I guess my definition of a crowd is also rather skewed.

Anyway, then I stumbled onto cooking with hotel size pans.  Now, that’s what I mean by cooking for a crowd.  If started off when I stumbled onto this lasagna recipe.  Then it ballooned into school cafeteria recipes and I think food bank type homeless shelter recipes.  Okay, it does bring back some bad memories of school days where the rice was still crunchy and the meat felt like leather, and the vegetables were mush, but not all cafeteria food were bad.  I remember sophomore year in college staying in a school owned but privately operated dorm that was just two blocks from my department building.  For the most part, the food was great, the service was great and it was cheaper than the regular dorms to boot.

I have not tried any of these recipes yet, but I will try to comment on how things went as I start down this journey of baking in hotel size pans.  I will start with the lasagna recipe tomorrow and then go from there.

Do it now or later

I’ll be the first one to admit that I have a tendency to procrastinate and like to stay on the lazier side of things.  Today it felt like though I was just going from one thing to the next and I was just looking forward to a little time to sit down and get somethings done.  Then the drain backed up again…  For half a second I did think about just letting it sit and just tell the kids no more bathroom visits until we leave.  But thought better of it.  Anyway, managed to get the hairball out plus some roots, oh drat!  Now I can’t put off the root killing routine.

Anyway, after coming inside and cleaning up the mess, I really wanted to get some nice icy cold drink and just relax but then the sink and dishwasher glared at me.  Oh why!  I wanted to yell at the kids because they hadn’t put things away, but remembered that I’m at my worst with words when I’m tired and upset.  This is the frustrating thing about trying to be the adult around the house and needing to set the example.  Do I put things off too?  I do have somewhat of a legitimate excuse.  It’s not easy clearing the drain.  My back hurts.  I’ve got things that I want to get done.  But no, they are mostly excuses and I know it and I think to some level the kids knows it too.

Decision.  Fine, zip my mouth so nothing bad comes out of it.  Grid my teeth and get things cleared out and hope that nothing more comes up before we leave the house.  I’ve actually got a few minutes to relax now and I’m glad that I had gotten everything done.  I’m glad that dinner was already in the crockpot before much happened.  And best of all, I’m glad that I was not a bad example today for my kids.  Especially when we are around each other almost 24/7, they are learning constantly about how to deal with life.

Be a good example to others today.

Loving our children

Boy was it depressing to have read an email today.

As I look around our society, I see parents who love their kids in theory, but not in actions. Everything they ARE DOING, actually says they DON’T love their kids.

They buy them everything they want…

They don’t put strong boundaries…

They have terrible marriages…

They repeat their parent’s mistakes with their own kids…

They don’t properly guide them and train them for life…

They don’t take time to teach them manners and character…

and they live in the middle of an emotional and sometimes physical chaos.

Unfortunately, their emotions fail them and their evidence for love is what they imagine in their head and not the plain results in front of them. Most children don’t feel loved. Period.

Parents are falling short of the 5 Love Languages and neither quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts or physical touch are being met. The suicide rate for children proves me right…

Unfortunately, 89% of parents can’t define what unconditional love is and an additional 10% don’t know how to make sure their children feel loved. Even with their best intentions, they fall short.

We have entered an era where the survival of your children and their avoidance of drugs, sex and alcohol is dependent on how loved and accepted they feel and if this is not an easy area for you and your spouse, it better become a priority real fast.

Granted this email was from someone offering counseling for parents.  But looking around me, I think the statistics is not too far off.  I was just commenting today on many parents’ attitudes towards summer and other breaks and then looking forward to the kids being back in school so they don’t need to be bothered with the kids.  I don’t blame kids for not feeling loved if their parents’ attitudes are wanting to throw them out the door.

Few years back, I was talking to a friend contemplating about having kids.  The problem is that everyone at work all regretted having kids.  Wow, I’d hate to be their kids.

If you have kids, I hope that you would really love them not just in your mind.  And if you grew up with parents who didn’t know how to love you, I pray that you will forgive them and find healing in Christ.

Crash Course

YouTube is great, except sometimes you can spend so much time looking for stuff that it becomes a serious time sink.  But sometimes you find individuals who you does a really great job in breaking things down and they are a great source to go to for information.

Crash Course video is one that I’ve enjoyed with my kids.  The videos are short and enjoyable to watch and has a good amount of content for quick review or introduction to the subjects.  If you have a chance, check them out and enjoy some quick learning.

Amazing hearing abilities

Our dog has an amazing hearing ability when it comes to food.  There can be barely a rustling of bag and she’s there in a shot.  However at other times, we can be shouting her name and she just ignores us.  Come to think of it, our kids are like that too.  When it’s something of interest to them, like ice cream, it seems like we can just whisper and they will hear us, but when it comes to chores or school work, it seems like we can use a megaphone and they still won’t hear us.

I suppose I can’t complain too much about our kids now.  They are pretty good about responding to me.  But there are still times especially with the boys when I’m not sure if they’ve heard me or just chose to ignore me so it’s hard to figure out if it’s a discipline issue.

Then again, don’t we as adults still do the same thing.  One time a friend of mine was answering a survey concerning her husband’s health.  One of the question was if he was having problem hearing her.  Boy was that begging for some snide remarks.  Yes he does have a problem hearing her, but no he does not have any apparent hearing problems.

We all to a certain extent choose to only hear what we want and ignore or reinterpret the things we don’t like.  I think that’s why sometimes it’s so hard to be objective because I’m not even sure if I’ve understood the right thing in the first place.  The Bible is so true when it says in James to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.  I know it’s easier said than done, but will you join me and try to resolve to be a better listener (even when food is not involved… no I have not forgotten about my dog).

Status Quo

I was reminded today how much I don’t care for status quo.  Maybe it’s because I’m too independent and don’t follow instructions well.  If I don’t like something or care for how something is done, I often go off and look for another solution or create my own version.

Maybe that’s why I homeschool my kids.  I started off looking for the perfect curriculum and realized that there’s no such thing out there.  Even with the things that I’ve created or modified, I’m not completely satisfied and in the end they may be inferior to what’s out there, but oh well, at least I have the satisfaction of having done something about it.

To be honest, I am extremely grateful for all the things that are available for homeschooling.  Especially some of the parent created materials which are far more understandable and kid friendly than many textbooks.  But I think that is what I’ve liked about living in the US.  There’s room for being different, there is room for each individual to improve on what they perceive to be insufficient and create.  Unfortunately I see that spirit waning.  People expect others to solve their problems.  And even in the homeschool community, there’s the tendency to follow trends and expect the right curriculum to be the answer.

Life will always throw those curve balls at us, what will we do when things don’t work?  I remember when I talked to my mom years ago about homeschooling our kids, she acknowledged that there are a number of bad teachers and they can have very negative impact on the kids (after working with them first hand in the public school), but she said I should just put our kids in school and pray really hard that they will get good teachers.  I’m not satisfied with that solution.  Let’s resolve to look for and/or create the satisfactory solutions rather than expect others to solve our problems.  Don’t be satisfied with the status quo.


I think there must be a conspiracy between textbook publishers and the health industry.  I just got a teacher’s edition of Prentice Hall Biology and it weighs a TON!  It’s probably just a hair lighter than the ancient church bibles.  Somehow, I don’t think I’ll be bringing it anywhere to thumb through.

I still have mixed feelings about using textbooks.  They are good resources and covers a well rounded set of materials, but they are set up more as materials for regurgitation rather than retention.  And often just like the heaviness of their weight, the student really have no desire to carry the information within it more than they absolutely have to.  I know it is hard to push against the system and I am by no means an advocate of one size fits all (although isn’t that what textbooks are?) but maybe if we can invest in super teachers who can use state of the art animations etc to teach and classroom teachers being more tutors and facilitators.  Maybe kids could become more interested and engaged in the materials.

Perhaps because I’ve got the Biology text sitting next to me, so I’m thinking about some of the videos that I’ve seen about photosynthesis, cell functions, energy conversion, mitosis, etc that really helped me to understand the concepts, but these were all scattered and had to be found and some, though the explanations were good, obviously lacked the necessary resources for better production to make it more attractive to the viewers.  Oh well, at least YouTube has made learning just a bit more interesting.


Homeschool planner

I was looking for a planner that my kids and I can share. Since my boys don’t have phones or tablets so apps wouldn’t do them much good. I came across it was fairly easy to set up and I think I’m going to like it. Since it’s online, we won’t be having the issue of lost checklists and it’s not dependent on access to a particular computer. If the kids don’t finish their work I don’t need to worry about rescheduling on the spreadsheet. Of course only time could tell and it’s only effective if the kids do get their work done. But isn’t that true with any planner? We can have the best planning resource, but unless we are consistent and follow through, they are no better than the chicken scratches written on the back of an old receipt.

A Heart to Serve Others

I hear much about volunteering and many of the kids’ activities such as scouting also ask their members to put in a minimum number of volunteer hours. But the ironic things is that while often kids are fulfilling their volunteer hours often their attitudes remain selfish. I’ve had times where the volunteers did more harm than good to the projects. Some of the volunteers were only interested in wearing the feather and telling others what to do.

The sad thing is that those who were there for themselves often walk away less happy than those who were there to serve. In fact there are studies that show people who are more altruistic are happier.

I don’t know how best to teach such a heart to serve. But for my kids, the thing I’ve done is modeling it in my life and taking my kids along side when serving including many behind the scene things that others don’t notice. If anything, it has helped develop some level of work ethic and a sense of others, and a deeper relationship with my kids.

Cell phones at dinner tables

I’m sure we’ve all seen those pictures where everyone’s on their phone at the dinner table.

I’m glad that most of my friends are not like that.  We do have plenty of face to face meals.  But what got me the other day was that there was a cell phone at every spot and everyone was ready to break away from the conversation at anytime at least to check on what was on their phone.

I realize that there are times when checking is somewhat important.  It’s like when my kids were young and I needed to check up on them periodically to make sure that they are okay and not getting into trouble.  Or there are times when we may be awaiting for some important information.  But the everyday stuff didn’t use to vie for our attention nearly as much.

The other day I was talking to the youth in Sunday school about the marshmallow experiment.  One kid said he knew what it was and his whole class passed it with flying colors.  Somehow I don’t think it’s an issue for 11 year old’s to wait a few minutes for an extra marshmallow.  But I ask the whole class, what if the test is now with their cell phones.  What if they are in a room with with phones in front of them facing down.  Have people text them, call them, etc.  Will they pass?  I’m not sure many adults can pass the test.

So, next time at meal time.  Don’t even bring the temptation with you.  Just leave it and enjoy your time with your friends and family.