Monday, September 20, 2010

She's a big girl now

We celebrated Charlie's 5th birthday this week. I just can't believe it. I remember her being so small. I remember that the first thing she did after she was born and I said, "Nice to meet you, Charlotte" was to go poo and pee all over me. I remember when she was two days old and we were alone for the first time since she was born, and I told her, "You're growing up so fast!" But she really IS growing up so fast. When I tell her not to grow up--"Please, PLEASE stop growing! Please stay small so I can hold you forever!!"--she says things like "That's not the way it works, Mom." "MOM"? Since when did I become "Mom" and not "Mommy"?
 I also cannot believe that she has started kindergarten! We have just finished our first week of home kindergarten. Our books arrived Monday morning, and we got started right away. We're using Sonlight Curriculum and so far, so good! I'm impressed with the reading lists of this curriculum and also the style, which seems to be fairly classical in its technique. What drew me to it is its literature basis and also the fact that the lesson plans are ready-made. In the future, I may adapt a bit and put together my own curriculum from different sources, but for my first year, I thought this may be the way to go. We are doing a four-day kindergarten week with history, science, math, handwriting, and reading. Once Charlie has learned to read on her own (hopefully in the next couple of months), we'll add in her language arts.
I am really loving homeschooling and having a regular routine to our day and our week. Every day we take Paul to work and then come home and make breakfast (or stop for a bagel). Then we head out to a park or some other activity, maybe errands if we need to. Then we come home, make lunch, and then Judah heads down for his nap, and Charlie and I do school. The routine makes things so much easier (and relaxing, even) for everyone. I'm plannig a couple of field trips for the near future: apple-picking and a trip to a museum. Living in DC gives us LOADS of field trip opportunities of whick I need to take advantage.
I am so enjoying being fully focused on my own children, as I have recently closed my home daycare. Please don't get me wrong, I enjoyed having other little ones here. It's just that I feel like I finally have the freedom to raise these two the way I've wanted to for so long. As for the bills getting paid, I'm not entirely sure how that's going to work in the future, but I'm trusting God and trusting Paul. This is the way we felt we were being called, and we know that God is going to prove Himself faithful, as He always does.
Going back to the birthday festivities . . .
So Wednesday I offered to make whatever Charlie wanted for dinner, and she chose chicken and dumplings. I wish I had a photo, but unfortunately, our camera is pretty much trashed. I think it may have something to do with the fact that we realized what a fun car toy the camera happens to make for a bored little girl on long trips to grandma's house. Anyway, we had good friends come over to help celebrate, and we had such a great time. Over the weekend, we had a more formal celebration in the form of a combined birthday party for Charlie and Judah (his birthday is on the 30th), but this little dinner was the perfect way to celebrate Charlie and Charlie alone. :) She got a brand new scooter from Mom and Dad and some really nice other things from close friends and family.
Charlie is one amazing little girl. She melts my heart every single day with her concern for others and her sincere love for God. She astounds me with her intelligence. She also drives me crazy with her incredible sensitivity, but I know it's something that will be a very special attribute as she grows up. She really is a special, sweet, funny, and beautiful girl that I'm so, so happy to call my daughter. I thank God for her sweet spirit and for giving me the opportunity to carry her and give life to her. Happy belated birthday, my incredible Charlotte.

Here's my chicken and dumplings recipe (this recipe makes a huge pot):

The soup:
2 Tbsp. butter
1 medium onion
3 stalks celery
4 or 5 carrots
2 cloves garlic
1 pound chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
1/4-1/2 Cup of flour (I never measure, so I'm guessing)
32 oz. chicken broth

Melt your butter over medium heat in a stock pot and cook all your veggies until slightly tender. Then add your chicken thighs and cook them until they are just browned on the outside, then chop them in the pot. Add flour and stir to make a roux. Add broth and whisk until it thickens a little. If you have found that you didn't add enough flour to make this mixture thick enough for your liking, you can always add corn starch at this point.

The Dumplings:
1/2 Cup butter (cold)
2 Cups flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 Cup buttermilk (since I don't make a habit of keeping buttermilk around, I use the trick of adding about a teaspoon of vinegar to regular milk and letting it sit and curdle a little bit)

Cut butter into dry ingredients using a pastry cutter or criss-crossing two knives. Add buttermilk and stir until mixture makes a big doughy ball, leaving sides of the bowl. Then drop your dumplings by the spoonful into your soup, turn the heat down to low and let them cook until they look edible and fluffy.

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