Abandonment is not allowed

Greetings again from the heart of Girl Schmuck. I had lost interest for awhile because I sorta got lost. That happens to many of us who have ADD issues.  Its been about a year since I posted last. I was considering abandoning this blog and starting a new one. However, I happen to love the name of this blog and I can't think up a better name. This morning I thought I might write about chickens, but decided not to just yet. Then I thought I would write about canning, and again decided not to just yet. I thought about writing to God, but that's sorta personal. I have a new espresso maker.. oh boy will you ever be able to tell when I have had too many of those. I decide to tell you where I have been and what I have been up to for the past year.
I am married to the love of my life, Military Man. I have two amazing kids, Diesel Boy and My Girl who I loving referred to in the past as Stinker Belle. She is a little me. So maybe we call her Baby Girl Schmuck or Twinkle Toes because she loves to dance, or my preference- Meme?  You can leave me a message and let me know your preference.  We have decided to change attendance to a different church. It was a very hard move for us but its so much closer and now that we have been there for about two months its starting to fit better for Military Man and I. The kids jumped right in with no problem.
Living out of the city limits has its benefits and its challenges. I love owning an acre of land and sometimes wish we had 5 acres.  Our home was built in 1977, and with owning an older home, there are maintenance issues that come up. That is mainly the big thing we have been working on.  The alien, and I call him that because if he was from earth he would have a brain. The alien that build our house did not have a brain, and maybe we don't either since we bought the house. Anyways, we have a basement and a cellar in Central Florida.  So this past year, Tropical Storm Debbie sat on top of us for two days and dumped 12 inches of rain on us. We flooded. The end.
To make sure this doesn't happen again, the engineering Military Man has a plan. This plan involves removing all the trees that were planted against the house, one growing at a 90 degree angle under the corner of the house.
The other big thing that has been sucking up my time is third grade. When did third grade get so involved and complicated? When they introduced the F-CAT in Florida. But, let's leave that discussion for another day after a few espresso's.  We had to rebuild my garden wall which I did post pictures of last year. That project is back on the list of moving electric lines, stuccoing the wall and backfilling with dirt.
I have learned to save some money with coupons but again that is a big time sucker and there are enough posts out there about coupons that I don't need to spout anymore. A couple of years ago I started eating low carb because my blood sugar and other numbers were way out of control. I have good news. I have kept off the weight for the most part and I am still eating lower carb. I have a check up this week and look forward to pretty good news. I have gained about 5 pounds since Christmas and now Easter is teasing me with all the chocolate.  Preparing and having low carb food on hand and on stock is very time consuming and a lot of it is planning, planning, planning. 
Volunteer work at the kids school is a big committment but one I am proud of. I try to volunteer at least once a week in the library or a classroom to work with kids.
I got my first smart phone. I can't figure out how to do all the stuff it can do. I have a problem with the keypad on the phone, while I talk, my cheeks hit the mute button or the off button and I continue to disconnect with people I am trying to talk to. The smart phone really makes me feel like a dummy.

I leave you with a phone my girl took with my camera. She did a really good job. Thanks for reading and leave me a post and let me know if your still reading.


Big Decision

Do you Believe?

Do you believe in someone greater than you? Do you know that we are designed by The Great Creator?

This life is temporary but life with our eternal Father in heaven is forever. Forever is a really long time if you not sure of where your going.

Seeking and Finding, Knocking and Answering

I just finished reading one of my summer reads. The book is Seeking Allah, Finding JESUS by Nabeel Qureshi. The subtitle is "A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity". It's so much more than an encounter. He wrestles with God, argues and defends the Islam faith. He is challenged again and again by his best friend in college and in trying to prove the Islam faith is truth, Qureshi proves to himself that it is anything but the truth of God. Through friends, The truth of the bible, discovery of the falsehoods of the Quran, visions and dreams, God brings Nabeel Qureshi to the end of himself.

This story gives great details and insight to the Muslim community and family. Qureshi tells you this in the introduction. He wants to help "non-Muslim reader an insider's perspective into a Muslim's heart and mind." This is his story of how he was raised, taught to pray and what he was taught about the Islam faith.

Nabeel Qureshi had the courage to study what the bible says and to challenge God in prayer was inspiring and had me turning the pages long after my eyes wanted to close for the night. There are many Islamic terms and prayers and sayings that are used and a full glossary is in the back of the book. More importantly the inset boxes of definitions are on the pages itself with the introduction to a new term that would be unfamiliar for a non-Muslim.

As a christian myself I found the book very helpful in understanding a bit more of the Quran and the teachings of Muhammad. I have never wanted to read the Quran myself, however I found it very interesting that many Muslims have read some of the bible and are familiar with the teachings of Jesus.

Something I did not understand in the book was a discussion between the author and his college roommate David who is a devout Christian. The conversation is their first meeting and immediately Nabeel challenges David about the bible he is reading. Nabeel says, "I don't know the exact references, but I know that they added the Trinity into the bible. Later, when they were called out, they removed it".
David responds, "Oh, I know what you're talking about. You're talking about first John five".
The conversation picks up again with Nabeel stating, "Bible Scholars are saying that the end of Mark is not original, and neither is the story in John about the woman caught in Adultery"
(This is where I got confused myself) David responds, "Yeah, I know the story. You're right, they are not original to the text. What's your point?"
Again the conversation continues a page later with David saying, "I already told you, the end of Mark, a story in John, and the interpolation in first John five about the Trinity are all examples of how the Bible has been changed"

Even not understanding specific conversations of argument, you will come away with better understanding of the Muslim Family dynamics and how important prayer and the Quran are in their lives. Only when we see the incredible sacrifices a Muslim has to make to convert to Christianity will you really begin to see the words of the bible; "For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law-- a man's enemies will be the members of his own household." Tell me could you turn away everything you have ever been taught, knowing that your family may ostracize you? Could you love Jesus knowing that your family will never come to your wedding, accept your wife and children because of a decision for Christianity?

So... Does Nabeel decide to accept Jesus as his savior? Pick up a copy and read for yourself.

This is Girl Schmuck signing off

Homemade Granola or is it a cookie

Oatmeal cookies are the best. Oatmeal raisin cookies beat out chocolate chip cookies or brownies in my book any day. I was at the health food store the other day salivating at the bulk food bins. Chocolate is a health food. Sugar not so much. Oatmeal is kinda good for you but oatmeal cookies hmmmm, maybe not so much. Combining the right ingredients to give the satisfying cookie craving without the white flour, butter and loads of sugar was a challenge. The granola sold in stores is not healthy for you regardless of what store you bought it in, including the health food store.

Today I tried making my own granola with a combination of oats, pearled farro, raw pumpkin seeds, roasted sunflower seeds, walnuts, sliced almonds,unsweetened coconut and dried dates,craisins and raisins. The glue used to stick it together was olive oil, maple syrup, honey and little bit of brown sugar. The recipe didn't call for brown sugar. I put so much other stuff in the mix that I had to increase the stickiness of the glue. I had planned on adding flax seeds in the mix, but I forgot. Just a quick side note on flax seeds. Flax can not be digested by our bodies in whole seed form. Flax has to be ground for our bodies to absorb the nutrients and fiber. Otherwise it works like kernels of corn; comes out the same shape and form it went in.

The granola got all mixed up and turned out in a pan. I chose to press it in the pan and make bars instead of crumbles. Baked it up in the oven for about 20 minuets. YUM-O. I can't stop eating it. I am not hungry but the stuff is so good. I love the crunchy, the chewy, the sweet and the salt. It's only missing the 'cheesy' for it to be the perfect girl food. I got the recipe from Whole grain Mornings cookbook by Megan Gordon. It's the first recipe I have tried. I think I will be trying more. This is loaded in flavor and really low in sugar. So now the question is: Is it granola or is it a cookie?

This is Girl Schmuck signing off

What's Cooking, Good looking?

Do you remember that old song with lyrics; "Hey good looking. Whatcha got cooking? How about cooking up something with me?" Some folks like to pair food and wine or food and beer together. I love to compliment my food with good music. Jazz music sets so well with soul food and salsa beats bring out the heat in flank steak fajitas with grilled onions and peppers. 
My newest purchased cookbook came as a surprise from my husband. I was shopping online, placed a cookbook in my cart rather than on my wish list and Military Man purchased it for me. Whole-grain Mornings, New breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons by Megan Gordon. A few years back I went on a very low carb diet to reduce some high risk health problems. Slowly I have brought a few, OK more than a few carbs back into my diet. Bread is my favorite food. Who doesn't love bread? Well, I am experiencing health issues again and processed store bought bread has to be eliminated once again from our household. I needed some inspiration of what grains I can use to replace others. What kind of music helps digest breakfast food? How do you define breakfast?
Do you need quiet instrumental or piano playing softly? Will Reggae shake you awake with your coffee?
Do you dance when you hear music? My hips start to sway when I hear music; my toes tap and my shoulders bounce as my head flips side to side drawing me in as I connect to drums beating out the tempo. Never have I thought about breakfast food and music together though. Why did breakfast food get the silent treatment?
One of my favorite memories is the Jewish Deli bagel shops of Ft. Lauderdale. Breakfast with coffee for $1.99. Big Fat soft chewy bagels with lots of lox and cream cheese. I mention "Jewish" not because the Bagels are holier than you but because the clientele is. I loved being in that fast serve deli, sitting at the counter listening to the customers. AND... the music being filtered over the speakers was the music of the 1940's. I could sing along with every single song as I listened to dishes clatter, orders being yelled out and fingers snapping to get the waitress' attention for coffee refills. I guess for me music does go with breakfast. Now I'm craving a bagel.

This is Girl Schmuck signing off

Just start where you are

It's been nearly a year, but I am here. God got ahold of me and changed a big thing in our lives. Homeschooling. The year started off really tough for my fourth grader. I met with the teacher, the guidance counselor and the principal. I didn't know it at the time but God had his hand upon me and was calling me into homeschooling. I fought it for nine weeks and gave in. I struggled with picking up the pieces and trying to find a fit for our family. God is faithful. He placed great people around me. I was involved in a bible study that spoke to my heart and to the situation. I was surrounded with other strong homeschooling parents who offered encouragement and helpful ideas. We got involved in a co-op group and life balanced out after a few rough spots. This past May I attended the Florida Parent Education Association Homeschool Convention in Kissimmee Florida. There I found lots of great ideas, teachers, helps, workbooks, support and fun. Too much to put all in one post. I have discovered for me that homeschooling is a calling. I am called by God to homeschool my kids. I know this through prayer and being able to understand that I am not able but He is able. I can do all things through Him.

Whats next? I have to take one year at a time. I am willing to do whatever God calls me to do. I am prepared to teach all I can to my children and go above and beyond what the state and public school can not do for my children. I am learning too. My kids are happy. My kids love to learn and are not afraid to go to school anymore. My children retain so much of what they read and hear. As their mother I want to best for them right now. Right now that means homeschooling.

How did you decide to homeschool? What was your experience? Do you find yourself wishing you could homeschool but think you can't? Do you love the school your child is attending?  Summer is here and I find myself wanting to write on the blog. I look forward to spending some more time getting back involved in the blogging world.  One of the reasons I started this blog to begin with was to leave it for my kids and grandkids eventually. I journal daily with God but this blog is written with my children in mind. One day I won't be here, however they will have this cool little piece to vist, reliving some of the moments I remember.

This is Girl Schmuck signing off

Adventures with dad

I live next door to a privately owned orange grove. The owner put a barbed wire fence up a couple years ago to keep ATV's and other trespassers out. I found the owners name and called him. I explained who I was and that because his fence bordered my property, I would like permission to go on the property to keep the fence line clean. I would also like permission to pick up ground fruit. I promised I would not pick from the trees, only fallen fruit. He agreed, and said, “That’s fine.”

So a few days ago, because the weather has been so warm, the trees where ready for picking a few months early. So today I looked across the fence line and I saw the tangerine tree.

Orange trees are grafted onto other citrus trees. If you plant a seed, you will get a rouge tree, which has thorns on it and the fruit may be bitter. So the graft on this one tree was a tangerine, and the tangerine lives on one side and the orange tree on the other but it all comes from the same root. cool huh?

Anyways last year I spotted this same tangerine tree but it was May. The fruit was left and it dried up and was no good. This year, I knew that the guys had picked all the oranges and they didn't want or need the tangerines.

So I grabbed my bucket

I put on my socks and shoes

I took the dogs with me

opened up the fence

and got to the first tree near my fence line, fruit left all over the ground.

Some of it was still good. I tossed them over to my yard. THEN, I heard the MACHINE.

I don't know if they use this machine in other orchards, but this machine has spinning giant blades that rotate and it trims the tops and sides of the orange trees as the tractor runs up and down the rows. I knew I had to hustle outta there. I called the dogs and ran like crazy.

I picked up the fruit in my yard and filled a big ice chest full of water anddumped them in to remove dirt, bugs and mold. I watched the machine go up and down the rows, keeping an eye out for my tangerines, which were not in any danger... hee hee (my tangerines)

My thoughts were, "I need help". I called my dad. He was just finished up at the doctors and just about headed home. I said, “ Come over here instead, I have a project for you and I and it involves being a bit sneaky.” Dad was on the doorstep within 20 mins.

Dad asked me, "Will I need shorts for this mission?”

“Yes, probably because it’s warm out today”, I answered.

I reminded him of the tangerine tree. I reminded him that we, he and I, had discovered it late May of last year. I said, “dad, the fruit is on the top of the tree. We will need to bring a rake to pull them down. I also have been gathering the forgotten fruit on the ground. The workers have already picked the fruit and gathered what they brought to market but they have left a lot of fruit on the ground this year for some reason.”

Dad says, “I am game, let’s go.” I didn't hear the machine, so I didn't bother saying anything to him. He called the dogs to go with us. We had a small black bucket and an easy walk. I said, “We may be doing this for nothing because the tree may be rouge and the fruit can be bitter, or we can luck out and the fruit may be sweet; either way it was left to die and I want to see.”
We reached the tree with our bucket, dogs and rake. The tree was teaming with the brightest tiny little tangerines which looked good. Dad reached up and pulled down a few. I said, “wait, let’s check the fruit first.” I picked one up, the peel fell away like paper and the fruit was succulent, full of seeds, tiny, but very sweet. “YEAH, Let’s gather up some more dad, its good.”

I picked up the oranges on the ground under the tree. This is no easy task. The trees branches are very low to the ground. I was on hands and knees crawling in sand, hunched over trying to gather fruit, toss it out to dad. Dad is pulling down the fruit and they are plopping him in the head. My dogs are sniffing around, enjoying the very warm sun. Our little bucket was full. I am suddenly aware of the machine about three rows over and getting louder.

“Dad, we gotta get out of here, that machine will chop off all our appendages and leave us for dead.” Dad grabbed the rake, I called the dogs and picked up the bucket and for the second time that day, I was running for my fence line.

We got back to the back porch and put the oranges in the cool water and placed all the tangerines on the table. I went inside, got a bowl to use as a garbage can, and dad and I feasted on fresh tangerines for the next half hour, discussing our next strategy for getting the rest of those tangerines, avoiding the machine and leaving the dogs at home.

As we ate we listened to the giant spinning blades whacking through the branches and trimming up the trees for the new blossoms and fruit for next year. We looked down and had eaten every one of the tangerines. We had to go back now. The machine had moved down to the end of the orchard and wouldn't be back on this side for about 20 mins.

Dad said, “We need more buckets.” I answered, “Why not just take a few grocery bags in your back pocket?” He shoved about four in his pocket, grabbed the rake again and I had my sun hat on.

Now you might be wondering why we needed to be sneaky. Well remember I did have permission TWO years ago from the owner. But if you know anything about a business - The owner doesn't work, he hires others to work for him. I figured that when you’re running an orchard, you are not going to remember to tell your foreman that some lady may or may not be in the west side of the field gathering fruit. And I did tell the man I wasn't going to PICK the oranges. Well these are not oranges, and they did leave them behind last year and this year, so I wasn't taking fruit that would be sold, I was gleaning the field. But if I was seen by the guy in the tractor, I would be looked upon as stealing, and I knew he had a cell phone. I just didn't want to have the possible scene of trying to explain what looked very much like stealing. Back to the story.

Dad was like a dog on a scent now. He was going to get his fruit. He had a plan. He is 75, and younger than me at times. He reached up and plucked fruit as quickly as possible. I gathered fruit and tried not to get hit with falling fruit as I gathered. I was thinking about trying my hand at making my first batch of orange marmalade. Never cared for it myself, but it would make good gifts. Free fruit, why not try it.

I wandered over to the next tree and found a lot of oranges on the ground under the tree. I stepped in an ant hill and didn't notice it until they were chopping on my ankles. Good thing I wore socks and shoes. I was figuring out why the workers had left the fruit under the trees. They were too big to get under here and make it worth their wiles to gather a few more oranges when they had giant bags attached to their backs and strapped on more than 100 pounds of oranges when the bag was full. There was no bending over.

I wish I could tell you that this particular orchard owner allowed a church or club to come in and glean the fields. Sadly, every year I watch tons of fruit rot on the ground. They are good sweet Valencia juice oranges. They are not pretty on the outside but they are perfect on the inside. Back to the story...

I look over and dad has three bags of fruit full and the black bucket -full. I have two bags and the rake. We are carrying our load home. We hear the machine. We are safe; we are just steps from my yard. But the compulsion to pick up one more orange that looks so good is so great. Both of us are loaded down. But what do we do, stop and continue to pick up one more orange, or check an orange to see if it’s rotten or good.
I have two ice chests full of good oranges. (We gathered fruit from less than 10 trees in an orchard of 1000's of trees) I have a bag full of small but sweet tangerines. It's been a great full fun day.

We avoided the machine and it hacking saws as it clawed through the branches. We sat down and started planning again. In a couple of days dad will bring over his fruit picker with an extended handle to get the rest of the tangerines at the very tippy top of the tree. hee hee. It’s always an adventure in wild central Florida.