Thursday, April 24, 2008

Back by Popular Pancake Demand...

Ren often complains to me that no one comments on his posts. I then told him that my post about pancakes has received 17 comments. So did my public school post, but most of those were made by Erin and me! Anyways, back to my point. I told Ren that if he wanted to boost his blog numbers, post about food. I mean, who doesn't like food? You really can't go wrong.

I had some requests for the Buckland Homemade Buttermilk Pancake Recipe. It's really from my favorite Southern Living cookbook. Here it is:

Dry Ingredients
2 c. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. sugar

Wet Ingredients
2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs (slightly beaten)
1/4 c. vegetable oil

I use my beloved cast iron skillet every time. I start heating it up on medium-low heat even before I start the recipe. Mix the dry ingredients together. Then mix the wet ingredients together. Then pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients. I use my stand-up mixer. Mix all together until just incorporated. If you over mix, you won't have very fluffy pancakes. Dump about 1/4 c to 1/3 c for each pancake into the pan. Flip, butter scandalously, serve hot with lots o' maple syrup.

You know you want some.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Boldy going...where millions of American children go every day

So as you know, Ren and I have been cutting things to the bone lately. Thusly, we have made another major decision.

Isabel, our 5 year old, is about to graduate from Pre-K. She attends a fantastic little private Christian school in the area, with which we have been exceedingly pleased. We enrolled her there for several reasons, namely because: 1.)It's a Christian school. We're Christians, so logically, we've decided to raise our children as such. Crazy, I know. But that's just the way we roll; 2.)It's only half day--3 hours--as opposed to the 6 & 1/2 hour day in public Pre-K. We just weren't ready to subject our then 4-year old to that many hours of school per day, especially with it being her first year, coupled with the fact that she has the rest of her next 15 or more years to live out in some type of school system; 3.)We loved the smaller classes, the teachers, the brand new facility...*sigh*. I could keep going. Needless to say, we've been very satisfied with our experience, and, more importantly, so has she.

However, she's about to graduate, and next fall she'll be moving on up into Kindergarten (or the "Academy" as they call it). Our options at this point are: 1.)Keep sending her to the private school; 2.)Homeschool; or 3.)The dreaded...Dare I say it?...Public School. *gasp!*

I'll address the first option...well, first. Honestly, we love her school. I think I've made that quite clear. But here's one small problem: It's not free. It actually costs us money. That's the crazy thing about private school. And next year her tuition would be almost double what we're paying for her current year. It's been a little bit of a stretch for us to send her this past year, but with me working part time for our church, we've been able to manage it. But see, here comes the tricky part--we're simultaneously trying to get out of debt, sell a house, and I'm getting ready to quit my job and have our fourth baby! So, we either go into even more massive amounts of debt (which we already have, thank you very much), or sell one of the other children to fund our oldest daughter's first year of school, or look at our other options. Let's move on, shall we?

I'll address Homeschooling next. Honestly, I love the idea of home school. I think it's an admirable, noble, amazing, and wonderful thing to do. For anyone else on the planet ***EXCEPT ME***. Honestly, I know what I can and cannot do. I have come to know myself pretty well, and I know the way I'm wired. Actually, the thought of homeschooling right now, with this many small children, while getting ready to have another, makes me break out into a cold sweat and want to pass out. I know a LOT of moms that home school. In fact, I would even go so far as to suggest that we rename the current area in which we live from the Bible Belt to the Homeschool Belt. I feel like I am in the minority at times. I'm not one of those parents that cried on my daughter's first day of Pre-K. On the contrary, I barely stopped the mini-van in the carpool line just long enough for her to safely get out, before spinning the tires, and racing off to enjoy my few, short, precious hours. Heh heh. I'm a good mom.

I've seen and/or heard some of the nitty, gritty details. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And several parents I've talked to do NOT recommend homeschooling your first child, their first year, with a brand new baby. Who knows? Once they get a little bit older, like maybe when they can all read, write, and wipe themselves, I may change my tune. Until then, we're pretty much decided. I have spent a lot of time considering this option (like the last 5 years or so), and I've spent many hours in prayer about it. I've heard the pitches. I've had other moms try to convert and/or "encourage" me into doing it . But just trust me on this one. I don't think that Homeschooling is for everyone. And with that being said, I KNOW, it ain't me, babe. Not now. No way. No how.

Which leaves us at our third and final option, Public School. Now, 5 years ago, Ren and I would have laughed hysterically, and then proceeded to systematically bludgeon the offender, had anyone ever even suggested that we throw our precious first-born into the lion's den of iniquity that is Public School. But, life (and God) has a way of taking you from all your unrealistically high standards, knocking you down a level or two, to bring your feet back to Planet Earth. Therefore, and by now you've probably guessed it, Ren and I have decided that we will be sending Isabel to public school for Kindergarten. Now, I'll spare you all the minute details about how we've come to such a brave conclusion. But I will say that I really think the Lord Himself gave us both some sort of paradigm shift on the whole thing. The fact that we're in agreement on it is huge. And ever since we've made the decision, I've just been getting nothing but God's peace and encouragement every step of the way. I keep hearing other parents in the community saying things like, "Oh, that's one of the best schools in the county," and "If I had my choice, that's where I'd be sending my kid." And even crazier is the fact that we can see the school from our neighborhood.

The main thing we keep telling ourselves is--It's Kindergarten, for crying out loud. How wild and crazy can it possibly be?

What we've learned through all of this is that there's no perfect solution. We're just parents who deeply love our kids, and want to do what's best. Aren't we all? Obviously, there are pros and cons to all of these scenarios. We'll definitely have to reevaluate our decision at the end of Isabel's first year in public school. At that time we'll have to take a really hard look at her drinking habits, number of piercings, various tattoo locations...oh, AND examine what and how much she's actually learning and move on from there.

Pray for us as we embark on this brave new journey.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Saturday-Universal Pancake Day

Saturday here at the Buckland house is Pancake Day. It's the one day of the week that we don't have to rush out of the house. No one's working or going to school. So we can relax, have a leisurely morning, and spend some time doing breakfast right.

I pretty much love all breakfast foods, but my daughters, particularly the oldest, request pancakes every Saturday. No waffles, or biscuits and gravy, or Eggs Benedict. Just pancakes. And bacon. With real maple syrup. They will not be fooled, and they will settle for no substitutes.

Then I read that my friend, Elaine, does pancake day on Saturday. And I also believe that the Hippses are Saturday Pancake People. What say you? Is Saturday Universal Pancake Day? If not, what do you do for breakfast on Saturday?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Financial Peace Is An Oxymoron

But we're hoping that one day it won't be. You see, Ren and I are on the Dave Ramsey train. We've been following his stuff for quite a while, listening to his radio show, reading his books, attending Financial Peace University, etc. We've actually been hosting a FPU group at our church on Monday nights for the past couple of months. This is the second time we've taken the class, and honestly, I get a little dismayed when I think about how long we've been applying some of these principals in relation to how much further we still have to go. Now, granted, we haven't always had gazelle intensity, but we haven't given up yet, and we're not going to!

The past couple of classes have been a little overwhelming for me, I must admit. At our last class, Dave taught (via video, of course) about saving for your retirement and your children's college funds. The week before that was all about wise investing. Now, Ren and I are still on Baby Step #1, which is kind of discouraging. So, the idea of investing and saving for college is a bit far off into the future for us. Truth is, we've actually completed Baby Step #1 like 10 times, but we somehow end up needing the money for some type of "emergency" or another. So we're actually kind of in limbo somewhere between Baby Steps #1 and #2.

All that to say, it looks like we're going to be cutting everything to the bone. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING. Anyone looking for a couple of great house cats? We're even discussing cutting our Dish Network subscription, which isn't totally crazy because we, including the kids, never watch it. We just don't have time, and the kids would rather watch their DVDs. Ren is even in Ebay mode. And I've got a sweet Taylor acoustic 814CE that I'm looking to sell as well. Sad but true, but honestly the thing is just sitting collecting dust right now and has been for the past couple of years. And, let's face it, I probably won't be touring the country with my hit record any time in the near future.

There's just no stress like financial stress. It will literally choke the life out of you. It also seems to magnify every other minor problem you have in your life. Anyways, we're committed to doing whatever it takes to get out of debt and have some sort of future planned for my children. That's worth some gazelle intensity, I do believe.

We just started a financial series at Fusion Church called "Night of the Living Debt." Last week, Pastor Tony talked a little bit about how using credit is like "borrowing from the future." Basically, you're saying, "I don't have it today, but I am CERTAIN that I'll have it tomorrow!" Or next month. Or whenever. Anyway, I thought that was a very strong point, and very often a lie that we're tempted to believe. It could also apply to our time management (e.g., "I'm too busy now, but in the future maybe thing's will slow down, and I'll have more time"). I used to think that I could make a mess of things (to a certain degree, of course), and that God would somehow sweep in and fix things for me, as long as my intentions were good. I think He does that for us when we're young, but then there's just a point where you grow up and have to take some responsibility for your actions. I'm also learning that even though I am a child of God, things are not always easy, and I don't always get my way!

With all that said, I am really looking forward to this Sunday's message. Author and speaker Joe Sangl is coming to give his testimony. He has written a book called, I Was Broke, Now I'm Not. I can't wait to hear what he has to say.

P.S. Could you all be praying for us? Once again, we've found ourselves strapped with paying two mortgages. Technically, a mortgage and a half since, thankfully, we're in this one with a partner. As if one mortgage wasn't enough, right? It comes at a rough time for us, considering we're about to add another to our ever-expanding brood. And also considering that the housing market is at the lowest point it's been in years, we're definitely feeling it. Pray that we could sell or rent this house ASAP!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dear Pastor Too Important to Hold the Door

You probably don't remember me. I attended your church several years ago. My husband and I were members, regular attenders, tithers, and we served faithfully while we were there. I always speak very highly of your church, and know many people that currently attend. I have even led worship at your church before. Now, granted, we were never best buds or anything, and I can probably count on one hand all the interactions we've ever had with one another. And this was all before we had any children, so you probably didn't recognize me yesterday when we saw each other at Barnes & Noble. Yes, that was me. You intercepted me as I was walking into the establishment, 7 months pregnant and holding my 3 year old's hand, while balancing my 16 month old on my very pregnant hip. I was about to smile and say, "Hello, Pastor Blahbiddy Blah, remember me?" as you did the gentlemanly thing (heck, neighborly thing) and held the door open for me as I walked past you. But...that...didn't...happen. Now, I know we've all been in those awkward situations where you find yourself walking into a building and you happen to glance back and see someone approaching, but are SEVERAL paces behind you. Do you hold the door or not? That's a tough one. And had I been SEVERAL paces behind you, I probably wouldn't be blogging about this little incident. However, considering the fact that I was only 3-5 paces behind you...Yes you...I saw you glance at me...I have to ask the question: Would it have killed ya to hold the door and extra 3.7 seconds for me and my children?

Now, as a pastor, I would be willing to bet that you've probably run across this little teaching of Christ's once or twice in your career. And I know nowadays, what with women's lib (thanks, Gloria) and all, maybe you've held a door or two open for a lady in the past and had your head chewed off. But I'm gonna go ahead and take a wild stab here and say that the next time you (or anyone else for that matter-pastor, male, or female) see someone toting three, two, heck, even one child approaching, HOLD THE FREAKING DOOR!!!!


Angela Buckland

(photo courtesy of Isabel Buckland)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away

I love it when it rains. I think I get this from my mom. She loves the rain. I probably wouldn't feel this way if I lived in Seattle. But I do love the occasional rainstorm. Time seems to stop. Or at the very least, slow down. The pressure to perform and produce is off. I can relax a little. I don't have to feel bad for not taking my kids outside to the play. We can watch hours of television and stay in our pj's till noon and not feel guilty about all the things we're not doing.

This Sunday at Fusion, Pastor Tony is going to be talking about slowing down. I am really looking forward to this message. I really need to hear it. Since having children, I've really tried to not let that "slow me down." In fact, in a lot of ways, I've become even busier, even more "productive", even more ambitious than I ever was before I even had kids. Before children, I was more than happy to kick back, stay in my sweats til noon, and just enjoy life a little.

Now, I'm not saying that one's life goal should be all about dropping out of life, never leaving the house, never getting dressed, and becoming a slug. But for some time now, I've just been feeling slap worn out. I know for sure that some things in my life are going to have to go. I may not feel as "productive" or useful as I have in the past, but maybe, just maybe, I'll make it through this crazy life with my sanity intact. And according to this guy, that's what's most important.