Presbyterian Pears

Posted: under Family favorites.

Delicious pears

A lovely woman from my church gave our family a large bucket of pears.  The skins were mottled and spotted, but inside the flesh was firm, sweet, and juicy.  I knew exactly what to do with this gift!  I would make for my family one of our favorite dishes, which I shall call “Presbyterian Pears”.

Presbyterian Pears

8 – 10 firm pears

4 T butter

1/2 sugar

1/2 c. rum

Peeled and sliced

1. Peel the pears.  Remove the core, and slice them into quarters or sixths.  Because these were large pears, I cut them  into sixths.  Each slice should be thick enough to hold up in cooking.

2.  Melt 4 tablespoons of butter is a large pan over medium-high heat.

3.  Spread the pear slices onto the melted butter.  You want the slices to make good contact with the surface.  Do not overcrowd the pan!

Stir gently!

4. Stir them gently, to prevent sticking.  Not too vigorously, or you will reduce the pears to pear sauce.  That would be good, too, but that is not my goal.

5.  Brown the pears on one side, then flip them gently!  Aim for nicely caramelized pears – that’s where the flavor is!

Lovely, caramelized color is the goal!

6.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar over the pears.  By now they will have released a lot of juice.  While the second side caramelizes, the sugar and butter and juice will reduce to a fabulous sauce.

7.  When the second side has caramelized, pour in 1/2 cup rum.  Allow the rum to cook down.  The aroma is fabulous.  At this point the family will come running to see if supper is ready.

We love these pears served with ham, pork tenderloin, smoked turkey sausage, or (best of all) spooned over vanilla ice cream.

Baptists may omit the rum! If your pears are sweet, the cooked pears will still be delicious!

Thank you, April, for the lovely gift.  We thoroughly enjoyed them!

Comments (2) Aug 28 2011

Large Family Traveling Logistics – Controlling the Chaos

Posted: under Traveling with children.
Tags: , , , ,

Gathering luggage – St. Croix airport, 2007



In May my husband and I succeeded in traveling to seven parks in nine days with our nine children and a babysitter.  It was no small feat, and every previous family vacation was a rehearsal for this “big one”.  How did we do it?  I hope to share a few bits of wisdom.  I wish a had more pictures to share of things we did to simplify the complications, but at those busy times, photography was the last thing on my mind.  Instead, I shall fill in the white spaces of places we have traveled with children.  Yes, it can be done!





Grand Cayman, 2007

1.  When navigating an airport, I dress my children all in matching shirts.  You would think the older children would balk, but they actually seem to possess, instead, a “team spirit”, making the whole ordeal more fun.  The shirts allow me to quickly find children who might stray from the group, but they also enable others to identify us as a group traveling together.  One of the benefits of that is having your family singled out and moved to a shorter line for quicker processing.  That has happened more than twice.

Rum Point, Grand Cayman, 2011

2.  All domestic airports require you to remove your shoes for security screening.  Allow your younger children to wear quick, slip on shoes such as Crocs.  There is nothing like tying ten shoes or needing a shoe horn to dampen your spirits and increase your stress level.  Oh, and make sure your children can walk comfortably and quickly in the shoes they wear.  Airport transfers routinely require lengthy and brisk walks.

Island hopping with son, Bonaire and Curacao, 2007

3.  For domestic flights, allow at least one hour between connections.  Even small delays can make it impossible for you to disembark from one flight and get to the next gate in time.  For international flights, allow at least two hours.

Magic Kingdom, Orlando, FL 2011

4.  When you arrive at an airport, go immediately to find your gate.  Do not buy lunch.  Do not browse for magazines.  Do not try on sunglasses.  Find your gate and check your departure time. Sometimes, for different reasons, flights are moved to a different gate.  You do not want to wait until boarding time to discover that the flight you expected to leave from A 12 is now leaving from C 28, and you will have to get a bus to transfer you there.

Edison Winter Estate, Ft. Myers, FL, 2008

5.  Pack each child’s clothing into a carry-on sized bag and specifically limit what they are to bring.  Our trip to Utah and Arizona required us to change hotels often.  We did not possess the time or space to empty and repack the contents of a suitcase each day.

Wilhemstadt, Curacao 2007

6.  Make a specific list of what children are to pack. Be specific:  9 pairs of socks, 9 pairs of underwear, 1 rain jacket, 1 warm sweater or sweatshirt, 2 pairs of pants, 1 pair of shorts, 3 short-sleeved shirts, 2 long-sleeved shirts…

Dayton, TN 2009

7.  Lay the clothes out together and make sure there are outfits that match.  Expect multiple wears out of clean clothing.

George L. Smith State Park, Metter, GA 2009

8.  You will probably want to take photographs of your children when you travel, so you may want to make sure they selected clothing that actually looks good.  My boys all seem to have favorite shirts that they want to live in and somehow the older ones seem to smuggle them into their bags.  At least I can limit the choices for the little ones.

St. Croix, 2007 (I was six months pregnant)

9.  Pack each child’s socks and underpants into individual bags and LABEL THEM.  While the 3-year-old may have no qualms about wearing the 9-year-old’s underpants, the older child will likely be unwilling to squeeze into the younger child’s size 2T Superman undies.

Brevard, NC 2008

10.  Check as many bags as you can.  We flew Delta to Las Vegas, and because we have a Delta card, we were able to check up to 9 pieces of luggage without additional charge.  That made it a lot easier to board our aircraft and to make our connection.  We didn’t have to expend the time and effort getting carry-on pieces out of the overhead bins.

Turtle Farm, Grand Cayman, 2011

11.  Because checked luggage can easily be lost or delayed, pack one outfit for each child into a backpack to be carried onto the plane.

Tybee Beach, GA 2010

12.  Make a  detailed list of your luggage and to whom it belongs:  1. Blue Samsonite – Catherine, 2. Black LL Bean – Andrew, etc.  List also what bags will be carried on, including handbags.  When you are amassing a heap of luggage at the airport, it is tough to keep a count of the bags.   And you can not expect little ones to accurately recollect that their bags have arrived or remember what they looked like.  Check that list!  Then re-use it every time you change hotels.

"King of the Mtn." on an anchor, Beaufort, SC 2010

13.  Identical ribbons or strips of fabric tied to luggage handles make bag identification simple.  Do you have any idea how many identical black bags there are on any given flight?

Ziplines, Roatan, Honduras, 2009


14.  Airports are designed to ease the rapid transport of large groups of people. For that reason, there are lots of signs.  Take a moment to explain to your children how to read the signs.  Engage them in actively looking for the right path, whether to the next gate, the luggage carousel, the parking lot.  This is an important skill, and will greatly reduce traveling anxiety if they should ever need to fly alone.

Scuba diving, Marathon, FL 2006

15.  You will undoubtedly encounter various clerks with a wide range of competency levels.  Sometimes you will need to “educate” them about the plan you have purchased.  Always, always bring a paper copy that spells out of terms and conditions of  your purchase.  For our 20th wedding anniversary, my husband flew us business class via KLM to go hiking in France.  The airline representative in Nice had never before seen anyone checking baby items (stroller, car seat, back pack) on business class and was quite clueless as to our allowance.  Paper-proof brought quick order to the situation.  Furthermore many airlines and hotels offer specials online, but don’t communicate what you purchased with the reservation.  I had the misfortune of having to stay in three different Courtyard by Marriot hotels in a five week time period.  In each hotel, the front desk had no record that I had purchased a breakfast buffet with my room.  Having to dig up proof each time was wearisome, to say the least.  Finally, the last hotel clerk explained to me, “We have no idea what specials they run online. No one ever tells us.”  The burden of proof may be on you.  Print it off and bring it along!

Hiking in Provence, France 2010

16.  If you require special accommodations at a hotel, call them when you are en route to communicate that you are on your way.  Perhaps you require wheelchair accessibility or a baby crib.  My older daughter plays a harp, and so when we travel with her harp, we request ground floor rooms in hotels with stairs.  There was nothing quite like arriving in a Courtyard by Marriot a few years ago without my husband,  with 8 children and a cooler full of food and discovering upon arrival that not only had they given away the suite with a refrigerator that I had reserved, but also they had placed my children and me in rooms on separate floors!  Now I make it a habit to call:  “Hello, I have reservations, we are on our way and will be arriving after supper time.  I reserved a baby crib.  Could you make sure that a crib is saved for me?  I will have a car load of very sleepy children…”

Kauai, Hawaii 2006

17.  Traveling can be stressful. Connections can be missed, flights cancels, luggage lost.  The people we encounter across the desk spend all day dealing with anxious and angry people.  It is a tough job, and I wouldn’t want to do it.  Treat them with courtesy. A calm voice, a genuine smile, and a kind “thank you” are the right way to interact with clerks, competent or otherwise.  It is the right thing to do.

Because we are a large family, many people observe us that we do not ourselves notice.  Our behavior is a testimony of whom we serve.  It is my hope that people will see how much we love Christ by how we love others.


Comments (2) Aug 15 2011

Stars and Stripes

Posted: under American Heritage Girls.
Tags: , ,

Veteran's Day Parade 2008

Wow, have I been busy!  But it has been a good kind of busy.  Last week my oldest daughter was awarded the Stars and Stripes Award from the American Heritage Girls.  It was quite an honor; it is comparable to an Eagle Scout award for Boy Scouts.





My "Stars and Stripes" daughter

Stars and Stripes Award Ceremony

American Heritage Girls is a Christian, character-development,  scouting organization that is very similar to the Boy Scouts of America.  In fact, it now enjoys a formal relationship with BSA.  The organization is quite new – only 16 years old.

Flag Ceremony

When our troop, GA2007, was chartered by the local homeschool support group four years ago, my daughter and I were eager to participate.  At that time I was pregnant with my seventh son, and she and I were feeling, well,  rather surrounded by boys.  I am not sure many can understand that feeling.  We were quite outnumbered.

Perhaps there is no place that demonstrates our plight like the choice in family read-aloud books.  My husband reads to the children from literature several nights a week when possible.  He has read most of the great classics:  Les Miserables, Huck Finn, Moby Dick, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy…  There are notable, gaping holes in our selections.  Forget Pride and PrejudiceWuthering HeightsJane Eyre!   No, for us it is always Count of Monte Cristo, Three Musketeers, or even Crime and Punishment.  I think my husband read one page of Anne of Avonlea, one paragraph of Heidi, and only opened the cover of Little Women. Well, at least he tried.

My American Heritage Girl!

My daughter and I were delighted for an opportunity to spend time with girls pursuing feminine activities.  It has been a resounding success!  Four years ago I volunteered as a unit leader for the Patriots, the high-school-aged girls.  For two years I have combined my Patriots with the Pioneers, the middle-school-aged girls.  Together we have worked on earning badges and performing service projects.  The badges are a great idea for so many reasons.  They encouraged us to learn new things, such as Needle Arts, Space Exploration, or Geology.  Some of the required badges ensured we learned essential life skills.  For Emergency Preparedness, we had to learn self-defense and get certified in CPR.  Home Repair required the use of power tools and basic home maintenance.  Several of the badges were downright difficult.  Fishing required the cleaning of a fish.  Outdoor Skills required us to learn knots and lashing techniques, and to construct a useful structure.  I had the greatest pleasure seeing the girls earn the Canoeing Badge.  It was challenging.

Getting wet


It required the girls to get in the water (so we had to find an alligator-free lake), to pull each other out, to swamp their canoes, and to pass the flooded canoe over another canoe before turning it upright and climbing back it.

Emptying the canoe

It was difficult, but they accepted the challenge, and when they succeeded their faces beamed with delight:  “I did it!”

Genuine smiles!


Perhaps my favorite aspect of the American Heritage Girls is the emphasis that is placed on having the girls serve their family, their church, their community, and one another.  So many of the badges require a girl to teach or demonstrate a skill to younger girls.  Those younger girls adore the teens.  One of the strengths of homeschooling is that it encourages children not to be dependent on their peer group.  AHG has a similar effect, allowing girls to bond with others who are not their age.  I love that.

Beautiful young ladies of all ages!

To earn the Stars and Stripes Award, my daughter had to plan and implement a sizable project that would require 100 volunteer hours.  For several years she had visited an Alzheimer care facility to play her harp for the patients.  For her project, she designed and constructed  a  garden to be enjoyed by Alzheimer’s patients and their families.  The raised garden is wheel-chair accessible and filled with  aromatic plants that  can be used in therapy for the patients.  Apparently, the sense of smell is one of the first to diminish in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.  Her project was not without complications! Her winter was filled with college applications and harp auditions, lots of paperwork and bureaucratic obstacles.  Then finally the week that the garden was to be installed, the week before her 18th birthday (the deadline), the heavens opened up and poured rain for days and days.  I was so proud and thankful to see American Heritage Girls of all ages, their brothers, mothers, and fathers turn up to help get her garden constructed and completed before her deadline.

Raised aromatic garden at Alzheimer care facility

The Stars and Stripes Award ceremony was wonderful!  It was both solemn and joyful.  I was proud of my daughter and all that she had achieved.  She set a goal, she reached for it, it stretched her, and she grew.

Her father places charm around neck.

The ceremony would not have gone so smoothly without the time and commitment of the other AHG leaders.  I am so grateful for their time and efforts.  Mothers are busy people, and I daresay homeschooling mothers are busier than most.  But these gracious women gave their time and creative energy to write and implement a Stars and Stripes Award Ceremony that was both meaningful and lovely.  I am so thankful.

Affirming the oath

My daughter was the first to earn the Stars and Stripes Award in our troop, the third in the state of Georgia, and the fortieth nation-wide.  I now hold in my arms another daughter, only one year old.  It is my hope that she may follow in the footsteps of her older sister, to reach for the Stars and Stripes Award and embrace the AHG Mission: “Building women of integrity through service to God, family, community, and country.”


Comments (15) Aug 09 2011