Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall Decorating ala Pinterest

If you aren't a member of Pinterest yet, you probably will be soon.  It is finally a visual way to organize all those great recipes, tips, crafts, decorating ideas you see all over the web in one place.  It is very inspiring and I'm not just a "pinner", I'm a do-er!  I have made countless recipes and several new crafts based on my pins.

Here are some of my interpretations from my pins...

My front door wreath.  A simple grapevine wreath with rosettes made out of burlap and buttons:

and here is my indoor fall decor

I had been wanting some apothecary jars for a long time and I finally found them at a great price and for fall filled them with brown rice, split peas and pinto beans with a pine cone nestled inside based on this pin

Next project: thumbtack and decopaged pumpkins next to the front door!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Cheerleading bucket

My daughter does Upward Cheerleading and I love it.  We are very intentional about what activities to be involved in and this was a conscious choice because she needed more confidence, it doesn't over commit our time and it is very affordable.  I love that there is one game and one practice a week for about 2 months as well as the positive Christian environment.   My job this year was to help buy items and design the "cheer buckets" that would hold all their "accessories" (poms, megaphones, etc) and it provides a great place for them to sit before and after games.
We got 5 gallon buckets from Wal-Mart and I made a seat cushion using supplies from Hobby Lobby.  The blue cloth was some scrap felt and just some silver trim.  I traced around and then cut some Poly-Foam for the top, hot glued the felt around it and then hot glued it to the lid.  I then hot glued the trim all around and added stickers from the Homecoming Mum section and Scrapbooking sections.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

7 Can Tortilla Soup

So cheap, so easy and quick.  I make this usually with cheese quesadillas for a great lunch or dinner.  Great topped with cheese, sour cream and or chopped avocado...and of course crushed tortilla chips!

1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis (Rotel)
1 can corn
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 can white meat chicken breast
2 cans chicken broth

Dump all in a pot, undrained...bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add any seasonings to fit your tastes.  I love the cilantro cubes you can find in the Mexican food section.  I also usually add diced onions and garlic but all are optional!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What we eat

So here are my most cooked meals every month.  Some with links to the recipes.  I think I may try one major grocery shopping trip for the month to buy most of the ingredients and I may even start cooking some ahead of time and freezing them so things go smoothly after school gets going.  Having a meal in the freezer keeps me from running out to a restaurant.  If a recipe involves ground beef we usually use ground turkey and look for other substitutions in these recipes to save fat/calories/salt.

Potato Soup with Paninis
Waffles and Turkey Bacon (thanks to this magic machine and the waffle plates)
Beef Stew and homemade bread
Slow Cooker Pot Roast, Mashed potatoes and Veggies
Ham and Homemade Mac and Cheese
Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Veggies
Grilled Salmon, Rice, Salad
Our Favorite Chicken, Rice, Veggies
Mostaccioli, Salad
Chili with Cornbread Muffins
Taco Salad
Stuffed Peppers with Veggies
Chicken and Dumplings and Salad
Tacos or Burritos with Rice and Beans
Spaghetti with Salad and Garlic Bread
Sloppy Joes with Sweet Potato Fries
Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup with Quesadillas
Slow Cooker Italian Beef Sandwiches with Steak Fries and Veggies
Baked Flounder/Cod/etc with Rice and Steamed Broccoli
Stir Fry Chicken or Beef with Rice (frozen stir fry veggies with the meat with this and then I make fried rice)
Marinated Grilled Chicken with Rice and Veggies

I usually try 2-5 new recipes every month so those are somewhere in the rotation and we eat out occasionally.
Share your family favorites!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Money Saving tip for Pet Owners

As many of you have heard, Wal-mart is now selling a generic version of Frontline called PetArmor.  I'm sure it is cheaper than buying Frontline throught the vet but there is another way to save money and keep those pesky buggers off your furry kids if they are smaller dogs or cats.  They charge you the same amount whether you are buying a three month supply for a Chihuahua or a Great Dane but the amount per dose is very different.  So I buy the biggest bottle designed for the biggest dogs for our Schnorkie (who only weighs 10 lbs) and just repackage and dose out exactly how much she needs.  I found an old Mylicon bottle that actually shows 0.6mL which is perfect because the proper dosing for a small dog is 0.67mL, so I just go a little over the 0.6mL line on the dropper.  I marked out the label for safety and keep the bottle inside the PetArmor box so there is no confusion.
Here is the dosing by weight as shown on an eBay seller's site who sells the larger bottles.  This is how I used to buy it before Wal-Mart began selling PetArmor.  This will help the boxes go a lot longer and ensure your furbaby is flea-free for cheap!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cowgirl 1st Birthday

Here are some pictures from my little Charlotte's first birthday.  She is our first to be born in Texas so we thought a Cowgirl theme would suit her perfectly.  Here is her invitation (with a fake last name):

Our Menu was:
 Sliced Brisket or Smoked Sausage
Potato Salad
Banana Pudding Cupcakes with dark chocolate cowboy hats

Our drinks were Cowgirl Pucker (cherry limeade and pink lemonade) for everyone and Parker County Punch (Fuzzy Navel mix, OJ, and Malibu Rum) for the grown-ups

Here are the pics!
You can buy her shirt from

My first attempt at fondant  for her smash cake
found the cowboy ducks on Amazon

They had this pinata at Party City.

Yee Haw!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Keeping it Clean

I'm back on a cleaning schedule everyone!  I slacked a while after we moved into our new home but I'm back on track.  For those of you looking for ways to keep a cleaner home without the strict "Fly Lady" type schedule, here goes.

I keep my cleaning chart on my kids' chore chart so they see that everyone has a job to do every day.
Every morning, I announce what their chores are for the day and what area I'm going to focus on.  I do a specific deep cleaning every day plus our "10 Minute Pick-Up" which I will explain later.

Today's focus was the kitchen.  I spent about 30 minutes to an hour deep cleaning which to me means: steam mopping, cleaning the appliances, counters, organizing, etc.  Yesterday was the Master Suite so I vacuumed and straightened up my room, and deep cleaned my bathroom.

This way I know that it all gets cleaned every week and my kids know that we do our housework first and then we can sit back and play.

Now on to the "10 Minute Pick-Up".  This is my sanity saver.  Every night at 10pm, my husband and I set the timer for 10 minutes and pick up the house as fast as we can.  That usually includes loading and starting the dishwasher, starting the washing machine, picking up a few toys, sweeping the floor and wiping down the cabinets.  It is amazing what can get done in just 10 minutes!  Then we can go to bed and the morning starts off with a fairly clean home.
Hope this helps someone!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Raising Grateful Children

I love my kids but they all go through different phases.  Lately, my kids have seemed very entitled and ungrateful for what they have and what we do for them.  I tried to think of ways to turn this around and I came up with a few ways to remind them of how blessed they are.

1. Dinnertime thankfulness: Every night at dinner, we are going around the table saying one thing we are grateful for that day.  It may not be much but it gives us a chance to reflect on the blessings we received that day and it usually becomes a good conversation starter.

2. Work before you play:  My kids have had chores for a while but they just have to get them done sometime during the day.  This Summer we have done a lot of fun activities in the community and their gratitude for that has not been reflected in their behavior.  So, they have to do their chores before I will take them to do anything fun or have friends over.  I want them to understand that going to the pool, play dates, etc are a privilege, not a right.

3. Giving and serving: I have been talking to them a lot about how much they have compared to most kids around the world.  I think that conversation can be done without becoming a giant guilt trip (at lease I hope).  I had them gather up toys to donate to a local charity and we are talking about other opportunities for them to serve.

How do you encourage an attitude of gratitude in your home?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Crisis of Faith

Maybe you watched Lost, maybe you didn't but I think there is something in this video for everyone.  I think this was one of the best few minutes in television history.  I think there is a deep spiritual moment in this ABC drama that maybe a few people overlooked.

What happened to Richard in this scene was that he had a crisis of faith.  He had basically been giving immortality and witnessed supernatural things that would make anyone a believer, but even he had a crisis of faith deep enough that he doubted his purpose and wanted to die.  The thing that energizes me about this scene is what Jack did.  He could have left Richard to work it out on his own but he didn't.  He went onto a boat full of dynamite and lit a stick.  In that moment, Richard needed someone with a faith stronger than his to get down and dirty in his fear and disbelief and see him through it.  

How does this apply to Biblical parenting?  First, we all need to have lighthouse moments like Jack had.  We can't testify to our kids about how God works miracles and how our anchor of hope is lodged in something real and tangible if we haven't experienced it for ourselves.  Second, we have to be willing to light the stick of dynamite.  We have to be there when they can't see God's plan and ride it out with them.  Tonight my daughter asked me if God was real.   I was so glad that I could give her a list a mile long of how I know He is real. Because I believe this verse:
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15
applies to our kids as well.  

Have you been to the lighthouse lately?  Have you seen miracles?  Have you stepped back to see how God has been working out an infinite number of miracles in your life for His glory?  He wants to reveal himself to you.  And He wants you to be there for others (including your children) when their pain is so deep that they can't see out.  Get in the boat and light the stick and see what God does.  Okay, you don't really need to set anything on fire.  But be there and tell them that He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  

Because He was, He is and He will be.

Friday, June 17, 2011

What to do at the Drop-off

I was watching Finding Nemo with my girls the other day realizing that I was getting a parenting seminar while they were enjoying a movie.  It made me think about "permissive parenting" and when it is okay to say yes.  You might not think of me as a permissive parent if you read this blog but I think there are times when I would describe myself as such.

Finding Nemo would have been a much different movie if Marlin had known when to let go, right?  If he had trusted his son on his fishy field trip and not let his fear rule his parenting, there would have been no "finding" involved in the movie.  But we can't say yes all the time, right?  The trick is knowing the when to let them swim with the big fish and when to keep them in the anemone.

There are a lot of things that as a mom, I let my kids try because I don't want them to rebel and think I never let them experience new things.  Make-up is one example.  When my daughters come in my bathroom while I'm applying make-up, they will often ask to wear some.  I always sweep on a little blush or dab on a touch of lip gloss so they feel like I'm saying "yes" while not sending them out like a painted lady.  They have never gotten into my make-up bag because they know it is not off-limits and if they ask, I will oblige.  I'm probably crazy for letting them crack eggs for every dessert recipe, but they love it and worse case scenario, I have a little clean up and one less egg.

There are things that are totally off the table for my kids to try but we talk about those things and why we, as their parents, feel that way.  Parenting is a fine balance and I'm trying to walk it out every day.  I'm just trying to keep them from swimming straight for the boat.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Luau for my big girl

I love all things Hawaiian so we had a beautiful luau to celebrate my oldest daughter's 7th birthday.   It was just a little party at home but she loved it.  We had kalua pork, macaroni salad, raspberry pineapple lemonade and a little pitcher of mai tais for the grown ups.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I don't think God cares

I hear this in regards to many topics like:

I don't think God cares about football (while watching players thank God in post-game interviews)

I don't think God cares about tattoos (in regards to whether or not Christians should get them)

I don't think God cares about _________(fill in the blank with any topic less important than thermo-nuclear war).

And I guess that is true.  If they are talking about a distant God who is basically just a cosmic referee deciding which issues are really important enough for Him to take a break from all the awesome harp music and come down and intervene.  That is just not who I worship.  I worship a God who knows how many hairs I have on my head and how many electrons I have going around each atom in my body.  I believe He cares (meaning that it is part of his ultimate plan of redemption) about everyone on a cellular level.  He cares about that new purse I might buy because it has really deep pockets and 7 months from now I will drop my keys down in there, search the whole house for 20 minutes, just to find them in those deep pockets.  He cares because if I had left the house 20 minutes earlier, the 15 car pileup on the interstate would have been a 16 car pileup.  So even though picking out a new purse may seem like a minor choice, it might be a huge choice in the scheme of eternity.  I think He could conceivably put me in front of the new purse display on purpose.  We may never know all the things that seem like small potatoes to us, but turn out to be life or death.  High school graduation could have been held at Joplin High School at 6pm and the entire class and their families could have been killed or seriously injured.  We don't know why somethings happen the way they do but I know that my God cares and I know He has a plan.
Either He is the omnipotent God of the universe or He isn't.  Either He is a loving Father who knows every detail of His children's lives and cares about them because He knows them all the way down to their soul, or He isn't.  Who is He to you?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Neglected Fruit

I think several of the fruits of the Spirit are missing in our current culture, but the one that really seems evident in America today is Self-Control.  I once heard that Love and Self-Control are the two major bookends of fruits that hold the rest in there.  I see it missing when I watch a show about hoarders, or The Biggest Loser, or 16 and Pregnant.  People want to buy what they want, eat whatever they want and sleep with whomever they want with no consequences.  The problem...there are consequences and they are serious.

So how do you teach your kids self-control?  First of all, you talk about it and identify when your kids are out of balance.  You praise them when you see them using self-control.  But of course, the most powerful teacher is when you model it in front of them.  When you are disciplined to exercise when you don't feel like it.  When you tell them why you are fasting.  When you explain that you have to wait on a purchase because it isn't in the budget.  When you stop yelling at them and keep your emotions in check.

I'm still getting there.  My husband was out of town for two weeks and I lost my temper a couple times.  That is when you get to teach another great lesson...forgiveness.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day Fail

Let me do some math for you:

Husband out of the country for 2 weeks + teething baby that won't nap + 2 other grumpy kids does not = A Hallmark perfect Mother's Day.

But I am blessed.  I have 3 healthy kids, a wonderful husband who loves me and many caring friends.  I had one of those parenting days where you have to give your kids the lecture that includes the phrase, "I give and I give and I give and you guys don't even care!  And its Mother's Day and this is how you treat your mother!".  But it will be okay.  They are great kids that are just having a "Perfect Storm" kind of day.

I have been on a great run of sub par Mother's Days though.  Last year, I managed to miss the holiday completely.  We were in the US for the UK Mother's Day and in the UK for the US Mother's Day.  But the date doesn't matter.  My husband makes me more breakfasts in bed in a year than most wives get in a lifetime and my kids are the joy of my life.  Teething, no nap, ungrateful, whiny blessings that they are...I love them still.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Cheap and Healthy Dinner Idea!

Here was our dinner last night.  I got most of the ingredients from Aldi (my sweet German purveyor of staples...oh how I love you).

Intentionally Delicious Turkey Chili
1lb of ground turkey
1 package of McCormicks White Chicken Chili Seasoning
2 cans white beans (great northern, cannellini, whatever kind you fancy)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can sweet corn
1 can chicken broth (I used the light version)

Brown the turkey, toss in the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes.  Then comes the fun part...what to top it with?  We went for chopped avocado and cheese but it would be great with sour cream and cilantro as well.  Or if you are going light, plain Greek yogurt is a great substitute for sour cream.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Less is way more

When our oldest was born we lived in a small apartment and were barely getting by.  We didn't have a lot of money for extras, and even though she was still a baby, I felt bad that we didn't have the room or the money for many toys for her to play with.  I asked my Parent Educator from Parents as Teachers what to do and she always reassured me that kids love simple things to play with like wooden spoons and a bowl.  She also said if we were to buy her anything, to focus on the 3 B's: books, balls and blocks.

Fast forward to her birthday and we started to receive some toys as gifts.  Then Christmas and Easter and another birthday and another baby and the toys keep rolling in.  Add to that, the toys from fast food restaurants and other giveaways everywhere we go and we started becoming buried under a sea of toys.  I couldn't help but think of a Focus on the Family broadcast where I heard a guest describing his family's 10 toy rule.  His kids were only allowed 10 toys and when they got a new one, they had to pick one to donate or hand down to a sibling.  I thought it was extreme at the time but as the playroom started filling up, it was beginning to sound fantastic.

I started to realize that keeping toys to a minimum was actually a blessing to my kids.  When I got rid of a lot of the little toys that they weren't playing with, they were able to clean up the playroom more quickly and didn't get as frustrated with the notion of cleaning.  They were able to see what they did have and played with their favorite toys more.  I'm going to keep lightening the load around here and enjoying a simple play space.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Learning to Read

Just as an update to the "Chick-fil-A"'s working!  My kids are saying "Yes, Ma'am, it would be my pleasure," several times a day and their actions are reflecting their words.  Wow!!!

Reading is a big deal in our home.  Not only is it important for school, but it is the key to unlocking new worlds of imagination and the Word of God.  My goal is to have each of my kids reading before they start kindergarten.  My oldest is in 1st grade (for another month or so) and is an amazing reader.  She has fluency I never could have imagined for a 6 year old.  I owe a lot of credit to my mom who did a lot to help her read.  I will never forget the first world she read.  We were eating dinner at Chili's and she saw the word "HOT" on a big sign.  She carefully sounded it out and started saying, "Hot!  That sign says Hot!".  It was like the world made sense for the first time to her.

My middle daughter is 4 and has another year of preschool before she starts Kindergarten in the fall of 2012 but she is already reading some sight words and trying to sound things out.  We are teaching her the same way we taught our older daughter.  We read to our kids every night and sometimes before naps as well.  I point to each word as a read.  I teach them the letter sounds by popping in The Letter Factory dvd from Leap Frog.  It is such a fun, creative way to teach letter sounds and by watching this every few days, in about a month both my kids learned all their letter sounds.  Next, we do things the old fashioned way and read lots of Dick and Jane books.  Those focus on sight words by repetition.  Once you can recognize some basic sight words (and, the, up, down), start to learn phonics, and have a base of knowledge about context clues from doing a lot of listening to are on your way to reading!  I also spend a lot of time at the library and encourage my kids to pick out books that interest them.

I hope this helps someone!  I love reading and it is such a joy to see that passed down to my kids!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

She's Your Sister

I have three beautiful little girls ages 8 months, 4 and 6.  Obviously the baby isn't involved in sibling squabbles yet but the older two have been known to push, shove, and otherwise engage in physical altercations over some pretty petty things.  Things like a Happy Meal toy or a five cent pencil.  The lesson that I try to get through to them after the punishment phase is over is that their sister means more than that little toy.  I try to convey that  those toys will come and go but those little objects are never worth hurting each other over.  A toy is just a toy but she's your sister and that matters more.

I was painfully reminded of those teachable moments when I was working on my current Bible study from Beth Moore.  It is the study of David and there is a section about how David dealt fairly with his enemies.  This is what caught my eye:

"Pray for your enemies.  Pray they will accept God's delegate of mercy toward them.  Pray for a willingness to be a vessel of God's mercy in their lives.  A battle is coming and all captives will be kept eternally."

I heard God saying as I read over those lines:
"She's your sister.  He's your brother.  You know those people that you were struggling with?  Not over a toy but over an ideal or a hot topic of conversation?  That topic or ideal is about as important as a Happy Meal toy in the view of eternity.  See them as I see them."

You drastically change how you treat others when you begin to view them through the telescope of eternity.  Their political party or parenting method don't seem to matter nearly as much as their heart.

So I will keep striving as a mom to teach my kids the lesson that, "she's your sister," as I learn to remember that we are all God's children and deserving of mercy and kindness.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Running my family like a Chick-Fil-A

If you have ever been to a Chick-fil-A, you probably noticed some ways that it isn't like other fast food restaurants.  For one, it is cleaner and usually has fresh flowers on the table.  The food is fresh and the drive-thru is remarkably fast.  But that isn't what really sets Chick-fil-A apart for me.  What I love to hear every time I'm diving in to my #1 Deluxe, no cheese, with honey bbq sauce is those magical words every employee utters hundreds of times a day: "my pleasure."  Every time you ask for something at Chick-fil-A, the employees are to respond by saying, "my pleasure".  What that means to me is that they are excited to serve their customers and aren't put out by my request for an extra ranch packet.

So what does this have to do with my family?  Quite a bit actually.  I want my kids to respond the same way when I ask them to do something.  Not because it sounds nice and I'm hoping they will get a job in serving chicken but because our homes are to be micro chasms of the world we live in and a proving ground for their future.  It isn't about being Stepford children to their parents or saying some magical words but about ultimately turning their hearts towards serving their King with a joyful, willing heart.  Psalm 100:2 (NASV) reads, "Serve the Lord with gladness", and I want them to grow the habit of having a cheerful attitude while doing a task.

I have been reading the Duggars' book about management of their large family and this is one of the tenets of obedience in their home.  Their children are encouraged to say, "Yes ma'am, I would be happy to", when they are asked to do something.  I love seeing the beautiful hearts of their children displayed on television as they serve in their community and on mission trips and I want that for my kids.  The hard part is that whenever we as parents want to introduce a new principle in our home, we have to take the lead.  And by take the lead, I mean we have to follow through in front of them.  So when my husband asks me if I could grab him a glass of water, I need to model, "my pleasure", in front of them.

See it just oldest daughter just asked for a glass of milk.  I could have told her I would get it in a minute.  After all, I'm busy writing this super important blog and all.  But I hopped up, said it would be my pleasure, got her the milk and even gave it an added bonus.  I asked her if she wanted some Ovaltine in her milk.  That is a little Sermon on the Mount lesson thrown in about going the extra mile that I would love to see reflected in my children's attitude.

They say it takes 66 days to make a new habit.  Check up with me in a couple months!

Friday, March 25, 2011

If Heaven were a library

If Heaven were a library, I would check out my mom's Grandpa first.  I have never met him but always wanted to.  I would bring him to my house and find him a well seasoned iron skillet so I could finally taste his homemade cornbread.

Next I would check out my Grandma.  I would sit her in my kitchen and let my middle daughter, Caroline, climb in her lap for the first time.  She could finally see how somehow I created a little girl that looks and acts just like her.  I would make her a pie and serve it to her in the plates and silverware she left me.  Then I would tell her all the things I never got to.  I would tell her that I appreciated every single prayer she prayed for me and that they all were answered.  That my husband is as good as she could have dreamed for me and more.

Finally, I would borrow my brother.  But I would end up owing so many fines, I would never be able to repay them because I would never be able to return him.  I would dance with him one more time.  I would watch as many Mystery Science Theater movies as I could find and we would laugh until we cried.  And I would tell him how much I missed him and how I wished he could have held each one of my babies.

But it isn't a library.  Death is so bitterly final.   But we rejoice, because we have hope in that mansion just over the hilltop.  I hope I'm not going any time soon but I'm glad I have these little strings in my heart that pull me heavenward and remind me that this world is not my home.

Friday, March 11, 2011

10 Ways to Help a Teacher!

No matter where you fall politically, teachers and schools around the country are in crisis and need our help.  There are some easy ways to bless your child's teacher in the midst of these budget issues and help your child as well.

1. Read to your child.  It increases their attention span, broadens their vocabulary and grows their imagination.  It will make a direct difference in the classroom.

2. Get involved in PTA/PTO. Our PTA does a lot to better the school environment and help the teachers out.  My favorite "little thing" that our PTA does is bring the teachers their favorite drink from Sonic every now and then.  That really perks up their day.  Also, participating in PTA fundraisers can really help when schools lose tax dollars.

3. Volunteer in the classroom.  Whether it is for the Valentine's Day Party or making copies, volunteering in the classroom takes a lot of the load off the teachers and lets them focus on what they do best...teaching!

4. Buy supplies.  Teachers all of this country are using their own money to buy supplies for their classroom. You can help by responding if they put out a list of needs for their class and making sure that the supplies you bring at the beginning of the year are exactly what they need.

5. Pray.  Either pray alone or join a group like Moms in Touch.  Moms in Touch is a group of moms from each school that meets and prays usually once a week for one hour for the students, teachers and staff.

6. Help your child with homework.  Check everything before it goes back to school and make sure they are staying up on their assignments.  If something needs to be signed...sign it and return.

7. Help your child study.  Talk to your child about what they are learning and reinforce what they are seeing and doing in the classroom.

8. Healthy Breakfasts!  Children that have healthy breakfast do better at school.

9. Family dinner table.  Make sure you sit down and have as many meals around the table as possible. 
Kids who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to say they get mainly A's and B's in school than kids who have two or fewer family dinners a week.,9171,1200760-2,00.html#ixzz1GJ6ifbLW 

10. Let your teachers know they are appreciated  If you have the money for a gift card to Staples or Starbucks, most teachers would love that.  If you don't, a note of thanks is really appreciated and can really bless your child's teacher.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Favorite Kids' Books

Reading is a big deal in our house and I'm fortunate to have inherited the collection of Weekly Reader books my mother amassed when I was a child but when it comes to my favorite books, there are several stand-outs.

For Babies and Toddlers:
Silly Sally by Audrey Wood-Great easy rhyming book with fun pictures

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell-This is a fun book that gives great opportunities to introduce animals and even make their sounds as you lift the flaps to guess what animal the zoo sent.

For Preschoolers
The Clown Arounds by Joanna Cole-I had several of these as part of the Weekly Reader program and I loved the jokes inside and the way the Clown Arounds tackled problems as a family.  This is a whole series each one is great.  I don't think these are in production anymore but you can still pick them up used.

Llama Llama, Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney- I love this whole series as well.  It is a fun easy read that addresses issues and emotions that preschoolers really deal with.


For early readers
Young Cam Jansen and the Lost Tooth by David A. Adler-I love the Young Cam Jansen books because they keep kids engaged throughout the book trying to solve the mystery.  Kids can't put them down!

And of course...
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder-I have read this to my early reader and let her help read along.  The Little House books provide a great opportunity to talk about history and what life was like during Laura's time.  My kids were mesmerized by the stories of how food was produced before grocery stores and Chick-Fil-A.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

You know you want some mac and cheese

I make great macaroni and cheese.  It took years of experimenting but I believe I have perfected it.  I'm sharing this with the world so here it is...

First, boil and drain 2 cups macaroni noodles.
Then, make a roux.  You need a 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup flour.  Stir together for about a minute and then gradually add in 1 3/4 cups milk.  2 cups is too much.  1 1/2 is too thick.  1 and 3/4 cups is just right.

Next add the cheese.  I use about 1/4 lb Velveeta.  I have tried doing this the "right" way without American cheese but you just don't get the ooey gooey factor.  Then add 8 ozs of your favorite cheddar.  It should look like this
then stir and melt until it looks like this

Throw all the cooked and drained macaroni noodles in and stir to coat.  Pour in a casserole dish and top with whatever you like.  I like to take about 2 Tbs of melted butter and mix in some seasoned bread crumbs until it is crumbly and perfect and sprinkle that on top.  You can also use toasted bread, more cheese, or let your imagination run wild.
Here is how it looks when it comes out of a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes...YUM!!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The worst insult you can give me

A couple of years ago someone at work called me an independent woman.  I know they meant it as a compliment but it hurt right to the core.  That is the last way I would ever want to be characterized.  Independence has such a lofty connotation in our society, but as a Christian, I want to be marked as fully and wholly dependent.  I want to teach my daughters to be strong, dependent women.

Dependent on who?  On their Father in Heaven and the Church.  I want them to live Galatians 6:2 every day:

Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Do I want my kids to be able to take care of themselves?  Absolutely, but I want them to know that everything they have is a blessing and not a result of their own ability.  Do I want them grow in wisdom?  Yes, but I want them to learn that through the experience and teaching of those in the local church.  I want them to share their burdens and take up those of others when they can.  

We sometimes see dependence as a weakness but I see it as wisdom.  There is no way I can accomplish great things alone.  I need the strengths of the other parts of the Body of Christ to really do things right.  Last week proved that all the more to me.  My husband was out of town on business and while we survived without Daddy's presence here for 6 days, it was tough.  We need him and he needs us and I'm not ashamed to say it.  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What is intentional parenting?

So what is with the name of this blog?  A few years ago, I started using the word "intentional" in my vocabulary.  I didn't want life to just pass me by and my kids to grow up with me constantly reacting to everything with my emotions.  I wanted to purposely make choices that led to positive results following the principles of sowing and reaping.  I knew that the laws of the Kingdom of God apply to everything, so if I sowed love and self-discipline in my kids' lives, I would reap a harvest of watching them grow into loving and disciplined young women.

I decided to apply this to every part of my parenting.  Implementing 1-2-3 Magic, planning healthy meals, and trying to take advantage of every teachable moment became a way to be intentional as a mom.  I am constantly inspired by the concept of "drawing out greatness in my kids".  I know that they have talents, giftings and abilities and my job is to draw that out of them by encouraging them and teaching them how to love themselves and the world around them as God does.

As a parent, our job is not to react with emotions, but to demonstrate self-control and the rest of the gifts of the Spirit.  I'm not there yet...not by a long shot...but I'm better than I used to be.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day Treats!

So here are the cake balls I made for my 4 year old's preschool party.  They are yum.  I made little goodie bags with these and mini muffins made from Hungry Girl's recipe.  It was all super easy and fun to make.  I just wish I had an extra freezer for making projects like this.  I'm still saving up for that "garage fridge" I've been wishing for.  I love my counter depth fridge but it just doesn't hold enough for a family of five especially when one of them loves to cook and bake and another one needs a place to store his small beer collection.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

All you can do...

No matter how structured and intentional your parenting is, sometimes your kids will throw you for a curveball.  Tonight, my 6 year old lost her mind.  She was overly tired and had a major post-bedtime meltdown.  She said she was scared and tired but wouldn't go to bed.  Sometimes all you can do is pray and be firm but loving.

I finally got her back upstairs and into her bed and I haven't heard a peep since.  Being overly tired can make even the best of kids act like a total nut.  But we love her and we all have bad days.  I'm glad I go through days like this because it reminds me that we all need a big helping of grace some days.  I know I do.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Finding joy in this diet

Let me start by saying that I'm thankful to be in the National Guard because I have to stay a healthy weight for my job.  Losing a job that you love is a powerful motivator to get and stay healthy.  I am exercising so that I can pass my fitness test but I knew that my eating habits needed to change as well.  I heard about the "Lose Baby Weight Diet" from Parents Magazine and decided to give it a shot.

I will be honest...I was really irritable about it at first.  I hate depriving myself and like most people I want to do what I want to do.  Then last night at Chili's I had a revelation.  I was ordering off the "Guiltless Grill" part of the menu when I really wanted an Oldtimer and fries with a side of ranch for ultimate fry dipping.  I was mad that I couldn't do what I wanted to do.  Then I looked at my kids.  I thought about what it would be like to be raised in a family that made really good food choices so that when you grew up you just automatically made those choices.  You splurged occasionally and indulged on holidays but for the most part, you made healthy food choices because it was just what you knew.

I'm thankful that I was raised at least halfway there.  We didn't grow up with fattening snacks around and we ate vegetables with dinner.  I just want to go even farther in that direction for my kids.  I want them to see me making good choices everyday and enjoying healthy foods not just enduring them.  I want them to see my husband and I exercising regularly because that is just what you do to take care of your body.

So it means I will have to be more intentional with what I eat...because it matters.  Not only for my job and the way I look in jeans but in how my kids will treat food for the rest of their lives.  I won't be on as strict of a diet forever but little changes add up and I want to be a good example for them in every area of my life.