how-to prepare freezer meals

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It’s no secret that activities increase when school starts.  We get up earlier, have homework, jobs, meals, cleaning to accomplish, events to attend…things get real busy real fast.  I attempt to bring a slight amount of order to the chaos,  by preparing.

I’m sure many of you have seen make-ahead meal ideas floating around on the internet.

I had a wild hair yesterday and decided to stock-pile some meals. It’s always nice to have an easy out when something unexpected comes up.  It’s also nice to be able to have someone else throw something in the crock pot when I’m not around to explain how.

So I spent about an hour an a half slapping together some casserole and crock pot meals yesterday.  I came up with 11.

You can find some inspiration on my Pinterest board here and here.

I basically threw together as many meals as I could think of.  I didn’t stick to meals that were specifically for “make ahead”.  I made whatever looked good and I had the ingredients.  You can make just about any casserole or crock pot meal into a freezer meal.

Some of the exact meals I made from the board were:

Meatball Sub Casserole

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Cilantro and Lime Chicken Tacos I skipped the pesto this time and we’re serving over rice.

Chicken Mushroom Stroganoff

I did some impromptu bags for the crock as well.  What ever we had left with BBQ sauce, veggies, soy sauce ect.

I write the instructions for cooking and what to serve the meal with (rice, pasta, salad ect.) on the bag.

If you want to make more meals in the same time, cut the casseroles.  Layering eats up time.

How do you prepare for the back-to-school frenzy?

Being primed for the tumultuous days ahead give me rest.

up, up, and away

If you ever find yourself in Tucson, AZ, I highly recommend the Pima Air and Space Museum.  We visited while we were on vacation.  It has so much more than I imagined.

Building after building filled with awesome aircraft, historical memorabilia and amazing people there to tell you all about it.  It’s self guided in the building; however, there are eager teachers waiting for you to ask them questions.

It was in the middle of a heat wave when we went, so we opted out of the outside portion. That includes acres and acres of more military and special aircraft.  If you’ve ever survived summer in the desert you know why we stayed inside :)

I admit I was in history nerd heaven here.  The kids thought everything looked cool and interesting.  Nick and I really enjoyed the learning.  They had an aircraft there that was the same type that dive bombed in WWII. We heard all the details about a particular attack from a retired Air-force officer.

This place was a hit for all ages.  I can’t say enough about it.  If you ever get the chance, you simply must go see it.

We have dreams of traveling with our kids every school break they get. I have a dream of seeing all 50 states and 7 continents before I die.  Where do you like to escape to?  I would love to hear some of your favorite sites to visit in the comments.

Have a beautiful Monday friends!

delving back in

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There may have been a yarn and needle sale, two interested tiny girls, and an eager mama at the store recently.  What sort of knitter would I be to deny my little loves the desires of my heart?

This mama has a year’s worth of crafting stored up inside.  One cannot justify knitting with a seventeen credit load at college.  Now that school’s out, I’m all in.

I’m free to knit now, and that’s what I am doing.  Every chance I get.  I’m taking any willing soul with me.

I love that they want to be doing what I do.  They picked their colors and off we went to the register.  I likely picked up some extra for me ;)

The lessons began the instant we got home.  They are pretty good already. I can’t handle the adorable way Josie concentrates tongue and all. Ha!

I am taking my knitting everywhere I go, just like I used to.  I have ambitious projects ahead.  Pattern writing, sweaters, socks, everything I see goes in my Ravelry queue.

What are you crafting lately?

I’m excited to have needles in hand delving back in.

when we adventure

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When we adventure we are closer.  We remember to appreciate God’s creation.  we run wild and free.  We take a close look at the details of the world.  We forget about bills, and stress.  When we adventure we are more of who we are.  We connect to our spirit.

Sometimes I forget how much I love being on an adventure.  My mind wants to remember the work.  The packing.  The prepping.  The mess.

That’s why I like photography.

Images remind me of the fun moments.  Memories the kids won’t forget should outweigh the tasks.

We need more adventure in this house.

Not pictured is the knitting I got done, the laughs we had, the food we ate, the energy they got out.

What adventures do you love to do with your family?  What do you want to remember in those moments?

We have fun and make memories when we adventure.

beat you’re kids up

For the last two mornings I’ve done something that I haven’t been doing for a year.  I beat my kids up.  By “beat up” I mean I got up out of my bed and started my day before they were awake.

This was something I did as often as I could before I went back to school, but I fell off the wagon.  I actually did get up and get ready before them on workdays, but I was gone all day.  It doesn’t have the same benefit when you aren’t around the kids.

I like getting up earlier then they because I don’t like starting my day with a list of demands and tasks.

Mom I’m hungry.

Mom ____ isn’t sharing.

Mom can I _____?

What are we doing today?

What are we eating?

When is dad coming home?

I think you get the drift.  There’s instant motion and work in my house, the moment the children rub their sleepy eyes.  The workload begins and I find myself grumpy and weighed down.

Yesterday was a great example of why, for me, beating the kids up is of utmost importance.

We had “one of those days”.  I mentioned before how we are all learning how to be together.  With school out, it’s even worse now.  Our house hasn’t found it’s rhythm yet.  Rhythm is important.  Moving has also contributed to the chaos.

I woke up, had my time in the scriptures, drank an exorbitant amount of coffee, and the first little one came trickling out to the back porch.

The back porch is my favorite spot in the morning.

The rest of the day was rough.

fighting, arguing, disobeying.

Sound familiar?  I hope not, but I know I’m not alone.

I handled the hectic mess so much calmer and gracefully than I had been this last month.

Truly, I just to mentally prepare for the day.  Soak in The Word, sip in the caffeine, and prepare for battle.

That’s what it can feel like, can’t it? A battle for peace.

Do you need to prepare for battle as well?

How do you maneuver the mine field in your house?

I beat my kids up.

moving to the city

If you haven’t been here long, you my not know. I’ll share with you a not-so-secret.  I’m a planner.  I love things in my head being organized and thought out well.  I like to have a paper planner.  Old school style.  We have moved 7 previous times in 15 years with lots of time and help and organized lists, labeled boxed by room and most important contents, all utilities changed ahead of time ect.  This time was much different.

Though we had planned on moving for a few months, I was in school and couldn’t even consider looking at a box until I graduated.  So, we moved in two weeks.  Two weeks from nothing packed to sleeping in a new home.  I had to let lots of things go.

Today is our fifth day living in our new house in the city.  Guess what?  I still have all the utilities on at the old house.  That’s right.  Everything’s a mess.  Well, to me anyways.  I tried to take care of the rest of the list I had made today, but it’s in Nick;s name, so he has to do it.

It’s out of my hands.

I’m learning that most things are nowadays.  It’s so much a bad thing.

I am forced to relinquish control over my life in small details, and big ones as well.  This causes me to have to make peace with where I am and who really is in charge.

Despite my efforts to have every details thought and planned, I make a mess that only God can clean up.

I hadn’t looked at my planner or a calendar for a week. I forgot about appointments that inconvenienced a certain person…that made me feel awful.

I got sick right at moving time.

Josie had a urgent medical appoint I had to drive 1.5 hours to (she’s going to be fine), Isabel had to be taken to the urgent care and ER (She will also be fine), and I felt like giving up the ghost by the end of it all.

I’m not truly in control.  There are things I forget due to my human mind, events that you are unable foresee, and it ‘s hard predict how you will feel or how much energy you’ll have.

It’s not all about me or my plans and schedule.  Sometimes it’s about forgetting all that and just enjoying a moment in time.  Rest when you are forced to rest.  Be made to train your high-strung pup who is terrified of all the houses in the city. Just let it go.

Me.  I need to let go and just enjoying moving to the city.

 

 

getting back together

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It has been a mere week and a half since I finished school and I have noticed many things.  Mostly what I have noticed is that our family hasn’t been together much.

My kids are fighting more.

My kids have lost all manners I taught them.

My kids have been ignoring our house rules.  No eating in bedrooms ect.

My patience is not what it should be.

My mom brain is fully engaged now.

It’s amazing what you don’t notice when you’re just plain tired.  I was also gone.  Often. Like frequently.  Most of the time.

The mom is said to be the heart of the home.  I admit that I have had such a large workload that my heart hasn’t been fully with my family even when I have been near them.

No more.

I am back to monitoring and coaching interpersonal relationships. I’m pondering with a watchful eye, listening with perked ears, and making lots of eye contact.  You know, the sort where you hope they see your face and change their words before you actually say something.  That sort.

I wanted to share a great on-the-go resource for opening up your heart and mind to just being better at momming.  I say this with a whisper because I don’t want to trap you in the mindset of doing everything you hear.  I’ve been there before and ideas after ideas are an exhausting wheel to spin on.

Think of this resource as more of a heart centering.

Get back on the wagon.

Check out God Centered Mom Podcast.

I have been enjoying these mom interviews to and from work, to and from moving our stuff from one house to another, and while shopping (yes I’m that person).

That’s the honest mom truth.  I’m working on centering my heart back to where it longs to be.  We are all learning what it’s like to be together more, to have more structure.

We’re not just surviving together, we’re getting back together.

 

the big change

IMG_3396We have been at the farm for five years now.  We have loved and learned so many wonderful lessons, but it’s time for a big change.  We’re moving.

We’re moving to a place that is completely opposite of the farm.  The city.  We’re moving to a neighborhood with a park and kids everywhere. We’re moving to a place that has a yard the size of our living room and kitchen.

We’re moving to a place where we can be together more.

This new home is three minutes from Nick’s work.  Three.  Not, Fifty.   It’s seven minutes from Target (watch out husband here I go).  We are all both excited and sad.  We have loved our farm.

We all have gown close to together while gardening and completing projects.  We’ve seen goat babies born, collected chicken eggs, chased those gosh darn pigs, bird watched, adventured, lived a full five years.

We are excited to experience what we never have before.  We have never been city folks as a family.  We have never cheered bother in baseball, gone to gymnastics, ballet recitals, played with neighborhood kids after school.  We haven’t experienced the average American life.  It’s both odd and fun to imagine ourselves as average.

The last time we lived in a neighborhood we homeschooled.  The kids we so little. Even then we we’re weird.  We hung-dry clothes, had a big garden, used cloth diapers, canned food, made laundry soap, ate organic.  We were still weird.

Now, we won’t have the space to do all that, and all the kids are now in public school.  I have no desire or time for making everything from scratch anymore.  It’s just going to be different from how we have lived.  It’s going to be less work.

I look forward to the kids having friends over and meeting our neighbors.  I look forward to the kids going to youth group at a bigger church.  I look forward to us serving the people in our community more.  I look forward to convenience.  I can’t wait to be a part of a women’s ministry again.  Book clubs, coffee dates, , and walking to the park- it’s all coming.  I look forward to simple living.  I look forward to not feeling secluded.

We will never forget what we have had here on the farm.  The experiences we’re had and life we’ve lived have shaped us all.  It’s just time to move along a different path that has been laid before us.  It’s time to stop traveling  to and from the city (goodbye ridiculous fuel bill).  It’s time to just be in the city.

It time for a big change.

 

a sacrificial year

No one said it would be easy.  They did say I could do it.  What no one told me is just how much I would be giving up in order to complete college.  I’m not sure most of them knew.  I didn’t really know until I was knee-deep in turnouts and books. If you are a working parent thinking of college and just want an honest take on the true sacrifice it will take, read on.  I’m about to share with you what it took for myself and my whole family to make it through this year.

This will be a list of thank you and some real truth.   I preface this by adding that while I was pregnant with baby #4 I finished a full year of college.  Fast forward seven years and here we are.  The beginning of my back-to-college year.

I started off by taking a computer class and an EMT class.  I was managing two restaurants at the time.  This required help from grandparents and aunt/uncle.  They watched our kids after school for three nights a week.  Our children stayed up later than normal because of it, but this season was only a few months.

Nick and I were exhausted from the constant car switching and later nights.  Other people were responsible for helping our kids with homework and bathing.  I knew we couldn’t sustain for long like this.  Honestly, I felt so guilty.  I didn’t want to have to ask people to do these things for us.  They were gracious and willing, but I wanted to see me kids.  I’m grateful we had this help and we couldn’t have gotten through this time without it.

I changed jobs.  I had to it was getting rough.  I worked fewer hours.  I was blessed enough to work for three days instead of six and make just as much money- easier.  I really loved the brewery I worked at.  No stress of managing and more time for study.  This was the easiest semester I had.

Once I received my certifications for EMT, I naturally wanted a job in that field.  I got a job at our small community hospital ER- thanks to a friend putting in a good word for me there.  As a new EMT I felt that I would lose my skills and knowledge if I didn’t put it to use.  This meant learning and training.  Twelve hour shifts are brutal sometimes.

Just as a new semester started, I found myself working much more than the part-time I was hired for.  I worked nights, swing, and day shifts often all in one week.  Things were getting harder.  I found myself changing into scrubs in gas station bathrooms after class so I could head straight to work.  My father-in-law became very ill.  He was our main sitter.

By the end of this semester, he passed away.

This was so very hard on all of us.  All of us.  The whole family grieved at the passing of this incredible guy.  We all spent every moment we could with him.  Me, least of all.  I learned that college doesn’t care what’s going on in your life.  Due dates are due dates.  Work doesn’t pay without you showing up.

I had some very special days with him.  I am thankful for that.

A new semester dawned and I hadn’t even had a melt down.  I suppose I saved it all up for the end.  I battled my mind so much during this semester.  I was completely sick of studying by now.  Every spare moment felt taken.  There were no spare moments.

When I was home, I was locked up in me room studying.  Forever studying.  I am proud to have accomplished so much in such a short time.  That’s what it takes. Become a hermit with a book and you can do it too.

When friends want to have you over for dinner…you can’t.  When the kids want you to play outside with them the day before a test- you can’t. The husband wants to date you, the house needs a mom scrub, the laundry is a huge mountain of neglect, the dogs need to be taken to the groomers, the kids are overdue on yearly checks, every birthday you’re invited to is on a Saturday.

Everyday Saturday for a year I have been at fire school.  Eight hours every Saturday of drills, tests, didactic, skills, sun, wind, overexertion, skills.

We missed so much.  The kids missed so much.  We have had no weekend getaways or camping trips.  Since my school schedule was so crazy, work filled my Sundays and Fridays and every moment I let them.

This.Has.Been.Hard.

Nothing worth having is easy.  Is it?

I’m so proud of my family for supporting me.  For giving up fun and friends and time away.  I feel like we all graduated.  We all got done with school.  We all made it through this season.

There were times I wanted to just quit.  I wanted to curl up in bed and knit or read a book just for fun.  I couldn’t.  The prize was too great. I didn’t knit a stitch or read a line.  I buckled down and got my work done.  My strength came from Jesus.

Galatians 6:9-10 (NIV)

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

This has been my life verse.

I know that Jesus has strengthens us all.  My children have seen first-hand how much studying and sacrifice it takes to reach a big goal.  My hope is that all this yucky mom-guilt was a lesson to them.

This has been quite a year.

This has been a sacrificial year.

 

 

 

mama’s back!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who remain here.

My little corner of the web has survived my year long absence, and two years of being unkempt.

I’m back.

I cannot wait wait to fill you all in on my little life lessons and bits you have missed.  If you follow me on instagram you have a pretty good idea of what’s been happening in our lives.  If you don’t- what are you waiting for?  I’m the most interesting human on earth…or not.

Let’s get down to what event has brought me back to this place.

My happy place.

I’m graduating from college!  That’s right.  My shambled life is starting to get back to a pace this cocaine-free girl can handle without having a conniption.

I’m so excited.

I’m relieved.

We’re all relieved to be honest.

It’s been one of the most demanding and trial-filled years of my life.

But….

I did it.

Well, He did it.  God have been the peace that has calmed my heart every test, every milestone.  He has been the one that allowed others to see the good in me.  He made my hard work noticed.  He guided me through.

He watched over my babies when I wasn’t there.  He was with my husband many nights while I worked night shifts, swing shifts, and was at class late into the night.

He gave me this drive inside.  The stubbornness to keep going when I wanted to quit.  He brought to memory things I had forgotten in the nick-of-time.

Persevere.

That’s my life motto.  Long before there was Dori swimming, I have had this word etched into my heart.

Persevere.

And I did, persevere.

I’m sitting here just two days away from my goal.  Just two more finals and I’m there. I can’t believe I’m here, this close to the end.  My heart is rejoicing and my spirit is longing to be done with this season.

I thank you again for all who have visited this space over and over and saw nothing new, but you stayed.  You didn’t give up on me.

Friends, I have so much to fill you in on.  I can’t wait!  What have you been doing?  What blogs should I be reading?  I haven’t read a blog in years.  What shall we do together?  Read? Knit? Mama chat?

I feel like a little kid before Christmas.  Eager and full of anticipation.  I ‘m ready to open the gift of sharing in the place.  It’s time to encourage and love and get real.

Mama’s back!

 

tiny garden

We are easing back into developing our garden and farm again.  The exhaustion and business of life led us away.  I have allowed myself to maintain a small garden.  I say allowed because I want more.  It isn’t what I imagine as being great, but sometimes you have to get real with yourself about what you can pull off.

This is our small garden.

Planted late.

Planted hurriedly.

Planted.

Last year we had no garden and I see this as a huge improvement.  Strawberries, onions, cucumber, zucchini, sunflowers, pinto beans, watermelon, cantaloupe, peppers, potatoes are all coming up and doing well.

I can’t ask for more than that.  Every year no matter how much I know it will happen, I always feel surprised and in awe by what can come from such a tiny seed.

A tiny garden baring the fruits it ought to is a wonderful thing.

Have you planted a garden friend?  What is your favorite part of watching your garden grow?

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the unpredictable life

Since my return to the workforce in January 2015, I have been absolutely not keeping up on this blog.  I have only really written about hoe busy, hard, tiring life has become.  While I never intend to be phony, or over enthusiastic about the truths of these feelings, I certainly don’t want this to be a place for whining.  I will be honest here for a moment.  This blog will not be what it once was.

I will post things about our (very small) garden, our family, our fun.  It simply won’t be the same.

I’m a working mom.  I’m a college student. Our kids are now in public school.  I’m on my way to be a firefighter/EMT.  Nick is no longer a pastor.

Our life is wholly and completely changed from what it once was two years ago.  I cannot see it being the same again.

Life is unpredictable.

I have often thought of posting here over the months.  The truth is I wasn’t sure how it would be received by you.  What I write about won’t be the same or what I think you expect.  So, if it’s okay with you, I’m going to write about what our life is now.  I may not write any knitting patterns soon, but I may pull off a project or two a year (not a month). The name of this blog might not make sense all the time, but we’re too far along to go back now.  It’s been 7 years!!  Thank you for staying with me.  We will still farm, and fun, and mom here.  I think you will like some of the new topics as well.

If you want to see what we’ve been doing this summer catch up on our YouTube vlogs.

I am simply going to write about us.  Our life right now.  Let’s begin (again).

when life laughs at you…persevere

I think it’s important not to take yourself too seriously.  In light of my last post, a follow-up is necessary.  For the past few months I have been the front-of-house manager for one of most popular restaurants in our area.  I mentioned in the last post how much I love the problem solving, right?  Yes.  Did I also say how much chaos is my thing?  Yeah.  I did.  Oh. My.  I love when I eat my own words.  It’s tastes great!

Here’s the deal.  I like to take crazy and make it make sense.  I’ve been pretty good at my job thus far.  Busy days are my favorite.  I like the feeling of stepping in when everything hits the fan, fixing it, and no guest in our restaurant even notices.  I usually laugh hysterically when several people come to me at once with what they feel are end-of-world problems.  I don’t laugh at them.  I laugh at how nuts things can get.  I usually take a deep breath, roll up my sleeves, and start putting out fires.  One by one in order of priority, I fix things.  Yesterday, things got a bit too much.  Even this chaos-seeker couldn’t get the fires under control.

It all started at noon.  I got a call from the busser.  Car problems.  He’ll be an hour or so late tonight.  No problem here.  Due to budget cuts, I was scheduled as the hostess.  No big deal.  I can buss and host.  Solved.  When I got to work, more little fires. BAM!  Taken care of in the first hour.  I was thinking it was a crazy start to a Monday, but things were quiet.  Business was slow.  A sick server’s shift got covered, another needed the next day off.  No problem.  Move this one here, and that one there.  Done.  Sometimes things get hairy.  That’s the way it is in the restaurant biz.  Just Saturday I was talking with a cooks’ father who was in town from Florida.  He’s had a successful restaurant in Syracuse for thirty years.  We chatted about how it is hard at times.  It’s just the way it is.

Everything at work stayed quiet the rest of the day.  Too quiet, in fact.  By four PM I was so bored I actually said out loud that I wished to bar would explode so I’d have something to do.  To give you some background on that statement, let me tell you that my first day managing we had a loud gun-shot sound in the middle of the dinner rush.  Turns out the bartender caught the edge of the bar glass with a wine bottle.  A six foot section of the bar burst into a ba-gillion tiny pieces.  Right under a hotel insurance adjusters’ dinner.  Yeah.  It’s gets crazy.  It always happens right when the restaurant is full too.

So, I’m so bored yesterday that I asked for an explosive mess.

I got it.

The busser let me know that he’ll be even later.  The restaurant was starting to fill and my servers were getting a bit frazzled.  I let him know to just get in when he can.  They would love his help cleaning up later.  I proceeded to the bar to make some drinks, wondering where the bar tender was.  At this point I was wondering if he was coming at all.  As I made a few drinks, the look on the servers faces was getting panicked.  The restaurant was filling very quickly.  I was tending to the bar folk to relieve their stress.  I was getting that feeling that things were slipping from me.  I couldn’t leave where I was…too much to do.

Muddling drinks in the midst of a “situation” feels like waiting for water to boil.  The time seems to never end.  I knew I needed to walk the floor and check on my servers, but the drink orders kept coming!  I got up and couldn’t get out from behind the bar.  I spied the pizza server and knew she could make drinks.  I called her over and let her loose.  I served pizzas for her and ran through the kitchen to check the schedule.

Just as I suspected.  Bar tender was an hour late, and now fired!  Okay, no bar tender tonight.  Things are getting nuts!

Throw in the fact that the service is getting slower, we’re on a wait list, and another local restaurant owner was very unhappy with his experience…that all adds up to this manager feeling like a failure.

Who’s that I spy?  An off-duty bartender walking in the lobby?  Get in! Punch in, and send the pizza girl back to her side.

Here come more and more people.  Food is in the window and needs running.  Here I go.  The bartender is doing his best.  I check on cups and run more to him.  Who’s that I see?  That’s right.  The thirty year restaurateur.  He asks how I am.  Uhhhhh.  Things are a little messy tonight.

“I know.  I could tell when I walked in.”

Defeat is an ugly mental state.  It was on every face of my people that night.  Times like that you just have to push through.  I was holding on to the idea that the busser would show up at any minute to smooth things out a bit.

Then I saw a text.

He’s not coming.  Just couldn’t get here in time with all the set-backs.

More defeat on the faces of my servers.  That meant that after all the rude people, failed team member, stress of knowing you didn’t give your guest what you wanted to give, you’ll now be taking on all the closing cleaning of the busser.

I  stayed to close because I knew my servers need a lift after all that beat-down the night gave them.  I figured that if we pumped up some old-school hip-hop after closing we could get the pep in our step back.

The service settled.  The guests went as fast as they came.  When the last one left, I went straight to the music.

It wouldn’t work.

And that was the night.

At every expectation of relief or hope of it getting easier, it failed.

Isn’t life like that?  There are certain seasons, days, years, that feel so defeating.  I was downcast in my heart while still trying to  encouraging to my staff.  I determined to just push through the crappy night.  There’s a word that I learned early in my Christian walk.

Persevere.

That word has a way of lifting me and propelling me.  Sometimes by one more day.  Sometimes by one more hour.  Just a bit longer.  I have a verse on my wall that I look at and consider almost daily.

In short…persevere.

rest

I keep sitting down at the computer trying to say something of importance to you.  I come up empty.  I think back on events of the week and find nothing that stands out.  Nothing to write in this space.  For the fifth time in a week I sat again this morning, waiting for something to come.  The nothingness that followed actually became the concept.  I find myself wanting something significant to happen each day.  Something to share, a photo to take, just something out of the ordinary.  I often forget to just enjoy a regular, uneventful day.

Contentment.  That word can cut me deep.  It isn’t so much that I’m not content with my life, it’s the quiet that gets me.  The moments of rest I’m called to by God are the hardest for me.

Be still.  Know that I am God.

That has always been a struggle for me.  I’m a busy-body.  A do-er.  I like challenges and problems to solve.  Perhaps, that’s why I’ve always found myself attracted to an over-loaded schedule.  I’d rather turn down a task than not have a full plate.  It makes sense to me.  I’ve always been that way.

I like deadlines, big events, and a dollop of chaos to unravel.  I know, I’m quite strange.  It’s just how I am.  I’m built for weird.

I’ve heard of a book over the last few years that tackles such a personality as mine.  Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World.  I just began to read through it last week.  This is really speaking to me.  If I could re-write the title to better fit me, I’d call it, Having a Mary Heart with a Martha Mind.

Do you also struggle in busyness?  I certainly lean more towards Workaholic than I do Laziness.

If so, I think you would enjoy this read.  I love the way she has addressed the fact that Martha isn’t less spiritual of worse than Mary.  She points out the strengths and weakness in both.

As I look for areas in my life I need to rest in, I also know that being busy isn’t a bad thing.  I just need to make sure I focus on Jesus and the path the Holy Spirit leads me down.  I pray for discernment in my life constantly.  I ask myself what taking on something else would profit me, my family, the Kingdom of Heaven.  Is it worth it (time, effort, money, energy)?

Have you any thoughts here?  What do you do to decide your life obligations and activities?  Do share!

I am learning more each day the value of quiet.  Nothing to report, ordinary, mundane, life has many lessons for me.  I am grateful for the silence.  I have found that a new challenge is always around the corner.  The rest is worth taking while I have it.

Psalm 62:5-8

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
    my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God[c];
    he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
    pour out your hearts to him,
    for God is our refuge.

the assiduous life

Saying the word “busy”  didn’t seem like enough to describe how much our life has changed this last year.

Assiduous.

Taxing.

Overwhelming.

In the midst of a life swirling around us, we are forced compelled to turn our trust and hope and faith in God.

There are times in this life that feel heavy and troublesome.  There are seasons that feel that way.  There are years that have that oppressing cloud over them.  This is one of those years for our family.  The light is at the end of the tunnel, though.  That little flicker of hope is shining through.  There are days I’m convinced that I’ve imagined it.  Others, I know it’s there.

What am I talking about?

Relief.

Over the past eight months I’ve gone from Stay At Home Mom to Career Mom.  Nick has gone from Sole Provider to Mr. Mom.  We are about to embark on Homeschool to Public School…again.

We’re in that awkward phase.  The one where you know it’s rough waters ahead, but you can see that sparkle at the end.  The one where if you just push a bit harder, you’ll find rest, but you know you can barely take more.

I realize there are plenty of you out there that work full-time and have children.  This is new to our family.  The change in pace and rhythm has been a challenge from the beginning.  I fully understand the strain on family ties when there are two working parents!  It just takes so much work to work.

::I’m going to insert a confession here.  This is a bit of a therapeutic post for me.  I have hardly the time or brain mass to write nowadays.  I’m putting forth the effort now because I feel I need to write.  There’s only so much my poor husband can take.  Continue on if being my Whipping Boy is fine with you.::

Here we are.  Nick on the brink of advancing at work (UPS…finally), and I in the crossroads of Can’t Quit and Worn Out.  You see, my income is drastically more than Nick’s.  In fact, if I hadn’t had the Favor of God in my workplace, I’m not sure what we would’ve done.  For some reason we simply can’t understand or see yet, Nick had a very difficult time finding a job.  Very difficult.  So, here we are.

Forced Compelled patience.

I never thought we would be here…ever.  I’m a career mom, Nick’s the main caregiver of the kids.  He makes bread (seriously) and I make work schedules.  He runs the schooling.  I run a restaurant.

Things are changing soon.  Soon, the kids will be in school, the husband will put in more time at work, I will be on the hunt for an after-school caregiver.

Never thought we’d be here.

Here we are.

Humbled by the circumstances of life.

Open to the leading of the Lord.

Re-evaluating our past convictions.

Entering into the life of an average American family.

I must say, though we never dreamed or planned or wanted this life, we are walking though it with faith.  Hope that the light that we see or imagine, flickering at the end of a dark and trying year, is really getting closer.

Just a bit more to push through.  A wee more time.  Much more work.  A true path that has been laid knowingly and intentionally by a God that has a plan.

Forward we will march on in our assiduous life.

Romans 5:3-5

Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Free Planner/Calendar Stickers

Free Planner/Calendar Stickers

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I went on a bit on a planner sticker frenzy last week.  It all started with looking for functional planner stickers, and it ended with me making a large variety of stickers.  Stickers save lots of time for me when I’m planning.  They also look cute.  Double win here!

Without further ado, here is a linked list to stickers I found for free printing.  The Pictures are the ones I made.  Please use these only for personal use.  Enjoy!  And remember, if you don’t use a planner, you can still use the stickers for your calendar.  I use these full-sheet labels to print them out.

Happy Planning!!

Wendaful has lots of cute flags, weather stickers, pet care stickers, and tons more!

Lily Pullitzer inspired stickers found at Planner Palooza.

My stickers:

target youtube

SM cameras

SM band stickers

knitting yarn

doc and PT

dentist

banners

awana

christmas in june: homeschool goodies have arrived!

It’s that time of year all the homeschool geeks look forward to.  Curriculum purchases.  Throughout the school year I research and plan and drool over what we’ll do next year.   I try to adjust to the needs of each child, find the best deals possible, and buy a few items that are NOT curriculum to enhance our homeschool collection.

In years past I have bought a laminator, microscope, learning kits (butterfly pavilions, ect), high quality art supplies– this year it was 3 computers.  They were $200 each!  Thank heaven for tax returns.  The reason behind that purchase was a new curriculum for my 3rd, 5th, and 7th graders.

Switched on Schoolhouse (SOS) is what I landed on for the older 3.  The most important reason behind it was the fact that I’m working full-time.  I needed something that would literally teach them for me.  They will still need some guidance and questions answered, but this form of schooling is what will work best for our family life.  It grades automatically (glory hallelujah!), lists their daily assignments, and I can customize the school schedule any way I please.  It’s a bit on the pricey side in my opinion.  $400 for 5 subjects (Bible, math, language arts, history/geography, and science), but I am very excited that the will be getting a full and comprehensive education with very little prep on my part.

The younger 2 will be using LifePac by the same company, Alpha Omega Publishing.  I have never used that either.  It’s self-teaching as well for readers.  It’s very easy to teach Kindergarten from what I can see.  Therefore, Nick will be able to read and guide the little guy if work takes me away before we finish for the day.  That was an important element for us as a family this year.  It must all be streamlined so anyone (even a babysitter) can help the kids.

Liv has decided she wants to start school right away.  Our projected date for the new year is July 20.  It’s couple weeks earlier than the public schools which gives us a head start and the ability to take breaks when we want.  Everyone’s jazzed about the new learning setup.  Including this super excited nerd mom.

IMG_2885 IMG_2886What have you picked for the upcoming year?  Do you school year-round?  What tips do you have for other homeschool mamas?

yarn along

It’s been the longest stretch of no knits I’ve had in five years!  Partly due to busyness, partly to lack of yarn, it’s been a couple of months since I touched any knitting.  I’m happy to announce that I broke down and bought the yarn I needed to finally finish the updated version of Stripe the Squares, Baby!  Yay, me!  I can’t wait to feel that wool between my fingers again.

did finish The Three Musketeers recently.  Double yay.  I’m a fan of classic writing.  After spending so many months in the mind of Dumas, I needed some easy reading.  Currently on the night stand is 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs.  I believe it’s number thirteen in her Temperance Brennan series.  Yes, I’ve read them all.  In order.  Like a nerd.

What’s on your needles?  Have you read a good book lately?  Please share.  You can join the Yarn Along by clicking the link above.  Happy yarning friends!

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homeschool wind down

There have been a few months of adjustment for homeschool and work.  I think we’re finally hitting our stride.  The kids are back to our regular routine.  It has taken a while, but we’re there.

It’s relieving to have them finishing workbooks.  Each have math left.  Isabel also has writing.  Josie, Olivia and Andre have handwriting.  Liv has language.  We are down to the basics now!  It’s very exciting.

Desmond is finally excited to work on his pre-school learning.  I still can’t believe he’ll be in kindergarten next year!  My baby is a tiny boy now.

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Liv had a sick tummy this today :(

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ABC Mouse is a favorite for Desmond!

stop a smell the wildflowers

We drive this road often.  I always think to myself, “Photo op.”  Today, I decided to take one minute (that’s all it took) to pull over and snap some shots.

Carpe Diem.

The kids thought we were getting pulled over by a cop.  Thanks a lot guys!  I haven’t had a ticket in years, but we’ve gotten plenty of fix the light tickets, cracked window repair, ect.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.”—Psalm 19:1-3 

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washed in the blood and the wild west

Saturday was a fun-filled day for us.  It’s so nice to break from the mundane and adventure.  We spent most of the day at a lake with our little church fellowship.

I cannot tell you how special it was to witness the baptism of six teens and tweens would are part of a lovely family (cousins, siblings, ect.).  The public scene made it even more special.

I have seen several baptisms over the last 15 years.  They were all church events.  None was in the middle of a very public place like this one.  I could hear people talking about what was going on.  I saw groups that were loud and rowdy calming down and listening attentively.  It was just so sweet and touching.

We had a fun BBQ with our church group and headed home.

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We detoured to Tombstone and got a taste of the Wild West.  The reenactment of the shootout at the OK Corral was fun and educational (nerd mom happy).  The kids also got to see some confederate money, old poker game, and a quick tour of the Bird Cage Theater.

We ventured into a paint ball gun range.  We got to choose which pistols we wanted to use.  All were the same types used  in the 1800s.  We were labeled the “Deadly Family” since we all made kill shots.  The younger kids had never shot before, and it had been at least 13 years for me.  I’m happy to say I turned my six rounds into 1 head shot and 5 chest shots.  The guy there said he pitied the person who dared break into our house or complain about my cooking!  Haha.

We had such a fun time as a family.  I do believe we’re dipping our toes into the roadschooling I mentioned ;)  Baby steps.  Baby steps.

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What do you do to draw close as a family?  What are your favorite memories?

crazy thoughts: why I want to be a vagabond and roadschool

Yesterday was my day off.  I had big plans of cleaning and catching up on things around the house.  Instead I spent most of my free time looking at tiny houses and fifth wheels.  Something about our western life seems to feel like a burden to me.

I know I’m thinking crazy vagabond thoughts, but wouldn’t it be so freeing to not spend all time and money pouring into housing and mundane life? What if all the traveling I’ve longed to do , and places that would be so enriching for the kids were a reality?

Yesterday I allowed myself to DREAM…

I do this often.  Just daydream.

What if we roadschooled?  Lived for months at a time in a camper?

Is someone poisoning my food and making me think all these crazy things? I’m sure my husband thinks that’s where all this is coming from.

I realize this.

But, truly, it’s a need to free myself from burden.  Think about it…we spend our whole lives working our hands just so we can pay for a house.  What if that money was spent on life experiences?  Traveling the country…the WORLD!  We could know things about life and God we could never know without taking a leap.

Could we be free to go wherever we wanted?  What would that look like?

I imagine all the people we could meet and help and encourage.  I imagine our family relying and trusting and just being with each other.  How close would we become?  How would that shape our character?  How many opportunities would we have to fully rely on God and trust Him?

I want to place myself in an uncomfortable position.  I want our family to LIVE, to EXPERIENCE, to LEARN, to TRUST, to DREAM.

I’m half way across the world already.

Can you just pretend with me for a minute?

I know it’s a long-shot.  I am dreaming anyways.  Let me be…FREE for a moment.

What sorts of crazy thoughts do you have?  If you could do or be anything, what would it be?  What/who stops you from doing it?

What does your FREE look like?

 

out camping

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We headed to the mountains Easter weekend.  It was a needed reset to our busy and work-filled lives.  Unplugging was a marvelous idea, indeed.

Let’s not talk about the all night party bunch.  Then we’ll forget all the good moments that we had.  We might block out the fact that we were all together and enjoying a camp fire and marshmallows.

How do you create memories on a budget?  What are your favorite childhood family times?

I always loved camping and spending the day at the river when I was young.  I haven’t forgotten even one of those trips.  It takes some planning and effort, but I think we are going to make a summer habit of these short weekend adventures.

lessons for the working, homeschool, mama

Oh, my!  I’m one tired mama.  Since January I have worked full-time, while still  homeschooling the kids.  My husband has been patiently awaiting a permanent place at UPS after working the holiday season.  He’s been painting houses and doing side jobs for the time being.  Okay, we’re both tired.  In a nut shell, it’s been a tough season.

It’s been a long hard season in fact.  Sometimes I have thought that everything that could go wrong has.  We have suffered loss.  We have had our marriage under attack, financial devastation, career change that led to months of unemployment- which led to mortgage debt.  I was wrongfully fired from a coffee shop job just as things were looking up financially.  We’ve been through it!  Just when are about to get a drink of refreshing water, it seems someone kicks the bucket over.  Why is everything SO hard!

Before you completely check out and stop reading, there is a point to my unloading.  I have grown tremendously in the past year.  The season of trials has proven a great season of lessons learned.  It’s a well-spring of spiritual opportunities and assessment.  I understand just a little more about God’s grace and forgiveness.  I have a clearer picture of what it means to run the race set before me.  This race has felt like it would kill me.  I’ve been at the end of my strength, dying of thirst, ready for the demand on my energy and exertion to end, but God’s grace has furthered me down the path a bit more.

Friend, have you been down a path like this?  One that makes you re-think all that you knew or believed?  A path speckled with hurdles that look so much bigger than what you can handle?  You are not alone.  In fact, the more I feel brave enough to honestly share my own struggles, the more those around confide in me their own battles.  I’m learning that people are afraid to share that they aren’t perfect and don’t have “it” all together, but it’s a fact!  With a determined heart I follow Christ.  When I want to give up and get away from my problems, I pray for Him to be the strength I need.  Join me, won’t you?

Acts 20:24

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

I signed up for a race, and I aim to finish it.  I’ll be ragged and disheveled by the end or I’ll get my runner’s high.  Knowing myself, I’ll likely be crawling to the finish line- perhaps an ambulance escort.  I decided to follow Jesus, and there is NO turning back.  I’ll get there.  How about you?  When life gets hard and every step is uphill, What verses do you cling to?  Be encouraged.  HE is our strength.

Free A5 Planner Printables!!

I’m so excited to announce my very own planner printables.  I decided to combine aspects I really like about Erin Condren Life Planners that I covet, and the Day-Timer Family Plus Planner that I own.  I love vertical layouts for weekly pages.  I love color, but I don’t love how it sucks up my ink.

This design is printer-friendly, colorful and FREE to you until the end of the month.  February 1st these pages will be sold in my Etsy shop.  My hope is that you will enjoy these printables and give some feedback before I start selling them.

I have poured hours and even days making these.  I am not perfect so if you notice something in error please let me know.  I thank you kindly for your input, and hope you enjoy getting yourself organized!!

The calendar features notes and goals.  Each month is a different color.

A5 Cal snip

Calendar A5 (click to download)

I made lists for shopping, books to read, movies to watch, goals and a notes page.

planner lists

planner lists (click to download)

The weekly spread is vertical.  Each month color in the weekly spread coordinates with the monthly pages.

weeky plan

Weekly Planner colored months (click to download)

mystery of history curriculum review

I posted here about all the curriculum we’re using this year.  We are continuing through Mystery of History Volume 1.  I’ll let you know right off the bat, we LOVE it!.  I had a request several months back for a review.  Now that we’ve used it for a reasonable amount time, I’m ready to give you my full review.

Please keep in mind, we haven’t completed the book.  I can tell the system of it now, and that every lesson follows the same format.  The simplicity of this curriculum is one of its greatest strengths.  If your child can read you don’t even need to “teach” it.  It’s written to the child.  The activities are short and common enough (no crazy shopping lists) for us to be able to complete them all.  The only thing I purchased was a sewing board for our timeline.

I love the timeline.  It folds up and fits in compact areas.  Timelines we had in the past never got put up because I didn’t like it all over my house.  We don’t have a school room.

So, here’s how it looks.

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Every three lessons, the timeline and memory cards are filled out.

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There are review tests and pretests.  These are short but impacting.  No over testing involved

 

 

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All the activities we do are filed in a binder, along with tests, and reviews.  The sections we have in our binder are categorized by geographical regions.

The curriculum’s flexibility  is wonderful.  This is designed for K-12.  One book of history for all grades!  You know I love a multi-leveled curriculum. This doesn’t disappoint.  You can make the activities as complicated or simple as you need to.  You can also turn each lesson into a week-long study if that’s what you like.  We don’t.  I usually have books for the week’s topics in every reading level.  They read more in-depth information on their own.  If I’m particularly unorganized or behind, I pull up online articles for the older kids to read.

I don’t say this often but, I can’t see myself ever searching for a different history book for our schooling.  I love that we can do this together, or I can plan out independent study as the kids get older.  There’s just enough written to cover it well, but not to bore them out of the fun of learning history.

We love!  Here’s a link for more information.  There are different volumes.  When you complete one you go to the next.  Then you can circulate them.

I have also done a YouTube video that goes through the book details.  Thanks for reading.  I hope this was helpful.  Please ask any questions you may have.  Have a great day of schooling those babes!

what’s in our workboxes: 4th and 6th grade (using a filing cabinet)

Are you tired of hearing about the Workbox System?  No, you’re not!  I’m not a bit tired about talking of them either.

This video tour shows you what’s now in our file cabinet “workboxes”.  I love this file system for the older kids.  They love it and chose not to get a rolling cart when given the choice to upgrade.

This is great for apartment and small spaces as well.  They key to having them feel motivated in this setup, is to make sure you fill their schedule every time.  The will see their progress and get motivated to finish well.

So without further ado, the video tour.

Do you use workboxes?  What’s your favorite method?

yarn along

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It’s back folks.  My knit mania that is.  I have worked on this blanket for years now.  It’s really turning into a beast.  It’s merely a scrap blanket.  I had some hats and such completed for Christmas, and that lead me to more bits to add in.  I’m loving the memories of gifts I see when I look at this blanket.  Some are from my first projects (which were quite ugly, I assure you).

On the night stand are some great reads.

The Three Musketeers I do love a good classic read.

Sacred Marriage  Not too far into this one, but I love the concepts so far.  Very deep.

Hinds Feet on High Places  I’ve already picked this preface apart on here.  I think you get that I’m into it :)

year of clean 2015

I have already seen many January challenges on blogs, YouTube and Instagram for a month of cleaning and de-cluttering.  If you’re like me, the thought of a daily deep clean in any area is daunting.  I decided to make my own challenge list.

I made myself a monthly, instead of daily, challenge.  Each month I want to focus on a section or topic of cleaning. Here’s my list.  I have also made an Instagram/Twitter handle for any of you who want some motivation and want a place to share your masterpieces.

Use #yearofclean2015 and join me for a peaceful organizational challenge.  I will post updates each month here, as well as videos on my YouTube channel.

Share this challenge with a friend.  Are you ready?

Yearof Clean schedule edit

homeschool favorites of 2014

Some of the following favorites are curriculum, some are resources.  Keep in mind I love switching things up.  I have loved different things at different times, for different reasons.  As I made thins list I only put things on that I have loved the WHOLE year.  What are some of your homeschool favorites?

1.  Apologia Science– I have only used the younger series.

2.  Who is God?– We just started this Bible study this year.  I love it so much!  Even my preschooler likes to listen in.

3. Sue Patrick’s Workbox System– Do I ever shut up about this?  No.  I won’t until everyone I know gives it a go.  AMAZING!!

4.  Composition Journals– We never buy the supplementary notebooks that go with our science and Bible.  We use comp.   books!  We also use them for spelling (instead of have a bunch of loose paper), Math (same reason), and as writing  journals for the older kids.

5.  Spelling Power– Have not regretting this K-12 spelling curriculum one moment.

6.  Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons– great for pre-K-2nd grade.

7.  Teaching Textbooks Math– I don’t think I can ever not have this in my life.  It grades, teaches, and is fun all-in-one!

8.  Purple Cow Laminater– I got this at Costco a few years ago for $20!  I love having a way to reuse printables I find  online.  No homeschool should be without one.

9.  Teachers Pay Teachers– My favorite resource for said printables.  There are endless FREE printables.

10.  iPoint evolution– I budgeted this into our school year.  I really wanted a METAL sharpener that could attach to the  wall, but this one was on sale at the beginning of the school year for $15.  I am actually glad to have this electric one so  the younger kids can use it without needing help.

11.  Confessions of a Homeschooler– This is a site I go to time after time.  She has wonderful printables and inspiration.

12.  Calendar Notebooks– This I have for pre-K through 6th grade.  My favorite FREE Calendar!  There are different  options for different grade levels.

13.  1Plus1Plus1Equals1– An awesome resource for montessori learning.  I love her sight words section most.

14.  You Can Read– FREE sight words lessons from the above site.  I love, love, love it!

15.  Local Library- THE best thing ever.  Free, fun, and a great place to meet other families.  Some of my closest friends  have been through storytime at the library.

I hope you found this helpful.  Please don’t forget to mention your favorites in the comments.

tour our workboxes!

I get asked often what workboxes are.  I can’t say enough good about our system!  I found Sue Patrick’s system through one of my favorite homeschool blogs Confessions of a Homeschooler.  Without further ramblings, here is how I’ve set up Olivia (2nd Grade) and Josie’s (1st grade) boxes.  They Have rolling cart and Isabel and Andre use a file cabinet.  I will be posting all about their boxes soon.

Enjoy!  And spread the word on workboxes with every homeschooler you know.  Life.  Changing.

favorite recipes of the month (December)

It’s no secret that I love Pinterest.  I pin like my life depends on it.  You can follow me by clicking this link.  Every week I look through my pins and pick new recipes to try.  I’m adventurous that way.  Here are our favorite new recipes we’ve been enjoying lately.  None of them were fail.  If you missed my last linked list you can find it here.  I will state that I usually have to triple recipes for our size family.  I made more in each one listed.

Broccoli Pesto Bake

General Tsao’s Chicken

Chicken Terriaki

Cheeseburger Soup

Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup

I hope you enjoy these meals as much I we have.  The kids loved the first so much, I made it three times in one month!  What are you favorite finds on Pinterest?  Please share below!

15 goals for 2015

I always have goals lists going on, but at the beginning of each year I like to plan out what I think to be the most important goals to aim for.  Do you do that too?  Link your goals in the comments section and share.  Happy New Year everyone!

Here’s a video about each of my goals if you would like to hear them explained:

 

 

Goals for 2015

1. 2 YouTube Videos a week

2. Weekly blog posts (here)

3. Keep up my cleaning routine

4. downsize ans organize the house

5. Run another 5k

6. Stay Gluten Free 80% at least

7. More homeschool fun!

8. Get serious about guitar lessons

9. Read at least 20 books this year

10. Bible Studies

11. Get back in the garden

12. Have kid dates

13. Finish Josie’s quilt

14. Keep up my Thankful Journal

15. Submit to God’s will day by day

 

penny

I mentioned a few days ago that our sweet little poodle Luke died.  We have all been so sad.  Luke had his faults, but he was a great family dog.  He never hesitated to lick and love on us.  He always laid next to the under-the-weather family members.  He stuck like glue to Josie’s side while she recovered from surgeries.  He was a wonderful dog for all these kids.

He tolerated anything these kids dressed him in.  He always had energy to play.  He was a lover of face licking.

I silence fell upon our house when he was gone.  An energy was missing.  I’m sure we could never forget all the laughs and comfort Luke brought.  Our house hasn’t been the same since.  It’s quieter.  I like when it’s quiet, but this is the sort of quiet that feels like a void.

A month and a half has passed.  We decided we’re ready for a new puppy fluff.

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The energy is back full-force, I assure you.  We haven’t laughed or smiled this much for a while.  Penny came to live with us Friday.  If you follow me on Instagram, you have already seen this tiny ball of fun.  We are all so excited about our new puppy.

IMG_2118 IMG_2116 IMG_2117

If you don’t think she’s cute, you are heartless.

Her faults include: being too much fun to focus on school work, being too cute to stop holding, acting as the perfect distraction from housework.

These are also her strengths.

Some seasons in life are best gotten through by using a tiny, fluffy, energetic pup as a Segway.  We are thanking Jesus for bringing this little girl to us in the most likely way, in perfect timing.

Oh, Penny.  You are just what we needed.

thankful journal: count your blessings even when it’s hard

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Have you ever gone through a season in your life where it seemed like nothing was going good?  I feel like we’ve been in and out of those seasons so often over the last couple of years.  It’s easy to cry out, “Why me?”

It’s hard to stay thankful and grateful.

I admit to doing both quite well.  I always want to be thankful and count my blessings.  I don’t always do it.  Even with the most well-intended fantasies of being that perfectly content and loving person, I FALL SHORT.  I get bummy and grumbly.  I forget what I already have and whine (in my heart) about what I don’t.

Over the last month I have done something to remind myself each day that I have so many things to be thankful for.  I made a little thankful journal.  It’s a sentence or two everyday.  It takes less than a minute, and it really helps me to see that even on the worst, most stressful, heart-breaking days, there is always at least one thing that caught my attention.  One thing I can say, “Thank you Lord.” for.

I just read through it before I wrote this post.  It’s amazing how many things I already forgot I was blessed by.  Isn’t that just like us humans?  We are so quick to remember the hardships and trials, and so quick to forget just what God has done good.  I would like to to challenge all of you to “Count your blessings.”

Write down a moment or a thing you are thankful for everyday.  Write it in a fancy journal.  Write it on a notebook.  Write it on the calendar.  Just pick a place and put that paper somewhere you won’t forget.  Somewhere that you will see it and not forget.  You might have to put it in your purse and take it with you.  Perhaps stick it on your nightstand– you get the idea.

There have been a few days I missed.  I try to think back and write what I remember.  Don’t beat yourself up if you forget a few days. The point is to walk over a write your thoughts as soon as you can so you don’t forget the little things that blessed you.  You may have to dig deeper some days.  Hey!  Some days are better left forgotten, but try to find even the tiniest gift for those days.  One of my days said, “Isabel made breakfast.”

I remember that day.  That and the breath in my family’s lungs was truly about all the good that happened.  But that is a blessing, isn’t it?

So, do it!  Comment what you’re thankful for below if you want.

Thankfulness isn’t just for this week.  It’s a life choice to be grateful and blessed by the lives God has placed us in.

Difficult times may be all you know.  I realize some of you have had trials I couldn’t imagine.  I know God is faithful, and maybe ALL you have is him.  Praise him for his presence.  He is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving.

Always.

printables and links for december homeschool extras!

I have be gather some resources to integrate into our school room for December.  I found some sites and printables I’m pretty excited about.  I thought I’d share them here with you.

1.  We have done The Jesse Tree for the last few years.  It’s a printable booklet and it has ornaments.  We save our ornaments to use each year.  We also have an add-on so we can use the Jesus Storybook Bible for the younger ones in our family.

2.  This link is from Teachers of Good Things.  She has a great linked list of ideas and printables to keep Christ in your December homeschool.  This is a GREAT list!

3.  I found a great unit study Homeschooling Through the Nativity at Intoxicated On Life.

How do you switch things up for December in your class?  I love the fun and excitement of this time of year, don’t you?  Have festive weekend all!

8 things we need to know about grace

I love a good second chance.  I need them everyday don’t you?  In the Christian world we call this grace.  I thought it would be fun to look at ten things we need to remember about grace.

1.  Grace is getting what we don’t deserve.  It’s a gift we don’t earn.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

2.  We are to freely give grace, just as Jesus has freely given it to us.  We can’t expect people to earn grace from us.  It’s a gift, remember?

Romans 12:3

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

3.  Grace comes with a price.  Jesus paid that price for us.  Sometimes for us to show grace is a sacrifice that doesn’t come easy for us either.

Ephesians 5:2

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

4.  There is a call to action.  Be graceous!  Give back what the Lord has given you.

Psalm 111:4

He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

5.  We need it daily.

Luke 9:23

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

6.  Grace is choice we have.  Have you ever heard someone described as gracious?  I’m not just talking about floating across the floor flawlessly.  I’m glad that’s not the definition.  My clumsy self would have no hope in that.  We can choose to BE gracious towards others.  We can be gracious in our thoughts.  In our hearts. In our actions and words.

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

7.  True grace only comes from the father.  Either to us or through us.

8.  It’s not easy for us, but He can give us strength.  Sometimes His grace is all we have.  It’s always all we need.

2 Corinthians 12

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.  And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

9 misunderstandings about motherhood (i wish someone told me this)

If you’re a struggling mama, a new mama, or a soon-to-be mama, a never-ending, or a super mama, hippie mama, corporate mama, stay-at-home mama, unschooling, homeschooling, public schooling, private schooling mama…this list may be for you.

1. Breastfeeding is beautiful and natural.  Okay, this ends up being mostly true, but it’s starts out blisters,  crying (mama from pain), and ends in biting and more crying- ’cause mom doesn’t want her baby to  grow up.  Somehow your child will live- even on formula *gasp*.

2. Stay-at-home moms don’t do much.  Excuse me?  They have time to do everything perfectly that working moms never can.  Being a SAHM is easier.  For me, I think my mind and emotions would rather I get a job.

3.  Motherhood comes naturally.  Disagree.  Selfishness comes naturally.  Motherhood is a life of service.

4.  It gets easier.  So far, no.  The change of physical demands and no sleep to bra shopping and  hormones- ’nuff said.  I have heard enough from mom’s with adult children to know that season has it’s struggles  as well.  Like I said- life time service.

5.  If you read a bunch of parenting books, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect and how to deal with  it.  Don’t worry the formula works for everyone…said no mother ever!

6.  You have to be able to juggle house, schedules, and bake cookies all the time.  Give yourselves a break.   We mamas can seldom muster up the will and motivation for for anything other than keeping the young  alive.  It’s okay.  If you’re a ball of energy, that’s awesome.  If you’re not, don’t fall into the trap of looking  around you.  Assume you’re friend’s Instagram picture of perfection was the only moment of peace that  day held, and she documented it.  Assume that all the Pinterest pins are looking more like the Pinterest  Fail blog.  Just love your babes and do lots of deep breathing and praying.  You’ll make it to the next  stage.

7.  Your friends are sweeter, more peaceful, and never complain about anything.  They have it all figured  out.  They are better than you.  Yeah right.  They are likely struggling just as much- maybe more.  Have  honest conversations and be a friend who understands.  We are all figuring things out as we go.  YOU”RE  NOT ALONE!  Surround yourself with godly women who you can relate to.

8.  If you don’t feed your child organic from scratch food, on a plate that’s BPA-Free in a chair you bought at the thrift store and painted with chemical-free paint, while strumming your guitar to a song you wrote especially for him– he’ll grow up hating you and thinking that you neglected him.  Give that kid some chicken McNuggets and let him play in the ball pit of death germs.  He’ll love you more.  Just kidding. Do what ever you want, but remember that he only wants you.  Not your food or your up-cycles.  Just your presence and love.

9.  If you’re a single mom you have failed.  You don’t see your kids enough and they will turn out horrible.  Don’t believe that for a second.  You can do it, and you will realize one day how amazing you are for raising a child with no help or relief from a spouse.  I think single moms are amazing!  God will get you through to your next season.

Moms!  You are important.  What you do everyday is doing something.  Every stage of motherhood you look back on and see the growth in your person, your relationship to the Lord.  Every stage is teaching us something.  Don’t believe lies.  You are a mother.  You are amazing.  You may not feel amazing, look amazing, or act amazing (mommy-ka-boom!), but if you love your children they will know.  

Sometimes a, “Mom, MOM, MOMMY!  I love you.” Is enough to remind us, right?

Do not grow weary in doing good.  The Lord provides the strength you need.  Just be the mom He wants you to be, not the one you think you should be.  

 

homeschool, housework, and sanity

Let me clear things up for you before they get murky from the beginning.  This post is more of a question and guide then an answer book.  I in no way, shape or form have “it” all together.  I have picked up a few tips and frames of mind along the path of schooling the kids over the years.  I’m simply passing along personal experience.  I also ask myself if I’m on task daily.  Is there a more efficient or effective way to do things, ect.  In a nut shell, it’s an ever-evolving balance.

Every morning I get up and have personal time with Jesus.  Sometimes this happens when everyone is still sleep.  Sometimes, I sleep through my alarm (a lot) and this happens while the kids are doing morning chores. This is my best advice to anyone.  That’s how I prepare for my day.  After this time happens, my day begins.  The following is how I function through the rest of the day.

First, you can’t do it all and stay calm.  Choose the order of your priorities.  This has changed and been a huge struggle for me every year.  My biggest quandary is sticking to my own standards.  Your list may look different, that’s okay.  The concept remains. This is the order I pour my daily energy into.  This isn’t necessarily a priority of life.  It’s more import that my kids eat that learn.  It would be hard to learn if you’ve staved to death right?  This is the order I pour out my time and energy to.  If I have left over energy after #1, I carry out something in #2.  If I did something in #2, I may take longer or do something special for #3.  You get where I’m going with this.  I do each category everyday on some level.

1. School the kids (This is my number one priority!)

2. Cleaning (I’m putting this as the second because I lose my mind when things get too messy or backed-up)

3. Meals (We all have to eat.  I’m talking about whether we’re eating frozen meals or home-cooked)

4. Extracurricular (For me this is knitting, hanging out with friends ect.)

I’ve given up the ghost of being perfect and doing it all.  I was losing my mind people. I was also not perfect.  I was grumpy.  What’s important to me is being a good mom.  I want to feel they learned all they could.  Was I patient?  Do they feel loved and important? If the house is a wreck and we eat frozen pizza at the end of the day, I’m good with that.

I’m not sure how it happened, but I have slowly cared less and less about whole organic food.  I haven’t made a pie crust in over a year.  I simply don’t have the time or energy to accomplish everything to perfection.  To be honest, I was burdening myself with DIY everything.  Food, cleaners, projects.  I was using every spare moment of my day to do something.

I found a more realistic approach to life freeing.

When the kids are done with school I sneak in a load of laundry.  Sometimes I can start dish while they’re reading or busy with an assignment.  I am mostly on my feet the entire school time.  We do school from about 930-12 noon.  The afternoons are when older kids read or finish independent work, and younger ones rest.

I try to relax on some level here.  I read or watch a show while folding laundry.  I need a bit or a recharge.  If I don’t get one, it’s a frozen meal for dinner.  If I feel more energetic, I make a more time-consuming meal.  I do meal plan, but often re-arrange the planned meals for the week, depending on my energy.

After I have my quiet(er) time, we do afternoon chores.  Here’s the link to our schedule.  We are doing great with this.  I find it to be the least burdening chore chart we’ve tried.  Our house always looks generally clean now.  If I’m really in the mood to clean that day, I pick an organizing task or other project not on the list.  I also will take extra care washing linens and putting clothes away.  That’s if I really feel like cleaning that day.

When the day is done, or nearly so, I have extracurricular time.  They have free time until 5 pm.  While they play outside or entertain themselves I usually read or knit.  After they’re in bed, I read or watch TV with Nick.  I paint my nails, shower, ect. during this time.  The general point of this category is to take care of myself in some way, and RELAX after a long busy and often stress-filled day.  I go to bible study in the evening, and try to schedule hangout with friends (the no kids sort) at or around dinner time.  Nick can watch the kids, and I don’t feel behind the next day.

How do you organize your time and priorities?  Link your blog below, or comment.  Have a beautiful productive day!

 

 

 

i’m addicted to everything

I simply can’t help it.  I think I’m addicted to every sort of craft and hobby idea I see.  Maybe I’m too much of a dreamer. Perhaps I’m hiding from the reality of poop on the toilet seat and crumbs stuck to my bare feet.  Whatever it is, I have a hard time stopping it when it needs to be stopped.

I tried to make a promise to myself not to knit, sew, or cross stitch.  I did a good job of it these last few months.  I found myself hopelessly lost in every book in our house that interested me instead.  I’ve read nine books in five weeks.  Nine. That’s a record.  There never seems to be an end in sight when I get on (what I call) a binge.  This month it’s books.  What next month brings, I know not.

Do you do that?  Am I the only one?

My family has been enjoying the TLC show Cake Boss lately.  It’s been a teasing reminder my former passion for cake decorating.  I keep seeing visions of piped butter cream dancing in my head.  I’m pretty sure I’m a hobbyist.  Of everything. Perhaps it’s my need to be constantly busy doing something.

I can really get myself going.  So much so, that I loose steam.  Big surprise, right?  It’s true.  I do this constantly.  I get going so fast that I lose sight of my true purpose.  I want to honor Jesus with the life he has given me.  Sometimes I put unneeded pressure and tasks on my plate that He never asked of me.  I want to do His will.  Often, I find myself doing mine.

I’m certainly the sort that needs to be gently reminded by the Lord to just sit.  Be quiet.  Be Still.  I want to hear from Him. That requires turning off the list of actions I constantly have running through my head.

Just listen and wait.

Do you need to hear this today?  I sure did.  I have a sneaky feeling that many mamas share the same struggles.

Patience.  That’s always been a tough one for me.  Something amazing happens when I’m still.  I hear.

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.  Hebrews 10:36

saying goodbye

There has been a dead silence here, hasn’t there?  Our family has gone through some major changes.  As such, it’s hard to be consistant in this place.  We have said goodbye lately to some huge areas in our lives.  I’ll tell you just a bit about them before we move along to normal blogging.

First, we have sold our milking does and all our babies.  I have been in desperate need of some stress relief.  Not being a slave to milking every 12 hours has given me time to re-evaluate, and settle into a new life we are entering.  This brings me to the next HUGE change in our lives.

We are no longer in charge of the church we started.  It is very bitter, and a bit sweet.  Now is certainly not the time to go into the details, but I will say that I haven’t minded the extra family time.  With both if these changes, neither Nick nor I feel as “tied down” as we used to.  We have been enjoying the ability to have more family outings.

Another goodbye that was purely out of our hands is the complete loss of our garden.  Our humble little patch barely made it through a hail storm.  I was hopeful that the few leaves left would be enough for at least a small crop.  A larger more devastating hail storm blew through just a couple of weeks later.  That left us with nothing to work with.  It also ruined our roof, and damaged our vehicles and pop-up trailer.  It was a bummer.  A big one.

It has been a month full of sadness and change.  I can truly say that I will continue to praise Him through the literal and metaphoric storms that we have been in the eye of.  He is good and faithful no matter our lot in life.

We are all looking forward to the start of a new homeschool year.  I’ve been flying around organizing and planning.  The kids are actually looking forward to our beginning next week.  I really love back-to-school shopping.  The house has been filled with the smells of new crayons and pencils.  We’re locked, stocked and ready to fire away.

What have you been up to?  I do hope you have been having fun and growing closer to Him.

recipe links and reviews

Last month I planned all of our June meals.  We are in the middle of the month right now.  What better time to give the links and reviews for new recipes we’ve tried out.  I’d like to do this once a month for you.  It’s nice to have someone (me) be the test rat so you don’t have to worry about whether that beautiful Pinterest meal tastes good.

For starters, I’d like to say that our family isn’t too picky.  Josie is the pickiest of all, but does that surprise you?  Not me.  Lol.  I printed a monthly planner from Money Saving Mom.  What I like about this is that is has breakfast lunch and dinner areas.

Now for the recipes.  I looked on Pinterest at meals I’ve been wanting to make.  Some were crock pot, some quick, and some regular or more in-depth.  These are my picks and what I thought of them.

Korean Beef (Quick meal)

Everybody really loved this one.  You can make it spicier or sweeter by adding more chili sauce or sugar.  The only thing I didn’t like was the lack of veggies.  Next time I think I’ll add snow peas or broccoli.  Maybe both :)

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

These were A-Maz-Ing!  For reals!! I had a strange craving for french dip sammies for weeks.  This hit the spot!  I made double and we ate it later that week as well.  I couldn’t find french onion soup, so I used the dry soup mix.  It was AWESOME!!!!  It was also extremely easy.  I took about 5 minutes to put in the crock pot.  I’m salivating just thinking about this.

Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake

I wanted to liven up our breakfast menu this month.  This was soooo great.  I made a double batch and put it in a 9×12 pan.  It worked great.  Imagine a slice of a muffin/scone hybrid.  Yeah.  It was yummy, yummy.

That’s all I have for now, but come back soon for my end of the month list.  I can’t wait to share with you the other delicious dishes we’ve been gobbling up.

Have you tried a new recipe recently?  Please share a link or recipe in the comments below.  I LOVE comments!!!

Don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest to see what else I’ve been pinning.

 

 

chore/allowance system that will blow your mind!!!

I’ve done my share of printing and laminating chore charts.  Some have worked better and longer than others.  All have failed at some point or another.  Nick and I decided we wanted to work on cleaning as a family instead of having everyone assigned different areas/tasks.  We came up with something that blew our own minds.  I’m so excited to share this with you!

First, a word on our chore philosophy.  We don’t require much.  We want them to learn to be responsible and accountable, but we are not slave-drivers AT ALL.  Secondly, we have never had set allowances.  Occasionally, we’ve paid various willing children to help us with big tasks- all voluntary.  We expect everyone to do something to help around here.  They are part of a family.  Families work together.

About allowance.  I’ve never liked the idea of trying to come up with a payment plan.  Who gets what?  When? How often? Seems like just more info I’ll forget or flake out on.  It also made me nervous about strife, competition and fighting among the kids.

Here’s what we came up with.  I’m still wondering how this idea came to our heads!  Thank you Jesus!

Click here for our PDF.  family contributions chart PDF  Follow this video link for the “normal” household chart.

beating the heat

IMG_1619 IMG_1623 IMG_1617There is a heat advisory in our area now.  As if anyone who lives here needs to be advised that it’s totally stinkin’ hot.  Naturally, it was the perfect time for our AC unit to break.  Yeah, not so fun.  I know that there are people who live in the jungle and never have air.  If you’re not raised that way or you’re not on the mission field, it’s difficult to be at ease with the inside of your house reaching 90 degrees. I’m so thankful that Nick found such helpful people to walk him through the fix.  It took two full days to get our house cooler.  We have it rigged now, but the cold air’s blowing.  All this yucky heat led us to break out the swimming pool that was given to us a few months ago. This kids didn’t seem to mind this route for cooling off. What are some of your ideas for cooling off?  Popsicles are another one of our favorite beat-the-heat treats.

choosing to trust

Yesterday was a rough one.  The three younger children have the chore of putting away the dishes.  They were fighting and arguing constantly.  Each attempt to redirect and reason was met with more arguing and more fighting.  By 9:15 AM I was ready to hid in my room and read with a locked door.  Do you ever have a morning that seems to let you know the rest of your day will be and uphill battle?  I called it yesterday.

I didn’t call it out loud.  I pleaded with God that it wouldn’t be.  I prayed we could turn it around.

That didn’t happen.

It’s hard for me to see the good in times like that.  Suddenly, I’m worn out.  I become very unproductive.  Nick and I had a dinner date that night.  Right up until we left the fighting continued.  I was to meet him after I dropped off the kids.  I was running late because of all the talks and attitudes that resulted.

I felt bad that I was even leaving them with their grandparents.  Naturally, they were no trouble for them at all.  I was relieved, but sheesh!  I would have liked to enjoy a bit of that.

By the middle of dinner I was ready to give up the farm and move to the city.  Won’t it be easier if there’s less work? Wouldn’t it be nicer to be closer to supportive friends.  To say it lightly, yesterday was a bum day.  I real bummer.

This morning; however, I woke at 5:15 (usually I get up at 6:30), and things seemed up.  I read my Bible, had a cup of coffee, and milked the goats before Nick rose.  The kids are still sleeping.  I’ve even thrown in a load of laundry.  Here I sit typing away as if yesterday’s woes never were.

Isn’t that just like us humans?  We are such emotional being.  One day, we’re giving up the dream, and the next we’re enjoying every moment.

I was a bit busted this morning as I did my Bible study in 1 Samuel 8.  How many times am I just like the Israelites.  I praise God and worship him.  I want to follow His will.  The next moment I’m complaining about what he’s given me and rebel against Him.  I don’t want his little “gift” anymore.

Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies. Psalms 40:4

Today, no matter what those hooligan kids of mine throw at me, I want to choose to trust God.  Since they’re not up yet, I’m not sure how successful I’ll be.  I’m ready though.  I trust Him logically, but not always emotionally.

Friends, are you feeling like you relate?  Is there something or someone(s) you’re letting rule your emotions?  I want you to know you’re not alone.  He is with you.  I don’t want to believe the lies that I can’t do it (life).  I can if I tap into God’s strength.

God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect. 2 Samuel 22:33

I pray I’ll be content with whatever great things or whatever struggle comes at me.  I will follow Him.  How about you?  What encourages you when the weight of life is on you?  Do you know He loves you?  He does.  We mamas have so much pull in every direction.  It can be overwhelming!

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6