Tuesday, November 5, 2013

3 Quick and Easy Steps to go from Church Chic to Homeschool Mom

I don't know about you, but I love to dress up to go to church on Sundays. I should probably dress for the Lord, but honestly, I dress up because I'm just so excited to be around other grown ups for a few hours! I like to do my hair, put on make-up, dress up fancy and wear heels. It makes me feel like a normal person and I love it!

But Church Chic isn't really appropriate for Monday meltdowns, mounds of laundry, and multiple stacks of dishes on the kitchen counter. So here are 3 easy tips to turn that Church Chic look into a simple and easy to manage Homeschool Mom look.

Step #1- Pony tail or bun

Long hair isn't manageable when you're bending over to pick up dirty clothes and toys, leaning over school work to explain fractions, or standing over a sink washing those mounds of dishes, so pulling it up into a ponytail or bun is very practical. But be careful because you could make this into another attractive hairstyle. If that happens, have no fear, just pull your bangs back with a bobby pin or one of those stretchy headbands.

Step #2- Comfy Sweater

I was homeschooled as a youngster, and I have fond memories of my mom standing in front of the chalkboard teaching phonics in a hideous gray sweater. I remember the cowl neckline, the massive buttons up the front, and the ratty bottom very well. In fact, at one point my mom made phonics tapes for the younger kids to watch while she did school with us older kids (I have 5 siblings), so I'm sure the physical evidence of that sweater is somewhere. She may even still have the sweater.

A while ago, when my older kids were younger, I found this hideous green sweater at Goodwill. It was thick, long, had massive buttons up the front, and the cowl neckline just like my mom's. I had to have it. It has now become my "homeschool mom" comfy sweater. My husband will not allow me to wear it when he is home. He doesn't know comfort when he sees it.

If you find one of these jewels, you can be warm, comfy, and look like a homeschool mom in a matter of seconds. You might even find one with large pockets on the front to hold your cell phone, red pencil, and whatever other essentials you need to carry around all day. That would definitely be a bonus.

Step #3- Jeans or Jean skirt

Depending on your personal style, this must-have accessory can be the clincher. For jeans, make sure the waistband sits comfortably above your mom-pouch (nobody wants to be sitting at the table helping to diagram sentences with a waistband digging into their middle). Also, make sure the hem comes just above the top of your sneakers. Just trust me on this one.

If you prefer jean skirts, long and pleated are the way to go. Give yourself lots of room to move around and breathe. Mid-calf is the perfect length for the look. Back pockets are not mandatory, especially if you've followed Step #2 and have the comfy sweater with the big front pockets. This applies to jeans as well.

I hope these steps will help your turn that Church Chic look into the Homeschool Mom look that's necessary for everyday chores. Follow these three easy steps and your day will be comfy, orderly, and without fuss.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Involving Children in Housework

As parents, sometimes chores and housework can get overwhelming. Add to that children of any age, and it can seem impossible. But there are ways that you can encourage your children to help around the house so you’re not doing the burden of the work yourself. 

The best way to get children involved is by making a chart of chores that they can do, and either giving them a sticker for each chore that gets done, or by marking it off. You can make one yourself by listing the chores and laminating it. You can get clear contact paper at the store for a cheap and easy self-laminate. You can also find free templates and charts online through various blogs and sites. 

Finding age-appropriate chores can be tricky, but with a little common sense and trial and error, you can find chores that your little ones of all ages can do. 

Ages Toddler-4 years
At this age, the little ones want to help with whatever you’re doing. Most of the time they don’t actually “help” but you’ll want to encourage them to help while they want to. If you discourage them at this age, then later when you need and want them to help, they won’t be willing. 

Some simple chores that they can do at this age are:
-pick up dolls, trucks, toys, and put them in bins or the toybox       
-put pillows and stuffed animals on their bed
-put away silverware, plastic bowls (in bottom cabinets), or plastic cups. 

               It’s nice to have a bucket or basket in a lower cabinet with the plastic cups, bowls, and/or plates in it. Then they can also help set the table by getting their own dishes. If you’re super organized and have a separate bin for each toy, it would be best to get down on the floor and help them put each thing away. Expecting them to be able to sort the toys at this age is a huge expectation.

Ages 5 years- 8 years
               Some children in this age range will still be struggling with dexterity and fine motor skills, so you’ll want to be sensitive to those issues. But as they grow older, they will relish having new responsibilities to feel like more of a family.

Expanding the chores at this age would be:
-clean up all toys
-make bed (it may not be perfect, but covers spread over the mattress)
-wipe countertops
-clean toilet
-put away cups, bowls, plates, silverware, etc
-take plates and silverware off of the table after meals
-vacuum small areas
-clean mirrors

               You might want to invest in nicer plastic dishes, or have them take one plate at a time, but at this age they should be able to clean off the table and put clean dishes away. If you’re worried about chemicals from cleaning the bathroom, look into more natural cleaning options.

Ages 9- 12 years
               At this age you can trust them to do more intense work. It still may not be perfect, but it all goes into training them to become responsible, knowledgeable adults. 

Chores at this age:
-basic laundry
-empty and load the dishwasher
-vacuum whole rooms
-take out trash
-clean entire bathroom

               You might want to help sort the laundry and leave more delicate clothing for you to do. Or just have them do their own laundry. But the use of washing machines and dryers, and the folding and putting away of clothes can be done at this age. You may be able to think of more chores that they can do at this age, according to the need and the ability of each individual child. 

               As you can see, you don’t have to do the bulk of chores by yourself. By assigning age-appropriate chores, you can train your children to help you around the house. It may be more difficult at first as they’re learning how to do the chores, and how you want them done, but with a little patience and persistence, you can reap the benefits of that training.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A mum gift......or.....Menu and shopping list for 10/17-10/20

This paycheck is really tight. I mean, really tight. I made a menu for the next few days and I had $50 to buy it all. Here's my menu:

10/17 Thursday
Breakfast: French Toast
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Tator Tot Casserole

10/18 Friday
Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit
Lunch: Sauercraut and Sausages (sauercraut I bought on clearance a few weeks ago, sausages are left over from a meal last pay period)
Dinner: Hot Dogs, Baked Beans, Potato Salad, S'mores (we're going to "camp" in the backyard)

10/19 Saturday
Breakfast: Biscuits and Gravy
Dinner: Shrimp Scampii (we didn't make the Black Bean, Corn, and Shrimp Tacos last week, so the shrimp is left over)

10/20 Sunday
Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Carrots, Rolls
Dinner: Leftovers

Here is my shopping list:

coffee                                             $2.79
creamer                                          $2.29
oatmeal                                          $2.29
juice                                               $1.39
hot dogs                                         $1.50
baked beans                                    $1.00
graham crackers                             $1.49
eggs                                                $1.39
sugar                                               $1.89
tea                                                   $1.99
milk                                                 $2.69
marshmallows                                $1.80
chocolate bars                                $1.49
green beans x3                                $1.50
cream of mushroom soup  x2          $1.20
roast                                              $10.81
carrots                                           $1.29
noodles                                          $1.69
broccoli                                         $1.49

I tried to plan the menu off of things I already had at home, so I could spend as little as possible!

So here's how my "gift" came to happen. As we were halfway done going through Aldi (my favorite grocery store) I saw that they had Mums for sale again, for $4.99. I wanted one last time they had them, but they were out before I got there. I turned to Kayla, my 9 year old that went with me, and said, "If we get all of our groceries and I have $5 left, I am going to buy a Mum." She looked at me like I was crazy, but we went on.

I had figured out prices while I was making my list, so I knew we were hopefully going to be right around $50. We got all of our groceries, stood in line, and then finally the lady started checking our groceries.

The total came to....

Wait for it....


I almost started crying in Aldi. So I went ahead and paid for a Mum, Kayla and I bagged up the groceries, then I picked out my Mum. I was so excited!

I have teared up about 4 times thinking about it. God is so good to think of something so little, but allow me to be able to get it. So I have it sitting outside my door, a testament to God's love for me.

My husband, of course, said something to the effect of, "We can't eat a Mum, can we?" but whatever!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Review for Baked Eggs in Bread Bowls

This is my review for Baked Eggs in Bread Bowls. We had this on October 10th, view my menu here

This breakfast was truly delightful! Everyone loved it.

I sliced my thumb slicing the bread tops off, but it wasn't too bad, and healed quickly.

My daughter had fun digging the soft bread out from the rolls, and then cracking the eggs inside of them. (we snacked on the bread while the eggs were cooking)

They smelled so heavenly when we took them out, and they looked so pretty, too! Everyone was excited to get their own.

The eggs were soft but not yolky, so if you like a runnier egg you might want to shorten the time they're baked. It was so delicious to scrape the leftover bread from inside the roll to eat with the egg, and the flavor was delicious.

The kids have already asked if we could have them again, so I will definitely be putting it on the menu for next week! I might even try adding some veggies, or breakfast meats.

2 Weeks Later...

The day has come that nobody thought could happen. Not that most people cared, but still. I've been off of Facebook for two weeks. And I have no regrets and honestly, don't miss it.

The first week I was just fine. When I felt the urge to log on, I just did something else. I read my book, cleaned something, texted someone, I diverted my attention. Then that stuff got boring, and I had a few times of waiting in reception areas when it would have been nice to be able to browse everyone's lives. And then there was a day when I desperately wanted to escape my own reality. But I survived!

This past weekend, however, has been very eye opening for me. I've realized the amount of time I was spending on the website, and how many things I was not getting done. Before I left I hid 80% of my friends list and only had the people I genuinely was interested in on my news feed, but I found myself going to other people's pages anyway.

When I left on October 1st I said that I was going to write down names of people when I thought of them, and then when I reactivated my account, I would only keep family and the people on that list. Seriously though, it would have been a really short list if I had actually kept up with it. Instead I have been texting and emailing people, and that seems to work out just fine. I don't need to know what people had for breakfast, or what they're frustrated about, or where they're checking in to know about their lives. I don't need hourly, or daily, updates about their life, and they don't need them about mine. I have found that I need hourly and daily updates about my own life, and what I'm supposed to be doing in it.

I kept instagram on my phone, but I'll probably soon delete that too because I just find myself looking at pictures and reading comments from people I don't even know, just because I'm bored. Or rather, don't want to do something I need to do.

I also have been writing more on my blog but that was a huge disappointment! Without the sharing of the link on Facebook I am hardly getting any views, much less comments. But I'll keep writing on it because it's good training, and a good outlet. I just need to find more blogs to follow!

Honestly, I don't know how I found time for Facebook. I have had very few times when I've sat down and thought, "I have nothing to do. I could go on FB right now." In fact, it would only take me two fingers to count those times, in two weeks. That may sound contradictory to a previous paragraph, but there's a huge difference between "nothing to do" and "bored of doing stuff and just wanting to zone out."

I can't say that I've gotten more done, or that I've been a better parent, or been more active, or any of that, because I still can't seem to get things done that I want to get done. There aren't enough hours in the day, and I don't have the energy to get it all done! But I have little desire to get back into the social networking world because there has been a certain peace knowing that this is what God wants me to do. And it's really fun to get a text from someone; because it takes an extra effort to do that, rather than just commenting on a line that pops up in front of your face.

There's a time and a place for social networking. I am not against Facebook. I know the many benefits of it, and enjoyed it for a long time. But right now, in my life, it's not beneficial in my life.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Review for Tamale Pie

We had this Tamale Pie on October 5, 2013 and I got the recipe at Better Homes and Gardens.

Overall we were not very happy with this recipe. We had to double it to feed our family of 7, and we had to add a lot of seasonings to it to make it have a good flavor. We also didn't put it into individual serving dishes as we don't have them, and even if we did, they would have been too hot for our little ones.

We'll more than likely have this again, but skip the recipe.

To see menu and shopping list for the first part of October, go here.

Review for Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Curry

I got this recipe from myrecipes.com We had it for dinner on October 4, 2013.

It was very simple to make. Everything went as it was supposed to and the ingredients were sufficient for the amount I was making. The recipe says that it serves 4 so I did 2 pounds of chicken instead of the 1 1/2 mentioned, and we had plenty leftover, and we feed a family of 7!

                                                              Cooking the chicken.

                                              I added paprika to give it a little bit more flavor

Everyone really enjoyed it, and it was filling. I liked that the broccoli was added at the end so it was still green and vibrant by the time you sat down to eat.

                                                         Putting the potatoes in the oven.

I also make Garlic Baked Potato Wedges. I cut 11 small-medium Russet potatoes into quarter wedges and placed them skins down on a baking pan. Then I brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled garlic salt and pepper on them. I baked them at 350 degrees while I was making the chicken dish, so probably 30-45 minutes, I don't remember exactly. They were very tender and tasty! They went very well with the chicken curry, also, and the sauce made a good dipping sauce for the potatoes.

                                                     The finished dishes on the table.

We will definitely be making this meal again!

To read my menu and shopping list for the first part of October, go here.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Menu and Shopping List 10/3 - 10/17

My husband gets paid every 2 weeks, so on Thursday I sit down and write down a menu for the next two weeks. Sometimes if his check is smaller (if he didn't get overtime) I will only make a menu for one week. The Lord usually provides for the second week! Then I make a shopping list based off of my menu. This is my menu:

Breakfast: Bacon Waffles
Lunch: Little Smokies, Baked Mac and Cheese
Dinner: Creamy Chicken and Broccoli Curry, Olive Oil and Garlic Potato Wedges
(Read my Review for this here)

Breakfast: Biscuits and Gravy (this is our standard Saturday breakfast which my husband makes. He usually adds bacon and eggs to it)
Lunch: We typically don't eat lunch on Saturdays since we eat a late breakfast. We'll just eat an earlier dinner.
Dinner: Tamale Pie (doubled)
(read my review for this here)

Breakfast: Muffins (Caleb's standard Sunday AM meal! He will add whatever we have to them)
Lunch: Pork Roast with Sauercraut, Potatoes, Sauteed Asparagus
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: Tortilla Egg Cups
Lunch: Grilled Cheese, Tomato Soup
Dinner: Tator Tot Casserole

Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit
Lunch: Chili Dogs, Chips, Carrots
Dinner: Sloppy Joes, French Fries

Breakfast: Baked Eggs in Bread Bowls
(See my review for this here)
Lunch: Quesadillas, Tortilla Chips
Dinner: Chicken Noodle Soup, Homemade Bread

Breakfast: Cereal, Fruit
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Fried Chicken, Green Bean Casserole, Cauliflower Potatoes

Breakfast: Apple Pancake Bake
Lunch: Sandwiches, Carrots and Ranch
Dinner: Fajita Ranch Chicken Wraps

Breakfast: Biscuits and Gravy plus extras
Dinner: Sweet and Sour Chicken, Rice

Breakfast: Muffins
Lunch: Beef Stew, Homemade Bread
Dinner: Leftovers

Breakfast: Eggs, Bacon, Toast
Lunch: Chicken Nuggets, Tator Tots
Dinner: Red Beans and Rice

Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit
Lunch: Cheesy Rice and Broccoli
Dinner: Pizza, French Fries

Breakfast: French Toast
Lunch: Stroganoff
Dinner: TBD

Breakfast: Cereal, Fruit
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner: Black Bean, Corn, and Shrimp Rice Burritoes

We are trying to eat healthier, but it's not easy on a tight budget. My latest way to be healthier is to make my own cream of mushroom soup instead of buying it canned. I would like to find a way to make a huge batch and then freeze/can/store it so I don't have to make it every time.

Here is my shopping list:

Evaporated milk
Sliced cheese x2
Cheddar cheese x3
Butter x3
Colby Jack cheese x2
Creamer x3
Milk x3

Eggs x2
Bacon x2
Ground beef x3
Pork loin
Chicken breasts
Lunch meat
Beef Tips (stew)


Bread x2
Hamburger buns
Crusty dinner rolls

Tomato soup
Mushrooms x6
Green beans x6
Chili x2
Tomato sauce
Sweet and Sour Sauce
Red Beans
Black beans
Juice x3

Chips x2
Corn muffin mix x2
Tortilla chips x2
Egg noodles x2
Popcorn seeds

Tator Tots x2
French Fries x2
Chicken Nuggets
Egg Patties
Hashbrown Patties
Sausage Patties

I hope this helps or inspires you!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Yes, I was homeschooled

Homeschooling is pretty popular right now. There are YouTube sensations that were made famous by their "You Know You're A Homeschooler When..." videos. There are very successful bloggers who write about and for homeschoolers and moms. Homeschooling is the fastest growing form of education in our country. Some might say homeschooling is the latest fad.

Well, it wasn't always that way. I was homeschooled as a kid and I remember when it made us odd, not unique and interesting. I remember having to stay in the basement when anyone knocked on the door because they could report us for not being in school. I remember not being allowed to play outside until after 2pm because of nosy neighbors who could report us. I remember going shopping and having to come up with a creative response as to why we were not in school. "We had dentist appointments. Yes, all 6 of us, in one day." Maybe my memory is skewed because I was a child, my mom probably remembers things differently. But I remember knowing that we were not the norm, even after homeschooling became legal in Nebraska. Sure, we knew hundreds of other families that were homeschooled that we saw regularly, but we were still a fringe group.
My family. :)I loved that silk shirt. The candy cane glasses, however, were not my pick.

I suppose I was a "sheltered homeschooler", although that kind of makes me laugh inside since one of my close friends, who went to public school, wasn't allowed to play with me for a while because I was "a bad influence". So I guess I couldn't have been too sheltered.

Looking back, maybe I would've dressed a little bit more stylish if I hadn't been homeschooled. Maybe I wouldn't have worn wooden clothes pins in my hair if I had gone to public school (one of the many weird things I did). Maybe I would have dressed a little bit more girly. Maybe I wouldn't be so embarrassed by what I was wearing, or how I did my hair while looking at my pictures from Junior High and High School.

Maybe if I hadn't been homeschooled I wouldn't have been so awkward around boys. Sure, I saw boys all the time. My older brother brought his basketball friends over all the time, the neighbor boys would come over often, I had friends at church that were boys, I had friends that were boys through the homeschool group and activities. But I didn't know how to interact with a boy beyond the friend stage. Maybe I would have known more if I had gone to public school.
My friend Rebekah and me at the zoo. I was maybe 8 or 9? I remember this trip and we had a blast; huge glasses, culottes, and everything!

But then, maybe not. Maybe I still would have gone through a very long, and very painful, "ugly stage" if I had gone to public schoo. And just maybe, I would have been bullied and picked on because of it. I look back at the crazy things I used to wear and although it looks silly now, I enjoyed it then. It was a true expression of me, because I didn't have a group of people telling me what I should and shouldn't wear to be accepted. I still had friends. I had friends that dressed weirder than I did! I had my rough moments through my younger years, I got picked on, I was pretty insecure at times. But most of my memories are good memories. I had fun with my friends, I did a lot of interesting things, I had a very well-rounded experience. I played sports, I was in band, I played piano, I went to church, I went to summer camp and winter camp, I helped teach 4-H classes, I went to France for my Senior trip, I visited friends in New Jersey by myself, and I had a lot of other opportunities for other experiences if I had been interested. Maybe I would have had the same opportunities at Public School, but maybe not.

Maybe I still would have been awkward around a guy that I liked if I had gone to public school. Or maybe I wouldn't have been awkward around boys. Now there's a scary thought. I think I would much rather my younger self not being comfortable around guys than thinking of what could have happened.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm grateful for being that sheltered homeschool kid. Maybe I look back at my pictures from about 12 and up and think, "Praise God I was a sheltered homeschooler." Because I look at the heartache and trials that kids go through and I can't imagine having to deal with that. I was able to go through my ugly stage surrounded by people who loved me, and by people who were also going through their ugly stage, and didn't know it either! There were a few bullies in my life (ironically most of them went to public school), but for the most part everyone just did what they wanted, dressed how they wanted, and did weird science experiments involving dry ice in the parking lot after the homeschool group meeting. Well, not everyone did that, but I bet it happened more at our group meetings than it ever did at the local high school.
One of my favorite pictures with my friends! This is us at Silver State Baptist Youth Camp, I'm second from the left. Sometimes I wish I could go back to this age, just for one day!

This is for all of my fellow former-homeschooled friends that look back at their pictures with regret because we were a bunch of homeschooled, sheltered dorks. Don't be ashamed. Be grateful. I'm not trying to bash public schools, or public schoolers. I just want my now grown homeschooled friends to realize that we were not deprived of anything. And if we were, we are better because of it!

Me with my little homeschoolers at the Science Museum. Hopefully they look back at this picture with fondness!

Monday, September 30, 2013

God is in the details!

We have had a problem with the kids losing library books and racking up fines, which we don't know about until they reach $10 and they can't check out books anymore. So we've made a rule that they can't check out books until all of the lost books are found. Now found his after a few weeks, and Kayla recently found the one she had lost. One of the ones on Lela's account was on the library shelf; I guess she returned it but it didn't get scanned, just put back on the shelf. Thankfully they were able to refund the fines on that one! But she still has one book out that we cannot find.

Today we went to the library and she was the only one that couldn't get books, even though she is my biggest reader! And before anyone gets upset that I am withholding books from her, we have countless books that they have never read right in our own home. In fact, she is working on the Mandie series right now, which are books that originally were too "boring" for her.

She was really bummed that she couldn't get a book, and I almost caved and let her get one, but I held strong in the punishment. (Yay me!) Afterward we went to Chick-fil-A to get her the free chicken nugget meal that she won from the Summer Reading Program. Lo and behold, the "toy" that came with it was a book! A book about giraffes, no less. So I told her that God provided a new book for her, even though she didn't find the lost book yet. She was pretty happy about that.

God cares about the little things, because He cares about you!

Well, it's my birthday again.

I failed miserably at the whole "30 Things To Do While I'm 30" thing. I may have to change it to "...While I'm In My 30's". I definitely accomplished 6 of them, and I could maybe say I did 3 or 4 of the other ones. The rest, I failed miserably.

But this year was full of a lot of exciting things and changes, and a lot of heartbreak and pain. My life now is so incredibly different from my life a year ago that I cannot even comprehend that it's only been a year. A year ago I was lonely, felt stranded, I had blocked circumstances, everything I tried was shut down, and I felt like I had no control over anything going on in my life.

I still struggle with a lot of the same issues, because a change of scenery doesn't just make problems go away. But a lot of my wishes for myself and my husband have been given to us through the changes of the last year. And some of them, I found out I don't really want!

I don't want to say a whole lot about what my life was like a year ago because I don't want to bring up past issues. But I do want to say that God never fails, He never stops loving and caring for us, and He will deliver you just at the right time. So bring on 31! But I could do with a little bit less excitement this year than last year.

Circumstances change, friends come and go, people fail you and hurt you, seasons come and go, but God never changes.

Friday, September 27, 2013

#12 on 30 List- Complete a course online

Once again, the Lord has taken a wish and gone above and beyond what I could have dreamed or imagined! When I wrote this post I put "Take an online class" and inside I was thinking, "I can already cross that one off as never gonna happen." And I was right! But I was also very mistaken.

It has been a dream of mine to be a counselor since I was about 15. I read some book about a girl that was acting out, so she was put on behavioral meds, but the meds made her act out more, and instead of finding out what was wrong, they put her in a mental home. A worker there realized that it was the meds that was making this girl act the way she was and through therapy and, of course, convincing the doctors to take her off these meds, they found out the true source of her problem and they were able to place her in a different home. I don't remember what the book was called. Actually, I think the author was "Anonymous", so I may never know!

For some reason that book inspired me and I made it my life's dream to be a child psychologist and help children all over the world! Some of my friends even called me Dr. Laura. Anyway, that obviously never happened. But as an adult I still have a desire to be a counselor and help people that are hurting and have problems. I have been wanting to take classes at Beth Haven Baptist Institute for years but it never worked out.

Well, since we moved back to Oklahoma, I am currently in my second semester of taking classes there, working toward my counseling degree. I may never finish. It would take a really long time, considering I can only take about two classes per semester. But I was able to take the Women Counseling Women II class and I loved every minute of it. I'm grateful for the opportunity the Lord has provided for me to be able to take these classes! And for showing me, once again, what a powerful and loving God He is.

Friday, September 20, 2013

#15- Even Better Than a Branson Show!

On my 30 List I wrote that I wanted to go to a Branson show. This was mainly because we lived near Branson and it was a conceivable thing that I would be able to do. We were even planning to go to one, so I thought it was a given. Wow, did God have other plans!

Ever since I was a teenager I have loved the Green Bay Packers. It's a combination of the colors and a love for Brett Favre. My older sister Sarah always loved them too and we had to withstand the criticizing in the last few years with the Packers not doing well and Favre, well, he hasn't done so well either. But we're still fans, through and through!

Sarah texted me and said she was 12th in line to get tickets to the Packers/Chiefs game in Kansas City so to be prepared. I was thinking, yeah right, that's not going to happen. Then she calls me and says that she actually got them! We screamed together on the phone and had our little "cone of silence" moment, then we started planning. There was a lot to work; we had to find baby sitters, transportation, extra money, and had to convince our husbands to let us go to Kansas City by ourselves, to a Chiefs game by ourselves, and sit among Chiefs fans and cheer for the Packers by ourselves. They know we're not calm fans.

Eventually everything worked out thanks to my inlaws for agreeing to watch the kids, my parents for allowing me to hitch a ride home to Omaha with them (they were visiting for the weekend), my brother Nathan's girlfriend for watching Sarah's kids, and other people that were part of it! My younger sister Julia was also able to join us which made it a fab sisters getaway!

We had a blast at the game. Most of the people were kind, some were obnoxious, and some were just plain rude. We were a little worried for our safety in the Third quarter when everyone around us was mostly drunk and getting a little "personal". But we made it out alive! It was definitely worth the expense and the trip, and I would do it again in a heart beat! Our next goal is to go to a game in Lambeau. When the Chiefs did their big show of getting onto the field with their fireworks and flames (literally) we all agreed that "when" we go to Lambeau we will be in tears.

God provided above and beyond any expectations I might have had with this trip! My imaginations had me going to a Branson show, but God had me going to a Packers game. You may not think God cares about football, and you're probably right, but He cares about me!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

#2 on 30 List- Our Second Honeymoon!

Well here I am, almost 31, and my list of completed things on my master list is seriously short. But I have done a few of them, so I'm going to try to catch up on them!

The second item on my list was to go on a second honeymoon with Caleb. We were very blessed to be able to go to Dallas for our 12th Anniversary in August!

We had a really good time, it was really nice to be able to get away. We decided to spend the bulk of our money on a nice hotel and I was able to get a good deal on a room in the Westin. Unfortunately when we got there we realized they were hosting the Dallas Clown Convention in the same hotel! What luck. If any of you know me very well, you know that I had deep Coulrophobia (fear of clowns). This isn't just a "clowns are freaky" kind of thing for me. When I see one in real life I can't breath, and all reason goes out the window. Sitting here now I know that clowns are just normal regular, um, clowns are just people who for some reason find enjoyment in dressing like freak shows clowns. But get me near one and they're instantly freaks that are going to wrap me in a pink cotton candy cocoon and slowly suck my blood out. We were able to avoid them for the most part, and the hotel staff was very understanding and allowed us to use the back elevator and entrance when we needed to. The clowns we were unfortunate enough to encounter were mostly civil. There was only one clown who decided it's his purpose in life to convince someone they're not afraid of clowns by following them around, trying to hug them, and talking to them in general by saying condescending things like, "You don't think I'm scary, do you? I'm a nice clown!" Psh, as if any logical person could think such an irrational thought.

Side Note: Let's see if this logic applies to any other phobia. Let's say someone is afraid of drowning. Would you put them in water, hold their feet so their nose is barely above water and say, "You're not really afraid of drowning, that's just something you say to be different or cute. You just saw a movie where drowning was portrayed in a bad light. If you just tried to be more reasonable, you would see that drowning is perfectly normal." Um, no. That person would be considered a freak. So don't try to convince me that I'm not afraid of clowns.

The rest of our weekend was great. We went out for dinner, went to the outlet mall, I got a Coach wristlet, and a massage, we went swimming in the roof-top pool that we practically had to ourselves, and we just enjoyed not having five children around us complaining, fighting, and needing something. We tried to sleep in but somehow only managed to sleep until 8am.

It was a delightful weekend and something we both agreed we needed to do again. It really didn't cost us a whole lot of money, but we had a good time just being together. After 12 years, we've still got it!

This is us trying to get a picture in our luxury bath robes. We tried to prop the regular camera up with books and things, but could only get a picture of our middles. Then we tried to take a selfie, but we were both laughing so hard because if Caleb held the camera, I couldn't reach the button to take it. But if I held the camera, I couldn't get the robes in the picture. We were both laughing so hard neither one of us could keep the camera still. So this is what you get! Happy Anniversary to us!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Refuge from Anger

I've been really struggling with something, and I'm going to be straight up honest.

I have a big problem with anger.

I'm a screamer.

In the heat of the moment I'm totally justified; they've been "cleaning their room" for two hours, the table still hasn't been wiped off, I've asked four times for the hair stuff to be picked up off the bathroom floor, and countless other issues that have come up. In the moment, me screaming and yelling is perfectly logical and completely justified.

Afterward, however, I feel like a total monster. I'm mad that I was "made" to yell, I'm mad that I believed the lie that I couldn't control it, and I'm sad that my children are now crying and defeated instead of encouraged and trained.

And then, even later, I get mad when they start yelling at each other for little mishaps that in my mind seem little and silly but to them are just as huge as dishes put away incorrectly AGAIN is to me. Because it's not the actual act that triggers me, it's the fact that I am not taken seriously.

Today in church a statement was made that really hit me between the eyes. A couple sang a song from Patch the Pirate called "Lord Bless Our Home" and in the song it mentions their house being a refuge from the world. When I'm screaming or yelling, is my house a refuge? I thought of this verse,

Proverbs 29:1 "[It is] better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house."

Then that made me think of my own childhood. My friends always wanted to come to my house. My house was fun. My mom was a good cook. My house was cool! I loved being at my house! My mom would make nachos to eat while watching sports, my dad would tell corny jokes, and we were allowed to be loud and play (within reason). Even as a teenager I loved being at home, and my friends always wanted to come to our house. My mom once said she wanted her home to be the "hang out spot" because she didn't want her teenagers to be hanging out somewhere else. It was comforting to her to know where we were and what we were doing. And honestly, if a friend didn't like my mom, I didn't like that friend.

That made me think of something else (I did a lot of thinking today). Every Sunday as soon as my children come out of Junior Church they barrage me with questions of "Can she come over?" "Can I go to her house?" and it's very overwhelming. I haven't quite figured out how I want to handle all of that, so I usually just say no.

This morning I was a raging, screaming beast. I was tired, overwhelmed from a looooooong and exhausting week, and I stepped on a piece of breakfast casserole that was smooshy and really, really disgusting. I lost it. And I barely regained it before we got to church. This time when I got my children from Junior Church, they all wanted to go to someone else's house. That made me really sad. One of my daughters even said, "I don't care if I go to her house or her house, I just don't want to go to our house!" How heartbreaking is that?

So I'm going to try to make a drastic change in my life. I am going to try to make our house a refuge. Somewhere that my children want to be. And the first step to that is controlling my anger. Stop listening to the lie that they deserve it, or that they're making me angry, or that it's justified. It's not okay, it's not their fault, and it's not justified. It's sin. And it could potentially destroy my family.

Proverbs 31:26 "She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue [is] the law of kindness.
Pro 31:27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
Pro 31:28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband [also], and he praiseth her.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Gluten-Free Bread in the Bread Maker

If you've ever had to buy gluten free bread from the store you know it's either one of two things, but usually both: expensive and heavy. In fact, one gluten free loaf of bread usually weighs approximately the same as 3 loaves of regular bread, and half the size. Sometimes I can find a sale on Udi's bread, which is my favorite brand. But usually it's $5 for a small loaf. We have drastically reduced the amount of bread we eat since becoming gluten free although we buy a few loaves every other week.

Today I found a recipe for gluten free bread in the bread maker and since I recently unpacked my bread maker, I decided to try it out! I got the recipe from Gluten Free Goddess. I'm

We are sampling the results right now and the overall consensus is: YUM!!! It's a small loaf, and it doesn't have the dome rise on the top that you get with regular bread, but the bread is moist, soft, and has a great flavor! I am very happy. I'm not sure about the cost comparison since gluten free flour is so expensive, but it will nice to make this on a Sunday when coming home from church to fresh baked bread is probably one of the greatest things in life.

I'm so glad I was told about this recipe, and I'm so glad it came out well!! We'll definitely do it again.

**The only change I made was I used garbanzo bean flour instead of the millet or oat flour**


I decided to cut the bread and freeze it because we didn't need it that day. Today we defrosted it and used it for toast for breakfast. It was very crumbly, so we had toast pieces! I would not recommend freezing this unless you're going to use it for stuffing or something like that. Next time I will make it the day we need it. I also would not recommend keeping it in the fridge for more than one day as Gluten Free bread gets moldy and hard very quickly.

Monday, March 25, 2013

BBQ Chicken Pizza with a Cauliflower Crust

This was something completely new for us. It was a lot of work, but everything was really simple. I got the idea from this website.

We had problems getting the cauliflower to blend, but after we added some water it worked fine. Then we had to use a pillowcase to get the water out of the cauliflower, but we had fun with it.

This is the cauliflower, cheese, eggs, and seasonings in the pan. I doubled the recipe.

While the chicken and the crust were baking (in separate pans) we made barbecue sauce. Next time I want to substitute something else for the brown sugar; we all agreed it was way too sweet.

Next we put our homemade BBQ sauce on the finished crust, then chicken, then drizzled a little more sauce, then cheese, and mixed some onion in with the cheese.

We baked it for 10 more minutes.

Here is the finished product! It was really good, although not everyone enjoyed it. One said the BBQ sauce was too strong; others said the crust was bitter and gross; the youngest just wanted chips.

It was really sloppy, probably because I baked it in a pie tin instead of trying to make it a crust like real pizza. I really enjoyed it! Next I want to add more veggies to it like spinach and zucchini, and maybe carrots.

It was gone quickly! (the brown on the bottom is from the hotpad underneath)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chocolate Milk Mix

In my quest to change our diet to a little bit healthier, I ran across a chocolate milk mix recipe. It still has a ton of sugar, but it's a step up from the Nesquik (or comparable brands) that have chemicals, preservatives, and other nonsense mixed in.

The recipe that I used is:

1 1/2 C Powdered sugar (see what I mean?)
1/2 C dark cocoa powder

I made sure that each of those were singular ingredients, and just mixed it up with a fork.

The results were mixed. The kids said it has a good flavor, but it didn't mix very well at all. It made a weird, foamy dome at the top of the cup. They had to use a tiny whisk to get it mixed up. It was fine in the sippy cups because I could just shake it up really well, but in regular cups it didn't work so well. When this batch is gone I want to find a sugar that will mix better and isn't refined sugar.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gluten Free is Pain Free!

I posted a month or so ago about our new GF diet plan. It's going well so far and it hasn't taken a whole lot of adjustment. Since we're living with my in-laws who also eat gluten free, I've had a lot of help knowing what to buy, and where to buy it! I've made quite a few dumb purchases and I unknowingly let an amazing deal slip through my fingers, but you live and learn, right?

Since we're now gluten free that eliminated pretty much all of my standard lunch meals. Since I home-school three grades plus have two more that are not schooled yet, by lunch-time I don't have a lot of brain power left over for meal ideas. Also, I have some picky eaters who would eat mac and cheese and hotdogs for the rest of their life is they were allowed to. So it has been more trial and error in finding things that they will eat that will fit our new diet.

The first thing I've learned is that gluten free mac and cheese with real cheese sauce is not only very tasty, but doesn't take much longer than the box stuff. And I feel a lot better feeding it to my children! I've also learned that you cook rice noodles like you cook rice; boil the water, put the noodles in, turn off the heat and let them soak. I'm glad I found that trick because we were getting tired of soggy, mushy noodles!

Also, I've found out that kids aren't as picky as you think they might be when you tell them "This is lunch, you eat it, or you don't eat until dinner." After one or two times of that they will eat just about anything. These are some meals we've tried:

Tuna or grilled cheese on gluten-free bread (Udi's is the best we've tried so far)

Beanie weanies with carrots

Gluten free mac and cheese

Gluten free chicken nuggets (pricey but good for every once in a while when you need fast and easy)
-I tried to make my own gluten free nuggets but that was a disaster.

Quinoa Pizza Bites

Stroganoff with gluten free noodles

Quesadillas with corn tortillas

Cheesy rice and broccoli (this was a huge hit!)

Sausage and Potato Hash

Chili Fries

Chili Mac and Cheese (I just added Rotel to mac and cheese)

I'm sure most of these seem pretty normal to most people but for someone that is literally stepping outside the box, this was way out of my lunch comfort zone! I'm pretty proud of myself, and I've found that if I know I'm going to need to spend 20 minutes preparing lunch, it's not so daunting when I actually do. Especially when I know that I'm feeding my children healthy meals and not junk.

This lunch adventure has also made me more creative with breakfast meals, and I've stepped beyond eggs and bacon, cereal, and oatmeal. We've had yogurt, granola, and fruit; apple pancake bake with gluten free pancake mix; sausage and egg quiche; and when I'm done making this blog post I'm going to attempt gluten free zucchini bread for tomorrow.

We have not figured out how to eat gluten free when we're out and still satisfy the kids. It's really hard to resist my two year old saying "Kickin Nuggets and fwench fwies"! But that is my next step in this diet process. We do like Taco Mayo because they have corn tortillas and chips. I also found a website that lists restaurants that have GF menus, so I just need to remember to print it out and keep it in the car!

So far I am pleasantly surprised at how easy it has been to switch to gluten free and it hasn't raised our grocery bill too much because our focus is to move away from gluten, not replace it. So while we still eat gluten free bread, we don't eat nearly as much as we did regular bread. And we still eat noodles, but only sparingly.

Now on to the next diet change, no sugar!!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Must Have Items for 2012

I just found this is my draft folder! I guess 2012 was a slow year for new products. But enjoy anyway!

1. Shark Steam Mop

I've wanted one of these for a long time, but in the trailer it was just easier to mop with a wet cloth. When we moved here there was a Swiffer Wet Mop and I used that for a while, but to get the kitchen, dining room, and hallway area clean I had to use as many as four cloths! And when they're a few dollars for 24 cloths, that gets expensive fast. The steam mop we got was $60 and it came with 2 washable pads. I can reach my entire dining room and kitchen area without having to plug in somewhere else, and I don't have to change the pads in between. I can also mop the whole area without having to refill the water reservoir.

2. Crystal Light Pure water flavors

We don't use anything with artificial food coloring, so usually these water flavors are unusable to us, but in a clearance cart at the grocery store we found boxes of these water flavor packets that don't have food coloring! They also don't have artificial sweeteners that cause health problems. They taste good, and I can let the kids use one without worrying about the side effects.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Elsa's New Language

I wanted to write down funny ways that Elsa says words. She just turned two and she puts up a very good effort to say a lot of words! I'll probably add to this as I think of them.

Vitamin: bimey
Awesome: dawshum
Sweet Tea: Tee Tee
Kayla: Kaya
Lela: Weeya
Baby: Bubby
Sunshine: ShunShwine
Yep: Jep

That's all for now, I'll add more later.

Kids grow up way too fast!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Update on our family

Many of you know what has been going on with our family the last couple of months, and many of you don't. We haven't really been trying to keep anything a secret, it's just hard for us to wrap our brains around it ourselves, we really haven't wanted to go through the burden of having to explain it over and over. But I feel like enough time has passed, we can let everyone know what's going on.
As you all know in April of 2012 Caleb accepted a Pastoral position in Missouri and we moved there in June. Because of some events and things that happened, Caleb resigned the position on Dec. 2, 2012. If you want to know details you can message me or him. I don't really want to get into what happened or way, it just didn't work out.
After resigning we packed everything up and most of Caleb's family came out to help us pack up and move back to Oklahoma. Right now our stuff is all in Caleb's parents' garage and we are living with them for the time being.
The plan right now is for Caleb to go back to school at Beth Haven Baptist Institute and finish getting his Pastoral degree. I will also be taking counseling classes as I'm able to. He got a job doing maintenance at some apartments in Edmond and that's going really well for him. It's a great job with really great benefits. Pray for him as he's adjusting to being in the work field again!
We are hoping to save up as much money as we can in the next weeks so we can move into either a rent house or a townhouse of some kind near his job, which is in the Edmond/Village/Hefner area. We will also begin looking for a church soon. We have been visiting at Beth Haven and also Lighthouse in Mustang, but we would like to find a church close to where he's working.
This has been such a big change for our family, and it was very sudden. We're not even close to adjusting to the change and probably won't until we have our own place and can get settled there. Please pray for us as we're going through this difficult time!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Our Journey with Noah

Our son Noah is 10 years old and as most of you know, I've been convinced he has Asperger's Syndrome for about 5 years. It was difficult coming to that conclusion and I won't give you the details of how we came to that, but I still believe that he has that condition. I probably will never be convinced otherwise.

Lately we've been having problems with his behavior. He is fighting more, he gets angry more, and his tics are getting worse. He used to just sniff or clear his throat, lately he has started squishing up his face, rolling his eyes, and taking quick breaths kind of like an asthmatic problem.

We've had a lot of changes in our family lately and things are still changing, I don't know when things will settle down for us, and I know that has a lot of effects on the children and especially Noah. Stress can make all of these issues worse, but it's gotten to the point where my husband and I don't feel like we can handle it on our own.

We looked into getting him and official AS diagnosis so he could get behavioral training, occupational therapy, and some other options that are out there when you have a diagnosis. I met with a clinical psychologist for an hour and went over issues we have with Noah and things we've dealt with him about.

Afterward he told me he didn't think Noah had AS (he said 30-40% chance) but he suspected gifted-ness and possibly Tourrette's. We decided not to go back to him when he wanted to meet with Noah for 2 hours by himself. Maybe I'm over-protective but that really bothered me. I also had some disturbing dreams and I think God was warning me.

This week he met with Bro. Hays who is a Biblical Counselor at my Brother-in-Law Rick Carter's church. I was there during the meeting and he just got to know Noah and find out what kind of issues he was having. Bro. Hays said that we needed to set up some goals for him, and make sure he had something to look forward to. He also suggested the possibility of Noah having Tourrette's.

I was looking online and there are some more natural ways to help Noah deal with the tics. We're going to start him on a grown-up multi-vitamin that has 300-500% B-6 and B-12, compared to the children's multi we were giving him that had 100%. A lot of websites also suggested cutting out sugar, caffeine, and white bread. We will be discussing that more drastic change in the future.

Some other things we're looking into is getting him into taekwando since it is known for structure, discipline, and also has goals that they achieve rather quickly. He also recently finished a book in Light Brigade, which is a children's church program similar to AWANA or King's Kids.

I just wanted to share these issues we're having and maybe someone else is struggling with these things with their own kid. And also maybe spread some awareness or understanding if you come across a kid who deals with these issues.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Exciting December

We were able to go to my parents' house for two weeks in Iowa. I'm so thankful we were able to go! We had hoped to go in the Summer but it just never worked out, especially since we went to North Dakota for my Grandma's funeral in July.

Before we left I looked up the 10-day forecast to see if we should take our snow stuff or not and only one day had a "slight chance" of flurries, so we decided not to take it all. Well that was a big mistake! We got there on a Saturday and that Wednesday we were hit with a blizzard and my parents ended up getting several inches of snow. Not only that, the temperature never got above freezing the whole time we were there and it snowed two more times.

But thankfully my parents still had some snow things left over from when we were kids and since it was so cold, the kids didn't want to stay out too long anyway. Caleb went out the first day and pushed them on their sleds, and I went out the next day. We had a blast sledding, throwing snowballs, and we played snow tackle. We were exhausted by the time we went inside, though. And very grateful for the fireplace!

We weren't able to go to the zoo with my sister and her boys, but my mom did take the kids to the IMAX theater twice, and they went to the new aquarium, the jungle, desert, and the new pavilion. She has a lot of pictures of this, I just haven't gotten any copies yet! (hint, hint)

Other highlights of our trip were spending a day at my sister's house, seeing my younger brother and sister, surprising the kids with gifts on Christmas morning that they were NOT expecting, getting my hair trimmed and colored, and spending time with my parents. We had a good visit and I'm very thankful we were able to go! But it would be nice to go again this year.

A most exciting event!

After taking a loooooong, unscheduled, unwanted break from my 30 List I'm back! And this one is an exciting one. My friend Belinda Mooney has helped set me up to send articles to magazine publishers and with her tips and help I sold an article to two different ones! Here's a link to one of the magazines. If it goes to the first page, my article is on page 37.

My article is even in the Table of Contents, which I think is ultra cool. It's not just a side bit, it's an actual article! I'm pretty excited to get into this field of writing.

So there you have it, another one of my "30 Things To Do While I'm 30" is accomplished!