Sunday, December 11, 2011

Teacher's Gifts {Reindeer Feed}

Good morning and Happy Sunday to you! "This is the day that the Lord hath made, and I will rejoice and be GLAD in it!" Due to the unavailability of a church building (our new church building is yet to be completed), the church we attend has only evening services on Sunday evening. It has been different, but we have adjusted. Thus, I have a little time to blog this morning!

Is your season merry and busy yet? The business will pick up for us this week. We have one Christmas party tonight, after church, and two parties tomorrow. Grace's GEMS (God Expects My Service) club, and Elijah's Cub Scout  parties are both tomorrow...ugh...does anyone have any extra energy to spare?  I am still working on getting all the party food, teacher's gifts, and friend gifts completed. Grace's GEMS club requires for her to make a homemade gift for her Big Sister, and I wanted to be able to do something for the kids' teachers. So...where to go for inspiration, but Pinterest?

Yes, I am actually using some of those hundreds of ideas I have pinned to my boards on this amazing but addictive site. Well, maybe not hundreds, yet, but getting close to it. 

Years ago, someone brought some Reindeer Feed to the clinic I worked at, and I ate so much as to about get sick! It was delicious! I have looked for the recipe, in vain, since then, and finally find it this year. {I pinned it to Pinterest, if you are interested}. So I made up a batch of it yesterday, and packaged it an original, festive way....inspired by....yep, you guessed it....a pin from Pinterest. Gracie and I stayed up last night working on it together. What a lovely time of mother/daughter fellowship it was!

Here is how they turned out:

The one on the right is for Elijah's Cub Scout master, and Elijah would not hear of putting a bow, even if it is made of twine, on a man's package!

Did you think I was going to leave you hanging without the recipe? Here you go, enough for one batch:

Reindeer Feed

2 1/4 c. Cheerios
3 1/4 c. Rice Chex
1 1/2 c. pretzels
3/4 c. M&M’s
3/4 c. peanuts

Stir gently with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
In the microwave melt one bag of white chocolate chips according to package directions.  Let cool slightly and then mix into bowl a couple of spoonfuls at a time.  As soon as everything is well mixed, dump mix onto your cookie sheet and spread out evenly.

Watch for little (and big) hands snitching your stash, it's sooo good to much on! :) 
As for the packing, well, that will have to be a different post. Little ones are up and needing Mommy's attention. Have a great day!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Art (Card) Interpretation

My budding little artist, Elijah, has been creating some pretty spiffy Christmas scene art here lately, and I told him if he drew a really good one we might use it for our Christmas card this year. I found this laying around this morning, and I chuckle every time I look at it. The thing is...I'm a little puzzled...Santa Clause is riding a camel...and the Christmas lights and stockings are hanging from a cross....a mailbox??....and apparently there is a reward for Santa Clause?

So I thought it might be interesting to get your take, your interpretation, that is, on this odd, but undeniably creative, depiction of Christmas. Any guesses?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thankful for Thanksgiving

Hello Blogland! Here we are on the post side of Thanksgiving--wondering what to do with all that leftover turkey ( chicken turkey salad, anyone?), and why are the buttons of my clothes suddenly pulling a little bit more than before? Maybe it was that extra piece of pecan pie, or the sampling of every single dessert at the church Thanksgiving dinner? {wouldn't want anyone's feelings to get hurt because they didn't see a slice or dip of their sweet concoction on your plate, now, would we?} 

Thanksgiving was a whirl, but a whirl of  warmth, love, and family.   We started early on Thursday morning and squeezed in visits with both sides of John's family. John's aunt and uncle on his Mom's side have the most beautiful place in the country! They purchased an old, dilapidated "dog-trot" style house several years ago and restored it to a  livable condition.  It is rustic, historic, and absolutely breath-taking! There is plenty of room on the rolling hillside for kids to romp and roll and rice tricycles down at break-neck speeds (I'll give you one guess at who tried that stunt). The house boasts an end-to-end front porch complete with swing and rockers. I could sit on that porch all. day. long. and gaze at the view of the pasture across the street (breath-taking), and John and I did just that for most of the day. 

John has been sent to south Louisiana to assist with an audit that will last well into and maybe past January. He is gone four days a week and need I say I do not like it? I just do not SLEEP well with my other half gone, laying awake listening to every sound, and when I do drift off I start awake with every groan and creak and falling of ice in the refrigerator. But last week, they sent him home on Tuesday night and we got to have him home for five whole days. That, my friends, was the best part of my Thanksgiving. 

There were so many sit-back-and-watch-in-contentment, sweet moments, that probably would just sound sappy to anyone else, but I tucked them into my heart, to keep me warm on the cold, lonely nights of the week ahead. Moments of a Daddy bonding with his little girls, and a little boy tromping around the house in his "huntin' boots", shadowing his Daddy's every move with hero-worship in his eyes. 

Care for some visual aid?

This is Beamie (John's Mom), with Emma and Bear on said rustic swing.

My very own sweet man, carving up the turkey! 

Tomato pies, a recipe I stole from my Mom and is always a crowd-pleaser! 

Cousins playing in the countryside. 

I snuck in a side shot of the Great-grandparents and all the great-grandchildren (minus two) while having a photo session. I'm sure the official photographer got a better shot. 

 Thank goodness for Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Almost-Thanksgiving! I love Thanksgiving. I would love it if the world skipped Halloween and put all of its energy into Thanksgiving. Because it is hastily squeezed in between Halloween and Christmas, I try to milk all I can out of it. This week I've been pondering, and encouraging my children to ponder about all that we have been given, and the One who has given it all to us. We've voiced our thankfulness for both the tangible and intangible--Legos,Cowboy boots,  Polly Pockets, purses and shoes (per Emma), pillows and beds, washers and driers, family and friends--and even potato chips and Blue Bell (by a certain daughter of mine who loves to eat). But as I sit down and deeply consider, I'm most thankful to be a child of God. Looking around at the turmoil of this world, of this city I live in, and even in the lives of the family next door, I'm so thankful for the still, sweet peace found in living under the shelter of His wings. He's my storm shelter in the tornado of life. If not for Him, where would I be today? What kind of life would I have lived for the last 30 years? What kind of parents would have raised me, if He had not saved mine before my birth. What kind of man would I have married if He had not saved my husband before our marriage?

So even though I don't want to take for granted all the blessings in my life (my van is running good, the heater works, my husband has a good job), I know it's all because of Him. For Him, I'm the most grateful. To Him, I give the praise.

I don't know about you, but I'm gonna put away some turkey-lurkey and all the trimmings tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's up?

Pretty lame title, I know. But at 6:37 a.m. you take what you can get :). It seems like all I do lately is update, but there has not been any bee in my bonnet or particular inspiration to share with you lately. In fact, if there were, I probably wouldn't have time to share it anyway. Thus another update. Bear with me (is it "bear" or "bare"?)

Our typical homeschool day has leveled out some, and things are going a lot smoother. Thank you for letting me whine the other day, and not offering me any cheese to go with it. I will say that I'm not sure that the Abeka Academy DVD method of homeschooling will be repeated in our home next year. While I am confident that Elijah is learning everything he needs to know, I'm not thoroughly convinced that he could not learn just as well with something that is not as time-consuming or doesn't tie us down to the computer 4 - 5 hours a day. Is it even healthy for any kid to be in front of a screen for that amount of time each day?

The curriculum I chose for Gracie, Rod & Staff, has been a bit of a disappointment as well. Don't get me wrong, she loves it, but I feel it is a bit slow and she is not being challenged to reach her full potential. It's all trial and error, I guess. Maybe the good Lord knew I would be occupied by Elijah's school so He lead me to something a little bit more relaxed for Gracie. That's what I like to think.

I must confess, I thought I had this homeschool thing by the tail, but I'm realizing how much I've got to learn. I'm slowly recognizing my childrens' learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses and hope that I can find a curriculum that is a good fit for all of us next year.

On another note, our lives seem to be busier than ever. Elijah is a cub scout now and Grace joined a little girls club called GEMS (God Expects My Service). Both of these organizations are offered through our homeschool group and consist of other homeschoolers and their families. We are meeting so many new, awesome people in this city through this homeschool group. Last weekend, we took a trip to Sci-port (a children's science museum) with one of these families. Thanks to my MIL for buying season passes, we can go anytime for free!

I'm hoping things slow down for us, but I have a feeling they are just going to get busier. I'm so thankful that even though we are busy we are happy, whole, and together.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Homeschool Hop

Hello, Dear Readers! For those of you who are still hanging around here, even through a serious decline in postage activity, Thank You. I wouldn't blame you if you just gave up and moved on to better (or at least more frequent) reads. But I'm so glad that you are still are, aren't you? Hellooo?? Anybody out there?

You guys get ready for some whining, 'cause I feel like dishing it out tonight. I know, I know. Proverbs 31 women do NOT whine. They suck it up and grit their teeth and *SMILE* and use all these little frustrations as opportunities to build character. Well, I am human after all. I'll build character tomorrow. Right now I feel like whining.

When I wrote that blog a year ago, about Going Beyond Myself in the area of homeschooling, I, uh... I really didn't have any idea just how much it was going to stretch me. I mean, this homeschooling thing is a RIDE. I'm not saying that I regret it or that my husband and I made a wrong decision concerning home education. I'm just saying that as much as I thought I was prepared, I had NO IDEA. You Moms who homeschool 5 and 6 kids and keep your house clean and have supper on the table when The Man comes home every evening and never let your laundry pile up and keep your baseboard dusted and exercise an hour every morning and write an award wining blog and conduct the church Christmas Play and my goodness, PASTOR a church and never break a sweat through it all....HOW? Please tell me.

Our school days are beginning to find their flow, but for the first 2 - 3 weeks, I fell into bed exhausted every night, my husband was lucky to get a baked potato for supper  (don't worry, I threw in some toppings and called it "loaded") and the laundry spilled out of the laundry room door...the part that even made it in there in the first place. I may or may not have bathed before I fell into bed.

Talk about redeeming the time, I just thought I stayed busy before but NOW I don't even sit down at the computer until 3 or so every day. I hop on and check my email and hop off.  I am a hoppin' MACHINE. Chunky girls like me get wore out from hoppin'. Quick.  And that's just the physical exhaustion part. I am mentally zapped by 2:00 every day. I used to get all kinds of stuff done while the kids had afternoon quiet time, but now we all collectively pass out for about an hour.

Please, someone, tell me it gets easier....although I can see that it is getting somewhat easier each week, I need to hear that this is all normal and I am not headed for impending failure as a homeschooler. Any words of encouragement?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Going Beyond Yourself, Part 2

Hi! After a (mild) scolding from my Mom for not blogging often enough, I thought I'd give it a whirl. I mean, when Mom gives an order....:).

About a year ago (6 days short, to be exact), I composed a post titled Going Beyond Yourself (click title to read). In it I challenged my readers and myself to go beyond what they believe themselves capable of, in just every day life in general and also spiritually. This week, I found myself reflecting on the same concept, not realizing that it was this time last year that I published that post. Maybe there's something in the air this time of year that makes one reflect and challenge oneself?

It would be a shame to write such a thought and not act on it, would it not? This may not seem much to anyone else, but one way that I have "went beyond", for lack of a better term, is.....I am learning to play the piano. Yes! At 30 years old, I am taking piano lessons. It is something I have wanted to do for YEARS but have always reasoned within myself that it was neither possible nor practical for a stay-at-home, homeschooling Mom of 3 to find the time, money, or opportunity to take lessons, let alone practice 30 minutes a day.

I heard about the Matthew Stephens Piano By Ear DVD course via Facebook, and after doing some research and persuasion, the hubs purchased the Beginners lesson set for me last spring. Now I am not here to sell this piano course, but it has been just perfect for me. I can take the lessons as I have opportunity and also practice when I can without the pressure of knowing I have to attend a weekly lesson. So far, I am learning more about the piano than I ever knew, and enjoying it so much. It is great to have something intellectually stimulating to look forward to each day. Yes, unlike my 10 year old self who tried to throw piano books out the car window, and would not practice even with a switch staring me in the face, I LIKE to practice the piano! And if I ever get good enough to actually play in a way that is useful, it will be a great asset to my husband's ministry.

 There are many other things I hope to accomplish, but one thing is for sure, if I never try, I'll never know what I can do. For myself personally or for the kingdom of God. 

Is there any way in particular that you have stepped out of your comfort zone lately? If there is something that you have been putting off, I encourage you to take the plunge and see what God can do for you! Stop doubting yourself and you will see you can Go Beyond Yourself in ways you never knew.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wrapping Up August

The dearest of hubbies got some pics uploaded for me--yeah!! So here is to wrapping up the last of our summer...

At the New Orleans Aquarium

Feeding Birds!! 

Petting Sting-Rays (yikes!)

Some corny pirate humor ;)

And some oldies of Emma when hers was wittle...

Oh, and a glimpse into our bounty of tomatoes before the Great Drought of 2011...

3 gallons of honey gleaned from our very own hive....

Turnip greens being cleaned, cooked and frozen, to be enjoyed all year long....

I do so love to take pictures. Maybe one day I'll have a better Christmas....(hint) :)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Emma's Interview

A little late, but too cute not to share! Emma's birthday interview :).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Summer 's End & Emma's Birthday

Summer is nearing its end (though you couldn't tell it by the weather around here). All in all, it's been a good summer. We've made some great memories, but mostly stayed in the air-conditioned indoors as much as possible. The heat seems to have taken control around here, making it literally dangerous to get out and "fan around" in it, as the old-timers say. We've been doing good to have a day when the temp is under 108 big ones. And rain? My front yard looks like someone has spread dry hay all around, and makes a dry crunchy sound when you walk across it. The leaves are already falling off of the trees, giving the appearance of fall without the welcoming cooler temps. Odd, I tell ya. I'd get out and perform a rain dance in the yard if I thought it would help. Well, at least it would provide the neighbors with some free entertainment :).

I have so many memories captured on digital film to share with you, BUT once again the PC isn't cooperating with uploads. We took a little vacay to Baton Rouge and New Orleans a few weeks ago, and I've wanted so badly to share those pics. Plus, our garden gave us a beautiful bounty (mostly tomatoes) despite the drought and our honeybees provided us with 3 gallons of delicious, nutritious honey. But alas you will have to use your imagination.

On the 14th of August my little one turned 3. I no longer have a baby! :(. My house is baby-LESS. But this little 3 year old is busy as a bee and keeps me hopping every minute that she is not asleep. I often joke that she is the child God gave me to bring me closer to Him, because she requires a lot of prayer! ;) If she is not right with me all the time, chances are she is up to no good or doing something that could cause herself serious bodily harm. Think tornado child. A few weeks ago when we were on vacation, we were leaving the hotel pool and I took her swimmies off, told her to sit down, and don't go near the pool. I turned around to take care of another kid and the next time I look up Emma is in the pool, bobbing right under the surface of the water. THAT fast I tell ya, she could have been a goner. So glad the Lord let us keep her to celebrate another birthday. And if you think fat girls can't move fast, you should've seen me jumping in that pool ;).

(I hope you weren't expecting a short post because I haven't blogged in about a month so this is going to be a doozy!)

Annnyway, back to Miss Emma turning 3. My mind keeps going back to 3 years and about 8 months ago, when we were living in Fort Worth and my 2 kids and I (then 2 and 3) took a trip to a nearby Hobby Lobby. Here I am, happily perusing the aisles while keeping my two toddlers from climbing out of the buggy, when I start to feel a little funny. There seems to be a pressure building up in my stomach, slowly but surely. I am starting to sweat and feel light-headed to the point that I call John on the cell phone and say, "I don't feel so good. Something is wrong with me." In a few seconds I am sitting down in the floor, in the middle of the aisle and my husband is racing to the store as fast as he can get there. Meanwhile, my two monkeys are having a wonderful time using the buggy as a jungle gym while I look on helplessly. Finally, a kind lady stops and asks me if I am OK. I tell her my husband is on the way and ask her will she please make sure my children do not bust their heads by falling out of the buggy and she is kind enough to do so. After a few minutes, I know I need to find a bathroom FAST. I ask the lady if she knows where it is and she points randomly toward the back of the store. I take off, as fast as I can in a furious search for the door with a little lady in a skirt on it. The first door I find is just blank, but I don't think I noticed. I was just thinking door. bathroom. gotta make it. So I burst into this room (which turned out to be NOT a bathroom, but a break room) and frantically search for a toilet. Since there is no one insight, I open a random door and lose the contents of my stomach in a broom closet. Then a trash can. And the floor in between the closet and the trash can. By the time it's finally over I realize where I am and high-tail it out of there before someone comes in. I look down and my clothes and shoes are no longer clean. I am the walking up-chuck girl. Gross, I know, but I had no one to sympathize with me at that moment so I'm hoping you'll make up for it now.

I walk out and find my husband has arrived and he is chatting with the woman who helped me and as I walk up she walks away with a cheerful, "Congratulations!" to my husband. He is looking puzzled and then horrified at the sight of me. Later, as I relayed the story to some friends they were all, "Are you pregnant?" And I was all, "No way, it was just those scrambled eggs I ate for breakfast." Duuuuuh. But the point of the story is, THAT was Emma. That's how she made her prequel into this world and that's how she's been ever since.

But you know what, I wouldn't have her any other way, the little stinker. She is the joy of our home and I am so blessed to be her Mommy. Since I have not recent pics to share, I will leave you with a few celebrating this precious, beautiful little 3-year-old life.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Boredom Busters

Let me tell ya somethin'.

It's HOT. Sweltering, dry, and HOT in Louisiana.

Thus, my kiddos spend about 8 minutes outside and run back in the house drenched in sweat and covered in "itchy" mosquito bites. Unless there's water involved, the outdoor play-time has been slim to nerne (none, in case you're wondering).Add Image

What ever am I to do with these bored, energy-bursting chilluns? (might I add that another energy-filled little boy has been dwelling at our house daily, bringing the total to 4 littles).

Welll, I was happy to discover this little ebook at the Happy Housewife. It's free, to boot! It give me some good ideas and refreshed my mind with some oldy activities that had slipped my mind.

Click and obtain!

Here's some snippets of how we've been spending our time, and enjoying these short lazy months of summer:

**Button art! An idea out of the above e-book. You need: poster board, glue, a package of multi-colored buttons, and some q-tips (for dabbing glue). Genius! I love to see their creativity displayed!

***Dune-buggy rides! p.s.--we did NOT allow Elijah to drive. He's just posing for the pic. In his pajamas. Well, it is summer after all ;).

***Summer library fun hour! I must say our library has had some awesome things for the kids this summer. Yesterday it was an Indian "pow-wow" with real, live Indians performing their traditional dances and telling the stories behind them. Neat!

On a more serious note, my bloggy friend Ashlee recently got the news that her 3 year-old little girl, Kari, has leukemia. Please join me in praying for this beautiful little girl. Visit her blog (A Day In The Life of Kari and Malachi) and receive updates about Kari's progress. You will be blessed by Ashlee's faith and strength as she is trusting in the Lord through this hard time. Things like this remind me how blessed I am to have 3 healthy children and how fast things can change. Count your blessings!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Power of Praying Scripture

The Word. Although it seems we are most often encouraged to use it in the defensive sense, it is also a powerful, dangerous offensive (as in attack or assault) weapon to use against the enemy. Jesus showed us the defensive technique in Luke chapter 4 when he had his own tempting duel with Ole Slewfoot.

I've always used Scripture in prayer, but recently I've rolled up my sleeves and sharpened the edges of the blade, and it's been very encouraging to see the results. I'm going to be very open and transparent with you here (and maybe too personal in some people's opinion) but I felt a strong leading of the Lord for me to me share this in blog form.

As a mother and housewife, I often find myself stuck in the rut of repetition. I perform the same tasks over and over and sometimes it seems that I don't accomplish much more than the basic gotta-be-done chores. The beds get made, the floor gets swept, the laundry gets done. But those needful deep-cleaning tasks remain neglected and untouched.

To apply this spiritually, each day I make sure that my daily Bible reading and prayer time is marked off the list, but there are areas of struggle where I still have not had the breakthrough that I need. And I remain frustrated when the issue springs up and reminds me it's still there, hindering me and pulling me down. Just like the black-scuffed baseboards that scream, "paint me" (that's never been painted) and the dust on the wall-vent or the clutter in the closet. The longer I avoid it, the worse it gets and eventually I am so overwhelmed that I lose the courage to deal with it. I need something extra, a little "umph" to motivate me to punch through the barrier walls of my weaknesses.

I recently read a book called "The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace, and one thing I liked about the book was how the author listed a chart with issues of marriage and corresponding Scripture that deals with each issue. So I took this an applied it to my own struggles, in an act of desperation:

1) The tongue. What more can I say? I talk waaay too much!

* Psalm 131:3, 4-- (3)Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. (4) Incline not my heart to any evil thing.....

* Prov 21:23 "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles."

* Psalm 19:14 "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in the sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer."

*Proverbs 10:19 "In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips [is] wise."

2) Raising my voice at my children in frustration and anger. I pray every morning that God will give me a gentle spirit in dealing with and training my children, but sometimes, no matter how hard I try to supress it, the yeller in me comes out :). This leaves me feeling deeply ashamed and disappointed in myself. Then I realize that I cannot do this on my own; I must lean on the Lord and His Word.

* James 1:19-20 "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20) For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

*Prov. 15:1 "A soft answer turneth away wrath but grievous words stir up anger."

*Eccl. 7:9 "Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools."

:::There are many more good verses on this subject, but I am including those that have been the most helpful to my situation.

3) Hasty reactions and decisions. I tend towards spur-of-the moment decisions and reactions that get me in trouble and feeling regret.

Proverbs 21:5 "The thoughts of the diligent [tend] only to plenteousness; but of every one [that is] hasty only to want."

Ecclesiasticus 4:29 "Be not hasty in thy tongue, and in thy deeds slack and remiss."

Proverbs 29:20 "Seest thou a man [that is] hasty in his words? [there is] more hope of a fool than of him."

We all have our different areas of struggle, deeds that we are striving to mortify. You may not struggle with any of these issues in particular. It may be jealousy, doubt, worry, laziness, ungratefulness, discontentment, criticism, or un-submissiveness. Whatever the issue, if you truly want help and want to change, you can't do it on your own, but you can do it with God's help. You can't give up after a failure or a slip. Proverbs says, "For a just [man] FALLeth seven times, and riseth up again:..."

Search and study the word for your particular area of struggle and ask God to lead you to verses that will give the most help. Start a notebook and write them out so you have easy access. Meditate upon them every morning and memorize them. When you find yourself in the middle of your weakness, pull out your sword and go to battle!

There is hope and we can be overcomers if we use the tools God has given us!

p.s. I have nooo idea why the above text boxes are there are how they got there. Couldn't get them to go away! Crazy--I couldn't do that on purpose if I tried! :)