Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yikes - December!!!

Hmmm I never did finish my Thankful Challenge - sorry :( On the same line of thinking, that means December has begun and Christmas is coming really quickly. Excited - but not :) I love this time of year - the joy and love in everyone's hearts. This is the one time of year that everyone is willing to help others and give without thinking of oneself as much. It is a special time of the year as we prepare for Christmas - the birthday of our Savior! At the same time, though, this is when stress levels sky-rocket. Between trying to stretch funds for Christmas presents, trying to fit all our obligations into an already tight schedule, trying to cook and bake, craft and sew, clean and decorate, we have a tendency to put the true reason for Christmas on the back burner.

In our family, this year, we are doing a few different Advent activities. My hope is (I said hope not promise, lol) to post each day of what we did to prepare for Christmas - for the true meaning of Christmas. The goal will be to do either a family activity or craft that prepares us for the season. Just an FYI - do not look for Santa activities or reindeer from us - we do not "do" Santa. Our focus will be on Christ and on winter. We'll see how it goes :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankful Challenge - Day 27

Okay... can we say SLACKER! Yes - I am one :( I have not posted in quite awhile again! Soooooo, here we go :)

- my hubby was home for Thanksgiving this year
- a sweet e-mail from my mother
- dear conversations with various family members over the past few days
- overdue forgiveness regarding things I had not realized I was even harboring
- the freedom the forgiveness I have bestowed, giving me :)
- the sweet smell of a freshly bathed infant
- the blessing/curse of having too much
- knowing that though money is tight, love is abundant
- getting to attend the most loving and genuine church EVER
- watching my almost three year old play mommy - right down to "nursing" her baby
- holding a sweet baby in my arms
- my four year old wanting to attend "big church" with us
- the helping motherly nature of my eight year old
- the tender heart of my almost six year old
- trigger point therapy
- knowing I get to see a wonderful chiropractor!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful Challenge - Day 22

After a long night with Sam screaming and writhing in pain, there is much to be thankful for!!!

- no pain for Sam this morning
- Ben slept fairly well
- an eagerness from the kiddos to get things done
- crafts with friends that turned out cute
- an understanding hubby of why our kitchen was a disaster
- 10 quarts of applesauce canned
- the blessing of being able to help others
- beautiful flowers gracing my table
- cooler days ahead

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful Challenge - Day 21

Today I am most thankful for:

- early morning cuddles with loved ones
- my four year old being a HUGE help to me
- having my school stuff organized
- my eight year old's desire to learn and read
- the joy of doing crafts with my kiddos
- hearing my youngest laugh at his older siblings
- sweet conversations with family on the phone
- a pleasant visit with friends
- a delightfully delicious dinner
- fresh applesauce
- a much needed chiropractic adjustment!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thankful Challenge Day 20

So much to be thankful for!!!

- a little bit of sleep this morning, after a relatively sleepless night
- wonderful Bible reading and studying time with the family
- delicious cream of rice cereal with homemade strawberry preserves mixed in
- the opportunity to clean my school stuff up, make applesauce, and catch up on some laundry
- not needing to go to the ER - Will knocked his nose pretty hard yesterday playing at the park, causing a nose bleed, and has been complaining of a headache, but seems to be doing well now
- watching my sweet hubby wrestle with the four older kiddos - what a joy to hear their laughter and watch them play together
- watching Katie and Lee pretend together - the stories the kids act out are hysterical!!! today it was "Mary Poppins"
- the helpfulness of the kiddos
- naptime - the three middle kids all took naps today :)
- hubby grilling salmon for dinner - oh my was it good!!!
- "stolen" kisses from my hubby - goodness I love that man!
- it is bedtime. With that, I say good night. I am going to feed my youngest blessing from God and go to sleep myself <3

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thankful Challenge - Day 19

Wowsers!!! It has been quite awhile since I last posted on here!!! So much has happened during the last week... I'm going to try to include everything in my thankful list, but I'm positive I will miss some major things!!!

- the blessing of being able to help some friends
- the blessing of other friends helping me out :)
- the joy in my children's lives as they get to play with their friends
- the assurance that the money will be in the bank on payday
- being able to pay my bills online - oh it helps so much!!!
- spending the afternoon and evening with some dear sweet friends
- crafting time
- my hubby's willingness to overlook my messes when life gets hectic
- celebrating the birthday of special little people
- knowing that six months ago today, my sweet little Ben was added to my life - what a pleasure he is!!!
- knowing that while I may not be as good at some things as others, or as fun to be around or as "....." (fill in the blank), I am still loved by my hubby and kiddos!!! More importantly, I am God's creation and His child... He loves me and will one day welcome me Home with open arms!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Early morning ramblings

Have you ever sat back, looked at your life, and thought "wow!" ? A couple weeks ago I acccepted the thanful challenge, also known as the 30 Day Grateful Challenge. Perhaps this has heklped change my perception. As usual, life has thrown our family many curve balls! But through it all, our joy remains...

The end of October, Sam started having some health issues... and of course the doctors are all scratching their heads (seems like a common theme!). Through all of these trials, however, Sam has stayed a happy loving child!!! Don't get me wrong - when she hurts, she is whiny and fussy, but overall, she is taking everything in stride and keeping her cheerful disposition. I am finding myself focusing on the positives in the situation as well - we know she does not have cervical or uterine cancer... For those who know Sam's history, you know this is the third time in her short life (she is not even three yet) that the doctors have mentioned and tested her for cancer!!! But once again, God has seen fit to make it not that :)

Brad's work is being a beast. He works long hours and is literally on call 24/7. There is nothing quite like the cell phone ringing at 1 in the morning with the person on the other end calling to ask a "silly question" that could have easily waited until normal working hours, or they could have done a little research and figured out on their own. They are short handed, so he is stressed, but honestly taking it in stride. An inspection is coming quickly, meaning long twelve plus hour shifts, from early evening until the following morning, and yet, through it all, we are thankful he has a job. We may not get paid overtime (oh how that would our government further in debt!!!), but at least we are guaranteed a paycheck (as long as the government doesn't threaten to take it away again, lol). With all the medical bills we would be facing right now, again, what a blessing it is for Brad to have the job he does. Then, to top it off, he gets to retire in a little less than five years - Lord willing we will then be able to buy some property and live the life we feel God is calling us to.

Then there is the question of child salvation... what age is too young? Is there an age that is too young? Katie prayed for her salvation over two years ago... she was only five or six. Up to this point, she has had no desire to be baptized. We met with our pastor yesterday, and he "quizzed" her understanding. It blew my mind to hear her answer - she didn't answer by regurgitating what we had taught her, but rather took that information, applied it, and responded in her own words with an understanding that surpasses many adults' understandings. What a blessing and encouragement for us! And honestly, what a conviction by the Holy Spirit of how much more we need to spend in our Bible as a family and individuals. Katie has a tendency to read her Bible every morning and write her "biblical truths" from the chapter she has read - this is what she calls them. Wow! Every time I read over what she has written, I get goosebumps from how she really looks into the nitty gritty of what the Word is saying to her!!!

And then there are our two older boys - and my goodness are they boys!!! I have been told numerous times that boys are suppose to be destructive... I'm kinda glad, because mine certainly are!!! With that said, however, it ios frustrating in the mornings to look around and what I had not gotten accomplished the night before because i didn't have time... because too much had been destroyed. I am perplexed as to how I am suppose to get everything done in a day, without a headache, in a timely manner, without hanging some kiddos up by their toes :) But even after they destroy something, I still find myself being thankful that they are boys... God will use them for great things - for one day He will take their quirks and manly ways and work them for His Kingdom.

Of course to top everything off, there is the lack of sleep from my almost 6 month old, Ben, that is determined to NOT sleep through the night. Mind you, the other four children all slept through the night by 8-9 weeks... not Ben! And trust me, I have done some silly (aka stupid) things in my sleep deprived state! I have tried feeding the dog and starting laundry att the same time.... just so you know, dogs really do not want to eat laubndry detergent, no matter how citrus-y smelling, and dogfood does not do a very good job cleaning your clothes, no matter how crumbly it is :) And yet, I look at that sweet face and cannot help but smile! What a happy and content child he is! I would much rather take the time to feed him then not be able to nurse... or not have him in my arms at all!

And then last night there was our stove.... oh dear! I had made an apple crisp for desert last night... After the pumpkin seeds had been roasted, and while we were eating our dinner, I put it in the oven to bake. Brad walked in the kitchen to get Katie some more pasta, only to find that our oven was glowing... the heating element in the oven had caught fire. We turned the oven off - and yet it burned on. After about 20 minutes, the fire finally burnt out. When Brad looked up the part for this oven, we learned that it is "normal" for this to happen - and we were lucky it went out on its own! Many fire companies have been called out to people's homes for such issues!

So what is the point of my ramblings???? I guess I have written all of this to say that though life has thrown us curve balls, it is still all good! I've heard the old adage of when life hands you lemons you should make lemonade... I've seen others say that you can't unless life hands you sugar and water - otherwise it is going to be some sour lemonade. I say life does hand you all the necessities to make lemonade... Lemons = hardships, Water = God's love raining down on us, Sugar = our blessings.... So it all comes down to how we view it :) We really are blessed!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Yummy Potato Soup

Here is a recipe for some yummy potato soup - it makes 12 servings.

Cup of butter (we use unsalted)
4 C diced celery
4 C diced carrots
4 C diced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 C diced potatoes (peeled or unpeeled - doesn't matter)
4 qts (16 C) chicken stock (preferably homemade - but if not, I would buy stock opposed to broth)
2 C heavy cream
2t sea salt
1C flour (I use gluten-free all purpose blend)
Toppings (optional): shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, diced green onions, crumbled cooked turkey bacon

Melt 1/2C butter in a stainless steel pan or in a dutch oven, over low-med heat. Add celery, carrots, onions, and garlic. Stir to combine, cover, and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until veggies are tender. Add potatoes, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium to high heat. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Stir in cream and salt. Heart until steaming. Melt the remaining half cup of butter in a small sauce pan. Add the flour, whisking until smooth and thickened. Add this mixture to the soup. With a small hand immersion blender, blend until smooth and creamy, or put in small batches into a blender or food processor, until all is blended. Serve with toppings. YUM YUM YUM!!!

Thankful Challenge - Days 12 & 13

What a BUSY last few days! Whew!!!! Here is my grateful list for the last couple of days:

- baby babbling
- children's imaginations
- the beautiful Fall colors
- crisp cooler weather
- the sound of Sam playing with Ben
- Hearing "luv momma" from Sam - anyone knowing Sam knows this is HUGE!!!
- tightly squeezing hugs
- the way Sam is a little mommy to all her babies
- that Sam names ALL her babies "Ben"
- being fever free
- sleeping in until 8
- gluten free cake mixes since I forgot I needed to make one and didn't have time to make one from scratch
- celebrating the third birthday of a cute little girl of a friend
- seeing friends we have not talked with for awhile
- leftovers in the fridge so I didn't have to make dinner
- an early bed time (I'm talking 9 PM!!!!!!)
- the assurance of Salvation - including for Katie
- a pastor that will take the time to talk for an hour to our daughter!
- Will's desires to be in "big church" rather than children's church
- being convicted by the Holy Spirit during church
- picnics after church with other believers
- watching Ben discovering (and eating) his toes
- watching Brad play with the kiddos
- dinner in a crockpot

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thankful Challenge - Days 10 & 11

Lazy or crazy? Hmmm not sure which one describes me right now, but either way I never got on here yesterday to write my blog. So sorry :( So here is a combined list :)

- infant giggles as he plays with his brother :)
- my 4 yo trying to help around the house doing "chores"
- temps being gone for my 2 yo and 6 yo
- getting things pretty much figured out for a HUGE field trip (298 people ages 5 and older!)
- said field trip going relatively well
- enjoying the company of friends during said field trip
- the joy in my children's voices as they told their grandparents all about their day
- my oldest obeying what we requested of her even when her friends suggested the opposite (nothing bad even.... but she was told not to run at one point and when her friend wanted to go run, she told them she couldn't, and then later all the kiddos were told not to touch some things and a different friend, after looking at some items, offered something to Katie to look at and "finger" and she said she couldn't)
- yummy yummy baked potato soup
- the feel of the crisp cool air - LOVE the Fall!
- knowing that many of our friends hold our same values

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thankful Challenge - Day 9

What a day!!! Due to time restraints, I'm going to jump into what I am thankful for and fill everyone in through that :)

- an early start
- getting my field trip list broken up into smaller groups
- the gumption to tell the doctors exactly what I think about their nonsense!!!
- yummy coconut soup for dinner with rice added
- elderberry tincture to hopefully help boost the immune systems of the kiddos - especially Lee and Sam who are both fighting temps (103.1 and 101.5 respectively)
- early bed time for the same two
- for friends to gripe to :)
- for today to be over :) ready for bed - praying for an easy night!!!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thankful Challenge - Day 8

What a day!!!!! This time of the year never ceases to blow my mind and know me on my rear at the same time - so much chaos, and yet so many blessings! In a nutshell, still no answers for Sam, Ben is sick, Brad's work is bananas, I have too much going on and too much to do, and as always there is more month than money.... and yet I am so thankful for the blessings God has bestowed on us!!!

- a relatively good night of sleep (Ben was only up twice during the night)
- the smell of chicken stock simmering on the stove
- a sweet sister-in-law that mailed the kiddos boxed cereal
- said boxed cereal for breakfast so I could skip making it this morning
- children eager to say the pledges each morning
- a sweet hubby that stuffed the dishwasher this morning and ran it prior to going to work, since I was too lazy to do it last night before going to bed
- children old enough to help unload the dishwasher
- ACE school curriculum - such a great tool to teach little ones to phonetically read
- a speech therapist for Sam that is extremely kind hearted, and works wonders with Sam
- wonderful news regarding the health of one of my nieces
- sweet conversations on the phone, including one with a friend that I have not seen in quite a while!
- numbers figured out for an upcoming field trip (I think)
- walking with a dear friend
- getting adjusted by a superb chiropractor, who also adjusted my knee so I can start running again on Thursday :)
- fresh salad greens for dinner
- a sweet hubby willing to run to the store to get me a steak for my salad :)
- Ben and Jerry's ice cream (I really need to invest in an ice cream maker and learn how to make my own!!!)
- dear friends that will make me laugh when I'm down, will listen to me gripe, and will let me tell them my to-do list without poking fun at me :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thankful Challenge - Day 7

Some of the things I am thankful for may sound weird to some people, but.... well..... what can I say :)

- My middle son, W, had nightmares last night.... might sound weird to be thankful for this, but he had them due to a guilty conscience!
- Me being a light sleeper - weird again, but due to this I was able to hear my infant covering his face with his blanket and choking on it
- Getting up at 7 - this gave me time to get more accomplished today
- A good day of school for all three older kiddos
- my youngest daughter loving to pray before we start school
- sweet conversations on the phone this morning
- feeling normal... or that someone else is weird along with me :)
- sweet smiles from my baby boy, even when his temperature has risen and he is obviously not feeling well
- an enjoyable visit with a friend
- the opportunity to serve and encourage others
- serving a God that hears our prayers and knows our inner thoughts
- a hubby that has integrity and the welfare of his family and the desire to please God as his priority

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankful Challenge - Day 6

- Watching my children play together
- Baby boy smiles and giggles
- Being able to stay home with my God-given blessings
- Having my hubby home on the weekends
- Getting more appplesauce canned and pumpkin pureed and frozen
- The smell of apple cinnamon pancakes for breakfast
- The smell of chicken and potatoes roasting in the oven
- Fresh vegetables - crisp and tender
- The fact that I have given up soda - and have not indulged in any for at least a month :)
- Knowing our church is praying for our sweet baby girl
- The babblings of an infant as he discovers and toys with his voice and tongue
- The willingness of my hubby to help with the preservation of food and preparations for this week's school work
- The gentle but firm guarding of the children by our loving and loyal dog
- And tonight, for the upcoming warmth and comfort of my bed, blankets and pillow, as sleep takes over the wanderings of my mind

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thankful Challenge - Day 5

What a hectic day - yet productive at the same time :) Even with today's trials, we have so much to be thankful for!!!

- Fresh 20+ lb turkey for Thanksgiving in my freezer
- Butter from grass-fed cows in the refrigerator
- 11 quarts of applesauce canned
- two fresh pumpkin made into pumpkin puree for pumpkins
- the smell of apples mixed with cinnamon simmering on the stove
- sweet friends that stopped by and visited this morning
- wonderful phone conversations with one of my dearest friends :)
- a bouncy seat that entertains my youngest
- a hubby willing to help me preserve our fresh foods
- the opportunity to join the CSA for the winter as well
- a daughter that loves to read - including to her younger siblings
- the joy of my children talking with their aunt on the phone
- knowing I get an extra hour of sleep tonight :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thankful Challenge - Day 4

What a day!!! S had her procedure today. Getting up at 4 AM was just not fun (especially after not going to bed after midnight). She did wonderful taking her versed and going back, though coming out of the anesthesia was not fun!!! She was extremely unhappy - as in screaming - and then got sick. Thankfully, after that, she slept. As for results... well... we still do not have answers of what is is, but we do know that it is not cervical cancer. We are thinking our next step is GI :( On to being thankful...

- An infant that slept for 4+ hours so I could get a little sleep
- little traffic on the road this morning
- a happy 2.5 year old
- nurses that worked wonderfully well with our daughter
- NO cervical cancer
- friends that took wonderful care of our other children - THANK YOU!!!
- family nap time :)
- leftovers so that I do not have to worry about cooking tonight
- a church full of people praying for our family
- friends that truly love us
- a God that knows all and sees all... that has everything for our baby girl planned out and can heal her in a blink of an eye

Thankful Challenge - Day 3

While I am posting this a day late, I wanted to do so anyways :)

I am thankful for:
- friends that are willing to run/walk with me
- an older daughter that can and is wiling to do her school on her own :)
- the opportunity to plan for fun field trips
- friends that I can trust to watch my kiddos over night
- the excitement I see in my children's eyes as they learn they get to spend the night with said friends
- friends we can spend HOURS talking with, on a regular basis

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Thankful Challenge Day 2

Wow! What an incredibly relaxing day :) I spent my day enjoying friends via the phone and in person. Today is one of those days I do not need to "search" to find what I am thankful for!!!

I am thankful for:
- trusted friends that think of my family when they know we have "stressful" days planned
- said friends that call the following day to see how things went
- said friends to vent to, that I know will not repeat what I am saying
- leftovers so that I can quickly throw lunch together without cooking :)
- friends to craft with
- creative people that come up with incredible ideas that I can then copy or tweak enough for my needs, since I cannot come up with such ideas on my own
- this challenge, so that I can really reflect on what I truly have to be thankful for, especially in times where there are a lot of uncertainties
- an older daughter that desires to learn how to cook and sew; that enjoys helping with her siblings
- a hubby that doesn't think it is wrong to do the "womanly" chores in order to help me out


30 Days of Gratitude - Day 1

I have been challenged (gasp) to write what I am thankful for, each day, for the month of November. Knowing how hectic life is, and how pitiful I am regarding writing on my blog in any consistency, I realized the monumental task I have before me. At the same time, however, with the busyness of life, I also realize the NEED to remain thankful and to count my blessings, so to speak. And yet, here I find myself already a day behind, hahaha.

Day 1: Looking back on yesterday, there are definitely certain things I am indeed most thankful for:
- my hubby is not deployed, so though he may work crazy hours and is on call at all times, at least I know he is home safe with us
- a daughter that loves to read and write stories - I love her creativity and desire to learn more and improve herself
- sons that love to wrestle with their grandaddy and be boys - no matter how trying some of their antics are, I love that they are boys to their very core
- a father that enjoyed wrestling with his grandsons - what an immense amount of pleasure we all got watching them wrestle and hearing the laughter throughout the house
- a little girl that is not hospitalized this year.... this time last year, we were spending our days and nights at MUSC... this year she still has stuff going on, but we get to have her home with us, sharing her joy of life and love with each of us
- a sweet baby boy that loves life in general and is almost always happy - his smile melts any sadness or frustration away


Monday, May 30, 2011

Giveaway over at Confessions of a Homeschooler

In recent months, I have become quite intrigued in reading other's blogs. I enjoy crafty blogs, cooking recipes, and education centered blogs the most. One of my favorite education centered blogs is "Confessions of a Homeschooler" at It is her Expedition Earth curriculum that we supplement our geography curriculum with for K. She also has a phenomenal Letter of the Week curriculum. Now through June 3rd, she is giving away a "Sneaky Squirrel Game" from Educational Insights. You can head over there and check it out!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Not our will, but His

It was only a week ago. Everything was in our bag we needed. Double checked that all the changes of clothing, pajamas, toiletries, and favorite stuffed animals were in the kids' suitcase. Laundry was done, dog fed, plants watered. Agenda in my purse, and kids loaded in the car. Headed to a dear friend's house to drop off the kids. Anticipation was steadily rising! Drop the kids off and visit for a few minutes. Brad and our friend kill the baby copperhead the boys were trying to catch. Stop by the chiropractor's office for a quick adjustment since we are uncertain when we will get in there again. After being adjusted, we go over to Ye Old Fashion for milkshakes. Finally we are on our way. Not for our dream vacation, but rather our dream VBAC... only God had other plans.

When we found out we were pregnant with our fifth child, we were elated. Brad and I have always dreamed of having a large family. Due to our Biblical beliefs, we do not feel we have the right to "set" a number to the amount of children God is to bless us with, so we say, when asked, we'll have as many children as God gives us. After having an emergency c-section with our fourth child, we were determined to have as natural a birth as possible with our future children. We wanted to actually hire a midwife and have this child at home, only to find out we were not legally allowed - midwives are not allowed to deliver VBACs here. So we started looking into having a natural VBAC in the hospital. We were determined to have intermittent monitoring, no epidural, no assistance, Brad was going to catch, and we were going to wait until the cord stopped pulsing before we cut it. There was one doctor in particular, that was extremely for us having a natural VBAC - and sure enough, he was the one on call when we went into labor.

When we got to the hospital, around 4 PM, we were told my membranes had indeed ruptured, but I was only at a 1 or 2. A quick ultrasound was performed to ensure he was indeed head down, due to the fact that as of yet, he still had not dropped. Once confirmed, I started walking and bouncing on an exercise ball. I continued this up until around midnight. At that point, I was exhausted. I laid down in bed to try to catch a nap. About thirty minutes later, I started getting severe pains over my old incision, in between my contractions. Knowing there was a chance my uterus could rupture, I had my hubby put me back on the monitor. The nurse came in and checked me - my contractions were three minutes apart, but I was only 6 cm. When asked to rate my pain for the contractions, I rated them at a four... but the pain over my incision quickly hit a seven, causing me to be literally sick. At that point, the doctor came in. His concern was not my uterine rupturing, but rather the fact that the baby's heart rate was steady climbing and not coming down at all. Our baby was in distress! After some discussion, it was decided that I would need another c-section. My dreams of a natural VBAC disintegrated as I was prepped.

Benjamin Nathaniel was born via c-section at 1:07 AM. His cord was wrapped around his neck twice and he was tangled in it, which had not allowed him to drop in order to be born. For the first 90 seconds of his life, he fought to survive. He was not breathing and had to be bagged - he was a "blue baby." His respiration rate remained high until around 6 in the morning, when he finally seemed to be able to regulate them and keep the rate around average. Thankfully, he is doing well now.

To top everything off, we were told that we were not allowed to have a VBAC for any future children - we must have a c-section. I have yet to get my brain around this - why would God have us have another c-section if this makes it so we are no longer allowed to birth children the way He intended? I still do not know the answer to this question, and probably never will. I do, however, know that everything works together for His Glory. It is not about what we want or what others think is best for us, no matter how well-meaning they are. It is about God - what He desires for our lives. If we are not meant to have any more children, we will not get pregnant. If we are meant to have a c-section, we will fair through it fine. If we are meant to have a natural VBAC, He will see that it happens.

So often we pray "not our will, but Yours," but do we really mean it? I know I personally need to keep my faith in Him and know without a shadow of a doubt that His will is perfect, even when it "goes against" everything my heart desires. God sees the big picture and knows what is best in our lives. He knew that Ben's heart rate needed to start sky rocketing and I needed to start having intense pains so that we would agree to a c-section so that we would figure out how wrapped up in his cord he was, before something happened. God is in control!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Why homeschool?

I have received a couple e-mails recently regarding the decision our family has made to homeschool. This certainly is not a new question that we have received, but I thought I might address it here on my blog, since I'm actually writing in it at the moment. I will forewarn you that I am about to write regarding our beliefs - while I do not intend to offend anyone, I will not "sugar-coat" our beliefs.

Perhaps one of the most practical reasons that drew us to homeschool is the fact that we are a military family. My husband is active duty Air Force and has every intention of retiring from the Air Force after 20 or so years, which is another 5.5 yrs from now. Though by being in the Air Force, we do not move very often, the potential to move is always there... and we never know where or when. This means that in the middle of a school year, we could find our family relocating to a new state. Not only would one school not be teaching the exact same curriculum as another, but the skill-level would probably be totally different as well. Schools here in the south move at a much slower pace than those in the north!!!

Another reason is we want a handle on the children our children are around, and the behavior of our children. Many people comment about the "sponges" children are when it comes to learning "facts," yet we seem to fail to remember that they are also "sponges" of what they see and hear. The first spanking I recall as a child was repeating verbatim what my father had told me to tell my older sister. This included a swear word. While I do believe that children need to do as they are instructed (such as not cursing), I also believe that they need to be around examples of what is expected of them. No two families are going to have the exact same beliefs on what is right or wrong for children to do or say. Without proper training and close monitoring, it is an unfair burden on a child to expect them to do as you wish when they are around others that do not evn come close to your expectations, on a regular basis, at a young age. One of our favorite books is called "raising Godly Tomatoes." In it, she compares children to tomato plants. You cannot plant a tomato plant and expect it to grow straight and strong, and to be productive without some support, structure, and staking. So it is with our children.

The primary reasons, however, is due to our personal beliefs regarding WHAT our children should be taught and by WHOM. I'm going to talk about the latter first. We are a Bible-believing, Christ-following family. We take the Bible very literally. In Deuteronomy 11:19, we are instructed to teach our children. No one knows our children better than my hubby and I. Each of our four children (soon to be five) have different personalities and learning styles. By teaching our children at home, I am able to tailor their lessons to their individual needs. Our oldest is very much so a kinesthetic learner. I have had to switch her math and spelling curriculum a few times in order to find ones that fit her learning style. If there is something hands-on for her to do to go along with what she is learning, she retains the information. Public and private school teachers are unable to do this with each subject and/or lesson. For example, we have begun using All About Spelling for K's spelling. This allows her to move letter tiles to spell her words. By doing this, she is grasping the word families. Can you imagine in a regular classroom setting, them giving each child a set of letter tiles to spell their words? Of course not! So now, rather than struggling with her spelling, she is enjoying it. Math is the same way! She is learning much better with Math U See, using math manipulatives, than she ever did with any of the other curriculum we tried - including ACE, Saxon, and Singapore!

Perhaps the most vital reason, though, is WHAT we want taught to our children! Evolution is a bunch of baloney. God created this earth and everything in it. Our children need to be taught about Christ through each of the subjects we tackle. Our science curriculum is based on Creation. Our history curriculum combines what was happening in the secular world at the same time as what was happening Biblically. For example, did you know that Ruth and Naomi were only about 50 years historically behind the Legend of the Trojan Horse? Our purpose on earth is to bring glory to God. How can we expect to do this when we take God out of our lives??? He is to be Lord of all our lives, not just part of our lives. This past Sunday we just heard a sermon on this very topic. Our pastor explained it like a house with many rooms. If you purchase a house and are given the keys to your new house, but are told there is one room you absolutely must not enter, and you find it locked and impossible to get into, would you be satisfied with that??? Of course not! You had bought the entire house, not just a select number of rooms. In the same way, Jesus Christ paid the price in full for us... he owns all of us, not just select rooms or parts of our lives. Our children are not ours - they are Hi - and they need to be taught about the God that Created them, loves them, and prayerfully owns them 100%.

Taco Stuffed Shells

Last night I made a DELICIOUS dinner of taco stuffed shells. I was kinda worried about finding gluten free large shells, but finally found some :) I'm not sure they are as large as regular ones, but I made them work :) I'm thinking next time, however, I may just mix the meat mixture with spiral pasta and be done, hahaha. It would certainly save me some time! Anyways, the kiddos and hubby really enjoyed this dish, and I am certain it would be great using regular pasta as well, if that is your fancy. Be forewarned - you need to prepare this meal a little ahead of time. Also, I made two batches, one for the freezer, so keep that in mind too.

Ingredients For Two dishes of stuffed shells:
2 pounds of ground meat (I used grass-fed beef)
enough taco seasoning for two pounds of meat (I use bulk - but you could just use 2 envelopes)
8 oz cream cheese
2 boxes of gluten free shells (I had some leftovers - you could also use other pasta if you do not want to stuff shells)
1/4C melted butter

Ingredients needed for each casserole (I only made one casserole last night and threw the other stuffed shells in the freezer):
1C salsa
1C taco sauce
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz shredded monterey jack cheese
1.5C tortilla chips
Fixings - we just used sour cream, but you could also throw some tomatoes, green peppers, green onions, and/or lettuce on top

In a large pan, brown meat. Drain. Add in cream cheese, cooking until melted and well mixed. Put mixture in bowl and cool for an hour. Cook pasta shells (watch that you do not overcook them or they will fall apart when you are stuffing them). Drain shells and gently mix with melted butter. Stuff shells with meat mixture. Put half the shells in a freezer container and freeze. Use the other half for the casserole.

In a 9" square pan, spray with nonstick cooking spray. Spread salsa in bottom. Place stuffed shells on top. Pour taco sauce on top of shells. Cover and place in preheated oven for 30 minutes, at 350. Uncover casserole and spread cheeses over top. Sprinkle crushed chips on top of cheese. Put back in oven, uncovered for another 15 minutes. Take out of oven and serve with fixings. YUMMY!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Most people know this about our family, but we are gluten free. Both boys are gluten intolerant, and our youngest daughter is more than likely celiac - basically severely allergic to gluten. Gluten is the protein in wheat, rye, and barley. It is this protein that gives bread doughs its elasticity, helping the bread rise, and giving the final product the desired texture that we have become so accustomed to. When we first discovered we needed to go gluten free - right before my oldest boy was to turn three, I was heart-broken. I absolutely LOVE to cook and bake. I find it very stress-relieving to stand in my kitchen, and produce something that people enjoy and that I can be proud of. Anyways, I started searching for gluten-free products. Some of the mixes were okay... some were not. I quickly discovered that I could not stand anything made with garbanzo flour! Bleck! Here recently Betty Crocker came out with some mixes for cakes, cookies, and brownies - these taste really good, but I was missing breads! I knew there were recipes out there, I just needed to find them.

This past year for Christmas, my younger sister bought me a cookbook called "The Gluten-Free Bible." It is a good thing she bought it for me, because quite honestly, the name itself would have kept me from buying it! And boy would I have been missing out! It has some FABULOUS recipes in it!!! I started trying some of the recipes and I have LOVED most of them. In the front are a couple recipes for all-purpose flour mixtures. The one recipe is for recipes that do not call for yeast and the other is for recipes calling for yeast. I made the first and have used it in everything!!!! But I was scared to try to make a yeast-based bread that is gluten-free. I have tasted other gluten-free breads and quite honestly don't normally like them! The texture is just wrong - they are always dry and flaky, and just not as good.

This past week I finally got brave. I have been wanting to make an Orange French Toast recipe that calls for Cinnamon Raisin Bread - but obviously to do it, I needed gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread. So I finally got brave enough to try it and I am so glad I did! PHENOMENAL!!! Again, these recipes are from "The Gluten-Free Bible." If you are gluten-free, I would HIGHLY recommend this book!

The flour mixture for yeast breads is:
1 C brown rice flour
1 C sorghum flour
3/4C millet flour or chickpea flour (I use millet)
1 C tapioca flour
1C cornstarch
1/3C unflavored instant mashed potato flakes

Mix them all together and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

3 C flour mixture from above, plus additional for rolling out dough
2 pkgs active dry yeast
2t xanthum gum
1t salt
1 1/4 C plus 2T warm milk, divided
1/4C vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
2 eggs, at room temperature
1T honey or maple syrup (I used honey)
1t cider vinegar
3/4C raisins
1/3C sugar
1T ground cinnamon
1T gluten-free oats (optional)

1. Line 9x5 inch loaf pan with foil, dull side out. (Do not use glass loaf pan. - I used a PC stoneware pan). Extend sides of foil 3 inches up from the top of pan. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with four blend.
2. Combine 3 C flour blend, yeast, xanthum gum, and salt in large bowl. Which 1 1/4C milk, oil, eggs, honey, and vinegar in medium bowl. Beat milk mixture into dry ingredients with electric mixer at low speed until batter is smooth, shiny, and thick. Beat at medium-high speed 5 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in raisins.
3. Place large sheet of parchment paper on counter. Sprinkle with flour blend. Scoop batter onto center of paper. Spread batter with back of oiled spatula or dampened hands to 9x18 inch rectangle, 3/4 inch thick. Brush remaining 2T milk over dough. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. Sprinkle all but 1T mixture over dough, leaving 1 inch border. Lightly press into dough.
4. Using parchment paper, roll dough jelly-roll style beginning at short end. Push ends in to fit length of pan and trim excess parchment paper, Lift roll using parchment paper and place in prepared pan. (Leave parchment paper in pan.) Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar and oats, if desired.
5. Cover loaf with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let rise in warm place 20-30 minutes or until batter reaches top of pan.
6. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375. Bake 35-45 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when tapped and internal temperature is 200 degrees. Remove from pan. Remove parchment paper and foil. Cool on wire pack.

Garden-Fresh Spaghetti Sauce

I got harrassed the other day about needing to start a blog and saring some of the recipes I cook. Ironically, I already started this blog, lol, but have never put on any recipes. Generally I just write on here as a kinda journal since I spend more time on the computer than I would just writing on a piece of paper. In any case, however, I think I will share a recipe today, though I am going to have to think about which one I want to post first.

Just as an update, though, I still have not had Baby Ben. It amazes me how many people look at me and say "you haven't had him yet?" I keep joking that the next person wo asks me that I am going to tell them that I did have him, but I decided to put a basketball back under my shirt and decided against bringing him with me today. I understand what is being asked, but if you look at how rhetorical the question is, I just want to tease people back :)

I guess waiting for Ben to come is why I have been cooking so much. In the past, we have received a handful of meals after having a baby, but this time I plan to actually "be good." I will be spending the first week in bed on bedrest (gasp), and the second week on modified bedrest. Yes - I will probably go stir crazy and should really start thinking about what I want to do during that time! Anyways, I love myhubby dearly, but there are times he gets overwhelmed and is unabe to keep an eye on the kiddos and make a meal - shoot to be honest, I do too at times - so I figured I would help him out and have some meals in the freezer waiting for us :) I think the first recipe I am actually going to share is Garden-Fresh Spaghetti Sauce. I do not know that it was one requested, but I made it the other day and it was possibly the BEST spaghetti sauce I have ever made!!! I am thinking that I might modify it a little next time and add some other veggies like squash and zucchini... and maybe some spinach. Anyways - here is my recipe...

2 - 7 oz packages of sliced fresh mushrooms
4-5 medium carrots, chopped
1 C chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 head of green garlic, or 4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4C oil - I use olive
2 - 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
2 - 15 oz cans tomato sauce
12 oz can tomato paste
1 C beef broth
2 t dried basil
2 t dried oregano
1.5 t brown sugar
1 t salt
1/2t pepper
1 C grated Parmesan cheese

In a Dutch oven, saute the mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion, green and red peppers, and garlic in the oil until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring it to a boil, lower the temp, cover, and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally. It makes around 15 - 20 cups of sauce!!! We used it for spaghetti twice and I have another four to five cups set aside in the freezer to make Parmesan Chicken :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Weekly Update

Oh what a week it has been! We finally made it back to church this past Sunday after about four months of not attending! It as so incredible to finally be in the House of the Lord with fellow believers and praise our Creator and Savior! The kids were so excited about going that we were done in record timing and were there early :) As long as things are good tonight, we will be heading back there tomorrow :) That evening, however, S fell on her head - twice. The first time, her older brother L pulled a blanket from under her feet :( The second time, she had stood up on the couch and her leg gave out and down she went. She fell down the steps on Monday due to her legs giving out, and again on Thursday. The neurologist has decided that it would be best if we do not let her go up and down the stairs on her own - so now we get the joy of untraining her :( We had spent so much time teaching her to walk independently up and down the steps again, that it is quite frustrating to have to prohibit it now. On a really good note, it seems that her fevers have subsided. We are wondering if it has to do with the fact that we have become incredibly strict on not allowing her to eat anything with gluten! We had become more relaxed with this when she was hospitalized and afterwards, due to the constant driving to and from appointments. This possible connection will be addressed with either her neurologist or rheumotologist here soon!

This week wasn't too bad for appointments, thankfully. Monday S had her initial evaluation with the speech therapist. It went really well and S seemed to work really well with her. We also had our chiropractor appointment - oh how we love going to see her!!! Then on Tuesday we got to stay home and go nowhere - hallelujah!!! LOVE days like that, especially when they are so incredibly infrequent! Wednesday, on the other hand was seriously busy! We had a 9 AM chiropractor appointment, then an 11 AM occupational therapy appointment. At 2 PM I had an OB appointment. I got to see my favorite of the OBs in the clinic and he reassured me that I can have a natural VBAC :) After the appointment, I had to do the hour long glucose tolerance test - bleck! Thursday was S's physical therapy appointment. Also that day, however, dh went back to the neurosurgeon. He wants to do a disc removal to his back - to where they would remove part of the herniated disc, along with part of the vertebrae... sooooo.... we are going to get a second opinion! Then on Friday we went and saw the chiropractor again.

Also on Friday, we went shopping at Earth Fare. Oh my goodness were we excited!!! They give a 10% military discount!!! This is HUGE for us, as our grocery budget is so high! They also give a 10% discount if you buy a case of chicken breasts, so on our chicken, we actually ended up getting a 20% discount! That evening we had company over for dinner. About thirty minutes before they got here, I had to take L to urgent care. W had went to hit K with a lid to one of the containers that slide under the bed, but instead hit L in the face, busting the top of his nose open. After not being able to get is to stop bleeding, and seeing how deep it was, I took him in. Two stitches later, we were good to go. I was so incredibly proud of how well L stayed still for them to stitch him!!! By the time we got home, our company was already here. What a great night of fellowship that followed! We did learn some hard to digest news, but we are leaving that in God's hands!

Today we worked on our garage. We only have a one-car garage and it is basically used as a storage unit. We borrowed a friend's truck and took a load of stuff to the ReStore store and then the rest to Goodwill. Then there was a load to the dump. We headed over to Home Depot and bought an almost 15 cu.ft. freezer. Hoping to pick up our chicken order next weekend :) The only down side of everything we did today is that now I am having some MAJOR MAJOR contractions! So now I am trying to "chill" and get them to subside!

If all goes well, I'll post again tomorrow of our week's plans for school :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Starting Again - An Update

It has been over a year since I have written anything. Wow! So much has happened over the year!!! I was debating trying to recap the last year, but honestly I think I am better off just moving forward. I'm not sure how often I am actually going to get on here and blog, but it has to be better/more than what I did last year. I figured this may be a good way to keep track of what we do for home school as well, especially as a way to keep track for future years for the kiddos :) We shall see how it goes, though, as I seem to get side-tracked by other things. It would be nice, though, to be able to journal our experiences as a growing family, that home schools our children. We have different beliefs and values than many, but we live our life to please God rather than man...

As a quick update from today, we actually made it back to church, praise God! Our youngest daughter was hospitalized the end of October for a little over two weeks and is still having issues. It was so wonderful to be in God's House with other believers!!! We debated going back for tonight's services, but think we should probably take it slow to make sure her immune system can handle it! Instead, I think I am going to work on planning out next year's schooling for the kiddos :) Yes, we are already planning it!!!

Due to wanting to give the children 5-6 weeks off for Thanksgiving and Christmas from their normal studies, the kids' school year is starting July 11th. This means not much of a summer break, but with hubby's work schedule, it doesn't really matter much. We are going to do school through November 18th. Then we will have a six week break (Thanksgiving, Advent, and week after Christmas). We'll start back up on January 2nd and go until May or June, with a week off for Easter. We switched up some of the curriculum and how we will be doing things. For one thing, we will be using workboxes of sorts. We actually have already started implementing them this year and they are working fabulously well. Each of the children will actually have one, with exception of B. Oh - for those who do not know - B is due the end of May :)

In S's boxes (age 2) will be puzzles, lacing beads, stacking cups, etc. for her to work on her gross motor and fine motor skills. W's boxes (he will be 4 in May) will consist of his paces for ACE, along with games to reinforce what he is learning. He will be using their kindergarten curriculum to get him started in PreK4. L's boxes (age 5 - grade K) will be using ACE's first grade curriculum. Each of the paces will be in a different box, and then the others will be filled with games and/or crafts to reinforce what he is learning. K's boxes will be primarily filled with curriculum, with some games and/or crafts. She will be 8 and going into the third grade. I guess it is easiest to just explain her curriculum for each subject.

Science: Apologia - Botany (I have heard a lot of mixed reviews on this curriculum, but am determined to try it - she is actually quite excited about it!)
History - Mystery of History Volume II (we are doing Volume I this year and love it!)
Math - Math-U-See (this has worked wonderfully well for her!)
English - Shurley English (continuing what she has worked with this year)
Handwriting - A Reason for Writing
Spelling - Sequential Spelling
Bible - Veritas Press' curriculum
Geography - My Father's World ECC curriculum, spread out over about a two year time span
Health - we are going to try Alpha Omega's Lifepac series (it HAS to be better than what we used this year!)
Reading - We are using a lot of Veritas Press' comprehension guides and seeing where we get to. We have: Charlotte's Web, Chronicles of Narnia, Fairy Tales of Brothers Grimm, Misty of Chincoteague, Homer Price, The Story of the Treasure Seekers, Stuart Little, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and Black Ships Before Troy.

Looking forward to a great year!!!