Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Our cheap eats meal of the day

I thought I might share tonight's cheap and easy eats.

We have access to some good quality Amish raised poultry through a local grocery chain. They raise the chickens with no junk pumped into their systems (antibiotics, hormones, etc). I picked up a 10# bag of leg quarters for .69/#. Today I cooked it all up in two batches in my crockpot.

At dinner time I deboned some of the chicken and mixed it with my taco seasoning (recipe posted below). We then made quesadillas with the chicken and some cheddar cheese. I served them with corn, sour cream taco sauce, a can of refried beans (never learned to make these, any suggestions?) and tomatoes. The family was satisfied.

My taco seasoning- the pouches at the store never were quite right, we really like this mixture better

4 parts chili powder
1 part oregano
2 1/2 parts cumin
3 parts onion salt
2 parts garlic powder

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Why I don't follow Flylady

I promised almost a week ago that I would write out why I will never do flylady. It seems that she and I have one major differing of opinions that I just can't get over. You know how it is, no matter how much you love some people they just have this one *thing* that they see so completely different from you that the two of you just can't seem to get along? Well that would be the way it is for Flylady and me. She is a wonderful person with a great way of keeping your home clean, I would recommend her to anyone. However, I personally will not follow her methods. I may use some of her ideas here and there, but I will never be a full fledged flybaby (her term for those who follow her methods).
So, after all of that, what you may ask, is the big issue that keeps me from being a flybaby?

Are you ready?

I know this will be hard to believe, but it is true...

She expects me to wear shoes. Inside the house! -and not just any shoes either, they have to have shoelaces.

Now, you would have to know me a little better to understand how big of an issue this is for me. I don't like to wear shoes. In the house its bear feet, or in the winter when the temps are cold I use slippers and socks. When I go somewhere I wear sandals or the like. Since I do live in an area that gets snow in the winter I also have a pair of boots that I will wear if the snow is at least an inch or more. *But* the only reason I even own a pair of shoes with laces is because I wanted to start walking more often last year. I only wear them if I am going for a walk, alone and fast. Usually anymore with the neighborhood going downhill those walks are only on the treadmill. Other then that I do not wear them at all.

So there you have it. The reason hwy I will never be a flybaby. I hope you all don't hold it against me. ;)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Doesn't this look wonderful?

I saw this recipe on a tea company's website. I know people have versions that use graham crackers as a base but this looks even better. I would definitely use dark chocolate for the topping.

Shortbread Base
Preheat oven to 300°. Grease and line an 8" x 12" baking pan. In a bowl combine 6 oz. flour and 2 oz. sugar. Cut in 4 oz. cubed, cold butter til crumbly and forms a stiff ball. It does take a bit of time. Do not add liquid. When ready, press the dough evenly into the baking tray. Bake for approximately 20 minutes in a cooler than usual oven. When done, set aside to cool.

Toffee Filling
In saucepan melt 4 oz. butter with 3-1/2 oz. sugar. When the sugar has dissolved, add 2 tblsp corn syrup and 7 oz. condensed milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly. It will thicken and become golden in color. As soon as this happens, spread it over the shortbread and allow it to cool.

Chocolate Topping

In a microwave or over a pan of hot water, melt 7 oz. chocolate (milk or dark, your choice) with 4 tblsp. water. Stir til smooth and pour over the toffee. Let it set for an hour or more before cutting. Lasts about a week in the refrig (if you're lucky).

Friday, July 27, 2007

Thursdays Thankful Thirteen (5)

I tried to send this through last night (all Thursday Thankful posts should really be posted *on* Thursdays, you know?) but my internet was not working for some reason. So here it is, on Friday-

I thought I would focus this week's edition of my thirteen things I am thankful for on different aspects of my job as wife/mother/homemaker/home teacher:

1) Serving my family- to many being able to serve others is not something to be thankful for, but I feel blessed by God to have the chance to serve those I love.

2) Being the one who gets to see my children's eyes light up the first time they 'get' a concept they are learning.

3) Sharing a special bond with my husband like I share with no other.

4) the knowledge that Dan and I are committed for life.

5) I can be myself and they will still love me anyway :)

6) the flexibility being a stay-at-home home schooling mom offers.

7) Not having to wake up every morning and rush off to work.

8) I get to spend lots of time with Dan and the kids.

9) My husband is very supportive and empathetic when I am troubled.

10) I am thankful that God guides me through this all and gives me the wisdom I need to do my job.

11) That my family's love is big enough to cover my mistakes, they don't hold grudges.

12) For my husbands strong desire to be the provider for his family, even now while he is unable to work.

13) for the networkk of friends I have to support me, give me advice and pray for me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

God's blessings

Today I got a great blessing from God. I spent four hours fellowshipping with a friend from church. She is a wonderful lady and it has been quit awhile since we last got together. She then watched my children for almost an hour while I went to the grocery store. We wont mention the fact that she is Mexican and served me her wonderful but simple Mexican rice and some bean soup for lunch. I wonder if she would mind me posting her rice recipe here? She then gave me the leftovers to take home to Danny.
By the way, someone asked why I don't post pictures here. I have (check the archives for the Pictures with Baby Day amongst a few others) but not recently. I guess that is the nudge I need to get me to post some more often.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Reading Books

My oldest is 2/3'rds of the way through with the book Anne of Green Gables. I think she will have read it through in a week's time. She is really enjoying it and when I told her that there were at least 6 or 7 more books in the series she was thrilled. She is following her mother in her choices of reading material. I not only read all of the Anne books, but also read every other book by L. M. Montgomery our local library had.
Then there is the library of classics we have. My mom said that they are abridged but they don't say that anywhere so I am not sure. It is a set of hardbacks and includes stuff like Moby Dick, Jane Eyre, Last of the Mohicans, etc. This very set of books was read by my mom, myself and now Charlotte has worked her way through a few of the stories.
I could still read any of the above books- Anne or the classics. I also really like Beverly Lewis' books on the Amish people or any sort of historical fiction.

Ebates website

A few months ago a neat website was brought to my attention- Ebates.com If you sign up with ebates and then go shopping online through their website you earn cash back on everything you buy. I bought some things at Office Depot and earned 3% cash back and then went to Puritans Pride and earned 7% cash back. Right now Ebates is offering a deal- anyone who signs up through my link and buys something from a store through Ebates will earn themselves $5 and also earn me $5. I figure if they pay you to shop online then what is not to like about it? Plus they also send out an email every week of stores that are offering special deals and every day you can go to their site and see who is offering double cash back.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Chores and schedules

I was asked a few questions about chores for the children and schedules for the family so I figured I would post my answers here.
The girls have certain items they have to do each day. (They are almost 10, 8 1/2 and 6 1/2.) The younger two have to empty the dishwasher while the oldest does a rotating simple chore- sweep the kitchen, the porches, wipe the tables, etc. They all have to work on their Bible verses daily. The oldest two have devotions and at least 30 min of reading daily (usually they read 4x as much). Then each girl has to do at least one bigger chore a day. This includes- wash the kitchen floor, fold and put away clothes, clean the bathroom (one will do the sink, one will do the tub and toilet and one will do the floor) clean their room or whatever else I come up with. Daniel, our oldest boy at 4 1/2, has to empty the silverware from the dishwasher and help clean up toys.
They all take turns having a day as kitchen helper when they are responsible for working with me at getting the meals ready and table set. The kitchen helper also gets to choose what to serve for breakfast and lunch- within reason.
Today I started giving them a little taste of the Flylady's routine. I have never followed her stuff and probably wont get into it too far (more on that later) but do like some of her ideas. I want the girls to start doing a fifteen minute cleaning every day as well as paying attention to the areas where clutter collects. I have just started getting more structured in the last month so I am adding stuff as I go.
As far as how structured I get, I am slowly working on it. I do have a regular nap time for Timothy (2 1/2). I also try to get the girls to do their chores first thing in the morning. I found that if they have a chance to start playing then it is harder to get them to work. If they have the chores first then they get them done and go on to bigger and better things. Once we start schoolwork for the year (hopefully we will be ready for that by the beginning of August) then schoolwork will come right after chores. If they get their chores and schoolwork done in good time then after lunch is free time.
I also have to mention that scheduling only goes so far when you have a 4 1/2 month old baby who does not do routine too well. He tends to mostly follow a loose schedule with his naps, but not always. He also does not follow any schedule for feeding or wanting to just be held.
A month ago I put some posters on the wall. They are laminated with Mon. through Fri on them. They then have lines for each day so you can put the daily work on them. They are suppose to be for a classroom, but we use them for all chores and schoolwork. Each of the older girls has one and then Abby and Daniel share one (I write Abby's chores in red and Daniel's in blue). I have found that they really appreciate being able to look on their list and see exactly what they have to do for the day. I just have to remember to fill it in every night. If I can prepare the night before then things tend to run smoother the next day.
I will post more as I put more structure into things.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thursday's Thankful Thirteen (4)

This week's installment of my thankful thirteen includes thirteen natural things I am thankful for:

1) Rain- its been a rather dry summer here and even though we didn't get a lot of rain today, it has rained and every bit counts. T read more about why I like rain read this.

2) Butterflies- they are delicate and colorful. The whole metamorphosis thing is incredible.

3) Hawks and falcons- they are really neat to watch in flight and then there is the whole fact they they can be trained.

4) Rainbows- if light hits in the exact right way it breaks apart into all the colors of the spectrum. Only by God's hand!

5) Wind- there is nothing like a nice breeze blowing.

6) The ocean- I was going to say just the waves, but then there is the sound, the smell, the feel. I have to say the whole ocean.

7) Sunshine- am I the only one who completely understands cats' and their napping in the sunshine?

8) Waterfalls- the quiet calm of gentle little ones or the power of big strong ones.

9) Lilacs- I inherited my love of this sweet smelling flower from my mother.

10) The stars- I admit, I love star gazing. Unfortunately there aren't many visible around here.

11) Color- there is such an incredible range of colors out there in nature.

12) Fire- I love a good bonfire, to sit in from of it and let the flames mesmerize me.

13) The Creator- of course I have to end this list of nature I am thankful for without being thankful for the one who created it all.

A rare blessing

Being the parents of six children means you have to give up a few things in life. One of those things is time spent together *alone*. Last night Dan and I had the rare opportunity to spend some time together without the kids (of course the baby came with us though).

A good friend was gracious enough to watch the kids while we went out for an evening by ourselves. We went out to eat- we used a gift card we had gotten a year ago, which shows how long its been since we went out alone. After dinner we went to see a movie. Dan gives blood at the Red Cross and every so often they offer him movie tickets.

The movie was so-so, nothing special. We didn't pay for it so it was no loss. We were glad that we already had tickets though as it was at the same time as a Harry Potter movie and the line to buy tickets was incredibly long. I ended up dropping Dan off at the door and finding a parking spot so he wouldn't have to get too sore walking. We couldn't even find a close handicap spot.

The dinner was at The Macaroni Grill, one of our favorites. The meal was great. Since it was a Tuesday there was no wait to get into the restaurant, although they had nearly ever table full.

Benjamin sat happily playing with a few toys through the whole wait and appetizer but wanted held right when my food came (of course, its like that at home too). I held him while Dan ate and then Dan held him while I ate. He was really good through the whole movie too.

Overall it was a really nice time to get out together and enjoy some time alone. I think we really should try to do it more often. Anyone wanna babysit?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

This week's freebie

I have mentioned Homeschool EStore before. This week their freebie is a study on Labor Day. The unit is put out by In The Hands of a Child. They put together some really good unit study/lap book type stuff. Hope you enjoy the freebie!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Those fleeting moments

I have a toddler. He is such a handful! He is full of energy and loves to get into things. Some days I seem to spend most of my day chasing him out of trouble.

It would come as no surprise then that one of my favorite moments of the day then is when I put Tim down for a nap.

However, its not my favorite because I get some relief from having to be on my toes so much. The reason I like nap time is because of the few minutes I get to spend with Tim alone as I put him down. We might snuggle for a few, butterfly kisses are always on the list and I get to tell him how much I love him.

One of the most important things we as moms need to make sure we do each day is take the time to hug our children and tell them how much they mean to us. I find that if I make sure I spend that few minutes with each kid it also helps me to keep my perspective on how much I love them and why I do what I do. It helps me keep my cool with the kids when things get a little rough.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Our Favorite Mac & Cheese

Different people seem to have different opinions about Mac & Cheese. Some people prefer homemade while a few actually like the boxed kind better. Then there are the few who don't like the stuff at all. Which one are you?
My Devorah loves any kind of mac and cheese. Charlotte will only eat my homemade. The whole family loves the homemade version. I thought I would share it here for anyone else who might enjoy it.

Macaroni and Cheese

2T butter
1T oil
3T onion
2 cloves garlic
2T flour
2c milk
3/8t pepper
1/2t salt (I find this not necessary due to the saltiness of the cheese)
3c American cheese
1# (4c) elbow macaroni

Cook macaroni as usual. As the water comes to a boil put butter and oil in a second pot. Saute onion, adding garlic after a few minutes. Add flour, salt and pepper, let cook a few minutes while stirring. Add milk and whisk while bringing to a boil. Let boil for a minute or two to thicken then remove from heat. Add cheese and stir till melted. When macaroni is cooked drain well. Add cheese sauce and stir. It can be baked for 30 minutes or so, but I never bother with that step.

Optional- sprinkle top with bread crumbs, add 1# cut up sausage, substitute some pepper jack cheese for part of the American cheese

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Thursday's Thankful Thirteen(3)

Today I thought I would spend my 13 thankful points on thirteen of God's attributes that I am thankful for.

1) His love that is unconditional

2) His total patience with me as I fumble my way through life.

3) His holiness- I am rather glad that we worship a God that is so big, so incredible, so *awesome.* I don't worship no ten cent variety store god, he is the God of the universe.

4) His desire to have a relationship with me- a close and personal relationship with me.

5) His gentleness, he never deals with us too roughly or out of anger but with the most gentleness.

6) He cares ever so much for us all. He knows the number of hairs on my head and hears ever sparrow fall.

7) His perfect timing. God is never late- even when we may think he is taking too long he is still right on time.

8) His creativity- have you looked around recently, or better yet read something about what really goes on at microscopic levels? This is an infinitely complex word we live in and it makes me laugh every so often when I see man acting like he knows so much about this or that.

9) His boldness- if God's got a problem with you he has no qualms about flat out telling you- look at the way Jesus handled the scribes and the pharisees.

10) God never sleeps or takes a vacation. He is always there when I need him.

11) The way he so uniquely fits the hole that exists in the heart of every single human being ever born.

12) God never breaks a promise. His word is his word.

13) His forgiveness that he gives over and over and over.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


I don't know about you, but I like summer rain. I am talking about any kind of it too. The downpour of a real good storm, the misty just enough to turn everything really green or the medium sized shower that comes right when we need a temperature change. Maybe that is why I so often allow my kids the pleasure of playing in the rain in their bathing suits. One day I will have a porch big enough, with a roof, that I will be able to be outside while it rains. That way I can enjoy the rain with the kids without getting wet.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Who Supplies Your Needs?

In the journey we have been traveling lately, God has taken my comfort zones away and exposed areas where I have been getting too comfortable. Like most Americans, I had grown accustomed to the regular influx of money that happened every week when my husband got his pay check. I would thank God for providing the job and for providing my husband with the abilities to work- but lets face it, Danny did *work* for it after all so its not like we didn't have some sort of hand in the outcome. I had something inside of me that really liked the dependability of that steady paycheck. Having it at such a regularity kind of got me off of depending on God for everything and started me into thinking that we had more to do with our financial stability then we really did.
Fast forward to July of 2007. My husband has not worked at all since last June- prior to that he hadn't worked more then a day or two a week since November of 2005. In October of last year they stopped his worker's compensation check. For the past eight months we have been surviving off of what God has brought us as He decided we needed it. Can I tell you how we have survived? No, but we have. When the car needed a repair (on two separate occasions) money was handed to us from an anonymous giver through our church. Many times God has brought in something when we had need of it, but that is a different post, the point for now is my focus had drifted off of our real provider and onto those who seemed to be providing- my husband and his employer.
In the end of the first chapter of Habakkuk, the prophet was lamenting about how the wicked were prospering in their oppression of others. They then went and placed the reason for their success on their instruments of war. Habakkuk took it into a bit of symbolism and stated that men were like fish and the wicked just scooped them up in their nets. "Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous." (KJV) The wicked men were so far from where they should have been that they were erroneously placing the reason for their success on their instruments (nets) going so far as to say the whole reason they were pulling in so much plunder (portion and meat) is all due to their instruments of war.
Although I don't feel that I had been by any means looking to Dan and his employer as the sole reason we were financially stable, I can see how I was not totally relying on God and recognizing Him as the one from whom we get everything. As the verse in Acts says, "
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; (17:28). Everything we have is from God- down to our very breath. To place any responsibility for any of it on anyone else is just not true. Yes, we have to do what is required of us (we shouldn't expect to sit around doing nothing while food magically appears on our plate), but we must not loose sight of God's role in everything. I know I will never look at a paycheck (when we finally start to receive one again) the same.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Another Ballantyne giveaway

If you don't win Biblical Womanhood's giveaway, then stop over at Life in a Shoe and enter her giveaway. She is hosting a giveaway of Vision Forum's exciting new adventure series, Ballantyne books as well.
Then if either of those contests don't work out for you go over to Vision Forum and buy them as they are currently offering them at 25% off through the end of July.

Book Giveaway

Over at Biblical Womanhood they are giving away a copy of the Ballantyne Christian Adventure Library from Vision Forum. These books are full of biblical emphasis and good character traits. Its a far cry from Harry Potter, that's for sure! Go enter your name and maybe you'll win.

I Finished a Book

Last night I finished a book. I read the book The $64 Tomato by William Alexander. A few months back it was recommended by Lindsey at Enjoy the Journey. It is the musings of one man as he goes through the trials and joys of having a garden. It was a really good read, but definitely better for those of us who enjoy gardening.
I don't get to read much, its one of those things I have to make time for. Usually I try to read books that are educational or spiritually uplifting or such- although I will read a novel every once in awhile. I have little time to spend reading so I figure I should make it reading that will accomplish something (like educating me or bringing me closer to God) as apposed to just filling my time with an interesting story.
This book might have given me a little bit of insight into gardening- but it was definitely a book to read for the enjoyment of it. I really think I need to spend a little more time reading books for the pure enjoyment of it. This was a good book to start with.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thursdays Thankful Thirteen (2)

Here is this week's installment of my thankful thirteen list-

1. For all of the help God has provided us from others. Monday a friend's 18yo son came over and broke up the steps to our back door.Tuesday he came over and helped my dad build a new back stoop/deck (4x8) out of wood. This is stuff Dan can't do right now but needed to be done. Our steps were falling apart.

2. The Lord constantly providing for us. I know I mentioned this last week, but another example of that provision happened Sunday and I had to be thankful again. After paying this months bills we have only half a house payment's worth of money left in the bank. With Dan injured and out of work we have no income. While that might seem pretty dismal, God knows what he is doing. At church Sunday we were given some money anonymously. It isn't everything we need but it was a small token of God reminding us that He is in control and has things taken care of.

3. I am thankful that the kids have such great grandparents who willingly invest their time into their grandkids. My dad and step-mom took Devorah for two nights. My step-mom took her to an amusement park on Tuesday and they took her to a 4th of July party on Wednesday.

4. It wouldn't be a thankful list in the first week of July without being thankful for the freedom God has supplied to me here in America. With all the problems that the U.S. has, it is still one of the most free countries out there.

5. I am thankful for all those Christians who aren't free to worship God in their countries yet risk their lives to do so anyway. If it wasn't for their strong faith there would not be a lot of work going on in some of the worst countries.

6. The men and women who fight for our country to keep it safe. Contrary to what some people like to claim, I think it is a real show of love for your country to go and serve in the military.

7. Even when I have had a rough day with the kids, God still manages to instill a sense of peace within me- if I stop yelling so loud and getting so upset that I completely drowned it out. His peace is there for us but He isn't going to give it to us by shouting over us to get us to see it.

8. I am very thankful for water. We don't realize what a blessing it is to have water that is drinkable. In the heat like we have been having lately, I really appreciate the ability to go to my fridge and get some cold water to drink.

9. I am grateful for having a husband that keeps thinking of me. Today he brought a lemon donut home for me because he knows they are my favorites.

10. I am thankful for six healthy children. None of my children have ever been seriously sick or injured in any way (except the minor hairline fractures that both Tim and Daniel each had as toddlers). None of them have had any life threatening deals to go through.

11. I am so grateful that God chooses to have a relationship with us. God does not *need* us, He wants us. He chose to make us so that He could have a relationship with us. He wants to spend time with us, wants to talk with us and hear our lives. We never have to worry that God is just being polite- He listens because He wants to.

12. Rest- not that I get enough of that! I am thankful that God has designed us to need a quiet time, a time where we just have to sit back and take a few minutes to be still. Now I don't do this enough and I am sure most everyone else doesn't either, but we were just not designed to be going at it full strength 24/7.

13. I am thankful for the good weather we have had this week as Dan, my dad, and our friend's son have worked on our back porch. While we need the rain, it is nice that they were able to get the job (almost) complete without the weather getting in the way. Just a few more boards and the job will be complete.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy 4th!

We didn't do much special today. Devorah was gone most of the day with her grandparents and the rest of us hung around the house. We did make our first fire in our new fire pit (thank you mom for your wonderful trash picking find) and roasted marshmallows for smores.
It use to be that a guy a few streets over put on a fireworks show every year so we thought we would watch that. He must have moved or something because there was no fireworks this year. Take a moment and be thankful for all the freedoms we have here in America. We are quite blessed.


Every evening for the past few weeks we have had a visitor stop by in front of our house. This little guy will fly all over the place around our neighbor's car that is parked in front of us. Occasionally he lands on the car, but most often he flirts around the trunk a lot. I am curious to know what the neighbor has in his trunk that is attracting this little guy because it is obvious that he is out there looking for something the car has.

Learning differences

Jamin, at Just Call Me Jamin, posted recently some notes on learning styles. I have read about learning styles before, but I think I really need to go more in depth with a study on them. My older two have been schooling okay so far, but Abby is a bit more of a challenge. I haven't worked daily with her like I should, but what I have been doing with her seems to take awhile to sink in. She is definitely able to remember things. She has memorized Psalm 139:1-10 with her sisters and has learned (on her own) a prayer from one of her books. She recites her prayer every night. At the same time she is having a slow go of it when it comes to learning her letters and reading. I am thinking that the paper/workbook type of stuff isn't her thing and maybe it would help if she traced her letters in sand/salt or made them out of play dough, etc.
I was thinking that incorporating lapbooks or notebook into our schooling this fall would be a good way of bringing more into the girls' learning and help them retain the information. I also want to do some more hands on stuff- like eating meals from the countries we study or making forts out of pretzels. I guess I am definitely going to have to plan the year a little better (which goes back to my previous post on how you plan your school year).

Monday, July 2, 2007

How do you plan your school year?

I was wondering how people plan their school years. How far ahead and how detailed do you get? I am a horrible planner- I start planning something then get sidetracked into doing something else and never get back to the plans. The of course, since I didn't plan it fully the project never gets done. We do far less around here then I have ideas for that is for sure.
I found the following product- Full Year Notebooks and wondered if there was anyone out there who had experience with it and could tell me what it was like. I amnot one to spend money on something unless I know the product is worth it. Any help would be appreciated.

Notebooking idea

Homeschoolestore, I recommended them recently, is giving away some really nice notebooking pages as the free weekly giveaway. The pages are for studying the presidents' wives. Each woman has four pages with a picture of her on them. Some are for coloring and others have lines on them to write about the lady. Its pretty nice looking.