Saturday, April 30, 2011

Stacie's Money and Time-Saving Tips

Stacie's Time Saving Tips

1. Make cookies into bars, instead of individual cookies. Learned that from my friend, Catherine!

2. When making biscuits, make biscuits in a pan. Make sausage gravy ahead of time (I usually make a gallon of it and freeze in quart jars). Makes a quick and easy breakfast.

3. Use your bread machine! Use your dough cycle and make two loaves a time. Freeze second loaf, or turn it into pizza dough. Click here to get my bread machine recipe. I use this for pizza dough, rolls, and bread. LOVE it! It doesn't require eggs.

4. When making soups and casseroles, make enough for another meal. You can also do this with cakes and quick breads. Freeze the other. Make sure you label it. why dirty up your kitchen twice?

5. Cut onions, peppers, celery and tomatoes. Shred cheese and zucchini. Freeze in two cup increments. It’s great for casseroles, soups and pizzas. Use that food processer if you have it!

6. Cook a whole chicken. Divide meat up into three dinners. I usually do two casseroles and one soup. Take bones and make broth out of it. Broth is water and bones. Simmer for 6-10 hours and then strain. Freeze broth. When you make your soup add the salt, garlic, bones, chopped onions, carrots and celery, etc.  I also make my own cream of chicken soup with it. Saves tons of money and is so much better for you.

7. Buy in bulk. Many stores that cater to the restaurant business has 50 lb bag of turbinado (raw sugar) for sale. I go to Cash and Carry. Find a few people who would split it with you. Health food markets can order sucanat. Buy the biggest bag and split it.

Stacie’s Healthy Tips

1. Make your own jam, and use honey or turbinado (raw sugar). You can use both. Experiment to see how healthy you can get it without your family noticing.

2. Use as much whole grains as possible. Supplement white flour for whole wheat pastry flour in your baking.

3. Supplement sucanat whenever the recipe calls for brown sugar.

4. Supplement turbinado (raw sugar) whenever the recipe calls for white sugar.

If you have any other time or money saving tips, please leave them in the comment section. We could all use help in these areas.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Homeschool Co-Op's Picnic By the Creek

My friend Laurel, convinced me to take the kids to an event put by a homeschool family. We were invited to their house to play, ride bikes, and to explore their creek. It was so fun! I'm glad I took the time to go. Usually these events are very overwhelming to me. Trying to keep my eyes on three little ones is pretty normal. But Lily was the only one that I had to really watch. They had parents station themselves in two's so they could talk,( because you know how us homeschool moms like to talk) and watch the kids to keep them safe. It was actually really relaxing that way.

Lily LOVED the creek. I had to watch her pretty good, she wanted to do what the big kids were doing. But I let her strip her socks off and put her feet in. As you can see by her face, she was in heaven!

Our hosts were Lori and David. I had seen Lori a few times, but never actually met her. It turns out that her SIL and I have been following each other's blogs for a couple years now. What a small world! We took this picture to surprise her. You can visit Mrs. A's Blog here. There were very sweet people and were highly organized. LOVE it!

Marcus really enjoyed playing in the creek, too. Boy, was it cold!

There were so many families there! I met some new friends, connected with old ones and realized that I really need to practice hospitality more. I'm glad the weather is getting nice. I see some play-dates in the future!
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Images of Easter

I am experimenting with my camera. I am used to a point and shoot. This camera has so many options and it can be really confusing. The first one is supposed to focus on one object and blur out the rest. This is a picture of my Easter Egg tree.

This is in "vivid" color. It is very bright! We dyed 10 dozen Easter eggs! My mom knows I hate dying eggs, so she has graciously taken over that chore. She has the patience of a Saint!

I mentioned before that we did the "Resurrection Eggs" from Family Life, this year. The kids loved it! Since there is a dozen they each got to do two eggs. This is a tradition that I am excited to continue on. It really kept the focus on Easter where it belonged. Jesus...

When I woke up it was pouring down rain. I was kind of bummed. But I prayed a Martha prayer and asked God to help me take everything in stride. I was expecting 15 people or so for our Easter feast after church. God answered that prayer! It was the most relaxing Easter I had ever had. The food and company were wonderful. God even allowed the sun to shine so we could all go outside for an egg hunt! He is so good!
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An Answer to Pedestals

I'm redoing the Bible study "Beloved Disciple" by Beth Moore. When I ran across this statement again it really helped me with the whole "pedestal" thing.

I'll give you the quote first and then I will explain.

"Some people will try to make anyone with a semblance of spiritual maturity their personal savior. Have you ever had anyone try to make you their savior of sorts? Our most convenient response might be shifting all responsibility to the poor, confused person. After all, can we help it if someone mistakes us for more than we are?

Instead we need to confess, "I'm so sorry if I've led you to believe otherwise, but I am not your salvation. I have no power to deliver you." "I can't be our entire family's rock. If you're all standing on me for stability, we're all about to have a sinking spell." Or "I don't have all the answers. I'm still trying to figure out what the questions are."

So do we just let everyone down? No, we ask them to let us down. Right off that man-made pedestal of toothpicks. Our role in the lives of those God sends our way for help is not unlike John the Baptist's. We become a voice in their desert helping them prepare a way for the Lord."

I think because I am a mom of six and I homeschool, sometimes people do put me on a pedestal. Even though I try to be blatantly honest about my failings, I still get people thinking I'm some kind of a "super-mom".

Well, I'm not! Just look at my blog. I'm not the best writer, the best photographer, the best gardener, the best mother, the best teacher, nor the best wife. I'm human. I'm not pretending to be anything else.

Let us develop that spirit of humility that John the Baptist had. Remember, in his own words he was not "worthy to untie Jesus' sandals".

Beth says, "John the Baptist understood Christ's greatness and how unworthy he was in comparison, but he didn't see himself as having the value of an inchworm under a rock. His life had value through its connection to Christ."

So do ours, Ladies.

So do ours...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Our Pets and a Very Happy Easter!

I thought I would do a post about our pets.

My dad gave us these pigmy goats. We mainly use Dan and Wilbur for weed control!

They are so funny! They provide us with lots of entertainment. They butt each other and zing around the goat pen at full speed. Goats are very playful. I grew up having goats. They are a low maintanence pet. Especially, if you are not into breeding and milking.

Snickers gets lonely and loves to go down and hang out with them. She loves them, too! I don't know how they feel about her though.

Snickers is the friendliest dog I have ever met. She LOVES people. Everyone gets scared when they see her because she is so big. But she rarely barks and greets most everyone with a wildly, wagging tail. She is amazing with the kids. They maul her constantly and she come back for more. I love that kind of dog.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter! We are planning on having a feast with family and friends here. Between 20 and 30 people. It is pouring down rain right now, so I don't know how that Easter egg hunt is going to go. We'll see!

I am so thankful that Jesus conquered the Grave! He is Alive! Death O where is your sting?

Happy Easter!
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Friday, April 22, 2011

My Favorite Time of The Year

Spring spells flowers! I love flowers. I love color. I crave color in my yard.

I bought a new camera and I am loving it! It is way better for outdoor shots. You can see the havoc that Lily did on my tulips. She ripped the heads off of most of them. I was sick. Tulips are my favorite flowers and I look forward to their blooms all year.

The candytuft is so pretty this time of year. I love how it is finally draping down my wall.

My raspberries are starting to bud out. I hope they are loaded with berries this year because it seems like I can't make enough jam to satisify my growing brood. They LOVE it! I planted grass too close to my rows and now they keep getting thinner and thinner. I am trying grass clippings for mulch this year to help keep the weeds down. I am also adding straw.

Did I mention that I love this time of year?

Sunshine and rain, mixed.

Kind of like life.

Trials and blessings, mixed...
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Getting to Know Tedd Arnold

 My sister did a great post on this huge happenings in our lives. Here is the link 

Tedd Arnold is the author of the "Fly Guy" series. My Marcus loved them so much that he started to write his own.  He came to town and our family was able to spend some quality time with he and his wife.

So check out the link and you will find out what happened!

Monday, April 18, 2011

First Tae Kwon Do Tournament

 These pictures will have to do. I got to the tournament, grabbed my camera to take pictures and what do you know? My camera is completely busted. One of the kids must have dropped it hard and didn't tell me. It was toast. Luckily, I had brought my video camera as well. I can't figure out how to load it on to my computer though. Arggghhh! I so wanted to share these with all of you.

Jessica got a gold medal for her form. Next she sparred. I was so nervous and scared for her. She was going up against a boy first. She was very aggressive and made the poor boy cry twice. He finally gave up at the end after she got him in the leg pretty good. She then had to fight a girl who had legs way longer than hers. With TKD, it is all about kicking. Whoever had long legs seems to have a pretty good advantage. She held her own, but didn't win that match. So in the end, she got a silver medal. We were so proud of her!
Marcus also sparred for the first time. He did really good. But unfortunately, there was some unfair politics going on. He didn't get a fair shake, but he can still be really proud of himself. This was a good lesson because Marcus has always had a hard time with unfairness. I was very happy to see him accept defeat with grace and honor. It was a huge step.

I don't have any pictures of Steve in his gear, but he did great as well. He won a bronze medal for his form. He sparred as well and won a gold medal. We were so excited that he got first place the very first time he sparred. The best part is that he is still upright and not on disability! LOL! I think he did break a toe though.

Our TKD school entered 11 contestants. We took home 18 medals which was an amazing coup! Most of the schools have been around for years and years and they practice 2 to 3 times a week and have had lots of experience in sparring. We are a newer school and only have class once a week. This was the first time any of the contestants had participated in a tournament and sparring. Jeremy, our instructor was stoked!

It was a long day though! 12 hours from start to finish. I'm so thankful my mom took the three younger children for the weekend, so that I could go and not worry about chasing them around and filming at the same time. I have a feeling there will be more of these in our future. They all enjoyed it and want to do it again.

Friday, April 15, 2011


I found this in the archives and thought I would share it again with you. I am still at the same place with this child. But I have seen lots of fruit lately. I have hope!

Dear Mothers,

I have been having a great challenge lately. One of my children is showing many signs of having a strong-will and a rebellious spirit. This son is bringing me to my knees before God. I mean EVERYDAY. There are days that I am so frightened for him that I cry out to God to protect him from the evil one.

As much as I hate to admit it, I know this is exactly where God wants me to be. Going to Him, seeking His wisdom is the only thing I can do. Oh, but how my Mother’s Heart aches.

When you are exhausted from dealing with one child all day long, your temper can flare up at the rest of the children. This spirit of dissention can spread through the entire family. If you don’t get control of it, it just gets uglier and uglier and can lead you into despair.

If I ever had pride in my parenting, it’s gone now. I realize I do not have 100% control of my child’s actions. He is going to make bad choices and upset his teachers or any person in authority over him. He is going to embarrass me when he doesn’t open his mouth with wisdom. I must accept that and realize that although I’ve taught him the right way, he does have free will. He WILL disobey.

Then I look at myself. Don’t I do the exact same thing with God? Don’t I hear His voice and choose to keep opening my mouth in foolishness? I have the free will to disobey and I unfortunately choose to do just that many times each day.

So what do I do with that? I will choose to discipline with grace. I ask God to give me a special love for this child that I can barely stand to be around sometimes. I realize that if I am an adult and still make choices that are not right, how much more will my child who is still learning to do the right thing. He has experienced limited consequences so far. No TV, time outs, early bedtimes, or not being able to go to a fun activity. He has not yet had to deal with bigger consequences like losing friends, losing a job, or even experiencing the heavy hand of conviction from the Holy Spirit. He IS but a child!

So, even though the behavior hasn’t changed much, I will continue to cry out to God for wisdom, mercy and grace. God only knows the plans that He has for this child. It must be something pretty important if Satan is already trying to derail him.

I will NOT let the enemy win! I will fight to the finish and the best stance for this kind of fight is on my knees with my head humbly bowed. This is a spiritual battle that God will win.

“Dear God, Help me see the good in my child. Help me see the strong-willed traits as something that can glorify you when my child gets them under control. Help me to love Him, forgive him and guide him in the things of you. Help me to not put my trust in the latest parenting philosophy, but put my hope in you and in your Word. Give me the strength I need each day to be the parent you would have me be. Amen!”

From One Mom to Another,

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fostering Creativity

I love reading to my kids. My little ones are constantly bringing me books to read. Sometimes it is hard to sit down with them when I have so many pressing things. But I have to slow down and think that my time with them is short and the laundry will always be there. They won't.

I am letting Marcus loose in the kitchen more. Here he is preparing devilled eggs from start to finish. Man, this kid can make a mean devilled egg! I taught him to use pickle juice, mayo, mustard and a little garlic. Everyone seems to love the combo.

I put a basket of books in the living room, so that the kids could grab a book and read on the couch if they were just sitting around. Lily loves to look at the picture books and "reads" them out loud.

Jessica and Andrew made these puppets and put on a puppet show for me. They did a really good job! I'm trying to do more crafts with them and thinking of ways for them to add more creativity in their life.

One thing I did was go through their toys. Anything I had not seen them playing with for a while or they have trouble picking up, went into a big blue bin in the shed. I filled up two HUGE bins of toys and they haven't even noticed they are missing! It's been over a week. If they do ask for them, we will rotate others out. This fosters creativity because they have to use their imaginations more.

We also gave up video games for Lent. No we are not Catholic, but I encourage our children to fast from something just to teach them a little bit about sacrificing something for Lord. They only get to play 30 minutes a day (if they don't get in trouble), but it allowed more time for them to have creative play.

How do you create a learning creative environment for your children?
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This and That

 I love it when Lily falls asleep on her own. She just looks so peaceful.
 I can't help but take a picture!
 Steve caught Lily and I watching the fire in our man-sized "burning barrel". Yes, that isn't your imagination, it is a stock tank. I think the lady that lived here before us wanted to make a pond out of it. I told Steve it would make a perfect burning barrel. I was right, although I wouldn't want to shovel it out in 10 years.
 Marcus set this up. It actually didn't take him that long. It looked really cool!
 Steve loves messy pictures of our children. He caught Lily with homemade raspberry jam all over her face.
Marcus was not thrilled when his Nana played an April Fool's trick on him. She told them she was bringing over sushi that had raw fish and seaweed in them. He was totally grossing out, but I forced him to sit down and try it. When he opened his eyes he found a rice crispy treat rolled around a gummy worm and then the outside was rolled with a fruit roll up. Very cute and creative! The kids ate their "sushi" right up. Nana is always so good about making fun things for them.

Ted Arnold, Author of the "Fly Guy" series came into town to speak with the children in our area's schools. We were able to meet with he and his wife. It was a wonderful experience that I will blog about next time. So stay tuned!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Easy Beef and Noodle Toss and Easter

Beef and Noodle Toss

8 oz of Penne Pasta
12 oz of beef sirloin, cut into bite-size pieces
2 TBs flour
1 TB olive oil
1 can of Italian-style stewed tomatoes (drained)
8 oz of sliced mushrooms
4 cloves of garlic
14 oz of beef broth

Cook noodles according to directions. Season beef with salt and pepper. Toss with flour. Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat and any remaining flour. Cook 3-4 minutes until beef is browned, stirring often. Add mushrooms and garlic and tomatoes. Cook 5 more minutes. Add broth; cook 3-4 minutes or until beef is done and liquid is slightly thickened. Add cooked noodles to skillet, stir gently to coat. Heat through.

I found this recipe in Better Homes and Gardens, but switched it up a bit to make it easier. They recommended lasagna noodles for the pasta. My kiddos loved this recipe! The best part is that it only took 25 minutes from start to finish. I like that kind of recipe.

Jessica made me this creation. manderine oranges, fish crackers, and whipped cream. She even put some cherry blossoms on top. It was very sweet. One of those moments you smile, set it aside and hope they forget about it! LOL! I love how she enjoys "plating" everything now. To her, it is all about the presentation.

Life has been good. Lots of intense Bible study. I just went through the book of Revelation and I so enjoyed it. I have a new fear of God. When I see horrific things on the news, I have a new found hope that God really will judge and He will also vindicate the innocent. He is such a fair and just God. I am so grateful that I know Him. That He chose me to be His child and part of His church.

I am anticipating Easter this year. I bought some "Resurrection Eggs", which is like an advent to Easter. I have been really wanting to find a fun way to teach the little ones about Easter. I can't wait to start next week.  There are 12, so they each get to open two. Also, for Easter I bought they all the new Narnia movie.

Do you do anything special for Easter? How do you teach your children about what Easter really means?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Fruit of My Labor

I was amazed when Marcus came up to me and told me that he wanted to take me out for lunch for my birthday. He said he wanted to take me to Thai.

 As I watched him proudly go to the bank and get the $20 needed, I got choked up. I couldn't believe that a child of mine could be so thoughtful. He really wanted to make my birthday special and honor me. At first I thought myself unworthy, knowing that $20 is a lot of money for a 10 year old. He worked hard for it. But the Lord reminded me that all this time I have been drilling into this child's head that he needs to think of others. Money is a really big deal to this kid. This was about as sacrificial as this boy could get.

 Here are the earrings that he bought me. They are really pretty, and totally me!

I am so thankful that on this day I could enjoy the fruit of my labor. This same child also gave me two sets of earrings and a locket that says, "#1" Mom. It was such a blessing to be loved and appreciated by the child that I have the most conflict with. I am very proud of my Marcus!

The last picture is Andrew and I with my birthday "bling" my children and sis picked out for me. I'm wearing the locket that Marcus got me.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Little Foxes

From the Archives...
I have started a new book called, "The Man You Always Wanted is the One You Already Have" by Paula Friedrichsen. It is very good so far.

She had a paragraph in it that I wanted to share with you. It's titled "Man, He Gets On My Nerves!"

"Song of Solomon 2:15 says, "Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom." Think of your marriage as a vineyard.

More often than not, it's the little things that wreak havoc upon your relationship-those annoying little personality quirks that seemed cute when you and your husband were first dating. It's important to walk in forgiveness for the everyday irritations that have the potential to spoil the companionship, fondness, and romance that should be growing in your marriage. Maybe your husband always runs late-or nags you because you always make him late. Or he's a neat freak, and you have three kids in a house that will never be picked up to his standards. Does he talk with his mouth full...interrupt you at dinner parties...keep you awake with his snoring?

Whatever the particular "little foxes" are in your marriage, they need to be met with diligent and persistent acceptance and forgiveness. Forgiving love is like a sentry stationed on the watchtower of your vineyard, and is a powerful tool to keep your vineyard blooming, growing and productive."

This was powerful to me this morning. Those annoying things can really sneak up on us and we start to feel resentful, dislike, annoyance and displeasure with the one "we have forsaken all others for". We need to revel in the "familiar love" that God has given to us. Do they complain when we don't have our make-up on when we greet them in the morning? Do they complain when we have a few extra pounds hanging onto us? Do they complain about our wrinkles as we get older? We have familiar love that surpasses all that superficial stuff. Let's protect our vineyards from those little foxes that sneak up on us. When you find one, pray about it and see if it is as big as you really think it is. If it is a "bigger fox" then maybe it needs to be addressed. Always pray before you do this, lest you be perceived as a nagging wife.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lily's Second Birthday Party

The four youngest children helped me make the cupcakes. The little Care Bear figures were perfect! Her little eyes lit right up when she saw them.

She loved the princess book that her Aunt Jackie gave her.
Jessica is holding her sister up so she can blow out her two candles.

And this is how we found her about an hour after her party. Sound asleep snuggled up with her new Care Bear.

So sweet!
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