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Showing posts from January, 2013

Wrapping up Thirty for 30

Wow.  Where has January gone?!?  This may have been the fastest, busiest start to a year that I've had yet.  I hope this isn't a sign that they just keep going faster the older I get.

When my friend Nancy at There Is Grace first gave us this Thirty for 30 challenge I really didn't think it would be that hard.  Little did I realize how this month was going to throw me for a loop.

I had visions of kicking off our new homeschool semester by getting up extra early, enjoying winter mornings in peace and quiet.  But my night owl tendencies kept showing up, my early-bird son got up before me nearly every morning (while I continued to hit snooze), and I experienced a strange period of extreme fatigue during this month.  Still not sure what that was about, maybe it was a winter weather-related thing.  Whatever it was though was really hard.  I dragged around for days.

Then there was my decision to try the Read-the-Bible-in-90-Days plan.  Um...yeah...what was I thinking?  This wa…

The Making of a Tostada

If you've read my weekly menu plans for very long at all you have probably noticed that we have tostadas quite often.  The kiddos LOVE them and they are SO easy to fix~I generally plan to have them on a busy weeknight because they take hardly any time to whip up.
However a couple of weeks ago someone asked me what exactly a tostada was, so I thought I would just share this simple meal with you (even though it's almost embarrassingly simple).  My family LOVES Mexican food and my husband is even a former employee of Taco Bell, so this stuff is just in our blood ;)

1. Pick up some tostada shells at the grocery store.  I must say that Aldi's has the best ones.  Their brand is made in Mexico and just has a more authentic taste than ...say...the Old El Paso ones that are made in Texas.  But, of course, you may not be a tostada shell snob like me, and that's okay. ;)  
2.  Also grab yourself a can of refried beans, a can of enchilada sauce, some shredded lettuce, and some shre…

The Weekly Plan {Jan 28th}

This past week I have seriously been in a Soup Mood!!  I could probably eat some kind of soup about every day.  My husband, on the other hand, likes soup, but only as an appetizer...ha!  He never gets full on soup.

The two I made this past week were French Onion Soup and Creamy Cheddar Soup (which we're having again this week since I made a double batch).  The Creamy Cheddar Soup is always a big hit with my kiddos (especially my oh-so-picky son).  But what he doesn't know is that it's filled with good veggies that I have used my handy-dandy hand blender to puree so that he still gets all that goodness (and delicious flavor!) without the texture issues;)  Just call me sneaky!

This week I'm throwing in a new recipe or two for us.  Just trying to shake up the routine!

Monday: Pinto Beans & Buttermilk Cornbread

Tuesday:{leftover} Creamy Cheddar Soup with Sandwiches

Wednesday:Meatball Subs

Thursday:Cream Cheese Chicken Chili with Rice and Jalapeno Corn Muffins

Friday: Whi…

The Weekly Wrap-Up: South America, Heidi, and Getting More Rest

Can't believe this ends the last full week of January!  It has been one busy month ...and there are still a few more busy days in it for us next week.  
This hasn't been a very smooth week though.  I have been more tired than I think is reasonable.  I'm not sure why that is, but it has made for an emotional and cranky mama at times.  When you throw a stubborn son into that mixture ...well, it makes for some rough moments.  Just being real.  However, we have survived and I am making it a priority to get more rest (last night was a restful night for me, thank goodness!).  
This week in our homeschool: there were new math concepts introduced to both kiddos and they caught on quicklyMr. B learned about interjections and conjuctions (cue Schoolhouse Rock!)The Princess is continuing her language arts study with Pippi Longstocking and enjoying itwe learned about the Mayans, the Aztecs, the Incas, Cortes, and Montezuma in historyand enjoyed South American-style hot chocolate, toowe…

Daily Grace

This month I've been reading in the Old Testament, most recently in Leviticus.  What a complicated book!  So many rules and regulations!  And how often did the Israelites fall short of them.  Yet God in His infinite mercy and grace continued to give them opportunity and opportunity to return to Him, to turn away from their sins.  While they did experience chastisement, they also received forgiveness and so many second chances that I can't count them all.  All because God loves His children!

This always makes me think of how far I fall short of God's standards each and every day.  When I fail to spend time with Him first thing.  When I'm grumpy and short with my family.  When I choose to gossip about someone.

And yet when I come to Him, humbling myself and confessing those sins, He always welcomes me with open arms.  He doesn't say, "Well, I'll forgive you, but I won't forget about it."  Or, "Yes, I love you, but you'd better not do that …

Hashbrown Casserole

So who else loves to eat at Cracker Barrel and order their hashbrown casserole?!  That stuff is my favorite!  Of course, I would love to have their exact recipe, but I have one that is so, so close to it and I love it, too.

We've actually had breakfast for dinner a couple of times here lately and this always makes a great addition. It's really wonderful any time though--we had it with our Christmas ham this past holiday season!

Another plus about this recipe is that you can make it the day before--just hold off on the crunchy topping until the last minute.

So without further ado .....

Hashbrown Casserole 1 (32 oz.) pkg. shredded frozen potatoes 2 sticks butter, melted and divided 1 can cream of chicken soup 1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 1 cup sour cream 1 tsp. salt 1/2 small onion, chopped 2 cups cornflakes ***** Spread thawed potatoes  in a 9x13 casserole dish  (no need to thaw if making the day ahead though). Combine 1 stick melted butter, soup, cheese, sour cream, salt,…

The Comparison Trap

Today I am blogging over atThere Is Grace (thank you for inviting me, Nancy!).  I hope you'll join me there!


During this month of getting back to the basics of daily time in God's Word, I have also been reading a new book for mothers.  With the title No More Perfect Moms, the tone for the whole book is set. It has really been speaking to me and it seems that the theme of "striving for perfection" has been jumping out at me
in more ways than just this book.  Or perhaps my reading this book has just made me more aware.  Without completely ripping off my husband's message from church a couple of Sunday's ago, I want to share with you some thoughts that have really spoken to me.  

...{click here} to continue reading.




The Weekly Plan {Jan 21st}

I must confess something: I only followed last week's plan 3 out of 3 nights.  It was sort of a crazy week.
There were changes of plans all week long--some out of necessity and some out of whims.  This week I have to be more focused!

I did have a good trip to the grocery stores this week though.  Yes, stores...I frequent two: Aldi and Kroger.  I love the amazing deals and the quality at Aldi and always make that my first stop to get everything I can there.  Then I head over to Kroger where I can use specific coupons, find things that Aldi doesn't carry or items we prefer, and score some points on my Kroger card for gas discounts.  Can't beat that!

I also made a trip this week to a local Amish store that I affectionately call the "dented can store".  That's not actually its name;)  We live near a very large Amish and Mennonite community and there are several of their wonderful bulk-style stores nearby and I really enjoy shopping at them.  This particular st…

The Weekly Wrap-Up: Reading and Field Tripping

Can you believe how quickly January is flying by?!  Before I know it summertime will be here~crazy!  
We have had a good week of homeschooling this week.  I love it when I can say that!  Not that it hasn't had challenges, but overall it's been very productive.  

Last week I mentioned that my kiddos each received a nabi tablet for Christmas and also personal handheld video games from the grandparents.  We are striving to keep electronic activity at more of a minimum in our home, so of course this presents new challenges in that area.  The kids LOVE their electronic time though, so  we use their time on them to our advantage:)  I've created a reading system for them to earn time on their electronics.  
I made a basket of books with two sections--one for each of them--with books that I want them to read over the course of the next few months along with any other books that they may choose from our home library or the public library.  They must spend at least 30 minutes each …

*Raising Your Kids to Love the Lord*: a Review

A while back I reviewed a book by Dave Stone titledBuilding Family Ties with Faith, Love, & Laughter.  It was and excellent read!  So I was very excited to recently read another book by Dave, Raising Your Kids To Love The Lord.

As a follower of Christ, it is so important to me to pass my faith on to my children, to raise them to know Christ personally, and to follow His ways.  Sometimes our good intentions get lost in the daily-ness of life though and we are just struggling to get to bedtime each day so we can collapse in our own bed, exhausted.

In this book Dave gives many practical applications on how we can live out our faith in our every day circumstances.  (That's one thing I really like about Dave's books, the practical applications!).  Some chapters are written for parents in general, but he specifically addresses moms in one and dads in another.

I love his use of personal examples and stories.  He comes across in a very down-to-earth and sincere way that makes …

The Kindness of God

How are you doing on your Thirty for 30 challenge?  Yeah, it's harder than I thought it would be, too.  It's so easy to let daily life squeeze your time.  I hope you're making time for the Word though and letting God speak to you through it this month though.

I want to share a verse with you today that God has brought to my mind lately.

Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?  Romans 2:4 (NASV)


I have been convicted lately about just how sharp I sometimes speak to my children in an effort to chastise them or get their attention.  Impatience and frustration seeps in and my tongue becomes too harsh in its delivery.
Just like our children don't always get it right the first, second, or thirtieth time, neither do we ourselves as God's children.  Just how often do you fail, do you have the wrong attitude, gossip about another, make that same wrong choice, ...sin?  
Unles…

Family Read Alouds

Does your family enjoy reading books together?  Ours sure does!  Reading through a book together, a chapter or so a night, has become a wonderful "habit" for our family.

Some of our favorites that we've read together are:
Charlotte's WebStuart LittleThe Little House on the Prairie SeriesThe Chronicles of NarniaThe HobbitThe Ralph S. Mouse seriesThe Five Little Peppers and How They GrewThe Paddington Bear series
We have just started reading Heidi and we're all loving it!  Some of the books we've read are also new to me, but many I've read before and am loving them all over again.  Heidi is one of the latter.  I'd forgotten what a great story it is and it's really fun to read out loud.  We are planning to attend a local little theatre production of Heidi later this month, so I thought this would be a great way to prepare for that.  
I have tons more on my list of those I still want us to read together.  It doesn't matter that my children are ge…

The Weekly Plan {Jan 14th}

It's one of those weeks, y'all.  One where everything needs to be done: grocery shopping, ironing, the whole house cleaned and straightened up, you-name-it.  I feel like I haven't been very motivated since the holidays to get back on track with a regular schedule, but am just continually playing catch-up.  Hopefully this week will be the week where I'm back on track!

It's always motivating when company is coming, right?  And we have a friend from Alabama coming this weekend for a visit.  Having company and hosting parties seems to work the best for us to get things done around here...ha!

And here's what's cooking this week:

Monday:Beef & Noodles

Tuesday:Moms Night Out with my homeschool mama peeps!  Whoo hoo!!  Vince and the kiddos will likely have pizza:)

Wednesday:Tostadas (you may think this is a boring meal that we have too often, but it's such a quick meal, perfect for our Wednesday nights and the kids LOVE it)

Thursday: Meeting friends for dinn…

The Weekly Wrap-Up {2nd Semester Begins}

So today wraps up our first week of school since the holidays.  Boy, was I ever ready to get back to some kind of schedule.  And I must say it went so much more smoothly than I thought it would.  I didn't schedule  too heavy of a load, but I didn't go light either and the kids did well.
I wondered how their attitudes would be with us not doing the 3rd quarter co-op with our homeschool group (it started today), but even though there is a bit of disappointment they have been positive about it and I am grateful.  
This week we got right back in the groove with math, language arts, history, science, Bible, and music/piano. The Princess' new math book is not yet in so we supplemented with free printable worksheets online and exercises on her new Christmas gift--a nabi.  She is also really enjoying her new TLP literature book, Pippi Longstocking.  
Mr. B wasn't quite as enthusiastic this week, partly because he is still recovering from being sick last weekend.  He lay down …

The Daily Race

As I sit here trying to put some thoughts down for the Thirty for 30 challenge, I just feel somewhat depleted. It has been an incredibly challenging week as a mother and I have failed more than I've succeeded--at least that's how it feels.

And, in all honesty, I have also failed some in this Bible reading challenge.  I have already been playing a bit of catch-up in my reading goal.

But each day is a fresh start and I am determined to meet my goals!

Determination: this is the character trait that my children are learning about this month in their classes at our church.  We've also been talking about it at home each morning before beginning our homeschool lessons.  It's a great word!

Here's the definition for Determination that they're learning: "Deciding it's worth it to finish what you've started."  Pretty powerful stuff, huh?  How often do we need to remind ourselves of that?

The verse that they learned this past week to go along with their…

Visiting The Hermitage

Yesterday we took a completely impromptu field trip--yep, one that wasn't in my weekly plan!  But we just couldn't pass it up.  I've been wanting to visit The Hermitage for a while now, but admission for my family would cost over $50 and that's just kind of pricey.  However, it turns out that once a year, on January 8th, they offer free admission for everyone in honor of the the Battle of New Orleans (the battle that made Jackson famous).  So instead of following my "plan" and going ice skating today we switched it up and made a trip to Nashville yesterday to The Hermitage instead.  It was totally worth it!  Here are some pictures from our day there: 
On the front porch
A bench on the front porch
Gorgeous doors on the side of the mansion
On the back terrace of the mansion
The rear of the mansion  (I wish we had been allowed to photograph the inside,  nearly everything was original--really beautiful!)
The lovely grounds
More beautiful farmland around the mansion
Learni…

A Mid-Year Homeschool Evaluation

Well, we are about halfway through our school year and that always puts me in a reflective mood.

The Princess just wrapped up her first math workbook for the year and she really struggled toward the end-- should possibly switch curriculum?  Mr. B is getting a better foundation with his grammar using a different curriculum than I had with The Princess at that age, but is he getting the same good foundation with spelling?

The beginning of the 2nd semester is a good time to make a switch if you need to and I've certainly considered it strongly, but in the end I've decided to stay the course.  After doing some browsing of other math and language arts curriculum I think we need to stick with what we started this year.  I will do more research toward the end of the year to see if I think The Princess needs a change and I'm almost 100% sure I'll be moving on to something new in language arts for Mr. B.  For right now, however, we're trucking on.

We fell a bit behind in…

The Weekly Plan {Jan 7th}

It's that time--time to get back into a good routine and schedule.  The holidays sort of blow routine out of the water, don't they?  And I am truly a schedule-oriented person and so are my kiddos.  We all do so much better when we have a regular schedule.

I'm sure this week will have its challenges though because going from no routine to back-to-school routine is always a transition:)  Having our meals planned out will help make that transition go a little more smoothly.  I am even getting a game plan ready for our lunches (since I'm not so great at planning lunches and all).

The kiddos have had some sickness this past week/weekend.  It's still hanging on with Mr. B.  But hopefully he'll be back to normal soon and sickness won't hamper any of the fun we've got planned this week.

Lunch List:
-{leftover} chili w/grilled cheeses
-{leftover} white beans & ham
-pigs in blankets
-cheese roll-ups
-Totino's pizza (yes, this is fast and easy junk food that…

One Thousand Gifts {a fresh start}

I am so ashamed of myself.  I have no excuse.

I haven't stopped to count the many gifts in my life since ....August.  Yep, that was five months ago.

Rather than condemning myself though I'm giving myself some grace and starting again.  It's a New Year, right?  I love fresh starts!

The gifts never stop.


0591.snow flurries~we haven't seen a lot, but I love, love, love the ones we have seen

0592.having my parents and sister living close by~even when we get on each other's nerves there is a bond there that cannot be compared

0593.having a real date night with my husband, stuffing ourselves at the Olive Garden and laughing so hard together at a movie about parenting~can't be beat!

0594. hanging up a brand new {Susan Branch} calendar for the brand new year~pure joy!

0595.whispers in my ear from my son about the special gift he wants to buy his sister for her birthday~precious

0596.new goals for the new year~new beginnings

0597. having a full tank of gas in my car

0598. th…

Reading Goals for 2013

It's January so I have, of course, had new goals on my mind.  One of those goals is all about reading.

I LOVE to read~I am a total book nut.  Just ask anyone who's ever helped us move--we get more comments about how many boxes of books we have than anything else:)  I just can't help myself.  And, frankly, I don't want to.  A book addiction is not a bad thing, right?  And I'm more than happy to pass along my book addiction to my kiddos.  They love books, too!  We are always having a shortage of bookshelf space at our house.

When it comes to setting reading goals for myself, I've never really ever been specific.  And I certainly don't want to set goals that make me feel bogged down if I don't meet them.  However, I do want to track my reading this year.  I plan to keep a book log throughout the year.  I found this adorable one that I'm printing off and keeping handy to write in.  I also found these and these for the kiddos.  I also want to track th…

Well Begun, Although Not Half Done {yet}

You know that saying by Aristotle, "Well begun is half done"?  That's how I'm feeling today.  It's January 3rd and I feel like this year is "well begun" ....although certainly not half done--nor do I want it to be.  I'd actually like to slow down time a little if I could.  Wouldn't that be nice?  It's not reality though and so I am learning to prioritize and use my time more wisely.

I am on Day 2 of the Thirty for 30 challenge and I feel that is "well begun" also.  After prayer and consideration I have decided to go for it and tackle the plan to read my Bible in 90 days.  I've read my Bible through several times, but it's always taken me a year+ to do it before.  I've had the 90-day plan printed off for a while now and tucked into my daily planner though.  And since it's a new year I want to try my best to do it.

Each time I've read through the Bible new things jump out to me.  It's like that with anything…