April 30, 2013

What's for Supper at Our House Tonight

It has been, as both the Weather Channel and Winnie the Pooh describe it, a rather blustery day at our place!  I've been putting wood in the stove all day...which makes me somewhat sad because I had just completely cleaned the thing from top to bottom, and now we're dirtying it all up again!  Ah well...such is life.  I have decided to change our menu to go along with the blustery weather.  So tonight at our house we're having a family favorite...baked potatoes with chili!  (It's my favorite because it's super easy to prepare!)  Below is my almost ridiculously easy chili recipe that I thought I would share with you.

McCormick's Chili

1 pkg. McCormick Chili Seasoning Mix (our family prefers the mild)
1 lb. ground beef 
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained - although, I must say 1 quart of home grown canned tomatoes makes this recipe completely out of this world!
1 can (15 oz)  chili beans
1 pkg. frozen corn (again, home grown frozen corn is amazing!)

Brown the meat in a large skillet.  Drain grease.  Stir in seasoning mix, tomatoes, beans and corn.  Bring to a boil.  Cover.  Reduce heat and simmer at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  (I usually simmer mine for about an hr on very low heat to let my tomatoes boil down.)  Serve by itself or over a baked potato.  Top with cheese, sour cream and onions.

Yummy!  I can hardly wait for supper tonight!  Hopefully, we survive our blustery day better than Winnie the Pooh did!  He was missing the chili on his blustery day, I'm sure!  Happy Tuesday, All!  
 Wishing you a day full of blessings,

Counting God's Little Blessings - 3 Every Day:
55.  The prayers of my kiddos - I love to hear them pray!
56.  My little man Gavin holding his arms up for me to pick him up!  
57.  The unique creativity God gives each and every person!

April 29, 2013

Joyful Mom Monday - Be a Friend!

Counting God's Little Blessings
I find that one of the best things that I can do to pick up my spirits when life as a mother seems doomed to utter failure is to find a good spiritual friend!  I am blessed to have many friends.  They are not all mothers, and they do not need to be.  Some are my age, some are older, and some are younger, but I find that whenever I am with one of these sweet friends, I walk away encouraged and refreshed...even if I never had a chance to tell them all of my failures as a mom!  There is something special about a friendship whose bond is the Holy Spirit and prayer.  I hope you all have at least one friend who sharpens you spiritually - who causes you to walk away ready to try again to be - not a better mom or wife or co-worker - but to be a better Christian.  Because that is, ultimately, where all things rise and fall!

If you do not have a friend like one of those, I would encourage you with a few things.

1. Pray.  I prayed for 5 years before I found my first friend who challenged me in this way.   Looking back, I see where part of it was my fault, but I also believe that God was using that time to show me how to find complete contentment in His friendship.  He is our best friend, and He will be everything we need.  Use this time to draw close to Him - the Friend who will never fail.

2.  Seek.  Once you see your need for a friend like this, I believe you will begin to see people who can encourage you in your spiritual growth.  Do not just look at your age group or other moms.  If you cannot find someone who can encourage you, look for someone that you can encourage.  Being with someone whose heart's desire is to grow as a Christian is always an encouragement even if you are the one leading the way.  

3.  Make time.  You must decide that this is something you are willing to make time for.  There have been times when I have done without a hair appointment (BIG DEAL for me!) because I knew I needed coffee with a friend more.  There have been times that I have paid for a babysitter because I knew it would be worth the time and money!  There have been times that I have said yes to my friends even when it was inconvenient because I knew they had done and would do the same for me.  You must decide that a spiritual friend is important enough to give back to.  Do not be a taker only!

4.  Be discerning.  We are talking of a friend who will encourage you in your walk with God.  Friends whose main topic of conversation is fashion, shopping, hobbies, vacations, etc. are friends who may leave you more disheartened than ever.  They tend to be the friends who have you coming home hating your life because it is nowhere close to as glamorous as theirs.  We can be friends with many people, and we need friendships of all kinds, but we need to make sure that our closest friends - the ones we spend the most time with - are spiritual encouragers.  My friends and I talk about all kinds of things in our lives, and we even shop while we do all this talking, but I know our talk will always come back sooner than later to the focus of our hearts - loving God.  

I pray you have friends like these.  They are so important.  They have become one of my most wonderful comforts and have truly enabled me to become a more joyful mom.  It has taken me a long time to find and develop these relationships, and so I do understand where you are if you are struggling right now.  God will provide what you need most in His time, and you will be blessed with joy when He brings those spiritual encouragers into your life.  Thank you to all my sweet friends who have helped me grow in more ways than you will ever know!

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

April 27, 2013

Homeschool Journal - 4/26

In my life this week...
I have had a fairly boring life this week - well, as boring as it can get with five kiddos and a husband.  I am mentally (and physically) preparing for the month of May which has become quite ridiculously busy!  So, I will enjoy the boring for now.  I'm sure it won't stay that way for long!
In our homeschool this week...
Again, not too much out of the ordinary happening.  Evvie is still working on her book challenge.  Andrew has begun his new chapter book.  We took a little extra time in math to drill addition, subtraction and multiplication facts.  Because this is definitely one of our weak areas, I am trying to put more consistent time into it so that Evvie and Andrew can improve their speed in math facts. The Right Start math curriculum that we use provides us with dozens of games that we can play to make learning math facts more fun.  We just need to take more time to do them.  
Helpful homeschool advice...
Don't be afraid to try something different.  It may turn out to be the best thing you ever did!
Places we're going and people we're seeing...
We were able to go to watch our church's high school perform their murder mystery play!  It was a fun evening, and we saw many of our friends put on a wonderful performance! 
My favorite thing this week was...
Finally getting a chance to sit in my lovely brand new (to me) lawn chairs with their comfy new cushions (which I found on an amazing sale!!!)!   The sunshine with a light breeze was exactly what my spirits needed.
My kiddos favorite thing this week was...
Taking our nature walk.  We live on the edge of the desert, and to be honest, sometimes the nature hunts become a little boring.  There is lots of sagebrush, a few small birds, and every now and then a fly, bee or butterfly, but this week, we found two different kinds of desert flowers and a robin. Evvie also caught a white western butterfly in a glass cup so that she could observe and draw it into her journal!  

Things I'm working on...
Catching up on the mending...UGH!!!  I wonder if anyone would really miss any of it if it just mysteriously disappeared.
I'm cooking...
On Thursday night, we fired up the grill for the first time this season!  We grilled chicken breasts that had been marinated in Italian salad dressing.  Such a simple recipe, but it is always delicious and moist!  Tomorrow, we are going to grill hamburgers!  Making the most of this spring weather!
I'm grateful for...
My hard working man.  He did a big project for me today, and I am so thankful it isn't hanging over my head anymore, and he's thankful that he won't hear me ask him to do it again! :)
I'm praying for...
The self-discipline I need to pace myself, to be organized and to prepare ahead so that I do not overwhelm my entire family as busyness comes our way!
Praying you all have a wonderful day of worship tomorrow and a great beginning to your new week!  

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

April 23, 2013

Soft Oatmeal Cookies (Even When You Bake Them Too Long!)

Whew!  I have been up to my eyeballs cleaning my bedroom - yes, unfortunately, you read right!  My bedroom has been sorely neglected, and so I dug in today!  It's a good feeling to wipe off the 3 inches of dust though!  Might be an even better feeling if it never had a chance to collect that much dust, but you can't be perfect at everything, right?  Please tell me there is someone out there who can relate!!!  :)  

Anyway, the newbie and I are hanging out right now, and so I am also trying to type with him in my lap.  I did want to leave a recipe today.  I have been on a baking spree lately, and I have particularly been on a mission to find a soft yummy cookie.  You know, the kind that are soft even if you accidentally leave them in the oven a little too long.  Not that I ever do that, of course!  Well, I believe I found one!  These are scrumptious and chewy!  I hope you have a chance to click on the picture below for the recipe so that you can bake them for your family and friends this week!  I am off to finish up the bedroom.  I am almost finished and will enjoy sleeping in a dust free bedroom tonight!  It's the small things, right?  Have a wonderful Tuesday evening! 

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

April 22, 2013

Joyful Mom Monday - Being Joyful in the Midst of Sinners

Counting God's Little Blessings
Do you ever become frustrated with the misbehavior of your children?  Do you get tired of correcting the same problems over and over again?  Do you feel embarrassed when your children misbehave in front of others?  Well, if you're a real live mom then, of course, you have experienced all of these!  They come with the territory of motherhood, and these experiences can be true joy stealers for us moms!   I have mentioned several times that our mom's group at our church has been going through the book Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids With the Love of Jesus.  I have learned a lot - a whole lot - not only as a mom but as a Christian from this study.  As we were going through chapter 3 last month, I was struck by a sentence that has completely changed my perspective on the misbehavior of my children.  

"...everytime something unexpected happens (referring to misbehavior of children), it is once again God approaching her (the mom) in love to show her the glories of the gospel and beauties of grace." (parenthesis mine)

In other words, I (the mom) can be thankful that my child is acting this way right now because it is an opportunity from God to address my heart response to my child and then the heart of my child.  This is an opportunity that I have to pour the gospel once more into his life, to show him once more that He is a sinner who needs Jesus to save Him from his sin.  This is something that God has allowed me to see so that I can deal with the issue properly.  

Don't get me wrong, it still becomes tiring as I deal with the sinfulness of my kiddos, but I can now (usually) breathe a quick prayer of thanks that God is giving me another opportunity to love my child by showing him his need for Jesus. It is also a wonderful way to deal with the embarrassment we moms may feel when our children show their sinful natures in front of others.  I can honestly say to someone who wants to make sure that I have seen how terrible my kids are acting that I am thankful I am seeing this now so that I can take care of it and so that I can have yet another opportunity to tell my children the good news of the gospel!

So, sweet Mom, the next time you are confronted once again with your child's sin nature, be reminded that this is a chance to give thanks for God's grace.  He is giving you an opportunity to see into your child's heart and to bring to their attention the need they have for Jesus!  Who would have thought?  We can be joyful moms despite the constant misbehavior that may seem to abound around us.  By the way, addressing our child's heart problem can be a great opportunity to check our own hearts.  We need Jesus just as much as the 5 year old does...maybe more!  I pray this truth will sink deep into your heart and allow you to be a more joyful mom this week!  Happy Monday!

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

April 19, 2013

Homeschooling Journal - 4/19

In my life this week...
I have let myself slow down and enjoy.  I haven't accomplished any extras, but the house is clean, the laundry is caught up, the school work for the week is finished, and I have enjoyed my afternoons doing a little extra reading.  I am practicing madly on my violin for a rehearsal that I have tomorrow morning.  I am terribly afraid that I (the thirty-something one) am going to look quite foolish as I play with the elementary and high school violinists!  I am praying there is one other adult there to play!  That would be very comforting!
In our homeschool this week...
It has been pretty much business as usual...progressing in the little things.  We haven't done anything super fun or exciting, but it has been an enjoyable week.  Evvie and Andrew look forward to American History as we read through This Country of Ours.  Andrew has almost finished his first small chapter book and has his next one picked out.  Evvie has almost completed 2 out of 4 of the books I asked her to finish by the end of our 12 week term.  Garrett and Madelyn are beginning to read their blends more and more quickly which means they are wording reads more and more quickly!  I can't believe I am almost a mom of 4 readers!!! 

My favorite thing this week was...
As we were reading our daily poetry, Evvie brought me a poem that she had found in one of our anthologies.  She asked me to read to her "because I like to hear you read."  The name of the poem..."When Mother Reads Aloud."  I'm glad I have a daughter who is as sentimental as I am!
My kiddos favorite thing this week...
Drawing....or attempting to anyway....our ostriches.  We have been going through It's Fun to Draw Safari Animals.  The kiddos were delighted to draw an ostrich because we have also been reading Swiss Family Robinson.  Speaking of is something that I have never excelled in.  If you have some book recommendations for the very beginning beginner, I'd love to hear.  I have looked at several that people have recommended, and they are still too complicated.  The It's Fun to Draw series is simpler but somewhat cartoon-ish.  I would like to begin drawing more realistically.

Things I'm working on...
I am preparing to finish up most of my spring cleaning list next week.  Also, next week is the week I would like to bump up my exercise from 2 days each week to 5.  I don't mind the exercise, but for me, it truly is a sacrifice of time, but one that would be good for me.

I'm cooking...
As I type, I have this Strawberry Cream Cheese Cobbler cooking in the oven.  I hope it tastes as good as it looked when I popped it into the oven.  (FYI: I added 1/2 cup of sugar to the batter mix because we like sweet cobblers!)  I am attempting to cook a new dessert each Friday for our tea time.  Last week's was not considered very successful...hoping for better this week!
I'm praying for...
Our country and all the people in it who are hurting.  I am sincerely praying that the hearts of those who are our leaders will be softened and that the families in America will begin taking responsibility for their own lives instead of relying on the government to do so. 

Something I have my eye on...

What a blessed week it has been!  I am thankful for the love God shows me each day despite the many ways I fail Him.  God is good, and He delights in showing Himself to us!  Have a beautiful weekend!

Wishing you a day full of blessings,

April 18, 2013

Some Good Blog Reads

I have read several great posts by other bloggers this week, and because nothing wonderfully inspirational is coming to mind today, I thought I'd just pass a few of these along!  Hope you are all enjoying a beautiful Thursday.  The sunshine finally came back to visit us!  YAY for Vitamin D! :)  

How Grace Changes Our Days by the always inspiring Sally Clarkson!

Inspired Mothering from Andrea Birch at - an excellent reminder that we must follow the Holy Spirit's voice and our own maternal instincts as we parent.  What may be right or work for one family does not always work for another.

Top Time Management Secrets to Know - a great post for me because I am always rushing through things so that I can get to the next thing.  Stop and enjoy the moment!

25 Things Our Sons Need to Know about Manhood - I came across this letter Ann VosKamp wrote to her 18 year old son reminding him of the importance of purity and manhood.  A great post that I have marked to share with my boys in their future!

A Super Simple Way to Help Your School Age Child Have a Quiet Time Habit - an excellent idea that I would love to try with my older kiddos.  This also came at a time when I have been praying for how to help my children establish their own quiet time while making sure to keep it relational and not just another duty.  I'm so thankful that God hears our prayers and places things like this in my path!

I also found this yummy looking dessert on pinterest.  I confess I haven't tried it yet, but it looks so delicious I thought I'd pass it on!  Snickers Seven Layer Bars - tell me what can you not love about this?

I came across this fun idea from the Dating Divas for a date with the Mr.  Maybe you could try it?  

That should be enough reading to last awhile!  Happy Thursday!  Tomorrow's Friday! :)

Wishing you a day full of blessings,