Friday, January 31, 2014

Playing, Praying, and Hobbies

Photo: The life of a little brother to two big sisters.. Don't worry , Luke , I still think your tough.;)

"Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel." Rachel Jankovic 

"It may be as religious of an act for a mother to romp with her children at one time as it is to pray with them the next..." Elizabeth Prentiss.(Stepping Heavenward)

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Home school Update{The I survived the Annual Meltdown Edition!}

Welcome! Be sure to enter the giveaway for some Tropical Traditions coconut oil!

Oh, home schooling. It's wonderful, exhausting, stressful, joyful, irritating, and precious all at the same time. I wouldn't trade spending all day with my kids and giving them a Christian based education for anything, but that doesn't mean I don't have my bad days sometimes.

Take, for example, the yearly winter meltdown. No, my kids don't have a yearly meltdown(there's are a bit more periodic than that!) 

No, I'm talking about my yearly melt down that happens about every winter. The one where I sit on the couch sobbing to my husband questioning every decision we've ever made. Generally he ends up comforting me and sending me out of the house sans kids, which helps. This time he did that, plus we also sat down and tried to figure out some ways to make home schooling go a little bit smoother.

One of the things we did was we rejoined classical conversations, that way the kids can get around other kids their age and I can get around other home schooling moms. I discovered this year that while I really enjoyed the break from having places to be, I also was feeling a little bit cut off from other people who home school. Thankfully, we were able to go back and the kids have been thrilled with this change! 

Some other changes I've made for this year have been, prioritizing read aloud books and waking up earlier so I can spend some quiet time with the Lord and hopefully have time to exercise before the kids wake up. I've been amazed how much this helps get the day off to a much better start!

Home schooling is a wonderful blessing, and I'm so thankful for the opportunity to be here learning alongside my children, but it is also incredibly difficult sometimes. 

What are some ways you've found to help make home schooling easier?

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Christmas in January, Menu & Goals

This past weekend we were (finally!) able to celebrate Christmas with Erik's family. We had a lot of fun eating Korean food and opening gifts.

Anna and Lily are completely in love with the movie Frozen, so my in laws got the girls Princess Anna and Queen Elsa dresses(they were beyond thrilled.) 

On Saturday afternoon Erik and his dad took Jack and Max to a car show in St. Louis while the girls, Luke, my mother in law and I stayed home and spent some time together.

After my in laws left, Erik sent me out alone for a few hours while he put the kids to bed and fed them dinner. I married a good man. :)

Later that night I got to talk to my best friend for over 2 hours, we hadn't talked in about a month, and even when it was time to hang up we still had a million things still to discuss(this is very normal for us. :)

Sunday was spent going to church, and resting. Definitely the best way to spend Sundays!



Breakfast- Peanut butter toast, eggs & blueberry muffins, pumpkin oatmeal x 2, breakfast cookies

Lunch- peanutbutter & Jelly , Grilled cheese, Stirfry noodles, leftovers

Dinner- Refried beans with rice, chips & cheese, and carrot sticks
Homemade pizza with salad
pancakes & eggs
baked chicken with potatoes & broccoli



Get up by 5:30 Monday-Friday.
Go to bed by 10(see previous goal).
Exercise 5 times this week.
Finish Voyage of the Vikings & Milly Molly Mandy with the kids and begin reading My Father's Dragon.
Continue memorizing Philippians 2:1-2 with the kids(we are working on memorizing Philippians 2:1-18.)

How was everyone else's weekend? Anyone got anything yummy on their menu? I feel like I've gotten in a little bit of a rut lately with food, and I need inspiration! :)

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blueberry Baked Granola

Granola is one of my favorite breakfasts to serve to my family. It's filling, nutritious, delicious, and it's ready first thing in the morning. All wonderful qualities in a breakfast food, especially on busy mornings! Recently I have been experimenting with my usual recipe, adding in different fruits and nuts, and this variation is by far my family's favorite!

Read the rest over at Raising Homemakers!

Targeting Trouble Spots

My hearts desire is to be a kind and loving wife and mom. I really want my kids to look back on their childhood with happy memories of a happy and cheerful mom.

I'm not talking about being fake or inappropriately cheerful. I certainly want to show my kids that I'm human and in need of grace just like they are. I'm talking about the kind of cheer that Proverbs speaks of when talking about the Proverbs 31 woman. The one who has kindness on the tip of her tongue, and laughs at the time to come.

I've noticed that I have a tendency to get irritable, and sometimes downright angry, when certain things aren't going the way I had envisioned. I call these times trouble spots. I've noticed getting the kids out the door in order to be somewhere on time(especially first thing in the morning) can bring out my dark side. 

Another trouble spot for me is during what I like to call "transition" times. The times when I'm getting the kids back into the house from going somewhere. It doesn't matter if it's coming home from the grocery store, coming home from church, or even coming home from a wonderful outing at the park, something about getting everyone inside and making sure their shoes are in the right spot can really bring out my frustration.

Obviously, I don't want to be like this, so I've taken some steps to help me target some of these trouble spots.

1. Pray! Seriously I can't stress this one enough. A lot of times when we're driving home from somewhere I'll pray for grace to speak kindly to my kids. It's amazing how simply praying to have a better attitude works!

2. Keep life simple. I lead a pretty simple life(says the homeschooling mom to five children under the age of six.) What I mean is, I say no to a lot of outside commitments, and we stay home most of the time. We do get out of the house, but for the most part it's for play dates on Fridays where things are pretty casual and we don't have to be there at a specific time. Get rid of stuff. Clutter stresses me out, so the less stuff we have the simpler life is around here.

3. Do everything you don't want to do first. When I wake up in the morning the first thing I want is a cup of coffee, and some time to wake up. However, on busy mornings I have found that it's helpful to get showered and dressed first, and then drink some coffee or take it with me in the van. The same goes for the kids, if I make sure they are dressed all the way to their shoes and coats and then feed them breakfast I find that I'm way less likely to start snapping at them.

4. Train them at different times. This is something I need to get better about, honestly. I have friends who teach their kids how to get ready to go somewhere(they call it getting in the van 101), that way when it actually is time to go somewhere their kids know exactly what they're suppose to be doing.

5. Be willing to say you're sorry. It's just a fact, we are going to mess up sometimes and get angry when things aren't going the way we had planned. I wish this wasn't the case, but it's true. But it's also a wonderful opportunity to point our kids to Jesus, and remind them that we aren't perfect and need Jesus's help to obey just as much as they do.

Anyone else struggle with these trouble spots? What have you found to be helpful?

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Replacing the Lies

For about as long as I can remember I've struggled with this little voice in the back of my mind that whispers,"You aren't good enough."

When I was younger and had moved to different schools I was convinced nobody liked me.

When I was a little older, I not only convinced myself that no one liked me but that I was also fat and ugly.

As I've gotten married and had kids I've continued to believe these things, but also added more lies to the mix.

"I don't know enough about the Bible, so I shouldn't be leading this ministry."

"I'm a bad mom, these kids probably would've been better off with someone else. I'm failing them."

"I'm so disorganized, and absent minded. Erik probably wishes he was married to someone else."

And on and on it goes. The little voice that's constantly comparing myself to others, that's wishing I could be more attractive, or organized, or more patient is almost constantly with me. These thoughts and feeling are almost second nature to me.

Perhaps I don't always voice these fears, but after so long of telling myself these lies I've just believed them.

Thankfully a couple of years ago, after I had shared these insecurities of mine with a friend, they looked me straight in the eye and said,"You know that these are all lies straight from the enemy, right?"

I had never thought much about my insecurities from a spiritual standpoint. I just simply believed that this was who I was.  That conversation with my friend was a huge turning point in my life.

I'm telling the lies to leave. I'm asking God to remind who I am in Christ.

I don't want to be so caught up in this tangled mess of lies that I miss out on God's power. Yes, I'm a mess. I'm a sinner. But I've been set free. I am redeemed, and God loves me. Not only does he love me, but he delights in me(Zephaniah 3:17.)

I'm asking God to replace the lies with truth. That is where I want to rest.

"Little children you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world." 1 John 4:4

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Creative Ways to Sneak in Vegetables

So, um, if you were thinking I was writing this post with kids in mind...I wasn't. I've been blessed to have pretty good eaters who are actually not too picky. Sure, Jack doesn't like broccoli(unless it's in  soup form), but he likes plenty of other green vegetables that I find it difficult to get too stressed out about that fact.

Unfortunately, I was writing this post with my husband and myself in mind. Shortly after we got married my mother in law asked me how I liked cooking for Erik since he was so picky about food. I remember being confused. I hadn't even noticed my new husband was picky, because as luck(?) would have it we were both picky about the exact same kinds of food, mainly vegetables.

However, now that we eat primarily real, whole foods, we've definitely been convinced of the necessity of getting more vegetables in our diet. It's been an interesting road so far, but here are some things that have worked.

1. Green Smoothies- Seriously these are such an amazing phenomenon. I was skeptical when I first heard about them, but seriously they taste great. If you make them right you can't even taste the spinach, and you think you're drinking a fruit smoothie. Erik's favorite is made with 3 oranges, a cup and half of spinach, 2 cups of ice, a splash of vanilla, and a little bit of honey to taste. I prefer ones made with blueberries and strawberries, but I do enjoy the orange one occasion.

2. Chicken Stock- Homemade broth is suppose to be really good for you, and I almost always have some stashed away in the freezer. I usually let the chicken bones simmer in a huge pot of water for about 24 hours,  but about 3 hours before the time is up I'll add in several onions and carrots. I don't prepare the broth for the freezer until it has cooled, and by that point I feel pretty comfortable in thinking that most of the nutrients from the vegetables have been pulled out so I don't feel guilty throwing the carrots and onions away.

3. Pulling Out Veggies at the Last minute- Admittedly, this one will make me sound a little pathetic, but I'll go ahead and confess it anyways. A lot of times when I'm making soups or stew, or really anything in the crock pot, I'll put in all the vegetables that the recipe calls for, but I wont slice anything too small. That way when it's time to eat I can simply ladle out all the vegetables I don't enjoy eating. Yes, I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I do this, but I have to believe that I'm getting more nutrition this way than I would if I didn't put any vegetables in my soups.

As time has passed, I've noticed that I actually am starting to enjoy vegetables more and more. Who knows, maybe one day I'll be crazy enough to actually leave the onions in my soup.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Favorite Links

Here are some of my favorite posts that I've read this past week.

Food is not Your God at Stacy Makes Cents. I've been thinking about this a lot recently, and this only helped solidify things in my mind. :)

Are you WITH your children Actively or Passively from Sally Clarkson's I take Joy.

Parents please Remove your Crying Children @ Beautiful Life of Joy.

Actively Engaged in the Abortion Battle{a pastor's plea} @ World Magazine by Matt Chandler

How do you get up Early when your kids are up all night? from the Girltalk blog.

For the Weary Blogger @ Gretchen Louise

What's everyone else been reading this past week? 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Books to Read in 2014

I love books. My perfect day consists of hanging out at Barnes and Noble and drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee. It would all be free too, since I'm talking about my perfect day and all.

But since that's not ever going to happen, and since Erik and I are on a mission to become debt free, the library is quickly becoming my new favorite place to get books. Sure I might have to wait a few weeks before I can read the book I'm so excited about, and I can't bring coffee in the library, but it's all FREE! That right there makes all the waiting and lack of coffee consuming totally worth it. :)

I really enjoy reading books that challenge me and encourage me in the season of life I'm in. I love reading fiction too, but I find that once I start in on a good story I can't put it down, and that's not always the best situation to put myself in with 5 small children who are almost constantly needing something(remind me to tell you about the time I read the Hunger Games. It wasn't pretty.)

With all that being said, here are some books I'm hoping on reading this year. I've already ordered some of them from the library too, so maybe it won't feel like there's too much of a wait. ;)

Large Family Logistics by Kim Brenneman

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

 Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson

Joni and Ken: an untold Love Story Joni Earekson Tada

Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh Demoss

His Needs Her Needs by Willard F Harley jr

What did you Expect? Paul Tripp

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

I think that's a pretty good list so far. :) I'm reading Explicit Gospel right now, and I'm really enjoying it. And as soon as the library gets Large Family Logistics I'll be starting in on that one(I need all the help I can get in this area!)

What's everyone else planning on reading? Any books you'd recommend?

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow Days!

Yesterday morning I woke up to a yard full of beautiful snow. By the time the day was over we had gotten over a foot of the stuff! Snow really seems to bring out my inner child. I don't remember a single winter growing up that wasn't spent sledding, building snow forts, and attempting to make snow men(I'm terrible at making those things!)

Three of my kids seem to share my enthusiasm for snow too. Anna especially becomes like a little puppy, begging to go back outside and only coming back inside when we tell her its time. Max, however, HATES snow. He hates being cold, so snow is like his nemesis or something. A memory I'm still cracking up about from last month is that of my dad pulling the kids on a sled and Max throwing a huge fit yelling,"I don't like it!" All while Lily, Jack, and Anna are having the time of their lives. To each there own, I guess. :)

So yesterday and today have been spent wonderfully snowed in. Today has actually been too cold to be out playing, since it's below zero, but we made sure to enjoy yesterday as best as we could. We've spent the last two days drinking plenty of hot chocolate(and plenty of coffee for me!), baking cinnamon rolls and red velvet cookies(snow also puts me in the mood to bake), and watching (possibly) too many movies. But hey the kids had never seen Lady and the Tramp or I Love Lucy reruns, so obviously we had to remedy that, and it's not like we're doing much else right now. :)

Schools around us have been cancelled today, and they probably are going to be tomorrow too, but since it's perfectly safe to walk to the kitchen table, I'm planning on starting school back up tomorrow(aren't I so mean?). We pretty well took the entire month off in December due to the fact that we passed around sickness for the first couple of weeks, and then the week before Christmas we were travelling and visiting family.

I hope everyone's staying safe(and warm) in this weather!

Anyone else out there love snow as much as me and Anna? Or are you all more like Max;)?


Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 Highlights + Psalm 16:6 printable

Favorite memories from 2013...

Photo: God's given me an amazing wife and another son! Say hello to Luke!

Welcoming Baby Luke in March was definitely the biggest high light.:) Although, to be honest with you, transitioning to five kids was a really hard adjustment for me. Luke was a really fussy baby the first six weeks or so, and usually would just lay in my arms and cry until 2 o'clock in the morning, then he'd wake up a few times more in the night to nurse, and then everyone else would be up needing me almost as soon as the sun came up. It was definitely an exhausting time, and a time to rely more fully on the Lord. 

Watching the kids welcome and dote on their new brother has also been a wonderful blessing.

About a month before Luke was born, someone surprised us with a gift certificate to a hotel and a gift card to Red Lobster. We were able to get a night away, and relax a little before we welcomed a new baby(little did we know how much we would need that!:)

In August we were able to attend a Cardinal game with Erik's family and my family. I don't know if we'd all been together since Erik and I got married(eight years ago!) We had so much fun, and the Cardinals even won. :)

Surviving my first year of home schooling was a pretty big deal...

As was beginning a new school year with a first grader and a kindergartner.

Watching these five crazies become best friends has been such a blessing.

There's a lot more I could post. The road trip the kids and I took a couple of weeks ago while Erik was on a business trip, the apple orchard, Friday play dates, learning to budget money(not necessarily a fun experience, but definitely necessary), the lady at the grocery store who randomly paid for my over hundred dollars worth of groceries, and plenty more. 2013 was a year full of blessings,  but certainly with some trials thrown in as well. I'm looking forward to the new year!

{print this free here!}

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Being Joyful

"Look, Mama! There's my favorite word!" My six year old exclaimed as we walked through the aisles in Target.

"Oh, yeah?" I said distractedly as I continued to glance over my list. "What word is your favorite?"

"Joy!" Jack said excitedly as he proudly pointed to a Christmas display in the store.

I smiled to myself, thinking how fitting it was that Jack's favorite word was joy, seeing as how he's typically very sweet, helpful, and yes, joyful most of the time.

Me, not so much. I let the mountains of laundry, the stacks of dishes, and the never ending to do lists overwhelm me. I hurriedly rush through tasks, almost annoyed(ok sometimes very annoyed) that once again the people in this house have dared get another outfit dirty.

There's been a lot of talk around the blog-o sphere over having a "word" as you begin the New Year. I wasn't really planning on giving my year a word since it sounds similar to having New Years resolutions. Almost a set up for failure.

But the more I've thought about it, the more the word joy has been brought to my mind.


Joyful while folding laundry. Joyful while making breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Joyful in the mundane. Joyful when Erik has to work late or be out of town for a couple of days. Joyful during home school. And yes, even joyful when I'm sick, sleep deprived, and hormonal.

Oh, I'll mess up, for sure. But that's where grace comes in to play.

I can think of few things that would bless my family more than the gift of a joyful home. This year, I pray that God will cultivate in me a heart that joyfully serves my family.

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