I am wife to a magnificent man and mother to five wonderful children. Three of my children were born in the Northwest and two were born thousands of miles away in Liberia, West Africa. Birthplace is no matter, all of my children were born in my heart. This is our journey.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


We try to have some traditions at our house. You know, those things that our kids can look back on someday and say we always did fill in the blank. I don't know if you have noticed but after we have done something a few times the kids say "We always...". One of our traditions is that Steve almost always makes breakfast on Saturday mornings. Pancakes, biscuits and gravy, bacon, hashbrowns, eggs, you name it, he makes it. The kids ususally get in on some part of the action and I enjoy a morning off from making breakfast. I wish I had some pictures on the big breakfast fare but things have been busier lately and we haven't done the Saturday breakfast thing for awhile. It will happen soon but another tradition we have is that we try to have a large Sunday lunch meal. Both Steve and I remember this being a big part in our growing up memories.

We put a roast in the oven before church and the house smells so good when we get back. That's the thing I remember the most coming home from church as a kid. Not so much what we had, but more how the house smelled when we got there. Mmmm, it takes me back. This last Sunday we had roast, mashed potatoes, beef gravy, garden green beans and a mixed green salad. We all pitched in and got it together when we got home. I love the meals where everyone has had their hand in it. I hope family dinners are something my kids take with them when they start their own families.
What traditions do you have as a family?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Free Spring Break Entertainment

Being homeschoolers we spend a lot time at home. For spring break I wanted to do a few things to break the routine without breaking the bank. The rain has been a bit a damper on my plans but there is brand new library being built in town. So yesterday they coupled that with a birthday celebration our state is having.

The kids first listened to a storyteller tell two different stories. The first one he used a Tom Tom drum beat to keep it going. The kids talked about the stories throughout the day so it must have made an impression.

After the story telling there was a project for the kids to do. The new library will be decorating a portion of the new building with tiles made by kids.

It was a hit and they were not prepared for the turnout. As a result they did not have enough tiles but it looks like they will be doing a second day for the ones who didn't get to make one.

The kid got to press leaves and shells into the tiles and then press their handprints over top. I am anxious to see how the tiles look once they are finished and hanging in the new building. We are very excited about the library. The kids love to go get new books but the current selection is small. We venture out to a bigger library 30 minutes away from time to time but it's not very practical. Having a bigger library in town will be so nice. We have a silent ride home everytime we go and of course we had to pick up some books after the tile making.

Shortly after we got home a delivery man showed up with a package containing a prize from a giveaway I had won. My kids are thrilled since we don't normally buy this kind of soup. 24 cans of chicken and stars plus thermos and tote. It's part of their new low sodium kids line. Most everyone decided they wanted this soup for dinner last night. Steve cracked me up when he said it was pretty good but it just needed salt. Ha!
What are you doing for Spring Break?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where I don't teach them how to cut up a chicken.

It's not that I don't want to teach them. It's more of a I'm not good at it in a massacreing the chicken kind of way. My dad showed me how to do it before I got married. I am glad he did and if the need arises I can do it, it's just that the result is less than appetizing.

I'm not exactly sure what my problem is. There is an element of impatience involved but it seems there must be more to it.

Yesterday we decided that this particular avenue of training would be handled by Dad.

It was so tough to let go and let him do it but I managed somehow. While they were smiling and cutting I was found feet up on the couch, laptop in lap, taking a load off. Not a bad trade, eh?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Popcorn, hair and surgery.

I mentioned that we make popcorn for afternoon snacks. Lil likes to make it herself with palm oil and this is the scene you can see around here several times a week when daddy gets home. People milling about waiting for the fresh, warm popcorn. I shred some cheese on top and we get some protein too.

The yellow is not butter though we do add a little. The coloring comes from the palm oil and it so good.
Don't you want to go make some right now?

It looks like Steve is headed to surgery for his shoulder. Not the result we were hoping for but we are glad there is something they can do to fix it. On more happy news, do you see those pretty curls? For the first time since we adopted the twin seven years ago I was able to finally able to cornrow her hair. I have paid to have it cornrowed and added the hair myself before but never before was I able to actually do the cornrows myself. The sense of accomplishment was immense. I have tried and tried over the years and it was just so frustrating. 10 days ago I decided to search You Tube and found some tutorials and it just clicked. No more making appointments and now we can spend that $30 somewhere else!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Keeping it simple folks

Have you noticed that food labels are getting longer and longer? It seems like everyday we are getting futher and further from real food. Have you also noticed that behavior and illnesses in children seem to be on the rise? I think the two are connected.

I can give my children foods with different color dyes and watch a distinct change in personality within 30 minutes. Our party two days ago was a perfect example. The kids did great with their excitement and were able to remain orderely. However, within 30 minutes of the colored dessert foods coming out my kids got loud and started to climb the walls. One of my kids is highly emotional and prone to meltdowns. If I am giving her dyed and processed foods on a daily basis the girl doesn't have a fighting chance of getting ahold of herself. It doesn't seem fair to me to discipline her over and over when I am dispensing the very thing that causes the meltdowns to happen increasingly.

It's always better to eat as natural as possible and watch what goes into our bodies. Of course cooking at home is best on our bodies and our pocket books but you even have to be careful there. The dyes are in things you wouldn't even think of. Cake and muffin mixes, chips, crackers, macaroni and cheese and on and on. Boxed and processed foods are the culprit when we don't even realize it.

I have been trying to get off of the main snacks that we normally grab off the shelf to have available for snacktimes. Instead we have been purchasing things like nuts and popcorn(kernels) or making things like veggie plates, cornbread, boiled eggs and our own summer sausage. Snacks that quite honestly my kids like better and are more satisfied with until dinner.

We also are using things like vinegar and baking soda for cleaning. I still have other name brand cleaners in the cabinet for certain jobs but simple vinegar does the trick for so many things and it's so inexpensive.

When there is something within arms reach that I can do to make my daughter's life manageable I believe that I should do it. The occasional party with cupcakes and colored juice isn't going to harm her long term and we will still indulge in those times here and there. Everything in moderation, right? But what I am more concerned with is the day to day choices that we are making. Those choices that make my daughter have a horrible day or a good one that she really enjoyed (making it a day I enjoy as well).

And that's how we are living more naturally. This post was written for Parent Bloggers as part of a blog blast sponsored by SC Johnson's Natural Cleaners.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Food, folks and fun

Due to scheduling issues we had our St. Patrick Day party the day after the actual holiday. My neighbor and friend came up with some great ideas for the party. First we watched a short video about St. Patrick.

There were green refreshements of course.
Then we played a game called "Patrick, oh Patrick, where is your shamrock?"
The shamrock they passed to hide had the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit written on the three parts representing the trinity.

The kids then made shamrock hats in the same theme.

They were very diligent in getting their hats made.

After the hats were made we set out the treats while they worked on word finds.
Those cupcakes look good!
Those hats turned out pretty cute, too!

We are planning another party in about a month. We had fun learning about St. Patrick and can't wait to pick another topic. Here's to fun friends and learning!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

I'm not much of one for leprachauns and luck of the Irish but the real story of St. Patrick is much more compelling. My neighbor and I are throwing the kids a party tomorrow to learn about him and have some fun but for today we'll stick with these cupcake bites. Steve and I made them last night for him to share with his co-workers.

I got the instructions for these Cupcake bites from The Pioneer Woman. If you haven't ever read her blog, oh my, you should. It's a real treat. You can see the specific post on how to make these here. We made some over the weekend that were brown on bottom, pink on top with sprinkles which looked more like cupcakes. These we obviously made with a St. Patrick theme in mind. We also picked up some candy molds so they would come out smoother this time, which they did. It's candy coating all around similar to peanut butter cups but there is a creamy cakey center inside. I haven't tasted them with my blood sugar challenges but my family and friends say they are very good. Well one person said there were some involuntary noises escaping their mouth as he or she ate them but I'll let him or her retain their dignity by not revealing said person's name. Now go make some cupcake bites. You'll thank me.
And, you're welcome.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A job well done

I have talked before about our goal of growing more of our own food this year. One way people can help reduce the burden on the food industry and combat higher priced food is to grow their own. It's healthier and we like what our kids learn by growing their own food. So on Friday evening the weather was nice and we were all getting over being sick. Everyone was feeling a little housebound so we went out to the yard to work on our spring plans. Here Steve is beginning to show the kids where our Strawberry bed is going to go.

We make strawberry jam and freeze strawberries for strawberry lemonade every year. We realized that we have room for a nice strawberry bed so why not grow our own? The kids were into it and got started on the bed and other yard work. There are simply not enough hours in the day for Steve and I to get all of things we like to do accomplished so we are willing to compensate the kids for a job well done. These jobs fall under compensation.

Bub dug out the trench while Lij attempted to help.

Els worked on the placement of the scalloped stone while Elijah picked rocks out of the dirt. We had pulled it out of an old flower bed a couple years ago and had set it aside for this project making the supplies free.

The bed mimics a flower bed on the other side of the firepit making everything symmetrical. For you math folks my six year old would tell you that it is mirror symmetry. The strawberry plants will be here in a week and I can't wait to get them into the finished bed. Lil worked on removing some overgrown climbing rose bushes along the back fence.

Daddy showed her where to clear out while Em worked on picking up garbge out of the yard and collecting yard toys and garden tool to be put back into the garden shed.

Look at that tough girl and her clippers. She loves this kind of work. Honestly my kids are happier when they work and have purpose. They may tire of folding laundry and loading and unloading the dishwasher but this kind of work just makes them happy.

My hubby hurt his shoulder and has to have it immobilized for awhile. We are hoping to get his MRI results later today to see if surgery will be needed. Please pray he doesn't need that. At some point during the outside time Lij hurt his arm so he "needed" a sling like daddy so a kitchen towel and some clothes pins did the trick.
It was a nice evening in the sun. I worked on restructuring a flower bed while Steve supervised the projects and kept them going. It felt so good to be in the fresh air and to get something new accomplished after a couple weeks of sickness, injury and lots and lots of laundry. Maybe I'll get some before and after photos of our yard together and post them. And maybe not. My yard is still calling.
Enjoy your day!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Garbage Day

It's one of the most exciting days around here. Each Thursday Lij and the little boy that is here on that day yell for each other when the yard debris, recycling and garbage trucks roll in. First they run to the living room to watch the trucks pickup in the cul-de-sac.

Then they run like crazy upstairs to watch the trucks pick up our stuff on the other side of our driveway. The experience is not complete unless they can see our stuff go. It does not lose it's luster and the reaction is the same week after week. I need to remember to open those blinds next week. (Don't worry plant lovers, I have since watered the plant and it has recovered beautifully.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chores Schmores

With a household of seven people, one dog and occasional guests we have no shortage of chores to keep up with. We believe it is important for kids to have chores to do. It is my responsibility to teach my children how to be responsible adults so here is what we do. I made up this corkboard last year, glued on some ribbon and added cup hooks. I also purchased little round discs with holes already in them. Each child has a row with their name on it and their afternoon chores on the corresponding hooks. The whole project cost me less than $8.

This system works pretty well for us when we use it. I do forget some weeks and just shoot from the hip at chore time but I really like this board. The older ones like being able to look themselves when chore time rolls around. They know that everyday at the end of quiet time we will do chores. I can have them already up on the board and they know which five things they need to do. That makes my life easier also when I don't have five little people all needing to know what's next at the same time. Doing it this way also gives them the freedom to choose what they do first and what they save for last.
I have extra discs stored near by filled out with chores and we rotate the jobs so no one person is stuck cleaning the bathrooms all the time. Some days they only have three things to do and some days they have all four. Even the youngest ones have easy ones for them like collecting garbages, shaking out rugs and general pickup.
What works for you?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Serious Life Magazine

The March issue of Serious Life Magazine is out! It's a great magazine put out by an adoptive family who has a daughter who is battling cancer. The magazine is full of article after article including one about a one pound miracle baby sure to tug at your heart strings. Also included is the story of another miracle baby, Harper. I have been following her mommy's blog for quite some time now. If you are looking for some quality blogs to read there is a large blog directory with descriptions of the content of each blog. You'll find yours truly listed there as well. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A warped sense of inflation and lifeskills.

This morning mommy is still dealing some the aftermath of what we fondly or not so fondly call "the sickness". I told the kids that I intend to hold school this morning but I needed them to find something they could do together in the meantime while I got myself together. They decided to set up store. I love it when they do this. The purses come out, lables for pricing, all of the plastic food, healthy or not. Grocery store was my favorite thing to play in the first grade. I was a bit of an overachiever and my teachers would only let me work so far ahead in my paces. When I would get bored they would send me out to the little set up store to organize it. I loved it.

I have been working with them for quite some time, teaching them about the importance of being frugal. It would seem that they have been taking business courses on the side about selling for inflated prices.

Though that didn't seem to disuade the shoppers.

This busy mom type was being mighty selective about her purchases. Do you see her grocery list? I'm so proud.

I hope those dishes clean themselves for what they are asking for them. $30!?

This guy was happy to see every customer and check them out though he was a little concerned that I was taking his picture next to the princess cash register. He has a reputation, doncha know?

Good gravy we may need to do some more Grocery Cart math. $5 and $6 for canned and boxed food? Where did I go wrong?

Oh well. At least they were adding things up, making change, and making sure they had enough for purchases. Those things my friends are what we call life skills around here. And with some of the experiences I have had with some highschoolers having trouble making change for me locally, I am thinking these are pretty important skills to be working on.

Monday, March 9, 2009

It's been better.

Good gracious, I spoke too soon last week when I said that we ended with only one child throwing up. It has been a week of weeks I tell ya. Last Monday was Em, then Els and Lij on Thursday, then a little boy I watch part-time on Friday. Oh how I was glad for the week to end. The twins don't ususally get this kind of a bug. Living your first three years in Liberia tends to give you an iron stomach where some things are concerned.

Towards the end of the week Steve reinjured his shoulder and has been in the most pain I have ever seen him in. Trips to urgent care as well as to the doctor and nothing has helped. He has been in a sling since Thursday night and so when I was hit with digestive pain Saturday morning like no other it was an intersting experience around here.

We have great kids and they kicked into gear. The older ones helped the younger ones get breakfast, get ready for the day and they entertained each other. By late afternoon Steve was feeling some better so he decided what I and the rest of the family needed for dinner was homemade chicken and rice soup with rolls. So wearing his sling it is literal when I say that "single-handedly" he got a healthy, awesome tasting dinner pulled together. Ba.dump.bump.

I did give him ingredients and measurements from the living room for the bread and the twins cut up veggies for the soup but the man amazes me. He believes that a man should provide for his family. He could have driven to a fast food place and bought dinner, which we had done for lunch in all honesty, but to him providing means more than only bringing home a paycheck. Sometimes it also means that when your wife is laid up, even though in pain himself, that he gets up and makes a healthy dinner for his family. And did it taste good. It was exactly what I needed. Good bone broth to soothe my insides. I love that man.

We are slowly on the mend. Steve heads to the chiropractor today while we will school and continue to get stronger. Last night I felt good enough that I was able to spend a few hours with some homeschooling moms from church. What a fantastic time that was. I learned a few things from some seasoned moms and had a lot of laughs. What a great way to start the week.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's garden time!

Can you see it? Right there in the middle. That gorgeous little bright green, luscious piece of spring. It's my first onion poking through. I planted my first batch in a large black tub. I can bring it in if it gets too cold and on the sunny days it does great because it warms up much faster.

Potatoes go in next. I am working on a potato tower method where I can yield up to 60 pounds of potatoes in a 3X3X3 area. I will document it when we get it set up.
My front flower beds are also showing signs of coming to life again. It makes me smile.

We are determined to grow more of our own food again this year for our health and to be more frugal. How about you? Growing any veggies this year?
Right now you can get $20 worth of plants at Springhill Nursery and only pay for the shipping. This morning I ordered my strawberries and a Hollyhock totalling $19.95 but only paid the additional $7.95 shipping. We better get cracking on those strawberry beds.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Owlhaven Giveaway

One of my favorite blogs that I check regularly is Owlhaven. Mary is mother to ten children. Two are adopted from Korea and four from Ethiopia as well as four biological children. She has great tips for raising a large family as well as many pieces of wisdom to share where parenting is concerned. I love reading about their huge garden and all of the canning she does. She kept me motivated to finish my canning when I was running out of steam. Most of all she is real and I love reading what has to write.

Well guess what?!

Mary wrote a book called A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family. She is giving away one copy per week for the next four weeks. You can head over to this post to see what's it's all about and enter the giveaway. I can't wait to get my hands on this book.

The sick couch.

My kids all know that if you are sick, really sick, not just sniffles sick, you get a sick couch made for you. It's one thing in our house that makes being sick worth it.

Blankets are laid down first, then your favorite pillows are brought. A blanket is laid on the floor and the all important bucket arrives. There are cups of chicken broth and gingerale and blankets to cover you up. Em had the worst kind of sick. 103 degree temperature and throwing up. She felt terrible.
But there is nothing like that sick couch with everyone doting on you and reading to you to make things somewhat tolerable. It was short lived and she was the only one who got sick. Can I hear a Hallelujah and Amen? Thank you.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Quiet time.

We just started having each of the kids have a quiet time before the Lord every morning. They can read the Bible, sing songs, pray or do all three.

Good habits are easier to form when you are young and I know for me making time consistently each day doesn't always happen. If I make it part of their routine in the morning I am more likely to get the time in myself. The girls had recently received Promise Calendars from their aunt with a verse in it to read for each day. They have loved doing that and both Steve and I wanted them to go deeper. We want them to have their own relationship with the Creator and not one that is based soley on mom's and dad's experiences.

So each morning I set the time for 15-20 minutes. The only rules about the time are that they are spending time with God and that if they would like to sing they find a spot away from everyone else so as not to be a distraction. Even our four year old did great. I had to re-direct him a couple of times but he did very well. It's a very serene and relaxing time.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Just another manic Monday...

and I really wish it were Sunday. But photos like these will bring me through.

Today could be a little on the busy side. We have school to do, more black plastic to lay in the garden, a guest room to organize, a closet to clean out and my family needs to eat. All in a days work. I am grateful however to have the blessing of being home with my kids. Especially in these times I do not take it for granted.

We received a letter from the government showing social security amounts if something were to happen in our family. It showed my husband's salary for each of the last ten years. It was amazing for us to see God's provision. I used to work outside the home but within a few months of adopting our twins and having a one year old we both felt it was more important for me to be home with them. Financially we had no idea how we were going to make it. We had just purchased our first home and money would be very tight with only one of us working.

I was pregnant again and we felt very strongly that the Lord was leading me home so we took a step of faith. In that little letter we received last week it was fascinating to see that within two years Steve was bringing home almost as much as both of us combined had been making before I came home. Don't get me wrong, that first nine months were incredibly hard financially. We were so grateful for our garden that year and I think we were the healthiest we had ever been during that time. We ate so much fresh produce and homemade items. I learned how to garden, can and how to make things stretch. I began boiling off chickens to make my own broth for soup. Though that time was a difficult time in our marriage and on our pocket books it has proved to be an invaluable time in our lives. The lessons I learned on keeping a home and providing for my family emotionally and physically gave me a purpose I had not felt before. I had always wanted to be a mother. From as early on as I can remember I envied Mary in the bible and how she became a mother so young. It has always been at the core of my being.

No matter how manic my Mondays feel, how messy the house gets or how insane I feel at times that feeling is nothing compared to how I would feel saying goodbye to my children everyday and missing out on so much of the blessing I have been given. I know that in many families both parents work and this is not a condemnation on any of them. I am just so grateful that I get to do what I do and that I have a husband who understands the call on my life and encourages and walks with me in it. That letter last week was tangible evidence of God's faithful provision for our family. Thank you Lord.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Struggling with worry?

Octamom had a great post this morning about worry.