Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!

Do you know who holds your tomorrow?
Life is characterized by uncertainty.
When our family started 2009, we had no idea what this year would hold for us.
I'm so glad we don't know what is in our future.
If I had known when I was married that my second child would be diagnosed after nearly
9 years of her life with an incurable disease, I don't know how I would've handled that information.
If I had known when I started homeschooling my children 7 years ago that two of my child
would be diagnosed as ADHD, I don't know what decisions we would've made.
If I had known on January 1, 2009 that I was going to receive all of these diagnoses in the coming year, I'm sure I would've had a nervous breakdown.
But what I do know, is that I have a living Savior, and He's in the world today.
"I know that He is living whatever men may say.
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer,
and just the time I need Him,
He's always near.
He lives!!
He lives!
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me, and talks with me,
along life's narrow way.
He lives!
He lives!
Salvation to impart.
You ask me how I know He lives?
He lives within my heart!!"

I don't know what my future may hold,
but I know Who holds my future.

I'm so thankful that whatever 2010 may bring, my dear and precious Savior
won't let pass through His fingers to me what He doesn't have planned.
Whatever that may be, I know He'll go with me through it,
and guide me through it,
and bring me through it.
I serve a good and loving and all-wise God.

Our country has changed so much even in the last decade.
And more change is coming.
It is my personal opinion that our omnipotent God is setting the world stage for the most
dramatic and wide sweeping change the world has ever seen.
I am so glad that I have the freedom still to read my Bible, and I've read it cover to cover,
and I know how it all ends. God has already told us the things to watch for, and He's already
told us what to expect, and He's already told us where we're headed.
Are you ready?
I am.
I don't even have to worry about all these scary things that are changing in our healthcare,
and the middle east, and social security, and in the freedoms that our country was set-up for.
God knows all about that stuff.
That's just secondary to His plan.

I enjoy reminiscing through the following piece of music. It has some amazing clips. It's amazing to realize that I remember so many of them. When some of those events happened, they took us by surprise, and even frightened us.
I remember.
This year I turn 40.
I distinctly remember my 11th birthday.
My oldest daughter had her 11th birthday a year-and-a half ago.
Life is a vapor.
Those frightening things that happened are nothing compared to the frightening
things that will happen to fulfill God's plan for this old world He created.
But because I know Him, and because I know His plan,
I'm not afraid.
I can sleep peacefully at night.
I hope that on this night you can too.
God loves you.
He loves me.
"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only
begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever (insert your name here)
believes in Him,
should not perish,
but have everlasting life." John 3:16
I would love to tell you more about how you can have peace about your future.
I'll email you or call you or come see you (if I can).
Just ask me about it.
I personally know Who has the answer.

Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

More fun homemade Christmas gift ideas

If you've never clicked on "The Executive Homemaker" icon over there in my right-hand sidebar, you really need to. This lady has put together some of the cutest and BEST ideas for managing your home and all the details of having little children in the house. I just loved her article with 24 different easy Christmas gift ideas for teachers, friends, etc. Here are just a couple samples:

2 liter of Sprite: “May your holiday be merry and “sprite!”

Whoppers: Hope you have a “WHOPPER” of a Christmas!

I really think you'll enjoy perusing through all the fun ideas and maybe glean something you can use for yourself sometime. You should also take a minute just to look through all the amazing things she has on her website anyway. Definitely for the "organizationally challenged"!!!

Click HERE!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas gifts.....DONE!!!

It had taken us a little bit of time every day last week,
with a ruptured hot water heater emergency thrown in to boot, to finally reach the day before we needed to have everything
ready for the big giveaways!!

Here's how we packaged everything up:

We put our chocolate covered pretzels in these cute little cellophane bags.
Wilton does actually have bags specifically made for packing pretzels like this, but I thought these were much more festive.....and cost effective!!!

We formed this sort of assembly line, and I gave each of the children their gift bags to label and load up.

Each of their friends received a bag of chocolate covered pretzels, a jar of Christmas M & M's, and 2 Ritz Cracker Candies.
Oh, yes. We tossed in a Christmas pencil in each bag too!!

Very Yummy!!!
Very Fun!!!
But I'm so glad that it is DONE!!!!

Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas gifts......Day 5

I was in a bit of a quandry of what to do to thank all of the lovely people who minister to my children each week at our church. In the past, I would make containers of cookies and other goodies, and it was really no big deal. But now, I have 6 children, and now, we are attending an amazing church where the people love children and so many are involved in teaching and training our children. Now, each of my children have at least 2 adults working in their class, and one of them has FOUR. Multiply that by 6 and that's a LOT.
A LOT of work.
In a tiny house, with 12 eager hands and lots of sweet tooths (is that a word?)

So this year, I decided to make a couple huge 'ol batches of this:

Chex Muddy Buddies
(This also goes by names such as "Puppy Chow" or "Monkey Munch" as heard on the TLC reality show, "Jon & Kate Plus 8)

If you have never tried this, my friend, you have truely missed out on one of life's GREATEST

9cups Corn Chex®, Rice Chex®, Wheat Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
1cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2cup peanut butter
1/4cup butter or margarine
1teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2cups powdered sugar
Peanut butter and chocolate are a favorite flavor combo, but peanut butter lovers can substitute peanut butter chips for the chocolate chips to intensify that flavor.
Special Touch
Need clever gift wrapping ideas for this 15-minute recipe? Check out Mix & Mingle with Chex® Party Mix.
Preparation Directions
1.Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
2.In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
3.Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.
High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): No change.
Nutritional Information
1 Serving: Calories 220 (Calories from Fat 80); Total Fat 9g (Saturated Fat 4g, Trans Fat 0g);Cholesterol 5mg; Sodium 200mg; Total Carbohydrate 30g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 17g); Protein 3g % Daily Value*: Vitamin A 6%; Vitamin C 2%; Calcium 6%; Iron 25% Exchanges: 1 Starch; 1 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat Carbohydrate Choices: 2 MyPyramid Servings: 1 tsp Fats & Oils
*% Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

I put lots of this mix into a container along with a few buckeyes, and VOILA!!! Done. We made up 19 of the 2lb. holiday containers to give to teachers, and family friends!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas gifts.....Day 4

On our fourth day of making Christmas gifts, we were railroaded in the middle of the project by
a bit of a domestic emergency. Our hot water heater decided it had had enough
and gave up the ghost. From lovely Christmas activities, I was immediately thrust into the hectic job of quickly removing items from a flooding floor, finding a place to put it all,
soaking up all the water, deciding how we were going to replace this important household appliance, shopping for it, cleaning up, watching the plumber install the new one, etc.

So this "quick" little gift ended up dragging on longer than I had wanted, but we did enjoy
putting them together once it was all done.

Christmas Treat Jars

This easy little gift came to me many months ago when I was still in the middle of feeding
an infant. I just couldn't find it within me to throw away all of these perfectly good
baby food jars. So I would wash them up, and store them away. Pretty soon I had like 50 of these jars taking up much needed space and no idea what to do with all of them.
I came up with this idea and this is the second Christmas we have given these
as little gifts.

I make sure to get all the food residue out of the jar and off the lid......gross!
It took awhile to figure out how to clean the sticky, gluey junk that is used as the adhesive for the jar label. I had under my sink a bottle of this stinky stuff called "Goof Off", and let me tell you, it works wonders. Took that sticky mess right off. I was about as high as a kite after using it, but I was happy that I had nice clean, clear jars afterward.

I had purchased a yard and a half of the fabric at Wal-Mart (which was way too much), and decided that the lid to our
oatmeal container would be about the right size.
Ashlyn did a lot of the tracing, and all the girls took turns at using pinking shears to cut out the circles. Abby helped me cut and count the ribbon.

To assemble these little treats, I filled the jars first and tightened the lid down, put a dab of hot glue on the jar lid, placed the fabric circle on top, and had one of the girls hold the fabric down while I tied the ribbon on. It took two people to tie the ribbons on, but we were pleased with the results!!!
This year we put together 28 jars!!!
We still have some left over for next year too!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas gifts....Day 3

On our third day of making Christmas goodies, we dipped pretzel sticks into the melted chocolate candy coating, and then sprinkled them with Christmas sprinkles. This year, I tried a different technique though. In the past, we would dip them and then immediately try to roll them in the sprinkles. But there was too much chocolate and the sprinkles would just slide off once we laid them on the pan.

So this year, I tried scraping off the excess chocolate with a knife and then just sprinkled the sprinkles on while holding the pretzel stick. It worked much better and we didn't end up with great globs of hardened chocolate on the end of the stick either.

Tune in later for how we package these up!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas gifts.....Day 2

On our second day of gift making, we embarked on our second kind of homemade Christmas candy:

"Ritz Cracker Candy"

My aunt first introduced me to this recipe which she first sampled from an elderly evangelist friend she and my uncle had cared for in their home until he passed away. It's become a family favorite since we first tried it!!

Ritz crackers
Peanut Butter
Chocolate and/or Almond Bark Coating

Melt the chocolate coating (or the almond).
Spread a light layer of peanut butter between two crackers to make a sandwich.
Immerse the cracker sandwich into the chocolate and completely cover it. Sprinkle with holiday sprinkles (optional).

Put in refrigerator to dry on a wax paper lined cookie sheet.
Store in a tightly closed container.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Making Christmas gifts.......Day 1

Every year my children have always wanted to give their friends something for Christmas. I want to encourage them in this because this is the season of giving and I want to instill in them that it truly is "more blessed to give than to receive." We give because our Heavenly Father gave us the greatest gift of all through His Son, Jesus Christ. Though we could never match what He gave us, we can follow the example He gave us and the principle He taught us of being willing to give and share.
So, as the years go by their list of friends gets longer and longer. We really can't afford to buy something for everyone on their extensive lists, but our family enjoys making crafts of all kinds and our favorites are gifts from our kitchen. This week, we are taking some time every day to make a different kind of goody to include in the gift bag for each of their friends. We will also be giving some treats to their Sunday School teachers, choir leaders, etc. Grab your apron and let's get started!!!!!

Day 1


Having grown up in Ohio, I was regularly greeted with plates full of buckeye candy
at church functions (primarily around Christmas) or in boxes of Christmas goodies from our neighbors. When I moved away from Ohio, I was shocked that this amazing candy was relatively unknown to those in other parts of the country. Not only have they never tasted this delectable treat, they don't even know what a "buckeye" is (and no, it's NOT the eye of a deer, but yes, it is related to the Ohio State Buckeyes of which almost EVERYONE who loves football is well acquainted with!!!).
The "Buckeye" is the state tree of Ohio and produces a nut that looks like this:

You can read more about them here.

Buckeye candy is made to resemble this gorgeous mascot of the great state of Ohio.
Here is the recipe:

3 cups of creamy peanut butter
1 1/2 sticks of butter or margarine
2 lbs (or less) confectioner's sugar
Chocolate candy coating (I use the chocolate almond bark candy coating)

Mix together the peanut butter and margarine until smooth. Gradually mix in the confectioner's sugar until the dough is stiff but not crumbly.

It helps to coat your hands with the confectioner's sugar and knead it like bread dough until soft and smooth. Form the dough into small balls the size of the bouncy rubbers balls for playing jacks.

Place them on a waxed paper lined cookie sheet and put them in the refrigerator for a couple minutes to firm up.

Using a toothpick, dip the balls into the melted dipping chocolate until almost covered, leaving the top exposed.

Refrigerate and enjoy!!!

P.S. I doubled this recipe and ended up with over 12 dozen, give-or-take the several my children ate.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our second weekend in December full of Christmas activities.....

"Bethlehem Revisited"

There is a church in a town not far from us that transforms the back lot of their church every year into a living "Bethlehem" that you can walk through. We have gone for several years,
and each year we get something new out of it.
All the townspeople are in period costume working period crafts that the children can
watch and even participate in. The idea is to find the Messiah who has been rumored
to have arrived. You can follow Joseph and Mary (who is riding a donkey) on through town
where they look for a place to stay and are directed to a stable out back.
After the baby arrives, the shepherds come (that were at the entrance to the town with their sheep) and see the baby, and leave rejoicing. They are shooed away by the largest men dressed in Roman Centurion costume that I've ever seen.
Not very far behind them are the wise men who come complete with real camels.
It's a wonderful experience and we always enjoy exploring it.
As we all stand around the stable and watch Mary and Joseph, I'm always reminded
that this is what it's all about. No "rockin' around the christmas tree", no Santa (like where did he come from in this story anyway......that's a soapbox of mine for another time), no reindeer, no crazy shoppers out at 2am for a $3 pair of pj's, no lights, no Hallelujah Chorus. Just a baby.
A quiet, unobtrusive birth. That's it.
But what a miraculous birth it was. Of our Divine Saviour in human form.
It always reminds me to stay simple and block out all the noise of the commercialism and the pressure to follow everything our culture does this time of year.
It's about Jesus......and that's enough.

I caught Aryn standing over in this little corner all by herself checking
out the goats and donkey behind this fence.

You can read more about this here.

"Shepherds, Sheep, and a Saviour"

Sunday evening our church's junior choir had their Christmas program.
Our three oldest children participated in it and I thought I'd share a couple clips of
Ashlyn's part and Alexis's part. Ashlyn's video was taped during rehearsal, while Lexi's was during the actual performance. Grant didn't have a particular speaking or singing part,
but he did his part in the choir.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hoshimoto's Disease

So this afternoon I got a call, out-of-the-blue, from Ashlyn's endocrinologist's office. The nurse said she was calling about the results from Ashlyn's bloodwork taken in early October. At her last endo. visit at the end of September, our doctor said it was time to get some bloodwork done just to have a baseline so they could recognize any changes that may crop up over time, and to check for any initial "tag along" issues that may come along with Type 1 Diabetes. When I didn't hear anything after several weeks, I figured all was well.

When the nurse identified herself, I immediately asked her, "You're not calling me with bad news are you, because I wasn't expecting a call from the doctor's office?" When she paused ever so slightly, the bottom of my stomach fell out as I listened to what she had to say.

She started with the good news: no celiac disease which diabetic children are more prone too. You can read about that here and here.

But she did say that her TSH levels were slightly high. Ashlyn's was 6.72 and normal ranges are
.5 - 4.3. Her Free T4 level was .9 where the normal ranges are .9 - 1.6. Her antibody levels were normal which when you have Hoshimoto's those are usually high also. The doctor said that that can be misleading though, and because of her levels in the other areas he suspects that she is in the early stages of Hoshimoto's Disease. This is also something that diabetics are more prone to, but thyroid issues run like a river through my side of the family.
Rather than me trying to explain exactly what this disease is, I'll point you to a couple websites that give lots of great information about it.
You can read about it and here and here.
The good news is that it's very easy to treat and can be managed without a lot of complication. She will be starting on a generic synthroid medication as soon as we pick up her prescription, and will most likely be on it the rest of her life. After speaking to her for several minutes, the pieces of a puzzle in my mind came together. "Maybe this explains why I was noticing what looked like more than normal weight gain on her?" I asked. I hadn't noticed any other symptoms on her, and was thinking that the weight gain was possibly due to one of her insulins which is known to cause weight gain.

When I was telling Ashlyn about this, she was very good natured about it. She immediately asked, "Do I have to go to the hospital and have an IV?" When I told her, "No! Just a half pill a day," she was satisfied and ran off to play hide-n-seek with her siblings.

Honestly, I wasn't as care-free about it.
In fact, I had to call my mom for re-assurance that she would be okay and that I shouldn't get freaked out.

I guess when you see your child, who you remember so vividly as this precious sweet baby, having life threatening challenge after challenge piling up on them, I feel blanketed with fear. Fear for her future.
So what's it going to be next year??
How will this affect her body long-term?
Just when you get used to the idea of one issue and handling that nicely, here comes ANOTHER thing too.
It all can be overwhelming at times, this sea of life with wave after wave of uncertainty.

That is why I am so very grateful that I can put my faith and trust in a living Savior, who I know holds my daughter's future in the palm of His hand. He has a plan for her, and has brought this into her life for a very specific reason. I don't know what that reason is yet, but I know He is in control here and is walking through this with us!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Read about this over on "Vision Forum" and thought it was too good to keep to myself....

This is the "Man-ifesto" from the Dockers website. Really, really like it!

A blast from the past....

So as we continue learning about the Eight Parts of Speech (in our English lessons here at home) and their uses within a sentence, I remembered these fun little videos that I used to watch on Saturday mornings between cartoons (instead of commercials). Does this date me or what??
My children enjoy seeing them and they are fun to use as supplements to our English lessons!!! Just thought I'd share.....

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Homeschooling the ADHD child

I thought I might give you another glimpse into our world of homeschooling multiple children, 2 of which have differing forms of ADHD.

I copied this directly from the "ADHD of the Christian Kind" website.
If you are homeschooling one or more children with ADHD, you'll appreciate this website.

Homeschooling the ADHD Child

Homeschooling an ADHD child can be a real challenge. Here are some of the issues we deal with regularly in our home:

Bored boy
  • Distractibility - cannot keep on task when given an assignment
  • Frustration - low frustration levels when given an assignment that is confusing or repetitious
  • Boredom - easily bored with repetitive tasks like spelling and handwriting, or math facts
  • Clueless - unless you are working with a gifted child, you will reach times where the information just isn't understood
  • Careless - sloppy work and careless mistakes
  • Endless school days - unaware of the concept of time and prove this by taking 3 hours to complete 5 math problems
  • Insanity - can drive even the sanest parent to question their sanity
  • Noise - 3 or more children chattering away at the same time, tapping pencils, rolling desk chairs across the floor; child 2 distracts child 1 while child 3 has disappeared to who knows where
  • Grace - God's grace is sufficient, for His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Our first weekend in December full of Christmas activities.....

A glimpse of Friday night's fun at our local Christmas parade....

Garrett and his little friend, Brooklynn.

Aryn had so much fun this year, now that she's almost 2.

Aryn (in the green hat) is laughing at the marching band in the parade.

I didn't take any pictures of this, but on Saturday morning, I went to the Ladies Christmas brunch at our church, and it was such a lovely time. Abby also had her Christmas program rehearsal at the same time, so it was a busy morning for us.

Primary Children's Choir Christmas Program Sunday Evening

Abby was obviously type cast as an angel!!

Her part was at the end of the program, so I only recorded a tiny bit of the entire program, and this was during the rehearsal right before the actual performance.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

"It's beginning to look a LOT like Christmas...."


.......and out!!!

We unexpectedly woke up to a lovely snow falling this morning,
and you could FEEL the electricity in my house!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

We started our fun on Wednesday evening by passing out some Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins to our neighbors with the story of Thanksgiving in it to encourage them to remember what this holiday was all about.

Lexi then helped me make some of our decorations for the table. She is into origami (paper folding) right now, and we thought these little baskets would be so pretty filled with candy corn.
Too bad the store had no candy corn.
So we gathered acorns and leaves at the park on Thanksgiving morning and put them in the baskets instead.

Our menu this year was much more simplified than in years past.
This was the first year ever that I did not roast the 16 pound turkey, or mash
10 pounds of potatoes.
Since there would be no other adults with us this year, I just didn't think it made sense
to get all stressed out and hot in the kitchen with no one to keep the children from
messing with the decorations and to referee the arguing. This year was so much easier and I don't really think anyone missed all the complicated dishes. Plus, I felt so much more relaxed
and really enjoyed our dinner!!!

Rotisserie chicken (purchased from Costco the day before)
Rice and Gravy (Lexi's special request)
Green Bean Casserole (Ashlyn's special request)
Delicious Butternut Squash (my favorite)
Salad (which no one ate anyway)

Chocolate Éclair Cake

Hope you had a lovely day enjoying your family and taking a moment to count up
all your blessings!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Day of Thanksgiving

Hope you are truly thankful for all the blessings you enjoy this lovely holiday.
Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving FUN!!!

If you're short on creative ideas for Thanksgiving, here are a few websites that I have found that have an amazing assortment of ideas and resources for making Thanksgiving not only a memorable time, but just plain fun too!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Stories

I thought I might share some of the stories we read to our children from year-to-year at Thanksgiving. Maybe some of these are old favorites for your family too, and maybe you'll share some of YOUR favorites??

Then, of course, there are a couple videos you may be familiar with also:

And last, but certainly NOT least: