Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How are you remembering Christ's road to the cross this week?

This week our family is remembering the road that Christ took to the cross. You can follow through the Gospels and reflect on the activities of Jesus Christ that final week before His terrible death....His slaughter. This event climaxes everything the Old Testament was about......everything the Old Testament pointed to. God's satisfaction for the sins of mankind was permanently, this one time only, displayed hanging on the cross. His death so completely satisfied the debt that the ten-foot thick veil that hung between all believers and God the Father in the Temple in Jerusalem was divinely torn in half signifying that it was no longer necessary to have a human high priest go before God the Father to intercede for our forgiveness for our sin. Believers in Jesus Christ, Christians, now have full access to our Heavenly Father because Jesus Christ is now our High Priest and we can go before Him ourselves. That intimate relationship with God the Father was restored to us because of the death of Jesus Christ. Our sin that stains us and contaminates our being and prevents us from being in the presence of a Holy God has been covered by the blood of Jesus Christ.

I wanted to make this week of remembrance special for my children this year. I'm really not interested in combining this most sacred, holy, reflective time with bunnies, eggs, and candy. I don't really see how the two even relate? I do like to do baby animals, eggs, and candy for celebrating SPRING....but Easter? No. So for the last couple weeks, I've been looking for some great hands-on activities that my children can do together that really pictures what this week is all about. I found some beautiful ideas here.

Then I went over to one of my favorite blogs, Holy Experience, and found lots of great ideas.
Here are a couple things I found that I want to incorporate into our teaching times:

1. We made candy crosses today. "Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2. Are you learning how to be conformed to the image of Christ? Here are some pictures of our family's version:

2. On Wednesday I would like to do the project with the magazine pages and make some butterflys. We'll talk about new life....new life found in Christ....and the life cycle of butterflys.

3. I LOVE this idea about an Easter Lenten Garden. You must read this tutorial about how to construct one. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get all the supplies together that are necessary before this week is over, but I'm going to try. My daughter's will love this project and it is just full of meaning!! If not this year, then next!! Read about it here.

4. Oh my!! The "Family Box of Repentance". Another lovely, profound idea that we'll incorporate and see how the Lord speaks to my heart full of pride!! Go see it here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Young girls and modesty

This subject has been on my mind lately as I have 4 girls of my own, the oldest of which is smack dab in the middle of puberty and is dabbling in finding a "style" of her own. I certainly have my own thoughts on this issue, but would like to share few things that I thought really beautifully encompassed what I feel is appropriate for ladies of all ages. Why try to put into words what someone else has, and so much better than I could have if I tried?
I do firmly believe that mommies and daddies must start right at the beginning with their little girls in teaching them about modesty. If your little girls are allowed to wear mini skirts that are so cute when they are toddlers, how are you going to take those away all of a sudden when they are twelve? If your little girl loves to wear, and is most comfortable in a little bikini swimsuit when she is four, I can guarantee you she'll not understand why it's such a big deal when she is 11. Why was it okay then and not now? I think we as parents have the greatest success in teaching our children principles when we are as consistent as we possibly can be with them all across the board. This applies to every other area of your life that you want your children to embrace as their own.

The first article I would like to share was written by a missionary lady I know.
I don't completely adopt all of her convictions as my own, but I certainly respect her
study of the Bible, and the thought she has put into developing her own standards of dress.
Her article can be found here.

This next website I found is a blog of another missionary lady who I have never met.
But she has a passion for a smart, beautiful, feminine, modest wardrobe, and has many blogs on this topic. She has lots of links to other great resources including places to purchase beautiful clothes, as well as ideas on how to put a great outfit together. I'll be letting my daughter peruse her website soon.
Click here to get to her blog and look through all her articles on "femininity and modesty."

The last article I'm linking you too is one that I blogged before. But it's just as good now
as it was then. I really LOVE this one. Click here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday's Fabulous Family Recipe

A couple weeks ago, I was sick..... in bed...... for the entire weekend. My sweet husband was in charge for 2 full days and part of the next and he was amazing. He even did the grocery shopping with some children in tow, while his mom stayed back with the littlest ones.
So on Sunday of that weekend, my thoughtful mother-in-law made some of this soup in her crock-pot and brought it over for us along with some other things. It was the BEST homemade version of this recipe that I have ever tasted!! This is the recipe that she shared with me.....

Crock-Pot Split Pea Soup

8 cups chicken broth (or 2 - 32 oz. cartons)
2 cups water
1/2 cup regular barley
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cups carrots, finely chopped
1 medium onion (1/2 cup), finely chopped (I prefer green onions)
1 ham steak cut in 1 " pieces (I used the Jennie-O Turkey ham)
16 oz. bag of green split peas, rinsed but not soaked
Salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in crock pot.

(This picture does not show all the liquid that I did add.....be sure to add the water and broth!)

Cook on high for 6 hours or on low all night. It will get even thicker as it cools!!
Makes 8 (1 1/2 cups) servings.

So delicious!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why large families just might be a little easier....

Now I hope you're not going to be annoyed that I'm going to include a link to someone else's thoughts. I know you came here to hear MY thoughts, and here I am sending you away. But it will be worth it. I couldn't put all this together. Let me share with you a few highlights:

Humility. My children have learned it’s not always their turn. They’ve accepted they can’t always get their way because other people have to get their way sometimes. They’ve learned that some children are better at certain things than they are.

Foreign language skills. You can learn a lot of Spanish by watching ten years of Dora the Explorer that you just can’t pick up in two. And now with the Diego spin off I’m practically fluent.

Laughter. The children have learned to laugh at the insane non sequiturs of younger siblings. They’ve learned that laughing just feels better when seven people are doing it along with you.

Competition. Do I really need to go into this? Everything is a competition in big families. The children compete over who reads faster, who drinks their milk faster, who gets to the bathroom first…etc. Everything is a competition and they’re all keeping score.

Balance. The floor of the front room of my home is a minefield of toys and childhood paraphernalia. Just walking through the room requires great skill and balance. I’m absolutely convinced my two year old will be a favorite for Gold on the balance beam in the 2016 Olympics. (She might have to lay off the cookies a little but I’ll deal with that later.)

Life isn’t fair. Sometimes you just give it to the baby because you want a little quiet. Not all the time. But sometimes.

Just say “No.” Being able to say “no” may be the most undervalued skill in this world. The need to be liked is pervasive. The need to be cool even more so. Having brothers and sisters teaches children to say “no” about 143 times a day. It’s a good skill.

Praying. They learn that nothing beats praying together as a family.

To read this great article in its entirety go here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Field Trip!!

Usually, I try to schedule our family field trips on Mondays when my husband has his normal day off from work. But due to unforeseen police work obligations yesterday, we had to reschedule our "Monday Funday" to Tuesday. And what a glorious day it was too. The weather couldn't have been more perfect, and since all the local schools were back in school from last week's "spring break" it wasn't very crowded. It was such a delightful day! Here are a few highlights from our trip to the Dallas Zoo:

This Saki Monkey was calling or singing or crying or something. The sound it
made was so unique and beautiful and you could hear it all over the zoo.
I had never heard a monkey call like that before and it made me wonder
what an entire jungle of these calling monkeys would sound like!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

No fruit today

I've noticed here lately that most people don't do much or any blogging on the weekends.
Nor do they do much blog reading.
In spite of this, I'm stepping out of the box and sharing a couple things that I've
read lately that really encouraged my heart.

Some days are so long, and so full of up hill battles in my little house full of children.
Some days I really feel like we make no headway at all,
that there is no progress, no growth or positive change in any way.
There are some days when I feel like I am wasting some of the talents the Lord
has given to me, to spend day after day after day training and working with little to no fruit
to show for it.
It can be so discouraging.

So the other day when I came back to these Scripture verses that I hadn't read in a hundred years, it was so refreshing and uplifting:

"Although the fig tree shall not blossom,
neither shall fruit be in the vines;
the labor of the olive shall fail,
and the fields shall yield no meat;
the flock shall be cut off from the fold,
and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength,
and he will make my feet like hinds' feet,
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places."

Habakkuk 3: 17-19

On days that are particularly stressful and full of yelling, belligerent children,
schoolwork that is not getting finished,
4000 pounds of laundry,
dishes up to my elbows,
and rain outside that keeps the children trapped indoors,
I always forget that the Lord is still at work.
What I see in my house is like a dormant tree in the winter.
Just because it looks "dead" doesn't mean that there is not life happening
on the inside that needs nourishment to produce the flowers
of spring and fruit of harvest.
The Lord has promised that there will be another season coming.
There will be flowers and a time of enjoying
the fruit of my labor.
In the meantime, I am commanded to.......rejoice.
How hard that is sometimes.

Apparently, my family is an anomaly in our church because of our size.
(I find it especially interesting that this is a fact in a CHURCH no less!!)
When we walk in together people have a comment on the number of children we have,
or how one child in particular is behaving at the moment,
or that they "don't know how we do it,"
or they smile as if offering some source of empathy.

A dear, sweet, precious older lady came up to me a while back,
and mentioned something to me about all our children,
and that she had written a poem
when she was in a season of caring for several young grandchildren.
She wanted to give me a copy of the poem,
and I share it with you here.
It follows up my previous thoughts quite well.

Scattered Toys
by Barbara Harvey

Thank you Lord for scattered toys
around my living room.
They tell of little girls and boys
whose joy dispel the gloom.
I know of other folks my age
whose home are neat and clean?
They'd trade their empty lonely cage
and table tops that gleam,
for just one little dirty face
on one sweet little child,
to scatter toys around their place,
to laugh and cry and smile.
Sometimes I get discouraged, Lord,
with all the work to do.
The jobs that just can't be ignored,
and then I think of you.
Do you get tired of all my mess,
and my complaints and gripes?
Yet you clean me up when I confess
and make my black heart white.
Please give me, Lord, the patience
to face each day with joy,
and clean up all the messes
as I love each girl and boy.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday's Fabulous Family Recipe

Mmmmmm....this is a good one.

Just after graduating from college, I went to live in Manchester, New Hampshire
to live at and work in a girls home for abused and neglected girls as a "child care worker".
It was an AMAZING experience, and one that I was so thankful the Lord allowed me
to enjoy before the responsibilities and commitments of marriage.
While there, I liked to peek into the kitchen now and then to see
what was cooking.
This recipe came from the cook at the Boylston Home for Girls.

Chocolate Pudding Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
3 T. baking cocoa
1 T. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
3 T. oil
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (which I never include)

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup baking cocoa
2 2/3 cups HOT water

(In the 9x13" dish
I usually decrease the water to about 2 1/4 cps. to prevent boil over
in the oven....trust me....it's a mess to clean off the bottom of the oven!)

Mix the first 5 ingredients in an ungreased 9 x 13" baking dish.

Add the next 3 (or 4 if you use the nuts) ingredients and mix until smooth.

Stir the brown sugar and cocoa for the topping together and sprinkle over the top of batter.

Pour the water overall, but DO NOT MIX IN.

Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees.
(My oven usually has this baked in about 30 minutes.)

The cake comes to the top and leaves this lovely warm chocolate pudding on the bottom that when spooned over the top is like luscious hot fudge sauce.
Think one of those "Warm Delights" hot fudge cake bowl thingies.

My family can't get enough of this, and we go through
the entire dessert at one meal.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A few observations since starting Intuniv....

1. My 7 yr. old son has been taking Intuniv (medication prescribed especially to help manage the symptoms of ADHD) since January 14 of this year. We're up to 3 mg. once a day. He takes a full pill first thing in the morning.

2. I've been asked what some of our cues have been that this is the right dosage for him. Intuniv is prescribed in 1 mg., 2 mg., 3 mg., or 4 mg. pills. If or when we ever have to bump up to the 4 mg., that is the highest level of the medication available. From what I've researched, most children do best at 3 or 4 mg., while some respond well at a lower dose. For us, we noticed very little effect at 2 mg., and a tremendous effect at 3 mg. You take each level of medication for one week before you can bump up to the next level. For us, it took a little over three weeks to notice a measurable change in our son's behavior. We saw little things, like sleepiness in the afternoon, but it would wear off after a couple days on the higher dosage. One place I read (here) confirmed one of the cues we noticed in our son: if he lays down to watch TV around 4 pm, he is still likely to dose off for about a half hour or so and it will not affect his sleep at night. In fact, I still give him half of a 3 mg. pill of melatonin just before bedtime to help him relax and sleep better. He's usually asleep within 20-30 minutes. When he doesn't get the melatonin, there is much more horse-play in the bed with his little brother and it takes him longer to fall asleep, though he sleeps well all night.

3. Another cue we've had is that he still will sit cooperatively with me in the morning time and complete a couple of workpages neatly before he needs a few minutes break. When he gets upset about something, his "calm-down" time is still much shorter than before the Intuniv, and my husband thinks that some things that used to set him off are no longer causing him an issue. I have also observed that he plays outdoors with the neighborhood children for much, MUCH longer than he used to before running in crying that somebody was teasing him.

4. A couple weeks ago, my husband purchased an Xbox gaming system for the family. The first day we had it, my son was off-the-charts irritable. It's almost like you can feel how it makes his brain go haywire with all the stimulation, and then he can't stop without getting livid. So we learned QUICK that we had to put some kind of controls in place right away. The next day I told him he couldn't play the Xbox until 4 pm when all the schoolwork was done and chores were done. It has worked beautifully. I've tried letting him have time earlier in the day on Saturdays, but it's back to the same crazy behavior. When he plays games with his Dad, he does much better too. This past Monday, he had had some extra time on the Xbox because Monday is usually our day off/clean-up/catch-up day. I thought since Dad was home and he had extra down time, we would try letting him have a little time. Nope. Super huge meltdown in the afternoon full of ranting and raving and disturbing the whole family. I promptly grounded him from the Xbox for a full week, and remarkably he hasn't asked to get on today nor did he argue about this penalty either.
I don't know how this medication works, but it definitely takes the edge off of him without making him crazy moody or have serious appetite changes or any other side effects at all.
I told my husband the other day that we are so fortunate that ALL our son has to take is one little pill and it really helps him. I know some children have to be on several different kinds of medication for several different issues, and we don't take for granted that this has really been a positive step toward returning the harmony and peace to our home.

5. The last thing that I have observed is that the cute little tic my son had going on with his left eye winking when he was in highly stimulated activities has virtually disappeared. We used to see it every day at different times of the day under different circumstances (whether when being corrected or highly agitated or nervous), now we RARELY see it. When I do notice it, it's when he's been playing the Xbox for over 1/2 an hour. I don't know if the decrease in the tic is because of something the medication does to control that, or if being on the medication has helped him see that what used to be stressful to him isn't stressful anymore. Either way, it's something that we consider a great thing for him.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How does this happen??

How do you go from here.....

....to HERE....

in just 6 MONTHS????

It doesn't seem possible that our little Abby is 6 years old today.
She has turned into such a sweet, funny, observant, helpful, gentle, eager to learn, JOY
of a person!!!
We love you, Abby!!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

My Bargain(s) of the Day!!!

Friday is always my shopping day. My shopping has evolved over the last several years into a one-day extravaganza of swooping through my 3 most economical stores in as little time as possible. I like to refer to it as.....

"Speed Shopping!"

It saves me time, saves me lots of money in the long run, and frees up every other day of the week
for things we need to do as a family!!
I don't have to maneuver around the crowds that always fill the stores on Saturday, the shelves are stocked for the weekend rush, and in some cases the sales have already started on Friday.
As a bonus, my Saturdays are free for the birthday parties, church activities, sporting events, and other things that invariably only happen on Saturday.
I don't have to try to fit in going to the grocery store as well as travel to whatever event it is,
and then get home and get everyone bathed for church the next day, and all
the clothes laid out for the Sunday morning rush.
So, I've fine tuned my shopping lists to fit a one-day trip!!

Last night, I had to run into Kroger to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy.
While I was there I decided to peek in on their clearance displays.
The last two weeks I've had to run in for something I usually never have to get,
and found some great bargains on the marked down Valentine Candy.
Last night was no exception either.
Look what I found.....

These treats will go into my "prize box" for those times when I get all the children
together to do some team house cleaning. These are terrific incentives, and I get my
bathrooms cleaned for pennies!!
The bag of sweethearts cost me $1.12,
and each heart box of chocolate cost me $0.50!!

Last week I found these to put in my prize box and they cost me
$0.40!! I bought two of them.

THEN, I went on to Wal-Mart.
My local Wal-Mart is completely remodeling so they have moved everything around,
and put TONS of stuff on clearance.
Look what I found there:

With as much as my children like to do crafts, these were a super bargain for me.
I think you can see that I paid $2.00 for the puffy paints that were normally $6.97!!
I will use them for fun projects like those found here and here.

This spring garland was a steal at $2.00!

I thought it would brighten up our school/dining area and bring a little spring inside!!!
(I know it's tacky silk, but hey, for 2 bucks, I'll make it work!!)

I think it is so important to try to do the BEST I know how to do, with the money we
have budgeted, and to stretch my dollars to meet the needs of my family.
The Bible calls it "stewardship", and I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve my own (stewardship).
One way that I believe you can do that is to keep an eye out for things you can actually use
that have had their prices slashed!!!
I like to call them "My Bargain of the Day!!!""

Tell me about the BEST bargain you ever found!!!

P.S. We have another birthday coming up this week. You'll have to guess who it is,
but I've referred to this little person before as my "personal assistant."
Stay tuned for how we make a BIG DEAL of our little family's birthdays on a shoestring budget!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring is in the air!!!!

It's beginning to look a lot like........Spr-ing,
everywhere you go!!
Okay, corny, I know, but indulge me!!
Here are a few reasons why I can tell that spring is just around the corner in our neck of the woods:

~ We're beginning to receive bags of clothes from dear friends who are cleaning out their children's closets in preparation for warmer weather.

~ This past Wednesday was the start of our city's regular once-a-month testing of the tornado sirens.

~ Fresh asparagus and strawberries are showing back up in the produce sections at much better prices.

~ We're wearing short sleeves and flip flops more regularly now, and less of the winter
shoes and socks and heavy coats.

~ Itchy eyes in spite of adding even more allergy medication to the daily regimen.

~ The robins.....so many of them!!

The Robin

The robin is the one
That interrupts the morn
With hurried, few, espress reports
When March is scarcely on.

The robin is the one
That overflows the noon
With her cherubic quantity,
And April but begun.

The robin is the one
That speechless from her nest
Submits that home and certainty
And sanctity are best.

~ Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

News from the front lines

My dear sweet husband decided that this year we could use a little of our income tax refund for something fun for the whole family. My children and my husband have an INSATIABLE
appetite for games of any kind, whether it be board games, card games, outdoor sports, or computer games. Some of my children act as if they don't play some kind of game at least once every day that they will literally go into cardiac arrest on the spot. I don't care either way. It makes no difference to me whatsoever if I'm aware that a new game is available or that I play a game.
Ambivalent is a great word to describe my feelings about games.
That really makes me no fun.
But whip out some chocolate chips, a great kitchen aide mixer, and a fun recipe and I'm there!!

Anyway, my husband goes on a mission to find a great gaming system for our family. He does all the research, polls all his friends, and decides the best fit for us would be a Wii. Unfortunately, EVERYONE feels the same way about this system and Nintendo obviously can't keep up with the demand, so he couldn't find one.
Believe me, he went EVERYWHERE!!

So he went with his second choice, the XBox Live.

You should've seen the excitement in my house when he walked through the door with this.
He spent the rest of Monday evening getting this all set-up and learning how to use this, and then threw me under the bus on Tuesday. He goes off to work and I'm left with 4 game-starved children who acted like they had never eaten nor would they ever eat again in their lives.

My son was OFF-THE-CHARTS high-strung.
By the end of the day, I was ready for the thing to go back to the store.
It's not worth the grief and emotional havoc it wreaked on my son.
It was like he hadn't even taken his medication, INTUNIV.

Which further confirmed in my mind that I can't expect (which I honestly did not) one pill to be the answer to all his issues. It's going to take more work on our part as a family to adjust our routines, and our attitudes and reactions, as well as eliminate those triggers for him. Obviously, letting him play endless hours of XBox (even if he's learning a new game) is NOT going to be conducive to a quiet and calm mind for him. We are going to have to figure out a very strict schedule for him (which will include everyone in the family because if one is playing you can be sure he will be watching and "coaching"). Today, we have banned anyone from the Xbox until later in the day when we have everything finished in the way of schoolwork, as well as limited time because we have church services to go to tonight. My son is much quieter and calmer.......(huge sigh of relief here.)

On another note, I did get a call from my endocrinologist yesterday evening with the results from all my tests he ran last Wednesday. He just confirmed what my oldest daughter already knows about me.
I'm normal.
Just plain Jane NORMAL.
Thyroid levels are back in normal ranges.
Blood platelet levels back in normal ranges.
Antibody levels pointing to Hashimoto's Disease were negative (normal ranges).
Biopsy was negative for cancer.
I guess it's good to be boring.....just normal.

But we are going to up my dosage of the levothyroxine to 75 mg. to see if that helps with how cold I've felt here lately. But of course, now the outdoor temperatures will be getting warmer the farther we get into March, so that will help too!! I guess I won't be moving to Hawaii after all.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Now here's an understatement.....

This afternoon, I was getting exasperated with my oldest daughter and yet another one of her messes. So quite firmly, I told her to put all the sand, and paint, and spray glue away so I could reclaim my kitchen counters to prepare our dinner for the evening. She looked at me and stated,

"My ADHD creativeness is just too much for you NORMAL people!!!"

Yeah, she's right!!