Monday, June 28, 2010

How to fold sheets.....your homemaking tip of the week!!

I was so excited about this when I saw it I just had to share!!!

Definitely will be passing this one on to my girls!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Peek into our summer fun this past week......

Visiting with Grandma and Grandma's 90-year old sister who was visiting this week.
These two lovely ladies are the oldest and youngest from a family of 11 children.

Train ride with Daddy at our local library

Lunch together with friends

Soccer camp every evening through Thursday

Thursday evening's cookout

We also attended VBS every morning this week too, so we were pretty busy.
It has been so much fun though, and we're really enjoying each other this summer!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday's Fabulous Family Recipe

Because my husband is such a wonderful dad, I wanted to make a favorite dessert for him for Father's Day.
Here's what he picked:

Orange Dreamsicle Cake

1 package Orange Supreme Cake Mix
12 oz. prepared whipped topping (Cool Whip)
16 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 small package orange jello

Prepare the orange cake according to package directions, baking in two 9" pans.  Allow cakes to cool completely when finished baking.  Slice each cake in half to produce four round layers.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, fold together the whipped topping, sour cream, and confectioner's sugar.

Place the first layer of the orange cake on a serving dish.  Cover generously with the white whipped frosting.

Repeat the process with the other layers, making sure to use the white frosting between all layers except the top one.

(Here you will notice that I have only 3 layers when the above instructions clearly say 4 layers.
But what you don't see in these pictures are the two little children flitting about my feet while I'm putting this cake together.  So while I'm concentrating on frosting the layers in front of me, little people behind me are sneaking off with an entire layer of this cake for their snack!!!  Hence, this cake only has 3 layers.  You should have 4.)

Mix at least half of the orange jello powder into the remaining white frosting. 

Cover the top and sides of the cake with the orange frosting.
Chill for several hours before serving.
(I made this cake the night before)
Make sure to keep any leftovers refrigerated!!

This tastes just like those heavenly orange push-up frozen treats that I used to get from the ice cream truck!
Light and lovely!!!

(Sorry there are no delightful pictures of the cut cake and happy family members enjoying it.  Of course,
the batteries in my camera died just as I took the above photo and there wasn't a fresh battery to be found anywhere in the house.  But trust was delish!!!)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Where are the fathers? Part 3

3.  All fathers have issues.  All fathers have baggage in their lives weighing them down. 
 I would guess one of the largest pieces of baggage would be PRIDE.
We all struggle with this.
 Too proud to admit they need assistance. 
 Too proud to admit they have been wrong.  
Too proud to admit that they use people, and food, and drugs, and games, and toys to medicate away what they have the responsibility of owning up to and taking responsibility for.  
Too proud to take ownership of how they parent and the results they see.
But when you peel back all the layers of all the issues every man has in his life,
it comes down to one simple thing:

"For ALL have sinned..."
Romans 3:34

"There is NONE righteous, no, not ONE..."
Romans 3:10

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
1 John 1:8

4.  The only remedy for the epidemic of a fatherless generation, the only remedy for the sin that permeates all men and fathers:

Restoration found in the saving grace of Jesus Christ alone.

"If we confess our sins, he (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:9

"Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin:
but yield yourselves unto God....."
Romans 6:12, 13

"In whom (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through his blood,
the forgiveness of sins,
according to the riches of his grace;"
Ephesians 1:7

5.  When a home has Christ (and the forgiveness and restoration found in Him alone) as it's center, the home has a better chance
of being healthier.

This of course does not mean that a Christ-filled home won't have it's problems.
We are still human beings with human natures that struggle with sinful desires.
But a home permeated with the fragrance of God has a compass.
It has a guidepost.
It has answers.
God and His Word, the Bible, has the answers we need to solve the problems in our lives.

But what about the home where there is no father present because of death or abandonment or imprisonment or divorce?
What about the father that has failed you or abused you or caused tremendous pain in your life?
What about the father who maybe claims to live with Christ in his life, but his actions certainly don't mirror that?
What should be our response to that?

I'll share some thoughts on that tomorrow!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Where are the fathers? Part 2

Where are the fathers?
Where are the men who actually care to take up the mantel of their God-given leadership,
who want to fight for the well-being and excellence of their home life,
who care about how to turn out children who make great choices in life and have purpose for their lives,
who want to mirror the kind of sacrificial love that Christ has for the church and love their wives respectfully and tenderly and that teach their own sons how to respectfully treat women?

These guys are difficult to find anywhere in the world today.
It's an epidemic.
It's like a genetic disease.
It can only be learned in the very first institution set-up by Elohim-God at the beginning of time.
In the home.

If one father has no idea what to do, how can he teach and model it to his own son.
If that son goes to church and looks around and sees other sons who are wandering through life
and ignored by their fathers, he is still lost.
Then he grows up and finds a girl.
He makes his own son with that girl but has nothing with which to use as a guide as to how to teach that son.
He never saw how to father.
He never experienced excellent fathering.
In fact, he may be still harboring resentment for the treatment he received (or did not receive if his father abandoned him), and may take out his pain on that son he has created.
And thus the cycle continues.
It's "genetic"'s passed on through the family.

You learn how to be a father from your own father.
So, where are the fathers?

I believe a there are several contributing factors to this "epidemic."

1.  I truly believe that we as wives can hamper our husband's potential to grow into a great father.
Sometimes we nag.
Sometimes we compare him to other father's and are quick to point out where he doesn't measure up.
Sometimes we are ungrateful.
Sometimes we are bitter and thus just take over what we feel he has failed at.
Sometimes we are high maintenance "princesses" who demand more than he can give on the income he can provide.
Sometimes we overlook the great things he DOES do.
Sometimes we pray for him.......but not ALWAYS.
Sometimes we don't encourage and support and cheer him on like we should.
Maybe a little of ALL of the above?

2.  I truly believe that to be a great father, you have to see what one looks like.
The most logical place to witness that would be in your own home.
From your own father.
Dads, take this job seriously.  Who else will they learn it from?
Learn it yourself.
Reteach yourself if you did not have a good model.
Open your Bible.
Read some great books.
Study the men you look up to.

More thoughts on this tomorrow.......

Monday, June 21, 2010

A terrible example...

Ironically enough, this story came out today on our local news.

I understand that there is most likely so much more to this story than we are made aware of.
I also understand that the possibility is high that the Dallas Chief of Police was indeed a great father and did all he could to point his son in the right direction, and that sometimes children make poor life choices in spite of great parenting.  I'm certainly not pointing a finger at the Chief of Police.
But I also have seen that parents who are married to their jobs and rise to the top often don't have time to parent their children well.
I certainly hope this was not the case here.

Just thought this was a horrific example of a wayward son.
My heart is so sad for the police officer's wife and family who are now without him.
I'm also sad for the family who lost the father by the shooter.
And I'm also sad for the Dallas Chief of Police.
Tragic on all accounts.

Where are the fathers?

Normally, I don't speak my mind on such weighty matters.
I do, however, speak my mind on much more frivolous things, unfortunately.

But this particular issue has been weighing on my mind lately, for a number of reasons.
The least of these being that yesterday was "Fathers Day."
I had planned on posting some different thoughts on this all through last week,
but I honestly had mixed feelings about it.
So I'm taking some liberty here to just put down some unconventional thoughts about fatherhood.

I'm really not an expert on this subject because I am not one.
However, I did have one, and presently am married to one.
With that being said, neither one has been without his faults,
but then of the thousands that I have known of, they have not been either.
Unfortunately, there isn't a one on this earth who does not have his faults,
though some would beg to differ, I'm sure.
Because all fathers are human natured, they will make mistakes.

But I'm not thinking about the mistakes a father can make in his home,
I'm thinking about the father who isn't IN his home.
Every day my husband goes to work, he has to deal with some issue somewhere in our town
where there was a father who was absent in his home.
My husband is a police officer.

My husband answers calls to the local public high school which has the second largest campus in the United States because teenage boys are detonating "draino bombs" in the bathroom.
He is picking up teenage boys who are delinquent from school and taking them back to the truancy officer of the school. One of the boys hasn't been enrolled in school "in years."
He is going into homes where teenagers have a lack of respect and honor for their parents and the parents hope a police officer can talk some sense into their child.
He has found young teen couples in the backseat of a car in the middle of the night
fogging up the windows doing you know what.

I would venture to guess that the majority of these people don't have a father in the home.
You can tell.
There is a lack of purpose, a lack of work ethic, a lack of vision.

Now before I am accused of being judgmental, let me qualify my statements here.
A father can be "absent" even if he does physically live in his home.

I have seen that.
The father addicted to surfing his computer internet.
The father sitting on his couch surrounded by his children but his focus is on the
game he is playing on the TV.
The father who is on his phone constantly with a friend or co-worker or family member.
The father that is home only long enough to shower, go to bed, and then get up and go back to work.
The father who has so many demands on him from his ministry that his children fall to the bottom of the priority list.
The father who lives in the home with the attitude that everyone's comings and goings should revolve around his every move.....when he beckons....they should run....or else.
He father who tries to drown out his past or his pain or the tremendous strain of the present with some substance that transforms him and removes his mind from who he really is.
Then, of course, we have the father who uses his wife or children as his own personal amusement park.
He takes advantage of their trusting nature, their young age, their vulnerability, their desire to please or placate him to satisfy his own wicked urges, denying the purpose for which such urges were instilled
in all human beings, and for ever defiling these tender, trusting, young lives.
He leaves carnage behind him.

Where ARE the fathers?
Oh, it's easy to make your own people.
Anybody can do that.
Some men do that recklessly and without a thought of the responsibility now put on them to provide for,
care for, guide, mentor that life which in a split second they created.

You would think to find tools for being an honest, transparent, father of integrity,
you could walk into any church and find guidance.
But in my experience, that is not the case.
Many churches are full of the carnage left behind in the wake of delinquent fathering.
Even pastors and church leaders have poor track records of leaving behind a heritage that knows techniques
for fathering well.

Where are the fathers?
Where are the men who are not only "hard-workers" but are men who can be trusted to be honorable when alone?
Where are the fathers who actually have witnessed HOW to work through their own pain and learn HOW
to forgive without harboring resentment?
Where are the fathers who learn how to release their resentments instead of exploding their anger
on their own children?
Where are the fathers who actually learn HOW to enjoy time with their children?
Where are the fathers who don't differentiate between what is "mommy's" work and "daddy's work" but is the job of the PARENT?
Where are these fathers?

I will have a couple answers to that question tomorrow.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The end of an era?

Well, I did it. 
 On a whim.  
I did not plan to do this at the beginning of the day.
I've been working my way through the house this week and "spring cleaning" a room at a time.
During the normal course of the school year, deep cleaning does not happen around here.
Oh, we get the surface scum and vacuum up the big chunks every day.
But moving furniture, cleaning ceiling fans, re-painting walls.......not happening.
So today I was in the girls room.
It's always a disaster in there.
No amount of yelling, chore charts, dividing up into their own "areas," has ever improved the situation in there.
But when you have 4 girls from 12 years old down to 2 sharing a room, it's really hard to keep it spotless.
Unless you're the Duggars.....which we obviously are not.
I get in the room this afternoon and start moving dressers and the bunkbed around.
We vacuum up an entire bag full of junk around the baseboards and under the furniture.
Then I get to the crib.
Our youngest is exactly 29 months old today!!
She rarely sleeps in it now anyway.
She tends to like to climb out of the crib and into one of the other beds where a sister already is.
Even at nap time now, she prefers a big bed.
So I did it.
I unassembled the crib and moved it out of the room entirely.
I had mixed emotions about that.
I was excited to get the process moving of putting another set of bunkbeds in that room so each daughter actually has a spot of her own to sleep in (though they will probably STILL crawl in with another sister before the night is through.)
I was happy to have more space in that room that is a bit tight right now.
But I was a little sad to think that we might have to throw that crib out.
I remember shopping with my husband for that crib 13 years ago.
I remember when we first set it up, and when we moved our first baby out of our room and into that crib.
That crib has bedded 6 babies, 4 girls and 2 boys.
It still has life in it, though it has definitely seen better days.
We had to have it repaired somewhere around baby #5, and still parts are falling off.
But it's still so pretty to me.
I'm fighting this urge to store it away somewhere "just in case".  
You never know.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Observations of the ADHD child on summer break

Man, oh, man.  
Just when I thought I had the hang of this thing called ADHD, wouldn't ya know it......
SUMMER BREAK comes along.
I mean, we've got a good handle on working with medication, Intuniv, new to us in January.
When I began reading everywhere that a change in diet could POSSIBLY give even better results in managing his behavior and responses to everything in the world around him, I began dropping certain ingredients from our diet.
What a dramatic improvement.
So much so, that I even consulted with his doctor about scaling back a bit on his dose of Intuniv
(we're up to 3 mg. now.)
But then the weather got REALLY hot.
Schoolwork was completed.
A more relaxed summer schedule full of fun activity indoors and out has been implemented.
I'm LOVIN' it!!
We're having so much fun.
But WOW, has my son's hyperactivity ramped UP!!
Have you noticed that in the last bunch of pictures you didn't see ANY of my oldest son?
That's because I can't find him still enough for long enough to snap a picture of him!!
I forgot that with Vacation Bible School every day comes highly processed snacks.
Snacks full of Red #40 (Hawaiian Punch, doritos, cheetos, skittles, candy).
Snacks full of Yellow #5.
Snacks full of high fructose corn syrup.
Snacks full of MSG.
So, not only have we a CHANGE in activity and daily routine,
but we have a CHANGE in diet (and not in a great way.)
Change + processed food = Super extreme hyperactive son

I've noticed that in the last week and a half he wakes up and hits the floor running.....every morning.
He runs and slams into someone's bed.
He runs into another room.
He runs around the schoolroom table.
He is jumping on the unsuspecting sibling and wrestling them to the ground (which of course they LOVE.....not!)
He has diarrhea of the mouth when he is reprimanded for this constant running around,
and is responding very disrespectfully and inappropriately to my husband and I. 
BUT, he is still able to play with his friends without getting upset and crying,
and he is doing fine in making new friends at each new VBS he is attending.
I'm so thankful that we didn't change the dose of his medication,
because I'm sure we wouldn't be seeing ANYTHING positive in his behavior AT ALL
with all the new stuff going on.
And actually, some of that has even calmed down a tiny bit since we're a couple weeks into our summer.
I'm hoping that after another week or two, 
he'll take less time to settle down in the morning,
and we'll see even less of this craziness as it feels more normal to him.
Of course, by then it will be time to get the school schedule up and going again.....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What we've been up to!!

Sorry I haven't been posting as frequently here lately, but summer is upon us and we're so busy enjoying our time together!!  Enjoy a few peeks into what we've been up to...

Slushies and playtime with friends!

Potty training!!!

Helping Mommy with over due "spring cleaning"

Vacation Bible School

Accidentally napping


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Just had to share....

I've just finished looking around this new blog and I have to say that I'm really excited about it.
It looks really beautiful, and seems to be hosted by ladies who are like-minded in raising their daughters to be God-honoring wives and mothers!!
If you have little "ladies" skipping and dancing around your house,
you might enjoy visiting them!
Click on the link to the right in the sidebar to visit them.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Summer Reading

We've been really enjoying a variety of children's books here as a part of the Summer Reading Program at our library. I didn't know how much FUN those books on tape really are. Very engaging! Here is a tiny sampling of some of our favorites:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Summer developmental goals for children

Summertime is here and I couldn't be more thrilled!! I have such lovely memories of summer break from school and swimming, and bike riding through the country side, mowing the lawn on the riding lawn mower, endless hours helping can produce from our enormous garden, the cool breeze rustling the shades through the open windows, and laying on the floor in front of the fan to keep cool on those hottest of summer days.

But summer time is also a GREAT opportunity to work on those areas of our children's lives that sometimes get a bit overlooked during the rest of the schoolyear. Because we homeschool, there are so many things that contribute to the busyness of the household, that some areas just get pushed to the bottom of the priority list.

So instead of having endless hours with nothing to do, endless hours that WILL get filled with fighting and bickering, endless hours that will drive mom to the edge of insanity, I have chosen to concentrate on a few things that need attention and we will incorporate them in a fun way into each day.

I went again to the book I mentioned in a previous post, A Mother's Manuel for Summer Survival, and reaquainted myself with this chart!

In Luke 2:52 we read:

And Jesus increased in:
1. Wisdom (Intellectually)
2. Stature (Physically)
3. In favor with God (Spiritually)
4. In favor with man (Socially)

This chart will help me plan some fun things for each of my children to help them develop in the areas listed above. I'm asking myself, "Where do I want each of my children to be in each of these areas by the time school starts back up again?"

I'm thinking of things like: swimming skills, riding bikes, potty training, scripture memory, reading more books than sitting in front of the TV, learning better ways to handle the irritations of siblings than hitting or throwing things (yes, I'm sure that happens at your house too?), art camp, soccer camp, summer church camp, learning how to work for the things they want to do, math skills, handwriting skills, etc.

What do you do with your children to help expand their spiritual, physical, intellectual, and social development?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer service opportunities and jobs for kids!!

Several years before I was even married, I bought this book.
I loved it when I first heard of it,
and it still gives me great ideas for keeping the children busy during the summer in profitable endeavors!!

Here are a few ideas the authors give for summer jobs appropriate for children:

1. Baby-sit

2. Bake and sell homemade cookies and bread

3. Clean houses or move furniture (obviously meant for older ones)

4. Clean swimming pools

5. Clear away old junk and trash

6. Clip and organize coupons in envelopes for Mom. Let the children
keep the refunds.

7. Hold a garage sale

8. Mow lawns (again obviously for older ones)

9. Produce a backyard carnival and sell tickets for the games and refreshments.

10. Publish a neighborhood newspaper.

11. Pull weeds

12. Sweep porches and driveways

13. Pet sit

14. Car wash

15. Teens could tutor younger children in reading.

16. Wash windows

17. Water plants and yards for vacationing families

What we did last year and continue to do this year is to sell candy bars door-to-door as well as in businesses. We buy the box of mixed candy (Snickers bars, 3 Musketeers, M &M's, etc) at Costco which has 30 bars to the box. Our cost is approximately $.50 a bar, and we sell them for a dollar a bar.

I could NOT believe how much candy the neighbors on our street bought from my children!!!

My husband takes a couple boxes (or 4 ) to the police station and sets them out in the break room with a little sign explaining what we are doing.

Believe me.....police officers eat their fair share of Snickers bars too!!

This year, we asked my mother-in-law to take a couple boxes to her office and we were shocked at how generous the folks were there. Several people gave lovely donations without buying any candy!

We are praying together as a family for opportunities for the children to earn some of their money. The other day an elderly couple we know who live on the next street over remembered Lexi was selling candy to earn her way to camp. They called us up and asked if Lexi would like to earn some money by watering their flowers for them while they are on vacation!! She is just DELIGHTED by that!!

We're also thinking about the garage sale idea too, and selling sodas and candy for a dollar along with some homemade goodies. Those things always go over great in our area!!!

What have you done in the past to encourage your children to learn how to work and to earn some of the money for camp or other trips?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Summer fun on a shoestring

A couple weeks ago, I sat down with our calendar and started thinking about how to change up my children's routine for the summer and to keep them out from in front of the TV. It's time they remember how to have fun WITHOUT a TV, a computer, or an XBox.

Because my husband and I are committed to living on one income (his) so I can stay home and care for all our children, I have to be ever mindful of our budget. There really isn't a lot of money in the "entertainment" category, so I'm always on the lookout for fun, interactive, educational, engaging, cost effective activities that will fill up our summer!!

Here are the activities that are summer staples for our family:
  1. Vacation Bible School
  2. The reading program at our local library that offers great prizes for reading a certain amounts books.
  3. The free craft time at our local library every Tuesday or Thursday.
  4. The free educational entertainment every Tuesday evening at our local library. ( Puppet shows, music, science shows, train rides, etc.)
  5. Our local Sonic a really terrific play area with half price slushies every day from 2-4 pm!

This summer I've come across some other fantastic activities at little to no cost and I'm just thrilled:

Check out this website for FREE bowling every day!!
(You will still need to rent your shoes, so I'm considering finding some used pairs for my children to purchase! Plus, check out the dates. There are many continuing this program in some places through September and October!!!)

How about this one?

If you have a membership to your local zoo (a GREAT gift for your entire family at Christmas),
you could still visit there at any time of day and wouldn't need to feel the pressure of staying all day to get your money's worth. For us though, it's almost too hot to use this during the summer.
(It's supposed to be 102 degrees here this Sunday!!)

Have you checked out your local churches VBS schedules?
This year I have no less than SEVEN Vacation Bible Schools on the calendar.
No kidding.
One for every week of June and July.
This is the first year I can remember where there weren't several churches that had overlapping VBS weeks.
Not this year though, and I'm so excited to have so many options!!
The only exceptions are the week we're sending three children to summer camp with our church, and the week I'm hoping to send my three girls to an art camp.
You can read about art camp at the link below:

Now, summer church camp and this art camp are NOT free.
In fact, for us, they are downright expensive.
But my husband and I LOVE camp ministries and feel it's the highlight of the summer for our children, as well as it having a lasting spiritual impact on them,
so it's an unchangeable part of the summer that they all LOVE.
The art camp is new for this summer, and one I think will really benefit Lexi's
creative passions, as well as introduce some new things to Ashlyn and Abby.
In tomorrow's post, I will talk about the different things we do individually and together as a family to bring in the extra money to fund these summer endeavors!

Our local library has a WONDERFUL children's librarian and she always has the summer packed with fun, educational, FREE activities for the children.
We always participate in the reading program and we earn prizes like a free skate at the local roller skating rink, certificates for free hamburgers, pizza, and ice cream, tickets to the Ringling Brothers circus, and a free book!
It keeps my children reading throughout the summer, and they have fun incentives!
Combine it with some friends and you have a fun outing together at no cost!!
The children's librarian also has something fun every Tuesday evening through June and July that we usually enjoy attending. Here is what our schedule looks like this year:

I think through my summer days and break them down into 3 segments:
Morning time (until lunch), afternoon time (until dinner), and evening time.

Our mornings will pretty much be taken up with VBS.
Our afternoons will include craft times at the library as well as those slushies at Sonic.
We'll also be working on some academic goals I have for the children this summer as well.
Usually the evening time will be reserved for reading, playing outside until dark, and one week of evening VBS. Don't forget your local parks for a splash of variety too!! Take along a snack
and you have a great way to enjoy your family for a couple hours at little to no cost!!

Don't forget to reconnect with long-time friends you don't get a chance to see as often during the school year. Because we homeschool, and all the business in the home that entails, we often miss opportunities to visit with friends even if they live close by. This year I'm making an extra effort to schedule weekly play-dates and sleepovers with these friends. They are attending many of the VBS's that we are, and then we go over to each other's homes afterward for lunch and a movie. We're also doing the craft times together at the library.
Everything is more fun with a FRIEND!!!

Overall, it's going to be a great summer and we're looking forward to enjoying our time together!
What do you do to enjoy your children during the summer?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks!!

Today we celebrated our first official day of summer by going to the "beach!"
Well, not the REAL beach, but about as close to it as you can come when you live
in North Central Texas!!
It was actually at the local state park that includes a rather large lake.
We took our lunch with us and it cost us $10 to get in.
It was a scorching 97 degrees today, so we went early to beat the heat and the crowds!
Lots of fun was had by all.


"No price is set on the lavish summer;
June may be had by the poorest comer.

And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days.;
Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune ,
And over it softly her warm ear lays....."

~~James Russell Lowell