Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturdays are for: Celebrating a rich, full marriage

Fifty years!

Garrett was very serious about his cake eating.  I think this was his second piece.

The happy couple's grandson, who is 14, picked Garrett up and put his hat on Garrett.
He was delighted!

When I asked Mr. Hank the secret to achieving 50 years of marriage, his response was this:
"We put up with a lot of [junk] from each other, but we never even thought of splitting up."

A wise choice.
Never allow divorce to be the trump card in your back pocket.
It should never be an option.
Then, you HAVE to figure out how to work things out.

And this lady is a testimony to women everywhere who have prayed for decades
for a husband who has chosen not to receive Christ as his Savior, nor to attend church together,
yet remains faithful and loving to her man.

Wonderful times!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Fundays!!!

This last Monday we took a little trip that has become an annual family fall tradition and one that my children look forward to EVERY year. 
 Even though Lexi is now a teenager, she still enjoys this.
My husband and I enjoy it too.  
And the best part.....besides being in a fun, relaxing atmosphere with the whole that it is all free!!  What could be better???

Here are the first pictures of our youngest who refused to enjoy herself or even smile at the beginning of our day!!

Isn't this just pure joy!!

We kept losing Garrett and finding him here.

Still no smiling!!

Now, of course, by lunchtime, we are happy and smiling,
because we just.......peed our pants!!
Completely. Soaked. 
And, of course, I had brought no extra clothes for her.

 But that obviously did not bother her, and she was completely thrilled with the rest of the day!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

What is God doing?

Sometimes the days here at our house are overwhelming.
Sometimes the days are intensely frustrating.
Sometimes I wonder if my children will E.V.E.R. grow up.
Sometimes I hate the mind-numbing routine of having to figure out how many carbohydrates are on a every. single. meal.
Sometimes I hate that every. single. responsibility can be an emotional struggle for my son.
Sometimes I hate that my daughter can NOT retain any Math concepts from the previous day.
Sometimes I hate that the clock rules my life.
Sometimes I hate that we have to keep our eye on every. single. penny in our budget
 with never any wiggle room.
Sometimes I wonder what God is doing in my life.
I know He's up to something big.
I know I was created to worship Him and bring Him glory.
I know His ways are perfect.
I know that He is sovereign.
I know that He is good.
I know that He is love.
I know He has a plan.
I know I must see these struggles as tiny parts of the big picture He is creating out of my life.

The Weaver

My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me,
I cannot chose the colors
He worketh steadily.

Ofttimes He weaveth sorrow,
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I, the underside.

Not till the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

~~Author Unknown

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday's Fabulous Family Recipe!!

This lovely recipe came to me from a friend in our very first church in Michigan. 
I have to admit that the first time I tried it, over a decade ago, I was not impressed.
In fact, I almost tossed the recipe.
It was just sooooo dry, you could hardly swallow it.
But I did hang on to it, and it came all the way down here to Texas.
Recently, I've been playing with different cornbread recipes.
I never realized that the recipes are different in different parts of the country.
Here in the southwest, you have "Southern Cornbread" which is best baked in a cast iron skillet.
It develops a bit of a crunchy outer crust, but in my opinion it's still pretty dry. 
 (Kinda goes along with the Texas summers, I guess)
But I found the MOST delightful recipe for SWEET cornbread, (yes, you read it right...SWEET)
and it's DIVINE!!
So, I remembered this recipe and decided to see this cornbread made any difference!!
Can I just say, that my husband and I can't get enough of this stuff!!!
SO delicious!!!
The recipe came to me originally named "Cornbread Casserole,"
but I think it sounds better as.....

Layered Tex-Mex Delight!!!

First, you slice a 9 x 13 square of cornbread in half crosswise,
and place the bottom half back into the 9 x 13 " pan 

Next, spread 1 large can (is it 28 oz.?) of refried beans over the cornbread.
Top with 1 pound of browned, ground meat (I use turkey).
Sprinkle on as many chopped green onions that you enjoy.
Top all with 3-4 cups of shredded cheese (I used cheddar).

Finally, place the top half of the cornbread on top of the cheese layer.  Your pan will be really full at this point.
Spread on a 16-ounce jar of your favorite salsa.

Bake this in the oven at 350 degrees until heated through and cheese is melted (approximately 20 minutes).
I did not cover mine since the pan is so full, but I may try the next time carefully folding some tin foil over it all to keep it even moister.
Slice into squares and serve with extra salsa and sour cream for garnish.

Enjoy the warm, oooey, goodness.
You can use whichever cornbread recipe you want, 
but I like how moist, thick,  and cake-like the sweet cornbread is.

Sweet Cornbread

1 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white sugar (I used my organic cane sugar crystals)
1 t. salt
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

I doubled all the measurements for my 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Spray or grease your pan, and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder.  Stir in egg, milk, vegetable oil until well combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the pan comes out clean.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Fundays!!!

This last week we actually had to do our "Monday Funday" activity on Wednesday.
But that's one of the perks of Home Education.
You have that flexibility to adjust your schedule.
So we wanted to attend the State Fair of Texas.
I don't know if you've heard about it or not, but it's a pretty BIG deal down here.
But to be able to afford it with a family of 8 is hard to pull off.
You can easily bleed out several HUNDRED dollars in just a day there, and well,
that's just not doable for us.

So here's how we enjoyed a day at the fair for less than 50 BUCKS!!
First, after a little research, I discovered that on Wednesdays it's "Canned Food Drive" day.
Bring 3 cans of food per person and get in for only $2 per person.
Since Aryn is under 3 she was free anyway.
That was $14 for admission for 7 people.
Regular admission is $15 for everyone over 48" tall.
That means we would've had to pay $15 for 3 children and 2 adults.
It's $11 for our two younger ones.
Do the math.
We saved $83 on the price of admission alone.

My husband did want to pay the $15 parking fee because he's tired of paying $5 to park in the drug dealers backyard and then walking 2 miles through tricky traffic with cases of canned goods and six children.

We took our meals and snacks with us.
We always let them choose a fair treat,
but this year my husband spent $9 for two bags of cotton candy,
and used the rest of the food tickets for drinks and snacks to share.

Finally, we discussed with our children long beforehand that we wouldn't be able to do any rides or games this year.  We've done them in the past, and we let them know that we would do them again another year.
We asked them not to complain or whine about that, and I made sure our schedule was packed
with fun things to see and do so they wouldn't feel like they were missing out.

We arrived in time for the 11:00 am dog stunt show, and were hot, tired, and ready to go home by 3:00 pm.
In the past, we stayed until after dark for the lighted parade, but this year, we were just worn
out and wanted to beat the traffic out of down town.

So, here's the rundown:

Admission:  $14
Parking: $15
Food/Ride Tickets: $20
Total:  $49

And we had a blast!!
Abby ate more cotton candy than anyone else.  It was her favorite!!

Dog Show:  Free!!

Diving Show:  FREE!!

Beautiful day for a picnic lunch!!

We checked out the Lego creations in the "Creative Arts" building that received a ribbon to get ideas for next year's contest!!!

BMX Bike Stunt Show:  FREE!!

Our zoo membership got us free admission into the newly remodeled "Children's Aquarium"
which is also located on the fair grounds.
The children loved getting to touch the sting rays and to see all the beautiful new aquatic displays.
We saved $40 in admission with our membership!!

Doing fun things with a large family can be challenging when on a budget.
But with a little ingenuity and creativity,
it CAN happen and it CAN be fun!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Intuniv update

Recently, I've noticed that many of you stopping by to visit here have been looking for information about the ADHD medication, Intuniv.  Of course, since we started our son on this medication in January, I've talked extensively about it.  But I haven't spoken of it in several months, so I thought I would give you a little update on our son and how he's doing now that he's been taking this for nearly 10 months.
Can I just say that we are THRILLED??  
I'm not sure how else to put it.
Compared to this time last year, he is a completely different person!!
This medication has been so helpful to him, and thus to the rest of the family.

For those of you new to this medication, Intuniv is not a stimulant.
So it doesn't have your typical stimulant related side effects such as crazy mood swings, weight loss due to suppressed appetite, etc.
The generic form of this drug used to be used to treat high blood pressure.
So we watch for any changes in that area, but so far he has had no side effects whatsoever.
But this medication has taken the edge off of my son.
We give him his 3 mg. dose (which took several weeks to build up to) first thing in the morning.
It's a 24-hour time release thing, but he wakes up quick and happy and hits the ground running.
We don't cut it in half.  He gets the full pill first thing in the morning.
Within a half-hour or so, he can be still and engaged in seat work,
and now he can sit and participate in great conversation for at least a half hour at a time.
He still has his meltdowns and gets angry and mouthy with us.
So we send him to his room where he has been instructed to stay until he can calmly 
discuss the situation with us,
and then we can peacefully dole out the discipline for the disrespect or disobedience.
It used to take him a half hour or 45 minutes to calm down; now it's 5 or 10 minutes.
He GETS it now.
We are seeing new things in him that we couldn't see behind the mask of the ugly side of ADHD.
Now that the mask is coming down, we're seeing him draw pictures that have a fluid story line.
We're seeing him eager to learn.
We're seeing him retain math concepts.
And this last week, he quoted from memory the entire 1st Psalm as a part of our monthly scripture memorization here at home.

I do want to say though, that I really think the reason we have seen such tremendous progress in our son,
is not JUST because of the Intuniv.
We have made a number of changes in our home since he and his sister were diagnosed with ADHD.
You can read through all the things that we have worked on by clicking "ADHD" and "Intuniv" under the labels on the right hand side bar of this blog,
but they include "cleaning" up our diet, changing up our schooling completely,
and solidifying our daily routine.
My husband and I have been working very hard with ourselves and the other children also
in remembering that now that Grant is thinking  more clearly, 
we need to adjust the way we respond to him too.
We got so used to him always throwing a fit about everything, that we would brace ourselves and usually end up angry ourselves.  That never works.
So we've changed our perspective and our responses too.

ADHD is such a complex issue. 
It has so many varieties and so many "parasites" that like to hook onto it just for the ride,
that make it just enough different from person to person that it's hard for professionals to see a pattern and know just exactly what the "magic bullet" is to make it all go away.
So I've learned that there is no magic bullet.
There is no perfect pill to cure it.
Intuniv has just simply been one tool in an entire collection to help us manage our son's issues,
and to help him learn how to control HIMSELF.
I think all parents of ADHD children would benefit from understanding that medication alone is not
the end all.
We have seen a "clean-up" in his diet to be as equally beneficial as the Intuniv alone.
Put those two changes in combination with changes in our lifestyle at home, 
and the progress in our son has been no less than DRAMATIC!!

I'll be talking more about Intuniv here in the next couple days, so feel free to ask any questions you may have.  I can only share my own experience, but would be happy to help in any way I can.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Fundays!!!

Last Monday we had our original plans for the day change on us, but everything turned out even better than we could have planned.  We have some very dear friends who are in the process of raising support to head to the country of Peru as missionaries.  They just happened to be in Texas last weekend, and wanted to get together with us.  This lovely couple worked together with us as summer camp counselors before they and we were married, and they were even in our wedding.  It has been so much fun watching their family grow and how the Lord has guided them into different ministries.  Now they are praying and working towards moving to the country of Peru in January 2011 to begin language training before they can begin working in the mountains with village people and planting new churches there.  Please pray for them as they still don't have all their support yet and have many miles to travel before they get home (to Michigan) to conclude their packing and moving preparations!!!

A little football with the Dads!

Abby and the twins.

Please pray for the Harris Family!!

 Fun at the park!!

After playing at the park, my husband gave both families a tour of the police station.

Our fun evening concluded with fingerprinting all the children!!!
They were all excited to compare their "swirls and lines!"