Friday, April 29, 2011

How to Fit Healthy Eating and Exercising into Our Busy Days

The Legacy of Home

As busy homeschooling moms, we want to nurture our families, while also finding time to nurture ourselves; however, there are only so many hours in a day.  A typical day is over before we know what happened to it, and many times our lofty goals for eating nutritiously and exercising are still on the shelf.  That's why I'm excited about this new opportunity for investing in our own health:

T-Tapp has joined together with the Green Smoothie Queen for a NEW 6-week challenge that will teach you how to Fit In Fitness and Shape Up for Summer. The Challenge will cost $49.95, but it includes a $20.00 rebate and will give you access to a NEW T-Tapp Membership area.

Starting May 1st, The Green Smoothie Queen and Teresa Tapp will join together to teach you strategies for fitting in fitness during the day, increasing nutritional support without pills, gaining more energy and sleeping better.  Who among us can't benefit from such things??

Included are 7 new T-Tapp exercises (downloads) from Teresa's Senior Fitness Advanced Muscle Activation Clinics. The Green Smoothie Queen will also share why the "key" to vibrant living shouldn't require spending lots of cash on fancy kitchen appliances and expensive supplements, helping to take the guessing game out of your dietary choices.

The Green Smoothie Queen is known for helping people to sneak in vegetables, while Teresa teaches how to sneak in exercise.  These strategies enable women to maximize their results and discover that success is possible even for busy women who don't have time to do a full workout or eat a balanced meal.

What do you get?

*  7 T-Tapp exercises from SENIOR FIT CLINIC (1 new video featured every week, plus bonus).
*   Green Smoothie Queen Audio Seminars which include the following topics:
  • Importance of Greens and Fruits
  • Making green smoothies
  • Making green savories/soups/blended salads/juices
  • Green Smoothie Tips for a Busy Family
  • Using Green Smoothies for Detoxification
  • Green Smoothies for Kids.
*   6 NEW recipes to coincide with the audio seminar featured that week.
*   GSQ Written tips: GSQ tips on how to fit in vegetables throughout the day.
*   T-Tapp Written tips: To coincide with download featured each week.

Price: $49.95 (includes $20.00 T-Tapp Instant Rebate - available upon registration)

I just signed up for this challenge!  Won't you join me?  HURRY -- the challenge starts on May 1st!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Heart-Wrenching News

As I sat in the hall today, with six of my ten children lined up beside me, waiting out a tornado warning for our area, I opened up my laptop (which I had grabbed on the way) and was utterly blown away (no pun intended) to discover that Kelly Crawford, of Generation Cedar fame, had lost her house in the tornadoes that hit Alabama! 

The timing wasn't exactly ideal!!  Here I am trying to convince fearful children (and myself) that we will be fine, not to worry, but to trust in God . . . and yet, I must come face to face with the fact that in a twinkling of an eye, this precious, God-fearing family has suffered the devastating loss of their home and all of their earthly possessions!  It is certainly hard to understand why God let this destructive tornado slip through His filtering fingers of love and change this family's life forever.

Losing your home and all earthly treasures is heart-wrenching enough, and yet pales in comparison to what God has allowed friends of the Crawford family to endure, as they  lost their husband and father in this horrific event!!

These are just two of hundreds of families that have lost lives, livelihoods, memories and dreams in these devastating storms.  My heart aches for these families and their losses.  I really can't wrap my mind around their suffering.  The pictures reveal devastation and destruction that is hard to fathom.  Fortunately, for the Christian families who have been laying up treasure in heaven, where neither moth, nor rust (nor tornado) do destroy, they have not lost everything, for It is Still Well with their Souls!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

All in a Day: Fostering Family Unity

Today the All in a Day bloggers are tackling the topic of How to Create a Close Family and Tips for Encouraging Family Unity.

One of my overriding goals as a mother has been to create a close, loving family.  My desire is and has been for my children to build relationships with one another that will last a lifetime.  Thus far, I feel like I've been mostly successful at accomplishing that goal; although, time will be the true test. 

I've tried to identify the specific things that I've done through the years to help create a close, unified family.  You may want to incorporate some of these ideas into your family, but as with any child raising methods, your specific mileage may vary!  ;) 

Here are my Top Ten Tips for Encouraging Family Unity:

1.  Embrace a Homeschooling, Home-Centered Lifestyle.

I don't want to imply that this is the only way you can achieve a close-knit family; however, I can't underestimate the crucial role this decision played in our family.   It was the foundation for creating a close family unit, and everything else I did was really just laying bricks on this foundation.  Choosing this lifestyle as a foundation meant that we would all spend a lot of time working and learning and playing together, which is essential to building a strong family.  It also protected the children from investing most of their time in relationships outside of the family, helped to insulate them from looking to their peer-group for approval rather than their parents, and it forced them to look to their brothers and sisters for companionship.

2.  Build your Foundation on the Solid Rock.

Even building a strong foundation is not enough, if your foundation is built on the sinking sand of worldly values and thinking.  (See Matthew 7:24-27.)  Therefore, it is crucial to build your family on the solid rock of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His Eternal Word.  (See 1 Corinthians 3:11.)  This foundation enabled our family to build primarily with bricks of love, kindness, generosity, and forgiveness, and to reject the bricks of mean-spiritedness, selfishness, unforgiveness, and bitterness.   One verse that I quoted often through the years was:

 "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:32, King James Version)

3.  Work and Play Together as a Family.

A family needs to spend time working, playing, and ministering together.  The more the members work together around a common goal, the more strong ties are formed.  A family will also go through storms together.  Not having our children tucked away in a school classroom meant they were right there when we received life-altering news, struggled with morning sickness, miscarried a baby, endured a job loss, or struggled through dark, difficult days.  We went through it all together.  It is amazing how bonds are built as you struggle together to navigate the storms of life.

4.  Share Fun Experiences, Memories and Secrets.

As we played games, watched movies, read books aloud, took trips, and did a variety of things together through the years, we not only enjoyed fun family times, but also made memories, filled up photo albums, and filled a treasure chest with "inside jokes" that continually serve to bind us together in a fun way.  It seems that having little family secrets and inside jokes ties strong bonds among family members.

5. Guard Viewing and Reading Habits to Avoid Popular Themes that Tear Down Families.

Many of the popular movies, TV sitcoms, and children's books of our day all encourage an attitude of looking down on brothers and sisters as "not cool" (not to mention an attitude of disrespect for parents and for God!)  They also encourage the development of sarcastic, witty putdowns of younger brothers and sisters.

When the children were younger, we avoided all such "entertainment."  Unfortunately, some of those Disney shows and movies have found their way into our home in recent years via older brothers and sisters.  I regret to say that my younger children have been exposed to some attitudes and ways of talking that I don't like.  We are working to remove some of these sneaky infiltrations!

6. Require older children to include younger children.

I did not want our home to be a place where the younger children were pushed aside and rejected, so I did not allow the older ones to leave them out of their play, as a general rule. Of course, I did provide times when the older ones could have a "special time" without the younger children messing up their stuff! But the majority of the time, the younger children were included. None of the children adopted the idea of younger brothers and sisters being "nerds" or "dorks" or "brats" or whatever, and are always surprised when they encounter this attitude in their public school friends.  It is amazing how much younger siblings can "rise to the occasion" when they are included in the activities of the older children!  Luke learned to play football well at an early age, from playing backyard football with his much Older and BIGGER brothers!  And little Bethany has learned an amazing amount of TOUGHNESS from playing with her older brothers all of the time!

7.  Encourage older children to invest in younger siblings.

I've always encouraged the older children to take time to invest in the lives of their younger brothers and sisters.  My two oldest girls helped teach the younger children through the years.  They listened to beginning readers, drilled math facts, taught Bible verses with hand motions, drilled phonics cards, helped with crafts, etc.  They tried to teach piano/violin lessons to their younger siblings -- but quite honestly, that did not have such an harmonious ending!  ;)  Conversely, younger children have also helped older brothers and sisters study for tests, work on projects, practice basketball, or prepare for chess tournaments.  This year Josh (19) helped Tay (20) study for Biology more than once! 

I made the older children watch The Influence of Older Children on Younger Children by SM Davis too many times to count! ;)  My older daughters really embraced this teaching, and looked for ways to invest in the lives of their younger brothers and sisters.  They still pick up little gifts, arrange special outings, and speak words of encouragement into the lives of their younger brothers and sisters.

8.  Emphasize the priority of developing relationships in the family.

I often exhorted our children to make their brothers and sisters their best friends, reminding them that other friends come and go, but family is forever.  Some of the children have developed very close friendships with each other, while others find that their personalities clash.  I've found that the children right next to each other in the line up tend to be competitive and more prone to "issues," while they will "skip count" down to the next child in line and build a strong bond of friendship.  So, my assessment is that my children aren't all best friends with all of their brothers and sisters . . . but they are all friends, with some of those relationships being closer than others!   I'm assuming this is natural and normal in a large family.  A book that may be helpful in encouraging friendships among siblings is

Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends.

9.  Encourage the children to support one another in outside interests and activities.

While some families never allow one child to do something that the whole family can't do, I find this philosophy to be unrealistic, especially as the children get older.  However, it is not wise to have them all going in opposite directions all the time either.  Seek to find activities that more than one child can enjoy at the same time, whenever possible.  Try sending out children in pairs when you can to provide safety and accountability.  However, there will be times when one child will be invited to do something without all of his brothers and sisters.  As long as you feel good about the situation, I've found that this can be a beneficial thing, making the invited child feel special and giving him a valuable experience outside of the family, while teaching the uninvited children that there will be times in life when they won't be included in special events.

As the children got older and began to develop their own unique interests, I encouraged everyone to support that child in his or her interests.  The boys did not like going to piano/violin/voice recitals, but they were there!  The girls got tired of going to football, basketball, and baseball games . . . but attended many of them, often cheering enthusiastically for their brothers!  And when Taylor ran for Student body Vice President, his brothers and sisters helped him make campaign signs saying, "Big T for Vice P!"  (I'm sure those signs helped him win!)   ;)

I definitely encouraged the children to learn to "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."  (Romans 12:15, King James Version)

10.  Create a Crazy, Fun, Unique Home and Family!

Years ago, I tried to create a unique family identity through dressing the children in matching clothes, but eventually kids outgrow the willingness to match all their brothers and sisters all of the time!  ;)  However, this was fun while it lasted, and helped keep us all together on vacations and field trips, and reinforced the idea that we are all one family.

We also created a unique family identity by adopting our own family standards, with the disclaimer that, "Others may, but we may not."  This is a great way to teach certain standards that your family has adopted, that may not be adopted by other families you know.  However, as children become adults, freedom must be given for them to adopt their own standards which they will apply to their lives and families.

We've established many family traditions, centered around holidays and birthdays that make our home fun and help to build memories.  The more the better!  These family traditions all help to create a unique family identity, and make your children feel a part of something special!  They also draw their hearts back home in the years to come.

Anything that you can do to create a fun, unique family identity is extremely valuable.  Naming your vehicle falls into this category.  We now have the White Elephant.  I know another family that has BEV (Blue Enormous Van)!   Do you have a name for your family transportation?

We know one family that always called their home "the world's greatest place to live!"  They answered the phone with, "World's Greatest Place to Live -- may I help you?"  The even set their clocks to a different time than the rest of the world, meaning that in their home you went by "Lewis Time!"   :)  May sound crazy, but it worked for them!

If you have a videocamera, make your own reality show a la the Duggar Family -- just for fun!  :)

We have crazy songs we sing (out of tune!), crazy things we do, and many outrageous personalities that keep our home lively these days! 

How about you?  I'd love to hear of ways you make your home and family Fun, Unique, Crazy, Memorable!  How do you turn your children's hearts towards each other and towards home?  I can't wait to hear your ideas and suggestions!

I'm sure the other All in a Day bloggers have some great ideas to share on encouraging a unique family identity, so be sure to visit their blogs and see what they have to say:

Carrie @ Our Full House

Christi @ Where the Creek Meets the Lake

Elizabeth @ Yes They're All Ours

Kathy @ Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @ Little Natural Cottage

Lori @ Happy Busy Mama

Monica @ Natural Mama

Renee @ Bakers Dozen

And don't forget to leave a comment or link up your blog, sharing your ideas with the rest of us.
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Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter (with Lots of Pictures and Lots of Recipes!)

Did you have a blessed Easter/Resurrection Day??  I don't know about you, but we had such a powerful worship service celebrating the resurrection of our Lord!  WOW!

Followed that with a great meal!  We missed having our oldest daughters around our table, but enjoyed having Abby and her sister, Lily, and her Mom, Nancy, plus Kristi joining us for our Family Feast.

While I scurried around the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on the meal, Hannah took the others outside and snapped some pictures for me!  Check these out:

Taylor, Lily, Abby, Joe

Lily, Nancy, Abby

Abby and her Mom

Tay, Lily, Abby, Joe

Kristi and Josh, engaged as of 3-18-11

Josh, Kristi, Tay, Lily, Bethany, Matt, Joe, Abby

Dinner's Served!   Here's our menu:

This is my plate of food.  It was delicious, if I do say so myself!  ;)  I am going to share the recipes below.

I've tried several recipes, and this is our favorite way to eat a pork loin! 

Seasoned Pork Loin with Brown Sugar Glaze


1 boneless pork loin, about 5 to 6 pounds (Mine was 8 pounds and I doubled the seasonings.)
olive oil

Rub mixture:
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard


Place pork loin in roasting pan.  Drizzle a little olive oil into hands and rub onto pork loin.  Combine the rub ingredients and rub all over pork.  Roast for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours at 350 degrees F.  (I cooked mine while at church, so I roasted for about 3 hours at 300 degrees F in a Roaster Oven.)   Oven thermometer should register about 150 degrees F.

While roast is cooking, combine the brown sugar, flour, cider vinegar, and dry mustard in a saucepan.  Bring to a slow boil and simmer for about 1 minute.  Spoon over the pork and roast for about 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until pork registers 160 degrees F.

Mom's Scalloped Potatoes


12 large Idaho potatoes
4 TBSP butter
4 TBSP flour
4 cups milk
4 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper


Peel potatoes and slice thin.

Melt butter in sauce pan.  Add flour, while stirring with a wire whisk.  Cook and stir for a couple minutes, until hot and bubbly.  Slowly pour in milk, while stirring with whisk.  Add salt and pepper.  Heat over medium heat until sauce starts to thicken, stirring frequently.  Then, stir in cheese.  When cheese is melted, remove from heat.

Place 1/3 potatoes in a large, deep, casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle potatoes with salt and cover with 1/3 of the sauce.  Repeat layers two more times.  Top with a buttered bread crumbs or grated cheddar and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  (I baked at 300 degrees for about 3 hours while we were at church.)  (Note -- if you want these to get done faster, slice your potatoes very thin and bake in a shallow baking dish.)

Mom's Spinach Salad

This delicious salad has been a family favorite for many years!  (I doubled it to feed our extra-large crowd!)

1 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and drained (or use bagged baby spinach)
1 can bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
1 can sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
1 jar Hormel bacon bits (I used fresh bacon, cooked and crumbled)
8 oz. pkg. fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 hard boiled eggs, quartered

Layer ingredients in order given on a large platter or clear bowl.  Chill.  Serve with following dressing:

Spinach Salad Dressing:

In a blender on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes blend:
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 cup oil
2 TBSP dried onion, or 1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
salt to taste

Refrigerate dressing for at least 2 hours before serving.  If dressing separates, blend again in blender right before serving. 

Note:  do NOT use coconut oil!!  :)  I did -- and mine was SOLID and HARD as a rock in the jar when I went to serve it!!!  (yikes!)  I didn't know what to do, but I warmed it quickly in the microwave and re-blended it -- but as soon as it touched the cold salad, it solidified on the salad!!!!  (Epic Fail!  Sorry y'all!)  Since I no longer buy any vegetable oils, I will try olive oil next time and see how that does!

Honey Glazed Carrots

I just cook carrots in salted water.  When fork-tender, drain, and add some butter and equal amount of honey.  Allow to melt from the heat, then stir to coat evenly and serve warm.  What could be easier??

Roasted Asparagus and Mushrooms with Lemon Butter Sauce

I found this scrumptious spring recipe here.  It is amazing!  I tripled the recipe for my crowd!


1 pound fresh asparagus
1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
olive oil, salt, pepper, butter

Butter Lemon Sauce:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon mustard (I forgot to add!)
salt to taste
(Non GMO corn starch -- my addition)


Wash the asparagus and snap off the woody stems.  Spread on a cookie sheet or broiler pan and drizzle with olive oil.  Then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss with hands and spread out on the pan.  Cook for 15 - 20 minutes at 425 degrees F, until desired doneness.

Meanwhile, wash dirt off mushrooms and slice.  Melt butter in medium skillet and add mushrooms, stirring to cook evenly until the mushrooms are browned.  Remove from pan.  In the same pan, add butter and lemon juice and mustard.  Cook until the butter is melted and the sauce is starting to bubble and thicken.  (I whisked a little corn starch into the lemon juice this time, so that I ended up with a slightly thicker sauce.)

To Serve:

In a serving dish, lay out the asparagus, top with the mushrooms and drizzle with the sauce.  Serve immediately and Enjoy!

I hope you enjoyed these pictures and recipes, and that your Easter was as glorious as Ours!  :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sharing the Easter Story with Children

We made Resurrection Rolls today!  I'm sure you've seen this recipe, as it is all over the web; however, I want to share it here, anyway!

What You'll Need:

Crescent Rolls
large marshmallows
melted butter
oven, preheated to 350 F.

What You Do:

Give each child a triangle of crescent roll dough.

The crescent roll represents the cloth that Jesus was wrapped in for his burial.

Give each child a marshmallow.

The marshmallow represents Jesus, who was pure and sinless.

Have each child dip the marshmallow in melted butter.

This represents the oils used for embalming.

Have each child dip the buttered marshmallow in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

This represents the spices used to anoint the body of Jesus.

Wrap the coated marshmallow tightly in the crescent roll.  (Bring the sides up and seal the marshmallow totally inside.)

This represents the wrapping of Jesus' body after death.

Place pan of rolls in a 350 degree F oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

The oven represents the tomb.  Tell your children that Jesus was in the tomb for 3 days and nights.  You may want to make these the night before and leave the pan of rolls in the oven overnight.  (Let the oven cool down first!)

When the rolls have cooled slightly, the children can open their rolls (cloths) and discover that "Jesus" is no longer there.   (The marshmallow melts and the crescent roll is puffed up, but like the tomb, It is EMPTY!)


A Night of Tuxedos, Corsages, and Ocean Breezes

Whew!  It has been a BUSY weekend here!  Finally a minute to sit down and take a breath and update my blog!  :)

Joe's girlfriend, Abby and her "entourage" (her sister, Lily, and her Mom!) , arrived Friday evening for the weekend.

Saturday was Joe's Junior/Senior Prom.  The junior class was in charge of all the food and decorating, so Joe and I were heavily involved with prom preparations on Saturday.  In fact, I was over there from 2 until 8 pm -- helping decorate, untangling and arranging strands of white lights, setting out luminarias, washing strawberries and cutting up pineapple, figuring out the chocolate fountain, making the punch, etc.!  It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too!  Meanwhile, Mrs. D was busy at home helping Abby fix her hair and get all "prettied up!"  :)

I fell in love with the venue that was chosen!   It was an open-air "room" overlooking the ocean, with plenty of ceiling fans and ocean breezes to keep it cool, and more than enough charm to create the perfect prom experience! 

Joe's class did a great job choosing a theme and decorations, too!!  I loved the "Old World" flavor!

Here is the food table all set up and ready for hungry guests to arrive!

It was a perfect day, and just so pleasant and peaceful, that I really didn't want to leave!  I couldn't stop being amazed at how neat it was for these kids to have their prom overlooking the Atlantic Ocean!!

Doesn't it look so pretty??  Joe and Abby said it was really beautiful once darkness fell, and the area was lit by the luminarias, candles and strings of light, that we had painstakingly arranged.  I wish I could have stayed to experience it!!

But, I just stayed long enough to take a few pictures, and then left Joe and Abby to enjoy their evening!

Abby's dress was beautiful, and they looked so nice all dressed up in their finery! 

The following two pictures are my favorites!    :)

I like this shot of Joe's classmates mingling along the sea.  I wish I could somehow capture the sea breezes and smell of the ocean and sound of sea gulls and post it all right here for you to experience -- but you'll just have to close your eyes and try to imagine it!

Isn't this a neat, old tree?  It seemed to inspire some different types of poses!  :)

Well, it was finally time to leave the kids to enjoy their prom, and head home to make supper!  Fortunately, Alan had made some baked beans and threw some burgers on the grill, and Hannah made a salad.  So, we sat down to a delicious meal about 9:30 pm!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Ministry of a Smile

Did you know that you can contribute to both the health and the happiness of your family simply by developing the ministry of a smile??

There are actually three types of smiles:


This smile helps you fulfill the Biblical command to rejoice in all things.  (1 Thessalonians 5:16)  We should strive to smile in obedience to Christ, regardless of how we feel on the inside.  Often, if we put on a smile, our feelings will follow.  Try it and see!


This is simply encouraging those whom we encounter with a smile and a happy countenance.   Even if we've had a bad day, we shouldn't punish others by making them look at a sour face!

 "Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ." ~ William Vander Hoven


This has been defined as, "Expressing with my soul the joy of my spirit because of the work of God in my life." 

"Joy is proof to the world that God can fully satisfy the human heart."

(From The Power of True Success: How to Build Character in Your Life from The Institute for Basic Life Principles.)

Proverbs 17:22 -- "A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones."  (Amplified version)

Proverbs 15:13 -- "A glad heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is broken."  (Amplified version)

Proverbs 15:15 -- "All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]."  (Amplified version)

I want to encourage you to develop the ministry of a smile as you go about your duties in your home and and as you are out and about in your community.

Do you SMILE when you see your husband?  Debi Pearl, in her life-changing book, Created to be His Help Meet, says --- "God's will is for a wife to have a merry heart, a cheerful countenance and a glow that will refresh the most tired and stressed husband on the planet. . . . The day you stop smiling is the day you stop trying to make your marriage heavenly, and it is the first day heading to your divorce proceedings."

What about your children?  Do you SMILE at your children each and every day?  Years ago a wise mother exhorted me to give my children a "100 watt smile" the first time I saw them each morning . . . . and then again at other times during the day.  You want all of your children to feel that you are glad to see them and enjoy their presence!!

What about when you are out and about in the community -- at the bank, at the dry cleaners, at the grocery store, and yes, even at Wal-Mart!    Do you SMILE at the people who serve you, or do you grumble and complain over something that is not to your  satisfaction?

Try this:  the next time you go to Wal-Mart or the grocery store, take time to notice the faces of those you pass.  How many people do you encounter with a smile or even a pleasant expression on their faces?  Not many where I live.  Most of the people I pass look empty, sad, sullen, bitter, and hardened. Everyone seems to be impatient, irritated, and grumbling.  I confess that I sometimes feel impatient and irritated, too, when I have to wait in a long line at Wal-mart!  I sometimes give in to the temptation to grumble and complain!  But do you know what I try to do?  When it's my turn to check out, I love to SMILE brightly at the cashier and thank her for serving me.  I try to ask her about her day.  You can't believe what incredulous looks I receive!!  People are truly shocked if someone smiles and blesses them instead of complaining and reviling them!  I encourage you to try this yourself!  See what a difference a smile and a thoughtful word can make.  (Even if you are struggling with impatience yourself, it will improve your own attitude!)

Laverne -- a joyful Cracker Barrel employee

"Joy begins with thankfulness:  Thankfulness is how you think; joy is the abundance it produces." -- Debi Pearl

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Requested Recipes

I've had several requests from various sources for the recipes from Josh and Kristi's Celebration meal!  So, here they are!

Oven-Roasted Vegetables

1 medium zucchini, cut into chunks
1 medium yellow squash, cut into chunks
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into chunks (I did not use)
1 red or sweet onion, cut into chunks
3 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 450 F.  Place the zucchini, squash, peppers, asparagus, and onion in a large roasting pan.  (I use a broiler pan.)  Toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper to mix and coat.  Roast for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned and tender.  Serves 4.  (I double or triple this recipe.) 

Go here to find the recipe for my famous Sauteed Green Beans.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp dry mustard
1/16 tsp curry powder
6 cups warm milk
1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 pound cheddar cheese, shredded
12 oz. macaroni

Cook macaroni in water according to package directions.  Drain.

Melt butter in sauce pan.  Add flour and whisk until smooth.  Add seasonings.  Cook on very low heat for 5 minutes.  Add milk, stirring with a whisk.  Bring to a boil.  Decrease heat to low and cook 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted.

Pour cheese sauce over macaroni noodles in greased 9x13 casserole dish.  Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

The recipe for my Creamy Cheese Grits is located on my Recipe page (along with a funny story!).

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Cake

1 package Duncan Hines dark chocolate fudge cake mix
1 bottle Smucker's caramel sundae syrup
1 8-ounce container Cool Whip whipped topping
1 cup chopped pecans
chocolate curls (made from chocolate almond bark or baker's chocolate using a vegetable peeler)

Prepare cake according to package directions, substituting butter for oil.  Bake in 3 8-inch cake pans for 20 minutes.  Cool as directed. 

Place one cake layer on a cake stand or plate.  Drizzle generously with caramel syrup, allowing some to drip down sides.

Spread 1/3 of whipped topping over top of cake layer (do not cover sides). Sprinkle with 1/3 cup pecans and some of the grated chocolate.  Repeat with second layer.

Place final cake layer on top of previous layers.  Spread with remaining whipped topping and drizzle with caramel sauce.  Garnish with remaining pecans and chocolate curls. 

Cover and chill cake before serving.

The recipe for Chocolate Trifle is located on my Recipes page.

Disclaimer: These dessert recipes are quick and easy, while yielding a very nice presentation for the effort. They are also delicious . . . but the more I study about nutrition and the more I read labels . . . the less I'm able to enjoy them with a clear conscience! You probably already knew this, but anything made with non-dairy whipped topping (aka Cool Whip), cake mixes, instant pudding, and caramel syrup (with high fructose syrup) is not very good for your health!  So, I feel a little better sharing these recipes now that I've at least given a disclaimer!  :)

All in a Day: Getting Children to Sit in Church

The key to this and many other issues with young children is realizing that the home is the training ground for life.  A wise parent will find ways to train and prepare children at home for the challenges they will face in other arenas, such as being able to sit properly in church.

Think how ludicrous it would be for a basketball or football coach to show up at a big game, expecting his team to compete without ever practicing or working out or doing any type of training before hand.  No amount of coaching at the game will make up for their lack of preparation!  Obviously, such a team would be humiliated, and the coach would soon be out of a job!!  For some reason, as Moms we tend to expect our children to be able to perform at special events without training them ahead of time in how to "play the game."  This sets them up for failure, and causes us much frustration and embarrassment.

For a child to perform well in a public situation, we need to have prepared them ahead of time through training in self-control and practicing of the expected behavior.  Then, we help them succeed through positive coaching at the approprite time.

Here are some of the specific strategies we employed to train our children to sit quietly in church:

1.  Wisdom Search

This is what we called our family devotion time, where we read 5 Psalms and 1 Proverb each morning, searching for wisdom from the scriptures to apply to our daily lives.  We taught the children how to sit quietly and attentively during this time, which helped prepare them for sitting properly in church.  The babies were either nursing, sitting on my lap or playing on a play quilt on the floor.  The other children were expected to sit quietly in a chair or on the couch and follow along in their Bibles, if they were able.  All readers, even beginning ones, took turns reading verses (or portions of verses), as they were able.  This time at the top of our daily schedule for years definitely helped our children learn to sit in church.

2.  Sit Time

This is one way I trained the children to develop the self-control needed for sitting quietly for an extended period of time.  I used this strategy with pre-schoolers and elementary-aged children with great success.  I instructed each child to sit in a certain, confined space -- usually a chair or bar stool.  (Sitting on the couch was too much freedom for the younger children.)  The children were required to sit quietly -- no talking, no getting up and down, no climbing over the back of the furniture, etc.  They were allowed to look at or read a book or sometimes play quietly with a small toy, but they were not allowed to get up until the timer rang or I said Sit Time was over.  I often relied on this strategy to reduce the stress of trying to get dinner on the table, by scheduling Sit Time during meal prep each day.  This "killed two birds with one stone" -- it enabled me to have a more peaceful meal prep time, while training the children in self-control and helping them practice sitting quietly for church, piano recitals, doctor appointments, etc.

3.  Blanket Training

Although I initially resisted this idea, I eventually embraced the concept of blanket training an older baby and found it to be a lifesaver for me!!!  The wise mother who encouraged me to employ this child training method said it was like having "a playpen in a purse!"  I started around 8-9 months training a baby to stay on a baby quilt, by teaching them to respect the boundaries of the blanket, by "popping" the leg or hand that ventured off the blanket.  It was *Very Hard* on me to train a baby to do this, but most of the babies learned quickly if I was consistent, and the rewards were definitely worth it.  I would start with just 5 minutes on the blanket, and gradually work up to about 30 or 45 minutes.  After my 8th child was born, blanket time truly saved my sanity, as I put out three blankets in my school room for the baby (Luke), and the two pre-schoolers (Hannah and Chris) who were all just 18 months apart!  I rotated the toys on their blankets every thirty minutes and that is how we made it through the school morning!  :) 

After training a baby to a blanket at home, I could lay down a blanket and put baby on it anywhere -- it truly was "a playpen in a purse!"  I often put a blanket-trained baby on a small quilt at someone else's house, at a doctor's office, at a home school meeting, in Sunday School class, or in the "cry room" at church -- which brings me to my last point.

4.  The Cry Room

I realize that not every church has one -- but they should!  :)  The church we belonged to for many wonderful years had a very useful "cry room" at the back of the auditorium (or a "bawl room" as our pastor used to call it!).   This was a perfect place to sit with a newborn, private enough to throw a nursing shawl over my shoulder and feed a hungry baby, and ideal for sitting with a blanket-trained baby or toddler, or working with a restless child-in-training during a long service.

These are the strategies that helped me transition my children to sitting in "big church." 

I'm sure you will want to check out what the other All in a Day bloggers have to say about this topic:

Carrie @ Our Full House

Christi @ Where the Creek Meets the Lake

Elizabeth @ Yes They're All Ours

Kathy @ Kathy Mom of Many

Kristy @ Little Natural Cottage

Lori @ Happy Busy Mama

Monica @ Natural Mama

Renee @ Bakers Dozen

If you have a blog, see below on how to link to us! If you don't have a blog, leave us a comment about how you train your children to sit in church.

We would love to have you link your blog with us, at All in a Day.    Here's how it works:

1. Copy and Paste this code to add the All in a Day banner to the top of your post.


2. Copy and paste the list of the "All in a Day Bloggers" into your post.

3. Put your name and a direct link to your blog post into Mr. Linky, below.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Josh & Kristi

I know y'all have been "holding your breath" waiting for me to finish the story of Josh and Kristi -- but it has been a challenge to get this post written!  For one thing, I have a short in my laptop power cord.  Sometimes, it will work if I hold it in just the right position with my left hand while typing with my right hand. . . . which obviously cramps my style!  ;)  At other times, it just won't charge at all . . . leaving my laptop useless.  :(  Finally, I borrowed a power card and charged my battery . . . . so I am going to attempt to finish this post as quickly as I can, since "I'm on borrowed time," so to speak!  ;)

Josh met Kristi shortly after moving to the Georgia coast last summer.  They immediately became good friends, and then that friendship blossomed into something more serious.  Josh "popped the question" on March 18th, and they are looking at a long engagement, since Josh is trying to finish school before they get married.  At this point, they are considering May 18th, 2013 as a probable wedding day.

Everyone wants to hear how Josh proposed!  ;)  Well, I wasn't there, so I can't give you an eyewitness account!!  ;)  But, from what I hear, he took her over to the island, where they walked on the pier and along a walkway that goes by the ocean and the lighthouse, and then there "just happened" to be a gazebo right when he needed one!  ;)  And yes, he really got down on one knee!  :) 

On Saturday, March 19th, we had a special dinner in Josh and Kristi's honor to celebrate their engagement, and to get to know Kristi's parents.  Here are Josh and Kristi with her mom and dad.

Here is my precious little Bethany!  She actually let Ashlyn fix her hair cute for the night!!  ;)  (She's a tomboy through and through!!)

It was extra Special having Ashlyn home for the weekend to celebrate with us!!!   :) 

Nothing says love like homemade macaroni and cheese!  :)

The Menu:

All's well that ends well!!!  ;)

Tay and Ashlyn "taking care of" the dessert!  ;)

Bethany licking up every bite!

The Guests of Honor!!!   :)

I'm sure there will be more updates on these two in the days ahead!  :)
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