Friday, December 19, 2014

Joy for Today

Another joy, my youngest, my baby, who's almost 5, decided she was going to learn the piano.  She has learned which note is which on the piano key board.  She has learned quarter, half and whole notes and she just played Mary Had a Little Lamb by herself. She's not reading music from a staff yet, but her determination brings me joy. She sat herself in front of the piano said it was her lesson time and worked through the entire first book we have in one evening.  She keeps practicing. She sees her siblings learning and she does not want to get left behind. 

Lord help me to have that kind of determination.  Thank you for the joys you bring.  Amen

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Joy

This week I've seen different types of joy

The joy of kids getting ready for Christmas.  We've made mini nativity scenes and done crafts daily in preparation. It's wonderful seeing their enthusiasm and delight as they create special crafts that remind them of our most precious gift.  Jesus.

 This morning the joy was in the form of pure delight as we finally got snow.  Upon looking out the window there were shrieks of joy as they hopped around, eyes beaming that there was snow falling.  My kids and their friends spent most of the day playing in the snow.  Squealing with delight, and trying to sled though the snow barely covered the grass.  I'm sure the light powdering will be gone by tomorrow but today it brought joy to them.

What kinds of joy are you experiencing this week?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mary Did You Know

As the joy candle was lit this morning for advent I felt the igniting of joy in my heart.   I got to see my husband in front of our congregation worshiping the Lord with song.

I have always loved to hear him sing.  On our first date over 17 years ago he sang to me quietly in my ear, since that day I have rejoiced  in hearing his voice in song.  For anniversaries or presents one of my heartfelt requests is for him to sing to me. I have never had the best voice, but I feel like being married to him and standing next to him singing I've learned from him.  I love to listen for his voice, it helps me know where to sing.

As I think about that I'm reminded of how a wife is to allow her husband to lead just as Christ leads the church. In the midst of lots of voices I could discern which one was my husband's and listen for it aligning my voice to the key that was right.  I want to be a women of God that listen's to The LORD's voice above the noise of the world, above all the things that surround us.  I want to discern where he is and align myself and my life with HIM.  So many things in marriage reflect our walk with Christ and that brings my heart joy. What a gift God gave us. 

My husband has desired to be apart of a worship team, using his gift of singing and music for the Lord, for a very long time.  As his wife, I've watched as his desire and dream has been kicked around by others to the point where he questioned if he really had the gift to sing.  It hurt my heart when he wouldn't sing thinking he was no good, because I longed to hear his voice.  Today he helped lead worship and he sang Mary Did You Know.  I felt such a joy listening to him sing and hearing the reactions of others amazed at his gift.  It was a joy on many levels:  hearing my favorite Christmas song, pondering the birth of Christ and how his young mother felt.  A joy of  having my husband being a part of something he's longed to do for so long.  It was a joy of knowing that God brought us to this place for a reason and that HE is doing so much here. The joy of hearing.

I hope you feel the joy of Christ today.  May you be led by Him and be able to hear HIS voice.  May you rejoice in HIS birth and all that means for us today.



Friday, December 12, 2014

Gluten Free Sugar Cookies

We love to make sugar cookies but I've had a hard timing finding or making cookies that are nice and soft and chewy and gluten free at the same time.  Usually gluten free cookies seem to be crumbly. So this recipe was a winner.  Of course if you're gluten free you know you have to add a little zanthan gum to keep the flours together.  I hate when things turn out to crumbly or too cake like when I want a cookie.

So this recipe does the trick.  It's so good in fact we made 68 cookies and my children kept grabbing them and in 2 days all 68 were gone!  Not my plan, we were going to give them away for Christmas presents, not fill up on sugar.  Just goes to show you they are THAT good.

Hope you enjoy

1 1/4 c. organic raw sugar or coconut sugar
1 c. organic unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cream of tartar
1 c. gluten free oat flour
1 c. rice flour
1/2 c. tapioca starch
1 t. zanthan gum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a cookie sheet. Cream butter, sugar, egg yolks and vanilla. Add flours, baking soda, cream of tartar, and zanthan gum.  Form small balls and place on a cookie sheet.  They will flatten as they bake. Bake for 10 minutes, let sit on cookie sheet for 1 minute before moving to cooling rack.

Then eat them! It makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies if you make small walnut sized balls. We made some giant ones too, so chewy, so good!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Preparations

Here in mismatched sock land where clean laundry is piled high and the house is a disaster we have made time to prepare for one special birthday.  In our house we don't do Santa Claus (not saying you can't) we have a birthday party for Jesus.

This week we've been counting down the days till his birthday by doing crafts.  I found a lot of my crafts on-line.  Bible Story Printables is probably my favorite site for finding great crafts and free templates.  A couple favorites are the Names of Jesus Ornaments and the Nativity Pop Up Cards.  You can follow the links and do them too if you'd like.

Today we made origami boxes and filled them with pictures of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh and talked about the gifts the wise men brought to our Lord. There in even a video tutorial on how to make the boxes.  The kids LOVED that.  So now our tree has boxes under it with the Gifts of the Wise Men.

I like to spend time remembering and getting excited about our Lord's birth.  It is truly the greatest gift any of us could have.  I want my kids to realize that presents under a tree pale in compassion to the joy of salvation and eternal life with Christ.

We still get our kids gifts, but on a way SMALLER scale.  They get tons of gifts for their birthdays, but for Christmas from us they get one main gift and then some stocking-stuffers.  I like to get them movies or books that promote their relationship with Jesus.  Some movies we like to put in stockings are Paws and Tales, Auto B Good or Torchlighters about missionaries and Christians that have left a legacy.  For my older daughter we have also done American Girl Movies or horse movies that are Dove approved.

Christmas morning in our home we wake up and go on a hunt for numbered cards that tell the story of Jesus's birth.  It starts with the angel appearing to marry and the sixth card has the wise men bringing Jesus gifts and worshiping him. The last card is usually near the cake.  We light 3 candles for the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and sing happy birthday to Jesus.  We then eat cake and open our gifts and relax the rest of the day.

What things do you do to keep Christ in your Christmas preparations?
I hope you enjoy the links and find things to help you guide your children closer to the Lord and enjoy this advent season.

 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Things I Love About My Home

It is great to have a home.  Yes we finally did get into our house after waiting a long time.

I never had a house of my own.  I grew up all over the U.S and never had a home.  My husband and I have always rented.  I feel so amazingly blessed to finally have a home and I know there are many people all over the world who don't have this luxury.  While getting to this point seemed to take us forever, now I see the perfect timing of our LORD. Each day I thank God multiple times a day for this place and all the amenities in it!  Here's a little snippet of the things I love about my home, the things I thank God for.

  1. Another Toilet!! I went from a two bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment to a three bedroom home, with TWO bathrooms!  Now when 2 kids have to go at the exact same time, as happened often, no one has to pee in the tub! We don't need our "Wash the Potty Down the Drain" song anymore.  It's wonderful having two bathrooms.  Plus now my kids don't fight as much over who gets to clean the bathroom!  Silly I know, but that's the favorite chore in my home.  The bathroom cleaner gets to use really neat shine rags to make the sink and mirrors "pretty", and everyone wants that job.  Now we have two bathrooms, so two of the three kids can clean a bathroom at the same time.  Isn't that amazing!
  2. A washer and dryer!  We had to pay to do laundry at our apartment or go to a laundry mat.  I hate laundry mats and I hate sharing my washer and dryer with an entire apartment of people.  I know people are still washing clothes by hand in some parts of the world, so at least I had the use of this technology.  Having my own is so wonderful!!! When I'm ready to do laundry I don't have to worry that it's already in use.  I don't have to spend $30 a week to have clean clothes!  I don't have to check it for what someone might have left behind.  (Once at our apartment a person left behind a pair of jeans with human feces in them. YUCK!) Thank you LORD for a nice washer and dryer of my own!
  3. A basement!  Now we have a place to do our homeschooling and a place for the kids to play!  When we lived in a two bedroom apartment with 5 people it felt a little cramped.  There was no room for my kids to really play.  Now they have room!
  4. A backyard!  How I've yearned a back yard.  I have longed for a place for my kids to play and be safe.  I've always had to bundle everyone up, including myself to go outside in winter, to play at a park.  I always had to be right there watching their every little move anytime we wanted to go outside.  Now we have a yard! My kitchen window faces it, the dinning room sliding glass door faces it!  I can stand at my sink doing dishes, or cook in the kitchen or sit at my dinning table and watch them playing.  It's fenced and they can play.  We added recess to our school schedule.  They go outside and play in our very own yard.  We played kick ball one day and had so much fun.  It was a great work out running "bases" and trying to get each other out.  We also have  blue jays and cardinals in our yard and lots of squirrels.  It's so fun to watch them.  The kids made bird houses years ago, and this month we got to go outside and hang them up in our very own trees.  That felt pretty great!  Thank you God for a yard and the ability to enjoy your creation!
  5. A big sink and quiet dishwasher!  I love my kitchen sink. I know that seems a little odd.  It's big.  I've always had tiny apartment sinks.  This sink is enormous by comparison.  I love it.  It's nice and deep and holds my pots and pans to fill with water and holds my dirty dishes waiting to be put in my nice dishwasher.  Water doesn't get all over the counter and the floor when I'm trying to boil noodles or drain them.  There was room for my thanksgiving turkey! I feel blessed when I look at my sink and when I hear my lovely quiet dishwasher!  No more loud banging and having to yell over the kitchen appliances.  Thank you Lord for these great amenities!
There are so many things I'm thankful for about this house.  I know we often take what we have for granted and I don't want to do that.  I want to be mindful and thank the Lord daily for these wonderful gifts.  The gift of a place to call home and raise my children.  Thank you Lord.  I thought about Psalm 113:9, that says "He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD!"
That's exactly what he did for this once barren woman. Thank you God! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Gift of Homeschooling

What a gift to be a homeschooling family.  We were able to take off the entire month of October to go on a much needed vacation.  It was our first real vacation.  It was also the first time my kids saw the ocean, or even rode on a boat, besides a canoe.  It was amazing.  As a good teacher-mom I made booklets for each child including all the states we'd go through, maps, and fun facts about each state.  We took different routes there and back, so my kids got to see 10 different states.  The trip down was mostly rainy, but it was still enjoyable. We got to see the landscape changing. They saw real mountains for the first time.  We also went to the Creation Museum and enjoyed their dinosaur exhibit.  They have one of 5 Allosaurus skeletons that were found nearly complete.  We also spent a lot of time reading.  They read to each other and I read to everyone.  It was a wonderful trip.  We had no movies in all 6 days of driving.  And they were  LONG days in the car with only stopping for potty breaks, but it was GREAT!  While we were basking out in the ocean I was again thankful for being a home school family. The beach wasn't packed like it would be on regular school holidays.  It was perfect.  We played in the waves, built sandcastles, found all kinds of shells.  We got to go on a boat ride and see dolphins.  The crew brought in a net and showed us what they caught. The kids got to see jelly fish, little squid, and all kinds of fish up close and personal. My eldest held a tiny squid! We had been studying ocean animals and this was a perfect way to wrap it up. They got to see how little clams dig deeper into the watery sand when you go to get them out. They watched a group of sharks swarm around the pier as fisherman cleaned fish and bloody fish fell into the water.  They saw people catch a sting ray right off the beach.  What an amazing time.

While we were there my two girls learned to swim without life jackets. We made so many memories and had so much fun!  I kept thinking how blessed I am that we could go on a vacation like this and that I didn't have to worry about "missing school".  We did some schooling in the car, but really the schooling we got from the trip was the type you can't learn in books.  It was experiences, being an eye witness to things they will not soon forget.

We even saw 49 of the 50 state license plates, how great is that!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Moving Mahem

Soon I'll write about vacation. It was wonderful...yet it feels like it's never ending.  We were supposed to close on our house the end of Sept before we left on vacation.  It was postponed, so we went and came back only to find out it was postponed again.  So we've spent since Sept 30 either in hotels, or friend's houses as we wait for the house to close!

Can I pull my hair out now?  A never ending vacation has an up side, we are becoming hotel connoisseur, but there's the down side too: switching hotels daily, living out of a van, cranky kids, inability to home school or have a real schedule.  The biggest problem with this is missing that large electrical appliance that cooked my REAL food.  I miss cooking.  I miss meal planning.  I miss eating real food.  One can only stomach so many pb&j before feeling ill.

So we have found that buying a house is not so fun.  Things keep changing.  By the end of the week we should truly be in our new home.  Oh what joy.  How lovely that will be.  It still seems unreal.

I always hated moving, but I think is the longest "moving" experience I've had.  It's been nearly a month since I packed all our belongings up and kissed them goodbye.  Can't wait to be done with all this moving mahem!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Dad's are Cool

I say my DAD is The COOLEST DAD ever he can do cool tricks and the COOLEST thing ever is he   can echo his voice while singing take me out to the ball game I wish you could hear him we have fun with are dad especially when playing the gorilla game.  He chases us around like an angry gorilla. "Stuck with Me" is another game we play.  It's when he hides we run and when we come back he gets us and then we are stuck with him.  He also does a quarter trick and makes a quarter disappear and come out our ears!   DADS are THE COOLEST and BEST at having fun! Plus Dad calls me Buggins!

What cool things does your dad do?
-From Buggins

Friday, September 26, 2014

Moving Mahem

I've moved so many times I've lost count.  I know prior to the age of 18 I had moved over 22 times.  I also know since I got married I have moved 10 times.  Moving can be a time of stress.  Boxes pile up and patience runs thin. 

I try to pack things and label them in a very easy way.  Special kid toys get packed last and unpacked first.  I buy paper products to eat off of a few days prior to the move and pack up all the dishes.  I have lots of little strategies to help me stay sane, and on track.  Yet, something always happens.

 One year the apartment we were moving to was being built brand new, just so happened moving day came and the apartment wasn't ready.  The place we were living we'd already given notice and they'd already rented it out from under us.  So we were stuck.  Talk about an insane move with three kids, one of which was a baby.  We ended up in a temporary place and God opened a door so that we got into a better apartment than the one we'd been waiting for.  Most of our moves people have been sick, or things haven't lined up right or something has gone wrong. 

Our last move gave us some good laughs after the fact.  While cleaning our apartment, once it was empty, a random stranger came walking through, wanted to see what the places looked like.  She had her dog with and it pooped on my freshly cleaned carpet floor.  Talk about a shocker.  Than after moving all day and cleaning we had to drive 4 hours to our new home.  But our new home wasn't ready (again) so in the middle of the night we stopped for food.  The only place open was Buffalo Wild Wings.  It was way too loud for my three tired cranky babes, so we got food to go and found a hotel.  We had to move everything into a garage and wait a couple days to move into our apartment.  It was exhausting.  Then in our new place we found human finger nails in the carpet, and regular nails.  There was cigarettes in the window sills.  It was awful!  The place wasn't ready because they were cleaning....make me laugh.  It took me weeks to get it clean.  I was very unhappy and just wanted to turn around and go back where I came from.

Now we're about to move again.  This time to our very own home. Our first house!  This time we're very excited but still there are unknowns.  Closing keeps jumping around.  We may have to put stuff in a trailer or garage again.  Kids are acting out with the lack of structure while packing.  I know I need to look forward, press on, and stay in tune with God so the stresses of the move don't bring me down.

Last night at Bible study we were talking about Paul and Silas, how after being beaten and put in a dungeon like prison, striped and stocked they sat singing praises to God.  The stocks broke open.  The chains fell off.  How awesome is that!  It reminds me that no matter what we're going through, if we are praising God the shackles will fall off.  I know that my stresses of a move are nothing compared to being beaten and imprisoned for Christ, however, the stress can still be a shackle in my life.  So if I praise the LORD, the shackles will fall off!

This song has been in my mind since then... Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance!
Let God take off your shackles, lift up those praises!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Introducing Buggins

My oldest daughter really wants a chance to blog with me.  So you'll see her debut entry Bunny Rescue below.  There's also a tab for her posts above called Buggins Babel.

Buggins is her special nickname.  Hope you enjoy her Bunny Rescue post!

Bunny Rescue

We were at the park for a back to school party and we found a baby bunny laying near what looked like a burried bunny hole. We were all worried that it wood get stepped on. Especially me! It didn't look like a usual wild cotton tail.  It had black and white splotches, and it's eyes were not even open yet. I started praying that no one would step on it and it would be okay.
When one of the mom's came over and found the hole, I picked it up and carefully put it back in it's burrow. It was so cool, I got to hold and rescue a baby bunny. Thank God we found the hole and thank God he answers our prayers.

From-Buggins

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Banana Bread Fun

Seeing as how I have bananas coming out my ears, we made more gluten free banana bread today. My youngest got to help all by herself.  She was adamant that no one else could help me, just her.  She wanted to crack each egg.  She's 4 and doesn't quite have down how to crack those eggs without getting egg shells in the batter.  So I thought why not teach her step by step.  The part of me that would normally think "let's not waste more eggs, I'll just do this myself," was put on the back burner today.  I watched her break the first egg into pieces, we cleaned it up off the counter, chair, floor, her face and dress.  All the while she was laughing about how funny it was that the egg exploded. The second egg I held her hand to show her the force to use when cracking an egg.  It still didn't make it in the bowl, but at least it wasn't all over the kitchen.  The third egg we cracked and then I showed her how to put her thumbs in to pull it apart.  That egg actually made it into the bowl.  We only had to fish out a couple egg shells.  We continued this way until we had all 4 eggs in the bowl.  We only completely wasted 3 so that's pretty good, I think. It was definitely worth the look on her face of accomplishment.

As we were putting everything into the bowl she insisted on doing as much as she could by herself. She looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, "I have to learn everything that grown ups do, cause I have to do everything you do when I'm a grown up."  It's not a new statement from her.  She usually watches things pretty intently and then tells me she has to learn how to do whatever it is so she can do it when she's a mom.  It's pretty neat to have such a goal oriented, driven 4 year old.  At this point she knows exactly what she wants...it's to be a mom...just like me.  Any time she says this it reminds me that I have a little shadow watching every move I make.  It also makes me feel pretty special.  I know I always wanted to be a mommy.  I'd pretend with my dolls and now I see her doing the same. It's pretty amazing.

So for homeschooling today, she learned to make banana bread and how to crack an egg without making a giant mess.  I'd say that's a pretty productive day for my preschooler, don't you think. 




Saturday, September 20, 2014

Gluten Free Banana Bread

A friend of mine called me up the other day and asked if I wanted some over ripe bananas.  The store near her usually just throws out bananas that are too ripe.  So she gave them her number and ended up with 100 lbs of over ripe bananas that the store was just going to throw out.  She started giving boxes of them away to neighbors and friends.  So of course I said sure. We love banana bread.

I took them and immediately peeled the banana and put them into containers to freeze.  We've now made two batches of banana bread and have plenty more bananas to go through! I'm so happy that I can make gluten free banana bread!


So here's the best gluten free banana bread recipe I could come up with.  I did not add nuts to mine, but I think that would be wonderful.  I just didn't have any nuts on hand.

Ingredients: 
  • 4 organic eggs
  • 3 cups blended ripe bananas
  • 1 cup sugar or honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 c. melted butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 c. oat flour
  • 1/2 c. rice flour
  • 1/2 c. tapioca starch
  • 1/2 c. potato flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • optional nuts
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. Grease your pans, I use butter
  3. Blend up approx 3 ripe bananas in a food processor or blender
  4. Place bananas, sweetener, vanilla, and butter in bowl.  Mix completely.
  5. Add flours, salt, baking powder and mix well.  
  6. Add in the eggs and stir well.
  7. Pour batter into 2 loaf pans
  8. Bake for 45-60 minutes. Mine took 60 minutes for my deeper pan and 45 for my shallower one. Use a knife or toothpick to check the middle is done.
  9. Remove from pan let cool.  I like my banana bread cold in the fridge with butter on top.  Do not put in fridge until completely cooled or it will have yucky mushy condensation goo on it.
  10. EAT, ENJOY be guilt free because it's gluten free.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my children and I are.  We love it.  I need to make more.  I also think this would make a wonderful layer in a multiple layer/ flavored birthday cake.  Can you imagine a Gluten Free Banana Split Birthday Cake.  Oh yummy.  Make one layer using this recipe, one layer using the chocolate cake recipe and then one layer with vanilla ice cream in it! Yummers!

If you try it out send me a picture or a link and tell me how you liked it! 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dreaming of Dogs

So instead of researching antique beds and how to convert them I've moved on to searching for dogs....hypoallergenic dogs.  My kids and I have ALWAYS wanted a dog.  However, I've stood by my husband and always said, "We can't have a dog, no house, no dog."  Well it just so happens we are now getting a house! Can you believe it? I sure can't.

I never had a house.  Growing up with a single mom we moved a lot and rented a lot.  Some of the places were houses, but it was always like a room was ours or the basement was our apartment.  I never had a house or a yard or a dog.  I ALWAYS wanted that.  As an adult with kids I've wanted it for them. 

Yet it was never the right time.  We never were really sure we were settled and where we wanted to be.  We were paying down debts, not making enough, trying to live off one income.  Having me stay home with kids meant we didn't have a lot of the extras or "standards" a lot of people had. 

I always found it hilarious when I'd meet someone and they'd ask what I did.  I'd reply I'm a stay-home mom and I'd get this look, and then hear, "Well that's nice if you guys can afford that, you know I have to work to pay the bills."  Most of the time these comments came from total strangers, who had nice wardrobes, nice new cars and a house.  I guess my priorities were different.  And no, we couldn't "afford" for me to stay home, but we made a way and sacrificed a lot because it was just that important to us.  Like my wardrobe, ha, make me laugh, I have a handful of shirts and one pair of jeans and two pair of dress pants, one pair of tennis shoes and one pair of dress shoes.  That's all I NEED.  Have I wanted more? Sure!  Have I envied others? Oh Yeah! But when I looked the real question in the face I saw that the question was did I want to work to have stuff or did I want to be with my kids.  The perfect clothes, great hair cuts, having two vehicles and a house weren't worth more to me than being able to be home with my kids, to raise them, to watch them learn and grow.  So we went without for a long time.  We did the one vehicle thing for 11 years.  It was hard, I hated being stuck at home or if I needed the car to lug everyone out and do car seats multiple times a day to take daddy to work and pick him up and take him to school and pick him up.  I learned to cut my kids hair and mine.  We didn't eat out like ever....ALTHOUGH we could have probably eaten way cheaper at McDonalds daily...but that's another story...and we don't do fast food, like they're allergy or health friendly..ha.  So after years of waiting and scrimping we are finally ready!

Which brings me back to looking for dogs.  So now that we can actually have a house the very first question out of my daughter's mouth was, "So when can we get a dog?"  I said, "Well we have to wait and find the right kind of dog and have to save for the dog so it might take a while." My youngest nods and says, "Like 6 days, 6 days after we move we can get a dog?"  It will be more than six days that's the only thing I know for sure.  In the meantime I've been looking up hypo-allergenic dogs and have been sharing pictures of information with my kids. It's fun! So far their favorite is the Samoyed. They made up a cheer about wanting a Samoyed and walk around chanting it and doing high fives to each other.  All super cute.  Now we have to get daddy on board. So who knows maybe one day I'll be a homeschooling mom with a house and a dog.  Wouldn't that be cool, dreams coming true.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Removing the block

So I haven't had time to post lately.  I realize my last post was about my friend's tumors in her brain.  Perhaps that's part of what's thrown me into writer's block.  The good news is she's almost done with her full brain radiation treatments and she's been doing pretty well.

The other part of my writer's block...my head keeps spinning!  I have a million things on my to-do list.  We are in the process of buying a house, homeschooling, planning parties and classes for a home school co-op we do, tending to sick kids, dealing with travels and family drama and well you name it.  My head just spins round  and round with all these t.h.i.n.g.s, conversations, things I need to do or just finished doing or wished I would have handled differently.

I have to remind myself it's just things.  Does it really matter in the scheme of life.  If we don't do math today will it wreck my children for life? If I don't have time to respond to all my emails because my whole family is sick, will it really matter? Do I need to lay awake thinking about every inch of our soon to be new home, FIRST HOME, I might add.  It's funny how my brain works.  Lately though sick, though tons of other things are going on I've been obsessed with trying to figure out how to use an antique bed with a different size mattress.  I kid you not I've spent hours looking up solutions on line, trying to find hardware, watching do it yourself videos for making new side rails, so you can store the antique ones and actually use a mattress that would fit a normal couple.  I wonder if that's my brain's mechanism for not dealing with all the stress of what's really going on.

Stress...yes that would be another one of those things that slams the door in the face of my writing.  Stressed to the point of headaches.  Oh and then if I get a headache I start to think, "Oh no, what if I have a tumor and I don't know about it...could that happen"....and my brain races with all the how to's and what if's.  

So I've been out of the blogging loop.  I'm trying to get back.  It might help to put down what's going on.  I do know that in the midst of all of this, the sicknesses, the packing, the mounds of financial paperwork and inspections and appointments, watching my friend swell up from the treatments she's receiving, and counting down the days till we can find out if she's okay, in the midst of it all I still feel a peace. I feel like it's all okay.  I know that feeling is not from me.  Remember I'm the one that thinks tumor when I get a head ache.  I'm the one that freaks out inside and thinks of all possible scenarios for each event that has happened or might happen.  I don't normally feel peace, it's not natural, it's not from me.  It's one of the ways I know my God is real, because in the midst of messy, and sorrow, and joy and stress and sickness I can have peace that passes all understanding.

May his PEACE guard your heart and mind today.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tumors

Today my dear friend learned that the cancer is in her brain.  What a let down.  She's so amazing and stays so optimistic.  I know she has her days and her moments when discouragement encroaches. However, I know she always turns to the Lord and seeks his peace and she has amazing trust that HE is with her and that gives her peace.  Looking at her you'd have no clue she was in stage 4 with cancer throughout her body.  Looking at her you'd see sparkling eyes and a joyful face.  You'd hear her laughter, and jokes and praises.  She is pretty incredible.

Tumors try to come in and steal our joy, to make us quake and have fear, but God is greater and his peace surpasses all understanding.  His peace even makes tumors not so scary.

I'm glad we serve a mighty God who is able to give us peace unlike the world.  Peace that sets our hearts and minds at ease even in the midst of trials of any kind. Praise the Lord!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Renewing my Mind

The last week has found me very stressed and very irritable!  I feel like there is conflict every direction I turn in and in reality I abhor conflict.  I like resolving conflict, but I hate the process to get there. I've spent much of the week with a poor attitude, a headache and rehashing conversations or thinking of all the things I "need" to say over and over again. 

I know this is not where God wants me.  Yesterday in the midst of feeling so overwhelmed, and tired and down right angry about some things I thought "Put on the mind of Christ." My very next thought was well how am I supposed to that if I haven't been "in" Christ.  I'd been "in" conflict, "in" running twenty different directions to please people.  I'd been "in" watching dumb tv shows via netflix late into the night to get my mind off things.  What I needed was to be "in" Christ.

Last night I laid awake with a throbbing head and all the conversations and to do lists flooding my thoughts.  I finally got up and picked up my Bible and read myself to sleep. Then this morning with head still throbbing I opened my Bible again and read some more and then went on to read some of a book on my kindle Secret Place. 

In the book he talks about his attention not being on Christ and what Christ revealed.  I'm paraphrasing here,  when everything is filling our time and mind and thoughts to the point that we are like an artery clogging with cholesterol.  Our spirit is clogged with worldly things keeping and we need to clear those things in order to draw near to the Lord.

It's not easy.  It's down right hard.  It means saying no.  Saying no to tv, may be easier for me than the other things I have to say no to.  It means not filling my days to the brim.  It means stopping and renewing my mind and trying to think about the things that God wants me to think about. 

I need to do better.  I need to spend more time with Christ.  I need to say no more and seek not just what's good but what's the best.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lesson from Horses

Life has been so busy lately, running here and there and everywhere.  We've enjoyed some fun with zoo trips, children's museums and an amazing horse camp.  In all the fun and family time I don't have enough hours in the day to write on my blog.  Which brings me a twinge of sadness.

 Both my girls love horses. That's an understatement.  My eldest breathes horses.  She thinks about them constantly, plans for when she has her own, reads, writes, saves and talks horses.  She's only 8 and yet she knows a lot of horse breeds, she knows all about the tack, riding styles and much more.  If she had her own room it would be covered in horses, but since they all share only her loft can be horse zone. For a long time she prayed for a horse to ride, and a couple months back that prayer was answered.  Some people in our church own two horses and invited us over to ride.  She was thrilled.  She's ridden before and has longed for the opportunity to arise again.  Then this same wonderful couple offered to allow her to train on one of their horses so that she can do 4H.  Again HUGE answer to prayer.  She loves to be near horses, feeding them, brushing them (though that usually flares up her allergies) and riding them.

Recently she got the opportunity to go to an amazing camp.  Destiny Youth Ranch.  It's in the middle of no where, far far from where we live, but well worth it!  A good friend of mine takes her girls every year so we decided this year to meet up and enjoy the camp together with our girls.  The camp had sessions for horse training and communication, tack and groom, trail riding, painting, free time and a time for a Bible message.  My oldest was the only one old enough to go this year.  We had a blast.  She was given a cow boy Bible, a water bottle and t-shirt.  It was a 3 day, 2 night camp and it was UNDER 100.00 for all that!  It was so much fun!

On the way home I asked her what was her favorite part, besides the riding horses every day and she said, "When the lady came in riding backwards on the horse! That was so cool!" During one of the Bible Message times the speaker was explaining the importance of facing the way God wants you to go.  She rode in to the arena sitting backwards on the horse and explained how hard it was to see where she was going or to steer, because she wasn't facing the right direction.  In our lives if we aren't facing the way that God intends for us to go it will be a lot harder than if we turn around and face the right way to "ride" through life.

All the messages they taught they used horses for demonstrating.  It was amazing and left lasting images in my daughter's head.  Since coming home from camp she reads from her "Cow Boy Bible" daily.  She didn't just remember the stunts and horse stories, she remembered the reason behind them.  That's pretty cool to me.

I highly recommend Destiny Youth Ranch, for a great horse camp!  Even if it takes all day to get there, as it did for us, the time there was so worth it.  You can check them out by following the link. I hope you can join them for one of their upcoming events.  They have camps for kids, and for adults.  If you go, tell me about it!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Growing Up

My son is actually 6 years old today.  His little face has been the same since he was a new baby.  It is always funny to see his baby pictures.  He truly has only grown a little bigger or gained a little more hair.  His face always has stayed exactly the same.  But today as I look at my little boy I see that his baby face is changing.  His smile shows where his two BIG boy teeth are coming in.  His little face is growing longer and he looks less like my baby boy and more like a big boy each day.  He's still only an inch taller than his baby sister, but he's changing and growing. 

I think back to six years ago today.  I was laying down with my husband beside my head.  I had a c-section.  I knew he was a boy.  It was pure joy hearing him cry and knowing he was fine, he was really here.  The baby boy I had longed for and bought clothes for, seven years before he was ever born.  Here he was.  He was born at 7:47 am and people joked that we should name him Jet Boeing.  Ironically he loves airplanes and hopes to be a superhero for Jesus that flies planes when he's grown up.  He was a tiny baby.  He fit perfectly into an adorable blue and red premie outfit with a puppy on it.  With his dark brown eyes fixed on me, I looked into his tiny face and my heart melted.  This was my baby boy.  Since that day he's had me.  With one look into his dark brown eyes I'm mush.  When he was a little older he would wake up every night stand up in his crib with his thumb in his mouth and his sippy cup tucked under one arm.  He'd holler for me and then just stand there waiting for me to scoop him up and let him cuddle next to me for the rest of the night.  My sweet little baby no longer sucks his thumb or carries sippy cups under his arm.  He no longer wakes up to cuddle, but when he wakes up we do still get cuddle time. I can't believe my baby boy is no longer a baby or a toddler.  I'm amazed at how he's growing! 

It seems like turning 6 is a big deal.  He's going into 1st grade, he knows how to read and is great at games like Uno and Cadoo.  He comes up with amazing funny jokes and his stories are so creative.  I look forward to seeing all that God has in store for him.

I want to enjoy this time, while he's still little enough to cuddle, stills likes me to sing to him and give him kisses (even in public).  I know one day he'll be taller and maybe more easily embarassed.  One day he won't fit on my lap anymore.

I'm glad that today he's only 6!  God help me to enjoy today and not worry about tomorrow.  Help my son to grow into the man you want him to become.  Bless my son Lord on this his special birthday!  

Dino Themed Party: How about a Brachiosaurus Cake!

No party is complete without a birthday cake.  My son wanted a Brachiosarus.  Talk about a challenge.  I looked on line at lots of dinosaur cakes but none were Brachiosaurus ones.  So I had to figure it out myself. 

First, I baked 4 round cakes.  I used my hot cocoa cup cake recipe.  I then chilled them for 2 hours in the freezer. I prepared a large cookie sheet covered in wax paper.  I then began cutting the cake and gluing it together with frosting. Take two of the round cakes, slice off the bottom to lay them on their sides.  Like shown below.  These are the body of the dinosaur.  With frosting "glue" the two rounds together and glue the bottom to the pan you set it on.  Take the slice from the bottom and cut them into the 4 feet.  Again attach with frosting glue.  Then cut a tail and pieces to stack for the neck and head.  As it settles the head with lean back more.  We propped up the head for a paper towel roll made to look like a tree. You can then frost the entire dinosaur the way you desire. 
I purchased colored butter cream frosting from Whole Foods to use on my dinosaur.  I practiced for weeks before wasting money on natural food dies that didn't work well with the frosting.  So I opted to just buy a couple pounds of colored frosting from Whole Foods.  It was only $3.00 a tub, the natural food coloring at our local store was more than $8.00 so I think I got the better deal! Once you frost the cake do not put it in the fridge or freezer that will cause condensation.  Leave it out. 
We frosted the paper towel rolls to look like trees.  He wanted a red and green dinosaur.  The colors were very light as they were plant based natural colors, but it worked fine for him!

Hope your Brachiosarus birthday cake is extra yummy!  Ours sure was!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dino Themed Party Pinata Directions

My son will be six tomorrow.  Makes me want to cry when I think about how quickly he's growing.  It's excited to watch his little boy face change.  It's wonderful to hear him read to me and watch him run and play.  It's bitter sweet though to see that he's growing up and changing and won't always fit on my lap or want to cuddle.

We threw him a party and as you probably guessed based on the title, it was all dinosaur.  I made a dinosaur pinata. We played pin the tail on the Brachiosaurus, toss the dino egg (water balloon) and we had a three legged race.  While a t-rex chased the children.  I wouldn't do the 3-legged race again, at least not with little kids. Let's tie their legs together and watch them try to run and fall on their faces, what fun, (oops.)  They still had fun and no one really got hurt, so that was good!

So first up, you have to prepare your pinata.  Plan it out a few weeks before the actual party.  I mixed oat flour and water in a bowl.  I started out with a one to one ratio, but I then needed to add water to thin it out.  I tried tissue paper and news print, but I would recommend copy paper.  You need fewer layers with copy paper.  The plus to the way I did it is that I could see what layer I was on.  So perhaps use different colored paper for each layer.  You need at least three layers.  I did 5.

Materials:
  • flour
  • water
  • 2 inch wide strips of paper
  • construction paper for tubed neck and tail
  • balloons (large for body, small for head)
  • toilet paper tubes for leg 


 I placed a bowl under the large balloon to hold it in place.  I made a construction paper tube for the neck and tail, and taped them to the balloon.  Also tape on the toilet paper rolls.  Then start adding your layers of paper dipped in the flour and water mixture.  Make sure to cross them over each other.
Allow 24 hours for each layer to dry.

 When it is hard enough that you can't push and feel the balloons inside, you can paint it and stick a knife in to pop the balloon in the body and make a small hole to insert the treats.
We found great little stretchy dinosaurs, along with Dino sponges and stickers from the Dollar Tree.  Those all went into the pinata.  It was taped shut.  I then used a rope to wrap around it and hand it in the tree.  Great FUN.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Charlotte Mason Style- Tea Time

I was inspired recently by an article on Ambleside Online about tea time.  Charlotte Mason lived in Europe in the 1800's and of course they observed tea time.  As I read the article I thought about how around 2:30-3:00 my kids need an afternoon snack and if it's missed they are more cranky.  What a great way to spend quality time with my kids during their "snack" and at the same time be teaching them about etiquette, serving, and enjoying great poetry or Psalms and wonderful chatter. 

So today I pulled out the box of fine China that I was recently given.  It's been in a box in my closet for months as I didn't want it to break.  I carefully got it ready and set the table.  I started boiling water and pulled out the Cherry and Blueberry tea bags from my cupboard.  I remembered the article and how they usually had cream and sugar with tea.  I've never had cream in my tea before and we didn't have cream on hand so I poured a little cup of milk and brought out the honey.  I told the kids I was getting a surprise ready and they should play quietly until I called them.  While I was doing this my oldest kept calling to me, "Mom, I'm really hungry!"  Good thing I was in the middle of cutting carrots.  I set out their tea cups and saucers and then a small dessert plate with carrots, blueberries and a yummy artichoke dip for the carrots.  Once it was all set out I called them to the table.  I didn't have a nice tea pot just a glass measuring cup. 

I invited them to sit in special spots and then served them tea.  I used a bit of an ancient and asked if they'd like a spot of cream.  Their little bodies transformed before my eyes from wiggly hyper children to calm little beings. Their eyes were wide and they nodded at each thing I offered them.  We all carefully sipped our tea.  We talked about things they wanted to share with me and then I read some of A. A. Milne poems.  We laughed about Binker and the boy getting extra chocolate because he had an imaginary friend.  My kids started bubbling over with things to tell me.  Yet they were not yelling or hyper they were taking turns sharing little things they thought were important.  I listened intently, looking at each little face, smiling and taking in what they had to say. 

When we were done we carefully washed and dried the china together and found a new home for it in the kitchen, not hidden in my closet.  The kids all asked if we could do this again.  My littlest said, "Mommy can we do this everyday and every-night and everyday?  This is fun, Mommy."

I think that says it all.  Can anyone say JOY of LEARNING

To read the article that inspired me to start tea time follow the link:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Handicrafts: Charlotte Mason Style

I love being able to home school.  It allows us to take the time to teach my children things they show interest in. I enjoy being able to teach them things they can use in the future.

When my oldest was 4 I began teaching her to sew.  We would have date nights and work on sewing.  I had no idea I was doing Charlotte Mason Handi-Crafts, but in reality I was.  My daughter learned how to make a pillow very well.  She went on to make many pillows to sell at our local church to help the church raise money.  She also learned how to make pillow dolls which she gave to almost every family member.  Now 4 years later she has begun to learn how to knit without a loom.  She's also great at beading and regularly makes jewelry.  The amazing thing about this is seeing how she can use it for God's kingdom.  Recently she sold jewelry at a benefit for my friend with breast cancer.  It brings me joy that she can use these God-given talents for His kingdom. 

I think Charlotte Mason was right on when she talked of the importance of handicrafts.  This year my son is going into 1st grade and he's going to learn wood working skills.  He's excited about it.  He's going to learn to make a wooden car. It's something that he can use later on and it teaches him that he can work with his hands and create something for himself and others.  My 4 year old daughter is also excited about sewing.  I made her an outfit the other day out of a skirt that got to small.  I used the top to make into a pair of shorts.  She was fascinated by the whole process and wanted to learn it all.

I have to tell you as a child an elderly woman took the time to show me how to sew.  She wasn't of any relation to me but she invested that time into me.  It was not something I continued with and so I lost a lot of the knowledge of how to sew and what patterns were saying.  But I remembered that time she took with me and I remember the pj set I made vividly.  There was a joy in making something you can use.  As an adult I re-learned to sew and honestly I'm not the best.  Most patterns make no sense to me.  Yet I can sew now and I can find tutorials or ask my mother in law what to do.  It still brings joy knowing I can make clothes for my kids or toys for them. 

Spending that time with my kids teaching them something like this brings us closer together and it's a very fun part of "school". 

To see more about Charlotte Mason or handicraft videos follow the links.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Becoming a little more Charlotte Mason Styled

This is my fourth year of homeschooling.  I love it, but that hasn't always been the case.  When I was brand new to homeschooling I kept trying to join groups, to have the accountability and to make sure my kids learned everything they needed to learn.  Let's be real, I also wanted my kids to learn more than they needed to know.  It gave me pride to say things like, "My daughter  is learning the timeline from creation to present day and she's 5."  Looking back I was not instilling a love for learning, I was jamming facts down my kids throats hoping they'd be able to spew them back at me. 

Now I have a little more relaxed approach.  I try to expose them to great books, and poems.  We spend a lot of time reading through out the day.  We go to the library once a week and regularly check out 30-40 books and read them all before the week is up. We spend time coloring and doing crafts and doing nature studies.  I didn't realize I was really doing something that had a name.  For a long time when my daughter was younger we'd go outside and find bugs and rocks and my daughter would sometimes draw what she found in little random paper she stapled together.  Recently I found out that was actually doing a Nature Study and Notebooking!  Now we go a little further in depth, we look up the birds or the berries and find out what they are.  It's amazing how much my kids learn from just going on a walk. 

A couple of years ago we made a poetry notebook.  It had poems and they would illustrate the poem and we'd memorize it. We didn't read a lot of poetry or study one poet.  We just memorized a few poems.  The great thing about this is my children still have their notebooks and they still like to read through the poems and see how they drew a couple years ago.  Recently I started reading the poems by A. A. Milne after Bible during breakfast. They've loved it and wanted more each day.  They've asked for certain poems by name and they've started making a poetry notebook again.  I love that poetry uses a different type of language and the vocabulary is rich!

I've always liked Charlotte Mason and the workshops on her style at home-school conferences.  Yet I was often not using her principals.  I've found that doing it her way is increasing my kids love for learning.  Using short 15 minute lessons for math has by far been the greatest help to our math struggle.  My daughter knowing that she's not going to have to sit there till she finishes a lesson if even it takes an hour frees her to not worry about it.  She knows when the timer goes off her math is done.  A perk to this is she has in fact started finishing a whole lesson in her 15 minute time slot.  That's pretty exciting!

I'll share more about becoming a little more Charlotte Mason styled this week.  If you want to learn more about Charlotte and her methods please look at these links:

Monday, July 7, 2014

Gluten Free Pizza Crust Recipe, You ROCK!

So my kids love pizza.  What kid doesn't, right? For a long time they couldn't have pizza while we were figuring out the allergies.  Being that my son was allergic to rice we couldn't eat most gluten free pizza because they use RICE flour.  It was a travesty.

Then my darling husband worked many hours trying to perfect a gluten free pizza crust recipe.  He believes pizza crust is supposed to have a certain texture, and taste to it.  I tried over and over to make a crust recipe, but none met his high standards.  So emerged his creation.  What a delight, what a moment.  The kids coronated the event with a song dedicated to his gluten free pizza creation.  It goes... (drum roll please)..."Pepperoni Pizza You rock, you rock. Pepperoni pizza, you rock, you rock! You ROCK!"

So this is my darling husband's very own Rockin Gluten Free Pizza Crust Recipe
Ingredients:
1/2 c. tapioca starch  
1/4 c. millet or oat flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp dill
1 egg
1/4 c. milk (any kind)
AND
Toppings of choice



Directions:Mix the dry ingredients together, whisk in wet ingredients.  It will look somewhat thin and runny, it will rise, don't worry. Pour into a pie pan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 13 minutes. Take out and top.  We usually make three of these batches. One we don't put any sauce on, as my youngest is allergic to tomatoes. The others we sauce, add cheese, and turkey peperoni, or sliced peppers and olives and little more cheese.  After adding toppings bake again for another 6-10 minutes, until the cheese is nice and bubbly! Take out, cool, cut and eat.  Oh and you must bee bop and sing along, Pepperoni Pizza you rock. 

Hope you enjoy this yummy gluten free pizza crust recipe.  It has delighted my family.  So dig in!



Sunday, July 6, 2014

Holy Spirit

My pastor started a series a few weeks back on the Holy Spirit.  It has been helpful to reflect on my thoughts, experiences and feelings about the Holy Spirit.  I was one of the many people who experienced the "abuses" in the name of the Holy Spirit.  For years when I heard people say the words "Holy Spirit" it  made me uncomfortable because of those experiences. A few years ago I realized this uncomfortableness and asked God to help me through it.  I know that I believe in the Trinity of God, and that includes the Holy Spirit.

I know that God, through the Holy Spirit has led my husband and I many times.  From moves to dealing with money and family relations, many times the Holy Spirit has guided us.  Yet, I still clung to this feeling that HE was somehow odd or strange, due to the things I experienced in non-scriptural churches.

I've been excited as our pastor has pointed out the presence of the Holy Spirit throughout scripture.  One I have been meditating on and excited about is found in the very beginning.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters." Genesis 1:1-2

It is so great to see the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God right there from the beginning, hovering over all things. The same Spirit of God, the same Holy Spirit is in me today, directing me, guiding me and showing me the way.  That is so amazing to think about.   I thank the Lord for HE is Good.  I'm grateful to have this wonderful, all knowing, powerful God living in me through the Holy Spirit.  When I don't know what to do, I can call on him and ask for guidance.  When I feel a nudging from within I can know that the Spirit of God is directing my path.  It can be as easy as the nudging in my heart recently to do 5 day club, or to reach out to a neighbor I didn't know.  God loves us all and he has plans and desires that are GOOD, we need to not be afraid, but accept his Spirit, the Holy Spirit to dwell in us to direct us and allow us to be all that God intends us to be.

Will you listen to the Holy Spirit this week guiding you? Will you become divided following after your own will, not having or listening to the Spirit? Will you stay in the love of God?  Will you stay in love with God?  May you walk in obedience to him, the Holy Spirit, and be filled with his mercy and knowledge of what you need to do for your week.

But ye, beloved, remember ye the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; That they said to you, In the last time there shall be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts.These are they who make separations, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 
Jude 1:17-21

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

God is Good

As I've watched my best friend deal with breast cancer, I've been amazed by her and by God.  As we were talking last night about things we've seen God doing she reminded me how we can only see a tiny portion of the masterpiece God is creating.

Through ups and downs, infections and trying to raise little kids while battling cancer I've seen her grow.  She does not wavier or doubt God's goodness.  She knows he is good.  She trusts his judgement and she praises him for each thing, good and bad. 

A couple months ago she was growing thinner by the day.  One evening while I was staying with her I was scared as I listened to her labored breath.  Since then though, the cancer numbers have gone up and the cancer has spread according to scans, she seems better.  She has God's peace.  She is gaining some weight back.  Her energy is improving.  She's able to hold her 6 month old baby, when she couldn't just a couple months ago.  She laughs and jokes just like she did back in our college days.  God is good!

The medication that she takes via IV once a week was causing severe shortness of breath and vomiting and fevers.  We all prayed hard for her as she went in this week, and she had none of those side effects.  God is good!  She came home with an appetite and though she was restless she wasn't miserable like the week before.  She was able to be with her children, to laugh and to create memories.

So many people have been touched by her story, and her strength.  She repeatedly points to Jesus and says, "He's my strength".  When doctors are in shock she's not in more pain, for how far it's spread she points to Jesus.  When people are amazed that she's up and around, she points to Jesus.  When she deals with the workers, doctors, nurses and home health people she is not bitter or chaotic, or unsure of her future, she is full of love and grace and peace and hope and she points to Jesus.

In all of this I can say God is Good.  I'm glad that He sees the masterpiece and only shows me a tiny bit at a time.  In that tiny bit I see His hand at work, changing hearts, building connections and showing HE is GOOD. I can thank Him for my dear friend, for all her improvements.  I can thank Him for each day.

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, For His loving kindness is everlasting.
Psalm 136:1

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Gluten Free Tortilla & Crepe Recipe

Who says that breakfast burritos have to be for breakfast?  I prefer them for supper. My husband came up with a wonderful gluten free recipe that works for both crepes and tortillas.  We enjoyed these wonderful gluten free dinner burritos!  I believe they are a new favorite with everyone.  The recipe is so versatile as well.  You can use it for a regular taco, a burrito, a lovely fruit filled crepe.  Whatever you can imagine this go to gluten free thin pastry is perfect!




 Gluten Free Tortilla & Crepe Ingredients:
1 c. gluten free oat flour 
1/2 c. tapioca starch
1/4 c. brown rice flour
1/4 c. quinoa flour
dash of  salt
2 c. milk (any kind)
2 organic eggs
1 1/2 t. honey




* A revision: I recently made these but changed the flours to not have rice.  I also added one more egg due to using coconut flour. The revision was the following 1c oat flour, 1/4c tapioca starch, 1/4 c millet and 1/4 coconut flour.  It turned out great.  We used them to make cheese crisps. The kids LOVED them!

Directions:
Mix the dry ingredients together, whisk in wet ingredients.  Pour into a griddle that is heated at 350 degrees. Swirl the pan to make a very thin layer of batter. Cook for about 30 seconds on each side.  Set them aside.  If you are making a crepe you can use a little more honey for sweetness.  You can also exchange buckwheat flour for the brown rice and quinoa if you don't like the taste of quinoa.

Add-Ons:
We then made scrambled eggs with cheese, and Applegate Farms chicken sausage to stuff into the tortillas along with some salsa.  Another combination would be to make them chicken tacos with  avocado.  After having burritos for the meal we had yogurt and blueberry crepes for desert using the same great gluten free recipe.

I hope you will enjoy this versatile recipe.  It makes great gluten free tortillas or gluten free crepes.  After trying out this recipe please share what great add-ons you used.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Gluten Free Hot Cocoa Cup Cakes

My kids sometimes feel like they never get to have REAL food.  They see all the pretty frosted cupcakes with sprinkles and wish they too could have them.  My eldest remembers when she used to eat this kind of food all the time.  I have figured out ways to make most of the things they loved and switch it up to be gluten free and dye free.  One of my favorite findings was India Tree sprinkles.  The sprinkles are fabulous!  They are brightly colored, look like the real deal, but they are made with fruit and vegetable dyes, not toxic coal tar like the normal FD&C dyes are.  I love India Tree.  They have food coloring, sprinkles and all kinds of things. Make sure you look at their Nature's Colors line if you want it free of numbered dyes.
(They have no clue I'm endorsing them and I don't get any kick backs.  I just like them.)

My latest cupcakes I made with hot cocoa.  It was a fun experiment from start to finish, and my kids loved them.  I couldn't keep their fingers from snatching them all up!  My husband is normally  my hardest critic.  He even said these were good, which means a lot!  So give them a try!

Ingredients
1 c. gluten free oat flour 
1/4 c. coconut flour
1/4 c. tapioca starch
1 t. zanthan gum
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking soda
3 organic eggs
1/3 c. milk (any kind)
1/2 c. honey
1 c. boiling water
1/2 c.  organic cocoa mix

Frosting:
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. tapioca starch
2 T. syrup (more till desired sweetness)



1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease muffin pan or line it. I use my silicon muffin shapes.
2. Combine all the dry ingredients except cocoa mix. Pour in wet ingredients except boiling water.  Mix together until well blended. It will be very thick. Boil water and dissolve 1/2 c. of organic cocoa mix.  Add it to batter.  Mix on high till it is all combined.  It will be more runny. fill cup cakes paper with 1/4 c. scoop.  It will make 1 dozen.
3. In a separate bowl using a wire whisk beat together the butter and sour cream.  Add tapioca starch 1/4 c. at a time until it's the desired consistency.  Then add syrup to make the right sweetness. 
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Then cool completely before frosting.  Then add sprinkles and enjoy.  This frosting will melt if it gets too hot.  It tastes like a cream cheese frosting.

*Another variation of this is to add yogurt instead of sour cream. 

I hope you enjoy these yummy cup cakes.  Have you tried India Tree sprinkles before? Is there a special way you color your frostings without regular food dye?  Tell us about it!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Creativity is a Must & Tooth Fairies Rock!

When you have kids you know that being creative and using your imagination is a must with kids.  No longer do you have a living room, you have a remote jungle with hide out forts.  Boxes become vehicles, dog houses, pounds and if they are big enough hide-outs.  Kids naturally have an imagination.  They like dreaming up adventures.  When they play their stuffed animals talk and anything can happen.  God made us in his image and isn't he an amazing creative God.  Look no farther than the duck-billed platypus and you can see pure creative genius at work!

I know many people disagree on having kids use their imaginations with things like tooth faries, Santa etc.  Here's how I personally feel, and you don't have to agree, if it's not taking the spot light off of God then it's okay to imagine.  In our house we don't do Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny.  We feel those holidays are set apart for Jesus, his birth and his resurrection. I know plenty of people who still do Santa and make sure they celebrate Jesus' birthday and the real meaning.  I'm not saying it can't be done.  I'm just saying we don't do those two characters in our home. My kids know who they are, they've even gotten pictures with them before at parties, but they don't come to our house.  We do however set traps for the Leprechaun for St. Patrick's day.  And when the kids loose teeth, a tooth fairy does pay them a visit.

My son lost his first tooth.  He's so excited.  He's growing up so fast.  Next month he'll be six and it shocks and amazes me.  His older sister helped him write a note to his tooth fairy.  They left out a piece of gum and nice little note.  He was wishing for a piece of chocolate.  This momma had NO chocolate on hand.  So after everyone was snuggled into bed I drove 30 minutes just to get that boy some chocolate.  The tooth fairy needed a little assistance, you could say. 

We use the tooth fairy as a learning tool as well. When I was a child my tooth fairy was Chiquita from the Caves of Garcia.  She wrote me letters in Spanish and gave me Pesos and gifts like castanets. My grandmother often frequented Mexico and new a little Spanish.  I would leave out tiny tea cups for my pint size friend.  We'd write letters back and forth, and I'd learn about Mexico and a little Spanish along the way.  My eldest daughter has a fairy named Aurelia who lives in the Edelweiss flowers in Switzerland.  The Sound of Music has all new meaning when you're fairy is from that land. 

So now,  it's my little boys turn.  Since he wanted chocolate, his fairy is Prince Pedro, who happens to live in a Cocoa Grove in Brazil.  His chocolate even has a wrapper, fresh from the printer, with the Brazillian flag.  His letter includes some Portuguese words and tells a little about the country Pedro is from.  I can't wait till tomorrow when he reads all Pedro has to say and we run to the map and learn even more about Brazil. 

Creativity and imagination is a must with children and it creates long lasting memories.  If my child asks me if the tooth fairy is really real, I'll tell them no, but isn't it great to imagine.  I don't say "We believe in tooth fairies," because we believe in Jesus Christ. I do allow my children to be imaginative and creative and get excited about the idea of fairies and leprechauns and myths.  I think that's perfectly okay and a great part of childhood, especially when they know the ONE TRUTH that matters.

Does the tooth fairy frequent your home? How do you feel about the tooth fairy?  What creative things does your child's tooth fairy do?  Please share!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Food Allergies

I was reading blogs today about food allergies and comments on how hard it is to go gluten free.  I started thinking back to how I felt when we first changed up our diets.  Truth is, it was hard at first.  I had to read every label.  I felt like I couldn't get a grasp on things.  No longer could I go to potlucks and let my children eat whatever they wanted.  It took more time and more effort and I had to plan ahead more.  Yet it's so worth it to see my family's health improving.

Here are some tips to help you live out going gluten free with kids.
  1. Make sure you plan ahead and bring snacks with you for the day: Instead of little fish crackers and all the carb-based foods for snacks we now take carrots, hard boiled eggs and fruit with us while out and about.  When kids are hungry I don't have to throw away our diet because I have the snacks with me and lets face it it's hard to find gluten free, dye free healthy snacks at the local gas station.
  2. Have your whole family do the change together:
    We all went gluten free together so no one is tempted to eat something they're not supposed to. I personally don't have the same reactions to gluten as my husband and kids do, but I know it's beneficial so I do it with them. There are times when this doesn't work.  My youngest has more dietary needs than anyone else in our home.  She shows significant behavior problems with foods that mimic acetylsalicylic acid.  These include real fruits and vegetables like spinach, cucumbers, strawberries and legumes.  In our house we still let the other kids have strawberries and cucumbers.  She knows she can't eat strawberries.  So when I have a case of strawberries in the fridge I make sure I also have a case of blueberries so that she can easily pick out a yummy fruit snack too.  She also can't do cucumbers, so when we everyone else has cucumbers I cut up zuchini the same way and she eats it.  It looks very similar, but she's not having the thing that will case her a behavior explosion.
  3. Bring your own food and switch out the things you can't have:
    If my kids are going to a birthday party I find out before hand what kind of foods they are having, what kind of cake or treats.  I then make my child their own gluten free, dye free version to take with them.  Recently we did a Bible club where snacks and treats were given out daily.  I made sure to have things my kids could eat.  I saw that all the prizes being given out were candy related.  So I went to the dollar section of a local store and bought some pencils and bubbles and things and gave them to the club leaders and asked if they could give those out as prizes too.  The prizes were not just for my kids, but that way my kids had a choice of something other than the candy they couldn't eat.  There are times when they've been given candy or things they can't eat and they bring them home, we put it in a bag on top of the fridge and when we fill the bag we trade it in for a fun day.  We've traded it in for bowling or arcade games before.  It's our way of helping our kids to not feel like they are left out. There are dye free candies my kids can have, so we also have traded it out for the non-toxic kind.
  4. Do one recipe at a time:
    Don't overwhelm yourself with all the things you have to change.  Go easy do a meat, veggie and potato.  Throw out the casseroles for a while till you figure out how to switch out the ingredients for the allergy free version.  We have found that when we baking we like to use gluten free oat flour with coconut flour and tapioca starch to replace the flour it calls for.  
  5. Use the Web for recipes:Years ago there were not tons of resources at your fingertips.  Today you can find allergy friendly recipes all over the web.  Use your resources and try out recipes.  Have fun with it.  Do a bake off and have your family pick their favorites.  If you're brave like me, make up your own recipes and pray they turn out and you didn't just waste a bunch of ingredients. 
  6. Make if FUN: Don't stress too much.  Have fun with all these new food options. If you make it more enjoyable it won't seem like such a burden and remember you are helping your child! The way you present it to your kids will also help them to take to it better.  Platters with fruits and veggies, or making a face on their plate with these new foods can make it more presentable and fun for the kids too.
Check out what another mom has to say about food allergies at Wellness Mama. She has some great links and ideas over there. What things have you done to make the transition smooth for your children when you're eliminating foods they love?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

5 Day Clubs


This week we've been hosting a 5-Day Club at the playground of our apartments.  I have never hosted one before and did not really know anything about Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF).  I was thinking about the kids that live in the complex and I wanted to do some kind of VBS.  After talking with my pastor's wife, I learned that CEF trains teens to go around locally and do 5-Day Clubs or Sidewalk clubs during the summer to teach children about Christ.  I was very excited!

CEF made it very easy for me.  All I had to do was pick the week and the time of day I wanted to have it along with the location.  They then sent me invitations to pass out in my neighborhood with all the information already printed on them.  The day it started a CEF leader arrived 30 minutes before hand to set up.  All I had to provide was water and pop-sickles, everything else was already planned.

I have to say I'm quite impressed.  Four teenage boys (13-19 years old) come daily to lead 5-Day Club.  They have songs, missionary stories, gospel lessons, and games all ready.  We sit by the park on a sheet and they keep the kids all actively involved for 90 minutes. The team brings things like parachutes and other equipment for games and everything is planned great. The Gospel is presented daily, scripture is memorized daily and an invitation to know Christ is given daily.  This has been such a neat experience.  I look forward to my kids becoming teens so they too can join CEF and lead groups of children to the LORD. It's pretty amazing to see teen boys so dedicated to the LORD and to spreading the Gospel.  The boys that come out to our group just happen to all be home-schooled too.

If you want to impact your community this is an easy, yet life changing way to do it.  It opens doors for you to get to know your neighbors and to disciple them as they learn about Christ.  I'm excited to see how Christ uses this in my community.  Each child that comes has a family, won't it be amazing to see families changed for Christ!

God calls us, commands us really to go and make disciples of all nations.  How can we do that if we never reach out and teach anyone about Christ, and his Gospel message of salvation?  This is a great way to get your family involved in following the Great Commission. If you want to host a 5-Day Club in your area, or to learn more click here.

 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Matthew 28:19-20

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Peace of God

My quiet time with God was about walking by Faith and receiving God's Peace.  His peace is unlike the world's peace. It is not understandable, the circumstance doesn't change but HIS peace comes in and gives strength and endurance, despite the circumstance. As I read the scriptures the thought crossed my mind, "Okay God, what am I going to face today that I need to hold on to this verse and remember that YOUR peace is here to protect my heart and my mind?"  As my mind wondering I declared, "Well I'll keep walking by Faith no matter what and I know His Peace will be there for me."

The day was full of visits and play dates. The second day of our 5-Day Club was a great success. The child I mentioned yesterday was back and even had John 3:16 committed to memory.  Isn't that awesome! We were going through our day enjoying things.  We were busy but not rushed, not anxious, just peaceful. Then on the way to our chiro appointment my best friend called and sounded upset.  She had to leave for the ER and needed help with the boys. So I turned around and headed for her house. "God give her peace. Protect her heart and mind. God give me peace," I silently prayed.

 The stage four breast cancer has left a large open wound on her breast.  The wound care person who comes to her home realized today things were not right.  Doctors orders: she was go into the ER for  surgery. I pray for God's peace over her and her husband.  Peace abound in her three small children.  God's great peace, peace that passes all understanding. Late in the evening after being at the ER for 7 hours she was informed that they decided not to do surgery and they sent her home.  While all of this seems to be so crazy and confusing and chaotic, God is still in control and HIS peace is over her.

Please join me in praying for my dear friend. If you would like to reach out in someway there is a T-shirt fundraiser going on to help my dear friend and her family during this difficult time. You can find out more by following the link, or you can always make a donation at any Wells Fargo for the Danielle Pint Foundation.

Remember that no matter what you face today God's peace is available to you.  May you find rest in his arms.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
 Philippians 4:6-7

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

By Faith

Yesterday I awoke early and read the Bible. I was in Hebrews 11 going through all the people who lived by faith. As I closed my Kindle Bible I thought "Lord help me live by faith today."  I was also in prayer for the 5-day club l was hosting at my apartment playground.  I desperately wanted it to go well. I wanted all the people I invited to come out.  I wanted to see kids' hearts reached for Christ.  As my mind would wander over the things I hoped for, I felt God's voice calling out to me, "Walk by faith."

Dark clouds started rolling across the sky. The weather was predicting strong thunderstorms. I started thinking about the teens from Child Evangelism Fellowship that would be coming to lead this club and all the potential children that would be coming to learn the Good News. What would we do in a thunderstorm at a playground—besides get soaked?  Again God spoke saying, "Walk by Faith. By Faith prepare, do your part, I'll do MINE."

The kids and I cleaned up our apartment in case rain brought everyone inside. We then raced to the nearest store for posterboard and made signs saying "Rain or Shine" our club would go on. We covered the neighborhood with where to go if the rain hit us. All the while I kept saying, "Okay God, in faith we're still preparing. I'm doing my part so I trust you will prepare their hearts and control the weather." 

It's just like our amazing God to change the weather! Though the forecast said one thing HE said another. The bad weather never hit us! The sunshine came out and our first day of hosting 5 Day Club was a success. Seven kids sat in attendance and 1 of those seven does not know much about Christ, but was eager to learn! Praise God! He kept the storm at bay and prepared hearts just as I heard him say he would. I didn't allow panic to overrule.  I didn't turn back and say, "no, let's cancel, the weather looks bad." I chose to walk by faith and trust God to work out the details. And you know what? After club was over that 1 child asked to come play with my kids...and my house just so happened to be cleaned up enough that I could say "Sure, come on over."

What is God calling you to do by faith today?

 "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

Monday, June 16, 2014

Best Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins EVER!





This Father's Day I decided to make gluten free blueberry muffins, eggs and turkey bacon for my husband's feast. I love blueberry muffins!  I especially love the ones with the crumble topping that makes it extra tasty.  So I made this recipe up this morning.  It's gluten free of course, and it was a BIG hit.  Not one of the dozen muffins was left behind.  We devoured them.  These are by far the best gluten free blueberry muffins ever! I hope you will think so too!

Ingredients
1 c. gluten free oat flour 
1/4 c. coconut flour
1/4 c. tapioca starch
1 t. zanthan gum
1/2 t. salt
2 t. baking soda
1/3 c. oil (I used olive)
2 organic eggs
1/3 c. milk (any kind)
1 c. honey
1c. blueberries
Topping
1/2 c. raw sugar
1/3 c. gluten free oat flour
1/4 c. butter cubed
1 1/2 t. cinnamon



1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease muffin pan or line it. I love my silicon muffin holders!
2. Combine all the dry ingredients. Pour in wet ingredients and mix together until well blended. Fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups with the mixture.
3. In a separate bowl mix together topping ingredients with a fork, or with your hands. Sprinkle or lay it on top of the muffin batter.
4. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Then cool and ENJOY


Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fathers

Growing up I didn't see much of my father.  I lived in a different state most of my life and received the occasional cards.  As a child, I thought my father was some kind of amazing hero and one day he'd come rescue me. I imagined I'd live with him and life would be perfect.  Well, that was not the case.  Even if I had gone to live with him I know now that life would have been far from perfect.  I wanted a father that would: dote on me, tell me how precious I was to him, protect me and lead me and challenge me.  I later found that father in Jesus Christ.  The father I always wanted but my dad did not have the ability to be.

When I met my husband and we married I understood more through him about the love of  Christ and the bride.  I understood more of the Bible and the verses about a bride and bridegroom through my relationship with my husband.  Now, watching him as a father to our children I can understand Father God more. I see the Father through out the Bible and the way HE longs to be there for HIS children. The way HE longs for them to do right and the way HE, at times, has to step back and allow us to make mistakes.

 My husband is the kind of father who wants to come home and play with his kids. He doesn't spend time shooing them away to watch tv or spend time with sports. As a matter of fact we don't own a t.v and he's not really a sports nut. Just as our heavenly father,  he doesn't say send the children away, he says bring them to me. He comes home from a long day at the office and he's surrounded with arms to hug him and welcome him home in unison. He spends time with us as we pray, eat and talk together.  He then ends up on the living room floor with three kids climbing on him.  He's the scary bear, or the pony ride. He's great at getting them giggling and making up stories.

I love watching my husband rejoice in his children.  He laughs with them.  He gets excited about what they are learning and doing. They bring him joy.  Like the heavenly father,  he rejoices in their joy and desires to see them happy with good gifts. 

My husband works hard to earn a living to support us. He works hard so we can pay all our bills without me needing to leave home and our children to work. He has a plan and desire for their lives and upbringing, just as God has a plan and desire for us. 

When our children do wrong, he wants to lead them to do right.  He wants to show them the error of their ways and set them on the right path.   He turns them to Christ and shows them how to do better.  He leads by example just as Jesus did for us.

He is a protector to them.  Whether he's protecting them for the invisible monster, praying with them against fears or holding them close to protect them from real danger, he does it without pause or delay.  From addressing fears to addressing modesty and all the things in between he sees ahead to the possible outcomes and protects them by leading them in a way that protects their souls. I know he can't always be there to protect them, but Christ can.  They both desire the best for my children and I can not trust anyone more.

I think my husband is a pretty amazing father.  I see many attributes of our heavenly father in him.  As he leads us he looks to the LORD.  This Father's Day I want to honor my husband for the amazing man he is and the way he leads.  Don't forget to acknowledge the father's in your life today and let them know the ways they point you back to the true Father.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 
1 John 3:1