Saturday, January 13, 2018

Her Children Rise Up and Call Her Blessed

Granmomma--on the far left--looking so pretty at Olivia and Brian's wedding.

During the night last night, Jimmy's sweet mother passed away.

She was a lovely lady who always had a smile and kind word for everyone. In recent years she was plagued with a chronic illness that left her unable to care for those around her like she so longed to do. She spent her life caring for and serving her late husband, her three children, her ten grandchildren, and one great-grandson. She loved the Lord, and I am rejoicing that she is now free of all her earthly pain and suffering. 

I cannot think of eloquent words to do Jan's memory justice. I loved her. Maybe I can compose something better later. But for now I just keep thinking of these verses.

"Do not let your adornment be merely outward--arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on one apparel--rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God"
1 Peter 3:6

"Her children rise up and call her blessed;"
Proverbs 31:28

Friday, January 12, 2018

So Today We Celebrated Leah's Birthday

Leah turned 14 today. And how can that be? Sam will be 12 in a couple of weeks, and just like that, all of my children are almost grown!  We began our celebration last night with supper at Ichiban.



Today, we enjoyed a fun day with our family of four. I cooked Leah's breakfast request (sausage muffins). I used my one of my oldest cookbooks, the silver Bell's Best. Then she opened her gifts and enjoyed a laid-back morning while I prepared food for her party later in the day. I used my old, tattered and torn yellow Bell's Best for the recipe for the layered chocolate dessert Leah requested. Do any of you readers from Mississippi have either of these cookbooks? It was such a funny coincidence that I saw on Facebook this morning that one of my local friends posted a picture of her well-worn yellow Bell's Best. My copy was given to me as a wedding present from Vicki and Stephanie Huff. They signed the inside!

 my two Bell's Best cookbooks
I have the yellow one taped together.

The top recipe is the one I use---my notes show how I double the recipe for us.

 The birthday girl

 All smiles today!

This is her birthday table.

We ate at Thai Garden for lunch, and then we saw The Greatest Showman at the deserted theater. We were the only four people in the theater! True, there was snow and ice today, and most people just stayed at home, but we had a birthday to celebrate!

Tonight Leah has four friends over for supper and games. They are loud--shrieking and laughing, and having the best time. I am loving hearing their joy.

The day Leah was born fourteen years ago was a cold day too. But Leah has been a ray of sunshine ever since she joined our family.  She was an easy, happy baby, and she has always been a delight!

Happy Birthday, sweet Leah!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Cooking Around the World

Leah and I were face timing Julie, and she told us about a fun thing she and Big Sam are doing this year. Once a week they are cooking a meal from a country in Europe. I think she said there are 51 countries in Europe, so it should take them about a year to complete this adventure.

What a great idea! The wheels in my brain began to turn. We could do that! We could cook a meal from each country in our world. I think there are 193-195 countries currently. (I'll have to research that.) As part of our homeschool, Leah and Sam are studying Africa. I think that's where we will start. I am not sure how long this will take us, but hopefully if I am consistent, we can complete all the countries of the world before Leah goes to college! I am excited about how much fun this can be. When I plan my grocery list and menu for next week, I will choose our first country. I'm sure I will be able to find all the recipes and ideas I need online, but I may also purchase the book Life From Scratch by Sasha Martin which recounts one family's journey of cooking around the world.  She also has a blog, Global Table Adventure, which is full of ideas and recipes.

I am envisioning good food, interesting facts, and maybe even some related music or short books as we begin our culinary adventure. I'll try to take pictures and share each week's meal.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Does My Life Reflect My Values?

As I was reading chapter two of More Hours in My Day by Emilie Barnes, I made many notes regarding a statement she made concerning values. Barnes suggested that we examine our values, change them as needed, and make sure our foundation is built on the Word of God.  During this season where I am setting and trying to keep new goals for the new year,  I felt I needed to consider my goals. Were they reflecting my values? What exactly are my values?

I think to answer the question to yourself, "What are my values?" you need to look at where you spend your time and resources. Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." We may say and think our values are certain things, but our day-to-day lives, our time and resources spent will actually reflect what our true values are.

The source for our values should come from God's Word. How will I know what God values if I do not read and study His Word? If I value serving God with my life, how do I do that? If Jesus is truly the Lord of my life, and I value eternal life, does my life show that? If I value being a godly wife and a loving, serving mother, where do I find my examples?

For me, the answer to all those questions are found in my daily time reading and studying my Bible and spending time in prayer. Then I must examine my daily life--the time and resources I spend each day, and see if my life aligns with what I say I value.

I truly value being a wife, mother, and homemaker. I take these roles seriously, and I have spent the last 26 years trying to better myself in these areas. Passages such as Titus 2:2-5, 1 Corinthians 13, and the book of James are full of instruction on how to put these values into practice. In Titus 2 it says to love your husband, love your children. If I need more information on how to love them (or anyone for that matter), I can read and put into practice 1 Corinthians 13. If I need encouragement because of trials I am going through, or advice on controlling my tongue, and I read and apply James 1.

I truly believe that the Scriptures hold the answer to any problem we may have. It is up to us to make God's Word a treasure to us. As we read it and do what it says, our lives will reflect what God values.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Spiritual and Fitness Goals for 2018

I have finally set my 2018 spiritual and fitness goals for 2018. They are subject to tweaking, but here they are for now.

Spiritual

  • Read the Daily Bible.  This is a NIV Bible divided into daily readings--you will read the entire Bible in one year. It is also arranged chronologically with thoughts and commentaries scattered throughout. I began on January 1, and so far, so good. Jimmy began reading his again, and this is either is 2nd or 3rd time through.
  • Read verses pertaining to worry, anxiety, and fear. I am using a concordance feature on my Bible app to locate verses on these subjects. I am copying them in a new journal that Sam gave me for Christmas.
  • Continue to list five things each day I am grateful for in a journal. (I began doing this 21 years ago.)
  • Do a better job at memorizing the Bible verses I assign to the children each week. Their memory is so much better than mine. I am making a copy of each week's verse for myself so I can drill the verses more than just at the kitchen table.
Fitness
I have been unsure of what exactly my fitness goals should be at this point beyond exercising on a regular basis. I have somewhat floundered the last three years. Ever since I finished the Rocket City Marathon in December 2014, I have not had a significant running or fitness-related goal. I have half-heartedly trained and run a few half marathons, but I have done nothing consistently. Jimmy challenged me to running at least 2 miles every day. I considered that, but it the end I modified that goal. Here is what I have come up with:
  • Run at least 2 miles 5 days a week. Last week was my first week, and I ran 6 days for a total of 19 miles. In years past that would have been not a big deal, but for me right now, it was quite an accomplishment. 
  • Beginning this week run at least 20 miles per week. I will excuse myself from the 5 days a week and the 20 mile minimum when we are out of town for an extended period of time.
  • Start going to CrossFit again and attend class twice a week unless I am out of town. CrossFit is another fitness area I have been inconsistent in over the last year. I quit completely for a few months after a shoulder injury, but went back because I missed my friends (and coach) in the class so much! I stopped going for the month of December because, well. December! I am debating on taking off this month since I am trying to train for a half-marathon January 27. I will decide in the next few days, but I am definitely going back twice a week in after my race. My sweet coach, MC, is so willing to modify the workouts for me and my shoulder! I love being with the other ladies, so I am going to give it another try!
I have not chosen a word for 2018. I have too many words! LOL! I just finished listening to the Big Boo Cast's latest podcast, and I love Melanie's word for 2018--NO!

P.S. I set up my Instagram, but so far I have no idea what I am doing!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Homemaking Goals for 2018

I started a new spiral bound notebook for 2018. This is in addition to my daily Erin Condren planner. I like to keep a spiral notebook for all kinds of lists that are too lengthy for my planner. I headed several pages with broad categories where I wanted to list things I wanted to accomplish this year in each area.  One of these is cleaning out. We have lived in our current home for 13 years. While we have been married one 26 years, this is the longest we have ever lived in one home. We have no plans to ever move from this house.

So. After living in one space for 13 years, we have acquired all kinds of clutter. You wouldn't see it if you walked into my house, but it is there, hidden! I assigned myself an area or room to each month of this year.  Here is my list.

  • January--storage room
  • February--kitchen
  • March--garage/back porch 
  • April--Sam's room
  • May--den/living area
  • June--my bedroom and bathroom
  • July--schoolroom 
  • August--the "secret room" (a room off of Olivia's closet that houses the kids' outgrown toys and lots of other stuff that needs to be purged!)
  • September--guest room and bathroom
  • October--laundry room and hall closet
  • November--foyer and dining room
  • December--Leah's room and the upstairs built in desks/bookshelves
I also have a detailed checklist of drawers, closets, shelves, etc. in each of the above rooms. While I want all the cleaning out done right now, I realize that it did not get junky overnight, and it will take me the entire year to get through it. I hope I do not lose my stamina!

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Winding Down the Holiday Season

We have experienced the best two weeks ever! All of my children and their spouses have been here, and it has been so wonderful!

And now they are leaving.

Julie and Big Sam left yesterday at 6:30 AM. We all cried and hugged and prayed, and then they were gone. They arrived in Serbia this morning, and had a 5 hour car ride to their home in Craiova, Romania. They should be there soon.

Olivia and Brian leave tomorrow. More sadness!  But we have crammed so much fun into these two weeks. Fortunately, Clay has a few more days here at home, but then January 8 will come, and we will be a family of four again. I suppose we will start back to school that day, but I am not really ready.

Julie and I are having our own little book club. I gave her and Olivia each a copy of More Hours in My Day by Emilie Barnes. That is one of the first books I read as a new homemaker, and it gave me so many ideas that I still use today. When I went to Amazon yesterday to buy myself a copy (I cannot find my copy anywhere! And I looked through it just a month ago!), it was unavailable. I bought three copies in early December, but now Amazon has no more. Strange.  So I bought it for my Kindle. Julie and I are going to FaceTime each Friday morning at 8:00 (my time--4:00PM her time) to discuss a chapter. I am so excited!

I worked a little bit yesterday and today on my January clean-out project, my storage room. I am overwhelmed! I am not even sure I can get it all done in one month! So far I have cleaned out and organized all my scrapbooking supplies (and who knows if I will ever scrapbook again, but if I do, I am ready!), and generally made a huge mess in the room pulling out boxes and making piles everywhere. Plus it's super dusty in there. Yuk.

It's just January 3. Let's keep on working on our new goals and resolutions!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Something New for 2018: Instagram

Big Sam's brother, Abe, and his wife Grace spent a couple of days with us over the New Year's weekend. While we were visiting Grace encouraged me to join Instagram (get an Instagram account? whatever the right way to say it is). So. I am going to sign up for Instagram and try to figure it out. I have no knowledge of how it works, how I will connect with other people, how it will will relate to my blog, etc.
But, I am excited to figure it out! Julie is getting an Instagram too, so we will have fun learning about instagram together.

I have begun some of my January goals. I am not sure what my exact exercise goals are, but so far I have run both yesterday and today. 4 miles total. That is a start!

I made a list of 12 areas of my home that I wanted to clean out, organize and deep clean. I assigned each area to one month of the year. January's space is my storage room. I may not finish it this month, but I have big aspirations! I plan to begin today. I wish I had a couple of days that I could block out and do it all at once, but I don't. So I plan to work in small chunks of time with hopefully a few blocks of 3-4 hours. It looks so bad in there that I don't even want to take before pictures! (But I might).

How are your January goals and plans coming along?

Monday, January 1, 2018

Menu Planning on Monday

Somehow I got on a email list for Stephanie at the Ultimate Meal Planning Bundle. Earlier this week she began a series of emails with free daily tips for bootcamp menu planning. Her most recent idea inspired me to look inside my pantry and freezer and take inventory of what I have. I plan to create my weekly supper menu and grocery list based on what I found.

Here is what I have to work with:
Freezer

  • small pan of lasagna
  • 1 container of chicken broth
  • about half of a spiral sliced ham
  • ham bone with ham attached (for soup)
  • small bag of spaghetti
  • 2 bags of onions and peppers blend
  • 3 cups cooked shredded chicken
  • 1 container of beef broth
  • 5 bags of mixed vegetables
  • 1 bag of corn
  • 1/4 of a pork tenderloin
  • 1 bag of green beans
  • 2 bags of lima beans
  • grilled chicken strips
  • 1 bag of hash browns
  • 6 containers of mystery soup (I can't tell what kind of soup it is)
  • 1 container of a brown mystery soup or something? lentils maybe?
  • 1 container of red mystery sauce--pasta sauce?
Pantry
  • 1 large jar of pasta sauce
  • 5 cans of tuna
  • rotin
  • pinto beans
  • kidney beans
  • chickpeas
  • cream of chicken soup
  • rotel
  • baked beans
  • chicken broth
  • vegetable broth
I think we will take a chance and defrost the mystery soups for one or two meals. I plan to make some chicken fajitas with the shredded chicken and onion/pepper blend. We can eat the lasagna one night for supper, and the spaghetti one day for lunch. With the remaining frozen vegetables, pork tenderloin, and one of the broths, I can make a vegetable soup. (I'll buy some canned tomatoes to add to the soup.) One more meal idea is to serve the ham with the baked beans and make some potato salad to go along with that.

What's in your pantry and freezer that you can menu plan with?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Books, Books, and More Books

I love to read. When I was a child and a teenager, I read all the time. I did not read much for pleasure when I was in college, but I began reading again as a newlywed. I continued to frequent the local library where I lived and read lots of books until Olivia was born. Then I read a few parenting and baby care type books, but that was about it for my personal reading. Of course I have always regularly read my Bible.

From the time Olivia was a baby until about 8-10 years later, I did not read much of anything strictly for pleasure. I read about homeschooling when I began to be interested in that, but I rarely read any fiction. In fact, the only fiction I read from 1995 until about 2004 was John Grisham's new book each year. Sometime before Leah was born (or maybe after, I can't remember) I discovered the Mitford books by Jan Karon, and I read all four of her first ones. I have not read any of the series past those first four, but I do own them. (Julie has read the entire series, and is currently reading Karon's latest book.)
About 2004 or 2005 Lynn introduced me to the Karen Kingsbury Baxter Family series, and I was hooked. I voraciously read every novel Kingsbury wrote over the next couple of years. My love for reading fiction was rekindled, and I have not stopped since. I have also added works of non-fiction, biographies, self-help, memoirs, and classics to my reading library.

I still go through spells of reading and not reading so much. When we take a vacation to the beach or the mountains, I will read a lot. During my normal day-to-day life, sometimes I read daily, and sometimes I read weekly.  A couple of months ago I tried a new "reading time" with Leah and Sam. After lunch (if we were not rushing out the door to CrossFit) I set the timer for 20 minutes and all three of us read silently. I love doing that, and I plan to continue that routine when we begin school again on January 8. Since I still read aloud to Leah and Sam each day, three times a day (Bible lesson, school, and bedtime), I read numerous books. But I still would like to carve out more time in 2018 for personal reading.

Here are a couple of book lists. Some of these titles are found in the sidebars of this blog.

What I'm Reading Right Now:

I'm taking notes while reading Empty Nest, so that's usually the book I read during our afternoon silent reading time. 
I'm reading Reading People either at bedtime (sometimes) or when I have some downtime while waiting somewhere. This is the book I keep in my purse.
I listening to Rooster Bar on audible while running on the treadmill. I am only letting myself listen to this book if I am running, so it is serving as a great motivator for me to run in the mornings. (I really, really needed a motivation, so this is working well so far!)
I have Soulful Simplicity on my iPad, so this is what I am reading while sitting with Sam at bedtime. I sometimes continue reading it as my bedtime reading.

What Is On My Bookshelf to Be Read:





Friday, December 29, 2017

Happy Holidays

I'm going to just jump right in and try reviving my blog.

The last several days have been WONDERFUL. First of all, Clay came home from college on December 14. Secondly, Julie and Big Sam arrived at 9:30 AM December 18 after driving all night long from Chicago (where they flew to from Romania). Thirdly, Olivia and Brian arrived on December 20. FUN TIMES.

Julie and Big Sam have to fly home on January 2. They are leaving our houses around 6:00 AM that morning.
Olivia and Brian are leaving January 4.
Clay will leave for college on January 8.

While I am super sad that everyone has to leave, I am overjoyed that they were all here at the same time for so long! The best Christmas present ever! My days have been full of cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry, and trying to keep on top of the stuff every where....but it has been my joy to do so. I am so happy!

Jimmy gave me a Roomba for Christmas, and I love that thing! I am running it every day. I am amazed at the dirt, pet hair, and dust that it picks up. I hope I don't break it with overuse!

I plan to leave my Christmas decorations up until after Olivia and Julie leave. We have had our live tree in our den since Thanksgiving weekend! I normally have everything down and packed up by this time, but I am letting the girls enjoy it all while they are here. I do plan to take down the Christmas stuff before Clay leaves because I need his help! Plus we are beginning school again as soon as he leaves, and I need a clean, holiday-free house to get in the school frame of mind.

I have been working on my 2018 Erin Condren planner. The planners are actually on sale for 20% off right now if you are interested. I love my EC planner! This is my 4th year to have one. I ordered mine for 2018 back in September when they were on sale then, and Lynn ordered hers at the same time too. Guess what? We got the same exact planner! With all the choices and color combinations, what are the odds of us choosing the very same one? Last year we got the same design, but in different colors. I guess great minds think alike!

I have been making lists of many areas in which I want to improve myself in 2018. I love to make goals, resolutions, lists, etc. I have also spent some time reading a few blogs with ideas for simplifying life, meal planning, homemaking, etc. I am always trying to grow.
I have also been prayerfully considering my spiritual goals for 2018. I haven't pondered or chosen a key word for 2018, but I think I have decided what my focus during my Bible reading and study will be for 2018----worry/fear/anxiety. Now that my two girls are married and live far, far away, and Clay is at college, I struggle with those things. I plan (with the Lord's help) to get a grip in this area this year.  Or at least to make some positive progress.

One goal I am setting is to blog more regularly. I haven't set a specific goal in this area, but I am purposing to get back into writing more.

I'll be back soon with all kinds of goals, lists, and hopefully some motivation!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Well. Hello

I am still alive over here in Mississippi!

I am still trying to figure out how to be a mama to children near and far. As most of you know, Julie and Big Sam live in Romania (over 5000 miles away and an 8 hour time difference), and Olivia and Brian live in Indiana (9 hours away), and Clay is a freshman in college in Tampa (12 hours away). Leah and Sam are sill here with us! Yay!

But things have not slowed down like I thought they would. I have lost all my drivers, and that has made a huge difference! I am back to driving them to piano lessons, XC practice, CrossFit, and art. It's fine, but it has been an adjustment. Leah won't have her driver's license for 3 years, so I will be the mom taxi for a while.  We have also traveled a lot over the last couple of months, so that keeps me behind at home as well. (But the trips have been wonderful!)

Our days are full of homeschool (around 4-5 hours a day) and outside activities. I am also drowning in housework and laundry.....I am still working on the best system for cleaning my house. Actually, if I could just find a consistent block of time to clean I could do it. The trick is finding the time! I will blog about my homemaking struggles in the near future, because I am all out of ideas!

We are having a revival (AKA Gospel Meeting) at our church congregation this week. Our speaker is Paul Sheehan, and he is fantastic! He is motivating, convicting, and infectious! If you are interested in hearing the Word of God presented in a simple and inspiring way, you can listen to his sermons from our church's website or download the podcasts. Our regular preacher, Trey Haskett, has all his sermons on the podcast too, and they are excellent as well.
Here is the link.

One more thing.....do any of you call your kids by the wrong name? Like every.single.time. you try to say their name? I cannot call anyone by the right name, and it is starting to irritate Leah and Sam. I understand. I would not want to be called by my sibling's name all day long, but I don't know how to stop. Any suggestions?

I hope to check in again soon!


Monday, September 11, 2017

After Hurricane Irma

Clay's dorm today
(photo credit Ethan Behle via Facebook) 

Whew! My prayers were answered, and Clay and the other college students made it through Hurricane Irma just fine last night. He texted me Sunday night around 10 to let me know the power went out. I had another text from him around midnight saying that it was very windy and rainy, but he was just fine. And then we didn't hear from him again until this morning. However, I knew that all was well because I have a couple of friends who live in Tampa who did update on Facebook that all was well. Some wind damage and loss of power, but otherwise doing just fine. I also watched the Tampa local news on my laptop and could tell when the worst of the storm had passed. And then I tried to sleep.

I feel conflicted. I cannot tell you how relieved I am that Clay is ok. That Tampa escaped the worst of the hurricane. However, I feel terribly sad that since the Irma moved away from Tampa, it hit other areas instead. I am so sorry for those people.  Today my prayers were full of thankfulness and for protection, comfort, and healing for those affected by and continuing to be affected by Irma.

Clay's college still has no power, cell service is sporadic, and their classes are cancelled through Tuesday. If power is not restored by Tuesday, then it is my understanding that classes will be cancelled Wednesday too. I am so thankful for the dean of students and others in positions of authority who made all the hard decisions concerning the welfare of the students. I cannot thank them enough for their provisions and updates. The dean even moved his family into one of the dorms for the duration of the storm so he could be with both his family and the students.

Please keep praying for all affected by Hurricane Irma. I will too.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

About Hurricane Irma

Our son, Clay, is a freshman in college in Tampa, Florida. Yes, he is still down there. He is staying on campus with the other students, dorm parents, and staff, and they will be hunkered down.

Jimmy and I have gone over this in our minds and out loud a thousand times.
(Do we tell him to start driving north?--Our home is 12 hours away. Do we leave him down there? Do we let my daddy or Jimmy's uncle go get him?--they offered because we were out of town when the window of opportunity for evacuation was still open.)

The school has been sending us lengthy, detailed email updates twice a day. They have a plan. They have food and water to last an extended period of time. They have safe places (in the basements of the concrete walled dorms) for the students to be in during the storm. Clay has a full tank of gasoline in his car, water and food in his dorm room, and a charged flashlight. The school will be serving meals to the students inside their dorms beginning tomorrow so they can stay put. We have stressed to Clay to follow all directions.

Tampa is not currently in a mandatory evacuation zone. I have some friends who live in Tampa, and they have been making preparations all week, but they are staying home.
I am now following the Tampa weatherman, Denis Phillips, on FB. This is my main source of accurate weather news for the Tampa area.

And we are praying. Lots of praying. Not only for Clay, but for all affected by Irma.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Our May Trip to Denver

It seems like a lifetime ago, before the weddings, before my fabulous beach vacation, and before taking Clay to college (in Tampa, and we are anxiously watching Hurricane Irma!), but way back in May, our then family of seven went on a short vacation to Denver, Colorado. 

To our great surprise, the forecast was SNOW! It began snowing our second day there, and the blizzard continued until the entire area was covered in about three feet of snow! Definitely the most snowfall we have ever seen in our lives. It was beautiful! And so much fun to play in.

Our plan was to spend our days hiking the Rocky Mountains, but due to the snow, we got only one day of hiking in before the snowstorm hit. We tried to venture to the national park on one of the snow days, but it was too dangerous. We tried! And almost got stuck in the snowdrifts! So we headed back to our cabin and let the kids play in the snow there. They built Baymax and another snowman, and Sam built some sort of snow cave. It ended up being a relaxing vacation. We read books, played games, and ate some yummy food. It was a nice to get away before the crazy summer began.



 airport selfie

 We ran into Teri Maxwell of Titus2.com at the park! I recognized her and talked to her for a few minutes. She was so kind!



the weather forecast!


 Julie, Sam, and Clay

 Olivia

 Leah, building her snowman

 the finished snowman

 Of course, Julie and Clay had to go for a run!

 playing in so much snow!

 That's the road behind Sam. That's why we couldn't drive through the park.

 Julie and Leah

 Sam in his snow cave

 Sam, Jimmy, and Leah with Baymax

Moose in the road were a common sight.

It was a wonderful trip!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Chick Fil A 5K

This morning we left at 5:00AM to drive to Memphis for the Chick-Fil-A 5K race. Our family has run this race on and off over the past several years. It is one of our favorite 5K races! It is a large race (over 1200 finishers this year), and the door prizes and post-race refreshments are outstanding.

All four of us met our running goals, and Jimmy placed 2nd in his age group!


 Here we are looking sleepy....we had just gotten out of the car after our 2 hour drive.

 Here we are posing in front of the finish line (before the race). The finish is inside the Auto Zone Park. (Which is the baseball field for the Memphis Redbirds)

 Leah and Sam, enjoying their post-race Chick-Fil-A sandwich!

Jimmy and Me....
tired, but happy!

We hung out at the Bass Pro Shop for a little while before heading home. When we got here, Jimmy mowed the grass, and Leah and Sam did a math and science lesson.
It was a good Labor Day for us.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Just Freeze the Bananas

Early this morning I made myself stop what I was doing and take the time to peel and freeze three very ripe bananas. It took less than one minute. However, trying to decide if this was a good time to stop what I was doing and actually complete this task took me longer than one minute.

Do you find yourself doing this same thing? Things like walking past some towels that are folded but still need to be put in the cabinet? Or knowing that a plant needs watering, or something needs refilling, or some shoes put away? Just little things that can be done in probably less than a minute, but for some reason you find yourself walking past them because you think, "I don't have time to do this right now."

The reality is doing those little tasks the moment you recognize they need doing takes much less time (and mental energy) than thinking about them, not doing them, and nagging yourself about leaving them undone.

What are some things you can do now instead of putting them off to later?

I try to always carry something that goes in the room I am going to as I head that way. For example, we have a basket at the top of our stairs leading to the basement (where our schoolroom, craft area, workout room, garage, and storage room are located). Throughout the day I place items in that basket that belong in one of those areas. Every time I go downstairs, unless my hands are already full, I try to take either the entire basket and empty it or at least take a few items out of it and put them in their proper home. When I leave my bedroom in the morning, I like to take the stray items that ended up there the night before and return them to their proper place.

My children each have a plastic dishpan with their name on it in my laundry room. I place their folded laundry in there each afternoon, but I also place anything I find around the house that belongs upstairs in their room or bathroom in there too. They are responsible for emptying the buckets (that's what we call them, but they are not really buckets) each evening. I used to keep a basket at the bottom of my stairs that lead to the children's rooms for those random items, but now I just put everything in their buckets.

So, my challenge for you today is to just do that small, but maybe annoying task that won't take longer than one minute! If you do several of these tasks each day, it will keep your home looking tidier and hopefully boost your morale too!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Memorizing Scripture

Since most of you are starting a new school year, I though this might be a good time to share my memorizing Scripture system. While I use this system for learning Bible verses, it could be used for anything you wanted your kids (or yourself) to learn.

I am going to share the link to the last time I blogged about my Scripture memory box. It has very detailed instructions on how to set up your own memory box.

I mentioned in this blog post that I copied all the Scriptures that Olivia had learned into a journal and gave it to her when she started college. I also did that for Julie and Clay, and as you can imagine, Clay's journal had many more verses than his sisters since he has been home four more years since Olivia left for college!

Here is the link:
Scripture Memory Box

I hope this encourages you to either begin learning Scripture with your children or to
continue hiding God's Word in your heart.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Graduations

I'm going to go back a few months in time to share this monumental occasion. All three of my oldest children graduated!
  • Olivia:  Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education
  • Julie:  Associate of Arts Degree in English
  • Clay:  High School Homeschool
Olivia's and Julie's ceremonies were on the same day in the same facility, but at different times. Julie graduated at 3:00 and Olivia graduated at 7:30. Here are some pictures from the big day.


 my parents with Olivia and Julie

 Me, Julie, and Jimmy

 Mims, Julie, and Pops

 Jimmy, Olivia, and Me

Mims, Olivia, and Pops

 Our whole family with Olivia later that night. 

Clay and Parker (who is the son of my best friend, Lynn) graduated homeschool Kindergarten together. I found this precious picture, and asked them to recreate it on their high school graduation night!


 Clay and Parker, at age 6

 Clay and Parker at age 18

 Mims, Clay, and Pops

 proud parents of homeschool graduate #3
(Yes, I am wearing the same dress I wore to the girls' graduation.....I called it my graduation dress!)

 my grown-up children!

one more family photo

The end of April began months of exciting times and major changes for our family of seven. So much has happened since these photographs were taken, and most of it is just a blur! 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Menu Plan Monday

Before I begin my post about What's For Dinner?, let me first say Thank You, dear readers! Between your comments on this blog and on my Facebook page, I am now so motivated to keep blogging. I appreciate your kind words so much! I am about to write down every single suggestion that you made, and I will attempt to address each one over time. Thank you for all the great ideas!  :)

This week begins the first days of our new normal. We are now a family of four here at home. (I spent last week in Florida getting Clay settled in at college.) Leah and I have chosen new seats at our kitchen table so that the four of us are sitting close together on our big table for 10. We are sitting in the middle. It is also an adjustment in cooking. Most of the summer we had 8 people here eating lots of food! I am now buying less groceries and cooking in smaller quantities. I hope to someday get my freezer stocked with some meals to pull out on busy days. 
Baby steps. Adjusting a little at a time.


After a LONG hiatus, I am back to sharing my weekly menu on Menu Monday over at Org.Junkie.

I made a weekly menu that actually began Saturday.  I am sharing some of the recipes so I can access them easily when I want to cook these dishes again. I am trying several new recipes this week that were all found on Pinterest. Each meal is either a one pan meal (with a side of rice, salad, and/or steamed broccoli) or a crock pot meal. Since we begin XC practice this week on Tuesdays and Thursdays,  I am trying some new crock pot recipes so we will have supper ready when we get home. 

Saturday:
Roasted Parmesan Garlic Chicken and Vegetables

Sunday:
crock pot Italian chicken spaghetti

Monday:
Italian sausage and vegetables
brown rice

Tuesday:
crock pot honey mustard pork chops
brown rice
green beans

Wednesday:
pasta salad
fruit salad

Thursday:
crock pot honey sesame chicken
steamed broccoli
brown rice

Roasted Parmesan Chicken and Vegetables
(adapted from a Pinterest recipe)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half
6 Tbs. melted butter
1/2 tsp. garlic salt, divided
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
20 new potatoes, quartered
1 yellow squash, cut into small chunks
1 zucchini, cut into small chunks
2 Tbs. olive oil

Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Place melted butter with 1/4 tsp. garlic salt in one shallow bowl. Mix the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese and 1/4 tsp. garlic salt in another shallow bowl. Spray a large baking sheet with sides with non-stick spray or line with a non-stick mat. Dip each piece of chicken into the melted butter and then coat on both sides with the bread crumb mixture. Place coated chicken in the pan.
Toss the vegetables with the olive oil, and season with a little garlic salt. (I just sprinkled some on them.) Also add any of the melted butter and bread crumb mixture that you had left from the chicken. Spread the vegetables on another large baking pan that has either been sprayed with non-stick spray or lined with a non-stick mat. 
Bake both pans at 375 degrees for 45 minutes -1 hour or until the chicken is done. (I cooked this on the convection setting for about 40 minutes.)

***I bought my non-stick mats from Amazon (This is what they are actually called....I cannot make a direct link work...AmazonBasics Silicone Baking Mat 2 Pack)
 few months ago, and they have changed my cooking!  I cannot believe how easy the clean-up is when using these mats.


Italian Chicken
INGREDIENTS
• 1 small onion, diced
• 4oz fresh baby spinach (about 2 handfuls)
• 28oz can of tomato sauce
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup honey
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

MA TERIALS
• 1 gallon-sized plastic freezer bag

PREP
1. Label your freezer bag.
2. To your freezer bag, add all ingredients.
3. Remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in your freezer.

COOK
1. The night before cooking, move frozen bag to your refrigerator to thaw. 2. The morning of cooking, pour contents of freezer bag into your crockpot. 3. Cook on “low” setting for 4-6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through.

Serve with spaghetti and a salad. 
(from New Leaf Wellness)


Italian Sausage and Vegetables
Ingredients
  • 2 large carrots ~2 cups
  • 2 red potatoes ~2 cups
  • 1 small-medium zucchini ~2 and 1/3 cups
  • 2 red peppers ~2 cups
  • 1 head broccoli ~1 and 1/2 cups
  • 16 ounces Smoked Italian Turkey or Chicken Sausage
Seasonings
  • 1/2 tablespoon EACH: dried basil, dried oregano, dried parsley, garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: onion powder, dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated, optional
  • 4 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Optional: fresh parsley, salt and pepper
 Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or foil (easy clean-up) and set aside.
  2. Prep the veggies: *It is important to prep the veggies according to directions to ensure they all cook at the same time*
  3. Peel and very thinly slice the carrots.  Wash and (if desired peel, we love the peel on) chop the red potatoes. You want the pieces quite small here. (I halve the potatoes and then cut each half into 10-12 pieces)
  4. Halve the zucchini and then cut *thick* coins of zucchini. Coarsely chop the broccoli. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers and chop into medium-sized pieces. Chop the sausage into thick coins.
  5. Pour all the veggies and sausage on the sheet pan.
  6. In a small bowl combine all of the seasonings and salt and pepper if desired (I use about 1/8 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt) with the olive oil. Stir to combine.
  7. Pour the seasoning & oil mixture on top of the veggies and sausage and thoroughly toss to coat.
  8. Place in the heated oven for 15 minutes. Remove and toss around the veggies + sausage and return to the oven for another 10-20 minutes or until veggies are crisp tender.
  9. Remove and top, if desired, with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
Serve on top of rice or quinoa if desired. (Also great plain!)



Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken
• 1 small onion, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 cup honey
• 1/2 cup soy sauce
• 1/4 cup ketchup
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
• 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs • 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper 

Place chicken in crock pot. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over the top. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-7. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and serve with brown rice and steamed broccoli.

Honey Mustard Pork Chops
1 pound boneless pork chops
1 pound frozen green beans
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (I'm using yellow mustard.)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 cup water 

Place pork chops and green beans in crock pot. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over. Cook on low 4-6 hours. 
(from New Leaf Wellness)

***Remember to visit Org.Junkie for more menu inspiration.