Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Update 1 and a Road Trip

Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I was overwhelmed yesterday by your kind comments, encouraging words, and promises to pray for my family and me.  I appreciate that so much!  

"Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Well, I had a change of plans yesterday!  As I was driving to the clinic for the MRI, a nurse called me saying that the MRI machine was down, and they would have to reschedule my MRI for Wednesday.  That also means that my appointment with the surgeon was rescheduled for Wednesday as well.  So more waiting!

"Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord."  Psalm 27:14

So, I am given today to be used as a normal day for me.  We will have a full school day plus art lessons.  I also plan to catch up on laundry and do a good bit of housework.  Also, I have gotten two days behind in my read the Bible in 90 days plan, so I want to read extra today to try to catch up a little bit.

I was spontaneous last week! Last Wednesday night Jimmy and Kelly talked me into buying tickets for the musical Wicked.  So Friday afternoon I took my three girls on a little road trip!  We followed Lynn and her children to Birmingham where we met our friend Leigh and her oldest daughter and Lynn's husband Kelly (who was already in Birmingham for guard duty).  We all enjoyed a nice dinner at Macaroni Grill, and then we attended the musical.  It was fantastic!  We laughed, cried, clapped, and cheered all the way through.  This really was a nice distraction for me (as Jimmy and my friends intended for it to be).  We spent the night in a hotel, and Saturday morning we had Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A for breakfast, and then we shopped at Target for two hours before heading back home.  It was a good road trip!

Jimmy and the boys had some fun while we were gone too.  They visited Jimmy's parents and family Friday night, and on Saturday they attended a blacksmithing demonstration.  Jimmy took pictures of their day, so I will blog about that next!

Thank you again, friends, for your encouragement and prayers.  This bump in my road is just that, a bump!  I will be on my way to recovery soon, and hopefully before we all know it back to my normal way of life!  Leah is training diligently for her first 10K in May, and I really hope that I will be able to run that with her.

"But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."  Isaiah 40:31

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Bump in the Road

I have been traveling along this well-planned road of my life, taking care of my family, juggling homeschooling, housework, exercising, keeping us all on a predictable routine.  Even though one of my New Year's goals was to choose to be more spontaneous, and I have really tried to do that, for the most part my days fly by like a well oiled machine.

And then I hit a bump in the road.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;"  Philippians 4:6

Beginning February 7, I have undergone repeat mammograms, ultrasounds, ultrasound-guided needle biopsies, surgical biopsy, and day after day after day after day of waiting on pathology reports.  It has been a long almost three weeks.  Friday, I finally got the diagnosis:

DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ)---which is non-invasive breast cancer.

"casting all your care upon Him, for he cares for you."  1 Peter 5:7

I am having an MRI later today, and I will be meeting with my surgeon tomorrow morning to discuss my next surgery, which will most likely be later this week.  The good news is that this type of cancer is cured surgically.

"in the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul."  Psalm 94:19

I had no symptoms.  I consider myself healthy.  In fact, I had put off even having my first mammogram for over 2 years.  My doctor recommended that I have a mammogram the last time I had a check-up, when I was 40.  Now I am 42.  For some reason, back in January I decided to make an appointment for a check-up with my OB/GYN, and I made the appointment for the mammogram for the same day.  January 27th.  And that's when the questionable areas were first detected.

Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You."  Psalm 56:3

Jimmy has been perfectly loving, comforting, and supportive throughout this entire process.  I could not ask for a better husband, and I certainly don't deserve him.  Lynn, my dear friend, who has run countless hours with me and endured two marathons with me, has been a rock for me. She has accompanied me on doctor visits, and always asks the right questions.  She also stayed with Jimmy the entire day for my surgery (she even arrived at the hospital before we did!).  She has coordinated food being brought by other dear friends to my family.  She has kept my children.  I have many other friends and family who have also kept my children, and helped out in other ways as well.  I have been surrounded by love and support, and most of all encouraging words and prayers.

"I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears."  Psalm 34:4

My prayer throughout the last couple of weeks has been for God's will for me.  For strength to handle His will, graciously, even thankfully.  That's what the verse in my blog header says....give thanks in all circumstances.  God's Word is true, and it is to be obeyed.  I am to give thanks in all circumstances, so I am trying.

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  Isaiah 26:3

One benefit of all of the anxiety I have had is that whenever that feeling of anxiousness creeps up on me, I immediately begin praying for other people.  I bring to mind all of the email prayer requests I receive, people who need prayer in my church family, my personal family, friends who are enduring hard times, anyone who has expressed a need for prayers that I am aware of......I am praying for them!

I will keep you all posted of my upcoming surgery plans.

"Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in You."  Psalm 86:4 (NIV)

My ABC Book Post

Today, I have a post over at The Homeschool Classroom all about the ABC book that Sam and I are making as part of his Kindergarten.  I have included some pictures of our actual book, so you can hopefully get some ideas, but also see that the book is actually Sam's book.  While I used a scrapbook and some scrapbooking supplies, I let Sam create the items that are put into the scrapbook, and I allowed him to place the pictures and stickers wherever he would like.  You can tell!

We are drawing near to our 100th Day of School mark.  We are on day ninety-something, but we will be taking a short break from school (I plan to blog all about it soon....very soon) before we actually get to Day 100.  We have about five or six letters left to learn, and the the whole alphabet will be covered.  Wow! This year has flown by in some ways.

You can click here to read the ABC Book post.  Happy reading!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Yesterday we had a much needed official day off from school.  And our entire family got haircuts, all seven of us!  Jimmy took the boys to the barber shop, and I took the girls to the beauty shop.  Everyone looks great!  The girls all got about one centimeter trimmed (that's all they ever want), and I got a somewhat different style--a little bit off the length and lots of layers.  I was so overdue a haircut!  My friend Kathy who lives three hours away asked me to put a picture up on my blog so she could see it.  I will try to do that at some point.

I also visited a friend with a new baby (I loved that I smelled like a baby for most of the day after holding him!), got the oil changed in my van, and bought some fabric to make a new apron.  The weather was beautiful here yesterday, and Jimmy took Clay and Leah for a run at the park.  Leah is training for her very first 10K--the Coke 10K in May.  She is following the plan that Coke Commit to Be Fit has published on Facebook.  This week's assignment is to run/walk for 20 minutes, three times this week.  She is doing great!  I plan to run this race with her.

Today is back to school and a meeting for Sam's homeschool kindergarten graduation!  I cannot believe that my youngest child will be finishing kindergarten this year.  Next year I will have a 12th grader and and 1st grader---so I will be finishing up my homeschool days with one, and really just beginning with another.  I wonder if I can do this for twelve more years?  Of course I can!  There isn't anything else I would rather be doing!  :)

I haven't exercised for a week now!  Since finishing Insanity I have taken a break to let my body rest and recover.  I am planning on starting back running in a couple of days.

On another note, I have had a stressful situation to deal with over the last two weeks.  My husband, children, family, church family, and dear friends have been overwhelmingly supportive and loving.  I will probably blog about the whole ordeal.....I just need to get my thoughts together.  So to my readers who know me in real life:  THANK YOU!

I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My First Apron

Julie, modeling the apron!

I recently finished my very first apron.  I used Simplicity pattern 2492 and fabric purchased from Hobby Lobby.  I am pleased with how it turned out, however, I did not like using the bias tape that edged the entire apron.  So for that reason, I will not be using this pattern again.  I have already bought a new pattern that I am going to try for my next apron.  It is called the Funked Out Apron No. 12 by Lila Tueller Designs.  It is very cute!

I normally wear an apron whenever I am cooking.  I currently have three that I wear:  two made for me by my sister-in-law Megan and one made by my friend Heather.  I am happy to have another apron to put into the rotation (especially since one of the aprons I have is a Christmas one!)

I'll post pictures of the next apron when I finish it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Something To Ponder

The other day Olivia, my oldest daughter, told me something that Sam, my youngest child, said to her.

I am glad that I am not the oldest, because your school takes too long and you don't get many hugs.

Now, the part about school taking too long doesn't phase me one bit.  That's life.  The older you get, the more work you have.  But the part about not getting many hugs broke my heart.  Little children are keen observers, and they are painfully honest about what they see.  I hug and kiss on Sam all day long because he is my baby (even though he is 6), but when I really thought about it, I realized that I really don't hug my older children that often.  How terrible!

Then I began to ponder.  When does it happen?  When do you go from hugging and kissing your children every time you walk by them to not remembering if you hug them aside from telling them goodnight?  When you are holding a young child in your lap, how do you know if it is the last time they will sit in your lap (because they are growing up?)?  I always felt that way about nursing my babies/toddlers.  The last time that I nursed them, I didn't realize it at that time that it was the last time.  I would have lingered.

So, I have been hugging my older children more.  Brushing their hair back.  Making sure that I touch them, put a hand on their shoulder.  In front of Sam and when he is not around.  It makes me feel great, and I know that they enjoy it too.  

Sometimes we just need a little to child to remind us.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Our Valentine's Day

 We began the day with muffins baked in heart papers.

 We ate our breakfast, lunch, and snacks on heart paper plates.

 We placed our Valentines at each person's place at the table.  Jimmy and I gave the children a heart filled with candy and a new pair of running socks.  The children made Valentines for each other and for Jimmy and me too.

 Julie crocheted a Valentine for each member of our family.

 Julie and Olivia gave me this cute coffee cup!  I lost my favorite coffee cup sometime back in December.  This new one is the perfect size!

 Later that afternoon I took Sam and Leah to a Valentine's party at a friend's house.  The children made Valentines.  This one was made by dotting paint with a pencil eraser.

Julie braided Leah's hair into a heart shape for the day!

Friday, February 17, 2012

I Finished Insanity!

Tuesday was my 63rd and final day of the Insanity Workout.  I am a graduate!  I have downloaded the paperwork to fill out to get my Insanity t-shirt.  You cannot buy these t-shirts, nor will they give you one unless you prove that you have completed the program.  I am looking forward to receiving and wearing my Insanity t-shirt!

I did not take before and after pictures, and I forgot to take any body measurements (except for my weight) before I began.  However, on day 22 I took several basic body measurements--waist, hips, thigh, arm, etc.  I measured myself again on day 63, and I was shocked!  I lost 8 inches total!  1 in. in each arm, 1.5 in. in each thigh, 2 in. in my waist, and 1 in. in my hips.  I would have never guessed!  I am so glad that I measured.  My weight increased by 3 pounds, so I am guessing that toning up really does develop muscle, and muscle weighs more than fat.

Looking back, the program was not really that hard, however I was intimidated the first week.  I recommend this exercise program to anyone who wants to lose some weight or simply tone up and increase your body strength.  I would not recommend this to someone who is currently doing NO exercise, but if you are already in pretty decent shape, then you can do it!  I will confess that during some (ok a lot) of the workouts I felt like I was going to throw up!  It is an intense workout!  But I kept telling myself, if I can run a marathon, surely I can do a 50 minute workout!  Shaun T., the instructor is very encouraging, and I enjoyed trying to keep up with the other participants.

I am resting for the next week or so, and I am still unsure of my next exercise plan.  I want to do some sort of combination of running and strength training.  I don't want to lose these muscles that I have built up!  I don't have any half-marathons coming up, but I do plan to run the Coke 10K in May with Leah.  This will be her very first 10K.  She is following the training plan that the Coke Commit to be Fit is publishing on Facebook.  She is running 3 days a week, and has just built up to 20 minutes per session.  She is so excited, and I am looking forward to running this with her!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Making Your Own Readers

Today I have a post at The Homeschool Classroom describing the readers Leah, Sam, and I have made.  We were inspired after reading The Year of Miss Agnes as part our Sonlight Core B.  They are so, so simple to make, and if you have beginning readers, I hope you will want to make some of these books too!

Click here to read the post.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Menu Plan Monday

I know that it's only Sunday, but my Mondays are busy with outside of the home activities, so I decided to go ahead and post this week's menu today.

Sunday:  leftovers for lunch, cereal for supper (We always eat cereal for supper on Sunday nights.)

Monday:  7 can soup (crock pot meal since we are gone all afternoon)

Tuesday:  penne pasta with bacon and spinach

Wednesday:  roast (crock pot), homemade macaroni and cheese, black eyed peas (from my freezer--I put them up last summer)

Thursday:  spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce

Friday:  shrimp and grits

I will serve a green salad and homemade bread with most meals.  Our lunches consist of leftovers or baked chicken strips diced and served in a flour tortilla or over a green salad along with fresh fruit and raw carrots and broccoli.  Breakfasts are mostly self-serve because I am exercising and then showering in the mornings.  The children choose from frozen waffles (I know, unhealthy!), peanut butter and bread, scrambled eggs, or oatmeal.  I always eat a Clif granola bar and drink lots of coffee!

Shrimp and Grits
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup uncooked quick cooking grits
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. butter
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
6 slices bacon
2 pounds shrimp, peeled
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. chopped garlic (in a jar in the produce section)

Bring broth to a boil and then stir in grits.  Cook, stirring occasionally 5-7 minutes, or until thickened.  Remove from heat.  Stir in salt, pepper, butter, and cheese.  Set aside and keep warm.  (I remove some of the grits for Olivia before adding the cheese--she does not like cheese!)  Cook bacon, drain on paper towels, and then crumble.  Cook shrimp in bacon grease.  You can drain some of the bacon grease off if it looks like too much.  (I always drain most of it off.)  Add lemon juice and next 4 ingredients.  Cook 3 minutes.  Stir in bacon.
Spoon grits onto individual serving plates.  Top with shrimp mixture and serve immediately.

Please visit OrgJunkie for more menu inspiration and recipes too.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Saturday

This has been a long week for me, and I am glad that it is now Saturday, and I can take a breath.

It's actually snowing here right now (in Mississippi!), and I am making my weekly grocery list.  It really is too cold to get out and buy groceries, but I am....Jimmy ran 22 miles early, early (5:30) this morning with friends, so if they can run in the snow for hours, surely I can ride in my warm van to Kroger!

Jimmy took me out for a coffee date twice this week--after supper, just the two of us, and that was just what I needed.

We have our family Bible study tonight at our dear friends' house, the Princes.  We enjoy a meal together after our study, and I am planning on taking a salad and my yummy pound cake.

I have completed 60 out of 63 days of Insanity.  Just three more days to go!  I am ready to say that I am an Insanity graduate.  Like most things in life, this exercise program seemed so intimidating at first.  But now that I am almost at the end, looking back it seems like it wasn't so bad.

I haven't gotten my children or husband any Valentine's Day happy yet.  I need a creative idea that doesn't involve candy.  I guess I will scour Pinterest for some fun ideas!

Sam's 100th day of Kindergarten is coming up soon, and I would like some new ideas for celebrating that too.  If you have any good ideas for 100 day celebrations or Valentines, please share!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Best Pound Cake

I first made this pound cake several months ago after I tried it Jimmy's Aunt Julie's house.  I am not a big cake fan, but this cake is delicious!  Julie requested it as her birthday cake, and I definitely had better success with this cake than with my decorated cakes!

Here is the recipe:

3 sticks butter, room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups cake flour
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp, almond extract (optional)

The mixing instructions are very important, and must be followed exactly.  When Aunt Julie gave me the recipe (from her neighbor), it had no directions.  I have read several cream cheese pound cake recipes and tried various ways of mixing this cake.  This is the way I have found that the cake turns out the best.

Cream together butter and cream cheese (they MUST be room temperature).  Add sugar, and beat well.  Add the vanilla and almond if using. Next add one egg, and then a little bit of the flour.  Repeat this until the eggs and flour are all mixed in.  End with the last bit of the flour.  This makes a lot of batter, and I use my big Kitchen Aid mixer. 

Grease and flour a large bundt pan with smooth sides.  I think it may be called an angel food cake pan.  This cake will not fit into a fluted regular sized pound cake pan.  I use crisco to grease the pan--just put some on a folded up paper towel and coat the entire cake pan.  Sprinkle the pan with flour, shaking around to coat the pan.

Pour the batter into the pan.
Place pan in an unheated oven. This is important.  Do not preheat the oven.  Put the cake in the oven and turn it on to 300 degrees.  Bake the cake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, and then check by inserting a butter knife into the center.  If it is still gooey, cook for 5-10 minutes longer.  In my oven the cake will cook completely in 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan for a few minutes, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.


Please visit any of the following 4 Moms, 35 Kids blogs for a dessert recipe link up today.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Olivia Is Driving!

Actually, Olivia got her permit almost a year ago, but I have not ridden in the car with her driving......

Until Today!

Olivia and I had to go to town today, and as we were getting into the van, she ran back into the house to get her permit.  She asked, "Can I drive?"

I panicked!  I have let Jimmy do all of the driving lessons.  I know that Olivia needs more driving practice, but I have been too nervous to let her drive me.  I potty trained the children and taught them how to read, but teaching them to drive is a different story!  I am so thankful that Jimmy has taught her to drive!

So, I told her that I would prefer to drive to town, but I would let her drive us back home.

And I did!  She drove us all the way home, including down a busy street with multiple traffic lights.  We made it home safe and sound.  I was very pleased at Olivia's driving skills.  She is a good driver!

I am thinking that I am too young to have a child who can drive!

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Good Book

Today I finished reading Moccasin Trail by Eloise Jarvis McGraw aloud to Clay (and Olivia, Julie, Leah and Sam sometimes too).  It is one of our books for Core D/E (American History) in Sonlight.

It is an excellent book!

Moccasin Trail is set in 1844, a time when many brave pioneers braved the elements and numerous dangers to travel west in to the wilderness of the Oregon territory.  Jim is an 18 year old who ran away from his family back east eight years ago.  Following a tragic encounter with a bear, Jim was rescued and then raised by a tribe of Crow Indians.  Later, part of his original family make the difficult journey out west, and Jim joins them for the latter part of their trip.  Most of the story revolves around Jim's inner conflict---is he a Crow Indian or a white man?  Where does he belong?  Does his family really want him back?  Does he really want to live with them?

Throughout the book, many gruesome things are described, but I know that's how life really was for these people.  I am so thankful that I live in the time and place that I do!

If you are studying this time period in your homeschool, or you simply want a good book to read, I highly recommend Moccasin Trail.  I am adding it to my list of all-time favorite books.

A couple of more things--I would recommend this as a read aloud for your children because of the dialect.  My children prefer me to read books with dialect different than ours out loud to them.  Also, there really are some gross parts.  I think this book is best suited for ages 9 or 10 and up.  Clay is almost 13, and he really enjoyed it.

One more book that I have read aloud recently, and LOVED was The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill.  I read this book to Leah and Sam as part of Sonlight Core B.  We all loved this book!  I have a blog post about it due to be published on February 16 over on The Homeschool Classroom.  I will post a link to the article on that day.

Tomorrow, I begin reading Across Five Aprils to Clay (another favorite of mine),and I am currently reading Little Pear to Leah and Sam.  Little Pear is ok.  Not a thought provoking or life changing book or anything.  But we have read worse!

I love, love, love reading aloud good books to my children.  It is my all-time, hands-down favorite part of homeschooling!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The La La Loopsy House

Olivia made Leah this cute little house for her miniature La La Loopsy dolls.  She used a shoe box, scrapbooking paper, scraps of fabric, and several odds and ends that she found in various places.

 the front of the house

 an inside view of the whole house

 the bedroom

 the bathroom 

the kitchen

Spending time on Pinterest has put me in a craftsy mood, and I normally don't even like to do crafts!  Mostly I have rekindled my interest in sewing.  Earlier this afternoon I cut out an apron for me and most of a capri pants and top outfit for Leah.  Having a designated space for all of our sewing/scrapbooking/crafting supplies plus my fabulous crafting table inspires me!

One of the advantages of homeschooling is that my children have time on most days to spend in creative pursuits.  They work really hard completing their schoolwork and chores, but unless we have somewhere to go, they always have time for their hobbies.  They also work on their projects after supper until bedtime.  As my younger children are growing older, I am finding that I am having a tiny bit more discretionary time as well.  So, I am getting to spend some time in creative pursuits of my own!

I'll post some pictures of my apron and Leah's outfit when I finish them---it may take me a couple of weeks or even a month--I just work on my projects a little bit at a time.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Clay's Knife

Ok, I had pictures of the wrong knife.  Clay actually fine-tuned his railroad-spike knife, but I don't have picture of that.  These are pictures of a knife that he made out of a saw blade.  He still used his forge and grinder, but he started with a different material.  

 He made a handle using paracord, and he hand sewed a cover for the blade out of leather.

The finished product!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Girls Night Out

Last week Lynn invited me to attend a Girls Night Out painting event with her.  She also invited our friend Leigh and Lynn's mama, Kitty.  Now, painting is not really my thing, but Lynn and I haven't spent much time together outside our church services since December 3---she and I are both taking a short break from running---so I was up for spending some fun time with her!

When I told my children that I was going to a painting class, Olivia laughed!  My whole family is well aware of my lack of artistic ability!  Anyway, Tuesday night I went, and we had a fun time!  The teacher was really sweet and encouraging, and she broke the painting down step by step so even a novice like me could be successful!

 Lynn, Kitty, and Leigh, beginning our canvases

 Here is the paint palette.  Pretty colors!

 First, we drew with pencil.

Then, after about three hours, this is what we ended up with!

My children were impressed!