A Book List After All

Okay, I’m eating my words! I had not planned to publish a book list this year after failing so miserably last year, but my time for reading has increased the last few weeks.  I’ve had a running list in my head of books I’d really like to read, so I thought I might as well go ahead and write them down here.  I make not one single promise that I’ll finish every book on this list this year (I really learned my lesson last year!).  But I’ve had my eye on most of these books for some time now, so Lord willing, I’ll find the time to read them!  Publishing the list is really just a way for me to keep track of what I want to read and not get side-tracked!  You’ll find the list in my sidebar…maybe a title or two will spark your interest as well!

Little Kevin

I’ll never be able to find the words to describe how much I adore this little guy…who looks completely like my hubby and nothing like me!  Molly Kate snapped this pic of him in the bathtub yesterday…pretty stinkin’ cute, huh?!

To School or Not to School?

When Kevin and I first began considering our children’s education (after Molly Kate was born), I decided to read “The Well Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home” by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.  I had always assumed that if we were still living in Louisville when it was time to begin schooling our children that I wouldn’t really have a choice but to home school because of our finances.  After reading “The Well Trained Mind,” I was actually encouraged by the classical model to education and excited about the opportunity to teach my children.  While my public school education wasn’t a horrible one, I certainly  was not taught to love learning.  I also never really grasped how all the subjects that I was studying in school really fit together.  I just sat in class, memorized a bunch of facts, took tests and moved forward with A’s and B’s, but never really truly learning.  Had I been asked to think through what I was being taught, organize that information and then form my own opinions and arguments, I would have been utterly lost! Recognizing what was lacking in my own education, I began to dream of how wonderful it would be teach my children following the classical model, which is both coherent and systematic, but most importantly (to me), aids the student in developing a thirst and love of learning.  And why would I want my children to have a thirst for learning?  Certainly not so they can excel in the workplace one day or become neurosurgeons (though those are perfectly fine goals).  But ultimately, I want my children to love learning so that they will love devoting their lives to learning the Word of God and desire to ever grow in their knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ.

Okay, so let’s fast forward a couple of years and land in 2010, when I gained three children (two adopted) in a matter of months and then had no choice (remember, I had assumed this a long time ago!) but to begin schooling my oldest at home.  By October, my envisioned dreams of classical home education had flown the coop and most days I was just trying get through the hour and a half it required to do school without yelling at anyone. Our scenario made it almost impossible to even get through five minutes of a lesson without an interruption.  Miles had a poopy diaper.  Madden woke up from his nap and was screaming crying.  Molly Kate really wanted to do school as well, but needed much more help and hands-on instruction.  I know Mikias was also about to lose his mind.  Every night I would beg Kevin to help me figure out another way.  We both knew there wasn’t another option right then, so he would remind me of our schooling motto “Year by year, child by child.”  Basically, that we weren’t committing to 12 years of homeschooling per child…by next year, we might be in an entirely different situation so what I was experiencing then wasn’t permanent.  That helped…well, a little!

But you know what?  What I was experiencing wasn’t permanent and it changed dramatically within a few weeks.  By December, Madden was nearing six months and his naps finally became much more consistent.  There were now a whole two hours in the morning when he was asleep and I could easily teach Mikias without worrying about my baby.  And Miles’ was more adjusted to our morning routine, so instead of me feeling like I was banishing him to his room during school time, he began to happily head to his room for a Barney or Baby Einstein dvd and grab some books for time on his bed.  Molly Kate, having sat in the kitchen during school for months, began doing a lot of Mikias’ daily math routine with him…she now daily counts to 100, counts backwards from 12, helps tell the time, the day of the week and so forth.  I can usually help her through a page or two in an age-appropriate workbook and then she’s ready to join Miles in watching a dvd.  During that time, Mikias can finish up his math and then he and I tackle reading.  It took some time (and a lot of tears and prayer on my part) but we have finally gotten into a rhythm of schooling at home and I am (dare I say it?) really enjoying it!

I don’t know how long we’ll commit to homeschooling.  But I do know that I am really grateful to the Lord for the opportunity to train and teach my little people.  I can’t tell you how exciting it was to check out a book from the library yesterday and sit on the couch with everyone and have Mikias read the whole thing by himself.  Remember, he didn’t know but about three English words ten months ago and now he is reading an entire book to his family.  How sad I would have been to miss the sense of accomplishment and sheer joy Molly Kate experienced the first time she was able to count all the way to 100 with Mikias!  At this point, I’m not sure I can imagine turning this role over to someone else.  Most importantly, because I spend all day every day with my children, I have ample opportunities to speak with them about the Lord.  This month the children (well Mikias and Molly Kate) memorized Deuteronomy 6:5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  When you read on, Moses commands parents to teach Scripture diligently to their children and talk about the Word all the time (“when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up”).  When your children are with you as you sit in your house and walk by the way (as opposed to being away at school for long hours each day), then you are never rushed for time to talk about and teach the Bible.  And the Bible isn’t compartmentalized into something we just talk about during our morning and evening devotions or on Sundays.  All of our days are sprinkled through and through with God’s Word.  I love that.

Again, year by year and child by child, but for now, I can honestly say I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Amazon Mom

I’ve had several requests to post this information, so here it is!  A couple of months ago, I read about Amazon Mom on the Money Saving Mom site. Amazon Mom is a free membership program that provides two major benefits: 15% off diapers and wipes and free two-day shipping with Amazon Prime for the first three months of your membership.  After that, you can still earn more months of free shipping so long as you are spending $25 in the baby store each month. It doesn’t cost anything to join Amazon Mom and as long as you are a parent, you are eligible!

But, it gets even better!  Amazon also has a program called Subscribe and Save.   Whenever you choose diapers that are within the Subscribe and Save program, you receive an additional 15% off.  Once the diapers arrive, simply click on the link from your e-mail confirmation and cancel the subscription.  You can change your items and subscriptions as many times as you want!

Let me give you an example of how much money I saved on diapers for Madden last month. Target.com currently has the diapers I’m buying for Madden (Pampers Baby Dry Diapers, size 3) priced at $44.99 for a 204 count box.  I bought this same box of diapers through my Amazon Mom account with the Subscribe and Save option for $28.62.  That’s $0.22/diaper versus $0.14/diaper!  Now, don’t get me wrong…I know Pampers are a more expensive brand.  But for my little-bottomed babies, they somehow work best for us in the beginning.  We’ll most likely move Madden to LUVS or the Target brand Up & Up diapers after he turns one, but during this season of needing many diapers, Amazon has been awesome!  It’s also super-convenient…when I notice Madden is low on diapers, I jump online, place my order and  have my diapers in two days!  Plus, from time to time, Parents magazine will have 20% off diapers on Amazon coupons, which really increases our savings!

Okay…there’s my sales pitch!  If you’re a mommy with a little one in diapers, go join Amazon Mom today!

Mexican Cheese Ball

I was e-mailing this recipe to my sister just now and thought it might be a fun one to share.  I first sampled this delicious cheese ball at a baby shower here in Louisville and could have probably eaten the whole thing!  Thanks Lindsay for this amazing recipe!

2/3 c. chopped pecans

1 Tbsp butter
1/8 tsp. salt
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 scallions chopped
1/2 c. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 packet taco seasoning
1/4 c. picante sauce

Heat butter and pecans in small skillet on medium heat until roasted.  Sprinkle salt in medium sized bowl and combine next 5 ingredients.  Put combination in freezer for 5 minutes or until firm.  Form into ball on serving plate and add pecans to all sides.  Keep in fridge until served.


Seven Months!

Okay, time really is flying! I can’t believe my sweet baby boy is already 7 months old?!  He is definitely the star around our house…the kids adore him and actually argue over whose turn it is to “play” with Madden (as if only one person can play with him at a time, right?!)!  His first tooth came in this past month and the second is right behind it.  On Monday I found him up all on fours in his crib, so I’m sure he’ll be crawling soon!   This month’s photo shoot was by far the most difficult…Madden kept wanting to roll over on his belly and then try to eat his little sign!  Here’s the best I could get!

Slow Cooker Veggie Chili

This is one of my favorite winter recipes…I also love the added benefit of all the vitamins and nutrients from so many veggies that we seem to need around here as we continue to fight cold and flu season.  The recipe makes quite a bit of soup, so I always freeze two meals worth to pop out on a busy night or for lunch after church on Sundays.  Recipe also found here.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2  large carrots, diced (1 cup)
  • 2  celery ribs, diced (1/2 cup)
  • 1  medium-size sweet onion, diced
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 2  (8-oz.) packages sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1  large zucchini, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1  yellow squash, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1  tablespoon  chili powder
  • 1  teaspoon  dried basil
  • 1  teaspoon  seasoned pepper
  • 1  (8-oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 3  cups  tomato juice
  • 2  (14 1/2-oz.) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 4  (15-oz.) cans pinto, black, great Northern, or kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  cup  frozen whole kernel corn

Preparation

1. Sauté first 3 ingredients in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 10 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add mushrooms, zucchini, and squash; sauté 3 more minutes. Add chili powder and next 2 ingredients, and sauté 5 more minutes.

2. Stir together tomato sauce and tomato juice in a 6-qt. slow cooker until smooth. Stir in diced tomatoes, next 2 ingredients, and carrot mixture. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours.

 

 

Goals and Plans

On New Year’s Eve (this will tell you just how exciting our life is!), Kevin and I sat down with our Mac and worked through some goals for 2011.  For about the last three years, we’ve taken the time at the end of each year to evaluate some key areas of our life (spiritual, relational, financial, physical and parenting) and set forward some goals to work toward in the coming year.  Obviously, there were several goals for 2010 that were not met, but when we planned our 2010 goals, we had no idea God would bring three children into our lives in the manner and time-frame that He did.  So, we’re okay with the fact that we had to forego some of our original plans…what we gained was far better!

Given the year that we just finished and recognizing that 2011 could possibly bring even more transition (Kevin is currently looking for a pastoral staff position and we hope the Lord will provide something soon), we decided this would be a year to set simple, very realistic goals.  For example, my relational goals were to maintain three of my current, very important friendships and have one family from our church over for dinner once a month.  Pretty basic, huh?!  For our parenting goals, we discussed where each of our children were at, developmentally and spiritually and listed one area that we wanted to devote more attention to in the coming year.  We usually reference these goals every  month or so to keep us focused and of course, devote them all to prayer as we know we will fail miserably to do any good at all apart from the Lord working in and through us.

As we’ve discussed and thought through our goals, my mind continues to circle around whether or not I should continue this blog.  I go back and forth as to whether I have the time to do it justice (remember, I’m the gal who just can’t do anything half-way!) and whether I really want our life out there for all the world to see.  For now, my plan is to scale back my postings…hopefully I can get 4-6 posts a month, one of which will be pictures for my family who doesn’t live near and one will probably be a recipe.  That gives me three to four posts of actual content (which are my favorite to write but also require time…a commodity that isn’t available much during this season of life!).  We’ll see how it goes.  I also don’t plan to publish a book list this year.  As you’ll notice, I didn’t quite make it through my 2010 list and reading (again something I love) is very difficult to fit into my day.  When it comes to “me-time” on most days, I have the choice of running or reading, and running usually wins!  I’ve tried reading in the evenings, but my brain and body are so tired that I’ve found it almost impossible to retain information.  So, while I’m sure I’ll read a few books this year and I promise to review what I read, I know that there’s no point in setting out a specific goal in this area!

There’s a passage in Scripture that God has continually brought to mind as this year has begun.  It can be easy to become consumed and overwhelmed with all I hope to accomplish this year, especially given that I’m such a task-oriented person.

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” James 4:13-15

I really have no idea what tomorrow holds.  But the God in whom I have entrusted my soul has His perfect plan for me, for my husband, for my children.  I have goals, plans and hopes for the coming year, but I desire the Lord’s will to be done in my life most of all and that may very well mean laying down some of my plans so that His can reign.