Monday, January 31, 2011

A Quick, Tasty Snack


A friend of mine makes this tasty snack for herself.  She stays away from dairy when she is nursing her babies, at least for the first few months. 

Slather a tortilla (I use whole wheat)

with room-temperature butter.

Sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top.

Broil until topping is bubbly.

Eat with delight!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Managing Mondays

Well, Monday is here again.  Sometimes I feel more prepared for Mondays and other times, not so much.  This time it’s a “not so much”.  The weekend has been full of some of that “night time parenting”.  My sweet baby has been miserably sick, last night and now tonight.  Brian and I have been juggling her together – taking turns rocking, walking, singing, praying, and trying to get her and us some rest. 

I am not on top of planning much of my week right now, with regard to meals and school.  I know it will all come together, but currently it seems a bit overwhelming.  Nonetheless, I know that Monday is here.  I need to set my face to the week and manage the best I can.

I try to manage Mondays by:

  • Expecting less of myself and the day – so that if things don’t go “perfectly”, I can adjust better.
  • Make meals, especially breakfast, fairly easy.
  • Creating good experiences, when I can, throughout the day – like, of course, eating good food!  You know I love to cook!

Last Monday, we had some of that cozy food that makes you feel better about Monday.


Homemade Hot Cocoa



Baked Potato Soup with BLTs

*The BLT’s had turkey bacon, lettuce, tomato, cheese, mayo, and mustard on them.  YUM!


This Monday is less predictable at the moment, but I know God is faithful and will help us to succeed.

What do you do to manage your Mondays?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Night Time Parenting


Night time parenting is one of those hard things to embrace.  It brings about images of crying babies, sick children, and heartache. 

When our babies are born, we work so hard to get them to sleep through the night.  Even friends and family who greet the baby from time to time ask us, “How is she sleeping?”  The pressure comes… especially upon those of us who do not have sleep-through-the-night babies.  You start to feel like a failure.  You wonder what you are doing wrong.  Is there something wrong with my child?  Then the question is asked, “Do you have her on a schedule?”  Yep, she’s on a schedule.  You start to evaluate all of your tactics.  Where is the loophole?

My daughter started sleeping through the night around two months.  It felt so good.  I felt so good.  Life seemed to feel good.  About a month later, things went awry.  She got a cold… She started rolling over continually…  She was sleeping in the same room with us… Various factors were encouraging this girl to wake up multiple times in the night, and it wasn’t easy.  I didn’t feel like such a great parent any more.  I started to wonder why I couldn’t get my act together after four babies!  Even now, with my daughter at seven months old, we are still trying to help her sleep better at night.  She is still waking up  multiple times.  It is terribly exhausting, to be honest. 

In the mean time, I have thought about the subject and realize that night time parenting is definitely part of parenting.  Baby sleep aside, we are called to be parents 24/7.  When our kids need us, we are there – or at least we should be there.  When our infants grow up, they still need us at night.  They wet their beds.  They have nightmares.  They get sick with fevers and vomiting.  They wake up, just missing us.

Then our children grow up and want to stay up later.  They want to talk.  They want to be alone, with us, without other children around.  A friend of mine told me about the value of the night hours with her teens – how that was the time when her kids would open up and be vulnerable.  She would lose sleep, but gain her children’s hearts – time to have valuable discussion and connect.

As parents we need grace and endurance to run the race that is set before us – even at night.  Yes, your children will grow up… but even when they are adults, they may still call you – at night – for some counsel or a shoulder to cry on.

Night time parenting… it’s part of life!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Date with My Son


Last night I had a date with my son.  It was very delightful!  First we stopped at the dollar store and Target, where I had to pick up a handful of things.  Then we went to his desired location – Panera Bread.  It was his reward for filling up his pom jar!  We cherished our time together.  We didn’t have as much time as would have liked at Panera Bread, but it was still fun.  We ate our goodies and then played some drawing games on a napkin.  I felt a bit rushed, but I TRULY enjoyed it.  The whole experience brought a smile to my heart and does, even now, as I write about it.  He is such a sweetheart, and I love being with him.  It’s great to be alone with one of your children.  You can really bond in a special way, getting to know that child individually. 

Have you had a date with one of your children lately?

Plan it!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Yummy Breakfast… for Dinner

It was starting to get late, and I still had to make my grocery list for the night’s run.  I was trying to decide what to make for dinner, and the kids started voting.  “Pancakes” was the unanimous vote!  I whipped together my usual base and added a handful of mix-ins for some packed punch!  I needed something solid and tasty.  After all, it was dinner!
Packed Pancakes
This makes a large batch… enough for six of us to eat and have some leftovers for breakfast the next morning! 
3 cups flour
3 cups milk
3 eggs
6 T oil
1 1/2 T baking powder
1 1/2 t salt
1 mashed banana
1/2 cup choc. chips
1/2 cup frozen blueberries, dusted with flour first
1/4 cup chopped pecans
Mix all together and cook on oil-sprayed, warmed griddle – of course, flipping to cook both sides. 
Top with butter and homemade whipped cream.  YUM!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Homeschool Personalities


Each homeschool has its own personality.  That’s because each family has its own personality.

Some are morning people.

Some like rigid schedule.

Some are involved with sports.

Some are part of a co-op.

Some pick and choose their curriculum.

Some have a Dad who works afternoon or evening shifts.


It is up to each family to decide what is best for their homeschool, according to what works for them. 

I remember years ago, reading The Managers of Their Homes (which is really an excellent book by the way).  When I got to the sample schedule section, I practically felt like a failure.  Almost all of the families rose in the morning a couple hours before we did and seemed to have all of life scheduled to a T.  We are not early birds, although we are getting better.  Our children sometimes go to bed later, and I will let them sleep in a little extra the next day if needed.  I like routine, but I have to somewhat flexible, lest I become discouraged quickly.  There are some things in my own homeschool that are working well right now and some things that need improvement – but isn’t that the essence of life?  Things are always fluctuating, especially in a fluid family, where children are growing and people are changing. 

I would LOVE to do school four days a week – something I did a couple years ago – but I can’t seem to make it work right now.  I feel that extra day to focus on my home and its needs would be extremely profitable.  I have tried to squeak in extra hours another way.  Recently, Monday through Wednesday we have full school days and sometimes try to do extra.  On Thursday we do no math and do all other subjects.  On Friday we do double math and any make-up work.  This allows Thursday and Friday to be a bit lighter.  Math is a long, somewhat tedious subject so it is nice to have a day without it.  On Fridays – double math day – I try to combine some of their work if it is repetitive at all, so it isn’t quite so cumbersome. 

Of course, you may have read that for the past couple weeks my children have been getting their school work done nearly every day before lunch!  This has been tremendously helpful and makes the need for my change on Thursdays and Fridays not so needy. 

Find what works for you.  Glean from others – yes! – but do not feel guilty for living differently than others.  Be confident in your choices.  If you waver, ask yourself questions like:

Is my husband happy with the way things are going?

Are my children learning and growing?

Am I challenging my children?

Is my home fairly orderly and content?

If so, then rest…. rest in our God who is ordering your steps and creating your own homeschool personality.  He is a God of variety, and His specific will is different for everyone.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Great Big Pot of Delicious Chili


My friend, Heather, gave me the recipe for her chili.  I have never made a beef chili, so I wanted a tried-and-true recipe.  Sure enough, hers fit the bill!  My family loved it.  I made it a bit too spicy.  The chili powder I get from my local fruit market is much spicier than the average Lawry’s chili powder.  With my current chili powder, I usually use about half of the required amount.  I did that this time.  My husband and the older kids liked the amount of zing in the dish, but the younger ones asked me to reduce it a bit next time. 

I like this chili recipe because it is a classic, brown-dump-and simmer recipe.  What I find unique is the use of ALL of the canned goods ingredients.  You don’t drain any of them!!

The other thing I like about this recipe is that it makes a LARGE pot of chili.  I was able to use half for dinner one night and another half for leftovers the following night.  I love that!  I topped it with cheese and served it with tortilla chips and artisan bread (from Costco) the first night.  The second night I served the chili with cornbread and a good salad!

Try this recipe while it’s still winter.  I think you’ll like it.


Heather’s Chili

2lbs. Lean ground beef

1 onion chopped or 2 Tbsp onion powder

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp cumin

¼ cup chili powder

2 14.5oz cans of diced tomatoes w/either green chilies or jalapenos (pick your heat index)

3 16oz cans of beans (I use kidney, pinto, and black)

2 15.25oz cans of sweet corn

1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes

2-3 tsp of salt

Note: don’t discard any liquid from the canned goods, you need it all!

Cook: Brown meat and onions together, then dump the rest of it in, simmer for an hour or two. Garnish with your favorites like cheese, sour cream, avocado, tortilla chips, cilantro, etc…..

Going to a Potluck? Prepare chili, dump in crock pot, make a corn bread mixture and add extra milk (has to be runny). Pour over chili, cook on low for 4-5 hrs, and then you’ve got chili and corn bread!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The P’s of Parenting: Patience and Perseverance

A couple weeks ago, it seemed like our entire week went awry.  My son, especially, was really struggling.  After all we had just had two weeks of vacation, enjoying the luxuries of fairly “free” family life and celebrations for the holidays.  Now, we were delving in again, into our homeschool life of studies and routine, and the kids were a bit resistant.  My son had a really hard time, and I had multiple conversations with him about attitude and diligence.  I felt dismayed.  Could I really keep up like this?  Maybe I should just throw in the towel?  Nonetheless, I plodded forward, trying to  instruct him in the way he should go, not knowing when the course would change.  Little did I know, our great God was at work in an amazing way (as He always is), and he rewarded me with great fruit the following week.
My son woke up one morning, raring to go!  He had decided that we (all of us) would finish school before lunch time.  His mind went to work and he wrote a schedule on the whiteboard.
We followed his schedule that day, and it worked!  The kids were so excited!  Since then, the kids – especially my son – have really looked forward to getting school done before lunch.  This has been a long-term vision of mine, one that has seemed nearly impossible to accomplish.  At times, I have surrendered my ideal and realized that I could not expect that from my homeschool at this time.  However, I still pressed on, trying to get my children to have productive mornings, and now – at least for the season – it is paying off.

Parenting is not easy.
Patience and perseverance are necessary
elements of this walk. 

We must not give up!
Keep your vision.  Press forward, bit by bit. 
It was fitting… Today I read a story with my younger children for Language.  The story was about a crow who was flying around in a parched land.  He was very thirsty.  He found a pitcher that had some water in it, but the level was too low.  The crow could not reach the bottom of the pitcher nor could he push the pitcher over to get the water because it was too heavy.  He realized he could put pebbles in the pitcher, one by one.  As the pebbles sank, the water would rise, and eventually he could drink the water.
The book says the moral of the story is:  “Many hard things can be accomplished with patience and perseverance.

Galatians 6:9
And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Grilled Cheese with a Twist

What do you like to add to your grilled cheese sandwiches?  Normally we add tomatoes and pickles.  Sometimes I use a couple different types of cheese.  I’ve even made some for my husband with jarred roasted red peppers.  This week I made grilled sandwiches with deli-sized pepperoni, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, and tomato, and boy, were they good!! 


Monday, January 10, 2011

Phew! Shepherd’s Pie

Yes, today felt like a Monday!  The day started off pretty slowly… We tromped through the trudges of school and family life and finished around 5 p.m.  I took a breather.  Then at 5:30, as my baby awoke crying and I was about to start cooking dinner, I kept hearing my husband’s voice:

“Lisa, if it is 5:30, the house is crazy, and you haven’t started dinner, call me and tell me to pick up dinner”.

I couldn’t resolve to that, though – not today -  not after ordering out a few times over the past handful of days for various reasons.  No, at 5:30 today, I wanted to make the best of the plethora of groceries in my home, of our money, and of our health.

I asked the kids if they could help and watch the baby.  I felt bad; they had just started playing dodgeball in the basement.  They didn’t really want to help, so I walked up the stairs with a “What am I going to do now?” sort of feeling.  I stopped in the kitchen and prayerfully thought for a moment.  That’s it… Back down the stairs I went… “Okay, guys.  I’m sorry that you just started this game right now, but I need you.  I need you to watch the baby.  I’ve got to make dinner.  We need to be a family right now.”  They cleared the floor of any dangerous debris while I headed upstairs to scurry around the kitchen and make dinner. 

In the end, it was a success!  Together, we were able to manage fairly effectively, and I was able to get that homemade dinner on the table before Brian got home.  Phew! 


Photo taken before spreading the potato layer throughout.

Shepherd’s Pie

~a cozy dinner for a  cozy home~

Recipe found here.

My notes:

  • Oftentimes I will use about 1.5 lbs. of meat.  Today I used 1 lb. of meat, and it worked well for us.  My husband did say he likes when there is more meat, mainly because it is so tasty.  ~smile~
  • I add more ketchup, about 3 to 4 Tablespoons, and also add a bit of paprika to the meat mixture.
  • For the mashed potatoes:
    Peel, cube, and cook eight white potatoes until they are soft enough to mash.  Drain.  Add 1/4 cup softened butter and 1/4 to 1/2 cup half and half.  Mash… then whip with a hand mixer.  Add salt and pepper.
  • I spread the potatoes over the meat mixture in my cast iron and throw the pan into the oven.
  • Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I wasn’t sure what to call these bags.  Initially, I was going to call them the “Boredom Bags” or the “I’m Bored Bags”, but that does NOT sound inspirational at all.  I discussed it with my oldest son, and he thought they should be called, “Superbags”.  The other kids agreed!


I started making a bag with my five year old son in mind, at first.  He oftentimes has moments throughout the day when he doesn’t know what to do.  We will find him mulling around, doing close to nothing, or standing on his head on the couch.  Therefore, I thought it would be wise to make a bag for him, one that had various activities and tasks inside to occupy him.  We can use it on his initiative or mine, whenever we need it.  Basically, he is to draw a slip of paper out of the bag and do what it says.  The activities center around chores, doing kind things for a sibling, building, crafting, physical exercise, and toys he owns that he rarely plays with or just got for Christmas!


I thought my other children might hop on board, and sure enough, they did.  They made bags, too!  Now we know what to do when someone looks or says, “I’m bored”. 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A “Thanks” from My Friend

A couple weeks ago I asked you to vote for a friend who was part of a weight loss contest.  She ended up finishing Second Place!

Kirstie and I thank you for your support!



In my last post about resolutions, I mentioned picking a purposeful word to focus on for the new year.  Originally, the word that came to mind was JOY.  I long for more JOY in my life and desire to work towards that goal.  However, as I have thought about it more, I realize there is a word that is, perhaps, more meaningful for my life right now – REST!

You may remember that I said I need to focus on getting more sleep.  Truly, I am worn out most days and not just physically.  I am physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually worn out.  I need rejuvenation and restoration.  That comes through good, solid REST!  I don’t just speak about sleep, either.  Sleep is part of rest, but good rest is so much more.

Rest comes when we are able to surrender to our God and the circumstances in our lives, when we are able to accept what our lives contain.

Rest comes when we are have contentment in our hearts and can feel thankful, even during hardship.

Rest comes when our minds, hearts, and homes are free of clutter.

Rest comes when our minds are filled with good thoughts rather than downward spirals.

Rest comes when we are at peace with our neighbor.

Rest comes when our souls are quieted within ourselves, when we are able to respond to situations with stillness and not let our mouths speak unwisely.

My daughter and I randomly opened up to Psalm 131 and read it together today.  Having a nursing infant, this psalm definitely hits home, as I know how wiggly my daughter can be in my lap when she is focused on nursing.  She is not quieted within herself.  She is focused on her needs and impatient.  May we be like a weaned child who can sit in the Father’s lap and Rest as we walk through each day of our lives.

Psalm 131:1-2

Lord, my heart is not haughty,

Nor my eyes lofty.

Neither do I concern myself with great matters,

Nor with things too profound for me.

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,

Like a weaned child with his mother;

Like a weaned child is my soul within me.


I wish you much Rest in the New Year!!!