Thursday, June 30, 2011

Summer Therapy


Are you learning from the summer?  Are you allowing it to give you a good dose of therapy?  Have you continued to be weighed down with the drudgery and tasks of life or are you learning to lighten up a bit? 

I MADE myself take a break today from my normal pile of housework and responsibilities and took the kids to a park.  In fact, yesterday I decided that I would try to take the kids to a different park each week, for the rest of the summer.  I am tired of life’s issues beating me over the head!  It’s time to have fun with my kids!

Housework will always be here… summer will not.

Our “To Do” lists will continue to grow, and yet so will our children!  They will not always be young forever.

Stress can consume us or we can attempt to consume it!

What are you doing to take advantage of the summer with your children?  Are you giving yourself the break YOU need?  Are you using the time to rejuvenate?  You need it and so does your household!  Your children need to have fun with you!

Today, after we returned from our great time at the park with ice cream in our hands, my six year old son said, “Today starts the fun year!”  Obviously, our children are affected by the good times we have with them, and remember… it’s not just quality over quantityIt’s both!

Enjoy your summer!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

To Garage Sale or Not to Garage Sale


Last week we organized and participated in our subdivision’s garage sale.  I have had a couple garage sales in the past that went quite well, and I was looking forward to doing some purging.  Actually, throughout the year, we keep a “stash” of things in our storage room that we want to sell if we plan to have a garage sale rather than scurrying through the house at garage sale time to find treasures.  I had just returned from vacation the weekend before our sale, so I was not really in the mood to get everything prepared.  Nonetheless, I went about my business to organize a decent sale. 

The first day of our sale, I did quite well, and made $93.  The second day, however, I made a mere $2.50.  I have never heard of anyone making that little in a day!  I think God still has something he wants to tell me about that $2.50.  I’m just not sure what yet.  When I woke up that two dollar morning, I sensed a bad day.  The clouds were extremely gray and showers were in sight.  The previous day’s weather was similar, but there was something dreary about this morning.  As we plunged into the day, it was quite discouraging to get little traffic and little action.  I am thankful my dad was here to man the sale and relax with his Sudoku book in the garage.  Otherwise, it may have seemed to be a complete waste of the day!

Fortunately I made a decent profit the third day and also rid ourselves of a futon, making a big step towards remodeling our family room.  That felt good.  Nonetheless, I had more hope for this garage sale – that I would be able to sell more and make more money.  I was bummed that there were not more children at my sale, which is what I really needed.  I don’t know if it was the weather or the time of year or something else.  Another neighbor said that this was the worst garage sale she has ever had also, so I realize there were bigger factors involved, possibly even the trending ways of our culture.  It seems that more people are using Craigslist and secondhand stores and don’t really have the time to go garage saling. 

What is your experience with garage sales?

Are you making money?  To what do you credit it?

Do you like to go garage saling?

It would be easy to give up on hosting garage sales, but I admit – there is a bit of character to them.  I know that I do appreciate visiting them from time to time so I may make someone else’s “trash” my very own “treasure”.  There is something more unique and personal to the garage sale experience than a deal on Craigslist or at the goodwill store.  Don’t you think?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Blessing of Kindred Spirits


Anne (with an “E”) meant well when she spoke of kindred spirits.  She was a passionate girl with energy, hopes, dreams, and vigor and wanted to share all of that with someone like her, a bosom buddy!  Anne knew the value of special friends, and yesterday I was reminded about how wonderful and energizing it is to have kindred spirits in our lives. 

My daughter had a friend over for the day.  This was very special for her.  She was playing with someone near to her own age who thought like her and enjoyed doing the things she likes to do.  The girls had fun, just being girls!  They cared for the baby quite a bit since they were so anxious to be with her and play “house” with her.  They also giggled, played outside, made homemade bubbles, juiced lemons for homemade lemonade, and did a lot of pretend play – together.  They seemed to enjoy every minute of it and got along splendidly.  My daughter enjoyed it so much that she was skipping around the house at times, with joy. 

All of us need times like this, where our hearts are “skipping for joy”.  All of us need kindred spirits.  We need people who are like us… people who have similar vision… people who can encourage us to go the right way… people who will stand by us and give their shoulders when we need them.

Kindred spirits bring refreshing to our souls.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Beauty of Vacation

Yes, that’s where I’ve been the past week – vacationing.  Last week, we went to the Traverse City, MI area with my family for a five-night stay – mainly to celebrate my mother’s 60th birthday.  We hit the sand dunes, mini golf, Lake Michigan, and a drive-in theatre and filled the rest of our time with eating, swimming, games, movies, and other enjoyable activities.  I also got to watch “Cupcake Wars”.  Without cable at home, special moments with the Food Network is always a treat!

Although vacation sometimes doesn’t feel like much of a “break” as we continue to carry the responsibilities of parenthood, it is still a break from the norm.  We ate out more, weren’t pressed by the clock, escaped some of our everyday household duties, and enjoyed more leisure in general.  I have enjoyed having my husband home for the past week, and now we try to head into the next week with grace from our Lord – asking Him to strengthen us to regroup and plow ahead once again.

Lunch at Pizza Hut.


Climbing the dune climb!


Some of us handled the car rides better than others.


S’mores at the fire pit.


Have you had done any vacationing or do you have any plans to do so?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Better than Average Potato Salad

I first made this potato salad a handful of years ago.  It is a huge conglomeration of flavors – some you may think of putting in your usual, everyday potato salad but feel a little hesitant to do so.  With this recipe, you can go overboard and give your taste buds a run for their money!  I actually do not usually put everything in this potato salad when I make the recipe for it can seem to be a bit much.

The first thing I love about this recipe is that you don’t have to peel the potatoes and once they are cool, you just mash them up with your hands to look like this:


As you can see from the photo, I used red potatoes, whereas the recipe calls for “Yukon gold potatoes”.  Choose which kind you would like to eat, and run with it!

When I made the recipe this time, I omitted the red onion – mostly because I am not a raw onion fan – and the dill – because I feel there is enough dill flavor with the dill pickles.  Also, I used the Dijon mustard that has a good kick - you know the one with the brown flecks all over?  If you use that kind, you might want to use half the “required” amount.  I did use the entire amount, but the kids (and teens) did not quite like the punch the salad gave.  The adults did like it, though.

Oh, I don’t drizzle the salad with olive oil before serving either.

A note about boiling eggs:  I learned a method from a blog a while ago, and it truly results in great boiled eggs.  Basically, you cook the eggs for nine minutes (not 12) once the water starts boiling at a pretty good boil.  Then you put them in an ice water bath immediately following. 

When your next summer event pops up, give this recipe a try.  I think you and your company will like it.  This recipe, as is, makes a fairly small batch of potato salad – probably serving about 6 people.  I doubled it for our occasion with about a dozen people.


Potato Salad by Tyler Florence

via the Food Network


  • 2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 large eggs
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 bunch sliced scallions, white and green parts
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickles with 1/4 cup juice, about 2 pickles
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 bunch dill, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


Put the potatoes and eggs into a big saucepan of cold salted water. Bring to a simmer. After 12 minutes remove the eggs with a slotted spoon and let cool. Continue cooking the potatoes until a paring knife poked into them goes in without resistance, about 3 minutes longer. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them cool.

Reserve some scallion greens and capers for garnish. Meanwhile, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, pickles and their juice, onion, remaining scallions and capers, parsley, and lemon juice in a bowl large enough to hold the potatoes. Peel the cool eggs and grate them into the bowl. Stick a fork into the potatoes and lift them 1 at a time out of the colander. Break up the potatoes by hand into rough chunks, add them to the bowl and toss to coat with the dressing. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil before serving.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Surviving Before Thriving

A friend and I were emailing a bit about our lives.  She is busy with many things right now and told me she is in “survival mode”.  I responded to her that I, too, am “surviving” and that we should pray for each other.  Her response was unique and good:

“Survival is good,

and usually when that mode ends,

the thriving starts.”

I have been in survival mode for a while now.  Sometimes it seems endless, hopeless, challenging, and bothersome, but I know that (in the end) it will produce good fruit if I stay strong in the Lord.  A gardener has to work hard to yield a good harvest.  He doesn’t just sit in his lawn chair with a tall, cold glass of lemonade and stare at the fields all day! 

A mother robin made her nest in the crook of this downspout.  There are two babies inside.  Right now, the chicks are in survival mode.  They are completely and utterly dependent on the mother.  She searches for food, and while she is out, there are the chicks – waiting with their mouths open for when she will return.  They need her.  They can not function on their own.


We, too, should be like these chicks during survival mode.  We should have our mouths continually open, not our physical mouths, but our spiritual “mouths”.  We should be depending upon our Lord and keeping our eyes fixed on Him.  We should be anxiously waiting for His feeding, His drawing, and most of all, His return!  We can not run this race alone, and it is foolish to think we can.

Once the chicks are done with their survival mode, they will hopefully thrive.  They will grow up, learn to fly, mature, and in turn raise up the next generation of robins.

May our survival mode produce great seasons of thriving!

God is with us in whatever season we are in – whether it be of survival or of thriving.  He wants us to lean upon Him during the hard times and to realize how much we desperately need Him.  In the good times, he wants us to praise Him and see His utter goodness.  HIS strength can provide all we need in every situation.

Philippians 4:11-13

…for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal

In my life this week…

I continue to learn from the Lord as life seems to pummel me each day.  I am trying to grow in grace, strength, and faith!

In our homeschool this week…

For the most part, we homeschool year-round.  Last week I was trying to tie things up so we could take a break and realized that I am just too burnt out to keep going.  I have declared a vacation!  We will take off the next few weeks, which will be great since we have a vacation and a garage sale planned for this month.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

My boys are going camping with their father and the other boys and men of the church this weekend.  They LOVE this annual campout.  They always come back on Sunday needing a three or four hour nap. 

My daughter and I are going to a tea house tomorrow with some of the mothers and daughters who are left behind from the boys’ campout.  It should be fun!  Beforehand I am getting a much-needed haircut!  I have not had a”real” haircut in a year, so I am looking forward to this treat!

My parents are coming over tonight to spend time with us, girls, and to help watch the baby tomorrow while I am out at the tea.  I am looking forward to a fairly laidback weekend!

My favorite thing this week was…

I received a beautiful, heartfelt card with a Spode blue and white trivet from a precious friend as a token of appreciation.  It’s been a tough week, so this gesture of friendship meant a lot to me.

Questions/thoughts I have…

Does anyone have any good thoughts about organizing your school items or keeping good records?  I will be evaluating these aspects of my school over the summer and hoping to improve.

Books I’m reading…
I am reading America’s Cheapest Family.  I hope to share some of the tidbits I am gleaning here on my blog.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…


My son celebrated his 6th birthday this week!  He’s a sweetheart!