"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed." Titus 2:4-5

Friday, January 28, 2011

My Favorite Websites for Homeschooled Kids

I just thought I'd share the websites that we use around here sometimes, for supplementing school:

Starfall : Great for learning to read, calendar skills, etc.  Love this for the little ones!

Funbrain : We use this mostly for math facts, but there are language arts games on here as well.

Vocabulary and Spelling City : Definitely check this out!  You can supplement or do your whole spelling/vocabulary program on here.

Fun 4 The Brain : We use this mostly for math facts also, but there are some other things on here also. Fun games!

Multiplication.com : Great for multiplication facts!

Sheppard Software : Games for all subjects!  We love this for geography, especially for working on states and capitals.

Big Brainz :  Not exactly online games like the rest of them, but this is the BEST!  Absolutely the best game for multiplication facts, and they're finally developing games for the other three operations.  You can download the free version to try it out, and it is totally worth the money to buy the full version, especially if you have several children that it will go through.

I hope you enjoy these.  Happy homeschooling!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

This Week's Breakfast Menu

I mentioned in a previous post that I would share some more of my breakfast ideas, so here is our breakfast menu for this week:

Sunday--cereal, juice
Monday--waffles, bacon, hash browns, fruit, juice
Tuesday--fried eggs, toast, fruit, juice
Wednesday--overnight coffee cake, scrambled eggs, roasted potatoes, hot chocolate
Thursday--French toast, bacon, fruit, juice
Friday--cereal or oatmeal, muffins, fruit, juice
Saturday--Pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns, juice, hot chocolate

I would love to hear anyone's ideas for different breakfasts!  Sometimes I feel like we have the same old stuff all the time.  But a thankful heart is a happy heart, right? :)


I am going through my weekly chore lists, figuring out what is working and what isn't.  My chore list definitely needs some tweaking!  There are some jobs that I am struggling to find time for, and I just have to work them in.  The one that I am really trying to work into my routine is weekly baking.  In the past I had thought that Saturday was a great baking day, but now my Saturdays are way too full and there is just no time.  I use Saturdays to do some deep cleaning with my daughters, and then we grocery shop.  That is really all we can fit in.  On Saturdays, we:
  • Thoroughly clean upstairs: vacuum, cobwebs, dust, clean bathroom.
  • dust downstairs
  • mop downstairs
  • grocery shop
  • plus all regular housework: meals, laundry, vacuuming, etc.
I just can't fit in anymore.  Then I thought...Sunday would be a great day for baking!  Ummm, nope.  Not going to work.  We have church, and I work on paperwork for the week...organizing school stuff and printing out schedules, etc, AND I have got to have some down time once a week!  That rules out Saturday and Sunday. 

Then there's Friday...that is a full day also.  We do a half day of school, and then it's "kitchen day".  I clean out the fridge, organize the pantry and freezer, make a shopping list, and menu plan.  I clean the kitchen cabinets, all the appliances (actually Abby usually does this), all the canisters, etc.  IF I am actually able to get all THAT done, there is certainly still no time for baking on Fridays.  SIGH.

So, my latest consideration of a plan is this:  Monday morning baking time.  I'm thinking that the girls and I will bake for the first half of the day on Mondays, then do academics in the afternoon.  I think it could work!  It'll be part of the school day; the girls will develop more baking skills, and I will get some work done.  I plan to try this soon.  I can't today, because I am purposely staying out of the kitchen so dear hubby can work on it--yay!!!  More cabinets being installed!

How do you all organize your weekly chores?  I will keep you posted on how my new idea works.  God bless you!!

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Candyland Cake

It's that time of year again...the time when Christmas is behind us, and the birthday madness begins!  My kids' birthdays fall all in a row: one in March, one in April, one in May, one in June.  (Hopefully the next child will land in January or July so I can keep up the pattern!)  First one up is my oldest daughter, Annamarie, who will be turning 13 in March.  Wait--did I just say 13?!?!?  Gosh where does time go?  Yikes.  Totally don't know how that happened!

Annamarie is busily planning her birthday already, and of course she is super excited.  This time, she says, she wants me to recreate the Candyland cake that I made for her 10th birthday.  However this time around, of course, it has to be gluten free. (She and I are gluten intolerant...visit my other blog for more info.)  I am a busy woman with a 9 month old boy who is into everything, so it sounds a bit exhausting, but I'm up for the challenge (I guess).  I'll let you know how it goes, along with the slumber party that is also being cooked up in my soon-to-be-teenager's brain. ;) (Ok, alright...I actually suggested the idea!)

Here is a picture of the last Candyland cake that I made.  What do you think?  Can I do it again, AND gluten free??? Stay tuned...

Isn't it beautiful???  :)

Meanwhile, our minor remodel on our kitchen is progressing sloooowly...and God is teaching me patience.  That's always a good thing, in the long run.

I was short on sleep last night, and so must get to bed early.  God bless!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

So excited!!

I am excited (in case you didn't catch that from the title of the post)!  As some of you know, we live in an old beater home, that my husband bought with the intention of remodeling. (Notice I say "my husband bought", because I wanted nothing to do with this house and moved in here kicking and screaming!)  After 7 years, we are finally improving the kitchen.  Now, Ted is a remodel contractor, and very good at this type of work, but unfortunately he has been out of work for over two years and so our remodel budget is basically $0.  We've been in a really rough place financially and he is out of work right now (so pray for us please).  This means more time to work on our house, but no money to do much.  The Lord blessed us with some free kitchen cabinets, so those have been installed, and I have plywood countertops until which time we have a little money to buy the tile that will go on top of it (I can't wait!).  A couple of days ago, I was finally able to peel the horribly ugly wallpaper off the kitchen wall, and soon we will be painting!  Hooray!!  It'll be kind of a sage-ish green, but probably a tad lighter, that matches my dish pattern that I've had for years, that has been waiting and waiting for a nicer kitchen to live in.  Pfaltzgraff Summer Breeze  I love, love, love this pattern!  Back in the day when we could afford it, dear hubby bought me a ton of different dishes from this pattern.  Praise the Lord for free paint for the kitchen!

Anyway, those of you reading this who know me personally, and have been in my kitchen, can truly appreciate what a big deal it is to have it fixed up.  It was really pretty bad.  Hardly any counter space, and just UGLY.  For a woman who spends probably 85% of her day in the kitchen, this is a really hard thing to deal with.  It has been a huge lesson in contentment.  I've had to take my discontentment to the Lord almost daily, and continually thank him that I have a roof over my head, and ask forgiveness for not being totally happy with the roof He has provided for me.  I still have to do that, as this house has plenty of other problems also.  But, I really am thankful.  God is good, and I can trust Him.

I just thought that I would share that little tidbit from my life.  I will post pictures eventually when the kitchen is finished, although "before" pictures may be hard, but I can find some pics with our kitchen in the background.  God bless you all, and thank you for peeking into a small window of my world!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Family Mealtimes

I am a firm believer that things should be as they were.  I am very, VERY traditional, because I see the traditional ways as God's ways.  I often feel like a woman from the 50's (or earlier) trapped in the 21st century.  Constantly going against the grain of the world...yes I am!

Feeding our families is very important.  Whoever told you that "you are what you eat" was right.  Food is our fuel to get us through our day.  It affects our energy, our performance, and our moods.....and...yep, our children's too!  Meals are not something to be put together half-heartedly.  They should be planned and thoughtfully constructed to best benefit those that we are responsible for.  Not only is the food important, but so is the time together as a family.  Regular family mealtimes also give a sense of order, and a schedule.  We have three consistent meals each day, with at least own two of them (breakfast and dinner) being a time that we all sit down together at the kitchen table and share a meal together. 

I don't know about you, but I just enjoy doing this so much!  It brings so much joy to my day.  I love pouring into my family...setting the table for breakfast in the morning, putting food such as eggs, bacon, toast, fruit, and juice (our breakfast this morning) on the table, and gathering together to say a prayer and eat a meal.  It is sad to me that this has been so lost to a lot of the world.  They are missing so much.  I praise God every day that I have my family at home with me, and that we can share these times together.  I hope that these are memories that my children cherish when they are grown.

I would like to encourage all of you to take Proverbs 31:27 to heart: "She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness."

Those two go hand in hand.  If you are looking well to the ways of your household, you are putting effort into it.  You're going the extra mile to do things well.  You'll look for ways to do a little extra something to make things special, such as getting up a little earlier to make an nice breakfast to bless your family with. You will have so many things that you can be doing, that you will have no desire to be idle, and you certainly will never be bored.  (Pet peeve of mine: stay at home moms who say they're BORED.  This should not be!  There is always, always something that can be done...a little extra effort in some aspect of the home.  If nothing else, you can always bake cookies!)

Proverbs 31:15 says: "She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household, and a portion for her maidservants."  This virtuous woman/excellent wife makes providing food for her household VERY important, so important that she gets up early to do it.  I would like to encourage you to do the same.  This really works best if you make a menu plan ahead of time and shop for everything you need.  I plan all three meals for the week.  For breakfast planning, it really helps to grab a pack of bacon and/or sausage and fruit and juice, along with plenty of eggs.  Those are basic staples that can make many varieties of breakfasts.  I make pancakes and waffles from scratch, but there are mixes you can get that are quick to throw together, or if you're really pressed for time there's toaster waffles!  Another thing that I do, is to make sure there are often leftover baked potatoes in the fridge.  These are easy to shred in the morning and cook for hash browns.

I need to get going to bed, but I will post some of my breakfast menus in my next post.  I hope some of my ideas have been helpful to those of you who are desiring to bless your family with meals.  May the Lord bless each of your homes!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Creamy Herbed Pork Chops

Good evening, all you busy moms!  If you'd like an easy to prepare meal that tastes like you've been slaving over the stove all day, I've got one for you.  I prepared this for tonight's dinner, with a grumpy baby in the house.  As usual, I wanted to take a picture, but I just couldn't.  Dinner preparation time is busy, and the baby kept crying, so it came down to either taking a picture or comforting the baby. I need to keep my priorities straight!  So here you go:

Creamy Herbed Pork Chops: 

Melt 2 T. butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 6 pork chops (mine were boneless but I don't think it matters), about 1/2" thick.  Sprinkle with salt and Mrs. Dash (or pepper), and cook for 5 minutes on each side.  Remove from skillet and keep warm.

To the drippings in the skillet, add:  2 tsp flour, 1/2 T. parsley, 1/2 tsp. basil, 1/2 tsp. beef boullion, 1/2 tsp. fresh pepper, and 2/3 cup cream.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly (this only took a minute or two), then stir in 2 T. white wine.  Return pork chops to pan, spoon sauce over the tops of chops, and heat through.

That's it!  SO yummy!  I baked potatoes and warmed up some frozen sweet corn to serve with this.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The "Me Time" Myth

I got this article off of the Crosswalk.com website: http://www.crosswalk.com/11598542/  Based on the comments, I don't think it was a very popular article, but I really liked it.  I can relate to it, because this used to be me.  Definitely NOT now, but there was a time.  Please don't read into this that I am saying that women should never get away for time alone!  The last paragraph sums it all up very well.  This is a good word for mothers that is worth reading:

I once heard a talk show host give a very compelling argument for why moms need time away. He said mothers give and give to the point of empty. They must refuel themselves so they can continue to give.

It sounded quite reasonable to me. Then why did my search for this hallowed “me time” always leave me feeling as though I needed more? While taking time for myself, I definitely felt refreshed, but the moment I got home and realized the sink was still full of dirty dishes and I would still have to give baths to all the children before the night would be over, I wanted to head right back out the door.

This left me feeling sorry for myself. Why couldn’t I have one night where I wouldn’t have to do the same things I do every night? Why couldn’t I come home to a spotless and trouble-free place where dishes were washed and children were in bed? Why did I have to go back to my duties so soon? To punish those who were making my life difficult, I would loudly sling dishes and be curt and hurried with everyone until I could get children into bed and escape to the sewing room or the computer for the remainder of the evening.

The next morning, feeling dissatisfied with the amount of me time from the evening prior, I would take my coffee, sit at the computer, and completely ignore my daily duties. I would get irritated with the children because their antics were cutting into my time. I was stressed and edgy and desperate for more. My children would call out for me and I would answer, “She’s not here right now.”

Then, I began staying up much too late in order to squeeze in more alone time. I dreaded going to bed because it meant waking up to children’s needs and a disaster of a house.

I became increasingly upset by my husband’s time off from work, along with the business lunches and the business trips. To compensate for the perceived unfairness of the situation, I chose to do nothing on weekends: no laundry, no dishes, no parenting. Soon, my weekends were spilling over both ends and into the weekdays. All of this only served to overwhelm me even more and feed into my desire to escape.

In a moment of clarity, as only the Lord can offer, I saw my behavior for what it truly was: selfishness. Along with this epiphany came the conviction to quit seeking Me Time.

Me Time is a myth. It is an unattainable, always interruptible, never satisfying piece of junk psychology. Me Time, by its very name, suggests that who we are during the daily grind is not who we truly are. It begs us to search for fulfillment outside of the titles of “wife” and “mother.” It accuses precious little ones and God-given spouses for suppressing us. It reduces motherhood to a disease in which little dirty faces and endless monotonous tasks slowly suck the life out of us. It says we can never be refreshed by spending time in the presence of those we care for day in and day out. It points out a perceived hole in our world that needs to be filled, a tank that must be refueled, a monster that will swallow us if we neglect to feed it Me Time.

The more we indulge the thought that we are somehow owed this time away, the more we will seek after it. The more we seek after it, the more every little opportunity afforded us to take a break will seemingly end too quickly. The everyday life of being a mother will become drudgery. We will dread every aspect of this role. We will snap at our children any time they try to draw us out of our precious time alone. Not getting this time will ruin our day, and if we do manage some time away, we will despise the re-entry.

However, with any lie, there is a certain amount of truth hidden within. There is an emptiness within us that needs to be filled, but only God can fill what you are aching for.

“The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” Lamentations 3:24–25

Our time away should be spent seeking Him. Anything else we try to fill that emptiness with will fall miserably short. Likewise, the company we seek during our time away should be spent with people who are about the business of edifying and strengthening us in our role as wife and mother, not tearing at the very foundation of our home. We will never gain anything but resentment from the counsel of those who encourage us to seek self.

We must cease to see the role of wife and mother as a job we put aside at the end of the day. We must do our daily tasks cheerfully, as unto the Lord. We must learn to enjoy being home with our families. We must find contentment in serving others. We should spend more time drinking in the beauty of our children, searching their eyes, holding their hands, being Mom. When we do feel neglected or overworked, we must immediately seek the Lord to refresh us and keep us from sin.

There will be days when we are afforded opportunities to do things alone or with other women, but if we are content in our God-given role, we will no longer cling so tightly to these moments as the only way to save our sanity. Our need for Me Time will fade as we begin to see motherhood as a blessing not to be escaped, but embraced.

Written by Amy Roberts

Monday, January 3, 2011

Step by Step

God you are my God
And I will ever praise you
God you are my God
And I will ever praise you

I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
Step by step You lead me
And I will follow You all of my days

We sang this song in church on Sunday, and the words really spoke to me.  Such important words for us women, the ones who set the tone in our houses (whether we like it or not!)...us wives, mothers, homeschoolers.

I will seek You in the morning.  First thing in our day, we need to meet with our savior.  And then....we will learn to walk in His ways, and step by step He will lead us.  Otherwise...what happens?  We flounder, we go the way of our flesh, we become unfocused, impatient, angry...etc etc.  That's what happens if we try to go at it alone.  We need Jesus to lead us, step by step.

I don't know about you, but I couldn't do homeschooling without Jesus' constant leading!  I need him holding my hand, guiding me, continually showing me the next step.  Otherwise, I would become overwhelmed, decide it was just too hard, and curl up in a ball and hide!  But I am not supposed to be able to do it in my own strength.  God allows us to be weak so that His power will be strong within us.  Praise the Lord!

"And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." "2 Corinthians 12:9