Monday, January 17, 2011


Last night Ben and I were relaxing after a pretty long day and just thinking about getting ready for bed, whew those 8:30pm bedtimes come quickly. Anyways, I went to turn the boys light off in their room so they could go to sleep when I noticed the light seeping under Moriah's bedroom door. Hmmmm.

She has been doign this lately. After we put her in bed, she quietly gets out, turns on her light and reads books, plays with her toys, etc. This is all fine and dandy except we have put her in bed, she is two and she is disobeying. So we have been working on her and discpiling her, trying to teach her that no matter what the issue is she needs to obey the first time. Well, last night I opened the door and was about to start asking her why her light was on when I was stopped dead in my tracks by her sitting on the floor, getting up and turning around- this is what I saw:

How do you get angry when you stare at a girl who has this large of a bow strapped around her head?

and in her hands are the remnants of her organizational tyrad of swimsuits and head wraps

and yes, I forgot to add.....I laughed a TON; I couldn't stop laughing and fell in love with the complete chaos that surrounds my life day in and day out :)

Friday, January 14, 2011

a little bit of this and that

"Once A Month Cooking"

Today I woke up early, grabbed both girls and headed to our local grocery store to buy the items needed for my first attempt at "once a month cooking". The day started out great. Moriah was a huge help at the grocery store; we both were sipping our starbucks as we headed down the aisles gathering all our necessary ingredients. After shopping with two very happy and content girls for over an hour , we headed home.

Upon arriving at home and being greeted by two well behaved boys I began browning my meat, cutting my vegetables and getting really excited to begin making a million plus meals. Things were moving very well. The kids were very occupied pulling weeds in the back yard, Hannah was sleeping in her bassinet and I was busying cutting, cutting cutting more onions than I care to remember and peeling carrots. I am proud to announce that at the end of the day I had made Nacho Cheese Soup, Pea soup, Vegetable Lasagna ( most of this is enough for two meals for our family), 21 homemade egg rolls and they are so great!!!, Cinn. Chili, taco meat w/ pinto beans, Potato Soup which is the only thing that messed up as I made it at the end of my marathon left it on too high of a heat setting and scalded the evaporated milk....oh well....and a few other things that I can't remember as well as homemade chocolate chip cookies.

I am over the kitchen, that is an understatement. I still have a bunch of other meals but not the kind that you make so much in advance, ie: black bean burgers. However, the ingredients are on hand and I am able to make them. After you remove our toiletries and extras from my shopping trip . I spent about $140 but I am thinking this should last us for most of the month as far as dinner and breakfast is concerned. I'm hoping lunch too. I was attempting to make Shepherd's pie at the last second but my steam blew out of my engine and I went on a 50 minute power walk that is more closely related to running than walking if any of you have walked with me before. I am happy with my progress today and all that was accomplished. I am not sure , at the end of the day, how I feel about once ea month cooking. I may just continue to try and buy once a month or 1.5x per month and make sure I have a detailed meal list and follow that. However, it was a great experience and I am looking forward to sitting back and enjoying all my pre made , healthy, homemade from scratch meals!

Clapboard Houses

We had so much fun yesterday designing our clapboard houses and learning different architectural techniques and designs found in Massachusetts. Did you know that salt board houses were named because they resembled the actual salt box that was hung over the fire place to keep the salt dry?? Many times, the rooms found under the leaning part of the salt box house was a birthing room or burial room. Also, the boys learned about the "widow's walk"- a balcony found on many clapboard houses where wives would walk on and look out on the Atlantic Ocean waiting for their husband's ship to come in. So interesting!

We also read some more interesting facts on Massachusetts and I would love to invest in the Scholastic book series on all the different states. They are very well written and informative. Next week, we will be focusing on lobsters, clams, dressing up as lobsters and learning sea faring songs!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vermont and all its Maple Syrup!

japanese maple treeWe are in the throws of studying New England. Our library basket is full of books on whales, lobsters, clams, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, you get the picture. Yesterday morning we enjoyed a breakfast of waffles with real maple syrup, reading along the way about how the go about producing this tasty treat. Did you know that 40 gallons of sap will only produce 10 gallons of syrup!! That explains why its so much more than the lovely corn syrup ridden stuff at the store. However, the taste is unbeatable and now I have a desire to travel to New England in the fall.....just have to save up some ticket money. How fun would that be!? New England in the fall with all of its colors amidst the trees.....time will tell!

Jay has created a travel brochure of interesting things to do and see in New England and also has done a report on the varying whales as the whaling industry used to be very popular there. It made me smile, we picked up a ton of books at the library on whales and I told him he needed to do a report ( draw a picture and list 3 facts) on 3 different whales....he goes, " can I do four or five??"......What home school mama doesn't feel blessed by hearing that!

A few nights ago, we sat down for a movie and dinner at home and made johnny cakes Rhode Island style, it was kind of a mix between a johnny cake and a fried pancake. The kids really enjoyed them, me- I enjoyed the sample. New England has so much to offer in sense of history, geography, animals, travel. I can hardly contain myself. I kind of go crazy in my brain thinking of EVERYTHING I want to teach them NOW and all the little branches of history that I could take...but, once again I am controlling myself since they are 6 and 4 and we do have ALL the other regions of the United States to cover....which I again, can hardly contain myself!!! I mean if we are having so much fun tasting, listening, creating and experiencing New England...and we add in the southern states, Midwest, southwest, etc......I dont' think they will ever forget it...I know I won't!

We are also continuing with our SSRW and Learning Language Arts Through Literature with the boys as well as math with Jayden. Finally, still working on Indian and the Cupboard and Dr Doolittle. Ben said that last night, he went to turn the boys light off in their room and Jayden was on pg 68 in the Dr Doolittle book while listening to Dr Doolittle on audio cd! He makes me laugh soo much! No wonder , at times, when he talks he sounds British.

Austen loves his SSRW; however, yesterday he was so sad with his lower lip pulled out as far as he could get it because I informed him that he would have to wait until after his nap. Poor boy. We did, however, complete it after his nap and it is soo exciting to watch him move closer and closer to reading !!!

Today, we will be learning about the clapboard houses in Massachusetts and the sailing industry that is very important to that region. The boys will be making houses out of Popsicle sticks and we will be reading a little folk lore on Paul Bunyan. Also, I picked up , ahem, more books from the library and my children's bible and walk through the bible audio cd came in yesterday so I am sooo excited to listen to them with the kids!!!

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Last night, we went to zoo lights and it was spectacular. We weren't able to make it prior to Christmas but I think I may even like it better after Christmas than before. There was a large crowd but not so large that you walked at a snail's pace everywhere. The night was quite frigid but refreshing- especially for those of us who know this weather passes quite quickly. I loved walking through the enchanted canopies of palm trees and other exotic trees lite up with purple, white, green, red, and other beautiful array of colors.

Austen moved and twirled and jumped from one foot to the next and smiled incessantly. That, to me, was probably the most precious part of the evening. The boy was wearing brand new stride rite shoes and his response when I came home from the store, with them, was almost heart breaking. " Did you get me new shoes?" " yes!"  " You are the most special mama in the world because you bought me new shoes and now my feet won't hurt."   Ummm, I had NO idea until like 2 days ago that his feet were even pinching the front of the shoes. I found out when we went on a 4 mile hike, and 2 miles into it he started sobbing uncontrollably that his feet were hurting and he couldn't walk. We finished the hike as quickly as possible and he removed his shoes in the van. When we came home, I tried on two pair of his dress shoes, a pair of Nikes and found that they ALL were TOO small including his hiking shoes :(

The majority of the time, he is wearing his GAP sandals so his poor little toes have lots of room to move and grow....I felt awful. So, after buying him new shoes, my sister in law asks him to go find socks and he didnt' want to put them on because he said, ' They will make my toes pinch"...... Poor, poor boy! Did I feel like a horrible parent, yes! Austen, who complains about some things doesn't complain about the one thing that I needed to know about :(

Anyways, he was on cloud nine with his new shoes, dancing, jumping to the beat of hte music. We walked over this bridge and there was a light show to " Carol of the Bells". It was beautiful. I get choked up every time I hear that song because of the words " Tell the whole world Jesus is here". What a dark and despairing world we would live in if it weren't for the hope of Christ. I just love that song!

The night was cold, my arm was numb from holding Hannah so close to me and the kids had a wonderful time. We have gone 5 times now, since living out here and I am amazed that our first trip out Jayden was 2.5 ( Riah's age) and Austen was 5 months ( Hannah's age). Where has the time gone???!

We ended the evening with Ben buying the absolute largest size of kettle corn possible, The Giraffe, and walking through the desert landscape, for me, reminiscing as to how far we have come in only 4 short years out here. Wow! We are blessed!

What We Are Reading

I love books, I love how they create an united bond between reader and listener and by the looks at it, the library knows this about us too. We are at the library weekly, if not bi weekly checking out books for our Konos activities ( I think every New England, whale, and lobster book the library owns is at our home right now). We check out early readers, mysteries, picture books. One of our favorite authors is Karma Wilson. I love the rhythm of her books,the way the words twirl on the page and bounce from one description to the next. Some of my favorites are " Frog In the Bog", " Hilda Hippo Keeps on Dancing" " Bear Snores On", etc.

One thing that I am enjoying with the boys, mainly just Jayden right now due to his age, is reading chapter books. We are in the middle of Dr Doolitte AND Indian in the Cupboard! They are both great books, full of description, mystery, fantasy and pure delight. We are about 4 chapters into each and had shelved them due to Christmas and family visiting but I am looking forward to pulling them down again and diving into our world of miniature talking Indians, talking animals and unpredictable characters.

I just ordered, again from the library, " The Word of Promise" . It is an all star cast of actors and Christian speakers reading through the New Testament for kids and bringing the bible to life. I am really excited by this as we have done a REALLY good job of allowing the kids to listen to ALL the Beverly Cleary books, Beatrix Potter, Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Hank the Cowdog ( Lord help us!), Adventures in Odyssey etc and I was beginning to feel that yes I want them to know what good literature is and to develop an appreciate to it, but with all the time they spend in their beds listening at night, wouldn't it cool if it was God's word pouring into them. Hopefully this audio series will come soon and we can delve into immediately!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Once A Month Cooking

With the Christmas season under wraps and my sister in law leaving in a couple of days, life will resume to our usual routine and quite quickly, I might add. We decided not to have the boys play soccer this season as Riah will be in dance once a week and Jayden has bible quiz competitions. However, life is crazy anyways with a couple of different co ops, bible study, and family life in general. Soo, I am attempting at streamlining the thing that can ease life to it's core in our home. FOOD and the meals that come from it.

Yesterday, I spent the latter half of the afternoon pouring over cookbooks, crock pot books, and health books trying to find the best, most nutritious, cost effective, variety banging foods that could be produced from my humble kitchen. I am please to announce that not only do I have a pretty fantastic list of foods, my grocery is quite condensed and should not cost us very much. Sooo, the moment you have been waiting for! Here is 18 meals that I plan on executing within one or maybe two days! I plan on shopping and starting this come next Thurs, so I will post my receipt from the store and let's see how this turns out!

***All this is homemade from scratch and low fat unless otherwise noted****

1. Homemade Pumpkin Ravioli w/ cornbread and salad
2.Frittata w/ salsa
3. Tacos w/ pinto beans and avocado
4. Cincinnatii Chili w/ mini cornbread muffins and salad
5. Vegetable Lasagna w/ salad
6. Potato Soup
7. Nacho Cheese Soup w/ tostito chips
8. Pea Soup w/ turkey sausage
9. Spinach Cheddar Quiche
10." Chipotle Style Carnitas Burritos" w/ homemade guacamole
11.Black Bean Salsa w/ tostito chips
12. Korean Egg Rolls- Can't wait to try this one!! MMmm
13.Black Bean burgers w/ either buns ( which I hate) or plain w/ a salad
14.Homemade Family Style Pizza
15.Shepherds Pie
16.Breakfast Dinner- oatmeal pancakes, turkey bacon, eggs, and orange juice
18. Sweet and Sour Meatballs
19. Baked Potato Bar
20. Curry Chicken- if Ben is ok with this, he is not a huge fan of curry

Lunch Ideas
Peanut butter and Jelly
Left overs
Grilled Cheese
Hummus and chips/pretzels
Carrot and celery w/ raisins and peanut butter

Oatmeal w/ raisins
Waffles or pancakes ( homemade of course! w/ wheat germ)
Egg Muffins


I am excited to go shopping and try this all out. I love feeling self sufficient, productive and efficient. I hate added ingredients and like controlling the amt of sugar, salt, etc in my food....soo, here goes to Once a month cooking! I am excited about incorporating the kids into this as well as I was less than a stellar cook *gasp* when I first got married and Ben and I laugh about " what DID we eat the first couple of years???"- honestly, I couldn't tell you! I was in college too so who knows, lots of spaghetti anyone??? :) Yes, I want my kids to be a little bit more prepared and diverse than I was. Hey, we all need to learn! I will be changing this up a little here and there. If you want to join me in once a month cooking please post so we can encourage each other! I am excited to see how much I can reduce my trips to the store with my four little loves and how much more I can rely on my ingenuity to execute the kitchen all the while savings hoards of money!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Eating for less

soup Pictures, Images and PhotosI was reading a friend of mine's blog,, and was inspired as to really break down the cost of how much we spend on food. I do not like packaged products because there is so much wasted cost on packaging, strange ingredients, etc. I am really trying hard, and have been for the last couple of months to read and say no to certain products and make mine from scratch. Once I have that down, I would like to find alternatives to white sugar as it find it steeply effects my emotions on a negative level,  but one step at a time. Some of my favorite meals are frittata= eggs, potatoes, spices and cheese w/ salsa, tacos w/ pinto beans, turkey soup- a little turkey, vegetables, potatoes and spices, Cincinnati chili- 1/2 ground beef, kidney beans, spagh. noodles, spices, onion, and pea soup- dried peas, 1/2 link of turkey sausage, carrots and celery, and spices. I dont' feel that my meals need so much of a makeover. I am very frugal and creative when it comes to how to stretch the dollar on food for a family. I actually struggle with going out to eat sometimes because of how cost effective I could have made the same meal at home...... however, when Ben takes me out, that feeling goes away quite quickly.

Anyways, we are really working on saving this year, for a myriad of reasons and Ben and I "shock" really don't use a budget. There are many reasons for this, one is Ben hates them not because for any bad reason just feels that they are useless. Disclaimer: For the majority of people out there, a budget is needed. However, for Ben and I- we are both savers- when you put two savers together, with no debt, our only up and down expense each month is pretty much food. Sooo, where does some unnecessary spending go into??? Food! I am going to try this year to be very strict about how much money I spend on food, ie: grocery stores, quick runs to Target, etc. and see how practical and economical I can be by saying " no" to the quick trip- which we all know turns into $30 spent as well as a Starbucks to boot :) and just see how frugal we can be. I am sure I will borrow some recipes from my friend, as well as continue on with my own and adopt some others from sites like allrecipes. com. If you have some healhty, frugal recipes please share with me! I would love to add them!

This week: Our breakfast options will the be regualar, oatmeal with raisins, eggs, waffles/pancakes. I will also try to make some granola

Lunch ( I hate lunch)- pb and jelly, grilled cheese, mac n cheese- homemade, yogurt and granola bars ( homemade), tuna sandwiches, carrots and fruit, "homemade' lunchables
**** Quick tip**** My Mom, when she was visiting, suggested that because I hate lunch time so much to make my lunch at breakfast for the kids and put them all in their individual lunch bags.....I should add this to my New Year Resolutions page because this is  time saver, stress savers and money saver......

Dinner- pea soup, fritatta, potato soup, tacos, breakfast dinner ( turkey bacon, pancakes and eggs), nacho cheese soup

I will work on tallying up how much this ends up costing me over the week and see where I can implement changes- need to get better on giving the kids fruit and vegetables for snacks instead of crackers!!!! This I am working on as well....I am pretty excited- as I said, we are very careful with our money but food is where I feel it's not as controlled so let's see where this "wild" ride takes us! Happy Eating!

New Year Resolutions

Eat less sugar. Record more in my journals. Plan meals a week ahead of schedule. Run a 1/2 marathon. Start a bible study. Plan school and execute it effectively. Read the bible daily. Plan a vacation. Go to Michigan. Love harder. More grace and patience. Even better wife. New house by year end. Pray.

Screams and Emotions

The other day, Moriah threw her hands over her eyes, buried her tears in her hands and let a soulful cry. As I watched her I became overwhelmed with emotions, why? because I understood. How many times, in my SHORT life, have I been so overwhelmed by something that I just cried or wanted to throw something? Life wasn't going her way, so she cried. This happens often in our home, sometimes there is a chorus of crying from a hungry cry, tired cry to an angry cry coming from three different directions. I can't always empathise with the crying because many of a times, it has to be dealt with. However, this particular time, I could understand how she was feeling. She wasn't tired or hurt she was frustrated and oh, how I understand!

Raising children has become a very humbling act, one that requires more patience, understanding, firmness and love. One thing that bothers me is when I feel people who have no kids have any right to feel they understand better than the one in the trenches. It's like the media making speculations about what  the men in the fox holes in the war should be doing. I pray daily about how to raise my children in a godly mirror image. That's hard. It's hard considering that I am just as sinful as the next person, just completely aware of my sin, which makes it ten times worse! So I am constantly asking God to change me and rearrange me, to give me his grace and patience. Moriah is  prime example of this. What a joy she is, what a fury of emotion and when her blonde hair bounces and flies it exhumes her personality.

Yesterday, she was wearing a white long sleeve shirt, striped sweater dress, striped gap tights and ruby red sparkly shoes with two 1/2 pig tails in her hair. That's Moriah, to the core....she blows in , she blows out, she runs in, she skips out. She bounces her dolls and animals up and down whispering, "shh,shh, shh" and comforts even the most ugly of dinosaurs. She is a nurturer by heart, loving on Hannah something fierce. She allows me to confront my own insecurities of being a "good " parent and lay it before God and say I'm only as good as you make me, so here I am. Wow, I love that girl- Her smile is amazing and her beautiful almond shaped blue eyes melt me daily. " You play with me? You read to me?" . And in her sweet little voice, closing her eyes, and swaying back and forth, with her hands lifted she sings " Sweep me away in your love, where 'noting' else matters"- She is a lover of the Father and wow, she makes him laugh. The other night, Ben finished praying and there was Moriah, two fingers pulling on opposite ends of her mouth, looking like a polka dotted monkey and standing there stone serious. How do you pull your mouth into a monkey contortion and not break down laughing about it? Because, she is my Moriah.