Monthly Archives: July 2013

Recipe For Burn Out

I am facing a recipe for burn out if I am not careful. Let me explain more fully why I bring this up.

A Recipe for Burn Out

Recently we have been blessed with an amazing new opportunity. Rusty gets to start a new job that will allow him to be home each day with us. This is the first time since we have been married that he will have a job that allows him to do this.

Before we can be all together though, we must spend some more time apart. Rusty will be moving to Alabama ahead of the girls and myself to start work and to house hunt. We will be staying here to pack and bide time until he is ready  to send for us.

This means while he is gone I will try to continue life as normally as possible for the girls. I will continue to teach them, go to the park, and if we are lucky maybe even have some play dates. I will need to do the single parent style parenting for a couple of months. (While I will not actually be a single parent, I will be the sole caretaker for a while.) I even plan on blogging through all this. Although if I haven’t written in a while, can you send someone to look for me to make sure I am not curled up in a corner, just rocking back and forth? ūüėČ

Reflecting upon all these points, praying what to do about the blog. I had considered just taking a break from writing all together. That didn’t feel right though, especially considering I feel like I am just getting this started. I thought about writing every other day. That didn’t seem right either. (I am the one who would be likely to forget then, what days I am supposed to write and not.)

I finally decided that I will cut back to three posts per week starting next week, to avoid that recipe for burn out. You can expect that my posts will be Monday through Wednesday. I will still have a recipe post each week so that will be my third post each week. If this still seems like a little much for me to keep up I will reevaluate a little later down the road.

 

 

“I no like you, Mommy!”

In the interest of full disclosure I want to say that I have recently taken to writing these blog entries the night before they are published. That being said tonight has been a rough night in my house. I want to talk about it because as I share thoughts and wisdom I have collected about children I don’t want you to think I have it all together. I am still learning and growing too. I also have nights where things have gone so poorly that my three year old yells, “I no like you, Mommy!” Those words may not sound like much but they still hold a powerful punch, especially considering she uses like and love interchangeably, when dealing with family. They are even more powerful when I am struggling with liking myself, because I had a temper tantrum at the same time as my preschooler. I no like you Mommy I decided the best thing I could do for her tonight was apologize for my behavior, and just be there for her while she was angry and trying to fall asleep. As I sat there and listened to her spew, about wanting me to stay behind when we move, how she doesn’t like/ love me, and how I should just go away. It wasn’t easy to listen to. It occurred to me though, as I was listening to her, how much this is often how we treat God. His love is patient and kind, though. He is slow to anger. (1 Corinthians 13: 4&5) When we are upset and spewing at him, about what we feel he has or hasn’t done in our lives, you will not find him having a temper tantrum of his own. We show him blatant disrespect each day and still, he is there for us, ready and willing to accept everyone who is ready to turn to him. I thought on this a little more and all I can pray is I can show my daughter’s even a fraction of that sort of love. If I can show them how I am working through my own unhealthy habits then maybe I won’t pass them down. Maybe then my children will never have a temper tantrum of their own when their children yell, “I no like you, Mommy!”
TheBetterMom.com

Hurry Up and Wait

You would think after nine years of living the military lifestyle I would be a pro at hurry up and wait. You would be wrong though. The waiting makes me more fidgety than a cat on a hot tin roof. I am spoiled.

I am spoiled by an instant world. I thoroughly enjoy web pages that load in seconds, books that are instantly delivered to my tablet, kindle, phone, or computer. I am spoiled by meals that can be ready in under 20 minutes for 6 people.  No longer do I have to wait for the bank to open in the morning to cash a check, I can now cash a check at home with a scanner or a mobile app. With Netflix or Amazon Instant Videos there is no longer a need for me to go rent a video from a store.

With all that instant, I find that having to wait for anything is just about the hardest thing. I have decided that the Lord must be using my marriage to teach me patience. It is not only the through the differing of opinions and learning how to handle the little quirks that my marriage is  teaching me to grow. I am growing through the separations, and the coming together again. In the separations I am learning what it means to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5) and to find my comfort in the Lord. It is also during the time apart that I have learned to appreciate my husband more.

Hurry up and wait

Two little girls saying goodbye to their Daddy, before he leaves for a deployment back in 2011.

While reunions are an incredibly joyous and sweet time, they are also a time of adjustment, especially after having been apart for an extended period. It is a period where you face the many “fork and spoon” moments. This was a description of a type of argument I heard about as I was preparing for my husband to come home from a deployment. The speaker prepared us by saying you each have lived your lives separately for the last months, now you will need to learn how to live together again. They gave the example that while the husband was away you reorganized the silverware drawer to a new way, that you felt was more efficient. When your husband comes home and is looking for a spoon in the morning before work and instead grabs a fork this could easily be a scenario to set off an argument. If you are anticipating there will be a periods of adjustment, such as “the fork and spoon moment” you can be prepared and remember this is not easy for him either. (Proverbs 10:12)

Now why do I bring this all up? Because my instant world is soon going to come face to face with something that is going to teach me the value of having more patience. Rusty leaves for his new job on the 14th of August. The girls and I will need to stay behind in Michigan until he has a place for us in Alabama. I want to hurry up though, and be in Alabama all together. Not only because I will miss my darling hubby, but because this will be the first job my husband has held since we have been married that promises he will be home each night.

This job promises that we will eventually have a shot at spending my birthday together. (We have only spent two of my birthdays together in the almost ten years we have been married.) This job holds the promises for three little girls the opportunity to see their Daddy every day. This job promises our family a sense of stability and continuity that comes with being together each day.

So do I want to wait? Do I want the Lord to use this time of transition to teach me patience? No I don’t want to wait. I would rather the Lord use this time to teach me to grow in some other way. Alas, I see another lesson on patience in my future, as I hurry up and wait for the next step in my life.

***How well do you handle having to wait? How is God working in this area of your life?***

 

AProverbs31Wife.com

Zucchini and Squash Casserole

I am breaking into my stockpile of recipes again. This time it is my Zucchini and Squash Casserole. It is a delicious casserole that is light enough to enjoy even with the heat of summer.

Zucchini and Squash Casserole

cooking spray

3 large zucchini, chopped

2 medium yellow summer squash, chopped

1 can petite diced tomato with minced garlic and olive oil, drained (I tend to buy the Del Monte brand but some stores offer their version at a better price.)

1 medium onion, chopped

3 large eggs, beaten

1.5 tablespoons Nature’s Seasons: Seasoning Blend

1 cup grated mozzarella (set aside about another 1/2 cup)

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 slices wheat bread torn into small bits

 

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set aside. Put the squash, zucchini, and onions in a large pot  with a small amount of water over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until tender, 8 -10 minutes, then drain into colander. After you are sure the excess water has completely drained pour mixture in bowl, add your drained tomatoes, and 1 cup mozzarella. Gently mix ingredients together. Pour the vegetable and cheese mixture into pan. In a separate bowl combine eggs, Natures Seasons, and pepper. Pour mixture over veggies. Place baking dish into the oven for 20 minutes. Top with the bread bits and cheese. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

***And don’t forget to come back and let me know how the Zucchini and Squash Casserole works out for you.***

5 Things Worth Saving For Under the Sun

There are many things to do every summer. Some are great to do in the spur of the moment, others take a little planning, and then there are things worth saving for. I want to share some of the summer things that our family thinks is worth saving for.

Things Worth Saving Up For

1. Membership to a Museum

Not every summer day is a day that you will be able to spend outside under the sun. Some days that darn sun is just too hot, and then are times where it rains for days on end. On those days you will need an alternative to outdoor play. Science museums and children’s museums are an awesome alternative to the crowded play places at the malls and local fast food restaurants. You can explore new concepts, and there are plenty that offer hands on exhibits that find a way to enthrall even the youngest of participants.

2. Camping Trip

Now here is an activity that I have many sweet memories of from growing up. This is something I want to be able to share with my kids and create a lifetime of memories for them in the process. In fact we bought our first tent as a family this last weekend. My oldest has spent the last few days talking about camping. As cute side note we asked her where she wanted to go camping and she replied, “Abalama.” (Alabama for those of you scratching your heads.)

3. Amusement Park

This is something on my I want to do with my kids someday list. I want to take them to¬†Cedar Point¬†and¬†Disney World¬†someday. I put this on the list because I know that saving up for either of those or both would put the biggest smiles on my girls’ faces, and I hope it would do the same for your kids.

4. Visiting Out of State Friends and/or Family

Visiting friends and family out-of-state or even just across the state can be a wonderful change of pace. Even when you do many of the same things on your trip that you would do at home, you can come away recharged. All because you shook things up, were in a new environment and visiting loved ones you do not see often. I know from experience that even the youngest of kids love to visit family. My girls have tried to convince me for a week we need to go visit Nama and Papa.

5. Outdoor play equipment

Looking around I see some amazing playhouses/ clubhouse, swing sets, pools, and so on that all seem to run in the hundreds of dollars. This is not to say you can’t find some great deals, but still it would be prudent to save up for a bit for when that deal changes or is unavailable when you try to use it. For example I had a neighbor willing to give me their old swing set for free, but when I went to arrange a time to get it, turns out someone had agreed to pay them for it. I honestly couldn’t fault them for wanting to get money for it (it is in great shape.) I was just disappointed that we lost out on that deal. I still plan on saving and getting my girls a play set yet!

 

 

 

Life With Three Small Children is…

Life With Three Small Children is Life with three small children is …

~early mornings and long nights.

~dirty diapers and potty training accidents.

~full of discipline and being lost for words.

~helpers making more of a mess than they are actually cleaning.

~full of tears (all too often those tears are my own) and arguing.

~hours spent walking and rocking babies.

~never ending dishes and laundry.

~repeating the same question 10 different ways in 2 minutes, and not once getting an answer that makes sense.

~saying no 1,001 times a day.

~searching for the lost shoe, book, blankie, baby doll, monkey, or puzzle piece.

~hours/ days/ months/ years worrying about developmental milestones.

~learning how to be creative when new food aversions arise.

~being there for the first bite of birthday cake and the ensuing mess.

~watching your children light up in the moment they achieve the impossible milestone.

~getting to say that one special yes that makes the entire day worth it. ~

~finally being able to communicate with your child.

~getting to buy special outfits and making favorite meals.

~enjoying the fleeting time loving on precious babies.

~afternoons full of bubbles, bikes, chalk, and laughter.

~watching babies grow into smart wonderful young people.

~stifling laughter at the all too cute but completely serious things 2 year old’s utter.

~cheering your child on as they master potty training.

~full of bedtime prayers and early morning snuggles.

Life with three small children is work, yes, but it is a greater joy.   Stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion of my Fun Things to do Under the Sun series.  If you have not seen the previous two you can check them out here: Fun Things To Do Under the Sun For Free and 10 Things To Do Under the Sun That Are Practically Free.   ***What could you add to this list?***

Sharing with:   TheBetterMom.com AProverbs31Wife.com

Photographic Journey

Ever have trouble making out a single coherent sentence? I feel as if I am having one of those days today. I have tried writing this several times, so far little sounds right. So instead of talking a lot today, I decided to share some photos with you. This photographic journey will span nearly 14 years. With it I hope you get a sense of not only who I am but also who I was.

Photographic Journey

Me and Rusty at
Fall 1999 Homecoming

 

Photographic Journey

I sent this picture to Rusty when he was away at boot camp. I was just having fun coloring. He sent it back to me with the note in the corner.

Photographic Journey

Walking down the aisle with my father.

Rusty and his best friend Corey in 2004

Rusty and his best friend Corey in 2004

Photographic Journey

Morning of Christmas Eve 2004

Photographic Journey

Christmas 2004

On a trip to Colorado in 2008

On a trip to Colorado in 2008

 

Expecting our 1st child in 2009

Expecting our 1st child in 2009

Bedtime stories. 2011

Bedtime stories. 2011

Birth of our third daughter 2013

Birth of our third daughter 2013

While there are gaps in years and milestones these photos still provide you with a glimpse into my love story with my husband. It is a story that spans more than a decade. If you want to know more about my love story you can read my earlier post on it: The First Ten Years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Popsicles: Smoothie Pops

Making our own frozen treats is not only fun, but a great way to save money. Making homemade popsicles is an easy process that allows for assistance from little helpers. This is a really good thing, since time in the kitchen working together can be such a great bonding experience, and my girls love being Momma’s helpers.

Homemade Popsicles: Smoothie Pops

Homemade Popicles: Smoothie Pops

 

You will need:

2 cups diced up frozen fruit

3/4 cup white grape juice

1/4 cup vanilla yogurt (I am using homemade yogurt here, but store-bought works just as well too.)

a blender

molds for your popsicles (I found those at IKEA, but you could go to most any Wal-Mart or Target to get some.)

Put your yogurt in the blender, followed by the fruit and a 1/4 cup of the fruit juice. Start blending the mixture together. You will want to continue to add the juice a 1/4 cup at a time, until fully blended together.

Homemade Popsicles: Smoothie Pops

Use a small spoon to scoop the smoothie into the molds. You will want the molds almost full. Leave just a little bit of room at the top for the smoothie to expand as it freezes. Set in freezer for 2-3 hours or until completely frozen.

When you are ready to enjoy one, just run the mold under hot tap water to loosen your treat.

Enjoy your homemade popsicles.

On a quick side note, they got the name smoothie pops because that is what my three-year old calls them.

Accepting Help When You Are Facing a Struggle (In Your Homeschool)

There may come a point in your homeschooling journey where you are facing a struggle that you don’t know how to handle on your own. It may be something as simple as you are not confident enough to teach the advanced math or sciences. Or you find despite all your best efforts to aid your child at home, your child has a developmental delay that you need the guidance of a physical, occupational, or speech therapist for. Coming upon a situation where you need outside help is not a bad thing.

Facing a struggle in your homeschoolt

Let me tell you a short story. Right around Chloe’s second birthday (before I had even given serious thought to homeschooling,) I started to wonder if she might have a language delay. At that time I didn’t think it was anything big, but I wanted to know more about when I should be concerned with her linguistic development. Her doctor¬†then told me I didn’t have to even think about that until she was 2 1/2. So I ignored my immediate concerns and figured since she understood me just fine that I would let it go for now. By 2 1/2 her delay had become significantly more pronounced.

Approaching her third birthday I contacted the public school around here on the advise of my mother’s neighbor, who is a public school teacher. She¬†described to me a program called¬†Early On,¬†where children under 3 years of age can get assistance from the public schools, if it is¬†determined¬†the child has developmental delay. I went home and did a little research. I contacted the public schools where we were to get the ball rolling.

The program that my mother's neighbor referred me too.

The program that my mother’s neighbor referred me too.

Since it was summer time, when I contacted them I had to wait to get my daughter tested until school came back in session. By the time they tested her she was a month from her third birthday. They agreed she had an expressive language delay, but explained she was reaching the upper age limit for the program I had inquired about over the summer. They were able to offer me a speech therapy program though.

I was on cloud nine by the time I heard my first homeschooling speaker. I still wasn’t seriously considering homeschooling, especially considering I had just enrolled Chloe in public school. This parent was part of a panel made up of a public school parent, a charter school parent, a private school parent, and a homeschool parent. I found the whole thing interesting. I especially found the homeschooling parent interesting. Interesting enough I spoke with her briefly after the panel was over .

I found she was very encouraging until she found out I had enrolled my daughter in the public schools for speech therapy. All the interest I had developed in homeschooling over that hour quickly dwindled listening to her talk to me, or rather talk down to me. It felt as if she was pronouncing me a failure because I needed the extra help with my daughter.

Now as you know, I have come around to homeschooling, despite my experience with that woman. The point of this story though, is there will be people out there that think you have to do this all on your own. There is no need to face a struggle and barely muddle through, or to feel you have to give up and send them to public school.

Seek help. Accept help. Help can be found when you are facing a struggle, help that is unique to your situation. Needing help does not mean you are failing in homeschooling. All it means when you seek and accept help is that you want the best for your child. Sometimes someone other than us are the ones better suited to aid in these areas.

10 Things To Do Under The Sun (That Are Practically Free)

Ten things

Last Tuesday, I spoke of fun things that my girls and I were doing this summer that were free. Today I want to address things that we enjoy doing that are practically free, that cost us little more than gas or nothing more than gas money. Many of these items could be considered free because the activity itself is free, but I am including the cost of gasoline here. I know there are other families out there like mine who may not be able to do every activity because of the rising cost of gasoline.

1. Splash Pads

In the greater Detroit area, where we live, almost every community I have come across has at least one park with these. There is often no charge for admittance and it is a fun way to let the kids splash around and play without breaking the bank.

Fun things to do that are practically free

2. Vacation Bible School

If you are lucky enough to go to a church or live in a community where there is a church who understands that this is a significant outreach this can be a truly amazing time. We are lucky to have such a church here, Friendship Church. They welcome Chloe each day with open arms. She is always excited to show up and can’t wait to come back the next day. In fact this morning she was trying to convince me her two-year old sister needed to attend.

3. Local Farms

Go online and search for farms.  I know from living in both the Detroit area and the Hampton Roads area even when you live in and near larger cities farms can be found that you can tour that are only a short drive away. One such farm here, Maybury Farm, costs just a small fee for a family of four to be admitted. Last year when we went two adults and two children could have spent the afternoon visiting for only $5. This is cheaper than the zoo and you still get to see the animals. In fact we were able to get up close and personal with many of them.

Fun things to do that are Practically Free

4. Make your own Popsicles

The girls and I enjoy making these and having them to snack on. Stay tuned on Thursday for my recipe for homemade smoothie bars. ūüôā

5. Hiking

Get out and discover new hiking trails. If you are not blessed to lived on a piece of property large enough for hiking, get online and search for places to go hiking with your kids. I find it a refreshing way to connect to God and nature. My children love the discovery of it all.

6. The Beach/ Pool

Take your family to the nearest beach or pool and teach your kids to swim. Splash in the water with them. I know in some communities you have to pay to use the pool or the lake but it is worth looking into seeing if there is a free option or a practically free option. I know many of my memories of childhood summers involve swimming.

Fun things to do that are practically free

7. See if your community has a children’s museum or art museum that offers free admission.

In our current community, I have yet to find one that does. I know there are towns and cities out there that have museums that do offer free admission to all but their special collections exhibits. These can be wonderful educational opportunities and even get fun on a hot day.

8. Story Time

Most local libraries offer story time for the young kids. This is another thing that is fun to do with little kids. We have attended story time at local libraries, The Virginia Zoo, and The Chrysler Museum of Art (just to name a few.)

9. Free Concerts

See what is near you. In some communities you can find big name artists that are putting on concerts that are of no charge to attend. In other communities that is harder to find but you and your family can throw a blanket down in the park and listen to a local band perform. Either way you are sure to have an enjoyable time. In fact I know plenty of people who would prefer the atmosphere of a quiet concert in the park over the other.

10. Picnic in the Park

Pack the kids up. Bring lunch with you and go eat at the park. You can sit back enjoy a shade tree. Watch the kids run around. Read together or toss a ball around with them. It is just another way to get out of the house and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.

Fun things to do this summer that are practically free

 

So there you have it ten things you can do with your family Under the Sun this summer that are practically free or have the potential to be practically free.

***Do you have something you could add to this list? Please share. I would love to hear your ideas as well.***