April 26, 2009

Techie Troubles and a Prayer Request

This has been kind of a crazy week for us computer wise. Our computer got a virus last week so it has been in the shop all week. We were so blessed that a friend loaned us a laptop to use in the meantime until we pick ours up this week. Meanwhile, I packed my camera to take along with us in our diaper bag today and my 2 year old's sippy cup leaked all over the camera case. Needless to say, the camera no longer works! It will probably be a while before I'm able to get another. But again, praise God, before I got this camera I gave my 7 year old my old one and she I can borrow it any time (thank you baby!).

My husband injured his leg at work this week (a re-injury to be exact). Please keep him in prayer for a quick recovery, his job requires him to walk a lot and climb stairs daily.

Hope y'all had a blessed Sunday!

Big Batch Italian Meatballs

I love to make up big batches of meatballs and freeze them. They are great for a quick spaghetti dinner, to put into BBQ sauce in the crock pot for lunch or in Italian sauce for sub sandwiches or to serve over polenta. We also like them over rice with gravy with green beans on the side. This is a recipe I adapted from The Joy of Cooking, it is so good! You can mix and match these meatballs with just about anything and you can change the spices up to suite your tastes. If you are making a casserole that calls for ground beef, you can thaw a few of these and break them up and viola! you have a great meat filling for your casserole. Whatever you do, don't skip the lemon juice, it takes them over the top! Not only are these good but it's a very frugal recipe because you can make 3 - 4 meals for 6 people with this one recipe.

Big Batch Italian Meatballs

4 lb. ground beef
4 cloves garlic
2 cup chopped parsley (or 3 Tbsp. dried parsley)
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
3 medium onions
3 stalks celery
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup tablespoons tomato paste
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons oregano
olive oil

In a food processor, process onions, garlic and celery until very well minced and liquidy. Drain the liquid, set aside.

In a large bowl, add ground beef, processed vegetables, parsley, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, vinegar, lemon juice, tomato paste, salt, pepper and oregano. Mix well with your hands or use a stand mixer to blend.

Pinch off small amounts of meat (about 2 or 3 Tbsp.) with your fingers and form into balls. Brown in olive oil in batches in a skillet then put on a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan. Bake for 12 - 15 minutes at 375 degrees. Drain on paper towels. Serve or add to gravy or pasta sauce then serve. Or allow to cool and freeze in meal size portions in Ziploc bags.

Reheat in oven, microwave or crock pot. No need to thaw before reheating!

April 24, 2009

Too cute!!

My baby girl just loves her hair! Just listen to her sing with her daddy about her hair do...



video

April 22, 2009

Weight Loss Helps

As I said before, when we first decided as a family to start eating healthy, weight loss was not one of my main goals. Sure, it would be great if some of my old clothes would fit again, but most of all I wanted to FEEL healthy.

Now that we are a few months into our plan, I am starting to realize that weight loss might just be the key to our goal. I have lost 12 lbs. since we started and I am amazed at the difference in how I feel. I sleep better (which is a huge deal for me), have less allergy problems and I have a lot more energy. I used to always doze off in the afternoons during my kids play time, not I am up and around doing any and everything that needs to be done. Talk about being more productive!

About two weeks ago (at the 10 lbs. lost mark) I realized that I was still down 10 lbs. after a few weeks and was not losing any more. I made a couple changes which already has me down two more pounds.

First of all, I (once again) added Extra Virgin Coconut Oil to my daily eating plan. I used to eat this every day but once I ran out, I honestly just forgot about buying it again. I didn't realize how much better it makes me feel when I take this until I stopped.

I use the coconut oil like butter on toast or pancakes at breakfast or mix it into a smoothie or stir it into hot tea. It gives me this amazingly satisfied and full feeling and I have no hunger again until lunch. I try to take about 2 Tbsp. a day but the optimum amount is supposed to be 3 Tbsp. (from what I read). I give this to my 9 year old too which really helps with the tummy problems she experiences. It tastes great! You can also use it in place of butter or oil in cooking or baking and it is shelf stable for months so no need to worry about refrigeration. If you haven't tried this I would highly suggest reading more about it and giving it a try.

The second thing I have done is to add exercise back into my weekly schedule. Right now, as I get my muscles back into shape, I am exercising 3 times a week, but I plan to make it a daily habit once my legs stop aching so much. I use a Gazelle Glider or go walking with the girls.

Finally, I have kept a very sharp eye on my portion size and drink lots of water. Eating less really does make a difference for me and more water seems to stave off my hunger longer as well. My goal is to lose another 28 lbs. I've put a ticker up in the left sidebar here to keep accountable to that goal.

April 21, 2009

Training Up A Child

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Today I thought it would be a good idea to take a break from the books and do some real life skills training. It's amazing how much we try to "teach" our kids through books, etc. but often they can forget these lessons. Actual "training" can fall by the way-side when life gets busy and we just want to get things done. Don't get me wrong, books are very important. But I often think of all the things I had to learn as an adult that I wish I would have been trained to do as a child.

Today along with a few book related activities for school (Bible study, phonics, handwriting and science reading), we did some practical things. My oldest two girls baked a batch of cookies. That was a great lesson in math as well as planning and cleaning up after yourself. We also began a project of making aprons for the girls. Not only did this include math but also use of what you have (we used scrap fabric), research ( I found the pattern on-line), patience (sewing takes a while, no instant results here) and creativity (choosing and matching fabrics, etc.). Later on we are going to make some meatballs for dinner as well as a bunch to freeze. What better way to teach planning ahead, frugality and cooking?

What kinds of things do you do to train your children? I would love to hear!

April 20, 2009

Homeschool Planning

This is the time of year when my husband usually asks me for a list of the items I'd like to buy for the next homeschool year so we can plan accordingly with our finances. So I have been browsing catalogs and making lists for the past couple of weeks. Although I may change my mind on a couple of items once we attend our state homeschool convention in a couple months, I pretty much have a finished list of what I would like to do this fall.

Since we will have our soon-to-be 5 year old who will be formally doing school, I had to do some serious consideration on how we will work her into our schedule. Right now, she does preschool in a very relaxed way, usually when she wants to and when time allows. However, she is now learning to read so I want to work with her daily in a more scheduled manner. I plan to buy several books for her this year with the knowledge that we probably won't get through them all but it will give her some variety and choice on a daily basis as not to become bored with what she is doing. I also needed to incorporate some items to keep our two year old busy while we work and found some great learning toys that I know she will enjoy.

Here's what I am planning to use for the upcoming school year, along with several books for read-aloud and several more for independent reading. We will be working on finishing up Sonlight Science 1 with all the girls and if we get that done we will order Sonlight Science 2 later in the school year.

Homeschool Plan For 2009/2010 School Year

9 year old
7 year old
5 year old
2 year old

I think this is a nice mixture of curricula for the ages we are working with, especially the things from My Father's World which allow multiple ages to be taught together.

April 16, 2009

Love This Song!

What kind of music do you like to listen to? For me, anything with lyrics that honor the Lord are a favorite. I'm partial to praise music, Christian hip-hop and Gospel... really anything upbeat and joyous. This is a great song. The lyrics inspire me and we love to listen to the whole CD when we are cleaning house.



April 15, 2009

Jesus Is On My Coffee Table

Tonight as we were getting ready to eat dinner, my two year old began to ask if she could pray. "Pray, pray?" she said. I said, sure you can pray for the meal too, go ahead. After she prayed my 9 year old asked if I thought that 2 year old really knew who God is. I said I wasn't sure but I felt that she probably did in her heart. When 2 year old heard this, she ran to our front room and began to say "God, God" and was pointing at the coffee table. 7 year old ran in there and asked her if God was on the coffee table? 2 year old said "Yes! Jesus!", with a big smile. Did she really see Jesus or really think He was there? I guess there's no way to really know...

This cute little scenario really got me thinking. What if Jesus really WAS sitting in the next room on my coffee table. What if He was right there listening and watching, in person. I mean, we, as Christians, know that God is always there with us in Spirit, but how would it feel if we could see Him... reach out to Him, see His expressions towards what we are doing... what if we could hear His voice, reach out and touch Him...? How would we conduct ourselves differently if He were physically there in our home every day? And how would our thought life be different? Of course God can always hear our thoughts too.

As I go about my daily routine, from now on, I know that I won't forget this exchange between my children. I know I will check myself on how I am thinking and how I am acting towards my family or anyone else in my home. From now on, I will always remember that Jesus is in the next room... on my coffee table... and I want Him to smile as He sees and hears us go about our day.

April 13, 2009

A Tour Of Our Home

I was visiting Candy's blog today and had so much fun seeing all the blog posts, photo slide shows and videos from ladies sharing tours of their homes. Candy asked that if anyone wanted to do a home tour that they send her a link of a tour to their home. So, that is what this post is all about. Thanks Candy for allowing us into your home and organizing all the posts for all to enjoy!

Since my family is visiting us from out of town this coming weekend, and two of the girls are sick today, I had planned to do a good cleaning today. A prefect day to shoot some pics of our lovely home! So here is the tour, I hope you enjoy visiting with me at home today. :0)

Here is our front entry way. This is exactly what you would see if you came to visit me today, as soon as I open the door this little cutie would be right there to greet you. She just loves having company.

As you entered my front room you would see a couple more cutie pies (both sick) resting on the sofas.
There is one additional sofa so you can sit down and visit with us and relax.

Here is our TV, hutch and a play kitchen set area . Not quite my idea of good decorating but it's functional this way so we like it :0)


The next stop is the kitchen.

I am still working on the dishes so a few are awaiting me, soaking in and right beside the sink. I will get those done later on when we are done with the rest of the house cleaning.

We've got a great little island in the kitchen which is a perfect place to prepare salads and work on cookie baking.

On the other side of the island is my sewing nook. Lots of projects in the works!

This is our dining and homeschool area.

It has a nice little sofa and chair for the kids to sit and read.


Here is my helper for the day, she's doing a great job helping Mama clean!

OK, now down the hall way.

Here's the laundry room.


And this is our office/guest room.


Here is the girls bathroom.

And the girls bedroom.

Now on down the hall again to the master bedroom.


This is also our 2 year old's room (until we get a bunk bed for the big girls and make room for her in their room).


And finally our master bathroom.


I hope you enjoyed visiting with us today, we loved having you!

April 11, 2009

Easter Blessings!

Yesterday was our 2 year old's birthday AND our 10th wedding anniversary. A beautiful day with lots of happy memories shared and made.

My mom sent a package with some beautiful dresses she made the girls for Easter. They are so adorable! They can't wait to wear them to church tomorrow.

I pray you all have a blessed and joyous Easter as we celebrate our Risen King and Saviour. Praise God for His Son and all the blessings He rains down upon us every day.

April 9, 2009

Quilts!

I love to make handmade quilts! I have been making them since I was 16 years old... I've probably made about 20 total and I always have several in various stages of completion.

Right now I am working on matching quilts for my girls beds. They are patchwork squares of various bright solids and patterns. I can't wait to get them finished. Here's a picture of one of the quilt tops which I just finished.


All the quilts match except for a few unique squares here and there. The photos really doesn't do this quilt top justice, the colors are all so vivid and the patterns so cute up close. When these tops are done I plan to back them with bright colored calicoes and yarn tie them with embroidery floss or a very shiny yard with little buttons or other pretty charms on several of the ties. I will bind them with blanket binding because I think that will make them sturdier and last longer. I'm hoping to have them done by fall.

I have several more quilt projects I am working on at the moment and a couple I have finished as well. I will post some pics soon, they are all so pretty.

I'm sure it will take me YEARS to finish all these projects since I do a lot of the work by hand, but quilting is so much fun I just can't help starting up many, many projects at once.

Just thought I would share one of my favorite hobbies with you today :0)

April 3, 2009

Great Website For Once A Month Cooking

Since we started our healthy eating plan, I really have been in the kitchen more often doing prep work, mostly for salads, home baked breads and healthier condiments. I have been trying a sort of "cook once, eat twice" kind of style of cooking as to always have meals on hand in the freezer. Life is always so much easier when dinner is in the freezer! :0)

I wish I could do a once a month cooking kind of day but we just don't have the freezer space. If you want to get your freezer stocked up, here is an AWESOME website that I found that has lots of ideas. They are not all the most healthy, but you can glean a lot just in the way of ideas on how to cook a lot of food at once to save yourself time in the long run. Then just adapt them to what you and your family eat. Here's the site - The Erratic Homemaker.

April 1, 2009

House Cleaning Thoughts

Today is a big chore day for us so I thought I would take some time to share my thoughts on the subject with you...

A clean house can be one of those elusive things in the life of a homeschool family. On one hand, when you are at home, it's easier to get things done than if you are out and about all day. But, on the other hand, when you are at home most of the time, more messes can happen more quickly than you have time to keep up with. So what do you do? Here are some things that help us keep things in control and get them back in order when they get out of control. A clean and neat home always helps us get more done in less time and gives us more time to have fun!

Keep things simple. We try to keep our meals, the kids toys, the clothing we own and all else very simple. Clutter can be your biggest enemy when you need an organized environment. Take some time each day to toss things you don't need, donate items that are still useful or if you have LOTS to get rid of, why not bless your family with a little extra cash and have a yard sale or sell some things on Ebay or Craigslist?

Be Realistic. I don't aim for a perfect home. Sure, I would love a picture prefect, magazine style home every day but that is just not practical when we are here working on school art projects, baking bread and chasing an almost two year old from things to thing all day. I try to focus on what matters most like making sure the kitchen stays clean, our clothes are clean, the bathroom is presentable in case we have visitors, etc.

Make It Fun! We make up all sorts of games when we clean and the girls love it, it makes them want to help instead of procrastinating all of their chores. We always get done quicker when we play a game. Music is also good. We like to play one of our favirite CD's and sing along as we clean. It makes the time pass much faster.

Delegate. We have designated chores for each child. My husband and I also have certain chores that we each do during any given week. During times when I am sick or things are more busy than usual my husband always chips in on the day to day chores as well and the girls do a little extra as well. Ask your husband and children for extra help if you need it, I know mine are always happy to help me!

Keep a positive attitude. Daily chores can feel like drudgery if you don't have the right attitude. We like to think of our home as a blessing from God and also everything in it. We strive to remember that God expects us to respect the blessings he bestows upon us and we should be joyful in taking care of them as well as taking care to have a joyful attitude in serving others as well.

Praying your day is a blessed one...