Monday, January 31, 2011

More Parenting Learning

This week, God sent me a few articles to read (via some great friends) and discuss with pretty much every one I meet. I'm sure I've exhausted the subjects with those I talk with face-to-face, so it's time for me to turn to the trusty old blog to share and discuss.
The first article was that one about Why Chinese Mothers are Superior. There has been a lot of hype over this article, and I'm sure a lot of the criticisms are just, BUT there is a lot in this article that we (Christian parents) can take to heart. Basically this very educated Chinese mom is sharing that Western moms tend to be too lenient with their children. Western mommas justify this by saying that we care about our children's feelings; we are concerned that pushing them to do anything will scar them for life and turn them off to finding out what they truly enjoy. The writer of this article would call this complete bunk. She explained that in order for a child to want to succeed, they must be encouraged (and she would say forcefully encouraged) to make that first success. Then they can be praised, which will lead to the child wanting to continue to succeed. This makes a lot of sense to me. Let's take the boy for instance. He has self esteem issues and these bleed over into his learning to read. Though he knows all the words and can read them just fine if he tries, sometimes he will stumble over a word and immediately give up (sometimes with weeping and gnashing of teeth.) As a mom and a teacher, I can respond with two basic ways. I can say, "It's okay. You're only 5. We'll try it again later." Or I can say, "You CAN do this, buddy, and we will sit here together and learn this!" There are probably times that both ways are correct, but this Chinese Mom's article was pointing out that the second way is very valid and sometimes necessary. Make sense?
The other article that a friend sent over is a fun one that I feel like I could have written myself. My hubby and I have definitely had the exact same exchanges that are described in "Chaotic Blessings" very often! The noise level in our van reaches unheard of decibels and we too wish for that sound-proof glass between us and the kids...sometimes. At other times, we look at each other and grin, knowing without a doubt that we are the most blessed parents in the world.
I couldn't be happier that God is continuing my education on parenting. There is so much to learn and study! I stopped in on a conversation in the hall of my church on Sunday about a daughter's first boyfriend and how to handle that. (!!!) Before having children myself, I felt somewhat confident about parenting during the younger years (funny how I feel so much less so now that I'm doing it!) but I have always been nervous about the teenage years. And then what about adult children?! Anyhow, the happiness and peace comes when I realize that God will bring the lessons as I need them.
This may be a funny verse to use about your children, but it is on my heart and seemed appropriate:
"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6
Happy Parenting!
Linked with Motivate Me Monday and Makes My Monday,

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lee: A Man to Admire


Reading has and always will be my favorite frugal way to entertain myself and my children. Here's another review of a book that will frugally entertain!
Growing up in the Heart of Dixie, Lee was always a name revered in my house. But I never got to know him really 'til I married a (southern at heart) boy who is fascinated with all things about the "War Between the States." There is so much misrepresented about this time period in our country's history in our public school history texts. That statement may get me in trouble with some of my readers, but think about it! It's true! A history text can't possibly cover everything, and what is left out is sometimes calculated and very important. Lee: A Life of Virtue fills in some of the gaps that a normal history text would never fill.
Lee was definitely a man to admire! He was a man of faith, a man of family, and a man of country. When his own state desired to stand apart from the nation, he had to make a difficult choice. He was against slavery, but also understood that the emancipation of slaves must, for the sake of the slaves being able to learn trades and independence, come gradually.
I definitely recommend his story for those high school home schoolers who would like to dig deeper into a real man who lived with his own real beliefs and choices. Unlike some history texts, this one will give you plenty to think about from a moral standpoint!
Linked to Frugalicious FridayShow and Tell Fridays, Friday Favorites, Look At Me, Frugal Friday at Shabby Nest and Life as Mom, Feature Yourself Friday, Photo Story Friday and Fab Friday.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Winners!

Thank you everyone who commented on Of Such is the Kingdom's Window Chalk Giveaway! 
These four blessed women and their children will be receiving a tube each of this great product:

I follow with GFC. We love to draw and color. My guy would have so much fun using this on the sliding glass doors!
Angela said...
My son and I love to bake together!
Jenette said...
Following gfc. My son like to have fun by reading LOTS of books!
Beckee said...
GFC follower and my kids and I love to play board games!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fashion Wednesday #3

Classic Blazer | Everybody, Everywear
I guess I'm officially crazy. I got cozied up on the couch a while ago to start this post and realized that I had forgotten to make pics yesterday when I actually wore this outfit. So I dragged my lazy self off the couch and went and put everything back on just so I could snap a few pics. Definitely crazy! 
I wasn't sure how far up to wear this skirt; I felt pretty trendy just having it up as far as I did. This was an outfit for teaching a class on baby care, and I think it worked really well. I felt functional, stylish, and feminine. Oh, and the loose braid? That's another evidence of the effort to relax more with the kiddos. The oldest was practicing her newfound braiding skills. I think it gave me the cowgirl-gypsie look, what d'ya think?
Feel free to link up your stylishness!


Ten Great Recipes Again

Forgive me, but I'm reposting an old Top Ten Recipes post per yesterday's decision to play more and work less. If you're as interested in getting priorities straight this year as I am, you'll want to read this article about "Urgent vs. Important" that a friend sent me yesterday in comment to yesterday's post (Relaxing with Children). So today I'm playing a little more and giving you an old food list (but it just so happens I'll be making some of these this week anyway, so that works out!)
1. A simple skillet meal: Boil 1 1/2 cups pasta and brown a pound of ground turkey.  Saute one chopped zucchini (I would have loved to add mushrooms but the hubby would have picked them out and that's a bad influence on the kids!). For the sauce Melt 2 T butter in a skillet. Add a cup of milk whisked with 2 T flour, a teaspoon of beef bouillon, a teaspoon of garlic powder and a T of Italian seasoning. Pour in a can of chopped tomatoes (juice and all), a T of balsamic vinegar, a 1/2 cup of frozen peas and the pasta, ground turkey, and zucchini. It made for a very yummy skillet dish (and pretty too--I wish I'd taken a picture!)
2. These cheeseburger buns will make a great meal for Wednesday. I think I'll use a can of Sloppy Joe to spice up the meat. (Tonight I'll be at meetings, so the hubby will feed the kiddos and himself left overs)
3. Chicken will do nicely for Thursday. We'll have it baked with baked potatoes and frozen broccoli (cooked of course). I think I'll bake the chicken usingthis recipe; the hubby loves mustard!
4. Friday through Sunday the hubby and I are taking a belated anniversary trip. We'll be back Sunday afternoon, but Sunday night I'm going to see Sara Groves in concert. Woo hoo! So, no cooking until Monday night when we'll be having company, and I'm going to use an old favorite for pot roast. If you put a roast in the crock pot with a small bottle of A-1, a can of cream of mushroom soup, and a pack of onion soup mix, you get an extreme WOW factor! We'll have zucchini bread, mashed potatoes, and green beans with this.
5. Tuesday of next week we'll be having the hubby's fave: shrimp salad. We'll have it with green salad and left over zucchini bread on the side.
6. Wednesday we'll eat at the church dinner because we have choir and meetings and more choir.
7. At some point next week I commit to make these wonderful home made pop tarts. Wow! We are ALWAYS rushing out of the door for school these days (this is sad since our school is 5 minutes away and doesn't begin until 8:45) and these might come in 'handy.' (pun intended)
8. I figure if I don't buy sandwich bread, I'll have to make it, right? Well, that didn't work so well this week. We just had to live without bread. But next week I'm planning to make 4 loaves again so we'll have bread for the next couple of weeks.
9. Thursday of next week we'll have the famous taco salad.
10. Either Friday or Saturday of next week I'll be making grits casserole and I hope the weather will pay attention to this post and allow a comfortable chill in the air--the perfect weather for this kind of recipe!
You can also check out these ten frugal meals with a grocery list! Easy and convenient!
Linked with Menu Plan Monday and MMMmonday.Linked to Tempt My Tummy TuesdayTuesdays at the TableAnything RelatedDelicious DishesSlightly Indulgent TuesdayTuesday TwisterHearth and Soul HopGraceful Abandon's Blog HopTuesday Tastes, and Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Shades of GreenLinked to Top Ten Tuesdayand Lucky Linky Tuesday.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Relaxing With Children

I am in a place of great learning about parenting. It's almost as if God has said, "Okay, time to start Parenting 303," or something like that. And it's not even that I'm reading a stack of parenting books (actually my reading right now consists of a lot about Jewish Feasts, but that's a whole different post). I do get wonderful parenting emails daily from ScreamFree Parenting and weekly from Biblical Parenting. (I highly recommend both of these.) No, it's really more about God giving me a lot, A LOT, of parenting life lessons.
This weekend's lesson was a little more pleasant than most--my mom took the kiddos for the weekend. My dad and mom live on 7 acres surrounded by pastures and woods. There are trails and a Power Wheels truck. There is a basement full of toys and Mom always entertains them with great activities. Saturday they collected sticks to make a fire outside and roasted hotdogs for their lunch! So you know the kiddos are very HAPPY!
I guess I don't even have to say that the parents are happy too? The hubby and I did really exciting things this weekend like take the van to get the oil changed and visit that romantic date spot, Walmart! And yes, we also went to a nice restaurant for dinner on Saturday and took a great walk downtown. I even got the attic the rest of the way cleaned out! It was a great weekend!
And where is the parenting lesson in there for me? Well, Friday when I met my mom and transferred the kids, I felt the stress rolling off my shoulders. Normally I would just give a "Woohoo!" turn up the music and drive (a teeny bit) faster. But this time it bothered me. The Holy Spirit was whispering in my ear, "You can have this feeling with your children too!" Why do I stress around my children so much? Why don't I just live around them? Why is everything a strict Mommy and Me moment?
And no, I really don't know what to do about this except that it is part of that New Year's resolution to give myself and others more grace. Perhaps we can watch a few more movies together? (I mean more than the one or two a week I usually allow.) Perhaps I could just let the housework go one morning and get on the floor to play with the 2yo?
All I really know is that now I want this: I want to relax around my children. That doesn't mean that I will discipline less or not teach those lessons or not try to keep my house clean. It just means I want to relax. around. my. children.
Got any suggestions for me? I'd love to hear them! Have a great week, everyone!
Linked with Motivate Me Monday and Makes My Monday,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Window Chalk Giveaway

This blog has always been meant to share ways and ideas to make parenting (and living in general) more fun. My hope is that sharing books, a few activities and crafts, some easy/yummy cooking, and a little bit of fashion will brighten your day and inspire you to enjoy whatever you do during the day more!
Today's post is more of the same--this time a product that leads to an activity that might lead to a cleaner house (eventually) and will certainly lead to lots of smiles in the mean time! And what is this magic product? Window chalk!
When my daughter read me her history assignment a week ago (before the big snow) about stained glass windows, I remembered the beautiful ideas that the words "window" and "chalk" had conjured up in my brain. So we pulled them out, and I let the kids get creative with our big picture window.
They were entertained for HOURS. And I do mean hours. And they would ask to get the chalk out later just to tweak their master piece a little. The whole thing made me smile big time, and I was so pleased with their art work that it's still adorning our window! (Don't worry, we tested it one some other windows/doors around the house. It comes right off with a little Windex and leaves your window cleaner than it was before.)
And (drum roll, please) here's the finished product:
Pretty amazing, right?
Well, just in case you'd like to get in on this fun, I'm offering one tube of window chalk (various colors) to 4 of my commenters on this post! 
Giveaway closed. (1/27 9pm) Thanks so much for commenting!
Just become a follower of Of Such is the Kingdom then
* Comment telling us one way you and your kids like to have fun.
* Report about this post on Facebook (and comment telling me you've done so)
*Tweet it (and comment telling me you've done so)
*Or blog it (and comment telling me you've done so)
And you have four wonderful ways to get your hands on a free container of window chalk!
This giveaway will end on Thursday January 27 at 9pm.
Hey, even if you don't have kiddos, this stuff would be fun to get creative with. I've been very tempted to get it out while the kids are resting and see if I can't make a window or two look like stained glass.
Happy playing!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fashion Wednesday #2

Last week, I started the tradition here at Of Such is the Kingdom of featuring a little momma fashion on Wednesdays. I'm going to take a picture of something that I wear during the week and share it with you on Wednesdays. Feel free to join in and link up. Whether you're a fashionista or a homemaker, it's fun to play with what's in your closet once in a while.
So I'm excited with what I'm sharing with you today because I saw the picture to the left in InStyle and really loved the long skirt feel. I have always loved the dressy (but practical) feel of a long skirt.
So while I was staring at this outfit, I thought. Wow, a skirt like that wouldn't be difficult to make, would it? I mean, if you had enough fabric, it would just mean finishing a few seams. But as I thought I realized that I didn't need to make it! I had that very skirt already in my closet!!
My bridesmaids dresses were navy skirts with a detached top. When my maid of honor was cleaning out her closet a few years ago, she sent me her bridesmaid's dress for sentimental reasons. So I ran back to my closet and tried it on. It fit!
So I put together an outfit trying to capture some of the same feel of the InStyle one. Here's what I cam up with:
The skirt still needs a little work (i.e. I need to stitch in some elastic at the top), and I missed the beautiful drape of the InStyle shirt, but the point is that I had many of the same elements right in my closet already! 
Thanks for enjoying a little fashion "ah ha" moment with me!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Top Ten Frugal Meals

I'm going to try something a little different today for my top ten recipes. I'm giving you a grocery list (with approximate prices) to go with ten very frugal meals. This list will include everything, but most of you will have many of these very simple ingredients already.
To make
1. Cheeseburger Pie Make your own pie crust.
2. Sloppy Joe Buns just fill buns with 1 lb. ground meat mixed with sloppy joe sauce. 
3. Whole chicken  (cover with oil and italian seasoning, bake for about 3 hours until juices run clear), biscuits, and broccoli. Pick all leftover chicken off bones and reserve for chicken soup.

4. Pancakes and Sausage
5. Mac and Cheese with ground turkey and broccoli
           Boil 1 box elbow macaroni according to directions. Melt 2 T butter in sauce pot. Add 2 T AP flour and whisk. Cook on medium just until brown. Whisk in 2 cups milk. Stir until beginning to thicken. Add 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until all cheese is melted. Mix cooked macaroni, cheese sauce, 1 lb. cooked ground meat and 1 1/2 cupped cooked and chopped frozen broccoli. Cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
6. Homemade pizza Use this recipe for the crust. Bakeat 425 degrees for about 10 minutes. Take out of oven and spread pizza sauce, 1 bag of mozzarella cheese and pepperonis. Bake until cheese is melted.
7. Grits Casserole
8. Chicken Soup Put 1  cup uncooked rice, leftover chicken, bag of mixed veg, italian spices, and bullion to taste in a pot with about 8 cups of water. Cook until rice is done and vegetables are tender. Serve with leftover biscuits or saltine crackers.
9. Black Beans Burritos--substitute regular rice and make your own flour tortillas
10. Lentil Soup--cook lentils according to package directions. Add 5 chopped carrots, 2 chopped potatoes, and chicken bullion to taste.
For these ten recipes you will need:
2 lbs. ground turkey (about $2)
1 lb. ground beef (about $3)
       (when you get home from grocery store, cook all 3 lbs. ground meat together. Put in three    separate baggies. So each bag will have 2/3 ground turkey and 1/3 ground beef.)
1 whole chicken (around $4.50)
2 lbs. ground sausage (about $4)
1 bag pepperonis (about $2)
1 bag lentils (about $2)
1 can black beans (about $1)
1 can yellow corn (about $.75)
1 can tomato sauce (about $.50)
1 jar pizza sauce (about $1)
1 box of saltine crackers (about $2)
1 bag rice (about $2)
1 jar chicken bullion cubes (about $3)
1 can sloppy joe sauce (about $1.50)
italian seasoning (about $1)
dry mustard powder (about $2)
canola oil (about $2)
worcestershire sauce (about $2)
1 box elbow macaroni (about $1)
1 huge bag frozen broccoli (about $5)
2 bags frozen vegetables (for sides, about $2)
1 bag frozen mixed veg-carrots, peas, and corn (about $1)
1 deep dish pie crust (about $1)
1 bag carrots (about $1)
2 large potatoes (about $2)
onion soup mix (about $2)
1 green pepper (about $1)
3 8oz. bags of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 8 oz. bag of mozzarella
and 1 8 oz. bag of mexican blend cheese (got these for $1.25/bag at BiLo=$6.25)
1 5 lb. bag AP flour (about $2)
1 5 lb. bag whole wheat flour (about $3)
1 small tub vegetable shortening (about $3)
1 small bag of white corn grits (about $2)
1 bag light brown sugar (about $2)
1 container baking powder ($1)
3 envelopes rapid rise yeast ($4)
1 gallon milk (about $4)
1 dozen eggs (about $2)
1 box butter (about $3)
1 jar salsa (about $3)
sour cream/yogurt (for black bean burritos) (about $2)
Total $89.50--- So if you have absolutely none of these in your pantry, you could fix these 10 meals (and have lots of the supplies left over) for under $90! And if you use coupons and shop deals, I'm sure you could even cut this total down by $15 or $20!
Linked with Menu Plan Monday and MMMmonday.Linked to Tempt My Tummy TuesdayTuesdays at the TableAnything RelatedDelicious DishesSlightly Indulgent TuesdayTuesday TwisterHearth and Soul Hop, Graceful Abandon's Blog HopTuesday Tastes, and Tasty Tuesdays over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam and Shades of GreenLinked to Top Ten Tuesdayand Lucky Linky Tuesday.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Another Confession

I have a confession. And yes, this may appall and scare away those of you who know my family, but I just have to confess. We have a contagious disease. I'm sure either Nate or I started it and the kids all have it, and I'm afraid we spread it wherever we go! And what is this horrible disease?
I believe the technical term for our disease is queribundus morbus.  Yes, that is latin for "Complaining Disease."
Lately we've realized it more, been praying about it, and talking about it with our children.
And it's gotten worse!
We complain about all kinds of things. The kids complain about the color plate they get or the length of their spaghetti noodles or about having chores (or having nothing to do).
I complain when the hubby has to work or when the kids don't have school or when our schedule is too full.
Get the idea?
We've got it bad!
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. (Phil. 4:14-16)
(incidentally, I went to biblegateway.com to snag this verse and then happened to look back at their home page--guess what the verse of the day is? Yep! Phil. 4:14-16!)
So what can we do about this? I know that pulling up our bootstraps (so to speak) does nothing whatsoever except make us complain more about complaining!
So Lord, help me to pray--
to pray with my children
and even when my heart doesn't necessarily feel like it, Holy Spirit, help me to praise my God!
Lord, fill my heart with your Word:
*the words of David who learned how to complain rightly to God and then to worship and praise
*the words of Jesus who taught giving and sacrifice
*the appalling complaints of the Israelites in the dessert and
*the amazing lack of complaints in books like Esther and Ruth
And Lord, I ask that you use our family as lights in the world.
* Take hikes/walks and dwell on the beauty of this place where we live.
* Clean out and give away those things that we don't need and remember to be thankful for the things we do have.
* Go work in the soup kitchen downtown and talk about being grateful to give.
* Perhaps we could even (please, Lord!) take a family missions trip to a needy country--I would LOVE to go to Haiti or to my beloved China as a family.
And perhaps (this would take guts as a momma who loves to feed her family)
* We could eat only rice for one meal and pray for those who don't eat regularly.
Help us, Father, to honor you with the words of our mouths and the thoughts of minds and the feelings of our hearts.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and
 renew a right spirit within me."

Psalm 51:10
Linked with Motivate Me Monday and Makes My Monday,


Friday, January 14, 2011

Books I'm Reading (And you should too!)

I love fiction! There are many reasons I could give: it's a very inexpensive form of entertained and  hey, I even have philosophical reasons for reading fiction! But really, fiction is a way to escape into a world fueled by my very vivid imagination. There are problems with me reading too--From my Grandaddy I inherited the ability to shut out all else while I am reading. Now, the good part of that is, that I can almost not hear my 2yo screaming at me when I'm deep into a chapter. The bad part of that is that the laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc. do not get done. But I have been a much happier camper this looong snow week knowing there is a book waiting for me during the kiddos rest time! Here are the books I got for Christmas and have read since then.

**Artemis Fowl The Atlantis Complex and Artemis Fowl The Time Paradox These are book 6 and 7 of the Artemis Fowl series. I recommend them especially for kids around age 12 or 13. These are well-written, creative books teaching a great lesson (At 12, Artemis is a child genius criminal. He learns friendship and family values by getting to know a vast and intelligent fairy race). These later books have Artemis dealing not only with science and time, but also with loving siblings and parents.
**Karen Kingsbury's Unlocked I've enjoyed most of Karen Kingsbury's novels (who wouldn't love her Baxter family?) This one focused on a son with autism, and it is beautifully written.
**Her Mother's Hope and Her Daughter's Dream by Francine Rivers. Rivers is on a totally different plane in Christian fiction writing. I have devoured and adored every single book she's written (since her conversion). She has a way of developing a character that is so real, you expect them to come through your door at any minute. You love her characters and you mourn with them as they make real life decisions and mistakes. My favorite books of hers were the Mark of the Lion series (please read them!) and Redeeming Love. I'm not sure that many other writers out there are letting their characters be as real as Rivers does. Her characters are mostly Christians, but just like real Christians, most of them make complete messes out of their lives in one way or another. Where a lot of Christian writers write to communicate a message, Rivers writes to communicate life. She doesn't tell you the lesson straight up, she lets you read and learn it from the real life experiences of her characters. Her characters sin, have life-long estrangements, get in trouble with the law, get killed in war... She is an artist with character development!  I am really enjoying Her Mother's Hope and Her Daughter's Dream and the things they are teaching me through chronicling four mother-daughter relationships



With the kids, I am reading an abridged version of Kidnapped. And the oldest has been reading a great series called The Secrets of Droon. In these kids' fantasy books, a group of kids are whisked away to a magical land called Droon through a closet in the basement. After each trip battling the evil but quite tame Lord Spar, the kids return safely to Eric's basement. The oldest says that her favorite aspect of the books is, "That when something from Eric's world goes into to Droon, something from Droon has to come into Eric's world. Lord Spar's goal is to get himself into Eric's world so that he can take over Eric's world." She has been devouring our three volumes of these this snowy week.
So head to the library, order a few books for your kindle or your ipad, or take a family trip a bookstore (do they still have those??) and have some Happy reading!
Linked to Frugalicious FridayShow and Tell Fridays, Friday Favorites, Look At Me, Frugal Friday at Shabby Nest and Life as Mom, Feature Yourself Friday, Photo Story Friday and Fab Friday.