Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Fun with Snakes

Sometimes there is a light in the hubby's eyes that rivals any excitement that our three children can display. A few specific things bring this light: Cardinals baseball, Auburn football, naps (smile), and snakes. 
Yes. Snakes. 
If, by some chance a friend were to find one on the road that was just the other side of life and invite the hubby to investigate it (venom and rattlers and all), the hubby would bubble with excitement.
And take lots of pictures.
And talk about it for weeks.
There is a beauty to these creatures, isn't there?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fun Food For Kids

I would love to take the credit for this one, but it came from a magazine somewhere in my past. I just remembered the picture and decided to give it a try on one of our "at home days."Surprisingly, my kids ate it and enjoyed it!
To make: Boil or broil hotdogs then cut a slit about an inch into one end while the hotdog is still hot. Boil Ramen noodles following the directions on the package but also add 3 drops of green food coloring and 3 drops of blue. Place the croc-hotdog on a scoop of drained noodles and dot with mustard/ketchup eyes. Add a veggie on the side if it won't scare your kids off. I thought broccoli went right along with the swampy feel.
Originally posted on Of Such is the Kingdom on July 31, 2009.

Doughnuts and Chips
Today we had "doughnuts and chips" for snack. The doughnuts were cored and sliced apples spread with peanut butter, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and decorated with raisins. And the chips? They were banana chips! My 4yo loved it; he called them doughnuts and gobbled them right up. The 6yo was a little more skeptical. She gave me the grumpy face when I handed out hers, but she ate them too (minus the raisins). This snack was sweet and yummy, but it totally avoided the Halloween candy basket!
Originally posted on Of Such is the Kingdom on November 6, 2009.

Edible Play Dough
Today's lunch was also our late-morning entertainment!

Mix together 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup instant nonfat dry milk, and 2 or 3 tablespoons of honey (I myself have come to terms with the sugary peanut butter for this season of life, but if you buy the natural kind, you'd probably want to add more honey) 
add some great snacky foods and a few happy children, (BTW, did you know that if you cut an apple crosswise, the core looks like a star? God hid a star in every apple just for us!)
and you get a very fun and filling snack!
originally posted on Of Such is the Kingdom on August 26, 2009

Thursday, August 25, 2011

We Love These Books We're Reading

The Hobbit is the prequel to the hubby's favorite books ever. He was a bit skeptical when I suggested that he read it to the kids, but once he got started, we've all loved it. He often reads it while I'm cooking dinner and everyone hangs out in the kitchen, and it is definitely extra motivation to get those showers and pjs done quickly so that he can read more before bedtime.
I'm sure you know the story--the unlikely hero, the fearsome and wily dragon, the cocky and greedy dwarves, the wise and mysterious guide. To me, it is only more poignant knowing that the small trinket that the dear Hobbit so innocently finds becomes the trilogy of all trilogies. Tolkien wrote the Hobbit for children (of all ages) and out of the Hobbit was born something bigger than he ever expected. That makes reading his lovely children's fantasy more beautiful to me.

I picked up The Invention of Hugo Cabret at the library after seeing a trailer for it at the theater. I wondered what kind of story it was exactly and if the kids might be able to see it when it comes out. (I think we might just try it!)
It also is a tried and true story of the friendless orphan who uses his skills and ingenuity to survive. Throughout the story is woven a beautiful and not very subtle theme of living life out to one's purpose. Oh! And reading the book is like taking an early film class! The kids and I learned a lot through the fact that is woven in with Selznick's fiction. We even watched some of the old films that the book mentions (and I'm sure some of the scenes from those will make it into the movie). The kids loved it, and I give it highest marks for beauty of language, ingenuity of illustration, and a great message. By the way, it is quite thick, but half of its pages are illustration, as if you are watching actions transpire on a screen without sound.

The kids never tire of pouring over a new Calvin and Hobbes treasury. I just picked up a new one at a used bookstore and it's already missing pages because they were fighting over it. (It's put away for a few days while they cool down a bit!) They love the wry humor and the fact that Calvin is so like the boy in our house. They love how Hobbes comes to life and the adventures that he and Calvin share. They love the exasperation of his parents that is so clearly also love for their "different" son. And I love to see my two readers sharing a book and giggling together!

We are studying the solar system as part of our science this year at home. We've drawn the planets on a huge piece of paper and hung them high in the kids' room (and since the two readers both sleep on top bunks, they have a great view of it in the night light before they fall asleep). We've been talking of star dust and supernovas and the amazing properties of our sun. Crazy thing we learned today: Mercury (closest planet to the sun) may actually have ice on its surface in deep craters. It is amazing how scientists can even write of things such as our planets being formed without saying, "Wow! There must have been a Creator!" It is an undercurrent in every book we've read but never stated. We've said it a lot though. Our God is truly amazing!

I highly recommend this book! It is the simple story of an influential Muslim woman becoming a Christian through dreams and the help of some (very astonished) missionaries.  Bilquis became a woman of amazing faith partly because she was from a society that is particularly sensitive to the spiritual. She could feel when the presence of the Lord was receding and through that learned how she was to walk as a Christian--through obedience and in community. Her trust in God through adversity has certainly been a witness to me lately!

{six word saturday}

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What If?

What if my vision is skewed? What if what looks like a solid wall of rock is only the mouth of the cave from a different angle? What if what looks like a waste of time is really the gift of time? What if what looks like a worry--a sin that is here again, a child struggling with schooling, another child throwing almost constant fits, a desire that just won't come, a person who just won't change--what if those "worries" are actually opportunities, assignments from a loving God to exercise those fruits He has so graciously given. What if?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 Amazing Recipe Pins

All of the following were found via Pinterest:
Make your own Microwave Popcorn!
I can't wait to make these Soft Brown Sugar Cookies!
There are lots of great cooking ideas here along with these Hasselback Potatoes.
I think I've mentioned before (maybe 12 times?) that my family loves to dip! Here's a dipping meal that A. is made in the crockpot and B. is relatively filling and good for you. Hurray for Crockpot Salsa Chicken!
With Zucchini, spinach and beer, who could ask for a better chili recipe? (And no, I probably won't offer this one to the kiddos!)
Creamy Avocado Chicken Salad (It has black beans too!)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Parenting: A Mysterious and Compelling Adventure

So they retired, settled down, had a few kids. In a way, they exchanged one life of adventure for another. trading espionage for parenthood, a mysterious and compelling mission in its own right. And, they were better off. The end...
From now on whatever we do, we do together. Spy work, that's easy. Keeping a family together, that's difficult. And that's a mission worth fighting for.
from Spy Kids

It almost seems like the script writer for that movie had read this quote from the President of International Justice Mission Gary Haugen, interviewed by Dennis Rainey from Family Life Today on July 1, 2005. First posted on Of Such is the Kingdom on August 9, 2009.

[The joy and the fun of our walk with Christ] begin by asking, in one sense, what am I training my children to go do? Am I training my kids to play defense, or am I training them for the purposes of playing offense? Because I think we give our kids all this stuff, and I do, I'm an earnest parent, so I give my kid shelter and food and nutrition. I give them education, and I give them structure and discipline and faith and the teachings of Christ, and I give them all these things. I think there's a point at which my kid turns to me and asks, "Mom, Dad, why are you giving me all this stuff?" And the honest answer for me, many times, as a parent, is to say, "Well, I'm giving you all this stuff so you'll be safe." And my kid looks at me and says, "That's it? You're giving me all this so that I'll be safe, so that nothing bad will happen to me?" And I think something inside them dies, and they either go away to perish in safety, or they go off to look to find the grander adventure in the wrong place. Because what they're actually feeling in their heart, I think, is the word of Jesus, which is saying to them, "No, I didn't make you for safety. I made you to go build my kingdom and transform the world." (Click here for the rest of the interview.)
So what Gary is saying is that we as parents must teach our children of the wonder, excitement, and yes, even danger, of being a Christian. So this is courage: that parents rear up their children to serve to the Kingdom, no matter what the cost.

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Cut You Pick

A Fun Way To Teach Children to be Servants
One of the roadblocks to sibling harmony is selfishness. Children want to be first or best. Teaching kids to serve others is an important way for them to learn honor. A servant gives more than half, considers others' needs, and looks for ways to benefit those around him. Children who learn to be servants make better employees, develop meaningful friendships, and enjoy relationships more.

One fun way to teach children to be servants is the "I Cut, You Pick" Rule. It helps children who both want the last piece of cake, or plan to split a chocolate bar. It simply goes like this. When children must divide something between the two of them, ask one child if he would rather cut or pick. The other alternative goes to the second child. This plan motivates the person cutting to be as equal as possible.

Now, instead of two children arguing about who got the biggest piece, they are both involved in the solution. The "I Cut, You Pick" rule equips children with a tool they can use in many situations to bring peace instead of frustration in relationships.

The technique actually comes from a Bible story of Abraham and Lot. They had too many herds and not enough food so they decided to divide the land between the two huge families. Abraham, being a wise servant of God, said, "I'll cut the land into two pieces and you pick which one you'd like." In the story, Lot chose what appeared to be the better piece but Abraham was rewarded in the end and, most importantly, their relationship was preserved.
What are some ways you're been able to teach your children to serve each other?

This parenting tip is taken from the book, Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes, In You and Your Kids by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.
In Chapter 5 you’ll find more helpful ways to think about family dynamics.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Real Excitement

"Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth!" 
                                                                                     — Jim Elliot

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion,
      Streaming to the goodness of the LORD—
      For wheat and new wine and oil,
      For the young of the flock and the herd; 

Their souls shall be like 
a well-watered garden,
      And they shall sorrow no more at all.
       “ Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance,
      And the young men and the old, together;
      For I will turn their mourning to joy,
      Will comfort them,
      And make them rejoice rather than sorrow.
       I will satiate the soul of the priests with abundance,
      And My people shall be satisfied with My goodness, says the LORD.

Jeremiah 31:12-14
Behold, I will gather them out of all countries where I have driven them in My anger, in My fury, and in great wrath; I will bring them back to this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely. They shall be My people, and I will be their God; then I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me. Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will assuredly plant them in this land, with all My heart and with all My soul.’ 
Jeremiah 32:37-41

Monday, August 15, 2011

Humility Grows Lushly in the Atmosphere of the Gospel

According to Scripture, God deliberately designed the gospel in such a way so as to strip me of pride and leave me without any grounds for boasting in myself whatsoever. This is actually a wonderful mercy from God, for pride is at the root of all sin. Pride produced the first sin in the Garden, and pride always precedes every sinful stumbling in my life. Therefore, if I am to experience deliverance from sin, I must be delivered from the pride that produces it. Thankfully, the gospel is engineered to accomplish this deliverance.
Preaching the gospel to myself each day mounts a powerful assault against my pride and serves to establish humility in its place. Nothing suffocates my pride more than daily reminders regarding the glory of my God, the gravity of my sins, and the crucifixion of God's own Son in my place. Also, the gracious love of God, lavished on my because of Christ's death, is always humbling to remember especially when viewed against the backdrop of the Hell I deserve.
Pride wilts in the atmosphere of the gospel: and the more pride is mortified within me, the less frequent are my mounts of sinful contention with God and with others. Conversely, humility grows lushly in the atmosphere of the gospel, and the more humility flourishes within me, the more I experience God's grace along with the strengthening His grace provides. Additionally, such humility intensifies my passion for God and causes my heart increasingly to thrill whenever He is praised.
Milton Vincent, quoted in The Gospel Primer

Men Who Don't Get Carried Away Should Be. (Forbes)

(Welcome to a week of quotes...)
All of us as parents have the tendency to take life a little too seriously. We allow the urgent things to consume most of our energy and passion while we stuff the important things to the back burner. This struggle is obviously not unique to our generation, but it is unique to the world of adults.
Our kids get it. Life is meant to be lived - not endured. Allow them to teach you a few things today. Follow their lead for just a moment and inject a little fun and levity in your schedule. Do something unexpected with or without your kids and give yourself permission to be silly. Get carried away by something anything and remember how grand life can really be.
-Hal Runkel, LMFT, Author of ScreamFree Parenting and ScreamFree Marriage

Sunday, August 14, 2011

O use me, Lord, use even me, 
just as you will, and when, 
and where until your blessed face I see, 
your rest, your joy, your glory share. 
from "Lord Speak to Me That I May Speak" 
by Frances R. Havergal, 1872

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Highly Recommend... Camp G & G

Two summers ago, my mom instituted Grandad and Granna Camp, or Camp G & G for short. The kids look forward to it all year and are twice as excited about it than they are about a regular old trip to Grandad and Granna's house.
Each year both Grandad and Granna come up with fun activities for the children. This year because of adding a 3yo to the mix, the camp only lasted three days, but they managed to fit quite a bit into those three days!
Granna had these things planned:
1. A trip (and picnic) to a local park with petting zoo, small train, and playground.
2. Paper mache boxes (magazines, glue, water, and boxes.) The kids loved ripping the magazines and finding interesting pictures to be their top layers.
3. Fun snacks hidden in Granna's handmade "wising well."
4. Swimming in the pool!
5. More snacks
6. Biking, scootering, and driving the Hot Wheels truck.
7. Playing in the basement play room (completely filled to the brim with toys!)
And Grandad added these:
8. Fishing and wading in a nearby lake.
9. Picnic snacks by that lake.
10. More swimming fun.
11. Movie night.
They didn't get to the making of the Camp G & G tee-shirts (an annual event), but Granna said she'd put them together and bring them the next time she came.
In years past the wonderful grandparents have made bird houses, taken the kids camping, taken them to a local theme park for rides and water slides, and made camp tee shirts with iron-on pictures from that week at camp. 
So, if you have willing parents, send a link to this post over and give them a little hint, hint! Because, when the kids are at Camp G & G, the parents are free! : )
(The hubby and I used our time by grilling out steaks, going out to eat and to a movie, and luxuriously returning early from our movie to watch another movie at home. We also had that rare thing called uninterrupted conversation.)
Another of the beautiful things about Camp G & G is seeing my kids at the end of it. Their shining faces as they explain all the magical places and fun activities that Grandad and Granna shared is priceless!
Linked up with a few parties listed here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rainbow Beauty

Oh, how little this picture shows! Back from an outing on Monday night, the hubby and I stepped out on our front porch to find this painted across the sky. You can't see it at all from the picture, but there was even a second rainbow above this one.
Like the appearance of a rainbow in a cloud on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the brightness all around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. Ez. 1:28
Linked with some great Wednesday linkies listed here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Apple Sauce Muffins

So, as you already know, I had a grand plan for August. It's going pretty well. Something that I knew would happen, but I didn't write down, is that we would end up out and skip some of those meals. So just in case you think we're being super duper healthy and all, please know that we ate pizza at Sam's and hotdogs last week as well as some of the things I planned. But like I said, overall, it's working pretty well.
There's a little line in our August plan about snacks, and oh, my goodness! There should be a whole paragraph about them. I don't know if it's just that it's summer or what, but we go through the snacks! Yesterday morning after breakfast I made a batch of my apple sauce muffins thinking that would take us through the rest of the week for snacks. We consumed 12 muffins yesterday in between meals. How did that happen? They are good and pretty good for us too, so I'm not going to worry too much about it. Here's the recipe if you'd like to try them on your crowd too.

Olivia's Apple Sauce Muffins
3/4 cup oil
1/4 cup flax seed
1 1/2 (+ or -) brown sugar
1/4 cup pureed veggie (I had some pureed carrot frozen and threw it in.)
2 cups of non-sweetened apple sauce
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 t. baking soda
1 cup old fashioned oats
(You can also add in several finely chopped apples if you like)
Mix all ingredients together and scoop into greased or papered muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.

See Menu Plan Monday, Tasty Tuesdays and all the other great blogs I'm linking up to here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


The boy waits, sometimes face upturned, sometimes grinning at me impishly as I watch with my camera to catch the outpouring. He has no doubt that the bounty exists, but still he fidgets a bit. The sun begins to take the water from his skin and he feels the heat. He will get what he's wanting, won't he? I encourage him, "Wait for it, buddy, it'll come." And the bucket fills slowly above him. Then all at once without warning it comes pouring down upon him--more water than he can ask or imagine streaming all around him. And when it's done, that grin...oh, that grin! It was definitely worth the wait.
 "...It will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom."
Luke 6:38
Linked with all kinds of fun here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

August Food

I have been simply terrible about planning meals, making grocery lists, and saving money these past few months. There is something about summer that makes it harder for me to do all of those things--and our budget has suffered for this. Usually by the last week in the month, I'm so frustrated with myself, I just declare stubbornly that I WILL NOT RETURN TO THE GROCERY STORE so we end up eating meals that include one can of tuna, a can of corn, cheese, and green beans--or some other such randomness.
So, I am turning over a new leaf. I have an August plan and I intend to stick to it. (I'm sure the Lord is up there laughing at me this very moment. We all know how well things turn out with my plans!) But anyway, it's the thought that counts, right? Here's the plan:

  • Tonight the hubby will grill: 2 steaks, 1 pork roast, and 5 pounds of chicken. We'll have the 2 steaks with twice baked potatoes, broccoli and salads. I will also cook 5 pounds of ground beef (actually half ground turkey half ground beef) seasoning 2 lbs of it with italian seasonings and the other 3 with taco seasonings.
  • Pork roast later this week
  • Mexican six times: Baked Chimichangas twice, once with the beef mixture and once with chicken; Quesadillas twice, once with the beef mixture and once with black beans; and taco salad twice, once with black beans and once with the beef mixture
  • Lasagna twice using two pounds of ground beef/turkey seasoned with italian seasonings
  • Chinese twice using the grilled chicken for sweet and sour chicken (s&s sauce, green peppers, pineapple, and chicken over rice) and a package of chopped ham for ham fried rice (ham, cooked rice, oil, scrambled egg, frozen peas and carrots, soy sauce)
  • Cold salads six times: chicken salad using the grilled chicken x2, shrimp salad x2,  broccoli salad (throwing in some grilled chicken there as well) and tuna salad 
  • Grilling out twice more with burgers and pork chops
  • Sandwiches for weekend meals and leftovers for Saturday nights
  • Hummus, no bake energy cookies, chocolate chip cookies with whole wheat, various muffins, granola bars, raisins, fruit, nuts, etc for snacks.
  • Yogurt, cereal, smoothies, scrambled eggs, bacon and pancakes for breakfasts (maybe a few breakfasts for dinner too)
  • Frozen broccoli, frozen green beans, fresh zucchini (the oldest even suggested a whole meal focused around different zucchini dishes with zucchini bread for dessert!), and salad for our veggies.
So there you have it. It's a rough but easily carried out monthly plan. The plan is to spend $100 or less each week to make this happen. We'll see how that goes as well. 
See Menu Plan Monday, Tasty Tuesdays and all the other great blogs I'm linking up to here.