Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas is not just a day... it's an attitude!

I admit it-- I LOVE Christmas!

This year, out of necessity, we will be making many of our presents. I kind of feel like this is the Lord's way of saying "It's time to teach your children the joy of GIVING."

In the past we have helped our kids buy things for one another-- and yet I was puzzled as to why they just never would "get" the giving part of Christmas. Well, now I realize that they weren't giving-- they were just passing along what we'd given them!*bonk* I think I'm getting a "clue-by-four."

This year, I hope to teach my children what giving is all about-- and not just on the 25th of December.

Here's a link to a GREAT article I enjoyed this morning: Christmas All Month Long. I'll be adjusting it to fit our family's schedule, but I was so inspired by all the ideas!It's going to be a GREAT Christmas-tide. :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pa says, "It's all about the FOOD, y'all!"

Ahhhh... Thanksgiving is this week! I love eating waaaay more than is good for a person. And I have the hips to show for it...

Thanksgiving is my Southern Daddy's (known to his grandbabies as "Pa") favorite holiday because:
1) The entire holiday revolves around eating.
2) No gifts to give.
3) PECAN PIE-- You can't get more explicit than that!
4) No people to entertain-- ya just feed 'em.
5) FOOD!!!
6) Pies and FOOD!
7) Napping in front of the football game. 
 As for us, two states away from all the grand-folks, we're looking forward to Thanksgiving, too. (We're not "football people," however. *yawn*) Luckily for me, my adorable husband is a wonderful cook, and he really loves to take over Thanksgiving. I am usually inclined to let him!

This year, our menu will be simple:
  • Turkey (of course)
  • Mashed Taters (lots of butter, garlic, some sour cream, salt)
  • Turkey Gravy
  • Bread Stuffing (some years we make the corn bread variety-- my favorite!)
  • Baked Yams (I prefer sweet potatoes, but guess which were on sale?)
  • Homemade Rolls by yours truly (My Grandma's excellent Butterflake Rolls)
  • Honey Almond Butter to spread on the rolls.
  • Pies: 2 pumpkin, 1 key lime, 1 apple
For me, Thanksgiving is the kick-off to the happiest time of year! I love it! See y'all later...

Monday, November 12, 2007

Purging Time!

November is a month for purging! No, I'm not bulimic, I'm fed up with too much STUFF!!!

I woke up this morning to the realization that I have no room for any other blessings God may want to send me, because my home-- and life-- are stuffed to over-flowing. You know what I'm talking about, sisters; papers, old toys no one plays with, clothes you hate or that are too small/out-of-fashion/etc., books you don't and won't read but can't bear to part with them, cookbooks you never use, three sizes of spatulas, broken old Christmas ornaments, cracked plates, bent silverware, extra activities that make everyone stressed and life more complicated...Need I go on?!

Today is the day, my Sister-Homemakers, to banish the clutter. Actually, the rest of this month will be dedicated to de-cluttering our homes to make room for some wonderful new blessings.

When your kids whine about this-- and you know they will (Mine will, anyway!)-- remind them that they have to make room for the gifts they're begging for. I also like to remind them that there are lots of kids who won't be getting much for Christmas this year, and that they can bless the lives of poor children by being generous. (The "Guilt-Gun" is an in-born talent of mothers for a reason, ya know!)

So... post your totals (bags, boxes, whatever) in a comment to this post, and we'll see how much room we can make for Christmas Blessings this year. I can't wait to see all the good you will accomplish!On your mark...Get set...GO!!!!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm embarassed...

I did it again! I set my expectations of myself and what I "should' be doing up too high, and then crashed with guilt. *sigh!* One of these day, I will learn!

So I'm taking a new look at myself, and I've decided to just add ONE thing at a time.

This week, I have decided to try and serve meals at the same time each day. Yesterday, I already got "off track," but I woke up this morning determined to do better. So far, I've been pretty on-task, and even now, at 2PM, I know what's for dinner tonight!!! (This is BIG, for me...)

We mothers always think we can handle more than is realistic. BUT I can be proud of what I have done today, and every day. So here's my "Ta-Da" list for today:
  • I got up before 7AM!
  • I got dressed and even put in earrings!
  • I said my morning prayer!
  • I checked my calendar in my planner, and made a "to Do" list for the day WITHOUT making it too long!
  • I called someone when prompted by the Spirit. (I still have no idea why I needed to call, but I did it!)
  • I made whole wheat pancakes for breakfast.
  • We had homeschool!
  • Numerous diapers have been changed. (Two left in diapers...)
  • I delegated lunch preparation to one of my children. (Okay, we're about to eat now at 2PM, but we are EATING!)
  • I have checked my e-mail.
  • I've now blogged for the week!
One of my favorite sayings goes like this:  "We CAN eat an elephant-- ONE BITE AT A TIME!" We can REALLY do this!!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Returning Our Hearts to the Home

As Women of Faith, do we stand out from the world?

This question has lately been plaguing me. Do we act, speak, look, or dress differently than others? Do our words and acts reveal us as followers of Jesus Christ? Do we educate ourselves and our children any differently? How about the clothes that we wear, the music that we listen to? Can we honestly say that our behaviors and choices as feminine women help us stand out from the crowd?

Are we “elect ladies” and “handmaidens of the Lord?”

There is a movement growing among women. At the moment, it is small, and hidden from the eyes of the world. But it exists, and it's gaining strength and momentum. This “change” is actually a return to the principles and standards of our fore-mothers. Many women are again finding joy in their children, their marriages, and in their homemaking efforts.

It's a call to “return our hearts to the home.”

Here are some questions I have begun to ask myself:
~Am I putting the Lord first in my life?
  • Do I pray on my knees every morning and evening?
  • Do I study the scriptures daily?
  • Do I serve others, and set an example of charity and love?
  • Do I try to be like the Savior?
~Am I rejoicing in my posterity?
  • Do I let my children know how grateful I am to be home with them by my words, actions and attitude?
  • Do I teach my children about God's special plans for their lives?
  • Do I work with my daughters, teaching them the skills they will need to know to be successful homemakers and mothers?
  • Do I encourage my sons to look to their father as their ideal role-model, always speaking of him in complimentary terms?
  • Do I speak in kind, loving, encouraging tones?
  • Do I remember that my children are a sacred stewardship given to me by the Lord?
~Am I a true help-meet to my husband?
  • Do I daily create a haven of love and peace away from the world for my husband?
  • Do I regularly let him know I appreciate his efforts to work and support our family?
  • Do I show him affection in the ways that he needs and appreciates?
  • Do I let him see me at my best, and not always at my worst?
  • Do I cook meals that he likes, and keep the pantry and refrigerator well-stocked?
  • Do I do my best to be frugal and careful with the hard-earned money he provides for our family?
~Am I finding joy and satisfaction in my chosen vocation of homemaker-mother?
  • Do I keep a regular daily schedule, so that my family can have order and structure to their lives?
  • Do I take care of tasks immediately, rather than putting them off until “later?” (WHEN is “later,” by the way?!)
  • Do I plan,cook, and serve meals at a consistent time and place each day?
  • Do I resist the temptation to socialize with my friends online, or on the phone?
  • Do I put the needs of my family and home before my own?
  • Am I setting a good example of hard work and dependability for my children?
  • Do I rise before my children, preparing myself and my home for the day?
  • Do I have systems in place to help me control and rid myself of clutter?
Today, as I ask myself these questions, I see that I still have many things I can improve upon!

So here are my 10 goals for this weekend, and through next week:
  1. Make and serve all meals on time.
  2. Clean off my desk and file all important documents, bills, recipes, etc.
  3. Re-make my children's chore chart, and then follow through with chore requirements
  4. Kiss my husband every morning and evening
  5. Spend less time socializing online
  6. Get up before my children, even if I don't get much done, yet. I can at least start breakfast and plan the meals for the day
  7. Pray every morning and evening-- on my knees-- and ask the Lord for His help in doing a better job as homemaker and in speaking more kindly to my children
  8. Go through my closet and get rid of the clothes that I feel unattractive in
  9. Cut out some cute skirts for myself to wear
  10. De-junk my closet and nightstand
Will you join me in making some self-improvement goals of your own?
We can do this!!!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Nobility in Motherhood

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle is The Hand that Rules the World
by William Ross Wallace
Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
Infancy's the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother's first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow--
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.
Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky--
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No-Rise Basic Dough

This recipe was originally for Soft Pretzels, but I use it for quick and easy fried scones (Indian Fry Bread), or wrap it around hot dogs (Piggies-in-Blankets) and bake for my children's lunch.
  • 1 envelope (1 Tablespoon) dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 Tablespoon salt
  • Approximately 4 cups flour (I use whole wheat)
Soften yeast in water. Add sugar and salt; stir to make certain all are dissolved. Slowly add in flour, kneading until a soft, smooth dough is formed. Do NOT let rise.

For Indian Fry Bread, flatten out a ball of dough by hand, forcing out the air pockets, and deep fry in hot oil. (If the air pockets are not flattened, they poof up like Mexican Sopapillas, which are yummy served with butter and honey or powdered sugar.)

For Piggies-in-Blankets, flatten a ball of dough, and wrap it around a hot dog. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until light brown. Covers 16 hot dogs.

For Soft Pretzels, cut dough into 16 pieces. Roll each into pencil-thin ropes. Twist into pretzel shape. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and lightly dust with flour. Put pretzels on the cookie sheet and brush each with beaten egg and sprinkle with coarse salt. (1 beaten egg for all pretzels)

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until light brown. Yields 16 pretzels.

Five Cup Salad

This recipe has been handed down to me from my Grandmother. We enjoy this salad at every family gathering!

1 cup small marshmallows
1 cup pineapple chunks, drained
1 cup Mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup shredded coconut
1 cup sour cream

Mix all ingredients together until well incorporated, and refrigerate overnight.
(Optional additions include: 1 cup chopped nuts, 1 cup dates, 1 cup dates, or 1 cup of apples)

Spinach Salad by Toni Hunt

I got this yummy salad recipe from a friend in my former church congregation in another state.

Poppyseed Dressing

  • 3/4 Tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt2 Tablespoon prepared mustard
The night before serving the Spinach salad, mix all ingredients well. *NOTE: Honey can be substituted for the sugar.

Spinach Salad

  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce
  • 1/2 head fresh spinach
  • 3/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 pound grated Swiss cheese
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 can Mandarin oranges
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
Tear the lettuce and toss the first five ingredients together. Cook sugar and almonds together in a small pan until carmelized, stirring often to keep the sugar from burning. Arrange oranges, almonds, and bacon on top of the greens. Serve with the Poppyseed Dressing.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

I did promise to share my Peanut Butter Muffin recipe, so here it is!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (miniature work best)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together, until evenly incorporated. Set aside. Cream the egg, vanilla, milk, and peanut butter together until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir only until mixed. Fold in chocolate chips, if desired. Bake in greased muffin tins (or cupcake papers) for 15-20 minutes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

When Queens Ride By

I've read bits of this story before, but I've never come across the entire version, complete with the source until this morning. I'm thrilled to now share it here!
When Queens Ride By
John and Jennie Musgrave had eager plans when they married and took over the old farm. But their great faith dwindled as the first years passed. John worked later and later in the evenings. Jennie took more and more of the heavy tasks upon her own shoulders and had no time for the home and children. They were no further on and life had degenerated into a straining, hopeless struggle. One hot afternoon, Jennie was loading baskets of tomatoes to take to town when the children came running to tell her there was a dressed-up lady at the kitchen door. Wearily she followed the children back and saw a woman in a gray tweed coat that seemed somehow to be a part of her straight, slim body. A small gray hat with a rose quill was drawn low over her brownish hair. She was not young, but she was beautiful! An aura of eager youth clung to her, a clean and exquisite freshness. The stranger in turn saw a young woman, haggard and weary. Her eyes looked hard and hunted. Her calico dress was shapeless and begrimed from her work.

Stranger (sailing): “How do you do? We parked our car in the shade of your lane to have lunch and rest awhile. And I walked on up to buy a few apples, if you have them.”

Jennie (grudgingly):
“Won't you go in and sit down? I'll go and pick the apples.”

“May I go with you? I'd love to help pick them.”

Jennie: “Why, I s'pose so. If you can get out here through the dirt.”

She led the way along the unkempt path toward the orchard. She had never been so acutely conscious of the disorder about her. She reached the orchard and began to drag a long ladder from the fence to the apple tree.

Stranger (crying out): “Oh, but you can't do that! It's too heavy. Please let me pick a few from the ground.”

Jennie: “Heavy? This ladder! I wish I didn't ever lift anything heavier than this. After hoistin' bushel baskets of tomatoes onto a wagon, this feels light to me.”

Stranger: “But — but, do you think you should? Do you think it's right ... Why, that's a man's work.”

Jennie (furiously):
“Right! Who are you to be askin' me whether I'm right or not?
A person like you don't know what work is!”

Stranger (soothingly): “I'm sorry I annoyed you by saying that. If you were to tell me all about it — because I'm a stranger — perhaps it would help. Why can't we sit down here and rest a minute?”

Jennie: “Rest? Me sit down to rest, an' the wagon loaded to go to town? It'll hurry me to get back before dark.”

“Just take the time you would have spent picking the apples. I wish I could help you. Won't you tell me why you have to work so hard?”

Jennie (half sullenly):
“There ain't much to tell only that we ain't getting' ahead.
Henry Davis is talkin' about foreclosin' on us if we don't soon pay some principal. The time of the mortgage is out this year an' mebbe he won't renew it. And it ain't that I haven't done my part. I'm bare thirty, and I might be fifty. I'm so weather beaten. That's the way I've worked.”

“And you think that has helped your husband?”

Jennie (sharply):
“Helped him? Why wouldn't it help him?”

Stranger: “Men are such queer things, husbands especially. For instance, they want us to be economical, and yet they love to see us in pretty clothes. They need our work and yet they want us to keep our youth and beauty. And sometimes they don't know themselves which they really want most. So we have to choose. That's what makes it so hard. Just after we were married, my husband decided to have his own business so he started a very tiny one. I helped my husband in the store, but we would both be tired and discouraged after a hard day at the office and we didn't seem to be having any great success. The house got run down and dinner was always a hasty affair, and soon we both started complaining and bickering with each other. Finally, we decided that maybe I should stay at home and let him take care of his work at the office as best he could. And then I worked in my house to make it a clean, shining, happy place. My husband would come home dead tired and discouraged, ready to give up the whole thing. But after he had eaten and sat in our bright little living room, and I had told him all the funny things I could invent about my day, I could see the change in him. By bedtime, he had his courage back, and by morning he was all ready to go out and fight again. And at last he won.

(Jennie did not speak. She only regarded her guest with a half-resentful understanding.)

The stranger continued:
“There was a queen once, who reigned in troubled days. And every time the country was on the brink of war and the people ready to fly into a panic, she would put on her showiest dress and take her court with her and go hunting. And when the people would see her riding by, they were sure all was well with the government. So she tided over many a danger.
“And I've tried to be like her. Whenever a big crisis comes in my husband's business, or when he's discouraged, I put on my prettiest dress and get the best dinner I know how, or give a party! And somehow it seems to work. That's the woman's part, you know, to play the queen ...”

(A faint “honk, honk” came from the lane. The stranger started to her feet.)

“That's my husband. I must go. Please don't bother about the apples. I'll just take these few from under the tree.” (She took some coins from her purse) “And give these to the children.”

Jennie's thoughts were too confused for speech, but, as she watched the stranger's erect figure hurrying towards the lane, she remembered her words with the pain of anger.

“Easy enough for her to set talkin' about queens! She never felt the work at her throat like a wolf. Talk about choosin'! I haven't got no choice. I just got to keep a goin', like I always have ...”
She stopped suddenly and picked up a fairy-like hanky of white linen that the stranger had dropped. Its faint, delicious fragrance made her think wistfully of strange, sweet things. Of gardens in the early summer dusk; of wide, fair rooms with the moonlight shining in them; of pretty women in beautiful dresses dancing, and men admiring them. She, Jennie, had nothing of that. Everything about their lives, hers and John's, was coarsened, soiled somehow by the dragging, endless labor of the days. Suppose ... suppose ... suppose she were to try doing what the stranger had said, suppose she spent her time on the house and let the outside work go. . .

Jennie (with sudden resolution): “Mebbe I'm crazy, but I'm going to do it!”

Jennie brushed her hair, changed her shoes, and put on her one good dress. Then with something of the burning zeal of a fanatic, she attacked the confusion in the kitchen. By half-past four the room was clean. Now for supper! She decided upon fried ham and browned potatoes and apple sauce with hot biscuits, and pie. With a spirit of daring recklessness, she spread the one white table cloth on the table.
The first pan of flaky brown mounds had been withdrawn from the oven when Henry Davis' car came up the lane. Cold fear struck Jeannie. He could be coming for only one thing. As she stood shaken, wondering how she could live through what the next hour would bring, she heard the words again, “There was a queen once ...”

Jennie (cordially):
“Well, Howd' you do, Mr Davis! Come right in. I'm real glad to see you. Been quite a while since you was over.”

Mr. Davis (embarrassed):
“Why, no, not now, I won't go in. I just stopped to see John on a little matter of business. I'll just ...

“You'll just come right in. John will be in from milkin' in a few minutes an' you can talk while you eat, both of you. I've supper just ready.”

Mr. Davis: “Why, now I reckon I'd just speak to John, an' then be gettin' on.”

“They'll see you at home when you get there. You never tasted my hot biscuits with butter an' quince honey or you wouldn't take so much coaxin!”

(Henry Davis came into the big, clean kitchen and sat down. His eyes took in every homey detail of the orderly room.)

“And how are things goin' with you, Mr. Davis?”

Mr. Davis
: “Oh, so so. How are they with you?”

“Why, just fine, Mr. Davis! It's been hard sleddin', but I sort of think the worst is over. We'll be ‘round to pay that mortgage so fast come another year that you'll be be surprised.”

Mr. Davis: “Well, now that's fine. I always wanted to see John make a success of the old place, but a man has to sort of watch his investments ... Well, now, I'm glad things are pickin' up a little.”

Jennie felt as though a tight hand at her throat had relaxed. At the kitchen door John stopped, staring blankly at the scene before him ... at Jennie moving about the bright table, chatting happily with Henry Davis! At Mr. Davis himself, his sharp features softened by an air of great satisfaction. At the sixth plate on the white cloth — Mr. Davis was staying for supper! But the silent depths of John's nature served him well. He made no comment. He merely shook hands with Henry Davis and then washed his face in the sink. Jennie arranged the savory dishes, and they sat down to supper. Mr. Davis seemed to grow more and more genial and expansive as he ate. So did John. By the time the pie was set before them, they were laughing over a joke Mr. Davis had heard at Grange meeting. As they rose from the table, he brought the conversation awkwardly around to his errand.

Jennie (quickly):
“I told him, John, that the worst's over now, and we're getting on fine! I told him we'd be swampin' him pretty soon with payments. Ain't that right, John?”

John's mind was not analytical. He had been host at a delicious supper with his ancient adversary, whose sharp face was marvelously softened. Jennie's eyes were shining with a new and amazing confidence. It was a natural moment for unreason[able] optimism.

“Why, that's right, Mr. Davis. I believe we can start clearin' this off now pretty soon. If you could just see your way to renew the terms ...”

It was done. The papers went back in Davis' pocket. They had bid him a cordial good-bye at the door. Jennie cleared off the table and began to wash the dishes.
John was fumbling through the papers on a hanging shelf. He finally sat down with an old tablet and pencil.

“I believe I'll do a little figurin' since I've got time tonight. It just struck me if I used my head a little more, I'll get on faster.”

“Well, now you might.” (She polished two big apples and placed them on a saucer beside him.)

John (pleased): “Now, that's what I like. Say, you look sort of pretty tonight.”

Jennie (smiling): “Go along with you.”

But a wave of color swept up in her sallow cheeks. John had looked more grateful over her setting those two apples beside him now than he had the day last fall when she had lifted all the potatoes by herself! Maybe even John had been needing something else more than he had needed the hard, back-breaking work she had been giving him.
Jennie walked to the doorway and stood looking off through the darkness. A thin, haunting breath of sweetness rose from the bosom of her dress where she had tucked the scrap of white linen. She wished that she could somehow tell the beautiful stranger that her words had been true ... that she, Jennie, was going to fulfill her women's part. She had read the real needs of John's soul from his eyes that evening. Yes, wives had to choose for their husbands sometimes.

At that very moment, speeding along the sleek highway, a woman in a gray coat with a soft gray hat and a rose quill leaned suddenly close to her husband.


“I'm all right. Only, I can't get that poor woman at the farm out of my mind.
It was so hopeless.”

Husband (smiling tenderly):
“Well, I'm sorry, too, but you mustn't worry. Good gracious, darling, you're not weeping over it, I hope.”

Stranger: “No, truly, just two little tears. I know it's silly, but I did so want to help her and I know what I said sounded insane. She wouldn't know what I was talking about. She just looked up with that blank, tired face. And it all seemed so impossible. No ... I'm not going to cry. Of course I'm not ... but ... lend me your handkerchief, will you dear? I've lost mine somehow.”

(By Olive White Fortenbacher, published by Walter H. Baker, Co., 1932, Agnes Slight Turnbull, editor and compiler.)

Monday, September 3, 2007

Food Storage

 Recently, because of a pause in my husband's employment, we found ourselves with a very low supply of food in our pantry. I have been taught my whole life to have a fully-stocked pantry, with food stored for in time of need, but I have gotten behind in recent months.I am so grateful for our two chest freezers; a small one in the pantry, and a larger one in our food storage room.

We have had enough meat (see more comments on that below), enough milk, (important for our 21 month old daughter), and lots of frozen bananas (for smoothies). We also usually store large quantities of frozen grated cheese, yeast, and butter. Because of this recent experience, I have made filling my freezer a big priority.

Things we missed having in the pantry:

  • Eggs: We have chickens, but they are not yet quite old enough to be laying. Luckily eggs are cheap, so we could scrape together some change to get a dozen. I think I will look into purchasing powdered eggs as an emergency supply.
  • WHEAT: I didn't keep good track of our supply of wheat, so we got really low. Luckily we had enough, but it was too close this last time. There are local, as well as online sources for purchasing 25 lb. sacks of wheat. (We can even buy some through our church.)
  • Yeast: I always figured I could just make our own bread, but that's kind of hard to do without yeast! We used to have a large amount that we bought from Sam's Club, but we gave it all away during a recent move.
  • Popcorn Seeds: I wish we had stored more popcorn and butter and salt. Popcorn is an easy and inexpensive snack that would have been comforting to have around. We DO have an air popper, and I'm very grateful for it. I would highly recommend every home have one for emergencies. Homemade popcorn has less additives and preservatives in it than microwaveable popcorn, also.
  • Canned Goods: Tuna, refried beans, green chilies, tomato sauce, cream of chicken soup, and canned fruits, would have been great to have in our supply.
Here are some items we did have that helped immensely:

  • Coconut Oil: My generous aunt gave us a restaurant-sized bucket of coconut oil a while back. We have not had to worry about oil at all.
  • Peanut Butter: I have been substituting PB in all my baking recipes that have called for butter. For example, one son had a birthday during this difficult time, so he got peanut butter frosting on his cake. (I will share my Peanut Butter Muffin recipe in a new post.)
  • Rice: We usually keep pretty well-stocked up on brown rice. (It keeps longer in the freezer than in the pantry.) We buy a lovely Basmati rice from Trader Joe's.
  • Chicken and Beef Boullion: Usually, we like to make our own yummy chicken stock and freeze it, but when we ran out, the boullion helped a lot. Soup can easily fill hungry bellies!
  • A Good Wheat Grinder: Wheat stores much better, and stays fresh and healthy much longer than flour does. We have a K-Tec kitchen mill, and it works wonderfully, even after nine years of almost-daily use.
  • Milk: We freeze gallons or half-gallons of milk when it comes on sale. We just remember to pour a bit off the top of each gallon before freezing, so when the jugs expand as they freeze, they will not split open. (Set the frozen jugs in a sink full of water the night before you want to use the milk.)
  • Sour Cream: The week before our reduced grocery supply, my husband had found sour cream on a really good sale, and bough several cartons. We had very little milk during this difficult week, yet I needed to supplement the kids diet of baked breakfasts with some fat. Smoothies were the answer! In my recipe, I used half milk and half water, and then added 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sour cream to the blender, as well. Blend in a teaspoon of vanilla and some frozen bananas, and "viola!"-- yummy smoothies! (Shhh! Don't tell the kids they were made with sour cream!)
  • Frozen Fruit: When fruit is on sale, we buy a large amount, but sometimes a few pieces get over-ripe. That's when we cut them up and freeze them. This is especially great to do with over-ripe bananas that the kids don't want to eat. We peel them, cut them in half, and put them in freezer zipper bags. They keep for a very long time, and make throwing together smoothies a snap.
  • Mapleine: We have been making our own syrup for pancakes with sugar, water, and Mapleine, and while I know the real thing is vastly better for us (and more preferable), we can still have pancakes and waffles when times are tight, and the children will eat them! Mapleine will now be an important part of our food storage.
  • Sugar: I am normally not a fan of sugar, but I have been thankful for our large emergency supply. We ran out of honey early on, and I've been grateful to bake some comfort foods for my hungry family. It's cheap and easy to find. Now I know to add much more honey to our inventory.
  • Dried Beans: I have become better about using our supply of dried beans, rather than relying on canned ones. Luckily, we stored many of these.
  • Frozen Meat: Anytime meat was on sale, we bought some, even though it wasn't on the menu. We have had some protein daily, which helped balance out all the carbohydrates we were eating. The only meat we ran out of was bacon. Usually we store extra packages in our freezer.
  • Bacon grease: Saving the grease after frying bacon has become a habit that has been beneficial to my cooking. First of all, it tastes great for sauteeing onions and garlic or for cooking eggs or meat. Secondly, using the grease left over after the bacon is cooked is a frugal way to prevent waste.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Corporate Individualism VS. Families

The battle lines are being drawn...


The subject line of this post is a phrase I'm borrowing from a man I greatly admire: Dr. Oliver DeMille, the President of George Wythe College. He feels that society will soon take sides.

I can see this happening more and more in our culture today. We have become a selfish, hedonistic society-- WHY? Building families, welcoming children, creating a society and a world for the future generations; THAT is the work we should all put at the top of our priorities! What good will our environmental efforts bring if no one will be there to enjoy them? What good will climbing the corporate ladder do to improve our home life? Both sides of the political fence have it wrong. One side seeks only to legislate and force environmental and politically correct concerns-- the other only seeks to protect the business world and give lip-service to moral issues.

Where does the family stand? Do those of us who value children, God, and leaving this earth better than we found it stand alone?

WE MUST STAND TOGETHER. We must build our families without embarrassment, responding in unapologetic and positive ways when people rudely comment on our children or the size of our families. We must support and help one another with encouragement and love.

We must put our families FIRST, above work, above social expectations, above politics.We have a great work to do, but we CAN do it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Window into My Day

After answering a post on my favorite homeschool discussion board, I decided that it would be great to put the time I spent writing to even more good use and share my response here:

Here's how things work at our home:

Q) How does a typical day go for your homeschool? Schedule? Do you wake at a certain time, do school at a certain time, eat together for dinner, etc?
A) We all wake up around 7AM (The baby usually wakes up at 6:30 and then nurses for 1/2 hr.) I get up and turn on our Morning "Miracle Music" CD. (www.childrensmiraclemusic.com) I love it, because it ensures that everybody is relatively clean and dressed for the day-- one less thing I have to stress about.

We eat breakfast around 8AM, and then the kids get the family room cleaned for homeschool while I shower. (Breakfast takes a while for me to make, because we usually have something from scratch-- cold cereal only happens on Sunday mornings. On Fridays, my 13yo dd practices her baking and math skills by making something yummy, like muffins, breakfast cake, etc.)

School starts around 10AM, and we have "Devotional," which includes a song, a prayer, the pledge, and then a Gospel story and discussion. My almost-2yo dd falls asleep on the floor or the couch during this time, and my preschoolers try to play quietly while I "shoosh" them. The baby is usually napping by the time we start, because I feed her before or after my shower-- she's the boss!After Devotional, I read something out of "The Book of Virtues"." and we discuss it. Then I read something about a period in history; we're on the American Revolution right now. Then I read aloud from our current classic. The kids take turns picking the next book. That way, only half of them whine at a time! But, truly, after we get started, everybody really gets into the story. Ah, the beauty of the classics!

As a side note, I let my kids do something quiet with their hands through all this reading. And the preschoolers are playing and dressing up, and continuing to get shooshed all the while!

After reading time, it is Free Study Time. The kids are supposed to report to me about what they'll be working on, and I'm okay with it if they move on to other things if they so choose. This time is when I study, as well. Usually that involves me getting on the computer because I'm writing a book, starting a web-business, and running a homeschooling organization. (Yes, I'm a bit busy these days!) I also listen to my learning-to-read kids read aloud sometime during Free Study. The kids can watch a Math-U-See DVD, or play a money game like Monopoly, cook something in the kitchen, catch bugs outside, draw or paint pictures, etc., and I consider that learning.

I'm a pretty laid-back mama! With nine kids 13 and under, our education style suits our family situation well.We do all eat together in the evening around 6PM, and then at around 8PM-- (I have a 13yo, and a 12yo, so it's later, if it's a mutual night)-- I turn on the evening "Miracle Music" CD. After the kids are ready for bed, we have family scriptures and prayer. Then we read a different book with Dad. That's when it's his turn to pick, and I read.

Q) Do you let your kids have friends everyday, once a week, etc?
A) My kids usually don't do a lot with friends, because they have each other to play with. They get to visit with friends at Mutual, Cub Scouts, and Activity Days, and sometimes one or two might call and ask to play on Saturday. We try to keep our schedule all summer long (too hot to play outside in the summer here, anyway), with the exception of swimming lessons twice a week during June and July. I don't mind having any number of kids here, because we already have a crowd, anyway, but I'm VERY picky about letting them go to a friend's house. I have to know the friend's parents VERY well.

Q) Rules? Rewards and consequences for children's behavior?
A) I believe in having a few, strong rules, and ours revolve around the "9 Be's" in the book "Way to Be!" by Gordon B. Hinckley. We have kids sit in the corner, or on their beds, or give them an extra job if they intentionally hurt one another. For my boys, if they sneak on the computer (one of our biggest issues, at present) they lose computer privileges for that week.

Q) What kind of chores do your kids do, and how do work your chores system?
A) Each of my children 6yo and up has a kitchen stewardship that lasts about a month. (Which is about how long it takes for them to figure out how to do it correctly.) Then, we have jobs that they choose from. I use Diann Jeppson's system for this. It's found in the book "A Thomas Jefferson Education Home Companion." I have tried just about every system you could think of, but this one has worked the best for us. Each child has to pick so many jobs-- if they don't pick any, then at the end of choosing time, they get what's left! They usually wise up pretty quickly. I help the little ones with their chores. Our house stays pretty darn clean this way! We also do a "Quick Pick-Up" around 4PM before my DH gets home, so he won't have to some home to "Disaster-City!"

Q) Do you allow TV, computer, and game time, and do you monitor how long or content? And how?
A) We don't do television at our house, but we do watch a movie every Tuesday evening. We take turns picking the movie. And I let the kids watch a movie when one of the big kids is babysitting. Just easier for everyone.

We don't have any video games, but we do allow computer games on Saturdays. Usually, it's only the boys who are interested in this. Again, I am very picky about what they play. I do allow strategy games, like Warcraft, or "Age of Empires." We set the timer for 30 minutes for each boy. Some Saturdays, if the boys have done an especially good job doing their chores, I let them each play a couple of rounds.

Q) Do you use any systems that I may want to look into, like chore helps, or teaching kids how to work, etc?
A) The ones I listed above are my personal favorites: "Miracle Music" and Diann Jeppson's book listed above.

Q) How do you manage teaching multiple ages/grades while having a baby? My son is so used to me working next to him the whole time we do schoolwork, but now that I have to teach 3 this year, I need him to be more independent and not sure how to require this.
A) You can see how I homeschool multiple ages in the previous questions. I teach them what I feel is very MOST important all together, and then I let them follow their interests. Sometimes they need my help, sometimes they don't. But I try very hard to set a good example and study a lot myself. 

There are constant interruptions, but that's just life! Honestly, people frequently ask me how I homeschool nine kids and still clean house and run a busy organization, and I just tell them "IMPERFECTLY!" As a life-long perfectionist, I have finally learned to just let go of the unimportant and the unnecessary and recognize the little victories with appreciation. 

In everything I choose to do, I try to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I figure that I can trust God and His plans for my children-- after all, He loves them, too.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Take a Stand for The Family!


Dear Friends,  

As you probably all know, I have some strong opinions, and this article from CNN got me riled today!   

But instead of getting depressed over it, I decided to find the e-mail address of this mayor and let him know that I agree with what he's saying, and that I applaud his efforts in standing up for family values. Here's what I wrote to him just now:

Mayor Naugle,

Though I do not reside in Florida, as a parent, I would like to thank you for standing up for the cause of right in your opposition of improper activity among homosexuals in your city. Over the past year or so, I have read much about the "gay community" and their gatherings in Florida, and frankly, I decided that my children and I would avoid your state for future vacations, as these activities are absolutely NOT family-friendly. I also have a cousin who lives with her husband and four young daughters in your state, and I thought of her and how difficult it must be to raise a family in a place where immoral gatherings have begun to increase.Today I read an article about you on CNN's website, (http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/08/08/fort.lauderdale.mayor/index.html ) and I knew I had to write you and make sure you knew that there are MANY parents in America who support you and your statements. Bless you, sir for not backing down and for supporting good family programs, such as the Boy Scouts of America. And thank you, from one concerned parent, for refusing to apologize for your courageous comments. The cause of family is worth fighting for. Thank you so much for being willing to stand on the front lines!

Most sincerely,
Mrs. R.K., Arizona

Won't you join with me, and send this mayor some POSITIVE e-mail? Here's Mayor Naugle's e-mail address: [email protected] Thanks!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Tale of Two Women

I thought I'd share an article I wrote for another website back in 2005:

I recently finished reading Charles Dickens' masterpiece A Tale of Two Cities. The story was exciting, the imagery vivid, and the characters leaped off of the page, so I was surprised to find myself focusing on an issue in my own life as I became engrossed in the plot. Little did I think, when I began reading this classic, that I would be lead on a quest that would change my innate nature, as a woman.

As in all Dickens stories, there are many characters with different story lines to follow in the novel. But two stood out in my mind-- even though they are not the most pivotal-- and would not leave my thoughts. The first is Miss Lucie Manette. My initial impressions of her, I'm ashamed to say, were not complimentary. And I began to examine why I looked down on her. She was a lovely girl with a kind heart, but she trembled, and threatened to faint at least once. But why did that bother me? I read her description over and over again, and tried to figure out why I was not able to associate myself with her. I continued through the chapter, and she began to show some bravery. As I watched her nurture her crazed father without fear, I came to respect her more.

Then I came upon Madame Defarge. She was a commanding presence who demonstrated an awareness and knowledge of all that was going on around her. Nothing passed her notice. Here was a powerful woman, with a mission and a focus. She was a bit too pushy with her husband, in my mind, but she seemed to keep his purpose focused, and that couldn't be bad, right?As the story unfolded, I kept finding myself slightly annoyed with Miss Manette, and more impressed with Madame Defarge.

And all the while, a conflict was arising in my sub-conscious. Why did I have a problem with Miss Manette? I realized that I was touched with jealousy. Every person, man or woman, who came in contact with her, wanted to protect her. She was femininity defined-- but not helpless. She had nursed her father back to health through her intense nurturing. She did not shy away from his lunacy. Father and daughter clung to each other, and her love worked miracles. When her true love was imprisoned in a nation fraught with danger, she pressed forward and raced to his side. Violence raged around her, yet she remained pure and innocent-- a strong, yet feminine woman.

In contrast, Madame Defarge and her peer group of women (including one woman named only "The Vengeance") screeched with fury and soaked themselves in the business of revenge. I was horrified. These were wives and mothers who left their children each day to tend to "La Guillotine," and revel in the bloodthirsty trials. Why, oh why, had I ever found this woman impressive?! Her obsession became uncontrollable and deadly to all who came in contact with her. She was equal with Lady Macbeth and Medea. The picture of womanhood was so twisted and perverted that I was brought to tears of despair and disgust.

So what does this have to do with MY life? With the world today? Because of the contrast between these two women, I was impacted, as never before, with the ugly lies and deception associated with today's so-called "feminist movement." What has this movement reaped, in terms of fruit? Confusion, the erosion of moral values, the decay of families, the near-extinction of woman's divine feminine nature! And I was ashamed to find that I had bought into this twisted view of womanhood. "But I'm a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom of a large family!" I said to myself. "Where did I come up with this 'holier than thou' attitude?" Yet, I realized, that I have been taught by society, by my conveyor belt education, and by the media, to look down upon "weak women." I have clearly seen the “Madame Defarges” of today. And their reality is frightening.

Through Lucie Manette's actions, I saw that there is strength and power in nurturing. That really surprised me. Her calming, feminine, caring presence and efforts saved the lives of others. Her willingness to sacrifice for those she loved, gave her the ultimate influence. She was a strong woman-- and it was her beautiful, soft femininity which made her so.So today, when I feel like a martyr, or yell at my kids, or grumble about my responsibilities, I stop and ask myself: "Am I reacting as a woman like Lucie, or like Madame Defarge?" After reading this "Tale of Two Women," I don't even question whom I wish to emulate.

Now, my work begins.

Monday, July 9, 2007

NOW's (National Organization of Women) Message Is Stale

 There was a story about a local NOW (National Organization of Women) chapter in this morning's paper, that I just couldn't let alone. Here's my short response:

You know, I am so sick of these feminists and their out-dated arguments. We, the young mothers of today saw firsthand how NOW and the feminist movement almost destroyed our homes and families. What these women don't seem to be able to grasp, is that those of my generation are CHOOSING to be home and raise our children, rather than running away from responsibility and the joys that only dedicated motherhood can bring. We learned the lessons that the generation before us refused to see. I am a mother and homemaker, and proud to be so. I reject the outdated idea that women who are at home simply don't know any better. Save me the rhetoric-- I've heard it all. The mothers of today are intentionally ignoring the STALE message of NOW! Scream like banshees, but we're no longer listening, girls!

I want to clarify that I know that there are many women here, and elsewhere, who rejected these ideas of their peers. (My mom is one-- thank heavens!) To you ladies who chose to fight against this at its peak, I applaud you!!! (I should have mentioned this in my comments-- sorry, I just got mad and shot with both barrels!)  

Mothers who know where their priorities lie, who see the extraordinary impact we can have on the world through our homes, do NOT need "liberating." We have our eyes firmly fixed on a mission that will influence generations to come. 

The "liberation" happens when the world changes because of our work and devotion to the future leaders in our own homes.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

An "Anti-Soccer" Mom

I am what many people define as a "stay at home mom."

But how many mothers today, who claim to be "stay at home moms," actually spend most of their days in the car/minivan/SUV?

Why do so many mothers today believe that our children should spend so much time away from us?

Why are we mothers? To taxi over-scheduled children from lesson to lesson?

I must say that I like what the woman in the following article has to say: Confessions of An Anti-Soccer Mom

Will over-scheduling our children really help them get ahead in life? And more importantly, will all the time they spend from home bring them closer to their families? Or to God?

Just something to think about...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Beautiful Womanhood

Women are beautiful creatures, and this video focuses on that beauty with 500 years of great art. (Okay, most , but not all, of the art is great...)
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