Peace and Patience

So I really wanted to go to the MFA today to do their morning homeschool art class.  It’s only $9 per child, both Noah and Abby are eligible and would be in the same class, and it’s a whole hour and a half and includes a tour of the museum!  And the accompanying adult is FREE!  Talk about a great deal.  Did I mention they do this almost every Friday, TWICE a day???  I wish we lived closer to Boston.  I’d totally be there every Friday.  But since this wasn’t something I had planned on, but rather stumbled upon this week and even though today they happened to be focusing on our particular art focus right now, we didn’t go.  One thing I’m really trying to stick to during this homeschool journey is staying home at least one day every week.  That means, not even going to the grocery store.  It’s for all of our sanity.  To have one day each week that we just. stay. in.  Even going to the library with all three kids is more complicated than it sounds.  So we all need just one day (if not more, depending on the week) where we just stay home and be.  We play with play dough, play outside or go for a walk if the weather is nice and just hang out together.  Today was that day.  And yes, though I am a little disappointed that we didn’t go to the museum, I’m very grateful to be sitting on the couch in my yoga pants right now and feeling relaxed because we didn’t rush through anything today.  We played some reading games, played with play dough, had snack and lunch when we wanted and talked about patience (which I’m sure I wouldn’t have had much of had we ventured into Boston).

img_0667Which brings me to the point of this post, PEACE and PATIENCE.  I figured I’d lump them both in the same post since they both begin with “p” and I wanted to catch up. 😉  Last week we talked about peace and our corresponding fruit was peaches.  (Not exactly in season, but it worked.)  We read the story about Jesus calming the storm with the disciples in the boat a couple times and even acted it out.  It’s fun to role play every now and then.  Meaningful activities don’t always HAVE to be crafty and involve crayons, scissors, and glue. Yes, we do other things, too! 😉  What I really wanted the kids to pull away from the story and our week was that peace comes from God (Jesus).  Once we talked about the source of peace and what it is, we read and memorized the second part of 1 Peter 3:11 which says, “Look for peace, and go after it.”  To accompany this sentiment, we played “find the peach” and I hid all 5 peaches we had in the living room and the kids had to find them.  I kept telling them to “look for peace and go after it.”  We also had peach smoothies with lunch one day and them painted the peach pits the next day to look like jewels for necklaces.  Daddy says he will drill holes in them so we can peace peach necklaces. 🙂

This week our fruit was PATIENCE.  I usually introduce the fruit in the beginning of the week, maybe read a verse or two, and then we do more of our focus activities on Thursday or Friday of that week.  This week our verse was from Proverbs: “Anyone who is patient has great understanding. But anyone who gets angry quickly shows how foolish he is.” Proverbs 14:29.  I made a poster of the verse and put all of our names in it so it would become more personal.  (Another idea from the blog I follow.  She’s really awesome, so if you haven’t yet, check her out!)  Our Bible story was the story of God’s covenant with Abraham and how long he had to wait to have the son God promised him!  The fruit was kiwi–rough on the outside, but sweet on the inside.  Kind of represents the contrast we find in our verse–the difference between being patient or getting angry quickly.

img_0668To practice patience, I had the kids try to remove as many of the little black kiwi seeds they could from a slice of kiwi.  Can’t take credit for that idea, though, it comes directly from my good friend, Lindsey, who gave it to me when I told her I was lacking in the activity department for this week.  Abby had the patience to remove 27 seeds with tweezers.  Noah removed 14.  Then they were done.  haha!  Not a whole lot of patience runs in this family.  Daddy probably has the majority of it.  Noah was quick to point out that Emmalyn is NOT patient at all, so I explained to him that since she’s a baby, she HAS to cry for things in order to get her needs met.  I don’t know if he understood that, though.  haha!

To come back around to our art lessons for the week, I had Abby work on a couple self-portraits so we would write about how patient and wise she is.  This was a fun focus!  Now I must go tend to my (apparently very impatient) 10-month-old who always seems to test MY patience right around dinnertime. 😉 Tonight we’re carving a pumpkin so I bet we’ll need a bit of patience for that activity, too!  Peace and patience, peace and patience I bid to you, everyone!


I’ve got the JOY, JOY, JOY, JOY down in my heart!

I’m really trying to not get so behind on these Fruit of the Spirit posts.  And I feel we’re entering a crazy season of busy weeks and weekends; lots of get togethers and “holiday” parties are on the horizon.  I’m doing my best to stay current and not forget anything, so bear with me!

Last week we talked about JOY, our second fruit.  Amanda used bananas for joy, and I’m using the same fruit she picked.  The bananas make cute smiley faces!

img_0588Our LOVE week was jam-packed with activities, check out the post to see them, they’re great!  But joy was a little more low-key.  I like that because I don’t think I could handle having back-to-back activity-intense weeks in addition to our regular school curriculum, which is picking up intensity by itself.  So to introduce the unit, I read Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”  We talked about what joy IS and where it comes from.  We read John 15:1-11 and discussed again how Jesus is the vine (or tree) and we are the branches that are to bear fruit, which is why we’re talking about the fruit of the spirit in the first place!  But it also emphasizes that if we remain in Jesus, our JOY will be complete. We sang and danced (and Daddy joined in) to the Veggie Tales singing “Down in my Heart.”  How joyful!

img_0585I have to remind myself sometimes that what I’m doing with my kids now is planting seeds.  I shouldn’t expect them to walk away from a mini-lesson or discussion completely changed.  But I hope and pray that I’ve planted a little seed that will grow with them as they grow and learn.  This means I can tell my kids that their joy should come from the Lord but that doesn’t mean that they’ll never get upset when a toy is taken or they don’t get their way (just as we adults don’t learn that quickly, either).  Hopefully they’ll remember these lessons and discussions and I can build on them more easily as they get older.  So we did make a list of the things that make us joyful and then talked about things that make us upset and how we can try to remember to find our joy in God and not in things.

And finally, of course, we made banana crunch muffins! (Another Ina Garten recipe.) No pictures of those, though, because I made them “jumbo” and they fell apart.  haha!  But we had a picnic in the living room while we read our Bible verses and Abby colored the JOY on our poster with a banana scented marker (for Noah) and she got her chapstick.  It was a good week!  PEACE is next!

Love is Patient (Fruit of the Spirit: LOVE)

Last week the kids and I spent a few days talking about our first “fruit” of the Spirit: love.  This was a relatively easy one to cover, I think.  Kids LOVE to talk about what they love!  On the first day, I had them repeat the whole verse after me.  This is the version we’re using: “But the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is LOVE, JOY, & PEACE. It is being PATIENT, KIND, & GOOD. It is being FAITHFUL & GENTLE & having SELF-CONTROL.  There is no law against such things.”  I’ll confess, it’s kind of a mish-mash of a couple different official Biblical versions.  I wanted to use it exactly how it’s written in Abby’s Bible (NIrV) but as I was writing it on the poster board, I started to run out of room, and I wanted to use the phrase “self-control” rather than “control of oneself.”  So, you may condemn me for not using an official version, but oh well. 😉

img_0542After we read the verse a few times, I handed Abby and Noah each a red heart I had cut out of construction paper and told them to draw things they love on the heart.  Noah drew Randy and I.  Abby drew her bunk beds, Noah, Emmalyn, her friend, and a few other things.  Then we talked about why we love these things which led to the questions “what is love” and “how do we show love.”

It was time to see what God has to say about love in the Bible.  We read John 3:16, 1 John 4:16-19, Matthew 22: 37-39, and finally 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.  When we read those last verses in 1 Corinthians, I almost had a hard time getting through them when I thought about whether or not my kids see those things in me, even though I claim to love them.  “Love is patient.”  Do they think I’m patient with them?  “Love does not easily become angry.”  Hmm…  This was a good time for me to talk about how NOT-perfect I am and how much I need Jesus because sometimes I have trouble with patience and other things that God wants me to be.  (Of course, neither my kids had ANYTHING that they thought was hard for them to do or be from the 1 Corinthians list. But  I had to repeat to myself all week, “love is patient, love is patient”; not a bad mantra.) 😉  We made a list of ways to show people love and then prayed that we’d be able to be loving to everyone.

Later that week, I made cherry cards for the kids since cherries are what we used to represent love.  (Straight from Amanda’s blog, the one I get so many fabulous ideas from!) Noah and Abby each painted their cherries by using fingerprints kind of in the shape of hearts.  The first few looked great, but then as the kids kept painting the cherries, the shape of the hearts disappeared as they overlapped.  We then wrote “Jesus loves ____” their own name on one card, and the name of a friend on another.  Of course they chose their “best friends” Lily & Landon to give their cards.  Since my “love language” is giving, I also decided to give a little something to both kids, something I’ll continue to do throughout our unit.  Abby got a cherry flavored chapstick (what else?) and to Noah I gave a cherry scented marker.  Risky, I know.  He already tried licking it.  But he’s starting to like coloring more and thought it was a really cool gift.  And I want to give them stuff that reminds them of the fruit from the week. 🙂

Our “love” wall!

On Friday of that week, I told the kids that one way I show people love is by cooking or baking for them.  And since I love Daddy, we made him an apple pie, one of his favorite desserts!  We cut hearts out of the top crust, too, to emphasize the LOVE. haha!  This apple pie recipe is the best, guys!  The. Best.  I started using Alton Brown’s recipe years ago, and have since adapted it.  And after years of making several apple pies every fall, I 100% stand by this recipe.  Here’s the printable if you want it! apple-pie

Speaking of things to love, Ina Garten has a new apple pie bar recipe which is to die for!  When I saw it on her Facebook page, I knew it would be a winner with Randy–it incorporates apple pie and his other favorite: short bread.  It is seriously amazing.  You can find the recipe here, I’ll probably make more today!  My mouth is drooling just thinking about it.

Other things I love (besides my family, friends, church–you know, the obvious answers)…

Let’s see, my food processor–which I use all the time!

Randy and I have an app called “Good Budget” which allows us to keep better track of our money each month and it syncs to both of our phones which is super convenient.

I love my homemade laundry detergent and the fact that I save so much by not buying detergent all the time (hello, 3 kids=lots of laundry).

00307253788120151011015053591I LOVE my cast iron pans (a gift from my MIL)–cooking with them makes me feel like I’m living at a farmhouse or something.  Do you know what I mean? haha

img_0564A good bowl of ooey, gooey homemade mac & cheese!  (Which I happened to make during our “love” week for lunch since I knew my kids would drool over it and since we made Daddy a pie, it’s only fair that they got a special lunch, too!

Chocolate. Duh! (Who doesn’t!?) And coffee. 😉

And I also love Real Simple, my one and only magazine subscription.  I’m months behind, but that just means I’ll have to have a few bubble bath nights soon so I can catch up (I also happen to love bubble baths)!

But the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is… (introduction to the Fruit of the Spirit)

I mentioned a little while ago that I was going to start a unit on the fruit of the Spirit with my kids.  I wanted to do this because rather than always trying to “correct” bad behavior, I want to give them something to strive for; characteristics to aim to BE instead of how not to act.  My parents were good about encouraging us to memorize scripture verses as kids, and I want to do that with my children, as well.  I want God’s Word to really be written on their hearts.

So we’re studying the fruit of the Spirit and this is not a part of our homeschool curriculum, it is completely separate.  People often think that you have to homeschool your kids in order to do things like this with them.  Sure, homeschooling does mean we’re already in the “education” mode at home most of the time and it does allow us more time at home during the day for this sort of thing; but impressing God’s Word on our children’s hearts does not have to be an elaborate craft project or unit.  And as parents, we should always be taking the time to intentionally teach our kids what we want them to learn, especially things they aren’t being taught in public school. So if you’re looking for ideas, feel free to use these!  (They’re not all mine, I got the idea for the unit as a whole from a blog I follow, but I’ve incorporated some of my own stuff.) Some of the ideas are on the crafty side, but you can skip those things and simply focus on the Bible passages, discussions, and memorization.  I like using projects with my young kids because I believe it helps them remember.  And if they experience the Bible in a unique way rather than just hear it, it’s more likely to stick with them.

img_0540I introduced the “unit” (verse/ Bible study–whatever you want to call it) by showing them the verse that I had written out on a poster board.  I left each “fruit” in bubble letters so they can be colored in with the color chosen to represent that fruit.  We talked about how trees bear fruit and recalled how last year we learned that Jesus is like our “tree” and we are the “branches” and if we have Him in our lives and hearts, we will bear fruit like listed in this scripture.  I told them that each word would be represented by a real fruit and we were going to talk about them during the next several weeks.  I made them each a paper with the real fruits drawn on them that they could paint.  An idea I loved from the blog’s unit was using scented paint for the fruit–what better way to make things stick with our kids than to incorporate as many of their senses as possible?!  So we painted with sugar-free flavored gelatin!  It was really neat and they loved it!  The next week we repeated the verse and focused on LOVE with our projects.  I’ll save that for another post. 😉

You know, Randy and I once heard some really great advice that we’re trying to adhere to as our kids grow and want to become involved in more things outside the home (or, we think we want them more involved).  We were told to sit down together (just he and I) and come up with a family “mission statement” and to set goals for our family.  Then, when any new activity (whether it’s a one-time thing, or on-going) comes about, see if it fits under the umbrella of our mission statement.  If it doesn’t, don’t do it.  If it does, then ask if it’s necessary–if it fills the gap of something missing, or if we’re already doing something similar and we don’t need a new activity to add to it.  There are so many great ideas and options out there of activities to do with our children!  And we can easily feel pressured to do them all!  But we don’t have to.  Randy and I have decided (along with many of our friends) that the most important thing for us is to raise our children to know Christ. The second thing is family togetherness and unity.  We want to be unified as a family, and we want to want to spend time together.  Keeping these things in the forefront does actually mean saying “no” to a lot of really good stuff–even church stuff, if it cuts into our family time that week.  We want the time to be able to talk to our kids about the Bible, what they’re learning in school, and how they are feeling.  And we want the time to make great memories together!   We’re very fortunate to be able to homeschool, and I know that’s not the case for everyone.  I wasn’t homeschooled as a child and I still have the best memories of my family being together, playing games, eating dinner together every night, and talking about (and being quizzed on) the Bible!  I guess I hope I’m creating some similar memories with my own kids…


Sausage Avocado Subs

Monday I had my kids with me at work.  That was fun.  The rest of the day was spent picking up the house, putting away the groceries, and washing dishes and then we went out for dinner for Abby’s birthday.

Tuesday was a homeschool day.  I made deconstructed breakfast sandwiches in the morning, and then Randy had to leave for work right away.  We did school in a semi-messy kitchen while I tried to do dishes and put Emmalyn down for her nap.  She’s cutting about 2-3 teeth, so the nights have been sleepless and though she’s pretty happy during the day, my patience is thinner than usual.  I didn’t get a chance to eat lunch on Tuesday because I was busy making it for the kids, feeding the baby, cleaning the breakfast/lunch dishes, and putting away the school materials.  That’s how the days seem to go lately.  I’m lucky if I get a bite in anywhere during the day.  Then, after the kids got a quick nap while I made dinner-to-go, it was time for gymnastics.  Abby had to pack her soccer bag.  I brought all three kids to gymnastics and Noah and Emmalyn played while Abby had her class.  Then Randy came and picked her up for soccer practice and took their dinners with them.  Noah had his class while I watched and entertained Emmalyn.  Then the three of us went home and ate our dinner that I made ahead of time.  Abby and Randy came home and Abby took a shower.  Then it was bath time for the younger two while Randy had to go upstairs to our second floor apartment and finish installing the bathroom fixtures.  When he was done, he had to leave for work (his part-time job) and I finished putting the kids to bed.  Then I ordered a new fridge for upstairs, washed more dishes, and worked on homeschool prep and church stuff.  That’s how my week started and how they pretty much go these days.  Are you tired yet?  Me too!

So, “Hi” to you!  Hope your week has gone well!  (Mine hasn’t been all bad–I did have a wonderful Bible study with 2 other moms on Wednesday night and small playgroup Thursday morning.  We made an apple pie today and we’ve been plugging away at school and our Fruit of the Spirit unit which makes me feel good, so there’s that.)  But onto the business of this post…

When we decided to put Abby in soccer this year, we knew we would have to switch gymnastic days from Saturday mornings to another day. Tuesday is the only day they can both take their classes relatively close together.  It means a long afternoon for me, but I’m hoping I can switch them back to Saturday mornings simultaneously when soccer is over.  So I just figured we’d be having a lot of slow-cooker meals on Tuesday nights when we got home from gymnastics.  I was wrong.  I soon found out that Abby’s soccer practice would also be on Tuesday nights, so that meant we’d mostly have to eat dinner on the go.  Hello, sandwiches.  And challenge accepted.  I didn’t want to just make turkey and cheese sandwiches every week, so I’m looking at this as an opportunity to expand my sandwich/sub horizon.  Here’s what I made this week.  Randy texted me from soccer practice and told me the only thing he didn’t like about it was that it was too small. 🙂 Win!

Sausage and Avocado Sub (Okay, so I got the idea from a Real Simple magazine–my long, lost love.  Here’s what I did with it.)

What you’ll need:img_0532

  • Italian sausage (I prefer hot/spicy)
  • avocado
  • feta cheese
  • red cabbage
  • cilantro cream (1 cup plain Greek yogurt, mixed with juice from about 1/2 lime, and chopped cilantro mixed in.  Season with salt and pepper.)
  • sub rolls

I sliced my Italian sausage in half lengthwise and cooked them thoroughly.  Meanwhile, I sliced the sub rolls, and spread the cilantro cream on both sides. (So, I didn’t have any limes.  I used half a lemon instead.  It still tasted great!)

This is me dipping some sausage into my cilantro cream to make sure the flavors actually went well together–they did!  All good…

I sliced up the avocado and cabbage.  When the sausage is done cooking, pile the sausage, cheese, avocado, and cabbage on the prepared sub rolls.  This sandwich is piled high!  But it is so yummy!  Enjoy it while the sausage is still warm, or at least, don’t refrigerate it–it’s much better at room temperature.

5 Things to remember when scrolling through Facebook…

img_0307So we had Abby’s 5th birthday party last weekend and it was a huge success.  And although I posted pictures and did the whole Facebook/instagram thing with the cake and party pics, I almost didn’t and here’s why.  For me (and maybe it’s just the social media circles I’m a part of) I always feel like kid birthday parties are such a source of tension between parents, or specifically moms.  If you don’t throw big birthday parties for your kids, or make the cake yourself, it can be easy to feel like a failure (which is not my opinion, but I can see how social media helps people feel that way).  So then to compensate, people say things like, “It’s pointless to give your kids a big party or a homemade cake because they won’t remember it anyway” or “I’m sick of all these moms posting their cakes or parties on facebook like they think they’re better than us or something” or “What a waste of money to do all that just for a kid’s birthday” or “You know your kid doesn’t love you more just because of a party, right?”  Yep, I’ve seen or heard all these comments–not on my own photos, but in groups, on articles, in general reference to birthday parties for kids, and even in personal conversations (though not with friends–my friends rock!).

But these comments make me wonder about all the people posting photos of their weight-loss success, or creative projects, room makeovers, job promotions, etc.  Are they hearing the same kind of comments?  Like everyone assumes that if you post some exciting news or a personal success story, it’s because you think you’re better than the rest?  Or are things surrounding our kids subject to more criticism because we’re all more sensitve about our parenting?  Hasn’t facebook naturally become the platform for us to post our excitement, our hobbies, and our creative ideas?  I feel like I read this statement all the time in “mommy” articles online but, “Can’t we just stop all the ‘mom-shaming’?!”  Sure, I can understand and even feel how consistently seeing just the highlights of people’s lives can bring out jealous feelings.  None of us likes to feel like someone else is “doing life” better than us, or that we’re missing out on some experience, or like we’re not good enough; and social media certainly helps bring these thoughts to the forefront.  But of course that shouldn’t excuse the shaming or putting down of another person’s successes or own real-life-highlights.

I’ve always been a creative person.  I have creative parents, I married a creative man, and I can even see the creative thinking coming through in my children.  I minored in art in college and was even privileged to take art classes abroad.  But now, I no longer have time to paint or sketch leisurely.  At this point in time, my cakes are my canvases.  My parties are my “assignments” and I love trying to make them as fun and beautiful as possible.  I don’t think that the way I do parties is the “right” way, and it certainly doesn’t matter whether or not you like to make your own cakes!  And I love celebrating with others in their successes, or being able to tell people that they did a great job at something that they post on facebook.

I find it helpful to remind myself of a few things when scrolling my facebook feed: 1) Nobody’s life is perfect. 2) We all have unique gifts and talents and good things going in our lives, and it’s all different. 3) Most likely, the person posting wasn’t thinking of me when they posted a pic or status and so therefore: they aren’t trying to offend me or make me feel inadequate.  4) Complimenting others and giving praise freely FEELS REALLY GOOD. 🙂  5) I find my self-worth in Christ alone.  It doesn’t come from “likes” or comments or anything that social media can provide.

It’s not always easy, but when I can remember those 5 things, I have a much happier facebook-scroll experience, and it helps me ignore the negative comments I see or hear.  This is how I do parties and it’s fun for me!  And I’m grateful that my kids have friends whose parents still take them to our parties even if I might go a little overboard. 😉  To see the pictures and descriptions of Abby’s recent birthday party (and other parties), check them out in the FUN section of my website.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at Cake Building

I made 3 large layers of cake (from scratch).  Here are 2 out of 3.  Then, it’s in the freezer they go!
I cut the layers in half to start building so it would be six layers high.  In between each layer was a thin layer of buttercream frosting, and then the strawberry-almond filling I made the night before.
Once I had my 6 layers, I carved the roof off the top with a serrated knife.  With the scraps I had from that, I formed the front, or the “barbican.”  (The rest of the scraps were later combined with leftover frosting and put in the freezer for cake pops!)
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I was too far “in the zone” when frosting (and chasing around my kids) to take pictures of the all the stages, so voila… here’s the outcome!  The towers are made of ice cream cones and rice krispies.
Didn’t feel like I had room to write out “happy birthday”, haha!
A peak inside…