Mommy-Made Scavenger Hunt

Today we took the kids to the Monmouth Museum Wonder Wing.  It's a huge indoor play area for kids.  I went with my friends Janice and Yvonne and we all brought our kids so there was 7 kids between us.

We had such a great time playing and watching the kids play.  One of the things the museum provides is a scavenger hunt for the kids to look for things within the boat, or inside the tree house, or by the book rack, or in the tiki theater.  It's just something else to do there that is fun for the kids.

So my wheels got turning and I said to the moms, "That's gonna be my homework today, making a scavenger hunt in the house for the kids."  And since my kids are pooped from playing til 2:30 they are still napping right now and I did it.  I made my scavenger hunt and hopefully any of you moms out there will find it Mommy-Friendly!  What I'm going to do is when the kids wake up from nap-time we are going to do the hunt, and I will give Julia the clipboard and a marker and as we find each item she can check it off!  I think it will be fun thing to do before or after dinner.  I might make up a couple more so when John gets home he can do one with the kids too!

Scavenger Hunt with Mommy


1. Find something that is shiny/sparkles
2. Find a toy that is soft
3. Find something that is colorful--must have 4 or more colors on it
4. Find something tall
5. Find something very, very small
6. Find something that smells sweet
7. Find a toy that you can build with
8. Find a toy that has wheels
9. Find a pink hairbow
10. Find a hat


Scavenger Hunt with Daddy


1. Find something that is green
2. Find something that you can throw
3. Find something that is super hard
4. Find something that is heavy to lift
5. Find something that glows in the dark
6. Find something that ties
7. Find something that you can wear on your feet
8. Find something you use when it's raining outside
9. Find something that is very stinky
10. Find something that is clean


Have fun playing!!!
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Chicken Casablanca


Saturday I was in the mood to use my crock pot and I had some chicken to use up...so I found an awesome recipe I plan on using this Tuesday when I have the beans and the zuchini and fresh herbs.  We had Chicken Cacciatore in the crock pot.

Chicken Casablanca:


1 onion sliced
1 tsp fresh ginger grated
3 large carrots diced
2 cloves garlic minced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 medium zuchinni sliced
1 15 oz can of garbanzano beans
3 lbs boneless chicken breasts
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp tumeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
2 tbs. parsley
1 tbs cilantro


Directions:


1. combine the first 8 ingredients in the crock pot.
2. in a small bowl add all the spices (except parsley and cilantro)
3. combine the spices in bowl and pour over the ingredients
4. add the chopped tomatoes
5. cover cook on low 8 hours or cook on high for 4 hours
6. stir in parsley and cilantro at the end


***For the next week I am going to feature a favorite blog of mine that you can also check out!  Here is a great one for organizational tips!***


iheartorganizing  I love this blog because the author has an awesome sense of organizational skills and great taste!!! check it out!
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Everlasting Love

Mark and Julia's Valentine holders are from Pottery Barn
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.--Jeremiah 31:3
I have a hard time wrapping my head around the thought that God LOVES us.


The God of the universe who created everything, who is all powerful, takes the time to LOVE and care and have compassion and mercy on little old us.


Last night I had the opportunity to speak to the Sparks at AWANA.  This is age K-2nd grade.  I was a little sad that Julia couldn't be there because her teacher brought the Cubbies up to hear me give my lesson (but she is healing from a bad fall from her bed last night and Daddy came home early just to give the kids a puppet show and give mom a little break, I've been sick all week...I think it could be strep throat).  I spoke on how we need to have Thankful Hearts.  And the verse I focused on was 


Psalm 136: 1 Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever.
God's LOVE is everlasting and His MERCY endures forever.  It was so good to teach that to the little ones and be reminded it to myself.  Things that happen to us as a family I do not think it a coincidence.  I attribute it to God's LOVE and His MERCY.

Last weekend I delivered 3 bags of clothes to a family who was recently in a fire...2 out of the 4 children are the same ages as Julia and Mark, so I was able to share a lot with them...that very night I went to the Mall to pick up a shirt or two and pretty bows for Julia for the kids for their Valentine's Day pictures and I had a coupon.  I walk into the store and they are raffling off $88 gift cards for the store Crazy 8 (one of my favorite kid clothe's stores, next to Janie and Jack and Gymboree and Pottery Barn)...I fill out the form never thinking that I'd win a gift card...continue shopping, leave the store, bundle up the kids to leave the mall, check my phone before stepping outside to see if John called...and Voila...a missed call from an unknown number...I listen to the message, "Hi Mrs. McInerney, you just won a gift card for $88 to our store, please claim your card within 24 hours!"  We ran back to the store with Big Smiles!

Coincedence?  Or another act of God's Love and Mercy?  He is so loving, so kind, He does things like this throughout the day for us to show us how much he loves us that he is there providing for us and protecting us. And what a small way to give back to Him by simply saying, Thank you Lord, I know that was you, I know you LOVE me.

Julia not needing stitches after her bad fall in the middle of the night, another example of God's way of showing her Love.  She was so fearful of getting stitches and wanted me to promise the doctor would say she wouldn't need them.  "Baby girl I can't promise you won't need them, but God is going to be with us and He will give us strength to face this day."  When the doctor finally at 11: 45 am said, "Nope she doesn't need stitches!"  We praised and thanked the Lord right then and there in front of the doctor!   See, Julia, See how much God Loves you?  And God is going to continue to heal you.

Take a minute today just to think over the last week at the many small ways God showed you His everlasting Love and Mercy.  Then take time to Thank Him.  He deserves our thankful hearts.
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Blog Hop

 It's Time to Mingle!



Hosted by Happy Go Lucky, I Heart Crafty Things,

Joy in the Jumble and Keeping Up With Kristi.

Each week we will choose one blog at random to spotlight at the next week's blog hop.

This weeks guest host and winner of the our giveaway from last week is Someone in Mind


There are no rules to this blog hop.  Just link up your blog's main page.  Then have fun reading new blogs and making new blog friends.  We would love for you to follow the hostesses in the first four spots and our guest host in the fifth spot.
 
Please leave a comment so we know to follow you back.

Grab our button if you want to share our blog hop with others.  There will be a new list every Thursday, so be sure to come back every week.  Also, if you are interested in hosting a giveaway for our blog, please email any one of us.  We would love to have you!!


We hope you have fun and thanks for joining us!  We are so excited to find new blogs, share great ideas, and inspire each other.






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Bringing Up Boys: "Staying Close"

Holmdel Park...Pictures by Adrienne Ann Photography
Are you enjoying this book by James Dobson as much as I am?  Check out a few of my posts on the previous chapters if today is your first time dropping by:

Chapter 14 Predators
Chapter 13 Boys in School
Chapter 12 Men R Fools


This chapter was JAMMED pack full of good stuff.  If I forget everything I've read so far, I will NOT forget this chapter.  And when I pull this book off the shelf when Mark is 5 or 6 and then when he's 9 or 10, and when he's a teenager I will read THIS chapter first.  I loved what it had to say about building relationships with our kids.  I mean it was so simple and yet such a good foundation and reminder.  Of course we need to build a good relationship, how else and why else will our children trust our judgment or respect our authority if they don't really know us or believe we love them?

All photos on today's post are by Adrienne Ann Photography.

Chapter 15: Staying Close

After reading about how boys think, play, learn, how they need to do be disciplined and how boys need to be protected from worldly predators, this was the chapter that stressed how to build a satisfying and affirming relationship with them.

Here's what I took away...you know I like bullet points:

* "give them a desire to stay within the confines of the family and conform to its system of beliefs"
* "an unsupervised kid can get into more mischief in a single day than his parents can straighten out in a year"
* obviously we want to prohibit immoral behavior BUT our prohibitions must be supplemented by an emotional closeness that makes children WANT to do what is right
* children must KNOW that you LOVE them unconditionally and that everything you require of them is for their own good.
* "Laying down the Law" without an emotional linkage is LIKELY to fail

This is really good for all of us to hear, because as parents it is so easy to say, "Do this, not that."  We all have extremely high expectations for our kids... I know it's not just me, and we want what is best for them, but then why do some kids rebel and do the opposite of what their parents have said all along, and why do others "buy into" what their parents have said.  Dobson believes, and I have to agree with him, it all has to do with Relationship, Relationship, Relationship!

Josh McDowell (author and speaker) said, "Rules without relationship lead to rebellion."
 What is the secret?  How do we build this awesome relationship?

It begins early and includes HAVING FUN as a family!  The memories that I look back on are times when we took all the spray bottles in our house filled them up and had a water fight INSIDE. My poor mother even got into it!  It was so much fun, my sides hurt from laughing.  Last time I checked spray bottles were cheap...it wasn't about the money my parents spent...it was the TIME they spent with us kids.  It was UNDIVIDED attention.  Kids spell love TIME.  They want all of us.  If I'm doing something in the kitchen and the kids are talking to me, they can tell I'm not giving them undivided attention.  Julia will say, "Mom, look at me."  or Mark will pull my leg and ask, "Why are you serious, Mom?"  Kids know from a very young age what it means to play with your whole being.  They want all of us, they don't care about the dishes in the sink or the spot on the floor.  They don't care about our jobs.  They love us, and they want ALL of us.  And they deserve all of us.  Maybe not every moment of everyday, but when it's family time it should be uninterrupted not checking your phone or email, fully committed FAMILY TIME.  Just recently John took me out on a date, and he saw me checking my phone for texts or emails, and he just about threw my phone in the garbage (not really but you know what I mean).  We were on a date.  He wanted ALL of me.  My Full attention.  And he deserved it!  And so it is with our kids.

"Children love daily routines and activities of the simplest kind.  They want the same story or the same joke until Mom and Dad are ready to climb the wall."
When me and the kids go food shopping on our certain day of the week they are EXCITED to go.  When we have school time at the round table they are EXCITED to learn.  When we have Art Class on Wednesdays they scream and yell, "Yes, it's time to PAINT!"  When the weather is warm they want to ride bikes outside (FOREVER and mommy gets eaten alive by the bugs) when it's bedtime they want the same book.  It's not expensive activities it's the tradition of the time spent with mom and dad.

The hardest part of being a parent is maintaining a friendship WHILE maintaining parental authority and respect.  Because in my opinion kids need parents not friends, but I understand that Dobson means that special bond, that relationship of trust and love.  And you can't expect respect without a relationship.  You can demand it of course, but will there be trust and love?

"There is comfort and security for children when they know what is expected and how they fit into the scheme of things."
The First Five Minutes

Another idea relevant to relationships is called "the first five minutes," and basically it's the idea that we have and opportunity every day to set a positive tone or a negative tone.  Picture your husband coming home and looking at the stove top and saying, "Rice and beans AGAIN!"  Well how do you think the rest of the evening is going to go between him and mom?  Not so good right, because in the first few minutes of coming home he didn't greet mom with love and affirmation he had a complaint.  Same goes with our kids or with students at school.  Do you greet your children with loving words in the morning?  I find this very easy to do, because I've missed them all night long (am I the only one who still checks on her kids as they sleep, for fear maybe they stopped breathing...these children are my gifts, I treasure them!) Or do you start the day barking orders or reminders?  I think I might have a reality check as the kids get older because maybe it's just easier now.  Either way the "first five minutes" can set the tone for a great day or a miserable one.  At school I used to stand in the door way of my classroom with a smile and coffee in hand and say, "Good Morning __________." to each child who passed me, who knows it might have been the first nice thing they heard all day...?

The Power of Our Words

This topic is so near and dear to my heart because I believe with every ounce of my being that words can make or break you.  It was someone's hurtful racial slur words in 4th grade that made me feel ugly til I stepped foot in high school and actually got attention from boys.  On the contrast it was someone's words that encouraged me to go to grad school when I was fearful I couldn't do 5 courses in one month!  But her encouragement pushed me to try and succeed!  Same with us as parents in our home one slip up, one hurtful word, can be sealed forever in our child's memory.  Words are powerful.  We have only one chance to do it right.

 "Harsh words sting like killer bees."  

One day that I was so over tired and so sick I said to Julia in an exasperated tone "I don't care. Do what you want."  And when I kissed her goodnight that evening and tucked her in bed she drew me in for a hug around my neck and she said, "Mom you don't care if I go downstairs."  And of course I apologized and said that was so wrong to say that.  She knew I cared and she knew my words were wrong.  And she's only 4!  We are going to mess up we are not perfect, but we CAN be careful.  We can think before we speak.  I feel awful that I said those words.  Thank goodness we serve a God who gives us a lot of GRACE.

"Be mindful that everything you say has lasting meaning for a child."

Our jobs are not easy.  We are going to need a lot of prayer and practice.  I fail in small ways and big ways each and every day of every week, I'm no super mom.  I'm human and motherhood is hard.  BUT God has loved us with an everlasting LOVE and He wants us to LOVE our children and build strong relationships with them because He LOVES our children even more than we do!


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Fun Survey


Today I am answering questions from a fellow blog friend at Keeping Up with The Cyperts...

Fun Facts About Me:
1. I'm married to my high school sweetheart.
2. I speak French pretty well and have visited Paris.
3. My children have blue eyes and fair skin.
4. Our favorite family outing is roller skating.
5. My husband is as neat as I am.
6. We both love to serve in our church.
7. My daughter Julia learned to swim at 17 months.
8. My kids are 17 months apart and they are best friends.
9. My sister Sara and I are 8 years apart and WE are best friends.
10. I love coats, John buys me a new one almost every year!
11. I love to power walk with Leslie Sansone.
12. I have my Masters Degree!


Her questions for me:

1. What is your favorite healthy food? Salad, I could eat salad all day long for every meal...I love feta cheese in it, craisins, tomatoes, apples, walnuts, carrots, celery...the crunchier the better!
2. Who is your favorite celebrity and why? I used to adore Julia Roberts hence why I named my daughter Julia...I love her laugh, her friendly face, and her down to earth sense of style, but recently my new favorite actress is Rachel McAdams from the movie the Notebook and Time Travlers Wife, and most recently Morning Glory...I love her wardrobe in ALL her movies and she HAS awesome talent.
3. Where is the best place that you have ever traveled? I've been to a lot of places but one place I MUST return to is Italy...we spent 10 days in Rome and this time I would love to see Tuscany and Sicily and ride in a gondola.  We had a glorious time seeing the Colosseum and the Spanish Steps and the Vatican...there was so much history...so much beauty...the food was delicious, and the shopping was phenomenal...I loved every minute of it and I was so happy to share it all with my wonderful husband and my parents who have never traveled over seas before.
4. Cats or dogs? As a child I loved cats I had two kittens, Elmer and Ziggy (but I'm allergic) and we always had a dog growing up Jabba (Rottweiler) and then Gable (Akita), now my husband and I have a boxer named Paris...and to be honest I'd love to be pet free...less mess.
5. What is your favorite TV show? I enjoy watching the Biggest Loser.  I love seeing the transformation of the people.
6. What is your favorite fashion accessory? I love pins (especially flowers) and necklaces (costume jewlery) the bigger the better!
7. If you could have one super power, what would it be and why? I would be able to fight off dust anywhere at any time, especially under the bed!
8. Dream occupation? I have it...a stay at home mommy.
9. Why do you blog? I want to be able to share the joys of my faith and family with other women and be an encouragement and a light for Christ.
10. Favorite kind of cupcake? Vanilla with lots of icing and rainbow sprinkles
11. Sleep in or wake up early? Wake up early...I like to drink my coffee and do my devotions in peace and quiet.
12. Did you make a resolution this year? Yes to be neater and get more organized If so, what was it and have you kept it? Yup each week I am working on organizing a room, a closet, a drawer or cabinet...one thing at a time...so far I've made 3 trips to Good Will!



The Rules:
1. You must post the rules.
2. Post 12 fun facts about yourself on the blog post.
3. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post, and then create 12 new questions for the people you tagged.
4. Tag 12 people and link them on your post.
5. Let them know you've tagged them!



12 New Questions for My 12 People:


1. What is your favorite childhood memory?
2. Who do you look up to?
3. What does your name mean?
4. If you won $10,000 how would you spend it?
5. How come you blog?
6. Where do you feel safest?
7. What is your dream vacation?
8. If you could speak another language what would it be?
9. Coffee or tea?
10. pen or pencil
11. What was your favorite subject in school?
12. What is the most important thing in your life?


People I tagged:


1. Valerie at All about Being Inspired
2. Suzette at The Joy of Homemaking
3. Flower Patch Farm Girl
4. Kara at Happy Go Lucky
5. Catherine at Home is Where My Heart is
6. Rachel at I Heart Crafty Things
7. Homeschool on the croft
8. Mikalah at Posy and the Porcelain Pig
9. My little pumpkin patch
10. Echoes of Laughter
11. Consider it Joy
12. Really. Truly. 

***Bringing up Boys Post will be Tomorrow and it's a GOOD one!!!


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Organizing my World

I like lists, clipboards, paperclips, desk tops, clear counters, empty hampers, folded clothes, and "everything in it's place."  That's just me.

I make lists and enjoy crossing off each item.  Sometimes I add more to my list as I'm doing a job.

It's just how I am, take it or leave it.  It's how I accomplish much throughout the day and keep my head clear.  I like to make a list for the week and accomplish it in the same day...I know, I'm weird.  But I don't sit still and I don't do well doing nothing.

Organization and excellence are my goals.  On this particular day when I made my list I had 23 items (I added two people I HAD to call for advice)...by the end of this day I finished 19/23 things...and boy was I TIRED.  I probably should have done maybe only 10 things, but some were rather easy, and some I HAD to do to prep for MOPS for Tues morning...and I can do 10 things during nap time!

When I'm bored I organize my space.  Like today I organized three cabinets because John had a meeting at church and the kids were sleeping at nap time...what better way to use my time than organize and get rid of items we weren't using.  I think in the last 3 weeks I have visited Good Will 3 times!  After the holidays it was "out with the old in with the new"... we got new comforters...we donated our old ones and throw pillows.  We got new towels we donated the old ones.  A friend of mine knew of someone who had 4 kids and just lost all of their belongings in a fire...I went through drawers and the kids closets and found 3 bags worth of clothes to share.

I set my goals high, and cross off things when I'm done.  I make a list Monday and give myself til Friday to complete anything.  Then on the next Monday I start a new list...

This blog I love: Echoes of Laughter...the woman is AMAZING at organizing.  She has almost 1,000 followers and it's no wonder, she's got so much to share.

My top 3 things I need to organize for the months of January/February are:

1. Our downstairs office.
2. Our home school supplies/books/curriculum
3. Our bedroom closets

An awesome website that I recently joined (thanks to Gina) is Cozi.com...you can organize your WHOLE life with all your electronic gadgets like computer, Iphone, etc and your hubby can see all the lists you make!  It's pretty fabulous. Your calendar, to do lists, reminders for important dates, shopping lists, menu...all of it is all on one website and the website can text you to remind you of things or remind your spouse...it's AMAZING!

I'm writing them down for accountability so I know I will set my mind to work on them!  What are your organization projects this month?  How will you meet your goals?  What do you need to do to meet them?  Take pictures of before and after!
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D. E. A. R. time Home School Monday

I'm pretty sure Julia could read for hours.
DEAR time stands for Drop Everything And Read!

This is a newer part of our weekly curriculum.  And both kids are expected to gather several of their favorite books (Julia always chooses princess books) and (Mark loves his Spot and Blues Clues books) their "job" is to sit quietly for 10-15 minutes and READ.

Yes, I'm serious.  They read.  Reading a book and sitting quietly is something all children can do if they are taught how to do it, and if they are given guidelines.  I did this daily for my 3rd and 4th grade students after lunch and it was wonderful.  Even I, as the teacher, and now as the mommy, sit down with my OWN reading material and read.  It's important to model what you want your kids to do instead of just expecting them to know how to do it.

The kids sometimes sit next to me or sit on their own blanket. (I make it special and we all grab our favorite soft blanket and pillow and our pile of books or magazines and we sit near the fireplace).


These are our rules:

1. Sit quietly
2. Read your books or magazines (We have lots of Clubhouse Jr. and Highlights magazines that are fun)
3. Do not disturb anyone who is reading

Mark loves Spot books
This particular day was a Saturday, and when John walked in the first thing Julia did was say, "Daddy, ssshh we are reading."  John couldn't help but smile.  She wasn't being bossy, I promise, she was sharing our special moment because he never saw us do DEAR time before and he came ready to talk.  He was so excited to grab a book and read along with us.

When you are done reading, you can rest
Why I LOVE DEAR time:

1. I get a chance to read my own materials.
2. We all get quiet time and a break from each other (very important for siblings too)
3. The kids get to use their imagination when they don't know how to read all the words yet.
4. Afterwards we talk about our books, and Julia always knows the plot of her books just by taking in all the pictures.  Mark gets to expand his vocabulary and describe his books.
5. It's a calm down transition time before nap or after a meal.
6. Teaches your child independence
7. Teaches your child how to use a book properly (which way to turn pages, not to read upside down, be gentle with books, etc.)
8. Structured part of the day
9. Get excited about READING
10. Kids get to pick their own books to read

DEAR time is our new favorite time, won't you Drop Everything And Read with us?


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Steakhouse 85 Date Night

I love my family.

Sometimes, though it's nice to slip away and hold hands with your guy...your man.

Since John preaches on Valentine's Day weekend (Feb 12) most likely it will be very difficult to have a date that weekend, and so today we celebrate each other in New Brunswick.  A cute little college town with clean streets and great restaurants to choose from.

My amazing in laws are taking the kids for us, and allowing us to have this evening ALL to ourselves!  I'm really excited to be with John and talk and just have couple time.  We need it.  It charges us up and knits us closer together, and fills our marriage Love Tanks up!

I wish every weekend could be a date night, but our commitment is at least once or twice a month!
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Three Bean Chili on a snowy day


  • This morning we woke up to a few inches of snow, and the kids were so happy to play in it.  Since John had to shovel and it was a cold morning I decided to make a big pot of chili to warm everyone up for lunch.  Thank you honey for shoveling!
  • Vegetarian 3 bean chili (we cheated and added meat!)

  • Ingredients:
  • red bell peppers
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 1 cup chopped onion 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
  • 2 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • (28-ounce) can no-salt-added tomatoes, undrained and chopped
  • (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained 
  • (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 
  • (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions 
  • We LOVE beans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Preparation

  1. 1. Preheat broiler.
  2. 2. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil 15 minutes or until blackened. Place pepper halves in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 15 minutes. Peel and chop peppers.
  3. 3. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cumin and next 4 ingredients (through garlic); cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add bell peppers, broth, squash, and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans; simmer 25 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with green onions.


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I need...

I've been married to John for almost 9 years.  We've known each other since High School.  He's the sweetest, most loving husband, but even I have a huge problem sometimes sharing my needs.

It's very, very hard to tell your spouse your true inner most feelings and desires.  It's humbling and can be very vulnerable feeling.

Something as simple as saying, "Honey, I need you to drive slower because it makes me scared when you drive fast."  can communicate honestly how you feel and leave you very open to rejection or hurt.  But we know our spouses love us right?  So how come instead of saying, "I need..." we get upset, we yell, we lose it, we get frustrated, when all we have to do is say, "I need you to do this ____________."  Why do we make it difficult?  Why is it not easier?

Well, marriage is hard work, and being honest is tough.  But I am finding that when I calmly say, "I need..." I'm really communicating my love for my spouse and my trust in God, because I'm doing my part.  I'm communicating my needs (instead of making John guess why I am upset or what I need) and I'm trusting God to do His part in my marriage to convict John where he might need nudging.

Things like:
I need an hour to myself today because I need a break from the kids.
I need a Date Night that you plan because I miss you and I want to feel like a priority.
I need you to fix the gate outside because I can't do it.
I need you to bathe the dog.

Whatever your "I need" statement is it is valid and you are valuable enough to share it.  I love my husband and I want to meet his needs and I KNOW my husband loves me and I NEED to trust him to share mine.  I learned this from some very wonderful, godly, mature friends, and I'm so glad because I NEEDED to hear it.

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Blog Hop almost 200 followers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woohoo!

 It's Time to Mingle!

Hosted by Happy Go Lucky, I Heart Crafty Things,
Joy in the Jumble and Keeping Up With Kristi.
Each week we will choose one blog at random to spotlight at the next week's blog hop.
This weeks guest host is Posy the Porcelain Pig
Posy the Porcelain Pig



There are no rules to this blog hop.  Just link up your blog's main page.  Then have fun reading new blogs and making new blog friends.  We would love for you to follow the hostesses in the first four spots and our guest host in the fifth spot.   We always follow back!!
 
Please leave a comment so we know to follow you back!
 
This week we have a special surprise for you!!  Kristi is sponsoring a FABULOUS giveaway.  She will be giving away a copy of the book Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo to one lucky blog who links up and follows all 5 co-hosts.  I've been wanting to read this book!

So happy blog hopping!  We hope you have fun with us!!


Grab our button if you want to share our blog hop with others.  There will be a new list every Thursday, so be sure to come back every week.  Also, if you are interested in hosting a giveaway for our blog, please email any one of us.  We would love to have you!!


We hope you have fun and thanks for joining us!  We are so excited to find new blogs, share great ideas, and inspire each other.




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Planning my February Meal Menu

I took a break from monthly meal planning for December and January...but I have been gearing up for my February menu all month!

Personally, I'm ready for warmer, sunny days...but since it's been super cold, February's Monthly Menu has lots of chilis, stews, and crock pot dishes :)

I left a three days open just in case we go out to dinner or there's a sale at the grocery store and I switch things up. Thursdays are typically a left over night so we don't waste food and since we have Awana at night  it makes the day easier instead of having to cook a meal from scratch.

Many of these meals I have recipes for in Krisit's Kitchen or if you send me your email I can email you a recipe no problem.  Also if you'd like a copy of the February attachment I make for my binder of the whole month's dishes I can also email that to you! Just send me a comment and let me know what you need.

February 2012 Menu


Wednesday 1. Chicken Cacciatore in Crock pot w/ whole wheat spahghetti
Thursday     2. Chicken Cacc. w/salad
Friday         3. Pizza night and carrots and celery
Saturday     4. White Bean Stew
Sunday        5. Pork roast and brown rice
Monday      6. White Bean chicken chili w/artichoke hearts
Tuesday      7. Taco night
Wednesday 8. Whole wheat pasta w/beans and spinach
Thursday     9. Left over night
Friday         10. Tuna melts--Second Friday of the Month Fridge clean out
Saturday      11.Shepherd's pie (Suzette's recipe)
Sunday        12. Red sauce and pasta  (Daddy cooks)
Monday       13. Chicken Parm w/ pasta left overs
Tuesday       14. Valentine's Day--Take out!
Wednesday  15. Homemade Rice and Beans and pork chops
Thursday      16. Left over night
Friday           17. Pizza and tomatoes and cucumber salad
Saturday       18. Baked Chicken and mashed potatoes
Sunday          19. open
Monday        20. Chicken soup in the crock pot
Tuesday        21. Taco night
Wednesday   22. open
Thursday       23. Left over night
Friday           24. Mexican Meatball soup--Fridge clean out
Saturday       25. Chicken Francaise and egg noodles
Sunday         26.   (Date night Olive Garden)
Monday        27.  Healthy Chili (Ground turkey, corn, red/green/yellow peppers, red beans, black beans)
Tuesday        28. Balsalmic Chicken and Apple and Craisin, and walnut salad
Wednesday   29. Beef stew in crock pot w/corn bread

It's going to be a delicious month!!!
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Bringing Up Boys: "Predators"


Chapter 13 of our Book Club Bringing Up Boys was all about the predators on our sons.  I'm going to keep this review short and sweet and just make a list of the Predators, Dr. James Dobson focused on.

*Postmodernism thinking: nothing is good or evil, everything is relative, all that matters is what's right for me and what's right for you, in other words there are no absolutes...

Proverbs 23: 7 says "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he."...so our ideas DO determine our behavior

*"What the media delivers to our children we are expected to rebut one at a time."  Many parents go with the culture instead of counter the culture.

*"Many parents are overwhelmed by the culture.  They feel relatively more helpless than their parents."  For example: if everyone at school has a cell phone and ipad, and your child doesn't what will you do/say.  If everyone has a TV or computer in their bedroom, and you don't what will you say/do?

*Now a days there is so much to say NO to.

*Parents feel more isolated, and it is much harder to raise a child in this day and age.

*We are at a constant battle with our culture with the TV, music, what happens at school, what happens on the bus, the internet, etc.

*Sometimes it feels like there is nothing wholesome left for our children and teens to enjoy.

*Our children are being exploited by what is geared for them to watch on tv and what they are able to watch on the internet...they are being targeted and companys are making big bucks off of them.

*"Boys and Girls are starved emotionally by disengaged parents"  The pedophiles surf the WEB looking for needy kids.  Do NOT let your child surf the net alone or unsupervised.  The average length of time that exploitation occurs in an individual is 7 years!

*"The availability of p*rno*raphy on the internet is at the click of every mouse."  Children can learn how to make a bomb or steps to committing s*icide on the internet.  It's absolutely terrifying.

*P*rn and smut pose an incredible threat to our boys.  A single exposure to it by some 13-15 year olds is all that is required to create an addiction that will hold them in bondage for a lifetime.


How do we as parents PROTECT our boys:

1. TVs, computers or VCRS should not be in the bedrooms.  "Locate them in the family room, where they can be monitored and where the amount of time spent on them is regulated.
2. Watch shows with your children and use teachable moments to help them make right choices. Psalm 101:3 "I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes"
3. Teach your children that God loves them and holds them to a high level of moral accountability.
4. Do everything in your power to reverse the blight of violence and lust that is so pervasive across the land. (maybe write a letter to your local congressman about entertainment moguls to stop producing explicit lyrics or producing raunchy shows).
5. Vow as a family to set for our children the highest standards of ethics and morality to protect them (maybe this means not getting the Victoria's Secret catalogue mailed to your home, or cable filters on your television, or filters on your computer, whatever steps you can take as a family to guard their eyes and ears)
I think of the song: Oh be careful little eyes what you see, oh be careful little ears what you hear, for the Father up above is looking down in love Oh be careful little eyes what you see.

As parents we need to set the tone in our homes.  It starts with us setting high standards and making this a priority.  I know there are parents who don't allow the Celebrity Dance tv show in their home because she has sons and she doesn't want them to watch these women with barely any clothes on dancing around.  She's taking a stand to protect her children's eyes even though she may be able to watch a show like that.
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Heaven is for Real



I recently read this book and absolutely loved it!  My friend Roe let me borrow it, and I kept wanting to read it but never had a free minute.  Then I found out my dear friend Rayna who was pregnant with her 6th child had a miscarriage, and when I reached out to her to see how she was  doing she said this book really gave her peace about their loss.  Then I posted on facebook about this book and another dear friend of mine, Jamie, who recently lost her sister who was only in her twenties after just having a newborn, told me she read this book after her sister, Tara's death, and this book gave her comfort and peace I just finally MADE time to read it.  And once you start this book you are on a roller coaster ride with the parents from how they dealt with their child's hospital stay and apendix bursting.

It is a true story and it is about how a little four year old boy experiences what heaven is like.  His parents don't even realize it til after they leave the hospital and start hearing bits and pieces of their son's heaven trip.  It is AMAZING.  And since I have a four year old you can hear the innocence in their son's answers and thought processes and how he explains meeting Jesus, and John the Baptist, and oh my goodness, his sister that his mother miscarried!  I cannot do the book enough justice.  You just have to get it and read it and find out for yourself.  It just goes to show you that children CAN understand the simplicity of the gospel.  You don't need a seminary degree to feel Christ's love and value.

And the you just grow to love the Burpo family, Todd, is a pastor and he and his wife are just the lovliest, sweetest couple.  God was so good to them in the midst of so much stress and difficulty.  I pray that this family is truly blessed for sharing their story.

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Rainforest Cafe Birthday Bash!

Julia Star is now 4...birthday lunch at Rainforest Cafe
Lord, you promised me that my kids would stay little forever, didn't you?

Well, it happened, New Year's Eve came and went and my precious baby girl Julia became 4! No longer a baby, no longer a toddler, sniff, sniff, but a truly big girl now, and mommy is...mommy is...very, very happy for her.

Part of me wants her to stay a peanut.  But for a girl who is 90th percentile, has long athletic strong legs, and weighs 38lbs...let's face it she hasn't been a peanut for years.

But you know what?  She is oh so tender with her brother Mark, and somehow seeing her mother her brother just melts my heart and fills me with peace, that yes, she is growing up, but she's growing up in a lovely way, and so it really is tolerable.  I mean look at her, does she look happy to be 4 or what?

The kids loved the Cafe.  It was empty at first, but we had reservations at 11:30 so we got a tour, great seats by the waterfall and we could walk around and explore without interrupting anyone's lunch.  Plus it's a family place and after a bit lots of families poured in and were very friendly.

Mark loved this place just as much as Jules did.  They loved all the animals, the rainstorms, and the sounds of thunder.

We saw gorillas, frogs, elephants, monkeys, crocodiles, and snakes!

Mom, am I five yet?  No, Julia.
We ate lunch and then visited the huge gift shop.

Mommy, can we take him home?
The gift shop was awesome.


At lunch when I prayed over the food and blessed Julia I got choked up as I said the words..."thank you for allowing Julia to be born, she has made our life so full."  And I meant every word.  I'm so thankful for her.

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