Thursday, August 31, 2017

Recap of August Goals

So, I have a confession.  When I wrote the August goals that I posted HERE were not well written nor complete.  I had kind of written a rough draft and never got back to it; by the time I sat down during the first week of August and really wrote them down, I decided to not go back and change it.  This is what the real deal looked like:

Yes, three full pages of plans, hopes, and "dreams" . .. ok, not really dreams but dreaming of all that will get done!  This is the first time in over a year that I've really sat down and wrote out my goals and plans for the month and it felt good to do so.

Here's a recap of what I got done

1. I sorted all of my printed photos (that I printed back in March and just got to!)

1. Picked out Halloween Costumes (to order first week of September)
2. August Possible Events  (I made a list of all of the possible events to do in August; a few were even added throughout the month.  It gave lots of ideas and I could pick and choose based on the week, the cost, and the weather.)
     a.  Zoo - August 4th    This year it was cold and Rainy on the "Family Zoo Day" where entry was $4.00 for everyone.  We didn't go last year because it was about 300 degrees ;-) Maybe next year!
     b.  VBS - August 6-10th - DONE!
     c.  Kent County Fair - August 8th.  Free Rides for reading Since the Rides were free (due to reading books) I was leaning towards doing this but the Entertainment Company is the same one that had rides at the other two fairs the boys have gone too and I think they had had enough.
     d.  Movie at Saranac Library - August 10th
     e. Mashville Church Carnival/Sandyland Concert - August 12th
     f.  Ninja Warrior Cometition - August 12th (This was an add-on that I learned about in August.  We watch this show and we have a guy we know that competes in it as well.) - THIS WAS AWESOME!
     g. Free Movie - Wizard Of Oz - August 14th
     h.  Blanford Nature Center At Baker BOokhouse - Aug. 15th followed by a picnic/trip to the park (either the Interactive Fountain to meeting Agape people at a Park)  We actually went to the park the day before because we ended up with a conflict on this date.
    i. Saranac Library Relay Games  - Two things 1) it rained and 2) the boys had a dentist appointment
    j. Kids Challenge  - Again, it rained so I'm glad I didn't buy tickets!
    k.  VBS at my mom's Church! - They had fun!
    l. Tri-Ponds/South Beach with Darryl - The kids were gone and we did this!
    m. Agape Kick off - We did attend.

1. Totally 100% cleaned the boys room

1. Pay the Agape Fee for Friday School.
2. Organized each boys desk with their new books
3. PLanned our schedule for school online (Set their schedule for classes)

1. Started talking about the boys birthdays - gift ideas, plans for their "day"
2. Talked about Halloween costumes to order in September

1. Planned some fun stuff for Darryl and I to do for our anniversary while the kids were gone.
2. Put Christmas on the radar - starting writing down some gift ideas.
3. Cleaned out and organized my recipe binders

I feel like I accomplished a lot, but yet, I have a lot that didn't get done.  That's the point of making lists and having goals though - I know I will never finish everything on my list but it gives me something to work towards!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Joy or Joy Stealer?

Recently, I was wandering the aisles of Target on a day out without kids and I overheard a conversation between a mom and a soon to be college student that went something like this:

Mom: All of this other junk is fine, but how do you plan to take your clothes with you?
Daughter: I haven't decided yet.
M: Well, you need some bags. (walks down an aisle).  Like these.
D: These say I need a vacuum to suck the air out and I won't have a vacuum.
M: What other idea do you have then?
D: Maybe some totes.
M: You actually expect us to haul totes of clothes back and forth from school for you? I'm not spending that money on totes just get these bags.
D: Why do I want space saver bags?  I'm not going to unzip them everytime I want clothes?

You get the idea.  The mom was done.  Probably tired of spending money, tired of trying to get all of the things that everyone thinks they need for a dorm room; tired of thinking about her daughter moving away (even though at the moment I think she was ready to drive her away right that moment HA!)

It got me thinking - too often we let our attitude or our "direction" steal someone elses joy.

I find this true in my own life.  I have certain things I expect to happen in my day, with my kids, ect.  When those things don't happen it is so easy to become negitive because life doesn't go the way I planned.  I find myself telling my kids no about everything, getting on them about little things, or just rolling my eyes (when they can't see) after they have said "mom" for the millionth time.  I can see it in their little faces as I begin to steal their Joy.

Snoopy.  Is there anyone that symbolizes joy more than Snoopy?  My third grade teacher's husband was the school counselor in my elementary school so we got "special treatment".  See Mr. Hyde had a special talent - he could drawer Snoopy.  It was a treat to get a Snoopy from Mr. Hyde but because we were in his wife's class, he would often stop by and draw a Snoopy on our papers while we worked.  Why did he do it?  Very simply, when he drew a Snoopy, the students smiled - he handed out Joy through the ink of his pen.  He was a joy giver.

A Joy Giver > A Joy Stealer

So, back to me.  I don't really like to be a joy stealer.  It happens most often when I'm tired.  Or when I get a little put off by what someone does.  Or when my plan is knocked off kilter.  Or, again, when my kids have done me in.  You get the idea.  It. just. happens.  Just like I can see it on my kids faces, I can sense it from other people in either their words or the look on their face.  So what do I do?  I work to change from taking joy to giving joy.  For example.  Recently in the truck as we headed to town - a 35 minutes drive - my youngest asked me to play "the song" (Disc 2, Song 2).  And to play it loud.  This is a common request which I don't mind usually because we are driving 3.5 minutes to the store which means one time through the song.  BUT, I rolled my eyes at the thought of doing this for 35 minutes so I said, "Fine, but only twice and then I'm listening to the radio."  As it played the first time, the conviction started as I thought, he loves this song.  This song that is singing about chosing God; a song that is teaching him about the love of Jesus.  At the end of the second time through, I said, "So, do you want to hear it again?"  To which TWO voices chimed in loudly "YES!!!".  We listened to it 8 times . . .8 times in a row.  Guess what?  By the time we got to town, we were ALL singing it with Joy.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Something Yummy- Black Forest Cheesecake (No Bake)

Black Forest Cheesecake (No Bake) 
adapted from: Together as family

This is a perfect pot-luck dessert.  It's easy to make, looks pretty and tastes fabulous.  The fact that it combines plain and chocolate cheesecake in a chocolate pie crust with wonderful cherries . . .how can it be bad? 


1 ready-to-use chocolate crumb crust (Oreo or chocolate graham cracker)
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vamilla extract
1 carton (8 oz) Cool Whip thawed
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 can (21 oz) cherry pie filling


In a mixxing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth and combined.
Add in sour cream and vanilla extract.  Beat together until combined
Fold in Cool Whip with a spatula.
Spread half of the mixture into the pie crust.
Add cocoa powder and powdered sugar to remaining cream filling and beat together until combined.
Spread evenly over the cream cheese layer.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
Cut into slices and serve each slice with some cherry pie filling.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Creative Memories

I thought I would share some new products that I really love in Creative Memories!

First up is this cute little collapsable box. It's actually only avaliable to advisors but that means if you want one (or 10) I can order them for you!  They fit mat packs which means they are about 4x6 and they are only $4.00 each.  

Advisors and customers alike have been asking for more storage options so this Crop Caddy is perfect!  The outside pockets will old things like the custom cutting system and the personal trimmer fits in the inside pocket.  It's $22.00 and you can order it direction from my website. 

Finally, this new pouch and pen set is perfect.  I love pens and the creative memories pens have always been high quality.  The price is $24.50 for the entire set and, again, you can order from my website. 

To look at or order the products or to check out all of the other great things Creative Memories has to offer, just click HERE.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sunday Scripture/Song - He Always Wins by Matt Hammitt

I heard this song for the first time a week or so ago and just love it.

[Verse 1]
As long as I'm able, let the work of my hands
Bring glory to Jesus, on Him I stand
Struggles try to snare me, sin plans defeat
But there is nothing stronger than the Rock beneath

Over any trial, over any sin
My God in Heaven, He always wins
He is over life, He is over death
His love is eternal, it never ends

Oh-ooh, oh-oh-ooh
Oh-ooh, oh-oh-ooh

[Verse 2]
Like a tree by the waters, my roots run deep
And I thirst for nothing but His love for me
His mercy is endless, His promise is true
I will not be left wanting, when it's Him I choose

Over any trial, over any sin
My God in Heaven, He always wins
He is over life, He is over death
His love is eternal, it never ends


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Our week in Photos #10

It's hard to believe we are coming to the end of "summer".  We had a busy weekend to start out the week though!

Saturday the boys and I met my mom in town so they could head back to her house with her for a few days.  I enjoyed something I rarely get to do - I went shopping.  It was fun :-)  Then Darryl and I met for dinner before heading home.

Sunday - Darryl had a concert; We spent the rest of the day out for our anniversary; The boys started VBS at FBC in Linden!

 The boys love VBS at my parents church. Love. it.   They look forward to it all year long and day one did not disappoint.  It started with a cook out.  Then one of my college friends is the speaker/teacher and he told me the boys were "totally tuned in".  Then they got to play water games - one of the men in the church is a firefighter so he brought "his" truck and sprayed the huge slip-n-slide.  I can't wait to see pictures from the rest of the week :-)

 While the boys are with my mom, Darryl and I started our day with an Alive concert.  I always enjoy watching Darryl do what he loves so much - play his guitar. It was a beautiful morning for an outdoor concert.

We then escaped for the day to one of our favorite places - South Haven.  We started with lunch at a place we love - Maria's.  Normally when we go there with the kids we just get pizza but this time we got actual entrees and they did not disappoint.  From there we took off walking (the wrong direction because I'm awful at directions HA!) and got a great iced coffee drink before we continued walking (in the wrong direction  . .. Darryl should always look at the location of things before we walk, just saying!).  We (Darryl) did figure out fairly quickly that we were totally going the wrong way so we then walked much further than we needed to in order toe get to our planned boat ride.  It was worth it though - the boat ride out on Lake Michigan was so much fun.  We got to see the great beach from a different view point as well as homes - both tiny ones and HUGE ones.  Such a relaxing fun way to spend the afternoon.  Our walk back to the car was much shorter since we went the right way ;-)  LOL  It was a great get away!

Monday - "A Total Eclipse of the  . .. Sun" :-)  I shared photos the other day but our big excitment for the day was, well, the Eclipse!

Tuesday - I got to do something I never get to do . . .I went to a movie.  Alone.  Darryl was working, my boys were with my mom and the kids I watch were with their grandma.  The movie choice was limited so I picked something that looked good but, what I didn't realize was that it had sub-titles HA!  The movie was in french.  It was actually a pretty good movie despite the sub-titles.

Wednesday - Today was a quiet day :-)  I met my mom and the boys for dinner on their way back into town.

Thursday-Friday - We had pretty quiet days.  It's been much cooler these past two days so we've hung out at home.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Weekly Menu

This is "clean out my fridge, freezer and cupboard" week!  I feel like we have lots of food and it's time to use up some stuff before buying a bunch more.

Friday - Dill Shrimp Pasta, garlic bread, and salad/veggies

Saturday - Tacos, beans and rice

Sunday - Roast, Carrots and Noodles

Monday - Pork Chops and Rice, and a veggie

Tuesday - Omelets (ok, not real omelets . .. more like "scrambled" omelets since they are easier HA!), crescents, and Applesauce

Wednesday - We usually eat with my mom so we'll decide on Wednesday what we are eating (Sometimes she even cooks HA!)

Thursday - Something with chicken - chicken orzo soup, chicken and dumplings . . .I'm just no tsure yet.

I'm sitting here realizing that the next menu I write will cover Labor Day Weekend.  How in the world did that happen???  To me, this summer has been pretty amazing.  We are enjoying have my mom close by; we have enjoyed swimming in the pool (and will continue to do so for as long as possible!!!); we have enjoyed doing quite a few various activities because all four kids are old enough to be much easier to take places; and I personally have enjoyed not having a summer of death with unbearable temps and humidity.  This year I'm actually sad that we are on the tail end of summer (and usually I'm screaming SNOW right about now to cool of the ground that is hotter than the center of the earth HA!).  As we slowly step into fall, though, I'm also looking forward to more bonfires, cooler days, changing leaves, and the crisp, cool, clear, freash air.  Pumpkins, cidar, corn mazes and more are all so much fun!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

10 Reasons I love Homeschooling

As the schooling culture changes, more and more people are opting for various options of Homeschooling.  Many of the local public schools offer opportunities for parents to use online learning at home, there are actual "Public Schools at Home", Christian online options through Bob Jones, Liberty and more, not to mention Traditional Homeschool options.  But all in all, homeschooling has it's challenges and, of course, benifits.

I was thinking about why I love Homeschooling recently and thought I'd share those with you.  (Aren't you thrilled?)

1) Our start date is when I want it to start.  Even though I do online schooling and there is an "official" start date, I can still flex our schedule to fit us.  I could schedule our first day of classes the Monday after Labor Day if I wanted.  I've been watching people post first day photos since the first week in August and I am so thankful that we get to enjoy ALL of August before we even have to think about it!

2) We can take vacations whenever we want.  We don't vacation often but, we can plan our vacation in the fall when stuff is less busy or the spring, before the rush hits.  We can also plan 4 day camping weekends without any concern of school.

3) Co-Op.  I am thankful that we get to participate in our Co-Op/Friday School.  It's a fun semi-structured way to meet with out friends and still learn and have fun.

4) I have the say in what my kids learn.  Even with our on-line classes, I can direct the answers back to God and the Bible; I can also skip a lesson that I feel is unnecessary and it's ok.

5) Our start time is dictated by what works for us.  If my kids went to our local public school, they would have to be out waiting for the bus by 6:50 AM.  I'd be getting them up by about 5:50 AM.  that is ridiculous.  The past few years we've started classes at about 10:00.  This year I'm going to try and push our start time back up to 9:30 because the princess is going to Preschool and will arrive off the bus at about 10:45 - I'd like to have a good hour done before we have to stop for the bus.

6) Our schedule is ours.  During the weeks we have co-op, I don't plan lessons for Friday since we are gone all day.  When Co-op is done, we don't have lessons on Monday because I find that I need Monday to catch up from the weekend.  We also set up our lessons so we can take 3 weeks off at Christmas, Birthday's off, and we even get snow days.

7) I can incorporate Bible anywhere I want.  We tend to use our AWANA books for Bible so that the boys are learning and understand Bible Verses.  Each year I think about adding in a more specific Bible Curriculum but until both boys can work more independently on their computer lessons (meaning, I don't need to sit with them the whole time), trying to fit in more just doesn't work.

8) I'm the only parent I have to deal with (well, and the principal aka my husband HA).  If I mess up, I'm the only one that I have to "yell" out.  It also means it all falls on me.  When I don't have the boys read enough or practice sight words enough - that's all me.

9) We can do school in our comfy clothes :-)  I actually have the boys get out of PJ's every day before class (ok most days!)  - it makes for better learning but sweatpants and sweatshirts are allowed.

10) I get to see my boys every single day, all day.  I love seeing them learn.  I love seeing they enjoy learning and I love that we just get to hang out every day.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The End of an Era

Doesn't that title make you think something awful is happening? HA!  Well, in this household we have reached an end of an era.
For the past 7 years, I've gotten up (almost) every morning to greet the Munchkin and the Princess but as of today, that changed.  The Princess started pre-school (and the Munchkin, 2nd grade) which means we don't have any extra kids here until about 10:45 when the Princess gets home.  It feels . . .odd to not technically have to set an alarm; watch for the kids; or plan our day with extras.  Sure, they will both still be here after school for each of them, all breaks, snow days and holidays but the day-to-day routine officially changes.  Crazy.

Part of me is looking forward to the peacefulness of the morning.  The boys and I are normally pretty quiet in the mornings.  We all like our space, our ipads, and peace and quiet.  As I'm sure I've mentioned, mornings are not my strong point so the fact that I don't technically have to function quite so early is actually refreshing.

The other part of me is viewing this change slightly differently.
Yes. an opportunity.  The first few hours of my morning have "always" been dictated by something else instead of me just being able to plan my morning.  So, I do have plans to set an alarm (just not quite so early); plans to actually be awake enough to do the Bible Studies I sign up for but never finish because my eyes can't focus in the morning and I just never get back to it later; plans to get out a ride my bike in the morning (this plan is questionable HA); plans to start school just a tad earlier (9;30 instead of 10:00).  Change brings opportunity.

There are other changes too. I have two buses to remember to watch for this year; we have a little less freedom since a bus arrives mid-morning which means even things like haircut appointments and dentist appointments have to be well planned to make sure we are home in time.  I don't mind though because change allows us to see things differently and often make needed alterations to our daily life.

I will also begin looking for some new and creative ways to add to our family income since this change does impact the bottom line.  I've got a whole Pinterest folder dedicated to ways to make money at home (everything from coupons to save on groceries to work at home ideas).  I'm going to start digging through there to see what I can find.  There are some pretty creative ideas out there.  Even things like using Ibotta when I shop to save money to pay for all of our Co-op fees :-) 

So, yes, I admit, I'm looking forward to this change and am excited about what these changes mean to how our day works! 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Total Eclipse Of The Heart Lyrics

I know, I know.  Totally cheesy HA!  So, after all of the anticipation of this Eclipse the question the day after is . . .Did you view it?

Yes, I bought glasses for our family.  The kids were with my mom at her house, Darryl was in the dentist chair and I was at home.  I decided to try and get a few photos using my special glasses over the lens of my camera.

 I was really excited when this photo worked because I was like, Wow, I can actually get photos like every 15 minutes of the eclipse.  But, when I went out 15 minutes later, my telephoto wouldn't focus and it was almost like the glasses weren't strong enough anymore.

So I switched to my little lens and got these three shots.  Not great by any means but you can see how in the bottom photo, it was right at about 2:15 which was almost at the "best" time to see the coverage.

My mom took the boys to a local park so they could see it too.  They noticed that it got darker while they were there.  I found that even more intriguing then the actual Eclipse - the darkening of the day and how eerie it looked because it wasn't a true "dark" but almost like severe weather was coming (think about that eerie look before a tornado).

On a side note,  I bought our (well-researched, conforming) glasses on Amazon (from a reputable dealer) for $10.00 for 5 pairs.  I saw someone selling similar glasses on a local garage sale page for . . .$10.00 a pair!!!  Someone bought all 5 pairs for $50.00!!!  Shoot, I should of sold ours and made cereal box watch boxes instead HA!

Monday, August 21, 2017

What I'm Reading and my Book Club Books

After having about a week of nothing new to read, I went through my Kindle and find a book that I had gotten awhile ago and never read.

 "Distant Echoes" is the first book in the Aloha Reef Series and it was a pretty good book.  It is a mystery/suspense book but it also has good undertones of family and friendship.  It's a good enough read that I picked up book 2 to keep reading about the characters.
 So, "Black Sands" is the next book I'm starting.  (Book 2 in the Aloha Series)
 This is still one of my favorite series I've read this year - The Eagle Harbor Series.  I didn't realize I had purchased this back in the middle of July until I went out to Amazon to buy it!!  I was so mad at myself for forgetting HA!  It was just as good as the others in the series with a great story of reconciliation and friendship.  There is actually another book in the series that is suppose to come out sometime this year.

I'm also part of several different book clubs that are all gearing up to start new books in the next week or so.  The books below are all books that are on my "shelf" to read as part of the book clubs.
 A group of about 4-5 friends of mine get together once a month and enjoy coffee at Bigby while we discuss whatever book we picked to read.  Really, we do discuss the book but more important we laugh and chit chat hours away while we enjoy our coffee.  For September we are reading "A Man called Ove".  I know nothing about it so I'm excited to see what it is about.
 My Daily Bread (used to be known as Radio Bible Class) is starting its first Facebook book club with this book call "Cling".  Several ladies at my church work there so they posted about this on our ladies facebook page.  I'm kind of curious to see how it goes since there are like a million members.  Sometimes when groups get that big, it is hard to have any discussion.
 This book goes along with Proverbs 31 Ministries and their book study that begins in September.  I've attempted to do book studies like this before and usually fail HA!  But, remember those "changes" I talked about in our daily schedule?  I'm hoping to be a little more dedicated to this study.
Finally, Baker Book House as a Blog Book Club - really it seems more like the author of the blog recommends a good to read and it doesn't go beyond that but it is fairly new so it might change.  Anyway, I think the blog is a great way to find new reads even if all I do is ready them!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Scripture Sunday - Andrew Peterson - Faith To Be Strong

Give Us Faith to Be Strong
-Andrew Peterson
Give us faith to be strong
Father, we are so weak
Our bodies are fragile and weary
As we stagger and stumble to walk where you lead
Give us faith to be strong
Give us faith to be strong
Give us strength to be faithful
This life is not long, but it's hard
Give us grace to go on
Make us willing and able
Lord, give us faith to be strong
Give us peace when we're torn
Mend us up when we break
This flesh can be wounded and shaking
When there's much too much trouble for one heart to take
Give us peace when we're torn
Give us faith to be strong
Give us strength to be faithful
This life is not long, but it's hard
Give us grace to go on
Make us willing and able
Lord, give us faith to be strong
Give us hearts to find hope
Father, we cannot see
How the sorrow we feel can bring freedom
And as hard as we try, Lord, it's hard to believe
So, give us hearts to find hope
Give us faith to be strong
Give us strength to be faithful
This life is not long, but it's hard
Give us grace to go on
Make us willing and able
Lord, give us faith to be strong
Give us peace when we're torn
Give us faith, faith to be strong

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Our Week in Photos #9

Our weeks are leaning towards change as school looms near but that doesn't mean we aren't still having fun!

I posted about this earlier this week.  On Saturday we were able to take the boys to a Ninja Warrior Competion.  It was kind of cool to see in real life what we watch sometimes on tv. (As a side note, on Monday night we watched it on TV and saw a few of the contestants that we saw on Saturday - it was kinda cool)

Sunday night turned out to be a perfect night for a bonfire. We headed over to Nana's camper for a very relaxing evening. 
 We found this toad in the firewood. 
 Enjoyed a variety of smore's - We used Reeses Peanut Butt cups and Fudge Striped Cookies along with the traditional variety too! 

Besides collecting fireflies and doing some charades, we also got to kick back and watch some of the meteor shower.  All of us saw quite a few - it was a really cool thing! 

Monday brought a little birthday fun.  The munchkin turned 7 on Sunday so we took time to celebrate. 

We went to our favorite park - it's a big wooden park with lots and lots of shade.  The kids usually find new friends to play with while we are there.  We also had a fun picnic before we headed home.  We also stopped for Ice Cream at Mooville and then the munchkin got to open his gifts when we got home.  

Tuesday brought a visit from a new friend.  A mom found me on the Connections Acadamy Website (actually, a grandma HA) and wanted to meet up as she homeschools her grandson and this is their first year in Connections.  I didn't take any photos of this meet and greet since that might have seem weird HA!  While the boys all played, I helped walk Jean through the basics of the school stuff so hopefully she won't be quite so overwhelmed.

Wednesday was a swimming day:-)  We haven't had a lot of great days for swimming the past few weeks due to rain and cooler temps but today was perfection.  88 degrees; slightly humid; and the pool was like bath water HA! We swam in the afternoon and then went back and swam again after dinner.
We also ate dinner at Wendy's.  Now, I don't usually emphasis where we eat but tonight it was a fundraiser to raise money for the Local Community Vacation Bible School so it seemed like a perfect reason to eat there!  The boys group leader was there at the same time as we were so that was kind of fun for them too. 

Thursday was a rainy day so we stayed home except for one little appointment.

What do those photos mean?  We've started our journey of orthodontist visits!  Both boys had their first visit and exam so we could start a plan which is . . .wait 6 months.  They both need some work done but both have some lose baby teeth to come out.  So they go back in February to check progress and we will go from there.

Friday the boys new friend came over for a visit and we just hung out at home until dinner time when we got to meet Nana for pizza!