Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Few Things I Have Learned This Month

As many of you know, I have been participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge this month. It has been an experience, that's for sure.

The Ultimate Blog Challenge was simply a call for bloggers everywhere who wanted to increase their traffic, who wanted to push their creativity, who wanted something more. We were asked to post 31 times during the month of July and then share these posts in certain places. We were also asked to comment on other people's blog posts everyday.

Let me share a few things that I have taken away with me from this challenge.

1. I don't like the demands of having to write everyday. I'm a pretty laid back person & over the past few years, I have had the privilege of not having to be on anyone else's schedule. I've learned that I don't like the pressure of set in stone schedules anymore.

2. Not everyone plays by the rules. No matter what you do in life, there will be those who buck the system, & want to do things their own way. (This coming from the former public school employee turned homeschool advocate! LOL)

3. Not every person who writes has something interesting to say.

4. Not every blogger out there will appeal to everyone who stumbles across their page. I've read some interesting things this month, but some of them didn't pertain to me at all.

5. Not every challenge issued is worth pursuing. I'm not saying that this one wasn't, but some people jump on any train that happens to travel by them.

6. Temporary increase is good but does it have staying power? Sure, my comment box has been flooded this month, but how many of those people are going to stick around now that July is over?

7. Even though we were sent daily reminders & tips on what to post, no one can tell me what to write about. I write from my heart. My husband compares it to his preaching. A lot of what I write about is strictly inspiration from God, the remainder is just the insanity of my life.

8. I will probably never reach blogger stardom. If I can just really reach out to those few loyal readers, I am completely ok with that.

9. Sometimes life is boring & I have nothing to say.

10. Whether or not I will try out the next UBC, only time will tell. Yeah, I probably will, but I'll do it with all of these other things in mind.

My sole reason for starting this blog a few years ago was so that hopefully I could encourage other people struggling through certain aspects of their lives. I want to glorify God in all aspects of my life. Am I doing that? Have I made someone's day a little brighter? Have I shown others they are not alone in their journeys?

I hope so, or else I am wasting mine & many other people's precious time.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

3 Generations of Heroes

My husband is one of my heroes. Not only because of what he does Every. Single. Day. for our family, but literally because he is a hero.

Justin joined his local volunteer fire department as a Junior Fireman when he was only 13 years old. Of course, he couldn't help out much until he turned 18, but those beginning years provided valuable training, taught him about teamwork, and instilled in him a love for helping others. I believe this was one of the contributing factors to leading him down the road towards becoming an EMT. He has had an active role in the fire department ever since.

It wasn't long after Justin joined, that his father saw the benefits from this organization. This encouraged Tony to sign up as well.

Justin's mom has always played an active role in helping the fire department anyway she could, but it wasn't until a few years ago that she officially became a fireman woman. Other members of our family are also volunteers out there, including cousins, my brother in law, my niece, and many friends that we consider family.

Austin has always loved going to training, running calls, & just hanging out at the fire station with anyone who would let him tag along. I knew the day was fast approaching when he would join their ranks.

Sure enough, his daddy finally gave in & let Austin turn in his application to become a Junior Fireman. He is beyond excited!

I'm happy for him. But, that sure gives me something else to worry about!

So, here's saying a prayer for all of our men, women, boys, & girls who are our heroes today & dream of being our heroes in the future.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Starting Her Out Right

She finally did it! Makenzie finally agreed to try to ride a dirt bike.

We started Austin out at 5 on a little 4 wheeler. It didn't take him long to flip it, get scared, and not want to get back on it. We struggled with trying to get him to ride it again. After a year of trying, we gave up & traded the 4 wheeler for a dirt bike. He hasn't looked back since!

We have been hanging on to his first dirt bike. Its just a little 50, all of the plastic has been jerked off, its beat up, but it runs great. We couldn't get much out of it if we were to try & sell it. And its perfect for everyone else to learn how to ride.

Makenzie is 7. She loves her bicycle, driving her go cart, and riding the 4 wheeler & dirt bike with someone else driving. But, she has no interest in learning to ride by herself.

We finally talked her into it. She actually did very well too!

Did you SEE how close she came to hitting my porch?!

Hopefully, she will get back on it. Now, I just hope its that easy for me to learn!

Celebrating a First & Cherishing a Last

I told you yesterday all about finding a toddler bed at the TTB Kidz consignment sale. Well, believe it or not, I had the crib broke down & the new bed in place before lunch yesterday. Yep, little ole me, with lots of help from Makenzie & Logan of course.

Logan was very excited about his new bed. He crawled all over it. He laid down in it. He seemed to like it. But I worried about him actually sleeping in it.

I remember when we switched Austin to his big boy bed. He kept getting up over & over again for days. The only way I could get him to actually stay in it was to sit with him until he fell asleep. Then he would still come to my bed in the middle of the night. That was a long time in our lives. Although I still smile when I think about waking up to find him in bed with me or curled on his cot beside our bed.

Makenzie wasn't a big deal. She has always wanted to be in her bed. So when we switched her, she went to sleep. She still woke up almost every night. But after a potty break, she went right back to bed.

As nap time crept closer, I waited with silent apprehension. I waited, then I waited some more. I waited until Logan's little head was falling over. As I took him to his room, he said "no bed", and promptly went to sleep.

Hmmm....can bedtime be this easy?

Yet again, I waited until past Logan's bedtime before even attempting it. After all the kisses & good night rituals, I laid him down, tucked him in, walked out, & turned out the light. He was immediately at the door screaming. I knew it was too good to be true.

So, I put him back in bed & sat down with him. I talked, I rubbed his back, I sang, I pleaded for over 20 minutes. He kept saying "night night", hollaring "oh toodles", or some other jibberish. I finally told him good night one last time & walked out, closing the door behind me. He fussed for a few minutes from his bed, but went on to sleep.

I almost woke him up when I went in to check on him a few hours later because I just had to take a picture! Unfortunately, I wasn't smart enough to take a pic of him sleeping in his crib for the last time :(

I read an article several years ago about celebrating all the lasts. This is so true. We are always excited when a first happens, but we don't realize the significance of those lasts.

Time passes far too quickly! Take a few minutes to enjoy it, just in case its the last time.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Trash To Treasure

I love love love finding good deals.

I shop yard sales, consignment stores, & the Goodwill. I shop regular stores too, but rarely buy something if it isn't on sale.

As I mentioned earlier this month, I have been working on tagging 200 items for an TTB Kidz upcoming consignment sale in Charlotte, NC. I have shopped this sale numerous times in the past, but have never attempted to sell my own items. Turns out, there's a lot of work in getting ready for a sale.

I honestly hadn't planned on shopping the sale this year. Charlotte is over an hour away for me. Taking the clothes down and then picking up whatever is left was already creating 2 trips and more gas than I want to think about.

BUT, as I said, I LOVE sells! I also realized that I no longer had an option to put off buying Logan a big boy bed. *side note {One day as I was getting Logan up from his nap, he started handing me his papi (pacifier), blankets, & every stuffed animal in the crib. I laughed at him, telling him my arms for full so I couldn't get him. I asked him how he was going to get out. He proceeded to push up on the side rail and throw his leg completely over it. Ok, dully noted buddy. Its time for a new bed!}

So, off I took, in my gas guzzling Suburban in search of a bed, a new (to me) car seat because I'm tired of switching it back & forth constantly, and very few clothes.

After bumper to bumper, stop & go traffic, we finally made it to Charlotte. And where did I head first? Yep, straight to the beds. I found a white Graco metal bed with plastic side rails for $25. I personally think that was well worth the trip. (I'll tell you more about that later.)

I also found a Graco car seat for $20. The cheapest one I have previously found was $40, so of course, I bought it! The Abercrombie  hoodie for $3, the $10 Christmas dress valued at over $50, several other pieces were just icing on the cake.

And just what kind of homeschooler would I be if I didn't wander through the book section? When I saw a book that we would need for school this year that has been discontinued, I grabbed it in a heartbeat.

I was almost ready to leave when my eyes spotted The Princess & The Pea. It was an old copy & looked just like the one I had as a child. I smiled as I picked it up. My husband always refers to me as the Princess & the pea because if there is anything in my bed, I can't stand it. I will find even the smallest crumb. So, yes, we now own this copy of this children's classic.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A New Prince

I admit it.

I'm just as excited as the rest of the world with the birth of this tiny little boy. Well, maybe not quite as excited as the royal family, but I am fascinated. I couldn't help but smile as the news traveled far and wide of the blessed event.

I think the world has fallen immediately in love. I believe this is partly due to the fact that William & Kate both seem very real. I applaud Kate for embracing her role as a mother. William has reminded men everywhere of the importance of being a supportive part of childbirth. I love the fact that Kate is not ashamed of the body that brought forth the biggest change in her life.

Even with all the media coverage, with all the public interest, with all the royalty, we must still remember that this baby is still just a baby. This new mom & dad are still just mom & dad.

Just like all parents, I'm sure that William & Kate think their son is the most beautiful bit they have ever laid eyes on! I'm sure that they struggled with choosing the right name. I'm sure they planned & prepared to make the nursery just the right haven for their family. I'm sure they worried over everything that didn't seem normal during pregnancy & labor. I'm sure they were nervous wrecks when they realized that the doctors actually let them take this little miracle home even though they were clueless.

Even though I don't personally like the name George, I am thrilled that they actually picked a normal sounding name instead of some inanimate object like most celebrities today.

So here's to His Royal Highness Prince George!

And....a little royal humor....

A New Discovery

I am exhausted!

I'm still tired even though it's the next day!

It's been a while since I have been this bone tired.

I took the kids to The Discovery Place in Charlotte yesterday. Have you ever been? Oh you NEED to go!! This was our first time & I was overwhelmed!

By looking at the map of the museum, it honestly doesn't look that big. BUT, once you get there, the fun just keeps going & going & going (especially the 2nd floor)!

They have a special room for kids under 7 to play, explore, & run around. It took Logan all of 2 minutes once we entered this area to become soaking wet while playing in the water area. OOPS, I didn't anticipate that. Oh well, it didn't seem to bother him.

There were many different areas where the kids could learn about all sorts of animals, from fish to birds to frogs. We dissected owl pellets, tried to balance eggs like a penguin, & examined molted parts of a tarantula under a microscope. They even got to touch horseshoe crabs, starfish, & a snake.

They made creations out of duct tape. laid on a bed of nails, propelled themselves into the air with a rocket chair, & tried to lift their body weight through a series of pulleys. We balanced balls on columns of air, sent shredded paper into a vacuum & flying into the air, & played tug of war.

They learned how to build shelters & why it is necessary. We built, knocked down, & rebuilt various structures out of blocks. We played trivia games & tried to figure out where in the world they were just from a picture. They learned that germs are everywhere.

They played in a submarine, found out which bugs were the slimiest, learned just how gross flies really are. We tried to save frogs from certain doom, fought bug against bug in order to have bragging rights, & saw the inside workings of a cow's numerous stomachs. They matched animals to their piles of poop & were completely surprised by how long tape worms really are.

We watched a turtle's trip to paradise & saw lions in Africa up close & personal. We watched fire change colors.

Can you tell we all had a great time?!

The best part about it, they were learning without realizing it!

We could easily spend a whole week trying to learn and investigate everything The Discovery Place had to offer. I think I'll make my hubby go next time too.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Not So Happy

Yesterday was a family member's birthday. I didn't see them. I didn't have the opportunity to wish them happy birthday. In fact, I haven't seen or heard from this person in over 6 months. I know she is alive & other family members have spoken to her, but I haven't.

It's nothing personal, it's a choice that she has made. She has more or less deserted her family & everyone who loves her, with the exception of whatever man she happens to be living with at the time.

But yet, it's not really her choice anymore. She has been wrapped up in some kind of drug or mind altering substance for some time now.

If you know me, then you know exactly who I am talking about. If you don't actually know me, it doesn't matter. I'm sure you know someone who would fit this description! PLEASE pray for her!

Here in NC, there has been  A LOT going on lately with drug busts, especially Meth. A few weeks ago, several people I know were arrested in a local bust that has been accumulating for several years.

It turns out that my home town had the most number Meth labs busted up last year in the WHOLE STATE! How's that for getting your name on the map?! We used to be famous for Moonshine, then while I was in college, it was pot, now Meth. We are also one of the leading counties for prescription overdoses.  Oh, we've got some real winners here.

Have these people never SEEN what Meth can do to your appearance?!

I'm not being judgmental. It is very sad! This drug (all drugs in fact) has people so wrapped up in their clutches that it is almost impossible to get out!

Please talk to your children, your brothers & sisters, your friends, your neighbors, everyone you know. Please make sure they know the dangers, the damages that addictions can cause. If you suspect anyone you know of using drugs, please don't just stand by. Please try to intervene on their behalf. They are NOT going to come clean on their own. They NEED our help!

I know so many families that have been ripped apart by someone's addiction. Parents, children, friends that would give almost anything to have their families happy & put back together again.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A New Look

I know that a few of you remember me talking about coming home from vacation to find out that our roof had leaked. (that part is WAY at the bottom of that post)

Well, after jumping through several hoops with our insurance company, insurance adjuster, & mortgage company (don't you just love red tape) and after waiting for the rain to hold off (remember it rained A LOT here in NC), we were finally able to put our new roof on.

Guess what? It's TIN! Guess what else? It's RED!

Oh I LOVE it!!

We had some friends help us out and were able to finish it in a little more than half a day! Yeah!

I know you have been awaiting the results. So here you go!

I found it very amusing that most of the pictures I took of Justin was when he was sitting around! LOL He really did help, a little! 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Celebrity - I Think Not

Just who is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev? If you don't know, don't worry, you are not alone. I had no clue who this man was. But if you mention what he did, I would almost guarantee that most people would know him.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is the surviving bomber of the Boston Marathon. 

So why am I writing about him?

Have you seen the latest issue of Rolling Stone

Better yet, have you heard their reasons behind putting a killer & a terrorist on the cover of a magazine that has become a Rock-n-Roll icon?

Yes, he may look similar to Jim Morrison & Bob Dylan. From first glance at this photo, he gives off a sexy, been there done that, rebel without a cause vibe. 

 But let's get real people.

This is a man who openly plotted violence & hoped for death of people he has never met before. This is a man who caused many people to fear for their lives.

WHY are we treating him like a celebrity?!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Miracle Cure for Rough Feet

Ok ladies, let's talk feet.

Since we are right in the middle of summer, I'm sure that more people that not are sporting snazzy sandals and running around barefoot when you can. You are probably paying more attention to your pedicures as well. I know I am.

But if you are anything like me, you don't like the way your feet look and most importantly, feel.

I have tried E V E R Y T H I N G  to get soft, smooth, pretty feet (ok, feet are not really pretty - but as pretty as they can be). I keep lotion on my feet CONSTANTLY. I exfoliate. I scrub. I use a Ped Egg. I coat them in Vasoline, wrap in syran wrap,& cover with socks (Don't laugh!! & DO NOT try to walk!! This is best done at night while you sleep.)

None of these have lasting results.

Sigh, what's a girl to do?!

Have you seen the crazy picture circulating Facebook about soaking your feet in Listerine?

Yeah, I laughed too. But I thought, hey why not.

I tried it the other night. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup of Listerine, 1/4 cup of vinegar, and 1/2 cup of warm water. That is not enough to soak my feet in. Maybe if I had a different bowl & only soaked one at a time. I ended up using 2 cups of Listerine, 2 cups of vinegar, & 4 cups of water. After I soaked my feet, I made sure to exfoliate them and coat with lotion.

Yes, the Listerine made my feet tingle. And a word to the wise, if you have a cut or a sore on your foot, you will feel it. I had scrapped a toe and some of the skin was peeled back. It didn't actually hurt. It was just a little uncomfortable.

Results: My feet were still smooth the next morning. Now the cracks are still there, but maybe after repeated treatments, that might go away as well. I'll let you know.

My husband laughed at me and complained that I stunk up the whole house. ;) The things we do for beauty! 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How's That for Hope and Change

Ok, it is NO secret that I don't like President Obama. Never have, and unless he completes a 180, probably never will.

I could care less that he is the first black president! I personally don't know why it has taken this long to have a black president, so DO NOT go there with me! For that matter, I think it would be cool to see a woman president. BUT, Biblically speaking, I couldn't support her. A man is supposed to be the head of the household, so how could a woman Biblically run the country? Oh wait, no one has BIBLICALLY run the country in a LONG time.

WAIT! This is not a Biblical post. That is neither here nor there in regards to this post. I just felt like running a rabbit.

I read something last night that broke my heart! I know there are problems all over this country, people have issues everywhere you turn. But, this hit HOME!

PLEASE read, don't skim, this status from Facebook!! I know it is lengthy, but it is so important!

"Reposting from my facebook page: For anyone from the other parts of my life (horses, etc.) who doesn't know me well, I am a pediatrician in rural North Carolina, and I started a practice here about 6 or so years ago. If anyone knows anyone to call, our practice has not been paid by Medicaid in a month since they "switched to a new system." No one seems to know why we haven't been paid or when we will be paid. We have already put our entire savings into running the practice because we do not limit our Medicaid enrollment at our practice. I have a problem with saying I won't take more of a particular insurance when I care for children and children have no control over their insurance. Most practices limit their Medicaid to a max of 30%. We live in a rural area where many people are struggling, and we pull children with chronic illness (who generally have Medicaid if they have CAP services) from 5 counties so we are 85% plus Medicaid. We have put our savings into keeping the practice afloat. Last week, we had to borrow money from my parents to make payroll. We actually provide statistically superior care. Compared to an average practice with our patient complexity (twice the average) in NC, we saved Medicaid over a million dollars last year in decreased costs because we keep our sick kids out of the hospital with asthma management plans and aggressive preventative care. I work at least 50 hours a week plus and haven't been able to pay myself since starting the practice. I could deal with that as my husband makes a reasonable living as an engineer and can support us, but now I can't pay my employees. This is past not fair. Please call your senator, congressperson, anyone you might know and forward this to anyone who might take an interest in what we are dealing with. By the way, NC is also cutting services to children with disabilities who already don't get what they need. I have not had a single one of my chronically ill children get Disability in the last few years without having to hire a lawyer, and I am talking about children with things like hydrocephalus, genetic anomalies, cerebral palsy. I even called and went through an hour of red tape once to talk to the person making the decision, and the child was still initially denied until they got a lawyer who, of course, takes part of their eventual payment. Right now, I believe the list for CAP services for children with disabilities is somewhere around 6 or 7 years. What country has a wait list for kids with disabilities to get services???? If anyone knowns someone with media connections, I could put them in touch with so many people who are suffering under our current political environment. All of you up in Washington and Raleigh. You should be ashamed of yourselves. Your mother is NOT proud of you unless she is not a nice woman, and you should NOT sleep well at night. You should have to come spend time in my clinic telling people they cannot get basic services that their children NEED!!!! Will keep you posted...... I am saddened to be living in a country where Wall Street comes so far before basic rights for children."

This is a post from the Doctor that my children go to. She is an amazing individual. I know she truly loves all her patients. She has even made a special trip to see my son early one Sunday morning because I was concerned about a recent surgery! I'm not the only one either! We have been with this practice almost from day 1 & I have NEVER had a complaint!

Regardless if you agree with my beliefs or how you feel about Medicaid & the system, these are our CHILDREN that are suffering because of some bogus "hope" & "change"! What would YOU do to help your children?!?!

America, it's past time to stand up & FIGHT for our country!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Virtue Training Bible Review & Giveaway

When I first heard that Mindy Dunn was creating a Virtue Training Bible, I was beyond thrilled! I immediately contacted her to let her know that I wanted to review it & host a giveaway. We ALL love giveaways, don't we?!

We already have the Child Training Bible & LOVE it! Some people may shy away from purchasing the CTB because they don't have kids. Don't let that stop you. We all have areas that we need to work on!

So just WHAT is a Virtue Training Bible? Well, I'm glad you asked!

With 48 different character traits, the Virtue Training Bible is a tool that will allow you to focus on just about any area that you need help with. Whether its being more compassionate, seeing things through with diligence, forgiving those that wrong you, or having more patience, the VTB can help you.

Most everyone who reads & believes the Bible, knows that it contains the answer to every problem imaginable within its pages. But do you know how to find the answers when you need them? If you are a Bible scholar, you might, but most people would have to search for those results.

The VTB makes it simple for you!

It includes a guide that is color coded so all you have to do is locate the colored tab that lines up with your trait & flip to that page. Then look for that verse that has been marked in the same color.

Simple huh?!

Now we don't have any excuse not to look up how to improve our weak areas!

You can order the VTB for only $9. It includes the color chart & 3 scripture charts.

GOOD NEWS! It is compatible with ANY Bible! That's right, if you only use a specific version, you don't have to worry about it coinciding with your beliefs. My family does not use anything other than KJV, which is hard to find sometimes.

The only other things that you need to go along with your VTB charts is a Bible (whichever one you want), colored tabs (I got mine at Staples here & here, although they have them packaged together in the store), and colored highlighters, pencils, or crayons ( I use Crayola Twist Up Colored Pencils, also available at Staples or Walmart, because I like the way it allows the words to show through & I can erase my mistakes).

Once you have all of your supplies, you are ready to start the fun! Locate the first verse on the first trait (Compassion), highlight it, and add your tab to the top of the right hand page (even if the verse is on the left). Continue tabbing & highlighting Compassion until you have done all of the verses. Then move on to Contentment. Try to keep the tabs lined up so that when it is closed, they look even. This may mean that you place & replace the tabs a few times to get it right. Make sure that you overlap the tabs just a little as you go on to the following traits or they won't all fit across the pages.

It will take some time to tab & locate all of the scriptures, but consider it preparation for the harvest! If you enter into this project with that in mind, you will be blessed!

Now, don't you want one too?!

Enter here for a chance to win your own!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

4H Competitions

Yesterday, I sent my oldest son to Raleigh with a group of 4Hers for the poultry judging competition. These are all good kids who enjoy many things relating to the farm & country living. These kids are some of our leaders for the future.

Their hard work & effort paid off. Both the Jr & the Sr teams placed 5th among all the teams. One of our Jr members came in 5th place and Austin finished 3rd out of all the Jrs.

When I was starting to write this post, I realized that I had forgotten to write about the last competition.....

Last month, we attended Congress at NC State University. This is several days of presentations, competitions, & fun. Austin attended Congress last year, but this was his very first time giving a presentation.

Austin chose dirt bike safety. Its something that he knows and loves so that made it a little easier. Public speaking is something that most adults struggle with. Just about every profession involves it to some degree. This is a great opportunity for him to become comfortable talking in front of a room full of people.

After winning gold in the 9-10 year old safety division for our district, he had a guaranteed spot to compete at the state level. When we arrived for the state competition, we found out that he had been moved up to the 11-13 division because he had a birthday. We had nervous expectations to say the least. Amazingly, he brought home a bronze medal.

I am proud of him. He continues to impress me. He has so many opportunities & interests that I never had as a child.

If you have a young child, I strongly encourage you to look into joining a local 4H group. It has been nothing but a positive experience for my children.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Justice...Maybe, Maybe Not

***This is a VERY sensitive topic. If you want to comment, great. Keep it clean! If you have a different opinion, that's fine, but this is my blog, my opinions, please be respectful or I will delete your comment.***

I really don't follow the news quite as much as I probably should. In fact, most of the time, I'm relatively clueless as to what is going on around me. "This is my little world. I'm the queen here. Its ok, because they like me."

I haven't been so far out of the loop that I missed the George Zimmerman trial. It seems that everyone else crawled out from under their rock long enough to watch it too. That's ALL I have heard about. Wikipedia even has its own record of events!

The whole situation is sad. Two separate families have had their lives altered beyond belief. The Martin family lost a son, a brother, a friend. The Zimmerman family will have to live with the consequences of a situation that lasted less than 10 minutes.

I'm not saying whether the jury was right or wrong in the decision. I don't really have an opinion one way or the other about the outcome. I do however, have many strong opinions about how America is dealing with this whole mess.

Constant marches, protests, gatherings, blocking of highways, railroads tracks, & businesses. Fights, fires, broken windows, even burning the American flag! Many people are blaming this on racial issues (even though Zimmerman was part black himself). A little boy holds a sign that says "Don't shoot. I'm just young & black." A little girl holds a sign that says "I feel bad for Treyvon". Well, I do too, but you don't see me out here trying to tear down this country!

Its been a L O N G time since America has gotten into such an uproar over a court case.

Is our judicial system perfect? Is our country perfect? Not by a long shot! But the last I checked, we live in AMERICA! Land of the FREE! Home of the BRAVE! We are innocent until proven guilty. We are ALL entitled to our beliefs & opinions. But this is STILL AMERICA!! Our flag is to be honored, not desecrated, wrote all over, & burned. No matter what your belief - THAT is NOT acceptable! You choose to continue to live here. If you think this country is so wrong, feel free to MOVE!

Now, to add more fuel to this raging inferno, President Obama filed for Federal charges to be brought against George Zimmerman. REALLY?!

Is all that necessary? NOW, I believe it is a racial thing. Just where was Obama when Casey Anthony was set free?!

Like I said, the whole situation has been a tragedy from the start. Maybe Martin was hanging around houses trying to find some trouble to get into. Maybe he was just taking the scenic route home. Maybe Zimmerman is prejudiced & reacted on that. Maybe he was fighting for his life & shot because he felt he had no other option.

I can't help but wonder what happened in that 2 minute span from the time Zimmerman disconnected the 911 call until police arrived on the scene. More than likely, we will never get the WHOLE story. The REAL second by second detail of that night.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Strawberry Lemon Bars

While trying to come up with a yummy strawberry dessert, I happened across one for Strawberry Lemon Bars. It looked tasty, simple, & I had everything on hand to make it, so why not?! Of course, I never follow directions completely, so I put my own twist on things.

It turned out great, but when I make it again, I will change just a few things. The original recipe called for lining an 8 x 8 pan with aluminum foil. The 8 x 8 pan made the bars too "bready" in the middle, so I will probably switch to a shallow pan. I probably won't line it with foil next time either. Aluminum foil & fillings do not mix well.

So without further ado......

Strawberry Lemon Bars with Lemon Glaze

Ingredients for the bars:
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp of lemon juice

1 tsp of almond extract
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 egg 
1/2 cup - 1 cup of diced fresh strawberries (I just kept adding until it looked full) 

Preheat oven to 350.
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. 
Mix sugar and butter with electric mixer.  
Add egg, lemon juice, vanilla, & almond. 

Mix in flour mixture.
Fold in diced strawberries by hand.
Coat pan with Crisco & lightly dust with flour.

Pour batter into pan.
Bake for about 35-45 minutes until done.
Let the bars cool before cutting and glazing.

For the Glaze
1 cup of confectioners sugar 
lemon juice (enough to make it slightly runny)

Whisk together and pour over cooled bars.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Strawberry Flag Poke Cake

Since I have gotten a few comments on Our 4th of July Festivities, I thought I would include the recipe for my strawberry poke cake.

Bake a regular strawberry cake mix as directed. I added sliced strawberries to the mix as well. Allow to cool.

While the cake is cooling, prepare jello as directed.

Poke small holes into the cake. You can use a fork, a wooden skewer, a chop stick, or whatever you have handy.

Then pour slightly cooled Strawberry jello over the cake, allowing in to seep into the holes.

Since this was for July 4, I wanted to be extra festive.

I poked another set of holes in different places and poured Blue jello into those holes.
*if you are out of a particular kind of jello, plain works just as well with a pack of Kool-aid for color & flavor*

I bake the cake for another 10 minutes on 350. Then I put the cake into the fridge to cool.

After the cake cooled, I added cream cheese icing and topped with sliced strawberries and grapes, because my family doesn't like blueberries.

It sure was a hit. There wasn't a single piece left.

Our 4th of July Festivities

I thought about posting this earlier with a look at what I "wanted" to do just in case people needed ideas for celebrating. But I decided instead to give you a glimpse of what we actually did.

This year, the 4th of July holiday turned into a 4 day weekend for us. Justin took off on Thursday & Friday, & then amazingly we didn't have ANYTHING planned for Saturday! It was nice not having to be somewhere.

We had a cookout Thursday with friends & family. Check out my Patriotic Punch! I was so excited that this actually worked. The taste wasn't that great, but then again, I don't like Sprite so I wasn't too surprised. I also took the time to make a strawberry flag poke cake & chocolate dipped marshmallows & pretzels.

I found some really cool patriotic music to listen too from Amazon. And here performed by the US Marine Band. Best of all, it was FREE! Austin was not too impressed though.

We worked on our missionary study Around the World in 60 Days. (I'll add a link later after we have completed it. Check back at the end of August.)

We made firework paintings.

Justin read the Declaration of Independence & we even signed a pledge saying that we would. In return, we are getting a free copy mailed to us!

No summer celebration is complete without a trip to Stone Mountain for fishing, swimming, & ice cream! The water was WAY up and much colder than normal due to all the rain lately. The current was very swift as well, so Austin caught the only fish ... with his HAND.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Busy Homeschool Mom

Anyone that has been around me for any period of time knows that I just adore Heidi St. John. She offers so much experience & good sound advice on everything from homeschooling to parenting to being "THAT girl" for your husband.

Just today, I found out that she was following me on Pinterest! ME!!! I don't have nearly as much knowledge & grace as she does, but I am honored!

I had the privilege to meet her a few years ago at the NCHE Homeschool Conference. Check out her take on The Busy Mom's Guide to Romance and REAL LIFE Homeschooling. My post on Toddlers, Tweens, & Teens, Oh My is STILL my number 1 read post.

Drop by The Busy Mom for a visit. I'm sure you will walk away a little lighter.

I Think I Will Take a Little Vacation Too

My oldest 2 kids have been attending Vacation Bible School at a neighboring church this week. They always enjoy going to Bible School, but they especially look forward to this one. This is a large church that a lot of their friends attend, so they learn biblical truths while rekindling friendships. Its a win win.

I have enjoyed myself this week as well. I have so much that is screaming for my attention right now that I'm having a hard time concentrating.

I am participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge which is overworking my creativity to post something every single day in July. I am finishing up tagging clothes for a consignment sale in a few weeks. I have over 60 hairbows to complete (this month). I need to make 2 flower girl dresses for a wedding in August. I need to finish my Virtue Training Bible so I can write my review & post my giveaway! We have started remodeling the dining room. The tin for the new roof was delivered yesterday. We were supposed to pick up a pool yesterday as well, but that fell through which means we are still on the lookout for a pool. Planning on getting the roof on tonight & tomorrow. We are going camping next week. Austin has a trip to Raleigh next week. I have a vendor show in 2 weeks. Cheer leading starts back up next week. And I really need to start planning our school year!

So with all those things to choose from, you would think I would take advantage of the "extra" time while the kids were gone. Nope! You would be wrong! Instead, I have laid Logan down for bed a few minutes early & have truly enjoyed the quiet!

Now, excuse me, I'm sure that something needs to be done!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I Will Rise

Have you ever been so far down in a valley that you can't even see the top of the next mountain? Have you ever wondered, "Why me? This is too hard. I just can't go on." Have you ever thought that no one has walked in your shoes?

Yeah, me too.

We've all been there.

But what happened?

Eventually, you not only saw the next mountain, you were able to scale it & enjoy the view. Eventually, you were able to look back & think "Wow, that wasn't as bad as I thought." Eventually, someone showed up, not only on that same path, but helped encourage you to keep walking & told you about how they have traveled that road before.

I enjoy hearing my husband preach. I don't respond to every single message that he brings, but I do try to support him as best I can. There have been a few messages that have stood out along the way. Tonight's message will be one of those that stick with me. It wasn't a shout it out, hallelujah message. It wasn't a squeeze your heart until all the excess comes out in your tears message. It was more oh an "A Ha" teaching message.

Genesis 37 - 50 tells the story of Joseph, his coat of many colors, how he was his father's favorite son, his brothers' jealousy, his journey from slave to keeper of the house to prisoner to Pharaoh's right hand man. It follows a cycle of falling into the pit, rising up to a pinnacle, falling deeper, only to rise to a greater height.

There are so many examples in not only the Bible, but virtually every book, movie, story ever created about man's struggle, success, defeat, & victory. Classics such as Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, The Pilgrim's Progress. New hits including The Grinch that Stole Christmas, Batman, & Happy Feet Too. Bible stories of Jonah, Moses, Peter, Paul, & (my personal favorite) Rahab.

How many times have you stumbled & fell, not thinking you could carry on? Just remember that you too can RISE!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Keep Calm & Just BREATH

I witnessed something the other day that I have never seen before. My child passed out!

I'm not talking about from sickness, from stress, or from over working the body. I'm talking about from pitching a holy fit, holding your breath until your fingers turn blue, falling out in the floor, & hitting your head passed out.

I'll give you one guess which child it was too.

If you guessed that the child with the major temper issue was Logan, give yourself a cookie. My sweet baby has turned into a screaming banshee.

Now, he has done this 1 other time, but nothing quite like this. Justin & I just stood there watching as he held onto the chair and slowly went down. I told him to breathe like I always do when he gets mad. It was almost comical. (No, I am NOT a sadist & YES, I most certainly DO love my children! But I have NEVER, nor will I start, catering to their every whim!)

As soon as he hit the floor, I picked him up to love on him & calm him back down.

I hope this is not an indication of what the future holds!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I Can See Clearly Now...

...the rain has gone.

Today is the first day in well over a week that it has not rained!

Everyone is talking about rain. Everyone is complaining about rain. Everyone is posting pictures of rain.

We rode out to the local dam and were amazed at how high the water level was. Flooded parking lots, flooded play grounds, flooded camp sites.

This is the latest report from their Facebook page "Lake update: Current lake level at 11:00 is 1049.68. That is just shy of 20 feet above normal. All boat ramps, swim beaches, and all trails are closed. Do not go beyond closed gates, barricades, or caution tape. W. Kerr Scott Lake is conducting its primary purpose which is flood control. Lake conditions are very unsafe. Yadkin River is swift and high due to increased releases from the dam. All trails are closed to bikes and foot traffic. * Closures for at least one week - maybe longer."  

I also found out that the record height for the lake was 1061.20 ft back in 1977.

Now, granted all of this rain has put dampers on most everyone's summer plans. People are joking about making plans to build an ark, becoming a duck, buying rain boots instead of flip flops, etc. BUT, I really am trying to be thankful. We could be on the opposite end of this weather pattern. We could be experiencing droughts of Biblical proportions.

Oh & the weather for the next 10 days......more rain!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Inside is What Counts

As a grown woman, I find myself looking at kids today thinking "What in the world....?" more often than not. The things they say, the way they say it, the music they listen to, the way they act, & the clothes they wear - it all begs to ask the question "What planet are they from?" .

But alas, believe it of not, I was once an alien too. I belonged to that strange elusive cult known as the teenager.

I remember wanting to look cool, wanting to act older, wanting to defy everyone around me. I remember thinking that my parents were about the dumbest people I had ever met & there was no way they had fun when they were my age. I remember lots of excitement during this time, but I also remember way too many things that I would rather forget.

I look at these young people today & see them going through the same situations I went through. I have several young people in my life that I like to think I have an influence over. I want to reach out to them & save them from some of the heartache I experienced years ago. I want to keep them from messing up their lives. I want to see them make better choices.

We are right in the middle of summer here in the south. Families are grilling out, kids are staying up late, people are taking trips. Everyone seems to be enjoying the carefree attitude that blows in on the hot southern breeze.

With the rise in the mercury, there seems to be a drop in common sense. People go to town dressed in clothes that should never see the light of day. Guys drive around showing off their muscles. Girls wear shorts, skirts, & dresses that appear to be missing several yards of material. And bathing suits now cover less than underwear does.

I remember thinking I looked good wearing certain things. I remember wanting to show myself off. And I remember thinking that certain someone would look at me like I was beautiful.

Oh he looked at me alright, but beauty was NOT on his mind! There probably wasn't a whole lot of cognitive thought going on in his brain when he was looking at me.

Jessica Rey put together a video on The Evolution of the Swimsuit that makes a good point.


Around the same time, Darlene Schacht featured guest writer Lisa Jacobson on her blog Time Warp Wife who expressed her thoughts on modesty. "I noticed a pretty girl nearby and wondered if she realized how difficult she was making it for a guy."

Lisa Jacobson has also been interviewed on these thoughts over at

Now, I'm not for one minute saying that I am against a bikini, BUT I did find all of these to be fascinating publications. It makes you stop to take a second look at the ways things are presented today.

We ALL know that sex sells. If it didn't, why would the professional cheerleaders wear so much make up & such little uniforms? If it didn't, why do most beer commercials have scantily clad women in them? Both of these fields cater to hot blooded men.

I'm not trying to remove all responsibility from men today either. Men, both old & young, need to guard themselves so they do not look at the female species as sex objects. Women & young girls need to guard themselves as well. They need to love themselves enough not to run around looking like they forgot most of their clothes or are headed to the street corner for the night.

I have the privilege of raising both boys & a girl. My desire for them is that they always want to look their best. Always act their best. Always present themselves in a way that would be pleasing to God, their father, & I.

Girls, next time you buy a dress, put on an outfit, or want to go swimming, please take a few more minutes to consider what you have on. Is it appropriate? What message does it convey?

Boys, next time you see a young lady dressed in less than her best, please think more of yourself & her to look the other way.

If you are more interested in the swimwear by Jessica Rey, check out her website & on Facebook.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

When Your Pest Becomes a Pet

Living on a farm, we have an abundance of animals around here. We have a dog, a couple of pigs, about 12 cows, and around 100 chickens.We have plenty of song birds, crows, doves, bats, and untold amounts of flying critters. We have also been known to spot raccoons, possums, stray cats, groundhogs, and even coyotes wandering around.

Here lately, our abundance of pets has quadrupled. It appears that we are also housing & feeding countless ant colonies & enough flies to make napping a thing of the past!

Are you with me here? Do you find yourself singing "Where Have All The Flies Come From" to the tune of Paula Cole?

Well, if you are anything like me, you are ready to do just about anything short of hanging fly strips from your ceiling & lining the window sills with poison. So let's investigate some frugal, friendlier options to inform our special guests that they are no longer welcome at our homes.

Do you have anything that has been especially helpful in controlling your pests?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Tales of a Homeschool Nothing ~ What's in a Name?

Before you had kids, did you already have names picked out? Did you pictured what they would look like & how they would behave?

When you were expecting your children were you able to pick out their names then or did you struggle to find the perfect one? Were you one of those that never questioned the name you chose or did you wait to meet your miracle in the hopes that their personality would help determine a moniker?

What about pets, do you find yourself going with the same ole boring names? Or do you try to have a one of a kind pooch?

I named my oldest when I was still in high school before I ever met my husband. I knew I wanted a little boy named Austin Tyler and we would call him Ty. Well, I got my Austin but his middle name is Dale after his daddy & grandpa.

When I was expecting Austin, Justin & I settled on Makenzie Leah if we ever had a girl. Her middle name is a tribute to my grandmother Cora Lee & Justin's grandmother Grace Leigh.

We struggled for 7 months to name Logan. Nothing sounded right & we just couldn't agree on anything. Finally, Logan Reece just seems to roll right off the tongue.

Looking at my kids today, they "look" like their names. I couldn't imagine calling them anything else. I'm sure you feel the same way about your kids.

Does it REALLY matter in the long run?

Romeo & Juliet knew that a name wasn't nearly as important as their families thought. But a name & circumstances were what tore them apart.

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;"

In the state of NC, it is a requirement to name our homeschool. I had a hard time with this. I wanted to find the perfect name for our family. Something that would tell our story, something that would express our beliefs, somewhere that our kids could be proud of graduating from. 

I kept returning to Isaiah 40:31 "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

This is one of my favorite Bible verses, but it just didn't seem right for us. Then something came to me. I told Justin to pray & tell me his thoughts because I wanted God to show both of us. 

Music is a big part of who I am & how I express myself. It always has been. Its nothing new for me to get a song stuck in my head for days or to listen to the lyrics & dive much deeper than your average person would with its meaning.

When I realized that I had a song stuck in my head that I haven't even heard in years, it stopped me in my tracks. I asked Justin if he had given any more thought about our homeschool name. He didn't have an ideas, but he just couldn't get away from Grace.

ding ding ding - We have a winner!

I had clung to 1st Corinthians 15:10 sometime back, "But by the grace of God I am what I am", so this became the verse that represented our school.

So Grace of God Christian Academy was born.

Oh, by the way, that song that was stuck in my head..... 

And just for the fun of it....HERE is a post I wrote on names a few years ago.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Chinese Chicken with Noodles & Egg Rolls

Yet another hit for supper tonight! Well, the kids didn't care for the noodles, but that's ok. Everything else was delish!

I just haven't been in the mood to cook lately. I haven't been planning my menus & I haven't been very frugal when shopping. Oh, that needs to change!

So, its 5 o'clock & NOTHING is planned for supper. The hubby asks me what I have planned. Um....... yeah. So I go scrounging through the cabinets. The beginning of the month gets a little hairy because I usually haven't went to the store on my monthly shopping trip yet.

Hmmm, chicken? Again?

Sure, why not?

I cooked chicken tenders with Grill Mates Spiced Brandy Marinade. I added Apricot preserves (instead of Peach) to the marinade.

I found a bowl of Sesame Teriyaki Noodles (which was an individual bowl - but I knew the kids wouldn't eat them so no worries), added carrots & mushrooms and popped it in the microwave.

I also threw a few frozen chicken egg rolls into the oven.

And viola! Supper thrown together without much thought but was still yummy enough for Justin to agree to take it for lunch tomorrow.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Your Turn

Ok guys. I need a little help here. I have committed to a monumental task! I have signed up for the Ultimate Blog Challenge for the month of July. Everyone who is participating has agreed to post every single day in July. Where you wondering WHY I was blowing up your notifications?! Yep, this is supposed to increase traffic to our blogs.

My regulars know me. You know what I write about. You know my passions. You know my comfort zone. You know my beliefs.

The newbies that are just stopping by, you might still be trying to figure out just who I am.

I want some honest feedback.

Is there a topic that you want me to address? Is there something that I talk about too much? You can tell me, I won't get mad. But just for the record, if you tell me I talk about homeschooling too much, I can't cut back on that. It consumes my life!

Thanks in advance for the feedback! All love!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What's Good for the Goose...

I consider myself a pretty reasonable person. I try not to judge people. I try to treat everyone equally. I have my own set of beliefs that I live for & if the need arose, I would die for. I am passionate about what I believe. I can respect your opinions & your beliefs as well. But don't be surprised if I tell you that I don't agree with you. It doesn't mean I think less of you. It just means that I am outspoken.

What I don't have any tolerance for is stupid people. I'm not talking about people who do something without knowing better. That lack of knowledge is ignorance. But doing something even though you know better is pure stupidity. I also don't handle double standards very well. What is good for one person should be good enough for another.

Now that you know where I stand (some of you already knew me enough to know that), I want to open up a can of worms that has many people upset these days.

I'm not a true fan of Paula Dean. I don't watch her show. I don't even know the name of her show. I do, however, own a baking dish with her name stamped on it that I absolutely love.

Whether I am a supporter of Dean's or not is completely irrelevant. This falls back on morals, which is something that many people today know nothing about. I have no clue whether or not she said many of the things she is being accused of. She has admitted to some of it, but I am sure that some of it has been blown out of proportion.

Should she (or anyone for that matter) use racial slurs, call people names, or belittle others? NO! It should never be accepted. But, why have we thrown Paula Dean to the wolves when we (not me) idolize rappers who call each other names & belittle women on a daily basis? Why has society gone crazy over someone voicing their opinion of another race (whether right or wrong) when people are being murdered for their religious beliefs? Why has every big name supporter dropped her like a hot poker when they continue to sing the praises of athletes who use drugs, movie stars who drive drunk, & musicians who desecrate the American Flag by walking on it?

Does this not PROVE how messed up our society is?!?!

Now, if you are reading this & you can HONESTLY say that you have NEVER said anything that would be considered offensive, disrespectful, or racist, then you are one of a kind & you can throw as many stones as you want to. But, I bet that every single one of us, at one point in our lives, has said or done something that we have looked back on & realized "WOW, that was stupid! I never should have done that."

Most of us live & learn. We try to get better everyday. We want to live in a world where people are kind & good. Where we can live along side our neighbor no matter if the choices they make in life differ from the ones we make. Where we can voice our opinions and beliefs to each other respectfully, without judgement.

Until we stop picking & choosing which sin is bigger & which one we can live with, our world will never have peace.

Just remember that you might want to inspect that glass house of yours for cracks before you go throwing stones. I would hate for it to come crashing down around you.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

We've Got Ears, Say CHEERS

To celebrate Logan's 2nd birthday, we turned out house into a Clubhouse - Mickey Mouse's Clubhouse! We enjoyed the evening with friends and family.

Logan loves Mickey Mouse and he asks to watch it frequently. Although it sounds more like "Me Mouse".

We grilled Hot Diggity Dogs (hot dogs) and Clubhouse Burgers (hamburgers). We had Pete's Pasta (pasta salad), O Toodle Doodles (cheese doodles), Daisy's Garden Treats (veggies with ranch dressing), Donald's Deviled Eggs, & Goofy Ka-bobs (fruit with fruit dip).

To satisfy our sweet tooth, Mouse ka Cookies (Oreos dipped in red chocolate with added ears), Mickey Cakes (cup cakes from a friend), & Minnie Pops (red velvet & chocolate cake layered with cream cheese icing & crushed Oreos) were pretty yummy!

Of course, we couldn't eat any of these goodies without a little help from our Mouse ka Tools.

I had fun planning my baby's party & enjoyed surprising everyone with the fun food names, but the highlight of my night  was when Logan crawled up in my 91 year old grandpa's lap to play his new guitar. He sat there for awhile, content to play music & talk about cows.

I’m Waiting on the Bigger & Better

Sometimes certain people have been in your life so long it’s hard to remember where they came from, how they got there, & even how you l...