Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas To You!

Our Christmas Card Collage of 2012

Wishing you a blessed and safe Christmas ... 
may you be warm and well fed (as my hubby likes to say).

I'll be taking a little blogging break while I spend time down in the Chicago area visiting extended family for the holidays.

May the Lord Bless You and Keep You!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Saying Goodbye to "An Old Friend"

Our Sweet Buca Kitty 

For the past almost 18 years, this beautiful gray kitty has been such a sweet part of my life. In fact, I often would call him "my little shadow". Buca loved to follow me around wherever I would go. From the first night I took him home and he slept curled up in the crook of my neck, he made his way into my heart.

As the years went by, I would always say a little prayer of thanks to the Lord for such a wonderful cat and prayed that when it was his time to pass, it would be peaceful. This cat was truly the sweetest and most mellow cat I have ever known. He didn't have a mean bone in his body. He was always such a gentleman and loved cuddling and craved affection.

The day came almost 6 months ago after he'd become so skinny, that the vet diagnosed him with an inoperable mouth cancer and I knew we had little time left. Amazingly, he endured these last months true to his nature. No matter how much pain he was in, he would still follow me around everywhere, always seek affection, always jump into your lap for some cuddles and maintained his sleeping spot tucked in bed with me. We knew how fortunate we'd been to spend so many years with this sweet companion pet.

This picture below was taken on our last day with him. He would often sit on the back of my chair as I worked on the computer and would drape a paw over my shoulder. On this day, he actually crawled right down onto my chest and I just cradled him in my arms. We also spent some family time all of us sitting on the bed cuddling him and talking with our son about what was happening.

When it was obvious our cat was suffering greatly, we told our son that our vet was going to help him go to heaven. This really seemed to help him accept that our pet would soon be gone. That day, we said our goodbyes and a friend watched my son while I went on to the vet. They swaddled him up in warm blankets and placed him in my arms and I was overwhelmed by how peacefully little Buca left this world. My prayers had been answered and my heart, although so heavy, was at peace knowing he no longer suffered.

As we bury him today and have a time of reflection on his little life, I'm so thankful how the Lord has enriched our lives with these animals we love.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Kiddos and Their "Sticky Situations"

I'm so excited!! I've been selected through Moms Central Consulting to participate in a Wet Ones Blog Blast!! In the past year, I've been expanding my blog a bit and doing some new and different things to network and branch out. Last May, I found Moms Central and submitted my blog. I was so happy today to get the news of being selected to blog about a contest being put on by Wet Ones on Facebook.

Wet Ones is looking for your funniest, most helpful and creative ways you've handled your stickiest situations. Once you submit your entry, your idea might be included in a Wet Ones e-Book while the grand prize winner will receive an iPad Mini. Three runners up will win tickets to Six Flags. I had fun going through my son's baby and early toddler pictures to find one of his cutest messy faces. Putting together my entry reminded me how I had the heaviest diaper bag of any mom I knew (and was teased for it). Yet I was always prepared, no matter how bad the mess or how icky-sticky-gooey it got. I always had a mini-tub of Wet Ones on hand.

If you're interested, simply log on to Facebook and enter the Wet Ones Sticky Situations Contest. A picture isn't required, but fun to add. The contest ends on December 28th, 2012 at 9:59 (EST) so you still have time!

Prizes include:

A brand new iPad Mini


Three (3) sets of prize packs w/tickets for 4 to Six Flags

Best of luck to you!!

Thanks for visiting!

I participated in this campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Wet Ones. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hash Brown Tuna Casserole Creation

There are a few dishes that I'm always on the lookout to improve ... and one of those in our home is Tuna Casserole. About a year ago when I started making a roux for the sauce, that was a huge improvement. Then recently I came across the idea to put hash browns on top! We love potatoes in this home, so I couldn't wait to try it. I think I've finally created what will be our go-to tuna casserole recipe. I found the recipe with the hash browns at the Pencil Kitchen. My recipe below is actually a combination of several recipes I've tried and liked over the years that I've now combined into one. Hope you enjoy it if you try it.


  • 4 T butter
  • 2 to 4 T flour
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 large can flaked Tuna
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce
  • few stalks of celery
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 T minced garlic
  • peas
  • egg noodles
  • hash browns, preferably thawed but I used frozen


  • Melt the butter in a large pot and whisk in the flour. Stir for almost a minute before adding milk. 
  • Slowly add the milk stirring thoroughly over medium high heat and cook until bubbling. Be careful to stir frequently so it doesn't burn or scorch. 
  • Add cottage cheese, cheddar, Parmesan and stir until completely melted.
  • Add garlic powder, salt/pepper to taste, bread crumbs, Worcestershire.
  • Using a fork, add tuna to mixture along with cooked peas.
  • In a separate saucepan, cook onion, celery and garlic in a little butter until tender and add to mixture.
  • Cook the egg noodles until done and add to tuna mixture.
  • Place in either a large casserole dish or dutch oven. (I used a dutch oven.) 
  • Place enough hash browns on top to cover and then sprinkle some shredded cheddar.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes until nicely browned. You may even need to turn on your broiler for the last 5 minutes to get them browned on top, which I did.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, December 7, 2012

MOTMF has a new Facebook Page!

Musings of the Monroe Family (MOTMF) 
has a new Facebook page! 

I have really enjoyed writing these past few years on my blog ... and now that I'm coming upon my 3-year anniversary in January, I thought I'd make things more official :)

I now have a Facebook page where I'll be sharing some content on a (hopefully) regular basis. You are welcome to visit the page and "Like" it if you want.

MOTMF is also on Twitter. I'm tweeting @MusingsMonroes.

I'd love it if you follow me there!!

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Creating an Advent Tradition

One of our Nativity sets

Growing up, we always had a chocolate Advent calendar and my four sisters and I took turns opening the little window and eating the chocolate. We didn't have any specific traditions for Advent that I can remember, and once our son was two we wanted to create some meaningful traditions of our own. For the first couple years after my son was born, we had the chocolate calendar and a few random activities but nothing very organized. This year I finally have something I created that we can follow each day. I gained my inspiration from Intentional Homeschool's 2011 and 2012 Advent posts. We truly desire to celebrate the birth of Jesus with a spirit of giving and have that be the most important thing our son takes into his heart during this season. We really enjoy spending family time together and we're looking forward to this.

Our new Avian Advent Calendar (and my son's very busy school desk)

My sister sent us a surprise Advent gift today ... a lovely Avian Advent calendar (from the Metropolitan Museum of Art). Each day of Advent there is a little door to open with a bird inside that you hang on the little tree. We'll be doing this daily along with letting my son open a chocolate Advent calendar like we had growing up. He always gets so excited about that.

I created a list of activities we'll do each day. Then I went searching for a list of Bible verses we can reflect on and discuss. I love this printable I found of Advent Bible verse cards which have the verses we'll use each day.

Our Advent Activities:
  • Color a picture for the garbage man (the man who smiles and waves to my son every week while we watch him through the window)
  • Listen to Christmas music and sing carols at home
  • Have eggnog and make Reindeer cookies
  • Go to Festival of Lights and drive around the neighborhood looking at the wonderful Christmas lights
  • Watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
  • Make hot chocolate and stir with candy canes
  • Visit "Grandma Betty" (lady we adopted at a nearby care center); bring homemade Christmas card
  • Read story of the real St. Nicholas here or here
  • Create a food pantry box of food to donate
  • Go outside with telescope and binoculars to marvel at the stars
  • Make homemade suet treats for the birds
  • Read The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
  • Make our own Christmas snowflakes
  • Create a donation box of goods to donate and bring to Goodwill
  • Make and decorate Christmas cookies
  • Deliver Christmas cookie plates to neighbors
  • Footprint Reindeer Craft (another link here)
  • Make homemade Christmas cards to give to our family at Christmas
  • Go Christmas caroling 
  • Read story of The Very First Christmas with Nativity Stickers
  • Watch Nester the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (one of my childhood favorites)
  • Make Eggnog Ice Cream from Stacy Makes Cents
  • Read My Birthday, Jesus' Birthday by Holly Davis
  • Make birthday cake for Jesus' Birthday
Two weeks before Christmas, we'll start listening to Karyn Henley's Christmas Night (Before I Dream) CD bible stories and songs at bedtime. There are 13 of them, so we'll start on Dec. 12th and finish on Christmas Eve.

I'm really looking forward to creating some neat family memories and a tradition to treasure. What Advent traditions do you have in your family? I'd love to hear about them.

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Blessings

Picture taken at my sister's house Nov. 2011

I have so much to be thankful for ...
a wonderful family
loving and kind friends
a cozy home
an abundance of food
good health
reliable transportation
being home with my son
a husband who is the spiritual leader of our home
a sweet, rambunctious, engaging little boy
a dynamic and growing relationship with My Savior
...and this is just to name a few of the many blessings the Lord continues to pour out on me.

So thankful I get to share my life with others here in this space.

Blessings to you on this Thanksgiving holiday!

Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to Him with thanksgiving. (Psalm 95:1-2)

Thanks for your visit! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Our Nature Journals and the Charlotte Mason Method

I'm so excited about our Nature Journals!! We just got started with these and I hope to make it a regular activity. I have come across nature journaling at various homeschool sites and I've always been intrigued. We love getting outdoors and I find that purposeful exploration is something my son really enjoys and he is learning so much. He made sure I participated too, and I just loved it. We live in a condo complex and so we went exploring around the connected yards and then across the street where there is a lovely pond. We can't wait to do more!

Mommy's Nature Journal Pages:

Things I Collected

Drawings of What I Collected with Details at Bottom

J's Nature Journal Pages:

Things J Collected

Drawings of what J collected

In doing a lot of research over the past couple years on homeschooling and the various curriculum available, I find that I really like many aspects of the Charlotte Mason style of homeschooling. There are a few things that really stand out. The first is the value she placed on the study of nature. She emphasized with her students a daily ritual of spending time outside in their natural surroundings. Taking part in nature walks, creating nature notebooks, these all help children in learning to observe and appreciate the delicate intricacies of the world around them. It is so great to get out in the fresh air and go exploring with my son in our outdoor classroom.

Her emphasis on reading by focusing on good children's literature is another. I've been enjoying discovering the sweet stories of olden days, bypassing what Charlotte refers to as meaningless "twaddle" and seeking instead what she refers to as "living books". A few of our favorites are the Thorton Burgess series of children's nature books, The Brambly Hedge series by Jill Barklem as well as the books of Beatrix Potter.

Another aspect I enjoy which we've brought into our own homeschooling is narration. My son has an incredibly creative side of him that is really blossoming as we've taken off in our homeschool journey. He loves to tell stories. This fits very well with Charlotte Mason's emphasis on narration as a powerful learning tool. We've incorporated narration as we go through different books and J will summarize as we go along retelling the story in his own words.

I have really enjoyed engaging in this type of learning style with my son in addition to the homeschool program we're doing through Hearts of Dakota (Little Hearts for His Glory). I am so thankful to be able to be home with him in this season of our lives!

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Beefy Macaroni with Cabbage

Last year, I made corned beef and cabbage and my husband didn't much care for it. I enjoyed it, but since that time I've been searching for a beef and cabbage recipe that my family likes. We've gotten cabbage a couple times through our CSA so I've been experimenting with some different recipes. My family really enjoys this meal. After making it a few times, we've incorporated it into our regular meal rotation. I really like the combination of the red wine vinegar and brown sugar as you cook the cabbage. It really adds great flavor to the meal. It's also another all-in-one meal and those are my favorite.

I originally found this recipe when I googled "beef and cabbage recipes". It was from ifoodTV but I tweeked it a bit.


  • 1 LB ground beef
  •  1 large onion, chopped
  •  2 T crushed or minced garlic
  •  1 regular sized cabbage
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 T bacon grease
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1 can (28 oz) stewed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni or shells


  • In a Dutch oven or large pan over high heat, cook beef, breaking up into little pieces until nice and browned with no pink remaining.
  •  Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and garlic. Cook while stirring for 3 minutes or until onion is softened. 
  • Stir in cabbage, vinegar and brown sugar. (I also added a little bacon grease with a little bit of white sugar. It created a nice sweetness.) Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until cabbage is wilted. Stir in stewed tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until cabbage is tender.
  • Cook pasta to desired tenderness. (I like using shells.) Add to meat mixture.
  • Sprinkle with a little Paprika and serve.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pizza in Heaven

I absolutely love this CD, and have a neat story to tell about it. I was at our local library a few months back and this CD with the quirky title caught my eye. It was called, "Pizza in Heaven". I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at the songs and found out this was a children's worship CD. After looking further, I realized that I actually knew the artist, Lori Beil. She was from a church my husband and I had attended for a season in New Glarus, WI. I remember several times Lori spoke during the open sharing time about what the Lord was doing in her life and in her family and I was always encouraged.

Little did I know how much my son and I would grow to love singing these songs together! Her folk-type singing is very appealing to me, and I think I enjoyed listening to it as much (or even more) than my son. I am always encouraged when I listen to God's word set to music. I struggle a bit with memorizing scripture and I find it so much easier to learn scripture through songs.

Well, I knew this CD had made a huge impact when something interesting happened one morning. I can't remember where we were going, but as I was buckling my son into his car seat, he started saying words like "Peace, Patience, Love" just out of the blue with a big smile on his face. I told him I was curious what made him think of those words. He was so cute as he said "Because Jesus put them on my heart, mommy!" It was then that I realized he was repeating the fruits of the spirit, which happens to be one of the songs on the CD and is my favorite (Fruit of the Spirit song). I started singing the song and he sang along with me; it was just precious.

Then something really cool happened. Recently, I started a little part-time work at our local YMCA and was there for a training session. At the training, I thought one of the gals looked familiar. It turns out she was Lori's daughter whom I met while we attended their church. I got a chance to talk with her a bit and told her how blessed we'd been by her mom's music and Pizza in Heaven. She told me she couldn't wait to tell her mom and that this would just make her day. Well, I was blessed again when I ran into her mom (who was picking her up from the training). Her daughter had called ahead and here was her mom with a brand new CD for me called We Want to Know You. She wouldn't even let me pay for it, but said how sweet it was to hear my story and she wanted me to have the CD as a gift. I was so touched. It is such a nice worship CD that I like to listen to when I have that precious time to myself.

It tickled me that God had connected us in this way through the CD and I was so glad I got to tell Lori firsthand the story about my son J and the Fruit of the Spirit experience we had in the car. I love how God is always at work, I know I shouldn't be surprised but it always tickles me when something like this happens. I just love it. Her website is called Pizza in Heaven. This link takes you directly to the Pizza in Heaven's lyric page. When you click on the individual songs, you will hear an mp3 clip. I hope you enjoy listening to her music too!

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Meatball Sub Casserole

I always love to try new recipes, and was excited to find this one. We love spaghetti in our house. In fact, my husband could literally have it every week. Yet I wanted to find something to mix up "spaghetti night" in our home and was glad I found this. It was from the Gooseberry Patch website. I enjoy their cookbooks so much, I check them out from our library regularly. They are fun to read! They have all kinds of neat country drawings and wonderful cooking, kitchen and home tips on every page. I signed up for their monthly newsletter too and now own my first Gooseberry cookbook called Blue Ribbon Family Favorites.

So, I had high hopes for the recipe but it wasn't as scrumptious as I'd hoped! I think my husband and I just didn't like the bread-y-ness of it. If I made it again (which I might), I would put spaghetti noodles on the bottom of it instead of the bread. I think that would help make it a bit lighter. Sorry the picture doesn't look the most appetizing. The picture on the Gooseberry website is much better ;)


  • 1 loaf Italian bread, cut into 1-inch thick slices
  • 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened (I used Neufchatel with 1/3 less fat)
  • 1/2 c. light mayonnaise
  • 1 t. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • Homemade meatballs (I use the meatball recipe from Taste of Home's spaghetti and meatballs)
  • 28-oz. jar pasta sauce

  • Arrange bread slices in a single layer in an ungreased 13"x9" baking pan; set aside. 
  • In a bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and seasonings; spread over bread slices. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese; set aside. 
  • Place meatballs on top of bread, then spaghetti sauce. 
  • Sprinkle with remaining cheese. 
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serves 4.

Thanks for visiting :)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kicking off the Christmas Season

2011 Picture of J and our Tree
2011 Christmas at my Sister's House

Now that Halloween is over, I'm thinking Christmas. I love the Christmas season. And I'm realizing how much I like to start early. I will admit, I start listening to Christmas music in October. That way, I get to listen to my holiday favorites for two months!

Here are some of my favorite things of the season:
*Listening to Christmas music
*Baking warm, yummy treats (breads, cookies, muffins)
*Decorating our home
*Lighting fragrant candles (couple favorites: Spruce, Vanilla Brown Sugar)
*Creating an Advent celebration
*Celebrating Jesus' Birthday, keeping Christ in Christmas
*Hot chocolate
*SNOW!!!  I really can't wait for this part. I love all things snow like ice skating, making snow men, snow shoeing and skiing, and above all just WATCHING it snow!!

You'll notice I found some cool graphics to add a Christmas touch to my blog. Thank you to Blogamation and their free animated designs! I had fun adding these to the blog to kick off the Christmas season. They give you easy step-by-step instructions for how to add the code to your blog.

Another thing that's been fun for me is putting together a Christmas Planner binder. One area I really enjoy is  organizing. I stumbled upon some great Christmas planning sites this year and made my first Christmas planner.

Christmas Planner

It took me a while to scour the internet and find exactly what I wanted/needed. The amazing thing is so many printables are free! I have included links to all the websites where I found the ones I'll be using. It is so great to get a jump on this season in a way I just never did before.

Things I'm including:
-Christmas Planning Coversheet from My Papercrafting Obsession
-125 + Stocking Stuffer Ideas from Organizing Home Life
-Holiday Gift List from Ann's Amazing Holiday Planner
-Holiday Card List from Ann's Amazing Holiday Planner
-Christmas Newsletter Planner from Organizing Home Life
-Christmas Wish List from Organizing Home Life
-Thank You Note Organizer from Clean Mama's Etsy Shop

Now I can't wait until we get our first snow!!

Thank you for visiting!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mmmm....Tuna Melt Casserole

I really enjoy casseroles. There's nothing like a meal that has everything in one dish :) It's always fun to try new casserole recipes and this one caught my eye. I found this somewhere on Google, but now I can't find my link. I think it was from

We love tuna, but just don't eat it that often. So when I saw "tuna melt" casserole, I was intrigued since I love a good tuna melt. This dish has a yummy roux for the sauce and uses Swiss cheese with tomatoes on top. The key was after cooking I decided to put it in the broiler for 10 minutes to brown the tomato/cheese topping. We'd definitely make this again!

1 pkg (16 oz) pasta shells
1 bag of frozen peas
2 T butter
2 T flour
1/4 t pepp
4 cups milk
2 cups shredded Swiss
1 can tuna
2 med tomatoes sliced

Cooking Directions:
  • Set oven to 400. Cook pasta in salted water for 5 min then add frozen peas and cook another 5 min until peas are tender and pasta is al dente. Drain and set aside.
  • Melt butter and stir in flour, salt, pepp until blended stirring 1 min. Gradually stir in milk and increase heat to med high cooking until it thickens and boils. Boil 1 min stirring freq. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup Swiss.
  • Add in cheese sauce and tuna to pasta and peas in pot, stir until well-mixed. Transfer to casserole dish arranging tomato slices on top. Sprinkle with rest of cheese.
  • Cover with foil and bake 20 min until hot and bubbly.
  • Remove foil and broil for 10 minutes on low until topping is nicely browned.

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil

I love the opportunities out there for bloggers. Lately, I've been looking for various "Affiliate" relationships where you can try out a product for free and evaluate it on your blog.

I stumbled upon a blog where someone tried out coconut oil from Tropical Traditions so I looked into it. I was so excited to find out they would give me a free 32-ounce container and said I could review it on my blog. I received it right away and have been enjoying it ever since. They have an informative video on YouTube where I learned that they make this coconut oil by hand, not machine. It was interesting to see the variety of products they have developed that are available on their website. Everything from free range eggs, grass-fed beef, to soaps, lotions and hair products. Another interesting part of the website I found was the founder's testimony of how he came to know the Lord after he survived a car accident that should have killed him.

This was only the third container of coconut oil I'd ever tried, and I was very pleased. It has a very full coconut flavor and it has been fun to cook with too. I've used it to saute green beans, cook up a chicken breast, enjoyed it in my oatmeal and my favorite: coconut oil and peanut butter on toast. I also discovered a ton of great recipes on their free recipe site too.

Thank you Tropical Traditions for your generous offer and allowing me to enjoy some delicious and nutritious coconut oil!

**Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for a free product.

Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Recipe (Olive Garden's) Zuppa Toscana

My husband and I love the Olive Garden restaurant. In fact, it's our default place to go when we decide to go out for dinner. The main reason is because you can order soup, salad and breadsticks as a meal. It's so economical since it only costs $6.95; literally half of some of their regular entrees.

When fall comes, I always love to try new soup, stew and chili recipes so finding this one was fun. It's the Olive Garden's "cheater" recipe but I tweeked it a bit. It was so simple, just throw the ingredients in and let it simmer for an hour. Then we paired it with some bread and butter and had an awesome meal. I found the recipe here.

Zuppa Toscana Soup 

1 lb mild Italian sausage
3 cans chicken broth
2 cups (16 ounces) whipping cream
salt and pepper (to taste)
3-4 potatoes sliced thin
1 turnip, sliced thin
2 large carrots, chopped
1/2 onion, diced

Place all ingredients into a soup pot. Cook on medium for 1 to 1-1/2 hours until the vegetables are tender.
Serve with crackers or your favorite bread.


Thanks for visiting :o)

Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Favorite Season

One of the trees from our recent Arboretum visit

 I love Autumn. 
There are so many simple things I love about fall, and I find that treasuring these little blessings brings peace and joy to my heart. I decided to make a list of some of these things I love about it.
  • The crisp, fall air and the beauty of the leaves as they change color.
  • All things pumpkin; pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice coffee, pumpkin decorating, visiting a pumpkin patch while my son picks out his pumpkin.
  • Finally needing a blanket at night and cuddling underneath its warmth as the air is cool around me.
  • The beautiful colors of fall; the deep oranges, reds, browns. So rich and lovely.
  • Baking all different kinds of treats; cookies, breads, etc. Using the oven freely.
  • Catching glimpses of various migratory birds we rarely get to see.
  • The melodious honking sounds as the flocks of Canadian geese fly above on their migratory journey.
  • Curling up on the couch with a blanket and reading a good book.

Over the weekend, we celebrated my husband's 50th birthday. I have to say L is one of the most nonchalant people I know. When I asked him how it felt to turn 50 (he is 8 years older than me), he said "It's just another day." I tried to make it special for him. We had a nice visit to Devil's Lake in Baraboo on Thursday and then took a lovely walk in our local Arboretum on Saturday. 

Here are some pictures from our time in the Arboretum:


Nature ABC's

We are enjoying our homeschool time. What a blessing this is. I am so glad I found Hearts of Dakota with the lessons all put together for me. I just look in my manual and know which page to go to in each different subject (handwriting, fine motor skills, math, history, Devotional/Bible study, science, phonics and reading). My son and I are having a lot of fun with it. 

This quote I found from Mom Heart Online really spoke to my heart as one of the reasons I cherish this opportunity to homeschool.

"To prepare our children to fully live out God’s plan for their lives, as parents we must: intentionally pour into them God’s precepts and truths, fill their hearts with grace and love, expose them to beauty and mercy, and whisper into their lives principles that will guide them when the world gets loud and distracting." 

I feel this is one of the main things we are doing in spending my days with my son while homeschooling. Time is such a precious commodity and it moves so quickly. I know the years will move fast and then my son will be leaving the home to be on his own. Investing in him in this way is what I feel called to do and a response to what God teaches in Deuteronomy about raising children. (Deuteronomy 6:7 and 11:19). Choosing what my son learns is a huge part of why we homeschool, yet redeeming this time (that would otherwise be lost to public schooling) is deepest in my heart. For such a time as this and our budget allows, I cherish spending each precious day with my son and like in Ephesians 5:16 to make the most of every opportunity.

Investing in our Marriage
This summer my husband (L) and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. What a blessing! It is also challenging and yet such a huge opportunity to grow when we allow the Lord to convict us and surrender (our junk) to Him. One of the things we find so important is spending quality time together. We like to take time each day to reflect together over what's going on in our lives, and how the Lord is at work in us and through us. I like the Greek word "koinonia". This word occurs 20 times in the bible, usually translated as "fellowship" but meaning a type of communion or spiritual intimacy with another believer.

When L's summer schedule doesn't allow very easily for this, we see how important it is for the health of our marriage. When we seem to be drifting apart or not getting along, we know we are in need of this special time. Right now, we are going through a book by John Piper called This Momentary Marriage. John Piper has become somewhat of a mentor in my husband's life; we even traveled over 250 miles this summer to meet him and hear him preach. We are looking forward to how the Lord will be working to strengthen our marriage and continue to help it be a signpost to others. 

These are just a few of the things that have been going on in my life lately. So happy to be able to share it here. 

Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Time to Catch Up

Wow, it seems like forever since I've been writing regularly on my blog! I now have about 5 posts all in draft form, but just haven't completed them. It has been a wonderful summer filled with lots of activity, and just this week the weather finally started turning toward fall. Fall is one of my favorite seasons. Just today I enjoyed a Pumpkin Latte and we're looking forward to a lovely fall getaway next weekend in Door County, Wisconsin. I love the changing colors of the leaves, wearing warm sweaters, hiking in the woods on a crisp fall day, and picking pumpkins for fall carving just to mention a few.

I have to share a movie I watched within the last week that really touched my heart, The Encounter. It's a movie where five strangers take refuge in a diner where the proprietor seems oddly all-knowing. They truly have an encounter with Jesus. While some may certainly find the premise and even the acting cheesy, for some reason it didn't hit me that way at all. I'm glad my heart was in the right place to receive it. I heard about the movie on somebody's blog and I agree with this person who shared the following comment:

"I saw this movie just last night on Netflix. My parents recommended it and I must say, it is the best movie I have EVER seen. The way Jesus is presented seems to be parallel with what Scripture details Him to be like, and I was very, very impressed with the character development, setting, plot, and overall quality echoing throughout the whole film. Besides being a source of superb visual entertainment, The Encounter was extremely uplifting and really made me think about my own spiritual relationship with the Lord. I was also very surprised at how well it explained the difficult question of why God allows us to suffer if He loves us, and how suffering helps to lead us to Him. I mean normally that's a very touchy subject, but here it was explained succinctly. What an incredible feature! I'd recommend it to everyone!"

What an incredible movie!

I am also enjoying our year-long reading of the bible with our church using You Version, our study is called "Eat This Book". I have never "listened" to the bible before, and it has been an amazing way to have my quiet time. I just enjoy reading along with the narrator and then stopping every so often just to journal what the Lord is teaching me. Lately, the verse that says "the last shall be first and the first shall be last" (Matthew 20:16) has really convicted me. The way God is using that verse in my heart is amazing. I'm becoming very sensitive to seeing how many times I feel "wronged" or upset when something didn't go the way I wanted, planned or expected. This shows up in so many different places in my life and I'm glad the Lord has brought it to the forefront.

On another note, I have decided to homeschool J for at least the next few years. I am so blessed to have the support of several other moms that have been homeschooling for several years and have really encouraged me in taking this step. I found a curriculum through Hearts of Dakota called "Little Hearts for His Glory". It's a 2-year Kindergarten program and we'll be starting on Monday. It's good that we can ease our way into it, and J can't wait to get started. After doing "Tot School" and home preschool for the past couple years, I feel led to continue in this way. I am truly blessed to be at home with my son in this season of life, and can't think of a better way to invest my time than through this homeschool journey together.

Looking forward to posting again soon!

Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Enjoying Summer!

Enjoying some free ice cream at our county's "Breakfast on the Farm"

Wow, when I said I thought things would slow down a bit on the blog this summer, I had no idea they would slow down this much!! Here I am again and in 2 days it's one month since my last post.

It's time for a photo montage!! That will be my project this week (hopefully).

Our first time participating in a CSA at Tipi Produce

I hope you all are enjoying your summer. Ours is going very nicely, but Southern Wisconsin is experiencing a severe drought! We are also having one of the hottest summers on record with several days strung together reaching over 100. Now that is HOT. I was thankful our pastor asked our congregation to join him in praying for the local farmers who are being hit extremely hard. I pray for them every time I drive by the drying corn and soybean fields. Surprisingly, my garden is still doing well since I've maintained a fairly decent watering schedule. We are looking forward to some garden-fresh, juicy tomatoes! This is also our first year joining a CSA (community supported agriculture). We get a box of fresh vegetables every other week and I've been cooking with lots of fun things like bok coy, kohlrabi, beets and turnips. Things I've never made before. Our insurance provider reimburses us $200 so it is very affordable. We will probably do this every year now.

Our 20-gallon bucket "tank" with our 5 new tadpoles 
(you can just barely see two of them swimming at opposite sides here)

We also have a fun project - we're keeping TADPOLES! Ever since we watched a caterpillar transform into a butterfly, I've been wanting to find tadpoles for my science-loving son to see transform into frogs (in this case toads). He gets a big kick out of saying "metamorphosis". My sister had some toads lay hundreds of eggs in their backyard pond so we brought home five of the tadpoles. We're keeping them in a 20 gallon square bucket and we had one of them just develop legs.

What are some of the fun things you've been enjoying this summer?

Thanks for visiting!!