Monday, August 31, 2015

Homeschooling And a Few Recipes

Homeschooling for our family is a new normal - well,not sure if I should call it a normal yet! :)

I decided that I'd like to share with y'all about our homeschooling experience throughout this year.

If you would have asked me even two years ago if I would consider homeschooling, I might have looked at you a little funny.That was definitely NOT on my list along side mothering! ;) Lets just say God has a way of changing mind and attitude as He sees fit.

With our move to Texas we decided to give homeschooling a shot. There were a few things that made us lean in that direction. A big one for me was that we fell in love with the Abeka Curriculum and the fact that we could put two children through school for a price less than it would have cost to put one child through private school.

And as we discussed it more, it sounded more and more appealing to me to go ahead and try it,give it a fair chance and see how it goes.

As the time to start got closer, I found myself dreading it more than I wanted to :) 

When we finally took a day to do some school shopping I did find my excitement again.

We are now starting our third week of homeschool and I will admit there are mixed emotions. Today I was dreading it. And sometimes I find myself whispering things of frustration under my breath ;) But I can't say that there is a one day that went just horrible.

Sometimes there are tears.
Sometimes frustration.
Some days take extra prayer.
It's stretching and at the same time it can be a time of growing if I allow it to be.
But most of all, if God brought us to it, He will bring us through it.

There are lots of good and funny things about it too!

I love it that I don't have to leave the house at a certain time.
The funny things the children say at times are entertaining and brighten the day.For example, Jack and Jill may or may not have been the first people God created. :)

It's definitely a journey and I want to embrace it with JOY.

Is there something that you thought you would NEVER do if you had a choice?

Let me just say that if I can home school , that's a sure sign that if God wants you to do a "Never" then His grace will definitely be there :) :)

Speaking of school, my little sister entered seventh grade this year.How is that even possible??

Now for the recipes.
This week I tried two new recipes that were a hit with this mama :)

When I got married to my husband it didn't take long to figure out that no-bake cookies were a favorite around their house growing up. It was even said that there was a certain brother that made a batch and hid them under the bed.I assume it was to ensure that he got his share ;) He's a great guy but I guess he was serious about his no-bake cookies! :)

We are not a sugar free home but we do like to cut back if we can.And I'm not here saying these are the healthiest snack ever...but a persons got to have a no bake cookie every now and then, and I feel alot better about eating these.Give them a try with an open mind :) If you're married to a man that knows his no-bake cookies, well then, he will detect the difference.But that doesn't say he won't love them! :) :)

The second recipe I tried was this fabulous,wonderful,melt in your mouth cornbread! :) Yes, I loved it that much!! 

So the next time you cook a pot of chili, make this cornbread.Slather it it with butter and douse it with honey.Your mouth will thank you! :)

****A quick edit here****** I forgot to mention the cornbread recipe turned out to be a really stiff batter. Not sure if it was me or the recipe :) A little extra milk fixed that right up to a better consistency.

I need to run and feed the little mouths around here now.
May God's grace run deep for you this week!

<3 - Staci

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"My thoughts are not your thoughts,neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

It's been awhile since I even stopped by my own blog :) But I thought I'd just stop by with a quick little update for all of our friends out there who really have no clue what is going on in our lives right now :) 

Most of you know that my Dad died almost a year ago. I can't believe it's been a year already!
In many ways the last year has been extremely difficult.But it's also had it's good times! :)

We felt that God is leading us to move to Texas to be closer to Mom, so in about 3 1/2 weeks we will be Texas bound.

It has been a difficult decision. 6 1/2 years ago we made the move here to SC. We fell in love with our church and friends that we have here,and we thought we were settled to raise our family :)  so it's sad to say good bye and start over in another place, but at the same time we are excited to follow God's will and are very,very thankful for the time we did get to spend here in SC!
These years have been years of growing for us, and looking back I think God was preparing us for this day.

So if you think about it, just say a prayer for us as we pack up (hopefully that'll all fall together! :) ) and as final preparations are being made.

~ Staci

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Traveling With Kids

This year we've had our share of traveling!
I don't know about you, but for me,traveling with three kids can seem to take almost every ounce of energy I have till we reach our destination! :)
I knew that fall and winter we were going to have two major trips to take.First off, traveling to Ohio for Thanksgiving.And then to Texas a month later for Christmas.
I felt like I wanted to spend some time getting ready and organized for these road trips.Maybe I could cut out some of the whining and crying,and maybe,just maybe make it go a little faster.
 I set to work browsing pinterest and diy projects. So in case you have a trip coming up, or you're looking for some quiet time activities I'll show you what I came up with.

1. Felt Car Mats

I went to dollar tree and bought each of the children a cookie sheet, $1 a piece. I had found ideas for felt car mats that I thought were so cute. And I set to crafting.It's not difficult at all! It just takes time.
If you browse pinterest and do a search for felt car mats, you will find plenty to choose from! 

Also at Dollar Tree I found a pack with maybe 10 to 12 mini cars that worked perfectly for these mats.

(you will have to excuse the picture quality! I am not a professional after all! ;) )

2. I Spy Jar

Very simple.I went through Hailey's polly pockets and picked out about 25 mini things to hide in rice. 
To make it more fun I added food coloring to the rice,baked it a little bit to dry it.Added some silver balls actually intended for cookie decorating.But they worked just fine in the rice. Then I hot glued the lid onto the jar to avoid spills.

I took a picture of the mini things and then they had that card to check off the items as they found them.

*if you laminate your pages, the kids can use a dry erase marker to mark off things as they find them and after they are done that will easily wipe off.

3. Scavenger Hunts,Road Sign Bingo and Restaurant Bingo

You can find free printables  here for the bingo and scavenger hunt game cards.

4. Puzzles

I also found some cute puzzles at Dollar Tree.

 I took the pieces out of the box and glued magnet pieces to the back of each individual piece.This way they can use the cookie sheet to put the puzzle together, and hopefully the piece will stick onto the tray and they will not always have to reach down to grab a stray piece that fell.

5. Tic-Tac-Toe

I cut a simple tic tac toe game out of felt.I don't know about your kids,but my kids like this game.Even if the one of them doesn't totally get it! ;)

6. Felt Puzzle

I cut a simple rainbow puzzle out of felt.

7. Book Activites

One lady had the idea of having your child draw a picture of something for every state you drive through. 
I liked that idea and found some leap pad notepads that had space for a picture and then lines to write a story or something about the picture. 
Braxton and Hailey didn't draw for every state we went through but it was still something fun for them.

I also found some word searches and hidden picture books.If you have an Ollies anywhere near,that is a great place to find some of these things for cheap!

8. The Question Game

I found free printables here for a game of "Would you rather". Some were funny questions, some were just plain old questions.But the kids loved it and got a kick out of it!  

9. Movies

And of course I stuck in some movies for those times I just didn't feel like entertaining or helping along with the other activites! :) 

10.Fishing Game

Just an easy felt pond on a green page of felt.And lots of little fish with magnets glued on the inside. I took a yellow no.2 pencil and wrapped and glued twine all around it for the fishing rod.At the end of the line I glued another magnet to "catch" the fish. A good activity for the toddler in the vehicle.

11. Good Behaviour Pins and the Hugs and Kisses Jar

I don't have pictures of these but I simply took clothes pins,one for each child and clipped it to my sun visor. I told them if they can keep those pins up there with good behavior,then at each gas stop,if their pin is still there I will pay them with a gold coin. (chocolate coins from Dollar Tree :) ) We did that for one trip.

I also had a little pill bottle that I painted.It was the Hugs and Kisses jar.
My plan was to make it a "chill pill jar" and put some nasty candy in and for offenses from the mouth, the offender would eat a piece of the yuckiness as punishment (I know,I'm mean like that!)
Anyway, lets just say, I have a family of sweet teeth! It didn't seem like I could really find a candy to make that idea work,and I wasn't about to feed them jelly beans that taste like vomit, let alone putting myself at risk to eat those! I'll be truthful,there's times my mouth says things it shouldn't,and I was putting myself under the same punishment as them. (I'm nice like that!)
So as I was pondering it one day,trying to figure it out,the grand idea came to mind of a hug and kisses jar. Inspired by Hershey Kisses :) I decided they can each have a pile of kisses to start and if they speak rudely or unkind,they will give the person they were talking to a "kiss" from their stash. (I have a little sick humor like that! ;) ) At the end of the trip,whatever stash they had left was theirs for the eating.
They loved the idea!

I took everything I got together and put it in one big box.

Now,with all these good ideas,they really were! I would do a few things different.
Within the first few hours I was sick of switching out activities! 

And because I had spent so much time making all these great things,my blood pressure raised a little,when halfway through the trip the activities were scattered and at risk of being stepped on and possibly ruined. I know,I incredibly crazy of me! :)

I decided that next time, I would split the activities up into individual back packs,that way they could help themselves a little better and I didn't have to be twisting around in my seat the whole trip.
And,I would decide in my heart before the trip,to take it lightly if something gets ruined.Hey,that's life.Especially life with kids.No need to waste a few precious minutes over something so futile!

Now that our trips are over, I use the activity box for a quiet time box. Something to pull out while I'm making supper, or those times that I really just need some quiet.
It was worth the time spent to make the activites.

And just because I think they are cute kids,I'll leave you with one last picture.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 - One Day At A Time

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

As a New Year started,I found myself a bit apprehensive.Perhaps even a little bit fearful. 

What will this year hold for us? 
Will this be a good year or another year marked with pain?

Some-days fear lingers near.Uncertainty wants to crowd out trust in my sweet Jesus.

But then I remember, I must only take "One Day At a Time."

"One Day At a Time" will be my theme song this year.
I know God is with me.He goes before me.I have nothing to fear.

My prayer for 2015 is :

If I have wounded any soul today,
If I have caused one foot to go astray,
If I have walked in mine own willful way,
Dear Lord,Forgive!
If I have uttered idle words or vain,
If I have turned aside from want or pain,
Lest I myself shall suffer through the strain,
Dear Lord, Forgive!
If I have been perverse or hard,or cold,
If I have longed for shelter in the fold,
When thou hast given me some fort to hold,
Dear Lord, Forgive!
Forgive the sins I have confessed to thee,
Forgive the secret sins I do not see,
O guide me,love me and my keeper be,
Dear Lord,Forgive!  

Happy New Year (13 days late) :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Cross,Grief and Christmas in Heaven

I'm not gonna lie. This Christmas season has proven to be extremely difficult!
One night last week I finally fell apart! 
I was crying to Joel, telling him how frustrating it is to me that I don't feel the Christmas Spirit this year, how I was dreading to face Christmas without dad and everything else that looked so horrible to me that night.
I was stretched,with way more than my weak self wanted to handle.
And those are the nights when grief seems to hit hard!

For so long I'd been thinking about Christmas and how it's going to be without dad, but I was able to kind of push it to the back of my mind.Now here we were, two weeks away from it and it hit me full force that this Christmas is going to be so different!

I'm usually one who LOVES Christmas! I like to pack our weeks with making chocolates and going to local nativity scenes or driving through lights.
I'm about making traditions with the family.
And I know, Christmas isn't about chocolates and lights and passing out goody plates, but it's fun, it adds to the spirit of Christmas.
But this year, EVERYTHING I was doing was taking much,much more effort. I just couldn't handle the stress of even the simplest things! And I was not okay with that.

 To top it off, in the few weeks before that I just felt like God was so far away. Or...more like I was so far away from God.I prayed but it seemed my prayers didn't go far.I wanted so much just to feel His presence. So one day I just kind of told God where I was at. I don't remember my prayer exactly but I think I asked to feel His presence.

I need Him.I wanted Him.

And God came through, just like he always does.

That night while I was laying there in grief, I was looking at the door leading to the bathroom, and I saw a perfect cross. It's been there all along,and maybe I noticed it before, but not like I did that night! God touched my heart.That cross to me meant Jesus.God's presence.God was showing me that even though Christmas seems kind of unChristmasy this year, I can still have Christmas in my heart.

And Christmas really is about The Cross! About what Jesus did for us.
This Christmas I'm especially thankful that Jesus was born and that we can have eternal life because of the cross!
And as I think of dad spending Christmas in heaven, I just wonder what it will be like.I know his Christmas is going to be a Christmas like he's never had before! Really, I think it's Christmas in Heaven year round! I know he's having a wonderful time like he's never had before! And I am so happy for him. So even though he will be missed this Christmas, I couldn't wish him back!

Merry Christmas to all of you! And let's remember, it's about the cross!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Baby is 2!

We don't like to skip a birthday celebration, because around here birthdays here are a celebration of life.

But holiday birthdays can be an even bigger challenge to pull off! Here in our house we have two holiday birthdays. Joel is a Christmas baby.Yes, he is that special! ;) And Madi's birthday falls right around Thanksgiving and occasionally on the day. 

This year Thanksgiving found us headed to Ohio to spend the holiday with the Mast side of the family. We are quite a crowd anymore.There is definitely no lack of noise and action, at least on the children's part! ;) ;) 

This is all 4o something of us.

But like I was saying, we had a birthday to celebrate.Madi's 2 year mark was coming up.So the day after Thanksgiving we threw a little party for her.

If there ever was a child that loved life and all it's goodness, it's our Madi. She is such a ball of energy and full of mischief, but so much fun and giggles all at the same time! 

She is a lover of anything sweet, you name it.If it has sugar, good chance she might take it. 

She also loves bananas and oranges and grapes.

You try to get her to eat soup and that can be almost an impossibility at times!

Candy is still her favorite!

One night at 2:00 AM, I found this cute,mischievous,ball of energy in the kitchen, standing on the counter trying to get into the candy jars on top the fridge (and yes, you read right, that was 2:00 AM!) 

She definitely doesn't leave us lacking for action!

She loves her daddy, the outdoors, the chickens and the cats.

Her big siblings are her heros. 

She runs to Hailey if she wants to be pitied :) It really is so cute.Hailey is like a second mommy to her. But Madi also takes advantage of that and demands that Hailey fix her blanket, or  holds her hand or tickle her feet! :) I think they will be best friends in a few years.

She also loves to pray! Almost every night she wants to "pay" (pray). She then squeezes her eyes shut and whispers a  prayer for "mommy,dayee (daddy),Haya (Hailey) ,Bax (Braxton),Me (herself) :) " and then ends it with a hearty "min"(amen).

We can't imagine life without this little girl.As busy as she keeps us, we are still very thankful for her presence in our life. 

Sometimes when I'm weary of all the busyness and lots of times naughtiness right along with it :),  the thought just crosses my mind that I am so thankful that she is a healthy little girl with the ability to get around the way she does, even though it drains every good thing right out of me at times! :)

So my dear Madi girl, may you always face life with such energy and spunk! Someday I know that will be of good use to you :) We love you dearly.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hey Dad,

I miss you.
This morning I would love to call you.
I'd love to hear your voice.
I'd love to hear you give me advice! (imagine that! :) :) )

The unfairness of life suddenly hit me... really hard.
I'm thinking you would probably tell me that's just how life is.
Life isn't always fair.
But I would still just really want to hear you say person.

I know the things we face in life are always for our good.
Even if we don't see it.
They better us.Eventually.If we let them.

I got to watch you "handle life."
I got to watch you walk through the unfair things.
Really,really unfair things.
You did it with such grace and humbleness.
 I know that you did it with God.
Your life proves to me that it's possible.

So,I'm going to keep trying.
I'm going to try to accept the the unfairness...with grace and humbleness,just like you did.

To be perfectly honest,there's days when I totally don't want to try.
There's days I want to be ugly.
Days like today.
But I'm going to reach out to God.
 That's what you did.
And it worked.
I love you dad.I love the example you set for us.

Hailey has been talking about visiting your grave.
Remember how I told you she was so bummed that we won't see you at Christmas?
Well,she's accepting the fact that we won't see you in person,but she's really excited about visiting your grave. She's mentioned it the last two days now.
I'm sure we'll put on some pretty flowers.Not that you were really a flower guy or anything like that :)
 But it's therapy.
Making your grave look nice.
 It's something we love to do.
Because you deserve it.

Anyway,that's all for now.
I'm gonna go try to be mature and quit my pity party... just
like you'd want me to do :) :) and realize that life isn't fair.It never will be.

I think of you often! When I look at the beautiful clouds.
And I just think about how you get to see God do all of these wonderful things,how he commands the rain,and the storms,and everything beautiful that happens down here.
And I'm so happy that you get to enjoy all of that beauty and love!

Love ya always!