Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What's for Dinner?? White Chicken Chili

White chicken chili is an easy dish that I'm sure many of you will enjoy. The green chilies give the chili a nice flavor, but are not spicy. This meal would also work nicely in your crock pot, by dinner you would have a hot meal ready to serve.

1 medium onion-chopped
1 (4oz) can of green chilies
2 teaspoons cumin
2 (15 oz) cans of great northern beans(I've mixed in other white beans for variety)
1 cup chicken broth(I use bouillon cubes)
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken(finely chopped)

Add all the ingredients to a large stock pot and simmer. Garnish with cheese, sour cream and crushed tortillas chips.(our favorite part)



Friday, December 26, 2008

Train Your Mind

Merry Christmas Ladies. Now we can all take a deep breathe, relax for a day and then hurry on to work on the next big thing.

We are in No. Carolina visiting at my brother-in-laws house. Eric's family is all here for a total of 19 people, 9 children and 10 adults. Yesterday we worked our way through a mountain of gifts. We like to take turns opening the presents, so everyone can see what the receiver has opened. My children surprised me with a digital camera, so be sure to check the blog page often for new photos.

We head back to Virginia in the morning. I'm looking forward to some quiet, uneventful days between now and New Year's Day. The next big thing in my life will be my oldest son's high school graduation.

Lately we are hearing a lot about the economy, the suffering real estate market, the stock market numbers and the bail out of auto makers. None of which is good news. Some of you may even be feeling a financial pinch and may have had to cut expenses in some areas of your life. My husband and I have had our lean years, years where the majority of income was spent on rent for our apartment. We had to forgo many luxuries during those days, because we couldn't afford any extras. During those years we saw God provide clearly for us and we rejoiced in His provisions for us.

Every event in life gives us an opportunity to response. How we respond ultimately affects our attitude, joy and our families. How will you respond to the events in your life that are difficult?

In the word of God we are given instructions on how to respond to life's events. Phil. 4:8 says "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

We have a choice . We can focus on our difficulties until we are overwhelmed with discouragement and despair or we can focus on the goodness of God and what He has done for us. This is no way means that we never give ourselves a chance to mourn or think about how to solve a problem or that everything will be rosy if we only think rosy thoughts. It does mean that instead of covering our head with our pillow, we can focus on all that the Lord has done for us. Even in the worse of life's situations God is good. His goodness and love for us doesn't change and that is something worth our focus. As you focus on God, replacing thoughts of misery with thoughts of God, you will find joy, a right attitude and your family will follow your lead. (Everyone knows if the mama ain't happy, nobodies happy.)

So as the year comes to an end, begin to train your mind to think on things that are pure, lovely and praiseworthy. When you find yourself worrying or despairing stop yourself. Re-focus. Repeat scripture to yourself, listen to praise music, call an upbeat friend or read your bible.

Ladies, I love your feedback, please let me know how refocusing your thoughts helped you through a difficult time.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happiness Isn't Candy for Dinner Every Night

Shop, shop and shop some more.

I don't know about you but it takes me forever to get all the Christmas shopping done. I think I'm just a very slow shopper. Even with a list, I'm still a slow shopper. When I think I'm making some head way, I get everything out, divided it into piles for each child and realize there isn't much in the piles. This year I have not come up with one really neat present that I'm extra excited about giving or that I know the children will be extra excited about receiving. However, I'm sure they will enjoy their gifts and my husband I enjoy the chance Christmas gives us to spoil them a bit.

Today I read the following quote by Washington Irving: "It was the policy of the good old gentleman to make his children feel that home was the happiest place in the world; and I value this delicious home-feeling as one of the choicest gifts a parent can bestow."

A happy home that is one of the most important gifts we can give to our children. It is however much easy to go to Walmart and buy a new bike or a Wii system. Obviously there would be some very happy children at my house if they opened up a brand new video game system, but the happiest would be short lived.

Creating your home to be the happiest place in the world is a never ending job. It is something I need to work on all year long. So how can we give the gift of a happy home to our children.
1. Love your husband and let the children know you love their dad.
2. Love your God and share your love of God with the kids
3. Discipline your children. Children that understand right from wrong and understand the standards their parents have set up are happier. Children feel safer and more loved with boundaries for their behavior.
4. Have fun together. Have ice cream for dinner or camp out in the living room or bake cookies together.
5. Teach your children that your home is a safe place. Mean/ teasing behavior is not allowed. Children need to feel they can be themselves in their home without someone pulling them down.

This is just the tip of the ice burg and I by no means have mastered what it takes to make a happy home. Probably the most important thing we can do is PRAY. Pray for today and work on making your home a happy place today, when tomorrow comes pray and work on that day. One day at a time.

This is the best gift you can give each other, so get everyone involved. Ask them how your home can be happier-be prepared for the "ice cream everyday" or "candy only for dinner" answers. In the end we want our children to have fond memories and look forward to coming home for a visit.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Easy Breakfast/Dinner Recipe

Tonight's dinner was easy and delicious. I thought you might all be interested giving this one a try. It is called Sunday Breakfast Casserole, except we had it on Thursday for dinner. I guess that makes it Thursday Dinner Casserole.

We fried up the sausage earlier in the day, when we got home in the evening it was just a few quick steps before it was ready to bake.

1/4 cup onions and green peppers, chopped and browned
2 cups ham, bacon or sausage, cooked
1 cup grated cheese
12 eggs
1 cup milk
2 lbs frozen hash browns(chunks or grated)
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together onion, peppers, meat and cheese. Mix eggs and milk-add hash browns, salt and pepper. Combine meat mixture with egg mixture and pour into a buttered 9x13"pan. Top with 1/4 cup more grated cheese. Bake 30 minutes (ours took closer to an hour) until set. This made a large cassarole and we even had some leftovers.
We added some fruit and bread to complete our meal.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Marriage Secret

Dear Ladies,

I have just finished writing a long letter to a friend who is ready to end her marriage. All around me it seems couples are falling apart. Several are couples who have been married for over 20 years. Twenty years is a long time and yet they are willing to walk away and start again. How did this happen? Well I know for sure they didn't start having problems a few years ago, they started having problems on the honeymoon.

Here is a funny story about problems starting on the honeymoon. I got angry at my husband on our honeymoon. It seemed to me he laughed at me quite often and I didn't like it. I said something to him and he laughed at me, but I didn't think it was funny. I went to the bathroom and shut the door. I showed him, I was upset, I wouldn't talk to him that would teach him a lesson. My husband explained to me that he wasn't laughing at me, he was laughing with me; he enjoyed me and what I said and did. Now that's sweet, if your honey tells you he enjoys you. However if my husband hadn't communicated that to me I wouldn't have known. In my mind he was being mean and making funny of me. This may seem to be a small and funny moment, but it could have been the beginning of a wall that I built in my heart.

Those little moments in our marriage in and of themselves aren't what cause couples to divorce, However, 20 years of little problems build on each other and make bigger problems. The problems are not dealt with and they grow and multiply.

A big secret to a successful marriage is communicating. It is ok to let your husband know he has hurt your feelings, or treated you badly. Chances are he meant it differently then it was perceived. When we were first marriage we would say "I heard you say..." or "This is what I meant to say..." By doing this we learned to communicate and see how what we said was received.

"So friends-How is your marriage?' Don't wait until your problems are too big to solve, work on them today. Pray together for protection for your marriage. Marriage is a holy institution, therefore Satan wants to destroy marriages-including yours.

Blessings to all of you,

Friday, November 28, 2008


Dear Ladies,

Just a short word of encouragement for you all this holiday weekend.


It is OK to sneak in some "me time" this weekend.
Here are some ideas to get you started:

Do nothing- just sit and stare out the window,

Read a book during the kids nap time instead of cleaning, take a hot bath after everyone is in bed,

Watch a favorite TV show on line(most of the major networks have their shows on line, so you can watch it when you like),

Go shopping all alone or with a friend, go get a cup of coffee and wander your favorite store without worrying about Christ ma shopping.

Whatever you do, enjoy yourself.
It's OK.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Easy After Thanksgiving Day Dinner

This is a great recipe to help you use up some leftovers from your Thanksgiving dinner.

Easy Turkey/Chicken Bake
Prep time 10 minues

1 pkg. cornbread stuffing mix or leftover stuffing
1 cup hot water if using the stuffing mix
1 1/2 lb. leftover turkey/chicken cut into 1" pieces
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup sour cream
1 bag frozen mixed veggies(or leftovers)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of dry stuffing mix evenly on bottom of 13x9" baking dish or use leftover stuffing. In separate dish add hot water to remaining stuffing mix if using and stir to moisten. Set aside.
Place turkey or chicken over stuffing mix. Mix soup, sour cream and veggies together in a separate bowl. Spoon over turkey. Top with moisten stuffing mix or additional leftover stuffing.
Bake for 30 minutes.

Makes 6 servings

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dear Ladies,
This week we tried a new recipe. The meal is simple to make and is a basic Mexican chicken and rice dinner that is bound to please most of the hungry people in your house. Below is the recipe. Since I rarely follow a dinner recipe exactly I also included the changes I made.

Foil-Pack Chicken Fajita Dinner
1 1/2 cups instant white rice, uncooked
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 Tbsp. taco seasoning mix
4 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1 lb)
1 each green ad red pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded taco or cheddar cheese

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Use four 18x12 inch sheets of foil to make packets. Spray foil with cooking spray. Combine rice, water and taco seasoning; spoon onto centers of foil. Top with chicken, peppers, salsa and cheese. Bring up foil sides and double fold top and ends to seal each packet, leaving room for heat circulation. Place packets on baking sheet. Bake 30-35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.(165 degrees) Let stand 5 minutes. Cut slits in foil to release steam before opening packets.
Serving suggestion: top each portion with sour cream
Make ahead: prepare foil packets and refrigerate up to 1 day.

Melissa's Variations:

The first thing I did different was to use regular rice. The amount of instant rice I had in the house was not enough to feed my family, so I cooked regular rice.

Quick rice in the microwave technique:
Measure 2 cups of water to every 1 cup of rice and combine in a casserole dish. Leaving the dish uncovered cook the rice for 20 minutes in the microwave. When the time is complete there should not be any water on the surface of the rice, cover the dish and allow the rice to set for about 10 minutes. This allows the rice a chance to steam and absorb the water.

I thought the foil packets would take too much time, so I layered everything in a 9x13"dish. I topped the seasoned rice with boneless, skinless chicken thighs, salsa, green peppers and cheese. I covered the dish with foil and baked for about 1 hour. The chicken was very moist, but the rice needed more seasoning. I used more rice then the recipe called for, but did not increase the taco seasoning amount enough.
This is a very simple recipe and will probably please the majority of the people in your household. The green peppers add a nice flavor and color to the meal, but are easy to leave out or remove later for picky eaters.

Our Growing Girl

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mothering Through the Sand Dunes of Life

Out in the middle of no where, among the Rocky Mountains are acres of sand. Great Sand Dunes National Park is a fascinating place to visit; it is like being at the ocean except the ocean is missing. Leading up to beautiful soft yellow mountains of sand is a vast, expanse of smooth, sandy ground. Some of the flat ground leading up to the dunes is easy to walk through as the sand is compressed; other places the sand is soft making walking more difficult. The national park service is unable to create a map of trails, because the sand dunes are constantly shifting and if you sit for a spell you can see whiffs of sand blowing passed.

During a visit to the park, the thought occurred to me that the adventure of motherhood is like exploring sand dunes. Some days mothering is easy, like walking on sand that is firm. Other days are tough, no major obstacles, just harder and physically exhausting, like walking through soft sand. But other days are like climbing a mountain of sand. Difficult!

We’ve all had difficult days. You wake up two hours late; the baby slept through her
6am feeding. Even though you enjoyed the extra sleep, you’ve missed the small window of time you had to take a shower. The day doesn’t get better. The toddler and the baby both woke up cranky, with a stuffy nose and sore throat. After an hour’s wait the doctor tells you they have a virus and it just will need to run its course. Back at home you remember there isn’t anything for lunch, because today was supposed to be grocery shopping day. After feeding the kids cereal you begin the process of getting everyone down for a nap. With naptime underway you quick clean up the breakfast dishes, begin a load of laundry, take out the trash and pick up the Duplos the toddler scattered all over the living room and kitchen. Feeling exhausted you decide to lay down for a 10 minute powernap, as you head touches the pillow, crying is heard from the bedroom down the hall. You feel like you have been climbing a mountain of sand and your day is only half over.

Visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park are encouraged to enjoy, explore, learn and recreate during their visit. We need to do the same as mothers; we need to enjoy the mundane days for their quietness, learn from the difficult days, explore with our children the beauty of each day and recreate together making the most of each day. Just as the sand dunes are a fascinating place to explore, mothering is a fascinating journey.

The above article is copyrighted by Melissa Steckmann.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Helpful Christmas Ideas

Dear Ladies,

My husband is away again, so we are going shopping. When Eric is home I like to be here when he arrives home after a long day at work. So when he is away the kids and I will use it as a opportunity to be out late. Today we are heading out after lunch to do some birthday and Christmas shopping. I have to finish up some birthday shopping for Caleb and the kids need to do some birthday shopping for dear OLD mom. We have 3 birthday in our household that are close to Christmas, so this season becomes one big party for us.

With four children and a large extended family I have a lot of gift buying to accomplish. I thought for this letter I would share with you a few ideas to help make your shopping season easier.

1. The best thing to do is start shopping right after Christmas and buy on sale or clearance, but I never know what the plan is for the next Christmas or what the kids will be interested in, so I don't buy many gifts for family members. After Christmas sales are a good time to purchase hostess gifts or Christmas decorations for the next year.

2. Make lists. I have each child make a list for me. I purchase some gifts that are on the list and some that I know they will like.

3. My children love books, so they always get a new book at Christmas. I have found it is best to buy them online at sites like www.half.com Online you can find several sites that sell used books and many times I have paid much less for a book then if I went to a local bookstore. The sites are also good for purchasing music CD's or DVD's.

4. Magazines are fun for children; they enjoy receiving something in the mail all year long. Many magazines subscriptions can be found for under $10. One good site is http://www.magazinepricesearch.com/5to10.html

5. Purchase online. I love shopping online. I have been buying online for 10 years and never had a problem with a credit card information being stolen. I have found by shopping online I can find gifts cheaper then in a retail store, I can shop whenever I want while sitting in my pj's, and I can find difficult items, that would might be hard to find locally(this year I looking for fencing swords).

6. Start early and make multiple trips. If I putting together a box to send to someone I focus on that and then another trip I will focus on the kids.

7. Set a budget. I have an ideas in my head how much to spend per child and I try to stick with it. We don't purchase a lot of large dollar amount gifts for our children, but we buy a lot of little items and we wrap everything, so they have a lot to open. I also buy them a practical item that I have been wanting them to have, such as duffel bags for traveling, comforters and sleeping bags. Try not to over spend; no one wants to be still paying for Christmas gifts in July.

8. Look for coupon codes when shopping online. I check www.mycoupons.com for codes to use, sometimes stores offer free shipping codes or a few dollars off your order.

9. Pick a day that you can hire a sitter or have your husband watch the children, so you can spend a day just Christmas shopping.

10. Make a few gifts. Don't over extend in this area; that will only add stress to the season. This year I am making homemade vanilla. I saw the recipe online and it was very easy. I have purchased some fancy bottles that I will put pretty labels on and I bought measuring spoons to give with the vanilla.
Here is the site for the vanilla recipes; it super easy to make. http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/007340how_to_make_vanilla_extract.php

Have a wonderful holiday season and set aside a lot of time to enjoy your children. Try not to let the holiday stress steal the joy of the season from you.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Snuggle With Dad

Dear Ladies,

We have just returned from my home state of New York. We went up for a few days to visit with my family. We had the opportunity to attend church with my Dad and his wife. I can count on one hand the number of times my Dad has gone to church, but his new wife wants to go and he goes with her. After lunch at a local Chinese buffet, we went back to see my Dad's new place and visited for the afternoon. During our visit I decided to move over and sit next to my Dad. As I listened to the conversation around me I put my head on his shoulder and snuggled up with him. I guess you are never too old to snuggle with your father. It was a very nice visit and even though we sat in silence part of the time, I just enjoyed being with my Father.

Isn't that the way it should be with our Heavenly Father? We should just enjoy being with Him. Our relationship to God needs to be more then a few minutes of reading the Bible and a quick prayer for something we want. Our relationship needs to have some times of snuggling and some times of silence. Our relationship with God needs to be one we enjoy, but it does take time to have this kind of relationship. Just as I had to set aside several days and plan for a visit with my Dad, we have to plan for our visit with God.

Choose a time that works for you. I like to read and pray in the morning, but when my kids were little that was hard to do. I used nap time instead. When I was in college, I preferred right before bed. There is no wrong time.

So grab your Bible and find a few moments where you can snuggle with your Heavenly Father today.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Christmas Recipe

One of our favorite Christmas traditions is to enjoy Gingerbread boys and hot chocolate with real whipped topping and a candy cane stirrer.

Gingerbread Boys

Cream 1/2 cup each of butter and sugar. Add 3/4 cup molasses and 1 egg and beat well. Stir in 3-1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking soda, 2tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. ground allspice and 1/4 tsp. salt. Dough will be stiff-so use your hands(you can add a little water if needed). cover and chill f0r 1 hour. Roll out dough on lightly floured cutting board to 1/4 inch thickness. (thin boys will be crisp and thicker ones chewy-I like the chewy). Cut dough with cookie cutters. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Makes 22-24 boys.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cooking for the Weekend


I've added two easy dinner recipes to the blog page http://amomlikeyou.blogspot.com/ for you to try. Today if you have time think about a few meal ideas you can use for the weekend and begin to prep them now. Cook the ground beef or chop the onions, purchase sandwich meat and hogie rolls or start the chicken in the crockpot to bone tomorrow.

I don't like to cook on the weekends and I usually don't cook on Sunday, so we try to have something in the freezer we can pull out and fix quickly. It cost alittle more to purchase a ready made meal, but is cheaper then ordering take-out or going out to dinner. Many Sunday nights we have popcorn for dinner; when I was a kid that was Sunday dinner for us; my mom didn't want to cook on the weekend either. A little thinking ahead today will give you extra time with you honey and kids this weekend.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Easy Chicken Bake - recipe

Easy Chicken Bake

Just like the title says, this is an easy casserole. Next time you have chicken, freeze the leftover. Next time you don't have much time for dinner prep(that can be most nights), pull out the frozen chicken and in 10 minutes dinner will be in the oven. I like to buy the large packages of chicken thighs or quarters when they are on sale and put them in the crock pot overnight. The next day after they have cooled I bone all the chicken, put it into several quart size freezer bags and pop the bags in the freezer. This gives me several bags of chicken that are ready for casseroles, chicken salad, enchiladas, etc.

1 pkg. stuffing mix(we like the cornbread stuffing)
1-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces or your bag of frozen chicken
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup sour cream
1 16 oz bag of frozen mixed veggies
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, prepare stuffing mix as directed on package;set aside. Mix chicken, soup, sour cream, and veggies in a 13x9" baking dish;top with stuffing. Bake 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. 6 servings

Easy Beef Enchiladas

This is an easy Mexican dinner and if your meat is already cooked and in the freezer you would be able to prepare this meal quickly.

Easy Enchiladas
1 lb. ground beef(browned)
1 (19 oz0 can of Enchilada sauce
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
12 Flour Tortillas
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Stir 3/4 cup sauce and 1 cup cheese into browned ground beef.
Spoon sauce/cheese/meat mixture onto tortillas and roll-up. Place seam-side down in lightly greased 13x9" baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over top, sprinkle with remain cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
I find that if the tortillas aren't covered with sauce they get too crunchy. Chicken could be substituted for the beef.

Election Day

Dear Ladies,

I walked out the door this morning to go vote knowing I might be awhile. I got in the car and then decided to return to the house for a heavier coat. I knew I might be waiting awhile and I wanted to be warm.

On my way to the polling place it started raining, but when I got their the line wasn’t too bad. I waited about 5 minutes before a poll worker came out and said if your last name fell between Q and Z to follow her. Five minutes later I was done, apparently there aren’t many people with last names in that letter group.

One particular election my husband and I were VERY disappointed in the outcome. When we went to church on Sunday it seemed that everyone else was also disappointed. Our pastor got up and said “God is still in control.” I needed to hear that. I felt relieved. No matter what-God is in control. Today as you listen to the results remember that no matter which man becomes our next president, God will remain King of the universe.

Blessed Because of Him,

Friday, October 24, 2008

Help! My Kids aren't Behaving!!

Dear Ladies,

Yesterday we went apple picking. It is late in the season, but we were still able to get plenty of apples. We enjoyed being outside and over near the mountains it was beautiful. The weather was perfect; I don't like to sweat when I pick apples, part of the experience is having a cool autumn day to enjoy.

Today we are off to a homeschool group harvest party. It is at a bowling alley, so we will get our physical education class in for the week, plus bring home CANDY. My youngest boy has a passion for candy, so he will be happy. Today we will also welcome home Eric who has been gone since Tuesday.

What do you do when your kids have behavior issues that you're not sure how to deal with? Mine have an issue-they can be so unkind to each other and they just bother one another. I'm thinking of a unique way to handle it. Since they enjoy making money and they could all use it for buying Christmas gifts I'm going to use money as the incentive. My thought is to offer them $1 a day if they show kindness and respect for their siblings. I know this could add up to $28 a week, but in the end it should be worth the money. My hope is that after a month or maybe two the old behavior will be replaced with the new behavior. They're siblings, so we will always have some unkindness but I'm hoping this will help cut down on the negetive behavior.

Sometimes when I'm faced with a behavior issue and I don't know how to re-direct my children I will ask the Lord for ideas. My children groan when I tell them the Lord told me what to do. There is no problem in motherhood that God isn't interested in helping you solve. When faced with any issue regarding your children take it to the Lord. If you can pray with your husband, that is even better. Ask God to give you wisdom in re-directing wrong behavior. God longs for us to bring everything to Him in prayer, He wants to help us. Sometimes we get so caught up in our problems that we forget that the One that created us and our children is waiting for us to seek Him. Seek Him today and ask for the wisdom to be best parent you can be.

Blessings to all of you-Have a wonderful weekend with your families.


Monday, October 20, 2008

They Will Grow Up!!!

Dear Ladies,

Dressed in a black tux with a broad smile on his face my baby boy(now 17) drove away in a bright red Camaro to escort a young lady to dinner and the homecoming dance. I had to blink back tears several times as I helped him get ready for his big night. Where have the years gone? Just a short time ago he was catching bugs, playing in the mud and looking for adventure in the trees behind our house. It has been just as exciting to watch him take on all the new adventures of being a teenager and some day I will look back on these years and wonder again how the time could have gone by so fast.

I told him today I have 6 more years before I have to share him with another woman. I have to make the most of those 6 years. Granted I still have three after him with one who is only eleven, but I know when the oldest leaves home it will be the hardest and the others will soon follow.

So how will I make the most of the rest of the time my children live with me? I will kiss them goodnight and rub their backs for as many years as they will let me, I will accept all hugs given, I will enjoy the little memories and make as many new memories as we can. I will remember the years go by fast and I have only a short time to instill in them a love for the Lord. I will do my utmost to be the best mother I can be and not get caught up in guilt when I make a mess of things. My goal will be to make the most of the time I have, so I can look back on these years with no regrets.

When the majority of the people you talk to in the course of a day are under the age of four and your primary thought is "If only I could sleep for five minutes" it is hard to think they will every grow up and leave home. BUT THEY WILL!! Before you know it you will be thinking "I remember Melissa telling me this would happen." Enjoy your children today. If your baby is teething skip the dishes and cuddle her, if your son wants to play Legos join him even if you're not very good at it, if your daughter is having an emotional melt down wrap her in your arms and hug away the tears. Choose something your children would enjoy for dinner and make it just for them, add food coloring to the milk and watch their faces glow with happiness, have ice cream for dinner sometime(I learned that from my mom), wrap up in a blanket and watch a Veggie Tale movie, color together(my 2nd boy use to love to do this with me), read to your children while they color or build with Legos(this is one of our favorite activities), have an indoor picnic for lunch invite the stuffed animals to join you, and accept any and all hugs.

OK your mission is clear - have fun being a mother. God gave you each child because He knew you would the best mother for that child and they are each a unique blessing.

Blessings to all,

PS. Tonight we are having Nacho Spuds for dinner. It is an easy and affordable meal. The recipe is posted at http://amomlikeyou.blogspot.com/2008/04/whats-for-dinner.html

All past letters can be found at http://amomlikeyou.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Soup for Dinner

Hello Ladies,

Fall is my favorite time of year; one of our favorite dinners in the fall/winter season is soup and bread. I thought you might enjoy a recipe for one of my families favorite soups. For quickness I would add everything, but the cheese to the soup pot and cook until the potatoes were tender, then I would stir in the cheese until it melted. If I was going to be pressed for time in the evening I would prepare everything, put it all in the pot so it was ready to cook that evening and refrigerate.

Brown Jug Cheese Soup

4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 qt. of water
20 oz package of frozen mixed veggies(we like to add just broccoli)
2 1/2 cups potatoes, raw and cubed
1 lb. Velveeta cheese
1 cup celery, finely diced
(dice a whole package of celery, spread it on a cookie sheet and freeze, when it is frozen transfer to a zip lock bag-this way you have diced celery on hand. The grocery store may even sell frozen diced celery)
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup onion, finely diced( sometimes I will dice extra onion and freeze it. It is so handy to have onion, green peppers celery etc frozen and ready to use.)

Cook bouillon, celery and onion in water for 20 minutes. Add potatoes and mixed veggies: cook an additional 30 minutes. Add canned soup and cheese-simmer until cheese is melted. Stir frequently at this point-scorches very easily.

In the morning start your bread machine and by evening you will have a wonderful dinner. Enjoy,


PS. All past letters are available at http://www.amomlikeyou.blogspot.com/
Please feel free to pass the letters on to friends or have your friends email to be added to the list. Also I am available to women's groups to speak and share on any topics covered.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Five Second Rule

Dear Ladies,

Vacations are a treat, but it is always good to come home. Our trip to Colorado was wonderful. We had a few problems with the tires on the camper, but we were able to get that taken care of quickly. We did a lot of driving and saw a lot of beautiful scenery. I enjoyed driving through Glenwood Canyon and our visit to Hidden Lake, a stunning blue/green lake hidden away up near the top of a mountain. It was a difficult hike, but worth the effort.

I found something interesting in a magazine I was reading that I thought would be fun to share with all of you. Moms have always joked about the five second rule; sometimes when our kids drop a cookie, cracker, pacifier or candy we quick pick it up, give it back to the child and tell ourselves that it's OK because it we retrieved it from the ground in 5 seconds or less.

Well as it turns out some microbiology students at Connecticut College tested the theory. They found it took 30 seconds for germs to appear on an apple slice and up to five minutes for dry hard candies to become germy. Ahhh! We moms were right again. However it did say if the floor is dirty or an area where pets walk even a nanosecond can be risky. Ah, well we already knew that to.

Blessings to all,


All past letters are posted at www.amomlikeyouu.blogspot.com

PS. I am thinking of hosting an life fellowship time for all of you. What do you think, would anyone be interested in some face time with each other?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

From Babies to Adults

Hello Friends From the Land of Corn(again),

We officially started our family vacation Monday morning. We drove straight through arriving in Illinois at 3:30 Tuesday morning. Driving straight through is hard on the parents, but a shorter trip for the kids as they are sleeping half the time. When everyone was younger we would start around mid-afternoon, make a stop for dinner, then the kids would watch a movie and go to sleep.

My mother-in-law looks remarkably better since we were here three weeks ago. They re-admitted her to the hospital last week and drained the fluid off her lungs and that has helped. Her color looks better, she is talking better, she is moving around better, it really is amazing the difference. It has been a long recovery for her, but the Lord has been faithful.

Six years ago we made our first trip out west. We have been wanting to go back, so this is the year. Our oldest son will be 18 in December and we realize our summers of having all 4 kids available to take a vacation are quickly coming to an end.

At MOPS last week we had to introduce ourselves to someone as if it was 10 years ago and then again as if it was 10 years in the future. It was exciting for me to talk about the future. I imagine I will have a grandchild and children getting married(I'm looking forward to planning a wedding with my daughter) in 10 years.

As hard as it can be to think about having an empty nest and how fast our little ones become adults, it is necessary for us as moms to think of the future. What joy it will be to welcome new daughters or sons into our family through marriage, how interesting it will be to watch our sons start careers and our daughters decorate their own homes, what blessings we will experience as we hold our grandchildren for the first time(I told my kids I expect a minimum of 16 grandchild), and what fun it will be to be friends with our adult children.

One of our MOPS mentor moms said "I love having adult children". Eric and I have enjoyed every stage of our childrens' lives, so I imagine we will enjoy their adult years as well.

Ladies, as your children grow watch with wonder and invest yourself in each age. Enjoy every age for the uniqueness it offers, looking forward to the years ahead and all they will offer you.

Have a blessed day as you mother your little ones and love on your husband.


Friday, September 19, 2008

Broken Washing Machine-Oh No

Hello Ladies,

My washing machine is broken. We are getting ready to head out west for a three week vacation and the washer doesn't work. It is a terrible time to have dirty laundry and no way to wash it. I can wash some, but I have to fill the machine for the rinse cycle with a hose. So I took all the dirty clothes to a laundromat. We used three of the biggest machines and in no time it was done. So even though it's bad that my machine is broken, it was wonderful to get all the laundry done quickly.

Washing machines sure make our lives easier; we tend not to appreciate the value of them until our machine isn't working. What things in your life are you taking for granted? Maybe it is the fact that you husband faithfully gets up every morning to go to his job and provide for his family. Maybe it is your children or a close friend. Maybe it is your house, cars or other material items that make our lives easier. It is so easy to get caught up in every day busyness and forget what really is important.

Make time to appreciate all God has given you. Be sure to let your husband know you think he is a great provider and that you appreciate him going to work every day. Hug your children and tell them you so glad they are your kids. Call a friend or relative to let them know you're thinking of them. Lastly, give God thanks for blessing you so richly.

Thank you for all the positive feedback you have been giving. I love encouragement like that. I am simply amazed at what God is doing with these simple notes. He truly gets all the credit.

Blessed to be your mentor,

P.S. I will be checking email on vacation, so if you need something let me know. Don't forget to whisper a little thank you to God for the invention of the washing machine and dishwasher. They make life so much easier.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Trusting God

Dear Ladies,

We did it. We bought a car. Our car was starting to have too many problems, so we were looking and praying. We needed something REALLY big, since two boys have very long legs. We bought a used conversion van complete with a CD player, 2 cassette playes and a TV, plus plenty of room for long legs.

Before my trip to Illinois we looked at a van, the frame was unusually rusty. Neither one of us felt real comfortable buying it. I had prayed about making the trip and told the Lord I either needed a van or I would have to trust Him to get me there and back. Obviously I ended up trusting Him. The van did fine. Two weeks later, we pulled into the driveway on a Thursday night having had no car problems. Friay morning the tailpipe was dragging. Sunday morning on the way to church a little light informed us there was a problem with the ABS brakes. WOW!! I know it isn't coincidence that the van was fine until the morning after we pulled into our driveway. It is almost like God was revealing to me that indeed He was the one who helped that van make the trip.

God wants to hear your needs and desires. Talk to Him like you would a dotting grandfather. I recently told Him that I didn't know what to do with my kids for history. I don't have a curriuculum for history and wasn't sure how to handle it for this school year. Wiithin days an idea formed in my brain. We are busy making timeline books for major events between the late 1800's and the present. It's working great and everyone is happy. Where did the idea come from, I believe God planted it.

He cares about all the issues that come up in our everyday life. He cares that the cost of groceries is hurting your family, He cares that the baby is teething, He cares a friend hurt your feelings, He cares your husband is out of town again. Share those things with Him. Talk to Him while you work, as you're falling asleep at night or while you're drinking you rmorning cup of coffee. He justs wants to hear from you, He just wants you to ask.
Give it a try and if you like let me know what happens.

Blessings to all of you. Have a wonderful weekend.


Monday, September 1, 2008

Serving Others

Dear Ladies,

Sorry about the blank email. I hit something and off it went.

Taking care of an elderly parent is much the same as caring for little children. First you get them settled and comfy and then you clean the kitchen. Then you walk them around for exercise and then do a load of laundry. But no matter an elderly parent or a child it is a joy to care for someone, to show someone you really love them by laying down your life and serving them.

I'm so glad I decided to make the journey to Illinois to be with my in-laws. It has given my father-in-law a chance to get out and a break from doing everything alone. It has given me a chance to give back to two people who have countless times helped me out. And it has given my children a chance to see love in action.

For some people acts of service is the way they show love(their love language), but for others it doesn't come as easily. But for all of us there can be pure joy in helping a friend. Whether a simple dinner or keeping a family of 5 extra children for a month, the act of service brings blessing to both the giver and receiver. During times of sorrow or pain in your own life the best way to forget you troubles is to serve someone else. Who will you serve today? Start with your husband and do something extra for him. It will be a great way to show him your love.

The kids did some fishing yesterday with their cousin(who visited for the weekend) and the 2 girls learned how to clean a fish. So today we are having a fish fry.

The town we are in has a beautiful park, so we have gone to play twice. They have "the best playground in the world" according to my youngest boy.

Thank you for all the kind responses to my last letter, it was great to hear from you. For those of you in MOPS I look forward to seeing you Friday.

Blessings to all,

Monday, August 11, 2008

Your Knight in Shining Armor

Dear Ladies,
Today is my husband's birthday. He is closing in on 50 very quickly. Doesn't that sound really old(especially to those of you in your 20's)? We didn't do much, but allowed him to enjoy his home. This is what every man really wants-to enjoy coming home. Now the hard question. Did your husband feel like coming home tonight?

A few letters ago I asked you to send me ideas of topics to write about. One idea mentioned was restoring romance to marriage. Here's the number one way. Make your husband feel like your knight in shining armor.
Here are a few ways to do that:

Prepare yourself for his homecoming. For me as a young mom this sometimes meant I had to change my clothes and put on a little makeup. If you know he is going to need some late night cuddling try to rest in the afternoon(I know that can be hard,but a 10 minute rest maybe all you need). Remember all the time and effort that went into getting ready for a date, take a few minutes before he comes home and re-live some of that primping time.

Greet him at the door with a kiss. Ask him how his day was. If he needs a few minutes alone let him have it(that's what my husband likes and he told me to add "give him time to catch his breath").

Steal 5 minutes from dinner prep time to spend with him. Just focus on him.

Most importantly your knight wants your respect. He has had a hard day in the world and wants to come home to a place where he is safe from criticism and nagging(the biggest killer of romance is nagging), can put his feet up and relax.

I believe as you show your husband the love and respect he craves romance will return to your marriage. You will begin to see him in a new light and he will shine. Remember ladies you have the power to make your husband successful at work, with the family and in your love life. But you also have the power to destroy him.

For more ideas on showing love to your husband, re-visit the letter on loving your husband http://amomlikeyou.blogspot.com/2008/05/10-ways-to-love-your-husband.html

After a long day with little ones it takes a focused effort to love your husband, but give it a try and let me know how it goes.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bake the Bacon


I've tried several times to email to you a letter with some kind of encouragement, but it just isn't coming together very well. Often I try to write something and it isn't quite right. Most of the letters you have received seem to have just happened, I believe those times are when the Lord has taken over the fingers and done the typing.

Since I haven't had God inspired fingers lately I thought I would just sent you a cooking tip that has helped me out. Bake the bacon. I've never done very well getting perfectly cooked bacon in a frying pan. It takes forever to fry and you can't leave it alone very long(I don't like staning at the stove). But baking it is easy. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil(otherwise cleanup is terrible), lay the bacon on the sheet and bake. I bake mine at 350 degrees and after about 15 minutes check it. I think it as been taking about 1/2 hour to bake. We turn the bacon over half way through. We have overlapped the bacon to get it all on the sheet and then gently pulled it apart to put on a serving plate.

So maybe some night this week a breakfast dinner will be on the schedule. We did this last night and no one ever complains. But my family doesn't complain very often 1. because I don't handle it very well 2. because they do most of the dinner cooking now.

Have a wonderful day and if your looking for something to do don't forget to check the day trip letter on the blog http://amomlikeyou.blogspot.com/2008/05/summer-day-trip-ideas.html Also there are some easy cookie recipes if you are wanting to do some quick baking with your little ones. http://amomlikeyou.blogspot.com/2008/06/super-easy-cookie-recipes.html These recipes use a cake mix(you can use almost any cake mix) and a few other ingredient making them easy to accomplish with kids.

Blessings to all,

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dear Ladies,

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend. I've just finish cutting Eric's and Jacob's(boy #2) hair. This is a small way we can save money and I was blessed to have my mom(who was a stylist a long time ago) teach me. Later today we are heading to a polo game. My daughter will enjoy watching the horses.

The job of parenting comes with a variety of joys and troubles. One problem we as parents often face is our own sinful nature. Here is an example from my life.

The kid and I were on our way home from So. Carolina. I decided to take the route that took me through Blacksburg. We were traveling the day after the shootings at Virginia Tech and when we got to that area(which was about half way) there were no available hotel rooms. So we stopped for dinner and I decided to drive the rest of the way home. When I called Eric he said to stop if I got too tired. Well as you can guess, that's what happened. We found a hotel and headed to our room. In the room I lost it with my daughter and yelled at her. My oldest son said "she didn't do anything wrong, you're just tired" I accepted the wisdom of my son and apologized to my daughter.

There are two lessons in this story:

Number 1 - sometimes our children can speak truth to us and we need to accept it in humility.

Number 2 - sometimes we have to apologize to our children. If we sin against one of our children we need to be quick to acknowledge what we have done or said. This shows our children that we are sinners, just like them. That we need forgiveness, just like them. That we need to say we're sorry when we've done something wrong, just like them. Your child will forgive you. Your position of authority will not be diminished in the eyes of your child.

Apologizing to a child is a great opportunity for you to share the forgiving power of Jesus and to teach your child how to apologize. As you've heard so often, children learn by example. Teach them how to ask forgiveness for their sins, by apologizing for your sins when you mess up as a parent.

Ladies, I love hearing your feedback, it encourages me greatly. Please let me know any topics you would like me to share about or questions you have about parenting, marriage, etc. I will pray and do my best to answer.
Don't forget to check www.amomlikeyou.blogspot.com for past letters and easy recipes.

For encouragement in your walk with the Lord, check out Shanda's new blog. www.ateachableheart.blogspot.com.

Blessings to all,

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Super Easy Cookie Recipes

Dear Ladies,
I thought you might enjoy a few exceptionally easy cookie recipes. Since these are so easy and have so few ingredients they would be good cookies to make with your kids.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

1 package devil's food cake mix

1 cup peanut butter

1/3 cup water

2 eggs

1 cup peanut butter or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine all ingredients-except chips. Stir in chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2" apart on a greased baking sheet. Bake 10-15 minutes. Makes 4 dozens

Crisp Little Lemon Cookies

1 package lemon cake mix

1 cup crisp rice cereal

1 stick margarine-melted

1 egg (beaten)

Combine all ingredients-mix well. Shape into one inch balls, place on ungreased cookie sheet 2" apart, press down firmly on each ball.
Bake 350 degrees or 9-12 minutes
Makes 3-4 dozens

Chocolate Cookies

1 package devil's food cake mix

6 ounces chocolate chips
1/2 cup oil(I have used 1/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup water)

2 eggs

Combine cake mix and oil-mix well. Stir in chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet 2" apart. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Tips, Good Ideas and a Lion or Two

Dear Ladies,

Thank you for making these letters such a hugh success. I started writing with about 8 ladies, most of them sat with me at MOPS meetings. The list has grown to about 20 ladies now. Welcome to all the new moms. Please continue to share these letter with anyone who is interested and have them email me if they would like the letters to show up in their mailbox. All the letters are posted at the following blog address (www.amomlikeyou.blogspot.com) if you would like to re-read them. I know it is easier to have them just show up in your in-box. That way you can read the letter quickly and go hunt down the two year old, who is all of a sudden quiet. And we all know what it means if a two year old is quiet-TROUBLE. Once while I was on the phone my two oldest were quiet. I found them in the bathroom. The oldest was brushing his teeth with my toothbrush, after having used my lipstick. The younger one was sitting in a sink of water with messy diaper.

My husband and I had the chance to enjoy two days at the homeschool convention. There are always too many fabulous products to buy and too many informative workshops to attend. Many workshops deal with homeschooling topics, but many would be of interest to non- homeschooling families. For this letter I am just going to bullet for you some of the things I wrote down in my notebook. I hope one or more points will be of encouragement to you today.

Family Life

-Wives respect your husbands. If you wouldn't believe in him, how can he believe in himself.

-Prepare children for all seasons of life. ie. the season of learning or being a disciple, the season of raising a family, the season of being leaders within the church and the season of being leaders of the nation.

-Ask you child, "How ARE you?" "Have I ever hurt your feelings?"

-Remember it's the little things that destroy a marriage-work as a team.

-Children need to trust their parents.

-Teach your children to see a job and do it before being asked.

-When a young child wants to do a job, ie. fold clothes, then it is time to begin teaching him/her that job.

-Lavish praise for jobs children do.

-Some kids don't see the mess, use a check list to help them with cleaning jobs.

-Make a list of everything in the house that needs to be done, enlist the children to help.

-Gear chores towards a child's skill.

-For a forgetful child have them do the same job everyday for a year.

-Reward children for completion of big jobs. ie. a trip to the ice cream shoppe.

-Preform weekly room checks, reward a child for an orderly room.

-Reward a child for good manners.

-Mention things a child does right when you pray for him/her.

-Create an audio tape of dad reading the proverbs.

-Make use of rewards in training for occasional motivation and for learning Bible verses.

-Train girls to run the household and have a heart of service.

-Have young men learn a trade.

-Encourage a servant's spirit, first in the family, then when company is over and by adopting an elderly person.

-Limit electronic entertainment, teach a lifestyle of productivity.

Stretching in Your Grocery Dollars

-Plan a menu

-Put together a price book, so you will be able to check if an item is a deal or not.

-Establish a buy price. ie. I try not to pay more then $2 a pound for meat.

-Try bulk cooking or once a month cooking. This makes for a long Saturday, but is great if you can do it. You can also do smaller jobs like cook up a lot of ground beef at once, cook and bone a bunch of chicken, or chop and freeze onions/green peppers. This isn't bulk cooking, but it does make dinner time easier.

-Make family dinners happen at least four nights a week.

-Stay at the table to play a game, read or have devotions. Mad-lips is a funny dinner game.

Lastly Ladies, remember that God has a BIG purpose for your children, just as He did for Ruth, David, Esther, Joshua and Samuel.

Have a wonderful weekend,


PS. What do you think David's mom thought when he came home and said " I killed a fierce lion today". Oh My and we thought our kids worried us.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

10 Ways to Love Your Husband

Dear Ladies,

Twenty years. Twenty of the best years of my life. In June of 1988 at the young age of 22, I married my sweetheart. Before we got married we had read books, listened to tapes, attended a marriage conference and consulted with our pastor. We were so ready to try out all our new found wisdom. All the prep work helped, but we had and still have much to learn.

Even though our children require a lot from us, our most important priority (after our relationship with Jesus) is our husband. How do we show our husband he is important to us? What your husband yearns for most from you is respect. Showing respect to a man is showing him love. The definitions of respect are: take notice of; to regard with special attention; to regard as worthy of special consideration, to care for

How to show your husband you love and respect him:

1. Listen to your husband when he talks. Look at him. Show him you're interested in what he is saying.

2. Understand how important his job is to him. He takes very seriously his responsibility to provide for his family.

3. Trust him. Allow him to lead you and your children. When he steps out to lead, follow him.

4. Submit to him. This is a tough one. A good friend once told me, “Melissa, do what your husband says. If he is wrong God will take care of you."

5. Don't nag. Nagging happens, so watch for it and nip it quickly. There is no faster way to pull down your husband then with constant nagging. Even the Bible addresses the issue of a nagging woman. Proverbs 25:24 “It is better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman." The definition for contentious is “wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes”.

6. Meet his physical needs. For a man this is one of the primary ways he receives love.

1 Corinthian 7: 5 “Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time…”
1 Corinthians 7:3 “Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.”

7. Be content. Asking for a new car or larger home when a husband is doing all he can to provide puts undue pressure on him.
“Be content with such things as you have” Hebrews 13:5

8. Don’t take control. Allow your husband to be the head of the house, especially in the areas where he needs to be taking the lead. Don’t take over just because you don’t think he is doing a task right or hasn’t started to take the lead. Pray for him. Allow the Lord to work.

9. Compliment your husband. Let your husband know on regular bases how much all he does for your family means to you. Tell him he is an excellent provider, an outstanding father, a sweet lover and your closest friend. He needs your words of affirmation.

10. Pray for him. Pray that God will give him wisdom. Pray that he will have favor with his co-workers, pray for protection from temptations and give thanks that he is walking the road of life and parenting with you.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer Day Trip Ideas

In a recent post I mentioned taking day trips with your children this summer. A mom replied asking for ideas. With the help of a few friends we came up with some ideas. I've included some links to help you find more information.

Morefield Mine in Amelia, VA

We did this once and it was great fun. Be prepared to get dirty and take a pail to bring your rocks home. Below is some of the basic information.

Address: 13400 Butler’s Rd, Amelia, VA 23002Phone: (804) 561-3399Directions: From Richmond, take U.S. 360 (west) across the Appomattox River into Amelia County. Travel 4.8 miles, turn left onto HWY 628. Travel less than one mile, turn left at the Morefield Gem Mine sign.Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9:30 am – 4:30 pm Admission: $10.00 adults, $7.00 children

I found this write up about the mine on a website.
The best way to experience the mine is to arrive early. You can check in and out all day long. Picnic tables are on the grounds should you decide to stay for lunch. Vending machines are also available for sodas and snacks. (Please note that no alcoholic beverages are permitted.) Remember to dress appropriately for digging and don’t forget to bring a bucket or bag in which to carry your treasures home.

For those looking for a “hands on” activity, Morefield Mine is a great way to get dirty while having good clean fun. You don’t have to be a knowledgeable rock collector to appreciate the shiny Micah or the blue-green hues of the Amazonite but it helps. At the end of the day, be sure and check back at the shop to see how you fared. The owners are happy to help you identify your treasures. If you are lucky, they will register anything exceptional in the logbook. If not, you may end up like us, with a couple of pretty rocks and some great memories. Sure, we can’t retire on it but we did end up with an experience we will never forget.

We have several caverns within a day's drive from us. The link below is for Endless Caverns. A friend recommended this cavern; she said the cavern is a smaller one, but isn't as busy as the larger caverns.


Motts Run Reservoir - I've not been here, but you an rent boats here, picnic and fish. I might have to explore this one with my kids. http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/fishing/waterbodies/display.asp?id=89

The Potomac Nationals are a minor league baseball team. They have $1 nights and other special nights. We have gone to games with friends which really added to the night. http://potomac.nationals.milb.com/index.jsp?sid=t436

Westmoreland Berry Farm - Berry picking is great fun for kids; they enjoy being outside and eating as many berries as they can.

Maymont is in Richmond and has some wonderful animals. There is a lot of walking at Maymont, so don't forget the stroller. The animals are in natural habitat type areas and there is even a small aquarium. http://www.maymont.org/visit/index.asp

The C and O canal is near DC. I would like to do this some time with my guys, as we've never been there.

Richmond Children's Museum http://www.c-mor.org/

Prince William National Park-This is a large area to explore. A great place for a hike. They have camping, but they don't have showers in the restrooms.

Sugar Mt. in Maryland - another great place to hike. This is an easy mountain to hike with young kids and takes about 40 minutes to get to the top. http://mgreeby.home.mindspring.com/sugarloa.htm

The Mount Vernon Trail- The trail is paved and runs along the Potomac River. You can park at Mt. Vernon and bike or walk.

Air and Space Museum At Dulles-there are some giant planes that any little kid or adult would enjoy seeing. There is a lot to see here. With little ones, see what you can and leave while everyone is still having fun.

Quantico Marine Museum-This is a great museum. An adult could spend all day here learning the history of the marines, Kids will enjoy skipping all that and seeing the larger exhibits. This place is so close and your kids will like it.

The National Zoo-park at the bottom part of the zoo and work your way up. That way at the end of the day you're walking downhill. Parking is about $12.

Harpers Ferry-A neat old town to visit. Park at the visitors' center and a bus will take you over to the town.

Battlefields-we have tons of these and they are great places to run around.

Free Weekly Movies are offered at the movie theatre. Movies start at 10am and are first come, first serve. Here is the schedule for the theatre in Fredericksburg. I'm sure the Stafford theatre is doing this program, but I don't have the schedule.

3301 Plank Road Route 3WFredericksburg ,VA 22401540-786-7796
06/17/2008-06/ 18/2008 Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium (G) Firehouse Dog (PG) 06/24/2008-06/ 25/2008 Pirates Who Don't Do Anything Veggie Tales (G) Evan Almighty(PG) 07/01/2008-07/ 02/2008 Everyone's Hero (G) Bee Movie (PG) 07/08/2008-07/ 09/2008 Arctic Tale (G) Shrek The Third (PG) 07/15/2008-07/ 16/2008 Curious George (G) Hairspray (PG) 07/22/2008-07/ 23/2008 Clifford's Really Big Movie (G) Alvin And The Chipmunks (PG) 07/29/2008-07/ 30/2008 Mr. Bean's Holiday (G) Happy Feet (PG) 08/05/2008-08/ 06/2008 Charlotte's Web (G) Water Horse: Legend Of The Deep (PG) 08/12/2008-08/ 13/2008 Wallace And Gromit (G) Surf's Up (PG)

Baltimore's Inner Harbor-paddleboats are available to rent.

Aquarium in Baltimore- pricey, but fun

Playgrounds- visit different playgrounds in the area. We have pictures of our daughter at different playgrounds in several states. That was her thing when we took a trip out west.

I hope you can find something in this list that will be a fun outing for you and your kids. Start planning now for a summer of memories and don't forget the camera.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Planning For Summer

I've been working on a longer then usual letter to you and I'm almost ready to send it. I actually have sent it to a friend who edits some of my posts. She's the secret ingredient. She's the one that makes them read so smoothly. As soon as she is done I will get it out to you. I think you will enjoy "10 ways to love your husband"

I hope you all had a pleasant Memorial Day weekend. We had 2 BBQs to attend and had a great time visiting at both gatherings. What a great way to start off the summer season.

Speaking of summer, here is a tip. Before summer vacation is here and your school age children are home, make a plan. Decided now and make a list of things you would like to do with the children and as a family. Maybe you want to take some day trips, wade in a few creeks, find some mud for mud pies, pack a picnic lunch or dinner, have friends over for ice cream, or complete a project.

Often summer is over before we know it and we feel like we didn't accomplish anything. Planning out your summer will help keep boredom for the children at bay and allow your family to make some summer time memories.

Blessings until next time,

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Flooding Memories for Mother's Day

What storms we have endured lately! My husband took our son and his friend camping last weekend. They survived one night before heading home with a car full of drenched camping gear. A little rain or a river of water sweeping through the tent didn't stop them from having fun and making a lasting memory. The occasion for this adventure was our son's 15th birthday. He will always remember the camping trip that ended with him and his buddy, freezing cold and wet, sleeping in the car.

While they were away my friend's basement flooded. She picked up the phone and called me. We went to help her sop up the water only to have it flood again on Mother's Day. My friend will always have the memory of a very wet Mother's Day. While she didn't enjoy the experience at all it gave me the opportunity to love on her children. I had her toddler all day on Monday and he was sooooo sweet! He was sweet even when he threw a ball into a planter, breaking the pot and sending the dirt flying. His response to the mishap was "Ut ooo." But then again he says "Ut ooo" a hundred times every day!

Sometimes our lives are like the weather. Some days are bright, sunny and enjoyable, but other days are flooded with doubt, problems, hurts and sorrows. How do we respond to these days? It is easy on the sunny days to bless the Lord, but on the set days it can be very difficult. Sometimes we can't even find the words to pray when things in life get really tough. That's when you do as my friend did. You pick up the phone and call someone. All my friend had to say was "we need help." Asking for help can be difficult. We have to humble ourselves and admit we cant do it alone. But in asking for help or prayers you give someone else a chance to be a blessing. My husband and I were blessed that our friends felt they could call us. We really couldn't do much to stop the water from coming in their basement, but sometimes just asking someone to walk through a difficult time with you makes it so much easier to handle. As much as you may dislike asking for help, usually those who are asked, are blessed to be asked and happy to serve.

Why do we think we have to do it all alone? We don't tell our girlfriends what's happening in our lives, we just trudge on and smile. We need to remember that no one will look down on us for asking for help. in fact most people will jump at the chance to help a friend. Ladies, find someone you trust, share the joys and sorrows of your heart with her. Don't be afraid to ask her to pray for you or stand with you when the basement of your life floods. She will be glad to stand with you. She will uphold you in prayer. She will be blessed that you asked her.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Raising the next Generation

I thought I would share a little conversation I had today in the car with my guys on the way home from church.

One boy mentioned something about a person sounding like they would never have kids, so we started to talk about that. I told them I had been thinking about what is important and that raising Godly children who will be Godly adults is what really matters. My oldest then told me that in the sermon today (I was loving on the babies in nursery) our pastor said our most important responsibility is raising Godly children.

I know you all know this, but it doesn't hurt to be reminded that those little ones that are crying while the dinner is burning are the next generation of adults for the Kingdom. They are the ones that will teach future generations about the Gospel and the love of the Savior. When we start to think of them has the future of God's church the burned dinners,the mounds and mounds and mounds of laundry, the dirty carpets, and the toys everywhere begin to pale in comparison. Next time your ready to pull your hair out because the toddler is sitting in a sink of water with a dirty diaper on using your lipstick(yes, one of my kids really did that) remember he/she is the one you are raising to carrying on your faith. He is the one who will speak truth to his generation, she is the one who will be raising up more little warriors for the Lord and they are the ones who will enjoy all eternity with us.

Thank you for letting me share in your lives. Have a wonderful week with your children.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Top 10 Money Saving Tip from Our House to Yours

Gone are the days of $5 shoes at my house. Gone are the days of $10 shoes. Now we are hoping to find shoes under $50. With 3 boys needing new sneakers and sandals we were talking about an expensive shopping trip. The difficulty is compounded by the fact that 2 of my boys need size 13 shoes (hard to find!). To top it all off, our favorite (cheap!) shoe place has gone out of business.

Our first shopping trip yielded one pair of shoes that my oldest liked. The next shopping trip started at Rack Room Shoes and there we we really hit the jackpot. My husband had said that we'd only buy sandals if they jumped off the rack at us. Four pairs did just that.

We found 3 pairs of Teva sandals for $10 each. The original price was $50 buckaroos. We found a $4 pair of sandals for my youngest. They were marked down from $25 buckaroos. I even found one pair of size 14 sandals which I purchased for my honey. He wasn't with us, but I figured for that price if he didn't like them one of the boys could wear them next summer.

So with the success of the bargain sandals making us all happy we headed to the mall to continue our hunt. Again we were successful and while we didn't hit the jackpot we did succeed in finishing our hunt for shoes. Now my boy's feet are officially set for summer.I get excited when I land a bargain such as these sandals. I know these bargains are God's way of filling a need or a want in our lives. But the big exciting money saving bargains are few and far between. We have to be conscious everyday of where and how our money is being spent.

Here are ten ways we save money in our home.
1. No cable t.v.

2. We drive used vehicles.

3. We limit the number of times we eat out, but we do love $.99 Happy Meal night. We just have to buy the bigger guys several Happy Meals.

4. We shop at a discount grocery store called Aldi. Check them out at http://www.aldi.com/

5. We have a pay as you go cell phone plan.

6. When we leave the house we take water, snacks or even lunch if we will need it. Having to purchase food every time you leave the house can add up quickly.

7. My husband takes a lunch to work.

8. We use very few pre-packaged meals. We have found having a few frozen pizzas, stir-fry veggies, or sandwich meat helps on the weekend and keeps us from ordering in or eating out.

9. We limit the size of meat portions or reduce the amount of meat in dinner entrees.

10. Except for certain items, we have found store brand products to be cheaper and the quality just as good as name brands.

Happy Saving!
Below is a photo of one of the big pairs of feet that needed new shoes. At least with feet that big you get your money's worth in leather.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Easy Dinner Idea

A friend gave me this simple, but delicious soup recipe. Depending on the size of your family you may have to increase your proportions. We expecially enjoy soup for dinner in the winter, serve this soup with corn bread for a super easy dinner. (Thanks Margot)This soup is super easy and the kids love it with the cheese and chips sprinkled on top. Add some cornbread using the simple Jiffy mixes and dinner is done.

Taco Soup
1 can of corn
1 jar of salsa or stew diced tomatoes
chicken broth or beef broth
cooked chicken slices or hamburger.
Simply combine all ingredigents and heat well. Serve with grated cheese and crushed tortilla chips on top.

A Rabbit in the Dining Room

Yes that's right Ladies, I have a rabbit that lives in my dining room and a bird too. Let me back up a minute and tell you that my dining room isn't used for a dining room at all. We call it the school room, but we don't do school in there. It should be called the computer/animal room.

Several years ago I read a book published in 1882 by Rev. J.R. Miller called "Homemaker". One part of the book that spoke to me the most was about our home. Rev. Miller wrote about our homes not being show pieces or museums, but being comfortable places for our children. In my home this means the Legos are in the family room and the animals live in the dining room. It means we have an inexpensive rug in the living room, so we can eat in there and watch TV without worries of ruining the rug when something gets spilled. It means piles of magazines and books and shoes in the family room. But it also means that my children are near me, not hiding in their rooms. It means they don't hesitate to work on a project and make a big mess. Sometimes it means that the table gets a burn mark, or hot chocolate is spilled on the carpet, or that you have to step over Legos, but I know the days of not having a full house of children are fast approaching, so for now I'll deal with the mess.

As for the rabbit in the dining room, she really is a cutie.

Blessings to all,

Sharing dinner recipes

Here is a great idea from a reader. If anyone has any recipes to share we would love to see them. Just click on "comment" to share your favorite dinner ideas.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What's For Dinner?

"What's for dinner?" Preparing meals seems to be an endless job for us moms. Sometimes the cooking of the meal isn't the hardest part it is figuring out what to make. In our house if my husband says "Thanks for making this.", that means it's edible, but not something he is really enjoying. If he says " This is good.", it really is GOOD. Tuesday night was one of those nights and I can only take credit for finding the recipe; my 14 year old son and 10 year old daughter did the cooking.
One thing I find helpful is to prepare a menu for a week or two weeks at a time. This can take awhile to do, but is a time saver during the week. You could make several menus and corresponding grocery lists and rotate them. As I make the menu I write down everything I need to purchase to prepare that dish. It is also a good idea to check the grocery store ads and plan your menu using meat that is on sale that week. I might purchase pork chops if they are on sale and freeze them to use in the future as it is a real money saver if you can get your meat items on sale.
We purchase the bulk of our staple items at Aldi- a German based stored that sells mostly their own brand of product, it is a very basic, no frills store, but the prices are the best around. www.aldifoods.com Since there is one in Woodbridge my husband will stop after work and do a major purchase for us about every 2 weeks. I email him our grocery list and he gets everything he can, certain items that are more specialized I have to pick up later or do without. We will also purchase some pre-made items for the weekend, ie pizza, stir fry veggies packs, hot dogs. Even though these items are more expensive they save us from spending money on take-out or going out to dinner.
I hope these ideas help you out with the never ending job of making meals. Lastly here is the recipe for our successful, delicious entree that we had this week.

Nacho Spuds
prep time 15 minutes
4 servings
Slice 2 large potatoes into 1/2" thick rounds(no need to peel), toss these with a little olive oil. Lay the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake at 450 until tender, about 20 minutes.
While the potatoes are baking, cook 1/2 lb. ground beef. Mix in a 15oz can of black beans(any beans will do), 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and 2 tablespoons water. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Layer the potatoes in an 9x11 over proof dish, sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese and layer the meat mixture on the potatoes, top with another cup of cheese. Place in the oven and turn the oven off. Let sit in the oven 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve with sour cream, lettuce, black olives if you like.

We had to use a lot more potatoes, about 2 per person and a pound of beef and additional cheese in order to have enough to feed everyone. (I have 2 teen boys that are really putting the food away these days).

Have a wonderful week.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Jobs for Toddlers

My kids have been handling the meal preparation in our house for the past month while I recoveryed from surgery. Now they are wondering when I'm going to start fixing the meals again, but I'm enjoying having them handle the majority of the meals. They have been doing a good job. Obviously toddles aren't going to be handling meal prep for a long, long time, but they can learn other ways to help.
Here are some ideas:
1. move the clothes out of the dryer into a laundry basket and slide the basket to the room you need it in.
2. fold simple laundry items like wash clothes, dishtowels and sort socks by colors or dark and lights.
3. put the silverware from the dishwasher on the counter for them and let them stand on a stool or chair to sort and put away for you.
4. remove plastic items from dishwasher. If you have a lower cupboard for the kids dishes they can put their own away and even get them as needed.
5. set the plates on the table
6. pull the blanket up on their bed-top sheets can be difficult, so my kids for the most part didn't use them.
7. pick up toys
8. carry their plate to the sink after meals, depending on the mess left on the plate.

Most jobs given to a small child take a lot of work on the parents part to train them how to do, but once they have the job down they enjoy being able to help. Plus you are teaching them how to serve and be part of the family. Most of the time the end result isn't done very well, but nothing says it has to be perfect, except usually us moms. Once you have a child or two trained in a job they can then be given the responsibility of teaching a younger sibling. I still team my younger two children up with an older sibling. I told the older ones I trained you, now you train them. If they do a good job training the younger sibling it makes the job easier for the older one; this is good incentive to train their younger sibling well.

We don't pay our children an allowance for chores as we feel the chores are part life as a family. They get room and board with out charge. If we have extra jobs we would like done or if they are looking to earn some money we will pay them for those jobs.

It definitely is work to teach our children how to work, but in later you will reap the reward for your effort. So when all the dish clothes are in a "folded" mess and the dinner plate hits the floor for the hundredth time take heart and remember some day it will be worth it.

Having fun with the kiddos

One year to teach my kids about spring I had a first day of spring party. It had been beautiful weather several weeks before and I imagine us planting seeds out on the deck. We invited our friends to plant seeds and eat dirt cake with us. The first day of spring arrived and with it SNOW!! We ended up planting our seeds inside, but we still had fun.

As my kids seem to be getting old quickly, I realize the time is limited to have fun with them. Before you know it they want a job to pay for clothes, a car or other stuff they desire and then they aren't as free to go have fun with you. So take some time this week and enjoy your kids, have a picnic, color together, have a pillow fight or visit a museum. Whatever you do, don' t over do it, roll with the punches it doesn't have to be a perfect activity just fun and remember to quit while everyone is still having fun.

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