Sunday, December 20, 2009

Teaching Children How to Receive Presents


Here is something I did with my children that you might want to try. To teach my children how to respond properly to a gift they received we would have practice sessions. I would wrap up items for the child to open, just old toys or something from around the house. I would then let them open the gift and we would practice what to say. We would talk about instead of saying "I already have one of these", they can say "thank you, this is a nice present". I would wrap up a item that would be a terrible present, so they could practice saying thank you even when they didn't like the present. The children enjoyed this game and it did help them when they were given something and didn't know how to respond. It also helped to prevent them from saying something like "my mom doesn't want me to have this"

Enjoy your Christmas,

Christmas Reminder

Dear Ladies,

For those of you not in Va, we are blanketed in snow. Reminds me of my days in Oswego NY way up by Lake Ontario(a few ladies on the list actually live in Oswego). We have about 15-20 inches of snow; we haven't expeienced this amount of snow since 1995. It has been beautiful to see the world covered in a blanket of white.

My boys had plans for a sleep over tonight, so we had to dig the van out. I had planned to drive them myself, but instead took Ethan out for a snow driving lesson. He took it very slow and did a good job. He was born in Oswego, so maybe it is in his blood-it was snowing when we brought him home from the hospital.

Life in the Northern Virginia area is so busy, everyone is always on the go and then it snows. A good snow storm shuts the area down and causes everyone to slow down. One such storm happened during the week and caused most people to have to stay home from work. We went over to the hill to sled and the area was crowded with families enjoying time together. Winter snow storms hve a way of forcing us to slow down and spend down as a family.

Christmas time only adds to our busyness. In addition to our regular schedule we add in shopping for a multitude of gifts, attending parties, baking cookies and traveling. We can lose sight of what is really important during this season. We can easily forget we are celebrating the birth of Christ and we can get so busy preparing for Christmas day that we don't spend time with our children. Christmas is only one day. We spend days and hours getting ready and then it is over so quickly.

I'm sure most of you have a million jobs to do before Christmas morning, but I encourage you to carve out a few minutes each day to spend sometime doing something with your children. Color a picture together, bake cookies, read a Christmas story, wrap gifts, create a memory with your children and enjoy them. We really have very few Christmas' with our children all at home with us.

Blessings to all of you,

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mothering Drudgery or Joy

Dear Ladies,

When my kids were little Monday was always a hard day for me. After a weekend of very little housekeeping there was plenty of catching up to do. Monday always meant cleaning and laundry. After a long holiday weekend with husbands and kids home I'm sure some of you had a busy day today catching up with your cleaning and laundry.

Parts of mothering can be just drudgery. The laundry is never ending, the floor is always needing a good mopping, you rarely get everything done, and many days you feel like you get nothing done. The other part of mothering is why we really enjoy being mothers. Its the baby gazing up at you as she nurses, the toddler fresh out of the bath in his new fuzzy pajamas, the delight on a child's face when you surprise them with a gift they have really been wanting, the sense of pride when your child walks across the stage to accept his diploma and the countless smiles, hugs and kisses that are bestowed on you just because you are the mom.

Don't let your days of mothering young children become just the days of drudgery. Aim each day to find the joy in mothering weather it is just a few minutes to read a child a story, scratched a child's back (I have a 16 year old that wants his back scratched at bedtime), color a coloring page together or listen to a teen relate his day to you. These everyday occurrences are what mothering is really about. These are the days when we have the chance to mold a life, to train our children in the love of the Lord through our actions and to love them unconditionally.

Happy Mothering Ladies. Thank you to all of you who responded to my last email, your responses are very encouraging.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's Me-Finally!!

Dear Ladies,
I'm sorry it has been so long since you've heard from me. Just a quick note to let you all know that I am thinking of you.

This morning in church I was standing next to my husband during worship. Out of the corner of my eye I saw him worshiping the Lord. I realized that no matter what he does wrong or does that I'm not real excited about that none of that really matters. What really matters is that my husband loves the Lord and is committed to his walk with Him. I need to keep this is mind when I'm frustrated, feeling unappreciated or overwhelmed. In reality few things are really important, but one of the things that is important is the relationship our family members and friends have with the Lord. In the end all we can take to heaven with us is other people.

I'm taking my three youngest kids and heading to So. Carolina to help Eric's sister who has ALS. ALS is a quickly progressing disease and I want to spend time with her while she is still with us. I will try to write to you from there.

I would love to hear from some of you. It inspires me to write when I hear from you and you ask me questions or share something from your day with me.

Blessings to all of you,

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Toys, Toys and More Toys Part 2

Dear Ladies,
Now that you have had time to clear the toys from your bedroom room, let’s get started dealing with all the toys that are everywhere else.

One of the best ways to deal with toys is to limit them. So to start you will need a box of trash bags. Before you can organize anything you will need to weed out what you want to keep, what needs to be trashed and which toys can be given away. Anytime you are sorting through toys to get rid of it is best to not have your children around, let them watch a video, nap in your room so you can be in their room or plan a play date. Since this job may take a while you may find it best to accomplish it in short time spans.

Let's get started sorting.
- First we are going to trash any toys that are broken, unsafe, or too worn out to pass on.

-Our second trash bag will be for toys that are still in good condition, but are not played with. Your church nursery maybe interested in them, you can donate them to Goodwill or The Salvation Army for a tax deduction, ask a friend if they are interested in any of the toys for their children or list them on Ebay or Free Cycle. ( is a great way to give items away to other local people. Go to the website and select a group in your area, sign up and then all you do is write a short note of what you have you would like to give away. People will email you if they are interested and then pick it up from you. I love free cycle. I will list something and often have multiple people who would like it. I email one of them with my address and leave the item on the front porch. The next thing I know the item is gone. Often the person will email and tell me how glad they are to have the item.)

How do you determine which toys stay and which toys go? Ask yourself when was the last time your child used the toy, if they have not used it in the last six months to a year it is time for the toy to leave your home. Most children have a few toys that they use all the time and even some that they use every day. Toys like blocks, Playmobiles, Legos, dolls, kitchen items, and dress up clothes give children hours of enjoyment, so these are keepers, unless your child shows no interest in them. Our house has tons of Legos; the boys spent countless hours building, rebuilding and imagining with their Legos.
They were well worth the space they occupied. Decide what toys are worth the space in your home.

-Now be sure to make sure the toys in your trash bags leave your house.

You probably still have plenty of toys left in your house. We will talk about some organizing ideas in the next letter, but for now happy sorting. Remember it doesn't have to be done all at once. If you only have 30 minutes to sort through half of the closet that's ok, the job will get done.

Happy Sorting,


Monday, August 24, 2009

Toys, Toys and More Toys

Dear Ladies,

I love hearing from you and hearing what ideas you would like to read about. Recently a reader asked me for ideas on organizing children’s toys, dealing with the abundance of art work our children make and how to effectively store hand-me-downs. I haven’t personally conquered all of the STUFF in my house. It is a constant battle. Since our home isn’t very big and we don’t have the option of throwing everything in the basement, we have had to learn how to deal with all the stuff that six people need, collect and want.

There is a lot in the above topics to talk about and since I like to keep these letters short, I’m going to break this up into several different letters. First we will start with the toys.

TOYS: They are everywhere and seem to multiple like bunnies. If toys aren’t kept under control they will quickly take over your whole house.

First I would suggest you make your bedroom off limit to toys. I have always felt that the children had the whole house to play in they did not need to play or leave their toys in my room. If you are married your room should be a calm, restful place for you and your husband to enjoy time together, if you are a single mom you need one place that is just for you. You are not being selfish by keeping one room as your personal haven and for many that would mean a room with no toys. So take a box, go to your bedroom and put all the toys in the box. Put the box in a child’s room, we will deal with it later. For now you have one place where you can go that is toy free, be sure to let your kids know that your room is now a “toy free zone” and remember to enforce this new rule.

More to come on the subject of toys in the near future.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Quick Summer Tip

Dear Ladies,

We had a chance to go camping last week. We spent the good portion of an afternoon at the pool one day. The water was nice, the sun was hot and I didn't know where the sunscreen was. Needless to say I got a sunburn. We went to the store and I purchased a bottle of lotion that had Aloe Vera plus vitamins and tea tree oil(usually I use just aloe), it did wonders. Not only did it sooth the burn, the burn turned to a tan and didn't peel.

Aloe is also good to have on hand for the occasional burn when cooking.

Have a great week ladies. Stay cool and remember the sunscreen.


PS- I bought sunscreen and than found the old stuff, so we were better prepared for the next time we went to the pool

Friday, August 7, 2009

Treasure Boxes


We found a great deal this week on treasure boxes. We all know how much children love to keep things and they always need somewhere to keep their treasures.

The cigar store next to the Blockbusters in North Stafford will sometimes have empty cigar boxes sitting outside the door for people to take, but they also sell some of the boxes. The boxes they sell are very nice for treasure boxes. We had a great time sorting through the piles of boxes looking for our favorites. Many boxes are made of beautiful stained word, with hinges and latches on the front. They come in a variety of sizes; they have a few that are a little larger then a shoe box, but many are half that size. Currently there is a sign on the door saying cigar boxes are 1/2, the larger boxes are about $2-2.50 and all the smaller ones(just inside the front door are $1).

I thought the boxes would be great to put Christmas gifts in either as is or spray painted. I'm sure many of your children would enjoy picking out a treasure box to fill and once it is filled I would encourage them to sort through and get rid of some of them to make room for new treasures. This can work as a great way to store treasures, but also to limit them because once the box is full they have to discard somethings.

And if you want to get crafty I'm sure there are many ways you could decorate these boxes, but many are already very nice.

I also have a large box of tea sets. My daughter had multiple sets and we sorted through and just kept her favorites. Is anyone interested in a tea set to have tea parties with their kids? If more then one person wants them I will divide the sets up?

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.


Friday, July 31, 2009

Help-I just want to talk on the phone for two minutes!!!

Dear Ladies,
Doesn’t it seem every time you go to the store you see a child having a tempter tantrum? Doesn’t it seem that shopping can bring out some of the worse behaviors in our kids? My boys thought it was fun to hide in the middle of the clothes racks where I couldn’t see them. I would turn around and they would be gone. I would yell their name and calmly they would appear with a “I’m right here, Mama.”

It isn’t just shopping that can brings out the worse in our kids. There is also phone calls, visitors and the rare moment that they find themselves alone; all great times to find some mischief to get into. As moms we have two choices we can ignore the behavior or change it. Ignoring bad behavior rarely causes a child to change course, so that really only leaves us the option of changing the behavior.
Disciplining children isn’t easy work, it takes time, creativity and consistency. Of these three consistency is key. No matter how you decide to discipline a child, weather through time out, spanking, lose of privilege/treat, it has to be consistent.

Let’s say you have the common problem of your children losing control as soon as you start talking on the phone. What would you do to correct this problem?
Here’s one way.
Have a training session; just like an adult who takes a new job needs training, a child needs training to understand what is expected of him. Role play with your child what you expect of him when the phone rings, maybe he needs to find a book to look at for a few minutes(if so have some books in a place where she can reach them and change them out every week or so to prevent boredom) or maybe you just want him to sit and play quietly for a few minutes. Whatever it is be sure your child understands what he is to do during that time. Keep in mind it should be something your child enjoys or your plan will not work. Let your child know that you will be as quick as you can on the phone and try to stick short chats, so he isn’t tempted to misbehave.
Once your child understands what you expect it is time to have a pretend phone call and practice. Begin by making a ringing noise, say to your child the phone is ringing, get your book and sit quietly for a few minutes. Pretend to answer your phone and chat for a minute. Hang up and praise your child for his good behavior while you were on the phone. Practice this a few times over the course of several days each time making your pretend conversation a little longer. Praise your child after each pretend conversation.
During your training be sure to let your child know what the consequence will be if he doesn’t do what you asked him, maybe he will have to stand in the corner for a few minutes, or lose something she enjoys. Whatever it is be sure when your child misbehaves to follow through. Threats don’t work! If you tell your child no TV in that afternoon, then stick to it. Sticking to what you say is the hardest part.

Now that your child knows what the expected behavior is and what the punishment will be if he doesn’t behave, maintain consistency. Every time the phone rings expect him to do exactly what you have trained him to do and if he doesn’t then end your phone call immediately. Explain to her she didn’t do what you had practiced and so now you have to punish her. Once your child realizes that you are serious and are holding her to a standard she should respond. If she doesn’t then your expectation and punishment will need to be adjusted. Maybe she needs a different activity to keep her busy for a few minutes or a tougher punishment. It might also work to have something special in the cupboard near the phone that you pull out just for him to use while you are on the phone; at the end of the call the toy goes away(rotate these toys occasionally).
Similar kind of training will help you and your child in other situations where their behaviors isn’t what you would like. In upcoming letters we will discuss other training ideas that will help you and your child in different situations. Punishing or spanking a child for every ill deed isn’t necessarily effective. Sometimes a punishment is necessary, but often times we just need to take the extra few moments to teach our children what our expectations are.
If you have had success in training your children to behave while you are on the phone and would like to share what has work with you, we would love to hear it. I will include your idea in a future letter and add it to the website.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

New Website

Please take time to visit our new website. All past e-letters are on the site plus you will find all of the recipes together.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fun Summer Ideas

Dear Ladies,
I HATE snakes. Thankfully I rarely see one, but today I had an up close encounter. I was working in my flower garden, I pulled up a plant to transplant and as I pulled out came a snake. I jumped and scream. All of the men were in the backyard, heard my scream and quickly came to my rescue. They found the little guy and took care of him. We had encountered a small one about 6 weeks ago and I'm hoping it was the same snake. If so, he had grown, but was still small. Summer is a great season, but I could do without the snake encounters.
Our summer vacation time is almost half over. Before we know it will be time to start school again. Is your summer getting away from you? Have you created any special memories with your children yet? It isn't too late to create some fun family memories together. Put on your thinking cap and begin to think of some fun activities you can do with your family.
Here is a list of inexpensive, fun ideas to try with your children this summer.

Pack a picnic and meet your husband at his work for lunch.
Go fishing. Children don't need a fishing license and only one parent really needs one, plus kids poles are relatively inexpensive. Kids usually love fishing.
Find a place where you can walk in the woods, take along a plastic bucket or bag for the children to collect things. The next day they can glue their findings to a piece of cardboard or display them in a pretty jar or basket. (after a week or the collection can quietly disappear.)
Find a stream. My boys always loved playing in streams and looking under the rocks for Crawdads. Smithlake Park has a pretty stream that is fairly shallow.
Find the nearest state visitors center and pick up brochures of near by places to visit. We have one just north of Fredericksburg on I95.
Have friends over to splash in a baby pool.
Bake cookies together on a rainy day.
Attend a local Vacation Bible School.
Spend the morning/afternoon at the pool. Curtis Park has their baby pool open in the morning and it only cost a few dollars. When my kids were little a group of us would meet at the baby pool and then have lunch afterwards. I have fond memories of visiting with my friends.
Create a mural with chalk on the driveway or sidewalk for Dad to see when he comes home.
Read together when the weather is just too hot to be outside.
Catch bugs. Buy a cheap net at the dollar store and save some old plastic jars. If you want to mount and label them put a cotton ball soaked with nail polish remover in the jar to quickly kill them. Or just let them go when you're done. Fireflies are also fun to catch.
Go camping in your backyard or just have a campfire in the evening. Roasting hot dogs and marshmellows around a campfire is great time for Dad to tell a story or share about something he did as a kid.
These summer days hold so much potential for fun and bonding together as a family, so enjoy. Ladies, I'm always blessed with your feedback and enjoy being able to mentor you as you need. Please don't hesitate to call or email.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Mom Like You Website

Our site is ready for visitors. Everything you have loved about this blog page will now be on its very own site. Please visit us at

Summer Memories

Dear Ladies,

A week ago Tuesday we received an early morning call that my Dad had taken his last earthly breath. As you may remember, I mentioned in April that he wasn't doing very well. They inserted a feeding tube as he wasn't getting enough nutrition on a daily bases. He was able to go home and my step-mother cared for him. Ten years ago a tumor was located in his esophagus, because of his heart the decision was made to not operate. It is possible the tumor was cancerous, but we will never know.

The Sunday following his death a small memorial service was held at his home. Family and friends shared memories of my dad and the pastor shared the gospel message of salvation with everyone at the service.

Even though I knew my dad's death was approaching and even though it has been over 20 years since I lived with my dad I am saddened to think that I will never talk to him again or hear him say "I love you, kid." It will take time to get use to the fact that he is gone.

The lost of anyone brings to mind the precious memories you have made with that person. Once that persons is gone all we have is our memories.

Summer is the perfect time to make memories with your children, husband and extended family. We try to make it a point each summer to take a vacation with our children. We haven't always done this, but we realized we had to create those memories with them before they all grew up. One year we packed up and headed out west for three weeks. It was an unforgettable vacation. Not all summer memories have to be long, far away trips. Memories can be made taking short trips or even day trips to near by places. Check out this past blog for some near by trips you might want to try this summer.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Ladies, I love to communicate with you, so please email me with any thoughts, concerns or questions.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Letting Go!!

Dear Ladies,

My two oldest boys, Jacob and Ethan, took a road trip. They packed up our little white car with over 200,000 miles and drove to Illinois to visit grandparents. The oldest being 18 has a need for adventure, and it worked out for him to be able to have one. Ethan is one step closer to independence.

Before we were married we spent some time with our pastor discussing marriage, family etc. Our pastor told us that it was the husbands job to help his wife let go of the children. What truth there was in that statement.

When our children were little their grandparents wanted to have them visit for several weeks in the summers. I always wanted to say "no", I want them here with me. Eric felt it would be good for the children to spend some time with their grandparents, so off to Grammy's they would go. Of course, Eric was right. It was good for everyone. The grandparents got to spoil the grand kids and a bond was developed between the children and their grandparents. My in-laws are Godly people, so my children were also able to learn from their Godly example.

All the good reasons didn't make it any easier for me to let go. Through out the adventure of mothering there are different times when we need to release our children. As babies we let them go when we move them out of our bedroom and into their own room. (I cried the first night I put my oldest in his room), as toddlers we let go when they are screaming at the church nursery door for mama, but we know they will be fine. As young elementary we let go when we put them on the school bus for the first time, or let them sleep over night at a friend's house, then as teens we let them go when we allow them to be out with friends. Before long we have an adult in our house who is studying and preparing to care for a family of his own.

Parenting is one long season of letting go. As moms it is hard for us to let them grow up, we are torn; we want them to grow up, but we still want them to be our babies. So if the opportunity arises this summer for your child to step out into something new, be ready. It will be hard. Pray about it and discuss it with your husband. How will it benefit your child and his knowledge of God? Will your child be safe? Are you just holding on or would this be a good chance for your child to grow and have fun? Will this opportunity cause emotional or physical harm? Is your child ready?

I have not yet gotten to the point where a child has totally left home, but I believe that having my children spend weeks at their grandparents has given me a little glimpse of what our home will be like with children gone. I know it will be difficult, but I'm looking forward to seeing what direction God takes my children in.

I would love to hear from you ladies, your emails encourage me to write. Please email me any questions or topics that you would like me to write about.

In His Service,

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Death Comes To Us All

Dear Ladies,

We have been doing more then our fair share dinner with a movie. When Eric is gone we tend to be more relaxed about dinner. Sometimes I will decide we better start acting normal and eat dinner at the table. BUT we are all enjoying our dinner/movie nights, do we really need to be normal. We have watched most of the PG movies from the Redbox that we wanted to see; that may cause us to have to stop our movie watching or find a different rental source.

My father is 88 years old and isn't doing very well. We are hoping he will hang in there until after May 6th when Eric is due home. I really don't want to deal with the funeral without him to tempter family feelings. My Dad has been married three times and has children from his first two marriages.

My dad was born in 1921, only attender school through the 8th grade when he had to start working to help support the family. He was one of 12 children. He has outlived all but the youngest sister. He was drafted to serve in World War II, was wounded twice and was part of the occupation force in Japan. He saw airplane and automobile travel become the norm. He saw the invention of the tv, phone, computers, washing machines, radios, microwaves, and bubble gum. I was blessed to have a wonderful visit, the best one in a long time, in November. We attended church with him, his wife, my sister and her boys. Afterwards we went out to lunch, then to their new home for a visit. I'm thankful for that visit. I have chosen not to go to NY now, but have talked to him a few minutes on the phone.

Death is a part of life and sometimes is very hard for us to understand. Children handle death so much better then we do. I think sometimes they wonder why we are crying. Isn't going home to be with Jesus what we all want to do? So how do we has moms handle explaining the death of a loved one to our little ones?

1. Explain to your child that they have gone to see Jesus. For some children this is all they will need.

2. Comfort them and allow them to cry, but don't be upset if they don't show any sorrow.

3. If they are beyond the toddler years take them to the visitation or the funeral. Explain to them before hand that they will be viewing the person's body or shell, but their spirit or the part we loved is with Jesus.

4. If you aren't sure the person was saved it is a little bit more difficult. Let your child know their spirit is gone and leave it at that.

5. Talk about the things you loved or did with the person. Enjoy sharing funny stories with them and ask them to share something they remember.

6. Talk about death before it happens. Talk about how grandparents wouldn't always be with us, so we have to enjoy them while we can. Let them know it is a part of life. If you have a pet who dies, even a goldfish, use this as an opportunity to talk about death.

7. Pray and ask for guidance.

We lost two young cousins in a car accident 5 years ago. That was a difficult death for my children and there was no explanation as to why it happened. We knew that both children had made Jesus their savior, so we could rejoice in knowing that they were with Jesus. Sometimes all you can do is cry together and say we don't understand why such an accident could happen. It is ok to be honest with your children, they will have a better understanding of death when we address their questions honestly.

Have a wonderful weekend with your family and rejoice in each new day God gives us to enjoy each other.


Monday, April 13, 2009

I'm A Sinner!!

Dear Ladies,

Just a short note before I head to bed. I was listening to a sermon on line this past week. The speaker discussed the topic of asking God for forgiveness or our need to repent of our sins. I occurred to me that in my quiet times with the Lord I had gotten away from asking God to forgive me. I had forgotten how I need to confront my sins and confess them to God. I seldom hear the topic of repentance talked about, so I guess it had slipped my mind. How foolish of me!! I know Jesus died for my sins, so why is it I was forgetting to ask forgiveness. It isn't because I never sin, I sin everyday. I yell at my kids or say things I shouldn't. I get angry at my husband. I'm judgemental. The list could go on, but you get the picture. Sinless I am not.

We are all sinners and it is only by the grace of God that we are able to have relationship with Him. I'm thankful that God gently reminded me that I need to confess and as I begin naming my sin I have a better understanding of what I need to work on to become like Christ.

I encourage you, dear sisters in the Lord, to take a few minutes this week and reflect on your sins. It isn't fun, but if we don't take the time to think about our short comings we can become caught in the trap of thinking that we are doing everything right. Ask Him to open your eyes to your sins; once we know what sin is harboring in our life then we can begin to work on reflecting Jesus in all we do.

God is merciful and will forgive. He even will forgive us for when we forget to confess our sins.

In His Service,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easy Chicken/turkey Bake


I hope you all had a wonderful Easter and were able to enjoy some time with your family. For those of you that had turkey today for Easter Dinner, here is an easy recipe to use some of your leftovers.

1 pk. cornbread stuffing mix
1 cup hot water
1 1/2 lb chicken/turkey(cooked)
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1/3 cup sour cream
1 bag of frozen mixed veggies-thawed and drained(broccoli or green beans will also work)

Preheat oven 400 degrees. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of dry stuffing evenly on bottom of 13x9" baking dish. Add hot water to remaining stuffing mix, stir until moistened.

Place chicken over dry stffing mix. Mix soup, sour cream and veggies, spoon over chicken. Top with prepared stuffing.

Bake 30 minutes.

The sour cream is really what gives this dish its unique taste; you can make the dish without it, but it is better with the sour cream. This dish works well to put together during the day when you have time and then it is ready to stick into the oven at dinner time.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Fun and Easy Easter Treat

Here is a quick and fun treat you can make with your children and share with them what Jesus did for us and the really meaning of Easter.

You will need a tube of refrigerator biscuits. I used the cheap ones that come 4 tubes bundled together. You will also need marshmallows(any kind you have will work), melted butter, cinnamon and sugar.

Have your children stretch out a biscuit as best them can and wrap it around a marshmallow. Brush each biscuit with butter and then sprinkle or roll them in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Bake your biscuits according to the directions on the tube. Remove from oven and cool a little before eating.

As they work and then enjoy share with them what each part represents.
The marshmallow represents Jesus and the biscuit is the tomb. Just as Jesus was put in the tomb, you put your biscuits in the oven. Have your children bit into there biscuit and notice that the marshmallow is gone, there biscuit /tomb is hollow. As they enjoy there sweet treat share with them the goodness of Jesus' resurrection and the empty tomb.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Dear Ladies,
I have sat down several times and started a letter only to never finish it. I have not forgotten you nor have I given up writing altogether.

The children and I are on our own for the month. Eric is in Afghanistan, so that means cereal for dinner, movies and pizza. We have been to see the cherry blossoms and have dinner with friends planned, and maybe a road trip to visit the University of Virginia, to help the time past.

On Sunday we had the great blessing of having our first service in our new building. I was very busy with the babies in the nurseries. We had a record number of children with a total near 40 in our second service. I never even got a chance to peek in at the worship service, but my day will come. Until then I will love everyone babies and will be glad for three beautiful rooms to care for them.

Of all the letters I send the recipes are the most popular, so I will add one to this update.
One of our favorite soups is "Brown Jug Cheese Soup"

4 chicken bouillon cubes
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 qt water
2 1/2 cups potatoes, raw and cubed
1 (20 oz) pkg. frozen mixed veggies(we like broccoli)
1 lb Velveeta cheese
2 cans cream of chicken soup
Put all but the soup and cheese in a large soup pot and cook until potatoes and veggies are tender. Stir in soup and cheese(cut into large cubes). Stir until cheese is melted.

Add a loaf of bread and dinner is done. This is an easy recipe to put together early in the day and heat up just before dinner. We still have some cool days ahead that make good days to have soup for dinner, so enjoy.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Apple Crisp Recipe

This morning I brought an Apple Crisp to our Mothers Of Preschoolers meeting. It was a big hit and was really easy to make. We picked a lot of apples last fall and I froze some of them. I froze them already peeled and sliced so they were ready to make a quick pie, apple crisp or applesauce. At the time this was alot of work, but i is very handy to have packages of sliced apples in the freezer. The night before MOPS I mixed up the topping, so in the morning all I had to do was put the apples in a dish, sprinkle on the topping and bake.

Apple Crisp

Peel and slice enough apples to fill a glass pie plate or a 12x12" baking dish. In a separate bowl soften 2/3 cup butter, add 1 1/2cup flour, 1 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon. Mix all together until you have a crumbly mixture. Try not to melt the butter, if you do and your topping isn't crumbly add a little more flour. Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of your apples.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 1/2 hour or until the apples are tender.

This topping is from a recipe called "Crumbly Top Apple Pie"

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Burned Out

Burn Out! It is so easy for us as moms to over commit. We already have our hands full with all the jobs of motherhood and being a wife,but on top of those jobs we add many more. Serving in the church nursery, teaching a bible study, helping out at the kids' school, and the list goes on. I have at times been so overwhelmed with items on my to-do list that I wanted to cry, but that would take time and there is no time for that. Over extending ourselves with good things to do can lead to anxiety and worry, plus steal from us the time we need to be spending with the Lord. Once we lose that time with the Lord we face the danger of burning out in His work. God never intended for us to do so much that we don't have time for Him.

This time of year it is easy to feel burnt out with various commitments. Much of the energy we started with is gone and the fresh ideas are stagnant. Our service should not become an unhappy burden.

Romans 12:11-13 says "Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder."

Scripture gives us the key to avoiding burnout. Pray! God is concerned for you and the activities you are involved in. Ask Him for renewed energy, ask Him if there are any areas you can step back in or ask someone to take over or help. Renew yourself in His word, so you can finish the race and finish well.

March can be a long month, but it can also be a good month to reconnect with theLord. Your time with the Lord doesn't have to be in the morning or always at the same time, but try to find a portion of your day that is for God alone.

In His Love,

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cookies for Breakfast

One of the items I like to bake is breakfast cookies. They are easy to grab if you are running out the door and are good for anytime of day. Plus I can tell my guys they can have a cookie whenever they get hungry. I haven't official compared them to Pop Tarts or granola bars, but I'm sure they are healthier. Both of the recipes below can be adapted to your taste. I like to use dried cranberries in my cookies, but you could also add walnuts or pecans, sunflower seeds, any type of dried fruit or nuts. You could also try replacing some of the butter with an equal amount of applesauce. If you use fresh apples, keep in mind they wouldn't keep as long as cookies with only dried fruit. Using the two recipes below you could invent a breakfast cookie that works for your family. Have fun experimenting with your cookies. When I first started making breakfast cookies I did a google search and found a lot of recipes. I would love to hear what ingredients you add and how your cookies turn out.

Jumbo Breakfast Cookies
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup old-fashion or quick-cooking oatmeal
1 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 cups cheerios cereal
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Stir together sugar, butter, peanut butter, water vanilla and egg. Stir in remaining ingredients, except cereal. Gently stir in cereal. Drop dough onto ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten dough to about 1 inch thick

Bake 13-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before removing from sheet.

Hearty Cookies for Breakfast
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 apple chopped
1 1/2 cup oatmeal
3/4 cup raisins
Mix all ingredients and bake at 350 degrees. My recipe doesn't say for how long, but my guess would be about 10 minutes.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Self Pity or Transformation

Dear Ladies,

Eric told me this week that in the next two months he will only be home for a total of two weeks. He needs to make a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, to check on equipment and parts. It takes a lot of prep for him to make the trip; he has to get updates on his shots, have all his equipment checked, get papers from a doctor and a dentist saying he is in good health, and process paperwork. Plus, he usually has to reassure me he will be fine, but any trip that requires a gas mask, a bullet proof vest, an updated will and gives you danger pay can't be too safe. But nevertheless the trip needs to be made.

When we first moved to Virginia Eric had to take a lot of classes. The classes were two to three weeks long, but he was home for the weekends. One Sunday in church I was very unhappy that he was leaving me again, when God gave me a reality check. I don't remember why people were sharing, but a young mom sitting in front of me went to the front of the congregation. Thorough tears she shared how just a few months before her husband who had cancer had passed away, but God had blessed her with a baby boy to remind her of her husband. My outlook on my situation changed quickly. Who was I to complain? My husband was not even leaving the state and I would see him again in a week. I needed to adjust my thinking.

Most of the times the problems we have in the course of a day are minor. The young mom's testimony quickly reminded me that I really had nothing to complain about. However, most of the time we don't get a direct message like that telling us to quit having a pity party. Sometimes we need a good cry, but we can also get into a rut of complaining. We can even sometimes compete with our friends over whose life is harder. God has good things in store for us every day. We just have to choose to enjoy them. Because God know the tendencies of His children, He encourages us in Scripture to refocus.

"Finally, brethren, 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." Philippians 4:8 (New King James Version)

So, dear ladies, don't let the little things of life bog you down. Decide what is most important and focus on that. We have the ability to train our minds, so if your mind is not filled with good,wholesome and pure thoughts, stop and begin filling your mind with the words of God. Read scripture or repeat verses you have memorized, turn on christian radio, or spend some time in prayer. Your self pity and hopelessness will be transformed.

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:2
Yours in Christ,

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

College of Hard Knocks-Lesson #2

Here is another lessons I learned the hard way. However this time my mistake hurt my child.

Lesson #2- never let your toddler stand up in the back of the grocery cart. Even if it is a deep cart, they can still get hurt. As you can guess, this happened to me. I didn't think much of letting one of the boys stand in the back of the cart. I was right there, so I guess I figured it was ok, plus the stores didn't have those fancy multiple seat carts and it was a trick to keep track of three boys, the oldest being only four. I had let a boy stand in the cart without any problems in the past, but this day that changed. The youngest boy fell out of the back of the shopping cart and hit his head on the concrete floor of Walmart. Other then some tears he was fine and with a bit of comforting, from the mom whose fault it was, he quit crying. So that is how lesson #2 was learned.

Have a great Wednesday Ladies,

Saturday, February 21, 2009

College of Hard Knocks-Lesson #1

Dear Ladies,

My Dad use to say he went to the college of hard knocks. As a kid it took me awhile to understand what he meant; I thought there really was a college called "Hard Knocks".

It is always a good idea to learn from the wisdom of those who have gone before us. We still will learn a lot of lessons the hard way, but we can avoid some of life's difficulties by listening to those who are older. I like to observe friends has they go through phrases of parenting, so I have an idea of what it will be like and what might work or not work when I'm in that phrase.

I thought I would share some lessons I've learned during my years at the "College of Hard Knocks." Lessons are not necessarily in order of importance. Be on the look out for future emails entitled "College of Hard Knocks" lesson #___.

#1-Wear sunscreen on your face in the summer. This summer I had dark areas on my face that made me look like I had not blended my foundation right. I don't like sunscreen and have not been faithful to use it and was not faithful to use my face moisturizer with sunscreen, so I damaged my skin and now that I'm older it is showing. So whip out the sunscreen ladies and preserve your beautiful complexions while you can.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Cranberry Orange Scones

These scones are moist and sweet. Sweeter than some folks might like, especially with the orange-sugar topping, but they're just to my taste. And of course, the flavored butter takes them to the next level, taste-wise. If you're looking for the perfect scone recipe for your afternoon tea party, try this one.

Cranberry Orange Scones
3 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp grated orange peel
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter
1 cup dried orange-flavored cranberries (if you can't find the flavored kind, regular will do)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup orange juice - high pulp
3 tsp orange cream yogurt

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Mix in orange peel.

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch pieces, and mix into the flour using your fingers. Rub and mix and mash (with your fingertips) until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add the dried cranberries.

Combine the wet ingredients in a small bowl - orange juice, buttermilk, and yogurt. (Note: the orange cream yogurt was a new item at my grocery store. If you can't find something like it, mix a few drops orange extract into plain yogurt.) Slowly add the liquid to the flour/butter, mixing with a fork until you get moist clumpy dough.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead about 4-6 times, just enough to bind the dough together, then roll/shape it for cutting.

Instead of the usual "round", I formed the dough into a large log, about an inch and a half thick. I cut a slice about every 3 inches. Then I cut these pieces diagonally to form the triangular scone shape. It was way easier to cut that way, IMO.

Lay the cut scones, about 2 inches apart, on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400°.

As you can see, mine were a little close together on the sheet. And they weren't all the same size. I'm not a very precise cook. Both these factors made them cook a little unevenly. I had to remove the littler ones at about 12 minutes, and left the bigger ones in for a bit longer. If you're a sloppy cook like me, just test with a toothpick to make sure the centers are cooked. The tops should be golden brown, and the toothpick should come out dry.

Glaze / Topping
While the scones are cooking, mix together 1/2 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar and 1-2 tbsp orange juice. Drizzle this lightly over the tops of the scones as they cool, when they're fresh out of the oven.

Flavored Butter
This is what puts the Max in the Yummy. Mix together 1/2 cup softened butter and 3 tbsp orange marmalade.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spoiling Just One

Dear Ladies,

I'm sitting at the Ford dealership waiting on my van. We're here for schedule maintenance. I have brought along my youngest boy, Caleb to keep me company.

Years ago my husband and I read and article that contained a simple piece of parenting advice. The article said to always take a child with you when you are heading out to shop, run an errand or other small excursions. Since then, we have tried to put this principle into practice. This doesn't mean I never shop alone. I do. Sometimes I need to go alone, sometimes I want to go alone and sometimes no one wants to go with me.

When we first started do this, my husband was making bi-weekly trips to the dump. No one wanted to go with him, so he began using bribery. Just a side note, bribery has it's place in parenting, and can work very well helping you teach or train a child. Eric began taking the child he forced to go with him to the gas station to pick out a bandy bar. Since our children rarely got whole candy bars this was a real treat for them and before long everyone wanted to go to the dump with dad.

Sometimes moms need the time to go shopping alone and if it is one of those times, then by all means go alone. However if you have had your alone time, then take a child along. For me this allows me the chance to have some alone time with each child. Taking just one child out with you is totally different then taking the whole gang. With just one you have the chance to really focus on them and gives you a chance to talk about subjects they might not have brought up if another child was along.

Eric and I love to spoil our children, so another benefit of taking just one child is, it gives us the chance to spoil him or her. If I have all four children along it can cost me a pretty penny to buy each one of them an ice cream cone at Brusters or even a Coke. If I have only one child I can more easily afford to buy them a treat or two. The children know this and at times they have come along just because they know the chances are good that they will get a treat. A few my children have gone through stages when they just enjoyed being alone with one of us and would tag along. One even told me once on an outing he liked being alone with me.

Weather the child goes with you because you forced him, bribed him, or simply because they wanted to, the time alone with you child will strengthen your bond and create memories. So the next time you're heading out the door to run an errand, whisper a bribed in the ear of one of your kids and enjoy the bless of having a child along.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Re-Arrange the House

Dear Ladies,

We have the making of a band in our house. The two youngest are learning how to play chores on the piano, so they will be able to play worship music. The older two are taking guitar lessons. Occassionally I have seen an older one trying to play along while a younger one plays the piano.

We bought our piano about 3 years ago. It is actually an electric keyboard, but it looks and plays like a small piano. Having taken piano for years I began teaching all of the kids the basics of playing. This year we decided to try lessons for the younger one and the older boys wanted to take guitar lessons.

I never imagin that my kids would be so musical. We bought the piano just to see if anyone had a God given talent for playing. It doesn't appear that we have any budding Mozarts, but we have discovered the joy of music and the enjoyment of playing an instrustments.

Here's a parenting secret for you: Children will use things that they see.

If you want you children to use something or play with a certain item, or work on a project you have to leave it out where they can see it.
For example-our piano and a guitar are in the family room and sometimes someone will set down and just start playing. If we were to put the instruments in different room where they wouldn't seen all the time, they wouldn't get used as much. I have a friend who took this principal to heart and had a drum set in her formal living room for years.

You may have to change your furniture around a little, set up a small table or designate a spot for a project, but having the items/instruments available will motivate your children to use them. Your home wouldn't look like the glossy cover of a decorating magazine, but you will be offering your children opportunities to learn.

Legos, books and drawing pads and pencils are also great items to have available for your children to use. Put these types of things where they can get them by themselves.

Have fun re-arranging your home, then sit back and see what the kids do.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hunting for Chocolate

"You can deprive the body, but the soul needs chocolate."

I didn't really need an excuse to eat chocolate, but this quote almost makes you feel like it is good for you to eat chocolate. We enjoy buying different brands of dark chocolate that we find and taste test them. My children have become chocolate snobs. They prefer the more expensive chocolate, though in a pinch the cheaper chocolate is fine. Being chocolate tasters has given us a family mission. We enjoy picking up chocolate that is different and sampling it. We have found chocolate from different countries, chocolate with various percentages of cacao and chocolates with added fruit or flavors(the oldest boys liked the chocolate with chili pepper).

Our hunt for different varieties of chocolate is like a family mission. It adds an element of fun to our shopping trips. We enjoy the search. We usually only a buy one candy bar to sample, so our mission is fairly inexpensive. Sometimes we will buy multiple bars, each a little different and compare taste. Our mission is a fun way to make memories as a family and any unique activity a family does together makes you and your children feel your family is special and helps create a bond.

A family mission does not have to be chocolate bars, it doesn't even have to be food, it could be anything that you hunt for.

A few ideas might be:
different varieties of apples,
collecting magnets from various places,
collecting smashed pennies(pennies that are smashed a imprinted with the name of a place. We do this also, this is a good vacation collectible)
different kinds of bottled water(Does all water taste the same?)

postcards of places you've visited

varieties of tea
try different varies of ice cream, ice cream places or novelty ice cream at gas stations.

Does your family have anything special they hunt for? If so would you share them with us. I will post all of them on the blog and sent them in a future letter.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Chocolate doesn't have

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Parenting Book Recommendation

Our new church building is almost ready for us. If everything stays on schedule we should be having our first services in April. It has been a long process. Our family has been attending Horizons for 8 years, back then we didn't have a band, we had one pastor and only one service. The church has come a long way in 8 years and with a building of our own we will have so many more opportunities. It will be exciting to finally walk through the doors. Tomorrow I'm going to meet the children's pastor at the building to discuss what furnishings we need to purchase.
This letter I wanted to briefly share with you a series of books that I found helpful as a young mom. The books are titled Your(fill in age)Year Old and are written by Louise Bates Ames and Frances L. IIg. The first book is entitled Your One Year Old:The fun loving, fussy 12 to 24 month old. I'm not sure at what age the series ends. As my oldest was closing in on another birthday or soon after his birthday I would pick up the book from the library. I never truly read one of the books from cover to cover, but would skim through them. The part I was most interested in was the descriptions of typical behavior for that age. For instance when my son was three and started being afraid of everything, I knew from my reading that this is very normal behavior for a three year old; as unique as each child is there are still behaviors that for the most part are typical for all children that age. Knowing little bits of information about child behavior was very helpful to me. I would tell my husband "The book said this would happen." I wasn't as bewilder by my first child's behaviors.
The books in paperback cost under $10 on Amazon, The library system in Stafford/Fredericksburg also has them, I believe they are on the parenting shelf in the children's section.
The Mom Like You website is coming. We want to have a large quantity of information for young moms on the site before we starting inviting people to visit. If you have a few minutes I would love to hear from you. We are looking for easy recipes, recommended reading of any interest to young moms, websites or ideas of things you would like us to include on the website.
Blessings to All,
PS. If you have a topic in future letters you would me to cover, please let me know.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wills and Life Insurance

Dear Ladies

One thing no one enjoys thinking about is the sudden death of a love one. However it is something we needed to think and prepare for. If you have not written a will or gotten a life insurance policy, don't wait.

The most important reason to write a will is to provide guardians for your children. A verbal agreement with friends will probably not stand up in court and your children could become wards of the state or end up with a relative that isn't your first choice.

A large life insurance while your children are still young and living at home is very important. the policy will give you the income you need to remain a stay at home mom. In our case we took out a policy that would give me enough to live on until our youngest was in college. At a minimum you would will probably need over a million dollar policy to be able to continue to live as you are accustom. We also took our a policy for me, because we feel strongly about homeschooling our children we wanted Eric to be able to stay home and continue homeschooling.

This isn't any one's favorite topic to talk about, but it is a very real part of life. The hardest part is deciding who you would want to be your children's guardian, but don't let that keep you from writing a will. You can always change that part of your will at a later date.

Until next time, may the Lord bless you with all the wisdom, love and patience you need to mother your children.

Blessings to all of you,
ps. We are working on a website entitled "a mom like you" We are in need of links, recipes and any thing of interest to young moms. If you have any suggestions we would love to hear from you.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Quiche Recipe

I haven't made quiche for my family in a long time, but when I have made it everyone enjoys it. If you use frozen pie crusts, it will only take you a few minutes to put the filling together. It is also easy to make several different types to satisfy everyone. Since most children like eggs and cheese there should be very little complaining. You can be creative with what you add to the egg mixture. A few ideas to try are broccoli, mushroom, bacon,sausage, ham, spinach, green peppers,tomatoes and of course cheese.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
2to 3 tablespoons cold water
8 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1 cup shredded cheese (4 oz)
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
4 large eggs
2 cups milk, whipping cream or half-n-half
1/4teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Directions for making pie crust:
1.In medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in shortening, using pastry blender or fork, until particles are size of small peas. Sprinkle with cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons more water can be added if necessary).

2.Gather pastry into a ball.
Heat oven to 425°F.
With floured rolling pin, roll pastry into round 2 inches larger than your pie plate. Fold pastry gently and gently place in quiche dish. Unfold and press firmly against bottom and side. Trim overhanging edge of pastry.
Bake crust for 10 minutes. If crust bubbles, gently push bubbles down with back of spoon.
Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Sprinkle bacon, cheese and onion( or your similar ingredients of your choice) in pie crust. In medium bowl, beat eggs slightly; add milk, salt and pepper. Pour into quiche dish. (Before pouring filling into crust, put the crust on a cookie sheets. The cookie sheets makes it easier to transfer the quiche to the oven and catches any over flow.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Time Saver: Use frozen crust or a ready-to-go refrigerated pie crust.
Prep Time: 25 min
Makes: 6 servings

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Just Say No!!!

Dear Ladies,

The kids and I have a busy week ahead of us. Caleb (son #3) is getting braces put on the upper teeth, we are all taking a field trip to the FBI Academy, and Johanna, Caleb and I are taking a field trip to a Equine Rescue Farm. Johanna is working on a horses' unit study this year, so when I saw this field trip offered, I signed up for it. We don't do many group field trips, so this is an unusual week for us. We also have Bible study, robotics and a college class for the oldest, our regular school work and chores, a MOPS meeting for me, drama class for Johanna and guitar lessons for the two oldest boys. I'm sure some of you probably have a schedule that is even fuller, while some of you may enjoy a quieter week.

I'm also sure that most of you have experienced feelings of being overwhelmed at some point. When your long list of things to do, just gets longer. There have been times that I have felt on the verge of tears, because I had so much to accomplish.

We adopted our daughter at the age of 2. Our boys were four, six and eight at the time, I was homeschooling, we had moved into a house that needed lots of work, I was the director of our children's church program and taught Sunday school. I was overwhelmed. Added to all this the transition for our daughter was difficult, she only wanted me or my oldest son, she cried a lot and was angry plus the church wanted the children to perform a Christmas musical and I was the director. I was REALLY overwhelmed. During all this I went to a homeschool support group meeting. I shared with some of the ladies all I was doing. One member of the group was an older mom and she offered me some simple advise. She said "Melissa, you need to learn how to say NO."

Is learning to say "NO" something you need to do? There are many wonderful actitives to fill our time and we have to choose carefully. Opportunities abound for our children, everything from soccer to cooking lessons. These are all great activities and there is a time when it is good to let your children take part. We can, at times, feel pressured to have all of our kids doing some activity all of the time. Before signing your kids up for a class or sport consider how many hours per week will you need to invest, how will the added stress effect your family and how will the time involved effect the children not participating in the activity. If it is a personal project or activity be sure to ask your husband's opinion, talk to a close friend and consider your current schedule(can it handle another event). Be sure to spend some time asking God to direct your steps.

Lastly say No and don't feel guilty. In the weeks ahead you probably will be glad you didn't take on yet another activity or project. Only by saying no to some activities will you have the opportunity to spend quality time as a family, have the time for your children to just be kids and play, and maybe even have the time to read a good book.

Have a wonderful week.


PS. I'm looking for e-letter topics, do you have any ideas?

Mothering Through the Sand Dunes of Life

"…and they will do well from the treasures hidden in the sand on the shore."
Deuteronomy 33:19

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, flat, 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.
During our 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 firm sand. Other days are tough, no major obstacles, just harder and physically exhausting, like walking through soft sand. While 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 that small window of time you had to take a shower. The day doesn't get better. The toddler and the baby both wake up cranky, with stuffy noses and sore throats. After an hour wait the doctor tells you they have a virus and it will 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 nap time under way, you quickly 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 power nap; as you head touches the pillow, crying is heard from the bedroom. You feel like you have been climbing a mountain of sand,never gaining more them a few steps forward before sliding back to where you started, and your day is only half over.
In Deuteronomy 33:19 Moses pronounces a blessing over the tribe of Zebulun. He declares that they will feast on "treasures hidden in the sand." Our children are treasures, but on very difficult days we need to remember to bend down and dig. Digging in the sand isn't hard and often we don't have to dig deep before we find an unexpected treasure or uncover a blessing. Maybe you had a few extra minutes of cuddling time with your preschooler, maybe your toddler said something that brought a smile to your face, or maybe
Visitors to Great Sand Dunes National Park are encouraged to enjoy, explore, and learn 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, and explore on the sunny days. We need to discover anew the treasures of our children. Motherhood is a fascinating journey, one in which we can grow and change like the shifting sand of the national park

Copyright 2008 Melissa Steckmann.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Have Some Fun

Dear Ladies,

My kids enjoyed some time in the snow the last couple of days. Last year they were disappointed that we didn't have enough snow to try out some snowboards they had gotten at a yard sale. They finally got their chance to use them.

Since we are homeschooling we don't necessarily have snow days. Since a good snow fall is a rare occurrence and the opportunities to sled are few we do take time to fit in some outdoor fun. We adjust our schedule, let some of the work wait until the next day and seize the moment.

With all the jobs we have to do has wives and mothers we can sometimes neglect the chances to have fun. I know you all have heard it before that the house work can wait, but the children wouldn't always be there. We all know the truth to that statement and we all believe it, but we still get caught up in the need to get the work all done. Plus there is no way to get around it, I have yet to have any little elves do my housework while I was sleeping.

So what do we do??

We have to find a balance between work and fun. Schedule into your days time with your children, time where you do something together. It can be as simple as playing a game of memory, reading a book or baking cookies. Try to include your children in some of the every day activities you have to do. Your young children will think it is fun to be mommy's helper. Or give your children an activity to do at the kitchen table while you make dinner, this will give you the opportunity to talk to them. There are many ways in which we can enjoy time with our children, be on the look out for ways to include your children in what you do and ways to have a little fun with them.

Have fun today and enjoy your children.

Check the blog page for past letters and easy recipes.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Turn Your Eyes

Dear Ladies,

I just wanted to let you know I'm thinkng of you and hope your week is off to a good start. Mondays were always my hardest day when the kids were little, because I usually had extra work to do that I had neglected over the weekend. Now I try to do a Sunday night clean up time, so we are ready to start a new school week on Monday morning.

Have a great week. Try not to let the little mistakes, mishaps and worries of today cause you to get bogged down. The Lord is bigger then all of our worries and cares. He longs for your focus to be on Him. So the next time you begin to dwell on the worries of today, re-direct your focus. An old hymn says" Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace." Try to make turning your eyes towards Jesus your goal this week.

Please let me know how I can pray for you. Have a God filled week.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Easy Chicken Cassarole for Dinner Tonight!!

I love this chicken casserole. It has a unique flavor and the walnuts add a nice crunch. My family doesn't love it as much as I do, so on Sunday when I made it I made them a different chicken dish. You also could just leave out of half of the dish anything your little ones didn't like.

If you have cooked chicken in the freezer this dish will only take a few minutes to put together. Make the rice in your microwave sometime during the day when you have a free minute also cook the eggs early in the day; at dinner time it will just be a matter of mixing everything together and baking.

Deluxe Chicken Casserole

1 1/2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1 can cream of chicken soup,undiluted
2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup water
3 hard-cooked eggs-sliced

Combine first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Combine mayonnaise and water; stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Add mayonnaise mixture to chicken mixture. Gently fold in egg slices. Spoon mixture into a greased 11x17 inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbly. Yield: 6 servings


Monday, January 19, 2009

Can Adults Have Temper Tantrums??

One of the hobbies that Eric and the children enjoy is raising and racing homing pigeons. They are members of a pigeon racing club that holds monthly meetings. Eric and the children attended the first meeting of the New Year on Saturday. The club has some interesting dynamics and Saturday night was no exception. One gentleman didn’t approve of the way something was being handled, so he stormed out of the meeting. Our youngest son told Eric it was the first time he had seen an adult have a temper tantrum.

I think it would be safe to say that this gentleman probably had temper tantrums as a child. It is also probably safe to say, that his parents neglected to teach him self-control and how to express his emotions correctly. Discipline is the hardest part of parenting. It takes consistency. No matter what form of discipline you choose to use, it has to be done with consistency. A negative consequence for a negative behavior. All behaviors don’t warrant the same consequent and some behaviors need a consequent that will make its point quickly. For example, running into the road is a behavior we can’t let happen again, therefore, the punishment needs to be something the child will remember the next time he is tempted to run into the road.

The point of giving out a punishment for inappropriate behavior is to cause the child to remember the consequent the next time they are tempted. It might be helpful for you to create a list of punishments options, so when your child is disobedient you can look at the list and decide what punishment will be the most effective. Some examples are: loss of computer time, no candy, loss of favorite doll, time out, standing in the corner or early to bed. We use to banish our children; using the word banish made the punishment sound worse then it was. The banished child had to stay in their room (they were banished from the family) and they only got bread and water for dinner (I never wanted to send my children to bed hungry). We didn’t banish kids a lot, but saved it for more serious disobedience. Some people use spanking to discipline their children. Sometimes a spanking, when admistered in love, is the best method of displine. (I will cover spanking in a future letter)

The bottom line is simple. To have well behaved children a parent needs to be watchful, needs to discipline with consistency, needs to communicate clearly to the child why he is being punished and needs to reward good behavior. With consistent discipline, love and prayers our children will grow into the men/women God has designed them to be instead of angry adults who want everything their way.

Thank you for taking the time to read these letters. I’m amazed at how God has taken some simple notes sent to about six ladies and grown it into a group of 30+. Please continue to pass the letters on to other moms you think will enjoy them. As always, I welcome any comments or questions you may have.

Serving Him Alone,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Let's Party

My husband is out of town again. Last week he was gone a few days, this trip is all week. Plus he let me know that April may bring a trip to Afghanistan and Iraq. His job has always required him to be away, so we have gotten use to his absence. When the children were little it was harder for them, so in an effort to help with the separation we began saying we were going to party while he was gone. We would change our daily routine, we would think of somewhere that we would like to go for dinner, we would watch more TV and eat our dinner while watching a movie. Just making a few simple changes to our week helped the time to pass faster for all of us.

We all have our daily routines; we sleep, we eat, we do laundry, we take the kids to school, we do more laundry, we make meals, we clean the house and we do more laundry. Sometimes in the middle of dreary winter days(Doesn't it seem to rain a lot in VA during the winter?) it is good to change things around a little. Here is a list of fun ideas for your family to try?

1. Have a picnic. Put a blanket down on the family room floor and have lunch.
2. Have friends over for cookies and hot chocolate.
3. Meet some friends for lunch
4. Rent a stack of movies(the older movies are only $.99 at Blockbusters) and have a movie day.
5. Grab a good book and read aloud to your children while they color or play with Legos(this is my kids favorite rainy day activity)
6. Bake cookies together-make up the recipe together and see how good they turn out.
7. Have a game day
8. Grab a stack of quarters and head to Chuckie Cheese. You don't have to buy pizza, you can just enjoy the games.
9. Go to Toys R Us with the intention of just letting the kids look as long as they like.
10. Pack a lunch and go visit Dad at work during his lunch hour.

Your children will enjoy the change in routine and you will be making memories. The laundry will still be piled high in the laundry room tomorrow and you can work on it then. For now a fun activity will build family bonds, give everyone a chance to smile and give you a chance to focus on your precious little ones.

If you have any other fun ways to change our routines, please let me know. I will be sure to include them in a future letter.


Friday, January 9, 2009

We did it. We got my oldest son registered for his first college class. Yesterday was a long day for him as he waited hours to take placement tests, spoke with counselors and a professor and finally paid for the class. Not too long ago I was sitting with him at the library story program, holding his hand in the parking lot and cleaning his sticky hands. The more the jobs of motherhood change the more they stay the same. Yesterday it was listening to story, today it is listening to college counselors, yesterday it was holding his hand, today it is signing the credit card statement to pay for college classes, yesterday it was cleaning sticky hands, today it is hours of looking at college programs to determine which classes he should take. So even though he is taller then me, can drive himself to class, and has better math skills then me there are still many areas where he needs his mom.

From that first moment when you realize you are having a baby until the day you die, you are a mom. I heard an older mom once make this comment about motherhood, " it doesn't get easier, it just gets different." As a young mom of three boys (4yrs. 20 months, 2months) I needed to hear that. I thought for sure it had to be easier when they were older. It isn't!!

It is hard to explain what I feel at this transition in life. I'm excited to see how my son does in college, what career he pursues, meeting my future daughter-in-law, and being a grandparent. But I'm not looking forward to holidays without him, a house empty of the excitement of children or the lack of their daily companionship. However, I have a choice what I will focus on. If I only focus on what I will miss when my children are older I will miss the enjoyment of the stages of life that lie ahead. For most of you your children's college/adult years are in the distant future, but you also have a choice. You can focus on the mounds of laundry, the smelly diapers, the sleepless nights, and the long days of crying babies. Or you can focus on your baby's sweet smell, your toddlers pudgy little hands, your daughters love for frilly dresses or your son's passion for mud. So the next time you are overwhelmed with mothering, make a choice to find the simple joys that motherhood brings and let your thoughts dwell there.

"Finally, brethren, 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."Phil. 4:8

Blessings to all of you,
Melissa (all past letters are available on the blog site)

PS. Please feel free to ask me questions or call for a bit of encouragement. I would love to hear from you.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Help, I Burned the Soup

Dear Ladies,

I am an impatient cook. I want things to cook fast, however this often results in burned food on the bottom of the pan. I have found an easy trick to make cleaning the pan easier. Clean the pan the best that you can, fill the pan about 1/4 full with water and add about 1/2 cup of baking soda. Return the pan to the stove and let the water boil for about 10 minutes. The combination of boiling and baking soda helps to pull the burned food from the bottom of the pan. The pan should be much easier to clean now.

So the next time you burn the soup, see how this trick works for you.

Happy Cooking,

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Capture the Memories

Dear Ladies,

Just a few more days and it's back to school for us. We have enjoyed some very quite days since we returned from visiting family. I've even gotten a chance to do some reading. We are making the most of this down time, since we know it wouldn't last.

Usually we stay home on New year's Eve, but this year we attended a Contra Dance with our two oldest sons. They looked very handsome, all dressed up in their suits, whirling pretty girls around. I had the privilege of dancing with both of them and several times with Eric. It was a long night but we enjoyed the time out.

I hope you all had a chance to make some memories this holiday season with your families. Try to record events in a journal or with photos, you will be surprised how much you don't remember in years to come. I know scrap booking is a lot of fun for some of you, but it can be hard to find the time to make fancy pages. If you can't get to completing scrapbook pages, try to find a way that works for you to document life's events. It maybe you store photos in a photo box with short notes on note cards for future reference, or maybe keep a journal next to your bed where you jot down short sentences about your day or something one of the children did. It doesn't have to be anything fancy, but something that will jog your memory in years to come when you have a chance to put together a family photo album.

Enjoy your weekend!

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