Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday's Cleaning: Air Fresheners

A few weeks ago when I decided to have a schedule for my blog, I added a cleaning section. I didn't know how difficult it was going to be until I got to today and was still not sure what I was going to write about. All the other days I have difficulty too. But the difficulty is waiting until the designated day so I could share. Last night I was racking my brain trying to figure out what to say. Hadn't I already addressed most issues? I could talk about how I need to clean my craft room. I could talk about rearranging my bedroom so now it looks roomier (or now my small bed that I share with my husband looks even smaller). As I walked around the house making mental notes of possible topics, I spotted the saucepan on the stove that was simmering with lemon peels. Ah ha! I have found my topic for today: air fresheners! Although it's not really cleaning, it is something that goes hand in hand with the cleaning process. So here are my tips on making things smell...well...clean and pleasant!

1. Citrus freshener: (part one)
I mentioned this in the post about Summer Pancakes, and I really think this is one of my favorite ways to make my house smell lovely. Any time you have citrus in your house, you have such a great opportunity to make your house have that clean smell to it. Have you ever noticed how many cleaning products have that "Lemon" smell added to it? Did you also know that the smell of lemon increases alertness , is linked to less health problems, and can encourage creativity? One of the easy ways to distribute natural citrus smell throughout your house is to simply boil the peels. When you eat that orange, don't throw away the peel! Set it in a saucepan, cover with water, and just let it boil for a while. Do the same thing with the lemon you use on your chicken or the lime you used in your margarita. You could also place a few of them in a small crockpot and let it go while having a party. When your kids are working on their homework or trying to create a craft, boil a little citrus and let the "juices flow", so to say.

2. Citrus Freshener: (part two)
One really quick and easy way to finish your kitchen cleaning process is to leave the room smelling slightly of lemon, lime, or orange. Our brains automatically associate those smells with something clean. Even if you have a few more dishes set out that you didn't wash or your counters are a little cluttered, the smell of citrus will actually trick your brain to thinking your kitchen is spotless! (at least for a little bit) This suggestion only takes a few seconds. Take that lemon, lime, and/or orange peel and grind it in your garbage disposal. That grinding releases that natural citrus essence into the air. NOTE: I wouldn't do this too often, and it may be better (as it in my house) to boil the peel a little before you dump it in your disposal. Some disposals cannot handle that much hard stuff. So softening the peel a little will still have the same effect, but won't hurt your appliances as much.

3. Fresh laundry:
Have you ever put in a load of laundry into the washing machine to forget about it? Then your clothes smell funky! Of course, wash your clothes again, but this time add about 1/2 cup of white vinegar to your wash. The vinegar acts as an additional cleaner, as seen on this website, and removes that icky smell from your clothes. I'm not really sure how it works, but I know it does, and it has saved me quite a few times when my brain gets overloaded with tasks, and I forget to put the wash into the dryer.

4. Fresh carpet:
One of my favorite, favorite, favorite ways to make my house smell lovely is to add spices to my carpet. As a kid one of my chores was to vacuum. My mom had this "carpet freshener" stuff to sprinkle on the carpet and then vacuum up. Years later, as a young married lady, I couldn't afford to buy those deodorizers, so I made my own! I grabbed a bottle of nutmeg, sprinkled my carpet, and vacuumed it up. My house smelled GREAT, and I didn't have to spend money on something I could use for only one thing. I did some research to make sure that sprinkling spices on my carpet isn't harming it, and found that what I've been doing for years is actually recommended by a few sites, such as this one. Another great thing about using spices on your carpet is that it can help trigger brain activity. If you have ever noticed teachers handing out peppermints during the SATs or other tests, it's because the smell can trigger memory and help with test anxiety (I wish I had known that 15 years ago!!). One note, though, is that you have to have the peppermint smell while studying and while taking the test for it to work to its fullest potential. So, before you child sits down to study for that math test, sprinkle cinnamon on your carpet and then vacuum it up. Make sure you ask the teacher if it is okay if your child chews on a piece of cinnamon candy or cinnamon gum while taking the test. The brain connects the smell to a memory and then can help your child recall the studied information! Isn't it amazing how God made our brains work?! As for it working as a natural air freshener, here's a little anecdote:

Last year during the Christmas season I was having a few people over for a little soiree. As usual I sprinkled a little nutmeg and cinnamon on my carpet before I vacuumed. An hour later, one of my first guests arrived. She said as she walked into the door, "I thought you were cooking something yummy!" (I was, but it wasn't cinnamon or nutmeg based) "I could smell your house before I ever got in it!" And she meant it in the nice way! :) I shared with her my secret, and now she is a believer as well!

So that's it. For now. I love, love, love to make my house smell great, as I'm sure you do as well. Doing a few of these simple little tips will make an incredible difference in your home!

Do you have an air freshener tip you would like to share? If so, please comment. I would love to hear what great ideas all of you have!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tuesday's Food: Kidney Beans Meatballs

Kidney Bean Meatballs

Remember last week when I mentioned having a bunch of this and that left over, and I was forced to find new recipes to use up what I had? Well, this is one of them: Kidney Bean Meatballs. I did some research on how to make a bean burger, especially out of kidney beans, and since I had so many left over from the night before's dinner, I needed something that was going to use them all up and go well with the next night's spaghetti. So, meatballs it is! This recipe has a few components that I found you could use for ingredients, so don't get confused if I say 2 or 3 items for something. Give it a try and let me know what you think! 

Kidney Bean Meatballs

1. kidney beans, drained and rinsed well (I had about 3 cups from the night before's dinner, made from dried beans) 
2. 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
3. 3/4 cup bread crumbs (You can also use Ritz crackers or brown rice as well)
4. 1/8 cup flour
5. 1 tablespoon tomato paste (I used 2 tablespoons of the spaghetti sauce we were using. 
6. 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper`
7. 1 egg
8. 1/2 teaspoon oregano
9.  salt to taste
10. (Optional): 1/4 cup cheese (after we ate the meal, Joe and I decided a little cheese might have been good in it as well)  

1. Preheat oven to 425
2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl to the desired consistency. I used a food processor to mash everything together until it was slightly lumpy. 
3. Form into 1 inch balls and place on a lightly greased (olive oil) pan or stone
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping over once about halfway through.

Easy as that! It was GOOOOOD, my kids loved it, and it was good for everyone. 

Right before they were cooked. 

Spaghetti, meatballs, and (our new favorite) kale chips


Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday's Devotion: Every time I think of you

Philippians 1: 3-5: "Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart. I am so pleased that you have continued on in this with us, believing and proclaiming God's Message, from the day you heard it right up to the present. There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." (The Message) 

Last Wednesday night at church a friend of mine asked the usual conversation piece, "How are you?" Instead of my usual "Fine. Thank you. And you?" response, I blurted out all of my aching, "old lady" problems. "Oh my back hurts." "I cannot get any sleep." etc, etc. She then responded about how she is also struggling with an ailment and then told me she would pray for me. Instead of me telling her I would return the favor, I was distracted by my daughter's misbehavior, and missed out on an opportunity to pray for her right then and there. Hours later as I was tossing and turning in my bed, her softly spoken promise of prayers came to my mind. I immediately felt remorse for not be gracious to her offer, and realized the best thing I could do at that moment would be to pray for her. 

How many times have I told someone I would pray for them, and then forget? Just the other day I was thinking about all the people in the past month I have told I would pray for them, only to forget about 20% of them. How selfish of me! Selfish, you say? Yes! Of course it's selfish! The Lord has blessed me with so much. One of the greatest blessings is the gift of prayer. God is not some far off deity who created us and then walked away. He is not one who watches us run around in this crazy world and doesn't step in. He is right here with us! 1 John 4 exclaims "God is love"!! And if God resides in me, then my love should reflect His. Praying for each other, diligently, is one way we can show others God's love. 

I had a friend in high school who was so good at praying for others. One day he stopped me in the parking lot after school to see how I was doing. I had had a particularly rough day, and tearfully told him my problems. He told me he would pray for me. I smiled and started to walk away, but he quickly grabbed my hand and told me he meant now. He felt that if someone needed prayer, the present was just as important as the future when he would also pray for me in his quiet time with the Lord. That was almost 20 years ago, and his simple words and actions have stayed with me. We, as Christians, should pray for others. Not just in our quiet times, not just in Sunday School, not just when we see a FB status, but immediately, and, then, in all those other times. If we do that for every person we pray for, we may be on our knees for a while. And that is okay. Psalm 141: 2 says our prayers are like a sweet fragrance to the Lord. How honored I should be that in praying for others I am pleasing the Lord and blessing a friend at the same time! 

So in saying all this, I am renewing my commitment to pray for you every time I think of you, as Paul wrote to the Philippians. If God has laid it on your heart as well, I encourage you to pray for others. Prayer is such a great gift God has given us and it is a blessing that all can receive! 

Dear Lord, I pray for those who follow my blog, who follow me on Facebook, who see me on a regular basis at church or at the gym or at the mailbox or at The Pig. I ask that you soften their hearts to you. Open their eyes to Your will for their lives. Give them a love that they cannot find in others and a joy they cannot seem to quench. I lift up the nonbelievers. May you bring them close to you so they can see how incredible you are! I lift up the believers. Open their eyes to the many ways they can serve you. Encourage them as they struggle. Remind them that true rest is in your arms. Guide them in serving You. You have blessed us with so many things, and one of the greatest is being able to share Your love with each other. May you be clearly visible through me, and may Your love shine brightly in your children. Amen.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Friday's Curriculum Review (belated post): Being Obedient; Colossians 3:20

Yes, this is late...again. I had a Halfway to Christmas party Friday night and couldn't get the time to write this. So here I am on Sunday night (while this week's bread is rising) writing about last week's great lesson!

Character Trait and Bible Story: Obedient
This was really a great week for teaching them about being obedient. We defined obedient as not just doing what you are told, but to do it with a happy heart. The main Bible story that went with this was Noah and the Ark. We talked about how hard it must have been for Noah to build that ark during a time when there was no rain and hadn't been any in a long, long time. We talked about how, just like Noah, there will be times God asks us to do something we are not comfortable doing, or he may ask us to do something when everyone else says the opposite is true. The kids really responded well to this! Off and on during the week we would discuss whether or not we were being "obedient" or not. (This was also a great lesson for me. I need to be reminded of my obedience to God and His plan for me).

Craft: Noah's Ark
The lesson plans included quite a few different ways to have the kids focus on building the ark. I chose to have them to do the "science" project of building a boat and then testing how many animals can be put in before it sinks (see Thursday's post). The kids LOVED this! I actually had to drag them away from the tub and forced the "floods to recede", otherwise they would have been in there all day.

Reading and Writing: "S", "is", and "this"
This week's words were actually hard for Jed. For some reason he could read "is", but "this" gave him troubles. Now, I'm not complaining too much. He is actually reading 3-4 word sentences (won't his kindergarten teacher be proud?!) and is identifying the words he has learned while we are out on the town. The great thing about these lessons is that J already knows these words, so I have to step it up for him. Why is that good? Well, 1) it teaches him patience. He's a smart kid, and I'm not just saying that as a proud mama. He's really pretty smart. He has to learn there will be times in school where the teacher is covering something he already knows, and he must learn how to gracefully and respectfully react to this. and 2) it helps sharpen my teaching skills. It's been a year since I've been challenged to, well, challenge a smart kid. I had to do it all the time in my classroom, but the time has come for me to do it at home. J did a great job helping his brother remember the words. He even gave him little pointers on how to remember what certain words said. Maybe I have a future teacher on my hands.... (:

During the "cut", "paste", and "write" section (always done on Friday as a review for the week), Jed impressed me by letting me know that he can tell the beginning of a sentence because it has the capital letter (!!) and that the end of the sentence must have a period (which is where J and I then discussed other possible punctuation). They are given a set of words, I scramble them, and then they have to rearrange it to make a sentence. Jed did incredible, and I gave J the task adding to the sentence other descriptive words and to create a new sentence at least 3 of the previously learned word. So proud of my kids!

This has been a great week of learning! Next week's word and story? "Respectful" and "David towards Saul". This should be interesting! :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Pancakes

This week has been one of saying, "I have so much of _____ left over! What am I going to do with it?" And then I make something that turns out fantastic. One instance of this was this morning. My husband decided to work from home today, so instead of the usual Friday cereal breakfast, I wanted to do something a little more filling for my man. I looked around and found some extra strawberries (The Pig had a TON on sale, so I grabbed that junk up!) and a few limes (from a Lime Pound Cake I was going to make last week, and never did). So, pancakes it is!

1. DIY Baking Mix (2 cups)
2. 2 eggs
3. 1 cup and 1 Tbsp milk (divided)
4. 5 fresh strawberries (stem, hulled, and chopped)
5. 1 lime
6. 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Mix 2 cups of Baking mix, eggs, 1 cup of milk. (The regular recipe calls for 1 cup of Baking mix, but since you are adding other stuff, it's best to add a little more mix).
2. Zest lime and add to baking mix, along with strawberries. Mix well.
3. Juice 1/2 of the lime and add to the baking mix.
4. Preheat skillet on medium heat, and make your pancakes as you normally would (butter, cooking spray, etc)
5. While the pancakes are cooking, in a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar, the juice of the other half of the lime, and 1 Tablespoon of milk. Taste and add more milk or powdered sugar according to taste. This will be your syrup.

Once you are done, drizzle the "lime syrup" on your plate, place your pancakes on top, and enjoy!

What to do with the leftover lime? Place the halves in a small saucepan and cover with water. Boil on medium heat. This acts as a natural air freshener for your house. It also softens the lime so you can use it for an additional air freshener by grinding it in your garbage disposal.

My family ate this up, and I only wish I had made more! Give it a try and tell me what you think! I would love pictures as well. My family ate it up before I had a chance to take any pics.

Picture provided by the lovely Loren Bradshaw (I almost said, "Harvey!") 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thursday's Crafting: Noah and his Boat (A cool science lesson as well!)

Boats and Weights 

This week's curriculum is about Obedience and features the story of Noah. More details on the lesson will come tomorrow, but this week's craft was all about learning how to make judgments and predictions. So in order to connect the craft with the story, we made an "ark" and placed toy animals in it. We made predictions on how many animals it would take before the boat would sink. We also talked about the size of the boat in correlation to the size of the animals and how big the ark had to be. It was a great lesson and really easy to put together. 

Making the Ark: 

Items you need: 
1. OJ or milk container. Size does not matter. 
2. Scissors
3. Waterproof toy animals 
4. Optional: bath dye 

1. Rinse out the OJ or milk container
2. Turning it on the side, cut out one side of the container. It is easier if you punch a hole in the center of the side you are cutting out and then work from there. 

3. Fill the bathtub halfway with cold water. Option: place dye in the pool. Not only does this add a "cool" factor, but the kids can see the level of the water easier as the boat begins to go deeper in the water (or sink). 
4. Have children predict how many animals will fit in their boats. Do trial and error. Discuss the size of the boat versus the size of the animals. How can you get more animals on the boat? If you put the animals on one side of the boat, what happens? How do you make it even? 




My kids absolutely loved this and I even got a "Hey, mom, that was a lot of fun!" comment at lunch later. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday's Cleaning: Chores for Younger Children

Cleaning can be a daunting task, especially if you are doing it by yourself. Not many things are more frustrating than working hard to have a clean house only to the kids destroy your efforts in just minutes. So many studies show that if you give kids ownership of their duties and reward them for it, they will take care of themselves and their belongings. Not sure what chores your kids can do? Since I have a 6, 5, and 2 year old, all of which do chores every day around the house, I thought I would share what kind of chores they do. 

Before Giving Them a Task: 
1. Show them how to do the task. Don't just tell them to do it and expect it to be done correctly the first time (or even the 2nd or 3rd time). If they see you cleaning behind them, they are not going to see the point in doing the chore in the first place. 
2. Use "Green" cleaning products. Remember they are kids and are prone to spraying themselves or others. 
3. Every time you give them a chore to do, remind them what to do and what NOT to do. 
4. Be patient. There will be some days they get distracted. There will be some days you may have to go over what they did a little later. 
5. Don't be afraid to give them a hard task. Any educator will tell you that if you raise the bar high, kids will surprise you on how well they work toward and achieve that goal. 
6. I recommend you assign 2 or 3 daily chores (make bed, put clothes in dirty basket, etc) and 1 major chore every day. 
6. Finally: reward, reward, reward. Use verbal rewarding, physical rewarding (hug or a high five), and "prize" rewarding. It doesn't always have to be money. For example, if they do one chore a day every day, they can choose a movie for Saturday night. 

Chores for 2-3 Year Olds: 
  1. Dusting
  2. Make up bed
  3. Put all toys around house in proper places
  4. Set the table 
  5. Help wash dishes 

Chores for 3-8 Year Olds: 
  1. Deep Dusting (window blinds, corners, lamps, on top of knick knacks around house)
  2. Clean bathroom (toilet, sink, counters, bath tub). Keep in mind this age range is pretty broad. Use this one at your discretion. I would not necessarily ask a 3 year old to scrub the toilet, but wiping down the counter and sink are pretty reasonable. 
  3. Washing windows. This is a good time to invest in some "Green" window cleaner. Don't forget to remind, each time, to not spray in his face, mouth, or on others. 
  4. Wipe baseboards. 
  5. Clean walls and doors. . This one is pretty easy. Get one of the scrubbers and have your child wipe off all hand prints, scuff marks, etc around the main rooms and hallway. If you have him clean the doors, show him the dirt around the door handle so he knows what to look for. 
  6. Sweep, mop, vacuum. (Again, take in the age before assigning this, but you might be surprised at how well your 3 year old can sweep) 
  7. Folding laundry
  8. Collecting the trash (even taking it out for the older kids)
  9. Cleaning the back yard. (Put away the toys that are for the yard, sweeping the porch, etc)
  10. Helping/Doing the dishes
With their help, you will have a decently clean house every day! Not only will you not have to do it yourself, but you can teach your children responsibility and the pleasure of being rewarded for doing what is right. Your child should not be expected to clean all the time, but should be expected to contribute to helping keep the house presentable. With this list, you can rotate chores (Monday is Kitchen day, so everyone is going to clean a certain part of the kitchen that day) or give them an option of 2 or 3 chores. That way they do not feel forced to do something. You may be surprised on what your child may decide and how willing he is to do his part. Good luck and happy cleaning! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tuesday's Food: Jiffy Fried Squash

My mom gave me two medium squash and one VERY large zucchini. I don't fry much food in my house, but occasionally I like a good fried squash and zucchini. I had a box of Jiffy mix that I had opened that morning to use on the bagels I made, and I didn't want to waste it. So, why not use it as a batter to fry those lovely vegetables in? They were a hit in my house, and a must for future meals!

Jiffy Fried Squash (and Zucchini)

1. 2-3 Medium squash (and/or one large zucchini)
2. One box of Jiffy cornbread
3. 2 eggs
4. 1-2 Tablespoons spicy mustard
5. salt and pepper to taste
6. Cooking spray


1. Cut squash into 1/8- 1/4 inch slices (basically thin slices) 
2. Pour Jiffy mix into a small bowl. Add salt and pepper. 
3. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, mustard, and salt and pepper (if desired) 
4. Heat a medium pan on medium to high heat, until water evaporates quickly. Spray the pan with the cooking spray. With one hand, pick up a piece of squash, lightly dip it on both sides into the egg mixture, then place it in the Jiffy bowl. With your other hand, sprinkle jiffy mix over the squash making sure the entire squash has mix on it. (Keep that hand dry) 
5. Place in hot, greased pan. After about 2 minutes, flip. It should be golden brown on both sides. 
6. Place on a plate with a paper towel to absorb any extra oil. 
7. Repeat until all pieces are done. You may have to add another egg and some mustard to the egg bowl near the end. 

This turned out great! If you try it, let me know what you think? How would you change it? Looking forward to hearing from you!

The plate was full when I put it on the table. They began eating it faster than I could grab the camera. Luckily I got it when I did, otherwise you would not have been able to see a final product. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday's Devotion: Rejoice!!!

I love, love, love, the -ians of the New Testament. You know, Corinthians, Galatians, Colossians...my Bible is marked up all over, but especially in those very relevant books. As I was preparing for today's devotional post, I came across Philippians 4. I had "Rejoice!!" and "God's peace is awesome!" and "Everything is affected by prayer!" all over that page. So I read on and realized that these verses were exactly what I needed, not just for a post, but for this moment in time.

As mentioned before, the Lord has placed on my heart the need to pray for the trouble times that will be coming. Philippians 4: 4-9 is a great passage to pair with what I've been studying. This is what it says:

"Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy.
Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind. The Lord is coming soon. do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. And God's peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. Do what you learned and received from me, what I told you, and what you saw me do. And the God who gives peace will be with you."

A few points I felt the need to underline and write notes about:
1. "Be full of joy" : This doesn't say, "get happy", but it says be full. Fill it up! You can go so much further on a full tank of gas, why not continue to go through this world with a full tank of the Lord residing in me? Find joy in all things, and remind myself that God is in all things, therefore, I should experience the joy the Lord is offering me.

2. "Let everyone see that you are gentle and kind." Ouch! I mean really, really ouch! In the past few years I have put on this facade of seriousness. I have let it consume me in so many situations. My spirit, though, is gentle and kind. But others don't always see that. My kids need to see it; my husband needs to see it; my friends at church need to see it; the bus boy at the restaurant needs to see it; that person who really gets on my nerves needs to see it. If I want my children to learn and show these fruits of the spirit, then I need to learn to show it first.

3. "Do not worry". Yup. Yet another reminder that I sin in this area. I shouldn't worry! Why? I rest in the arms of the Lord! I sleeping baby doesn't jump every time something happens when he is in the protective arms of his mother. If I am truly resting in His arms, then why do I let myself worry about things that God has control of? Don't I know that those troubling times are the ones when the Lord is refining me? When things get tough, I need to not worry. My God is in control!

4. "always giving thanks." I do not do this nearly enough. Sure, I bless the food. I thank the Lord for a good day at the end of the day. I praise Him when it rains, but those are the obvious times! Do I thank Him that I have food to eat? That I have the internet to interact with others who are far away from me? That He has blessed me with an intelligent mind, and yet the desire to apply that knowledge to making my home a better place for my family? Do I thank Him when Abigail makes it another night without wetting the bed? Do I thank the Lord when my husband comes home from a long day at work? Some times yes, but "always"? No. Regretfully, no.

5. Skipping a few really good points, but I'm not a preacher, and I don't want this post to take 30 minutes to read. :)

6. "Do what you learned and received from me." DO. Do. Do. Do what you have learned. It doesn't say, absorb, file away, write a post about it, make it your FB status. It says DO. Are all those other things bad? No! Of course not, but what is the point of just talking about it, when we are commanded to learn and act? He promises that if I do it, He will reward me with peace. Does that mean I need to be like a child is needs incentive to clean my room? Absolutely not! Because my Lord will give me peace, I should thankfully, gratefully, joyfully DO for Him.

Not only are these verses full of joy and should give me reason to click my heels and do a little jig, but they are also inspiring. It is such a great reminder that my job as a Christian is not to sit back an receive the reward, it is to be a messenger for Him so that others can see Him. The world constantly categorizes God as demanding, mean, angry, etc. But really, He is a God of love. And if I am to be called by his name, I need to REJOICE, Show Gentleness to Others, Not Worry, Be Thankful, and Do what I've Learned. When I use the gifts God has given me to show Him to the world, peace falls upon me, and the cycle starts again.

Go and "be full of joy in the Lord."

Friday's Curriculum Review (belated post): Being Teachable; Hebrews 12:11

This week's lesson was perfect for what is going on in my house lately. Jed seems to just forget everything I've taught him, and is totally jumping off...well, EVERYTHING...and he's driving me CRAZY! So when this week's character trait, Teachable, came up, I told him God brought this message just for him! We all, though, learned some good stuff.

On a brief other note, this week was a BUSY week. We had VBS, so most of what I normally do had to sit on the back burner, including cleaning. It was also J's birthday Friday. Luckily I didn't have to really plan a party this year since we decided to do it some place else. So I was being Teachable by learning that I need to put priorities in the right place. 

The Bible story:
The Bible story that went along with this week's lesson was "David's response to Nathan" 2 Samuel 12: 1-13. I initially thought this was a tough story to try to relate to my 6, 5, and 2.5 year olds, but they seemed to understand pretty decently. They understood that although David was truly sorry for his actions, he still had to suffer the consequences. Luckily, though, God recognized David's heart as being truly repentant (TEACHABLE), and instead of death, decided to punish David in other ways. David learned his lesson and is still known today as the Man After God's Own Heart.

Here's a great example of me teaching the kids about being Teachable. 10 years ago on this exact spot, I was cheating at putt-putt by running after the ball to stop it. I twisted my ankle and ruined a fun night by spraining it. So....I was telling them how I am still being Teachable. I will not run on a putt putt course again...oh yeah, and cheating HURTS!

This week's letter is "P", which will then be used to combine with the first week's letter "A" to make the family words "-ap". The sight words for this week are "me" and "the". We practiced writing those words while focusing on the camping theme (The bird sees me). We also did "Push up" to focus on our "p" words. What I love about this program is that the letters aren't in order alphabetically; they are in order of how they work together with other letters. SMART! See? I never would have thought of that myself! They also have to cut out the letters and paste them on a sheet to practice spelling and writing.

If you read my Thursday post, you will see that we made binoculars and a compass to help with the camping theme, and they camped out Friday night. So, it was a good week. Busy, but good.

Thursday's Crafting (belated post): Making camping supplies

This week's curriculum, as detailed in tomorrow's post, focuses on a camping theme. The website I use suggested making binoculars out of every day items. I did that and also had them make a compass. It was so easy!

Binoculars: (My mom helped them do this part while I was letting someone demo a vacuum cleaner in my house, so I have no pictures of them putting this together).
Things you will need:
1. Two toilet paper rolls
2. String
3. Glue
4. Markers or paint

1. Have the children paint the toilet paper rolls however they wish. They can color camping themes (leaves, tents, trees, birds, etc) or just color.
2. Glue the two rolls together.
3. Cut the string long enough to go safely around your child's neck and have the binoculars hang halfway down his chest.
4. After the binoculars are dry, glue a string on the outer edge (on the inside) of the rolls.

Compass: (Pictures available!)
Things you need:
1. A small box (toothpaste box, soap box, etc)
2. Construction paper (or paint)
3. Glue
4. one white index card
5. paper clip
6. Pen, pencil, crayon, or colored pencil (I guess I should have said "writing utensil")

1. Measure and cut construction paper to fit around box. I used the same method as I do when I am wrapping presents.
2. Glue the paper to the box.

3. While glue is drying, cut a small circle out of the index card. Write the letters for North, South, East, and West accordingly.

4. Glue on top of the box.
5. (This is a PARENT step): unfold the paper clip where it is pointed on one end and still rounded on the other. Poke the paper clip through the center of the compass. The rounded part should be movable so the child can "have it point South" or whatever direction.


Now take some cute pictures and then have them explore the Great Outdoors!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday's Cleaning: 5 Minutes to a cleaner bathroom

As some of you know, I recently got a job being a web writer for Bounty paper towels. For that job, I am to write a few articles a month on cleaning ideas, crafting ideas, and cooking ideas (right up my alley, right?!). My first article I submitted was a 5 Minutes to a Cleaner Bathroom. I was a little nervous about it not working right, but I tried it out and it works great! So I'm sharing it with you.

Making your own window, sink, mirror cleaning solution:
1 cup rubbing alcohol
1 cup water
1 Tablespoon white vinegar

Mix together. The vinegar cuts through soap scum, leaves no residue, and is a natural deoderizer. The alcohol evaporates quickly, leaves no residue, and is safe for most surfaces. The combination works well on mirrors, windows, chrome and stainless steal.

Using the cleaning solution, you will need:
1. Cleaning solution (mentioned above)
2. 15 sheets of Bounty paper towels, still attached
3. scissors
4. an old wipes case or other air tight container.

Fold the towels to resemble an accordion or zig zag, again, still connected. Cut in half, still keeping the accordion look. Place paper towels in wipe case or air tight container and pour Cleaning solution over the towels. The paper towels will absorb most of the liquid eventually.

After you get out of your shower, and while you are waiting on your conditioner to set, pull one or two towels out and do a quick swipe of your mirrors, windows, sink, and counter. It may look a little wet at first, but remember that the alcohol will evaporate quickly. (I was worried about this the first time when my mirror was soaking wet. After a few minutes, not only was my mirror dry, but there was no residue left... Hallelujah! I got so excited, I took a few sheets and cleaned the toilet and tub as well...doing the ENTIRE bathroom took no more than 10 minutes). Doing this quick, cleaning activity once a day or once every other day will cut back on your deep cleaning time and keep your bathroom looking and smelling fresh!

NOTE: (and this I did not put on the Bounty site; I thought it would be too cheesy) You can use other brands of paper towels on this. I used Publix brand the first time, and it worked fine. BUT the Bounty paper towels did seem to work better.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday's Food: Whirlwind PreSunday Food Preparation, part 2

 Sunday Food (Blueberry Muffins, Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns, Crockpot Sloppy Joes, Onion Rings) 

1. Breakfast
     a. Get up to smell of coffee
     b. Preheat oven for muffins (Jiffy Mix)
     c. Get coffee, turn on Pandora to David Crowder Band station
     d. Pull premade muffin mix from fridge and put in muffin pan
     e. Get Church stuff together (Bibles, Sunday School notes, etc)
     f. Put muffins in oven 

2. While muffins are baking...
     a. Wake up Abigail for shower
     b. shower
     c. Do a quick swipe down of bathroom
     d. check muffins and refill coffee

3. Prepare Sloppy Joes
     a. Pull precooked beef out of fridge, place in small crockpot 
     b. put one can of zesty diced tomatoes, 1 Tbsp of Wicheshire sauce, and a dash of salt into a blender. Once combined, pour over meat in crockpot. 
     c. turn on low

4. Get kids dressed and to the table to eat muffins
     a. Wash coffee cup, get water, get dressed, eat muffin, leave for church

5. After Church, while Joe is getting the kids out of church clothes...
     a. Cut up onions
     b. Put bag of steamed green beans in microwave

6. EAT LUNCH and discuss church

Tuesday's Food: Whirlwind PreSunday Food Preparation

I won't always do this, but I saw this format on another blog and thought I would give it a shot at how I prepare for Sunday's meals. So here goes:

Whirlwind PreSunday Food Preparation

1. Begin making Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns: (http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/whole-wheat-hamburger-buns)
a. Mix flour and water, set aside
b. meanwhile, mix water, yeast, honey. 
    1. sit for 10 minutes, sip on Woodchuck, surf blogs, update facebook
c. Melt butter and mix milk and salt
     1. sit for 10 minutes, sip on Woodchuck, teach kids how to do sit ups, prepare sink for dishes, and prepare counter for kneading process
d. Mix yeast, milk, and flour mixtures, add more flour and mix well. 
e. Knead dough (10 minutes), let dough rise in bowl for an hour. 

2. While dough is rising...
a. Wash dishes, set to dry
b. prepare batter for Sunday morning Blueberry Muffins (Jiffy Mix)
c. put dishes away
d. cook beef for Sunday lunch Crockpot Sloppy Joes
e. wash remaining dishes, set to dry (15 minutes left of rising dough)
f. Sit, sip on Woodchuck, surf blogs, check facebook, check if clothes for church are ready or need ironing. 

a. Knead to get air out, roll flat until 1/2 inch think, cut circles
b. Place circles in a well buttered dish (Pampered Chef baker)
c. Allow to rise (Yes, again
d. Preheat oven to 350
e. Sit, prepare for Sunday service, finish Woodchuck, clean email, brush teeth, put dishes away
f. Bake bread for 25 minutes 
g. While buns are baking, prepare batter for Onion Rings
     1. Mix flour, salt, egg, milk....the cut up onion will happen tomorrow right before I cook them. I don't want my fridge to smell like onion for the next few days. 
     2. Wash dishes, set to dry
h. BUNS ARE DONE, cover with damp cloth, foil, or store away for tomorrow. 

AND DONE!...until tomorrow when I finish it all (See note: Sunday Food)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday's Devotion: How Did I Miss This Before?!

Ephesians 6: 10-18 (The Message)And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

I have been in the church all my life. I have heard these verses over and over again. I have even done a Bible study on these verses in college where I "made" a belt of righteousness and other props showing how to put on the full armor of God. It wasn't until last week I was doing my morning devotion when the verse hit me in a way that it has never hit me before...

I have been through turmoil. Life has been this roller coaster of really good things switching places with the not-so-good. Having my house for sale for 3 years while I moved my family in to my parents' house would be a good example. Another would be shortly after having  my first child, my husband and I went through some major financial problems. We were literally living off of rice and ketchup (my poor man's version of red rice) so that my son could have food to eat. Those years are what I call "the dark years"....and I got through them. 

So how did these verses suddenly open my eyes? Well, we are going through right now what I recognize as "times of peace". We are able to eat, drive to places, and provide for our children. My kids are asking about the Lord, and my husband and I are spending daily time in prayer. The Lord has been placing on my heart a lot lately that those times turmoil will come again, and  I need to be prepared. Suddenly "putting on the full armor of God" has taken a new meaning. I used to read those verses and say, "Okay, got it. Read the Bible, memorize verses, be prepared to fight against what Satan is going to throw at me." Now, as I read them, I realize that God is saying, "Jana, train. Train now for those tough times that are going to come again. You can't expect to run this race if  you have not been training. You can't expect to defeat Satan and all his nastiness (financial problems, relationship issues, health issues, etc) if you are not waist deep in My word, love, and protection." 

So here I am, a 25 year "Christian Veteran", seriously taking God seriously. I'm  not waiting until I hit rock bottom to dig deep in His word anymore. I'm not going to church and taking notes just to not review them later anymore. While things are going great, I'm storing up piles and piles of verses that will help remind me that God is in control. I'm turning a new leaf with the Lord while I currently have the strength to grow. No more am I going to not train only to let Satan beat me up. I'm putting on that Armor, daily, and know that God and I will defeat Satan when he rears his ugly head again.