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Monday, September 27, 2010

Time-out!

It's siesta time!
My family and I will be enjoying some much needed time together.
I'll recap later.
"See" ya next Monday.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Friday, September 24, 2010

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Keys for Kids

Sure wish I could think of the weekly children's devotional I used to receive as an email. It included a key verse, lesson, and well coordinated (but easy to implement) activity to make the point stick. Hmmmm....

Thankfully, there is another one that I also like. It's one you might be familiar with in mail form, and it's called Keys for Kids. That's how we were introduced to it, via mail (and you can still receive it that way if you prefer). But what I like is that kids can now listen to a podcast devotional online. I'm always looking for time fillers when I'm working one-on-one with one of my students. What better time filler could there be than the word of God?

Check it out HERE.
And if you have any ideas about the weekly email devotional I can't think of, do tell.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Homemade goodness (and just plain good for you)

Our diet is mainly whole foods vegetarian. We made the change several years ago due to digestive health issues for me. It's been quite the challenge to learn to prepare foods that are appetizing and affordable (whole foods can be pricey!) But I've managed to find my way via trial and error, including some snack pleasers, like my fruit chewies for example.

So, fruit chewies. They're really good (if you're not really picky), healthy, EASY to make (five ingredients easy), and tasty. The texture is, um,...moist(ish) chewy granola?
You can refrigerate or freeze them (I make the double batch recipe that follows, freezing half of them). BON APPETIT!
(from top left, clockwise): oats, raisins, mashed bananas, dates, egg whites.

Fruit Chewies

4 medium ripe bananas
4 egg whites
8 oz bag chopped dates
3 cup rolled oats (not instant)
1 cup raisins


In large bowl, mash bananas, leaving some small chunks (should be about 2 cups)
Mix in egg whites then dates. Mix until dates are thoroughly coated and separate. Stir in raisins. Stir in oats. When all oats are
moistened, set aside to rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF and spray cookie sheets with Pam. Using two teaspoons, place spoonfuls of mix onto pan, flatten with
back of spoon (note: this step will not "feel" like dropping cookie dough; it will take a little more effort to shape these like a cookie, as the ingredients won't want to "stick" all that well until baked.)


Bake 20 - 25 minutes or until edges are golden. Let cool on pan a
couple minutes before removing with a spatula. Cool then store in
airtight container in refrigerator, or freeze.
I yield about 4½ dozen with this recipe.



Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Enjoying our Father's world


Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.
Job 37:14


Goodness, did you midwestern folks experience the late September heat wave yesterday? Smoking hot here in Indy. 94º degrees, to be precise. The entire summer has been "super scorching hot" for that matter, and I've got the stubble-brush straw grass to prove it (we don't dare walk around on the lawn without shoes, since the experience can best be likened to walking on kindling. Ouch!)

I had a bit of a nagging headache on board for the day, but I wasn't about to let it stop me from enjoying what was, in all liklihood, the final "super scorching hot" day of the year. So after we picked my 3 year old up from his preschool, we headed to McCormick's Creek state park for an afternoon of hiking.

It was wonderful to spend our day together in our Father's world. The forest trees have lost enough of their leaves (even though they've just begun) to give us that wonderful crunch-crunch cadence as we walked along the winding paths. And the paths at McCormick's are so nice. All lined with stone and quite wide in most places. Just right for a tag-along 3 year old who did his best to keep up on the 2 mile hike.

We stopped when we got to Wolf cave (see next photo), enjoyed a drink of water, then got out our clipboards, paper and pencils and sat down to sketch together. There were benches along the side of the path, so we were quite comfortable as we rested in the shade, taking in the wonderful sounds and fall scent of the woods as we all studied our chosen subjects and penciled them in. I chose to draw a forest fern surrounded by dead leaves. Several others chose to sketch the cave and its wooded surroundings.


Gotta LOVE my 3 year old.
He asked me to sketch a spider web for him, then he enthusiastically took his clipboard and sat down, feverishly working his supplies as he swung his little leg back and forth in rhythm to an unheard melody that he was clearly enjoying in his head. When he finally stood up to talk about his drawing (our kids love to do that), he was so very proud of the chubby spider he had carefully sketched in place over the web. Of course, he added a bat and a rain cloud too, but hey, still not bad for our youngest nature participant, eh? ;)

After finishing our 2 mile hike to the Wolf cave and back, we decided to add an excursion, descending the steep steps down the cliff to the base of the waterfall in another area of the park. Normally, the river is much higher there, but due to the long dry summer, the kids were able to explore over the rocks and creek bed to their heart's content. Our boys even felt bad for the fish who were trapped in pools of water that were once a flowing creek, so they decided to pray for them right there.
3 year old: "Dear Lord, Fank you for da fishes. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen."
8 year old: "Dear Lord, please help it rain so the fish can get away. Amen."
Short and to the point, they were, lol.


My husband works in the airline industry, where schedules change constantly, as do days off. Currently, he has mid-week days off. While we miss him terribly on Sundays at church, we LOVE that we can get out and enjoy our favorite places without crowds. The state park was nearly empty today. All that beauty and warmth was ours for the taking. And take, we did. Praising God for the unique blessings that homeschooling and my husband's ever changing schedule have brought into to our lives. Today was that kind of blessed day for sure.

I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington Carver

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SLUG BUG!


Do you play Slug bug?
Or maybe it's called Punch Buggy in your family.
In our neck of the woods, it's definitely Slug Bug.

It all started about three months ago, when we were driving down the road and I spotted a Volkswagon Beetle. I gave my husband the requisite punch on the arm and yelled, "Slug bug!"
Somewhere from the back rows of the van was heard , "Mom, why did you just punch Dad? And why did you yell that?"

So it was out there. My kids had no clue about the Slug Bug game and it was high time they learned. We covered the basics with them and from there, it was every man for himself.

"Ah, such a fun and simple game," you're thinking, right?
W. R. O. N. G.
It has become something...more.
A game of outwit, outplay, outSHOUT!

For instance, the other day, I found myself writing down the official rules.
Writing them down, folks.
That's serious, I tell you.

    Standard Slug bug siting? 1 point.
    Convertible Slug bug? 2 points.
    Purple Slug bug? 3 points.
    Convertible purple Slug bug? 5 points.
    Clown car? 3 points.
    Purple clown car? 5 points.








********(Clown car)********

And few other rules too:

  • If a parked Slug Bug is called for points, no player may recall said Slug bug again in its parked location on the same day.

  • If you call a Slug bug or clown car in error, you are docked the number of points you would have gained for the call.


We actually consult these rules.
"And the judges say..."
Sheesh!

We sometimes drive through a little town nearby called Danville. We've deemed this town, "Slug bug capital of the world" because we have spotted no less than 2 Slug bugs (and as many as 5) every time we pass through this town. What cracks me up is that we ALL know there's a yellow Slug bug parked outside a certain business there. As we come up the hillside approaching that business, 6 heads and 12 eyeballs strain to be the first to spot the yellow bug. Husband has an unfair advantage, as his driving position gives him a slightly earlier glimpse than the rest of us. And try though I do to use my head as an impeding device (leaning fully into the windshield to try to block his vision), he always manages to spot the Slug bug just a split second before the rest of us.

It's evolving too.
It now involves strategy.
We bring our game faces with us.
Like today. We were driving down the road when Cierah, our 7 year old, stated with excitement, "Okaaaay, let's spot us some Slug bugs."
Simultaneously, her dad and I enlightened her.

"Honey, you lost advantage."
"Huh???"
"You lost advantage."
"Oh," smiling, pausing, and then,"What does that mean?"
"It means you shouldn't tell anyone when you're looking for Slug bugs, because it reminds them to look too, which makes it harder for you to score."
"OooOoh! I get it now."

At the end of the evening, Hubby stopped at the grocery store and ran in to pick up a few items. As we made our way home, I caught a glimpse of him, eyes attempting to scan side to side without detection. My voice filled with fierce competitiveness (which I naturally tried to downplay as gentleness), as I uttered, "Uh, excuse me. For the record? You don't own the game because I'm looking too."
Dh laughed so hard at not only being busted, but also at the knowledge that we've all become die-hards in the game of Slug bug.

Still don't get that we're serious?
Then consider this.
My three year old was putting on his vinyl night pants over his underwear tonight, when his eyes widened with what appeared to be pure joy as he victoriously exclaimed, "SLUG BUG!"

Uh huh.

He was claming it.

1 point for the Slug bug on his vinyl pants. :D

Psalm 118:24 - "This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Monday, September 20, 2010

A simple aspect


We are about to enter a glorious time of year here in the midwest, Fall!
Everywhere I look, my eyes will come to rest on the handiwork of our master and creator, God.

For me, autumn is a time of awakening.
My senses are heightened.
The crisp, dew-kissed mornings are followed by the warmth of Indian summer afternoons.
The evenings smell of fallen leaves and fireplaces.
The softness of sweaters compliment the comfort of warm soups.
Apples and pumpkins, cinnamon and nutmeg. All doing their part to appeal to our senses.
And then, of course, there is the show of brilliant color; Amber, ruby and golden.

Even though I truly delight in this particular season, I also find myself awakened to a sense of urgency. I know that as breathtaking and comforting the season is, the long, cold, dark days of winter will follow. Try though I do to take comfort in knowing that winter was also designed by God, I just have to be honest and tell you something...I don't like winter.

I don't.

I'm cold intolerant (literally), don't enjoy winter sports or activities of any kind (well okay, I do like me some indoor hockey), and do not (NOT!) like darkness falling at 5:30 every evening. Clearly, God has a sense of humor, as I was born on the longest night of the year. ;)

This autumn, though, I want it to be different. Really. I have a vision and I hope to fullfill it. I want to turn that negative sense of urgency into purpose. In fact, I want it to draw me closer to the heart of my precious Savior, Jesus. The stage is already being set, as I'm encouraged by my dear sisters in Christ who are part of my Good Morning Girls group. How soothing to open several emails each day that point me in the direction of my goal. Wise women who love Jesus, sharing where they've been in the Word of God that day. Just brief glimpses into their quiet times, but a much greater glimpse into their heart's desire, to draw closer to Him.

I came across a method of studying scripture recently, that has given me fresh eyes for the passages I'm reading. I attended "Just Give Me Jesus" with Anne Graham Lotz several years back, and she introduced a similar method, which I have loved. If you would like to try a new way of approaching your quiet time, or just aren't sure how to approach it beyond prayer and reading, consider this simple "aspect" of being in the word...

A – About God – What can you learn about God through this passage?
S – Sin – Does it talk about any sin?
P – Promise – Is there any promise in the word?
E – Example – Is there any example, I can follow?
C –Command – Which command I need to obey?
T – Teaching – What can I learn from this passage?

I hope your transition into autumn is filled with an awakening of your senses too, that you will experience our Creator in the beauty of His creation. And if, like me, you find yourself experiencing an urgency about the brief (albeit beautiful) passage from summer to winter, may you also sense His desire to draw you ever closer to Him.

Come to think of it, long, cold winter days are pretty ideal for being still before the Lord and for cozying up by the fire with a good book.
THE "good book."

(For more on the aspect study method, go HERE.)

Live wise in Him!~Toni~

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Friday, September 17, 2010

In the spotlight: RUN!

This past week, a group of us homeschooling moms began daily emails of encouragement and accountability regarding the need to be in the word every day. Our group has twelve women in it. While we have never met, we're all homeschooling moms who desire to be nourished by the scriptures, and we recognize that accountability and encouragement are tools to that end. So we formed a group to participate in the fall run of GOOD MORNING GIRLS. It has been SUCH a blessing to open up email after email, to see what each woman has gleaned from her daily quiet time with the Lord.

With encouragement in mind, allow me to segway into the fact that our bible study group once used a series by Ray Vander Laan.
Wow! Just,...wow!
His teaching is powerful and I'm grateful that God has gifted him so.
He really knows how to present the Word in a way that is both convicting and highly challenging.
I'd like to share one of my all-time favorite clips featuring Ray.
It seemed fitting as I shared what my GOOD MORNING GIRLS group and I are doing.
I hope it leaves you with a sense of urgency, a new (or renewed) hunger, for the Lord. Be blessed and have a lovely weekend.



Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Any fall projects in the works?

The slow shift in the weather has sparked my desire to take on some fall crafting projects, as fall usually does to me. I enjoy crocheting. I've not been one to venture into wearables, mainly because I stink at guage. But I've done afghans, headbands, hair accessories, and such (goodness, my girls got a handful of compliments on their retro-styled crochet "worm" hair ties [HERE] when we visited a local amusement park several weeks ago.)

One wearable that I have attempted is a pair of Mary Jane slippers. Oh for sweet! They came out sooo cute and I wear them all the time in cooler weather. I've wanted to make a pair for my girls too, but there's that little problem of the stinking guage. I've attempted three times now to get it right, only to have a dainty slipper that would fit an NBA center or a 3 year old (neither whom I was intending to crochet for.)

But I'm not giving up. The Maryjanes are just waaaay to cute to throw in the crochet hook towel. So, I hope to start again this week, attempting to make Maryjanes for all us girls.

Is there a fall crafting project in the works for you? Do tell.
And do you crochet? If so, might want to give this pattern a little look-see.
MARY JANE SLIPPERS

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A glimpse of our home season


I remember the B.C. days (before children). In those earlier years of our marriage, dh and I were free from commitments. We had time and freedom and didn't feel the need for schedules and routine. We were free birds who flew by the seat of our pants. We both worked for airlines (he still does) and had air travel at our fingertips. Nothing kept us from jaunting off whenever we decided to.

"Honey, want to check out furniture deals down South? I hear that the prices are great since the manufacturers are there."
Why not?
Off we went to Hickory, NC on our days off, just to look at furniture.

We took cruises pretty frequently as well. I believe I had been on nine ships (B.C.), while dh was one behind (I took my first cruise with a friend and co-worker from my airline as a "girls' trip" after dh took a guys' trip to an airline basketball tournament.)

It isn't that we had tons of cash.
We didn't.
But we did have tons of time and the resources to make the trips affordable (flying benefits, hotel, car rental, and cruise discounts for the travel industry).
We took advantage of those days.

Fast forward 20 years. No more jaunting off whenever we please. No spur-of-the-moment decisions to take a weekend trip to a B&B in the Blue Ridge mountains.
Life dictates the need for routine and scheduling now.
There needs to be an anticipated flow.
Homeschooling dictates this need. Parenting four children demands it. And frankly, I'm not the young jet-setter who can thrive in "freestyle" mode any more. The fact is, I, too, need routine.

Without it, we would all drown in a sea of unscheduledness.
  • Mon/Wed/Thur, take two oldest to swim lessons from 530p to 630p

  • Tues/Thurs, take 3yo to preschool at 9am, pick up at 12:15pm.

  • Every other Wed, bible study at 6:30pm (but first, pick up kids from swimming and drop them off back home with the sitter)

  • Thurs, take youngest dd to dance lessons at 6:45pm (which means dh must pick other two children up from swimming)

  • Wed through Sun, homeschool my three oldest (which requires me to attend church with them on Sunday, then come home and hit the books. It also requires me to plan activities and partnering of available students with my 3yo so he is contructively engaged)

  • Grocery list prep and grocery shopping on Sunday evenings

  • work out five days/week (plus walking 3x/week or more)

  • Extras: assisting in my 3yo's preschool class for an hour on Tuesdays, attending highschool football games on Friday nights while the weather is still warm enough, nature journaling as a family once a week (goal), homeschool group activities, etc.


Seriously? The dog, cat, and guinea pig (Edgar, the cutest little guy) would probably be begging for their meals if we didn't schedule our days. Yep, they too are on the schedule. And dinner prep and meal time are definitely on the schedule.
We eat between 4:30pm and 4:45pm every day. We have to, or my kids would get a cramp and sink to the bottom of the pool in swim class (at least that's what my dad told me when I was a kid, lol).

We eat mainly whole foods vegetarian meals, which require greater prep time (but are so much healthier too).
I usually chop raw veggies in little blocks of time that I manage during our homeschool day, then place them in the fridge for cooking later.
I always check my schedule the night before, so I can match the right meal to the workload of the coming day. Busy day, easy meal prep. Easy day, more demanding meal prep.
I enlist the help of my children too. They shuck corn, wash and tear romaine lettuce, snap green beans, etc.
It all comes together.
Usually.

It's a crazy busy season of life in our home, but I really do treasure it, knowing that it will pass all too quickly (and already is).
How about you and the home season you're in?

Ecclesiastes 3:1
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:


Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A little joke for you.

A teacher asked the children in her Sunday School class, “If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would I get into heaven?”

“NO!” the children all answered.

“If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would I get into heaven?”

Again, the answer was “NO!”

“Well,” she continued, “then how can I get to heaven?”

In the back of the room, a five-year-old boy shouted out, “You gotta be dead!”


Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Lessons on Endurance

These are hard times we're living in. The national unemployment rate was posted as 9.6% in August (compared with 4.9% in Jan, 2008). Fox News reported today that nearly 1 in every 7 Americans is now considered "poor". It seems that we hear of yet another major employer going out of business every day. And of those who are blessed to still have a job, many are worried about the future.

I don't believe it's much of a stretch to say that many people in our nation are wondering, "What's to be happy about?"

Think about it. In this current economy and culture, what's to be happy about?

Let me back up about 80 years to share my perspective. My grandmother was born in 1910. Her marriage literally got underway at the same time that the Great Depression did. My grandparents were the children of immigrants from Poland. They had 8th grade educations and few skills with which to earn a living for their family. And yet, if you were to listen to my mom's stories from childhood, she was without want.

They raised their children to be hard working, honest, and tough. In fact, my grandparents were all those things and then some. The bible says, in James 1:2-4, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.
And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Indeed, my grandparents would have their faith put to the ultimate test. I wish I could say that the Great Depression was their great test. I have no doubt it was incredibly challenging, given their lack of education and job skills. But the future held a much greater test for them. The loss of a child. Their first-born child, who died a week after birthing their first grandchild, at the young age of just 26. Her name was Toni and I am her namesake.

My mom was only 13 when her sister, Toni, died. My mom and her family lived in the tiniest coal mining "patch" on a hillside in PA, so everyone felt the loss in one way or another. But no one more than my grandparents. Their daughter had died suddenly and their faith was clearly tested to the core.
My mom describes the pain. The stress. The wounds. The scars. The faith.

In spite of the darkest of darkest days, my grandparents fiercely clung to their faith. I have such wonderful memories of catching my grandfather, when I was just a little girl, sitting at the side of his bed in the early morning light, praying (I have his bible, btw, and it is among the most valuable of all my possessions. I'm tearing up just thinking about its significance right now).

How???

How did they manage such pain and loss without losing their faith? I believe there are two answers and I'd like to share them with you.

First, I am able to look at their lives now in retrospect. The hardships. The loss. The deep, deep faith in spite of very obvious suffering. And I conclude that they were able to successfully and actively defend their faith during those hard times by actively employing the full armor of God. They walked fully immersed in the truth of His word and in rightousness. They held fast to their faith and their salvation. And they prayed. Sometimes I would ask my grandma, after Pap passed away, to pray for me. I had not yet made a decision to embrace Jesus as my Savior, but I do vividly remember feeling comforted by knowing that she, an incredible model of the Proverbs 31 woman, was praying for me. I had no idea back then how much their example would impact my future. What a gift!

The second reason I believe my grandparents persevered in the testing of their faith comes directly from James 1:2-3, Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. My grandparents went through times where happiness was not within reach. But they demonstrated that they knew and had spritual JOY. Unlike happiness, which is dependent on what's happening around us, JOY abides because of the One who lives IN us. My grandparents loved Jesus and allowed the Holy Spirit to reside in their hearts. They experienced the faithfulness of God in their circumstances and acknowledged Him, always acknowledged Him, as Almighty.

I am so very inspired by their lives and their example to me. Through them, I am challenged to immerse myself daily in the Word of God (also known as reading my bible at some point of each day). I am challenged to pray. And I am challenged to experience the joy of the Lord in the midst of my own trials. It's a tall order, to be sure. But my grandparents, humble people of incredible faith, lived up to it. And they walked it out in front of me, just as (I believe) God would have it.

[Note: If you would like to read more about my amazing grandmother and her life and loss on the little hill, I blogged about it HERE. And I speak of the loss of my aunt (and more) HERE.]


Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Friday, September 10, 2010

SPOTLIGHT: Have you met Flylady yet?

Okay, I know that many of you are already familiar with Flylady. She helps you develop a home cleaning, decluttering, and organization system that WORKS. But it's better than that. She eventually helps you work in all those "extras" that never seem to make it into the routine; cleaning the car, your purse, the screens on your windows, etc. And she even helps you get an exercise program going. Need help with motivating your kids? She addresses that too.

If you've ever tried Flylady in the past and felt either overwhelmed (due to the number of daily emails) or confused (due to the busy layout of her website), I would encourage you to rekindle the Flylady flame and see if it might burn this time around.

She has really improved the website so that the "baby steps" for getting started couldn't be any simpler. You can find them (and begin to follow them immediately) by going HERE. In 30 days, you will be well on your way to routine and habit that brings a sense of calm with it.

If you have never been introduced to Flylady, I also suggest you begin by reading her, "Why Fly?" page. That can be found HERE.
And of course, reading the welcome letter (HERE!) would be beneficial as well.
Once you've taken these initial steps (and ONLY then), would I encourage you to begin to explore the other areas of her website. I'd suggest exploring the information about starting a control journal (a.k.a. a home management journal or binder).

You do NOT need to subscribe to the emails to work the baby steps from the link above. If you do decide to, you might want to edit your Yahoo group setting to receive digest format so you're only getting a single email per day (there are many individual emails and many have complained that they're too overwhelming).

Okay, that's my spotlight for the week. Let me know if you decide to be a Fly Baby.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mini scrapbook in a tin

Stacy Julian over at Big Picture Scrapbooking offered a free class entitled, "It's all about me." Basically, you were to create a mini tin album that focuses on yourself (scrapbookers are notoriously absent from their own pages since they are usually the one behind the camera).

I decided to complete this class project, shortening my title to "All About Me" (since it's really all about Jesus anyway). It was fun to complete. To the extent that you might be inspired to work on that project you've been putting off, here are my results in a little photo montage (albeit a very old photo of me as it as the only one I deemed fitting at the time). The first photo is of the outside/lid of the tin, which serves as my mini "title page."
















Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Spicing up the season


Before I post today, I want to give a shout to my new friend, Brandi, over at THE WELL BLESSED WOMAN. She recently posted a recipe for pumpkin muffins that I'm dying to try. You can find it HERE. I mentioned to her that my recipe only has 2 ingredients, and she asked what they were. She is thus the inspiration for today's post. So let's go retro today, shall we?

I'm going to bring over a post from my former blog, as it's the perfect lead-in to the changes we're beginning to see in the seasons here in the midwest. The leaves are just now beginning to hint of their pending brilliant fall color show. And while it has been the most humid summer of my life here in the midwest as well, cooler nights and lower temps are now creeping in.

So what could be better than to surprise your family with one of the most beloved of all fall flavors, pumpkin! I am about to provide you with the easiest recipe you'll ever encounter for making pumpkin muffins. And you're going to be addicted to them once you've tried them, because you'll know, like I know, that it will take you all of 5 minutes' effort to unleash spicey scented lovliness all through your house. And you'll be able to please your family with warm pumpkin muffins, fresh from the oven, in a snap.

There is just one little catch, however. There hasn't been any pumpkin on store shelves since the holidays last year.
That's right. There has been a pumpkin shortage.
We normally make these muffins at least once a month. We haven't made them since, oh, January???,....due to the pumpkin shortage.

But it's my hope that you might tuck this recipe away and keep an eye out for pumpkin to return to the shelves soon, due to the approaching Thanksgiving holiday. When you find it, you just might want to buy extra cans.
Because I'm fairly sure you'll be making these again once you try them. ;)
Without further ado, my retro post about pumpkin muffins. Enjoy!
**********

*EASIEST PUMPKIN MUFFINS EVER*
1 box spice cake mix
1 regular sized can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling).

Mix above ingredients together to make a very thick "batter." After well mixed, allow batter to sit for about 5 minutes to ensure that dry ingredients are thoroughly moistened. Fill greased or Pam-sprayed muffin tins 2/3 full using two spoons and bake according to the muffin baking time on the cake mix box. It really is that simple and....YUM!
Yield: 15

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ist es ein glockenspiel?


A few weeks ago, we attended our first local highschool football game. Hubby knew one of the teens playing the xylophone and he quickly pointed him out, telling me the kid was belting out a tune on the "glockenspiel."

Now, Hubs and I are constantly making one another laugh so I was sure he was just having fun with the name of the instrument, by deeming the xylophone a "glockenspiel." It did make me smile and that was that. At least until the next day, that is.

The next day while at work, Hubs was talking to a co-worker's boyfriend. Said boyfriend's teen daughter plays in the very band we had watched the night before, so Hubs chatted about the performance with her father.

When he got home, he was a bit,...well,...horrified? He began.
"Honey, did you know that the xylophone isn't really called a glockenspiel?"
"Huh? Whadda you mean?"
"I meeeean,...when I told you that Levi was banging on the 'glockenspiel' at the football game, did you know that it wasn't really a glockenspiel?"
Perplexed, I responded. "No. I thought you were just goofing around trying to make me laugh. Why?"

His look suddenly became a bit mortified as he continued.
"When I called it a glockenspiel, I was serious. That's what I thought it was. And when you didn't tell me otherwise, I had no reason to believe Levi was playing anything but a glockenspiel."
"Uh huh. I'm not following. What's the problem?"
"The problem is, I told H's boyfriend that Levi was playing the glockenspiel at the game last night, and do you know what he said?"
Me, a little concerned for Hubby now, "Uh, no? No, I don't. What did he say?"
"He looked at me kind of odd and said, 'You mean the....xylophone?'" A bit more tensely now, Hubby continued. "Honey, did you know it wasn't a glockenspiel and that it was in fact a xylophone?"

I have to say, I started laughing soooo hard. I totally thought Hubs was just up to one of his attempts to make me laugh at the game the night before. I don't recall ever learning that there was an instrument called the glockenspiel, so I didn't question it when he tossed it out to me at the game. And since I didn't question it, Hubby, who truly believed the instrument was called a glockenspiel (thanks in part to my not questioning it, coming full circle here), went to work and identified it as such to his co-worker's boyfriend. HA!

I'm happy to say that Hubby has been nearly fully redeemed in that the two instruments, the xylophone and the glockenspiel, are very similar. Both have tuned bars laid out in a fashion resembling a piano keyboard. But the xylophone's bars are wooden, while the glockenspiel's bars are metal. Oh, the silly moments that life presents as opportunities for laughter. I hope you find pause for such a moment or two in your week as well.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

But Lord, I'm so T-I-R-E-D.


I have friends whose life walks vary. Some, like myself, have chosen to leave careers to be stay-at-home moms or home managers. Others have chosen to persue their careers ambitiously, some with and some without children. A few friends are single and waiting on the Lord regarding the future of their life walk.

Despite the differences in our schedules and routines, there is one common thread that seems to bind us when we discuss daily life. That is, we women often complain of feeling tired.

You too? I'm not surprised. In many ways, we're prone to it. Women are more likely than men to be anemic. We women are wired for emotion too, and let's face it, emotional states can leave us feeling exhausted. We're multi- taskers (that never gets tiring, right?) And then there's the fact that we tend to be thinkers and "fix it, make it better" problem solvers. How many times have you laid awake at night, working a situation out in your mind (as if it could be solved at 2am). Anyone?

As a homeschooling mom of four children, ages 11 down to 3, I've certainly ascribed to feeling tired. This past summer, I spent a considerable amount of time praying, thinking about, and planning for our coming homeschool year. I wanted change, but at the onset of summer I was unclear as to specifically what type of change I was seeking. I mistakenly assumed some things, like thinking a change in our curriculum (which I LOVE) was in order. God was faithful to show me that in fact it was not the curriculum that needed tweaking. He convicted me that basically, it was me who needed tweaked.

For starters, He showed me that while I need to aim high in setting goals for my kids this year, I also need to expect less in terms of their ability to live up to those goal-driven expectations.

They're children.

They're in training.

Sure, some goals might be met quickly. But the vast majority will take time. I realized it is I who needs to adjust my expectations so I can reduce my stress level and respond to their shortcomings appropriately, increasing their training where needed. Relieving that paricular stress load was like a good night's sleep. Ahhh, sweet.

It also became clear to me that our schedule needed tweaking. Now, this is something I do every single year anyway. But I'm not talking about penciling in subjects here and chores there. Rather, I'm referring to letting go of the expectation that, because we homeschool, I can (and therefore must) finish by a certain time each day.

I know, I know. Some of you schedulers are thinking, "That will create MORE stress. Your day will drag on and on and you'll get less accomplished in the chaos."
But I'm not going there.
I'm not allowing for a day that drags on and on without boundaries.

I simply mean that I'm not squeezing our day into a preconceived "time box" this year. No pressure on me to be "done" within a certain number of hours. Our school day is well scheduled (you can find it HERE), yet the end can be as early as 1:30pm or as late as 3pm. If there's a rabbit trail worth hopping down, we're taking the liberty to hop. If I need to set a subject aside because a student needs greater help in a key (three R's) subject, I'm going to enjoy that liberty.

As you can gather, I was a bit of a check-mark stickler in the past. I was quick to believe that not accomplishing every item on our list was somehow selling us short. In reality, insisting on accomplishing every item on our list caused me stress (and thus tiredness). And the fact is, there isn't a student in the world whose educational experience and retention is identical (hence the reality of remedial and gifted programs). I now believe it's really OKAY if we eliminate, substitute, or simplify occasionally.

We are not dilly dallying in the midst of greater flexibility. We work as diligently as ever. And I feel more rested as a result (for the record, my children do as well). ;)

The bible says, in Isaiah 40:29-31, He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

(Okay, I had to laugh just a little at, "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall." Because, yes, when I was a teen I "fell" asleep in a class or two.)

Ladies, we can address this issue of tiredness. A serious examination of self may be in order (remember, it was me who needed the tweaking), but we can take steps to refresh and revive. Think about this...

  • Are there unreasonable expecations that you have been placing on yourself or those close to you?
  • What are you allowing yourself to engage in, in your "spare" time? Too much time on Twitter or Facebook? (Farmville is NOT necessary, y'all) Just a for instance.
  • Is your daily schedule realistic? Do you even have a daily schedule in place to give flow to your waking hours?
  • Have you considered making dietary changes that will improve your health and eventually increase your energy level? I'm not talking about "going on a diet." I'm talking about single changes, practiced until they are habit. For example, eliminating soda. Or caffeine. Limiting fast food to twice a month. You get the gist. Taking on one unhealthy diet practice and replacing it with a healthier one, keeping at it until it's habit, then working on another.
  • If you don't regularly exercise, why not? A 30 minute walk, 3x/week, is doable for example. Our family walks even through midwest winters, as long as the temps are above freezing and the wind isn't too wicked.
  • Are you taking a little time for you? A little time spent journaling in a quiet spot, a half hour walking in the park alone, or making the effort to put on a little makeup and perfume if you're so inclined, can refresh.
  • Are you bored? Boredom's fruit is "unchallenged, unfullfilled, and unaccomplished." It can all translate to tiredness (if not feeling down)
  • And this last one is the most obvious, yet perhaps the most difficult to address, due to habit. ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP?


My sisters in Christ, we simply must address that last one. In order to give our best to the things we do and, more importantly, to the people we love, we must address tiredness by getting enough rest. There are so many excuses reasons why we don't. But if you look at your days, eyes wide open (assuming you're not falling asleep, lol), I believe you can find ways to eliminate wasted time; time that could be dedicated to better rest.

What we cannot overlook, absolutely CANNOT overlook, is what the bible says. We who hope in the Lord will renew our strength. This means we have confident expectation that the will of God will prevail. But how can we know what the will of God is? By regularly immersing ourselves in His word, of course. And how can we regularly immerse ourselves in His word if we're too tired? I can't speak for you, but for me, it just doesn't work without adequate rest.

Be challenged. Take a hard and honest look at your tiredness. Pray and ask God to reveal to you where you need "tweaked" so that you can in fact renew your strength. The rest is up to you (pun intended).

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Friday, September 3, 2010

SPOTLIGHT: A book lover's delight!

Never know what you might find here in the "Spotlight" post. Could be a favorite blog I frequent. Could be a great deal I found online. Might be an inspiring video or photo. I'll paint this category with a broad stroke, thank you very much. ;)

Today, I want to spotlight one of my most favorite websites in all of Cyberspace. Let me start with a disclaimer. No, I do not sell anything for the site. I can totally vouge for this site too, as I have been a participating member for 4 years now.

Without further ado, I present to you THE PAPERBACK BOOK SWAP.

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Are you a reader? A homeschool mom always searching for books? Would you enjoy getting books for FREE? You can. I do.

Let me tell you how it works -- because it is so easy! I listed a bunch of books on the site (listing an initial 10 books gets the first member in your household free book swapping credits!) and I got 2 free book credits to get started. So you can order 2 books right away - free of charge -- and have them mailed directly to you! Seriously, it's a "no strings attached" deal.
No gimmicks.
No spam mail.
Nothing. You just have to love reading books.

When another member selects one of my books that I have listed, I mail it to them. Yes, I pay for the media mail postage (I think it's $2.35 for most books). But then I get another book credit and I can select a book that I want. When I request a book, another Club Member returns the favor and mails me one of his or her books free of charge. For every book I mail out, I get another book in return - a true shared system!

When someone requests one of your books, all you have to do is print two pieces of regular paper from your printer which includes the mailing address and the recommended postage. Apply the postage, and drop it in the mail. Hey, for a typical paperback, you don't even need to go to the post office.

You really need to check this out. Did I mention I *love* this site? And if you do sign up, please use the following link:

http://www.paperbackswap.com/index.php?r_by=preciouscargo4u2@yahoo.com

If you use the link above to join, I'll get a free book when you post your first ten books (and you'll still get free books for posting them!) I can tell you how to earn the same credit for referring others once you've registered and listed your first 10 books. And if you have any questions, fire away.

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lovely giving!

I love to browse thrift stores, consignment shops, and antique stores. Anyone?
One thing that always catches my attention is any item that could be used as a unique gift package topper.

A beautiful, large silk flower.
A lovely piece of vintage ribbon or lace.
Vintage Postcards.

You get the gist.
And honestly, when I find such items at the right price, they're less expensive than the ridiculous cost of bows sold in the stores.
Plus, my items are one-of-a-kind, Chabby Chic unique.
Frankly, I just find the whole wrapping experience to be more fun when I have some special little trinket to use in place of a routine bow.

I have one such item that I've held onto for quite some time now.
In part, it's because I haven't attended a baby shower in eons.
But it's also because, well, I really love this item and have had a difficult time parting with it. I think when you see it (and picture it topping a beautifully wrapped gift for a baby boy), you'll understand my fondess for it.

See? Didn't I tell you? ;)
Aren't these the cutest little pair of baby blue felt infant shoes with embroidered flowers that you have ever seen? I certainly think so.
I picked these up for (get this) a QUARTER, y'all.
Twenty-five cents for all that gift wrapping loveliness.

Okay, so. I encourage you, if you don't already do this, to keep your eyes open for lovely little items that you too could use as unique gift toppers. I really think you'll enjoy wrapping (and presenting) your gifts all the more when you do.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Cor 9:7

Live wise in Him!

~Toni~


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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Cat scratch fever



Life is its own maestro, traversing through the seasons with wonderful symmetry and rhythm. In Ecclesiastes chapter 3:1-8, we are given a beautiful word picture of this rhythm that God has affixed to our very lives. I could dedicate this entire post to that passage, how much I love it and why. But today, I want to bring attention to just one little part of it. The part where I identify with a God who granted laughter.

In fact, verse 3 reads;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

With that in mind, I'd like to share with you a story from my childhood. It's one that makes my husband laugh every time he hears it. And in all seriousness, I do believe a little holy "dancing" was involved as well. It goes like this...

When I was a little girl, maybe 4 or 5 years old, our family pet was a beautiful cat named Nero. Now Nero wasn't just any ol' Tom cat. Nero, as his name suggests, was a most distinguished and prominent cat. He was a big beautiful Chocolate Burmese.

One day, my Mom decided that Nero needed a bath and she promptly petitioned my Dad to "volunteer" for the job of cat washer. Dad was not at all convinced Nero needed bathing, nor was he thrilled about his part in it. But not wanting to drag out the inevitable (Nero was going to get a bath once Mom set her mind to it), he reluctantly agreed.

A bath was drawn in the tub upstairs, then Dad gathered boy Nero into his arms and made his way into the bathroom. Mom, who followed closely behind, decided that it would be a good idea to close the bathroom door, "just in case Nero tries to escape."

After all, cats don't like water (uh hem).

It was assumed that all would be well, that Dad would place Nero in the shallow warm water of the tub and quickly bathe him, what with cats not liking water and all (uh hem).
The task would take but a few minutes, the cat would be clean, and Mom would be blissfully happy.
Uh hem!!!

Ah, but it was not to be. For on that day, in the next few seconds after Mom had closed the door,...it. all. went. something. like. THIS.

We could hear the cat screeching angrily, as if ready to engage in an all-out cat fight. And we could hear Dad screaming some unintelligible jargon, clearly suggestive of an unforseen struggle with the cat.

Mom, in a wave of confusion and quick thinking, thought it would be best to grab hold of the door handle with both hands, "just in case the cat tries to get away." After all, Nero needed that bath. The next few moments were a blur of Mom hanging on to the door handle with all her might as the cat howled and screeched from behind it, along with Dad, who was bellowing and yowling himself.

Just
what
exactly
was
going
on
behind
closed
doors
anyway???

Finally, Dad was able to yell a single sentence coherently.
LET! GO! OF! THIS! DOOR! NOW!!!"

I could see the confusion on Mom's face. The moral dilemma. Should she open the door in response to the frantic command given by her husband? Or should she see to it, mission completed, that Nero stayed inside until his bath was finished?

As quickly as she had furled her eyebrows, the decision was made. Deciding in favor of Dad's command, and with one giant step backward, Mom let go of the door handle and out he flew, angrily hissing.

With the cat on his back.

The thin white cotton undershirt that all men wore back in the late 60's was somewhat shredded. And Nero was hanging on for all he was worth. And Dad's back looked like a favorite scratching post. Oh my, did he ever have the parallel line scratch marks to prove it too.

For days after that, I recall that his back was painted with mecurochrome, a nasty red liguid that basically singed the germs out of minor cuts and scratches. Today, it would probably just be the equivilent of pouring Tabasco sauce directly onto a wound. Yeow!

So there you have it.
The story that makes my husband laugh heartily every time he hears it.
He and my dad are very close and always have been. Always laughing at with one anotherso I guess it's all good.

After all, God did author that we should laugh in due season.



I'll close with a conversation that took place in our house yesterday.
Reece, age 8, while reading a science library book, inquired of me, "Mommy, what do plankton eat? I know many sea creatures eat plankton, but....what do the plankton eat?"
Brandon, age 3, quickly chimed in. "He eats cwabby patties, then he plays wiff his mom."


Live wise in Him!~Toni~

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