Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thankful Thursday: God is the Best Cop

We have had some suspicious activity in our neighborhood which has resulted in response by the police two mornings in a row.  So thankful for my sweet "M" who never fails to put things into perspective and fix my eyes above.  As the cops pulled up she asked me, "Mommy, why do we need cops?  God is the best cop!"  This led to quite a conversation and a digging through scriptures.  I love when our children challenge me!
 
Throughout history God has appointed rulers, priests, soldiers, and judges to enforce laws and administer justice, and we are told to submit to these authorities.
 
"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.  For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience."
~Romans 13:1-5
 
Yes, God has given us these custodians of safety to help protect us here on earth.  I am thankful for God's servants! 
 
But, should our only hope in times of trouble be in police officers?  Should they be the first ones that we call?  Or should we first call on God, our ever present help in times of trouble?
 
"The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."
~Psalm 18:2
 
I am thankful that God is mindful of me.  I am thankful that God is my protector and shield.  I am thankful that this is not our home and for the eternal hope I have in Christ!
 
I am thankful for reminders to pray for our home, neighborhood, community, and this nation.  
 
"For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body" (Philippians 3:18-21),


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tot School Tuesday: Snow Days! (Part 1)

One of the advantages (and I supposed disadvantages) to homeschooling is that it can go on regardless of the weather.  Rain, snow, sleet, and hail... school must go on!  But, we do try to have some fun on crazy weather days.  We do not see snow too often here in Arkansas, but when we do the kids are VERY excited.  So, we like to take a break from "business as usual" and do some special activities.  (I have to admit, sometimes we have a "snow day" just because Mommy declares so!)  I keep a bin of "snow day, school day" activities on our shelves, that includes some of the following:
 
SNOW SENSORY BIN:

Sensory bins are a great activity, especially on "snow days" when children have so much energy!  It is wonderful to be able to turn that energy into some creative, learning play.  This sensory bin includes:
Psyllium Husk (for the snow)
Beads (that I cut off of broken play necklaces - to be hail, snow balls, etc.)
Cinnamon Sticks
Bells
White Cups
Winter Stickers
Pipe Cleaner Snowflakes
Vocabulary Words
 
PRINTABLES:
I have found a great selection of printables at:
You can also find printables and lots of ideas at Education.com.

 
I try to print off and laminate different tot packs and printables as I have time so we always have an assortment on hand.  I like to laminate them so we can use them again and again.  Sometimes I can use the same printables for different activities.  "M" used to use the snowman letters to learn her alphabet.  This year I could put some of the snowman letters together so she could practice sounding out words.

Sometimes I make up my own printables and activities to match a skill we have been working on.  I printed out a picture of a snowman (that was missing buttons).  For "M", I had her add together two numbers to place the appropriate number of buttons.  "Boo" just placed as many buttons as the number I gave her.
 
SONGS AND RHYMES:
 Our favorite rhyme is "Snowy Snowman".  The girls just love melting to the ground!  I like to use the "Penguin Family" to teach signing the numbers 1-5 and family relationships (brother, sister, mother, father).
 
"Snowy Snowman"
(Author Unknown)
I am a snowman made of snow (stand still)
I stand quite still at ten below.
With a big long carrot for a nose (point to nose)
And worn out shoes to make my toes (point to toes)
I have two apples for my eyes (point to eyes)
And a woolen coat about this size (measure with hands)
I have a scarf that's warm and red (grab neck)
And a fanny hat upon my head (tap hands on head)
The sun is coming out... Oh dear! (look worried)
The sun is melting me I fear (slowly sink to floor)
Oh my, I was so nice and round,
Now I'm just a puddle on the ground! (sit or lay on floor)
 
"Penguin Family"
(Author Unknown)
One royal penguin feeling very blue (hold up one finger)
Called for his brother then there were two (hold up two fingers)
Two royal penguins swimming in the sea (swimming motion)
Called for their sister then there were three (hold up three fingers)
Three royal penguins waddle on the shore (waddle)
Call for their mother, then there were four (hold up four fingers)
Four royal penguins learning how to dive (Make diving motion)
Call for their father, then there were five (hold up five fingers)
 
BOOKS:
 I collect some books from around the house that are winter/snowman/penguin related.  Some of these are cute baby/picture books geared towards our youngest, and others are more scientific.  We love reading books with puppets!

 


Monday, January 21, 2013

Homemaking Monday: A Month Without Food Shopping

This weekend I went food shopping for the first time in a month.  We were not planning on going a month without food shopping.  Some poor budgeting, poor choices, and unexpected expenses necessitated a hold on all spending.  It was that, go into debt, or not pay our bills.  We believe the Bible has a lot to say about going into debt and paying those we owe, and while we are not perfect in this area, we are trying to honor God with our finances. 
 
"The wicked borrow and do not repay;
but the righteous give generously." (Psalm 37:21)
 
So, my husband led us in the decision to freeze all spending, including food shopping.  Thankfully we had a freezer stocked with deer, a fridge filled with a 25 pound bag of carrots and 20 pounds of apples that we had recently received from our Azure Standard order, some spinach and herbs in the garden, and a pantry with some winter squash, seasonings, and other staples.  (We have lots of food allergies and eat a mostly grain-free diet, so rice and pasta are not in our pantry and were not an option.)  Most importantly, we had our trust in a God who has proven time and time again that HE is our PROVIDER.  I reminded myself of the story of Elijah and the widow and the flour and oil that never ran out (1 Kings 17:10-16).  Then there is the time that Jesus fed 5,000 with only a few loaves of bread and two fish (John 6:1-15).  And I meditated on the many times God has answered our prayers.
 
Well, the month is up, and I can say God answered our prayers and provided for His children once again.  In fact, one of our last meals before food shopping, my husband even said "this is like a gourmet meal".  And, the amazing thing is, that after a month of no food shopping, this last shopping trip did not cost me anymore than usual.  Praise God!
 
 
LESSONS LEARNED (OR REINFORCED):
1.  Do not worry about tomorrow.  Pray, follow where God leads, and trust Him to work out the details.  Never underestimate the power of God, His unfailing love for us, or His power to provide. 
 
" 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?' And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." ~Matthew 6:25-34
 
2.  How much food we either waste, or indulge in just because it is there.  When you know that a dinner is also going to have to be your lunch for tomorrow, you are much less likely to reach for seconds.
 
3.  How to work with what you have.  Often, if I recipe called for something that I did not have, I would run out to the store to buy it.  Well, without that option you start to substitute things that are "close enough" (i.e. carrot puree instead of pumpkin puree).  We discovered some wonderful new flavors and recipes (and also a few that I do not think we'll be trying again...). 
 
4.  Our children learned to eat what is available.  I found that I was way more guilty than I thought of catering to their whining and picky eating habits.  If they did not eat a meal, I used to find them snacks or something that they would eat.  I did not do this on purpose.  Breakfast plates would be cleared (with half of their food still sitting on it), and two hours later they would be complaining that they were hungry, so I'd reach for a piece of fruit or some other snack.  I honestly did not realize I did this until there were no snacks to give them.  Now they know that what is served is what there is to eat, and to be thankful for it.
 
5.  To be more careful with our budgeting and spending, so we do not end up in this situation again (although it really was not that bad and God did provide, we do need to be more responsible and better stewards of our finances!). 
 


DEUTERONOMY 8:1-10
"Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers.  Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.  Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.  Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and revering him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills;  a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey;  a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Food Friday: Coconut Oil Peppermint Bark

We love Coconut Oil!  We use it on our skin, hair, teeth, and eat it by the spoonful.  Why?  Well, this chart shows just a few of the reasons why coconut oil is so good for you (and this is a very abbreviated chart!).
The girls love to eat it by the spoonful, but I find it a little bit harder to consume this way.  I use coconut oil instead of butter in most of our baked goods, and I like to add coconut oil to our smoothies. 
One day I was searching the web and found a recipe for Peppermint Patty's made out of coconut oil!!!  Chocolate is my weakness!  I still drool over the candy in the check-out line despite knowing how awful it is for my health.  So to be able to make a healthy "candy" at home - that is pure awesomeness!  I took the recipe and altered it a bit based on what I had available at home, what I thought would taste good, and what I thought would be easiest.
First, you will need a good quality Coconut Oil.  I purchase mine through Vitacost.  They have several brands, but Nutiva is our favorite.
I used an 8x8 silicon baking dish so that I would not have to mess with lining a pan with parchment paper, but you can go that route if you'd like.
RECIPE:  COCONUT OIL PEPPERMINT BARK
Ingredients:
*2 cups coconut oil, melted
*Wisdom Natural SweetLeaf® Sweet Drops™ Sweetener Vanilla Creme (also available at Vitacost)
*4 oz. dark chocolate, melted (or 1/2 cup cocoa)
*Peppermint Essential Oil (or you can use Peppermint Extract, just use more of it)
Directions:
+Divide the coconut oil into two glass mixing bowls (approx. one cup in each).
+Mix the chocolate and about 5-10 drops of the Vanilla Stevia into the one bowl of coconut oil.
+Mix 2-5 drops of Peppermint Essential Oil into the other bowl of coconut oil.
+Pour about half of the chocolate mixture into a silicon baking dish.  Place in freezer for 5-10 minutes, or until hard.
+Pour peppermint mixture over the hardened chocolate layer and place back in freezer for another 5-10 minutes, or until hard.
+Pour the remaining chocolate mixture on top and place back in freezer for a final 5-10 minutes, or until hard.
+Break off pieces and enjoy!  Store in refrigerator to keep it from melting. 
(You can also purchase Coconut Oil and SweetLeaf Vanilla Creme at Puritan's Pride)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thankful Thursday: God's Little Reminders

It is easy for me to get distracted; easy to take my eyes off of Jesus.  And when I do, I find myself easily discouraged, downtrodden, weary, fearful...  But I'm thankful for God's little reminders throughout the day, and the way he draws me back to him.  Thank you God for unfailing love, care, power, majesty, creativity, and sovereignty.  Thank you for filling my heart with peace.
"The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands."
~Psalm 19:1


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tot School Tuesday: Penpals

Nothing can replace the lessons learned from having penpals... 
Handwriting
Grammar
Manners
Reading Comprehension
Arts/Creativity
Cultural Studies
History
Science
Math
Biblical Lessons - Encouragement, Selflessness, Patience, Prayer
The learning opportunities that come with writing letters  and developing relationship are almost endless!
 
Our girls have a couple of penpals that they write pretty regularly, but they will also write certain groups of people for special occasions.  Some of their penpals are children; others are adults.  Some live in the United States; others live halfway around the world. 
While learning is an added bonus to writing letters, it is not our primary purpose.  Almost every letter we write is carefully constructed to ENCOURAGE the reader!  We want to put a smile on someone else's face.  We want them to see the love of our Savior.
Because "M" is just learning how to write, I will usually write out most of the letter for her, with her just writing a few words or letters here and there.  "Boo" (age 2.5) participates mostly with drawing or painting a picture to tell her story. 
Looking to start a penpal relationship?
*Sponsor/adopt a child, whether it be someone in the local community that maybe has been orphaned or is in a foster program, or someone in another country that you support through an organization like Compassion International or World Vision.
*Ask your church for a list of homebounds that could use some encouragement.
*Ask your local VFW for the addresses of some veterans that do not have many loved ones around.
*Pray - chances are there are several people whose path you cross everyday that would love to receive a letter from your family!
 
Watch these relationships grow.  Watch the excitement on your child's face when they receive a letter back in the mail.  Look for further opportunities to serve and to pray.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Looking in the Mirror

"As water reflects the face, so one's life reflects the heart."
~Proverbs 27:19
 
 
 
What is my life reflecting? 
 
Is it reflecting my sinful nature?  Shelfishness?  Greed?  Envy?  Jealously? (Colossians 3:5-8)
Or am I clothed with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience?  (Colossians 3:12)
 
Am I loving the world and the cravings of sinful men? (1 John 2:15-16)
Or am I loving God with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength and all my mind? (Mark 12:30)
 
Am I holding a grudge against my brother or withholding forgiveness from my sister? (1 John 2:3-11)
Or am I loving my neighbors as myself? (Luke 10:27)
 
Am I quick to get angry with my hubby?  Am I trying to control him?  Am I making decisions for our family that are not mine to make?  Am I bringing him harm with my words or actions?
Or am I submitting to my husband with a gentle and quiet spirit, giving him the respect he deserves? (Ephesians 5:22).  Does my husband have full confidence in me?  Am I bringing him good?  (Proverbs 31:11,12)
 
Am I embittering our children?  Am I quick to yell at them?  Am I speaking harsh words?
Or am I teaching them love and righteousness, training them in the way they should go?
Is wisdom and faithful instruction on my tongue? (Proverbs 31:26)
 
Am I eating the bread of idleness? (Proverbs 31:27)
Or am I busy at home, watching over the affairs of the household? (Titus 2:5)
 
"Let us examine our ways and test them,
and let us return to the Lord."
~Lamentations 3:40
 


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Surviving Cold and Flu Season

Cold and Flu season is in full swing here in Arkansas.  Here is what we have been doing in our household to boost our immune system: 

*PRAY!

*Start with a Whole Foods diet.  We follow a diet similar to Paleo, but GAPS, SCD, and Primal are some others.  Never heard of those?  Have no clue what I am talking about?  Start here:
1.  Eat real, whole foods (meats, fruits, vegetables)
2.  Avoid sugar and processed foods
3.  Avoid food allergens
4.  Eat fermented foods (probiotic rich foods like Kombucha, Sauerkraut, Yogurt, Kefir)

*Whole Food Vitamin C supplement - We love Young Living's Super C.  "Super C™ not only contains 2,166% of the recommended dietary intake of vitamin C per serving, but it is also fortified with rutin, citrus bioflavonoids, and minerals to balance electrolytes and enhance the effectiveness and absorption of vitamin C.* The essential oils that are added may also increase bioflavonoid activity. Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins required by our bodies. The ingredients in Super C play a role in normal immune and circulatory functions, help to strengthen connective tissues, and promote overall health, vitality, and longevity.* Because our bodies cannot manufacture vitamin C, we can benefit by consuming this powerful antioxidant daily."

*Vitamin D - we take this in the form of Fermented Cod Liver Oil / Butter Oil, and also liquid vitamin D drops (from Vitacost).  VItamin D is actually proven far better than vaccines at preventing the flu!  (http://www.naturalnews.com/029760_vitamin_D_influenza.html)

*Immune boosting Teas, including Green Tea and Nettle Leaf Tea.  Add raw honey and cinnamon for a delicious flavor and added health benefits. 

*Essential Oils -We love to support our immune system with Thieves Vitality oil!  "With Young Living’s Thieves Vitality essential oil you can support overall wellness and a healthy immune system* with just a few drops. Thieves Vitality combines Lemon, Clove, Eucalyptus Radiata, Cinnamon Bark, and Rosemary essential oils to create one of our most popular products. These ingredients synergistically combine to offer one of the key benefits of Thieves Vitality oil: overall wellness and support of a healthy immune system. Additionally, Eucalyptus Radiata Vitality may also help support a healthy respiratory system when taken internally".



*Homeopathics - We especially love Chestal by Boiron (order from Vitacost).  Our family doctor had first recommended this to me one time when I was pregnant and had bronchitis.  Coughing with a big belly is not fun!  I was skeptical and unfamiliar with homeopathics, but quickly became a believer.  The following year, two of our children got the flu while traveling to Alabama.  My husband was about to deploy and I had to make the drive back home by myself.  Getting sick was not an option!  I immediately started Oscillococcinum (available from Vitacost), and avoided the flu.

*GOOT - We rub this on our feet every night before bed.  Smells awful, but does have amazing results.

*Regular Chiropractic Care


What are your favorite family cold and flu remedies?


(These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.  I am not a doctor and do not offer medical advice.  This is simply just what our family has been doing and I hope it will encourage and help you to make the best decision for your family).