Friday, December 30, 2011

Supposed to be There not Here

Pin It Now! The kids and I were supposed to be driving up to Winslow, Arizona with Daddy today for a family mission trip to an orphanage.  But, both my boys have been sick all week, and though on the mend, they haven't completely recovered.  So, I am being nurse-mom for the weekend instead of mission-trip-worker.

 It would have been my very first real mission trip. 

As my hubby pulled out of the driveway this morning, I, still in my pajamas, stood in the kitchen juicing tangelos listening to my daughter blow her daddy kisses through the window.  I couldn't help but rehash my thoughts of the past couple of days, "Why, Lord? Why would You keep us from going?  Isn't true religion helping widows and orphans?  Am I not worthy enough?  Have I complained too much about the work You have me doing already?  Why would You let my kids get sick at a time like this?  Why didn't You miraculously heal them?"

A verse came to mind to get me back on track--"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."  I remembered that I wasn't going to waste time and energy on questions like that.  I was going to rest in God's sovereign will and accept His plan and purpose even though I didn't understand and still don't and may never.

I can remember the first time my pastor mentioned this particular opportunity and my heart quickened.  I couldn't wait to see if Mark thought it would be a good idea for us to go.  I figured it was an answer to a prayer I'd been praying for our family--that God would bring about ways for us to serve others together.  Ways that pushed us beyond our comfort zone, especially me.  So, it is still kind of hard to understand why we couldn't be together serving this weekend, but I am accepting it.  And maybe that's what I am supposed to get out of this--to continue to grow and learn to accept God's way and have peace about it even when I don't like it or get it.  (Two of my favorite verses come to mind here--Proverbs 3:5-6)

Thanks to technology, Mark texted me a picture of the sweet orphan we bought presents for.  One of the gifts was a necklace in the shape of the first letter of her name.  Shiloh has one just like it in the shape of an "S" of course.  Wish I could have been there in person to give her a hug, but a picture will have to do.

Like my pastor's wife said, "There will be many more opportunities . . . "  I am so thankful for such a wonderful church family and can't wait to serve with them in the future!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Web Greeting Will Have to Do

Pin It Now! This was the year I finally got my train track pictures, and I was beyond excited about my Christmas cards.  Unfortunately, my cards turned out abnormally dark, so my hubby and I decided not to spend even more money on stamps sending out cards with which we were not happy. :( 

I am very pleased to report that I did get a full refund. :) 

I am still a little sad and disappointed as this will be the first year in a super long time that I haven't mailed Christmas cards.  But I keep reminding myself that Christmas isn't about ME, and I am sure most people throw the cards away anyway, right? ;)

Wishing all of our friends and families a very Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 09, 2011

The 2011 Ornaments

Pin It Now! It's tradition. 

The kids get a new ornament right before they decorate the Memory Tree with all of their gazillions of ornaments they've collected over the years from grandparents, us, home school ornament exchanges, church, etc.

This year I chose keepsake Disneyland ornaments in memory of our first, real, "just us" family vacation. 
~Happy faces~

Mullin, Lincoln, and Shiloh, I hope you never forget our super fun vacation. I hope you still have these ornaments when you are old and gray, and every year when you hang them, I hope a flood of memories takes you back to October 2011.  (Oh wow, didn't expect my eyes to fill up with tears while writing that!)  Anyway, I had the BEST time with you guys. :)  Love, Mom

She Just Couldn't Wait

Pin It Now! I think it was a day shy of December when Daddy finally took Shiloh Christmas shopping for her brothers.  I couldn't have been happier because she'd been bugging asking me to take her all month!

Her enthusiasm was just precious.  She'd saved up all her coins from Grandpa and from $.50 money chores I gave her every now and then when I had some change to spare.

The boys, especially Lincoln, love nutcrackers, (the classic-looking kind) and Shiloh had spotted the perfect ones at Fry's.  She came home with the biggest smile and asked for bags to wrap them in so she could give them to the boys that night.  I nonchalantly suggested, "Why don't you wait until closer to Christmas?" 

No reply.

When I turned to look at her face . . . BIG, FAT tears were slipping down her cheeks.  Broke my heart.

"Oh honey, did Daddy say you could give them to the boys tonight?"

With the most genuine, pitiful look, she shook her head "yes."

We got some bags right away and . . .

just look at how happy she is! 

She wanted pictures of herself with each brother and their nutcracker.  Too sweet.  :)

The nutcrackers are proudly displayed on shelves in the boys' room.  They even named them.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Pumpkin Oatmeal

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Because using pumpkin this time of year is so fun and festive, I decided to add it to our oatmeal plus a yummy topping.  After two tries, my family agrees this is the perfect pumpkin oatmeal!

Pumpkin Oatmeal

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin or homemade pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 TBSP ground flax seed
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  •  4 TBSP butter
Mix topping ingredients until crumbly and set aside.

Combine soaked oatmeal plus water (about 1 cup or so depending on how thick you like it) and cook over med/high heat.  While it is cooking, stir in the rest of the ingredients.  Once the mixture boils, turn heat to low and continue cooking until nice and thick.  (Just a few minutes at most.)

Remove from heat and spread in a greased 9x13 pan.  (I just used olive oil)  Sprinkle topping over oatmeal and bake in a 350 degree oven for just 5-10 minutes--until topping has melted.

So delicious!  Even my hubby, who is very picky about his oatmeal, liked it. :)

Sunday, November 06, 2011

"I Can't Believe I'm a Soccer Player!"

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My sweet, little girl all decked out in her pink soccer gear looked in the mirror after her very first soccer practice and squealed with delight, "I can't believe I'm a soccer player!"

A severe drop in temperature, a cloudy, fallish looking sky ~ a perfect day for watching sports in AZ. 

Shiloh's excitement was contagious this past Saturday as we cheered our soccer star on.  Bless her heart, she smiled and jumped for joy the entire time even though her team was getting CREAMED. :)

This girl is truly happy to be alive.  I think she's related to Sponge Bob.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Following in My Footsteps

Pin It Now! Another Metal Mouth in the family!

So, 2 out of 3 kids have inherited my HORRIBLE crooked teeth.  :(  My husband had NO clue when he married me he'd be forking out SO much money on teeth!  Sorry, Babe.

On November 2nd Lincoln entered the wonderful world of wire.  It's CRAZY how much 6 little metal brackets cost.  And this is just the first phase of treatment!
A couple of years ago, big brother endured his first phase of treatment in order to make room for permanent teeth to come in.  At least he didn't have to get 7 permanent teeth pulled like I did in the second grade!  Yikes.

Lincoln joyfully takes out all the hard, sticky Halloween candy he won't be able to eat while wearing braces.  He's being such a great sport about it, but I think he's a little excited about getting because he'd watched Mullin getting the royal treatment at the orthodontist's office.

Dr. Larrabee and staff are amazing.  I have to admit, I am even excited about Lincoln earning Larrabee Loot because Lincoln says he will turn it in for a Starbucks card and treat me to a frappuchino. :D!!!!!!  How sweet is that?!

Since November is "being thankful month" I will end with a few things I am thankful for regarding teeth.

  • I am truly thankful my parents, even though money was tight, let me get braces as a teen.  I am almost certain I would have NEVER gotten married had my teeth remained as they were. 
  • I am thankful my husband has continued to spend money on my teeth and all their imperfections, or I probably wouldn't have any molars left in my mouth.
  • I am thankful that, even though money is tight, God is providing for my kids who need orthodontic care.
  • I am thankful that, so far, none of my children have had to get cavities filled.  I think I'd already had about 10 by the time I was 12.
  • I am thankful for ThievesBest stuff I have ever used in my mouth!  So glad my teeth aren't as sensitive as they used to be since using it.  Glad it kept a cavity from spreading in Lincoln's mouth, and glad it is helping with his unexplainable tartar issue. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Edible Acorns

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I thought it was pretty crazy that on the night my kids were assembling these too-cute cookies, I checked my email and saw this post by Kristen.  Apparently these are all the rage!!

I happened upon a friend's facebook photo and was inspired to make these with my kids.  In my friend's photo these cookies were sitting atop the most beautifully frosted cupcakes.  (I never got to the cupcake part- we ate 'em up too fast!)

Edible Acorns
  •  1 or more bags of Hershey Kisses
  •  1 box bite-size vanilla wafers
  • 1 bag butterscotch chips
  • white frosting (I just used powdered sugar and milk)
"Glue" first 3 ingredients together with white frosting and you have the cutest little edible acorn! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Make Your Own Pesto

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Making homemade pesto has been on my want-to-do list forEver!  My garden is overflowing with basil that needs to get used up.  So, after my facebook friend posted this recipe, I knew there was no excuse for me to tarry any longer.  Mmmm, I am glad I finally got around to it; it was a nice change from ordinary pasta sauce. :)



2 cups basil leaves

1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup pine nuts or toasted almonds  (I used almonds)

1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan  (I used a blend of Parmesan and Romano)

2 cloves garlic, pressed

1/2 tsp lemon juice



- Toast pine nuts (almonds) in a skillet with a little olive oil for a couple of minutes until golden

- In blender (I use the Ninja NJ600 Pro Blender) or food processor, mix dry ingredients until well chopped. Add olive oil in a thin stream while blender is running.

- Continue blending, scraping sides, until well blended. Add lemon juice.

Our favorite way to eat pesto is on buttered toast, so I keep it pretty thick.

*Linked to Tasty Tuesday and Try a New Recipe Tuesday

{affiliate link}

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Homemade Taco Seasoning

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I am really trying to cut down on prepackaged seasonings, mostly for the healthy reasons.  My family loves tacos and refried bean burritos, so I came up with a yummy, mild seasoning mix. My whole family LOVES it!!!!

Homemade Taco Seasoning

1 TBSP Chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. red pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. onion salt

*To 1 lb. of cooked, drained ground beef - I added the above seasoning mix, 1/2 TBSP olive oil, and 1/2 cup water.  Bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer for about 5-10 minutes.

When money was ULTRA tight, I was forced to get really good at making homemade refried beans.  Now I am glad I did.  I still make them a lot, and it's a meal that lasts for about 4-5 days for a family of five.  We use the beans instead of meat to fill flour tortillas, top tostadas or stuff in taco shells. 

I use the same seasoning mix as I did for the tacos, except I usually double the amount of salt and garlic powder.

Now, to those of you (like my hubby) who like HOT, you've just got to add that in yourself! :)

Linked to Tasty Tuesday and WFMW

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Very Hot Fall Field Trip

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Vertuccio Farms Field Trip

Definitely saw our fair share of animals pooping on the farm!  No shame.

Pizza garden tour.  Garden is in the shape of a circle divided into 8 "slices."  Slices include wheat grass, tomato plants, pepper plants, onion and garlic, cow pen, goat pen, pig pen, etc.  Informative and fun!

Corn maze treasure hunt


Air Pillow


Pumpkin Hunt


Monday, October 17, 2011

My Memories Suite {Giveaway}

Pin It Now! *Updated ~ And the winner is Stacey T.!  Thanks for playing.  You can still use the coupon code below for $10 off the software and $10 for the My Memories store. :)

Scrapbooking used to be a high priority in my life.  I was even a Creative Memories Consultant at one point.  Those were the days before the birth of my third child and homeschooling. 

My third child is now six years old, and I still haven't finished her baby album.  I confess: life is busy, homeschooling takes up most of my time, and I'm tired.  Once I got behind in scrapbooking, it was hard to catch up.  Though not in boxes, my pictures are piling up in computer folders.

I try not to think about all those memories fading away, or I'll cry.  You can imagine my excitement when My Memories contacted me about reviewing the #1 rated -and affordable- scrapbooking software!

So, if you're like me and can no longer find the time for traditional scrapbooking, My Memories Suite digital scrapbooking software is the perfect solution!

With this software, you can create scrapbook pages, videos, calendars, cards, and so much more!  The following video explains from start to finish just how easy it is to use My Memories Suite.

Here is just a sampling of some of the pages I have created using this software.  I loved the fact that there was no mess to clean up! 

Most of these pages were created in a very short amount of time using available templates and designs on the software.  The "High Maintenance" page came from a free kit I downloaded from the My Memories site.  By the way, there are tons of free kits from which to choose!  I downloaded a bunch myself.

Here's the best part:  My Memories is giving away My Memories Suite Version 2.0 software to one lucky reader!  ($40.00 value!)

*To enter visit then come back here and tell me which digital paper pack or layout is your favorite.

**For extra entries follow My Memories . . . (1 entry per follow)



***Earn 5 extra entries for sharing this post with your friends!


To all readers, here is a fabulous coupon code for $10.00 off the purchase of My Memories Suite Version 2.0 scrapbooking software and a $10.00 coupon for the store.

Coupon code: STMMMS5495  (Feel free to share this code with all your friends!)

Giveaway ends Monday, October 17. (Don't forget to leave contact info.)

Digital Scrapbooking works for me! WFMW

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mums and M & M's

Pin It Now! First thing I saw when I finished getting ready this morning. :)  So sweet ~ he's totally speaking my love language!

Added it to my front door fall display.  We have to do something to make it look like fall around here!  (Cuz it shore don't feel like it!)

Now I need a fairytale pumpkin to complete the look. ;)

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Pin It Now! Squeal!  Too excited about going on vacation with my family.  It was time!  How do you choose from hundreds of pics?  Here is just a sampling of our wonderful getaway from the real world.

Oh, it was such a great feeling to have finally made it to this point! 

Love Aurora's castle! And it was so lovely having random people offer to take pictures.  Friendliness does still exist in pockets.  Well, at least in fantasy land.
Starting with a classic.  (For the boys, it was just an opportunity to hurry up and get it out of the way!)  At Daddy's and Shiloh's request, we actually ended our adventure with this ride, too.
Yes, about to be brainwashed by children singing the same song over and over again . . .
Yuck -rain!  Hoping for a little shelter on the monorail.  Ew, my hair's starting to get curly, too. :(
Trying to look on the bright side: at least it's not over 100 degrees, and we got to wear layers ~ yea!

I didn't realize that Disney changed the inside theme of The Haunted Mansion during the holidays.  Neat, but I like the regular way better.
Awww, the Pooh ride.  Can't go to Disneyland without riding this one!
The one ride Daddy can't go on . . . Teacups.  He can't do the spinning round and round and round rides.
Of course the boys LOVED Star Tours!  It was fun for me just because I didn't know what to expect - it was a new one for me!
Ice-cream break!
Waiting to ride Thunder Mountain

I have to admit, I couldn't wait for Pixie Hollow.  So many sweet memories of reading tons of Disney Fairy novels to my own little fairy!!  Mark says I'd make the perfect Vidia - getting to scowl all day long.  ;)
Fawn, the animal talent fairy.  Shiloh would make a great animal talent, if only I'd let her have some pets!
Vidia and Tinkerbell.  What fun to dress up and get your picture made all day long.  I missed my calling.
My very happy girl on Dumbo.  After a long day riding thrill rides that she did NOT like, (we went to California Adventure, too) she was so excited to be here.  Ugh.  We waited WAY too long for this ride!!!  The boys, especially Mullin, weren't too gung ho, but Daddy had gone back to the hotel for jackets.  I wouldn't let them sit out.  For goodness' sakes, Shiloh had to ride all kinds of rides she didn't like!!!  Poor girl.  I LOVED all the roller coasters and such at her age, but she preferred the safe and gentle ones.

Buzz Light Lear was fun.  Guess who had the best shooting score?  Of course, it was the hunter (Mullin) of the family, but I was a close second.

So cool seeing the castle all lit up at night.  Magical indeed.

Favorite Disneyland rides:

Daddy- It's a Small World.  (No, I am not kidding.)

Me- I just don't know.  Liked the anticipation of having not experienced Star Tours and Indiana Jones before.

Mullin and Lincoln- Splash Mountain

Shiloh- following in Daddy's footsteps with It's a Small World.

*For some reason Pirates of the Caribbean wasn't up and running while we were there.  Okay by me, though, not my favorite or anything.

**Another highlight for me was just sitting on Main Street with my big, fat cinnamon roll and hot cocoa taking it all in.  :)


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