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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Changes for Amanda

Have you ever read the American Girl books? They were always a favorite of mine when I was in grade school. I could read a book in 30 minutes or less. I felt like I was so accomplished. For each girl there are six different books. The only thing that changes between each girl is the name. For example, Meet Felicity, Meet Kirsten, Meet Samantha, Meet Molly, and the list goes on. The last book was always entitled Changes for ... Each girl would go through something significant that would change her life. She would always learn a lesson from the change.

This past month has brought a lot of new things for our family. I said goodbye to summer vacation, and set my kids off to school. This always comes with many tears (from me). I have trouble letting go. I know it's for their benefit so I force myself to do it, but that doesn't ever mean it's easy. I'm still wondering, when does it become easy to say goodbye? Will I always struggle with change? It happens every year; you'd think I would be used to it by now.

Gabe is officially a third grader, and my only kid in elementary school. Ariel has graduated to middle school, and she has joined the youth group at our church. With this change, has come much new responsibility for Ariel. She is more independent and to be honest it scares me!

The start of this school year was especially hard for me because I know it's the last time I will have my special first day of school IHOP breakfast with Zechariah. It's the last time we will start a new school year together at home. This year the tears wouldn't stop because I knew my life is going to be changing. It may not be this month, or next, but in less than a year's time I will no longer be the normal stay at home mom. All three of my children will enter school. Things will be much different.

I don't know if I'm ready for it. In fact, I'm fairly certain I'm not ready for it. I have done a lot of reflecting on this over the past month. I've been reevaluating things. Where is my time going? Who am I spending it with? What am I spending it on?

I want this next year to be focused on the things that matter most to me. I'm trying to balance a lot of things. While I have two kids in school, I still have one at home that I want to spend as much time with as possible. I really desire for it to be quality time, rather than just busy time together.

I want to commit to being the best KidZone / Club2190 teacher possible. That means a lot of planning and preparing for my elementary aged students on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. Granted this isn't every week, but when it is my week or my lesson, I spend quite a bit of time and effort beforehand getting ready.

Another part of working with KidZone, I was in charge of the puppet ministry for Kid's week. This involved making special "signs" to emphasize part of the songs we're performing. It also takes a little bit of choreography for when the puppets should go up, and who should be speaking. It's amazing how a bunch of little things, can take up so much of my time.

I was scheduled seven times to be in KidZone this past month. (Kid's Week is this month) For the month of September I'm only going to be there twice. So my commitments will come and go. Some months will require more time than others. No matter how much I am in there, when I am there, I want to give it my all. I don't believe in doing things half-way.

I also want to focus a lot on my friendships. I know that God has placed three very special ladies in my life for a reason. Whether it be book studies, or craft days every now and then, or babysitting; I want to be there for them as much as humanly possible. God has called me to be their friend.

My last area I'm working on is my relationship with my husband. This is probably one of my highest callings, to be the mother and wife that God desires. To be constantly putting myself second, and them first. You cannot go into a marriage expecting to give only 50 percent. It will fail. There are days when you will probably only give 50 percent or even less, but then there are days were you must step up and give 90 to 100 percent. You gotta give whatever it takes. It's work. But it's a job that is well rewarded. There is not a day that goes by where I don't thank God for my husband. He is above and beyond what I expected. When I first met him, I never knew I could be this happy. That hasn't come about without a little work and a lot of obedience to God. I will forever keep my marriage as the highest earthly priority. God comes first above all else.

So with all that being said, life is changing, but I am changing with it. I don't plan to stay the same person I was last week, or the week before. I want to grow every day and become stronger. Every day I want to be closer to God, and following the plans He has for me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tortilla Soup

tortilla soup recipe
This soup has a lot of ingredients, but it's worth it! My husband and kids love this. No one ever leaves the table without finishing their bowl, and sometimes 2 or 3 bowls. It makes a lot, so we always have leftovers, which reheat perfectly!

I used to make a tortilla soup that was just okay. Nothing special. But then a few months ago, my sister gave me a list of extra ingredients to add. It went from, "eh" to "WOW!" It's got a bit of heat to it. By the end of the meal, you would think the entire family has a cold from all of the sniffling going on. It will clear up your sinuses!

1 lb. ground beef
2 10oz. cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
14oz. can diced tomatoes
15oz. can pinto beans
15oz. can kidney beans
15oz. can corn
1 can beef broth
1 pkg. taco seasoning
1 pkg. ranch dressing seasoning
8oz. Velveeta, cubed

First brown your ground beef, and then add the rest of the ingredients, including the juices from the cans. Simmer on the stove until hot and cheese is melted. Serve with tortilla chips!

tortilla soup recipe

Monday, August 20, 2012

30 Years...

A week ago I celebrated my thirtieth birthday; a milestone I always thought would make me feel older. I guess I'll be waiting some more. I still feel like a kid! I don't think I'm ever going to feel old enough to have my three children. God blessed me with eternal youth. I'm sure someday it's going to catch up with me, but for now I'm enjoying my "kid" status. Over the summer I had two different individuals think I was my 10 year old daughter's age. Now I know that's a bit extreme, but who am I to complain?

I am very fortunate to have such a wonderful family and friends. God knew exactly what He was doing when He placed me in the care and friendship of these fine people. I love them all so much!

A few days before my birthday, my family threw me a party. It was so weird for me not to be included in the planning, or the setting up process. All I did was show up, at my own house. The party was a BBQ in the backyard, along with an outdoor movie theater. Everything was perfect! They put so many special details into the entire evening.

One week before my birthday is Lucille Ball's birthday. If she was alive today she would have been celebrating 101 years! I Love Lucy! Last year, for her 100th birthday, I threw her a party. This year, for my 30th, my family put together an I Love Lucy themed party for me. It was so much fun, and I wouldn't have changed a thing about the entire evening.

My party started with a video. My sister mentioned that for someone who complains I never get my picture taken, there sure were a lot of photos of me. I had to laugh when I re-watched the video later because a large percentage of the pictures of my adult life, I took myself with a tripod. Some of the photos might look candid, but really, I'm great at running into my timed photo and pretending for a few seconds while the photo is snapped. That's not to say I don't have candid moments with my children. It's just a lot of the real moments are not photographed.

Outside in the backyard, there was a photo booth set up. We all wore black & white in honor of I Love Lucy being filmed without color. This made for some great photos since we all matched. If you remember, I donated all my summer clothes, so I had to make a trip that morning to my favorite store, Goodwill. I found a black & grey shirt for $2!! I love the deals you get there! (I have to say, I also found the brand new Muppet movie for only $3! Happy Birthday to me!)

During the opening credits of I Love Lucy you will often see two cartoon characters representing Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. My husband and I tried to mimic this pose. We didn't get the pose quite right the first time, but this is still my favorite picture of us from the evening.

I Love Lucy
By the time all our photos were taken, and we were all posed out, the BBQ was ready. The food was amazing! They chose all my favorites! The only thing not pictured on my plate was deviled eggs. They didn't last long enough for me to take their picture. I had to sample them quickly!

During the movie we had snacks to share, cotton candy and caramel popcorn. Very delicious! By the end of the night I couldn't have eaten another bite. I was so stuffed!

Before we settled in for my favorite funniest episodes of Lucy we all danced to some oldie music. "Come on baby let's do the twist."

I Love Lucy
The atmosphere was enchanting! I loved it. I think the lights added a lot to the charm of the outdoor movie theater.

My sister baked my birthday cake, the Cosmopolitan from Billy Vanilly. I absolutely love it! She even gave me the flavorings for it so I can make the cake myself next time. Now I just need a special occasion to make it for...

The party didn't end until almost midnight so we had one tuckered out little boy. He even missed eating my birthday cake!


Titus took off of work to celebrate my birthday with me. I woke up to two busy cooks in the kitchen. Ariel and Titus worked together to make breakfast for me. It was very sweet of them.

A gift from Ariel!

After lunch the real fun began. We all went on a family hike. I've been for picnics and to fly kites many times, but this was a first for walking the trails. I LOVED IT! I was in a bit of a bad mood that morning and couldn't seem to pull myself out of the funk I was in. Maybe it was because I was turning 30... I don't know. I was just in a bad mood. Within minutes of arriving at the trails my bad mood vanished.

I love to hike with my kids and husband. These trails were BEAUTIFUL! I've always loved our museum trails, but they don't even compare to these. You really feel like you're walking through a huge forest away from the world. In fact, the trails are so long and winding, we got completely lost in them. Call me crazy, but it was rather fun to get lost. It made the hike more magical. I felt like we were in a faraway land full of mystery and intrigue. We were walking through magical forests not just plain old hiking trails.

These trails were amazing! They wound all around. Several times they would have steep inclines and then descend down again. It was so much fun. I was shocked that we saw bike tracks through these woods. I would have been scared of falling down. You certainly don't want to push a stroller through here either!

If you ever desire a moment alone with God, this would be the perfect place to meet Him. It so peaceful and quiet out there. In our 3 hour walk, which covered around 4 miles, we only saw 2 ladies running together. It was even a beautiful day outside; temperatures were in the mid-seventies. Who could resist staying away on a day like that?

My recommendation to you if it's your first time, bring the map. Or take a picture of the sign at the entrance, and then you can reference it later. You don't know how much I was wishing I had done that. As fun as it was to have no idea where we were, near the end I began to fear the worst. We were never going to find the end. I envisioned us sleeping on the trails waiting for someone to rescue us. I know I'm dramatic. We took wrong turn after wrong turn. Finally we ended up finding the edge of the woods, and my husband jogged around back to our car and then came back to pick us up.

We walked the entire blue trail, and almost all of the red trail, parts of it twice! It was a workout, and the next couple of days my back was really sore from carrying around Zechariah.

We will definitely be back to visit these trails again!

To end my birthday we had our family pizza and movie night. Titus bought me a new movie to watch which I really enjoyed.

A Walk in My Shoes
I highly recommend this to you! It was one of those feel good family movies that is totally appropriate. These are my favorite kind of movies! To some people they appear slow and not much going on, but I love the real to life stuff.

The synopsis :"Ever judge someone just by looking at them? Ever made a snap judgment? What if we really got to know them? How would our opinions change? And what if we were forced to become them; how would the shoes fit then? Stressed-out high school teacher Trish Fahey can't understand her student, Justin Kremer's lack of effort and why his mother doesn't seem to care. Trish quickly chalks up the situation as a case of bad parenting. This perspective dramatically changes when Trish finds herself living the life of Cindy Kremer, the woman she has personally judged and criticized. Trish discovers that there is often more to the story and learns a powerful lesson that affects everyone she interacts with. No one is left unchanged." Sound interesting? I have the movie if you'd like to borrow it.

Now I couldn't turn 30 without someone making me my favorite jello-cake. It was a wonderful birthday! I am so thankful to all my family and friends that made it special for me.

"Time and Tide wait for no man, but time always stands still for a Woman of Thirty." -Robert Frost

Friday, August 17, 2012

Through the Lens: Summer Edition

We had a wonderful summer! There are so many things I wish I could go into detail about, however, time doesn't stand still. The more time that passes, the more things we do. I can't keep up! I've saved a few of the more special days to share with you later. This will be kept really simple, and I will use as few words as possible. After all, they say a picture is worth a thousand words!

Macaroni Fun

macaroni art kids designs

colored macaroni jewelry necklaces

Dance Praise Competition

dance praise competition

Coded Treasure Hunt

coded treasure hunt clues

Use What You Find! : Salvation Army

salvation army use what you find fun day

Soccer at our Elementary School!

Chocolate Day

chocolate day party

Penguin Day

penguin pizzas food

penguin egg carton craft

Nature Scavenger Hunt

nature scavenger hunt

Hawaiian Ice

Paddle Boats

paddle boats

Safari Golf

4th of July


Kite Flying

kite flying

Science Day

science experiements

Jesus Bingo

Jesus bingo

Art Day

Sewing Day

cute owl stuffed animal
pencil and crayon holder

Emporia Zoo

Health Food / Exercise Day

Last Day of Summer Vacation

This is just a small sample of all the fun times we had the past few months!


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