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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.

"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!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Kids Do the Darndest Things

Don't you just love to watch your kids grow up? It is such an adventure. My heart aches at how much I love these three children God blessed me with.

Zechariah made a cup of tea for the first time!

He didn't end up drinking it because he said it tasted like bird seed...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Plaster of Paris

This was one of my favorite things we did this summer! I really have so many things I would like to share with you, and so little time to put it together. We've had a wonderful summer! As soon as we get back in the routine of school, I should have a lot more free time to blog about the things I've passed over these last few months.

A couple weeks ago we made plaster molds at the lake. It was so much fun to go through the house and find different items we wanted to use for our molds. I told the kids to look for something that would represent summer to them. I figured this would be a fun keepsake and decoration all in one.

I really wanted our molds to be Christmas ornaments, but I didn't remember until almost all our molds were made. So we now have several sand molds for display around the house, and one new Christmas ornament. Oh well... next time, I'll make sure to remember!

plaster of Paris sand molds
You have to be sure to find the sand that is a little damp, and packed down pretty good. If the sand is too dry, it won't hold its shape very well. The only problem with it being really packed sand, it's kind of hard to make the mold. Some of the items we brought just weren't strong enough to be pushed into the sand, and some didn't have sharp enough edges. I actually found that the cookie cutters worked best!

plaster of Paris sand molds
Once you have your mold ready, you can mix up the plaster of Paris. I looked for this at craft stores, but ended up finding it in the paint section at Lowes. You mix 2 parts plaster to 1 part water. The thicker it is, the harder time you will have of pouring it into your mold. You also don't want it too watery, or it won't hold a shape.

Mix very small amounts! The plaster dries so quickly! I tried to fill up several hand prints one time, and by the third hand it was already too dry and I messed up my niece's hand print beyond repair.

Also, make sure to use a container you can throw out, or rinse it out in the lake or body of water you're using before you go home. You do not want to wash this out in your home sink! If you let it sit for a while, it will dry out, and you should be able to chip it away from your container.

To make a Christmas ornament, I brought several plastic straws with me, cut into little pieces. Before I poured in the plaster, I stuck a straw in the sand where I wanted the hole to be. I didn't try to get the straw out once it was dry either; I figured this might break the plaster mold. I simply cut the straw down to size, and then ran a piece of ribbon through the hole. I like how it turned out! (You can see my ornament at the top of this post.)

plaster of Paris sand molds
We all tried to make a hand print mold. This turned out to be rather difficult because of how packed down the sand was. My boys were never successful in getting a mold of their hand. They gave up quickly. I always like to make my projects for my husband, so for me I did the I Love You sign with my hand.

Once the plaster has dried for about 30 minutes, you can very delicately remove it from the sand. I always tried to dig around the area to loosen the sand before I pulled out my plaster mold. Once it was dug up, I swished it around in the lake to clean it off a bit. It seems to me they are very messy and will continually be losing bits of sand long after they have dried.

I thought the project would be fun for the kids, but they actually were much more interested in playing in the sand. In the end, it was perfect entertainment for me. We spent over 3 hours there; and the time went by so quickly! I loved it! I included my kids as much as they wanted, but didn't stress myself out over their lack of interest.

Some of our finished products... Zech chose to make a Lego mold.

plaster of Paris sand molds
Ariel and Gabe both wanted something to represent the week we spent at church camp. Ariel's mold is the trophy which commemorates her winning the Fruit of the Spirit award. Gabe had the idea of making a school bus; as we spent several hours riding on one to Augusta and back.

plaster of Paris sand molds

plaster of Paris sand molds
I think the molds make the perfect keepsake! And not only that, they are simple yet fun to make!


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