Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reading List Update for July


I started out only going to write these posts once a quarter but then I started reading so much that it was overwhelming. So here is what I have read this month.

1. "Bed of Roses"- Nora Roberts*
2. Parents Playbook for Learning- Jill Lilienstein
3. Finding Bliss- Dina Silver
4. Will in Scarlett- Matthew Cody
5. The Tudor Conspiracy- C.W. Gortner
6. Divergent- Veronica Roth
7. Insurgent- Veronica Roth
8. Clockwork Angel- Cassandra Clare
9. Vision in White- Nora Roberts*
10. Happily Ever After- Nora Roberts*
11. King of Little Things- Bill Lepp and Daniel T. Wenzel
12. The Bramble-Lee Nordling and Bruce Zick
13. Fifteen Minutes- Karen Kingsbury
14. Hot Shot- Julie Garwood
15. Shadow Hunters and Downworlders- Cassandra Clare
16. Clockwork Prince- Cassandra Clare
17. Clockwork Princess- Cassandra Clare
18. Even Now- Karen Kingsbury
19. Ever After- Karen Kingsbury
20. Matched- Allie Condie
21. Mercy- Julie Garwood*
22. Ideal Man- Julie Garwood*
23. Sweet Talk- Julie Garwood*
24. Heartbreaker- Julie Garwood*
25. The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask About Christianity and How To Answer Them Confidently- Alex McFarland
26. Making the "Terrible" Twos Terrific- John Rosemond
27. A Little Salty to Cut the Sweet- Sophie Hudson
28. Forbidden Heart- V.C. Andrews

* indicates a book I have read before and reread this month.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Loving Through The Hardtimes

I love my husband. But it isn't always easy. We have been on the verge of throwing in the towel a couple of times. Over BIG things not little. But making the decision to stick with it has made us a stronger unit. We love a lot deeper than we used to. I find it funny (odd not haha) how many bloggers are blogging because of affairs and their decisions that were made after they found out. Our story is not that and I didn't start blogging because of our issues. But sometimes I think that we blog as therapy and don't stop and think about the other person in the marriage when we write. Today I am thinking about both of us when I write this. So you won't find details of a sordid affair- there isn't one, you won't find details of anything really just a lot of generalizations- because I respect my husbands privacy of some events. So disclaimer over, here goes.

My husband didn't have a happy childhood and he will willingly admit that to anyone. There was no physical abuse of any kind but over the years I have come to realize the emotional abuse that was there and so has he. I don't think any of it was intentional just one generation following in the previous ones footsteps. And he quickly started doing the same things. But unlike his dad- he found solace in alcohol. You can ignore a lot of things when you drink. But you can also add to the things you are trying to ignore. I didn't say much. He wasn't abusive physically and emotionally it wasn't that bad for a while. Well that and I ignored a lot. But it builds up. There is only so much one person can take. And after a lie told by someone who was supposedly a good friend, I left. It had just become too much. Because after a motorcycle accident involving beer and a slip and slide after an argument with his dad resulted in needing to go back to work earlier than expected after having my fourth child plus all the hormonal upheaval that went with it- it was just to much.

Then the drinking stopped. But the arguing didn't. I came back home and we seemed like we were stronger for it. And in some ways we were. But two years and four months later it became evident that we weren't as strong as we thought. The drinking was back and the anger was so much worse. And then the full story of the betrayal of the friend came out. And the hurt was back all over again. And the old issues resurfaced and life got hard again. But we muddled through.

I have loved him through a lot. And I know there will be a lot more to come. He has loved me through a lot- it is not all one sided.  And we still have a long way to go.

The thing about loving through the hardtimes is that it is a choice. A choice that you make everyday. You can't have happily ever after without work. You made vows to each other and to God to love, honor, and cherish until death do you part. You have to honor that. Today it is easier to just throw it away and start over because society tells you it is okay. Get married as many times as you want, the more the better. And I'm not saying stay in an abusive relationship- by no means am I saying that. Nor am I saying stay married to someone who is having affair after affair. But I am saying that getting a divorce because you had a fight or because you just are tired of the same person everyday is not an option. Working through it and dealing with it is hard. But it is the right choice. There are always going to be the people who say that it's easier to leave but what about kids in the relationship. Is it easier on them? Or what happens if you realize what a mistake it was to walk away and that person you love so dearly is gone?

Love is a choice no matter what. Choosing to love no matter what will make you stronger in the end. There are exceptions. And please if you are being abused get out and get help. But leaving because you don't like the way they make coffee or you don't like their job is not an exception. Choose to love them anyway.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Friendship Beyond Facebook

I remember that when I graduated from high school there was no such thing as Facebook. Shocking I know. But about six months later we did have classmates.com. (I don't even know if it still exists). That website was great for me. You know why- I moved to the other end of the state after graduation. All the friends I had from elementary school up were still in Northern GA and I was in Southern GA. It was horrible. Yes, I had friends here because I spent every summer here growing up but it wasn't the same. These were not friendships built around late night bus rides home from ballgames, shared school experiences, and the devastating heartbreaks of high school relationships.

For a while emails and phone calls kept some of us in touch. And then there were visits for the first couple of years. But as all things do with distance- the visits just kind of fizzled out followed by the phone calls and emails. But then Myspace pops up. John opened an account first and then I quickly followed. A whole new frontier! We had pictures and updates and you could chat with people. My page was mostly filled with high school friends and a few locals, I was in love. Then I found Facebook. You know what, I didn't like it at first. Myspace would let you design a page, blog there, and so much more. But slowly Facebook won me over. More people were on there. It had an easier format. And I started a blog so I didn't need that blogging component at Myspace. Gradually my Myspace page fizzled like those long ago emails, phone calls, and visits. Now we had Facebook. We knew what was going on with everyone everyday. Reunions were planned through it and so much more. You could easily maintain friendships from half a country away.  I was in love! And I still am.

But there is not the seeing someone face to face with Facebook. Or hugging them when they need it. There isn't the real life part of it. However, you know when people are going to the beach. And for me that means they are coming less than an hour from me so I can go meet them for lunch on the way home or the way to the beach. And that's exactly what happened this past weekend.

I got to see my maid of honor for the first time in 6 years! I was so excited. Her family was coming home from the beach and I had to do some school shopping so we decided to meet for lunch. It was so much fun! I loved it. And only when I got home and my husband asked to see pictures did I realize we didn't take any. We forgot. But we got to see each other. We got to talk to each other's children. We had real life. We went beyond Facebook for the day.

We need that. We need to look beyond the constraints of this wonderful way of keeping in touch and keep it real. We need to cultivate old and new friendships with face to face meetings even if they are every six years. It builds us as friends and as individuals. Because as much as I love my online friends in places like California and Canada because they are a lifeline through dreams and heartache- they aren't as deep as the friends you see in person. The ones who come to your house for supper or you go to birthday parties for their kids. They are online. And until you really meet that person, you don't know everything.

Don't lose the online friends- mine are a God sent blessing. But remember the importance of the face to face friends too. Don't let all your local friendships fall to Facebook. Keep them real. You need that interaction. You need the blessing of the (in)real life friends. Take friendships beyond Facebook.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rain, rain, rain

The water in my yard is ankle deep. And let's not even mention the fact that I can't get all the way in my yard and have to walk a pretty good distance to get to my house. Now the upside to this is that I have a valid excuse not to leave the house until the first day of school next week. But I had so many plans for this last week of summer: $ 4 movies, school supply shopping, shoe shopping, and various haircuts, etc. Now I am spending a lot of time stuck in a house with four boys who desperately want to go outside.  The new plan is to only go out Saturday for shoes and supplies for the middle schooler who is abandoning us. However, there are huge crawfish and small brim swimming in my yard so we may go fishing from the porch tomorrow. I will make the best of this rain and my flooded yard. And try not to go crazy in the process.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Behind the Scenes- Family Visits

Behind the Scenes is a weekly link up with Crystal Stine. You can read more about it by clicking the button below.

crystalstine.me


This past weekend we had family in town. My husband's stepgrandmother, uncles, aunt, and cousins were here. (All of John's cousins are around the same age as our children so we end up being called Aunt Laura and Uncle John). In the above picture, we were actually in the middle of my in-laws annual Back to School Bash with a waterslide, a pool, and a bouncey house. And it was pouring. So these three kids played Match. They had a blast. And Josh loved all the attention he was getting from Kayla (the one in blue). And all those Pratt guys were watching How It's Made. If you walked out the backdoor from this little scene you would have encountered around 50 people sitting under tents, eating peanuts, playing on a waterslide, swimming in the pool, or jumping in the bouncey house- all in the rain. But rain or shine- everyone had a blast. 

Why We Pay So Much Attention to the Royal Family

I saw a meme on Facebook last night that said we fought for freedom to not have to care about the royal baby. Well- yes we did. BUT we don't have a royal family so we pay attention to it. Plus William is really cute and Kate is beautiful. And no matter what it is a baby. We care. This is the future King of England.  What little girl doesn't dream of being a princess? My 2 year old niece already does. I still do sometimes. Especially when my sweet baby tells me I look like a princess in a dress. I almost think it is a girl thing.
 I am excited. I watched the wedding and I will watch them leave the hospital. And I will stalk their webpage until they release the baby pictures because that is how I roll. Either way- Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the new son.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Orange Rhino Challenge Update


Okay. Do you remember this post? Well life got in the way of actual weekly or normal updates. And since I have not done all that well in the challenge anyway there was nothing to update. So new goal- go at least 24 hours (next week because this is just not a good weekend) without yelling at the boys. I will attempt to let you know how that goes next week. I am not making any promises though. ;)


Bloom Book Club- Bacon Wrapped Dates

One of the best things about Shauna Niequist's "Bread and Wine" is the recipes. I have only tried one so far but I have plans on trying all of them when life calms down just a little bit around here (family visiting, annual back to school party plans, and of course school starting back). I have to say I had my doubts about this recipe. It seemed like such an odd combination. I am SO glad I tried it! It is a new favorite in our house and I think my boys would make a meal on these alone.

 What you need:
Pitted Dates
Goat Cheese
Bacon


What you do:
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
Cut the dates so that they open flat but are still together
Fill the middle with goat cheese and close them up
Cut the bacon slices in half
Wrap each date in half a slice of bacon.
Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven
Bake for 20 mins or until bacon is crispy
Remove from oven and let cool for 5 mins.
Enjoy!

 This picture is just an experiment of my own. I made baked apples earlier in the day and had half an apple left over (I still can't figure out how). So I filled the middle with goat cheese and put some bacon on top and then baked with the dates. It was really good too.
Are you reading the book "Bread and Wine" with us? What recipes have you tried?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Kids These Days

So last school year we homeschooled our older three children (well I did). This year my soon to be 7th grader begged to go back. And this past Tuesday I went and registered him. I had not planned on it until next week but sports' physicals were at 1 PM and the student had to be enrolled to participate. So we quickly got ready and headed up to town. It took over an hour to re-enroll him into the school system he was in since the age of 4 and only out of a year but it is done. A great friend came and picked him up for physicals when enrollment was taking so long. After I got done I headed to the physicals. AND I WAS SHOCKED. These kids! There was PDA, cussing, fighting, and so much more going on in the stands. For kids 5th grade to 12 grade. And there were so few parents. I think I only counted 5. And hundreds of students. And all I can think is that we made such a mistake in sending him back. And my great friend looks at me and knows what I am thinking. Of course she does because she is thinking the same thing but she sees it everyday working at the school. And she gently reminds me that our kids have to learn how to handle all of this. They have to learn how to stand up for their beliefs and what is right. And of course that she will be at the school everyday keeping an eye on him. But my mama heart is not handling that very well. I am scared to let him go. He is protected at home. And maybe that is not a good thing. Because she is right. As a mom though it is my job. So I am preparing myself for horror stories now and to have talks about subjects that I would not have planned. If you can really prepare for that.

How do you handle the middle school "drama" at your house????

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Loss

Yesterday was one year. One year from the time that a great man in our lives passed away. He was not related by blood but he was family. My heart was torn last year when the phone call came that he had been found dead on his farm. The following days are really a blur. I know that it was tough. On his wife, his children, his step-children, and all of the grand children. It doesn't take much for the memories to flood back. And all it takes is a mention of his name some days for the tears to start flowing. At times I feel like I have no right to grieve him the way that I do and I really don't understand why I do. Vacation Bible School was hard this past June because my then 2 year old was excited about "Papa" giving rides again this year. He remembered that at his age. And I know that it will not last. He shared a special bond with my oldest and their are days I catch him in his own memories. We have lossed loved ones since including a grandparent. And yet those losses do not touch like this one. Maybe it is because we knew the others were coming and this was just out of nowhere. Maybe it is just the affect he has had on our lives. But we miss him so much. One day I can only hope to see him again and hear all about the good times he has had in heaven. But until then we miss you Milton!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Behind the Scenes- What a Mom Will Do

crystalstine.me

What is Behind The Scenes? Behind the Scenes is a weekly link up party hosted by Crystal Stine where bloggers pick a photo and share the story behind it. The piles of laundry you don't see or the tantrum that happens right after the picture was snapped. Want to join? Head over to Crystal's blog and grab the button and link up. 


This week I had to use 3 pictures. I couldn't help it. 

On July 4th we had plans to go to the lake for the entire day. But the weather had other ideas. It rained and it rained and it rained. So we abandoned the plans for the lake and decided to go to the Flint Riverquarium in Albany, GA. We go about once a year and we always have fun. This year Miles was finally big enough to go through the observation tunnel and down the slide at the end. The problem was he was not going up it without me. So I went. And I am going to admit that I am too old to be crawling on my knees through a tunnel. It was not easy. But at the top there is a bubble window that goes into the Blue Hole (the display with all our local fish). I did not know this even though we had been coming to the Riverquarium for years. So I stopped and made the boys take pictures (Pacey thinks he is now too old to go into the tunnel). And of course as I was crawling by John was standing at one of the windows telling me to hurry up. (So I took a picture) of him. If it had not been for the rain we would never have visited the Riverquarium that day and I would never have crawled through those tunnels. It was a good day with memories made. I think we had just as much fun there as we would have at the lake for the day and I didn't have to worry about the rain putting a damper on it. BUT I will not be going through that tunnel again. My  knees just aren't made for crawling on the hard floor anymore. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

What's Cooking- Pork Loin in the Crockpot

I love the crock pot don't you. I can put supper in it in the morning and then not worry about it until that evening. And thanks to Pinterest, I have a lot of new ideas. One of them is Honey Apple Pork Loin. We actually had this over the weekend and we really like it. The recipe I use can be found here if you want to check  out the other recipes on this site as well.

What you need:

3-4 Red Delicious Apples

Honey

Pork Loin

Cinnamon

A Crock Pot


What you do:

Cut the apples up into slices. Line the bottom of the crockpot with some of the apple slices. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Cut slits in the pork loin. Drizzle some honey into each slit and then place 1 or 2 apple slices in each slit (depends on the size of your apples and your pork loin). Now place the pork loin into the crockpot. (I found this was easier than trying to put in the apple slices and honey after the loin was in the crockpot).

Drizzle some honey on the top of the pork loin.

Now place the remaining apple slices on top of the pork loin and sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Cook on high for 7 hours.


***I don't use exact measurements on the cinnamon and honey because a lot of it depends on the size of your pork loin.***

What is your favorite way to cook pork loin? 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Finding Bliss- A good beach read!


 

 Looking for a good beach read? Here's one.

Finding Bliss by Dina Silver follows the story of Chloe and Tyler. Chloe works for the Reed's babysitting their younger two children. She has always seen pictures of their oldest child, Tyler, and of course knows of him from school. As the summer progresses so does their relationship. We then follow them through college and on to their happily ever after- or not.

What I liked about the book:
1. Great book for reading by the pool or on the beach.
2. Not too long and you don't get bogged down in "filler" details.
3. You really find yourself rooting for Chloe no matter what.
4. The author has a way with words that makes visualizing the story line perfect.

What I didn't like about the book:
1. Predictable. You knew where the book was going half way through.
2. The end leaves you hanging (and hoping there will be another book about the characters).


I definitely recommend this one for the beach (or pool or lake) and of course now also have it on my Nook.

***I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for my unbiased review.***
****Affiliated links used.****

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Entertaining and the Unexpected

On July 2 at 7 in the evening, I decided that we were going to have a family dinner at my house for Miles' 3rd birthday. I called everyone and quickly planned a menu. I washed all our dishes and cooked and cleaned the entire house. I was ready- or so I thought. We have 10 dinner plates, 6 salad plates, and 16 bowls. All of this is from dishes being dropped and broken, etc. I never even thought about getting John to pick up paper plates. When did I think of it? Um when I barely had enough plates for everyone and when it came time for cake we had to break out the bowls. Epic fail on my part. Overall though the party was great. And the new kitchen is great for setting up a buffet. I knew that we were going to run out of seating because I still haven't bought stools for the bar or the island. But hey, kids can sit on the floor no problem. Always expect the unexpected and if you decide the night before to have 16 people come to your house for dinner- send someone after paper plates.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Potty Training Fun

So I told Miles the night before his birthday that once he turned 3 he could only wear pull ups at night. This is after months of trying to potty train this kid who just didn't care (unless it was poop- poop had to go in a toilet NOT his diaper/ pull-up). Well he has been 3 exactly one week- # of accidents =2 and I am pretty sure that I can't blame him because he had someone trying to help him in the bathroom (my 2 year old niece) and he didn't get out of his underwear in time. I have by no means stayed home this whole time. As a matter of fact, the day after his birthday we went to Albany, GA (an hour away) to visit the Flint Riverquarium and the local Planetarium with the kids. We were there most of the day and he had 0 accidents. In fact his first accident was this past Monday when we went to my in-laws to swim for the afternoon. He is doing great (as I am probably jinxing myself writing this). He loves his underwear and  begs me at night to not put him in a pull up (but that is not happening quite yet). As I knock on wood- this was almost too easy. But I also know that we waited longer to really push the potty training with him versus the rest of them being 2 when we really pushed it. Age really makes a difference?

Any tricks to this whole night training thing????

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Home Projects- My kitchen

Well I am almost done with my kitchen. But I am really not happy with the organization that is there so I am welcome to advice. I still have some decorating to do but here is my new kitchen!




Most of my pictures were photobombed by Miles and his birthday cake is sitting in the middle of the island. Wall color in the kitchen is Valspar's Clivdean Leather. I did not use a primer in here but did use paint and primer in one. The difference between this room and the kitchen is that the walls were lime green in the kitchen versus red in the dining room so a primer was not needed. I have pictures everywhere in our house. They are in every room. And my children don't necessarily like that but I do. I think pictures prove someone lives in a house.
DO you have pictures in your kitchen?

Friday, July 5, 2013

A Parent's Playbook for Learning- A Review



EVERY SINGLE PARENT NEEDS THIS BOOK,Parent's Playbook for Learning  BEFORE THEIR CHILD STARTS SCHOOL. I think that pediatricians need to hand it out at a child's 3 year appointment. This book explained so much. I homeschool my children and have never even considered that they may need their spaces organized differently or their schedules set up differently. I am going to be trying everything I learned in this book to see how much of a difference it will make for us this next year. Granted 4 different spaces is going to be interesting but I will do whatever it takes to make it the best experience for my children.
Do you know your child's personality type? Do you know their learning type? Don't you think that school, homework, and learning in general would be easier if you did. Then you need to buy this book. And read it- don't just buy it and put it on a shelf. Setting up a “study” area that fits your child's needs from day 1 can make all the difference in the world. Being able to talk to your child's teacher and know how to approach your child's learning style with her can make the school experience so much better. It can make all the difference in the world.


So go buy this book BEFORE your child starts school. And if you are like me and have children already in school, read this book and make the changes and see what differences it makes.

***I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for my unbiased opinion. ***

What's Cooking? Taco Pie

This is a family favorite around here. So much so that I made it for Miles' birthday supper on July 3rd. It was our first "big" family supper at our house with both sets of grandparents, aunts and uncle, and cousins. Plus the two little boys that my mom keeps. We had a lot of fun doing it and Taco Pie was a hit with all. The best part it is SO simple!

What you need:
1-2 pounds of ground beef (I use 2 because I feed 6 people)
2 cans of pillsbury crescent rolls
1- 8oz container of sour cream
1 package of taco seasoning
1 cup of cheese

What you do:

Brown your ground beef and then drain it. Add the taco seasoning according to the package instructions. While the meat is simmering, spray a 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray, then line it with the crescent rolls. Make sure you cover the bottom and press together the seams. Place the dish in an oven set at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. (I didn't use to do this but the bottom middle of my "crust" was never done so I started and it works out great). Take the "crust" out of the oven and sit to the side while you still the sour cream into the ground beef. Now pour the ground beef onto the crust and spread it out evenly. Cover the top generously with cheese and place back in the oven for 20 mins. Take it out, let it cool for about 10 mins, and serve it to your family.

I originally modified this dish from a recipe that my mother-in-law made. Her recipe called for a half a bag of doritos to be smashed and mixed in with the meat and no sour cream but we really didn't like hers so I played around until I ended up with this. You can add tomatoes, salsa, corn, onions, or peppers if you like. It is really versatile and you can make it for pot lucks easily.

What is your favorite casserole to make?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fourth of July Plans Anyone?

The 4th of July used to be spent going to the local fireworks and cooking out with the family. That is until 2010. That's the year I decided to go into labor on July 2nd (and went to see Eclipse at the theater anyway) and have a baby on July 3rd (even though I wasn't due until the end of the month).  That year my mom took the older 3 to the fireworks without me and it seems to have just continued. That is until this year. This year we have already been to one fireworks display in the town we live in. Quite by accident actually. We only had our younger 2 at home and decided to run through McDonalds at 830 at night. While we were there we found out that the fireworks were that night so we parked across the street from the high school and Miles saw his first fireworks. He thought they were "awesome" and kept asking how his Daddy had done it.
So now the plan is to go to the park in the next town over tonight and have Miles' birthday dinner there so that we can watch those fireworks and on the 4th we have been invited to the lake with some friends and we will watch the fireworks from their houseboat. I think this year our children will be fireworked out.
Do you and your family have any plans for the 4th of July?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Home Projects- The Dining Room

I actually just finished this room this morning! I am so happy with the end result. I may add one more thing to the walls besides curtains (I just can't find any I really, really like) but otherwise it is done.
I still need to do the switch and outlet covers as well but I forgot to pick them up the other day so I have to go get them. 

These walls are painted Cool Sky by Behr. 

This wall is painted primer gray. We really liked it when we got it on the wall so we left it. 

This plate rack is from Southern Living at Home circa 2006ish. The pictures were actually in a frame from Target but the frame broke and I still liked the pictures so I kept them. 

Shelf from Southern Living at Home circa 2006 ish. Lantern from Celebrating Home, Vase from Dayspring.com, and of course a Willowtree figuring from my collection. 

Picture from Celebrating Home circa 2009

Tree from Celebrating Home

Mirror from Celebrating Home circa 2009
The walls in this room were originally red. So we used Killz gray primer and then Behr Cool Sky paint and primer in one. Since we went with such a light color over the red we had to use a primer as well. I have used just the paint and primer in one on lighter colored walls with no problem however. Just remember that you don't want the original color bleeding through. Always ask the paint department people if you have any doubts. They can plug things into a computer and give you the right answers.