My New Year’s Goal

Here it is, just a few days into 2016. 

And here are my New Year’s Goals. 

Goals for this year:

Live joyfully and not in survival mode. 

Purge and simplify 

Focus on the areas of life that excite me and back away from the areas that stress me

Be more present and aware

Enjoy the sunshine more

Write and read often

Find God’s grace in every moment 

Then share that grace in any way possible

Every aspect of life I plan to focus on these goals.  I think from that much more will come!! 
Happy New Year!! 

  


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Where Am I Hiding?

Most days, when I finally see that glimmer of hope, I slowly quickly make my way to my bathroom.  That is my hiding spot in my house.   That is where no one expect for toddling babies may enter.  That is my zone.  A place where I can regain a moment of getting me back and enter back into the trenches of being a mom.  Some days it is easy and other days it is down right hard.

Where else can you find me these days?  You can find me at our church, Ascension Lutheran church.  I am a DCE by degree (Director of Christian Education) and ministry flows through my blood as much as being a mom does.  You can also find me at the DHR building with various appointments and meetings. And soon I will be teaching my second round of GPS classes for prospective adoptive and foster parents.  You can also find me at various other places with 6 kids in tow.  6 kids.  And every now and then you will find me in Target with those six kids.  Most of the time you will find me alone.

But lets face it, with 6 kids, most of the time I am at home, teaching, cooking, cleaning, and keeping our lives organized.  In trying to keep our lives organized, in keeping my life organized I am using Passion Planner this year. I just got mine a week and a half ago and love it!  I still keep our iCalendar up to date, but Passion Planner is more.  I am still working on how to tweak it just for me and my needs…I still have a few more ideas.

Where else am I hiding? I am online quite a bit.  You can find me on Facebook or Twitter .  I have a small addiction to Pinterest. I love my Instagram account.   I tried Snapchat-yeah no.  I also wander over to Google+ also-still learning about the great hangout features!

But the place I am hiding the most, is in the presence of God. In Him I can just be.


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Giving God the Glory Glory

I have been up since about 3ish.  Wasn’t because of the baby.  Although the baby did wake up.  The reason is really not all that important to blog about.  But I was unable to go back to sleep.

So I wandered out to the kitchen.  Made myself a cup of coffee and enjoyed the stillness of the morning quietness till I started hearing whispers from the bedrooms.

I have been reading.  A little bit of this.  A little bit of that.  I have been reading a lot lately.  Tucked into the spare time I have between balancing my kids, their schooling and my other commitments.  I have given up playing my iPhone games to read extra.  I can get lost in my readings.  Some stories, some learning books, some life lessons.

My favorite to read though are scripture verses.  I have a new habit of just randomly picking someplace of my bible app and reading from there.  I discover so much from the bible that way that I had never seen before.  It is kinda of fun and addicting.  I been pondering writing a devotional series titled: Random lessons and stories from the Bible. Ha like that one I am sure has been done before.

I have been all about reading.  Not much about writing.  My words have failed to find me lately.  Maybe I have not been listening to them.  Maybe when I put words down on paper, they become to real, to raw and I don’t want to deal with them.  Words are powerful and many read them.  Words written can make life seem perfect, and I am far from perfect.  A sinner more like it.

But every morning I try to give God the Glory Glory.  That is my goal.  My focus.  Even if only for a few minutes.

I have started new Accountability Binders and Chore list with my kids. I got the idea from over at thirty handmade days. And I got my chore list idea from my friend.  We have always had morning and evening routines.  The first thing on their morning routine is give God the Glory Glory.  I want them to learn how to start their day out focused on God.  Because some mornings are not so Glory Glory.  And we have to work through them.

So have you given God the Glory Glory this morning?


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Getting Ready for Advent: Truth in the Tinsel

With everything that has gone on-I am ready for Christmas this year.  More so Advent.  Now that I have three little ones (two 7 year olds and an 8 year old) plus a 13 year old, I knew I wanted something special and meaningful.  I had looked at the Truth in the Tinsel a year ago or so. After thinking about writing something myself, I was brought back to Truth in the Tinsel!  This year I just purchased it and I am excited!  I love the little clues for morning time- that way my kids can think about it all day long!  And I am thinking about putting a special tree up in the Sun room for these ornaments!  (4×25 will be a lot!!)  So it will perfect!  I also bought the printable ornaments to have for on the go.    Click here to visit ohAmanda.com to see all about the Truth in the Tinsel Advent Devotional!

What are you doing for Advent this year?  If you need more ideas goto my Pinterest page for lots of great ideas!

 


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When Notice Comes Due: Grief and Loss with Foster Care

baby_FotorOctober 1st of last year, we took in a 4lb 2oz foster baby girl. She was the tiniest little thing. She was a preemie -about 6 weeks early. She grabbed our hearts and off we went to be her foster parents. Length of time unknown. Or as my daughter would say: till further notice.

For months we grew this baby girl. Night time we got up and feed her every 2 hours-then 3. Slowly she grew. Her plan for her future went in many different ways. That’s her story. But if nothing worked out in the end: we were prepared to adopted her-giving her the continued stability she already had with us. This sat in the back of our minds as everyone fell more in love with her.

Foster to adopt. The children we foster-if they come up for adoption we have the first choice of adopting if we we feel this is what is best for all in our family. This concept helps keep children in stable loving homes longer if possible. We have our three beautiful children through this way. While we don’t set out looking to adopt-God places them in our lives.

We have had foster children come into our home that didn’t stay. We have said goodbye to many. It doesn’t get easier.

This one was the hardest goodbye. The abruptness of it threw us. Yet we know in foster care, children can be moved just like that. We had little time to prepare ourselves. We found out at 2pm in court that the next morning our sweet foster baby was moving home, just about a year after moving in with us.

And just like that our family was broken. The kids cried. We cried. We held her, loved her, spoiled her, kissed her. We treasured every moment with her.

‘Till she was no longer ours.

My heart ached.

I was just sad.

I became numb.

It was like our world stopped.

Then I saw the words “God is Good all the time” and thought -yes. He is. Even in my sorrow I have to find goodness. I have to my strength in Him.

So we stayed busy. I read scripture and sang. I prayed-even when I had no words. God has a plan- I just have to wait and see. I called on trusted friends to help in my sadness.

Soon there was laughter. My kids were looking at pictures -smiling. We found that we had to trust that God was looking out for our sweet Squeakers, and that there were other children who needed us to help them along their way.

Foster Care comes with sorrow not only for the foster children, but for the foster families also.  When I teach perspective families, we teach them to treat the foster child like their own.  So many of us do.  And when they leave it is almost like a death.  We grieve.  Yet knowing these children are still out there.  Sometimes some foster families have the benefit to build relationship with the birth families-we did not have that benefit in terms of reunification. Grief and loss with foster care comes in many different forms and knowing that they are there will help foster families understand what it going on after the loss of a foster child.

God is Good all the time.  Two weeks later we had a vacation planned.   A Disney Cruise.  We as a family needed that time to be away to heal, to relax, to unwind.  It was just the timing.  And as a family we would every now and then bring up our Squeakers, and a tear would flow.  It is part of the healing process.

Do I wish she would just come back.  Of course.  Do I pray that her family situation will be stable and healthy for her.  Yes.  Do we continue on the road with foster care? Absolutely.  Our journey is already continuing.


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10 Things We Learned The First Week of Whole30

Whole30week1 for a family of 5

I had read about Whole30 a while ago from Once a Month Cooking.  Last month I stumbled upon on it again, did some research on it and sorta told my husband about it, and then announced at dinner we as a family were going to do Whole30 for 30 days starting August 2.  (August 1st was my birthday.) We as a family had one week to get ready . So here are 10 things we have learned about our family just the first week of Whole30.

1.  I had to cooked 3 meals a day for 7 days.  The kids LOVE this.  Most days breakfast was just cereal or Nutella on toast.  And lunch was a frozen meal or a can meal.  Yes I went all out.  But on Whole30, I have to actually cook.  And plan, which worked mostly ok.

2. With all that cooking came a LOAD of dirty dishes!  I felt overwhelmed with the dishes this week.  Just when I think we are finally getting caught up -I cook again!!

3.  We got new white dishes.  I bought white square dishes at Target.  Mainly cause they were a little bit deeper,and held salads well.  But we soon realized our food looks great on white!

4. We have shopped ALOT this week!  We needed to get our meat.  We did that mostly at Costco.  We are not a 100% organic or grass feed-but close enough.  This is a huge transition and it is not easy.  I have been to the store 4 other times for other items-mostly veggies and fruits.

5. Our kids are on board for the most part. The biggest thing for them at first was no sugar and wheat.  The second day there was cake at church and   two of my three kids did well with no cake.  Isaiah was sad and mad he could not have no cake.  But he didn’t eat one.  They drink water and eat what we give them.  Isaiah has cheated….but we kinda expected that!

6.  Eggs are our friend! You eat a lot of eggs.  Good thing my kids LOVED eggs already!  Boiled eggs are a great on the go food.  It seems we have been through 9 dozen eggs the first week!!!

7. Fruit Salad-Yummy Yummy! Robby grew up with the Wiggles and we have been eating a LOT of fruit!  Well not too much-but more than normal and I bought a far share of fruit.  But now the kids like to make fruit salad-cause they like being involved in the cooking process!  Which is a little hard for me cause I like to sometimes be alone in the kitchen.

8.  We are eating at the dinning room table! – For a long time we ate at the kitchen table. Then only kids and the adults in the living room.  Then I don’t know what happened when Whole30 started.   We starting this week eating at the dinning room table.  And the one day we were not, the kids were disappointed-so we did.

9.  We are not eating out and no Starbucks! This is big for our family.  Cause remember #1, one of the reasons why I didn’t cook all the time was cause we also ate out a lot!  And I drank Starbucks a LOT.  I am good with coffee black!

10.  I am feeling better. First week was a rocky road.  It was hard.  Some days I felt like crap.  I felt much better by day 7. I am seeing a difference in the kids and my husband! So we will pushed through the next three weeks and decided where we are going from there!

We can do this!!

Here are some of the dishes I cooked for my family!

Whole30 for family of 5

First Shopping Trip of Many for Whole30

whole30 for family of 5

Roasted sweet potato, bacon, sweet onion and spinach -For breakfast

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Simple Breakfast

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Kid’s Favorite Lunch-Taco Salad

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Our Anniversary Dinner -Coconut crusted fish, mango and pineapple and grilled squash

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Cherry’s while they were on sale!!!

 

 

 

 


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100 Things to do This Summer: 2014

For the past few years, my kids now look forward to our 100 Things to do This Summer!  This year I worked to put a few new things in that I knew everyone would love! Hope you love our new list! I made the one I am sharing with you a bit more generic.  We plan to visit the Space and Rocket center and SciQuest.  I just put in those spots visit a museum of some kind!  See what is around your area!  We have membership to many of the area attractions so we can go often.  Also I made sure that some of the things on our list could “just be done.”  Like #70-blowing bubbles.  (make sure you keep bubbles on hand!)  Tomorrow I am going to post my 25 Things Mom need to do this Summer!

  1. Visit a children’s  museum
  2. Go swimming
  3. Explore a National Park
  4. Explore a cave
  5. Go fishing
  6. Go camping
  7. Make Rainbow Bubble Snakes
  8. Volunteer
  9. Play and learn at science museum
  10. Visit the Amish
  11. Explore something old
  12. Sing and dance
  13. Go canoeing
  14. Do nothing
  15. Make a kite
  16. Run through the sprinklers
  17. Catch lighting bugs
  18. Grow a salsa garden
  19. Grow flowers
  20. Goto the movies
  21. Read a lot
  22. Play catch
  23. Kick a soccer ball
  24. Go for evening walks
  25. Have a game night with friends
  26. Play video games
  27. Go visit a Botanical Gardens
  28. Water Paint
  29. Play miniature golf
  30. Create Lip Gloss
  31. See a water fall
  32. Have a tea party
  33. Swing High
  34. Look at the clouds
  35. Go on a picnic with friends
  36. Make a sand castle
  37. Go for ice cream in PJ’s
  38. Make magic Mud
  39. Make a Summer bag
  40. Start a summer  journal
  41. Skip count
  42. Go hiking
  43. Feed the birds
  44. Sing a song in church
  45. Go visit an Aquarium
  46. Learn to juggle
  47. Go to a farmers market
  48. Go on bike rides
  49. Play Go Fish
  50. Explode a 2 liter of coke with Mento’s
  51. Play hopscotch
  52. Build a house of cards
  53. Write a song
  54. Send Post Cards
  55. Cook dinner
  56. Tie die shirts
  57. Draw
  58. Goto the zoo
  59. Wonder about stuff
  60. Plan a BBQ picnic
  61. Make banana splits
  62. Sew
  63. Make popsicles
  64. Draw with sidewalk chalk
  65. Put together a puzzle
  66. Make play dough
  67. Each kid cooks dinner
  68. Make a self portrait
  69. Go Bowling
  70. Blow bubbles
  71. Have a water balloon fight
  72. Wash the car
  73. Set off fireworks
  74. Paint a rock
  75. Huge Slip n’ Slide
  76. Goto a county fair
  77. Attend a concert outside
  78. Make fresh OJ
  79. Find a fossil
  80. Send a care package
  81. Create a bird journal
  82. Make Jello Silly Putty
  83. Try something new
  84. Make a large checker board
  85. Jump on a trampoline
  86. Make something new
  87. Goto a water park
  88. Go out with daddy and mommy
  89. Build a fort
  90. Goto a VBS
  91. Make jewelry
  92. Have a marshmallow war
  93. Plan a party
  94. Write a book
  95. Call Grandparent
  96. Walk in grass barefoot
  97. Play on a playground
  98. Make homemade ice cream
  99. Take Sunday Drives
  100. Sleep in

Summer14-100

Click here to print out a list!  100 Things to do This Summer 2014 


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Family and Emergency First Aid Kits

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As we are approaching the 3rd anniversary of the 2011 Tornado outbreak we all went through, being prepared is on my mind.  In fact after the tornado’s hit-being prepared was being pushed every where.  Sorta like after any natural disaster.  After ours, I bought a Red Cross first aid kit-special from Target- along with a natural disaster kit .  IMG_6696 IMG_6697 IMG_6698

The blue first aid kit on the table was one I bought at Costco for our camper RV about 8 years ago.  I found it in our garage while cleaning.  I was going to throw it away cause it look old and yucky.  But I am glad I didn’t, cause much I was able to save!  I had to get rid of all the medicine and creams.  Then I put all the stuff I pulled, into baggies.

From all of that I created an “on the go first aid kit.”  I also add items like hydrogen peroxide, insect bit cream, sunscreen and aloe, hand wipes, baby and kid pain meds,  and a few other items.

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The red first aid kit in the Target Red Cross kit, is ready to go!  I did have to throw away some medicine that was out of date.  Keeping our medicine cabinet organized is important. This is a great time to go through your medicine and discard any old prescriptions or medicine.   That way we can really grab what we need if we really had to evaluate fast.  Also I kept an on the go bag for the car and activities on the run.  That tote needs to be redone for this summer.

You can put together your own first aid kit, or buy one.  Add to your emergency first aid kit slowly if money is an issue.  Watch for great sales.  I got a lot of Band Aids this week at Target on Sale.  Wholesale ware houses are a great place.   Check out my Pinterest board for awesome ideas for first aid kits!


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Family Fire Safety

My 6-year-old son, walked into my bedroom while I was resting with a baby.  “Mommy, there is a fire in the back yard” he said so calmly.  NOW…..once before when he was three he told us “I saw fire.”  We didn’t believe him.  We should have.  So when Isaiah said “mommy, there is a fire in the backyard” I jumped with some concern.

And concern was due.  Seemed Isaiah, found the matches that were hidden, went into the back little area of trees behind our house and was playing with them.  He started a small fire.  So I jumped into action, getting the hose, calling 911, and then dealing with the aftermath of processing this with the kids- I knew we were kinda prepared.  (Although I learned that talking to 911-I can not determine math related questions-such as how far is the house from the fire-my answer-a back yard distance! ) But I did know calling from a cell phone to give your address right away.  I was calm, till they started asking math relate questions and then I got frustrated.

We had many talks with Isaiah.  Just a few weeks before during a thunderstorm, lightening had hit a house and in the middle of the night, from the front of  our house we could see the flames.  So we first drew pictures or wrote about what happened.  Then we drove by the site of the burned house again.  We talked about fire safety till he finally put his hand up and said “no more I get it.”  We wanted to make sure that he was not going to do this again and that we were prepared!20140423-213820.jpg

Being Prepared!

Fire escape plan : Having a plan, and letting everyone know this, can save lives.  We review with our kids what to do if they hear the smoke detectors go off, if they smell smoke while in their rooms at night, or see fire.  As a foster family, we are to have a fire plan so foster kids know what to do.  It is good for any over night visitors to know what to do-just in case.  Here is a simple resource for you and your family to make an escape plan for your family. Review with them how to get out, how to open the windows and push out the screen.

Fire Extinguisher: Every house needs one, if not two or three.  We have three.   As a foster home we must have a 5 lb  Fire Extinguisher .  We have two smaller ones too.  All are in different areas of our home.

Smoke Detectors: We have three in our house.  Two over by the kids bedrooms, by each of the room doors and one in ours.  Two are connected, so if one on the other side of the house goes off, ours will go off too.  Our third one is hooked to our alarms system.  We also have a carbon monoxide detector too.

Stop Drop Roll: Reviewing with kids often what to do if you ever catch on fire.  We practice this just to see how it would work.

Crawl Low Under Smoke: If there is smoke, start crawling out.

Meeting place and DO NOT GO BACK IN: Make sure your family knows where the meeting place is.   And please make sure they understand to NOT got back into a burning house!  I had to re-emphasize this with my kids.

Hide, hide, hide the lighters and matches: So we have our lighter and matches hidden.  So we thought, but my husband while grilling, put them up high, but in sight and a curious little 6 years old started a fire.  And we learned a lesson.  Don’t think not my kids.  If you smoke, keep your lighters up.  Because  you just never know.

Resources to help your family prepare for family safety:

Sparky the Fire Dog

Keeping Kids Safe– great resources

Fire Facts

Check out my Pinterest Emergency readiness board where I am adding new ideas all the time.

I am blogging about Family Emergency Readiness.  Please share with me any other ideas! Make sure you check out what to do when the power goes out and about unexpected family storms.10179047_10201590939751558_1096325659_o


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When the Power Goes Out

I first want to say, that I am no expert on any of this readiness stuff.  Just like you may be-I am just an everyday wife and mom who knows I need to have some better things in place.  When the tornadoes came through three years ago we lived without power for almost a week.  I remember the first night as the darkness over came our house and town.  Not only was it dark-it was quiet.  A kind of quiet I had never heard.  Soon over the next few days that quiet was filled with the hum of generators and chain saws.10179047_10201590939751558_1096325659_o

We struggled to find batteries.  We had no communication to the outside world.  Our phones had no service.  We were in a crisis state.  We knew what ever happened was bad.  I had heard the F5 tornado not far from our house.  I had heard it roar as it tore the world as we knew it up side down.  We knew a smaller one hit by our house because of the damage.  Either way,  we made it through that week.  Finally got batteries by driving 20-30 minutes to get gas and buy batteries (no power meant no power for pumps for gas).  We listened to the radio every night.  We were blessed with hot water because we had a gas hot water heater.  We were playing “Little House on the Prairie” we told the kids some days.

Lessons I learned from that week:

  • Have flashlights ready with batteries that work.
  • Have a battery power radio with batteries.
  • Have a battery power weather radio. (We realized on the TV and internet for the weather all day, it was evening when the power went out.  We were helpless in knowing what the next storm was doing, cause I didn’t know were our weather radio had been placed.)
  • Learn to grill a lot of food fast!
  • You get a clean fridge and freezer after a week
  • We charged our phone in our cars
  • We got all our text ready-when we got signal, we quickly hit the send button.
  • The little battery power tea lights are great for the kids to take to bed with them.

Things we said we would do differently:

  • We didn’t rush out and get a generator.  We had our RV-hybrid pop out, that we did use it for little things. Only if we fill our freezer with a cow will we get a small generator.
  • We needed a box of all our power outage stuff together.  Instead of rushing around looking for stuff.
  • We would have like to have more solar items to charge things.
  • Walkie Talkies would have been nice to have.  Or known where they were.
  • Make sure we had enough flash lights for all kids.
  • Make sure we had lanterns to use for family time.
  • Get more of the battery candles
  • Use the solar outside lights inside-like in the bathroom
  • Get glow sticks

We have created a Power out box.  It will keep extra flashlights, radio, batteries, candles, matches,  battery candles,  and instructions on what to do.  While I hope to never be in a Katrina situation or Sandy- a week without power is enough.  But long term power outage- would be like living off the grid.  And a kind of living we only think about once in a blue moon.  But basic power outages is what we are prepared for.  From storms or natural disasters.  Something bigger-we would need bigger planning.

Web pages and ideas good for getting prepared and surviving a power outage.

      • Red Cross is always FULL of great information.
      • Here is a great site on survival about food safety.  I think I needs some thermometers for our fridges and freezer!
      • Check out all the Flashlights!
      • Having a portable Generators is always handy.  If you want a big time one, check out your local hardware stores for suggestions.
      • Solar Panels would be handy to have.
      • Maybe a hand crank weather radio would be handy?
      • Check out gdonna’s idea for a battery power fan!  Now that is handy living in the south!!
      • Sometimes the power goes out when it is cold.  Direct Energy gives some tips to survive that time.
      • If you know a storm is coming, like a hurricane or bad thunderstorm, charge all phones, iPads and other electronics.

What is in our Power Out Box

  • Big flash ($5)
  • Little flash lights ($1 each)
  • Battery power Tea Lights  ($10 for 24)
  • Other flash lights (I buy the cheap ones with batteries-cause if we use them-they will disappear) ($8)
  • Radio (note-leave batteries out) (Had in the house along with the batteries ($9)
  • Mason jars with tea lights and matches (these may hide somewhere else-more tomorrow. (had candles, jar, waterproof matches ($2.5)
  • So you can see I didn’t spend that much

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Things we still want to put in there:  Bigger Power candles (will wait for a good sale:)), glow sticks (those should be in the dollar section of Target soon), and some lanterns.

We do have two good flashlights by our bed, so if we need them at night time, we have them.

Also our check list-to remind us of things to do during a power outage.

What to do when the power goes out

  •   Stay Calm
  •   If it is storming, make sure you are listening to the weather radio. Be Safe.
  •   Get the flash light
  •   Get Power out box

Power Out Box

  •   Hand out flash lights
  •   Have everyone turn off lights and radios
  •   Keep Living Room light on so we know when power comes back on.
  •   Mom or Dad can check on reason for outage.
  •   If it looks like it is going to be a while- unplug small appliances.
  •   Put out battery candles and other lights
  •   No Candles inside-unless mommy and daddy light them
  •   Remember no flashing light in others eyes
  •   DO not open fridge
  •   The weather outside will determine how we handle keeping warm or keeping cool.

In the next coming weeks I am going to be looking at different ways to be prepared in an emergency.  I would love for you to share with me how your family is prepared in these different areas.

 


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