Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A nice day at the farm

Our homeschool group planned a field trip to Smith Farm in Cadwell, GA today. I am so glad that we were able to go. For only $5, the kids got to go on a hayride, pet and learn about some animals, play on the playground, play with some water, learn about strawberries, pick a small container full, and get a strawberry ice cream!

We started with a hayride. It was fun to ride around and see the whole farm.

After the hayride, we got to learn about several different animals, many of them babies. Some of the cutest were this baby Hebron donkey that was only about three weeks old, and some baby goats. Sophie couldn't get enough of the donkey. When they brought him out to feed him a bottle, she just hugged him and stroked his little head. It was so cute!

This was really cool. The man working there showed us the donkey's back. He told us that this was the same kind of donkey that Mary rode to Bethlehem and Jesus rode to Jerusalem. He has a marking in the shape of the cross.

Here's one of Isaac and our friend, Bethany. So sweet! Bethany's parents adopted her from China several years ago and now they are waiting to pick up her new sister. She's just one of several children in our church that have been adopted.

After the animals, we went over to this neat water pump thing. The kids could work the old fashioned pumps and have rubber duck races. My kids just liked playing in the water.

Especially my little guy!

Before we went out into the field, we were taught about strawberries and how to pick them properly. She warned us not to pull hard on the strawberry stems because it could pull the plant from the ground and kill it. Ok, so I'm immediately thinking about my son. I know that he will not hesitate to pull on the strawberries as hard as he can. We were also told to only pick the ones that were completely red. Umm...ok. I know that will be a challenge with little man. So I knew I would have to really focus on him. Thankfully my friend, Paige, had agreed to come with us and she helped Sophie. Time to start picking!
At first I was right on top of Isaac, telling him no, trying to hold his hand and pick strawberries at the same time=not easy! I started showing him the right ones to pick. Then, before I knew it, he grabbed one! I thought...oh, no, there goes a strawberry plant! Thankfully the plant stayed intact and I was pleased to see that he picked a solid red one! Yay! So we worked together and filled the rest of our container. He did a good job!

Sophie did a good job, too!

What a fun day! I hope we get to do this many more times in the future!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter fun with family and friends

Friday afternoon we went to a friend's house and had an Easter egg hunt. It was a lot of fun! But, as you can see, both of my children would rather do other things than hunt eggs. Isaac was more interested in going down the slide.
And Sophie was more interested in blowing dandelions and "making a wish". I had to help her find some eggs and one of her friends shared a few eggs with her. I'm so thankful for our friends!

This picture was taken on Easter Sunday at my parent's house. She was a little more into the egg hunt that day!

Little man just wanted to run and play.

Sophie had a sweet reunion with her cousin, Layla, on Sunday. Layla has lived in Colorado for the past year and just moved back to Georgia last week. When they saw each other they hugged and spent the rest of the day hanging out together.

Our family picture. It really captures who we are. Loving, affectionate, and a little energetic! Especially our little guy.

It was a great Easter.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Unto the Lamb

This morning we played this song (orchestra) and the choir sang. Wow. Every time we rehearsed it I felt chills. This is an amazing song.

All praise unto the Lamb, who sits on the throne, honor and power, dominion and praise!

The stone was not removed so that Jesus could come out of the tomb, but so we could see that it was empty!

He is ALIVE!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Another Secret Church experience

Last night my husband and I, along with 50,000 others around the world, participated in a gathering called "Secret Church". For those of you who are unfamiliar with Secret Church, it's a time of in-depth study of God's Word, led by Dr. David Platt, a pastor at The Church at BrookHills in Birmingham, AL. This is the first time they've been able to stream/simulcast, so we were actually able to be a part of the night right here in Eastman.

Dr. Platt started Secret Church to represent what it was like for our persecuted brothers and sisters who may only have one day or night to meet to study God's Word. Dr. Platt has actually been in those places, and he dives into the Word and keeps going, in our case, for 6 hours. The first time Joe and I went to Secret Church in Birmingham I kept thinking...6 hours, how am I going to make it? Sometimes I struggle to sit through a 30 minute sermon on Sunday mornings! It's convicting to admit that. There are so many people who would love to have the opportunity to study and hear God's Word as freely as we do. But when we were there, I wasn't thinking about the time. I was absorbed in the truth that was being taught. At each Secret Church, you're given a study guide, filled with scripture references, quotes, and blanks to fill in. Your mind (and pen) are fully engaged throughout the 6 hours. We also worshipped together, learned about a specific country that is under persecution, had a few breaks, and prayed together. Each Secret Church meeting has a different topic that is the focus of the night. Last night it was "Crucifixion, Salvation, and the Glory of God". Wow, folks. I learned so much last night. One thing I love about David Platt's teaching is that he doesn't make any point without supporting it with one or multiple references in scripture. God was at work last night, and I look forward to going back and looking through my study guide. I wish I could leave you with more about what we learned, but I'm still digesting a lot of it myself. I will leave you with two quotes that I liked that were in our study guide. May God bless you this Easter. We had a really Good Friday.

"Our external delights, our earthly pleasures, our ambition, our reputation, and our human relationships, for all these things, our desires are eager, our appetites strong, our love warm and affectionate. When it comes to these things, our hearts are tender and senstive, deeply impressed, easily moved, much concerned and greatly engaged. We are depressed at our losses and we are excited and joyful about any worldly success or prosperity. But when it comes to spiritual matters, how dull we feel. How heavy and hard our hearts; we can sit and hear of the infinite height and length and breadth and love of God in Christ Jesus, of his giving his infinitely dear Son, and yet sit there, cold and unmoved. If we are going to be excited about anything, shouldn't it be our spiritual lives? Is there anything more inspiring, more exciting, more loveable and desireable in Heaven or on Earth than the Gospel of Jesus Christ? We should be utterly humbled that we are not more emotionally affected than we are."

~Jonathan Edwards~

"If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum becuase he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."

~C.S. Lewis~

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bethany House book reviews

Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate

I received this book to review for free from Bethany House. When I read the synopsis of this book I wasn't so sure how good it would be. I was pleasantly surprised! Larkspur Cove is the story of Andrea, starting a new life with her son in the place she grew up. She's struggling with her new role as a single mother after being betrayed by her husband of several years. She wants to prove she can handle it all, even a new job as a social worker/counselor and a son who shows her more attitude than affection. The other half of the story is about Mart. He's dealing with loss himself, but works hard as a wildlife ranger in Larkspur Cove. He values honor and respect. He and Andrea's son have a run-in at the beginning of the story, and the two adults continue to connect as they are both trying to figure out how a mentally challenged outsider in town has become the guardian of a little girl. The story has just the right amount of depth, romance, and suspence.

One thing I have come to appreciate about contempory Christian fiction is the way that the authors use point of view. The contemporary novels I've read lately use a lot of first person, which I like. You really get an insight on what the character(s)are thinking. This book is no exception. In this book, however, we got the perspective of two characters. The chapters take turns telling the story from Andrea and Mart's first person point of views. I loved that. There were also little quotes at the beginning of each chapter that I thought were fun and fit well into the story. I also like when I feel a sense of completion when I finish a story. All of the issues aren't resolved, but your left with the feeling that they will be. That's how I felt at the end of this story. The only thing I felt was lacking was a more in-depth physical description of the main characters. There was some description, but I was left wishing for more. Overall, I would say this book was a good read and would recommend it!

Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer
I received this book for free to review from Bethany House.
This book is the story of a group of Amish families, in particular the Bender family, and how they move to Mexico to escape the persecution of white "Englishers". The English in their town are forcing them to send their children to a consolidated school, or face jail and their underage children sent to a children's home. Caleb Bender decides to uproot his family and move to a land that is fertile and will provide them with the freedoms they desire. Along the way we learn about the Amish way of life, the struggles they face as they travel and live in an unfamiliar land, and the love they have for each other.

The beginning of this story moved a little slow for me. My initial impression was this was going to be a somewhat depressing book about all the ways that the Amish were misunderstood and persecuted. I had no idea where the move to Mexico was going to take the story. I was bracing myself for tragedy. Thankfully, I was wrong. There were happy times and victories that the Bender family experienced. I hate to say it, but there was even a little scandal. It helped the pace pick up a little, but then it just kind of dissolved, leaving me a little disappointed. I wanted to see a little more resolution. I liked the Amish values, their hard work and willingness to embrace those from different walks of life. Midway through the book, I started seeing a potential romance being formed, and that was exciting. I sped through to the end, staying up late to see what was going to happen. I was disappointed to see that kind of fall flat and leave me hanging. This is the first book in a series, so I'm guessing that we'll be able to read more about the romance later. I guess that's the point (to want more and buy the next book) but it was frustrating to me. I've read lots of books that are part of a series, but most of them leave me with a sense of completion and satisfaction. This one didn't. I did think the author (a man) did a good job showing the female perspective in the story, but I thought there could be a little more on the romantic side. Overall, a good, clean, sweet story...I just wanted more!

Once again...happy reading!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More books from our library bag...

I know I just posted about books yesterday, but we read some more today and I just had to share : ). Next to Lois Ehlert, I think Eric Carle is one of my favorite author/illustrators. Again, his "think outside the box" style appeals to me. I also love the bright colors and different art techniques he uses. Some of our favorite Eric Carle books are: The Very Hungry Caterpillar; Brown Bear, Brown Bear; and Polar Bear, Polar Bear. I think the one we read today could be a new favorite! We sat down and read The Secret Birthday Message during story time. I loved it! The girls did, too. It's fun, simple, not too much text so the girls stayed engaged, and several of the pages were cut to the shapes detailed in the story. I love it when book pages have different shapes! It's the story of a boy who receives a note under his pillow the night before his birthday. He has to follow the clues to find his birthday present. Simple, yet fun! The girls asked to read it twice. It was my pleasure!

When I asked which book was the favorite of the day, The Secret Birthday Message got one vote and so did this cute little story! It was also my first time reading Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis. Lulu and her dog Bingo have to use their imagination to occupy themselves for the afternoon. Lulu's parents are busy and her big brother tells her she's "too little" to play ball with him and his friends. What follows is a day filled with all the things that "Ladybug Girl" can do. One thing I really love in this story are the illustrations. They really capture some fun expressions on the faces of Lulu and her dog. The girls didn't pick up on that as much, but I enjoyed it. There was a good amount of text, more than the previous book, but the girls stayed interested and really liked it. The inside and back covers also show Lulu in all of her many dress-up costumes...which the girls especially loved : ).

The last book we read...well, attempted to read because we didn't have time to finish...was Sam Johnson and the Blue Ribbon Quilt by Lisa Campbell Ernst. While I liked the illustrations, I'm kind of mixed about my thoughts on the story. In this story, Sam unexpectedly has to mend something that broke on the pig pen while his wife was away. He stays up all night and his mending turns out looking pretty amazing for a first time sewer. He shows his wife and wants to go with her to her women's quilting circle. The women basically kick him out, so he puts up fliers about men's rights and forms a men's quilting circle. The men then put themselves in competition with the women to see if they can make the better quilt for the fair coming up. Honestly, my first thought was...Sam, maybe your wife just needs a little girl time out of the house! And really, are there many guys out there who want to join a quilting circle? I know some men who can sew...and do a great job. I've seen their wives praise and encourage them in that. I would do the same thing. I can't really articulate all that I'm thinking here, but honestly, does there need to be a children's book that divides husbands and wives on something..can't they just encourage each other in their gifts and work together on the farm? Maybe I need to read the ending before I get too critical ; ).

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

What we're reading today...

We try to have story time during homeschool on a regular basis. One of my friends who homeschooled her children through high school has told me on multiple occassions..."be sure to read, read, read!". I try to remember that. I've noticed that Sophie...and Isaac...are already picking up on words that they have seen repeatedly. Especially the titles of movies. They can look at one of those VHS tapes and tell just by the writing on it what movie it is! Anyway, a week or so ago I took the kids to the library. Sophie is always asking to go, so I decided to try it with both of them. Well, let's just say we couldn't stay as long as we wanted to. Within about a minute Isaac is running around and talking in a loud voice, and the librarian is going, "shhh! shhh!". I kept saying, "sorry!" with a touch of embarrassment. One of the books I was able to grab before we had to check out was "Nuts to You!" by Lois Ehlert. I always run over to the Ehlert area to see if I can find something we haven't read yet. I LOVE her books. "Nuts to You!" did not disappoint! Even the cover is cute. It has a big hole cut out of it with the little squirrel looking at you. The title page was a thin strip of paper the color of the bark on a tree with the title and publisher written horizontally. I love the way she thinks outside the box! Throughout the story you see Ehlert's typical artistic style in the illustrations, along with text that isn't too long for small readers. I love how Ehlert labels things in her illustrations, like the types of flowers, birds, and insects. She also included some factual information at the end of the book about squirrels. Educational and entertaining! You just can't go wrong with this author!

On a grownup note, I'm reading Paradise Valley by Dale Cramer. I received this book along with a book called Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate for review by Bethany House. will be seeing these titles again in another week or so when I review them! I've finished Larkspur Cove and now I'm starting on Paradise Valley. This is an Amish fiction story, and I'm just getting into it. I like Amish fiction pretty well, but it's taking me a little bit of time to really get into it. I have high hopes, though! We'll see. I really liked Larkspur Cove and look forward to telling you more about it! I'm even hoping I'll get a few more books in the mail. I signed up to get far I've only gotten 2. We'll see!

One more thing I'm looking forward to reading newest Whole Living magazine, which is a Martha Stewart publication. Honestly, I'm not really into the new-agey, body + soul in balance thing, but I have found that there are lots of helpful tips, recipes, and health articles that this magazine contains. The only reason I have a year long subscription is because I got it FREE! Woohoo! There are several websites, my favorite being, that post tips on free and/or cheap magazine subscriptions (among many other things). I like to have a magazine come in every so often, so if I can find it cheap, then I'll splurge for my birthday or Christmas. In this case, there was no occassion needed! Some of my other favorite magazine subscriptions include Better Homes and Gardens and Taste of Home.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A special day

We were invited by a couple in our church to come and eat and fellowship with them today. From the first time I met Mrs. Sylvia, I knew that she and her husband were neat folks. She came to the first Bible study I facilitated at church about marriage. Yes, me, only married 6 years and trying to lead these women to grow in their marriage. I'm just glad someone much more experienced wrote the study! : ) During the time that we met for the study, I got to know Mrs. Sylvia a little better. She and her husband, Mr. Charlie, met when they were about 15 years old, and had never been apart since. They've been married about 50 years now, and have raised two daughters, one adopted son, and 29 foster children. They hunt and fish together. Today they showed us the pictures of how they totally remodeled the house they live in now. It was amazing. It went from totally broken down, falling apart, to a cute little house in the woods. Mrs. Sylvia was up on a ladder drilling right next to Mr. Charlie. They ride 4 wheelers together, walk in the woods down paths they've made, and they took us down to the big garden they planted not far from their house. Can you tell I just love them?!

Here is Mr. Charlie taking Sophie and Isaac for a little ride.

I took this shortly before we left. We were relaxing, talking, and just letting the kids play in the screened-in porch. It was a beautiful day...warm with a nice breeze. Mr. Charlie and Joe rode around the property on the 4 wheelers and when they came back, Mr. Charlie went right over and sat next to his wife and held her hand. So precious to me! The kids just gravitated towards them. They gave Sophie that yellow duck...she named it Steven (not sure why!). She has not parted with "him" all day. Joe asked me later when we got home how I enjoyed the day. I told him I loved it. We haven't spent a lot of time with this couple, but as I said to Joe, "they are special". A special day with special people!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Play ball!

We've entered into a new phase of family life. Our oldest "baby" is now participating in extra-curricular activities. I've wanted to put her in some kind of activity for a while now--to help her get some exercise and do something fun with her friends. I even let her choose. I gave her several options: dance, karate, t-ball. I was kind of leaning towards karate. She quickly informed me that she didn't want karate, she wanted to play t-ball.

Here she is, a proud member of the Cubs. We haven't really worked with her on her batting skills, but her coach does a good job. I'm just glad she went up there by herself. Lately she wants one of us (Mom or Dad) to be with her at all times.
Go, Sophie, Go!
I just had to include Isaac's take on all of this. I handed him the camera in a last ditch effort to entertain him while I was trying to get Sophie to go out to the field without me.

He wishes he could go out there and play, too. Maybe next year, buddy. : )

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Family time~

We had Spring Break last week from homeschooling, but the hubby still had to work. Friday came (hubby's day off) and we decided to pack a picnic and go to Little Ocmulgee State Park in McRae, GA. It was just the right kind of little getaway. Above are some of the lilypads in the lake. The trees are so beautiful...dripping with Spanish moss. Did I mention that there's also a great playground?

I love taking pictures with my girl. She makes me smile : ).
My guy makes me smile, too : ).
There's a big dock leading out to the water. The kids enjoyed running on it. You wouldn't want to jump in this water, though. There's signs all around warning you about the alligators. Yes, Joe and I discovered those signs shortly after we took a canoe out on the lake one time. No more canoe rides for us, I'm afraid!

And here's our family shot. Hey...I'm impressed that we all fit! Well, sort of.

It was a beautiful day and we had a great time! Who says family getaways have to be expensive?! Here's a little tip I found out recently. Most local libraries have a park packet that includes a free parking pass along with a family pass that gives you free admission for up to four people to any state park and recreation center in the state of Georgia. There are tons of these places all over Georgia! All you have to do is check it out like you would a library book! I'm not sure if these are available for every state, but it wouldn't hurt to check! That's what we did, and we didn't have to pay anything to enjoy the day at the park!

God bless!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My time...and His timing

I've been trying to think of a way to add some rosettes to my old cardigan...try to spice it up a bit. This is my effort (above). I think it turned out pretty well! And let me just say how much I LOVE the new rosette trend. They are so cute to me! I haven't done a tote bag in a LONG time...but I thought I'd try it for a friend's baby shower. It's a denim material that I added a colorful animal ribbon to on the top and a big B for "Benjamin". It was fun!
And this is what I did yesterday. Tons of dvds....taking up a lot of space. My kids were opening the cabinet they were in every day to get a video out. Not only the video they wanted, but usually about 10 other ones and spread them all over the floor. I guess the ongoing frustration sparked a solution in my brain. What's the phrase, "Necessity is the mother of invention"? Well, this was a simple solution...that I wish I would've thought of sooner! I just went out and bought a cd case and put all of the dvds inside. I zipped it up and put it on top of a little shelf we have. Problem solved! It was kind of hard to throw all of those cases away. I kept telling myself...why do I want to hold on to a piece of plastic?! No hoarding today! : )
I also straightened up these bins. I don't have a before picture. Yes...this is the after shot. And yes, it looks much better!
It feels great to get some organizing done. I can honestly say that it doesn't come naturally for me. I have to think...and sometimes pray...that I can figure out how to resolve a clutter or frustration with "stuff" issue. I can testify that God is faithful! It may take a few years, but hey, His timing is not always my timing! : )

Saturday, April 2, 2011

More cookin', more easy recipes

I went back and actually checked this time to make sure I didn't repeat some recipes! I saw that I had repeated the lemon chicken and easy chicken with sour cream/soup...oops! : ) As you've figured out, I'm all about the easy stuff. I like food that I can throw together relatively quickly and tastes good. My hubby also can't have anything too spicy (bummer) and my kids won't eat certain things either, so I try to fix things everyone can eat.

Tonight I marinated a pork loin that I picked up at the store yesterday with one of those bottled teriyaki meat marinades that I found on sale. I cooked it, covered with foil, for 1 hour on 350, then I lowered it to 300 and cooked it another 1 1/2 hours. It was a little more dry this time than it usually is, but it still tasted great! I added some roasted potatoes and steamed veggies. To top it off, I made some fruit salad. This is the good and easy part! The "magic" ingredient...just a package of sugar free vanilla pudding mix!

It really works well if you take a can of crushed pineapple and use it as a base. I didn't have crushed tonight, but I had the chunks, so I used that. Don't drain the juice. Then I added some cut up fresh strawberries. Then I began to pour the pudding packet (I used the 1 oz package) over the fruit and mixed it in with a spoon. It starts to thicken your mixture and give it a good flavor. I noticed that it was a little too thick for my preference, so I got out a can of mandarin oranges. I drained most of the liquid, but left a little bit to help thin everything out a little. That was all I did! Yum! The kids loved it, too. You can basically add any fruit to this that you like--bananas, apples, grapes, etc., as long as you had some "juice" in your mix to help thin out the pudding powder. If you don't like pinapple juice, you could probably just do your fruit and add some fruit juice of your choice. My friend Elizabeth told me about this when she made it at her house one time and I have loved doing it for an easy dessert. Hey...just thought of would be great with a little whipped cream on top!

I also wanted to add another easy recipe. Homemade biscuits. Now don't get nervous. I know that making biscuits yourself does require some work and can sometimes be intimidating. Plus the canned kind are easier and taste good...but are not necessarily cheaper (I guess they could be if you stacked a couple of coupons and found them on sale...maybe?). Anyway, I got these recipes off the side of my flour bag (Southern Biscuit self-rising flour). The buttermilk ones are really good! : ) I'll even throw in the "No Fool Pie" recipe. I don't know how it is because I haven't made it before, but it looks pretty easy to me. Enjoy!

Self Rising Biscuits

2 cups of self-rising flour

1/4 cup vegetable shortening

2/3 to 3/4 cup of cold whole milk

2 Tbs. melted butter or magarine (optional)


Preheat oven to 450. Measure and sift 2 cups of flour into a mixing bowl (I just run a fork through it! lol). Add 1/4 cup of shortening to the bowl. Cut the shortening into the flour until the particles of shortening are about the size of grains of rice (which means, I put my hands in and work the grease in until it's in small pieces..about the size of rice). While slowly adding the milk, stir with a large spoon until the flour shortening mixture is thoroughly moistened. Do not over mix. For a drier dough, use less milk, for a wetter dough, use more (wetter is better--if you ask me : )). Turn the dough from the bowl onto a smooth floured surface (it'll be sticky, folks--put some flour on your hands, too). Using as few strokes as possible with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a uniform thickness of 1/2 in. (ok...I don't really like my rolling pin, so I use a blue hard plastic cup from my cabinet. It also doubles as my biscuit cutter.) Cut the biscuits using a floured cutter (aka blue cup) and transfer to a shallow baking pan. Arrange biscuits on the pan so that each biscuit is slightly touching the one next to it. Bake for 10-14 min., or until done. Remove biscuits from the oven and brush the top with butter.

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups self-rising flour

1 teaspoon of sugar

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 to 1 cup cold buttermilk

2 Tbs. melted butter/margarine (optional)


Just follow the same exact directions as the one above, except add the sugar to your flour and sift (my version, once again--stir it up with a seems to work just fine!)

Mmmm...they're good with jelly!

No Fool Pie

1 cup self-rising flour

3/4 stick (6 Tbs) butter or margarine

3/4 cup of sugar

3/4 cup cold whole milk

1 to 1 1/2 cups drained fruit


Preheat oven to 350. Melt your butter and pour it into an 8 or 9 inch baking dish. Set aside. Combine the flour, sugar, and 1/2 of the milk in a mixing bowl. Stir until all of the dry ingredients are moistened. Add the remaining milk to the bowl and stir until smooth. Pour the batter into the dish containing the melted butter. DO NOT MIX. Place the drained fruit on top of the batter in the dish. DO NOT STIR. Bake 30-40 min, or until done (golden brown).

If you make this, let me know if it's any good : ). I hope it is!