30 July 2012

weekend: birthday celebrations

 First, we celebrated Teagan turning Six.    


Wait, wasn't it just yesterday you were TWO?  Sigh... they grow up so fast.



Then we attended a Birthday Tea Party for my niece, Kylie.  Can you say, ADORABLE?
  









Lovely ladies.



A few months ago, I scored all the hats and lace umbrellas at a yard sale... for FREE!!  



The birthday girl turns THREE!



Love this handsome little guy. 

















Gettin' some love from Hapajee.


 Happy Birthday, Sweet Kylie!

27 July 2012

Chewy Coconut Granola Bars







Can you believe the outrageous price of a good granola bar?  I'm done paying up for something I can make myself.  I found a recipe with simple wholesome ingredients, yummy flavor and great texture. Plus, it's super cheap to make!  Plus, my kids like them way better than the store bought ones!  

Whether you're planning a hike, a drive, a stroll, a trip to the beach, or any other outing this weekend, go ahead and whip up a batch of these.  Your wallet and your tummy will thank you.

Chewy Coconut Granola Bars
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar or 3/4 cup Sucanat
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup ground flax seed or wheat germ (or both)
1 C whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup apple sauce or 1 beaten egg
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract

preheat oven to 325 degrees
Mix together first 7 ingredients, then make a well in the center and add honey, apple sauce, oil and vanilla.  Mix well and pat evenly into a greased 9x13 baking dish.  

Bake for 30-35 mins. Then cool for 5 mins. before cutting into bars.  Let cool or eat warm.  Delish! Makes 16 bars.

26 July 2012

Yucaipa Regional Park

 The swimming lagoon with water slides.







 Girls Day Out!


 Getting used to the water.


 My little fishies.





 Making new friends.


 Faith and her new buddy, Tyler.









"Aww, mom... another picture?"  

I normally don't venture off on too many day trips without Morgan but since he had a lunch meeting scheduled and wouldn't be home for lunch, I thought... "Hey, let's get out of the heat and do something fun!"  

We've lived in the desert for 6 years now and this is the first I'd ever heard of Yucaipa Regional Park.

It was at least 15 degrees cooler up there and although it wasn't exactly the beach, it was well worth the hour long drive!

We will definitely be going back... next time, with daddy!  For some boating!    

24 July 2012

Apple Rings with Peanut Butter & Granola

Slice your apple in rings and core out the middle.


Slather with your favorite peanut butter.


Top with some yummy homemade granola.




Enjoy!



Over the last few weeks, we've changed our family's diet around here.  We're eating more vegetarian and vegan type meals.  {More on that later... maybe}.

Anyhow, since the switch, I've been on the hunt for some new and tasty recipes!  Please do share if you have any favorites!

This little snack has been made in a variety of ways but I prefer these, the easy apple ring version.
The crisp, cold Granny Smith apple is a nice contrast to the other flavors.

It's SO simple and SO good!  It makes a tasty and satisfying snack...

And the little kids love 'em, too!

21 July 2012

Are You Radical?


How have we manipulated the gospel to fit our American Dream and what does Jesus actually say about being his disciple? 

Just finished reading Radical by David Platt.  WOW!! 

 Don't read this book unless you are ready to learn some tough truths.  You will be challenged to live your life in radical obedience, for the lasting over the temporary.  

A compelling, inspirational, and potentially life changing read.  You'll come away with a different perspective about church, what it's for, Christianity, true discipleship, and how modern Christians have been duped by the American Dream into comfort and complacency.  

Finally!  Someone who is unabashedly willing to tell us the uncomfortable truths behind what it really means to be a Christ Follower.

Hallelujah!

19 July 2012

Valentines in July and Service Learning

 Notes of love.



Uncle Valentine (yup, that's his real name but he goes by "Val").



"God loves you."


Hugs...



and more hugs.

Last month, Morgan helped his Uncle Val move into a local Assisted-Living Home.  We are so thankful to God for working out all the details in that matter!  Uncle Val was able to move in with relative ease.  Since then, we've made regular visits to see him.  The girls have enjoyed helping to set up his medications and arrange them properly in his pill box for the week (with supervision).  

They've also made many new friends along the way!    

Even at 6 years old, the girls realize the heartfelt impact of a warm smile or a genuine hug.  We were told that many of these elderly folks have very few visitors.    

It all started one weekend when Faith and daddy were planning to visit Uncle Val (Grace and mommy were having our own "special time" together).  Often, our visits to Val are during the lunch hour so many of the residents are in the dining room, having lunch.  Faith wanted to brighten their day by sharing some of her artwork with them so that's exactly what she did.  She made about 20 drawings and passed them out with a hug and smile.  And, she loved doing it!  

So much so that when her sister heard about it, she wanted to do it, too!  This week, the girls collectively made about 30 Valentine's and passed them out at a Welcome Home party for Uncle Val.  

To see the joy and brightness in the eyes of these folks was such a blessing!  

It was then that I began to realize... 

Meeting the needs of others, using their gifts and talents, shining the Light of the World, and spreading God's love... a ministry was being born!

As homeschoolers (and as Christ-followers), our desire has always been for Service Learning to be an integral part of our curriculum, as well as our family's mission.  

We are praising the LORD for this amazing opportunity to serve others while serving HIM!
    

17 July 2012

CHEA Convention

We love Vision Forum and all the valuable resources they provide.  Priceless!

Last week, Morgan and I had the opportunity to attend the 29th annual Christian Home Educators Convention in Pasadena, CA.  This was our first convention and we were so blessed by the encouragement and the speakers!  Our primary reason for attending this year was to hear keynote speaker, Dr. Voddie Baucham.  Voddie is a pastor, an apologist, a professor, and a homeschooling father of 8.  He's been anointed in equipping believers to walk in the truth of God's word.  For the last year and a half, his teachings have been an integral part of our discipleship, both as Christ followers and as a homeschooling family.


We not only got to hear him speak all day, we also got to meet him personally and had several of our questions answered.

Another blessing was that we attended the convention with our friends, the Witte's and the Rehard's.  It is truly a gift to have like-hearted families come alongside you to help encourage one another and grow together in this great mission.  We loved every minute of it!  In fact, we look forward to taking the girls with us to next year's convention!


The 30th Annual CHEA Convention will be at...


the DISNEYLAND hotel!
June 6-8, 2013


*discounted Disneyland tickets will be available.  FUN!!    


13 Reasons Why I Love to Homeschool



1.  Meals.  Every day, we get to have breakfast, lunch and dinner- together as a family.  And Yes! that even includes daddy on most days. I will forever be grateful for all our precious time around the family table!

2.  Discovering Learning Styles.  As with every child, our girls have different learning styles, interests, strengths, and weaknesses.  After 3 years of educating them at home, I'm just beginning to get a grasp of what makes them unique.  Homeschooling gives them the encouragement and permission to become individuals, rather than being constantly compared to one another, just because they're twins.  Believe me, us parents can often get trapped into comparing them, too.  With the Lord's help, we are ever so mindful of that.  

3.  Freedom.  We study what we want, at our own pace.  In fact, we are redefining what it means to be educated in our family.  Therefore, we are not the least bit interested in any type of conveyor belt schooling, standardized testing or keeping pace with the masses.  Freedom is priceless!

4.  Teaching Biblical Worldview.  We have the privilege and joy of discipling our children 24/7 in the ways of the Lord, with a biblical worldview.  We believe this is our highest priority as Christ following parents.  Secularism will be examined, but only through the filter of God's Word.

5.  The Great Commission.  We have the awesome opportunity to train up our children for the Great Commission.  As Christ followers, is there any greater calling on our lives?  "Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” ~Matthew 28:18-20
    
6.  Rest.  Naps are still mandatory, if mom says so.

7.  Saving Money.  Back to school shopping does not exist.  

8.  Music.  Music lessons take place weekly, in the mornings.  It is an important part of our overall home educating curriculum.


9.  A Heart of Service.  Cultivating a heart of service is one of the primary foundations of our homeschooling efforts.  Being a homeschooling family allows us the time to be open for ministry and service opportunities, any day of the week.  In fact, the girls have started their first ministry together! More on that later...


10.  Clinging to the Cross.  As a homeschooling mom, I get to rely on my need for Christ daily.  Without His grace and sufficiency, I wouldn't have lasted a month!


11.  Our Family Shepherd.  Ultimately, it is Morgan's responsibility to make sure his children are taught in the ways of the Lord. (-Genesis 18:19)  I can tell you that He does not take this charge lightly! As the leader of our home, he is constantly seeking the Lord's council.  Because of Morgan's dedication to homeschooling and active participation, I'm certain his impact will be far more significant than mine. I'm so grateful and blessed by my husband's example, commitment, and vision for our family.  

Halloween 2011

12.  Flexibility.  We can go to bed late or sleep in, any day of the week.  We are never rushed in the mornings and that's a wonderful thing!  Especially since I've realized that I don't do well in hurried situations anyway.  Homeschooling allows us to start our mornings off with peace!


13.  Time.  Last but certainly not least, homeschooling gives us the invaluable gift of time.  I recently had an opportunity to seek advice from a veteran homeschooling mama.  Her two daughters are both grown, married, and serving the Lord.  I happen to know one of her 20 something daughters.  
Daughter:  "I'm so grateful for all the time I had with my family.  I loved being homeschooled and I wouldn't change it for anything."
Mom:  (While reminiscing and choking back tears)  "It goes by way too fast.  When I look back at all the years, it wasn't about the academics.  They learned what they needed to learn and plenty more. It was about the time we spent together that made all those years so precious."


Of course, there are countless other reasons why I love to homeschool but why create this basic list? Because the truth is, although I am incredibly grateful for the passion and opportunity God has given us to homeschool, it doesn't mean that everyday is blissful or easy.  Reminders are often helpful so that we can encourage others (as well as ourselves) and see the big picture.  Homeschooling is a huge responsibility but it's also a tremendous blessing that no list will ever be able to accurately communicate or do it justice.  


The years may bring anxiety, frustration, and plenty of tears but I will never regret being humbled and awestruck by God's hand in it all.  I am forever changed (for the better) because of these precious little children God has entrusted us with for this short season of life.  


And that's something worth remembering.
        

12 July 2012

Remind Me Who I Am




We're big fans of Jason Gray's music around here.
This is a song the girls and I sing all the time.
Such honest and refreshing lyrics that strike a chord in all of us!


If I'm Your beloved,
Can You help me believe it?    


Don't we all need to be reminded of who we are, now and then?

10 July 2012

My Story

Balloon,balloons,colour,sky,happy,woman-ddd1c40771d79320f4912c2de0d193aa_h_large

It's summer and it's hot.  It's actually 115 right now.  Yes, you read that right.  
However, I'm not complaining.  My days are filled with books, music, cuddles, art, walking the pooch in the early mornings, and lots and lots of reading.  I am joyfully soaking up every minute of this precious, slow down and "take notice of the little things" season.  Therefore, I haven't been writing as much.  However, I do enjoy being inspired by others.  

I loved this beautiful post from Southern Mama and Wife.  She took the words, right out of my heart. 

I’ve got a half a cup a coffee & a tired mama mind.

Tonight I cooked dinner with one hand and a happy, smiling 10 month old girl in the other. My 3 year old tried destroying my table with her version of ‘art’ with markers. I took a minute to thank God that He made washable markers. Yes, tonight I let out a sigh of relief. And then I laughed.

As mama’s, we have our own story. And every story is different, unique.

Mine is my testimony.

I started out on this journey with a graceless heart. With an attitude. With a bitterness.

On the way, I cut it out and was able to restart.

With every small kiss on my cheek, with every sacrifice. With every effort that is selfless.

I am made new. My children show me every second of everyday that I am not who I used to be, but who I’m becoming. I am shaking it off. I am letting go. I am shedding that skin.

...And when I look in the mirror, I see more of Him and less of me. And my heart is bursting with this new gratitude for what is. I am so thankful for what is flawed. For what is not perfect. For what is not shiny. It was in those moments I was able to evolve and transform. Every bit of it is what makes up my story.

09 July 2012

Rainbow SLIME!


















































We made Rainbow Slime last week and although we've made slime in the past, this one is tops!

It only takes 2 ingredients to make... well, 3 if you count the food coloring.

Use equal parts clear glue and liquid starch.  The more you work it, the more it comes together.


Kids love getting their hands gooey, don't they?  Guaranteed FUN!

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