Friday, March 22, 2013

The Best Homemade Chicken and Dumplings!

I have been searching for a good chicken and dumpling recipe for a looong time.  It seems they all just used canned biscuits which just aren't dumplings in my opinion.  I need those kind of chewy, denser dumplings.

Well I finally found THE recipe!  And where did I find this fabulous recipe? Pinterest of course!

It is SO easy and quick!  It was a hit with everyone in our family on Thursday for lunch.  I couldn't have timed it any better as the meal was just mild enough to be ok on everyone's sensitives stomach's (read previous posts for an update on our current epidemic).

So here is my wonderful bowl of Chicken and Dumplings:

ok the lighting was crap and it looks kind of like gruel, but you can see those good dumplings in there and chunks of chicken!

So here is the link from pinterest:

The only thing I did different than the recipe was use a rotisserie chicken at the store.  I already had the meat all pulled off it the day before waiting to be thrown in( i used all the meat).  I also added some of the flour that was still on my island from where I rolled the dumplings out to help thicken the broth up.  I would say I added about 2T from that in addition to the sprinkling of flour between the layers of dumplings that I added to the broth.  That 2T was a little too much.  I would have liked it a bit soupier.  

If I would have had some more chicken broth on hand I would have added a bit more at the end to thin it but, alas, that was not the case.  No one commented on the thickness of it so it wasn't a big deal, just something I will be aware of next time.

And I made the recipe using the exact measurements which said it would serve 8 and for our family of 7( ok 6 because Little Miss didn't have any)  it ended up perfectly for most everybody to have seconds.  Though  a couple of us were still recovering from "the epidemic" so we didn't eat as much as usual .

I would double it next time to be sure we had a few leftover bowls of goodness for the next day!

And everyone commented on how very filling it was too which is always a plus when feeding our crew.

Happy Eating!
The Mama

And Then There Was 1 (insert scary music)

That's how many people there are in our house who have not had the stomach flu since last friday night.

Here is the list of casualities:

Friday -Little Miss 
Tuesday -Snuggle Bug and Me
Thursday -Bubba

Princess is the sole far.

Please pray that Princess does NOT get it!  Without the ability for her to tell us when she is going to throw up or when she suddenly has diarrhea, it would be disastrous to say the least.

*shudder at the thought*

I feel like we should have a hazmat team come in to spray down our house.  I would settle for remotely spring like temps so I could throw open the windows to air this place up.

On a positive note:

There's nothing like a good stomach flu to help you get back into these jeans you haven't been able to fit into!

(photo courtesy of Snuggle Bug)

Hope everyone else is staying healthy!

Many Blessings,
The Mama

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sickness Descends

Snuggle Bug and I are now sick too.  We were violently sick last night.  I haven't been this sick in 11 years when I got food poisoning from a well known mexican restaurant chain.

Little Miss is also still on a liquid only diet and still throwing up once or twice a day.  She has been sick since last Friday.

Prayer would be much appreciated for all of us to get better and no one else to come down with it.

Many Blessings,
The Mama

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sick Little Girly

Little Miss is officially sick. 

(napping with her daddy)


Not boo to napping with her dad but boo to Little Miss being sick.

I could tell she didn't feel well yesterday as she stayed on my lap most of the day and just snuggled.  Anyone who has a 10 month old knows that is NOT normal.

Little Miss had a congested nose so i thought maybe just a cold since she didn't feel warm.  But then last night at about 9:30 she started fussing which never happens that early.  We waited it out a little bit to see if she would go back to sleep but that wasn't happening so I went up to her room.

When I picked her up her front was soaked, which isn't totally unusual.  Little Miss always is on her belly and she will rub her little hands all over her face and she gets snot and drool everywhere.  We can always tell how long she's been up by how wet the front of her hair is lol

But it was more soaked then usual. I flipped on the light to see and she had indeed thrown up everywhere.  Poor thing.

So we gave Little Miss a bath and rocked her back to sleep.  She had thrown up a bit more this morning and has just been snuggling all morning now.

As much as I say to her," Just sit still for a second!"  I don't like this kind of sitting still =(

Little Miss felt maybe a tad warm this morning so I'll recheck her this afternoon.  I kind of hope she has a fever just because she hit her head the other day on something and you worry about that kind of thing being an aneurysm or something.

So prayers for Little Miss to make a speedy recovery would be much appreciated!

Many Blessings,
The Mama

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kitchen Remodel in Progress

So we have been remodeling our kitchen for the past few months.  We moved the layout around  and added a few cabinets, new countertop, sink, tiled the floor(this was done by some one way more skilled than us) and so forth.  It is still in progress with a subway tile backsplash and cabinet doors that still need to be put up.

But I suppose the rest of the house is  more under the 'refurbish' category. Tearing up lots of carpet again, painting that kind of thing.

Here is one of the projects we have done so far in the kitchen:

These are our small flight of stairs that go from our kitchen up to the landing on our stairs.  It had really bad carpet on them so I just tore that up.  And I was left with stairs in not terrible condition.  The white was not on there originally.  I had already added that in this picture.  There was some weird tape stuff that had been used to keep the carpet in place where it is painted white.  It was pretty smooth but I could not get the stuff off.  So 2 coats of white paint and it disappears!

Even though there wasn't any thick carpet glue on this wood(praise God!), there was still a bit of residue as you can see above.  So i just hand sanded a bit to smooth that out some.

Then I just added 2 coats of  satin warm brown paint!  
As you can tell, you can't see any of that glue residue anymore(insert happy dance).

And here was the finished product!

They go so nicely with the beadboard we put up on the bottom half of the kitchen walls.

When the glorious day finally arrives that we are all done with our kitchen, I will post before and afters!

Many Blessings!
The Mama

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Homeschooling: Not My Will but Yours...

In homeschooling, I often have to stop and ask myself the same question- "What do I want my children to get out of homeschooling?"

Because here is the thing, there are SOOOO many different curriculums out there, and then you can always buy subjects separately, and there is tons of free stuff online(YAY!), and lets add into that the fact that there is about a dozen different styles of homeschooling(Charlotte Mason, Montessori, Classic, Eclectic,etc).  And depending on what style fits best with you and your children will totally effect what you use to teach them.

Now choices are GREAT!  But if you don't have a vision of what you are wanting your children to get out of homeschooling, you can get overwhelmed very easily...and confused.

I find myself constantly thinking that some other curriculum is better or another homeschool mom has "the answer".  Meaning that she totally has it figured out.

This is what most of our school has been based on this year:

The curriculum is called The Weaver.  It is a Bible based unit studies.  It includes everything except math and phonics.  It even includes art, field trips, and health.  It is more of a one room school house feel.  This goes from grades K-12th, though once past 6th grade you just cycle through again in more detail.  Here is the site for those who want to look into it more.

It can also be used repeatedly which is a big value with 5 children!

We have tweaked it through out the year and made it work for us-which is what you should do with any curriculum.  Never bend the child to suit the curriculum, instead bend the curriculum to suit the child.

But I still see other homeschool blogs and what they are doing and think,"Wow!  That is a great idea!"  and then I can read another blog and they are doing something totally different but I still think,"Wow!  That is great."

So now I am forced to stop and think what do I/WE want out of OUR homeschooling??

WHAT is important to US?  

Is it to stay up with state guidelines for public school and what should be learned when?  Is to love God? Is it to please outside family members?  To prove to others how smart out kids are and how much they are learning?  Is it to keep up with the family down the street? Is it just teaching them the core subjects?

What are OUR goals?  What is ENOUGH for us?

I think these are our goals in homeschooling:

1. To incorporate and teach our children to have a personal relationship with God and Jesus and to create a strong foundation.

2.To work with them individually on their current skill level and not rush them forward just because it's the standard or hold them back either.'

3.To spend time together as a family who has a very wacky schedule.

4. To help them identify, realize and hone their God given talents.

5.To prepare them for college and/or the real world with appropriate life and self-learning skills.

6. To create in them a love and thirst for learning and knowledge.

Those are the top things that pop in my head.  I notice I did not put: teach them 12 different languages and have them play the lyre.  

I don't think there is anything wrong with teaching a foreign language or an instrument of course.  The kids wanted to learn piano from the Hubby and Sissy wanted to learn Spanish. So they do that.  But if the goal was simply to impress others with those things then it wouldn't be right for us.

Armed with my above list, now every time I come across a fabulous curriculum or blog that just has the "perfect" homeschool schedule, I will compare it to our personal goals for our children and family.  

If I use that curriculum, will my children have time to discover and explore their God given talents? Will it help affirm their love and understanding of God?  If we follow that other homeschool family's day will we still be able to spend time together and will it help the kiddos gain necessary life skills for the future?

What works for one family does not always work for the next.  I will do well to remember that.  God has created each of us uniquely.  

Romans 12:6

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them

I have also left out a very important aspect of this.  That is to ask the Holy Spirit to dictate your school year, months and days!  What is HE wanting you to do?  If the Holy Spirit moves one day and the kids want you to read the bible all day, then praise God!  Maybe you have a certain plan but the kids are wanting to learn about something else, go with it!  Learning is learning, and not always what we have carefully crafted. We should let God shape us and our days, not what society or any family or friends say. Heck, even what WE say!

Proverbs 16:19 

 "We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps."

Isaiah 64:8

But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

What does this mean for our homeschool year and days?? I have no idea!!  I will have to look closely at our goals and figure out if what we are doing now is moving us towards those things or not. And then I have to a whole lot of praying! I will let you know what the Lord tells me and where he leads us!

I will leave you with this Prayer for the Homeschool Mom.

Many Blessings,
The Mama

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Disturbing 'One Down" Mommy Trend

I have noticed a concerning trend among mom's.  I think it tends to happen more with stay at home mom's based on my experience.

We all know, and maybe have been, that parent that tries to 'one up' other mom's.  Their kids are the best, their life is the best, yada yada.  We are all familiar with that syndrome.

But here is the one I am talking about.  Mom's who try to one up each other on how BAD their life is.  Perhaps it's more how busy or stressful their life is.  Strange right?  I know.

I actually got sucked into this for awhile.  And I am usually( not always) a positive person.

Here is how it gets started:

Me to Sally Joe,"How was your day?"

Sally Joe,"Oh my gosh!  What a day!  I had 27 appts. to run the kids to today, the dog puked all over the car 6 times, little Billy had practice across town from where i had to go to the dry cleaner, and i still have to bake 100 cupcakes for the bake sale tomorrow."

Mary Jane who was listening in on the conversation joins in,"Yeah I had 28 appts today, 3 kids that had to be at the same place at the same time and 101 cupcakes to make.  I am exhausted."

Ok we have all had those CRAZY hectic days and there is nothing wrong with saying so. But then there is this need among the rest in the group to justify that they had just as busy/crappy days.  

So you are kind of trying to 'one down' everyone else.

I got sucked in through a need to say, "You know what, my life is just as crazy as yours.  You aren't the only one sista."

As I said, I have found more stay at home mom's doing this then working moms it seems.  Perhaps us SAHM feel the need to justify that we aren't just sitting around eating bon-bons all day?? Maybe it is done for sympathy?  Maybe it is a need for attention, a cry for help? Maybe it's a victim mentality? Maybe it makes them feel more valuable that they are doing so much, even though they complain about it?  Perhaps it is a way of boasting?

Not sure.  My guess is a combo of guess #1 and the last couple.

But then I got to a point where it seemed like I was always being negative and complaining.  You know how I realized that?  I heard my words coming from my children. 

 Ouch.  Reality check in aisle 4 please.

I did not like what I heard.  

I had to stop and say,"What has happened to me?  Where is the person who use to be positive and upbeat?"

That is when I saw this horrible trend that was happening among the mommy world.  I had to make a conscious effort to say to myself, " I am not going to get sucked into that again. I can say that I had a good day and not feel somehow inferior in a twisted way."

So here it is ladies-


For the most part we choose how busy our lives are(John Boy doesn't have to be in 10 sports this year).  We also choose our mentality in life.  What are you going to choose?  

I am choosing to be thankful that I am healthy enough to run around town.  I choosing to be thankful for my kids and all the craziness that they bring to my life. They will all be grown up and out of the house soon so I am going to savor these moments as much as possible.  I am going to try to look on the bright side of things. 

We have 3 verses in our house that we have committed to memory.

 "Be joyful always."  1 Thessalonians 5:16
"Do everything with out complaining or arguing." Philippians 2:14
"Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." Ephesians 6:7

They all seem to tie in together for me.  We even have the last 2 on our chore lists!  But it's something we all need to remember in all aspects of our lives.  I know I am going to try to from here on out.  We are blessed beyond measure and we need to be sure to remember that daily!

Many Blessings,
The Mama

Friday, March 8, 2013

Our Trip into Outer Space

We took a trip into outer space a few weeks ago to wrap up our very long space study.  We studied planets, black holes, stars, astronauts, moon phases,moon landing,constellations- lots of space stuff.  We lapbooked  a lot of it(another good link).  But all the stuff about astronauts we learned on our space day and I just tied in a bunch of the other stuff we learned.

Disclaimer: Let me say first, that we do NOT do these days every day.  I wish we were that fun.  We do maybe 2 or 3 of these days the entire year. All the other days of our homeschool year we do boring math workbooks just like the rest of you out there.

Here is the activity my 5th and 6th grader did with oreos for the moon phases, but this was not on our actual space day trip-

they drew yellow on one side of the plate and labeled it for the sun and then do the moon phases w/labels

Sissy resisting the temptation to eat her moons

When we do a theme day I always distribute agendas for the day-

You will see that our flight was delayed for 10 minutes due to snow.  Snow meaning mommy didn't get started on time.

The kids get their fake tickets to board the plane( see below).  Sometimes we will sit under the kitchen table and I will play some airline youtube videos for take off and landing.  This time we didn't do that though.

There is  THIS great site that you can do up fake airline tickets to like anywhere in the world on any airline.  Just put in your info and print!   We were heading to Orlando of course since that is where Kennedy Space center is and the launch site.

Next on the agenda was our debriefing.  We stay in character during our adventure.  I was in charge obviously.  They were told about Kennedy Space center and I pulled up one of many tours via youtube( I already had this and a couple other videos already saved to favorites). I said things like,'now make sure you remember what floor to get off on the elevator' and they took notes.  

Here is the one we used with music muted- 

Then we used this video to learn what to expect on our mission to space-

We discussed their mission which was to rescue a space ranger that had went missing on Uranus(by the end of our study we could finally say that with a straight face).

You will see next on the agenda is "Physical Tests".  This was a silly part that the kids loved.  I held each of the kids wrist and spun them(us) around and then would score them 1-10 on how they handled it.  

Next I held an object way up in the air and told them to float up and get it-haha.  Everyone scored zeros but we had fun trying it. Especially since Bubba is as tall as me he didn't have to do much to get it.  But he still didn't technically 'float'  so a big fat goose egg for his score.

Now the last test I wanted to use a sleeping bag they would have to get in lying down and then stand up, but I couldn't find our sleeping bags(of course), so I just laid a blanket out on the floor and rolled them up in it.  They actually had a better time doing that.  Then I told them they had to go to sleep standing up like astronauts do.  This was harder to fake then you would think as you tend to get the giggles when you are suppose to be being quiet and serious.

Like a few years back when you are in this little tiny planetarium bubble igloo with 20 other people crammed together and you are tired and the speaker keeps saying things like, "you can see the rings around Uranus..."

Yeah that was me, the mature adult.  Anyway...

Then they had to get on their astronaut gear.  Ok it was snow pants and boots, a garbage bag with a neck and arm holes cut out and a pillow stuffed inside.  But it works!

Notice Princess is not in here. I thought it not such a good idea to have her stick her head inside a garbage bag.   She can't distinguish between when that would be ok and when it would not.  Princess just giggled at her siblings from the chair.

So then it was take off time.  I had already draped our blue flannel sheets over the table for our space craft.  They had to lie on their back for take off.  Then I just shook the table a lot while they watched another another yourtube video of a launch.  Shuttle Launch from Inside Orbitor  They held the monitor up in the air to see it.

We did not watch the entire thing.  I then let the kids sit up once we had entered 'space' and played this video.  The music is a bit much for my liking so we hit mute.  It also gets weird at the end with some wacky bird so we just cut it short.

I had made some 'asteroids' out of balled up construction paper and "comets" ( ice ) to randomly throw at them.  Good stuff.  Very therapeutic.

We then paused to eat some astronaut food I had ordered online.  The kids had no idea about it!  Here they are  holding the space ice cream.  (strawberry was our fave). Princess also tried all the food, I just didn't catch her in a picture.

We had some space candy-one was made of peanut butter one was made of chocolate. 
 Neither were a big hit.

This was a vacuum sealed meal which they kids actually loved and it even had peas and carrots in it!


I also had an emergency kit in the shuttle.  It had "rope"(yarn), a plastic hammer, nausea medicine, some "repair" pieces(legos), and some funny items like a rubber duck and Q-tips.

I added a small lego plate with some various legos attached completely covering the plate with one lego missing.  I taped that onto the back table leg.  One time when I threw "asteroids" at them I said that the asteroid had knocked off a piece of the spaceship. 

 I showed them the lego piece and told them that they had to use the repair kit to fix it.  I had several lego pieces in the emergency kit but only one would fit in the missing area.  

Of course they could not just go out and work on it in space. You have to taken certain precautions. So I had  a power ranger helmet that had to be put on before going into space and the person who would be making the repair had to be tethered with the "rope"(yarn) so they couldn't float away.

Hilariousness ensued when the "rope' broke and they pretended to float off(roll) into space and had to be brought back in the 'shuttle'(under the table).

Then they were on to the official mission.  I picked Uranus because it's a ball of ice and we are in the NE so it's pretty much the same.  We have a 4" high rubber Buzz Lightyear(for the tub) that I chucked in our back yard for them to find and rescue among the snow.

The mission was a success.

We made our way back to earth(umm, as in- walked in the backdoor of the house. How anti-climatic right?)  and then talked about some of the first attempts at space travel and the problems that occurred.  We watched some old news footage of Apollo 1. That may be a bit much for some children but not mine.  We talked about how in the beginning things were very risky not like now a days when heading to the moon is an old hat.  Apollo 1 really helped convey what that era was really like.

We also talked about JFK who started the space race.

It was a 'far out' day.  

Ba dum ching!

Many Blessings,
The Mama

P.S. The day that we did this was the day that Russia got hammered by that huge meteor.  Not that I was happy about that, but come on-what timing??

Thursday, March 7, 2013

For the Ones Forgotten

The above words are lyrics in a song that I love by Brandon Heath.  It goes,"Give me your eyes for just one second, give me your eyes so I can see, everything that i keep missing, give me your love for humanity.  Give my your arms for the broken hearted, the ones that are far beyond my reach, give me your heart for the ones forgotten, give me your eyes so i can see..."

I often get so discouraged by how much need there is in the world of adoption and how little I can do.  It's that feeling of helplessness that turns into hopelessness.  I just want to adopt them all, but I know I can't.  I know the truth is that only a small percentage of the 132 + million children around the world will find their forever family.  Special needs children will end up in institutions when they age out.  

In countries like Bulgaria and the Ukraine, special needs children will be moved to a mental institution between the tender ages of 4 and 8.  I hear that the conditions of these institutions are deplorable. You can not even wrap your mind around it.  Typically the children are no longer on lists to be adopted after they are institutionalized though you can specifically request a child at an institution if you know of them.  That is my understanding.  But how many people know a specific child in an institution half way around the world?  Not many.  Most of the kids will die with in a short time in there.

Here is a mind blowing blog about the plight of some of these children that everyone NEEDS  to read as a fellow human being: 

These are truly the ones forgotten.  I pray this might help open all of our eyes and give us a greater love for all of humanity. 

I praise God for our system here in the US, though not perfect, but a million times better than other countries.  I also praise God that our Princess came from a wonderful, caring orphanage.  

Many Blessings,
The Mama