Friday, October 31, 2008

Christmas Ebook Announcement and Giveaway

It's baaaack.
My Christmas ebook is now live-- so all of you who are new to this blog or who didn't get to purchase it last year when it ran for a limited time will now be able to!
This book contains the heart of our family's Christmas celebration. The food, the traditions, and the thoughts behind our festivities are all gathered here, in one place. It really is years and years' worth of trial and error done for you.

Since it's an ebook, you get it within minutes of ordering it, and can choose to keep it on your computer and just read it that way, or print it off to hold in your hands. I printed mine off last year and still have it in my kitchen so I can access the recipes I need.
I have had so many people come up to me all through the year to tell me that they loved my ebook and use the recipes often. Nothing warms my heart more than to hear, "I make your green beans all the time, just like you explained in your ebook!" Or, "That chocolate pecan pie has become a tradition at our house! And it's so easy!"

Girls, I don't do nuthin if it ain't easy! So please know this isn't Martha Stewart's kind of Christmas ebook!
But if you do love Christmas and want to make it memorable and special-- yet don't want to stress and work too hard-- then this book will hook you up. Just click on the graphic at the top to take you to the place to order it. I will post more next week about the book and why you shouldn't wait to order it.
ETA: This giveaway is now closed-- the winners were Jonatha, Just Me, and Monique. Congratulations!
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jealous Much?

"Do you ever get jealous?" my friend asked me. I could tell she was hesitant to ask me this. What if I said no, I didn't struggle with jealousy, and she was left alone with her feelings spread out in front of us, vulnerable and exposed.

In that moment, I had a choice to make-- be honest and get vulnerable with her or gloss over the truth with some spiritual platitude. To say out loud what I wish weren't true or purport those feelings I wish were true. In a split second, I made the decision.

"Of course!" I responded. "I struggle with jealousy more than I wish I did." I watched her breathe a sigh of relief that she was not alone. And then we spent some time talking about the things we find ourselves being jealous of, how petty we feel about it, and how we keep our focus in the right place, redirecting our thoughts to where they need to be instead of running off on a jealous tangent.

I wish I wasn't prone to those jealous feelings. Jealous that this person got a book contract by a company that turned me down. Jealous that this person got booked to speak at an event I really wanted to do. Jealous that this person gets waaay more blog comments and waaaay more hits than I ever dreamt of. Jealous at this person's true gift for writing and that person's unique blend of humor and profundity. Jealous of houses, clothes, weight. It's so base, so silly, so human.
God has taught me much about jealousy-- how to turn from it, how to guard myself against it. But unfortunately, knowing what to do and actually forcing my mind and my will to do it are sometimes two different things. Through the years, God has shown me "the rest of the story" when people I was jealous of in the past had terrible things happen to them. And I heard His whisper: "Still want her life?" Oh, how ashamed I was for wanting what was never mine to have, because I couldn't handle the burdens that accompanied that life. He knew it, why couldn't I accept it? Yes, the big green-eyed monster does rise up within me unbidden, too often for my taste. I want to slay him forever but he seems to have multiple lives, returning again and again to take up residence in a heart that isn't supposed to be his home.

Do I ever get jealous? Absolutely. Do I want to be jealous? Not at all. Each day I focus in on who God created me to be (complete with gifts as well as limits) and the situation He has placed me in. I re-situate my mental blinders so that I am not tempted to look to my right or my left. I keep my focus on Him, and Him alone. When I do that, jealousy has no place in my life. The trick is to keep doing that every day, learning to be content where He has me and resting fully in that.

Deuteronomy 5:32-33, "So be careful to do what the Lord your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess."

I Corinthians 3:3, "You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?"

Philippians 4:12, "I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want."

Proverbs 27:20, "Death and destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man."
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Want To Be A Book Review Blogger?

I signed up for this yesterday-- exciting!

Nelson launches bloggers review program

The world's largest Christian publisher has launched Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers, a new program for bloggers to post reviews of the company's latest products.
"My hope is that we can elevate the online presence of Thomas Nelson's key titles," said Michael Hyatt, president and CEO of Thomas Nelson. "Good or bad, we want people online talking about our books."
Any blogger can register online at Bloggers will receive free copies of select Nelson titles in exchange for committing to read the book, write a 200-word review, and post it on their blog and on
"The idea to create Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers originally came from heightened interest on my blog around two of our recent releases, Stephen Mansfield's The Faith of Barack Obama and Lynne Spears' Through the Storm," Hyatt said. "My readers, many of whom are active bloggers themselves, wanted to engage in the conversation about these products."
Hyatt posted "Why Obama's Faith Matters" on his blog in August, offering free copies of the book to the first 200 responders. His offer generated more than 100 online reviews. Hyatt presented a similar offer for Through the Storm in September, which drew a tremendous response, company officials said.

(This article was written by Strang Communications.)
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A Day Off

Yesterday, I took a day off. I didn't blog. Didn't work on the Bible study I need to be writing for the book I am working on. Didn't do any edits on the book I need to get back to my publisher. I didn't do a whole lot of housework. I didn't put extraordinary effort into homeschooling my kids. We did the bare minimum to make it count. I didn't make dinner either-- Curt did. He volunteered, which was a blessing. I just didn't have any energy. Truth time: I didn't even shower.

Instead I talked on the phone to my stepsister, my friend Lysa, my friend Paige, my friend Erica and my mom. I never talk on the phone, as there just isn't time for chitchat usually. But yesterday, I made time. It was nice to catch up with friends. When I wasn't talking on the phone, I indulged in a rare guilty pleasure and watched old tv edisodes on YouTube. (I am not going to say which ones because if there is a lot of interest, they might get pulled. I am not sure that it is completely legal for them to be on there. But yesterday, I was so glad they were!) I also read a piece of mindless fiction and flipped through a new magazine that came in the mail instead of the more serious book on writing that I am currently reading. It was very nice and felt... decadent.

Sometimes I think we need a day off. We need to give ourselves permission to do nothing-- or at least the bare minimum. I was out of steam, physically and mentally. I needed a day to recharge. I needed time to do mindless stuff that didn't take even more away from my depleted mental resources. I needed to lay around and rest because I was so tired. As a busy wife, mom, homemaker, and writer/speaker, I rarely do that. There just isn't time. But yesterday, I took the time. I was asleep by 9:30 last night.

The great thing is that this morning I woke up refreshed and ready for a new day. I wanted to work on my book edits. I wanted to pull out stuff for dinner. I wanted to write this blog post. I wanted to go get my husband from the car place because his car broke down and he needed mine. I was ready mentally to deal with that little blip on the radar when it happened, instead of being overwrought because of the inconvenience of not getting to go to CBS or the financial possibilities of a car in the shop.

I am glad I took a day off yesterday. I wouldn't want to laze around every day but from time to time it's a great feeling. Try it sometime-- and don't feel guilty about it either! People often ask me how I balance the responsibilities of raising six kids, being a wife and homemaker, homeschooling, and writing and speaking. Well, taking the occasional day off to do absolutely nothing is one way I do that! It's important to take that time, and it's really important to admit that we need that time. Maybe it's just me, but oh boy do I need it!
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Twelve Years Ago...

Twelve years ago this week was one of the worst weeks of my life.

I remembered that this morning as I drove my son to school.

Twelve years ago this week, we discovered that our 3 month old son was not going to be able to survive without a tracheotomy. Within a few days' time after we learned that, he was trached and recovering in intensive care for the next several days. I-- who had never left his side since he was born on July 29th-- hid out. I refused to go to intensive care to see him. I was frightened of him, afraid the trach had somehow altered him beyond recognition. I didn't think I could handle the first time I saw him cry with no sound.

So I ran. I told people (because it sounded better than the truth) that I was taking the time that he had bedside nursing care to be with my other children, who were just 2 and 4 and missed their mother. I didn't want to admit that I was scared of an infant with special needs-- afraid that God had somehow made a huge mistake and I couldn't, in fact, do this job He had called me to. I didn't want to have a son with special needs. I didn't want his voice to be gone. I didn't want to have to suction him out and change his trach tube and all those specific care issues I was going to have to learn. I didn't want him to be different. I didn't want people to stare at us when we went out.

In the end, I realized I didn't have much choice. I sucked it up and went back into that hospital. I walked through those doors with my heart in my throat, wishing the floor would swallow me up. I found him in the arms of our favorite nurse as she rocked him in a rocking chair. He had just moved back to the floor from intensive care. It was Halloween day, 1996. A fitting day, as nothing was more terrifying than that.

He had the trach for two years before he outgrew his need for it. By the time he got it out, it was second nature to me. His care no longer intimidated me. I could change a trach and carry on a conversation at the same time. I no longer feared my child, no longer worried about what people thought. In the end, I could have cared less. I changed so much through that journey we walked through, drawing closer to God, becoming a person I never knew I could be. One I never would have chosen but wouldn't trade for anything, now.

This morning as we drove to school, just the two of us, a Bebo Norman song came on. In the seat next to me, that same little boy sang along unselfconsciously. "I will lift my eyes, to the Maker of the mountains I can't climb." In that moment, past and present collided as I listened to him singing. Once upon a time, he was that mountain I thought I couldn't climb. I smiled as I listened to him sing to the One who brought us both to the other side. And then I sang along.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Drawing, Anyone?

We've been doing a lot of drawing lately in our free time-- thanks to a couple of free books that we got from Chick Fil A, and one we just had lying around. I love it when learning just happens naturally! And it's fun to boot!

Her masterpiece-- see the tigers?

He has surprised me by the amount of time he will spend concentrating on making one drawing "picture perfect."

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Are You Worried About Money?

Today I read this verse in Haggai, and it sounded eerily familiar:

"You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. (Haggai 1:9a)

I see God doing this same thing in America right now-- so many people are experiencing that feeling of what they worked to bring home being literally blown away. Last night Curt got home from the grocery store and asked me, "Do you know how much cheese costs these days?" He was incredulous at how much groceries have gone up. We are all feeling the sting of this financial collapse. It is tempting to wring our hands and pace around, muttering to ourselves about the end of the world.

And yet, Matthew 6:19-33 is still very true. My challenge to you today is to go pull out your Bible and read this passage. Turn your anxiety to praise as you place your confidence in Him.

"For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them." (Mt. 6:32)
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Six For The Road-- New Show on TLC

I posted about this a few weeks ago, but there have been some schedule changes, so I thought I would update. Be sure to tune in to watch this show this week!

October 29th - Loud Family on Today Show
October 29th - Six For the Road (TLC after Jon and Kate plus EIGHT)
November 5th - Six For the Road

Hi my name is Kati Loud. My family and I are homeschoolers. We RV full time and we have a show airing on TLC called Six For The Road. It is about our life and journey. One year ago we gave away and sold everything we own and bought a fifth wheel and hit the road. We realized that we became caught up in life and became so busy with daily routines that we needed to take back our life. So we did what we have always dreamed of. We decided to leave it all behind and we have never looked back.
We love roadschooling! We have enjoyed learning so much while we are on the road. We have been able to learn hands on in the most able places. We have been from Williamsburg to the Toilet Seat Museum. We have been to NYC and experienced the big city and we have been to a small town in Tennessee to help tornado victims try to put their life back together. We have done this as a family and we have loved it.It is hard to go from 3500 square feet to 300 square feet. We have four kids. Two girls 15 and 13 and two boys 12 and 10. We also have 3 dogs and a little hamster. Life in an RV can get really crowded and hectic but it is fun. The first 2 episodes air on October 29 Eastern. Mountain and Pacific time zones are at 10:00pm and Central is at 9:00pm. Our next two episodes air on November 5th. Same times. Each night they will show 2 episode in a row. Please watch and help us show how many homeschoolers may be interested in a show like this. We are on right after Jon and Kate plus Eight. Our production company also does their show.
Please pass this info along to anyone that you think may be interested. If you would like TiVo the show and even turn all your TVs on to help our numbers :-) We also re- air that night at 1:00am if you want to TiVo that also :-)
We have a website at We are having our site re built and it will be 100% in a week or so. We have a great forum for homeschooling info, travel ideas, etc. We have our blogs that are stories and pictures of our journeys. We do have a contest right now . We our looking for people to help us design 3 new bumper stickers. There is a $100.oo first prize for each one. Here is the link for the dimensions etc
If you go to our site you can sign up as a member. By doing this you can get Homeschool deals, travel deals and updates. We also have a MySpace type program for families. This is a safe MySpace type page program without a lot of junk added. Just go and design a page. We have around 200 homeschool members right now. This has been a fun way to meet other moms and to see pics of each others' families and learn about their styles and making new friends.
We will also be on the TODAY show October 29th during the 9:00 am hour. They may have a glimpse of the show for you to see. If and if you enjoyed the show and you would like to let the network or our producers know go to our website after the show and we will have contact info for you.
We would love to have you pass the word to all that you can. Happy trails to you and hope to meet some of you soon our travels.
Kati Loud
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Friday, October 24, 2008

An Election Unit

In the next few weeks, we will be reading up on the election to gain a better understanding of what is going on on November 4th. My 8yo will be able to work a shift at the Kids Voting booth in our town, thanks to a notice on our homeschool eloop. My mother in law is taking her, as I knew I couldn't do that with two younger ones in tow!

Here are a few resources I have discovered to read to younger ones so they will understand the process of voting and a (very) basic understanding of the way the government is structured:

Here is a list of voting links all in one spot:

Here is the video from Schoolhouse Rock explaining the electoral college:

Also, I just discovered that on the Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin video, there is a bonus video about election time. Yay!

We will read the following books:

Woodrow The White House Mouse by Peter and Cheryl Barnes (The same authors also have one called Woodrow For President: A Tale Of Voting, Campaigns and Elections that looks really good, but unfortunately our library doesn't carry it. I think I am going to pick up a copy from Barnes and Noble, though!)

Duck For President by Doreen Cronin

Vote! by Eileen Christelow
Several years ago, I received a teachers' guide for this book at a giveaway. I am so glad I saved it all these years as there are several neat activities suggested to go along with the book. I plan to do some of those prior to Nov. 4th.

If I Ran For President by Catherine Stier

The Ballot Box Battle by Emily Arnold McCully

I Could Do That: Esther Morris Gets Women The Vote by Linda White

A Woman For President by Kathleen Krull

So You Want To Be President by Judith St. George

D is For Democracy by Elissa Grodin. HT to Elizabeth Foss for this title, as well as this link to a free downloadable teacher's guide for this book. I am thankful that our library carries this title! We will probably keep studying even past the election, as this book includes some great basic government information. A mini Civics unit in a book!

We will also go through the Notgrass "In the News" booklet called Elections. This is something they used to send out monthly, and I saved ours from four years ago-- I am glad I did, because they no longer offer it!

I am also hoping to make a brief trip to the campaign headquarters in our city for a brief glimpse of what's going on down there. We did this four years ago, and it was interesting.

I think this should make a nice unit on elections that will at least offer my 8 and 6 yo's a familiarity with the election process. Maybe-- just maybe-- we will attempt our first lapbooks with this unit.

Anyone else know of some great activities or resources I am missing out on? I would love to hear about them! (Be sure to check out the comments-- there are some great internet resource links listed there! Thanks guys!!)
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Thought

Today in my devotion, I read about how God appeared to Moses in the midst of his ordinary work. He didn't wait for some uber spiritual moment. He didn't take Moses to some mountaintop to make Himself known. He came to him in the middle of his daily life, invading and intervening.

The point of the devotion is that God comes to us in the most ordinary circumstances. He finds us doing our thang and calls us out, surprising us. Interrupting us. Validating us, even in the midst of our ordinariness.

Have you been wondering how God can use you? Have you been downplaying the value that is to be found in that pile of laundry, that sink full of dirty dishes, that stack of papers? He is there, in the middle of your most humblest of tasks.

"Those high spiritual times and wonderful communication with the unseen world are not promised to us, but a daily life of communication with Him is. And it is enough for us, for He will give us those times of exceptional revelation if it is the right thing for us."

Don't discount the value in going about your ordinary life, doing the humblest of tasks.

"Beloved Father, help me to expect You as I travel the ordinary road of life. I am not asking for sensational experiences. Fellowship with me through my everyday work and service, and be my companion when I take an ordinary journey. And let my humble life be transformed by Your presence."

That is my prayer, is it yours?

(Quotes taken from Streams In the Desert, p. 398-399)
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ghost In My Garden

I wander through my new backyard, taking stock of the variety of flowers, plants and herbs that were left by the previous owner. I know that the woman who lived here before was quite the gardener-- the evidence is all around me. And yet, there is also evidence of things left undone, overgrown plants spilling over their borders, spindly shoots stretching in wild directions. Even an untrained eye can see that this garden needs tending, pruning, shaping, loving. The gardener, it seems, abandoned her duties long ago. And so I come to assess the damage, to make the repairs, to tend this garden.

I am unprepared and uneducated. A novice gardener at best.

Months go by. I am busy, overwhelmed, tired. The garden is still not tended, but fall has let me off the hook, assuaging my guilt as the fallen leaves cover the disarray. I wander out to the garden aimlessly, unsure of my purpose in this place. The light of day is fading as I stoop to pluck the rosemary that is still, amazingly, thriving. I inhale deeply of its woody, pungent scent and dream of roasted potatoes and chicken and focaccia bread eaten in a warm kitchen on a cold night. I am thinking of how I need to harvest this rosemary to freeze for winter dinners when I look up and see her further down the row, bent over the plants, mumbling to herself.

She has returned to tend her garden, an apparition in crocs and a floppy gardening hat.

"Hello," I call to her, but she does not acknowledge me. I walk closer and she turns to look at me, confused.

"Who are you?" she asks.

"This," I say, guiltily gesturing to the house, the yard, the garden, "Is mine." For a moment she looks flustered, even angry-- then a flash of recognition, then sadness, crosses her face. She looks away, down at the plants she once tended, the soil she once turned, the new life she once coaxed from the ground.

"Oh," is all she says.

I crouch down beside her, talking in what I hope is a low and comforting voice. "I know you needed to come back here, to make sure your plants are okay, that this place is being loved. I know this was once your home and I know you thought that you would have years and years to live here, to watch your children grow, to tend this garden." I pause, gauging her reaction. Have I gone too far? "I am sorry," I say, "That your time here got cut too short."

She nods, still looking down. I stand and turn to go, to leave her with some time alone in the garden, but her voice stops me. "Will you take care of my garden?" she asks shyly. "It's gotten into such a state. I never meant to leave it like this." She looks up at me hopefully and I see the woman she once was, not what she became after cancer ravaged her body and stole her from her husband and children.

Now it is my turn to nod, my turn to look away. "Promise me," she says, pleading. I look at the house she once loved, the place she used to call home, the place she brought her babies home to, the place that she ran to after she got a death sentence handed to her by a doctor in a cold impersonal office. It used to be hers, and now it is mine. Somehow that doesn't seem fair.

"I will care for it well," I promise her. "I will appreciate what I have. I will treasure every moment I get here because it is time you didn't have. I am sorry for your loss," I say. It is what people said to her husband and children as they stood helplessly in a funeral receiving line. It is what I must say to her now.

"Me too," she says. And when I look back at the garden, she is gone.

*This post was written for Scribbit's Write Away contest for this month. The theme this month is "ghosts." While this didn't actually happen to me (of course), I do live in a new house and the previous owner did die of cancer and was a gardener. I often wonder if she knows we are taking good care of the house-- and the garden-- she left behind.
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Monday, October 20, 2008


I am angry. Angry for a friend. Angry for her children. Angry at her husband, who walked out several months ago. And as the months go by it seems that he is not coming back. He has, it seems, made choices one by one that separated him from his family, bit by bit. The further he got, the fainter their voices became. Their hold on him slipped away and he ran, legs pumping, heart pounding, towards something that wasn't his.

And left what was his-- still is his-- behind to scratch their heads and cry their tears and wonder about an uncertain future that no longer includes the leader of their home. This was once a good man, a godly man, a man "least likely" to be in this situation.

And I am angry about it. Anger that makes me want to scream, punch, kick. Instead I grab my computer and write this. I let the anger come through my fingertips, easing out of me just a bit, like the top of a soda bottle opened just slightly, to let the pressure off. Before the whole thing explodes.

The anger is eased but it isn't gone. It will go and come as it has in these past weeks. Some days I am filled with hope and prayers and compassion (I know) for this man. I remember that, even in his sin, God loves him. I know that, but by the grace of God, go I. I remember the height from which I have fallen and how Jesus warned us about planks in our own eyes. And somehow I find a way to pray for him, to ask God again for a miracle. But then some days I am just plain angry. Angry for my friend. Angry for her children.


Psalm 4:4-5, "In your anger, do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent. Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord."
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Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Scripture For Saturday

I read this this morning and I loved it so much I had to share it with you!

"Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."
II Corinthians 1:21-22

Now that deserves an Amen!
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Friday, October 17, 2008

Precious Girls Club

I received this from my friends over at Precious Moments. I blog for them over at This is an announcement about a new site called Precious Girls for ages 4 to 10. My 8yo daughter read the first book in this series and loved it! We will definitely be getting the other books in the series. Check it out!

I just wanted to let you know about our new site that just launched for girls ages 4-10, It’s actually a Precious Moments® site so it has all the same wholesome values we associate with this trusted brand and those we are trying to instill in our own children like loving, caring and responsibility. These values are reinforced throughout the site in fun and engaging experiences for girls and through a chapter book series and related products that go along with the site. The site just launched and the books are available in stores and online.I hope you’ll take a minute to explore the Playing on the site is free, but they can also get a free month of premium Rainbow Club membership by entering AIDX-ELJG-1853 on the web access code page. I think you’ll find this site to be different and refreshing – a place that encourages girls to be girls. I hope you’re as impressed as I am!
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Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Recipe For Wild Rice Salad

Today was luncheon day at Community Bible Study-- a day we all look forward to because it means no rushing home with hungry kids to make a quick peanut butter sandwich! No indeed! On luncheon day, we get to relax and take a whole hour to eat yummy food and catch up with each other. The food today was especially yummy and we all loved Sally's Wild Rice Chicken Salad. She was so great to share the recipe with us, so I thought I would pass it along to you all. It is definitely worth trying!

Wild Rice Chicken Salad

Two boxes of Uncle Ben’s wild rice (cooked to package directions)

Cut up chicken

Celery couple of stalks

Grapes (optional)

Water chestnuts (optional)

Mix all together with Mayonnaise (1/2 cup to a cup), just depends

Season with season salt.

That's it! It's that easy!
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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chris Tomlin Winner!

Deb of Life As I See It won the Chris Tomlin cd! Congrats to Deb, who is a single mom of five-- My hat is off to you! Y'all stop over there and congratulate her! To all the rest of you who tried, thanks so much-- how I wish I could give a cd to everyone of you. If you didn't win, do pick up a copy of the cd. It's a good one!
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Thanks to all of you who drop by after reading today's P31 devotion. I am so glad you visited my blog! Scroll down for some great fall recipes to make for your family and a link to an article that parents of teens can all benefit from reading. I also listed Seven Truths About God's Love, with corresponding verses to meditate on. Oh, and don't forget to go to this post and leave a comment for your chance to win Chris Tomlin's new cd. I will randomly choose a winner and announce it here this evening so don't delay!
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Apple Crisp

Peel, core and chunk up about 4-6 apples. Sprinkle with 1 Tbsp lemon juice. Lay evenly in greased 8 inch pan. (I used a 9X13 pan because I double all recipes. As it is there was NONE left tonight.)

Mix up 1 cup oats (Quick or old-fashioned), 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/3 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Add 1/3 cup melted butter and mix well.

Sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the apples.

Bake at 375 until golden brown and apples are cooked through (about 30 minutes).

Serve warm with ice cream-- try not to eat too much!

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Indian Summer

It's October, which means fall is in the air-- a slight chill when you walk outside, the leaves falling from the trees, football games on tv, the scent of burning wood carried on the wind. Food changes from light meals to heavier fare-- comfort food. Or, it should.

This week I planned my weekly menu by the date on the calendar, not the weather report. Tonight's meal was a really good pork chop and rice casserole that is warm and hearty, paired with cooked carrots glazed in brown sugar and cinnamon and butter. For dessert was warm apple crisp (more about that in another post) topped with vanilla ice cream.

The perfect fall meal.

Ahem. It was 85 degrees today. Later this week I have chili planned for dinner. They say this warm weather is going to continue for several more days. I say I am not changing my menu plan. It's fall after all-- no matter what the thermometer says!

Want a great chili recipe? I had to dig through pages and pages of my old blog to find this one but I was determined to locate it. So, I thought I would link to it in case any of you want to make chili. It might just be cold enough for it in your part of the world-- I am going to make it even if it isn't cold enough in mine!

Oh, and this just in, if you really want to get a taste for fall, try these Iced Pumpkin Cookies-- I know I intend to! Oh, and here's another good pumpkin recipe: Pumpkin Scones. Two great things to try!
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Got Teens?

Then you should read this article-- you should even read it if you have children who are going to be teens! This article touches on the "brain damage" I have referred to in the past where teens are concerned. They act like adults and want you to believe they are adults, but their areas of judgment are severely impaired. Learning about the teenage brain can help us keep things in perspective when they say and do things that don't make sense. And it can also help us remember that they may push us away, resent our presence, and say they have it all under control... but they do not. Our jobs are far from over.
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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Because This Made Me Laugh...

Sixteen year old boys are serious about their pizza!

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Seven Truths About God's Love

Yesterday I spoke at an event in Rock Hill, SC. The group was delightful and the morning was fun. I was blessed to be a part of it. I gave the group homework (it's fun to be the teacher!), but I was a bit pushed for time and some of them didn't get all of the verses I gave out written down, so forgive me for using this blog for personal reasons, but I promised the ones who didn't get it that I would post the list here.

Who knows, maybe some of you need to do this homework even though you weren't there! Why not take one truth a day, read the verse or verses and meditate on that truth each day this next week. Seven truths in seven days!

1. God's love is not fair: Matthew 20:1-16
2. God's love does not stop: Isaiah 54:10
3. We can never go beyond God's love for us: John 21:15-17
4. God's love is perfect: I John 4:18
5. God's love is loyal: Jonah 4:2
6. Jesus gave us a new covenant that is based on His love and not our works: Hebrews 7:22-25
7. God is love: I John 4:8

And to those of you who were there yesterday-- don't forget that you are a 900 and you can experience God's lavish love every day! Thanks for having me--
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Friday, October 10, 2008

To Blog Or Not To Blog

This was a great post-- my friend Micca and I were just talking about this whole issue when we were together last weekend. Go here to read a literary agent's thoughts on whether blogging is really necessary or not. For me it is still fun-- and when it's not fun, I take a break til it starts being fun again! But if it's not fun, I like that she urges you to let yourself off the hook. She has some great points that are definitely worth reading.
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Giveaway Winner... And A Cd To Win As Well!

Chris Tomlin Hello Love

I am announcing the winner of the School Planner giveaway. I had my son choose a number, and he picked 7-- commenter number 7 was Leherin. Leherin, I don't have an email for you, so please email me or leave me a comment so I can get your address. If Leherin doesn't reply in the next few days, I will post an alternate winner.

Thanks for sharing all your great organization ideas--I love learning from you guys!

And now for a new giveaway.

Who would like the new Chris Tomlin cd?? I had a chance to listen to it and it is so good-- very much what you would expect from him with lots of great Praise and Worship songs. Leave me a comment and I will choose a winner next Wednesday. Fun!
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Thursday, October 09, 2008

Motivationally Challenged

I am feeling motivationally challenged today. I open up my email and see all the things I could be doing... but don't feel like it. I see the stack of library books on apples we need to be reading before they are all due again... but I can't get motivated to start reading. There is a stack of laundry waiting to be folded... but I can't bring myself to actually fold it. I really should get in my car and run some errands I need to run... but that just seems like a whole lot of effort.

I did shower today, so in my opinion I am way ahead of the game.

Ever have days where you are motivationally challenged?

To be honest, I am really surprised I worked up the energy it took to write this post. All I really want to do is put my pajamas back on, get under the covers and read a great book and surf some blogs I haven't had the time to read. But what I need to do is to take care of my family. I also have some writing that I really should be doing. I am thankful that I don't have to cook dinner tonight-- there were enough leftovers from the pork tenderloin from last night to have that again tonight. So it's GYO (Get Your Own) night here at the Whalens... the timing couldn't be better.

In other news, CSI premieres tonight... and I know what it says about me to be as truly excited about this television event as I am. You don't need to tell me. But Warrick Brown dies tonight, folks. And Sarah comes back. I ask you, what is more motivating than that? Oooooh, I am getting excited just thinking about it!

ETA (Edited To Add): I just made hot chocolate and hot tea for us, then sat down at the table with the kids and read Johnny Appleseed and Mr. Peabody's Apples (which is a must read... even if it is by Madonna). I feel much better about things having done that-- it might just be because I actually accomplished something or because the kids and I had a moment together or... the caffeine in the tea I drank. Or some combination thereof.

Also, Warrick Brown really does die I think-- not to be a spoiler here but I am pretty sure I read that Gary Dourdan was going off the show.
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hearts At Home Last Weekend

Hi All-- I was out of town this past weekend, at the Hearts at Home conference. I had a blast with my friend and fellow speaker team member Micca-- but forgot to bring my camera to snap some photos. Today I was very glad to see that Micca did post some photos and chronicled our trip quite nicely. Thanks Micca-- I had a blast with you! And now I can't wait to head back to Hearts next year for more fun in Michigan!
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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Video Worth Watching

This takes less than five minutes to watch. At first I thought it was just another cheesy forward, but it is well worth taking the time to watch it. Go here to see it and let me know what you thought! I dare you not to cry!
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Finding My Blessings

Immediately-- and I do mean immediately after I wrote the post about finding our blessings-- my son who had been saying his stomach hurt said his cheeks felt hot, crawled into my bed and fell soundly asleep. In the middle of the morning. This is a child who doesn't voluntarily sleep ever. This was NOT a good sign. I left him sleeping in bed and got up to get a drink of water. When I pulled the glass out of the cabinet, it slipped out of my hands, hit our tile countertop and smashed into hundreds of shards of glass. I cleaned it up, prayed I had gotten all the glass, and walked back to my room to check on my sleeping child. As I walked by the stairs, I heard the baby crying. No, make that screaming. Bloody murder. Seems she had been up for awhile but her monitor had decided to give up the ghost and so the device I used to hear her had not been working, but I didn't know it. (It is now in the trash.) With the tv, dishwasher, and dryer all running, I wasn't able to hear her.

I retrieved her from her bed, calmed her down and held her. She was distraught. I rocked her back and forth and hummed a little tune in my head as I did. The words to this tune were, "Bad mom, bad mom, bad mom." Guilt ruled. I made her a drink of milk and some cereal which she wolfed down. A few minutes later, she started getting clingy and complaning about her stomach hurting. I tried to work on my cleaning-- because I have about ten women coming over here tonight. She kept clinging and crying, and her lips were very, very pale.

Not a good sign. But I remained positive and tried to tell myself that there was no relation to my son's ailments and hers-- that she was just upset over being left to scream alone in her bed this morning. Because all that screaming would make my stomach hurt, so why not?

Of course, you know where this is heading. Here is the blessing I found in her throwing up: We made it to the kitchen sink instead of on the den carpet where we were standing. There was no blessing to be found in that smell, I must say. Not a single one.

And so, it has turned out that finding my blessings today are a bit of a challenge. But then again, I was always a sucker for a good challenge. So, here are my blessings. They may have taken some digging-- but by golly I found em!

  • Anytime one of my kids gets sick, I focus on the blessing of living in a country where I can take them to the doctor if I need to, and give them medicine if I need to. I often think of moms in third world countries who can't give their children adequate medical care or administer Motrin for a fever or pain. How that must grieve a mother's heart to helplessly watch her child suffer. How blessed I am and yet do I take it for granted?

  • I have a house to decorate, to clean, to open up to my friends.

  • I live in a country where we can gather shamelessly and fearlessly in God's name, openly praying and supporting each other in our walk.

  • I have food in my house that I can cook and offer to my friends.

  • My husband can't be here to help me tonight because he has to be at a work function. I feel overwhelmed by the thought of all that I must do alone, and how hard it is going to be for me to keep the kids occupied and out of sight while he is gone and the ladies are here. And yet, he has a job-- a job that provides for us and allows me to be a stay at home mom. (He did get home earlier than I expected, so that was also a blessing.)
  • I go to a great church and have made some friends there who homeschool, love their families and husbands, and are just all around cool people. We had a great time together tonight-- and that was a blessing. I was especially blessed by Christina, who spent time putting together a handout and came over with all her lapbooks to give us all a tutorial on lapbooking that was informative and interesting. We were all inspired!
  • I have great kids who help me get the house ready-- while complaining some, yes-- but they do it because they see I really need their help. That is a blessing.
  • And the chocolate cake I made for our gathering was moist, chocolatey and sweet. Now that's a blessing you don't even have to look for!

Finally, as I turn in for the night tonight, I am happy to report that everyone seems to be on the mend. I had to do some digging to find my blessings today, but I did find them, and it made quite a difference in the low moments. I need to do it more often.

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Finding Our Blessings

An online friend of mine, Kelly, sent me a link to her blog, which I enjoyed reading-- but I was particularly struck by her "Gratitude Checklist." My friend Ann Voskamp also writes a lot about gratitude and has a little online club going where you can register your blog and catalog your blessings in a community of other blessing seekers.

As I read Kelly's post and thought about Ann's, I realized that being intentional about noticing your blessings is huge. It is the key to experiencing joy, seeing God's hand in all things, and living a life of abundance, as Jesus talked about in John 10:10. In today's shaky economy and unstable environment, I would dare to say that this intentional seeking of blessings-- this ongoing awareness of gratitude-- is paramount to not caving in to the depression and gloom and doom that are floating around out there right now.

And so, here's my challenge-- leave a comment here and share at least one thing that you noticed you had to be grateful for today. If you choose to write a whole post on it, then leave the link to the post. Let's all encourage each other to find our blessings, because we know they are out there, just as God promised, no matter how grim the circumstances we are facing.

I will share the blessings I found later today. Can't wait to hear yours!
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Monday, October 06, 2008

An Interview With Molly Gold... And A Giveaway!

Today I have a guest interview, which I love to do! Molly Gold is the developer of an exciting company called GoMom! She offers planners for busy moms like us that are as beautiful as they are practical. She is also giving away one of her products... read on to learn more!

Molly, I have to say I love your company and what you are doing to help moms get organized and stay organized. Can you tell us how GoMom got started?
I was rocking my first born one afternoon...he was about 8 months old...and the layout for the planner was clear in my mind. As a new stay at home mom, coming from a meeting planner background, I couldn't figure out what was missing in my productivity and was dumbfounded that there wasn't a planner out there focused just on Moms. I played around with the idea in my head, talked to moms at playgroup, and fiddled with how we could do it for the next 4 years and after a New Year's Resolutions challenge from good friends, came to market in March of 2000.

What is one of your favorite time management tips for busy moms?
My favorite tip is to first map out your family schedule and then work in yourself. Might seem backwards, but when you do this, you can see if your family is overcommitted, how you might be able to rearrange things for less stress, and it also keeps your commitment to your family foremost in your mind when you choose to commit your own time. You really see how you impact each other.

How do you balance a business and your family?
Just as hectic as the next girl! I find I'm most productive, and guilt free, during the school year because without my children home, I can hyper focus. I challenge myself to work really smart during those family free windows. And then I find that if I focus entirely on them from afterschool hours to bedtime, we get to bed on time and if I want to work a few more hours between 9 and 11, again its hyper focused and very efficient.

What is your favorite product you offer? (I know, it's like asking you to pick a favorite child!)

Probably our wirebound simply because its the core format that was introduced at Target in 2004 and it seems to work best for the broadest number of Moms. I do have a soft spot for the school organizer because it really has helped me to stay disciplined about not keeping more paper than I have to when it comes to that area of my life.

What is your vision/mission for GoMom?
GO MOM!'s mission is to make positive mothering a daily reality one Mom at a time. We believe passionately that intentional scheduling will lead both Moms and the families they love to a more balanced and joy filled life and we aim to offer them the educational and product resources they need to do just that. As moms are getting back into the swing of school, what advice do you have for them? Well, its straight from our overview, but its the core of our success. Apply the GO MOM! Schedule. Organize. Grow. formula and give yourself 4 to 6 weeks to settle in. First, work with a schedule that monitors all family members and provide structure and a sense of order. Second, use your new found time to better organize your home and the way your families lives within it. Finally, enjoy the success found in both committing and protecting time by making room in your life for the joy that comes from spending time together. Know in your heart that raising your family is truly the most important job any woman can ever have and rise to the challenge.

Thanks Molly for stopping by today!
Molly is giving away a copy of her School Organizer to one lucky winner! So, if you would like to win it, leave a comment sharing one organization tip that has worked for you. I will randomly choose a winner on Friday.
To see the School Organizer (and some of her other products), go to this link:
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A New Homeschooling Show On TLC

I got this and thought it was very interesting. I am already a huge Jon and Kate fan, so I will just add this to my viewing lineup! Check it out! I plan to!

My name is Kati Loud. We are the LOUD family. This stands for Living Our Ultimate Dream. My family and I have always homeschooled our children. We have taken the plunge to do what a lot of homeschoolers have always wanted to do.
We have given everything we own away, bought a fifth wheel and set off to travel the USA. We have been on the road for one year now,and it has been an amazing adventure. About six months ago a production company for Discovery and TLC found our family's website. They have been filming us for awhile to see how we homeschool , live and travel in our new small home.
We have learned so much about ourselves and our family. We have learned that it is not the things that we have that are important to us, but rather it is each other that is important.

We love our new style of homeschooling. It is amazing to go to Jamestown and not just learn about what happened there. It is about feeling how they must have felt, seeing how it would have been to be there. It is amazing how much more a child loves learning when they can see, touch, feel , and experience a place or a person. It is life changing not just learning.
We are hoping to share our story with many homeschoolers. Would you mind sending out an email to your group about our show? We would love to let others see this style of homeschooling and to also let those who may not agree with it to see that it can and does work for families.
At this time they are still working on a title for the show. The show airs on Mondays starting on October 20. We think the time is 8:30.They think it is on right before John and Kate Plus Eight. It will be on TLC. The first four shows that we have taped will be on each Monday for 4 weeks in a row.
We have a website that will have the exact time once we get it. Our site is

Thanks for your time
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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thursday Thoughts

We have just returned from CBS. This was, as always, a great morning spent focusing on God's Word and hearing what He has to say to us. Our opening was given by a woman whose husband works for Wachovia. For any of you who don't know the story behind Wachovia, it is the second largest employer in Charlotte and it was just bought out by Citigroup, whose headquarters are hundreds of miles away. Job losses are certain, relocations are possible-- no matter what, the future is uncertain for those who work there. The economic landscape of our city has been altered with this news, to what degree we can only guess. Add this news to the election hype, the gas lines as we have been faced with inadequate supply, the housing market continuing to spiral downward, the folks in Washington voting on a bailout package, and a crumbling economy all around... and things can look pretty bleak. Anxiety could rule in our lives if we let it. And yet, as she shared this morning, God is still in control. He was not caught by surprise by any of the things that have taken place. We can still trust in Him. It was a nice time to focus on Truth, to look to the Word and not the world for our answers.

In core group, we discussed Daniel. His boldness for Christ, his willingness to speak up and speak out even at the expense of his own life, was such a great reminder of how we should be responding to what's happening in the world. Daniel trusted God enough to pray in front of an open window when praying was outlawed. And I worry about seeming "too religious" in a country where freedom to worship is guaranteed? Shame on me! I left feeling challenged to "give reason for the hope that I have" (I Peter 3:15) and never be ashamed of that. I was also challenged to raise my children intentionally-- if one of my children was taken out of my home at the age of 15 to an ungodly nation, would they stand strong in the face of danger or would they be chameleons, blending into their surroundings to save their own necks? What kind of role model am I being to them? Am I equipping them to stand? Hard questions, but good ones to occasionally revisit.

And now as I sit for a precious few quiet moments and check emails, I hear my daughter singing these lines to this song that they sang today at CBS.
Behold He comes!
Riding on the clouds!
Shining like the sun!
At the trumpet call
Lift your voice!
It's the year of Jubilee!
And out of Zion's hill salvation comes!

And I am reminded by her sweet little voice as she repeats over and over, "There is no God like Jehovah" that I am to have an eternal perspective, focused on this God that is like no other, fixing my eyes on what is to come, not on what is. Someday we will see what that chorus describes and all the suffering and uncertainty of this life will fall away, forgotten in that moment of knowing our purpose so clearly, celebrating and worshiping our risen Lord. What a moment that will be!

Today I am grateful to live in a nation where I can go to Bible study without fearing for my life. I am grateful to the ladies who work behind the scenes to make that Bible study possible. And I am grateful to God for making it possible for me to draw close to Him and learn of Him. For being a God who is very, very near in times of trouble.

John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Carnival of Homeschooling

The Simple Pleasures of Homeschooling carnival is up, so head on over there to enjoy a plethora of posts on many interesting topics! I submitted the one I wrote the other day about our plans for the fall. Even if you don't homeschool, there is some good stuff on there that will encourage you in your mothering and enrich your days with your children. I guarantee it!
I saw a few posts that look very good and plan to spend most of my free moments today hopping around from blog to blog. I have already found one on nature crafts I plan to keep coming back to and one on suggestions for using a 100 chart that I will also bookmark. A blog carnival is truly one of the simple pleasures in life-- how appropriate! And a public thank you to Dana at Principled Discovery for working tirelessly to get this carnival up. Her server was having problems so she ended up posting the carnival on her other blog after hours of trying. How resourceful!
NOTE: Be sure to check below for your chance to win a basket of goodies if you haven't already signed up for the giveaway. Just as a disclaimer-- there is one basket they are giving away and all entries from the different blog tour stops are submitted. I wanted to make that clear as I think there was some confusion. (Posted below under "A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.")
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I Was Tagged

Arlene over at Accepting Change tagged me for this fun little meme. I am not going to tag a specific person, but if you are looking for blog fodder, feel free to play along! Leave a comment and let me know if you do so I can stop by your blog!

How does your day normally begin?

I get up during the weekdays around 6, 6:30 if I feel like "sleeping in." I have coffee while I do my CBS homework and read from Streams In The Desert. Then I pray, focusing on a different request each day according to a little bookmark I got from our local Christian radio station. (I keep this in my Streams devotional.) By then it's around 7 and time for me to get my middle schooler up. While he is getting ready, I get my shower and get dressed. By the time I am finished with that, it's time to take him to school. (Curt takes the older two, they leave much earlier!) When we get back from running him to school, it's time to start our school day and do some household chores. I usually start the first and third grader on some independent work (printing practice, copywork, basic math) while I do dishes and laundry and tidy up. I feel better if we can start the day off with a clean house.

What's for lunch during an average week?

We eat leftovers from dinner the night before a lot, or I will make sandwiches. On days I am feeling really energetic, I make the sandwiches on toasted bread so the cheese melts-- or we will make sandwiches with bagels or english muffins for variety. I try to do different stuff but I will admit that PB&J is a staple in our house!

What's your favorite part of the day?

This used to not be true, but now it's mornings. As I have gotten used to getting up early, I love the quiet of the house and the way the day is "fresh and new with no mistakes in it." (Anne of Green Gables) Of course, this is only true if I have had a good night's sleep!

Least favorite?

From 4 to 6 pm. They don't call that time of day the witching hour/arsenic hour for nothing! Grumpy, hungry children, a worn out mom, homework to do, dinner to prepare and daddy (aka The Cavalry) nowhere in sight!

How does the day usually end?

If Curt is home, I am usually off somewhere writing or answering emails or reading blogs-- catching up on "work" while he spends some "quality time" with the kids. He is so great to do baths and stories and tucking in. This is something we started early on and it is now routine. I was watching "Jon and Kate Plus Eight" last night and noticed him doing the same thing. I think when you have been with the kids all day, you are ready for a break and he hasn't seen them all day so he is ready for time with them, so it is a nice balance IF both parties are agreeable. Plus, I have to squeeze time to take care of "business" (writing projects, speaking emails, etc.) stuff in somewhere, and with homeschooling, not much of that stuff gets done during the day.

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