Monthly Archives: November 2014


Thanksgiving Then and Now

1621  53 immigrants (called pilgrims) and 90 indians celebrated the first Thanksgiving.

Days of thanks, celebration, and prayer to God were a regular practice among the pilgrims, but this was the first official celebration on American soil.

And this spirit of gratitude is throughout our history.

1774- 1789  “National days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving” were regularly instituted by the continental congress.

1861   Abraham Lincoln declared the holiday of Thankgiving proclaiming the need to remember “the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

Today: Stores this year are opening their major sales as early as 4:00 PM on Thankgiving Day. Shoppers will have to leave time with family, time to reflect, time to be THANKFUL to go after deals.

So Thanksgiving this year will have hoards of Americans racing after what they want rather than pausing in “prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving”

I DON”T actually blame the businesses. As a small business owner, I know what it’s like to  come up with deals just to survive.

I blame US.

I blame we Americans who have changed from WORSHIPPERS to CONSUMERS.

From Thanks-givers to Stuff-getters.

When a store says they are opening on Thanksgiving day. WE, Americans should be outraged, but instead we move our dinner up – so we can race out the door to save $35 on a blue-ray player, $10 on an Elsa doll or $25 on a TV wall mount.

We willingly sacrifice the time we’ve set aside to THANK for WANT.

Ultimately, the success of the Thanksgiving sales show what we Americans serve.

We serve our true master – Stuff – and pledge our first fruits to get it.

This is what we’ve become.

How different the first immigrants were from us.

They sacrificed everything to be here – and willingly thanked God that he had provided the bare necessities – let alone deals on flat screen TVs and Barbie Dream houses.

A few days ago I caught a glimpse of what we must look like to a modern day immigrant.

I was talking to an immigrant friend from Germany.

Immigrating has never been easy, and today that hasn’t changed. She, her husband, and their children became citizens, have worked hard (At Walmart jobs), and are trying to put him through school for a brighter tomorrow.

And so here is her 7th Thanksgiving as an American. It is not a time of thankfulness and prayer. She and her husband will both be working through Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the whole weekend.

When she told me this,  I opened my mouth to say something about holiday shopping boosting the economy, but I stopped.

I looked at her tired face.

She had sacrificed everything to come to America because it boasted of freedom and prosperity – yet where would she be on Thanksgiving – the day we have set aside to celebrate the prosperity God has given us and THANK Him?

She would be watching us all grab for more.

For just a second this glimpse into a modern day immigrant gripped me.

For just a second the view of my own taken-for-granted life of privilege left me speechless.

“I’ll be praying for you.” I said weakly.

I will be praying for her, and I don’t plan to be part of the hoards shopping on Thanksgiving either.

I hope to spend my Thanksgiving doing what the first immigrants did – giving thanks.


How I do ALL My Errands and Cooking in ONE Day



Every couple weeks, I get my two least favorite activities (ERRANDS and COOKING) done in the same day. When I decide to do it, it opens up the rest of the week to so much productivity!

Here’s the general schedule and how I do it.

(BEFORE the day)

- Write grocery list (I’ve written about this before, but I write my grocery shopping list in the exact order everything is located in the store – helps a lot with speed and sanity when we are 17 minutes in and one or two kids start to whine.

- Have kids’ clothes laid out so I can throw their clothes on and we can leave first thing in the morning!

photo 3

- Have kitchen cleaned up. (The one morning a week that is my nemesis is MONDAYS so this is harder than it sounds!)


8:00 Clean up Breakfast & Get Kids Dressed

Spend 10 minutes clearing toy clutter that they pulled out so we can walk into a clean(ish) house.

9:00 Walmart – and usually only one other place because that’s all we can do if I want to get home in time.

12:00 Home – Make them something fast like microwave burritos, Ramen or Mac N Cheese. (Errand day comes once a week so I figure they’ll survive with that type of food.)

12:30 All my kids take naps. (Errands wear them out too so even the 5 year old who is usually skipping naps now sleeps!) :-)

12:45 This usually gives me a solid hour and a half!

Now, at this point – all the food is sitting on the counter still. 

So (AFTER making coffee!) I put away what needs to be put away, but I end up keeping MOST of it out because I’m going to use it to make all the meals. (LOVE the excuse to not put stuff away!)

Here is a typical meal plan of the meals I make. I usually need to make ahead 5 meals:

1. Stuffed Green Peppers (Hamburger)

2. Thai Chicken Casserole (Chicken)

3. Burritos (Chicken)

4. Potatoes and Hamburger Gravy (Hamburger)

5. Tacos (Hamburger)

I make a graph to see at a glance what I need to use each main ingredient for.


The top left shows the hamburger uses.

The top right shows the rice uses.

The bottom left shows the chicken uses.

And the bottom right is just a reminder of other main ingredients that are only used in one dish each.


I usually start the rice or potatoes (because they take so long).

Then I cook ALL the meat.

Finally, I add in the vegetables and extra seasonings to make the rest of the food.

And put them all together!

(USUALLY, I have most of the ingredients made but not much mixed together yet (i.e. NOTHING finished but everything pulled out when the kids get up from their naps.

But when they get up, we have my sanity saver of “MOVIE MONDAY” which I put in about 3:00. This gives me another much needed hour and a half! :-)

That’s it!

I usually can get the living room cleaned up (though not often the kitchen) by the time my husband comes home. Usually though, I can finish the kitchen after supper and enter Tuesday with a 5 day stretch of pre-cooked meals, no errands, a semi-clean house (and well…time to catch up on the laundry). :-)


Pumpkin Decorations for Toddlers

My kids love to glue things–and I love to hang seasonal decorations on our doors—so this craft is a win, win! :-) It’s so easy and cute too.


What you need (per child):


  • Paper plate for each child
  • Orange construction paper cut into several 1” squares
  • Brown construction paper cut into a rectangle—about 2” x 3”
  •  Green construction paper cut into the shape of a leaf
  •  Glue



  •  A string about 3” long
  •  A hot glue gun




Give each child a paper plate, glue, and whole lot of orange squares. Encourage them to COVER

their plate with squares to make it as orange as possible—including all the sides. This kept them busy for quite a while. :-) I love gluing activities because any age child can do it—even as young as a 1 year old. You can use glue sticks or Elmer’s, but we did the latter because it seemed to work best.


When they are finished with their squares, show them where to glue the brown stem on the pumpkin and also the green leaf.


Once the pumpkins are dry, you can hot glue the string to the back in the shape of a loop to hang the pumpkins on a wreath hanger for a fall decoration. I usually hang my kid’s creations on either side of our back door. That way we can enjoy them when we GET home as well as when we ARE home—they love to see their artwork on display and so do I. :-)




Insides of a Pumpkin Craft

I’ve been realizing lately there is so much information that we, as adults, know and just take for granted–information that maybe our young children don’t even know to think about.

Fall seems like a good time to analyze the insides of various produce items—apples, nuts, pumpkins… The kids and I recently spent a couple days just learning about pumpkins. We did all sorts of crafts, games, and activities, but the main thing we did was to cut open a pumpkin and talk about what was inside it and how everything worked. Therefore, it seemed appropriate that at the end of our “pumpkin days” they got to make their own pumpkin complete with the insides. Here’s how we did it!


I made paper pumpkins for each child by folding a piece of orange construction paper in half. I then folded it in half again but did NOT bend it that time—I just used the fold as a guide. I cut off one corner and continued to round out the other two edges that did not have a fold.

Next I did 1 SMALL clip to cut the last folded corner. When the paper was folded in half it loosely resembled a pumpkin. This gave the kids a palette of sorts to work on.


When we had cut open our pumpkin a few days before, I saved the pumpkin seeds and roasted and salted them to eat. I didn’t think they tasted very good though, so I was happy to donate them to our craft project. :-) I gave each of the kids a big pile of roasted seeds which they actually enjoyed eating. (I’m sure it was just the fact they got to eat their craft project—that’s always fun!) They each also received a string to represent the strings in the pumpkin and a bottle of Elmer’s glue to make it all stick.

They actually really enjoyed this craft and everything stayed on wonderfully! It was an enjoyable, educational, and edible experience. All 3 are plusses in my book!


Rainstorm in a glass

imageI feel like it’s been raining here for days! My kids keep asking, “Mom, why is it still raining?” By now, they have begun to answer their own question before I have time to reply, “God must know we need the rain.” So, since we’re stuck in the house watching the downpour out the window, why not find a way to make rain fun inside? Here’s what we did! SUPER easy and fun!


What you need (for each child):


  • Tall, clear drinking glass ¾ full of water
  • Small bowl filled with colored water—we did blue with food coloring
  • Shaving cream
  • Syringe


Fill your glass ¾ full of water, and mix food coloring into some water in a small bowl. The darker the color, the easier it is to see it. Squirt shaving cream in the top of each glass—my kids thought this was hilarious! Then explain how their glass is their world. The water is the sky, the shaving cream is the nice puffy cloud. Have them interact and share about things in their world so it becomes more personal for them. THEN, God knows they need rain, so let them fill up their syringes with colored water and shoot it into the “cloud.” Small children might have a hard time with it, but they should get it just fine. As they continue shooting water into their cloud, it fills up with the colored water, and it will begin raining in their world! It’s really entertaining for them to watch it rain in their world and educational as they can see how rain clouds work.


Happy squirting! :-)



The Biggest Secret to a ‘Magically’ Clean House!!

My mother always seemed to have a magically clean house.

I don’t remember her ever saying to us (the phrases that I’ve used umpteen times on my kids – )

“Okay guys! Let’s get this place cleaned up!!”


“Daddy’s coming home in 5 minutes and EVERYTHING is a mess. Ready…set…Go! Go! GO!”


(This one accompanied by aa threatening – every so slightly hysterical tone – ) DON’T MOVE the couch/ chest/ dresser! We don’t have time to clean out under it before our guests come!!

Growing up our house was just always clean.

Now that I ‘get’ cleaning and housekeeping a little more, random phrases she’d say every so often make a lot more sense and hold the key to my mother’s effortlessly clean house.

I thought I’d share today some of those magical phrases.

“Leave every room a little better then when you entered it”

 I’ve been trying hard to implement this. When I remember to do this, it is SO effective!

Our room

My childhood room – looking much more sophisticated. :-)

The living room can be a NIGHTMARE, but if I just straighten, toss or de-clutter two things each time I walk through – not even stopping in my steps – just straightening and grabbing as I go – it may only take a dozen walk-throughs, and it’s clean! (Well – cleanish anyway – this is my toddler-zoned house we’re talking about here!!)

“As you walk through a room, just glance around and see if you can take anything with you.”

Along those same lines, this works so well. When I remember to do this, my house is much more put together at the end of the day!

If I’m headed to the kids’ room by way of the spare room, I [should] scan for toys on the floor that belong in their room.

“Just do a little more each time you do something”

We never had sticky rings left on shelves in our frig. If Mom saw a little residue left on the refrigerator shelf, she’d grab a paper towel and wipe that spot – and around the other shelves too.

It took an extra 10 seconds tops.

It saved her from having to clean the refrigerator very often.

(I on the hand,  have to do a complete overhaul ever month or so.)

”Just keep your hands moving”

 Mom was just always moving – calm – very rarely stressed – but always moving.

Now that I’ve matured, I see tmy mothers’ secret.  SHE was the secret.

If there was chaos, she’d grab every 3 second window to calm it.

If there was mess, she’d take a 5 second walk-through to clean it.

Every task she did ‘a little’ more instead of ‘just enough.’

Her attitude and care came out in everything – even if it was as simple as walking through a room, listening to her two VERY TALKATIVE twin girls, or helping  us with a project.

She wasn’t looking to take ‘a break’ from housekeeping. Just because she cleaned yesterday, didn’t mean she would not wipe ‘a little extra’ today.

Making her home ‘a little’ nicer for us was her lifestyle and heart.

Thanks Mom! :-)

mom and I

Mom and I at Lyd’s wedding

- Verity