Fun Stuff We Love {June 2021}

Not just four products to share this time, but six!

From Jennifer: I love these microfiber cleaning cloths from Walmart. They are only 98 cents for two. These microfiber cloths are great for cleaning pretty much anything. The BEST thing about them is they can be used to clean windows. This was a revelation to me recently. No more wasting paper towels on windows. Window cleaner is also optional. A damp/wet microfiber cloth followed by a dry microfiber will clean the glass just fine! 😱 How did I not know this sooner?

I recently discovered these bags. They are perfect for storing a loaf of homemade bread (which don’t really fit well in a ziplock bag). Also much cheaper than ziplocks. I got them to make up some goodie bags for an event and they worked well for that too. I always feel bad about throwing away ziplocks and so I try to wash them and keep them. These are more of a use and throw away type of item. Also good for keeping leftovers, etc.

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The crisis nobody is talking about (as deadly as the worst pandemic)

We are blessed with beautiful parks in Illinois. Every town here has them, and in general they are well-kept and inviting. We went up to one for Memorial Day. We wondered if we would find an open grill, but we needn’t have worried. These peaceful Illinois parks are sometimes a little too peaceful. Where are all the people? In particular, where are all the children?

This playground has tall metal slides, the kind I whizzed down when I was a child. It has a giant wooden “hamster wheel”… it goes around and around when you run inside it. The park has swings, basketball courts, a batting cage, lovely pavilion, knobby and knotty trees, a merry-go-round, monkey bars, softball field… you name it. It even has a pond where Sammy caught 27 fish. No joke! (No worries, he threw them all back.)

All of this, and almost no children running around.

All afternoon, it bothered me. This nice park in the middle of this quaint American town…. but no people? We saw about four people all afternoon (on Memorial Day, no less), until late in the afternoon a couple came with their little boy to fish, and sat beside the pond. Of course, they would do this at the exact time that I was making a fool out of myself trying to rescue Toby’s football out of the middle of the pond by creating waves with a giant plastic jug (but I did get the football out). 😄

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Remembering the Mothers

We sent off our oldest son, again, this morning. It never gets any easier. We all stood in a circle and held hands. I had my oldest son on one side and my youngest on the other. After the prayer two boys tried to barricade the door so the oldest one couldn’t leave. Tears were shed and my mother heart was happy and sad and worried and joyful all at the same time.

On this Memorial Day, I am remembering the mothers. Mothers who stood and waved and watched their boys go off– to war.

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7 Days of Supper Menus

With my older boys home (and the leaf back in our dining room table), meal prep has recently become even more of a focus for me than it was before. Also, Katie, who had been helping me with supper prep, is now away most evenings putting her cooking skills to work elsewhere, so I’m back to being the main cook again.

Here’s what we’ve been eating for our main meal each day, for the past week. All of these are tried and true crowd pleasers at our house. Feeding a family is such a big job, and it never ends. I hope this post (lacking in photos, but not in links and recipes) will give you some new ideas.

Friday: Summer Salad, Homemade breadsticks, Snickerdoodles
A summer salad is basically a chef salad made on a platter.

How I make a Summer Salad: I use a circular platter like a pizza pan. First I make a bed of lettuce, and then on top of that I start making rings of various toppings. I always boil eggs earlier in the day so they are ready to go as a topping. Some kind of meat topping is a must when feeding growing boys. Chopped chicken or ham are a good choice, or baby shrimp as a special treat. Other topping possibilities include: chopped tomatoes, celery, sweet peppers, carrots, nuts such as sliced almonds, cranberries, cheese, croutons or crushed buttery crackers. It looks so pretty when it’s finished!

Katie made the Snickerdoodles and they were exelente!

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Where children flourish

Anything created by God will flourish best wherever it is placed by God. Remove that created thing from where God placed it, and it will die (at worst) or not reach it’s full potential (at best).

“…the wise tried to see where God placed individuals in the natural order of things, the assumption being that since God is good, the environments that He puts things in naturally help them to flourish.” – C.R. Wiley

As we seek to raise a child so that he will thrive, not just survive, in this harsh world, we should remember where God placed the child to start with. The child is placed within the mother’s body first, and then in her arms, and then by her side– and all within a home and in a family. This placement has everything to do with allowing the child to flourish.

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Photo Post: Family travels

We recently took a week-long trek, first to see our boys over in South Carolina and visit their university, and then up to Virginia for our first visit since we moved away in 2019.

What a blessed and busy time we had! God knows exactly what we need.

So, here come some pictures! (I tried to not overdo it, I really did. But…)

This was actually a “trial run,” the day before we left. Checking our headphone set-up for a little on-the-road entertainment.
We’re off to see the big brothers!
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Before the new baby! (tips for the end of pregnancy)

Question: I wondered if you can relate to the stress and tiredness and being overwhelmed before a new baby, and if you had any tips on things that you think are the most important to focus on in those last weeks?

Answer: Yes, I can relate! Here are some tips for the end of pregnancy:

1) Listen to your body. If you are tired, rest. If you are energetic, go for it! No guilt allowed. Your body knows what you need.

2) Get the baby clothes washed and ready. Get the baby’s little station set up (changing area, etc).

3) Pack the hospital bag. Or, if planning a home birth, gather all the needed supplies.

4) If time is dragging, do what you enjoy but don’t normally have time for. I resorted to Sudoku puzzles at the tail end of some pregnancies, reading a fiction book at the end of others.

5) Buy a special nightgown or pajamas for the hospital and for postpartum. Anything to help savor the stage you are in and to give you little boost along the way.

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Patchwork Post {March 2021}

The Household and the War for the Cosmos
This is an excellent series with deep and relevant content. We have watched the short videos and are soon going to be reading the book. I wish every Christian parent today could hear, understand, and emulate these concepts. From the book description: Because people saw themselves as part of an ordered whole, they also believed that they had obligations to the people around them. They were not just autonomous individuals, but members of households with unique duties to past and future generations. Words like “piety” and “religion” did not refer to what you did in your quiet time, but were more like the seemingly obsolete values of “duty” and “honor.”

Ring-a-Majigs
I found these little toys at a consignment shop while we were deep in the winter doldrums about a month ago. I was instantly taken back to my childhood! I had these toys as a child, in the same container. Anyone else remember these? Turns out they are as much fun today as they were back then.

K’nex
Also during the winter doldrums, this classic toy provided hours (literally hour upon hour) of constructive entertainment. Toby and Sammy especially enjoyed making some very complicated creations, including some with moving parts connected to a little motor. We have some books of designs with detailed instructions which helped them with ideas and specifics. Did I mind having K’nex all over the living room floor, 24/7, for weeks on end….? Yes, but not really, if that makes sense.

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Fun Stuff We Love {February 2021}

Before this month completely gets away from us, here we are with the second edition of our product share feature!

From Jennifer:

We use this rice cooker all the time. We eat quite a bit of rice and it used to be that the rice would so easily burn when being cooked on the stove. Now it never burns, which is the best part of using a rice cooker. It also has some convenient settings such as a delay start option. I have made different types of rice in it, and all has turned out well. Read the instructions carefully, because the measurement for the rice is a little different than you might expect. The only thing I don’t like is that, when cooking the rice, it doesn’t tell you how much time is left until it gets down to 10 minutes, and then it gives you a countdown. It usually takes about 40 minutes to make a batch. It will keep the rice warm and ready to eat for hours, if you need to cook the rice ahead of time.

From Beka:

I absolutely love the milk frother whisk I got recently. I use it to blend anything in a cup, like hot chocolate or my daily greens powder. What’s amazing about this little tool is that it works wonders for mixing things that tend to be lumpy. I made homemade hot chocolate earlier, and getting the cocoa to incorporate is usually quite a challenge. I took this quick video to show you.

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Inspiration for the Everyday {February 2021}

Happy Valentine’s Day! Below are some thoughts and quotations that I gathered from my Commonplace Books, on the theme of love.

My prayer for you today is that you will learn to love others more deeply as you more fully comprehend the love God has for you. If you are a natural-born pleaser/achiever like me, it can often be difficult to realize and remember that God’s love for you is not based on any merit of your own. He loves you in spite of all your failures and sins. He loves you, and not because of anything you have done or anything you are currently doing. You cannot and you will not measure up. His love is undeserved, yes, a thousand times yes, and that is what makes God’s love toward us so exceedingly precious.

This truth has come home to me over the past few years, and it repeatedly brings me to tears, because it speaks to my soul.

“How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He would give His only Son,
to make a wretch His treasure.”
-Stuart Townend

God’s love was expressed in a supreme Sacrifice. Wherever there is true love, there must be giving, and giving to the point of sacrifice. Love is not satisfied with giving trinkets; it must give at the cost of sacrifices; it must give blood, life, all.
-F.B. Meyer

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