Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Preparations

At our house we have a special way that we prepare for Thanksgiving.  We like to plan it all out and make it last a few days...not the food, the preparations!  My Mom flies out from San Diego, usually about a week in advance, but this year she didn't arrive until Monday night...so we had to start without her!

We start on Monday, or as we refer to it , Potato Day!



Everybody peels potatoes!  We peeled and cooked 20 lbs!





Then we make mashed potatoes and put half in plastic gallon bags to freeze for later!


Tuesday is Pie Day!


This is it...my only pie picture, I am not sure how I missed the pies.  And they were really good!  These are Homemade Apple Pies, with little hearts cut out of them!

Wednesday is Turkey Day when we cook the turkey!


Grandma is the Turkey expert!  And she even brought her own sewing kit to sew up the turkey after they stuffed it!

Sewed it right up!  And I have pictures!




Grandma was a great supervisor!  And Katy is really good at stuffing a turkey!  I am so happy that my girls are learning these things at such a young age.  I didn't learn to cook a turkey until I was 35 years old!!


Even Ava Marie was learning how to stuff the turkey!


Almost done!


Ava Marie is so proud of herself!


And who can resist a kiss from this fella?!  No he didn't get to stuff the turkey this year...but he is my little turkey!!  Kiss-kiss!


And here is the finished Turkey!  Wow!  This was such a juicy, moist turkey!  We removed the stuffing, carved the meat and put it all away for the next day!  Then I just put the meat in a 9 X 13 pan and fill it with broth and then cover with foil and put in a low heat oven for an hour, then it is ready to serve!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Banana Splits!

I don't know about you but I have always loved a good Banana Split!

The other day the kids and I were watching a movie and the family on the movie was making Banana Splits and my daughters said, "Hey, what is that?"

WAIT!  Did you just say, "What is that?"

Okay, big time Mom FAIL here!  I have to admit, I have never made nor ordered Banana Splits for my kiddos!!

Time to rectify that situation!  And there's no time like the present! Hahaha!!

What Time is it?  It's Banana Split Time!! (Cue some circus music here!!)

So we went to the store and bought all of the ingredients...yes, I did get ice cream too, just forgot to put them in the picture!




Look at those excited faces!!  They don't even have a clue how great this will be!!


And if you have never assembled one of these, here are the steps.

Step #1 SPLIT your Banana...oooohhhhh, see that is where the name comes from!!

(Can you believe how educational this blog has become?!)


Step #2 Add your ice cream!

I bought 2 kinds, Neopolitan and Vanilla!

I know, Vanilla is kind of boring, but Katy will only eat Vanilla, so sad!


Step #3 Drizzle with your toppings!!

I used Chocolate Fudge, Caramel and Strawberry!!  

Very old school!


Step #4 My personal favorite...Whipped Cream!!!!

Yes, it is out of a can..how else can you get it to look like that?!


Step#5 Sprinkle with nuts and top with a Marachino Cherry!

Do NOT skip this step!  The Cherry is very important!!  (You can skip the nuts if you need to, but NOT the Cherry!!)



Step #6  EAT!

This was so fun for the girls!  
We will have to repeat it for the boys when they are a little older.


This is the, "When are you going to be done taking pictures so I can eat my melting ice cream?" picture!  Notice big sister is already going to sleep while waiting!  She woke up fast when I said I was done and she could eat!



And a Mini one in a cup for Mom!!

Yum!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sewing Therapy and A New/Used Skirt for Katy

I love to sew!  I don't have a lot of time to sew anymore, but when I do it really makes me feel good.

Before we left for camp we went to a local thrift store called Savers and picked up some Denim Skirts to renew!  We look for really short skirts, but we also can use skirts of any length and then cut them off if needed.

After picking up some great skirts for everyone we went to the fabric store to look at some cute fabric!  Disclaimer:  If you know me, you are probably appalled at this last statement, because you know I already own every piece of fabric on the earth already!!  Unfortunately, my children feed my habit by saying they need to see if there is something at the fabric store that is new and prettier than what we already have....oohhhh shiny!

We found some really pretty coordinating fabrics and everyone agreed they wanted to use them, so the idea was that I would use the same fabrics but add them in different ways.


Katy's skirt was first since I usually start with the little girls first.  We decided to put 2 ruffles on it.


Finishing the bottom of the second ruffle.









We only got the one finished before we left.  Katy loved it and has worn it several times.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Homeschool Family Camp 2014 - Part 4

I promise this is the last post I will do...for now...on the Homeschool Family Camp!  But really, I can't help it!  It really had an impact on us.  And that is what I want to tell you about now.

I have this theory.  Well, it isn't a new one.  Most will probably agree with it.  But to see it in action, that is another thing!

When you surround your children with adults and other children of exceptional character, and block out all other influences, your children will start to emulate those around them and become exceptional themselves.  Don't you agree?

Well I have proof!

Now, I love my daughters.  They are sweet and smart, creative and kind, friendly and sometimes kind of selfish.  Aren't all kids that way?  We work a lot on trying to have a servant's heart.  But it is a long road....

Most of the time I get a lot of this...

I walk into the kitchen, there are dirty plates and cups and utensils all over the sink.  Someone left a knife with jelly and peanut butter laying on the counter...lots of crumbs on the floor!

So I ask, "Who made lunch and left everything on the counter?"

And what do you think the response is?  If you answered, "Not me!"  about 4 times, then, Ring, Ring, Ring, you are a winner!

So what do you do with children that not only won't clean up after themselves, they feel like you are torturing them if you ask them to clean up after each other?!

I will tell you...take them to Family Homeschool Camp!!!  Yes, folks, I now have girls who can see the beauty of serving each other!!  WOW!!  I even have pictures!


Ava Marie was sitting with me, watching the young woman in the white shirt go from table to table picking up people's empty plates and wiping their tables for them.  She was being of service to many different families.  At some point Ava just got up and started following her and doing the same thing.  She never said a word, just went from table to table and picked up dishes and cups and put them in the tub on the side.


I sat there for about 20 minutes watching them.  They worked side by side, never speaking to each other, just joyfully serving others.





Then she caught me watching her!  I was so proud of her!

So there is your secret!  Surround your children with the kind of people you hope they grow up to be!  Then let them soak it up, God's word...it transforms.  Amen!

Homeschool Family Camp 2014 - Part 3

The best part of Homeschool Family Camp is meeting all of the wonderful people!  I did not take enough pictures of everyone, I wish I had a picture of each Mom there and many of the young women who I met.  They were all so sincere and gracious.

The host families at the camp were the Bontragers and the Wissmans.  Becky Bontrager and Gloria Wissman were beyond gracious and filled with hospitality!  They both took turns leading the Mothers and Daughters time together, which was filled with fellowship and learning and lots of laughter!

I did get a few pictures of some of our favorite people:



These two little girls and their sweet family are one of our favorites!  Big sister Isabella and little sister Michaela became fast friends with Ava Marie and Madyson!


Mackenzie had a great time getting to know Christiana!


All of us loved the Mayo family!!  They are raising young women of such high integrity and strong faith!  I am so impressed and encouraged as a mother.  I am so thankful that the Lord introduced us and look forward to getting to know them more and seeing them again!


Beckham and Hudson especially loved Anna Marie!  
Or as our family calls her "The Baby Whisperer!"
She was so ready to help and hold babies and help all of the families!


Madyson and Ava Marie especially loved being included at the "Girls Table!"



Such sweetness!

And when they finished their meals, most of these little and big girls would go over to the tables and ask if they could clear your dishes for you!  Service with a smile and a servant's heart!  Praise God for such unselfish young women!

Homeschool Family Camp 2014 - Part 2

We arrived at Village Creek Bible Camp on Sunday evening.  The first thing that happened as we drove up to The Lodge where we were staying is that a nice man came up to the car, introduced himself and asked how he could help us.  I thought he worked at the camp, I found out later that Kallan and his brother Kelvin and Kelvin's wife Daniella had purposely come early so they could be helpful to the other families just arriving!  What a blessing these three were for our family.

I don't know if I am the only one who came to camp worried about how it would all work out.

I worried if our family would be excepted since I am a single woman with all of these children.

I worried that maybe everyone else would be so conservative that they would judge us, and that maybe we wouldn't even be dressed right.

I worried that may be, some wouldn't be as open to the idea of adoption and would not be accepting to all of my children.

These worries kept me up at night, for weeks before we left for camp.

Even as we drove into the camp, my heart was beating so fast.  What were we doing here?  Why was I putting my children through this?  Surely we would be excluded from most everything...no one would talk to us...people would stare...we would feel dejected and have to leave and go home early!

But that is not at all what we found!  And of course, God was in all of the details!

After Kallan and his brother helped us move into our room, the girls and I thanked them and got right down to organizing our space!  The girls each claimed their beds and dressers.  We put our clothes and linens away and then set the beds up for the boys.

Dinner was served at 5:30pm in the Dining Hall.  Each family sat at a table for their family, but it was obvious that many people had been there before and were already happily greeting each other and hugging and smiling all around.

Many people came up to us and welcomed us!  The best part of the night for me was when a group of beautiful young women came up to us and asked if they could hold the twins.  They were all from the same family and had read our blog, so they knew about the boys and our whole story!!  WOW!  I have never met someone who reads this blog, so that was really exciting!

At 7pm everyone walked over to the Gym/Auditorium to hear the Keynote Speakers for the night!  Every night for the next 4 nights we would hear wonderful music played by families at the camp.  The Bontrager Family and the Wissman Family.  The Craig Family and the Johnson Family.  And many more!  What beautiful, holy music!  It was such an encouragement, so filled with Christ and light and joy!



Loren Wissman speaking during one of the evening sessions.



The Bontrager Family


The Craig Family


All of the Men & Boys.  They were awesome!

I am so glad we went out of our comfort zone and went to camp!  We all felt loved and included and learned so much from all of the speakers.  

I especially loved a talk by Ruth Wissman about her Mission trip to Mongolia.  She has such passion for the people there and God used her in such a personal way there to get His Word out!  I am so grateful for her sharing this time in her life with all of us.  

No matter what season we are in, God knows us, He sees us, and He needs us to be obedient to Him so His people can be reached for His Glory!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Homeschool Family Camp 2014 - Part 1

Oh my, how to write about a week that changed our families lives!  We just got back from Homeschool Family Camp at Village Creek Bible Camp in Lansing, Iowa!

It was incredible!



We started out on Saturday, driving from Kansas City to Des Moines, IA.  We didn't leave until 1pm, because some of the girls had rehearsals in the morning, and lets face it...I don't like to be rushed!

It took us a little over 3 hours and the boys were ready for a stop!


Nap time!


We stopped in West Des Moines at The Drury Inn, had a FREE dinner and swam for a little while.  Then we slept very well!

Next morning we were up at 7am, had a delicious FREE breakfast, and jumped in the car and drove out!  Of course we stopped at Starbucks for one last time!  (The camp did NOT serve Starbucks coffee!  Though it was good coffee and the pot was full all the time!)

I had never been up to the camp before, and so I did not go the fastest way there...AT.ALL!  We ended up driving east through Rapid City, IA which was about 2.5 hours and my maps said it was another 4.5 hours to the camp.  (Had I spoken to someone who knew the way, I could have gone another route, which we ended up taking on the way home and it would have only been 4 hours total from Des Moines to the camp!  Oh well, you live and you learn!)

We decided to stop in Rapid City as it was now 12 noon and everyone was hungry!  We got food at a local McDonald's and went to a park right next door to eat and play!  And what a park we found!!


Beckham loved climbing all over this structure!
(Which was the smaller of the 2 play structures!)


Hudson loved the slides!  There were 4 of them on this one structure alone!!


Even the big girls had fun playing and stretching their legs!

Afterward we got back in our van "Scout" and headed north to Lansing!  We had to stop a few more times because the directions I had downloaded from Google AND Mapquest were sooo crazy!!

But finally, just before 5:30pm we arrived!


This building is The Lodge where we stayed.  Our room was on the first floor to the left of Scout, parked right there to the right of the building!  (Blue van.)  Great access for the double stroller!


Awesome play area right across the road from us!  Ava Marie and the boys spent soo much time here!


The outside of the Dining Hall!  Dining on the right, kitchen on the left.  Those chairs on the left are around a nice fire pit, there are two of those and they were always lit in the evenings!  This was a really great place for us to gather with other families and talk after the evening services.  
(And they always had snacks for us in the evening!!)


This is the Gymnasium/Auditorium to the left of the Dining Hall.  We had all of the Chapel services and evening services in here.  And a LOT of volleyball was payed in here!!


Our room for the week.  It was very spacious, we had 1 full size bed for mom, and 4 bunk beds.  The boys used their pack-n-plays, so we actually had 4 unused beds!


Someone was unhappy about all of Mom's picture taking...can you guess who?


These two are happy almost all of the time!!



I'll end for today with a little one-on-one action!  There was a lot of this going on!!  Every morning they would get up and start shooting baskets!  Guess we are going to need one of these at our house pretty soon!

I'll post more about the camp and all the friends we made next time!