Family Photo Friday


Friday is here once again and it signals the end of January 2011 already! One month of the new year already gone. My, oh my!

As is my usual Friday custom, I'll share a few photos from our week.

Being from Wisconsin, I am the proud owner of a cheese hat. My son knows where this hat is kept and asks almost daily if he can wear it. He is clueless about the Packers and the Super Bowl and all... but being a cheese-head just seems to be in his blood or something. :-)

My kids received these magnetic "stixs and balls" for Christmas. This week they discovered they could make a huge spiderweb out of them, hanging them from the bunk above my son's bed. It's the prettiest spiderweb I've ever seen, that's for sure!

This is my 7-year-old daughter, just looking beautiful and picture-worthy!

One of the "chores" my daughter has each day is to read a book or two to her little brother. This, of course, is good for her to practice reading outloud but also good for him to be read to. Here they are both looking at Dr. Seuss books.

Happy Friday to one and all!

Pool Time in January!

We had the fun opportunity to swim at an indoor pool yesterday.

What a treat on a cold January day!

Foster Parenting - Log #7

It's been a while since I've posted anything foster-related because there hasn't been much going on, except some behind-the-scenes activity.

We are transferring our foster license from our previous agency directly to the Indiana Department of Child Services.


  • Our previous agency worked more with special needs and hard-to-place foster children. We did not know this until recently.
  • Our previous agency is the second round of help for foster children. The first foster homes that are considered are the ones licensed directly with the State. If children are too much for those foster parents to handle, then they are referred to an agency like our previous agency.
  • Our previous agency worked more with older children.
All of this makes sense, now that we know. Hindsight is 20/20. Now we understand why the only placements we were offered were older children, who had behavioral issues and didn't fit the profile of children we were looking for (younger than 5 years old, mostly).

Finding all of this out now - after 30 hours of training, 4+ months of being licensed, having accepted a difficult placement - is very frustrating! In some ways it feels like months have been wasted as we've waited. But there is nothing more to do than to move on from here and let our previous agency know that these details should have been made clearer from the beginning of the licensing process.

Transferring our license is similar to transferring colleges - some things transfer over and some don't. Thankfully, almost everything transfers and the few things that didn't are easy enough to duplicate.

At this point, we will be re-licensed with the State of Indiana directly within 2 weeks time. We anticipate getting more frequent calls with children to consider and most of those falling within the profile that will work for our family (infant through 6 years old). There is a greater chance of temporary placements - children that might be here for a very short period of time - and also emergency placements - needing a place immediately, maybe middle of the night, maybe coming with nothing but the clothes on their backs, etc. This is the type of foster home we were intending to be from the beginning.

So we continue to move forward with the process. Continue to pray for those children the Lord will bring our way. Continue to strive to be a safe and loving place for kids.
Continue with our vision of being a lighthouse for those living in darkness.

Family Photo Friday


Friday is here once again. This week went by quickly - we had things going on each day this week, keeping us busy.

Here's a close-up of my son. The context would be a pencil sword fight with my daughter, whose pencil you can see in the foreground. We schooled 5 days this week and my son spent a lot of time with us at the table, coloring and drawing and cutting.

I think he is starting to look more like a little man this week. Something about his hair or something is making him look older!

Our friends - the Randalls - came over one morning this week. They have 3 girls and a baby boy. It was all dress up, all the time while they were here. In this picture: my daughter with 2 friends dressed as princesses and 1 friend dressed as a cowboy, along with Mrs. Randall wearing the lion mask and cowboy hat! 3 princesses with only 1 cowboy led to some broken hearts and even tears as the cowboy could choose just 1 princess to marry... until they figured out that the other princesses could be daughters and they all lived happily ever after!

Here is a picture of my kids playing with some math blocks. Also in this picture is Sarah, our next door neighbor, who is a good friend of our family. Sarah is 12 years old. She is fun to have around, even for me. She and I have some humorous conversations. One thing I did this week was bring up some probing philosophical questions, which she thoroughly enjoyed discussing. (For example: would you be willing to be blind from age 50 onward to give the gift of sight to someone else who had been born blind? What if the other person was your brother or sister - does that change your answer? Should it?)

Happy Friday to one and all! Make each day count for eternity!


We are trying our hand at more homemade things in an effort to eat healthier and to save money (it's a beautiful thing when those two can be done at the same time!)

Last weekend we tried homemade yogurt using this recipe. This turned out great and we've been enjoying some healthy and delicious yogurt each day. Mixing it with fresh fruit and/or grape nuts is a filling breakfast!

We made 8 homemade pizza crusts to freeze and use throughout the month.

We made bread-machine buttery rolls using this recipe from Money Saving Mom. These were very good fresh with butter or honey drizzled on top. They didn't save well, so it's best to make enough for one meal at a time.

Last weekend we tried our hand at homemade noodles using this recipe from These turned out well, though we need to roll them a little thinner next time. Homemade chicken and noodles was a hit with the entire family!

And lastly, we made homemade pop tarts using this recipe from heavenly homemakers! These were surprisingly easy to make and even without using wheat flour, they are healthier than Kellogg's Pop Tarts. We enjoyed them as a dessert with one meal this week.

Have you tried making anything homemade lately?

Works for Me Wednesday - Cooked Carrots Even My Kids Love!


Works for Me Wednesday - Cooked Carrots Even My Kids Love!

Every mom knows how hard it is to get your children to eat veggies. Recently I discovered a way to serve carrots that my kids absolutely devour! And just as thrilling, it's super simple!

Cook your carrots (in boiling water until tender). Drain. Put a dollop of butter on the carrots and a small amount of brown sugar. Stir gently. Serve.

Since first trying this, I use a slightly less amount of butter and brown sugar each time (weening off the sugar... until my kids will enjoy the natural sweetness of the carrots alone).

Both my 7-year-old and my 3-year-old love carrots this way. They will ask for seconds and even thirds until every bite is gone. My daughter especially asks if she can finish all the carrots, after everyone has been served their first helping. My kids have never been big on veggies, so this is huge! I am now serving carrots every-other-day, with no end in sight!

It works for me!

Children's Reading List: The Trumpet of the Swan

The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White. Does that name sound familiar? E. B. White also wrote Charlotte's Web - my absolute favorite children's book of all time! Because of that fact, we picked up The Trumpet of the Swan and read it this week.

We liked it! Was it as good as Charlotte's Web? No, but it was a fun book to read. Entertaining. Laugh-out-loud funny in some spots. Educational as well.

The first few chapters seem very realistic. A boy is camping in Canada and finds some trumpeter swans on a pond. He is fascinated by the swans, as they swim and nest and eventually hatch their young. Then the story turns into fantasy, as one of the young swans takes a liking to the boy. They become friends. The boy helps the swan, who, as it turns out, has no voice and cannot talk, beep, squawk or trumpet as a swan should. The swan ends up learning to read and write, as well as learning to play the trumpet (since he could not do this naturally). In the end, all is well.

This is a great story to teach the "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade" philosophy of optimism. Louis, the swan, learns to communicate in other ways since he has no voice. He is able to accomplish much with his life. He eventually fell in love and wooed his lovely Serena and became a father, despite his lack of natural "trumpeting" ability. His life lacked nothing because he chose not to sit on the sidelines and throw a pity party over his misfortune.

The Trumpet of the Swan was a fun read that I would definitely recommend to others.

Menu Plan Monday


It's Monday. I am trying to get back into the routine of having a menu plan for the week before the craziness really kicks in. This week instead of the actual recipes planned out, I'm going with the following basic framework. My hubby's been finding lots of new recipes for us to try out so this week will include some of those.

Monday - pasta or casserole
Tuesday - something with beef (or venison, as we have a lot of ground venison my dad gave us over Christmas that we use instead of beef)
Wednesday - crockpot
Thursday - either tuna something or breakfast for supper
Friday - something with chicken
Saturday - hamburger helper type of dish with beef or venison
Sunday - leftover buffet

As usual, we are working off our pantry/storage stash. We try to stock up when we can get items free or super cheap. This week's meals will come from what we already have on hand. So far this month, we have been able to spend under $150 on food and might just stay within our $250 food budget for this month (this would be a new "low" for us; can't keep it this low every month, but we want to see if we can do it).

Do you have a plan? Meals don't just make themselves... get a plan together based on ingredients you already have on hand. And "bon appetit" this week! :-)

Family Photo Friday


Another Friday is here again. I didn't take many pictures this week, but here are a few. Turns out my daughter was completely left out of the pictures this week. I'll try to even it out next week.

We have had major amounts of snow this week, including 2 feet that fell last Saturday alone! Here was my husband making a path with the snowblower and my son looking on (very thankful for the path, because he couldn't walk in the snow otherwise).

One of the gifts my children received for Christmas were these magnetic "stix and balls." Very fun to create shapes and objects with these. Someone realized that the light fixture above our dining room table is magnetic. So here is the colorful chandelier we created.

This is my son - the cool dude!
A sun visor and sunglasses on a snowy January day. :-)
My son received a magnetic fishing set for Christmas. He was catching fish on the living room floor from the piano bench.

Happy Friday to one and all!

Children's Reading List: Rabbit Hill

Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson

I found this book while doing some searching on for classic children's literature. The themes of this book revolve around showing kindness to animals and recognizing the importance of all creatures.

My daughter enjoyed this story. As with many books, the animals are talking and carrying on like people do. In this story, there are at least a dozen animals who live near the old house on "the hill." And new people are moving into the old deserted house. The animals are beside themselves with curiosity about the new folks. They turn out to be wonderful people, who share bountiful trash with the skunk and raccoon, leave plenty of veggies in the garden available to the little critters, have no issue with the mole tearing up their yard and will lend their aid to nurse an injured rabbit back to health. In the rather anti-climactic ending, St. Francis of Assisi is lifted up as the patron saint of animals and everyone lives happily ever after.

I found this book to be entertaining (and even suspenseful at times) but the ending to be a let down. And although I am all for treating animals fairly, I'm not all for thinking that animals have humanly thoughts about life or that we humans should treat animals necessarily as we treat humans. This book seemed to elevate the animals a bit higher than I do.

Another ok book - not great, but not terrible.

3 stars out of 5 from our family.

Children's Reading List: The Cricket in Times Square

The Cricket in Times Square is another classic book that slipped past me until recently. I'd only ever heard the name before... until my daughter and I read it one chapter at a time in December.

The book is basically the Country Mouse, City Mouse tale. The cricket is from the country and lands in the subways of New York City, not knowing how he got there or what to do now that he's there. He's befriended by a cat and a mouse and a young boy who keeps him for a pet. In the end, though, the cricket is unhappy with the busyness of the city and leaves to return to quiet country living.

As a Wisconsin farm gal who has turned city gal to live in Milwaukee and Chicago and now suburban gal to live in the South Bend, Indiana area - I can relate to the cricket. For my daughter, I think some of these themes were lost as she was simply entertained by the story of the musical cricket with his odd friends.

A good story. Not a favorite, but a good story nonetheless.

3 out of 5 stars from our family for The Cricket in Times Square.

10,000 Small Resolutions

I recently read the article here.

I loved this because Paul Tripp put into words what I've thought for a long time. I'm all about setting goals and have no problem with New Year's Resolutions. The new year is a great time to evaluate where we're at and where we want to be. But making a statement in January doesn't get you any closer to that goal. It's the daily carrying out of baby steps that gets us there - not one big dramatic statement of resolution.

It is 10,000 moments of me holding my tongue when I want to speak a harsh word.
It is 10,000 times of speaking in a soft tone and not yelling at my kids when their toys are left out on the floor again.
It is 10,000 steps of obedience and faith.

It is how we live our lives each day that matters. What baby steps will you take today to achieve your big goals?


I am seeing my doctor today to discuss my high cholesterol to brainstorm ways to lower it... one of my physical goals for 2011.

I am reading a few chapters of the Bible each day to accomplish my goal of reading through the Bible in 2011... one of my spiritual goals for this year.

I am working on exercising self-control throughout the day, keeping my tongue and frustration in check. I hope to see improvement in this area of personal growth in 2011.

I challenge you to not just set goals, but to find baby steps that can be incorporated into your daily life to achieve those goals over time. 10,000 moments will get you there!

Family Photo Friday


Friday is here! We had a great week but I'm still glad to see Friday come around! There's a definite "silly children" theme to this week's photos.

My son climbed inside a cooler and shot me his cheesy grin.

My kids playing choo-choo train with a box.

My daughter doing who-knows-what as she shows off her game of dominoes.

And my son showing off his game of dominoes.

I guess you could say it's been fun and games all week at our house. :-)

I challenge you to enjoy some fun and games this weekend!
Happy Friday!

Works for Me Wednesday - Christmas Card Prayer List

Christmas is over. Sniff. Sniff.

I hate taking down the decorations. I hate throwing out the Christmas cards, pictures and letters. And so began our annual tradition of praying through our Christmas Card list.

Whenever we're ready to start taking down the decorations, we start praying. We take one card/picture down each day and pray specifically for that person or family. [Yes, we hang up all of our cards on a wall, but whatever you do to save your cards will work just fine].

If they took the time to pick out, write in, address, stamp and mail a card to us, is taking a minute or two to pray for them really too much to ask?

This year I've added another layer to it. In addition to praying for the folks, I'm also trying to write a small note (or email) to each one on the day we're praying for them. This will encourage them and let them know that at least today someone was lifting them up in prayer.

This tradition does a few things that I love:

  • I can help model the importance of prayer for others to my children
  • We have a physical reminder of folks to pray for
  • The holidays seem to last well into January by keeping our cards up longer
  • People are lifted up in prayer to the Lord and encouraged to know that we care
So start a new tradition of prayer today!

[Works for Me Wednesday... I'm a day late, I know. But this is my day-late Works for Me Wednesday post. Better late than never!]

Christmas Recap

Hello 2011! We are finally back home and fully recovered from our Christmas travels. 4 major Christmas celebrations spread out over 8 days - two happening here at our Indiana home and two in Wisconsin. I'll share a few Christmas 2010 photos.

This is my 7-year-old daughter with her gifts on Christmas morning, prior to opening them. As a family, we keep Christmas gift-giving simple. We give 3-4 gifts per person and that's it. This helps us live out our belief that Christmas is not primarily about gifts and what you get.

Both my kids here are showing off their new bathrobes. Our house is cold in the winter so these were a GREAT idea for both kids!

My son had a big blue bow on one gift, which he promptly put on his head. :-) I am in complete agreement - he makes a great gift!

My son with some of his gifts - little animal set.

Lastly, a family photo taken at my mother's house in Wisconsin. Not a great shot, but it was the best of 4!

My mother was recently given a video that an uncle put together with footage from family Christmases from the 1950s through the 1970s. What a treasure to see, all these years later! Watching that with my mom made me pull out our video camera and take more footage this year. Photos are nice, but what a joy to see the kids and hear their little voices again after they are all grown.

Now it's back to reality. Back to homeschooling. Back to the waiting game, as we wait for a call for another foster placement. Back to life as usual... or not as usual. I'm spending some time praying through some goals for 2011 - personally, financially, spiritually. I want to be intentional with the days I'm given, growing more in Christ-likeness and holiness rather than just wasting my life.

May 2011 be a year of growth for all of us!