Works for Me Wednesday - Peanut Butter Goo Remover


If you've got some sticky goo that needs to be removed, peanut butter is your solution!

It's true. If you have sticker adhesive or tape residue that you want off most surfaces, rub some peanut butter on it. Within minutes, the residue should wipe right off and leave a smooth clean surface.

I shared this tip with my mom recently and she couldn't believe that she'd never heard of this. She's used it twice and been amazed at the wonder-working power of peanut butter!

Works for me!

Disclaimer: this is meant for most surfaces (like window glass, metal, counter tops, or plastic) but you should always try a small amount in an unnoticeable area first; do not try this on clothes.

Children's Reading List: All-of-a-Kind Family


I had never heard of this book, All-of-a-Kind Family, until recently. I'm glad that I picked up and gave it a try because I really enjoyed it. Set in the early 1900s in New York, this book is full of family values and the allure of life in simpler times.

The main characters are the 5 young daughters of the family - Henny, Sarah, Ella, Charlotte and Gertie. They get into all kinds of mischief, but even in their mischief they are respectful and enjoy life at a pure and simple level. The family is Jewish, so the reader gets a glimpse into the daily life of a Jewish family, as holidays and Sabbath approach. This would be a great book to go along with a study on Jewish holidays and can certainly provide valuable insight even for Christ-followers.

I read this book on my own, to preview it before reading it to my daughter. Now that I have done so, I will either read it with her or have her read it on her own. There are a few other books that follow in this series, which we'll have to read as well.

Two thumbs up for All-of-a-Kind Family!

Family Photo Friday


Friday. Finally Friday. This was one long week!
But Friday has arrived and here are some family photos for this Friday.

This is my son working on his painted rock project for the upcoming county fair. He has 4 painted rocks in this picture - one orange, one blue, one yellow and the green one he's working on. My daughter, showing off a 50-vehicle line waiting at the bank drive-through... for pretend. Note to self: you know you have too many toys when you have 50 vehicles to line up like this, going right out the door of the bedroom. My husband and son, guitar heroes that they are! My boy really likes music, whether plunking on the piano or strumming the guitar. He's got an ear for it.

We've had raccoon drama at our house recently. In previous year's we've had raccoon families living in our chimney. Not this year - my husband capped the chimney off. So now the raccoon family lives in the tree in the backyard, just about eye-level, in this hole in the tree. We've witnessed the mama coon carrying her babies up the tree (by biting them on the neck). We've witnessed a baby coon fall out of the tree. Then we witnessed the mama coon move the babies back to this hole, deciding that further up in the tree leaves is too dangerous apparently. So each evening at twilight, we see these little coon eyes peek out of the hole in the tree. Makes me a bit nervous... since the coon drama all took place in broad daylight and since my children play outside a lot, including our backyard area under this very tree. What to do about the coons?

Well, happy Friday to one and all!
This month is zooming by, so seize the day, my friends!

Hitting the Books


My husband. The student.

My husband has been a student for more than half of our married life. When we married, we were both full time students - undergrad for me and graduate work for my hubby. Then we graduated and moved on with life and work and family. Then he started working for a library where the expectation is that he will work towards his Master's of Library Science, a second graduate degree for him.

11 years ago we were newlyweds, had nothing, had no children, lived in a small apartment and worked our buns off doing full-time school and part-time work. Yet life was good and exciting and fun. We found a balance that worked.

Fast-forward to today. We have kids. We have "stuff" to maintain (like a house, a yard, gutters to clean, etc). We have work - full-time for him and at-home for me (don't get me started on whether a stay-at-home mom actually "works"). To throw school into this mix is extremely difficult, at least for us. Life isn't so good, exciting or fun...

I honestly don't know how other people do it. To juggle family, work and school. To find any time to relax or even get adequate sleep. To find time to do anything else. We struggle to maintain even an acceptable off-balance sort of balance when my husband has school added to his plate.

The solution for us:
1) My husband takes 6-week summer classes only. We have found that we can handle 6 weeks of intensity, of knowing that he won't be around much, of knowing that there is a light at the end of the short tunnel. It means it'll take longer to complete the degree. But a degree isn't worth our marriage or family falling apart.
2) We put off all "extras" during that intense 6 week time. No vacations. No extra commitments that can be avoided. No home projects - even those that come up during that 6 weeks are put off unless they are emergency repairs.
3) I try to become my husband's cheer-leader, encouraging him to give it his best, letting him know that I believe in him and support him all the way. And then at home, I do my best to hold-it-together while he is around less, spending less time with me and with the kids. During these times, I admire my single parent friends, as I get just a small taste of what they experience day in and day out.

Thankfully, my husband's 6-week class ends today. Yahoo! I'm ready to have my husband back... and ready to work with him to tackle the ever-growing "honey do" list that has been on the back-burner since early May!

Foster Parenting - Log #16


Don't get too excited! This "log" isn't to announce that we have any new foster children with us. It's a bummer, I know! This is a lengthy post, but I wanted to share three specific things that are on my mind these days as it relates to fostering.


We haven't any calls or children since Candace (not her real name) was with us earlier this month. I'm not sure why it is so, but seeing her go was very hard. My kids struggled with her leaving at the time, but moved on fairly quickly. For me, though, it's been difficult. She was such a sweet little thing and she captivated my heart.

When Candace came, she had nothing. She was in hospital pajamas when we picked her up from the hospital. She had no other clothes or shoes. The hospital gave us a few diapers, a sippy cup and 2 small stuffed animals that Candace clung to. They were the only thing she had that felt like "home" to her.

She wasn't with us long enough for the state to issue a "clothing voucher." A clothing voucher is like a gift card that is set aside specifically for this foster child and has an amount attached to it and a specific store that will accept the voucher. If the foster child is a long-term placement and has no clothing, the state will cover the expense. If the foster child is a short-term placement, they will not. Candace ended up being a short-term placement so she was not provided a clothing voucher.

This is a situation where I was glad that others before me had thought to stockpile some clothes. My mother-in-law has been saving for 15+ years the grandkids' clothes. They have always been boxed and labeled per size and gender (like Girls 2T or Boys 6-9 months). A year ago all of these boxes came to my house to be stored. I have since systematically worked through the boxes - pitching some items that were ripped or stained, selling those that were worth anything at consignment shops or garage sales, and keeping those items that were most practical to re-use.

When we got the call to foster Candace, I was able to immediately pull out some clothes and wash them. By the time we went to the hospital to pick her up, I had a dozen clean outfits for her. As much as I sometimes dislike being the storage house for all those clothes... the hand-me-downs are handy for other kids that come along and I have always thought they would be a perfect thing to have if we ever became foster parents. And now I can attest to that fact!

Although I sent a few outfits home with her when she left, I still had clothes to return to their boxes. I've been putting that off. I also have some paperwork on Candace to file here, which I've been putting off. Somehow closing this short chapter has been more difficult than the other short fostering chapters of my life. Yet attachment is a good thing. Feeling something for Candace is a good thing - she was loved and that is part of what fostering is all about!


It is unusual to get an update on how things are going for a previous foster child. However, we did hear recently that things are not going well for CJ - our first ever foster child (you can read more about him and our experience in the earliest logs by clicking on the "Foster Parenting" label on the right sidebar of this blog). When CJ left our home, he was headed for his grandmother's guardianship. However, she was unable to handle him. He has been back in foster care and has gone from one home to another and will soon be placed in a residential treatment facility. Although I'm not terribly surprised, because he was a big handful that we couldn't handle either, I am sad to hear that things are going this way for him. Please join us in praying for him.


I have a picture frame collage hanging in the hall. As each one of our foster children have come into our home, I've taken plenty of pictures (as I do with my own kids). I have printed the best picture of each one and put them in this collage. Just that one picture of each smiling face brings back so many memories of the times we shared together.

We have only had 4 foster children in our home, so far. And yet I stand in awe of how God brought us to the place of welcoming them into our home; how we otherwise would never have met or known these specific children; how we were able to be a small part of their life story and provide glimmers of hope for their lives.

No matter what the future holds for us as far as fostering goes, I am so very thankful for the small role we've played in these children's lives. I count it a privilege to be called a foster parent.

It would be easy to put off fostering for another season of our lives. We could come up with excuses. We have young children already. We could wait until they are older or out of the house. We could wait until we have more income. But two responses come to mind:

James 4:17 says "If anyone then knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them." We knew this is what we are called to. We knew God was leading us in this direction, so for us it would've been disobedience and sin to not pursue it.

Also, this quote: "If not us, who? If not now, when?" If not us who have a loving home and room to spare, then who? If not us who have a committed marriage and love children, then who? Do we leave the job of orphan care to others? If not the followers of the very compassionate, loving Christ... then who will take it on? If not now when we are already handling young children and their daily issues and care, then when? When we are too old and lack the energy? When we have downsized our home and no longer have the room? Why put off til tomorrow the good we could do today?

And so we obeyed the call. We stepped out and have seen the first fruits of our labors in fostering. Our lives have been enriched. We've been challenged, but blessed. The path of obedience is rarely easy, but it is one of great blessing as God's grace is upon you for the task. What a wonderful place to be - right where He leads you!

What is God calling you to do? Are you putting it off or embracing the adventure? The time is now! The person is you! Go after it, with His enabling, and see what wonderful things He has in store!

Family Photo Friday


Yes, it's true - Friday has arrived.
I didn't take many pictures this week, but I do have two to share.

Here's my son with a "snorkel." He and my daughter regularly pretend to be snorkeling, using bendable straws as they "swim" around the house.

We enjoyed an outdoor picnic one day this week - something my kids ask to do almost daily. Here they are on our picnic blanket with neighbor Sarah who joined us.

Happy Friday to one and all!

Works for Me Wednesday - Play with Your Food


Octopus Hot Dogs!

I don't remember where I first saw this idea, but I gave it a try this week and it was a hit at my house!

These were oh-so simple. Make 8 slices in the end of your hot dog, leaving about 1/4 to 1/3 of it without slits. Boil your dogs. The ends will naturally curl up. Serve and enjoy! If you're feeling creative, find other sea-themed foods to serve with these or decorate your octopus with eyes and a smile using ketchup, mustard, or anything else you come up with!

Book of Stories, Book of Wisdom


The Bible.

I find that since my children are young we treat the Bible almost more like a storybook than anything else.

Stories of floods, of seas parting, of men facing certain death with lions or fiery furnaces and yet surviving by the grace of God.

I'm all for teaching our children the stories of the Bible. The stories are important and teach truths about God and about history. So don't get me wrong - I like the stories!

However, I have been wondering if we do a dis-service to our children if we leave the impression that the Bible is ONLY a storybook.

The Bible is so much more. It is so full of wisdom, of poetry, of godly instruction. For my children to think it's only a fun book full of miraculous tales leaves out so much more of what they could learn from the pages of Scripture.

Storybook or answer book. Miraculous tales of long ago or truths for living victoriously today. Book of stories or Book of wisdom. The truth is that the Bible is both... and so much more!

I encourage you to dig into God's Word today and see what He has for you! I will be doing the same... and trying to show my children the richness of His Word.

Family Photo Friday


Friday has arrived once again.
I want to share these pictures from our week with you.

My daughter and husband spotted a white tree frog in our yard (I had no idea we had these around northern Indiana - or maybe this guy had simply hopped a long way from the tropics).

Hop on Pop, at its best! My son likes to attack his daddy when he walks in the door!
Thanks to my mother-in-law, we received a new-to-us couch this week! The price was right (free) and delivery was superb (free, thanks to a brother-in-law with a truck). This is a BIG improvement over the previous couch!

My daughter continues to loose teeth every few weeks. Last night her 5th tooth came out. She's so excited! She is growing up, that's for sure. She'll turn 8 this summer!! How can that be?!

Happy weekending!

Homeschool: Zoo Field Trip


Warm weather means it's time for our annual trip to the zoo. We went yesterday with my friend Leah and her 3 young children. We battling near 100-degree temps and busloads of students on end-of-the-year field trips, but had a successful trip to the zoo.
My two kids along with friend Gunnar.

A lion eye-ing my two kiddos.
My beautiful smiling daughter with Smiley the alligator behind her.
My son, complete with hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and a stroller - ready for the day!

Fun times at the zoo!

Works for Me Wednesday - Summer Reading Programs


Summer is here and here in Indiana we have had the 90-degree temps to go with it! One of my favorite things about summer: summer reading programs that reward my kids for reading.

We LOVE books at our house and you can't beat FREE books!

Happy reading!

Homeschool: 3rd Grade has begun!


I know we're some of the wackiest folks there are. Summer is just beginning and here we are, starting up our next year of homeschooling. But I consider this to be the beauty of homeschooling - starting, ending, taking breaks whenever needed or whenever it works best for our family.

For us, taking long breaks from schooling doesn't work well. Our family generally runs smoother when we have some structure to our days. Chaos ensues when there is no plan for the day, nothing at all to do... at least when we have too many days in a row like that.

So, yes, my daughter has already begun 3rd grade. We are 8 days into the new school year and so far so good.

We started a new curriculum this year - Sonlight (you can read about that decision here). I must admit that so far I am very pleased with this approach. It's slightly more time intensive than our previous materials, but seems more enjoyable for both my daughter and myself. My daughter hates math, but her math lessons are now done on the computer using a program called Teaching Textbooks. She really likes this a lot better than using the workbook approach we've done before. She couldn't wait to start this and actually picked it up and completed a few lessons when the materials arrived last month. For her to ASK to do math is a big improvement from where we were just weeks ago!

She is learning cursive writing, doing spelling tests, working through some books on early American history (Native American studies, currently), learning about poetry (like nursery rhymes), studying parts of speech (verbs and adverbs right now) and studying basic biology for science (living organisms, cells, etc). We're also all learning Psalm 8 together. All of this is part of the program through Sonlight and 8 days into it, we're enjoying school more than before.

We are taking school at a slightly slower pace, allowing my daughter (and son) plenty of outside time now that summer has truly arrived. Lest you think they are shut up indoors reciting times tables all day... they still have hours each day left for bike rides, playing with neighbor kids, and general outdoor fun.

Again, the beauty of homeschooling - we can accomplish school in a few morning hours and still have the afternoon and evening to enjoy summer fun. This would be reason #241 for why we love homeschooling! :-)

Off to finish one of the books my daughter and I are reading together for school!

Monday, Monday


It's Monday. This week is ready to take off... and I'm not!

All weekend I've felt a bit sick - headache, stomach upset, and overly tired. I think sadness at our foster daughter's leaving is part of it too. It's just been a weekend for catching up on sleep, doing odd jobs around the house, and relaxing. For the first time in a long while I read a book just for fun.

So I have nothing profound to share today. I'm just trying to get back in the game!

Do you ever have days like these? What do you do to take care of yourself or cheer yourself up?

Foster Parenting - Log #15


We said good-bye to little Candace (not her real name) yesterday.

We found out on Thursday that the judge decided on Wednesday to give custody of Candace to her out-of-state relative and to bypass the additional paperwork and time involved in that rather lengthy process. I had a feeling this would happen. Though our caseworker told us initially that Candace would be with us for 1-3 months, I knew there were some reasons why a judge may grant this relative custody sooner rather than later.

We said good-bye to Candace on Friday afternoon. She was with us for 8 days - Friday to Friday.

I will miss the pitter-patter of her little feet as she ran through the house, chasing my kids. I will miss her high-pitched voice and the real words that would occasionally pop out as she was jabbering nonsense. I will miss the pink stuffed doggy that was her constant companion.

She was truly a joy to care for.

As she left both of my kids expressed their sadness. My daughter wondered why she couldn't stay with us forever. My son said that it would not be fun now that the little girl wasn't here to play. I told them that maybe some day God would bring a foster child to our home that could stay forever.

So our 3rd foster placement is over. We had CJ in December for 10 days. We had Chase and Davey in early May for 4 days. And now Candace for 8 days. No long term placements yet. Our state of Indiana is strongly encouraging short term foster care to give them time to find relatives who can become the long term solution for these kids.

We'll see who God brings our way next.

Super Savings Saturday


Here are a few of the deals I picked up this week.

Tiny Prints was offering free Father's Day cards last weekend. I ordered a few and they arrived this week. What a great deal - personalized text and photos, pre-printed envelope - at no cost to me at all, not even for shipping!

At CVS this week, I picked up two candy bars for nothing. They were 2 for $1 and I had $1 in Extra Care Bucks to use so they were completely free and generated another $1 in Extra Care Bucks to use on my next CVS purchase. I also used a rain check for GUM flossers since they were finally back in stock after a sale back in April. The sale was $2 per package and it generated $2 in Extra Care Bucks, making it basically free. I also had coupons to get my out-of-pocket price even lower, so these were a great deal for me.

At Walmart, I picked up these items for free: 2 packages of Wilkerson razors, 1 Breakstone's 100 calorie cottage cheese snack item, and 2 packages of Kotex pads. All were completely free after coupons. Any of these items we won't use will be donated to a homeless shelter.

Also at Walmart, I picked up 3 packages of Pull Up flushable wipes for 24 cents each, after coupons.

I shop at Walmart only when I have coupons that will result in free items, which puts me there once every 4 weeks.

Did you find any great deals this week? They are out there, waiting to be found!

Family Photo


I can't believe it's Friday already. With the holiday weekend, this week just raced on past!

My daughter's Girl Scout troop marched in a parade on Memorial Day. Here they all are together. 2 mile parade route on a hot day. But overall a good experience!

We took the kids fishing last weekend at a nearby state park. Here's my daughter doing some fishing. She really enjoyed herself. I think she and my husband will enjoy fishing as a daddy-daughter hobby. My 3-year-old son with his own fishing pole... I was a rather nervous that he'd drop the pole into the water. But he never did. We didn't catch anything, but we did leave with all the gear we brought so I considered it a successful trip! :-)

We had some summer weather this week, with temps in the 80s. The kids begged for the sprinkler and enjoyed fun in the sun.

My son riding his bike, wearing his fishing hat, taking occasional breaks to run through the sprinkler.

Happy Friday to one and all!

Foster Parenting - Log #14


We have had our little Candace (not her real name) with us now since Friday night. Overall, things are going very well. She continues to sleep very well. After the first day with us her appetite increased and she is now eating great. She is enjoying bananas and watermelon, noodles, whole milk and juice. Much improved over what she would eat when she arrived with us.

There was a court hearing yesterday but I have not heard the outcome yet. The judge could have granted custody to her out-of-state relative, in which case Candace will be leaving us soon. Or the judge could keep things on their current track - of paperwork and processing to eventually grant custody to the out-of-state relative, in about 1-3 months. We are waiting to hear from our caseworker to find out.

For now, we are just enjoying our time with Candace. She is a sweetheart. She has a great personality and is very easy to care for. She is simply a joy to have around!

Here is a picture of her with my all-smiles son.

More updates to come.

Checking In: May Update


Since May is now over I wanted to give an update on progress towards my 2011 goals.

Spiritual Goal: read through the Bible in one year.
Progress: Great! I have been able to stay current with my readings this month. Knowing that I've made it this far motivates me to continue on!

Physical Goal: become more physically fit.
Progress: Great! I was on the treadmill for at least 30 minutes on 17 days of the 31 days of May. My goal is to be on the treadmill 4 or 5 days each week, so I'm very pleased with how the month turned out. However, during the last 5 days I've only been on the treadmill once, due to our new foster placement and other things going on (loss of power for a day, hosting people in our home over the weekend, etc). That's my current challenge as we head into June.

Personal Goal: exercise more self control.
Progress: Ok. I have made some progress this month and feel like I've been able to keep a better perspective even in the midst of chaos, confusion and frustration. Still room to grow, but encouraging to see some steps in the right direction.

How are you doing on your goals for 2011? It's almost half over, so the time is NOW to get a move on! :-)

Here's a link to my April update, if you're interested.