Monday, January 26, 2015

Activity Days

I am having so much fun with my activity days calling at church... a couple weeks ago we talked about finances and made these savings banks for Tithing, Savings and Spending. Such a cute project for about $1/girl.

It uses 4 squares and 4 rectangles. 2 of the squares need to be slightly smaller than the others for the inserts and 1 of the rectangles slightly larger (both directions) for the lid. The inserts are hot-glue on the bottom and tacked on the top with yarn. We have a group of 20+ girls so it was a big undertaking, but the majority of them were able to finish it that night. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"My Stomach Hurts"

Let me tell you a little about our journey with food, and where we are now. Ever since Ben and I were first married it's been a struggle to figure out how to make his stomach happy... a very unsuccessful struggle. Then as kids have come along it got to the point with some of them that EVERY day was complaints about stomach pain. Ugh. A lot of denial on my part, and a lot of inspiration from very dedicated relatives, I think we've finally gotten to the point where we are beyond the daily pain of food. This is by no means authoritative research I'm talking about here... its merely our trial and error, a little bit of book knowledge and a lot of cooking :)

For my husband, we have done dairy free for a long time. Next we added gluten-free, which like most GF people, we went for traditional replacements like GF noodles, cookies, bread, cereal. Little did we know that is really an unhealthy diet. This brought improvement but not relief. His uncle's family pointed him to VitalZymes digestive enzymes, which are a great life-saver for public and restaurant survival. Then after being GFCF for ages and still getting stomach attacks, he stumbled upon SCD diet which, to grossly simplify it,  is about avoiding carbs and grains. A very similar diet with a really good cleanse introduction is GAPS but be warned it's pretty intensive, but it works to heal and also maintain a damaged digestive system. Now with a combination of the things we've learned this is what works for him:

  • Eliminate almost all refined sugar.
  • Avoid dairy, we like hazelnut and almond milk as replacements.
  • Eat lots and lots of vegetables.
  • Organic as much as possible. 
  • Organic eggs!!! (We LOVE our farmer's market!)
  • Limited grains, mainly rice.
  • No pork, very minimal red meats.
  • Eat good chicken (healthy and hormone free) and fish. 
  • Bone broth!
  • Snack on nuts and seeds and fresh fruits.

For a typical dinner I aim for 2 servings vegetables, 1 serving of meat and probably half the time 1 serving of grain. It's very similar to a paleo diet and I've found googling paleo recipes to be really helpful and pretty tasty.

Now eating this way is not cheap, and a gluten-free/grain-free diet is not for everyone. The kids and I are not dairy and gluten free. Maybe our intestines are not as damaged as my husband's had been, or our systems are not as sensitive. Either way, I do different versions of our meals for Ben if there's things he shouldn't eat. We still use cheese, but we are mostly switched to Almond Milk for the bulk of our drinking, cereal eating and cooking. Between that and eating more fruits and vegetables our family finally seems to be free from the constant "my stomach hurts." Which makes me a happy mom!

Here's some resources if you want to learn more:
Book: Eat Right For Your Type (based on your blood type)
SCD diet - tons of information online if you just google it.
GAPS diet - really great

And just like that... summer's over!

May 22nd to Aug 6th was the extent of our summer, and since we were fortunate to have a job again, but unfortunate not to have vacation time or money, we spent the summer at home. BUT, we were super fortunate to have the Tracey Family and Nana come to visit in July!  We took them to the Beach, Bowling, Army Aviation Museum and of course treated them to boiled peanuts :) It was a houseful of fun and noise... can't wait until we can do it again!
These kids did not want to leave the water. They had so much fun they played until they were fried! Take me back!

Of course you can't come to Ft. Rucker without seeing a few helicopters. This museum is such a fun place to step into the life of an Army Pilot. Everybody left with a pressed penny to remember it by.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Who's Turn is it to Pray?

So, you know... we're supposed to pray morning, noon and night.... and then a prayer in our hearts all the time in between. That is a LOT of prayers, and as in any good family (lol) that means a lot of fighting over who's turn is it... whether they are fighting about who wants to pray or who doesn't want to pray.

Here's how we figure out who's turn it is. By these methods, we get a little order, we get a little chaos and we get a little fun, but it helps to make it a good experience all around and maybe it will give you some ideas on how to make it work in your family. 

Family Prayers Morning and Night: 
For these prayers we go in age-order rotation starting with Dad then down to the youngest. We do our best to remember who said it last... which gets kind of tricky when you happen to skip a few, so the more frequent, the greater the success on this one.

Breakfast Prayers:
It just so happens that we have 7 kids for 7 days :) Wasn't planned that way, but it works, so for each day of the week, a kid is assigned to give the breakfast prayer and pass out vitamins.

Dinner Prayers:
This is where the fun comes into play! My husband is a kid at heart and very creative so i credit this all to his brilliance... once dinner is on the table and ready to be served he plays a variety of little games to see who gets to pray. Sometimes he has the kids guess a color, a number, an animal or an object in the room. Whoever gets it right gets to pray! Sometimes he uses his random number app which choose between 1 and 10, each child in turn guesses a number, he shakes the phone and if they get it the same as the app they pray. This goes on until one of them gets it, which surprisingly doesn't last as long as you'd think. These games never fail to put a smile on all our faces and get us all back in a good mood after the stress and chaos of prepping the meal.

Prayer is important, God is good, and Life with Kids is crazy!


Monday, June 2, 2014

School's Out for Summer!

I do get excited when school gets out... less schedule, less rush in the morning and more fun activities and time with the kids! That also means more mess, more arguing and more "mom I'm hungry" even though I just finished cleaning up from breakfast! I am such a slow learner, but after plenty of past summers and mommy-melt-downs we are approaching this summer with a new PLAN

Our Daily SUMMER Schedule: 
  • 7am: Eat Breakfast/Read Scriptures/Do Chores (we've added some extras for the summer which I'll blog about later)
  • 9am: Activities and play time
  • 11am: Lunch and more Chores
  •  12-2pm: QUIET TIME!!! This means no one gets to talk to mom :)
  • 4pm: Chores and Dinner
  • 6pm: Journals/Reading then Bed
In addition to the schedule we laid down some ground rules to help our summer be better. 
  • No TV (I didn't want Netflix sucking all their brains away all summer long)
  • No video games/screen time until 2pm
  • Only 1 hour electronics, w 10 min bonus or practicing piano
A week and a half down and so far success! The house is staying clean, the kids are having to be creative and I'm not going crazy (yet). Seriously, that 2 hour block of quiet time is my sanity! 
We hope to make it to the beach a few times this summer and can't wait to have friends/family come to visit (hint hint). We are loving swimming and parks and barbecues with friends and if you haven't checked out then you must! Our whole family can bowl 2 games for $11.... seriously fun and perfect on those stormy days. 
I have no clue what to do about friend play dates?!? We don't have many kids on our street, so if we want play dates we have to make special arrangements but what do I do? If one kid gets a friend over all of them want one or they hug each other?! Advice?!?

Thanks for looking and enjoy your summer!

Friday, May 23, 2014

He's Baaack!

My hubby is BACK... for good... with a job... where we get to stay here in Alabama... we are SO EXCITED!!! We've known for a little over a week now, and forgive me for not shouting it out to the world, but honestly I'm a little bit nervous that I may jinx it, or that I'm dreaming, or that he might get layed off again, so I've hesitated to spread the word, but FOR NOW, we are just going to enjoy it and come what may!

So he came back from his out-of-town job (in Memphis) to visit us for the weekend of Mother's Day, and we took his car in for a tune-up, which turned into a new very EXPENSIVE head to his ?engine? (I don't know what a head is for, besides the one that is on my neck ;) which also meant he was stuck here until his car got fixed. He was packed and ready to go the following Wednesday, just waiting on the shop when we get the call that there were more problems and it would be another day. FRUSTRATING... but truth be told, God works in mysterious ways... not 30 minutes after we got that call, he got an email from Ft. Rucker giving him his call-back, where they would want him to start the following week!

So, our expensive car repair may have cost us our trip to Utah, but it also made it so Ben could stay with us, and we could spend the summer together, at home, in the place we love, with the people we love and at the job that is SUCH a blessing for our family!

It's been a rocky year with all this unemployment, and uncertainty about the future, but through it all I know we've been lifted by guardian angels and wonderful friends and I'm sure countless prayers by loved ones. It's been stressful, but our burdens have truly been made light so that we almost didn't feel them on our backs. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Livin' It Up in Marital Bliss

We're approaching our 14th anniversary this summer and it's been 14 years of "marital bliss"... Lol!

Ben and I are a great TEAM, but being a great team means we are also very DIFFERENT. He brings order, I bring chaos; I'm the busy one, he's the thinker; I'm very open and he's very private. Figuring out how to come together is a skill we're still working on acquiring. Not long ago he pointed me to a great marriage resource that I really feel has helped out our marriage a LOT, and if we'd apply more often we'd be doing even better! It's a whole concept that you can find on a website, MarriageBuilders. I want to give you a little summary of it and if it sounds interesting to you then check it out!

First of all is the concept of a LOVE BANK - everyday in every relationship we are making deposits or withdrawals. When we do what the other likes we make deposits, when we do what they don't like we make withdrawals. As long as our balance stays positive the marriage survives, when the deposits FAR outweigh the withdrawals then your marriage THRIVES.

Now there's only 1 problem with that... you have to be making the RIGHT kind of deposits to actually make it in the bank. What I like, and what he likes are more often than not, two different things. Herein we come to the individual's MOST IMPORTANT NEEDS, which vary from one to another. These needs are:
  •    Affection
  •    Sexual Fulfillment
  •    Conversation
  •    Recreational Companionship
  •    Honesty and Openness
  •    Physical Attractiveness
  •    Financial Support
  •    Domestic Support
  •    Family Commitment
  •    Admiration 
Everyone has most of these needs to one degree or another, the key is finding your spouse's TOP 5 and meeting those needs the best you can. If any 1 of their top 5 needs are NOT being met, they suffer and the marriage suffers. (There are great explanations and surveys on the site to help you determine which ones are yours.)

To improve your marriage you need to START doing more of what they like and STOP doing what they don't. They call these "don'ts" LOVE BUSTERS. You may want to check these out, because I was surprised at how MANY of them I do/had been doing and didn't even know it:
  • Selfish Demands
  • Disrespectful Judgments
  • Angry Outbursts
  • Annoying Habits
  • Independent Behavior
  • Dishonesty
One of the things I really like about the Marriage Builders concept is the POLICY OF JOINT AGREEMENT - which is basically that you don't do ANYTHING unless you and your spouse are both in "ENTHUSIASTIC AGREEMENT." There are so many things we can do with our lives and this policy helps to insure that the choices you and your spouse are making are going to bring you closer together. (So if my husband isn't thrilled about how much I play Candy Crush, it's against the policy!)

I've always been told that the gospel of Jesus Christ will help our marriages more than any type of counseling or popular notions. I really feel like these ideas helped me apply the things that Christ taught us... to be kind, loving, forgiving, patient, long-suffering, etc. Marriage takes work, but it brings the BEST REWARDS ever! Hopefully this will give you some ideas on making your marriage better, and sharing them with you has been a good reminder for me that I've got a few things to work on still too.