Savor the Season

I love homeschooling! I also love reading and listening to other homeschoolers stories, struggles and victories. I hope you will enjoy the homeschool stories I will be sharing from Guest Readers, as much as I do! Savor The Season Homeschooling … Continue reading

This Momma’s Meandering Mondays Week #62

Welcome one and all to This Momma’s Meandering Mondays #62 and I want to offer a great, big thank you in advance to all of you who link up with us! It has been a great honor and blessing to a a Guest Host this past month with Stacey from This Momma’s Ramblings. Thank you Stacey from the bottom of my heart, I have met so many new blogging friends, and I have learned so much that it is beyond amazing how I feel.

 

Week #62 This Momma’s Meandering Mondays

Now…let’s get the party started and come on in and join the fun by linking up your favorite posts! We had an absolutely awesome week last week! Share the fun and make some new friends, find a new yummy treat, or find a wonderful new craft idea to make. This is a great way to grow in your friendships! But before we start this party…Grab a badge!

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Today, I would like to now give a warm Meandering Mondays welcome to our new co-host for the month of September…Victoria from Giveaways 4 Mom!

Giveaways4momVictoria

Victoria is the owner of Giveaways 4 Mom. She is a full time work at home mom of three young boys. She started Giveaways 4 Mom to show moms that they could indeed win online giveaways and over the years, it has evolved into so much more. In her free time, she loves taking her boys to events and amusement parks.

This will be the last week for our co-host for the month of August, so be sure to stop by to read the wonderful guest post that she did, just click on the link below…Welcome Miranda from Grace and Gravy!

blog profile pic Miranda

Miranda is the author behind the blog GraceandGravy with a side of life! She is a Crunchy, Country Mama giving her look on a Homemade Life of Homeschool, Good Eats, (Mis) Adventures, and Living Grace-Filled Everyday! Miranda resides in Arkansas with her sweet husby William that she has been married to for 15 years and a homeschool mama to kiddos Keegan and Lindy. She loves her four-legged, fur babies and they make her life complete. Miranda is passionate about blogging, reading, crafting, cooking, planning/decorating, and learning to be a more self-suf​ficient Homesteader.

Here is a wonderful guest post that she contributed to my site a couple of weeks ago, called, “Ten Things I Want My Children to Know About Me“! Such an amazing post from the heart!

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Now stop in and say howdy to my linky party partners in fun…

The wonderful Jessica from The Wondering Brain and Natasha from Epic Mommy Adventures.

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Epic Mommy Adventures

Grab a badge and join the party!

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Now it is time to introduce our favorite This Momma’s Meanderer’s from last week, and boy oh boy it was a difficult choice! Don’t forget to grab your “I Was Featured” badge of honor! Congratulations to you all!

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Miranda’s favorite post came from Ten at the Table with the post “Stromboli Step by Step!”
Saying, ” I am such a bread lover and enjoy any type of pizza/sandwich style food. This recipe is so doable especially in a hurry!”
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Natasha’s favorite post came from Jayhawk Mommy with the post “Teaching My Toddlers Manners!”
Saying, “I am a stickler on manners with my son. It is very important to me that he is a mannerable young man – making sure he says Thank You, Yes please, You’re welcome, Bless you, etc. I definitely see that there is a lack of children being polite and mannerable, and growing up that was such an important factor with my grandparents and parents. Therefore, I want to encourage my son to do the same. Thanks for sharing this great post!”
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My favorite post came from Jayhawk Mommy with the post “Teaching My Toddlers Manners!”
What a wonderful post! I see so many children that have long since passed the toddler stage, with absolutely no manners and no respect, and it saddens me greatly for the state of future generations. It makes me feel so wonderful, when my own children at 12, 14, & 21, still use the manners and respect that they have been taught since birth. Thank you so much for sharing!
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Congratulations to all of you amazing and wonderful linkers! Don’t forget to grab and display our “Featured” badge!

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Thank you to all of you who joined us last week!

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I am looking for October co-hosts for This Momma’s Meandering Mondays? If interested, please drop me a line at ssgannett@gmail.com. I would love to have you along for the ride! You can also check out my sponsor page for more info.

Now let’s get this party started!

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Remember everyone enjoys a little comment love!

Feel free to “meander” by some fellow bloggers and find a new recipe to make for the family, a helpful blogging tip, a funny story to read, and best of all a new friend to make! There are really no rules to follow, only some suggestions to keep in mind…because we are all to enjoy the friendships that come along by doing these few simple and wonderful things…

1. Link up your favorite post…a story, a recipe, a photo, or a helpful tip…As many as you want, that’s right as many as you want!!!!

2. Please follow our Host’s

3. Find some new friends to follow, friendships are what it’s all about!

4. Be sure to leave some comment love, to get it in return.

5. Grab our badge and display on your blog, sharing the love is what it’s all about.

Meander through the links and make some new friends, find some amazing and useful tips, and maybe even a new treat to try!

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Welcoming you to link up all of your favorite sites for This Momma’s Meandering Mondays 62, for more opportunity to Meander around and share the love! So happy Linking everyone!

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Wake up wednesday Linky #31

   
Welcome to the 31th week of Wake Up Wednesday “Linky” 
 
29 Blogs  –  1 Party
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We are so excited to have you all party with us.
Thank you so much to all those who participate in our party.
Last week we had  395 awesome linkups!   
 Wake Up and be happy, get excited and have fun with us! 
We want to be inspired, entertained, laugh and have a good time!
 
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This weeks 
Featured Bloggers

 

adding nailhead trim to a wood table

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When furnishing our garage turned family room, I knew I wanted a round table with some chairs in there.  This way the room could double as extra dining space as well, or as desk space.  I had my eye on the Weston Crank Bistro table from Arhaus furniture for a while.

Painting Metal Chairs with Chalk Paint

Chalk Painted Metal Chairs
I am not sure where I got them, but they have been painted many colors…here, you see them blue, with little red peaking through, with just a touch of rust too..beauties I tell you, beauties in the rough!
This idea for a poncho shirt has been swimming around in my brain for a while. I have a shirt from Charlotte Russe that is similar to these, but is not as long as I would like it to be. I looked at the basic construction of that shirt to come up with my plan for making these.  They are easy and fast to make, and oh-so versatile. I could see them with a cardigan over or a long sleeve under in the fall and winter. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker: Beef and Broccoli Recipe

This is hands down the best thing I have ever made in our married lives. I’m pretty sure my husband loved it more than anything else I have made. He is so sweet he will never say anything. But honestly try this out, it is delicious and super easy to make!!
peas
This is a picture of my sweet grand-daughter Emmaline after she experienced
 eating peas for the first time:
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Remember this DIY Chain and Pearl Necklace I posted yesterday? Well, someone requested that I make her one. And I did. And it was awesome.
 
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Today I’m sharing a fantastic flower box with you. On Saturday my niece Laura was married. Her wonderful reception was at a vineyard here in Connecticut.
It was held outside under a tent, that was exquisitely decorated! The weather was perfect for the occasion. It felt like an early fall evening. Everything was beautiful, especially the bride!
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Natural Way Organics creates all-natural, organic products for hygiene and other purposes around the house. Not only can you safely wash your hair and entire body with Olive Oil Castile Soap.
Waiting for him to ask for my number.

Waiting for him to use it.

Waiting for him to ask me out on a date.

Waiting for him to confirm said date.

Waiting for him to pick me up for said date.

Lemon Brownies 7
I love getting a bag of lemons given to me, our wee tree is getting there but only have 3 lemons from it so far! The next decision is what to make with them. A few months ago Pinterest was full of Lemon Brownie recipes, I was intrigued – I am a little slow on the uptake but I finally made them today and they are delicious! Lovely lemony smell filling the house and a lovely fresh alternative to our decadent chocolate brownie you will find elsewhere on my blog.
Years ago I found this awesome wood caddy at an antique store. It was stained a dark wood & I refinished it in burgundy to go in my guest bathroom to hold magazines. 
Summer Makeup Favorites | My Life Well Loved
Alabama heat is no joke! It has felt like spring for most of the summer, but now that the true to
 form humidity and soaring temperatures are coming to fruition, it’s the perfect time to 
showcase my Favorite Summer Makeup. These products have been my saving grace this summer for some color and to cover any unwanted blemishes.
Hello my lovely friends, today lets climb one more step on sewing ladder and make a Tote bag with faux leather base. Are you as excited as I am? Then, lets do it!!! This post looks too lengthy because of explanation, but trust me its super simple to sew it.
You go one morning to check the garden for any ripe produce. There’s a zucchini there that is still a bit puny, but should be ready by the next day. You forget to check in the morning, but remember and look after dinner. It has gone from the size of a hot-dog to the size of your arm in less than 2 days! Yikes! What are you going to do with all that zucchini?!
 
 
Plum Tart
I had peaches on my shopping list, because it is peach season. However, the ones I found did not look fresh or ripe, and had no smell to them. I am not sure what that is all about, but like a store-bought tomatoes there was no flavor. So what to do? I went through the market sniffing fruit. The plums I could smell and looked inviting so I brought home enough make a plum tart.
The Best Homemade Café Frappé Recipe – Low-Sugar, Rich & Creamy! | Roxy's Kitchen With five minutes and five ingredients you can make your own! #summer #drinks #icedcoffee #lowsugar
I’ve said this before, I’m not a big fan of coffee – with one exception though, frappes! They were very popular during my high school years back home in Romania (15 years ago!), especially during the summer time. This is when I pretty much fell in love with this delicious iced coffee drink. 

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Adding your link to this blog hop gives Sew Crafty Angel permission to share your posts and pictures via social media and as features on Sew Crafty Angel And Co-Hosts.  Note- All features on Sew Crafty Angel And Co-Hosts will be linked back to the original source .Social media features are linked back to the linky party.

 

Fresh, Fried Okra & Fresh, Fun Photos

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You might remember a TBT I posted a while back titled “Children of the Okra”.  It was an old post that I re-shared about an awful experience in the Okra Jungle, helping my dad.  I get chills just thinking about that day.  I swore, Yes I swore, I would never eat okra again, but somewhere between then and now the thoughts from that day became less frightening and Fried Okra starting sounding appealing again!

A few weeks ago my dad brought over a few bags of okra that had finally decided to produce.  Well, I certainly couldn’t pass it up so I decided to conquer my fear of okra and fry up some for dinner.  My family was extremely pleased that my fear of okra was gone, because they had been missing my Southern Fried Okra for sometime now!

I got to work right away cutting it up, bagging most for the freezer and saving a bowl for dinner.

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My okra batter is pretty basic.  But it sure is good ole southern amazing!

What you need:

1 cup corn meal

1/2 flour

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

1 cup buttermilk

(0r 1 cup milk and 1 tbsp on vinegar, let set for appx 3 mins)

2 eggs

2 cups of cut okra

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What you do:

Get your pan of oil hot and ready.  (I use a cast iron Dutch Oven Skillet)

Slightly whisk your cornmeal, flour, salt, and peppers together in bowl.

In a separate bowl mix your milk and eggs together.

Add appx 10 pieces of okra into egg/milk.

Using a metal spoon with holes, scoop up okra and let mixture drain for a second before adding to the dry mixture.

Completely cover in the dry mixture and add to hot oil.

Fry until golden brown and crispy!

Continue until all okra is fried.

You will LOVE this okra!  And to make it extra amazing, dip it in some good ole ranch!  Yummo!

Don’t get much better than this here is the South!

 

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This week it’s all been about Freshness, including Fresh Photos!

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My daughter Lindy Photo taken by Carosello Fete Photography

 

So to go along with my Fresh, Fried Okra, I wanted to share with you some Fresh, Fun Photos taken by my friend and amazing photographer Erin Wilson.

Erin Pic

Erin, from Carosello Blog is a handmade business owner, wife, mom and word mispronouncer.  She  blogs about her favorite things, cooking, business life, decor, DIY and personal style. She just moved from Oklahoma to Boston-ish and then back down to Arkansas. She has been a big city gal most of her life and now living in a quaint little small town. She just bought a new house and are deep into renovating madness. Erin always love a good cardigan, pink pedicures, liquid eyeliner, hot tea and exploring all things local.

This past week, Erin captured some amazing shoots of my daughter Lindy.

I think I will cry now.

She looks way to grown up in this pictures!

 

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I can’t believe this shots!

My baby isn’t a baby anymore ):

You can also find Erin on Facebook.  Head over and show her some Bloggy Love!

Hope everyone enjoys the Freshness this week!

When Love Is Not Enough: The Story of Cowboy Hank JR

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A couple months ago, I wrote a short story titled “The Life of Lola”.  It was about my fur-baby who has been my companion for eight years.  It was a story of love, hope, and healing.  As I finished up the story, I decided I wanted to write about each of my babies.  I wanted to write them all the story of their life and then find the perfect time to publish them as a way for me to hold on to each of them forever.

Little did I know life had other plans.

Let me back up five years.

February 15, 2009, my sister asked if me and husby would take her  to look at a litter of Shorky’s (shih tzu/yorkie). See her fur-baby had just passed away and my brother in law worked out of state, and she was lonely.  She was looking for a new companion.

At that time, we had Lola.  She was my dog, my protector.  We really wasn’t looking for another fur-baby.  Our life was busy, we were constantly on the go with kid activities.

Once we were there,  this cute little ball of fur kept climbing in my lap.  He was absolutely adorable.  And he had eyes that would make you melt.  I looked at my husby and he knew. That ball of fur was coming home.

Home is where he came.  Where he slept in a basket in my room, where Lola treated him like her long lost son, where he soon stole the hearts of each one of us.  And his name became Cowboy Hank JR.

I’m not sure why dogs hold such a special place in my heart.  Often times I feel they understand the over- emotional person that I am better than a human.  They sense a deep connection I feel for them and they feel for me.  I look into their eyes and I see their soul, their heart, their purpose.

Yes, I do believe each dog has a purpose.  They are each here for a companion.  They are meant to help a lost soul find their way, whatever that may be.

Cowboy arrived into my life right as a storm was headed my way.  My family was getting ready to experience rough waters that we had never experienced before.  Cowboy, you could say, was my lifeline.

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See, when we are experiencing tough times, it is human nature to let it consume us.  But if we have something or someone to focus on, it takes some of the struggle of our life away. We look away from the negativity on our own life to find positive purpose in something else. Cowboy was my purpose. A way to redirect my pain away from me and turn it into a positive experience.

Just like Lola, Cowboy became my protector.  He loved me in a way that he loved no one else.  I guess he knew I would always take care of him, just the same as he took care of me.

Cowboy loved Lola with a passion.  As he got a little bigger he would not leave her side.  He followed her around, he had to sleep in the same kennel with her at night, and no way was he letting her leave anywhere without him.  They were best friends til the end.

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Cowboy loved to come to my room with me and lay beside me on the bed, or crawl under the bed and sleep.  He had such a sweet heart, but he also had such an ornery side.  He hated cats, and it was his life goal to chase everyone of them away.  He also made sure everyone knew he controlled the food bowl. (:  No one ate until Cowboy approved it!

And oh how he loved to snuggle.  And his sweet, sweet kisses.

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My love for Cowboy ran deep.  Maybe it was because he was only five weeks old when we brought him home, or maybe it was because he picked me to be his companion, I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s because his love help pull me out of dark depression on days when No one else could reach me. All I know is he held a special place in my heart that will last a lifetime.

Earlier this year, Cowboy got sick.  I took him to the vet and was told he had bronchitis.  After a round of treatment, he seemed to be better. But a month later and he was sick again.  Back to Dr Shane we went. This time we tried a new treatment but they didn’t seem to work much. A few weeks later, we were back in the office, but this time the medications didn’t affect Cowboy at all.

I knew that morning, last Wednesday, when I got up that his time was ending soon.

I called the vet one more time and they told me to bring him right in.  I told my kiddos to tell him bye, that at his was probably not going to end the way we wanted.  I made sure Cowboy told Lola bye, little did Lola know she would never see him again.

Dr Shane wanted to run tests.  He called me later to explain that Cowboy’s heart was enlarged and he prayed he would respond to the medication.  He wanted to keep him over night, I think more for my benefit so Cowboy wouldn’t die at home.  The next morning I got the call I most dreaded.  He didn’t make it.  

I knew.  

I had awoke in the night and knew right away he was gone.  So I sat in the dark and prayed.  Prayed for peace. Prayed for understanding.  Prayed for reassurance that Cowboy was in no more pain.

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I made the decision to have him cremated.  I needed my baby to be home.  I couldn’t bear the thought of never having him close to me again. He was always with me through every laugh and every tear and I needed him to remain beside me. I owed Cowboy that much.

Arrangements were made, and then it was time to tell the kids.  They took it better than I expected. Maybe because I had prepared them, but mainly I think they knew they had to be strong for me.  They knew I would take it extremely hard, which I did.

I sat alone in my room for several hours, as tears streamed down my face.  There was nothing left for me to do. And even though I knew I needed to hug my other fur-babies a little tighter that day, I couldn’t seem to pull myself out of my pain, out of the darkness.

My husby called me from work to see how I was doing. He told me to take the kids to the water park, to relax, to let the sun shine on my face, to not think for a few hours.

I sat at the waterpark that afternoon and cried.  I cried for me, I cried for Cowboy, I cried for Lola.  As I looked up I saw a cloud that was shaped as a fluffy dog with a curly tail and I cried even harder knowing he was telling me he was okay.  

Later that day, as I cried some more, a little butterfly decided to land on my hand and sit there.  It didn’t move, it just watched me.  Again I know that was Cowboy’s way of letting me know it was okay to let go.  

I watched as the little butterfly flew off my hand, only to come back once more, as to say, “Are you sure you will be okay?”, then it was gone again.

This past week has been so hard. I have experienced so many emotions. Sadness that I would not see him again in this life, grateful for being his human, angry for him leaving me, guilt for not doing more to help him and happiness knowing he is running free at the a Rainbow Bridge waiting for me. Many tears have been shed, many prayers have been prayed, many memories have replayed in my mind.

Some might say, he was just a dog.  I would say  no, he was family.  He knew me and my moods better than my closet family or friends.  He knew when I needed a kiss, or a snuggle or just company as I lay in my room.

See, when you have the love of a dog like I do, you experience a pure and innocent love.  There is no judgment, no grudges just plain love and adoration.  And that is exactly what I received with Cowboy,  and for that I will forever be grateful he chose me.

I told Dr Shane, the day Cowboy left me, all I wanted was to bring my Cowboy home. When my love was not enough to keep him with me here on this Earth,I just needed to bring him home with me forever.

And today he came home to stay.

cowboyhome

 

 

Last Night

I stood by your bed last night, I came to have a peep.

I could see that you were crying, You found it hard to sleep.

I whined to you softly as you brushed away a tear,

“It’s me, I haven’t left you, I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”

I was close to you at breakfast, I watched you pour the tea,

You were thinking of the many times, your hands reached down to me.

I was with you at the shops today, Your arms were getting sore.

I longed to take your parcels, I wish I could do more.

I was with you at my grave today, You tend it with such care.

I want to re-assure you, that I’m not lying there.

I walked with you towards the house, as you fumbled for your key.

I gently put my paw on you, I smiled and said ” it’s me.”

You looked so very tired, and sank into a chair.

I tried so hard to let you know, that I was standing there.

It’s possible for me, to be so near you everyday.

To say to you with certainty, “I never went away.”

You sat there very quietly, then smiled, I think you knew…

In the stillness of that evening, I was very close to you.

The day is over… I smile and watch you yawning

and say “good-night, God bless, I’ll see you in the morning.”

And when the time is right for you to cross the brief divide,

I’ll rush across to greet you and we’ll stand, side by side.

I have so many things to show you, there is so much for you to see.

Be patient, live your journey out…then come home to be with me.

Author Unknown

*Please Adopt, Don’t Shop and donate to your local rescues and shelters

Splash Math Review and Giveaway

splashmath

 

Can you believe it, it’s that time of year again.

The time that children dread and parents celebrate.

Yes, thats right!  A New School Year is here.

From some, that time has already begun.  For others, like myself, as a homeschool parent, I am still planning and preparing to begin soon.

I enjoy putting lessons together, finding the perfect curriculum that fits my children’s  learning style.  One thing I have learned over the years of homeschooling, is that every child is different.  Just because one style fits one child, doesn’t mean it will fit the next child.  Math always seem to be a subject where I have to try several methods of learning before I find a good fit.

I came across Splash Math, and I instantly fell in love.

Splash Math is Interactive Math Lessons for Elementary School Students Grades K-5 at every Skill Level. The Interactive games and rewards, motivate children to learn, practice and improve their math scores. Splash Math is available at home on the computer, on the iPad, on Chromebooks, and in a Classroom Edition for Teachers.

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I love how visual the lessons are, how the audio helps explain the instructions clearly.

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But I also love how, as a parent, I receive a weekly report via email on the progress of my child.  It explains what lessons have been completed on each level and the score for each.

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And Splash Math even offers A Summer Program ,an 8-week review program to halt the Summer Slide (students lose 2-3 months of math competency during the summer break if they don’t practice regularly).

Splash Math is perfect as a Full Curriculum or as  Supplemental Lessons.  Even though my children are past Grade 5, I was so interested for my tutoring students.  It fits perfectly for their needs.

I highly recommend this program for everyone.  But children who need more visual learning will excel with Splash Math.

I am so excited that Splash Math has teamed up with GraceandGravy for a giveaway.  One lucky reader will win a free Splash Math Program!  How Awesome is that!

Click on the Rafflecopter Giveaway Link to Enter!  And Good Luck!

*Winner will be notified on 8-16

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*Review is solely based on my own thoughts and opinions.  I was not paid to offer my review.

10 Things I want my Children to Know about Me

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Twelve years ago I stood at my Aunt’s grave. as tears flowed and shadows of uncertainty fall on my momma’s face. I wondered to myself, “Does my momma have regrets?”, “Is there questions she never asked her sister?”, “Are there words she never said?”.   I looked at the grave and back at my momma and I realized those were the same questions I needed to ask myself.

See, as we were burying my Aunt after her loss with cancer, my momma was dying.

She also had cancer and even though at the time I didn’t know how soon it would be, I still knew she would be leaving me soon. Some might say I was being too negative. I say I was preparing my self for the inevitable. I was the baby. I was not ready for my momma to leave. But nothing I said, nothing I did, was going to stop her from dying. If I didn’t prepare myself for her death, it would be her death that would defeat me.
That night, after the funeral, I asked my momma and my three sisters if we could start having mother/daughter outings. Just to spend time together, to connect with each other. So on Friday Nights we all would go out.  Sometimes to eat,  to visit someone or shopping. But mainly to talk and make memories.

I asked a lot of questions.
I wanted to hear stories of her childhood and teenage years.
I wanted to know what it was like when her and my dad married?
Why did they wait til almost 40 to have me?
What was she passionate about?
Did she have any regrets?
We continued this tradition for about six months until the time came when she was too sick to leave the house. Three months later she was gone.
I am so thankful for that opportunity I had to share those moments before it was too late. I have been thinking about that a lot lately. Life is always so busy, moving so fast, that I begin to ponder if I would have an opportunity to share my life with my children. What if tomorrow don’t come for me? Would they know stories from my childhood? Would they know the story about me and their dad? Would they know what I am most passionate about? Would they know that I love them with a love so pure that only a mother can experience?
I really am not so sure. Life becomes stressful, and my days run into nights and it seems to never stop. I decided I didn’t want this moment to pass. If for some reason I never had the chance to talk to them about me, then I wanted to document it for them.
So what do I want my children to know about me?
1) I AM NOT A SUPERHERO! I do not have super powers. I am human. I am not perfect. I am flawed. As a mother I need you to know that I am just a person who makes mistakes daily. Who will always make mistakes. I try my very best when it comes to your life not to make to many messes but I can’t promise it will always be rainbows and butterflies, there will be days of dark clouds and storms but I will love you every day reguardless of the situation.

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2) God will always be #1 in my life. No matter how much I love you, and believe me when I say I love you so much it hurts sometimes, God will ALWAYS be at the center of my life. God entrusted me enough to bless me with you all. He gave me life that will continue long after this chapter ends. There was a time that God was not my center. I was mad and angry, so I ran far away from God. But what I realized is that God gives us free will. He doesn’t control us, he loves us and gives us freedom to come to him, and even through the bad, he never left my side. I need you to always make sure God is #1 in your life as well.

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3) My heart is filled with compassion. Sometimes I feel like my heart is breaking into a million pieces over the sorrow that I feel for children who have lost their parents to addictions, neglect or abuse. Those children who just want to feel love again and a sense of security. The homeless people on the street with no family or warm bed, that for one reason or another has lost their way, from a failed marriage, a job or even an illness and now they are alone and burdened. For the elderly people, who on their face shows years of hardship. From the cotton fields, to the coal mines, farms and factories they have worked their fingers to the bone to supply a roof over their families head and food on the table. Those same people, much like my daddy who would give you the shirt off his back with no questions asked. For the people in the third world countries who never have the opportunity to freely worship Jesus. Who so many will never know the love that he has for them or hear the stories of his miracles.

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4) Animal Rescue burdens my heart. Yes I am an animal lover. And yes I know you make fun of me because I show you a thousand pictures a day of all the dogs who need a home, or the ones who have been adopted. Animal neglect and abuse lays heavily on my heart. And yes if there was a way, I would bring them all home. I know you think I’m silly for supporting so many rescues and shelters but what you probably don’t know is how many tears I have cried knowing an animal has been put down for lack of space at a shelter. How my wish is that all shelters would become NO-KILL, that all animals would have a chance to feel love and be loved. And when it’s my time to go, I would like that instead of flowers being sent, that a donation for an adoption would be made in my memory instead. And that I believe with all my heart that animals are sent to us to help us thru a hard time when we are not willing to let anyone else in.

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5) Children’s Ministry is my passion. I will always be thankful for the wondeful leaders and teachers who saw a raw gift in me and took a chance on helping me grow as a Children’s Leader. And even though I knew after a season in my life, that full-time ministry was not what God had intended for me in our family, I still love to be involved, creating programs, putting ideas and events to life. Being able to be a part of leading a child to Christ will always be worth the sacrafice of serving an extra service or spending an extra day preparing lessons and activities. Use the gifts and talents God has gave you for his good. And if the season your in is not one to use your gifts, continue growing your faith and your walk with God until a new season approaches.

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6) I will never regret Homeschooling you. Being able to teach you about life has been such an incredible blessing. Spending the days beside you as we learn together will be a gift I will always treasure. Watching you each grow into young adults might have been missed if we didn’t take the opportunity in front of us to school at home. I have enjoyed all the field trips we took together. I am not scared of the adults you will become. I know you will succeed at anything you put your minds and hearts to. And I am so proud of who you both are becoming.

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7) I would give you the world if I could. Not because I think you deserve it. Not because I think you have earned it, but because I love you enough that I want you to see first hand how unfair and cruel this world can be. Don’t set your eyes on worldly desires but on God and his promises. The world will fail you, but God never will.

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8) I loved my life as a child. It was a happy and carefree time with chasing fireflies in the summer and rabbit hunting with my dad in the winter. Watching tornados form the top of the celler and big family dinners and reunions with my aunts, uncles and cousins. Plastic water slides down a hill and pizza/french fries on Friday Nights while watching Full House. My playhouse out back with homemade curtains from my sister and tomato and salt rock soup. Swimming at the Lake, family trips to Dog Patch and weekends spent reading my new books. I may not have had big things or big trips, but I had family and love. Those are the things I remember the most.
9) I knew the first time I saw your father I was going to marry him. We met at a factory job when I was 19. There was something about the way he talked to me, that made me feel safe and content. I felt like I was home with him. It is a love that will last. Not always perfect but by morning the sun is always shining again. I will always be thankful for the love we share, for the home we built and the life we have.

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10) I have dreams. My dreams consist of following God’s plan for my life. Of course I have visions or ideas of one day owning a Tea Room, finding an old 1900 Farmhouse to fix up/live in and to own a Dog Sanctuary. I would also love to visit London, Paris, Venice, Maine, Hawaii, Seattle, The Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. But I know as long as I follow God’s plan for my life, I will have no regrets at the end. Just know that you are my dreams. You are my life.

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I completely understand if you don’t quite know what to do with all this information right now. But there will come a time in your life when you will be so thankful and grateful that you have my dreams, visions and stories. That there won’t be regrets on knowing what I was like as a child, or why I love animals the way I do, or what did I really think about homeschooling you.
Just know this was from my heart, for you to cherish and love.
I have no regrets in my life. There is no choices I would redo. Each struggle, each heartache, each laugh and tear has formed us to the family we are. Enjoy your life. Love deeply and have no regrets about anything. Remember we are just passing through so make as many memories as you can, serve as many people as God allows you to, and always strive to be better tomorrow than you were today.

Wake Up Wednesday “Linky” Week #28

   
 Welcome to the 28th week of  Wake Up Wednesday “Linky” 
 
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The secret to raw edge appliqué is this tool, the Applique Pressing Sheet.  For many years, I would arrange my web backed fabric pieces on their background and hold my breath and apply the iron.  Now I press my pattern pieces to this sheet and if I don’t like the way they look, I can lift them up and put them somewhere else.  This sheet is also perfect if you are following a raw edge appliqué pattern, like the one I used to make this Forget-Me-Not block.

Coconut Pecan Cheesecake Bars

Coconut-Pecan-Cheesecake-Bars
WARNING! These are super decadent and rich! You must share with friends, or you might have a heart attack! They are the perfect combination of everything I love; caramel, chocolate, coconut, cheesecake, pecan, and a buttery crust! Enjoy these with a tall glass of milk and LOTS of friends!
Picture This: Enjoying Art, Nature and Getting "Summer Fit"!
This summer, I was invited to participate in Raise.com’s “Summer Fit” campaign.
I love to stay active during the summer so I was delighted to get involved with their
“Summer Fit” campaign.  I live in an urban environment, so finding a patch of green is especially satisfying for me.  Sure I belong to a great health club, but in the summer time I prefer to get my exercise
outside in the sun as much as possible.
Oreo Reese's Peanut Butter Pie  http://recipesforourdailybread.com/2014/07/29/creamy-peanut-butter-pie-recipe/

GARDEN PLANTER SWING

garden planter swing
The project consists of  a wood planter, rope, paint, nails,  flowers and a tree (if you don’t have a tree :)you can use your porch ceiling)
Mid-Year Blogger Planner & Calendar by Mama Miss Designs
Blogging has always been a hobby for me.  Well, “always” may not be the best term to describe my love affair with blogging.  When you think about it, blogging is a relatively new thing.  And I’ve only been at it for 8 years.  And it’s been pretty sporadic.  So scratch the first sentence of this blog post.  It’s a lie.

Double Stuff Oreo Pancakes

I love pancakes! I especially love the weekends because those are my cheat days which means I can have my pancakes! All week long I’m thinking of sweet, sinful ways to prepare my pancakes. Oh yea, I LOVE my pancakes!

The Ultimate Blog Resource Library

The Ultimate Blog Resource Library
In hopes of making everyone’s lives a little easier, I put together some helpful hints, tips and tricks all in one place to make your blogging much easier.
glittersandhand2
I’m always interested in trying out different sensory play activities with the boys, even something very simple can grab their attention and provide an opportunity to explore something new. To find out more about why sensory play is important you can read my previous post and also get some ideas for lots more materials to use.
Picture
“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives,
the passion that she knows.”
― Audrey Hepburn
You all know how I love to make my own household goodies, this time I ventured into making my own deodorant. I looked online for months reading different posts, reading thoughts, reviews, whatever I could get my eyes on!
Bite-Size Peach Turnovers
Sometimes, you just want a small bite of dessert.  When that happens, a small bite of peach turnover will solve the problem.  Sprinkle powdered sugar on top and you have yourself a winner.  Just think small when you’re baking.
I’m so excited to share with you all a little bit of my home today! One of the greatest joys about buying our very first house is being able to scan pinterest for some amazing design ideas!
FriedGreenTomatoes final with words
Making them is super easy to do and it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg either. Here is my families favorite way to eat them. Just thought I would share so your family could enjoy them too.
 
 
“The phrase “Pura Vida” (pu·ra vi·da) means “pure life” in Spanish. Enjoying life slowly, celebrating good fortune and not taking anything for granted embodies the Pura Vida Lifestyle. It’s about being free and living life to it’s fullest with no regrets or taking anything for granted; it’s an attitude.”
 
Raspberry Pinwheel Cookies - Christmas in July
Delicious jam filled cookies are a Christmas tradition, and these Raspberry Pinwheel 
Cookies are a fun way to enjoy jam.

I Hear Angels Singing

I recently finished another large angel. I gave her an old world patina finish like I have my other angels but I think this one is my favorite so far. I even like her better than my last angel with the large wings. 

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Whats Cookin with GraceandGravy: Meal Planning Week #3

What's Cookin
It’s a Tuesday afternoon, I’ve been running errands most of day and trying to catch up on laundry for the few moments I have been home.  Then I look at the clock and a uggggg sound comes out of my mouth.  It’s already time for the husby to get home for work and I haven’t even thought about dinner.  I run to the pantry to skim the contents, then head to the fridge only to remember I don’t have any meat thawing.  Now what am I going to do?  Supper is going to be late, and I can’t think of anything to throw together.
Does this sound like you?  Do you ever have those days when you cannot think of another single meal to cook?
Well, your not alone, I think as wives and mothers we all have those days more often than we would like to admit.  That is when I started Meal Planning.  I used to just write a menu and tape it to the fridge, but then I decided why not share it with you guys.
So WELCOME to “What’s Cookin with GraceandGravy: Meal Plans Week #3
Grab My Button
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<a href=”http://graceandgravy.com/category/whats-cookin/&#8221; target=”_blank”><img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-470″ src=”https://graceandgravy.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/whats-cookin.jpg&#8221; alt=”What’s Cookin” width=”200″ height=”274″ /></a>
Each Sunday I will share with you what my meals for the week will be.
Maybe we can help to spark creativity in each other for our nightly dinners.
I had Cheesy Potato Soup on the menu last week, but both my kiddos ended up going to my dads to spend some time with him.  Husby and I decided there was no need and cooking a pot of soup just for us, so we grabbed a sandwich and saved the soup for a later day (:  Perfect for a crock pot, after church lunch meal.
I love making Shredded Chicken BBQ Sandwiches.  It’s one meal my whole family agrees on.  Of course, like I said before,

sometimes your choice of bread will make all the difference so for our Shredded Chicken BBQ Sandwiches, I like to use Deli Style Hamburger Buns.  Serve with a side of  Homemade Potato Chips and Enjoy!

Tuesday my Church Connect Group, is having a Family Pool Party.  We are all bringing finger foods to eat.  I decided to make a Variety Pinwheel Platter to take.  I will add  the basic pinwheel, Bacon Ranch Pinwheel, Southwest Pinwheel and a Basil, Pesto Pinwheel.  Be checking back for those great recipes!

I also decided to make Kid-Friendly Sushi, which is just Turkey and Cheese Roll Ups that I cut like Sushi.  So much fun!  And I think I will also make Mini Apple Pies for a quick bite size dessert.  Can’t wait for a fun-filled night with friends!

Wednesday’s are also so rushed before I have to have the kiddos at Youth Group, so this week its Fast and Friendly Tacos.  No frills, just plain ole beef tacos with a side of rice and beans.  Can’t get with easier than that.

For Thursday I decided to cook a larger meal with the past couple nights before that wasn’t “big dinners”.  I chose Roasted Lemon Pepper Chicken with Carrots and Potatoes, Mac-n-Cheese and maybe a loaf of homemade bread!

Friday is Take Out Night!  This Momma needs a break (:

Saturday is quick and easy around here, so its Subs and Pasta Salad!

Meal Plan Week 3

Chalkboard Image courtesy of Google Images

Would love to hear your meal plans for the week.   And I hope you enjoy a few of my meals!

Birthday Party on a Budget

 


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I love parties!

I love planning parties, decorating for parties, and hosting parties.

During the year, we don’t buy our kiddos a lot of extra except what they need, such as new shoes, clothes, items for an activity and ect.  So when their birthdays come around, I always want to make them special.  I will just say for the record, that yes I sometimes always  go overboard.  It drives the husby crazy!

But I also like to host birthday parties for family and friends as well.  And when I plan birthdays for them I have to stick to a budget.  I will say it’s not always easy.

My two great nieces turned four and five a few weeks back.  they came to stay with us for a few days the week of their birthdays, which happens to be two days apart from each other, and I wanted to make it special for them.

Since I have been tutoring this summer, I happened to have two of the kiddos at my house that day, whom my nieces know from church.  I thought wouldn’t it be fun to throw them a small birthday party!  Of course my mind started spinning as I got to planning.  Even though I wanted to make it special, I also needed to keep it small, in the budget and on a time schedule.

My daughter Lindy started looking for leftover party supplies I keep stashed around the house while I started on cakepops.  I prefer making cakepops for small parties.  They are fast, easy and so much fun.  I make my cake and icing homemade and I had white chocolate and sprinkles on hand from all the baking I do so I was out no expense.

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Lindy found green and yellow streamers that a friend had gave to me, that I thought would make a great background.  Next we  found a roll of leftover pink tablecloth from a church fundraiser last year.  I also found a teal tablecloth that was leftover from Lindy’s birthday last month,  that we used for a table runner.

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It was starting to come together and so far I hadn’t spent anything.

I realized that we didn’t have plates, forks and napkins so I ran to the store to pick those up  and found the cute yellow striped straws for .50.  I left the store with my supplies and only spent $4.00 plus tax.  When I got back home I placed the forks in a cute pink bucket, finished the cake pops and decided on strawberry lemonade to drink.  I mixed together half a package of sugar-free lemonade koolaid and 1/2 pack of sugar-free strawberry  koolaid, added a lemon slice on the side and “voila” we had party punch.

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Instead of using party cups, I used these cute plasic hug juice containers that I save and reuse.  they were perfect with the yellow striped straws.

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At Lindys party, we had photo props, so I pulled those out, put them in a cute bucket, added a couple frames that I had picked up at a thrift store several months back and hadn’t used and we had a really cute photo booth.

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I used a couple cute colored bowls for goldfish and gumballs, also left from Lindy’s party.

I placed the cakepops on a cake stand and we were almost ready.

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The last thing we needed was party hats.  I found a few pieces of leftover scrapbook paper that I had used for a craft and elastic string I had bought for another project I am working on, and we made these cute, tall party hats.

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The kiddos love them!

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Meet Jessie!  Look at that sweet face!

It was fast, threw together all before 1 pm.  It was cheap, spent appx $4.50 total and it was fun!

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Meet Silly Maddie!

Instead of games we let them draw with chalk on the driveway, have fun with the photo booth and watch a movie.

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They had a blast.  Happy Birthday Girls!

I got to thinking, I know other bloggers must have amazing party ideas as well.

So I got with some fellow blogging friends and we shared ideas.

 

Dawn from  HomemakingHacks has an amazing post on….

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Creating your own party decor will help make your party a success! The best news is that it’s probably a lot easier and less expensive than you think! With the help of basics and simple color coordination, you can make all different types of matching party goodies in under an hour.

I am so in love with the tape bunting around the jars!  So adorable! And so creative!

 

Another idea I love comes from Katelyn from What’s Up Fagan’s

 

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Several years ago, I decided not to just throw a birthday party for my daughter, I decided that she needed to do it with me. And not just her, the rest of her siblings needed to help too. It was a perfect way to teach them responsibility, kindness, even organization. I knew my children would have the motivation to help with such a great reward so I went to work. As they have gotten older, they help more and I do less and less.

Being a homeschool momma, I am all about my kiddos being independent and learning life skills at an early age.  Love this!

 

And make sure to drop by and check out Crystal’s Birthday Parties on a Tight Budget from  Crystal and Co.

 

Rainbow cake decorated with birthday candles

 

If you’re like a lot of party-lovin’ moms, you practically drool over fabulous pictures of designer birthday celebrations with gorgeous fondant cakes that START at one hundred dollars…and then reality hits: not in the budget this time. But do you know you can host an awesome kid’s birthday party on a really tight budget? It’s possible! Read on for some of my favorite money saving suggestions.

Thanks Crystal for the Awesome Ideas!

 

I hope you have enjoyed all of the amazing tips to help you stay on budget for your next party.

And make sure you check out each of these amazing blogs!