5 Blog Inspirations for Your Week

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This time of year, I start feeling kind of overwhelmed. I feel bogged down, frustrated, and overcome with self-criticism from the tape that runs in my head saying I’m not doing a good job as a mom or as a wife or as a woman. The tape that runs in my head is always critical, always mean, always deceiving. The holidays bring out this voice more than any other time of year for some reason. I feel stuck, frozen, unmovable. My to-do list is way too long, my expectations way too high, and my accomplishments way too low.

As a blogger, I read a LOT of blogs. I LOVE blogs written by moms just like me, and blogs written by moms unlike me. I love reading blogs written by women in particular, and I just love seeing what these incredible women around the world are doing with the power of the written word. It’s so inspiring. So today, I wanted to do something a little different and share the most inspiring blogs I’ve read this week. These blogs made me cry, made me yell “YES!” or made me hit the “share” button. I hope they inspire, encourage, or validate you in all the same ways. You aren’t alone, you ARE fine, and you’re an awesome mother, wife, woman, person.

When Her Words Bruise Your Heart 

Post from Carey Scott {www.careyscotttalks.com} about the words she spoke to her daughter who experienced severe rejection. I cried through post, because my precious children have experienced rejection at the tender ages of 5, 4, and 3. We’re all rejected at some point…how do you handle it with your child, and who does God say they are?

How to Save Your Grocery Budget From the “Feast or Famine”Cycle

This post is from http://www.largefamilymothering.com. Have you ever struggled with the budget cycle of eating salmon and roast beef at the beginning of the month and struggling through ramen noodles and tuna sandwiches at the end of the month? No? Wow! That’s amazing! Please start a blog! I’ll follow you! We have. We’ve enjoyed perfectly grilled steaks at the beginning of the month and then mixed corn and peas and cheese at the end of the month and called it a veggie casserole. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad, but it felt pathetic. This post inspired me to deal with my monthly budget in snippets instead of indulgences. I was inspired to take a look at our monthly menu and how I allocate our budget. Hopefully it’ll inspire you- large family or not! 

It’s Not Just a Shirt When You’re the One Talking to the Press

My friend Molly has a succinctly written blog called My Little Grasshoppers {written for her daughters} in which she addresses issues involving everything from healthful living to gender equality and the beauty of daily life. I was raised as a non-traditional little girl. One Halloween, I wanted to be Robin Hood. My mother made me a Robin Hood costume and my dad hand-crafted my bow and arrow. I think it’s more important to tell my daughter “you’re smart” than “you’re pretty.” I want her to be enamored by fairy tales that empower her rather than fairy tales that convince her she needs to be rescued. I want her to know that she only needs her Savior Jesus for happiness and really, only another man if God says so. Molly’s post about a recent sexist faux pas from one of the brilliant scientists who landed a spaceship on a comet had me yelling “YES!!!!” Hopefully this will empower you in the same way it empowered me. We should be bothered by such things, women! 

An Interview with 3 Homeschool Graduates

Simple Homeschool is my absolute all-time favorite homeschooling blog. I remember being so overwhelmed a year or two ago that I couldn’t get out of bed, and I’d log onto Jaime’s site, read a post, and hop into action. I love her posts and her guest posts. This one is written by Laura Thomas of This Eternal Moment. She actually interviewed three homeschool graduates on their post-school success, their sense of self, their relationship with their families, their struggles with being homeschooled, their favorite memories, etc. For a mom neck-deep in this homeschooling experiment, this post spoke directly to my heart to encourage me that they will be okay! 

Last, but certainly not least, the post I read and re-read, and shared and secretly wished I had the courage to write because it was so exactly spoken from my own heart:

On the Shame Spiral and Making it Stop

I am completely convinced that Beth {from http://www.bethwoolsey.com} and I would be best bloggy mommy friends if we ever met face to face. This blog post IS me. Every word of it, every concern, every line.

My voices unearthed my persistent fear that maybe I am too much, after all. Too loud. Too irreverent. Too ridiculous when the world is serious. Too serious when the world needs levity. Too Jesusy. Not Jesusy enough. Too big. Too sweary. Too unfit for polite society. 

Yes, yes, absolutely yes. I have said those very exact words to my husband and my best friend. I’m too much of one thing and not enough of another.I always assume the worst. I assume I’m a failure. I assume people talk badly about me. In reality, I’m not a failure, and probably most people are too caught up in their lives to talk about mine.I don’t know. But there’s one thing I do know- I’m trying. Trying to be better, trying to do more, be more, be less, be better, be worst. Whatever it is, I’m trying. And Christ is alive in me, so please, for heaven’s sake, give me a break. HOPEFULLY you need and enjoy this inspiration as much as I do.

 

I hope you found inspiration in these blog posts this week! What are your most inspiring blog posts this week?

Kat

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My Favorite Recipe: Garlic Chicken Farfalle

My FAVORITE recipe: Garlic Chicken Farfalle 

Garlic chicken

So I got this recipe from my step-mom, and I’m sure she remembers the original source. I don’t know where this dish came from, but oh my word, it is so amazing. I’ve made a few tweaks to it here and there to make it even tastier, and this is one of our best-loved dishes here. This pasta dish combines a unique blend of unexpected flavors to create a cheesy, zingy, creamy, and bacon-y casserole. I always eat too much when I make this, and I rarely regret it. Without further adieu, the recipe:

Garlic Chicken Farfalle

12 oz bottle of Lawry’s Mesquite Marinade {Mesquite with lime is great too}

16 oz. box farfalle pasta {sometimes I get the mini kind just because it’s so darn cute}

1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2-3 cloves minced garlic {I love garlic so I always  use 4 cloves}

1/2 cup butter

1 Tbs pepper

1 tsp Parsley

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled {Tip: cook bacon in oven for ease!}

3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

Optional:

1 cup frozen peas

Directions:

  1. In the crock pot, cook the chicken and the Lawry’s marinade on low for 6 hours. If the chicken isn’t totally covered by the marinade, add a little bit of water until it’s covered so it doesn’t dry out.
  2. Shred cooked chicken and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven 350 degrees
  4. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside.
  5. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter. Add garlic, whipping cream, pepper, parsley, and 1/2 cup Parmesan.
  6. Whisk together on low heat until butter, cream, and cheeses are well integrated {takes about 5-7 minutes of continuous stirring}
  7. In a 13×9” baking dish, toss pasta, chicken, bacon bits, and sauce together. Sprinkle top with remaining parmesan cheese
  8. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes or until cheese on top is melted. {if you opted to add frozen peas to it -and you should definitely try it that way sometime- you can increase the cooking time to 30 minutes to ensure they’re cooked}

I know the mesquite marinaded chicken sounds weird with an Alfredo sauce, but this recipe is SO good. The chicken is tangy, the sauce is light and rich, the bacon adds perfect bursts of saltiness, and everything clings deliciously to the al dente pasta has the perfect combination of flavors. Okay, I seriously have to quit talking about this casserole because my mouth is watering.. I hope you enjoy!

Kat

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Halloween Candy Venn Diagram FREE Printable

Do you have a ridiculous amount of Halloween candy at your house? I sure do! While I’m not sneaking bits of chocolate goodness, I’m trying to think of creative ways to incorporate this candy into a lesson. Thus, I created the Halloween Candy Venn Diagram. And now I’m sharing it with everyone as a FREEBIE!

 

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Basically, you grab two similar-yet-different candies and you compare and contrast the two. This teaches sorting skills, language skills, comparison, similarities, differences. This activity introduces new descriptive vocabulary, description, scientific investigation, and mathematical sorting skills to your elementary age student.

We compared and contrasted Milk Duds and Dots. It was a hit. Both come in boxes, both are chewy, one is chocolate, the other fruity. Lots of fun ways to compare and contrast. {Plus you get to eat it, so that’s cool too.} Buggy loved it so much, he asked if we could do another one as soon as we finished our first compare/contrast worksheet. I told him maybe tomorrow. Ha.

You could compare: M&M’s and Skittles. 3 Musketeers and Milky Ways. Nerds and Gum Drops. Have fun with it. Use what you have. :)

Get your FREE Halloween Candy Venn Diagram right here {or just click on the image- I like to make things simple}.

Enjoy!

Kat

Image is copywritten exclusively by mommyponders.com. Copies may be made for personal use, but please do not distribute the PDF as your own work, use it for profit, for public use, or link directly to it on your site. You may link to this webpage to share the worksheet with others. Thanks! 

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Easy Sausage and Peppers Crock Pot Meal

I’m trying to eat more healthfully, and I know the best way to do that is to eat a lot of veggies, avoid carbs and sugars, and cut out the processed things.

I found a good deal on bell peppers this past week, and I decided to do something easy with those beautiful red and yellow peppers in this one pot meal that you can easily adjust to add whatever you like.

Here’s what you need: 

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1 package of country sausage, bratwurst, whatever you want.

2-3 cloves of minced garlic

1 medium sized onion, diced or julienned {yellow, white, or red onion are all fine}

2 bell peppers, sliced or diced

6 small roasting potatoes, diced

1 small package baby carrots (could also use large carrots, diced)

Optional:

diced tomatoes

fresh green beans

splash of Worcestershire sauce

When you get everything cut up, spray your crock pot with non-stick cooking spray, throw all of your veggies and sausages into the crock pot, give it a little stir or toss, and set it on low for 5 hours. No water has to be added.

The sausage is Sams sausage. You could use any kind of sausage. I diced the sausages into bite sized pieces.

This really is just a meat and potatoes meal. It’s as simple and “real food” as you can get!

See how pretty?


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Honestly, it’s so easy and so basic, it could be thrown in a pouch and put over a campfire!

Dinner was a hit, everyone loved it. Even my kids!

Hope you enjoy this super easy and very basic recipe. Can’t get any better than that!

Kat {mommyponders}

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MommyPonder’s Take on Halloween

We are a Christian family.

We love and worship Jesus.

We raise our children up in the ways of the Lord.

We celebrate Halloween.

We stream “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” for an entire month {or longer}.

We dress up and discuss our costumes for weeks. {This year it was a family effort as we all dressed as characters from the Wizard of Oz. And yes, it was fantastic. And awesome.}

We “do” Halloween.

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But, but, but…. 

It has pagan roots!

It has evil origins!!

It celebrates things that are not of God!!!!

Gasp!!!!!

Take a collective breath with me…..

Now, hear me out.

Here’s my take on it…..

Our God owns this earth.  He owns this day, this October 31, {insert any year}, Anno Domini.

{Exodus 19:5} {Deuteronomy 10:14} {Psalm 24:1} {Psalm 50:12} {Psalm 89:11} {1 Corinthians 10:26}

Our God made this day. He made THIS day, today, and He said it was good.

{Genesis 1:5} {Psalm 118:24}

Our God’s people will inherit this earth.

{Psalm 37:29}

I follow the God of love, mercy, goodness, kindness, compassion, justice, honor, joy, self-control, grace, and eternal salvation.

So, in short, aside from feeling for their fates and praying for their salvation,  I don’t care WHAT pagans do on this day. I don’t care what they make of October 30th or November 1st for that matter. It doesn’t nudge, budge, or bother me.

Why?

Because my God is bigger than that.

I choose to celebrate this day as princesses, super heroes, Charlie Brown specials, lots of chocolate, and lots of giggles with my darling little ones and their sweet, precious friends.

I choose to take this day and make it a day of memories for my children. Memories of time spent with family and friends. Time spent laughing, staying up a little late, eating candy, playing games, and playing pretend.

THAT is Halloween to me and my family.

Let the pagans do what the pagans are going to do and what the pagans have done since Moses wrote Exodus. My God is bigger than that. 

In short: It. Doesn’t. Matter.

AREN’T YOUR KIDS CONFUSED?? 

Nope. They aren’t. Simply because Halloween has only ever been a fun day of dressing up as your favorite storybook or cartoon character to them. It’s a day of cupcakes, candy, fun, friends, and silliness. A day where memories are made and bedtimes are late. To my sweet children, Halloween is not a night of discussing the blood sacrifices, seances, Ooijua boards, and lost souls.

You want to know my kids’ big “scare” of the day? This prank Buggy played on Daddy when he came home for lunch:

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Here’s the deal:

I think we as Christians should reclaim these days {even Halloween} for the Lord!! Reclaim them for innocent fun, joy, family memories, sweet times, cherished moments, opportunities for fun, and a celebration of imagination. Forget the “history.” God is bigger than whatever man has created! Cover it with joy, silliness, and a game of dress up, and you have something wonderful. We have the opportunity here for fellowship, discipleship, enjoyment, enrichment, generosity, and fun.

Don’t refuse fun or enjoyment simply because “they” have ruined it or claimed it. What right do “they” have to claim anything anyway? Everything of this world belongs to our God. Trust in that.

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him. Psalm 24:1

-Kat {mommyponders}

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Compassion International

Have you heard about Compassion International? I LOVE Compassion International. If you’re unfamiliar with CI, it’s a non-profit organization based on Christian principals that allows people like you and me to sponsor a child anywhere in the world for a very little monthly price. We pay something like $35 a month to CI and our selected child is able to attend school on a daily basis with that money. He also gets Christmas presents, daily meals for himself and his grandparents who care for him, clothes, and a birthday gift every year. How amazingly cool is that?

Step One: Look

We started praying about sponsoring a child over a year ago. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but when we first married, we were po’ {couldn’t even afford the ‘or} and then when we were more on our feet, it was hard choosing who to sponsor. If you visit the link provided above, and look through the thousands of children around the world who need sponsors, you might feel overwhelmed. I did.

Explore the website. Research them. You’ll find that unlike other organizations, the money you send to YOUR child goes to YOUR child. You get to communicate with your child. We get letters, drawings, pictures, etc. from our sponsor child in HIS handwriting, which is so cool to my kids and me. He asks about our daily life in Texas. We ask him about his life in Kenya, and he responds. We correspond. We get to know each other. He prays for us, we pray for him. Seriously. It’s incredible.

Step Two: Pray

If you’re interested in sponsoring a Compassion International child after you’ve explored their website and you feel you understand their mission and their heart, then pray. Pray like crazy. Pray that God would reveal to you the child you are meant to sponsor. For us, this took months. It was about six months between the time I first learned that Compassion International was an organization to be trusted that truly makes a difference in the world and the time we actually chose a child to sponsor.

I visited their site almost daily with a prayerful heart, searching through hundreds of faces from around the world, looking for the one that would be our sponsor child.

When you sponsor a child through Compassion International, you are committing to them until they are adults. You are committing to pray for them, send monthly money to them, send birthday and Christmas gifts to them, write to them, send them pictures, and love on them until they are 20 or 21 years old. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. It’s not a decision to hop in and out of when money gets tight. When money gets tight, we sacrifice so our Compassion child can thrive. Cutting him out is no more of an option to us than not feeding our own children.

One afternoon many months after our hearts had been touched with the desire to sponsor a child around the world, I logged onto the Compassion website. Travis and I had already talked and we had decided that we have a heart for orphans. As foster parents, we have a special heart for the children of the world who have no parents. Luckily, you can narrow your search on the CI website to certain ages, children who are HIV positive, orphans, children living in war-ridden regions, etc. We narrowed our web search to orphans. I didn’t care about age, but I was thinking it would be neat if the child was close to Buggy’s age.

I prayed before searching as I had many times before, and I hit “search.”

Step Three: Choose

Hundreds of pictures of orphans from around the world popped up on my screen, and one little face in particular grabbed my heart. He was the second picture on the page. I didn’t notice his country, his birthday, or his gender. I noticed his name. Gift.

The Holy Spirit whispered to me through that child’s eyes. He said, “This one. He’s the one you’re going to love on and walk with for the next two decades. This one is yours.” 

His name is Gift.

How beautiful and perfect and fitting is that?

Gift lives in Kenya.

He is two years older than my son and has a smile that resembles the stars.

Gift has lost his parents.

At six years old, when we first started sponsoring him, Gift was the bread-winner for his family. He lives with his grandmother and cares for her.

Today, Gift is enrolled in a Christian school. He’s a believer. He loves Jesus. His grandmother loves Jesus. He plays soccer {or football, as it’s called in Kenya}.

He writes to us, draws us pictures, tells us about his friends, prays for us {incredibly humbling}, and sends his prayer requests to us.

Some people choose their Compassion child because they share a birthday with a loved one. Others choose their child because they share a name or country of origin with a beloved friend or family member. Sometimes they choose a particular child because they share a name or age with their own child.

I believe that God chose Gift for us.

He IS our Gift.

Step Four: Invest

Our lives are now enmeshed. Gift is enmeshed with us and we with him.

Although correspondence is slow between us and him, we hear from each other regularly. When we get that envelope that says Compassion International across the side, Buggy jumps up and down with joy.

I can say honestly, Gift is loved in this home.

His picture is posted in our living room. On our fridge. His drawings are displayed in our kitchen alongside the drawings of my own children.

We belong to Gift and he belongs to us.

We study about his country.

We talk about his hobbies.

We look at his picture and pray for him.

Committing to this child on the other side of the world is not a decision we have walked into lightly. But when we committed to him, we committed our entire family to him. I include my children when I write him. We send him stickers, pictures, drawings, crafts, and bookmarks. Anything that might pass through customs, we send.

Through Compassion, my kids are learning love on a higher level than I could teach them alone.

My Challenge to You:

Please follow the above steps. Explore it for yourself. Ask around. Research Compassion. Look into the organization. Pray. Look into your monthly budget to determine if you might be able to afford to sponsor a child. Then pray for the child that God has for you to sponsor. Please consider these precious children and the small amount of money and effort it takes on our part to change their lives forever.

You will be surprised at how much they change your life too.

 

Kat

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Kindergarten Space Unit: Day 1

We began Kindergarten a couple of weeks ago and things are rolling along nicely. For the first week, I focused mostly on just letters, numbers, Bible studies, and getting back into the routine of things. This week, however, I asked Buggy what he wanted to study and he immediately shouted, “SPACE!” So we’re studying about space.

Day 1

What We Read: 


I took the moon for a walk book 

   I Took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis, illustrated by Alison Jay .

We both loved this book and read it several times. This lyrical rhyming book is perfect for little ones and the illustrations {which I tend to obsess over} are  whimsical and fun. Buggy asked to read it over and over, and I was happy to oblige. An excerpt from the book:  “I took the moon for a walk last night, it followed behind like a still Summer kite, though there wasn’t a tail or a string in sight, when I took the moon for a walk.”  Beautiful imagery.

The moon over star book

 The Moon Over Star by Dianna Hutts Aston, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney.

I grabbed this book at our library because the illustrations are beautiful. I have to admit, I choose books from the library based on the illustrations and then decide whether to read them or not to my kids later. I always read them before I share with my kids, and this one was not a disappointment. This is the story of a young girl who experiences the excitement of the 1969 original moon landing while watching her grandfather struggle with the changes happening in his country. She aspires to be an astronaut herself and hopes one day that an African American girl as an astronaut is not such a rare or unusual thing. The pictures and the story in this book are beautiful. It’s also quite an informative book, because it offers the details of the story of the moon landing in a narrative, first-hand-observational setting. My 5 year old enjoyed it and had a lot of questions after reading this, but it may not capture the interest of younger kids.

What We Made:

Moon

You take 1/2 cup of Elmer’s glue {or the cheaper off-brand like I did} and 1 1/2 cups of shaving cream {the kind you find for $1 at the dollar store, if you’re me} and mix them in a bowl. I used a plastic bowl that could be parted with just in case this craft experiment was a huge fail. Draw a decent moon-sized circle on a sheet of craft paper or a paper bag {what we used} and let your kiddo go to town with the gloopy stuff. Buggy LOVED it! He enjoyed squishing it and smearing it. He kept saying, “It smells like shaving cream, but it doesn’t feel like shaving cream!” When they’re done, let it dry. Then cut out your circle and admire your moon!

I found this craft on Pinterest, from No Time for Flashcards. I love her blog. I’ve found SO many neat ideas for activities and crafts on there, and this one was definitely a winner.

How We Played: 

I think sensory play is SO important at this age. I also have a two year old that I’m trying to keep entertained while I’m educating my five year old, so I look for activities that will capture both of their attentions.

Two words: Moon. Sand.

We bought ours pre-made from a children’s museum, but you can find recipes for it Here, Here, and Here. These recipes call for flour, but I prefer the moon sand that actually uses play sand so it gives it a sandy yet mold-able texture, and you can find such a recipe Here.

I let my boys explore this fun concoction with their hands first, then I brought in cookie cutters, Lego blocks, and army men to allow them to experiment and play. Buggy loved pretending that Batman was landing on the moon for the first time and had fun cutting out shapes in the sand with various cookie cutters. Little Bear (2) just enjoyed feeling the sand between his fingers and repeatedly said, “Mama look!” while he showed me his fistfuls of sand.

What we Watched:

I am a HUGE supporter of Reading Rainbow. Remember that show? I loved that show. Still do. When we were driving to Tennessee this summer to visit family, we took about four Reading Rainbow DVDs with us to keep our kiddos entertained on the trip. I was worried it wouldn’t capture the attention of my two year old, but it did! My five and four year old were entranced as well. All three were in love with LeVar Burton and the magical way books come to life on this special show.

Since I knew my kids were entertained by this series, I checked out a Reading Rainbow episode on DVD from my library. Good news: Even if your library doesn’t carry Reading Rainbow DVDs, you can find them online! Yay for internet! 

We watched Reading Rainbow, “Space Case” {1986} and my kiddos loved it! Lucky for you, I’ve pinned it on my Pinterest page, so you can find it HERE

Stay tuned in for the rest of our out-of-this-world space week, and don’t forget to check in on my Space Unit page on Pinterest for more great ideas on a space unit for little ones! 

Blessings,

Kat

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