Instilling Desire ~ Random Thoughts on Raising Children in Today's Crazy World

Raising children is by no means an easy task. I think every day about the burden I bear on my shoulders as a mom, a homeschooler and a friend. And I am in no way a perfect mom, raising perfect children. I've looked at my past, my childhood and the way I've turned out and I'm thankful for most of the decisions I've made in life. But there is one thing I hope to make sure and instill in my children and that is their own desire. Desire to make good decisions, to live pure lives, to love and think about others before themselves, to give, to learn, to do their best, to enjoy life and most of all, to love God.

See, I don't believe in strict rules, in limiting regulations or in sheltering. I don't believe that keeping your children from worldly influences is going to in turn keep them from sin. And I don't believe that parenting by the "textbook" will produce "x" type of children. This is the problem with those measures, sin is a heart issue. It's not a pornographic website, it's not drugs, alcohol abuse or seductive clothing - these are simply the results. Sin can't be cured by long skirts, no television, or by not kissing before your wedding day. Believe me, I've seen the best little homeschooled kids turn into hellions for adults. I've seen the most perfect, courtship-led marriages turn into divorce and I've seen what appeared to be the most Godly raised children turn away from God completely.


Because our obsession in keeping our children from the bad has to change to filling our children with good desire. Rules and regulations don't work. Rules and regulations don't make you wake up and decide to love your spouse when marriage is hard. Rules and regulations aren't there when your teenage child is being pressured into trying drugs. Rules and regulations aren't going to help when your child comes across a seductive website. Rules and regulations won't change a man or woman who wants to have an affair. Sheltering your children forever is unattainable and strict restrictive measures don't work when you're not there to enforce them. We need a heart change and rules can't do that.

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Am I saying we shouldn't monitor what our kids watch on tv or put in safety measures to keep inappropriate contents off our computers? Am I saying that we should have rules and guidelines in our homes to teach our children respect and obedience? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that rules are only a means to an end. Rules will not last forever. Our kids are going to grow up and if we haven't taught, instilled, and guided the DESIRE to be better people in our children then we have done nothing for them but create a list of no-no's.

We need to change our children's hearts, not their rulebook. It's easy to make rules, to set restrictions and limit interaction, and in some ways it may seem right. But is it the best way?  Shouldn't we be molding their hearts instead of controlling their actions? Shouldn't we be teaching them why instead of "because I said so"? Shouldn't we be answering the tough questions even when it makes us uncomfortable? Shouldn't we be instilling the good desires instead of keeping them from all the bad? 


World Shower Curtain only $10.21 on Amazon!

Just wanted to share a great deal for any of my fellow homeschooling followers. Amazon has a fantastic deal on this World Shower Curtain for only $10.21! As a Classical Conversations mom and former tutor, this is ahhh-mazing for tracing and labeling your locations and easily wipes off when you're done!


5 Ways to Get Your Budget Back on Track

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This week we had to have a "Come to Jesus" meeting with our budget. Between my job re-construction, moving expenses and the start of football practice, we were waaaayyyy out of control. Here are 5 tips for getting back on track fast and effectively.

1) Re-evaluate your numbers.

Unfortunately for my OCD, budgets are constantly evolving. Whether you have growing boys who are eating you out of house and home, unexpected expenses, or larger than normal bills, it's always a good idea to re-evaluate when things start to look a little wonky.
For example, this month we got a notice that our storage unit was going up on August 1st. I looked at the notice and tossed it aside hoping to remember to ask Jarrod what we were currently paying. Of course I totally forgot and later realized it was a $30 a month increase! Whaaaaat??! Talk about inflation! We were also able to lower our electric bill budget a bit in exchange for the storage unit as our current house is smaller than our old one and the bills have been consistently lower. Tracking those changes will allow you to have a current and up to date idea of what your monthly numbers should be.

2) Commit to following the envelope system for at least 30 days.

I don't follow the envelope system all the time. When we first started budgeting, I followed it to a tea for almost 2 years. It was sooooo freeing. But, I also have 4 kids who are constantly digging through my purse or rummaging through my "money" drawer and I started noticing money was disappearing. Now, I can pretty much keep up with stuff in my head. So, I still use my debit card but I keep a note list on my phone of where I've spent what. This is great except when you start swiping that card a little too much. A little $10 meal here or $5 drinks there really adds up fast if you aren't keeping track. Getting back to the basics helps keep me accountable and get me back on track.

3) Commit to a 30 day spending freeze.

Sometimes my envelopes or spending categories get way out of balance. When I start robbing Peter to pay Paul, I find that a 30 day halt will usually help me get back on track. Obviously, groceries are not the first category you choose from unless you've done quite a bit of freezer cooking. But maybe a month with no movies or a few weeks of no shoe shopping will give you a bit extra to fill those envelopes that are short.

4) Communicate

Making sure you and your partner are on the same page is crucial to making your budget work at all times, but especially when things get tight. We had several run in's last month when Jarrod would announce a night out at the Mexican restaurant without realizing our Eating Out budget was already wayyyyy overdrawn. I was then the "bad guy" when I had to give him the evil eye and let the kids know that we were in fact NOT going to the Mexican restaurant. Communicating keeps the "bad guy" at bay by both being on the same page with spending.

5) Remember your goals.

When budgeting gets hard, it's always a refreshment for me to remember my goals. Why am I doing this? How close am I to reaching my goal? How far have I come in paying off debt or putting extra money in savings? Goals give us a purpose as well as a progress report. And always remember to look more at the progress than at the remainder. You'll get there, I promise!


Homeschooling in Ohio

So it's official that I'm a terrible blogger but I want to take a minute and tell you about something that is near and dear to my heart.

It is no surprise that homeschooling is and will continue to come under attack as our school systems continue to decline. I read today that nationally, homeschoolers are making up about 4% of school age children. This is up tremendously in the last 5 years. Why does this matter? Well, the main reason is that once we reach 6%, statistically we start making huge impacts in public school numbers. I fully expect us to reach this number in the very near future.

In the mean time, a bill has come to my attention called "Teddy's Law". It has been proposed by Ohio Senator Capri Cafaro. Now, Ohio is generally a homeschool friendly state. We have to register our children every year and either have a certified teacher evaluation or take a state certified assessment test. None of which I mind at all. In fact, like everything, accountability is good.

Teddy's Law, however, crosses the line. Taken from the case of a little boy named Teddy who was in the public school system. Concerns were raised to CPS that this little boy was being abused. They were raised by the school system, they were raised by friends, they were raised by neighbors. Teddy was removed from the public school system and "homeschooled" to avoid additional concerns. Their homeschool application was denied. But, Teddy was not returned to school. Ultimately, Teddy was beaten to death by his mother's boyfriend.

Now Senator Cafaro has proposed a bill that would require all homeschool families to undergo an investigation by CPS before they are issued approval to homeschool. Seriously?!

Now, my heart truly goes out to the grandparents and family of Teddy, but how does this come back on homeschoolers?! I mean really. Let's think about this logically. CPS doesn't do their job. They completely disregard notice after notice of child abuse, there is no follow up when the child is denied a homeschool application but doesn't return to school,  and yet we find it logical to dump tens of thousands of Ohio homeschool families into this system to approve or deny their applications? Really. It seriously makes my blood boil.

Now, will this bill pass? Most likely not. As a matter of fact, what will probably come out of it is the complete incompetence of CPS. Hopefully, it will cause our government to look into fixing the system (CPS) instead of bypassing our fundamental rights as parents... but a seriously doubt that as well. It is much easier to cover their butts than actually clean them.

So, why am I on this rant? Because I know a lot of you are homeschoolers. And I know a lot of you who aren't are smart enough to see that this is clearly a violation of our rights. Please, contact Senator Cafaro. Even if you are not in Ohio. Force her to start looking at the real source of the problem rather than using homeschool families to cover up a huge mistake by CPS. I thank you in advance.

You can find her here:

And for kicks and giggles, read one of my favorite blogs. This guy kicks butt:


Painted Kitchen Table Redo

For the 3 years we have lived in this house, I have been looking for the "perfect" kitchen table. Our kitchen space is small and I didn't want it to feel overcrowded in that area because we spend most of our time there and the open family room that attaches to it. 

After Owen was born and we converted the loft into the big boys room, I had to get creative with my schoolroom area. So my kitchen table priorities changed. I definitely didn't want to spend a ton of money on a table because as a school table it would be very used. However, since it did sit in the middle of our home, I wanted it to be pretty. Lol.

I began searching Craigslist and the paper for a used table I could redo. One day, when a friend of mine was over at the house, I mentioned that I was looking for something for that space. She had an old table in her basement she had been trying to get rid of and sent me pictures of it. The next day I had my husband loading it in the back of the truck. When he got it home he said it was the ugliest table he had ever seen and wouldn't even bring it inside because he said it was absolutely NOT going in our kitchen. But that has never stopped me before! I had a vision!

Here is what it looked like before:

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You guys know I'm horrible at taking pictures of the steps so I totally apologize in advance.

First, I removed the padded cushions from the chairs. Mine just screwed on from the bottom.

Then, I used this AMAZING primer called Zinsser.
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That's right people! NO SANDING! As a matter of fact, I was so lazy with this project that I actually bought the spray paint version. Now, in hind sight, I really wish I had painted the primer on the top instead of spraying it on. I think it would have just covered better and I wouldn't have had to put on 4 coats of black paint. So keep that in mind. The chairs worked beautifully. Especially since I didn't have to paint in all those creases and crevices.

Next, I used my go-to-no-fail paint from Sherwin Williams - All Surface Enamel. The cream color is color matched to my trim so I apologize that I can't give you that. The top is just a plain ole black. Now, this will put you back about $21 a QUART, but it is soooooo very worth it. This stuff is essential for a smooth finish.

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I used foam rollers and brushes to put the paint on. Slowly get lighter and lighter with your strokes so that you get as close to that "sprayed" look as possible. 

The chairs took 2 coats of cream and top ultimately took 4 coats of black. The black did get a bit tricky getting it to lay as flat as I liked it and that's the reason I kept piling it on. Make sure your paint is as evenly coated as possible - not too thick or thin. 

Finally, I recovered the chairs in some beautiful black and cream fabric I got from Hobby Lobby. 

Here's the finished product!

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I absolutely love how it turned out! Next project... matching the bar stools! :-)


Adoption ~ The Other Gift of Life

Jarrod and I have always talked about how amazing it would be to adopt a child one day. In this stage of life, I feel my heart start to race and my head spin when I think of adding another child to our already crazy home. But then I see the faces and hear the stories of such precious little one's that are left on doorsteps, that lay unattended to in orphanage cribs, that are undernourished because of a lack of care or funds and that have no idea what it is like to feel truly loved. My heart breaks that even ONE of these children would ever suffer. Would ever go hungry. Would never feel love. And I feel this tugging. This need to fill a gap. And it's a big calling. 

One of my best friends from south Georgia has made the decision to adopt one of these precious babies. And that child is going to be so blessed to be apart of their home. Mark and Meg have 4 children of their own. Mason is the same age as Jayden, Vivian is the same age as Evan, and they have 3 year old twins Grace and Ethan. They are some of the most amazing people I have ever met and I am so blessed to have been able to be a part of their lives for the 4 years we lived down there. 

So the purpose behind this post? Obviously, adoption has its costs and its challenges. I am asking all of my readers to please support Mark and Meg in prayer as well as any financial gifts you feel led to. They need to raise $33,000 to bring their new little one home! They have come up with some awesome ideas to raise money, from garage sales to Amazon affiliate links that give a percentage back to them when you shop. Meg has also set up a blog so you can follow along in their process. Please go follow them and be an encouragement as they journey in this path. 

Thank you!


Owen Jarrod ~ 10 Months

How in the world is my baby boy 10 months old!

I remember this time last year so well. Getting ready to start celebrating the holidays. Being pregnant and having to wear a maternity coat for the first time. Trying to shop for Christmas and having no energy while spending 3 days a week at the doctor's office for non-stress testing and ultrasounds. Worrying so much about my little guy I was hardly able to enjoy any minute of being pregnant.

And now here we are.

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He's grown so much this month! Not that he doesn't every month but this month has just seemed monumental. He's into everything. I mean everything. Cabinets, bookshelves, the desk, the kids toys, my purse... really anything that he can find within his reach.

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And let me tell you, there are some days when having older kids is so helpful but the days that you pick up a gazillion miniature rubber band from these flipping friendship bracelets are not on my favorite list. I don't think I've ever had a child that put so much stuff in their mouth. It makes me paranoid and a germophobe.

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Overall, we are all still crazy about our little guy. He is so happy and brings so much joy to our lives. The boys still run to get him out of the bed every time he whimpers. They beg for kisses and make Owen laugh constantly. I love watching them interact and couldn't be more blessed to have such an awesome crew.

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Happy 10 months baby boy!

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I Would Like to Interrupt This Blogging Silence...With a Giveaway!

So, it's no secret that blogging has been pushed a little further back on my screen of things to do lately. I have a million posts in my head that hopefully will be up next week but in the mean time, I want to share with you one of my favorite toys. 

Playmobil was probably on the back end of my toy years as a child. However, that never stopped me from sitting on the floor and playing with them for hours. No joke. Seriously, this stuff is the coolest. Before Playmobil was ever popular in the states, we found it on one of our trips to England. We brought a set home and then later found some specialty stores here in the states that carried them. Now, I love that you can find them just about anywhere!

They became a collection item that has lasted for quite a while. It was one of the first toys I bought Jayden - even though he couldn't play with them for a while. I can not begin to tell you how many sets we have today. Boxes full. 

So, when CoynePR contacted me about reviewing the new PopStars! Stage, I was all over it. I think I was even more excited than the kids to get this thing. And let me tell you, it didn't disappoint! 

This MP3-compatible set allows young pop stars to belt out their favorite lyrics, drum up awesome beats, and wow crowds with radical guitar solos. Just hook up an MP3 player with the enclosed cable and choose your favorite chart topper. My music loving kids were in heaven. I mean check out this video!

AND! Playmobil has been so sweet to offer one of our readers a Popstars! Stage of your own! The set includes four figures, stage with flashing lights, drum set, two guitars with guitar stands, microphones, two preloaded tunes, built-in speakers, and other accessories. A $39.99 Value!

Plus! If your ready to rock on, PLAYMOBIL is launching an epic “Battle of the PLAYMOBIL PopStars!” contest where fans can vote for their favorite PLAYMOBIL PopStars! group.  After voting, participants can also submit an applause-worthy name for the band they voted for. Two contestants who submit names that really “rock” will be chosen to receive a $500 shopping spree on www.playmobil.us.

Contest Details:
·         Contest will run from October 1st- November 15th 2013
·         To enter, fans can visit popstars.playmobil.com
·         For contest details, rules, and complete list of prizes, visit http://bit.ly/1bljm7K

The PLAYMOBIL products, information and two gift packs have been provided by PLAYMOBIL.


Customizable Daily Schedule

As flexible as homeschooling is, we do try and keep a daily schedule. I have been meaning to get one printed out for the boys as I feel like they are old enough to keep up with their own schedule now. Plus, I think it builds discipline. I'm sure we won't always get to math right at 9 am. And that's ok. But it keeps us focused and accountable for the time we have. 

After spending a unreasonable amount of time looking at printable schedules on Pinterest, I decided to take the best parts of the one's I liked and make my own. This is what I came up with:

I slid this schedule into a page protector and keep a dry erase marker close so I can make notes for special things like guitar lessons or just little happy notes. I also change the date and then the boys can check off the work as they go. 

I'm so looking forward to seeing how this simplifies our day! Instead of them having to ask what to do next, it's all written out for them. 

I created this file in PowerPoint and would love to share it. It's completely customizable. You can get the file HERE. You will need to download it in order to make changes yourself. 

Happy scheduling!


School: Week 4 and Packing Lunches + A Giveaway!

I seriously can't believe that we are already in our 4th week of school! I just can not tell you how happy I have been with our new classes! The kids have made some great new friends, I have much less preparation, and they love what their learning!

So one thing that I didn't expect to take so much time was packing lunches. I mean really, you mom's who pack lunches every.single.day are my hero's. 

I did find some really nice containers at Target that have top and bottom compartments for sandwiches and chips, fruit, veggies or whatever.

Last week, our lunches had a special surprise thanks to Del-Monte! 

Their new Fruit Burst Squeezers are the bomb! We got to try out the Blueberry and Apple Cinnamon flavors. Even Owen was a fan!

They are perfect for packing in lunches and don't have to be refrigerated until after they are opened! I'm sold. They also come in several delicious flavors including Pear-Mango, Blueberry, Apple Cinnamon, Mixed Berry and Strawberry!

Del-Monte also wants to give one lucky reader a gift pack of your own!

The gift pack will include:
  • Two boxes of Fruit Burst Squeezers™ (one Fruit + Veggies 4-pack and one Simply Fruit 4-pack)
  • One Del Monte lunchbox
  • One orange-shaped eco-friendly shopping tote
  • One strawberry-shaped eco-friendly shopping tote
  • One Del Monte magnetic frame
Enter for your chance to win here:

The Del Monte product, information, and additional gift pack have been provided by Del Monte.


Fall Recipes ~ Pumpkin Bars

There are very few things I don't like about fall.
Warm days and cool nights. Open windows and fresh air. Leaves changing. Football and light jackets. But I really, really, really like fall food. Pumpkin everything. From bagels, to cream cheese, coffee creamer to yummy pumpkin deserts. 

Insert these delicious pumpkin bars.

I'm telling you, these things are amazing. And they will be made and devoured in my home no less than 50 times during this fall season.

So, here's the recipe so you can make some pumpkin goodness of your own.

  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 cup Oil
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 2/3 cup sugar
  • 16 oz can of pumpkin
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix together and spread into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until firm and golden brown. 

While that is baking, mix up some icing.

  • 3 oz cream cheese (softened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter (melted)
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar

Mix until smooth and spread over cooled bars. Cut into squares and serve.

Happy fall, y'all!


Avery Turns 4!

It is so hard to believe that my little princess is 4!

We celebrated her birthday with a small, family party on Sunday. She had a blast and chose a Minnie Mouse Bow-tique theme. Surprise, surprise. :-)

My parents weren't able to make it up so I video'd her opening their gift. It was hilarious:  photo IMG_4775_zps1d5e0cf5.jpg

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Happy Birthday, my sweet little girl! We love you!