I am just SO incredibly happy to announce that I am completely done transferring all of my posts from HSB to Blogspot. ~Whew~ Finished!

Care to win?

I'm never one to pass up a great deal, nor the opportunity for one.
If you go check out this blog, you can enter to get an opportunity to win this (for those of you who aren't clicking over, it's a Dyson Slim vacuum cleaner. But do click over, then you can SEE it.) Thanks, Stacey, for the heads-up on this one.

Scripture memorization

"My philosophy has always been that my job, since I am NOT the Holy Spirit, is to give the children lots of hooks in their hearts so that when God is working on them he will have something to grab."

~from Dominion Family blog

Don't you just love that description? Hooks in their hearts.

I can't say enough about memorizing Scripture. I want to give my children as many hooks in their hearts as I possibly can! Here is the list of verses we have memorized over the past year:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule."
Exodus 20:8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and your mother.
Exodus 20:15 Thou shalt not steal.
Job 37:14 Stop... and consider the wonders of God.
Psalm 33:5 The earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord.
Psalm 34:13 Keep your tongue from evil.
Psalm 68: 5-6a A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.
Psalm 75:1 Unto Thee, O God, do we give thanks.
Psalm 95:3 For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all Gods.
Psalm 118:1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
Psalm 119:11 Thy word I have treasured in my heart.
Psalm 139:14 Oh Lord... I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 145:21 Let every creature praise His holy name forever and ever.
Psalm 147:1 Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God.
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath.
Proverbs 20:11 Even a child is known by his deeds.
Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.
Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.
Isaiah 55:6 Seek the Lord while He may be found.
Isaiah 58:13-14 If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day,.. then you will find your joy in the Lord.
Jonah 1:9 I worship the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land.
Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Matthew 5:42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 6:24 No one can serve two masters.
Matthew 18:3 Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kindgom of heaven.
Mark 16:15 Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Luke 2:8-14 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appearted to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby, wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests."
Luke 19:5 Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
John 6:47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
John 13:34-35 A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth and the life..."
John 15:14 You are my friends if you do whatever I command you.
Acts 16:31 Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.
Philippians 2:14 Do all things without complaining or disputing.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.
1 Peter 5:8-9 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.
1 John 1:5 God is light. In Him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 3:10 This is how we know who the children of God are, and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.
1 John 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in action and in truth.
1 John 4:19 We love Him because He first loved us.
Revelation 5:11-12 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

Another post on Scripture memory:
Our memory verses

Another birthday letter


You're TWO! (Or, as you would say, while sl o w l y and carefully poking one, then two fingers up (never the same two, mind you!): "One.... two!")

As your birthday has approached, I've been thinking of all the things I love about you, my youngest son. I love your little voice! You have recently begun really talking, and that has been so fun for us... to hear what you say and how you say things. This is always one of my favorite stages as a mama. When each of you begins talking, your personalities unfold just a bit more and it's a delight to see! Let me try to list all the words you are saying. You say mama, daddy, Lella, eek (Isaac), unk (milk), eat, huck (truck), deet, peas? (drink, please?), up, down, boots, shoes, ock (sock), urt (hurt), ong (song), pay (play), ball, gey (froggy), orse (horse), ay (neigh), ow (cow), moo, aink (oink), seep (sleep), ook (book), urk (work) oooh! (no, said very emphatically!), oof-oof (doggy), key-key (kitty), ee (sorry), bye, poo-poo, to name the ones I can think of right now. (Are you seeing the same pattern I'm seeing? Yeah... you often drop the first consonant! :)) And another thing that I'm realizing as I think of the things you say. I'm pretty sure that each word you speak ends in an exclamation point! You are very expressive, my little guy.

You have the cutest new habit. If I stub my toe or bang my hand or say "ouch!" or frown or anything of the sort... you, with a very concerned expression, ask, "Key, mama?" (meaning "Are you okay, mama?") You are very concerned about others' owies, always asking, "Key, eek?" (eek meaning Isaac), "Key, Lella?" "Key, daddy?" Yes, buddy, we're okay.

You are also very affectionate. You often run up to me, wrap your arms around my neck, and plant a kiss upon my lips. And when I hold you, you lie your head down on my shoulder for a sec to snuggle.

I love how you want to sit on my lap ("ap, mama?") when we read stories. I love it how you point out every.thing.on.the.page and say, "mama? huck!" (truck), or "mama? oof-oof!" (doggy) I love the way you take your little cars and drive them up my arms and legs if I'm sitting on the couch. I love watching you clean up, making frequent trips to the garbage and leaving daddy and I to wonder, sometimes: "What did he just throw away?!?" And then we'll check. Usually it's garbage, but sometimes you've just tossed a toy or book or something in there, too. :) I love how you wander around the house sometimes on your tiptoes. I love watching you want to be so grown up like your big brother and sister, always, always wanting to do what they're doing. I love it how you crawl around on the floor pretending to be a lion, growling at Ella and Isaac. But then if they or we join you, you get scared. I love it that you wake up each morning so happy, talking and laughing and squealing in your crib. I love watching you climb, be daddy's helper outside, how you love to get dirty! I love you! You are so much fun and such a joy!

My prayer for you, dear son of mine, is from 1 Chronicles 28:9 (spoken by David to his son Solomon). And you, my son, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind. I pray that more than any other thing. That you would serve God with wholehearted devotion. That you would know Him and love Him. And I pray, too, that God would give your daddy and I great wisdom as we raise you, so that your strong will, your passions and fierce emotions at times will be guided and controlled so that you might be used mightily some day for His kingdom.

One more thing...I can't help but think of your birthmother during this time of year, Isaias. I wonder what she is thinking as this date or season approaches. I'm sure she thinks of you often and wonders what you look like and who you have become. Oh, I wish she could see you now. She would be so delighted and proud of who you are. I wish I could give her a huge hug and say thank you... for giving you life and for allowing us the privilege of raising you. I've been praying for her this week, that God would bring her comfort, and that ultimately she would come to know Jesus. And I've also been praying that someday you would be able to see this woman who gave you life- your mother- and hug her yourself. Wouldn't that be wonderful? So now that the tears are running down my face, I'll close this letter.

I love you, sweet Isaias. Precious boy of ours. You add so much to our family, and we are thankful God placed you into it!

Loving you,
Your mama

On marriage

For the past year and a half, we have walked alongside some friends who were struggling in their marriage. For a season Mark met with the husband, encouraging him to be faithful to God, his marriage, and his two young children. And there was a period of time in which he was really trying, and we thought there was hope for this faltering marriage. And then this man slipped back into a pattern of internet-meetings, infidelities and lies. The divorce is now final. And this now-single mother is moving with her two children to another part of the country.

I recently met another woman at our church. She is in her early to mid-sixties. She and her husband served as missionaries overseas for most of their married life. They raised two sons, now grown. She shared her story with me a couple of weeks ago. Her husband left her a year and a half ago. Her sons have now walked away from the faith of their father. She is alone, and beginning again. When she shared she said, "He was a godly man. I never would have imagined it would happen to us."

You probably know some similar stories.

"The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy." It is a grievous thing to witness. Indeed, the enemy seeks to destroy marriages and families. He has succeeded, over and over. Another verse says "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour."

I don't know about you, but stories like these make me hug my own husband a little tighter. I tell him how much I love him, how deeply thankful I am for his purity, for his faithfulness to us, and for His ever-increasing love for God and His laws.

And I am prompted to spend more time in prayer for my husband, our marriage, asking for God's protection on us and from the enemy who would like nothing better than to destroy this marriage and family, too.

Where is your husband? Go to him. Express to him how much you love him and respect his character. And pray for your marriage and this man God has given you.

Photo courtesy of the stock.xchng


Every other Friday Mark gets paid. On those days I do our finances, setting aside money in each budget category and taking out cash for groceries and dining/miscellaneous. Which means that every other Friday I have $235 in my wallet. By Saturday all that money is gone. Every last dollar is handed over at the grocery store on Friday afternoon. And every.single.time I think, "I'm overspending. I KNOW we're going to have to head to the store in the next two weeks for more milk, or some staple I forgot to write on the list."

So, what's a girl to do? I already buy the cheapest brand of each item off the shelf. I make a 2-week menu in advance, plan my grocery list around that, and stick to it. I don't use many coupons, as we don't get a newspaper. (Although every time I go to the store, I do pick up their coupon book to see if I can utilize any.)

Here's what I'm starting in an effort to save money in this area: A price book. If you're unfamiliar with this, you can read the links below:


Bascially, it's a record of how much an item costs. I've purchased a little book that I carry in my purse, and I have a few columns: item, store, price, quantity (lbs/oz), and finally, and most importantly: unit price. The idea is that if I have it all listed I will always know if I'm paying the best price... or not. Or, as one of the above articles says, "A price book is basically a record of the best price you have paid for all the different grocery items you've purchased in the past. It's your history of what a good price is on each individual product and puts you in the driver's seat in finding bargains."

I wouldn't say I'm USING it yet, but I've started making notes in my little book and hope this tool will eventually help reduce my grocery bill.

If any of you have ever done this, I would love to hear about it. AND. If any of you have a wonderful tip to share on saving money in the area of groceries, do tell.

More on teaching a child to read

Thank you all for your great comments on my last post!

I've done two things since then.

One: I put a copy of Phonics Pathways on hold at the library so that I can peruse it. (For free. Dontcha' just love the library!?)

Two: I wrote a little book for Ella, per my dear friend Kimmie's suggestion. (Kimmie is an experienced mother of six beautiful children.)

The book(let) is very short, and goes like this:

Page 1: The cat.
Page 2: The cat sat.
Page 3: The cat is sad.
Page 4: Ella pats the cat. Happy cat.

(and since page 4 is Ella's favorite page, here it is:)

This was a HUGE hit. This morning she was so proud of herself for being able to read "a whole book", and kept telling her brothers, "That's really what it says. I'm reading what it says." And she can't wait to read it to daddy when he gets home. Thanks, Kimmie!

Next up: Mark is working on book number two. Something about a pig. I'll keep you posted. :)

Call me old-fashioned

It seems that everywhere I turn there is a new program promising to teach your child to read. There's Spell to Read to Write, Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, The Writing Road to Reading, or some phonics something-or-another.

I am genuinely puzzled by all of this. I learned to read without any of these schmancy programs. Didn't you?

I feel quite certain (well, pretty certain) that my children can learn to read without any of the above.

I keep asking my husband, "Am I just being completely naiive?" He of course assures me that I am not. After all, he learned to read the same way I did. But then, if that tried-and-true "old" method worked just fine, why are all these new methods out there?

For those of you who do use these programs, are you doing them because you want your child to read by a certain age? Because your child is struggling in reading? Or... why, exactly? I fully realize that there may be a perfectly good reason and I'm just unaware of it.

I know NOTHING about phonics. Zip. I mean, obviously I know that it has to do with the sounds of the letters, but really, that right there is the extent of my knowledge. My plan is to continue reading aloud to my daughter (who is five), encouraging her to sound out words as she is able, in anticipation that some day it will just click.

Call me old-fashioned, but that is our reading plan.

I would love to hear from you. What are you using and why? Has anyone taught their child to read without using an official reading program? And how'd that go?



Why I haven't been posting

I'm at Amy's house and posting this entry from her computer. For some reason I have been unable to sign into Blogger from my computer, and I have no.idea.why.not! Grrr. I was thinking it was a Blogger error, but... the problem must be on my end. I am so brainless when it comes to anything technological. Seriously. Things were working perfectly fine on my end for weeks and all of a sudden, I can't log in or post a comment on anyone's Blogger page. All I get is a really slow load up and then a stark white page or pop-up box.

Anyway- I wanted to take a sec to apologize for the no-posting days... I am praying I'll be able to figure out what's up and be back to posting soon!

Beginning again

One of the first treasures I gleaned from the blogosphere was the idea of reading a Psalm each morning at breakfast with my children. We promptly added this to our morning routine, and it has been a tremendous blessing for us to begin our day reading aloud the prayers and praises found in the Psalms.

Last week we came to the final Psalm. And this week we began all over again. We're changing it up a bit this time around and reading from the KJV instead of the NIV.

What we do: budgeting

Thank you to all of you who shared your budgeting system (or woes!) :)

Here are some of the things we do:

-I created a pretty straightforward budget sheet on the computer. At the top it lists how much we bring in each month. Then there are two columns representing each paycheck. Each column indicates a category (tithe, house payment, car maintenance, car insurance, gifts, medical, clothing...) and next to it the amount that we pay out (if it's a bill) or put away (if it's a savings account). There's a little box on the left-hand side of each category so that I can check it off when it's been paid or transferred. I print a bunch of these sheets out and keep them in a binder.

-I keep hard copies of these budget sheets in the binder for a year, so that I can make adjustments as needed (for instance, if I've only budgeted $25 for our phone bill each month but look back and note that we've actually been averaging $27/month, I can make that adjustment for the beginning of the next year.)

-We have several savings accounts at our bank. I find that if I transfer the money immediately into an account (as opposed to just having it "available" in our checking account) I won't spend it! Most of our categories are separate accounts at our bank.

-We take cash out each paycheck for groceries and dining/miscellaneous. And I keep that cash in an envelope. We tried the envelope system for a year or so, but I'm just not very disciplined about keeping the cash in separate envelopes. (I kept borrowing from one envelope to use for another category.) Now I only have two envelopes so if I end up using some grocery money for dining, it's okay.

-We have no debt (besides our house, of course), so that is a huge blessing. The best tip I EVER heard about credit cards (which was a huge lightbulb to me at the time but maybe everyone else already knows this!) was this: Each time a credit card purchase is made, immediately write it into the check register so that the money you just spent is actually deducted from your available money. (Does that make sense?) That way we're held accountable for how much we're charging.

It's all pretty simple. I've grown much in this area since we've been married (but I hope to grow much more in the years to come!) I want to be a good steward of what God gives us.


When I was in middle school, my dad taught me how to make a budget. And he set up a checking account for me (joint, with my parents). For the $40 we received monthly-- the amount we were given to purchase clothes and toiletries-- we were taught to tithe, save, and spend.

As middle schoolers, my sister and I groaned at the idea of having a checkbook and a budget. Who even knew what a budget was? It's not like it was cool to have a checkbook in middle school, either.

Now I am thankful that I was raised with those money-management tools. Who knew then how much I'd need to know how to make and stick to a budget? Yikes!

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, because within our budget there are only a few areas that aren't fixed amounts (bills). I'm trying to figure out how we can cut down our flexible amounts (groceries is the big one) so that we can save more money from month to month.

I'll dive more into the grocery topic later this week but for now, I'd love to hear how many of you have a budget. Or what system you have in place to keep track of your finances.

photo courtesty of iStockphoto


But first... some other items:

>Last night we completed our final class for our adoption training!!! WOO HOO! Back to the routine! We are busy wrapping up our paperwork and then our homestudy will begin shortly thereafter.

>I am still moving old posts from HSB. For those of you who are reading via RSS feed, you'll be seeing old posts popping up as if they're new. I've decided to start labeling each old post with a *2006 post* note at the top so you can easily determine if it's an old one I'm transferring over!

Okay, now to the title of this post. Stacey asked me if I'd be willing to post my recipes for Pizza, Spaghetti and Lasagna sauces. I mentioned in a previous post (called No-Fuss Meals) that I buy the giant cans of tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste, and spend an evening making batches of those three sauces to freeze.

Here are the recipes:

Pizza sauce
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
2-3 T onions
2 cloves garlic (or more!)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
salt to taste

Spaghetti sauce
2 1lbs ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
Brown beef with onions and garlic, drain. Add:
2 (15 oz) cans tomato sauce
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
salt and pepper to taste

Simmer for 1 hour

Lasagna sauce
1 lb ground beef
5 T minced onion
1 clove garlic
Brown beef with onions and garlic, drain. Add:
32 oz. tomatoes
16 oz tomato sauce
6 oz tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
3 T Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. seasoning salt (like Johnny's)
1 1/2 tsp. caraway
1 1/2 tsp. tarragon
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. basil
1 1/2 tsp. oregano

You will also need:
1 pck. lasagna noodles
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup parmesan
1 lb mozerella cheese

To make:
Layer the bottom of 9x13 pan with 1/3 of the sauce, then 1/3 of the cooked lasagna noodles, then 1/3 of the cottage cheese. Repeat steps. Sprinkle mozerella and parmesan on top. Bake for 30 minutes @ 350.