Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year

From our homestead to yours, we wish you a very blessed new year.  May you see much love and happiness in 2013!  I am looking forward to see what the Lord blesses us with in the coming year, and I'm thankful to share it with you.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Merry Christmas!

This will be my last post until after Christmas.  I will be spending time with my family and completely ignoring the computer during this time!!

Our family would like to wish you a blessed Christmas season as you reflect on our Saviour’s birth.  May you have a happy and healthy new year filled with the love of family and friends.

Merry Christmas!!


"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"
1 Corinthians 10:31

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas Traditions

As a child, I always looked forward to Christmas.  We went to Christmas Eve Worship at church for a candle light service (still one of my favorite things!).  Then Grandma and Grandpa came over for snacks and egg nog, and we opened presents with them.  We would spend Christmas day with our Grandparents and Great Grandparents from my dad's side (yes, I was blessed to have Great Grandparents until I was in my early 20's~something I am so very thankful for!), Aunts and Uncles, and cousins.  We'd spend all day at Grandpa and Grandma's house and we loved every minute of it! 

Having Christmas traditions has been important to us as we raise our family.  When our first kiddo's were small, we had many family events that we felt we had to attend.  This left Christmas feeling rushed and left us exhausted by the end of it.  We realized that it was more important for us to carve out time for our own family while still maintaining extended family relationships. 

Honestly as the years have gone by, this has become a little easier.  As our extended families have grown, we have all had this realization.  We still have family celebrations with our extended families, but they are no longer on Christmas day.  That is reserved for our own families.  We want our kids to know that those relationships with extended family are strong and important to us.  We know that our time with our kiddo's at home is short, and they will someday have families of their own~and struggle with some of the same things we did as a new family.  But we also want them to look back at their childhood Christmas' and feel that same warmth that hubby and I have for our own.  We don't want them to remember Christmas as hurried, frazzled, and exhausting.  That is NOT what Christmas is about.  We want them to remember that we stopped our usual routines, and celebrated that birth so many years ago.  We spent time together singing, decorating, baking, worshipping, and loving each other.  And we loved every minute of it!

Have a blessed Christmas and enjoy your time together with your loved ones!


"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"
1 Corinthians 10:31

Friday, December 14, 2012

Homeschooling During The Holidays

One of the things I really love about homeschooling is the flexibility it brings our family.  With 5 kiddo's, one of them with multiple appointments during the month, things can get crazy in a hurry.  I am still relatively new at homeschooling (we're just starting our 3rd year), but I don't stress over these things like I first did.  We'll still get our school year done, it just may not look the same as someone else.  That's OK!

I *think* I may have mentioned once or twice that I LOVE Christmas time.  I also love having our kiddo's home and creating happy memories during this time of year with them.  Our "formal" schooling is on hold until the second week of January.  What our homeschool looks like for the next several weeks is to just enjoy one another.

We're planning on baking and creating Christmas goodies next week.  We then take some of them to our neighbors and relatives.  We'll send out our Christmas cards next week also.  We're going to create some holiday crafts~something that Sweetcheeks is really looking forward to.  We're going to watch holiday movies, and read books together.  We're going to read the Christmas story together, and have a family Christmas eve worship time together (I'm really looking forward to this!).  We're just going to take it easy, enjoy our Christmas, enjoy each other, and reflect on the real reason for this season.

I pray you also can enjoy the Christmas holiday with your loved ones!


"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"
1 Corinthians 10:31

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Oh, Christmas Tree

You won't find fancy decorations or color coordination on our Christmas tree.  No themed Christmas tree's here.  What you will find is a lot of ornaments that are meaningful to our family.

Ornaments that our kiddo's made for us as they were growing

 Or the ornament that reminds us what Christmas is really all about

Or the ornaments that celebrate special moments in our family's life

 Or ornaments that tell the story of how our family began

Or those ornaments that are just for fun

 Or those ornaments that remind us of the different stages in our kiddo's lives
Each year we look forward to decorating the tree and getting out the family decorations again.  We love to laugh as we remember each of the ornaments and who they belonged to or what the reason was for each of them.  Each year we add an ornament or two.  Someday when our kiddo's are grown, I may share an ornament or two with them to start their tree's.  But for now, I love our simple, lovely tree.


"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"
1 Corinthians 10:31

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holidays~Sensory Overload For The Autistic Child

I LOVE all things Christmas.  I love the music.  I love the baking.  I love the tree and decorations.  I love the extra's at Church each week.  I love to listen to the Christmas story and have Christmas devotions.  I love the family parties.  I love Christmas!

Our 10 year old who is autistic has a VERY different opinion about the holidays.  He pretty much hates Christmas time.  He hates that the music is on in the house all the time.  He hates the different smells in the house as I am baking (and baking some more!).  He hates the distraction of all the decorations and twinkling lights.  He hates that Church isn't the same predictable service it is any other time of the year.  He hates the noise at the family parties and all the commotion.  He totally hates the disruption of his usually quiet and familiar routine.

So what do we do with these personality differences?

I will admit, this was a hard thing for me to grasp when we first found out about our son's difficulties.  I mean, who could possibly find Christmas annoying?  Several years ago when we were first noticing problems for him, we had a horrible holiday season.  He had constant meltdowns.  He was frustrated and we were too.  But we've learned a few things over the past few years that have helped keep our Christmas sane~both for us and him!

We try to keep things low key.  We have a few tradtions that we enjoy, but we try to keep things as routine for him as possible.  We've found that this is not only a joy for him, but it is for the rest of us as well.  It keeps us focused on the real reason for Christmas instead of all the hustle and bustle.

We try to keep up on his visual aides.  We have many systems in place to help him with his triggors.  If he can see things written out, it helps him to place them into his mind.  For instance, if we have a holiday event, we make sure he knows about it in advance.  We tell him, but also put it in writing so he can also see the change.

We try not to expect to much of him.  This is sometimes difficult for us because we sometimes believe that if we are enjoying something then he would also.  Family parties are very difficult for him.  So we don't expect him to participate for the entire thing.  We DO expect him to be respectful though.  Usually we try to have him eat with the family, but then he can go off by himself.  He has an electronic hand held game or reading a book by himself somewhere that will keep his mind off of all the changes going on, and help him to maintain his emotions.

We (try) to accept things for what they are.  Again, this is difficult for me sometimes.  Every year I picture a perfect (what is that anyway?) Christmas season~I pretty much have a Hallmark Movie playing in my mind!  Then I'm dissapointed when things don't go like I think they should.  I'm trying (in total honesty~~this is very hard for me) to not have any expectations about how things should go, and just enjoy the moments we have right now. 

We know that even our best efforts to help him may not prevent his breakdowns.  The holiday's are a stressful time for him.  If we try to remember that he doesn't like the breakdowns either, it helps us to extend grace.  This makes for a great Christmas time for all of us!

I write these things not because I am an expert or have it all together (oh, I seriously don't have it all together!  I fail miserably some days.).  I write these things to remind myself of them also.  I know that like myself with all my quirky personality traits, our son is also a perfectly made gift of God.


"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"
1 Corinthians 10:31

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

We are so excited around here to see signs of winter. 

It's just not Christmas time without snow!  Now we're just praying it doesn't melt this week as temps are supposed to get up into the mid 40's.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"
1 Corinthians 10:31

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sale At My Etsy Shop!

We (think!) we've come up with a date for moving, so I've been thinking about all the things we have in our home that will need to be moved!  I have an Etsy Shop that I would like to get cleared out before we move, so I am having a sale!
If you are looking for baby rag quilts or rag quilt burp cloths, please head over to my Etsy shop Stitched In Prayer.  I have several quilts and burp cloths for sale.  I am offering them to my blog readers for 10% off! 

My shop, STITCHED IN PRAYER started at the beginning of 2011 as a way for me to create and sew some things I love, and sell them to create a small income for our family.  The name, Stitched In Prayer, began even before then, though. 

I learned how to create rag quilts shortly after we lost our son, Nathan, who was born at 17 weeks. I have created a blanket (either crocheted or quilted) for each of our children and it bothered me that when Nathan was born, we had no soft blanket to wrap him up in. So in Nathan's honor, I started sewing rag quilts for our local hospital for babies who are born into their family's hearts, but never make it to their earthly homes. Each of those quilts had been prayed over, and the name of my shop was born.

Check out my shop, Stitched In Prayer, if you are looking for burp cloths or rag quilts.  Enter code HOMESTEAD2012 at checkout for 10% off your purchase. 


So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"
1 Corinthians 10:31

Friday, December 7, 2012

Saving Money Around The House~The Kitchen

Save Money Around The House

I have found lots of little ways to save a dollar here and there.  This series "Saving Money Around The House" is just a way to compile some of them for you to use also.  Here's a few tips I've learned to save money in the kitchen.
  • Make your own dishwasher detergent.  I gave you a recipe HERE.
  • Use vinegar as your rinse aid in the dishwasher.  So much cheaper than store bought rinse aids and works just as well!
  • Use a spaghetti noodle instead of a toothpick to check if your baked goods are done.  I always have spaghetti in the house, and haven't bought toothpicks in years.
  • Get rid of paper products.  We don't use paper towels, instead, we use rags to clean up spills.  Use cloth napkins instead of paper (total honesty here, right now we don't do this, but I'm keeping an eye out at thrift stores for cloth napkins so we have a stash!).  You can also get rid of paper plates, although for us, we still use them for our Friday night family movie nights.
  •  Don't open the fridge or freezer as often.  When I get groceries, we put the freezer and fridge stuff in seperate piles and then put them all away at the same time.  Only opening the fridge doors once saves it from working so hard to keep cool~especially in the summer.  Use the same theory when baking and cooking, just grab everything in one trip.
  • Make your own window cleaner~I use vinegar and water.  You can also make your own floor cleaner and cleaner for the sink.
  • Work your baking and cooking times together.  If I can bake two things in the oven at the same time, it saves a little money by not using the oven as much.  If I can't bake them together, I'll make one thing right after the other to save pre~heating the oven twice.
  • Only run the dishwasher when it is full.  There are days when our dishwasher gets ran twice, but we don't run it unless it is full.
  • Don't heat up the house in the summer.  We try to grill often during the summer to keep our cooling costs down.  Sometimes....we even have ice cream for supper!!
What are some tips you have for saving money in the kitchen?


"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"
1 Corinthians 10:31

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Why Do I Love My Children?

Why do I love my children?  Let me count the reasons....

~~They love to change my cell phone ringer so I never know it is MY phone ringing!

~~My bed, walls, and carpet have all been painted with permanent marker.

~~They ALWAYS have something good to say about my cooking.  I NEVER hear the words yuck, nasty, disgusting, or my favorite...sick and wrong!!

~~I never know how many people I'm going to wake up with in the morning.

~~I get kisses from runny nosed children.  Seriously, what are you going to do?

~~I get quite an education (most of the time humbling!) every day.  Like when I asked why did Jesus have to die and the answer I got was "because he's taking all the mean stuff out of our hearts"!  

~~I find the decor of our house changed. Like this.......

Or this.....

~~ I get to hear the funniest things each day.  Our 3 year old keeps calling our pastor a pirate because he forgets the word pastor.  He also keeps calling the angel on top of our tree a witch for the same reason!!

But the best reason is.....

I get to hear "I Love You, Mommy!"  What else can I ask for in life?


"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"
1 Corinthians 10:31

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How Our Christmas Is Free

Several years ago, I learned of some families that were able to get Christmas presents for free during the year.  I was of course intrigued, so I did some investigating.  I found that in some area's I actually was able to get some of our Christmas presents for FREE.  Here's what I use.....

Swagbucks:  Swagbucks is a search engine that you use just as you would use Google or Yahoo.  The only difference is that you can earn "Swagbucks" each time you search something online.  You can then use these bucks to get prizes.  My favorite prizes are gift cards to Amazon or $5 deposited into my Paypal account.  I have then used that money to buy presents~free presents!  If you use the search engine often, the points just keep coming and coming!  This is one of the easiest ways to make a few bucks!  Register HERE and earn 30 Swagbucks just for signing up!

Pampers Gifts to Grow:   I don't use disposable diapers anymore, but we still do use training pants and I prefer the Pampers brand.  There are codes on each of the packages of diapers, training pants, and wipes, and after creating an account, just enter your codes for points to be added to your account.  I have used those points over the years to "purchase" gifts for our children.  There is no charge for shipping, so these gifts were entirely free!  Also, Freebies 4 Mom is a great resource for promotional codes.  I wouldn't have gotten nearly as many points this year if it weren't for Heather!

National Consumer Panel:  National Consumer Panel (NCP) is a program where you track your purchases via a scanner they provide and then transmit them to NCP by phone.  Each time you transmit your purchases you will earn points.  You will also earn points for answering surveys.  You then use those points to "purchase" gifts from their catalog.  All your equipment is provided by the company, and the gifts are also shipped free.  I also "bought" a gift for one of our children this way!

Inbox Dollars: .  You will get paid to read e-mails and take surveys.  It isn't much money and won't make you rich by any means, but you do have the possibility of making a bit through out the year with this company.  They also have coupons that you can print out and you'll get another 10 cents added to your account for every coupon redeemed.  There are various other ways to earn money, and after your account reaches $30, you can request a check.  I have never had a problem with them~I've always gotten the money credited to my account, and have received and cashed the checks without problem.  I saved the money and purchased gifts with it~it was money I would not have had otherwise.  Every little bit helps!  Go HERE to sign up and receive a $5 sign on bonus!
You probably won't be able to get free gifts for everyone on your list, but it is a great start.  See what you can get for free this coming year!


"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"
1 Corinthians 10:31

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Brinkman Adventures~{Product Review}

Out Of Control
When I was introduced to The Brinkman Adventures, I immediately thought it sounded like something I wanted our family to have.   This is an exciting new radio drama series that will at times keep you at the edge of your seat, and at times bring tears to your eyes.  We ordered the entire season 1, and I'm glad we did because after the first program we were hooked!
These radio dramas are actually stories taken from the lives of real missionaries, and told through the activities of the Brinkman family.  They are great to listen to, whether you are a young child or an adult.  We listened to the first disc (3 episodes) in the van when we recently went on a mini vacation.  All of our children~ages 15 to 3~were quietly listening and didn't want to stop listening until we were at the end of the disc (honestly, neither did hubby or I!). 
Dangerous Waters
The Brinkman Adventures is created by the Bultman Family, and is an act of obedience to the Lord's leading.  These are high quality productions and are very captivating.   It was such a blessing to take our eyes off of a television set, and just listen to the stories together. 
You can order one disc, or the entire first season.  The Bultman family does not want money to stand in the way of these CD's getting into everyone's hands, so they have adopted a "pay as you are able" policy.  They would like if you could cover the $6.50 shipping and handling, but any funds raised after that will go tword production of season 2 of The Brinkman Adventures.  I highly recommend these radio drama's for a great family time together and am excited to see what God has in store for them next!


"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"
1 Corinthians 10:31

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sale At Vision Forum Today!

Vision Forum has great idea's for gifts for everyone on your Christmas list.   A couple of my kids have circled in our catalog the things they would like to get for Christmas! 

Today, Vision Forum has a 20% off sale on orders of $95 or more.   Click below to go to their website and learn more.


"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God"
1 Corinthians 10:31