Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Musings from an Empty Nest Mama

Good morning daughters of grace!  My son left for college last week and to answer your first question, no I haven't cried yet.  LOL!  I have not, however, been able to sleep well since he left.  It's tough.  I'm not used to all this quiet.  It's hard when your job has been "mom" for 18 years and now you feel like it's over.  It's really hard.  That's when I have to remember that I'm not defined by my job as mother but as my position as daughter of the King.  I am the apple of His eye (Zech 2:8).  I am His possession (Mal 3:18).  I am loved (Jer 31:3)!  I have to remind myself of what His Word says.  As I said before, I'm going to try to hold it together and do the things I didn't have time to do.  Maybe I'll take that ballroom dancing class that I've always wanted to take.  :-)

As I was running errands today I saw kids coming home from school.  I'm going to miss those days.  Waiting for him to walk home or for waiting for the school bus to pull up.  He's not my baby anymore.  He's an adult, out on his own.  Following the Lord and allowing Him to make his path.  One of the hardest parts of being a mom is letting go.  However, we must remember that our children were only given to us for a season.  They belong to God and not us.  They will make mistakes, big ones!  They will have successes, big ones!  Through it all the Lord will take care of them.  He loves them more than we do!  Trust the Lord ladies - He will direct their paths and yours!

To help relieve your stress and make preparing dinner that much easier today I'd like to give you recipes for a full meal!  An easy, healthy and delicious three recipe surprise just for you.  My mini BBQ Meatloaves are so fun for the kids and easy for you.  Making them smaller cuts the cooking time down tremendously plus they freeze well!  Add to that mashed sweet potatoes and my famous broccoli slaw and you have dinner!  I do hope this makes your evenings a little easier!  Enjoy moms.  

 Mini BBQ Meatloaf

1 1/2 lbs ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 onion, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ cup barbecue sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tbsp milk (only if mixture is dry, optional)

  • To make breadcrumbs - toast bread and crumble into small pieces
  • Mix together beef, crumbs, onion, egg, salt, pepper, milk and 1/2 cup barbecue sauce.
  • Form into small balls and place in a muffin tins sprayed with cooking spray.
  • Bake in 350°F oven for 30 minutes.
  • Brush with more barbecue sauce.
  • Makes 6 servings.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

2 pounds sweet potatoes
3 tbsp butter

  • Peel, dice and boil sweet potatoes
  • In a mixer mix potatoes with butter, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg
  • Serve hot

Broccoli Slaw

4 cups broccoli slaw
1 small red onion, sliced
1 cup light mayo
¼ tbsp vinegar
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

  • Mix mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper
  • Stir into slaw mixed with onions
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes and then serve.


Making Our Life Simpler Using Structure and Consistency

Hello, sweet friends.  Thanks for reading today.  As I'm thinking about the back-to-school routine, I wanted to offer three ways that I make my life simpler during this hectic time of the year.  Feel free to adjust them to whatever makes sense for you.  Be blessed!

  • Checklists:  I have an almost 9 year old who thinks he's going on 21.  He doesn't like me to tell him what to do because he promises he's responsible enough to remember what he needs to do.  The truth is that he's 8.  He's forgetful, as most 8 year olds are, and I would find myself so frustrated with him for not doing everything he needed to do before we left for school in the morning.  Finally, out of desperation, I decided to make him a checklist.  He now has a morning checklist and an evening checklist.  Truth be told, we really worry mostly about the morning one because there's a lot to do before leaving for school.  The morning checklist includes things like:
    • Shower
    • Make your bed
    • Brush your teeth
    • Pray
    • Eat breakfast
    • Open the shades
The evening checklist includes things like:
    • Pack your lunch
    • Brush your teeth
    • Pray
    • Close the shades
The checklist makes everyone's lives easier throughout the day.  I don't have to yell at him about anything that needs to be done before school and he feels more independent because no one is "reminding" him of what he needs to do.
  • White Board: I have a medium-size white board that I keep in the kitchen.  It says "Week of..." and I write in the date of the week and it has each day of the week listed below it. Under each day, I write whatever appointments we may have that day.  I include doctor appointments, school functions, even hair cut appointments.  I also include if my husband is working late or traveling.  Each person in our family has their own dry-erase marker color so they know what their week looks like and everyone knows what to expect for the week.  The other important thing I include each day is what we're having for dinner.  This makes my life easier so every day, I'm not scrambling trying to figure out what to cook.  The structure helps everyone!

  • Bedtime Routine:  As much as possible, we stick to a very structured bedtime routine.  It typically includes dinner, showers, some free time, prayer, and being tucked in with lots of hugs and kisses.  The consistency helps to make sure that everyone knows what to expect, including us as parents.  I can't tell you how great it is to get to our family prayer time.  Not only to hear what's on our hearts but also to know that the end of the day is in sight! :)  It also ensures that our children are getting enough sleep.  Our almost 9 year old needs about 10 hours of sleep at night.  That means bedtime is at 8pm (he gets up about 6am, if not earlier every day - even on weekends!!).  Although it seems very mean (to him) to put him to bed at 8pm every night, including weekends, we enjoy him so much more when he's well-rested!  Not to mention, Mom and Dad need alone time every night to talk and catch up.
So these are 3 things that we do to make our life a little easier.  I know that not everyone is able to have a pretty stable routine at home.  But what I have found is that kids need structure...and so do parents!  So whenever possible, instill structure in your day.  It will help ease the stress in your life, as well as your children's' lives.

Have a wonderful school year!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Love Notes for Mom

Have you ever received something really special, so special that you tuck it away for safe keeping? Then, you go to retrieve it and can't remember where you put it?! :-)  That happens to me more than I care to admit! Specifically, it happened to a special little note I received a few years ago. Then over the weekend I was cleaning out the junk drawer, and there it was. A handwritten letter from a dear elderly friend in Wisconsin. I stood there, admiring her cursive penmanship, her sweet words of encouragement and the message of wisdom it contained.

What a sweet surprise to find this treasure! It was inside of an old address book and the moment I read it, I was filled with warmth and love and wonderful memories. It was sent during a time of great excitement and life challenges in our family. We had welcomed our beautiful daughter through adoption and were also expecting a new baby through my (surprise!) pregnancy. In addition to that, my father was dying of cancer. This little note from a woman who had raised a family and experienced lots of hard times in her day, was a beautiful gift. Her prayers and support helped to uphold me. And all it took was a small love note.  On the front is printed a "Homemakers Prayer"

Dear God, give me the grace to see
The blessings which have come from thee;

Give me the strength to do my duty,
Tolerance and decent living;

Make our home a place of sublime,
Where there's no room for hate or crime,

A place where good friends gather 'round;
Where laughter, mirth, and cheer abound.

Not selfish thoughts nor worldly greed,
Let this, dear Master, be our creed.

Today, I pray that little message will bless you as well. From a beautiful wise friend who lives in a log cabin built by her husband in a log cabin in Wisconsin, consider it a love letter to YOU too, mom.  I pray you'll tuck it away in your heart for safe-keeping where it will never get lost. :)  God bless you. And thank you, dearest sweet Jeanne for loving me through a simple letter. 

Love and prayers to you, this day.