New Recipe Monday — Baked Oatmeal

I’ve been struggling lately with breakfast. The boys go through so much cereal it’s crazy and let’s face it…it’s not like store bought cereal is that healthy for them. I need something quick and easy for them in the mornings. Something that doesn’t take a lot of brain power on my part because I am not a morning person and it takes me a bit to fire on all cylinders first thing. I tried this recipe for baked oatmeal this morning. The boys gobbled it up!
Baked Oatmeal:
Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar + 2 tablespoons for top
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raspberries (I used thawed frozen blackberries).
  • 1/3 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I didn’t add these, but I will next time)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons buttermelted
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • ripe bananapeeled, 1/2-inch slices (I omitted this too)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F and generously spray the inside of a 9×13 pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, half the berries and half the chocolate. (Save the other half of berries and chocolate for the top of the oatmeal). In another large bowl, whisk together the milk, egg, butter, and vanilla extract.
3. Add the oat mixture to prepared baking dish. Arrange the remaining berries and chocolate on top. Add the banana slices to the top then pour the milk mixture over everything. Gently shake the baking dish to help the milk mixture go throughout the oats.
4. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the top is nicely golden brown and the milk mixture has set. For an extra tasty top, sprinkle a tablespoon or so of extra brown sugar. You can place brown sugar on top before baking or add when casserole is finished baking and broil for a couple of minutes.
5. After it has cooled, cover with plastic wrap and store in fridge. When ready for breakfast, heat in microwave for 1-3 minutes, or until warmed through.
So in looking back over the recipe this morning, I realized I completely forgot the butter. Oops. It tasted okay without it. I had some blackberries I picked up at a local market last week so I used those. I think it would be good with strawberries, peaches, raspberries etc. I didn’t use the banana because they’re really not my favorite although the boys thought they would have been good too, so I’ll probably just add them to half the pan next time.
We sprinkled ours with a bit of cinnamon and sugar before serving. The best thing I liked about this dish is that I baked it last night and we heated it up this morning. It was super easy, warm and very tasty!
 

(This recipe was adapted from allingoodtasteblog.wordpress.com)

 

Find the Joy — Week 1

So about a week ago I shared my goal for this year. In 2014 I want to Find the Joy.
I have prayed each morning for God to help me Find the Joy in each day. And I’ve had a week…with some great days and some not so great days. It’s been a tough week.
It started with me getting sick. I mean sick….with influenza. Fever, cough, achy feeling yucky. And of course it was right after my dearest husband had to go back to work after break. So last Thursday I drug myself out of bed…barely and tried to make some semblance of the day. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, backed over and then hit again. As I’m laying in the recliner with half an eye on the baby and the big boys watching TV (I totally admit to TV time when mom is sick)…I remember my goal…Find the Joy. Seriously? What joy is there in being sick? In feeling so exhausted and rotten that you’re not sure how you’re going to make it? This was going to be way harder than I thought.
But then lunch happened.
We’d joined my brother’s family for supper the night before and my sister in law sent home leftovers! They might have been hotdogs and brats, but they were easy to heat up…throw a piece of fruit and some carrots and we’ve got a meal with minimal effort. That was my joy. Easy lunch…blessed by leftovers. For me that day, it was something simple, something I would have overlooked before. My joy for day 1 was hotdogs.
Friday brought a broken fever and a bit more energy (which means I totally over did it that morning). Thankfully my in-laws were willing to pick up the big boys and watch them in the afternoon for me so I could get some rest. And my afternoon was filled with things like this…

And so it goes. I’ve been purposefully finding my joy each day. Little things and big things (like having a warm home on very very cold nights).

And then my morning started this morning at 5am…with my son next to my bed…”Mommy, I don’t feel good” New sheets, a drink and emergency barf bowl just in case, along with a 3 year old brother who woke up in the process and said sickie 5 year old all cuddled in bed together. As I snuggled with them…exhausted before the day even started…I sighed heavy…Find the Joy.

And I did. Fitful sleep for another hour or so. While he dozed on the other side of the bed his hand reached….searched under the blankets for mine. I lay there with his palm resting in mine and I found Joy knowing mine was the hand he was looking for. Even in his early morning fever stupor he searched me out. And I thanked God for the blessings cuddled around me and sleeping in the next room. The blessing of children and family.

And I rested.

Raising boys — Resources

If you’d have told me when we first got married I’d have 5 boys…I would have laughed in your face! When we got married we knew we wanted to have a big family but I though surely I’d have a girl in there some where!
So here I am…mom to 5 boys who are 11, 9, 5, 3 and 9 months. And I love it! *Almost* every single minute of it. (Remember that Finding Joy post?) I can’t tell you how many times people comment about our brood of boys…either they are completely shocked that anyone would intentionally have FIVE children! Or they’re shocked that I’m still sane after having 5 boys (and you should see the looks I get when I tell them I’m homeschool them!)

Honestly, I think it can be super overwhelming to be a parent whether you have girls, boys or a mix of both. I am so thankful for other parents who offer insights, share lessons learned and in general give parenting “hacks” we can all benefit from. I want to share a few resources we’ve found helpful along our way.
One of my favorite books is Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys By Hal and Melanie Young.

Hal and Melanie are the parents of 7 children, 6 of those are boys! I’ve had the privilege of hearing them speak at several homeschool conferences and I’m always encouraged by them. The book is entertaining and full of practical tips from dealing with bickering and fighting to how they handle guns and playful wrestling.
Something I’m learning as my boys get older is that sometimes they can be a bit angry. Anger is something one of my boys really struggles with. He comes by it honestly. He’s a son of Adam so struggles with sin as we all do. And his mom and dad have both been known to lose their temper more often than we’d like to admit. The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo has been our go-to book when it comes to this issue in our home. I’m only about half way through but it’s challenged me and given me practical wisdom for dealing with this issue.

Another great book by Lou Priolo is Teach them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training


I didn’t grow up in a home where scripture was woven into our daily conversations or lessons being taught so it’s been a challenge for me to figure out just how this looks in practice. This book helps formulate that picture for me and while it’s still a work in progress in my life, it’s helped me implement scripture in to daily lessons.
For some comedic relief I’ve really enjoyed Boys Will Be Joys by Dave Meurer.
There are days when stuff happens here at home and I can only shake my head. Sometimes I don’t think anyone will believe the craziness that’s gone on here. Like the night we found gum in a belly button or the fact that one of my children often forgets to take off his pajamas before getting dressed in the morning. Boys will be Joys had me in stitches one minute and in tears the next. He gives a few pointers along the way but mostly it reminded me that even with all the craziness that goes on…boys are delightful and bring so much joy to our family.
Trust me, I by no means have this whole thing figured out but I’ve learned a few things and I’ll be sharing those in the coming weeks, but these books have been a good start when it comes to resources for just what to do with these creatures we call sons. Do you have some resources you’ve found helpful in your parenting journey?
This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on and purchase and item I describe on my post, I will be paid a small fee by the company. Rest assured that my participation in this program does not in any way influence my recommendations, comments or quality of my posts. Your information is never sold, shared or distributed to these companies by this blog.

Find the Joy

It’s a new year…we have all of 2014 bare in front of us, with all the hopes and dreams we carry laid out…waiting.
Most people have a list of things they want to accomplish in the New Year. The optimism of the fresh year makes us silly with goal making. We feel as though standing on this cusp of fresh starts we can do anything. Our lifelong “to do” list is suddenly attainable. And for some it might be, but truthfully…I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who has actually kept their resolution for the year. Including myself.
I’m a dreamer by nature so the New Year is kind of exciting to me. I like to dream about what the next 365 days will hold for me and my family. On this first day…I’ve often made a list a mile long of all the things that seem so possible. And I dream. BIG.
And then at some point during the year, sometimes before the first week of the New Year is over, I get a reality check. One of my kids barfs on the floor, we get a bill in the mail and I remember I’m no Cinderella.
I’ve been tempted this week to make my list. To do my dreaming. But this year I haven’t really. Sure, I have my secret Pinterest boards that guard my dreams, but those things aren’t making it on my list. Instead…I have one thing. One mantra this year. One goal. One prayer.
Find the Joy
That’s it. To Find the Joy.
In the mundane. In the piles of laundry, the routine of everyday life. In the moments that pass by each day un-noticed and underappreciated.
I want to Find the Joy in the minutes, hours, days and weeks that make up my year.
I stop sometimes and realize that my life is flying by, my boys are growing quickly and it hits me that I’ve wasted time. I’ve wasted time wishing them out of diapers, wishing them to sleep through the night. I wasted time on Facebook reading about someone else’s life in the virtual world. I’ve wasted time complaining, worrying, yelling and trying to control what happens to me. And for the most part…I don’t get to. I’ve spent so much time looking at what’s wrong, what (and who) needs to change that I forget to Find the Joy in my day.
So that is my goal for this year. To Find the Joy in watching my children grow and learn (even when it’s messy, trying and not how I would have done it in the first place). I want to Find the Joy in my small house instead of complaining about the drafty windows and the lack of space. I want to Find the Joy in the midst of trials, when I’m grasping for direction and answers…I want to find it tucked there in the middle of the ashes and junk. That little nugget that reminds me God’s hand is in it all. He is in control and He is the source of all my Joy.
Find the Joy
 
Psalm 118:24
This is the day which the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
 
 

What do you want?

I posed this question to my readers on Facebook this last week but remembered some of you dear friends aren’t on Facebook. So I’ll ask you here too…
What do you want to hear about this year? I’m doing some blog planning this week and want to write about things that interest you.
What do you struggle with? What do you enjoy? What challenges you and makes you think?
Please don’t think I have it all figured out…believe me, I’m far from having it all bundled in a neat tidy package. But we have something to learn from one another. We’re in this together.
So I’m asking, dear readers…what do you want to read about this year? Feel free to leave a comment here or drop me an email at fillingquiver@gmail.com.
I look forward to 2014 with you!
Blessings,

Erin

New Recipe Monday — Snickerdoodle bread

It’s Christmas baking time at our house. I tried this recipe out last year and it was a hit!
Here is the recipe I used (with tweaks).
SNICKERDOODLE BREAD
INGREDIENTS
· 2 1/2 cups flour
· 2 tsp. baking powder
· 1/2 tsp. salt
· 2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
· 1 cup butter softened
· 2 cups sugar
· 3 eggs
· 1 tsp. vanilla
· 3/4 cup sour cream
· 1 pkg. Hershey’s Cinnamon Chips
· 3 TB sugar
· 3 tsp. cinnamon
INSTRUCTIONS
1. Cream butter, sugar, salt and cinnamon until fluffy. Add eggs and mix well.
2. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix well.
3. Mix flour and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add to wet ingredients and mix until all combined.
4. Add cinnamon chips and stir into batter. Set aside.
5. Spoon batter into 4 mini loaf pans until about 2/3 full. I made it in 2 regular loaf pans and baked for about 50 minutes.
6. Mix 3 T. sugar and 3 t. cinnamon in a bowl and sprinkle over the batter in each loaf pan.
7. Bake at 350 for 35-38 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before removing from pan.
This bread was way tasty! Cinnamon chips though are a seasonal item and usually only available at Christmas time. You can buy them online here
and make the cake during the rest of the year, something I totally plan on doing.

Moving 101 — We're here…now what?

It’s so exciting to pull in to the drive of your new home! Call me crazy, but one of the things I love about moving to a new place is planning where my things will go. And this last time, unfortunately a lot of them went to storage as we downsized our living space considerably.
So imagine with me…there you are with your family, your big truck full of stuff and a few friends/family/folks on the other end ready to help you unpack that big truck. And let’s face it…you’re really kind of exhausted. At least I always am. I’ve been busy packing up our home, cleaning the old one, coordinating loading the moving truck, driving to the new place (which isn’t exactly a short trip) and entertaining small children along the way. We pull in, the kids jump out and usually run through the new house to be the first to stake claim and explore new territory. And you have to unload the truck and make sense of all those pretty boxes you labeled before you left. Now what?
If we have help unloading the truck, I try to walk through and “label” each room, at least verbally. So that when I say “office” everyone knows which room I’m talking about. Then comes the unpacking of the truck. Boxes are carried out and remember that master list you had? The one you created at the very beginning? That looks a little like this?
Yep. That’s it. I’ve been pregnant for several of our moves and my husband isn’t fond of me carrying heavy boxes while carrying a baby (or ever really). So I direct. As the bins and boxes come off the truck I can say “purple circle…goes to the kitchen” or “red triangle…garage”. Oh my goodness, it makes the unloading so much easier. Everyone knows where the boxes go, I don’t end up with kitchen stuff in the bedrooms and I don’t have a huge mess to sort out later when all my help is gone. I’m not terribly picky about where in the room the boxes go, so I still have a pile of bins in the room, but I know all of those bins belong there and will be unpacked mostly in that room. So.much.easier.
There are some bins that will end up getting moved around, but in the initial stages all bins of the same color come to the same spot. For example, I know that not all of my homeschooling bins will be unpacked or put on my homeschooling shelf in my kitchen (at least that’s where it is now). But initially all of my orange circle boxes get put in my kitchen where my current homeschooling stuff will be used. Because I have my itemized index card, I can easily tell which orange circle boxes I need to open and unpack and which ones I can send to the basement for storage until next year.
And oh! What if we can’t find something? I can go to my itemized index cards, go to the category and find which number will have my item. A few weeks ago I was looking for our heating pad. I knew that I had packed it in the bathroom boxes. When we moved in we had only unpacked the essentials (because that’s all we have room for). I went to my handy dandy itemized cards. Found my heating pad listed in yellow circle #5. My husband located the box and the heating pad. We erased the heating pad off the list and put the bin back in the garage.
As I’ve said, we’ve moved to a much smaller house this time and a lot of our things are in storage in the basement or in bins yet in the garage so this system has proved more than useful again. I’ve been able to locate the Christmas lights or fabric paints without having to tear apart boxes looking for one item. So much easier!
I should also note two things.

  • Besides finding toilet paper the first room I usually unpack is the kitchen. I feel like I can think when my kitchen is unpacked. I usually pack our clothes and supplies for about 4 days in suitcases before we move so I don’t have to rush to unpack clothes that first night.
  • I try to hang one or two things on the wall the first day in our new home. I have a couple of pictures and a shelf that are my first things on the wall. They’re the last things I take down when leaving and the first things I put up when we get there. It just helps a big empty house full of boxes feel more “homey”.

So that’s it. That’s how I’ve organized our family (now of 7, including a baby) to move 12 times. Do you have any tips or tricks you’ve used when you’ve moved?

Moving 101 — Packing and staying organized

Yesterday I shared with you how I get started when I know we’re going to move. Once I get ready to pack I make sure I have my list of supplies. Here’s my list:

  • Boxes or plastic bins. Several years ago during a move, we decided to invest in plastic rubbermaid type bins. They stack uniformly, last longer than cardboard boxes and will hold up in storage a bit better. Most of our things go in these plastic bins.
  • Index cards, letter dividers and a box to put them in. I prefer the 3×5 ruled ones. You’ll be using these a bunch so you want a way to keep them organized. You can usually find these items in the office supply section of your local store.
  • Packing tape. I’ve found packing tape with a dispenser works better than duct tape.
  • Markers — colored markers like the kids use for school. And a black sharpie
  • Pencils

My index card box set up looks something like this

I try to pack items by room, either by the room they’re in now or by the room they’re going to be when we move. This last moved involved me packing before we had a house to go in to, so I packed things according to the room they were in or the one I *thought* they were going to go in when we got there. Some things, like “homeschool supplies” are assigned a category rather than room.  I assign a color and shape to each room or category. For example, books are pink circles, storage items are red circles, garage items are red squares etc. Be sure to make a master list of your colors and categories.

Next I start making cards for labeling. Each box will get two index cards. One with a large colored shape and number for the bin itself and one with a smaller corresponding shape and number in the upper left hand corner for my index card box. I let the boys help make my labels. It’s a great learning activity for shapes, colors, writing numbers and counting. I usually start by  making 10 or so of each color/shape. This last time we moved, I pre-wrote the numbers in pencil and let my 5 year old trace the numbers in black sharpie. A sharpie works better than a regular black marker because it bleeds less.
Then I pack my bin. I write everything I put in the bin on the index card with the smaller shape. Sometimes I’m really specific, like with my kitchen or crafting items. Other times I’m not as specific. With books I don’t write every title down rather I write the shelf the books came from or whom the books belong to (ie Dad’s commentaries or children’s books for book time). Remember, each bin gets two cards. The card with the bigger shape goes on the bin as the label and the smaller one goes in the index card box. I assigned a letter to each category as well. B was for books, E was for boys only because E was the next available letter in my card box.
Index cards for file box

Every bin, box, plastic storage box gets a colored label and corresponding index card for the box. I know that it seems like a lot of work to just pack a box, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been really thankful I packed our things this way. If I know my kitchen items are purple circles and filed behind K. I can look on my index card and tell that my rolling pin is in purple circle 5 and I can send someone to go find it. When we moved a couple times ago, I had the luxury of being able to pack months in advance. I consequently packed a few things that I ended up needing before we moved. It was so nice to be able to pinpoint the exact bin containing my item and send someone to get it rather than having to unpack every kitchen box or struggle trying to remember what other stuff was in the box.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a little space in the first room you pack or even in your garage, you can start moving packed, labeled boxes to the free space to reduce clutter and the feeling of walking over and around boxes all the time. This was hugely helpful when we left Colorado. I had one wall of our garage stacked with bins and when we had loading help for the truck, they could just grab the bins and load the truck rather than walking in and out of the house repeatedly.
It takes a little more work on the front end of moving, but it is oh so helpful when it comes time to unpack or search for an already boxed item. Tomorrow I’ll share with how I unpack and organize efforts when we get to our new home.

Moving 101– Getting started

Our family has moved. A lot. I mean, a lot. We have moved 12 times in the 12 years we’ve been married. 3 of those were because I was working as a traveling nurse, but still…that’s a bunch.
It takes a lot to organize, pack, move and then unpack a family. I’ve learned some tips and tricks to make the process go smoother for our family with the least amount of frustration for all involved. I want to share a few things with you to make the process easier if you’re facing a move in the near future.
The first thing I do before we move is go through every room of the house. I have three bags or boxes. One for donating, one for throwing and one for selling. I only have one rule…once it goes in a bag/box it doesn’t come out. If I decide to give it away, it stays in that box. No taking it out just because “I think I might need it someday”.
Once the donate box is full, it goes to the car. I don’t want it to accidentally get packed and I don’t want to move it just because we never made it to drop off. Some larger cities will actually come pick up your items for you. It’s important to make sure you call far enough in advance to schedule the pick up well before your moving date. I like to keep the box in the car so that when we are out and about we already have it in the car to drop off and there’s no “Oh nuts! We should have grabbed that box for Goodwill”.
I try to sell the other items as quickly as possible. I will usually list them in a local Facebook group or sometimes Craiglist. I don’t want to have to mess with shipping stuff out while I’m trying to pack them away.
The trash box/bag goes…well…in the trash. Sometimes it’s helpful to schedule an extra dumpster if needed, but I’m usually sorting items far enough out that I spread our trash out over a couple of weeks and we don’t need one. I make a shred pile for papers that might have important information on them. Shredding is a great job for the boys to do while I get a few things packed.
I know some families who sort, throw, sell and pack all in one fell swoop. I’ve tried it and pretty soon I just get overwhelmed. If I sort first, I know that when I walk in to that room to pack, everything that’s in there goes in boxes to go with us. I try to pack up a room soon after I’ve sorted so that junk doesn’t find it’s way back in there. Another benefit to sorting first is that if you’re lucky enough to have packing help you can send them in there with a stack of boxes, a tape gun, labels and they can have at it. They won’t be holding up a broken picture frame or toy saying “do you want to take this?”.
So that’s how I get started. It always feel good to get a room done and know that it’s ready to be put in a box or bin. I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about how I stay organized when I’m packing.

2 years

This week marks 2 years ago that our lives, mine especially, was shaken to the core. Two years ago today our son Knox was born at 16 weeks.
The days leading up to his birth have replayed in my mind. On the first we’d had our sonogram after not being able to find heart tones for a couple of days. I can still picture the black hole in his chest, where his heart was no longer beating. My heart still sinks when I close my eyes. On the second we met with an OB doctor I’d never met and scheduled the induction. It was God’s providence that we made that relationship with him. I’m so thankful for his care. Because little did we know that 6 months later we’d be in his office again staring at a lifeless body in my womb and scheduling yet another induction for our daughter Lily.
And then today.
I remember walking in to the hospital the day’s events. I remember how scared I was, how sad. His birth, so thankful to be able to hold him and admire God’s handiwork. Thankful for nurses who made footprints, took pictures and prayed with me. Sobbing when they took him away. I remember the OR, fighting anesthesia with fear…waking and asking before my eyes were open if I was still whole, if they’d saved my uterus. And the next day being so weak, having my first allergic reaction ever (super scary for me) and then watching as someone else’s blood made it’s way through the IV tubing into my own arm. And leaving. Pale, weak and exhausted. Hollow and leaving a piece of me behind.
As I mourned I wrote. I wrote this series as I grieved his loss. Writing was often the only time I didn’t feel completely numb. It was my therapy.
Two years has passed since. The pain is less, but it’s still there. I still wonder how different our lives would be if he’d survived. I still wonder why he died. But through his life and his death I have learned much. God taught me a lot about trust, control, grief and caring for others. I gained a new perspective as a patient and hurting mother. I learned a lot about wrestling with God…and I did wrestle, I shook my fist, I cried out and I surrendered.
It’s been two years. His footprints still hang on our wall. A heart in our family tree to mark his presence in our family. And brothers who still talk about him…and a brother who bears his name (Zebediah Knox). A brother who will learn about the one who came before, the one he will meet in Heaven.
God is faithful. He is good even when we’re grieving the loss of a child…even when it doesn’t feel like He is good. I am thankful for the joy that He has shown me on the other side of this loss. I am thankful. Losing Knox allowed me to be teachable, mold-able…God used that experience to shape me more to the image of Christ.
So today, I remember the birth of my son whom I will meet for the first time with his sister and two other siblings in Heaven. What a glorious day that will be! Today our family remembers our Knox and we are thankful.