Friday, January 11, 2013


From my teenage son's status today. So glad when people show in real life what we have tried to instill within our children!

"The following story exemplifies what true integrity is: A man delivered a drum set me yesterday. A short time later I received a phone call from that man. He told me that I had over-paid him by twenty dollars. He drove back fifteen minutes to give me back my twenty bucks. I never would have known that I over-paid him. He could have kept the money and no one would have know. However, I know that his integrity led him to do the right thing. I pray that God will bless that man's life."

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Does your nursery have a Bible?

Nursery Bible

 I still smile as I envision this beautiful picture Bible, The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes, by Kenneth Taylor, sitting atop my nursery dresser, part of the decor of every one of my nurseries--from the pastel "Care Bear" motiff nearly thirty years ago to the last one, a dozen years ago, with toys and hues of deep green and navy. It didn't matter the color scheme or decorating theme, this Bible was at home in every nursery.

I smile even more, though, when I think back to the hundreds of mornings in which I snatched my little angelic being from his or her crib (after we put the toys in the toy basket in the corner of the crib--you can never start teaching "chores" too early!), telling that child how much Mommy loves her, how much Daddy loves her, how much Brother loves her, how much Sister loves her, and how much Jesus loves her.

I wrapped that sweet bundle in that day's favorite blankie, and the two of us got cozy in the nursery's rocking chair. Depending on the age, we would nurse, rock, sing, recite rhymes and verses (or sing verses), and talk about how amazing she was, how soft she was, how great she was going to be in God's kingdom.

When the feeding and singing were done, it was Bible time--actually, it was "Little Eyes" Bible time--for that is what my toddlers and preschoolers called this precious nursery Bible. (I get misty-eyed thinking of the toddler snatching that Bible off the dresser and following me around with it, saying, "Little Eyes Bible, Mommy?" I have to keep myself from wishing I had stopped what I was doing and read more often...)

After a story or two (the stories are short, just perfect for toddlers or young preschoolers), the "Little Eyes" Bible would get propped back up on the dresser, that cherished spot where this beautiful nursery Bible stood for nearly two decades. And we would start our day, busy, full, precious days that nearly always began with the nursery Bible.

Note: For a thorough review (and where to purchase the original version of this Bible used), see the following link from an earlier blog post:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Crock Pot Wednesday--Hamburger Stew

On Wednesdays, I like to have something in the crock pot for lunch. We have cottage classes here, teaching over fifty homeschooled students once-a-week classes, such as writing, English, biology, economics, and more. It is tons of fun--but a super busy day, so I put a stew or soup together in the crock pot that my co-teachers (first two sons, Joshua {30} and Jonathan {20}) and Jakie (our only homeschooled student now :(   ) can eat whenever they get a break.

This week's crock pot entree is Hamburger Stew. I originally got this recipe over twenty years ago when I began freezer cooking. It fit the bill perfectly then when hamburger and shredded-off-the-bone chicken were our main meats--and almost always used IN recipes to stretch them further (as opposed to chicken pieces or hamburger patties).

 It can be assembled then frozen before cooking (though the ingredients are all precooked). Then I can get it out of the freezer, defrost it, and either put it in the crock pot or oven. I no longer make it as a freezer entree because I have found that if I have precooked hamburger in the freezer, this stew comes together so quickly that I don't need to even take up freezer space freezing it already assembled. However, if you are new to freezer cooking and looking for some satisfying, one dish entrees to start with (that are simple), this is definitely one to begin with.

Note: It is a tomato-based stew as opposed to many beef stew recipes that are gravy-based. It does have a lot of beefy flavor (not tomato-y like a red sauce or something), but the tomato sauce makes it a completely different stew than our beef stew recipe. Also, I use small vegetables in this (not like the picture that has some chunky veggies). I like smaller veggies with the hamburger but larger, chunkier veggies with stew beef. Just be sure if you use some larger and some smaller that they are fully cooked before assembling; otherwise, the vegetables will get done cooking at different times.

Hamburger Stew

5 to 6 lbs. raw ground turkey or hambuger (16 to 18 cups cooked and drained)
6 cans tomato sauce (15 oz)
3 cans mushroom soup or golden mushroom soup (You may make your own or make a beef gravy for this.)
5 ½ cups beef broth
1 ½ cups milk (or cream or half and half)
6 cups cubed hashbrowns (or 3 cans potatoes)
6 lbs frozen mixed vegetables
6 TBSP minced onions
1/2 to 1 tsp garlic powder (I use a garlic-herb mixture and put more than this calls for)
6 bay leaves
Extra beef base or powdered brown gravy mix, if desired

  1. Precook any fresh veggies that you substituted for the frozen (i.e. carrots, green beans, potatoes, etc.)---only if using substitutions.
  2. Brown meat and drain.
  3. Mix all other ingredients together. (If mixture seems especially tomato-y or thin, I will stir in a little brown gravy mix.)
  4. Place heaping amounts of stew in 3 (9 x 13) foil pans (deep ones or two shallow ones; or one gallon freezer bags if planning to cook on the stove top or in the crock pot).
  5. Freeze and label:
Hamburger Stew              Serves 10-12+
Thaw. Bake covered at 350’ for 45 – 60 minutes.
  1. May also place in freezer bags and label, then place in casserole dishes at baking time (or cook in crock pot).
  2. May also simmer on stove top for under an hour on medium, stirring frequently.
+Each recipe (this makes it three times) serves ten to twelve people. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Time in a Bottle"

                                              “Time in a Bottle”
                                                               Donna Reish

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
Till Eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I'd save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

Time. It’s such a precious commodity. Something that those of us who have been parenting, say, for thirty years, with at least six more years of “kids at home” time, have come to  understand the preciousness of.

You know the whole “Enjoy them now ‘coz they’ll grow up too fast!” (Or worse yet, “Enjoy them now ‘coz soon they’ll be preteens back talking you and making your life miserable.” Sadness…) Anyway, I remember people telling me all the time that time would go fast…and I never believed them.

However, during our early parenting years (the first fifteen of them), my husband worked a job that took him out of the house sixty to seventy hours a week at least fifty weeks a year. Because of that, while we didn’t understand that our kids really would “grow up so fast,” we came to put a real value on time. We learned to use it wisely, to be efficient, and to “spend” it on the most important things to us—our kids, marriage, and God.

Time is so similar to money—yet so different than money. Like money, once it (i.e. today) is spent, it is gone—never to be retrieved again. Like money, there is only a certain amount of it—and we always wish we had more of it. Like money, it can be “spent”  foolishly or wisely, invested or squandered, used for good or for evil. Like money, it is valuable and sought after.


Unlike money, we all get the exact same amount of it. One of my pet peeves is to hear someone say, “I don’t have time for __________.” Maybe I’m just too literal, but, honestly, we all have the same amount of time to begin with. Granted, some of us have predetermined “time expenses”—such as a large family, an ailing parent, or other way in which our time must automatically be utilized. In that way, we don’t really all have the same amount, of course, because those people’s time is already partially earmarked. However, it is probably more accurate to  say, “I have already allotted my time elsewhere, so there’s not enough left for ______.” (Okay, that’s getting picky…but we all know people who waste A LOT of time—then say  that they do not have time for this or that.)

I’m somewhat of a “time freak.” You know how some people just really seem to love money—and want more and more of it? Well, that is me with time. Every year when it’s time to “spring forward” and move our Indiana clocks up one hour, I go through the house ranting that “someone just stole an hour from me” and “we should do something—I just had an hour stolen,” etc. etc. (To be fair, when we “fall backwards” and gain an hour, I also squeal with delight that “someone just gave me an hour”—“I can’t believe that I have been given a whole extra hour!” And yes, this tradition drives my family crazy!) This afternoon, when my family pulled out to go watch football, I looked at the clock and did my mental math, fell back on the bed and said aloud gleefully, “I have been given four precious hours to do whatever I want to do!” (That’s not really true because this week I start  teaching writing to seventy-four students, so I have some definite “predetermined time expenses” in my life right now!) But yeah, I’m crazy about time.  I love clocks, hourglasses, and time pieces. I have timers in six drawers—and the most used app on my phone is definitely my timer!

Strange time attachments aside, what does time have to do with “Character Training From the Heart” (our new blog name and seminar name) or “Positive Parenting” (our former name)? So many of our New Year’s resolutions, family goals, relationship needs, household jobs, and work tasks could be accomplished much better simply with better time management skills. A funny difference between time and money that we often do not consider is that of “stolen money” or “stolen time.” If someone broke into our car and stole our billfold (and a hundred dollars), we would be outraged. We had been “robbed”—some of our precious commodity of money taken from us. We had plans with that money. We were going to pay a bill or buy some needed item for our kids. But now that money is gone—stolen.

However, we continually allow time robbers to rob us of our time—without being outraged or trying to put a stop to it. We purposely have chosen not to have a television or game system for most of our parenting years. When people asked us (especially many years ago with several kids at home and homeschooling, etc.) how we got so much done, we only needed to say, “We don’t have a television.” And they nodded—they knew exactly how we got so much done.

Now I’m not saying that anything fun should be omitted from your life (my family is at our oldest son’s house watching football and when they return, my husband and I are going dancing!), but I am saying that we can’t complain about not having enough time, we can’t wonder why we can’t get certain things done, we can’t wish for more hours with our kids and spouse—if we let time robbers continually steal them from us (the hours, not the kids!).

We would all love to be able to “save time in a bottle” like the old Jim Croce song says. We would all love to “make days last forever” sometimes. But as the song says, that can’t happen—and “there never seems to be enough time to do the things we want to do….”

So what do we do to “get more time”? What do we do to get more accomplished? What do we do to have more time with our kids? Tune in later this week---for some “Timely Tips”—things that we have found to work for us in the areas of time management and saving that “time in a bottle.”


P.S. For those of you who are nostalgic for old music, like I am, I’ll put the Youtube link below to that song. Take a look at the words---they really are poignant when it comes to parenting. And no, I am not just fond of this song because it is an absolutely perfect Viennese Waltz song! Smile….