Monday, July 30, 2012

Getting Ready for the 2012-2013 School Year!

The switchover of books from one grade to the next is always quite a job, but with each higher grade the bigger the mess and the longer it takes!

The first step this year was emptying the current book shelves, having Rich repair them from the wear and tear, and building more book shelves to accommodate the hundreds of books we'll be reading together this year.

Stacks of books everywhere piled high, vacuuming up the dust that accumulates behind the shelves and cleaning the areas that I don't get to on a regular basis took about 5 days to get it all done.

The results are worth it, though! The new books are organized, history and science notebooks have been made and ready to go.
Both Martin and Aaron were so ready to finish the school year at the end of June. Only 3 weeks later, I have all their new books on the shelves and they are both so excited to dig into their new books they can hardly stand it!  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Job Well Done!

We finally pulled the large tub of CD's from Rich's office to upload them.  We have a lot of CD's! I have a huge classical CD collection from my music teaching days, plus all of our other music that we have collected over the years! The picture above shows some of the CD's, but not all of them!

One of the reasons that we've not done this before now is that neither Rich nor I had time to do it. So, we enlisted the help of our computer savvy 10 year old son. It took him about 2 hours a day for about  a week and he had all of our CD's uploaded and now easily accessible on our iPods and phones.

I am so thankful that the job is done and that Martin was able to do it for us!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gluten Free Meals

Grilled Venison, lightly sautéed zucchini, and northern beans with fresh yellow tomatoes, onions, and fresh basil. This was a delicious meal! Instead of having a side of pasta, bread, or rice, I made a side of beans. The beans were delicious and the fresh vegetables tossed in and lightly sautéed with the fresh basil made it even better! 
Spaghetti Squash and gluten free sauce and meatballs
Doesn't  this looks like a normal plate of spaghetti and meatballs to you?
It is not a normal plate of spaghetti and meatballs!
The meatballs are gluten free. I bought some gluten free crackers to use in place of  bread crumbs. We used spaghetti squash instead of wheat pasta.
The spaghetti squash had an al dente texture, was slightly sweet, and went very well with the sauce and meatballs. We were amazed at how delicious it was. I was a skeptic, but completely willing to try it. I was delighted with how great the taste and texture of the spaghetti squash was.
So, now Rich can enjoy "pasta", sauce, and meatballs with the rest of us.

If I had a child that needed to be gluten free, then I would switch the entire family to a gluten free diet. Since Rich is the only one that seems to have a gluten intolerance, the children are still having gluten in small quantities, and I have it on occasion too. However, all of our family meals have to be gluten free. There is no way that I can fix a separate meal for Rich.

Rich is doing very well and we are encouraged by how much better he feels by changing his diet. It's amazing how life changing this small life alteration has been for him!
If you suffer from inflammation, taking gluten out of your diet could potentially change your life too.

Now ... off to make some gluten free tortillas!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

15 Years in 10 Pictures

Today, I am thankful to officially celebrate 15 years of marriage! I can hardly find the words for how thankful I am for my husband. Our journey has been marked by mountains and valleys, good times and bad times, sickness and health. I can say without hesitation that there is joy in this journey we are traveling! I am thankful that we make a really great team. I am thankful that he knows what makes me frustrated, he understand my stressors, and clearly does everything he can to make things easier for me. The following pictures are just a glimpse of the last 15 years we have shared together. 

July 19, 1997
August 2002
(we always asks each other the question: what did we do before we had children? Well, according to the pictures we don't have of the years between getting married and having children - we must have only worked, ate, and slept.)
Fall 2003

Summer 2005

Summer 2007
Summer 2008

Summer 2009
Summer 2010
Summer 2011
Summer 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our Trip To Pennsylvania

We went to Pennsylvania last week for our annual 4th of July family gathering. We had a great time hanging out with loved ones, swimming in the pool, and eating some great food!

Martin snapped this picture of us ... it's so cool to have a child that can take pictures of us now! We might actually get to be in some of the pictures now!

This is a classic Jonathan look! I love this strong willed, control freak of a kid!

It took him about 3 days ... but he finally decided to let go of the side of the pool. He's slowly figuring it out.
Martin learned how to dive this year! It's certainly not a perfect dive yet ... but he's working on it!

Gathering around the table chatting ... it was pretty hot the day of the party ... especially for those who weren't swimming!
Rich's Mom and Dad.

Rich's Mom, Aunt Karen, and Uncle Bill

My nephew, Ryan. Ryan is such a fine young man. He makes good grades at school while also being a dedicated and excellent athlete. We were able to go to one of his baseball games while we were there. I am so thankful that we were able to see him play!

Oh boy ... she makes her Daddy and I melt!

Rosalie was a little fish this year! She LOVED being in the water!

Aaron, Martin, and Jonathan never wanted to get out of the water. Aaron and Martin suffered a little with sunburns. They had so much fun, though!

LOVE this picture of my niece, Nicole. She was so sweet with Rosalie. Rosalie just LOVES her so much. Every morning, R wanted to wake her up because she couldn't wait to see her! Nicole turned 11 while we were there ... and we were so excited to be there with her to celebrate her birthday!
Josh was throwing Martin ... (no wonder my kids love our trip to PA so much!)

Even Rich got in the pool this year! Fun times!

Gotta love a teenager who will wear his little cousin's hat!

Our trip was so much fun! The children always look forward to going each year and celebrating the 4th of July with family. It's always special to be with family!

Monday, July 16, 2012


Lately, we have been more intentional about eating more protein and cutting back on carbohydrates.  A side effect of this was that Rich unintentionally went about 5 days without eating gluten.  His skin felt better than it had in years. The red splotches from his severe excema cleared up, his itchiness went away, and generally just felt better. When pizza night rolled around, he ate as many slices as he normally would eat and within an hour he could feel his skin becoming inflamed. It was at this point, he started to think that perhaps he has a gluten intolerance.
My first thoughts were doom and gloom. I've spent the last 6 years figuring out how to make everything from scratch using healthy whole grains ... and now he's not going to be able to eat any of it! Once I got past my own selfishness, I was able to think more clearly. I can do this! The most important thing is that he feel better! I have prayed for my husband for years to feel better ... have asked others to pray for him, and this could be the answer to prayer that I have been waiting for all of these years. Of course I want to be a part of the solution. So, if I need to make changes in my kitchen, then I am going to do it!
We already are super health conscious. This is not going to be that hard. I can make delicious meals without gluten. We've already changed our evening meals to include more raw vegetables, less carbs, and more protein. Since I already make almost everything from scratch ... how hard can it be to eliminate gluten?
The Powerballs pictured above are a special snack that I make for Rich for those times that he has a  little bit of a sweet tooth. They are gluten free - with minimal amount of sweetener ... and packed FULL of protein. They are also easy to play around with as far as substitutions go.

I started with a basic recipe and just played around with it until I got the right consistency. 
The recipe:
1 1/4 Cup Brown Crispy Rice Cereal *
2/3 Cup of toasted unsweetened coconut**
2/3 Cup natural peanut butter
1/2 Cup chocolate chips
1/2 Cup raisins or other dried fruit
1/2 Cup flaxseed
2/3 Cup ground almonds
1/3 Cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 - 1 scoop of protein powder (from peas, hemp, and rice)***

Mix all of the ingredients together and then refrigerate for 30 minutes before forming into balls. Keep refrigerated once they are formed into balls.

*Brown Crispy Rice Cereal has to be marked gluten free - they aren't all gluten free. Some of them contain Barley Malt. You actually have to do a search for the gluten free variety.

**I use Unsweetened Coconut - it's not easy to find at a store, so I order it from Amazon. Since these balls are not cooked, I toast the coconut before putting it in the recipe. I place the coconut on a baking sheet and bake it for a couple of minutes at about 300 degrees. You have to watch it closely so that it doesn't burn. It draws out the flavor of the coconut while also making it easier to chew!

***If you don't have protein powder you can just add more almonds or cut back on the peanut butter a little bit. You really can't go wrong with these since they are no bake.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Our Anniversary Trip

A couple of weeks ago, Rich and I packed up and headed for a 3 day/3 night mountain getaway. We decided last summer that we would plan a 15th anniversary vacation for just the two of us...and after we gave it a great deal of thought, we decided to go to the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. We both love the mountains, and it was still not all that far away from our children. My Mom and Dad kept the children while we were away. 
We stayed in the small mountain town of Hendersonville, NC. It had several stores and restaurants and a whole lot of character. We ate out, window shopped, and even got ice cream at the local ice cream shop. It was so much fun spending time with each other and having a very relaxed agenda.
 On one of our days in the mountains, we took a ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a beautiful ride, and we stopped at most of the lookouts just to enjoy the beauty of God's Creation!
We also drove up to Mount Mitchell. We were able to park close to the top, so the climb to the summit was only about 300 yards. It was a fantastic view and we couldn't stop talking about bringing the children back one day soon. Rich is planning a tent camping trip to Mount Mitchell for him and the boys in the near future.
Did you know that Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the MS River?  Pretty cool!

This was the view from the Mount Mitchell Restaurant where we stopped for lunch.

Our trip was full of rest and relaxation and the pure enjoyment of being together to celebrate 15 years of marriage. We are both so thankful that we have such a strong and committed love that still grows stronger everyday. We are thankful for our precious children that we are raising together. I pray that God's blessings will continue to be upon us as we seek to serve Him, follow Him, and love Him with all of our hearts, soul, and mind!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Books Are Here!

Our 25 pound box of books arrived on Friday. (the day after our last day of school)
Thankfully, my sister used Heart of Dakota's Creation to Christ curriculum guide for oldest daughter, so she has given me most of the books I need for Martin for 5th grade. There were still a few that I needed to buy, though as well as a few things for Aaron, Jonathan, and Rosalie. 
Box day is always an exciting day at my house ... even when the children are excited about having a month off ... they still get excited about new books!

Rosalie is excited to be included in box day this year! I bought her a few basic phonics books that also help with writing. I have no intention of doing anything at all formal with her, but I thought that she would enjoy those books and make her feel a part of the Holland school! 
Aaron can't wait to dig into all the great books that he will be reading this year.
Jonathan is excited to get back into formal school like his big brothers!
Aaron is the most excited that he will be starting to learn cursive!
Martin is begging me to allow him to start reading the books right then and there! I was so happy to see him get excited about his 5th grade math books, considering that math is not his favorite subject! 
Since I ordered a few books that we won't be using next year during the school year, he sat down and started reading those right away.
It's always a good thing to see your children get excited about books and learning!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Rosalie and Papaw Funny

Rich and I recently went away for a few days to celebrate our 15th anniversary. We left the children with my Mom and Dad. Mom and Dad came here to our house to stay with them. If you have spent anytime at all reading my blog you must know by now that I am very particular about food. So, I pre made several meals for the children and made a detailed list of what the each child likes to eat and even how to prepare a couple of those things.
Rosalie woke up bright and early Monday morning saying that she was hungry and would like to eat. So, my Dad asked, "What would you like to eat?" She said, "An egg on toast!"
So, my Dad scrambled her up some eggs and put them on top of a piece of toast.
He put it in front of her and she started shaking her head and saying that she did not want those eggs on her toast! A very confused Papaw said, okay, and helped her to get the eggs off of the toast.
Rosalie did eat every bite of what Dad made her and it was fine. When my Dad started telling me the story ... I had a very good laugh and asked him if he even bothered to read the detailed sheet that I left him that had very precise directions for making an egg on toast. We all had a good laugh after that.

You may have guessed that he never looked at the sheet.

You see ... I am my Dad's daughter. I left a menu plan with them, pre-made meals, and a detailed list of what each child likes to eat for lunch and breakfast. My Dad likely would have done the same thing. (only his list would have been much fancier ... probably in spreadsheet form and color coded for each child.)