Wordless Wednesday: Real Pal

On our Thanksgiving trip to Oklahoma City this past week, I was a schemer. Chipette’s pen pal lives in Oklahoma and I mentioned to pen pal’s mother that we would be in Oklahoma during Thanksgiving. We decided to surprise the girls by letting them meet in person on Thanksgiving Day at a local park, and then eating Thanksgiving dinner together since neither family had Thanksgiving plans.

To put it mildly, the girls were instant real life friends with such similar personalities and interests it was surely a God thing that they were paired up as pen pals.

Friends within seconds of meeting!

Do you ever look at your kids and wonder how you made something so beautiful?

Arm in arm and step in step to the duck pond.

Monkey's favorite part of the day!

Magpie making friends with the ducks.

Sets of sisters

Surprises are wonderful when they result in the meeting of pen pals, who become real pals, in the tree house,


Mama Monday: Holiday Update

In case you haven’t noticed, the blog has been dead for about ten days. So if you were curious why, here is the scoop:

1. Sick Monkey

Poor Monkey woke up sick on Friday morning running fever. When I was finally able to get him to the doctor on Saturday morning, he had double ear infections and either bronchitis or pneumonia. The doctor didn't bother to find out which because he was writing us a prescription for antibiotics anyway.

Waiting at the doctor's office

We laid low for a couple of days to give the antibiotics a chance to start working so Monkey wouldn't be contagious. Then we left the house to celebrate…

2. Chipette’s 9th Birthday

Chipette turned nine on Sunday, but we celebrated her birthday early because we would be out of town on her birthday, plus my parents were in town. First we took her to the American Girl Store where she got Sarah’s ears pierced.

Her first time at the store.

She opened her birthday presents.

A new Nintendo DS since her last one quit working.

When's the last time you got this excited over a gift?

And had strawberry cheesecake as her birthday cake.

She got all nine candles at once!

Next up we headed to…

3. Oklahoma City where Preacher Man’s sister got married the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

On the way, we stayed at my good friend E’s house. We work together on Come Fill Your Cup and when we met two years ago, it was instant friendship.

She just had a baby in September. Doesn't she look amazing!

My family loved meeting her family.

E also helped us out by vouching for us to some friends of hers the S Family who welcomed us into their home for a couple of nights. We instantly felt like we’d known them forever which was probably because we know a lot of the same people.

Once we made it to OKC we got to see Preacher Man’s family. We are spread out all over the country, so it’s not often that we are all able to get together, but when the youngest is married off, we all show up!

Monkey and Grandpa bonding at the reception.
Auntie M and Magpie
Chipette caught the bouquet.
After she caught the bouquet, Chipette, Magpie and cousin A each took turns being the bride.
Surprise! Friends from preaching school that we haven't seen in years were at the wedding with their new addition!

Speaking of new additions, this is my beautiful niece who I had never got to see in person until the wedding. The girls nicknamed her "Moonstar."

Our last night in Oklahoma City and the big girls (Chipette, Magpie, and cousin A) had a sleepover.

So that’s what why I haven’t posted for 10 days...we've been busier than a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest!

Blessings come through antibiotics, birthdays, old friends, new friends, and family in the tree house,


Wordless Wednesday: Dad's In Charge

While I was at Ladies’ Bible Study on Tuesday night, Preacher Man took care of the kids for me.

Preacher Man’s methods are a little bit different than mine in the tree house,


Tasty Tuesday: Name Changer

I had this dessert for the first time at a church potluck in Oklahoma. In case you have not realized this, church potlucks are a fabulous place to find really good food and some nice, Christian ladies willing to share their recipes.

The original name of this recipe is not necessarily the most appropriate for normal conversation, especially conversation at a church potluck. So I changed it to something that won’t make you blush or have people question your personal life when they ask, “What is the name of that delicious cake you made?”

Here is what you need to make Heath Bar Crunch Cake:

1 box German Chocolate cake mix plus the ingredients listed on the back of the box
1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk
1 jar caramel ice cream topping
1 (16 oz) container of Cool Whip, thawed
3 crushed Heath candy bars

First, mix and bake cake mix according to directions on package in a lightly greased 13x9 inch pan.

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes all over the cake with a wooden spoon handle. My kids love to do this part for me!

Immediately pour the sweetened condensed milk over the cake.

Then pour the caramel topping.

Let cake cool completely. When cake is cooled spread Cool Whip on top.Sprinkle with crushed candy bars. Refrigerate until time to serve.

This makes a delicious, moist cake. And it tastes better and better the longer it sits in your refrigerator so you can eat on it and eat on it without it drying out. How many cakes can you say that about!!!

Enjoying the perfect blend of chocolate, caramel, and candy bar in the tree house,



Mama Monday: Homeschool Mom's Boot Camp Day Three

The past two Homeschool Mom’s Boot Camp posts I’ve completed, I talked about ordering your priorities and then shared with you a printable to help you become intentional about scheduling time and activities within each priority.

Most of my printable, though, was made up of seven sections that had lines numbered one through six. These are for your daily tasks. This idea also comes from the book Creative Counterpart. In the book, the author, Linda Dillow, relates the following:

Charles Schwab asked an efficiency expert to come up with a plan to help his employees accomplish the things they needed to do (Can anybody relate to that besides me?). The expert said that he could boost production by 50 percent. Write down the six most important things you need to do. Begin with number one and do NOT move on to anything else until you have completed it. After completion move on to number two and so on. After a few weeks, Schwab sent the expert a check for $25,000 and a note that said this was the most profitable lesson he’d ever learned.

So these sets of six lines (one for each day of the week) are where you are to prioritize what you need to accomplish each day. I only fill these out the night before, just in case something comes up or I don’t complete something from the day before. I include any activities that I have in my priority boxes that way I make sure and get those scheduled in so I don’t forget about them. I also include those normal every day activities like “school” and “laundry”. The only thing I change about this method is that I might jump up during school time and throw on some laundry, start dinner, etc. I don’t sit and do school with the girls until it is totally completed. That would make my day very unproductive!

Here is a picture of my Top Six from last week:

This method helps to keep me focus and feeling productive. Some days I manage to get all six items marked off, some days less, but I always manage to get something off of my Top Six list finished before I fall into bed at night.

This post completes my Homeschool Mom’s Boot Camp process. On Thursday, I’ll be sharing how to become even more efficient in your home and home school.

Don't forget to check out the other boot camp mom's who've linked up at Everyday Snapshots. Lots of good, motivating stuff going on over there!!!

Falling in bed each night with a peaceful heart knowing I’m doing the best I can in the tree house,



Thrifty Thursday: Calender Appreciation

I just had to share this AMAZING deal with you guys!

Vistaprint is offering a free personalized wall calendar this fall. It’s normally $15, but right now it’s free. All you have to pay is shipping which is a little over $4. With Christmas coming up, this makes a cheap, thoughtful gift. You upload 13 photos; one is used for the cover and the rest for the months. You can add captions to your photos and choose a background for your calendar.

*********Mom, stop reading here.**********
I purchased two of these, one for each set of grandparents for Christmas. Both calendars only cost me $15 together because one was free and I paid for the other! I can’t wait to get them in the mail.
*********Mom, begin reading again here.*********

So head over to Vistaprint and get in on this freebie!

Now I want to update my Thirty Days to Give Thanks Challenge that I’m participating in along with Renee at Great Peace Academy.

This Week @ Great Peace Academy

Day Four: I am thankful for the church, the bride of Christ, bought with sinless blood, and the people who are members of it are redeemed and forgiven. I am most thankful for our congregation that we work with here. They are family and they are loved.

Day Five: I am thankful for our local library. These ladies bend over backwards to help me teach my children. They purchase books just because I ask for them. They hold things for me because they know I'll want to see them. It's hard to home school with limited resources, but these gals make my job a lot easier. Not to mention that one day they will name a room in the library after because of all the fines I pay!!!

Day Six:  I'm thankful that I live in a country where I have the freedom to vote for my leaders without intimidation or fear. Most people do not. I am also thankful that in our country we can transfer power from party to party and president to president without fear that our country will explode into civil war or fighting in the streets. I took my girls with me today to watch American democracy in action!

Day Seven: I am thankful for my three beautiful, healthy children. They keep me on my toes, they make me laugh, and they make me understand on such a small level the amount of love God has for me as His child. It is a glorious pain to have your heart walking around outside of your body going in three different directions. I am most blessed to be their mother.

Day Eight: I am thankful for Ms. Tanya, the girls’ ballet teacher. She is an amazing teacher with high expectations for her students, but she is also a great motivator and encourager. Best of all, she enforces strict modesty in her studio. Students must be covered up to and from their classes, and she never lets her dancers show their stomachs on stage. Even if the costume is designed to show the girls’ stomachs, she makes them wear a leotard underneath it. We are so blessed to be able to study underneath her and watch her lead by example.

Thankful for much, especially great deals on Christmas presents in the tree house,


Homeschool Mom's Boot Camp Day Two: Planning to Prioritize

Earlier this week I talked about the six areas that were my priorities: God, husband, children, home, me, and extras. Today I’m going to show you how I am working on being intentional in each of these categories.

First, for each priority you make an appointment. That’s right you schedule to do something solely focused on that person or thing. The goal is accomplish all of these appointments in one week.

For example, my priority schedule for this week looks like this:

God: Finish lesson for Ladies’ Bible Study BEFORE class. I’m usually scrambling at the last minute or even while we are sitting in class!

Husband: Play a round of 20 Questions after the kids are in bed. I wanted to do something fun with him, so I’m going to come up with twenty questions to ask him, serious ones mixed with silly ones. Now I can find out why he always sings this one church hymn under his breath whenever he is helping me clean house!

Children: Have a Honey I Shrunk the Kids night. When we were at Disney World the kids loved the play area based off of this movie. While they were playing I realized that they had never seen the movie and for that matter I hadn’t seen it since it came out in 1989!
Home: Clean off all surfaces in the kitchen and dining room. Countertops are not storage units!!!

Me: Exercise. I was doing pretty well with this until we went to the Magic Kingdom. Since coming home I have not gotten back into the swing of things.

Extra: I divide this one into two categories, blog and Come Fill Your Cup. I schedule certain days to work on the blog and certain days to work on my duties at Come Fill Your Cup.

For accountability purposes…

here is how my Honey I Shrunk the Kids night went with the crew.

I took them with me to the store where we picked out tiny foods to eat for supper. We were going to pretend like they had been in the shrinking ray. I made tiny cheeseburgers (sliders), tiny cheese pizzas using English Muffins as the crust, and tiny hot dogs using Little Smokies wrapped in half of a crescent roll.

For our side we had little tiny carrot sticks with ranch dressing that was served in communion cups.

We ate off of saucers and drank out of 3 ounce paper bathroom cups. And to round it all out, we had tiny cookies for dessert (from those 100 calorie snack packs).

I know it wasn’t the healthiest food, but it was all I could think of on short notice and short time!

After dinner (and putting Monkey to bed), we cuddled up on the couch and watched the movie. It was just as big of a hit as I knew it would be!

To help you out and as a help for me, I created this printable to keep track of your priorities and what you want to schedule each week.

Same priorities as mine:

Blank priority boxes:

I printed mine out, laminated it, and then fill it out each Sunday for the coming week with an extra fine tip dry erase marker.

Underneath the priority boxes is a monthly goal box. This is where you can write in one thing that you need to make a habit, such as Pam’s Boot Camp goal of starting school by eight o’clock every morning. This goal can be about one of the priorities above, something about your home school, or something totally different, but this goal is going to be a focus for about a month. Isn’t that how long it takes to form a habit? 30 days? My monthly goal is going to be starting our home school by 10 every day. My children and I are obviously lazier later sleepers than Pam’s crew!!!

Now we’ve got our priorities, we have a plan to be intentional about our priorities, and we have a printable to make it all neat and organized. Let’s head into battle!

Loving the fruit of living my life based on the right priorities in the tree house,


P.S. All of those lines underneath the priority boxes and monthly goal box…I’ll be talking about those tomorrow for Homeschool Mom’s Boot Camp Day Three.


Wordless Wednesday: You Need a Jacket in the Fall

But not this kind of jacket!

Happy to report that nobody was stung but many dead yellow jackets outside the tree house,


Tasty Tuesday: How To Kill A Pig

People responded so positively to the last pork chop recipe I shared, Five Star Pork Chops, that I thought I would share this wonderful dish as well. While the recipe I’m sharing with you is from Paula Deen it is very similar to a recipe that my mom used to make when I was at home. As usual, I used Paula’s recipe as my base, then added in the changes to make it more like Mom’s.

Here is what you need to make Smothered Pork Chops:

3 Tbs. butter
1 ½ cups uncooked long grain rice
1 onion diced
3 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground sage
1 tsp. salt
4-6 pork chops
Salt, pepper, and garlic to season chops
½ bell pepper, sliced

First, melt butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add rice and onion to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until rice is browned and onion is tender.

While rice mixture is cooking, combine broth, oregano, sage, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Now stir the rice mixture into the boiling broth, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes.

Sprinkle pork chops with salt, pepper, and garlic to taste and brown in a large skillet over medium-high heat about two minutes per side.

Place chops in a 13x9 inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

Spoon rice mixture evenly over pork chops.  Place sliced bell pepper on top of rice.

Cover tightly with heavy-duty foil and bake for 45 minutes.

When I came home from Ladies’ Bible Study there was nothing left, but the rice, so no pictures of this dish on my plate!

But trust me; it’s a delicious way to cook up some tender, yummy pork chops.

Killing pigs by “smothering” them in the tree house,