Thursday, January 23, 2014

So, totally jumping back into blogland, at least for today...

Life has been busy, not only for me, but for all those other bloggers in my blog list on the side of my page, here. Some of them haven't been active for a couple years or more! And, I guess, some of them could be *ahem* old links I haven't updated.

Seriously, how do people do it? There are homeschool bloggers who knock my socks off! I mean, they get up earlier than their kids to spend at least an hour in the Bible & prayer, plan out their lessons, most even make their own printables, presumably have clean laundry (I count it if it's still in a pile in a basket or on the floor in front of the dryer NOT folded, I'm not a stickler), are cooking gluten-free Paleo meals for their family, taking amazing pictures of clean kids while they're doing an exciting Science experiment, and THEN blog about it all.

Now, I am not picking on anyone, for real. Honestly, the "perfect" bloggers are usually the first to tell you they are NOT perfect, nor do they pretend their pictures actually tell the whole REAL story! Yet, I can still let these pictures of perfection totally trip me up. I can start picking apart what my house looks like compared to so-and-so's; second-guess the curriculum or lesson plan that's still obviously working for our kids because it doesn't seem as "advanced" as others; and feel like a failure as a mother and home educator.

Sound familiar to you at all?

A couple of years ago I was put in a position where it was obvious to me God was asking me to step in the gap and teach our youth group on Wednesday nights. It was not an easy decision, for so many reasons, yet it was what it was. So, I began kinda arguing with God, "You know, it's been a while since I was a teenager. And, you know, I was SO not a cool teenager. In fact, we both know I was a pretty big dork." [think: Sue Heck]


"How can I relate at all, teach them about you to where they will actually hear You & not my dorkiness... I seriously think you've got the wrong lady."

Do you know what happened? We went to a homeschool convention. Not the youth group, my family! HA! Like any expo, there were lots of free magazines and literature being passed around. You know what I found myself doing? Gazing upon a homeschool magazine cover, there was a family of 8ish, the Mom was nice and skinny, the family all in jeans and white collar shirts. And, I started comparing. Then, I was reminded that I had done the SAME thing when I was a teenager. Remember SEVENTEEN? I poured over that magazine & wanted to look like those girls SO badly.

Not much has changed, has it?

That little lesson taught me that we are all just trying to fit in with others. We're just trying to be "normal." Because, when I shared that with those teenagers, I could sense the interest behind the looks of indifference. If you've ever been a teenager, you know what I mean!

And, now that I'm an old Mom, I think Sue Heck is awesome!

Am I the only one who falls into the comparison trap? What do you do to combat this?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I Saw It On Pinterest

I have read blog posts that are not big on using that phrase. The idea is that Pinterest didn't do it, the blogger/original creator did/made/took that picture of that thing. I get that. But, I have been introduced to a LOT of new bloggers, new ideas, and products all because of Pinterest. So, I have to say, let's give credit where credit is due! You GO, Pinterest!

It is always good, though, to identify original sources and ideas. There is a reason Pinterest is so popular, and it's because of these original sources and ideas! All the creativity and information is amazing to me!

I guess I should've just called this post "Ode to Pinterest."

I have done some really cute things, some not turning out like they *should* and some that turned out better than I expected. I have used the basic concept of things and made it my own. I have printed out that free printable and have cute frame-able wall art for all seasons and occasions.

I love Pinterest.

I have had so much fun and comical moments because of Pinterest (and yummy stuff, too! And, not so yummy...).

I thought it would be fun to share the ups and downs of actually trying some of the stuff I have so much time pinning! It's fun, and I just want to inspire you to try out that new recipe or craft or decor or ingenious simple trick I wish I'd thought of first. (haha)

Since it's the start of summer, I wanted to share what we actually did tonight! Our old fire pit is rusted out and yucky. So, it had to go. Bye-bye Summer S'mores. Bummer.

Then, I came across this pin.

Nest of Posies to save the summer!!

Such a simple idea, so yummy, and cheaper than buying a new fire pit! And, fun!!

Her directions are great, so just click on her link up there, and you can have your very own table top s'more fire. I forgot about that little paver, but we will use that when we do this again.

Definitely cheaper than a new fire pit (although we have that coming up in our own little DIY), and not as messy (or HOT) as a big ol' firepit on an 80 degree summer night.

Honestly, I was a little scared I'd used too many bricks, and too big a pot!
 But, it went down pretty quickly.
 See, the fire went down to a nice little guy... No worries.
 Aren't those toasty marshmallows pretty? 
We had a lot of burned up ones, too! We're not picky!
See? They were LOVING it! 
They had just had a water balloon fight and playing with their squirt guns.
Then we topped the evening off with catching some lightning bugs.

I love summer.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Happy Monday!

SO oxymoron-ish.

I'm thankful for this new week, though. It's another day to enjoy my children, to learn and to grow as we teach each other and learn how to do life together.

We had an awesome weekend! Father's Day weekend was so much fun! Steve had the awesome idea to go to Cincinnati to the Bass Pro Shop. They were having a Children's Summer Camp kind of thing, with crafts and special activities.

Abbey as Pocahontas! :)

The Great Abbey and Daddy Shoot-Out!
(they tied!!LOL)

Abbey shot it in the bullseye area!
The guys working the shooting range were calling her Annie Oakley! 
They said she was the best shot they'd had that day!

Eli wanted no part of the shooting, bb gun or arrows... He wanted to fish!

All that out-doorsy stuff gave me the idea to make this for Father's Day. Warning: It is extremely addicting! By the end of the night, there were not even crumbs left! Even my brother-in-law Matt loved them, and he does NOT like chocolate, or s'mores... It's seriously yummy.

Here's a teaser in case you didn't click that link up there...

Oh, yeah, it's that good, folks. Amazing, really. 
It's a s'more without the fire and hassle. It's amazing. 
And, yes, Cuz Friends, I am taking this to Reunion this year.

I hope you all had fun celebrating the fathers in your life this past weekend. I sure did. I am so thankful for my Dad and my Husband, who I think are the best Daddies in the world :) I've been blessed with quite a few good men who have been Godly influences in my life, in the form of Uncles and cousins. 

Feeling Blessed, my friends, feeling very blessed.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A long, long time ago... there was a blogger named Mandy

I know, I know, it's been forever...

Sorry for being so sporadic... I guess since it's been so long, there's probably not anyone to apologize to! :)

I like picture to tell a story, so I will just leave you with a few to catch you up on how big my kiddos have gotten!!

Abbey finished her Math curriculum for her third grade year, a couple weeks ahead of schedule! (YAY!!)






Eli is a crazy daredevil! (YIKES!!)





I am working on a few projects, and am planning on posting about more homeschooling stuff, some pinterest try outs, and DIY's I've been meaning to get on here.

I haven't forgotten about my testimony, and I will keep sharing that, too. Life is so full and abundant right now, and I am feeling so blessed (and a little crazy). So, I guess it's not a bad thing to not blog because I've been too busy living life.

Edited to Add: I am going to start joining up with So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler's blog hop The Homeschool Mom's Journal. It has moved around a few times, but I finally found it again!! YAY!!


Monday, April 08, 2013

I was so excited to receive this book, "Lonestar Angel" from BookSneeze.com. I am a HUGE Colleen Coble fan!

"Lonestar Angel" is the fourth in the series. I had read the first three (either bought them myself, or got from the Library), so I was excited to come back and "visit" with old friends, and go on a new and exciting journey! 

I am a big stickler for "spoilers," and I don't like knowing TOO much before I read a book, so I will not give you a synopsis of the storyline. But, since I had read the first three of this series, I was prepared for a good "who-done-it." Just when I think I have guessed who is behind all the danger, Colleen points in a totally different direction! She is amazing at plot twists and turns. So great!

Here's a tip, though, for anyone going into this book without reading the first three: Even though, logically, you could get by without reading the first three, and jump right in at this book, I don't recommend it. Not that there is so much history needed before reading this particular book, but I always recommend and prefer reading chronologically through a series. I believe it gives the "returning" characters more depth, and since you've "met" them before, helps with caring about them in later books, too.

I highly recommend this series, and this book is a great addition to the series. I couldn't put my book down! That is usually the case with a Colleen Coble book, though. You've been warned! :)

*disclaimer* I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”