Dairy Free Chocolate Bar

Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll have a friend over to play with Bubba. His *best* friend, mind you. This friend has a dairy intolerance, and it’s really not a big deal as long as he’s not eating dairy.

But then it hit me that chocolate bars have milk in them. And I was so sad for him. I decided to give it a try to make him a chocolate bar.

It was super duper easy, and pretty darn tasty! I think that if I were to make it again, I would use refined Coconut Oil, so there is less of a coconut flavor to the candy. Otherwise, you couldn’t even tell that it’s dairy free.

Store this candy in the fridge so it doesn’t melt after it reaches 72 degrees (the melting point of coconut oil.)

 

Dairy Free Chocolate Bar

Ingredients:

4 Tablespoons melted coconut oil

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until completely mixed and smooth. Pour into wax paper lined bowl or candy mold. Freeze for 30 minutes until hardened. Store in refrigerator.

In The Word Wednesday 5/18/16

33Teach me your decrees, O Lord;
    I will keep them to the end.
34 Give me understanding and I will obey your instructions;
    I will put them into practice with all my heart.
35 Make me walk along the path of your commands,
    for that is where my happiness is found.
36 Give me an eagerness for your laws
    rather than a love for money!
37 Turn my eyes from worthless things,
    and give me life through your word.[b]
38 Reassure me of your promise,
    made to those who fear you.
39 Help me abandon my shameful ways;
    for your regulations are good.
40 I long to obey your commandments!
    Renew my life with your goodness.

Psalm 119:33-40

This passage struck me this past week. I’ve especially been meditating on verse 37: “Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.”

I feel like I have been caught up with “worthless things” lately- my mind has been focused on the little, trivial matters, and it’s caused me so much unnecessary stress.

May you find blessings in this passage and encouragement for the rest of your week.

Lego Organization

Nothing hurts more than trying to walk through a room and stepping on a stray LEGO piece. Honestly, nothing hurts my brain more than assuming the Legos are put away, and peeking into the room we store them to see them strewn about the floor like a new plastic carpet.

Our previous system of storage for the building blocks was to put them in buckets, with the instruction books shoved wherever we could put them. This resulted in pieces in weird places (including bookshelves and books!) and the instruction books getting ripped and lost.

I had had enough and decided we needed a better system. I took an old set of drawers I had used for craft storage and separated the blocks by color. I labeled them with the name of the color and a colored dot for my non-readers. (Don’t mind the old labels with the craft supplies!)

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Obviously I didn’t have enough drawers for all the colors, let alone the minifigures. Those guys went in a container on top. The yellow bucket is for projects the kids are in the middle of.

As for the books, I cut the books down the middle, and removed the staples. I gathered two 3-ring binders we had gotten from an office that was getting rid of them, and ordered some plastic sheet protectors.

I placed the pages in the books, and now the books are protected and also out of the legos!

Some of the books were larger and I could do one page per sheet protector. For the others, I just stacked them in the protector so you could see both sides.

Having the books in binders like this has inspired the kids to make the projects now, and my 5 year old can keep track of where he is now!

What are some ways you store your toys?

Bringing Chicks Home for the First Time

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We did it. We picked up some chicks from the feed store. We loaded up the kids, drove them down to the feed store and let them pick out some fluffy little baby chickens. Not knowing much about raising chickens, we jumped in feet first. These are the lessons as we learn them:

SUPPLIES WE BOUGHT FROM THE FEED STORE:

  • Chickens. Can’t really raise chickens without them!
  • Bedding.
  • Chick Starter Food.
  • Feeder Bowl, Waterer.
  • Lamp. You could probably use any lamp that hangs, but we didn’t have any, so we bought one.
  • Light bulb.

The following is what WE did for our chicks on day one:

You need CHICKENS

There are so many different kinds of chickens! Just like cats and dogs. I walked in not knowing much about chickens at all, and I left knowing a few different breed names. After owning chicks for ONE WEEK, I now know a few different facts about a few different breeds.

OH. And if you want egg-laying chickens, buy PULLETS. That means a girl chicken who hasn’t laid any eggs yet. Straight Run chickens are chickens that haven’t been sexed yet. So you may get roosters.

And just so you know, even if you buy pullets, you still may get roosters. Because people can be wrong. So think through what you may do with boys if you have them (you won’t know until they’re full grown and start crowing, usually.)

We picked up 3 Dominiques, 3 Light Brahams and 2 Easter Eggers.

Chicks need a BROODER

A brooder is a safe, warm area where the baby chickens can grow. It includes a heat source, food and water, and bedding to absorb their droppings.

As soon as we got home, Hubby went to his tools and we make a brooder out of a large plastic tote. We have two cats who would love a free snack, so he retrofitted some hardware cloth to the lid with some wood so it could hold up the weight of the cat in case he got in the room.

Chicks need HEAT

You need something to generate the heat. There are different kinds out there and more knowledgable chicken-owners who can tell you the difference between the wattages and colors.

We had a heck of a time getting the temperature right. We found the brooder light we bought at the store was too hot, so we put a 60 watt bulb in there and it works so much better. Hubby built a stand for the light, so it would hang safely and not start any fires or melt anything. (That would be BAD)

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Chicks need BEDDING

We got some pine chip bedding because that’s what the lady sold us. Upon further investigation, it’s the best because it doesn’t get too soggy and it’s big enough that the chicks won’t eat it. Or something like that.

Chicks need FOOD AND WATER

There are different types of food, with different protein contents. Make sure you get the right kind for the age/stage of your birds. Chicks need a higher protein content so they can grow well. We picked up some Chick Starter Food.

You’ll want something to put the food and water in. There are ways to make these cheap or free. We were going to do that, but convenience won in this respect. I still may. Kind of sick of changing the water already after a week (all kinds of nasty gets in the bowl).

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The chicks need to stay inside where we can regulate their heat until they are fully feathered- probably about 4 weeks. We are still in the planning stage for their coop and run outside.

We should have eggs around November of this year!

A few things I’ve learned this week:

  • Pullets are girls, Straight Run means a mix
  • Sometimes chicks just die.
  • THEY STINK. We have had to open the window in the room where they are.
  • They are hilarious to watch.
  • They have personalities from day one.
  • You think you won’t be obsessed with chickens if you buy them, and you are wrong.
  • Wash your hands with soap after handling them.
  • Be careful of chicken math. It’s a real thing, and you might have more than you bargained for!

 

 

Meet the New Guy!

What have I been up to? Goodness gracious, it’s been a while. I’ll be perfectly honest, I have been up to a lot. For starters, I grew another person:

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I know, he’s all kinds of adorable. He’s bigger than this now. He was born in January. Four months old now. Time really flies. You can call him Smiley.

This is the happiest kid I’ve ever met. He is so chill. God really blessed me with an easygoing baby. Because the last one- ALL BOY. In a wonderful and beautiful way, but wow. When mama’s favorite thing is to sit down and enjoy a cup off coffee in the kitchen without interruptions (HAHAHA THAT IS HILARIOUS) and number three wants to figure out how the screen door opens…  Yeah… sitting down doesn’t happen much.

But Number Four- Smiley, if you will- I thank God for the gift of him. He is so content. And at four months, he’s not crawling like Number Three was.

Yes, I said four months. He was also walking at seven months. My poor husband. Big Guy (which is also hilarious that I named him Big Guy for this blog because he is the smallest out of all the kids) is the busiest boy I know. He is in to EVERYTHING. My life is never boring, for sure. Just a peek into his shenanigans:

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Yep, our tiny family is now not so tiny. It’s wonderful and busy and crazy and loud and messy and all of those things wrapped up in a big bow of blessings. It takes up most of my time, energy and brain power raising and teaching and cleaning up after these little humans. But it’s incredibly worth it.

February Reading Challenge, Day 2

Two days into our Challenge to Read All The Books this month, and I realized I need to step it up! This is a short month! And there are hundreds of books to read! Nevertheless, we read 9 more books today! (16 down, over 200 to go! I’m not going to count them, I’ll do that after we’ve read them all!)

Disclosure: This post also contains some affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive advertising fees.

These are the books we read today, along with a short little review and our rating:

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February Reading Challenge Day 2

The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons: This is a neat little story written by Gail Gibbons that tells about Arnold and his apple tree. It’s not like other books by the same author where it’s just information. It’s neat to see it in a story format. It still has some science information. Bubba liked this one- there were quite a few aspects he was able to compare to real life. (5 stars)

Jump, Frog, Jump! by Robert Kalan: A story of a frog, and how it escapes from many predators. This is one of my favorites, and I just love having the children participate in this story, yelling, “jump, frog, jump!” along with me as I read. I used to read this to the kids in daycare. We even made frog hats and jumped around the house. (5 stars)

If You Take a Mouse to School by Laura Numeroff: What happens if you take a mouse to school? You’ll be running all over the place! I love the If you… books. I don’t know that we’ll be reading this one much, however, only because we homeschool and it’s only a little bit relatable. We’ll probably keep it on the shelf, but it probably won’t be one of our go-to books. (5 stars)

Rainbow Fish ABC by Marcus Pfister: Not really a story book, as much as the alphabet on pages decorated with Rainbow Fish characters. Definitely not in Bubba’s age group, but a cute review- especially if you like Rainbow Fish. (4 stars)

Truck by Donald Crews: I have to admit, we’ve had this book for quite a while, and I’ve never read it. I sat down to read this one, and quickly realized it is a wordless picture book! Bubba and I had some fun looking at the illustrations, talking about how the scenarios are similar to his daddy’s job, and recognizing street signs. I normally wouldn’t rate this one as high, but it had a personal relevance to Bubba, so it gets (4 stars).

Stargazers by Gail Gibbons: This was a classic Gail Gibbons book on a fun science topic. I liked it because even though it covered astronomy, my four year old son got something out of it. He wasn’t too thrilled with the book, but it’s got some neat pictures, and can open doors to a lot of learning! (4 stars)

Can You See What I See? Toys by Walter Wick: We really enjoyed looking for the hidden images in this book. Not a lot of literary content, but the pictures are really fun to look at! (5 stars)

God Made You Special by Jennifer Holder: This is a quick read, encouraging for kids, letting them know that whoever they are, God loves them. I did, however alter the content while reading. The book gave two examples of what made a person special- neither of which Bubba enjoys, so I improvised and said “playing with trucks” and all was well. (3 stars)

 

February Reading Challenge

We have many, many children’s books. I mean, a lot. Trust me when I say this- some days, entire rooms are littered with books. I keep looking at the bookshelf filled haphazardly with picture books and board books and story books and wishing it were more organized. And then I think about how I don’t even remember some of them. Some of them I probably have never read, and some of them are so amazing I wish we would read them over and over again. And then I think about the *other* bookshelf in the closet filled with even more books and I just sigh!

Disclosure: This post also contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive advertising fees.

So yesterday, I looked over at Bubba and said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we read EVERY.SINGLE.BOOK by the end of the month?” His eyes lit up and he said, “Yeah!” And I was getting excited about the quality couch time with my guy, and the relief from the guilt of not reading to him every day, and the habits we’ll form. I thought I would include mini-reviews on these books, as well.

We just dove into this. I grabbed a handful of books from the bottom of the shelf.

February Reading Challenge Day 1
February Reading Challenge Day 1

We actually lucked out with the first grab. These were some really great books. Here are my reviews with some ratings by me and the kids:

There’s a Nightmare In My Closet by Mercer Mayer: A classic book. Great pictures, a fun story about what happens when a boy tries to confront the nightmare in his closet. Definitely a favorite. (5 stars)

To Market To Market by Anne Miranda: A fun twist on the poem when all the animals get loose, you’ll never guess what’s for lunch! This one has some fun illustrations. (5 stars)

David Gets In Trouble by David Shannon: David always has an excuse, but at the end of the day, he knows he needs to redeem himself. My kids all love David- he’s just like them (plus, isn’t it funny to actually SEE someone run down the street without his pants on!) I actually love using this book to open conversations about obedience, manners and proper behavior.  (5 stars)

Bluebird’s Nest by Dorothea DePrisco Wang: Mama Bird makes a nest over winter to get ready for her chicks. This book is one of those value books that you find with cute illustrations and a storyline that really seems thrown together. Not to mention it has a mama bird spending all winter making a nest (and animals helping her) that just doesn’t sit with me too well. The last page has a really fun pop up that the kids just love. We’re keeping it for that reason alone. (2 stars)

Caps For Sale: a Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina: The title gives you a great glimpse into the synopsis. This is one of Bubba’s most favorite stories. And it is SO MUCH fun to read! This is definitely (5 stars)

Sammy and the Dinosaurs by Ian Whybrow, Adrian Reynolds: Sammy helps gram clear out the attic and finds a box of dinosaurs! This is another one of Bubba’s most favorites. He even has a bucket of dinosaurs just like the character in this book! (5 stars)

What Makes a Rainbow by Betty Schwartz: Little Rabbit goes around the wilderness asking all his friends what colors are in the rainbow. Another cute little pop-up book. This one is actually neat and the pictures are sweet. Not big on story, but the kids like it. (4 stars)

Like I said, we lucked out the first day! Join us this month as we read through our hundreds of books! I encourage you to read with your kids this month, too!

August Post

Well, we’ve officially started school. To be truthful, Peanut started two weeks ago. She just couldn’t wait. But Bubba started today.

I was gifted the Kindergarten Curriculum by My Father’s World last week. I am so thankful to my wonderful friend. Bubba was so excited to hear that he would be starting school- especially since his cousin started public kindergarten last week. My plan is to use this curriculum even though Bubba will only be turning four in October.

But today, we broke it open. And he colored the number one from the Creation story. And then we sang the ABC Song. And we went over the alphabet cards until he got tired of it. After that, he had his turn on the laptop to play on ABCmouse.com. About five minutes into his playing he asked if he could write on a piece of paper that was sitting on the table. I said yes.

And then he proceeded to try as hard as he could to write his name. And he did an amazing job for a kid who knows half his alphabet, grips his pencil in an upside down fist, and has never really tried before.

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And look at that- he’s even wearing actual clothes and not his pajamas (or a t-shirt and batman underwear!).

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He was so excited that he wrote his name, he asked if he could cut, and then he asked how to spell my name. This crazy kid surprised me when I went to lay the baby down! He labeled my bedroom door!

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Speaking of the baby, Muchkin just doesn’t cut it for a nickname. From here on out, my little one shall be named Big Guy. Why? Check him out in our new Baby K’tan:

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9 weeks old, I tell you. 9 weeks old. I can’t wrap him in the newborn hold, and he’s strong enough for the hold that’s recommended for 5 months old. This dude rolls over, lifts his head about 6 inches, and today was getting his knees up under him. Babyproofing, here we come!

I can’t get by without posting a picture of my little Peanut. She’s obsessed with ninjas right now. She has three separate “ninja clubs” with three separate groups of friends. I’m convinced that the other girls don’t really want it to be a ninja club, but didn’t turn down membership only because every little girl wants to be in every little club they get invited to.

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This is my ninja. In flip flops. In 90 degree weather. I love her creativity. I love her individuality. She’s not into American Girls, tea parties or baby dolls. She loves dresses with pants, swinging on her rope swing, My Little Ponies (which she pairs with How to Train Your Dragon figurines), tying things up, reading 6 hours a day (if she can get away with it) and most days, she can be found running circles around the house because she has the energy.

 

I am feeling so blessed right now. All of my life’s Little Treasures. My children are amazing, and I just thank God that I have the opportunity to watch them grow, teach them His love, and nurture them to the best of my ability.

Welcome To The World

 

Introducing the newest member of our little (but growing!) family! Our precious son was born June 15- an amazing and wonderful Father’s Day present! 

After he was born, my husband was sitting in the chair next to the hospital bed while I was holding our sweet little bundle, and he quietly said, “I guess we have another June 15th birthday.” I looked at him, and it took me a minute, but I finally asked, “Today’s your mom’s birthday, isn’t it?”

His mother passed away a couple years ago from Lymphoma. It was really difficult for him. How precious and amazing that the Lord allowed our son- who never got to meet his Grandma- to share a special day with her. 

As an aside, let me just say that although I really appreciated having my water break with both Peanut and Bubba so I knew exactly WHEN I was in labor and there was no question I should go in to the hospital, I really did enjoy a fast (4 hour) labor without the need for Pitocin. It was a lot more enjoyable. 

Quickly Checking In

Just poking my head in and letting any readers know that I haven’t really forgotten about this blog. Just taking a break, getting in some rest, and trying to prepare for Baby’s Arrival.

This summer will probably be quite slow as far as posting goes. (Who knows, though… sleepless nights with a nursing baby might inspire some writing- we will see.) But I am VERY excited to start blogging again soon. With only 10 days left until this baby’s due date, I’m not going to plan anything soon, but there will be some fun stuff in the future.

Things that have taken up our family’s time the past month or so:

BATHROOM RENOVATION
Hubby is working so hard at getting the bathroom completely finished. We’ve slowed down as far as what is getting done, and are literally waiting for the paint to dry (not paint- drywall patch, but same thing!)

END OF SCHOOL YEAR
Peanut finished second grade and has been tirelessly wearing out her rope swing. And getting in as much outside playtime with Bubba as she can.

PREPARING FOR BABY
I have been going a little bit crazy, fighting this innate nesting urge while my house has been a construction zone. BUT, there’s a place for baby to sleep, clothes are washed and put away, and things are fairly ready.

Now it’s the waiting game for delivery. This is almost the worst part because it’s on my mind constantly. That and the heartburn just never. goes. away.😀

Keep your eyes out for a birth announcement!