Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving - becomes "Thanksliving"!

I have been reading a book called "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voscamp given to me by a dear friend. I won't give too much away for those that have not read it yet, but it is such a wonderful book. Ann paints a beautiful picture with her poetic words of her journey to finding joy in the midst of suffering. Someone dares her to make a list of 1000 things she is thankful for and she accepts the challenge and so her book is born. It has inspired me to look at the things I have been blessed with instead of focusing on what I don't have or wish I had.
I am so blessed to have my faith that gives me hope of an eternal future. I am so blessed by my husband and all of my children. I am so blessed to have the worlds most amazing, incredible, giving, loving friends in the whole wide world! I am blessed to always have had a roof over my head, food in my tummy and clothes on my back. And so much more!

All of these gifts I have been given have ignited a passion in me to give back. I got my family involved and I will admit they all were reluctant at first but while they were doing each of the activities I saw something wonderful happen! They were smiling and having a great time, and they said they were actually more blessed to bless others! Wow! Is this the same family that grumbled just a few hours ago?

 This is a picture of my girls at Feed My Starving Children. An organization that sends dried packaged food to hungry children all over the world. This day was SO much fun! They play fun music and the time goes by SO fast! This organization is so organized too! They have little groups of assembly lines so that the packaging is very efficient. We were able to pack enough food to feed 105 children for a year that day! My girls did the weighing and they rocked! They went quickly but carefully following all the instructions and not once did they complain that they were tired! I want to sign up for 2 shifts next year:) Shhh, don't tell my family ;) lol

 We also did Operation Christmas Child. This organization sends shoebox sized packages to children around the world who will not receive anything for Christmas. I just LOVE this idea. Christmas is my favorite time of year. Everything about it excites me, but most of all because it reminds me of the greatest gift of all that was given, Jesus. So to share His love, we decided to fill up a box for a boy (in honor of Nathan). So the girls used their keys that they earned from church to buy a few things for the box and we went to the dollar tree for the rest. It was so special to see my family coming together to find special things for this little boy. With the toys the girls bought, things we had at home in our treasure bag and dollar tree items we ended up with enough to fill 2 boxes! So we decided to fill one for a girl also.

One of the ladies I had met that worked for OCC told me about when she went to deliver these gifts to an orphanage in Russia and the children were so happy because they all had their own toothbrush. About 20 kids were having to all share one toothbrush! I told my husband,"That is just not right! That is just not sanitary! They each need their own toothbrush." So the toothbrushes were the first things to go in the box:)

 This was what we put in the girls box: Webkinz, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, hair ponies, bar of soap, stationary set, bouncy ball, bandaids, sucker and a card from us that said Merry Christmas.

This is what we put in the boys box: Toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, socks, soap, bandaids, hotwheels car, flying airplane, bouncy ball, plastic drinking cup and a card from us with our family picture wishing him a Merry Christmas.

We also sang Christmas carols for the children at Shriners Hospital, and sang carols as we rang the Salvation army bell.

The Manifesto of Joyful Parenting by, Ann Voskamp


1. Today, I will make our home a house of prayer. I will pray at set times. And I will invite our children to come move into an interior space that lives with God.

2. Today, I will transfigure all things into beauty, and I will refuse to see anything else.

3. Today, I will not have any emergencies. There are no emergencies! Only amateurs hurry.

4. Today, when stress mounts, I pray to dismount it with gratitude. My stress management plan will be intervention with verbal thanks. I can only feel one feeling at a time, and I choose to give thanks at all times. Fight feeling with feeling!

5. Today, I will pray to speak words that are only STRONG words, words that make these children feel strong. Grace words. Grace is the only non-toxic air. All other words I breathe are death words.

6. Today, I will pray to be consistently consistent. I will create safe rhythms that our children can find security in. I will create daily ceremonies because everyday we are CELEBRATING the gift of now!

7. Today, the moment when I am most repelled by a child's behavior, that is my sign to draw the very closest to that child.

8. Today, I will hug each of my children as many times as I serve them meals -- because children's hearts feed on touch. I'll look for as many opportunities to touch my children today as possible --- the taller they are, the more so.

9. Today, my priorities will be all Things Unseen.

10. Today, I will laugh! And I will let the little children laugh! I will create a culture of JOY!
Ann Voskamp @

Bean & Black Quinoa Salad

Thank you to my friend L for introducing this to me!  I was a little hesitant at first with the black quinoa, but I like to try new things, so I gave it a shot. This is so yummy! I modified her recipe a little, this is how I made it:

1 cup of dried lentils
1 cup of dried black beans
1 cup of dried garbanzo beans

Put all dried beans in a crockpot. Fill with water & cook on high for about 3 hours. You can also do this the night before.

1/2 of chopped red onion
1/2 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper

1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1/3 cup of grapeseed oil
salt & pepper to taste
Wisk together & pour over cooked beans & veggies. Set in fridge so that flavors absorb together.

Meanwhile cook 1 cup of black quinoa with 1 1/2 cups of water uncovered until all liquid absorbs. Serve bean salad on top of cooked quinoa with tortilla chips-so healthy & so yummy!

Power Foods Recipe- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

On a family night out to B & N I found this amazing cookbook with whole food recipes. I was not able to get it that day, but just about every single recipe in this cookbook I wanted to try, so I saved & came back to get it later.
I have really been passionate about finding healthy whole food recipes. If it is gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, or raw I am very interested in trying it. Although, it does need to still taste good ;)
My hubby & I do our grocery shopping bi-weekly, so I used this cookbook to meal plan for 2 weeks & I feel healthier already!

This is one of the things I made with this cookbook:

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

This was my first time roasting my own peppers. It is super easy & you don't have to worry about preservatives or any other added ingredients. I adjusted this recipe a little.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

3 red bell peppers
2 cups of garbanzo beans (I used the dried ones & then cooked them with water in my crockpot for 3 hours)
whole wheat pita, toasted
1 garlic clove
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1 cup of vegetable broth
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
1 TBS fresh lemon juice
2 tsp grapeseed oil, plus more for drizzling
salt & pepper to taste

Wash peppers & place them in a rimmed pan & drizzle oil over top. Place in a 400 degree oven & roast until blackened all over. Turning when needed. Take out of the oven &
transfer peppers to a bowl with a lid & let sit & steam for 15 min. Using paper towel, rub off skins, & then remove stems, seeds & ribs.

Place peppers in food processor. Add beans, garlic, vinegar, oil, lemon juice, paprika, cumin. Blend. Stir in salt & pepper.
Serve with toasted whole wheat pita or carrot sticks.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Avonlea Academy Website!

Hi Friends,
I have created a website for my children to navigated safe and educational resources online and I wanted to share it with YOU! I have had a hard time feeling comfortable letting my children roam the internet on their own and have installed safe browsers, but I really wanted one place they could go to and find all of the websites they would need. Since there wasn't something like that out there, I decided to create it myself! I hope it is a beneficial resource for you as well. Also, if you have any suggestions or resources you would like to see on my blog, just use the "Contact Me" tab on the Avonlea Academy website and let me know! :)