Saturday, January 25, 2014

Last post for now, hope to come back someday

Hello there readers :) I have been writing this blog for over a year now and it has been quite an adventure. I  have met some wonderful people online who were supportive, encouraging, friendly and kind. How blessed I have been to experience that.

I have also learned a great deal, stretched and challenged myself, and grown as an individual. 

I have come to a point in life where I need to step back and take a break from blogging. I will leave the blog up because I have really enjoyed it and don't want the work I've done to go to waste. I am hopeful to someday come back and do it again.

Thank you all for reading my words, for interacting, for sharing your ideas with me. I have loved every minute of it.

Take care!

Steph @ From the Burbs to the Boonies
Still living large in small-town USA

Friday, January 24, 2014

Egg-free Valentines treat: Heart-shaped rice krispies

Valentine's Day favorite posts
This post is a part of the Fantabulous Valentine's Day Favorites blog chain put together by a great group of bloggers. The theme this week is Favorite Valentine's Day Recipes. Be sure to check out all the great recipes shared at the end of this post!  You can also link up any family friendly Valentine's Day post you have on the linky at the bottom of this post! 

I'm always on the look out for egg-free treats for my allergic kiddo. I've been wanting to try these since I printed out the recipe in February of last year.

For detailed directions, how they look with different sprinkles and also how to package them beautifully as gifts, check out the recipe on My Blessed Life.

I just made these for my husband and son, both of whom adore rice krispie treats. They were so good, we gobbled them up in two days (though we did share two with my in-laws, LOL). I was able to cut out 11 hearts with a few odd bits left over (the boys ate those before I could even frost the others, ha!).

I followed her basic recipe of making rice krispie treats and then cutting with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. I was a little bit lazy though, so instead of melting chocolate, I just bought a tub of cake frosting and spread that on.

They make a nice, light treat with no egg on a holiday that tends to get saturated with cakes, creme hearts, cookies, cupcakes and brownies, all which have that dreaded ingredient. Hope you enjoy!

They turn out so cute and they taste fantastic.
Just the right size and I love those little sugar sprinkles.
Interested in more fantabulous Valentine's Day Recipes?  Check out any of these posts by clicking on the links below!
jills

Called To Be A Mom -  Valentine's Homemade Pizza

 

Valentine seven Layer bars

 
stephs

tammy

My Life Abundant -  Blueberry Strawberry Muffins

 

 rebekahs

Surviving Toddlerhood -  Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Muffins {Grain, Dairy, Refined Sugar, Egg and Nut Free}

 

 Come to see our great Valentine's Day posts!Still want more? Head to our Pintabulous Mom's Valentines Day Board!

We would love you to link up any Valentine's Day post that you have.   (They do not have to be craft/diy posts, but we would ask that it would be family friendly.)   This linky will stay open until February 14 so that you can continue to come back and add your Valentine's Day posts.  We would love it if  you would like to get our button to remember to come back or to put it on your party page,  but it is not a requirement! 

Creative K Kids

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Teaching kindness from the ground up, literally

Today I want to share a different kind of idea. I believe kindness can be taught by showing an appreciation toward insects.

Yes, through bugs! My theory is if you can teach kindness, gentleness, empathy, caring and compassion to the tiniest, most seemingly insignificant creatures, how much easier is it to transfer up to humans?

You may have seen this story. It happened here in Kansas and it breaks my heart. In a nut shell, three men robbed a woman as she was dying in her car at a drive through. It makes me wonder what is wrong with our world.

I feel like there's a callousness that wasn't there before or at least wasn't as bad. And it's not all as extreme and obvious as the example above. I see it in the Walmart. I see it when I'm driving. I see it at sports events.

And I know being kind to little old bugs is too simple to tackle the problem, but I have seen it soften Brady's heart and I think it would do the same for other kids too.

Our rule is simple: If we're not going to eat it and it is not harmful or threatening to us, then we leave it alone.

They're God's creatures too, after all, made for a specific role and purpose, important in their own way. In Genesis, it says: "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

I think that charge comes with responsibility, lots of it.

Instead of fearing them, killing them or considering them useless, we watch them, learn from them, even save them if we find them in our house. Again, if it's a roach, a brown recluse, a wasp, we will not save it. But any other spider or insect, we catch and release.

I have seen Brady  use the kindest voice and gentlest touch with insects and it warms my heart. I know that when he can empathize with a tiny thing like that then he can do the same with someone he meets in the world.

Here are 7 ways we show appreciation to bugs:
  1. We watch and observe. We have learned so much from watching bugs. Tunnel spiders running out to grab prey. A group of ants hauling a dead wasp many many times their size into a hole in a building. Velvet ants running to and fro. Ant lions building their funnel-like traps in the dirt. Ants building a hill one pebble at a time. We once kept a cocoon in a jar and then let the moth that hatched fly away.
  2. We discuss their significance and how each one fits into the cycle of life on our Earth. What's their purpose? Why did God create them? Does their purpose help us somehow?
  3. We research and identify them, a fabulous science/environment/biology exercise. 
  4. We save them when they are in our house. No creature is too small for compassion.
  5. We empathize. How would we feel if someone was cruel to us? Sure they don't have brains like us, but they sure do run or fly fast when something large is near. They shouldn't be minimized just because they're less complicated.
  6. We de-mystify. Wasps are scary but are they really roaming around just waiting for a chance to sting us? No. Take precautions and be careful, but don't assign evil intention to them.
  7. We have respect always even for the dangerous ones. We know that brown recluse spiders and wasps have a purpose in our world and are necessary. If they are in our space, we have no choice but to get rid of them. But we do not have to hate them. 
I hope this is at least some food for thought.

This cool guy lives at my brother's farm. He's a garden spider and harmless.
I think these funnel webs are so pretty with raindrops on them. They're made by grass spiders. We've watched spiders scamper out to get prey.
What must rain feel like pelting a guy like this?
Ooh, he looks like a leaf! How cool is that!
Here are those ants hauling the dead wasp up a wall. Look how many it takes!
Awww, he trusted me! Well, maybe not trust, but at the very least I did not seem threatening at that moment.





Friday, January 17, 2014

Valentines craft: Heart-shaped glasses

Valentine's Day favorite posts

This post is a part of the Fantabulous Valentine's Day Favorites blog chain put together by a great group of bloggers. The theme this week is Favorite Valentine's Day DIY and Craft Ideas. Be sure to check out all the great ideas shared at the end of this post!  You can also link up any family friendly Valentine's Day post you have on the linky at the bottom of this post!

Heart-shaped glasses Valentines craft

I talked the other day about how much I enjoy volunteering in Brady's classroom to lead a craft. The first one I did was in the first grade classroom last year and it was these super simple heart-shaped glasses for Valentine's Day.

I found this craft at the website Make and Takes. There are several other wonderful pipe cleaner or Valentine's crafts there. She has lots of detailed photos of each craft. Here's a list:
  1. Heart-shaped *love* goggles. 
  2. Heart-shaped rings.  
  3. Heart-shaped paper clips.  
  4. Pipe cleaner pencil toppers
  5. Cupid's bow and arrow.
I loved the glasses craft because it's fun, easy, fast and gives you something you can play with and keep. It was very easy for the first graders to follow.

All you need are 3 pipe cleaners per set of glasses and a pair of scissors. You can mix and match pipe cleaner colors, use all one color or get metallic like we did! 

Take the first pipe cleaner and bend it in half to make a V, then twist around to form the top of the heart. Repeat for the 2nd heart.

Cut a small piece of another pipe cleaner to attach the two hearts together where the glasses will sit on the bridge of the nose. Cut 1 more pipe cleaner in half and attach those two halves to the hearts for the ear pieces. Bend the back end down to wrap around the ear.

At Make and Takes, she has a mini version of the glasses too.

Brady displaying the pair he made. The kids loved seeing each other in their glasses.
This pair I whipped up this week in a very short time.

  Interested in more fantabulous Valentine's Day DIY or Craft ideas?  Check out any of these posts by clicking on any of the links below! 

valentines 1  

Called to Be a Mom -  Preschool Valentine's Crafts

valentines day 1 

Creative K Kids -  Cheap DIY Valentine's Day Crafts with What You Already Have

IMG_3393

   From the Burbs to the Boonies -  Valentines craft: Heart-shaped glasses


valentines day

 My Life Abundant -  Love Note Printables

 valentines 2

Surviving Toddlerhood - Valentine's Day Toddler Wall Art: Five Things I Love About You

 

Come to see our great Valentine's Day posts!

Still want more? Head to our Pintabulous Mom's Valentines Day Board!

We would love you to link up any Valentine's Day post that you have.   (They do not have to be craft/diy posts, but we would ask that it would be family friendly.)  Come back next week to see our favorite Valentine's Day food recipes where you can link up again!  We would love it if  you would like to get our button to remember to come back or to put it on your party page,  but it is not a requirement!
Creative K Kids
 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Small Town Tuesday: I'm a traffic snob

This is my bi-weekly installment of Small Town Tuesday. Here in the boonies life is just a little bit different and I enjoy sharing slices of our unique lifestyle. If you have a small-town story please send me a message at vash_ii@yahoo.com or on Facebook.

I recently had the opportunity to travel around my old stomping grounds of Columbia, S.C., a town I lived in for six years and where Brady was born.

The metro area of Columbia has nearly 500,000 people. As I drove ... and drove .... and drove... to get anywhere, I realized just how spoiled I am in my little haven here. I have to admit it.

I'm a traffic snob now.

In our little boonies town, with less than 1,000 souls residing, there are about 20 different streets and the same amount of stop signs. We have one 4-way stop up by the school and one very small subdivision on the edge of town.

There are no stop lights. We're even a good bit off the nearest highway, a true "blink and you miss it" town.

The speed limit is 20 mph. Many streets are dirt. Many in need of repair. People drive golf carts and four wheelers around (there was a city meeting about this at some point before I got here). I've even seen people go by on horses.

In Columbia, I found myself constantly underestimating how long it would take me to get somewhere. It was a minimum 30 minutes, but traffic or construction could increase that significantly. Thirty minutes of stopping and starting, stopping and starting, driving and driving and driving, cars whizzing by me, trying to find someone, ANYONE, who would let me get over into whatever lane I needed to be in.

One time I got on the wrong highway and ended up two exits down from where I needed to be. It seemed like I wasted half my day in the car.

Sigh.

I've forgotten how to drive like this. And the thing is, I don't want to learn again!

Don't get me wrong. I did enjoy the wide selection of restaurants, parks, museums, department stores, grocery stores, gas stations, etc. Here we don't have much and there's exactly one of anything we do have.

But there's a measure of freedom in that simplicity. The longer I am here and let this style of living seep into me, the less I am cut out for the big city.

It was fun to visit, but it was also nice to come home.
No big trucks on our little streets!
We have street posts instead of street signs.
There are lots of gravel roads around here. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I'd like a soda? Wait, no, a pop. Or is it coke?

I've lived all over the United States. In places where they call our country's favorite fizzy drink "soda" (Florida and Utah) and others where they call it simply "coke" (South Carolina).

Now I'm back where I started, in the land of "pop."

Eight-year-old Brady has so embraced the Kansan lifestyle, that when I slip and say "soda" as my New-Jersey-raised Mom taught me, he looks blankly at me and says, "I don't know what that word you're saying means."

Sigh. I give up.

Pop. 

That's why I absolutely love this map that I first saw in Reader's Digest. How interesting that there are such clear divisions in our country in the naming of a beverage (sheesh, never mind politics!).

And what's with that little "soda" pocket in the middle of Missouri/Illinois and then again up in Wisconsin? And a hazy one down in Texas too.

Check it out. The map was made by NC State graduate student Joshua Katz. And you can also check the distribution of other words and sounds at this drop-down map site he made.


So what do they say in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mom's turkey oatmeal meatballs, made with love

My mom and I have lived near each other since September 2010. And somewhere around the beginning of that time, she began doing something so filled with love it nearly makes me tear up.

My boy is highly allergic to eggs, so a lot of store bought convenience foods are off limits, things like meatballs, salmon patties, veggie burgers, rolls, waffles and pancakes. 

We make a lot of things from scratch. His allergy, undiscovered until age 4 and which caused vomiting and nausea, has ingrained in him a deep caution and distrust of food all mixed up. If he hasn't eaten it before or if he can't see very clearly what's in it, it concerns him. 

This means at times my husband and I eat something different than him - either because it has egg or he does not like it - and I'm okay with that. But it is nice to have a quick healthy alternative he can eat on those nights. 

Enter my Mom. 

For years, she has made certain there is a continuous supply of egg-free homemade meatballs and  homemade pancakes in our freezer. The combination is one of Brady's favorite meals and it takes seconds to heat up. 

Her meatball recipe is so tasty and healthy, I had to share it. Here goes:

Mom's Turkey Oatmeal Meatballs

(or what she calls "Brady's Meatballs," along with her notes)

20 oz Honeysuckle ground turkey (other brands may come in 1 lb. packages)
1/4 tsp garlic salt  (I gather all spices in a small plastic cup)
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp rosemary (crushed rosemary is better but hard to find. I found it in Dillons by the spices but it cost $4.98 by McCormick. Steph's note: I know she has pulsed rosemary in a bean grinder too.)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 to 1 cup of "whole grain old fashioned oats"

Put turkey meat in a bowl and pour the spices over it. Add applesauce and oatmeal and mix. (Note, Mom says she sometimes adds extra oatmeal since it is so healthy, just depends on consistency preference.) 

Line 8 x 8 pan with foil and spray bottom with oil. Place meatballs in pan and spray with oil as well. Bake 20 minutes and then turn over - using a spoon may help to do the job. Bake 20 more minutes.

Mom's notes:  Now I look at them and put them back in for another 10 minutes. I am funny about turkey so I look at them and see they are slightly browned so I take one and cut it in half and sample to see if it passes my inspection. It usually is done. When cooled I put them in an already dated/labeled baggie and then freeze them till Stephanie can pick them up. 

Just need to pop out of the freezer and pop them into the microwave and heat them up. I got the original recipe for the meatballs off of a box of Krispy Krackers as they had a recipe for meatball soup which I make but I make beef meatballs. When I cooked sometimes for Steph and Brady I adjusted it to turkey and so it went from there. 
They turn out beautiful and really tasty.
A bag like this is always in my freezer.
Uhoh, running low! Mom, I need more!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Holiday traditions and the Rise of Christmas

Family traditions are what make holidays memorable, I think. Little things only your family does or perhaps common things done in a unique way. Or even just a routine you follow year after year.

Traditions solidify the family bonds and create life-long memories and something to look forward to each year.

I never planned to have specific holiday traditions, really didn't give it a lot of thought. But luckily for me, they happened anyway.

I'd like to share two of our Christmas traditions. The first happened by accident, but I'd like to suggest it to anyone with a small child because it is an absolutely blast.

Each year around Christmas, I take a picture of Brady with a little chair he got when he was born. It happened by accident the first two years and when I realized what I had done, I kept it up. Now he has a blast showing how big and strong he is, flinging that chair around.

I present The Nine Christmases of Brady:

You could do this with a stuffed animal or toy and it could be on the child's birthday or some other special day. It's just a neat way to keep track of time and how big they are getting.

The second tradition came purely from Brady's imagination and "why not" attitude toward life. It is this attitude that led to the stick house we built and The Invention Party. Nothing gives me greater joy than when Brady has one of his big ideas I can say "yes" to.

Awhile back after reading a book that involved Christmas, he said, "I want to celebrate the day before the day before Christmas and I want to call it The Rise of Christmas." Now, when he said "Rise of Christmas" his voice changed and had a sort of grandiose hum to it.

"Okay," I said. "Why not."

So we sat down one night and wrote a list of what things we should do on The Rise of Christmas. Here they are: 
We had all of these guys going at once!
  • We decided Elvis (aka my husband in his Elvis mask) should make an appearance. And oh boy, he did. He wore a long leather trench coat and had us in stitches before he "left the building."
  • We turned on every Christmas decoration we had to lots of lights and music. 
  • We drank hot cocoa.
  • We watched The Grinch and Rudolph. 
  • We opened 1 present. 
  • We read about the birth of Jesus from the Bible. 
  • We drew a picture in Brady's memory book that he made. 
  • And an impromptu part of the night was a little "show" Brady put on for me with a couple of pillows. 
Yum, I liked this part of The Rise of Christmas a lot!
Do you have any unique traditions in your family? If so, I'd love to hear about them.

I hope your holiday was joyous and I wish you all the best in the New Year! 






Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Small Town Tuesday: Christmas tree in the middle of Main Street

This is my bi-weekly installment of Small Town Tuesday. Here in the boonies life is just a little bit different and I enjoy sharing slices of our unique lifestyle. If you have a small-town story please send me a message at vash_ii@yahoo.com or on Facebook.


One of our town's traditions that I just love is the Christmas tree. Lots of places have a city tree with an official lighting and all that.

But up until now I had never seen one IN the street, as in, smack dab in the middle.

Sure enough, city workers take out a few bricks at the end of Main Street each year and plunk that tree right in. They use a boom truck with a guy in a bucket to help stand it up. Brady gets a kick out of that.

It happens to be at the turn-around corner so you have to be careful to turn wide this time of year. As far as I know, no one has ever whacked into the tree.

It's just about the most festive thing. I love it.

Like a lot of bloggers, I won't be back for another week. So Merry Christmas!

We're celebrating our Christmas in our little town like usual with smoked turkey, smoked pork loin, salads and corn, potatoes and pies.

We got a foot of snow Saturday night, so I'm guessing we'll have some of the white stuff left. It's beautiful out there. New for this year is the holiday Brady invented, called "The Rise of Christmas" which takes place on the day before the day before Christmas. More on that in another post.

What are your plans for Christmas?

The day they put it up.
I'm amazed how they just stick it in the road!

It really looks beautiful at night.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Truth Chasers Club: Child Evangelism Fellowship

This post is purely out of my own desire to share a free program Brady and I have enjoyed. I thought others might benefit from it as well.

It's called Truth Chasers Club and we heard about it from our pastor's family.

I love that it is specifically for kids. I think ministering to children about God and Jesus is so very important. My kiddo also participates in the Good News Club here in town, also at our church, which is another ministry by this group.

In the lessons we receive from Truth Chasers, there is a story section and Bible passages which I read to Brady and then an activity/quiz section. Each time we go through one, it leads to wonderfully deep discussions between kiddo and I, which is awesome.

Another cool part is you get a personal note back each time you complete a section. According to our pastor's oldest daughter, Brady's sitter, who volunteered with the group at their headquarters, these are called "huggy notes" and she wrote some herself.

She said she also worked in the mail room, graded papers, added new kids' information to the computer, put new lessons together and prayed over any requests that came in from a child. 

My boy will also earn certificates and awards, and eventually his own Bible. He's very goal-oriented so loves that part.

Here's what their site has to say: 

"The Truth Chasers Club® is an exciting Bible correspondence club designed to disciple children and adults. God has allowed us to reach over 499,000 Truth Chasers since February of 1999! Hundreds of completed lessons are received in the mail daily!   Dedicated volunteers come from all over the nation to help make a difference in children’s lives through the ministry of the Truth Chasers Club."

And:
  • Learn amazing facts about the one true living God!
  • Learn how much God loves and cares for you.
  • Enjoy stories and activities just for your age.
  • Get a response every time you send in a lesson.
  • Earn certificates and awards.
  • It’s free!

    A recent lesson we received.
    The lesson's activity section.
    Brady's official card.


    Our sitter provided this photo of the student gallery at Truth Chasers headquarters. These are letters and pictures sent by the kids doing the lessons.  

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