What I choose to remember.

What I choose to remember.

The Holidays…when our social media accounts fill with photos of happy families, beautiful Christmas tree’s, and perfectly decorated houses. And no, this article isn’t going where you think it is. I’m not going to tell you it’s all a lie. I’m not going to tell you that those people are just trying to create an illusion of perfection. I’m offering a different perspective.

Last week we dug the Christmas decorations out of the attic. Let me tell you…it’s a job. We don’t have nice pull down steps. We push an outdoor ladder up to a hole in the hallway, and the Bearded Man pushes heavy totes of Christmas decor down to me, and I just hope I don’t drop and break everything in the process. The kids get impatient. Decorations and glitter start flying everywhere . The Bearded Man and i might fight a little. We may have yelled at the kids while Christmas music blared on the T.V.

This is what I posted on Facebook that day. My beautiful tree, decorated first by my kids, then later, rearranged by my loving (and OCD) Husband, once the kids went to bed. Then rearranged again by my two year old. Was I trying to create an illusion of perfection? Nope. That was just what I chose to remember from that day. I chose to not let the stress, fighting, and grumpiness win. That moment is what I wanted to share. To see a year from now. That moment is what I chose to remember.

The other day, my sweet boys fell asleep on my lap. None of us had been feeling well, and we sat in the chair and conked out. I managed to slide out of the chair, and had to snap this precious picture. Was I trying to imply that my boys are perfect little angels that nap like this all the time? Nope. It had been a rough day. There had been weeping and gnashing of teeth. I’m pretty sure the living room was messy. This moment is what I chose to remember.

Pictures where all 3 children are smiling can be rare. This one was actually spur of the moment. That day, we had been playing in the leaves. The kids had been arguing over how the leaf pile should look. I had been trying to be productive and happy, as the dark cloud of anxiety weighed heavy on my shoulders. Maybe to you, it looked like like an attempt to be fake. To look perfect. To me, it was a bright spot in a week that I was really struggling. This moment is what I chose to remember.

Even pictures of food are a big debate. Post a picture of your meal, and it looks like you’re trying to be all braggy and rival June Cleaver. Let me tell you, I love your food pictures. It inspires me to get in the kitchen, even on days where I don’t feel like it. Some days, pushing past my exhaustion to cook a homemade meal feels like a huge triumph. Sitting around the table laughing with my family, as they fill their tummies, makes it worth it. That’s what I choose to remember.

So friends…this season, keep posting those pictures of your smiling families, pretty Christmas Tree’s, crafts, and yummy meals. It doesn’t mean any of us are trying to feign perfection. Lets reassess why those photos may bother us. Could there be seeds of envy or discontent in our own lives? Do we struggle to be happy when others seem to be happy?

Maybe we are all just looking for a glimmer of light in those days that can seem dark and heavy. Those little glimmers are what I want to remember a year from now. They are what I choose remember.

We’re Still Here! 

We’re Still Here! 

It’s amazing how a few weeks of not blogging, turned into a whole year. Whoops. As I type this, I’m using the keyboard on my phone, because our iPad is old and slow, and our laptop not much better…maybe even worse. I still find myself making mental notes through the day of things I want to post. Or Keira will suggest I post certain recipes. 

Anyway, whenever I consider giving an update of our lives, I talk myself out of it, because nothing “spectacular” has happened. I’m not pregnant. We’re still doing life in this tiny little house. Still praying and waiting on God for so many things. Just trying to hold our heads above water with all the craziness that comes with raising children. 

However, if you asked my kids, you’d probably hear a different story. 😊

I so wish I could be like them, and see the wonder in the day to day. 

Yesterday we took a “nature walk” in our backyard (which is hard to do when you don’t exactly live in the woods). Matthew immediately found this little creature and took a picture. I was impressed how he did the fading in the background, which was pure accident, but still pretty cool. In their minds we had really gone on this adventure and they were beaming for the rest of the evening.

Keira has been studying Ancient History for school this year, and I love seeing her excitement about everything we are learning. She was showing me how the Mayan Number system worked last week, and I told her how impressed I was. She replied, “Yeah, that’s what happens when you have a daughter way ahead of you!” Did I mention how humble she is? *cough*

And let’s not forget this little guy. He makes life an adventure. His vocabulary has exploded, and I love hearing tidbits of what’s going on in his little mind. Keira and Matthew like to zoom down the lane on their bikes, leaving Elijah in the dust on his tricycle. He’ll sadly say, “Everybody leavin’ me….” That’s Elijah in a nutshell. Small, but determined not to be left out. 

I’m hoping to get back in the habit of posting more regularly, even if it means using my phone until we get something better. My life may be a yawn for some, but if you’re like me and smack in the middle of the mundane, maybe you can get a laugh, or an occasional cry. 

I’m off to another day of teaching, cleaning, baking, folding piles and piles laundry, and little backyard adventures, and I’m perfectly ok with that! 

When God Asks Me to Wait. 

A few years ago, the Bearded Man designated a spot in the backyard as a wild flower patch for the kids and me. While we watched him sprinkle the seeds, he warned that they wouldn’t be up that season, but the next. He went on to say, “These aren’t going to grow in Shandi’s time, you have to be patient.” Um yea, I have quite the reputation of not wanting to wait on anything. 

I’ve struggled with this my whole life. Some of the dumbest things I’ve done, revolved around taking the instant gratification over waiting for what God had in store. 

I’m in a season of waiting right now. There are several things we are praying for as a family. I have a terrible tendency of giving God suggestions and helpful hints on how my life should go, and the timeline He should do it in. You might be laughing, because you do the same thing, or you might be aghast because that is so prideful of me. 

I know it is. What in the world makes me think that I know better than the God who created me? He already has my days numbered and goes before me, and yet I get antsy when he’s not taking my “helpful suggestions.” 

I’ve had the Lauren Daigle song, “Trust in You”, playing over and over in our house, because the words are exactly my hearts cry right now. 

I’m tired, I’m emotional, and I’m getting discouraged. I’ve been a Believer most of my life, and yet I still struggle in trusting God to handle the most delicate parts of my life. 

My health. 

My finances.

My future.

My kids…

Sure, I talk big to others about trusting God. Talk is so cheap. When anxiety starts taking over, and fear grips my heart to the point where my family can see terror in my eyes…that’s when I know deep down that I’m not fully trusting God. 

It hurts to lay out my failures, but how my unbelief must hurt Him so much more. 

I admit, the day my Husband planted the wildflowers and said it would take a whole year, I thought, “Puh! What’s the point if we can’t enjoy them this year?” 

Ugh, I really don’t like to wait. 

But once they came up, they came up beautifully. My kids and I have gotten so much enjoyment over the past few summers from those flowers. I’ve had memories of flower picking with my kids and mason jars full of beautiful bouquets thanks to waiting for them to come up. 

I found this little beauty waiting for me this morning, despite the frosts and cold nights we’ve had this week.

I wish this post was about how I’ve arrived and overcome this issue. 

Not even close.

Prayers are so greatly appreciated as I struggle in this hard season of waiting. If you struggle in this area, I’d love to pray for you as well! 

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31 

Why I moped around today.

Why I moped around today.

When I started blogging, I decided that I’d never write out of obligation, just for the sake of posting every day. I don’t want this blog to be full of “fluff.” This summer was great, but left me a little worn down and with not much to say…Until…

Well, I turn 30 tomorrow, and I have a lot to say about it. 

Now, to all of you in your 40’s, 50’s and beyond, 30 is laughable. But today, I’m not laughing. 

Nor was I was this morning, when I spent a lot of time moping around. I’m so ashamed…

The Bearded Man finally called me out on it. He’ll be 40 in February, so he has little sympathy for my plight. He asked what was stressing me out so much, and it was hard to pinpoint exactly what it was. I shared that a lot of it was knowing that my “prime” is over. My prime childbearing years are coming to an end in 5-10 years. I’ll never look as good as I did “back then”, and frankly I didn’t even look that good back then. 😂  Can I have a do over?

 Don’t even get me started on the rapid slowing of my metabolism, and the collection of extra weight in the wrong places. I shared with my healthcare provider recently, that losing weight is so stinkin’ hard compared to 5-10 years ago. She gave me a knowing nod. When I shared my anxieties with The Bearded Man, he quickly replied in his southern accent, “Babe, just cuz ya turn 30, doesn’t mean ya gotta let yourself go!” He’s so right. He loves me no matter what, but I don’t have to let myself go. I’ll just have to walk a little more. Cut back on portions. Be more vigilant with the anti-aging products. Please tell that’s all I need to do…😊

I think my anxieties are stemming from feeling like it’s all “downhill” from here. I’m getting older. My kids are growing up way too fast. We haven’t built our dream house yet. We aren’t debt free yet. I haven’t done this or that…

But then, God gently started reminding me of all that I have accomplished with His grace and mercy. 

I’ve had the privilege of walking with God most of my life. He’s never abandoned me, even when I pushed Him away. He’s kept His loving hand on my life, even when I’ve struggled with fear and unbelief. Amazing love. 

I’ve been married to the love of my life for almost 10 years. We’ve surpassed the national average on how long most marriages last. We have our problems, but I can honestly say, marriage is getting better everyday. He loves me unconditionally and has never threatened to leave. I would’ve left me a long time ago. My heart still flutters a little when his truck pulls in the driveway in the evenings. There’s nothing like curling up with him at the end of a hard day. 

I’ve been blessed with 3 beautiful children on this Earth and 1 in heaven. Many women at my age are still questioning whether they will ever get to be Mother’s. My children make me crazy and bring me so much joy and happiness. I became a Mom at 22, and it was the best day of my life. 

There’s no doubt in my mind, that God made me a to be a Mother. We ordered Chinese tonight, and ate it outside to soak up the beautiful weather. These kiddos are so precious, and I can’t imagine life without them. 

I don’t have a brag worthy career, or a big pay-check, but I get to be both their Mother and their Educator. That is such a privilege, and I don’t take it lightly. Homeschooling is hard, and the paycheck stinks, but I am so incredibly blessed to be able to do it. 

I don’t have the body of my dreams, and it’s not likely I will anytime soon, but I’m healthy. I can take care of my kids, clean the house, go for walks, even run a little (just don’t make me), and I’m just fine. Praise God for good health, because not everyone has that in their lives. 

We may not have built our dream home, but we own a home. That in itself is a huge blessing and accomplishment. It keeps us safe and warm, and is full of laughter and too many toys. I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

We aren’t debt free yet, partly to our bad choices and partly to circumstances beyond our control, but we are working towards it together. We have a common goal in mind, and don’t fight about money. We just don’t have any. 😎

I haven’t traveled as many places as I imagined I would, but I have built a life I don’t feel like I need a vacation from. Sure, we enjoy the occasional weekend trip, but my life isn’t a constant state of waiting to “get away from it all.” 

We have friends and family that love and support us. I don’t surround myself with a slew of people, but have built quality relationships. 

By posting all of this, I’m not trying to humble-brag, but genuinely give God the glory for what He  has allowed in my 30 years. I know with His grace and mercy, my future doesn’t have to go “downhill” but as Tim McGraw once sang, “My next 30 years will be the best years of my life!”

That will be in your head all evening now. You’re welcome. 

Here’s to turning 30! 

Zucchini “Crab” Cakes with a freezer option! 

Zucchini “Crab” Cakes with a freezer option! 

It’s that time of year again! I am busy in the kitchen putting produce from our garden in the freezer or canning to store in the basement. Saturday, the Bearded Man helped me can 55 half pints of pizza sauce. I also woke up to this outlandish amount of zucchini.

Over the past couple weeks, we’ve had zucchini banana bread, cheesy zucchini garlic bread, zucchini pasta, zucchini chicken stir fry….it goes on and on..:but this recipe for “crab” cakes is by far our favorite! We have about 80 of them in the freezer so far, with plans to make more! It’s so nice to pull out a bag on busy nights for a fast and CHEAP dinner! They are filling enough to serve as the main dish, which allows us to go meatless more often. 
Zucchini “Crab” Cakes

-1 egg beaten 

-2 tablespoons melted butter 

-1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning 

-2 tablespoons dried minced onion*

-1 cup Italian style bread crumbs 

-2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini 

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until combined. Use a heavy duty spoon or your hands. Mixture will look like this:

Shape mixture into patties. You can either fry immediately or place onto parchment lined baking sheets and freeze**

To fry; Heat oil in a large skillet and fry over medium heat until both sides are browned. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. 

Alternately, you can bake in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes on each side. 

We had ours with corn and crockpot Cowboy Beans, yum!

*You can also use freshly chopped onions. My family doesn’t like the taste of fresh onions in their food, so I stick with the dried stuff. 😊

**Freeze on parchment paper in a jelly roll pan until they are frozen solid. Then transfer to a freezer bag. You don’t need to thaw before frying, just be very careful when placing in the oil! 

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God answered my question. 

God answered my question. 

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”Proverbs 19:21 
As many of you know, we bought a small house in 2006 when the housing market was booming and prices were through the roof. We bought with the intent to fix it up and resell before we had children. 

And then Keira was born. And then a second baby. Then a third. 

Now we haven’t just sat back waiting for God to stick a for sale sign in the yard. 

We’ve worked our tails off trying to get things looking nice. Every couple years we discuss putting it on the market. I even had a Realtor here last week. With every step we take, we hit a brick wall and God has shut the door. It’s either been a financial issue, something major that needs fixing, the market value being too low that year, trying to figure out how to take such a huge loss on the house. We know we will never get back what we paid for the house, and it’s been a hard pill to swallow. 

Last week was one of the worst weeks of my life. Something went wrong everyday. The list of things the Realtor gave us to do was overwhelming, and the starting price she put on the house left a lot to be desired on our parts. 

On Tuesday, I checked on my son while he was taking a nap, and knew right away something wasn’t right. His body was crooked and he had a strange fixed gaze. He didn’t move or blink when I waved my hands in front of his face. I was terrified. After what seemed to be hours on the ambulance and at the hospital, Elijah woke up and reached for me. It turns out, he had a febrile seizure, and may never have one again. It shook me up though.

I won’t go into every detail of what happened the rest of the week, but I was ready for it to be over. 

I sat in Church yesterday listening to Pastor Mike’s sermon on people who were struggling with their circumstances, just like I was. 

I was thinking over everything that happened last week, and I was so thankful that my son was still alive, and that we had a home to live in. But part of me was still struggling with issues that needed to be resolved and with the fact God had shut another door on us. Pastor Mike encouraged us to ask God questions, so that’s what I did. And He answered last night, just not how I had hoped. 

We had a hectic afternoon, and had to face some things that needed to be dealt with from a few days ago. God worked in both mine and my Husband’s hearts, and told us we needed to show grace in the situation. 

I never want to use this blog to feign perfection and spirituality, so I’m just gonna be honest. Showing grace isn’t one of my strong points. I’m sorry to say that the world and my lack of surrendering my hurts to God, has left me rough around the edges. I don’t get sad, I get angry. I put up walls. I hold back a lot, but goodness I’m glad nobody can see my thoughts. 
While I packed the Bearded Man’s lunch, and thought over the craziness of the last week, God firmly answered my question from that morning. 

In the almost 10 years we’ve lived here, I haven’t led a single person to Christ. Sure, I’ve invited people to Church, or baked cookies for neighbors a few times. My heart wasn’t really in it though. I’ve been going through the motions. I haven’t had a burden for the souls of my neighborhood that I should. I’m not talking about walking around with a Bible and knocking on doors. I’m talking about getting to know my neighbors, helping to meet their needs, showing them the love of Christ, and praying for them each and everyday. I get numb to the knowledge that Hell is real, and that so many people are teetering on the edge of spending eternity there. I forget that not everyone is living in a safe home full of love like we are. I walk around with the knowledge of Christ, but keep it to myself. 

So He answered my question. 

Why would He send us somewhere else, when our work here isn’t even remotely finished

I was hit with the realization, that life isn’t about where I want to live, or us getting a bigger house. None of that matters when we look at it from an eternal perspective. 

I discussed everything with my Husband and he wholeheartedly agreed. We came to the conclusion that for now, we will bloom where we are planted. When things get tight, we’ll remember that God’s plan is so much bigger than the one we have for ourselves. We’ll teach our kids that when things get hard, you don’t pick up and move, you stay and work it out. No matter where we go, we’re still who we are. A bigger house, a new neighborhood, a new Church or moving to a new state, doesn’t change that. A change of scenery doesn’t change our issues, because we are still the same prideful creatures in need of a Savior wherever we go. The issues resurface, just in a different zip code. The only thing that can change our hearts is Christ. And He can do that right where we are. 

My tendency to hole myself up in my home and forget about what’s going on around me, is something I can ask God to help me with here and now. Not later, when I feel like my circumstances are better. 

So for those of you who ask when we’ll sell this or build a new house…I really don’t know. 

For now, He has made it obvious it’s not the time, and we are surrendering our plans to God. 

I’m so thankful that God has blessed me with a talented Husband that has built shelving in every nook and cranny in order to make this house functional. I’ll have to trust God that if He blesses us with more children, we’ll find the room in this little house to make it work. I have peace in knowing that when the door opens to leave, I won’t have to pry it open myself, but God will open it widely for us. And when we do leave, it can be with a clear conscience, that we wholeheartedly finished what God put us here to do. 

DIY Sidewalk Chalk Paint

DIY Sidewalk Chalk Paint

One of the fun things about being a Homeschool family, is that we are always looking for new ways to learn and review what we’ve learned. The boys are still none the wiser, but Keira has caught on. We’ll be mid activity, and she’ll say, “We’re learning, aren’t we?”
Bahaha. I came across this awesome activity on Instagram, and we decided to try it right away. One of my favorite things about our home, is our large back patio. It’s the perfect spot for sidewalk chalk, so I knew sidewalk chalk paint would be awesome too! 

You will need: 

-1 cup cornstarch 

-1 cup water 

-food coloring 

-muffin tin 

-paint brushes 

Whisk the cornstarch and water in a glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, and whisk again until smooth. 

Ladle mixture into a muffin tin. We were able to fill up 9 holes. 

Add food coloring to each hole. 

We had fun with this, and it was great review for mixing colors. 

Aren’t those colors beautiful? 

Paint on a sidewalk, driveway or patio. 

The kids loved this, and I may have even painted a little 😁

That face 💜

We had some old medicine droppers, and the kids had fun making the paint “rain” on the patio. 

The paint came off easily by spraying the patio down with a hose! 

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