JOY Jars

Kandi Miss Ariel Leave a Comment


Recently we celebrated Miss Ariel’s 6th birthday…. again.  Living in 2 different states means that having a summer birthday can really dampen your festivities.  The last 2 years we have kept it simple.  One year we took Ariel to the Mall of America where we enjoyed the indoor theme park rides and went to see her first movie (Monsters University).  The following year we had a simple family party, but it was shared with her older boy cousin, so while it was nice, it wasn’t quite the personal celebration I was hoping for her.

So this year we went all out and had a big party in California at her gymnastics facility.  We invited ALL of her friends.  It was insane and wonderful at the same time.  The only glitch?  It was months before her actual birthday.

That can be weird for a 5 almost 6 year old.

Luckily she didn’t seem to mind.  She throughly soaked in the time with her friends and fun times.

Birthday girl with arrow

Imgymnation group shot

Birthday Ariel crown


family at Ariel's 6th party

Now that her real birthday has come while we were here in Minnesota, we decided to have a simple gathering with some pizza, cupcakes, good friends and family.

Bradyn blowing out her 6th birthday candle


We also decided to keep it simple in the way of gift giving since many of her friends and family were so generous.  But I didn’t want to skip giving her something.  So this idea popped into my head.  I have been waiting to give my first born her first set of JOY JARS.  Since her 5th birthday, people have started giving her money as a gift.  We don’t do allowance here (at least not yet), so this was her first real taste of money.  She was very excited.  I began to think about how to wisely teach about the responsibility of money.  Piggy bank?  Wallet?  Spend it wantonly?  After much pondering I came up with the JOY Jars.

JOY jars


In our house we try and teach the simple rules of living by JOY standards.

Jesus First

Others Second

Yourself Last

And I began to think that perhaps we can take this concept to teach money as well.  Here is how we are using the same concept to teach about money.

Jesus First — Tithing

Others Second — Gift giving

Yourself Last — Savings

! (happy happy) — Spending

So far, the concept has really hit home with Miss Ariel because the first Sunday after getting her Joy Jars she volunteered to get her own money from her J jar for tithing and continued to do so every week afterwards.  This is a big win in my book!

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. — 

2 Corinthians 9:7

Since birthdays are so much about the birthday kid, it was a nice change of pace to also use the opportunity to teach about others and Jesus.

How do you teach your kids the responsibility of money?


My oh My… We are having #5!

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One of the many reasons that I have been pretty sparse on here is that my energy is completely zapped.  I don’t mean, hey its been a long day I need to rest kind of zapped.  I mean I sit my squishy tushy down on the couch and immediately doze off kind of tired.  Tired.

I have a good excuse.


My sweet little family is growing.

And I’m already exhausted.


St. Patricks Day fun

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Its been quite a break from this here blog o’mine.  But that’s ok.  Instead of wallowing in my own self mommy pity, I have enjoyed my family time, for I know it is a precious time that will soon be a distant memory as soon as *pilot season* starts.

Luckily for us, St. Patricks Day was on the calendar, so the kids and I had a fun time celebrating our Irish Leprechan day.  We started by eating a big bowl of Lucky Charms or Fruit Loops.  Both good sugary-and-delicious-red-dye-40-once-a-year-choices.  Next up was a fun rainbow craft where the kids glued the left over Fruit Loops in the right order and cotton balls on the clouds, which of course I forgot to take a picture of.  Whoops.

Then I had to make my usual green eggs, but this time I decided to make them IN toast, which the kids really enjoyed.


Since green food was the agenda of the day, we decided to make Mint Chocolate Chip cookies.  And my oh my were they a hit!


This was my first time making them and I think this might become a new tradition  I brought them to our bible study group that met that night and they were happily enjoyed by all the big kids at heart as well.


Considering we don’t usually eat dinner with the kids tuesday nights due to our bible study group, I had our semi traditional Irish feast later on the week.  Nobody was the wiser.  We ate overly salted corned beef from good ole Costco and steamed cabbage seasoned with butter and salt.  I was shocked when even sweet Little Rascal had his fair share.  All in all, we had such fun with one of my favorite holidays.


Crying Out

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I’ve been a lousy blogger lately.  My family and I have been pretty sick and I’ve been extra tired taking care of myself and my cute sickies.  It takes a lot out of a girl.

Homeschool.  Work.  Occupational Therapy.  Laundry.  Cooking.  All the normal busy tasks that seem to take up most of your day.

Frankly, these aren’t the only reasons why I haven’t been blogging lately.  Sure, they are legitimate reasons, but it doesn’t cover the entire truth.

Every time I sit down at the computer ready with several post ideas, my brain turns to mush.

You see I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster since Thanksgiving and haven’t really been able to bounce back.  Another way to say this is, my heart has been slowly breaking for several months and I honestly can’t keep my thoughts cohesive enough to put it all into words.  No guarantee here either.

I can’t go into my initial heartbreak, but I can tell you an experience that happened very recently that could give you a peek into our world and hearts.

For the past couple of years I have had the fortunate luck to get to know another momma and her beautiful daughter while we homeschooled our children together with a couple of different co-ops.  Her daughter and mine became best friends and we wound up seeing each other practically once a week due to our school fun, but we also spent time in my kitchen drinking coffee, talking, letting the kids make up their own fun with costumes and imaginative play.  I wasn’t self-conscious about the dirty dishes in the sink or the massive amount of crumbs that all of my young children seemed to acquire every day, every meal.  It was such a comfortable relationship that it took me by surprise how much it hurt to have them leave.  Their sweet family decided that California property was too expensive (absolutely true) and job opportunities lied elsewhere.  They began to pray for direction and God made a clear path for them in Idaho.  You might be just as bad with geography as I am, but let me tell you Idaho and California are not that close.  Not once a week, have a muffin and coffee in my kitchen close.

Our last get together was festive, fun, full of tears, and way too short.  After hours of fun and gifts of memories made with promises of “please don’t forget me!”, they finally filed into their cars and me and my little people posse followed them out for one last lookie-loo good-bye.  My sweet baby girl was no where to be found for our last wave.  When I found her in her room upstairs, I was upset that she wouldn’t say good-bye (and frankly was acting up which was irritating to this momma).  When I confronted her about her behavior and why she didn’t say good-bye, she burst into tears and dramatically called out “because it was too sad!“.  (Truthfully, it makes me want to cry just typing that sentence, let alone living it out.)  I dropped to my knees and just hugged her while I tried to soothe us both.

While I’m so excited for this sweet family to go where God has directed them, I can’t help but be sad at the void they have left in our lives.

Homeschooling and living in two different states has left me (and to be honest my out going girl as well) feeling more left out than included.  I guess its inevitable since people are strengthening their own relationships while we aren’t there.  Which means that we hardly get invited to birthday parties or dinner dates anymore or even random get togethers.  We are forgotten.  Out of sight out of mind if you will.

I also have been detaching emotionally from my long-standing friends since high school.  I love them dearly, but many of my friends are not moms, we don’t live in the same town, and we don’t share the same faith.  Basically, our lives have separated so dramatically that there isn’t too much that resembles our original friendship.  This doesn’t weaken our love for one another, but it does naturally diminish our closeness.

Totally understandable.  But it doesn’t make it any easier.

I long for the days that stay at home moms got together with her neighbor girlfriend for coffee and a game of cards in-between loads of laundry.  I find that finding any momma who isn’t ‘too busy’ is a rare gem, let alone one that wants to stay and invest in a friendship that she hasn’t already established long ago.

I’m crying out for a community.  For like-minded mommas in my homeschooling network.  But mostly I’m crying out for true blue friends for my kids and for this weary hearted momma.


Bebe I love you

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I’ve been pretty MIA lately.  Mostly because I’ve been taking care of my constantly sick family.  When you have 4 young children, one of them is always sick at a time.  Meaning, Child A gets sick for 2 days starting Monday, while everyone tries not to.  Wednesday comes along and Child C starts vomiting in their bed and Child B is extra fussy.  By Friday Child D has another diaper blow out and now you have zero clean pajamas for this kid.  Also, Child A is finally eating again, although its only plain toast and a banana (if your lucky), and Child B’s bed sheets needs to get changed again, and Child C hasn’t eaten solid food since Monday.

This is just a glimpse into my life recently. *This isn’t my actual family, just an idea of what a typical family goes through with illnesses*

At the end of the day I nearly pass out from exhaustion and am often caught sleeping on the couch unaware that I’m probably drooling on the couch cushions.  This happens at 9pm when I usually don’t go to bed until 11 or 12.  Needless to say, I’m a pretty tired momma.

And the few times that I have the desire to sit down and blog?  My brain turns from mush to liquid and I can’t keep a thought in my head, let alone type it out in a blog post.

But rather than focus on all the negative, I thought I’d share another one of my passions.  READING.  I love love love to read. Like I say in my bio, I am having an ongoing love affair with my Kindle.  I finally was in the mood for a book that has been on my list for a couple of years.


This is an American momma author who is raising her children in Paris France.

I was blown away by some of her observations and thought for the first time in my life that perhaps I do like the French after all!

Here is a brief summary of differences between modern, LA based, middle class American parenting and modern day, middle class, Paris, France parents.

  • They are very strict on how much weight they gain during pregnancy (actually I wasn’t so keen on this point at all)
  • They have high expectations of their little ones.  Not so much a “seen and not heard” mentality, but rather, they see their children and little people who are fully capable of acting in a manner that is pleasing to the adults in the room.
  • The evenings are for adults and their time.
  • They don’t make it a habit to play with their kids, allowing for their kids to have independent play
  • They bake every chance they get with their kids and encourages 4-5 year olds to fully master a recipe without any adult help.
  • They talk to their kids like little adults (a bit more of an equal relationship) rather than viewing them as beneath them.
  • Mommas were not into making new friends.
  • They expected their children to eat a wide variety of foods and enjoy their vegetables.  They make their palate a high priority
  • They take the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” perhaps a bit more seriously than we do here, what with their esteemed day care system that takes more finesse to get into than Harvard.

Granted, I do not at all consider myself a regular average LA mommy.  Not in the least.  Mostly because I take my parenting advice straight from the bible and most of my mommy friends do too.  But for an entire city (and the author made it sound like the entire country), to have a few key similar values struck me as quite interesting.

Kids do not have to be catered to to reach their full potential.  In fact, the more catering you do, the less potential they have.  I strongly feel like my generation of fellow parents are too hands on in catering to the whims of their little bosses, aka children.  Something Pamela mentioned several times was the perception of the American Child King.  We idolize our children to an unhealthy degree.  We no longer see ourselves as the person in charge, therefore unable to successfully put down ground rules that our children will follow.  We discourage our children from overcoming challenges and just simply do it for them thinking that it is helping them, when in fact it is hurting them.  Our playgrounds are actually too safe.  Kids don’t know how to get hurt and then pick themselves back up again.

And on the flip side, parents don’t know how to prioritize their lives, and often times have their children right smack in the middle and center of their lives.  The kids are the sun and parents are the earth simply rotating our axis around them.  This is obviously unhealthy for parents and their union, but it’s also highly unhealthy for kids as well.  At my house, we have the phrase “every night is date night!” as our couple mantra.  The kids go to bed and it is our time, and unless Music Man is working, it is designated time meant for one another.  On big date nights, we will often grab take out and watch a favorite tv show together.  Doesn’t matter what it is, it matters that it’s just us.

The Child King also gives rise to other neighborhood issues.  The face of bullying is no longer the pimply mean kid who has no friends.  Today’s bully is sophisticated, popular, and Eddie Haskel-like.  They are used to the world bowing at their feet and when people don’t do that, they retaliate.  They had to learn that they were the center of the universe at some point and it must have been early on in their short lives.

At the very least, this book opened my eyes to the fact that I and parents across the globe can agree on certain ideas about family.  I’m just sad that I and many of my counter parts right in my own backyard don’t agree.

This has inspired me to randomly have a Book Club posting.  Are you reading anything interesting?  Want me to read it and discuss it here?  Have you read Bringing Up Bebe and have a few things to say?  Agree with me?  Disagree vehemently?  I’d love to hear it all!


The beginning of a new day

Kandi SPD 2 Comments


Lately, my frustrations with Little Rascal have come to a head.  His refusal to eat normal foods have hit my level of patience.    I finally threw in the towel and waved the white flag.  I finally made the call.  I called our local child therapist center where Little Rascal and I went in for him to be evaluated.  After an hour and a half with him, he was officially diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder.

Our very kind evaluator was concerned when she gave me her results and cautiously asked “are you ok with this?”.  I probably surprised her when I said (a little too enthusiastically) “YES!”  You see, since I have been grappling with ‘what’s wrong with this poor kid?’ for so long, it was so freeing to be able to put a name to face, er… a name to problem.  To finally feel like I haven’t been going out of my mind, was a great feeling indeed.  Pediatricians, family members, friends, and even daddy all had at one time or anther said “Oh he’s fine.”  “He’ll snap out of it.”  “It’s just a phase”  “He’s just being naughty”.  For this professional to validate my concerns was such a weight lifted off of my shoulders because I knew then that we can move on because now we would finally have help.

Our therapist said that yes, he does indeed have Sensory Processing Disorder, and more specifically, his biggest concerns are with his movement and tactile senses.  I must not have been paying too much attention to his delayed gross motor skills, but he is 6-9 months behind.  I mostly knew that this kid wasn’t thrilled with certain textures or being messy, but didn’t quite grasp the full importance of it.  Both of these issues are the main reason why Little Rascal won’t touch most food.  I don’t fully understand it all, but am committed to the process if it will turn our lives around.  Living with a child who refuses to eat 90% of the time is stressful beyond belief.  You come to the realization that you simply can not force the issue.  It puts you completely at their mercy.  For this strict-take-no-sheenanegans-momma, this is a hard thing to swallow (pun intended).  It has been the biggest mommy challenge I have yet to face.

She recommended that we have a once a week occupational therapy session with their resident food specialist.  We went our first week and cautiously went on the trampoline, where he sat on my lap the entire time.  Then we moved onto the ball pit with much trepidation.  Once we were inside though, Little Rascal loved popping the balls and sorting them by color, but was covering his eyes during the “popping part”.  It was pretty cute.  After meeting with our therapist, she recommended that we also participate in their ‘food group’, which is basically a time where several non-eaters eat together with their therapists watching and observing.

This is just the beginning, but I hope its the begging of a new day.


By the numbers

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So here’s a recap of my weekend by the numbers….

4 sick kids

2 kids with multiple fevers (they kept coming back)

3 kids with constant diarrhea diapers (sorry for the tmi—just keepin’ it real)

2 times I got puked ON.

1 vomit episode on the bed (all by the same kid—Poor Little Rascal)

3 different kinds of meds (essential oils, tylenol, and a kids cough syrup)

15 loads of laundry washed and dried (FIFTEEN!!!) [notice I didn’t say folded?!]

1 master bathroom toilet repair

1 downstairs family ceiling leak (due to previous mention about master toilet)

3 different grocery stores shopped at

7 make ahead freezer meals DONE.

2 times a day the dishwasher washes a full load

1 very dirty kitchen floor

1 grumpy-still-working-nearly-all-the-time-daddy

1 doing-90%-childcare-and-can’t-wait-for-hubby’s-work-to-let-up-and-exhausted momma



Mini Man’s 4th

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Happy 4th Birthday Little Man!



Little Man you have taught me what a true gentleman is.  You exude a gentleness that I never knew existed with boys.  When I was pregnant with you, Daddy and I decided to not find out whether you were a boy or a girl, but I had a strong suspicion that you were all boy in there.  And boy did it terrify me.  All I knew about boys were destruction, trips to the ER, and trouble with a capital T.

But you turned all that upside down with your bashful smile and tender hugs.  Your shy demeanor might turn away some, but when you decide that someone is safe, that special person gets to witness the ginormous heart that you have.  I can already see that you might not have a ton a friends when you get older, but the friends that you do make will be lifelong buddies.

You impress anybody who is patient enough to listen.  You were talking so well by age 2, I constantly forgot that you weren’t 4 already.  You knew your letters and numbers by your 2nd birthday.  When everybody talked about how boys mature so far behind girls, I kept shaking my head wondering what they were talking about.  You are brilliant and I can’t wait to see where it leads you one day.

Your daddy and I can already see some musical aptitude (hence your nickname here).  You have natural rhythm and love to “play” your guitar just like daddy.  You also graciously musically accompany your sister when she is putting on her one woman sing-a-long show.   You are patient with your take charge sister and willingly allow her to dress you up in whatever girly get up suits her fancy for that day.

You are often (but not always) are patient with your emotional little brother during his highs and encouraging him during his lows.  When your baby brother came home, my heart burst with joy at the amount of love you showered him.  I’ll never forget you holding our baby for nearly 2 hours content to sit with him like nothing was more important.  You even cried when I offered to take the baby so you could play with toys.  I couldn’t believe what a fantastic boy we got with you.

You my little guy are most certainly quality.  The Lord has rewarded me with a fantastic son.

I couldn’t be more proud to be your mommy.


Your very blessed mommy

But, I’d be even more thrilled if you would just be potty trained already.  Seriously kid.


Staying True to My Word

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Remember when I said that my New Year’s goal and motto was “LESS IS MORE!”?  Well I do and I’m keeping my word.  Ever since we came back from Minnesota for our Christmas vacation, I have been diving into our piles of stuff and selling or donating as much as I can.  Its nearly become an obsession.

I have been doing this since September of 2013!!!  Ever since we moved to another state with nothing and lived with the very basics, I have been a changed woman.  I have understood the value of having less stuff.  Less stuff means less time taking care of said stuff.  You see I am a recovering hoarder and stuff has become my enemy.

With the chaos that Christmas can bring, it creates a whole new challenge of managing our massive quantities of stuff.  Getting rid of stuff has practically become a full time job.  But my heart gets happy when another pile of clothes gets donated or another piece of furniture gets bought.  In fact, recently I have decided to stash my earnings in a separate place and decided that if I wanted to buy something from one of the sites that I was selling from, then I would have to use my stash.  Well, I found a dresser that was perfect for the master bedroom!  I mean its gorgeous!  Pearly white with a black top that someone lovingly restored.  Best part?  I had made enough money selling off my childhood furniture to buy this piece that ‘spoke to me’.  It felt great to get rid of (a ton) of old to make room for the new.  And to pay for it with my earnings?  Bonus!!!

When I am deliriously tired from the constant kid needs and homeschooling and no husband to help (he’s always working), but still need to purge our house from my enemy, I focus on that feeling of euphoria when it will be gone.  Good riddance to used stuff.  Hope it blesses others as much as it does me by not having it!

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” — William Morris


My petite posse

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Motherhood can be dreadful and a painful process.  Many days I feel like all I am doing is commanding orders or being their slave.  Sometimes its too easy to be busy with all the ‘must do’s’ like preparing meals, laundry, cleaning, that sort of thing, to enjoy this SAHM lifestyle.  Of course you have to do all the chores, but it rarely leaves time for much else, especially with three kids in diapers.  Perhaps it’s because my kids are so young, but I feel like there is barely enough room in the day for the ‘want to’s’ (yes I realize that isn’t a real word auto correct.  Just go with me on this), like simply playing with my kids, going to the bathroom uninterrupted or having a dessert I don’t have to share.

Which is why tonight was oh so special.

I believe there are few moments of true bliss and recently I was able to capture that with me and my petite posse.  You see I suddenly discovered the you tube button on my smart tv.  Suddenly disney sing-a-longs were happening at full blast with all of my children jumping into the mix.  My daughter, who believes in her own future stardom, was a clear enthusiast holding our play microphone ready for her solo.  My 2 year old music lover has been exhibiting his own a capella songs during lunches recently, and was definitely excited about this new living room adventure.  My shy-please-don’t-look-at-me-too-long 3 1/2 year old was so excited he grabbed the nearest play guitar to jam with our little people family band.  Even the baby, who is prone to rock out every time he hears a good beat, was in for the fun bouncing back and forth during an especially good tune.

For a moment, I was able to really enjoy the precious and rare moment where we were all legitimately having a wonderful time together.  (Come on you know Candy land is ‘fun’ but a trying experience!)  We were all in on the music/dance/fun train.  We were all rocking out without a care in the world.  Suddenly I can appreciate that these little people aren’t just my kids.  They aren’t just the miniature humans that I must sacrifice and serve  For once, I could see them as fun friends.  And it was amazing.

Perhaps that family band isn’t such a pipe dream after all.


*potential 1st album cover* LOL