Homemade Peach Cobbler {with fresh peaches}

homemade peach cobble

Every summer I start stalking our local peach orchard anxiously anticipating when their peaches will be ripe. Peaches are one of my favorite summer fruits. There is nothing like biting into a juicy ripe peach on a hot summer day. I also really love peach cobbler. I try not to make it very often, as I am careful to limit how much sugar we eat on a weekly basis. However, I think it’s essential to make peach cobbler at least once a summer. In my case, I made it twice because I didn’t love the first recipe, and wanted it to be perfect before I posted it for you. So, I went back to the drawing board and made some modifications. The second recipe turned out perfectly! It not only was much easier to make but so tasty! [Read more...]

Shopping for Father’s Day is Hard When Your Marriage is Broken

I shared a little bit about this on Facebook last week, but after the response, I received on both my personal page and my Facebook Business page I knew I had to expound more. You see, so often we keep a mask on our face and pretend like everything is ok when in reality we feel like our life is falling apart. After going through years when my marriage was broken, I resolved that if it was ever restored and my heart healed, I would reach out to others to share hope. I was so lonely during that season and felt like I was the only one whose marriage was struggling. Now, I know many struggle in their marriage. So often, it’s the couple I least expect, who appear to have everything together. In fact, we were that couple. On the outside, everything looked great; people even looked up to us and our marriage, but no one knew what was going on under the surface. Here is the FB memory that I shared from 2014 and the one step I took that initiated change.

fathers day cards

June 2014
As I stood looking at all the Father’s Day cards earlier today, I was flooded with emotions. You see, several years ago my marriage was very broken. In fact, at times, it seemed hopeless. During the darkest season picking out a Father’s Day card for my husband was so difficult because honestly I didn’t mean the words I read inside. Instead, I would look for the most generic card I could find. Today,
 as I picked out the mushiest most loving card I could find, I was in tears at the faithfulness of God. He not only healed our hearts, but he so carefully bound our hearts together again with a love that is so much stronger than anything we had experienced before. God is a God of redemption, and I’m so thankful for what he has done in us and through us. Why share? Because God moves when we are real. Being real opens up the door to minister and encourage others who are where we once were. If you are struggling in your marriage today, don’t give up. Healing didn’t happen for us overnight……it took years. Long, hard, difficult years but it’s so worth it. Today, as I look at our life, there are truly no words that can describe the miracle that has taken place. I am beyond thankful that we never gave up and am so excited about what He is doing in our family.

Ephesians 3:20
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

June 2016
This still brings tears to my eyes when this post comes up in my Facebook memories because God’s faithfulness is beyond what I can comprehend. Two years later and he continues to restore, redeem, and use our story to speak hope into marriages who feel hopeless. Two years ago I was pregnant with Jordan, our restoration baby, and today I am pregnant again with our new miracle. Two children that would have never been had we given up. As I was sharing with a precious wife last night, the fight is so very worth it. 

But, what do you do when you are right in the middle of brokenness? I remember holidays, especially Father’s Day being so difficult because I was so hurt and didn’t mean any of the words in most of the cards that I read. In fact, I felt exactly the opposite. At the same time, my heart desired to heal more than anything in the entire world. I wanted to be able to look at my kids in the face and know that I had done everything in my power if our marriage didn’t heal. That meant I was willing to humble myself, shut my mouth, and do things that were hard. It meant not listening to what I felt like and treating him how I wanted to be treated. Now, please know there were years when I acted exactly the opposite of how I am describing. I treated my husband exactly how I felt because I was hurting so badly. My will to change at that time was based solely on him changing. I thought for so long that my healing……..our healing was dependent on him changing. If he would just do this or if he would just do that, THEN our marriage would change. I was wrong. We were in a vicious cycle. At some point, I chose to heal over my feelings, my anger, my desire to be validated, and whether or not my husband changed. I began to work on me and trusting God more than anything, knowing that there was no guarantee to the outcome of my marriage.  13394025_1116218758423838_4887086725116978709_n

Recently, my husband told me that a major turning point in his heart was on Father’s Day in 2011. I had no idea the impact that my one decision would make on his heart and in turn our marriage. All I knew is that I was going to serve him, and love him in his love language, which happens to be gifts. (Coincidently, gifts are not my love language.) I don’t remember what else I bought him, but I made him the photo book pictured above. I was planning on ordering a beautiful photo book online, but procrastinated too late and ended up at 3 am the night before Father’s Day creating a photo book online at Walmart.com. I am so thankful that I didn’t listen to how I “felt.” I am so glad I didn’t stay in that place where I thought that my healing and my marriage depended on my husband changing his behavior or treating me a certain way. I am so thankful that I listened to God, humbled my heart and loved my husband through my pain. He shared with me just how much this gift meant to him because he knew he didn’t deserve it. It softened his heart and opened his eyes to see my heart towards him and my desire for our marriage to move forward.

How to honor your spouse on Father’s Day when your marriage is broken. 

  1. Don’t wait on your spouse to make the first move, even if their initial choice is what led to the struggle in your marriage. Be the one willing to take the first step. Trust me; it will go against everything in your flesh. I am not going to pretend that is will be easy.
  2. Love your spouse in their love language. Humble yourself and serve their hearts.
  3. Protect the atmosphere of your home on Father’s Day. It’s not enough just to give a gift, but that day honor your spouse. He is copartner in parenting your children. Don’t start a fight, or bring up issues that are difficult. They will all be there tomorrow. I don’t mean ignore problems, or pretend like everything is fine, but instead don’t engage any arguments.

Again, I had no idea on Father’s Day in 2011 that my one act of obedience to God would be the change agent that would begin to bring about healing in my marriage and change my husband’s heart. I was so mad that day on the inside, but I knew I had to obey the prompting I felt in my spirit to obey God. I know that every marriage is different, and not every marriage can be saved, but mine seemed incredibly hopeless for such a long time. I am so thankful that I never gave up and was willing to do the hard work for the possibility of healing. One thing is for sure, every single tear and every ounce of work was worth it! Restoration is so much sweeter than I could have ever imagined.

Oodles of Zoodles Pasta Salad

oodles of zoodles pasta salad

I’ve been brainstorming trying to think up new zoodle recipes that my kid would eat. If you aren’t familiar with zoodles, they are “noodles” made out of squash, zucchini, sweet potatoes, and various other veggies. Typically, you would use a spiralizer to do so. My kids don’t love squash and zucchini, but they will eat it in pasta salad, so I thought I’d make Oodles of Zoodles Pasta Salad. The recipe I used is very similar to my ‘Mostly Vegetable’ Pasta Salad.  It’s so easy to make and chock full of fresh veggies. I think it’s the perfect summertime side dish.

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If you don’t have a spiralizer, here is the number one best selling one on Amazon. There are tons of different options available. However, I wanted a spiralizer that didn’t take up a lot of room in my kitchen, and wasn’t cumbersome to put together or clean. This is almost the exact spiralizer that I have, and it meets my needs for as often as I use it.

Oodles of Zoodles Pasta Salad
 
Ingredients
  • 4 squash, spiralized
  • 4 zucchini, spiralized
  • 2 cucumbers, diced
  • 1 bunch of fresh broccoli, chopped into small florets
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 2 cups of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1 packet of ranch salad dressing mix
  • low fat Italian salad dressing
Instructions
  1. Wash veggies thoroughly.
  2. Spiralize zucchini and squash then chop, dice, or slice other veggies.
  3. In a large bowl combine vegetables, and packet of ranch salad dressing mix.
  4. Pour Italian salad dressing over vegetables until generously covered.
  5. Stir thoroughly so that all ingredients are covered in salad dressing, then place in fridge to chill.
  6. Best if chilled overnight before serving. May need to add a tad more salad dressing before serving.

 

The VERY BEST Surprise!

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Yesterday, I told you about how my season had changed and upcoming changes on the blog. A week after I made that gut- wrenching scary decision, we got an enormous surprise! We found out we were expecting our 4th child in December.

Nineteen months ago we had our 3rd baby, Jordan Hope. Before I got pregnant with Jordan, we were in such a sweet spot with our big kids. They could dress, feed themselves, take showers by themselves, and even contribute to household chores without help from us. When the baby was born my daughter was 12 and my son was 8, so we completely started over. We aren’t “young” parents either. When Jordan was born, I had just turned 40, and my hubby was 39.

Since then our family has settled into life with a baby again with ease. She has been the most wonderful addition, and we all adore her. So much so that our big kids have begged for more babies. I never felt that we were finished, but the past couple of months my husband felt strongly that we were done because of our age. However, God made the final decision for our family, and I am so excited! We are both shocked and surprised. In fact, at least daily I look at my husband and say, “Oh my goodness, can you believe I’m pregnant?”

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Since it’s my last pregnancy, I’m documenting milestones. Although I feel like I’ve been showing since the pregnancy test showed positive, earlier this week I hit 12 weeks, and we are celebrating the miracle of this precious life. I’ve got crazy blood clotting issues that could be very problematic when I’m pregnant, but I’ve got an awesome Dr and a big big God, who still works miracles!

Seasons Change: Why Change is Coming

new season

Back in 2008 when I started using coupons to save my family money we were in a desperate financial season. My husband had just gotten laid off from his job in pharmaceuticals, and we had two spec homes that sat for over two years without selling. In addition to financial pressures, my 3-year old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, my father was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer, and my marriage was falling apart. Add to that the death of my father and another layoff the following year the day after my father’s funeral and I was a hot mess. We were broke; I was emotionally exhausted and weary. I felt like every area of my life was under attack, and I was broken. Couponing became a wonderful way to escape my life while at the same time saving my family incredible amounts of money, which was crucial to our finances. Also, I was able to get so many items for free or very little costs to give to others. This left me feeling empowered since it enabled me to be in a position to serve even while I was still in need. [Read more...]

Creating Memories on Family Vacations

Disclosure: This post is underwritten by Hamilton Properties. All opinions and text are my own. My full disclosure policy can be found here.

Creating Family Memories

We’ve gone through difficult financial seasons in our marriage when it wasn’t feasible for us to take a long family vacation. In fact, a night away was a sacrifice. However, it is so important to us that we are purposeful to create memories and traditions with our children.  We have always found a way to get away, even for a short time, or a staycation .  From the time they are born, we basically get 18 summers with each child, unless they decide to stay home longer. In the scheme of life that doesn’t really seem like much. Even in the midst of diapers, sibling fights, and all the responsibilities of running a home efficiently (or enough to survive) it’s important to us to pause from our work responsibilities and make uninterrupted memories with our children. A couple of years ago, we took a very quick vacation to Destin, Florida and had a blast. We loved it so much our kids have begged to go back ever since and have talked about all the places they wanted to go and the memories we made while we were there. So, this year we decided to take a trip back to Destin.

balcony pic [Read more...]

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park Review

Disclosure: My family received complimentary tickets to the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and text are my own.
IMG_1289

As a homeschool  mom, we take our love of learning every where. On our recent vacation to Destin, FL we had the opportunity to tour the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in Fort Walton Beach, FL. We had so much fun learning all about marine life and participating in the various shows and demonstrations. It really was a wonderful day for the entire family. The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has been in operation for over 60 years and is one of the oldest marine water parks. In addition to the general admission, which gives you access to all of the exhibits and various shows, training demonstrations and more, there are also animal encounters that give a much more up and personal experience with several of the exhibits.  [Read more...]

Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park Review

Disclosure: My family received complementary tickets to Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and text are my own.
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Recently we took a much needed family vacation to one of our favorite beach destinations, Destin, Florida. From the time we arrived, my big kids started asking if we could go to Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park. As much as they love and enjoy the beach, they just couldn’t resist the allure of the all the water slides every time we rode by. With over 40 different water play areas, rides, slides, and pools, Big Kahuna’s is the perfect fun day for adults and kids of all ages. We had a blast! [Read more...]