Hello Out There!

Hello, friends… it’s been a while. Sorry about my huge two-week absence from the blogosphere, but as can so often happen with bloggers, I’ve been too busy living my life to write about it.

When I started this website at the beginning of the summer, I was a stay-at-home mom who had been married and living in a new city for nearly a year. I still didn’t feel very plugged in to my new surroundings, and I was looking for a creative and spiritual outlet. A way to help others while also engaging my own restless mind. I think I was searching for my calling in this life that God has blessed me with, because as much as I love being home with my children, sometimes I feel like there should be something more. A ministry. A purpose. And believe me, I do consider raising children a calling, a ministry, and an excellent purpose for living… but my soul seems to call out for even more.

Because isn’t that just the way we as humans are? Always looking for something in addition to what we already have? Or is that just me?

Regardless, I asked for more, and God has provided. He’s been opening doors, windows, even entire walls up in front of me. And I’m grateful. But with all of these amazing new opportunities has come the realization that something has to give. Saying “yes” to new things sometimes means having to say “no” to something else. I’m not ready to give a firm “no” to the blog, but I am realizing that it may have to become less of a priority. And to those of you who read these articles and enjoy my site — thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I hope you will bear with me as I work to figure out how big of a place Bonding A Blended Family can have in my life right now, because I want to be very careful with my time to ensure that my own blended family doesn’t begin to lose its fragile, yet oh-so-precious bond.

Book Review — Resurrection Year by Sheridan Voysey

BC_ResurrectionYear_1I received Resurrection Year free of charge in exchange for a review, and I’ll admit, after collecting the book from my mailbox it sat on a shelf in my house unopened and gathering dust for about two months. With works of nonfiction I rarely experience the same eagerness to quickly devour a book as I do with fiction, but shortly after beginning Sheridan Voysey’s tale I realized that it was so beautifully written, so engaging, so genuine, that I may need to open myself up to more nonfiction work in the future.

The book is an honest personal account of Voysey and his wife’s decade-long struggle with infertility. After trying to conceive a child naturally, the couple visits specialists, tries in vitro fertilization, attempts to adopt, and faces disappointment after disappointment as they struggle to accept the fact that parenting just might not be in their future.

Like so many other passions and interests in my life, my faith in God seems to ebb and flow depending on my current circumstances, and Voysey is poignantly open about the toll their struggles take on his and his wife’s relationship with the Lord. And yet through it all, Voysey is a Christian author and public figure with his own faith-based radio program — a person who most of us would just assume is completely unwavering in his trust in the Lord. This book was a clear reminder to me that everyone is struggling with something.

This isn’t just a story for those who have suffered through the pain of infertility, but for those of us who have struggled with the loss of any dream — so really, this book is for everyone.

I give Resurrection Year hearthearthearthearthalfheart

I received this book free of charge as part of the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are entirely my own.

Matty, Get Your Gun!

Something rare and magical happened this weekend — our entire family of five was together and I don’t remember a single fight breaking out among the children. Not one. It was pure bliss.

Saturday we visited Matt’s parents and the kids enjoyed playing with their cousins for hours while the adults (gasp!) were able to have uninterrupted conversation.

Yes, it’s true. That really did happen. :)

Sunday we attended church and then enjoyed the gorgeous autumn day while visiting with more family at a hot dog roast in the country. Matt even got the chance to shoot a few clay pigeons while his wife and stepson watched in awe… I was pretty proud… my man could totally hunt and gather for us if our lives depended on it. He’s so awesome. I wish I had snapped a pic.

Today capped off the fun with a visit from my own grandparents. It was truly a stellar three-day-weekend.

What did your family do over the weekend? Were you all together, or did you and your sweetie get a little alone time?

And by the way, if you’re curious about the title of this post, all I can say is that I asked Matt to help me come up with a title and this is what we landed on. Kind of makes you wonder if two heads really are better than one, doesn’t it? ;)

Two Peas In A Pod

Despite a nearly five year age difference, these two cuties took to each other like bread and jam.

Ella and Am 3

Like peas and carrots. Like bacon and eggs. Like peanut butter and jelly….

Is anyone else starting to get hungry?

Oh no. I’ve only been writing for five minutes and already I’m thinking about taking a snack break. (Mental note to self — must improve work ethic.)

Ahem. As I was saying, their bond was almost instantaneous. I think Amarissa had always wanted siblings and Ella loved gaining an older sister to play with and learn from on a daily basis, so in the early days of our blending families they were together nearly every chance they could get.

But over time, the novelty has worn off and they have settled into a more typical sibling relationship. They can irritate each other, bicker, and ignore each other just like any true siblings. And with Amarissa now in junior high and Ella only in first grade, a gap is beginning to form in their interests.

But every once in a while, I catch them in a moment that reminds me of how their relationship began

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and my heart just soars. I love these two girls, and I love the fact that although they may not always fully appreciate each other right now, they are forging a bond that they will be able to count on for the rest of their lives.

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One of the many benefits to blending families. :)

Do You Have “Do Overs” In Your Family?

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Do you ever find yourself behaving in a way that is not consistent with the type of person you want to be? The type of parent? Stepparent? Spouse?

I do. In fact, I felt that way earlier today. Stress seems to have the effect of making me extremely sensitive… and crabby.

And who wants to be thought of as “a crabby, extremely sensitive person?”

Well, maybe I don’t mind being thought of as sensitive in the good way. As in, “she’s so sensitive — she has a heart of gold.” Not, “she’s so sensitive — she takes everything I say the wrong way.”

There’s definitely a difference.

For situations such as these, my husband introduced me to a lovely little concept called “the do over.” You apologize, then ask for a do over. A chance to start the day or weekend over again — to wipe the slate clean. I’m not sure that this would work on a daily basis, but when used only very occasionally, it can be quite effective.

Do you have do overs in your family?

Friday Funnies — Things Not To Say To Your Wife

A few nights ago over dinner Matt said something along the lines of “My Mom makes these really great pork chops in the crock pot — maybe you could try making something like that?”

And then he got a little nervous and tried to backtrack to make sure he didn’t get in trouble… because really, doesn’t that just sound like one of those statements that can instantly get a man in trouble with his wife?

Our whole family had a little laugh over his predicament and a few days later I did make some pork chops in the crock pot and they were delicious, so all’s well that ends well. :)

The conversation made me think of this little gem of a video I had watched recently. Enjoy! And husbands, please, for the love of your marriage, don’t say any of these things to your wife! ;)

As Easy As Apple… Pork Chops?

You know that expression “as easy as apple pork chops” that people are always using?

What? People don’t really say that?

Oh. Well, I just might start saying it, because today I did a little experimenting and made some SUPER easy apple pork chops in the crock pot — I believe the prep time lasted all of 3 minutes.

I generally consider myself to be a pretty mediocre cook, but even my picky little eaters devoured these pork chops like they were the last pork chops on earth, so I thought I’d share the recipe. Don’t expect this to happen regularly around here. :)

In a crock pot combine:
1 cup water
3 T brown sugar
1/8 t nutmeg
1/4 t cinnamon

Place 3 peeled, cored, sliced apples (I used Gala because they were in my fridge) on top of the sauce.

Lightly salt 4-6 large pork chops and layer them on top of the apples. Cook for about 6 hours.

That’s it. Now dig in and watch your kids lose all semblance of table manners as they inhale the finished result.

What have you been cooking up this fall?

And now, just to please my husband who is walking around humming this tune, I’m including a little song for y’all. ;)

The Things I Say Everyday

There are a few things I say every single day to our children, and my life is beginning to feel a bit like Groundhog Day.

As we’re exiting the house: “Please go back and turn out your bedroom lights.”

At bedtime: “Please pick up your personal items from around the house.”

When we’re eating a meal: “Sit down on your bottom. Use your silverware, not your fingers.”

As a child is leaving the bathroom: “Did you remember to flush? Wash your hands? No? Then get back in there.”

Although I say these phrases over and over and over, the words don’t seem to penetrate — which leaves me wondering, when I’m speaking, do our kids just hear this?”

If there’s one thing I’m definitely guilty of as a mom, it’s forgetting to think outside of the box when interacting with our children. My parenting style can fall into a rut (nagging the kids to remember things and feeling disgruntled when they keep forgetting) so lately, I’ve been wondering if it’s time to shake things up a little. Perhaps Matt and I need to find small ways to reward them when they remember to do certain tasks without a parent asking; or clip them up and down a color chart throughout the day like they do in the grade school classrooms, with a reward at the end of the day if a certain color is reached.

Or I could just buy a paddle and wave it around a little the next time they get forgetful…

Just kidding! :)

What strategies do you employ to help your kids remember basic etiquette and household rules? I’d love suggestions, because it’s certainly time that we try something new.

Friday Funnies — Thy Phone Prayer

I haven’t posted a Friday Funny in a few weeks because, frankly, I just haven’t watched any new videos that I thought were clever enough to grace my site… until this one. In honor of my man and me finally joining the era of smart phones, please enjoy Thy Phone Prayer. :)

I really lost it when the phone became a nose hair trimmer. What was your favorite part?

Happy Friday!

Do I Need An Attitude Adjustment?

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Yesterday Matt and I received a request from Compassion International to donate money to buy Christmas presents for our sponsored children. The recommended amount? Twenty dollars per child. Twenty dollars to fund their entire Christmas.

I don’t even want to think about how much more than that we spent on Amarissa, Ella, and Jonah for Christmas last year, or the fact that those kids overseas probably feel so much more grateful for what they are given than our children do. We’re lucky if our kids remember to say “thank you” when they receive gifts from relatives without our prompting. I’ve even heard one child (and I won’t name any names here) say, “Is that it?” after opening presents on a birthday. Sigh.

We want to be giving and generous to our children, but we also want them to recognize how fortunate our family is and to feel thankful for what they are blessed with. We may not have everything we want, but we truly do have everything we need.

This morning I was walking up the stairs to take my shower and Jonah called out to me, “Just one more hug first, Mom?”

As I rushed back down the stairs I thought, “Of course I’ll give you one more hug — you just made my morning!”

Then Ella followed with, “And one for me too? The biggest hug in the world!”

I felt so grateful for them in that moment — perhaps more grateful than I had felt in a long time… and then it hit me. When is the last time I felt truly, unspeakably grateful for all of my blessings? Because my life is overflowing with them: I have three healthy, beautiful kids; a loving, faithful husband; a warm home; two cars that drive our family wherever we need to go; enough food that I’ve been known to throw some of it out after it’s sat in the fridge too long; BLESSINGS.

This morning an uncomfortable question surfaced to my mind: Do I model an attitude of gratitude to my children?

And the very disconcerting, yet honest, answer: Not really.

I’ve been known to dwell on what I’d like to have, instead of focusing on what I’ve already been given.

If we want our children to grow to be more thankful, then it’s our job to show them what true gratitude looks like. Time for an attitude adjustment for this Momma!