January banana bread

 banana breadLook what nine sad bananas on the counter made on a frosty winter morning!

January Banana Bread

1 stick salted, softened butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

3 very ripe bananas

1/2 t salt

1 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

1 t vanilla

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup milk

Preheat your oven to 350°. Cream the butter and sugar together for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, and mix well. Mix the bananas, adding to wet ingredients. Add salt, soda, baking powder; mix well.  Add flour and milk, a bit at a time, alternating the two as you mix. Spray pans well with non-stick cooking spray. (This recipe makes one large loaf, 3 small loaves, or 1 dozen muffins.) Fill pans no more than half full as they will rise well. Bake muffins for about 15 minutes, small loaf pans for about 25 minutes, and large loaf pan for about 40.  All ovens are different so watch carefully and test for doneness with a toothpick. Cool briefly then turn onto racks to complete cooling,

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home after the holidays


Nothing is better than grandbaby cuddles!

After two months of planning for the holidays, experiencing the holidays, and recovering from the holidays, I finally have made it to my desk and can write again!

We spent Thanksgiving with our son and his wife and girls in Tennessee, enjoying the time with them and the trip there and back, which included a stopover at Miss Patti’s Settlement. As soon as we got home I started baking Christmas goodies and decorating cookies, preparing tins to share with family and friends. Each year I try to pick a new assortment of cutters to use for the sugar cookies and to work toward my goal of mastering the piping and flooding techniques. This year I included a purple shooting star designed after I saw some gorgeous dresses worn by choir members at a Christmas concert we attended.


 Loved these violet shooting starts!



I have been collecting a variety of tree cutters and I think they are my favorite!

We spent nearly two weeks down south, celebrating Christmas at our daughter’s home in South Carolina and enjoying the “cousins” as one of our California sons and his family were there, too. Clay especially enjoyed playing basketball with the kids and helping them each make tie dyed t-shirts. We looped back through Tennessee again on our way home to visit with even more grandgirlies before we returned to Illinois and our sweet kitty who was patiently waiting for is to come home. As much as we enjoyed seeing everyone, we did miss Christmas in our own home and it felt like I didn’t really have a chance to enjoy all the traditions we have grown to enjoy over the past four decades!


 The tie dyed shirts were a hit!



 Grandpa is exceedingly patient!


 Cuddled cousins watching Lord of the Rings!


 Grandpa’s Christmas stocking treasures were another success.


 These guys are playing Scrabbleship, a Scrabble and Battleship hybrid.



 The annual Christmas pizza party yielded five 24″ pizzas!



Teddy wouldn’t get out of my suitcase. He was so happy we were home!

I have missed chatting with those of you who visit here and who aren’t on Facebook. I am hoping to change that this week….lots I want to blog about and we are preparing some new podcasts as well. Hope you all had a lovely holiday season!

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the devotionals #3


What do Kirk Cameron, Betty Freidan, and Erma Bombeck have in common?  Stay tuned for this week’s podcast with thatmom to find out!

Questions for reflection and discussion:

1. On a scale of one to ten, how valuable is homemaking to your life as a woman, wife, and mother? Why?

2. How has Betty Freidan’s perspective on homemaking influenced your life?

3. In what areas of your homemaking do you believe you need to be more diligent and responsible?

November 22, 2014
The Devotionals No. 3

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what does success in homeschooling look like?



One spring I was asked to address the graduating high school seniors at our church’s annual awards banquet. While I prepared my remarks, I kept coming back to the true meaning of success as I thought of each student I knew personally, many of them Christians with high ideals and starry-eyed goals for the future. What could I share that would inspire them, but also keep their feet on the ground so that the discouraging times I knew were coming would not result in the destruction of their faith? As I pulled a book of quotes off the shelf to consider what I might add to my presentation, I was surprised when a quickly written note I had scribbled on the back of an envelope came tumbling out. It read, “Success is obedience to the known, revealed will of God.”

Joshua 1:8 confirms this wonderful truth: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.” God’s will for us, as known and revealed to us in Scripture, holds the key to success!

Jesus made it even simpler for Christians to understand: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). According to Jesus, loving God and loving others are the marks of success!

Interestingly, nearly everyone, when asked, would quickly say that if they had to choose, success in relationships would win any day over career success. Even government studies that have been done to examine what makes American citizens the most happy have confirmed this: more than anything else, people want to be content in their relationships with each other! In fact, research presented in the American Economic Review (2004) concluded that “the conditions and experiences associated with people’s happiness are almost all ones that most Americans approved of heartily: strong marriages, close friendships, acts of charity and community service.”[1]

So, why do so many families approach the education of their children as though the opposite were true? Government-approved academic success, entrance into top universities followed by careers with six figure incomes, athletic accomplishments, and even the telltale signs of popularity like being the homecoming queen or head cheerleader are the stories that grace the pages of family newsletters and social media. These are often what motivate a family’s choice of school districts when shopping for a home. Their siren songs lull parents into believing that these are the steps to achieving parenting success. Though most of them do not actually believe that material wealth or job security triumph over happiness in relationships, they approach teaching and training their children as though they do.

Sadly, too often this is also the case with homeschooling families. Feeling the pressure to be accepted by friends or even confirm to disapproving family members that their educational choices are valid, moms and dads prioritize in the same way for their own children. Typically, the first question asked by new homeschoolers is, “What curriculum should we use?”, assuming that academic success ought to be the first priority. And yet, if happiness in life is most fully measured by the success of our relationships, why is it so rare to hear someone talk about the dynamics involved in building sound relationships, especially those based on the commands given in Scripture? Library shelves are full of books promoting man’s wisdom, but what about desiring to know what the Bible actually says about fulfilling the two greatest commandments? ~ from the Introduction to The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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the devotionals #2


In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His listeners: “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” ~ Matthew 7:11 “Jesus assumed that moms and dads, who are sinners by nature, will give good gifts to their children, using this thought to help us recognize the truth that God will not withhold any thing from us He deems is good. The difference is that because we are sinners, we sometimes have a difficult time discerning what those good gifts for our children might actually be! Join me as we consider some of those good gifts and just in time for Christmas!

Questions for reflection and discussion:

  1. Which of these suggestions do you see as the most needed by each of your children this year?
  2. Which of these gifts is the most difficult for you to give? Why?
  3. If you could go back 20 or 30 or 40 years, which of these gifts were missing in your own life? Which ones did your parents give to you in abundance? Which ones could you give to them at this time?

November 10, 2014
The Devotionals No. 2

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avoiding the holiday blues


Hands down, the most discouraging aspect of life, to me, is when we have been busy and the house gets cluttered. I have always longed to be one of those “place for everything and everything in its place” sort of people but this is more difficult the more people you have under one roof. Add to that the delight I find in reading not one but several books at one time, sticky flags and note cards piled high near a steaming cup of tea, and then include my craft projects, all on top of homeschooling mess, and, well, you get the picture.

While I have a desire to simplify my life, and have taken some pretty good steps toward doing that, the holidays bring their own set of clutter and chaos that add to holiday depression by default. Since our married children live so far away, when they are here during the holidays, I do not want to spend time doing the necessary housework when I could be playing with a grand baby. So, keeping ahead of the game is the solution that I have found works best for me. When I follow through on that plan and the house stays fairly tidy, I am not as prone to discouragement which can lead to depression.

Here are a few things I have found helpful:

1. I try to not allow any necessary chores to lag behind during the excitement of holiday activities. Since my laundry room is in the basement, “out of sight, out of mind” can too often rule the day. I have been trying to stay ahead of any laundry that needs to be done, being fully caught up right before company arrives. That way, if I have to go a couple days, it won’t cause anyone to be screaming “I am out of underwear” while guests are here!

2. I sit down right after Thanksgiving and plan a menu for the Christmas weeks. I start baking cookies, breakfast muffins, and quick breads and freeze them. In large disposable foil pans, I prepare family favorites like lasagna, chicken tetrazzini and homemade soups, labeling and freezing them, too. The week before Christmas, I make several cheese balls and wrap them in foil for late night snacking along with the large tray of summer sausage Aunt Ruth and Uncle Don typically send our direction! A couple days before the first company arrives, I dejunk the fridge and fill it with salad fixings, yogurt, and deli sandwich supplies, including Kosher dills and good mustards. I have large jars on my counter filled with a variety of cereals and homemade granola. I place baskets filled with a variety of teas and hot chocolate mixes on the counter next to a stack of holiday mugs, along with flavored creamers for coffee. All these things make it simple for moms to feed their little ones when they need to eat and allows for little time in the kitchen for me when I would rather spend it with my family. Since no one gets up at the same time, breakfast is also simple and easily prepared. And, of course, the cookies and quick breads are emptied from the freezer daily! Since I came upon these tricks, there is much less kitchen time for everyone.

3. In years past, we have tried to complete our Christmas shopping early, aside from my husband’s famous Christmas Eve stocking stuffer hunt, which he loves so I refrain from commenting and have learned to work around. When catalogs start arriving in September, I save ones that have interesting, educational items for kids and usually will shop from them online. They often offer days of free shipping, which is always nice if you need to buy gifts to send far away. This year we have drawn names among the children and their spouses, all of us only buying gifts for the little ones. The last few years, it took us all so long to open presents on Christmas morning that we needed to have a different plan. I am actually quite excited this year and because it gives each person just one person to consider, I think the thoughtfulness with the gifts this year will be really special. Since over spending at Christmas can lead to a lot of frustration and depression when the bills come in January, having a budget and staying within it can be a life saver.

4. Usually Clay and I are in bed before any of the children are these days, so I use the early morning hours to tidy up the house, keeping clutter at bay, and cleaning bathrooms, etc. It feels good to greet everyone with these chores done, especially guests.

5. My husband usually saves personal days and vacation time to take during the Christmas holidays and we look forward to this all year. We do not schedule a lot of activities during December but do like to invite friends and family in for dinner and board games and we love attending a Christmas concert or two. The last few years, since we have added daughters-in-law to the family, I like to schedule a time to take just the girls to lunch or a girl movie with whomever is here. Clay likes to do an outing with the guys, too, and we also like to take just grandchildren somewhere so the siblings can have a great visit while we spoil the little ones! By not filling the holidays with too much stuff or too many events, we are all able to enjoy real time and real conversation, which means making real memories.

6. Family traditions can trigger many of the things that bring back memories that are painful. While I believe traditions are good, we also need to be creating new traditions. If you or your husband grew up in a difficult home, this is particularly important. As you grow together as a couple and you raise your own family, there is an organic nature to what you will do regarding Christmas. Your own traditions will come about naturally as you all serve one another. You also have to remember that one of your goals is to establish a pattern for your own children so they will do the same when they are in their own households. Clay and I spent 3 Christmases and Thanksgivings in Germany with no extended family and it was a wonderful time for us to establish our own traditions. I can remember being so blessed when I got a letter from my mom and dad one year, telling me about their trip alone to the Christmas tree farm. While it was a little bittersweet to read, it also blessed me to know that the two of them were still a family!

7. And, above all, Christmas is a time to reflect on the relationship we have with Jesus Christ. What meaning is there to family or Christmas celebrations without contemplating the wonder of the manger and the power of the cross? A few years ago I bought a Little People nativity set and placed it on the coffee table so I could have those conversations with little ones. Keeping a continual song in our hearts can be done by having continuous Christ-centered music playing in our homes during the holidays.

I would love to hear what others do to make the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays a time of blessedness and encouragement.

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the blessings of reading the Bible



“We love God when we love His Word. God has told us Himself all of the benefits of Scripture and gives us many precious promises through it. Listen to just some of the blessings of reading the Bible: believing and obeying God’s Word keeps us pure; it protects us from falling and keeps us from sinning, it is more valuable than all riches; it protects our hearts from worthless things; when we know it and obey it, we won’t be put to shame; it is the means to giving us life; it is our hiding place and a shield for us; it gives light; it imparts wisdom to the simple; it redeems us from oppression; it tells us of the wondrous works God has done; it makes known all His deeds among all the peoples for all generations; it leads us in worship and fills our hearts with the joy of the Lord; it is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. The Bible is to be our source of wisdom as we go about our daily lives. It was literally God-breathed, and was given for teaching what is right and true about God, for challenging us when we sin, for correcting us and for training us in “whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8) (KJV). ” ~ from The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling ~ when the one anothers come home

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the gift of Asperger’s



Our son, Will, turned 26 a couple months ago. Our fifth born, he devours history, enjoys all kinds of music, and remembers random details better than anyone I know. He likes to tinker with electronic equipment, loves Mexican food, and has a great sense of humor. He also has a brain that is wired in such a way that he can discern the subtle differences between communism and socialism but cannot make change for a dollar!

When Will was a little boy, my husband would often say he felt like the man with the yellow hat in the Curious George books….Will was curious! He had boundless energy and asked “why” to everything and did shenanigans that none of our other children ever even thought of doing. We had to put bolt locks at the top of all the doors to outside so he wouldn’t escape and if we weren’t watching him at the playground, he would climb to the top of the largest slide and stand up hollering, “Look, no hands.” Once, when we thought he was playing nicely in his room, he was actually lighting a camping lantern, setting our home on fire.

During those early years, we really didn’t have any labels for what was going on with Will, we just continued to observe him and use the teaching methods that worked best for him. When he was eventually able to read, it opened up all sorts of doors for learning and he loved to research, first pouring over our growing personal library of real books and then online. If he had a particular interest, we used that to teach him other necessary skills.

But some of his personal frustrations continued to baffle us. Solutions from others ran the gamut, from those who handed us To Train Up A Child because they thought he needed firm, corporal punishment to those who recommended medications. Once we even heard a “counselor” at a Bill Gothard conference say that visitors from foreign countries can carry demons on personal items they might bring into your home, causing me to consider whether or not visiting missionaries might have been the cause of demons possessing my sweet little boy! This tells you how desperate we felt!

It wasn’t until I watched a few episodes of Parenthood on television at the recommendation of my daughter that I began to understand Will. On this show, one of the children, Max, has Asperger’s and I was amazed at so many similarities to Will. In one story line, Max is distressed when he comes back to middle school at the end of the summer to discover that the candy vending machines have been removed. He sees this as a terrible personal injustice and one that came without warning. In a piece of masterful scriptwriting, his response continues for several episodes while the viewers’ irritation and frustration with Max grows. It was exactly what we saw and really continue to see with Will many times. It put me on a search for dealing specifically with children and young adults on the Asperger’s spectrum, which has resulted in so much more understanding and real tools for bringing peace to our home.

In looking back over our journey with a son with special needs, I have come to terms with several things:

I think one of the most important things I have learned is that it is OK to be frustrated, Ok to not have all the answers, and OK to admit both! It continually brings me to the foot of the cross where I pour out those frustrations and sadness and even guilt that is always part of the equation. I am not perfect and do not always respond the way I should but I have learned the power of asking our son for forgiveness, of showing him how much he is loved, both in word and deed, and how to make him feel safe always.

People can be really unkind. I have struggled in bad situations more times than I would like to remember, adults typically being much worse than children. One time a mother told me how frightened other parents were of my son because he was “different” and felt he was a threat. No specifics, just a “feeling they had.” Another time an elder had come to church without his family because they were all home sick. Will waited patiently while the man talked to everyone else who came up to speak with him, giving Will irritated looks the whole time. Will finally said “I am so sorry your family is sick today. I will pray for them this week.” I man looked a bit chagrinned and then turned and walked away. Years later that same elder dealt harshly with a number of families in the church and I was not surprised. I have learned to measure the character of people by how they treat Will and I am never wrong. I have recognized that I am my son’s greatest advocate and that is more important than trying to fix those who are ignorant and mean.

God is sovereign in all things, including the past, present, and future of my son. I will never know how his brain came to be the way it is! Was it before birth? Did it happen during a rough delivery? Was it the result of a bad reaction to vaccinations? I do not know but I do know that the Lord has plans for him, and really for all of us, that are for good and not for evil. I can already see how God has used it all for His glory and anticipate the same in years to come. I have come to terms with the not knowing and have grieved over the what-if’s and the might-have-beens. Will’s special needs have changed me, have changed all of us who love him, for the good!

Homeschooling has been a Godsend for a special needs child. I cannot even imagine what life could have been like for Will if we had placed him in our local public school system. Because we have followed his needs and learning curves, he has been able to grow and learn without being compared to other children. He has been in a safe environment where the whole family loves him and is committed to him. As he continues to learn at home, we all are learning about life, about subjects that interest him, about Asperger’s, and about the world around us from a viewpoint not everyone shares.

One afternoon, my husband shared a story with me about a man he used to work with. When his son was born with special needs, the man and his wife were devastated and didn’t know how they could ever cope with this boy in their home. Then the man said that in his later years, facing retirement with a middle-aged son, he and his wife couldn’t imagine how they ever could have lived without him! This is exactly how we feel and thank God very single day, even on the really difficult days, for the honor of being Will’s parents!

This article originally appeared on Sallie Borrink Learning where you can find many more articles addressing children who learn in unique ways!

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the devotionals #1


King’s Canyon National Park, California

The word devotion itself connotes loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity, constancy, commitment, allegiance, and dedication. It expresses fondness, love, admiration, affection, and care as in living a life of devotion. Join me as I begin a series of podcasts intended to build up moms and dads in their devotion to the Lord, each other, and their children! If you prefer, there are transcripts of each podcast in the articles menu, along with questions for reflection and discussionfor each program!

Questions for reflection and discussion:

1.  Consider a time when some came alongside you and encouraged you. How did it change your perspective or situation?

2.  Did you grow up in a home that was encouraging or not encouraging? What were the fruits of that that you see in your life today? How have you repeated that or changed that in your own home?

3.  Identify 2 or 3 people you know who are struggling in some way. How can you reach out and encourage them in very practical ways this week?

November 1, 2014
The Devotionals No. 1

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what homeschooling moms really want



Aretha is singing my song. Is she singing yours?

What I do as a full time wife, mom, and homeschooling teacher is worthy of respect. To expect anything less is training my children or my husband or even those outside my home to not value what the Lord has given to me during this season of my life.

I sometimes hear moms lament that they don’t feel valued in what they are doing but then I ask:

“Do you place a value on what you are doing?”

“Do you expect others to demonstrate that value by taking your job seriously?”

“Do you see all your past experiences and learning as preparation for what you are doing now?”

“Do you also see this particular time in your life as preparation for where the Lord is leading you next?”

It is easy to lose sight of the value of what we are doing in the here and now because we don’t see it as part of the grand scope of God’s working in our lives. We become so centered on the struggles of daily life that we forget that the Lord is working in us to do of His good pleasure. The things that happen in my life today are just one small thread of the big tapestry He is weaving in human history and it is valuable to Him.

I have learned that receiving respect from others also requires giving respect to others. I have a friend whose life has taken her on a very different path than mine has. She has traveled all over the country representing her company and the Lord has given her opportunities that are different than the ones He has given to me. When I see her I always sincerely want to know what He has been teaching her and, in turn, she asks me the same things. She respects me as a full time mom and homeschooler and it is our mutual respect for each other that has made our friendship one that I value. A few years ago when her single sister-in-law was dying of cancer, she placed everything else in her life on hold to care for this dear woman at home, giving me one more reason to respect and honor my friend.

Often it is difficult to show respect to others, especially to our own parents or other family members. Many people were raised in homes where physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, or spiritual abuse was a daily occurrence. For some it continues even into the adult years and desiring to reverse these horrendous patterns in our families was part of the impetus for homeschooling in the first place.

Years ago I heard a well-known youth conference speaker being interviewed on Christian radio. The man told terrible stories about his own parents, tales of his embarrassment of them and their abusive behavior toward him all through his childhood. But rather than present a testimony of God’s grace and goodness in his life, the man demonstrated the spirit of Ham, pulling his parent’s pants down and exposing their sin rather than covering it over with love and respect simply because they were his parents. (Genesis 9:20-25)

I struggled with this temptation myself at times; it was difficult to care for an elderly parent who suffered with dementia. I found myself resentful and impatient. It was then that I was caught up short by Paul’s words to the Philippians church: “Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:1-3

And herein lies the truth about respect. I am only worthy of respect because of what the Lord has done in me and continues to do in me. All my own righteousness is like a filthy rag: contemptible, worthless. It is when I recognize that God alone provides for me and works in my life, sanctifying me and making me into the likeness of His son, that without His righteousness and mercy, I would not be respectable at all!

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