Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Year I Reeeallly Want To Call It Quits

This homeshooling thing is not easy.  

It is definitely one of the hardest things I have ever done.  

I was married at 18, mom to 2 by 21.  I have raised children and served my husband for half my life.  I know how to make $100 last longer than humanly possible.  I know how to do without. I can teach a Sunday school class like it's nobody's business, and when it comes to whipping up supper when all you have is frozen chicken and a drop of milk, I am the queen.  I have sold real estate with a baby on my hip, and planned Disney vacations down to the minute.

But yall, nothing could have prepared me for what this homeschooling gig would require of me.  

I have never felt so poured out in all my life, yet at the same exact time I feel so useless.  And just like Simcha says, It isn't really the pouring out that bothers me.  It is more the guilt and worry I have over how pitiful of a job I am doing that gets me when I lay my head down at night.  

I struggle with not starting by 8am which of course is what good homeschoolers do.  I struggle with the amount of learning that these 2 are doing and are capable of.  Am I doing enough, teaching enough, inspiring enough?  I struggle with the commitment level that comes in the teenager package.  We have theater, piano, co-op, etc...  I struggle with the co-op commitment I have made to my 5 best friends in the whole wide world, "Teach your children writing and world history, oh sure no problem." 

But, if we are being real here, all of those things are secondary.  The cold hard truth is this....

I want to be drinking coffee at the local cafe.

I want to watch 8 hours of Little House on the Prairie, uninterrupted, and pretend I am Ma. (She never complains...heifer.)

I want to have my supper cooked by 9:00 am and then head to town to rummage through the sales racks at Marshall's because I have nothing else to do.

I want to have warm cookies on the table when my girls come in from school and hear all about the happenings.

I want to garden all day.

I want to put somebody down for a nap....ANYBODY!!!!

The cold hard truth is that it is ALL.ABOUT.ME!!!!

But hasn't it always been this way?  Since the fall hasn't it always been about us?  Remember the Israelites in the wilderness?  I always say that I was born in the wrong generation and really should have been a pioneer (like Ma....I am such a poser), but the truth of the matter is I should have been an Israelite.  No sooner than God himself delivered them from slavery and torture, they would like to know how much longer they had to walk, and hey what about some food, and we are thirsty, and no, we don't like manna THAT IS MIRACULOUSLY FALLING FROM THE SKY we would rather have some meat.  The Lord God had just parted the Red Sea AND THEY WALKED THROUGH IT to safety from the Egyptians who were torturing them, yet they were complaining!!

And if I am being honest today that is exactly where I am at.   That is exactly what I am doing.  The Lord God parts the Red Sea in my life for me to walk through to safety DAILY, yet I forget as quickly as those Israelites did.

I am tired of this mundane life of raising children.  I want more.  I want to please myself.  I want to do what I want to do.  

And that, my friends, is what keeps me going down this road.  I need to be broken, daily.  I need the Lord to remind me of why I do what I do.  And homeschooling these folks He has left in my care is about the fastest way to be broken that I know of.

Homeschooling is turbo speed down sanctification highway.

There is no other occupation, no other life's work, that will break you and keep you on your knees like homeschooling will.

And yes, I fail....alot of days.  No, we aren't in college yet, and no we don't really study Latin.  But day after day after day after day, I am laying my life down for these girls....just like Christ laid down His life for me.  I am praying that somehow they will see Christ in me.  Because isn't that really what our job here is?  Isn't our purpose really to lead our children to Christ, to guide them in His way and teach them?  Isn't it really to raise them up in the way that they should go, so that when they are old they will not depart from it?   I think it is.  And that is why I don't give up.  

I don't give up.  Even though it is February and the sun hasn't shown its gorgeous face in months, we haven't been outside in days, everyone is ready for something new, and all we want is summer.  I don't give up.  I don't call it quits.  {But I do start researching curriculums...its February for crying out loud.}

Lord, please let this work I am doing here on this Earth please you somehow.  Let it in some way be a tool that draws these precious girls to you.  Lord, I pray that you will break me and use me for your purposes here in this house day after day.  I am imperfect and I am ungrateful.  I am resentful and I am  lazy, but Lord you are MORE.  Please use me for your purposes and remind me of why I am here and how important this work is.  I want to do your work Lord.  Amen.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2014: LISTEN

Happy 2014 Everyone!!  I have not been nearly as diligent in blogging as I have wanted to be this year.  And even several times I have thought about saying goodbye.  But somehow this space just feels like home to me, and I am not ready to let it go.  I just have so much to tell you!!!!!  Here is the first thing...

I couldn't wait to share my WORD for 2014 with you.  Im sure you have seen all the hype of the Word of The Year.  If not, you can visit here for all the details.  This will be my 5th year participating, and I can tell you it is life changing folks!!  Here are my previous years' words:





Each year I have been completely transformed by these words, so I have to keep it up.  It is amazing to me to look back and see all the Lord has done in my life through this one tradition.  So here is my word for 2014...

This year I want to LISTEN yall.  

I want to really LISTEN.  

I don't want to just hear.  No, I want to hear and LISTEN.

Listen first to God and the Holy Spirit living inside of me.    But how if I'm doing all the talking?  Jesus tells us in John 10:27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me."   Have mercy.   I think alot of times I do HEAR Him, but I don't LISTEN to Him.  There is a difference.  I hear Him, but I have already committed to what He is urging me not to do, or I really want to do something else, or I am lazy, or I am selfish, or I am angry, or I am scared.  Oh, I hear Him allright.  I just don't listen.  This year I want to LISTEN to Him.  I want Him to say, "Kellye hears my voice, and she knows Me, and I know her and she follows Me."

Secondly, I want to listen to my husband.  I have such a hard time with this one because 2 of my biggest faults is that I am a control freak, and I may or may not always sometimes think I am always right.  Terrible, I know.  And the worst part is that the truth is I have control over NOTHING (why can't I just understand that?) and my husband is usually the one I end up admitting my wrong-ness to.  He is not perfect, but his perspective and his filters are more clear and heavenward than mine are.  He does alot of listening (when nobody else is).  He has a big picture mindset, while I tend to be stuck right where I am.  On google maps he is the bird's eye view guy, and me, well,  I am all about the street view!  But how about when you are on street view you CANT SEE ANYTHING!!!!  Wow!!  That is powerful when you think about it!!  I want to listen to this man.  Seek his guidance.  He is a wise man that the Lord has ordained over our family.   He always tells me, "You're mouth is doing this (insert the pac man hand of a talking mouth), when you need to be doing this (insert pac man hand CLOSED)."  I told you he is a wise fella!!  And he is a cutie to boot!!  Goodness I love him more than words!!!!

Thirdly, I want to listen to my children.  My girls are getting older, which means that the idea that I am just going to tell them what to do, and they will respond like robots is just fading fast.  As it should.  I want them to think for themselves.  And instead of being a tyrant, I want to be a shepherd.  I want them to know that I understand, that I am listening, that they can trust me, and that I hear them.  Because we homeschool, we are together all. the. time.  This is a tremendous blessing, but a huge responsibility.  The responsibility falls on me to capture these days, and make them mean something.   The day is coming, sooner than I would like to think, that all I will have is memories of these days.  I want to make sure I am taking every single opportunity to point them to Christ, find teachable moments, and make memories with these girls who are so precious to me.  Once a friend told me of a lady whom she adored who once told her that children are the only earthly possessions you can take with you to heaven.  Wow!!!  Did you hear that?  Let me repeat it again, in case you are just skimming.

 Children are your only earthly possessions 
you can take with you to heaven.

I want you to hear that, but not just hear it, to listen to it.  Seriously.  Our children are the only earthly possessions we can take with us to heaven.  That is something worth listening to!!!!  I mean write that down and tape it to your mirror for crying out loud!

Lord, please give me the wisdom to listen to these girls, meet them where they are, and point them to you!!  They are my only earthly possessions I can take with me to heaven.

In all this listening, I think I am going to be a very busy girl.  

In order to keep my focus, here are some things that I won't be listening to this year.

  • that smarmy voice inside my head that tells me I am not enough.

  • others who offer advice that goes against what I know to be true.

  • homeschool families that convince me (unknowingly) that I need to do exactly what they are doing.

  • the scale.  Like ever!!  Not even one time this year.

  • My heart.  It is such a wild and impressionable thing.  I don't want it to influence my decisions.  I have to keep that thing in check!

I hope your 2014 is full of blessings BIG and SMALL.  Sometimes our biggest blessings are the smallest things in our lives.  Count them.  Count them all.  And listen with me as we journey together to figure out this walk we are on and where the road is taking us!!!

Love you all,


Saturday, February 16, 2013

How The Shopping Goes Around Here!!

So in case you missed any of the fun, I am doing a 4 week quickie schooling on how I grocery shop, what I buy, and what I cook, for some sweet ladies at my church.  I thought I would share it here too, so that someone else may be blessed as well.

If you missed Part One or Part Two you can check them out, and next week we will wrap up with some of my all time favorite go to recipes!!!!

So, for today, lets go shopping and plan our menus shall we??

First, let me say a few things about grocery shopping.  I used to be very technical with a fancy list and my coupons and it was all organized by aisles and certainly if you can do that, you have the key to my heart.  It's just that these last few years, I am on a limited time crunch for doing my shopping.  Since we homeschool, if I want to go alone, I usually do it while my girls are at piano or at choir.  I have about an hour and a half for each, so I am more like Supermarket Sweep, less like the leisurely shopper.  

Do you know how hard it is to shop for 2 weeks and get back to pick your kids up in an hour and a half.  I can't tell you how many times I have hidden my buggy in the clothes at Walmart, gone to pick up my kids, and then returned to check out!!!  ITS TORTURE!!!

That is why I started shopping the sales!!!

If you shop the sales, you can create your list right there in your car in about 5 seconds by just circling on the sale paper.  Now, most stores put all their sale items in one section so I can be a calm, leisurely shopper again!!  That's good stuff!!!  

So, here is what I am after....

Just for example purposes, lets use this week's Winn Dixie paper!!  I know that some of you don't have a Winn Dixie, but that is where I do most of my shopping, so just substitute it for the store whose sale papers you are perusing this week.

So this week at Winn Dixie (you can view the sales paper here) here is what I like:

First, lets start with meat.  

This is the only way that I buy meat from a grocery store.  Winn Dixie has good meat (not grass fed or all natural, but for the most part good).  When it goes on sale I will stock up.  Luckily it goes on sale every couple of weeks.  This means that you will be able to spend the bulk of your budget on meat one week, and then just buy snacks and sides for the next couple.  I also need to add that my husband is a big deer hunter, so we always have ground venison and sausage coming out of our ears.  We also have a pond so if we are in the mood for fish, we catch them!  

So this week I see their boneless chuck roasts are on sale for $2.99/lb.  That is good but not great.  Sometimes, very rarely they will go on sale, B1G1 and I will buy 2, getting 2 free.  That will stock my freezer with 4 roasts which could lasts months if I play my cards right.  We are out right now and my family is begging, so I may take a look.  If I can get them for less than $10 each I would buy one.  

I would most definitely buy their bone in, center cut pork chops.  They are B1G1 and fried pork chops are a staple here (recipe will be on my list next week). So yes, please, 2 packs, giving me 4 packs of pork chops.  For around $10, I will be able to get meat for 4 meals for my family.

I also see, split chicken breasts B1G1.  I would not buy these because they do have a bone and skin. You pay by weight so that isn't really a deal.  I would  pass and wait for the boneless skinless!!

Their Smithfield Bacon is $3.99 each so I would probably buy a pack.  Not a stock up price, but for the grease alone, if your cup is running low, I would buy!!! (You do have a cup of grease int the back of your fridge don't you??  If not buy bacon and save the grease.  It will change your life!!)

We live in Louisiana, so it is just NOT OKAY to buy seafood from Winn matter how good of a deal it is.  I buy seafood fresh in bulk usually at the beginning of the summer.  I may spend $100 but I will have shrimp and crab for the year!!!  If you don't have access to fresh seafood, I would suggest a seafood market or Whole Foods.  If you look closely most of what your local store is going to sell is going to be from Mexico, China, or Phillipines.  No thank you!!!  You want fresh gulf seafood! TRUST ME!!!

So meat is slim pickings this week.  For me, that means that we will rely heavily on what we already have, do a salad of some sort one night, have pizza night, and a soup night.  Then we will hope that there is more meat on sale next time.  Because this is a slim week on meat, it means that a  good one is coming.  For instance, my last grocery trip this is what I scored in the meat department:

2 pork sirloin roasts
2 pork loins (the big ones)
2 packs of boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 packs of boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 packs of baby back ribs

You see how its weighted???  Slim and then jackpot!!!

So now lets move on to dry goods.  Here is what I see that I would buy:

Quaker, Kelloggs, or General Mills Cereal B1G1 (buy 2 get 2 free, cereal for a month)
Vlasic pickles B1G1 (great snacks for the kids)
Lance crackers B1G1 (I love these for snacks...they are $3 B1G1 so stock up...$1.50 each)
Hunts Ketchup (this is our brand of ketchup, so at B1G1 I would stock up...$1.50 each!!!!)
Winn Dixie Charcoal B1G1 (8.3lbs for $5.49, that is $2.25 each on sale. That will start us off for the warm weather coming!)
Pop Secret popcorn B1G1
Canned Veggies 59 cents per can (If I needed veggies, I would buy)

Now onto fresh fruits and veggies:  I have to say that I try to buy my fruits and veggies local.  I also only buy what is in season, so I will pass on deals because of that, but I will list what I would buy for you here!

Strawberries B1G1 (if you don't live near local strawberries this would be a buy for me)
Cabbage 39 cents per pound (I would buy 2, 3, or maybe 4 cabbages)

Now onto frozen:

Gorton's Fish Sticks B1G1 (I would buy this for sure!!  44 fish sticks for $3.50 per bag!  LUNCH!!)
Ore Ida Hashbrown Potatoes B1G1 (I have a great potato casserole recipe, I would buy this deal for sure and keep the potatoes on hand for the next dinner on the grounds or pot luck supper we go to!!
TGI Fridays Buffalo Wings B1G1 (my kids love these and for $2.25 each that is a no brainer.  I don't buy them often, but will surprise them with these for lunch one day!!)

Okay, so now that we know everything we need that is on sale, I make my menu.  And I start with what I have gotten on sale.  I very technically (lol) write down the days for the next week or 2 until I come back shopping and then just fill in the blanks.  We know we have a roast, pork chops, and bacon in the meat department.  I know that is going to be roast and rice and gravy with vegetables and cornbread one night, fried pork chops with sides one night, and if I have potatoes then I would put potato soup on the menu to use my bacon.  Remember, you want to include a soup, a pizza night (recipe coming next week), and maybe a breakfast for supper night.  That will stretch your groceries like you wouldn't believe!!  So, here is what my super technical menu looks like so far...

If you have a shift working husband or a weekend working husband, you may want to shuffle these meals around a little.  I always make sure that I cook something on week nights that he can take for lunch the next day, and if he is working weekends, I wouldn't do the pizza or breakfast at night because neither is a re-heater!!  But, sometimes, you can make enough to have 2 leftover servings so he can take the meal twice.  I try to keep those things in mind as I cook.  Maybe 2 cans of green beans instead of one or mashed potatoes for your side (something that makes alot).  You get it!!!   Okay, so Wednesday night, we eat at church and Sunday......hmmmm, oh Sunday!!  Sundays are tough because we need to be able to eat it make it on Saturday or use a crockpot, eat it for lunch, dinner, and my hubby is gonna have to take it for lunch one day the following week, so it needs to make alot!!!  This is a great day for spaghetti, lasagna, soups, gumbo, red beans and rice, something like that!!   I think this week I will do gumbo.  Its supposed to be cold and I have the chicken thighs that were on sale last week!! I will post the recipe next week so that you can see how easy a gumbo is!!  

So, that is a week of dinners.  If you are like me, you shop in 2 week increments, so we have a week to go.  I would do something with pork chops the next week, another soup, pizza night get it.  I have a great go to Pork Chop Casserole recipe I will make, we bought cabbages, so Cabbage Soup is a must, and Friday night is Pizza and Shark Tank Night over here, so that is easy!

Now for the remainder of nights we will have to get creative.  Hmmmm, what is in our freezer already?  Is there a birthday party on Saturday that we will eat at?  Could we go out to eat one night?   What about poboys?  And we haven't done a salad.  If you had chicken, you could do a grilled chicken salad,  or ground meat you could do taco salad??  I have a ham frozen from the week before Christmas when they went on sale for so cheap.  I think I will bake it on Saturday, and then use the leftovers for Red Beans and Rice on Sunday!! Now we have this for the second week!!

Those are the things I think about after I have the sale items circled in my car while I sit in the parking lot of the grocery store!  Then I add the items I need to my list that is hodgepodged in the margin of the front page of the sale paper!!  I won't buy too many off the wall ingredients, or cook something that requires a bunch of ingredients that I don't have.  If you do that you are just shooting yourself in the foot.  All your hard work of circling the sale items will be washed away with the oodles of extras you are adding to the list.  

Now all that is left is breakfast and lunch!!!  We know that we have Fish Sticks and Hot Wings, so we have at least 4 meals from that for lunch.  I always keep peanut butter and jelly, cheese slices for grilled cheese, and of course leftovers when we have them.  So lets plug those in!!  I am just showing one week at a time, but you get it, right??  Our other week will look the same!!

Now breakfast, well, we know we have cereal coming out of our ears, so that is a for sure for a couple of mornings.  But we don't want to get carried away and blow through the boxes all at once.  We want them to last.  Remember how I told you in the very first post that I am a rationer!!  I am a total Rationer!!  I want my stuff to last!!  I am sure that like me, you always have eggs, oatmeal, grits, ooooh, we bought bacon, and maybe we can do muffins.  I will add that to my list!!

So there!!  Our menu for 2 weeks is DONE!!!  And for snacks, well we did get the Lance Crackers, the popcorn, and pickles.  I always keep graham crackers, vanilla wafers, pretzels, puddings, and I encourage fruit as much as I can depending on what is in season.  Right now everyone is SO TIRED of oranges!!  That is all we really have this time of year!!  Strawberries and blueberries, and blackberries, and peaches, and plums will be such a welcomed treat in just a few months!!  I also keep all of my baking staples in my pantry so I can make Rice Krispy treats, cookies, chocolate pies, fried pies, and things like that both for snacks and treats!!

So, once you add your bread, milk, and whatever else you need to your grocery list, you are ready!!! 

I hope this helped somehow to anyone who may stumble over here and read it!!!  

Next week, I will be posting all of my recipes, Lord willing, that I have talked about during this series and maybe a few more!!  And if you have any go to recipes, please share them with us too!!!!  You can post them on your blog and leave a link in the comments!!  I am always looking for recipes!!!

See you next week!!



Friday, February 8, 2013

My Pantry Breakdown

Sadly, I had a very cute post all ready to send and I hit the undo button and NOW ITS GONE!!!  Never fear, I won't leave you hanging.  You just won't get all the bells and whistles, sadly!!!!  But the bones, and the reason you are here, are still here!!  

So the first thing I would like to share with you is how I stock my pantry.  I believe that with a well stocked pantry, you can really make something out of nothing.  

So lets begin with WHAT I NEVER BUY!!!

I think all of these things are self explanatory, but in case not, I will just quickly say that I never buy individually pre-packaged junk food if there is another way to buy it.  It is just so much more expensive and lasts half as long.  I always look for the biggest size of whatever it is I'm buying {Cheez Its, Goldfish} and go that route.  My kids know that if they want a snack they will get a handful in a ziploc snack bag.  Things last sooooo much longer this way.  They really do!!  

As far as candy goes, we have Easter candy, Valentines candy, Halloween candy....  Good grief, there is no reason to buy it!  Plus it is astronomical in cost!  Just don't do it.  

Cokes are just a No No around here.  They are terrible for you, are outrageously priced, and just make no sense to me.  We drink sweet tea, water, milk, and OJ, and that is pretty much it.  Nobody seems to mind!  While I'm talking about drinks, let me say that individual pre-packaged drinks are just as bad as the junk food.  $3.00 for 8 pouches of sugar water.  Kool Aid is 50 cents and it makes a gallon!!  Come on....

Finally, paper towels.  I know that plenty of people are thinking I am crazy right now for not buying paper towels, but I challenge you to try it.  I promise you will not miss them.  We just use dish rags for spills or what have you and cloth napkins for meals {if we use anything at all}.  The good paper towels are like $8.00 for 4 rolls...CRAZY!!  I think if you try it, you won't ever miss them for a moment!!!

So, by cutting these things out of your grocery shopping budget, I think you could easily save $20-$30/month.  I think its definitely worth a try.  Remember, the more you save on things that don't matter the more you can spend on things that do....Blue Bell Ice Cream, Oreos, Laughing Cow cheese....did I say that out loud?????

So, okay, that is what I don't buy. So what do I buy.  Well, it just depends.  Usually I buy what is on sale. More on that next time.  And let me just say right now that I don't shop all organic, but I do try to buy local and products of the USA as much as I can.  We do have a garden and I rely heavily on our own produce, especially in the summer months.  I don't like Walmart but sometimes I do have to shop there and I am over feeling guilty about it.  Anything else??  No, okay, back to what I was saying....

I believe that a well stocked pantry solves a lot of stress at 5:30pm.  If you have a well stocked pantry you can literally make something out of nothing in 30 minutes.  Anytime!  So here are the must haves that I keep stocked.

stocked (adj.) - Ready supply of something at all times.
Usually in quantities of more than one of each.

Baking Powder 
All-Purpose Flour (at least 3 bags at all times)
Baking Soda
Powdered Sugar
Brown Sugar
Chocolate Chips
Yeast (pizza is a great go to recipe, yeast is for your crust)
Velveeta Block (I know its fake cheese, but it sure is good)
Worcestershire Sauce (love this as a substitute for anything)
Vegetable Oil
Non-stick cooking spray 
BBQ Sauce
Peanut Butter
Spaghetti Sauce
Canned Tomatos
Canned Beans (Bush's Baked Beans especially)
Canned Tuna
Salad Dressing (salads are a great last minute meal)
Garlic Powder
Chili Powder
Tony's or Season All
Black Pepper
Vanilla Extract
Jello Instant Pudding
Tea bags (we drink alot of sweet tea over here so I keep plenty)
The Trophy Mom Diaries is where I got my base for my pantry list.  She also recommends keeping the ingredients for your family's favorite 5 meals stocked in your pantry.  Great idea!!!
I would recommend slowly stocking your pantry one sale at a time.  Over time you will find that you are stocked and ready for anything.  There are a few refrigerator/freezer items that I am never without too...
Pie crusts
frozen broccoli (big bag or several small bags)
frozen okra (big bag or several small bags)
Oreo pie crust
eggs (we have chickens so that is never a problem)
Jiffy cornbread (its endless what you can do with this stuff)


So, now that you know what needs to go in your pantry, next we will get busy stocking it.  I will show you how I shop and what I buy and when.  Hopefully I can give you some pointers that will help you and not be overwhelming.  

Go clean out those pantries, and we will meet back here next week!!!!



Tuesday, February 5, 2013

This Southern Girl's Kitchen

I have been asked several times in the last few months to share my meal planning shananigans.  While planning how I feed my family {these folks like to eat} is something I almost do instinctively, I have become aware of how it may not come so naturally to other moms out there.  I am certainly no Giada or Pioneer Woman, but I do find myself to fall somewhere between Caroline Ingalls and Minnie Jackson {from The Help} with a little Paula Deen streak...especially when it comes to the amount of butter I keep stocked in my refrigerator.  I cook 3 meals a day for my family and try my best to do so in the most cost effective way I know how...the way my Mom and my Grandmother taught me.  I shop the local sales and plan my meals around them.  I even plan our snacks and make most everything from scratch.  That makes meals super cheap and super yummy!!!  I am unsure if this will be helpful to anyone else out there, but several ladies in my church have asked me to share, so I thought sharing here may prove to be helpful to you too!!

So for the next few weeks, Lord willing, I am going to tell you more than you probably ever wanted to know.  I will do my best to give you a run down of how I do things over here and finish up with some of my tried and true recipes that I cook over and over and over again.  I hope this may shed some light on a new way of thinking about groceries, grocery shopping, and meals, and may even show you ways to slash your grocery bill...hey who knows!!!!

The first post will come this weekend and will be a breakdown of my pantry...what I keep stocked, what I never buy, and how just a few things will secure meals for you when you are out of time and money!!!

Sadly, my pantry does not look like this....

Too bad huh???  I will give you a sneak peak of my not so lovely pantry next time!!!

Hope you come back!!!



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