Monday, November 28, 2011

Practicing the Fruit of the Spirit

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"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."  Galatians 5:22-23

I wish that I could say that exhibiting the Fruit of the Spirit comes naturally to our family. That we show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control all day long with smiles on our faces.

Unfortunately, that's not the case. We are imperfect, sinful  people.  Some days, it's much easier to display anything but the fruits.  And if we allow habits of ungodliness to take root, that becomes the norm.  But since we love God, desire to serve Him faithfully, and teach our children how to live godly lives, we must do our best to exhibit these fruits and make that the norm for our lives. And if you're like our family, that takes practice.

There are many fun ways to incorporate practicing the Fruits in your home, but when I stumbled upon this one over at Smockity, I thought this would be a fun way to encourage Fruit in our home. And not just for the kids...but for Mom and Dad too!

First, I printed this template and wrote all the fruits inside the grapes.  Then, I printed it onto colorful paper, put a name on each one, and hung them on the wall in the family room.

Next, we all went over each fruit and made sure that the younger ones knew what each one meant and what it looks like in every day life.  For example, when they sit quietly at the table, waiting for their meal, they're showing patience.  Or when an older sibling helps a younger one, they're showing kindness.  When they sit quietly in church, they're showing self-control, etc. 

When a family member sees someone else displaying a fruit, they get a sticker to place over that fruit.  And once we fill up all the fruits, we'll do something special as a family. 

The kids were very excited about doing this, and it really motivated them to "practice" these fruits.  Plus, they had a fun goal to work toward.  Everyday, I had kids coming to me and telling me how someone showed a particular fruit.  It was wonderful!  The kids were encouraging one another...and making a concerted effort to show the fruits throughout the day. 

Conversely, when someone was impatient, or not sharing, or speaking unkind words, all I had to ask was, "How can you show a fruit of the spirit in this situation?"  And the tone would change.  In most cases, a gentle reminder was enough to get back on track.  Likewise, we also gave the children permission to respectfully remind us when we were not displaying the fruits.  And they did.  ;-) 

Well, as you can see in the photo above, we've completed all the charts.  We gave the kids several choices of family activities and took a vote.  It looks like we'll be having "Make-your-own-Sundae Night" with all the fixings soon.

It's amazing how "practicing" the fruits can change the dynamics of your day and keep us focused on Christ.  We plan on printing more of these and starting over again.  I'll also be looking into other fun ways for our family to practice the fruits.

It's your turn.....and I need more ideas!  How do you teach the Fruit of the Spirit to your children.  How do you incorporate "practice" into your day?  Share here in the comments.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Reader Question: Christmas Gifts

christmas present wrap

First, I'd like to say that I LOVE when my readers contact me with questions. I typically respond privately to my readers, but I thought it would be fun to answer some of the questions here.  'Cause you all want to know, right?  ;-)

So here is my first official "reader's question" post regarding Christmas gifts.

Question: "With nine children, how do afford to buy gifts for all of them?  Do you limit the number of gifts or have a budget per child?  Would love to know how you make this work?

This is a great question and one that I've been asked several times over the years.

The answer to this varies from year to year, however.  It all depends on how much we were able to put away that year.  Our goal is to give each kid three gifts, but some years it may be one or two gifts per child, and more shared gifts (like a big set of Lincoln Logs for the boys or art supplies for the little girls).  There is significance in the number of gifts we give.  It represents the three gifts the kings presented to Jesus.  This not only serves as a good way to point our children to Christ, but it helps us resist the temptation to buy more than we need to.

We do set a budget per child, allotting more for our older kids.  We ask the kids to write a list of desired gifts, and then we choose according to what the budget will allow.

As a fun tradition, we give one gift on Christmas Eve.  It's always the same and the kids love it.  They each get a new pajama set to wear that night.  There's something so sweet about all the kids coming down in their new, warm and cozy PJ's Christmas morning!  The jammies don't count toward their three gifts.

In a family of eleven, and one income, Christmas can become an overwhelming time if we let it.  We love giving our children gifts, but our main purpose for celebrating Christmas is Christ.  Remembering this helps us to not get caught up in the commercialism of Christmas, which can be easy to do sometimes.  And our limited budget demands that we be smart about our purchases.

Is there something you want to know about large family living in general, or about our family specifically?  You can click the "contact tab" above, or "like" Sacred Mommyhood on Facebook and post your question there.

It's your turn!  What is your method for buying your children Christmas gifts?  Set number of gifts?  Set budget?  Please share in the comments below!

Photo Credit

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Easy Thanksgiving Placemat Craft

If you're looking for something easy for the kids to do on Thanksgiving Day, why not let them help decorate your table with these fun Thanksgiving placemats?

Since we are having lots of children here for Thanksgiving, we thought it would be fun to let them make their own placemats for the kids' table.  It will make a cute addition to the paper pumpkins we made yesterday for centerpieces.

Here's what you need:  Fall colored construction paper (don't mind my Christmas colors here), scissors, a ruler, and glue.

Cut one inch strips of paper lengthwise for weaving, and one inch vertical slits on your background paper.  Older kids can cut on their own, but for our younger kids, we'll have these pre-cut.  Be careful to leave about a one inch border at the top and bottom as shown don't want to cut all the way or you'll have more strips. :)

Simply weave the strips of paper under and over each slit, incorporating your different colors for each row.  Once all the strips are in, use glue to fasten down the ends of the strips. 

While my mom was here in March for the birth of Amelia, she taught the kids how to make these (hi Mom!).  They're looking forward to making them again on Thursday!

Once the kids are done constructing their mats, let them be creative and decorate with markers, crayons, stickers, glitter glue, etc.   They can even write "Give Thanks" like shown above, or write things for which they are thankful around the border.  And if you happen to have a laminating machine, these would be great to preserve that way!

It's fun, it's easy, and will keep them busy while you're working hard in the kitchen! :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Quick Tip: Storing Bed Sheet Sets

This tip comes from Pinterest (via

How clever is this? Simply store bed sheet sets right inside their pillow cases.

Love it!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Clifford Breaks Down

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Last week, we had an exciting adventure at the Walmart gas station.  Our van, "Clifford", broke down.  At the pump. 

At first, it wasn't a big deal.  I thought for sure it was something minor that my older girls and I could fix.  After 30 minutes of trying to diagnose the problem, we didn't know what was wrong.  At this point, we knew we needed to move the van away from the pump in the event Clifford was going to spend the night at the gas station.

My future son-in-law had come to help, and one man pumping gas next to us jumped in to try and help as well.  All we had to do was move this 15 passenger van to a parking spot.  Just so happens, we were at the ONLY pump in the gas station that was in direct line to a parking space.  Thank you, Jesus, for directing me to that pump!

Just as we were about to push the van into the spot, approximately 50 ft away, a car pulls into it.  I immediately ran to the gentleman and kindly asked him if he would park elsewhere so that we could push the big red van into his spot.  Without hesitation, he moved his car....and we pushed Clifford safely into the spot.

By this time, the man who was already helping us had diagnosed the problem as a bad fuel pump.  I knew that we would not be able to fix the fuel pump in the parking lot, so at this point, we just needed to get home.  A friend had already been called to come and get us, and was on her way.

Before our friend had arrived, the man I had asked to move his car, drove over to us and asked if we needed help.  We told him that it was probably the fuel pump and that we wouldn't be able to do anything until the next day.  It was just getting dark by then.  The man, Frank, asked to take a look.  He suggested that it could just be the fuel filter..and that if it was, he would change it for us right there in the parking lot.  He got on the phone with Auto Zone, where he used to work, to see if they had the part in stock.  They did.  Frank took off to his home to get some tools and the part.  What a nice man!

Our friend, Bethany, had come by, picked up most of the kids and took them home.  The kids did great and had a wonderful opportunity to practice patience.  They were tired, bored, and was well past dinner time for them and they had been sitting for nearly two hours.  I was so glad when they were able to get home!

Frank returned, changed out the filter, but it wasn't the filter after all.  How sweet of him it was to check the less expensive possibility first...and do it for us.  Well, then...if that wasn't sweet enough, Frank gets back on the phone with Auto Zone to inquire about a fuel pump.  They have one in stock.  I told Frank that I would need to talk with my husband (who was at work) to find out if he would be able to fix a fuel pump on his own.  Greg is the one who fixes most things on our vehicles, but I knew he had never fixed a fuel pump, mainly because you have to drop the entire gas tank.  A BIG job on a BIG van!

So Frank says, "I'm off tomorrow and can fix it for you, free of charge!"  Say WHA???  Who IS this guy and why does he want to spend his day off fixing a total stranger's HUGE RED VAN? 

On a side note, when Frank got into our van to try and turn it over, before the kids were hauled home, he looked back at all the kids and asked, "Are they part of a daycare?"  I literally laughed out loud!

Back to the story!  We were so humbled over Frank's kindness.  And sure enough, the next day, he and Nathan (my future son-in-law), both spent their day off under Clifford.  For about five hours.  In the Walmart gas station.  In one little parking spot.  Isn't that incredible? 

There are so many more details about this story that I would love to share, but just don't have the time to get it all down right now.  Let's just say that God orchestrated this whole occurrence in such a unique way, and involved several  people.  Only God can do such an amazing thing.

We are SO thankful for Frank and Nathan, and all the others who helped over those two days.  As much as I did not like the fact that our van broke down, and with a costly repair, I couldn't help but marvel at how God worked in such a way to weave a beautiful tapestry of kindness, generosity, and grace.  I had no choice but to praise Him!

On another side note....we found out that Frank goes to the same church where my OB doctor attends.  Small world! :)

Please share what are you thankful for? 

This post is linked up to The Marathon Mom.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Soup Series: Lady's Chicken Noodle Soup

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The third and final soup in my soup series is Lady's Chicken Noodle Soup.  This recipe came from Paula Deen years ago when she was first starting out on Food Network.  It's a little more work than my previous two soups, but sooo worth the effort.

I don't usually prefer chicken noodle soup....until I tried this one!  With the addition of fresh rosemary, freshly grated Parmesan, and cream, it takes chicken soup to a whole new level! 


1 (2 1/2 to 3 lb) whole chicken (or fryer, cut up)
3 1/2 quarts water
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 bay leaves
3 chicken bouillon cubes
Kosher salt and pepper

2 cups sliced carrots
2 cups sliced celery
2 1/2 cups egg noodles, uncooked
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cup heavy cream, optional
Kosher salt and black pepper


For the stock, add all ingredients to a soup pot.  Cook until chicken is tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool.  Remove and discard bay leaves and onion.  You should have approximately 3 quarts of stock.  When chicken is cool enough to touch, pull meat off the bone.  Discard bones, skin, and cartilage.  Set chicken aside.

For the soup, bring stock back to a boil, add carrots and cook for 3 minutes.  Add celery and continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes.  Add egg noodles and cook according to package directions.  When noodle are done, reduce heat to low.  Add chicken, mushrooms, parsley, and rosemary.  Add Parmesan and cream, if using.  Cook for another 2 minutes.  Adjust seasoning if needed.

Enjoy with a hot loaf of French bread or rolls.

If you missed my last two soups, you can find Basil Tomato Soup here, and Zucchini, Potato, and Parmesan Soup here!

Photo Credit

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Look what I found!

Hmmm....bunk beds?  ;-)

Where have you found your kids hiding recently?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Donut Tradition Lives On....Maybe

Old Fashioned Donuts: Box of Donuts

Early this morning, Daddy surprised the kids with donuts!  Some of you may remember that we used to have a fun donut tradition. 

Back when Greg was an on-the-truck-Fire-Fighter (he is a Fire Inspector now), he worked 24 hour shifts (24 on, 24 off...7am to7am).  Every other Friday was "Payday Friday" and he happened to be off on payday Fridays.  The beloved tradition was that he would stop at Krispy Kreme on his way home from work, specifically on "payday Fridays". 

It's something we did for years.  And it's something our kids looked forward to and loved very much.  Sadly, the Krispy Kreme closed and our tradition came to a screeching halt.  Yes....there was always the grocery store, but buying donuts from the grocery store just wasn't quite the same.  In addition, Greg no longer works the 24 on, 24 off shifts, which means he works on "Payday Fridays".  : (

So for those of you who haven't read about how much our kids love donuts....or the story about the devastating day we realized Krispy Kreme was shut down, you gotta go back and read them.  These were written about five years ago, back when my blog was called Sabo Family Dynamics.  It was primarily a family blog that I kept out of the mainstream public.  But since I went public and have new readers (hi, new friends!), I'd love for you to read some of my older stuff.  :)

As far as this morning, well, a new donut shop opened up about 8 miles down the road.  But of course, it's Saturday and not Friday.  I suppose we could begin our tradition again, but "Day-after-payday-Friday" doesn't quite have the same ring.  And 8 miles down the road isn't on Daddy's way home (because he's already home).  So, I think we'll just make it an occasional fun surprise like we did this morning.  :) 

It was neat to see the looks on their faces when Daddy unexpectedly walked in the door with those iconic boxes.  They all thought he was still sleeping.  Sneaky...and so fun!

Does your family have a special tradition that would be utterly sad to see come to a sudden stop?

Photo Credit

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Very Cool Meal Planning Help

Okay, know that I am pretty fanatical about menu planning. But this takes even my system a step further by incorporating your local grocery store sales into the planning....and does it for you!!!  How cool is that?

Here's how it works:  Food on the Table is an easy meal planning service that is based on sales at local grocery stores. With Food on the Table, users will be able to:  find thousands of easy, healthy recipes - save money by knowing the items that are on sale - and simplify your shopping experience with a well organized grocery list.

If you struggle at all with meal planning, then this may be your solution.  If you've got a great system already, this may help streamline your sale shopping. 

Okay ladies.....I'm very interested in your opinion on this!  Click on the banner above, sign up for the free trial, and tell me what you think! 

*Contains an affiliate link.

Monday, November 07, 2011

8 Tips for Surviving the Economy Crunch

Tighten Your Belt - Austerity

Anyone else feeling a bit tight these days?  Are you struggling to make ends meet?  Or just trying to put money away with little success?

As our family has grown, we've always been frugally minded.  However, with gas, groceries, and everything else on the rise...except my husband's paycheck...we've really had to tighten up and be wiser about our spending.  And did I mention that we're also planning a wedding?

Here are 8 ways that we have cut expenses to survive the economy crunch!

Calculate that trip!

We often calculate how much it will cost to drive to Grandma's out of state, or to the amusement park in the next city, but what about those frequent "short" trips?  Those sudden trips to the grocery store or those trips to Sonic for Happy Hour.  ;-)  It's important to know what even your short trips are costing because they add up quickly.

First, find out how many miles your vehicle gets to the city.  Now, think of a place you go often.  How many miles is it from your home?  Divide the total miles of your trip by how many miles your vehicle gets per gallon.  Then multiply that result by the cost of gas per gallon.  This will tell you how much your trip costs.  Formula here.

For instance, Sonic is 4 miles from our home.  So round trip is 8 miles.  Our van, "Clifford, the Big Red Van" only gets about 10 miles to the gallon (pitiful, I know).  SO, it will cost me $2.52 (current price per gallon $3.15) to get to Sonic and back.  So now, my half price large Diet Coke just cost me $3.52 instead of $1.00.  If I do this everyday, I've just spent $105.60 in one month for Diet Coke.  Scary huh?

It's so important, if you're struggling financially, to calculate your gas costs.  We've had to cut out a lot of frivolous trips to save on our gas budget.  If you've got a fuel efficient car, it may not be so bad.  But with a 15-passenger van and a Suburban, we really have to pay attention to our fuel costs.

Turn up (or down) that thermostat!

We've all heard that during the summer, we should keep our thermostat at 78 degrees or higher.  How many of us actually do this?  We do.  You'll be amazed at how quickly you acclimate to a warmer temp in your home.  Now that we're approaching winter, try setting your thermostat one to two degrees cooler than usual.

Check the unit price!

When shopping for groceries, be sure and look at the unit price when comparing prices.  Look at the price per ounce or pound to find the best bargain.  If you're set on a particular name brand item, search for a coupon first or price match it if your local store does this.

Buying in bulk is often a great way to save money, but be careful!  Buying in bulk may not always be the best option.  For example, we shop at Sams.  Sams carries mostly name brand items.  Even though they may be cheaper than the traditional grocery store, most time, buying the generic store brand will be less expensive than buying name brand bulk. 

Eat at home!

If you're accustomed to eating out a lot, you can save huge by eating at home.  Plan a menu and make a coordinating shopping list.  And stick to it!  This will also prevent those frequent store runs since you will already have everything on hand to prepare your meals.

Check for used items first!

If you need something for your family or your home, don't forget to see if you can find it used first.  Chances are, depending upon the item, you can find it on eBay or Craigslist.  If you need clothing or Children's clothing, don't forget about those great thrift stores.

Downgrade your cable package

About a year ago, we downgraded our TV package.  We went to just the basic package which means we can watch only local channels for news and weather.  We saved quite a bit by doing this and we haven't missed all those channels one teeny, weeny bit.  Okay, so I do miss my Food Network and HGTV, but I've gone on crying living without them. ;-)

Sell Stuff

Look around your home and let go of things you don't need.  Sell books, toys, baby items, furniture, etc.  It's always fun to bring in a little extra cash from things you weren't using anyway. 

After seeing a friend's FB status about cashing in her unused gold jewelry, and getting more than she thought, I went through my small stash and found three broken gold chains and a small ring I never wear.  I took them to Gold Gals and made a quick 76 bucks from broken jewelry I may have ended up throwing out. 

Join Swagbucks!

I'm tellin' ya!  If you haven't done this yet, you're missing out on free stuff.  I purchased most of my home schooling material last year from Amazon credit that I earned from Swagbucks for free.  In addition, anytime I want a new book, or birthday gifts for our children, I build up my Amazon gift credit by buying Amazon gift cards with my Swagbucks.  Currently, I am saving up for Christmas shopping.  450 SB gets you a $5 Amazon gift card.  I usually accumulate 450 SB every week to week and a half just by doing regular Internet searches.  But there are other ways to rack up the Bucks, too. 

Once you redeem your SB for a gift card, you then go into your Amazon account and credit it with a code.  You can let it build as high as you want.  If you're not an Amazon fan, there are pages and pages of redeemable prizes and gifts.  You've GOTTA jump on the Swagbucks train! :)

How have you managed to cut back on your budget?  What would you add to this list?

Photo Credit

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Soup Series: Zucchini, Potato, and Parmesan Soup


The second soup in the series is one that I got years ago on TV from Art Smith, personal chef to the big stars.  It's actually a hearty summer soup, but since you can get zucchini all year round, it makes an excellent fall and winter soup as well.  With the flavorful addition of fresh thyme and Parmesan, this soup is simply scrumptious! 

This soup takes a bit more time to prepare than the Basil Tomato Soup, but I still consider it a quick soup.  Give it try and tell me what you think!

Zucchini, Potato, and Parmesan Soup

1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium zucchini, scrubbed but unpeeled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (1 cup)
1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (1 cup)
3 cups chicken broth or canned low-sodium broth, as needed
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 cup evaporated skim milk (regular milk is fine too)
3 T. fresh grated Parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh Thyme for garnish (a must!)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, celery, and garlic.  Cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the zucchini and potato.  Add enough broth to barely cover the vegetables.  Add the thyme and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to low.  Simmer partially covered, until the potato is tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the evaporated milk and cheese.  Heat until very hot, but do not boil or the soup will curdle.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle each serving with fresh thyme and freshly grated Parmesan.  Don't be shy on the cheese! ;-)  Serve with hot French or Artisan bread.

Serves 8-10

Photo Credit

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

20 Christmas Photo Cards for $1.00

Just in time for Christmas! Take advantage of this deal on Photo Cards. Receive 20 for only $1.00 plus shipping. But shipping is only $ with shipping, that comes to $0.25 per card. That's a great deal and will save you some gas if you ran out to buy them or pick them up.

But hurry....offer ends November 10th. And don't forget to use the coupon code provided on the site. :)

Quick Fix: No-Sew Hem

What do you do with your kids' hole-y pants? Do you toss them, patch them, use them as dust rags?

Here's an easy way to salvage pants with holes in the knees. All you need is an iron, a little Liquid Stitch, and of course, the poor, abused, hole-y pants! No sewing required for this quick fix!

Once you've cut off the legs just above the holes, neatly roll up pants one time, creating an even edge, and press with hot iron (below). Try not to be distracted by my dirty ironing board. 

You're distracted aren't you...

Once you've got a good crease, place a thin line of Liquid Stitch under the fold.  (Tried to get a pic of this step, but the battery died....shucks!)  Press firmly with fingers to adhere.  Repeat on second leg. 

Next, roll up one more time, creating a thicker, more secure hem.  Press with iron again.  Place another thin line of Liquid Stitch under second fold and press firmly to adhere.

And here you have it...a nice pair of shorts, frugally salvaged from a hole-y pair of capris!  And I didn't have to lug out the sewing machine! 

Here's my sweet seven year old modeling her new shorts!  She loves them!

What are your favorite quick fixes?  Please share!
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