Brand New DrinkBands & You Could Win!

Win the Brand New DrinkBands on RaisingArrows.net!Guess what came in the mail the other day?!  Some fun new goodies from DrinkBands!  DrinkBands now has PERSONALIZED bands, so your family members can have their name AND their favorite color on their glasses!

Personalized DrinkBands!

DrinkBands is also pleased to present CAMO BANDS!  My family was super excited about these!  My daughter even got creative photographing them (shown in the photo below are 3 of the 5 designs).

Camo DrinkBands!

There are 5 camouflage patterns in all:

Camo DrinkBands!

I know you can’t wait to get your hands on these new DrinkBands, so how about a fun giveaway?  There will be 2 winners – one winner will get a set of 9 regular DrinkBands that are personalized, and another winner will win a set of 5 camo DrinkBands!  Giveaway ends this Friday, so hurry!

(Reading this via email?  CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway!)
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Our Newest Addition – A Puppy!

First, a story…

Once upon a time, I had 2 children and one on the way.  My husband decided to bring a black lab puppy home as a hunting/family dog.  His name was Scout.

It should have been Houdini.

Or Naughty.

Ty had come off a 2 year deployment, and before he went back to work, he had all the time in the world to spend with the dog.  However, once he went back to his civilian job, the dog became a terror.  He jumped on our table breaking my favorite sugar bowl (which Ty replaced this past Christmas).  He snuck out of the pen no matter how airtight we made it.  He howled from his crate all night long.

One evening, while Ty was at work, and it was raining, and I was supposed to be heading to a La Leche League meeting with my new little baby girl, the dog escaped again.  And I yelled at him as he ran down the road -

“I hope you get caught by the dog catcher!”

Yes, I did.  I was done.  So done in fact, that I was thankful when shortly thereafter, we moved to a rental that didn’t allow dogs and we had to give him away.

That was almost 10 years ago.  That was almost 7 kids ago.

So, let’s just say that getting a puppy is a pretty big deal, and I had some pretty big stipulations.

#1 The hunting/family dog had to be a smaller dog.  (as in, not a monster lab with a monster tail that knocks small children – and sugar bowls – over)

#2 The dog had to be trained – not by me, not by my husband, not by our children.

#3 The dog had to be cute.

This little guy met all those stipulations…

Our Newest Addition - a Puppy named Kip! | RaisingArrows.net

His name is Kip (named after Kipper the Dog – an all time favorite cartoon around here).  We chose a one syllable name because it is easier to use out in the field when hunting.  It also couldn’t rhyme with “NO” – for obvious reasons.

He is a true tricolor French Brittany – a fairly rare find.  French Brittanys are smaller hunting dogs.  Not as small as a Cocker Spaniel, but smaller than their American Brittany cousins.  I really didn’t think I would like the ticking on him (the small spots on the white part of his coat – also sometimes called “roan”), but when I saw his daddy, Reux, I decided all grown up, this dog would end up looking pretty classy.

And frankly, the pup chose us.

Daddy holding our newest addition - a puppy named Kip! | RaisingArrows.net

(Get a load of that cute guy holding the puppy!  Did you know that’s how he snagged me in the first place?  He was holding a puppy. ;) )

Kip was the one puppy out of the litter that followed us around.  The one who looked at us when we talked.  The one who captured our hearts.  So, we loaded him up and took him to the trainers.

Yes, I said the trainers.  (Remember #2?)

We do not want a hunting dog that hangs out in a pen all day.  We want a family dog, but having a family and hunting dog is a tricky combination.  We took Kip to a man who will train him in basic obedience and later in the year, Kip will go back for hunting training.  This takes the pressure off of me (I have enough trouble potty training children, let alone a dog), and Ty (who needs to spend his extra time focusing on the children rather than focusing on teaching a puppy to behave), and the children (who have attention spans about as long as a puppy).

We will still need to reinforce all that Kip is learning, but we are not starting with a blank slate

or a broken sugar bowl.

Welcome Kip!

Welcome to the family, Kip!  We are looking forward to many fun years at home and in the field!


It’s not a puppy, but it’s pretty awesome just the same!
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Weaning from the Screen

I mentioned in my Week 16 Pregnancy Update, that we were needing to wean from the screen because I had used movies and streaming video and iPad games to “babysit” the kids during my bout with morning sickness. After a week of really cracking down, the whining and asking and falling on the floor in a heap of “I’m bored” was almost *almost* completely nipped in the bud.

Several of you asked how I went about this, so this post is my answer to that question.

Weaning from the Screen | RaisingArrows.net - How we went from excessive TV and computer time back to a more reasonable approach.

The way we ended up with too much screen time is a sordid affair.  I have a house full of boys.  Rowdy, rambunctious, jump on mama’s bed when she feels nauseous little boys.  They are awesome, but without our usual daily routine, they were BORED.

No really, they truly were bored.

I don’t typically like that word, but frankly, when kids are used to a certain routine and that routine suddenly becomes NOTHING, they feel a little lost and need something to fill that space.  For boys, that something is rarely quiet or calm.  Thus, the electronic babysitter.

Weaning from Screen Time | RaisingArrows.net

**NOTE:  This photo is how we do family movie night – a projector and laptop with the movie projected onto a blank wall in our living room.  This is the projector we own.**

The last straw was the day my 5 year old asked every 5 minutes if he could watch a movie on the iPad.

Every. Five. Minutes.

I was finally coming out of the First Trimester Fog, and I knew we needed to go back to our usual Movie Days (more on what Movie Days are in a second).  After 15 times of telling him no, I realized watching movies had become part of his daily routine and he had no recollection of this Movie Day thing I kept spouting off about.  And really how dare I change up the routine of every day movie watching without explaining myself!  So, we had a quick Family Meeting where I explained the finer points of that vague notion we once called Movie Day.

Now, I know you all know this, but here’s my disclaimer…
These are the Roberts Family Movie Days.  They are guidelines we feel comfortable with.  They are not a set of rules YOU have to follow.  The real issue here is to have guidelines.  Your children need to know WHEN screen time is appropriate.  It may be something as simple as “after school work is finished” or “between 4-6pm” or whatever you like.

Movie Days are Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  Wednesdays and Fridays are Roberts Family Movie Night.  Saturday is Computer Time for everyone (only my oldest 2 children have weekday Computer Days).

Exact computer time is based on age:
My littlest guys get 15 minutes.
My middles get 30 minutes.
My oldest kids get an hour on Saturdays (they get 45 minutes on their alternating weekdays).

Everyone is also allowed to watch a movie or two on Saturday.

Another major aspect of this schedule is the fact that if we are gone any of these days, there is no “banking the time.”  If you miss a day that you usually have Computer Time on, you don’t get to have that time the next day to “make up” for it.  If we aren’t home on Saturday, we don’t automatically make Sunday a Movie Day.

Are there exceptions?  Of course!  We are a family and sometimes these sorts of rules get broken in favor of family life.  It’s ok. ;)

So, once we established that we were going back to our typical Movie Days, I was able to remind the children of the day of the week and keep a lot of the asking for screen time at bay.  My 5 year old asks every day, “What is today?”  I tell him the day of the week and then he asks, “And what do we do on that day?”  I usually give him a quick run-down of the day and then get to the real answer he’s looking for…

“Today is not a movie day.”

At some point, I want to get a calendar made up that has Sunday – Saturday with all the screen time written on it (with pictures for my non-readers), but that has yet to happen.  I’m still too foggy for that. ;)

A Day In the Life + Sheet Cake Recipes

I’ve been reading Plain Faith by the Eash family with Tricia Goyer.  It’s been one of those books that has been hard to put down.

While reading it, I realized what was really fascinating to me was their daily life.  In fact, I enjoy reading about the daily life of other homeschoolers and homemakers across the globe.  There is a connection there that is beautiful on so many levels.

I thought perhaps my readers would enjoy a weekly look into our life.  Sort of a Day in the Life of…

A Day in the Life | RaisingArrows.net

What do you think? Great! Let’s go…

The photo above is my bed.  It has become my Command Central of late.  Even though I feel better in the first trimester than I ever have, I’m still not 100% and I have to stay out of the kitchen and rest a lot.  I try to make the bed and then use another quilt to cover up with so at least the bed looks somewhat done up.  You can see in the photo above, the Legos from the little people who climb in bed with me, and my menu planner so I could add the grocery list into Cozi for Ty to shop on his way home from work.

I don’t particularly like running the house from bed, but you do what you have to do.

A Day in the Life | RaisingArrows.netAs soon as school is over or while I’m napping, my middles like to play together.  They are 16 months apart and even though they are a boy and a girl, they still love to play together.  They listen to radio dramas, play “house”, build with Legos, and put together plays to perform for the family.  Lia is always barefoot it seems and Keian always has holes in his jeans.

A Day in the Life | RaisingArrows.net

My oldest daughter (age 13) has been making a lot of muffins lately.  I will send her links from Pinterest to try and she’ll pin them on her boards.  This particular day, she popped open the iPad and found an applesauce puffs recipe I had sent her so that we could use up some biscuit mix that had been left here by Ty’s mom (we hardly ever buy biscuit mix anymore and much prefer our own biscuits – Sky High Whole Wheat Biscuits & Elvis Biscuits - but I don’t expect grandparents to make things from scratch for this many people!)

Of course, we had to double the recipe.  Very few recipes are something we can eat “as is”; thus the reason I started collecting Large Family Recipes here on the blog.  The muffins turned out really tasty and the children were happy to have a sweet treat with lunch that day (which happened to be frozen pizza – eek!)

We had been cleaning much of the day because I actually felt well and knew Ty would appreciate a cleaner house.  We also had tons of laundry to get through.  We now have 2 washers and 2 dryers – a set upstairs that I use and a set downstairs that the children use.  I wash Daddy’s, Mommy’s and the little boys laundry upstairs.  The boys wash downstairs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (including any towels we’ve used) and the girls do the same on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.  Isn’t it funny how laundry changes depending on where you live?

We’re also dealing with a teething baby.  At 16 months, Creed only has 4 teeth, but I can see 2 more popping through and the proof is in his biting and gnawing on things more these days.  Thankfully, he’s not fussy!

A Day in the Life  | RaisingArrows.net

The photo above was taken at a graduation party we attended at Ty’s cousin’s house.  One thing Ty’s cousin is known for during holidays and celebrations are her sheet cakes.  She doesn’t do fancy cake decorating, just plain and simple sheet cakes that turn out amazing!  She inspired me to grab some sheet cake pans of my own and not worry about how fancy a cake is.

A quick word on pans – many sheet cake pans (also called jelly roll pans) are aluminum.  I prefer stainless steel.  Norpro is a great company to buy from to get stainless steel pans.  The one shown above can be purchased here.

All of the following recipes are family recipes from Ty’s side of the family.

Sheet Cake Recipes - pumpkin, chocolate-cinnamon, & almond! | RaisingArrows.net

Pumpkin Sheet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
(shown above)
4 eggs
2 c. sugar (we use organic cane sugar)
2 c. flour (we use unbleached)
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder (we use aluminum free)
1/2 tsp salt
1 c. oil (we use coconut oil)
2. c. pumpkin (use your own or 1 can)

Frosting:
1/2 c. stick butter
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese
2 tsp vanilla (you can make your own!)
1 lb powdered sugar

Beat eggs in large bowl.  All oil and mix well (if using coconut oil, make sure it isn’t too hot or eggs will cook!).  In another bowl, mix together sugar, flour, cinnamon, soda, baking powder and salt.  Add dry ingredients alternately with pumpkin.  Add to the egg and oil mixture and mix well.  Pour into jelly roll pan and bake at 350º for 20-30 minutes.  Frost when cool.

For frosting, mix together powdered sugar, cream cheese, vanilla and butter until a good spreading consistency.  Store cake in refrigerator.

Almond Sheet Cake with Almond Frosting
1 c. butter
1 c. water
2 c. flour (we use unbleached)
2 c. sugar (we use organic can sugar)
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Frosting:
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. milk
4 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)

In a large saucepan, bring butter and water to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Stir in flour, sugar, eggs, sour cream, almond extract, salt and baking soda until smooth.  Pour into a greased jelly roll pan.  Bake at 375° for 20-22 minutes or until cake is golden brown.  Cool for 20 minutes, then frost.

For frosting, combine butter and milk in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Remove from heat.  Add sugar and almond extract.  Mix well.  Stir in walnuts, if desired.  Spread over warm cake.

Chocolate Cinnamon Sheet Cake
2. flour (we use unbleached)
2 c. sugar (we use organic cane sugar)
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
dash of salt
2 c. butter
1/4 c. cocoa
1 c. water
1/2 c. buttermilk (we buy buttermilk powder in bulk from Azure)*
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (make your own!)
*If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own by adding 1 Tbsp of vinegar or lemon juice to 1/2 c. milk.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Frosting:
1/2 c. butter
6 Tbsp milk
1/4 c. cocoa
4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c. chopped nuts (if desired)

Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  In a saucepan, melt and bring to a boil the butter, cocoa, and water.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add buttermilk, eggs and vanilla and mix well.  Bake in a greased jelly roll pan at 400° for 20 minutes.  Frost while hot.

For frosting, bring to a boil butter, milk, and cocoa.  Remove from heat and add in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat until smooth.  Add nuts if desired and pour over cake.

How I Became the Perfect Everything

How I became the perfect everything (because no method in the world is going to get it right) | RaisingArrows.netNot too long ago, I began to have the distinct feeling that I was wasting time. Every conference I went to, every conversation I had, every song I listened to, every Bible passage I read seemed to point me to the fact that I was seriously wasting time.

I didn’t mean to do it. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of it. But, when the same words continued to be spoken into my life, I knew I needed to take a hard look at what those words were saying.

The specific words weren’t, “You are wasting time, Amy.” They were things like:

“You don’t need to be Jesus to your kids. You need them to need Jesus.” ~Angie Smith

“I realized it had to be Jesus + Nothing.” ~Kendra Fletcher

“but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”
1 Thessalonians 2:4

“You gave me life worth dying for, but between the altar and the door, I bought the lies that promised more…All my deeds and my good name are just dirty rags that tear and strain to cover all my guilty stains that You already washed away.”
All You’ve Ever Wanted by Casting Crowns

To you, those words may not sound anything like, “You are wasting time.” But to me, that is exactly what they were saying. They were telling me that I have been focused for far too long on the details, always missing the big picture. They were telling me that in the process of managing a household, homeschooling a ton of kids, being a wife, and writing a blog I wasn’t allowing myself to be raw in front of anyone, so no one could see (including myself) that I needed Christ. These words were telling me that I was working and working and working for something that had already been taken care of.

It was almost as if I was on a hamster wheel – wasting time going in circles. Over and over again, I was rolling through the same stuff, working myself into a frenzy, but never getting anywhere.

And never acknowledging that Jesus had already taken care of it all.

We read blogs, talk to friends, ask questions on Facebook trying to figure out how to be the perfect parent, perfect wife, perfect homeschooler.  We hash and rehash conversations, searching for answers that only seem to be temporary.  We live a discouraged, beaten-down life.  Yet, we weren’t called to that sort of life!  We were called to victory, we were called to abundance, we were called to joy overflowing.

Where did we go wrong?

We tried to be everything.

Let me tell you something…

I talk a good talk. My bio photo even says “an abundant life,” but I wasn’t acknowledging that abundance in life has nothing to do with how quickly I get my housework done or how calm the kids are or how well I homeschool. In fact, I bought the lie that those things really mattered to God. That my sacrifices somehow made me holy before Him.

The truth is, He can’t even see my filthy rags.

The truth is, He wants my heart, not my works.

I was wasting time trying to be everything…trying to get it all right.

Friends, if you are doing the same thing I was, I want to encourage you to lay that burden down right now.  It’s not yours.  Jesus didn’t ask you to be somebody, He asked you to be HIS.

How I Became the Perfect Everything (stop wasting time!) | RaisingArrows.netHe wants your every day, every moment.  He covers the mess ups, the gaps, the craziness.  And He gives you JOY!

What your children need is a mom totally sold out to Christ.  They need a mom who isn’t wasting time being perfect, but who perseveres through it all because she knows where her strength comes from and she knows she can’t do it without Jesus.

You know how I became the perfect everything?
I gave up.

I can’t mess this up if my heart is focused on Jesus.  I can’t mess this up if I ask the Lord with a contrite heart for daily provisions in my parenting, homeschool, and homemaking.  I can’t mess this up if I am loving Him and pouring that full heart into my children’s lives, my husband’s life, and beyond.

I’m not going to get this all right.  There is no formula or method that will make any of us the perfect parent, homeschooler, mom, wife, friend.  We are wasting time if we think there is and we go chasing after everything that tells us so.

You can be the perfect everything not because of ANYTHING YOU DO, but because JESUS ALREADY IS.  Every step you make is covered.  Just walk it with your heart mind and soul focused on Him.

 

On-the-Go Skin Care for the Entire Family

There are certain products that are a mother’s dream.  The new sticks from MadeOn Hard Lotion are a dream for me, which is why I wanted to share with you about this new product and a big sale they are having right now.
{post contains affiliate links}

On-the-Go Skin Care for the Entire Family | RaisingArrows.net

There are 4 different kinds of these sticks (Beesilk, Au Chocolat, Simply Soothing Rash Cream and Bug Block), but I don’t like to smell chocolate (I know, I’m weird), so I decided to try out the other three.  I was already a fan of the Beesilk in bar form and the Simply Soothing Rash Cream in the tin, but having these in a stick form has me jumping for joy!  And I am excited to add the Bug Block to the family as well!

Here are a few reasons why I am thrilled with these new sticks.

1.  They are easy for my children to apply on their own.

On-the-Go Skin Care for the Entire Family | RaisingArrows.netThese sticks are bigger than a glue stick, and a great size for little hands.  The bars are difficult for my little people to maneuver, so having these in stick form makes it great for them to grab and use.

2.  They are a great diaper bag addition.

I keep a set in my diaper bag, and with the sale this month, I’ll be adding another set to our bathroom.  They are perfect for taking on-the-go.  You have the rash cream stick for little bottoms (I also highly recommend keeping a separate one of these for rashes in other places and marking it on the label to avoid cross-contamination).  You have the Beesilk for all over skin hydration.  And having Bug Block on hand no matter where you are is a great idea!

3.  They are so versatile.

The Simply Soothing Rash Cream is great not only for the diaper area, but for rashes on faces, eczema, and acne.  Having it in stick form makes it that much easier because you don’t have to try to dig out of a tin.

The Beesilk is our family’s dry skin go-to.  Feet, elbows, faces, and hands are all nourished with this formula.  My husband has always been a fan of Beesilk, but still insisted on using chapstick to handle the dry skin on his knuckles because it was easy for him to keep in his vehicle.  I was thrilled to be able to hand him Beesilk in a stick!  He loves it!

I have known Renee of MadeOn Hard Lotion for years, and can attest to the quality of her products and the care she takes with each of her customers.  She’s the mom of a large homeschooling family who works hard to make sure you get pure quality products at a reasonable price.

If you would like to try the new MadeOn Sticks, May is the month to do it!  When you order any 4 sticks (yep, you can even order that chocolate one ;) ), your 4th stick is FREE!  That means you can try all 4, order a couple of sets or mix and match any way you’d like!

Add the sticks to your cart (START SHOPPING HERE), put all 4 in your cart, then at checkout use code:

freestick

to get one of those sticks FREE!
Offer expires May 31, 2014.

Heading over to snag some more for my crew right now!

On-the-Go Skin Care for the Entire Family | RaisingArrows.net