Thursday, December 18, 2008

Over the meadow and through the woods...

I haven't posted in awhile, it has been a whirlwind of activity here in our home! We are on our way tonight at midnight to "grandparent's house we go..." The kids are just nutty-they are so excited. I think the boys are more excited over the fact that Poppy and Grammy bought them snowboots than they are about SNOW. These boys love the idea of adding to their boot collection-work boots, cowboy boots, rubber boots.....Mae is just excited about seeing Grammy and Mackenzie is excited about eating out as we travel (she doesn't realize we are packing a cooler for all but one meal). It looks like we are moving, and I haven't even packed for Mike and myself yet!
The dog is having a nervous breakdown. Lexie is trying to unpack all the bags.....but we are so excited.

Monday, December 1, 2008

tap shoes, duck tape, brotherly love and basketball...

Just an ordinary day at the Barnes home today. Chores before/after breakfast, followed by Bible/devotions, then the rest of our schoolwork till about we read in the Bible about brotherly love, we recited verses, read a story that illustrated brotherly love, drew picture of brothers and sisters and talked about really loving our brothers and sisters. Then Mae got mad and snatched a book from Noah, and Noah and Austin got into an argument over legos. Were they SLEEPING during our discussion?!? The day did get better, everyone got their work done, folded laundry, had lunch, and with a little free time on their hands, some of the kids turned to duck tape for entertainment. This is not unusual in our house. Today Noah fixed up his "Night Vision" hat, as he calls it-a camoflage hat with a flashlight ducktaped to the top. Austin covered a little football completely in duck tape, because silver was prettier than brown, and Mackenzie turned her new Sunday shoes into tap shoes by duck taping nickels to the heels and toes. So Noah wore his hat, with the spotlight(flashlight) on Mackenzie as she gave us a very interesting tap dance routine in the kitchen this afternoon. Lexie got in on the act as well...she found the roll of duck tape that had been left out and tried to eat it!! So now I'm thinking duck tape for stockling stuffers? The Boys also had their first practice for UPWARDS basketball today. They had a great time and can hardly wait for their first game. Austin will be really pleased if their uniforms turn out to be silver-the same color as ducktape!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Deck the Halls?

The day after Thanksgiving I did give in and join the masses of people hoping to find bargains...I headed to Tupelo ALL BY MYSELF-thanks to my sweet and wonderful husband who happily stayed home with all the children. I spent time at Fred's, Walgreens, Barnes and Noble (where I ran into every homeschooling mom I know..) Bed, Bath and Beyond and to my appointment at United Blood Service to donate blood-but my iron was low, so I could not donate. However-the shopping and trying to donate blood are not the point of this post. The point is Christmas decorating. Usually, on the day after Thanksgiving, we put up our tree and decorate the house. This year, since we are spending Christmas in NY with my dad and step-mom, we decided we wouldn't decorate. So, I was very suprised, when my husband called to tell me that he was doing some outside decorating while I was shopping. I was anxious to see what he had done. I arrived home, and thought maybe I would find a few strands of lights on the porch-but no, it was much better.....Mike and the kids had taken apart my father in laws 4-wheeler to spray paint it for him, and for lack of a better place, Mike had HUNG all of the painted parts from the front porch to dry. Can you say "you might be a redneck..." I definately had to laugh as he greeted me with a sly smile. All I need now is to haul my couch out onto the front porch, and we'll be all set. I hope this gave you all a good laugh as you get ready to "deck" your halls. By the way, he did promise me that the parts would come down TODAY!


Thanksgiving is now past, but I just wanted to recap and post a few high points of our weekend. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving, spent at home with Mike's parents, his brother and niece. My mother in law did most of the cooking, I got out easy with just having to make green bean casserole. Mackenzie made 2 apple pies, My mother in law brought turkey, dressing, rolls, 2 pumpkin pies and a very tasty cream cheese pecan pie(I am hiding the last piece of this in the back of my fridge). I did forget to make the corn, but we had plenty of food, anyway. After we rounded up the kids, we always gather around and say one thing that we are thankful for. Mackenzie was thankful for the food. Noah was thankful for Grandpa's new Polaris Ranger, my niece was thankful that her dad was home for thanksgiving(he works on a barge and is gone a month, home a month). I was thankful that our family had grown since last thanksgiving-Lexie and Austin were having their first thanksgiving with us-Austin was thankful that Jesus died on the cross. I can't begin to say how much that meant to me-considering that when he came to us (1 year ago, dec 7) We asked him if anyone had ever told him about Jesus and he said no. As some of you know, It is quite possible that Austin will get to go home (for those of you who don't know-he is our sweet 6 year old foster child) sometime this spring. Although I know God is in control and I trust him completely with the lives of ALL our children, I have been quite emotional lately, thinking about the possibility of him actually leaving. When he said he was thankful for Jesus dying on the cross, it encouraged me to know that no matter what happens, in the short time that he has been here, he has learned who Jesus is and what He has done for him. If Austin should leave us, I will know that he will be different than when he came and that he will leave knowing there is a God who loves HIM so much that He gave His one and only son. I am so thankful for the time that God has given us with both Austin and Lexie(our 9 month old foster child), as well as Mackenzie, Mae and Noah.
Now on to the rest of the day....Everyone know about the miracle of the loaves and fishes, well at our house on Thanksgiving, pie was multiplied! After we had stuffed ourselves to the point of bursting, we lethargically cleaned up and began to put all the food away. Our sweet neighbor, "Mr Butch" came by, and although the turkey and fixings had already been put away, the kids quickly had him seated with a glass of sweet tea and two pieces pf pie. Austin sat in the corner of the couch just staring at Mr Butch. The boys are big fans of Mr Butch. He is an older bachelor who lives next door with an assortment of about 30 dogs. But that is not why the boys are so fond of him. Mr Butch has TWO tractors, a John Deere gator and a 4-Wheeler. On most days, the boys can be found at the edge of our property watching Mr Butch on his tractors. It is a heavenly day when Mr Butch brings the gator over and tells the kids they can drive it around for the afternoon. ok, I am getting away from myself-so Mr Butch ate his pie, while Austin stared at him and we all chatted awhile. Noah and Mae had gone with Mike and my father in law to pick peanuts. Yes, I am in the south..picking peanuts on thanksgiving day.....After Mr Butch left we wrapped up the remaining pie and put it in the freezer. Not long after, some new friends from church called to accept our invitation to stop by that out came the pies again.....We had a great time visiting and when the day was finally over, Mackenzie remarked, "boy, God sure multiplied some pie today...we just never ran out!!!!" And there is even one more piece, hidden where only I will find it...and so I am thankful for pie, for friends, for the way God continues to multiply his blessings on us.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

great recipe/menu site

Just wanted to share a helpful site for menu planning. I'm hoping to start using it more again as I try to get back into the swing of planning2 weeks worth of meals at a time. This site offers great recipes and menus as well as grocery lists to go with the recipes. .

My mother in law's breakfast casserole

This one has become a Christmas morning tradition-it cooks while the kids opens presents.

Margaret's Breakfast Casserole

1 lb Jimmy dean sausage, crumbled, browned and drained or 1 lb chopped ham OR crumbled bacon (Mike says 24 slices to be exact-thick slices he adds) (He is presently driving me batty as he edits my writing over my shoulder)
4-6 slices bread, torn into bit size pieces
6 eggs
1 cup milk
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

grease 9x13 pan. Line bottom of pan with torn bread. Top with sausage, then cheese. Whisk eggs and milk together and pour over cheese. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Enjoy with a side of chocolate from the kids' Christmas stockings.

hunting season and BBQ Venison

The four wheelers racing up and down our country road and men in head to toe camoflage driving by the house in pick up trucks is a sure sign deer season has begun. Although Mike does not hunt (long hours sitting outside in the cold are not fun for him), we enjoy the deer meat his brother brings us each year, and we're always looking for new ways to prepare it. So here's a recipe we tried last year that is delicious...if you like deer meat!

BBQ Venison
2-3 lb venison roast
1 can beer (not for drinking while you are cooking!)
3 cloves garlic chopped
salt and pepper to taste
2 onions sliced
3 bay leaves
2 cups BBQ sauce

in large bowl or gallon ziploc bag mix beer, garlic, salt, pepper, onions and bay leaves add meat and marinate 12-24 hours. Remove meat and onions and place in crock pot, Poor BBQ sauce over and cook on low 10-12 hours. Serve on buns with slaw and baked beans.

Taco Soup

Once the cooler weather sets in, we usually try to have soup in the crock pot on Sunday evenings when we get home from church. Here is one of our new favorites. Mike said to be sure I do not give a recipe for chicken noodle soup. I always add the noodles too soon and the whole thing turns to mush.

Taco Soup (double the recipe and freeze half for another day!!!)
1 lb ground beef browned with 1 diced onion and drained
2 cans tomato soup
2 cans kidney beans, undrained
2 cans black beans, undrained
2 pkg taco seasoning
2 cans corn, undrained
2 cans diced tomatos, undrained
Add all ingredients to crock pot and stir. Cook on low all day. Serve with crushed tortilla chips, top with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream.

counting our chicken...

Today we had some friends over for a pre-Thanksgiving BBQ. Mike had put chicken thighs and legs out on the counter to thaw. As Mike was cleaning the chicken, Noah came by and asked, "Oh yum, are we having chicken?" "Yes" Mike answered. Noah said frankly, "How many chickens had to die for us to have those legs, Dad?" As I listened from the other room, Mike told Noah to count the legs and figure it out. Noah proudly began to count by twos for his dad, and then proclaimed, "10 chicken legs!?!" so 5 chickens had to die for us to have their legs!!!!???!!" They went on to discuss and count the same way with the chicken thighs. I didn't know whether to jump into the conversation and begin talking about God providing chickens for us to eat, and that the WHOLE chicken got used and not just the legs, or to just be thrilled that he was practically applying his math skills!!!! So in short, if you want your child to work on those math facts get yourself some chicken parts......

A mouthful of teeth and other stuff...

Lexie has just cut 4 new teeth this week, so now she has a total of six! All this teeth cutting business has made her quite irritable, and she has been gnawing on everything. Tonight it was Mackenzie's nose. Yesterday it was lincoln logs and a leather bookmark! She is also eating everything she can get her hands on. fistfuls of peas, goldfish crackers, cheese toast-she loves cheese toast!!!
Lexie is really all the entertainment we all need these days. She is 9 months and has recently discovered how fast she can crawl through the house, and how fun it is to mess up the boys lego creations. She has learned to clap, raise her hands when we say praise the Lord and play "where's Lexie?" The idea with "Where's Lexie?" was to teach her to cover her eyes when we say. "Where's Lexie?" But instead of covering her eyes, she covers her ears or squishes both her cheeks with her hands. It is quite amusing and so cute. She has also stolen the hearts of the entire family with learning to blow kisses to all of us. Mackenzie often says, "What DID we do for fun before Lexie??? We all think her first sound "GA!" is really "DOG" which we are sure is going to be her first word. Lexie loves our little pup milkshake, and starts yelling "Ga! Ga!" Whenever she sees her. Lexie did get quite upset today when Milkshake ran past her and knocked her down!
It just amazes us how much she is changing each day. We are so blessed to experience all the joys of having a baby in the house again.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

squash bread

This summer when we had an abundance of yellow squash and zucchini from our garden, I came across this recipe. My ever thoughtful husband broke out the food processor and shredded tons of extra squash for the freezer, and he even scooped it into ziploc bags in nice 2 cup portions, exactly what the recipe calls for. So now we are enjoying this easy bread on chilly mornings, and will probably give some as gifts this Christmas.

3 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 c. oil (or applesauce if you'd like it to be healthier)
2 tsp vanilla
3 c. self rising flour
1Tbsp cinnamon
2 c. shredded squash or zucchini(tastes great with either!)
optional- 1 c. chopped pecans or walnuts-I make mine without nuts, and it is delicious!!!

Preheat oven to 325. Blend eggs, oil sugar and vanilla in large bowl until fluffy. Slowly add flour 1 cup at a time, stirring after each addition, Stir in cinnamon. Stir in squash until evenly mixed. Pour into 2 well greased loaf pans. Bake 50-60 min. until bread is firm and light brown.


What we're reading now...

We love to read at our house! Nothing like curling up together with a good book. What we're reading right now:

I'm reading:
(for the 2nd time...) Created to be a Helpmeet by Debi Pearl and Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jenny Chancey and Stacey MacDonald. I am not a big fiction reader but recently finished Dandelion Dust by Karen Kingsbury, which I thouroughly enjoyed.

As a family, we are reading aloud from:
Wisdom and the Millers, If You were There at the First Thanksgiving, The Light and the Glory for Children by Peter Marshall and David Manuel, Thanksgiving Stories and Poems by Caroline Feller Bauer, Squanto and the miracle of thanksgiving by Eric Metaxes. We just finished (yesterday) The Little Lamb by Christopher Von Schmidt-We will add it to our other lamplighter favorites: Teddy's Button, A Peep Behind the Scenes, Mary Jones and Her Bible...check out these beautifully written books at

In our Devotional time, we are reading from: Dear Princess by Mary M Landis (for the girls), The Ergmeier's Story Bible, and Keys for Kids-a free monthly devotional book available at

Mackenzie, my once upon a time very reluctant reader, now can always be found with her nose in a book. Here's what she has just finished or is working on now: Uncharted-a National Treasure Gates Family Mystery by Cathreine Hapka, By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Homer Price by Robert McCloskey, A Peep Behind the Scenes by O.F. Walton and Always Sisters by Cece Winans]

Mae hops from one book to another, a chapter here and there, she only finishes the ones she REALLY enjoys. Lately her favorites have been The original Nancy Drew Mysteries and the Elsie Dinsmore series by Martha Finley. She is my little fact finder and explores the encylcopedias and the dictionary on a daily basis, just for fun.
She has also recently been intrigued by the life and art of Mary Cassat, and has been reading all about her as well.

Noah and Austin love picking out books for me to read-usually a Bible storybook or their all time favorite picture book, Andrew Henry's Meadow. They are also into anything Dr Seuss or Richard Scarry.

Lexie loves to sit in our laps and listen to whatever we are reading. The girls love to read to her from their chapter books and the boys love looking at her little flap books with her.

A few of our favorite books from this past year are:
Kildee House-by Rutherford Montgomery
My Side of the Mountain-by Jean Craighead George
The Whipping Boy-by Fleischman
Ten Peas in a Pod-by Arnold Pent III
Teddy's Button-by Amy Le Feuvre
George Washington-by D'Aulaire
Abraham Lincoln-by D'Aulaire
Hero Tales-by Dave and Neta Jackson
A Hive of Busy Bees-by Effie Williams

about this whole "cup of blessing" name....

Welcome to Barnescupofblessings-a name I've chosen based on Psalm 16:5-6 which says: "Lord you alone are my cup of blessing, you gaurd all that is mine. The land you have given me is a pleasant land, what a wonderful inheritance!" and Psalm 23:5 "My cup overflows with blessings."
What great verses for our family, as we definately have a cup overflowing with blessings. It never ceases to amaze me how God continues to provide for us in so many awesome ways. One way he has so richly blessed us is with such an amazing abundance of family and friends-many of whom we don't see often enough. I hope through my ramblings that family and friends will feel more a part of our lives. So if you've known us for many years, or only a few moments, come on in and stay awhile, catch up and share your own blessings with us.