Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hawaiian Meat Balls

Hawaiian Meat Balls


2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
2/3 cup evaporated milk
zest of a small orange
1/2 small onion (grated with zester)
1 1/4 tsp seasoning salt
2 dashes black pepper
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 dashes ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/3 cup flour
3 tbs BUTTER FLAVORED shortening

1. Melt butter shortening in a large skillet on medium heat...
2. While oil is coming to frying temperature mix all ingredients together well except for flour and shortening.
3. Shape into meatballs (will make about 40 medium size meatballs)
4. Evenly roll each meat ball in the flour then place in the pan to brown on each side.
5. Remove from the pan and place the meat balls into a large baking dish or casserole pan.
6. Top with sweet and sour sauce, giving the pan a little shake to cover the meatballs evenly and bake uncovered for about 30 - 40 minutes.


Sweet and Sour Sauce

1 20 OZ can of pineapple chunks
5 tbs corn starch
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs juice of an orange (fresh from the orange you zested)
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 green pepper (cut into bite size chunks)
1 4z can Pimentos , drained
2 dashes ground ginger


1. Drain juice from the pineapple into a measuring cup. Set aside the pineapple.
2. Add water to juice to make exactly 1 cup of liquid.
3. In saute pan over medium heat blend cornstarch into the juice until the cornstarch has dissolved.
4. Add vinegar, lemon juice, orange juice, brown sugar and soy cause.
5. Simmer, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes.
6. Add pineapple , green pepper & pimento. Simmer for another 3 minutes until the fruit/ veggies are well infused.
7. Use as according to directions above.

These are great served over rice as a main course or as an appetizer! They even taste great cold!

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The Love Dare Day 1


"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2 NIV

10:28 am I think today's dare is going to prove to be one of my most difficult yet. I have a little issue with anger and can tend to lean on the side of VERY impatient. There are moments where even the little things drive me crazy. Like this morning when I woke up to find he had already eaten both slices of the left over pizza without a moments thought to save one for me as I would have done for him. I am not a selfish person and selfishness is a big part of husbands personality. In 8 years I have never heard him say to me "hey honey, do you want this?". But I guess that is where acceptance comes in. If I haven't heard it in 8 years then perhaps I should stop expecting to hear it. I managed to ignore it, but I am not yet sure if that was because he isn't here & I lost my phone or because I was actually successful at holding my

Must remember:

"He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick tempered exalts folly" Proverbs 14:29

2:31 am
So it seems this day wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be. There were moments throughout the day where I felt myself becoming quick to anger or annoyed but I managed to hold myself together and brush it off. At the end of the day I actually feel good having a day without the usual marital drama (or the unusual). It was nice just sitting together without any animosity, hopefully I can pull it off again tomorrow!

"Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger" James 1:19

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Art credit: Patience by Carol Knudsen


Friday, August 26, 2011

Earthquakes and Dares...

Over the past 8 years Tom and I have had our share of problems, many have been very serious, some trivial, all challenging in their own way. Through everything we have always managed to overcome. Considering the severity of some of the trials God has paved our path with that is saying a lot. I am not going to go into the trials we have survived together , that isn't the point of this post, the point is that it has shaken us regardless of our getting past them. Marriage is like an earthquake, an earthquake shows up out of nowhere, sometimes on a quiet night or a beautifully perfect day, it shakes the earth with all of it's might forever leaving a mark in one way or another. Be it destroyed buildings, stolen lives or just a few cracks that weren't there before. The damage is all up to the severity of the earthquake. However, it is possible, no matter how severe the damage to overcome the quake but in the worst cases it takes a lot of physical and mental work. I personally believe marriage is EXACTLY the same way. As with an earthquake you don't just run from the trials , in the rubble is your home and everyone deserves the comforts of home despite the damage. If you had a damaged home in an earthquake you would either rebuild with those you love or move on WITH those you love. You wouldn't assess the damage then leave your family on the roadside while you searched for greener pastures. You would gather them up and go through it all together, becoming stronger in the end having overcome the obstacle put in your path as a unit instead of alone. While Tom and I have gone through our trials together we HAVE grown stronger in many ways. But just like after an earthquake there is still damage, damage that will forever be present. You won't necessarily be able to fill ALL of the cracks in the earth but you can work as hard as you can to fill each and everyone. That is what you do in marriage each and every day , even when you aren't trying. Marriage is WORK but in the midst of all the work it also needs nurturing, something we tend to forget is necessary during the rebuilding process. Working on things does NOT always mean to nurture! And THAT is where Tom and I have gone wrong. We work so hard at "making it work" with "moving forward" and "forgiveness" that we have forgotten to nurture one another and in the end we aren't looking as great on the inside. We work so hard on rebuilding the exterior that we didn't leave any room for decorations!

And that leaves me to the bottom line of this post. Some of you might have heard of a little movie called Fireproof, some of you might have also heard of it's companion book called "The Love Dare". For the next 40 days, starting tomorrow I am going to be taking the challenge of The Love dare in an effort to nurture this marriage. I miss my husband so very much, I miss the long nights we would spend talking to one another & planning our lives. I miss the way he would smile at me out of the blue, I miss the way him simply walking across the room would make me pause. I still love him as I know he loves me, it is simply that we no longer love ourselves because nether one of us have put any effort into each other. It is amazing how when you are "together" you end up relying on each other to get through the day because you become one as a whole. But the past several years we have been too busy with the children, our home & mending fences that we together have become TOO separated in our togetherness. It as if we were two sides of a live oyster being pried open with a jagged knife. Anyone who knows how hard it is to open a seized oyster should know what I am talking about. We try with all of our might to keep our halves together but that knife just keeps trying to pull us apart. Unlike an oyster however we still have our will in the end.

Over the next 40 days I will be using this family journal to document the challenge of the Love dare. I don't know exactly what it is supposed to do but I have faith that whatever it is, it will work. It is time to start filling in the earth so we can find the together in our togetherness.

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Monday, August 22, 2011

To homeschool or not to homeschool?!!

Since we decided to home-school Miriam last year it had always been up in the air about whether or not we were going to home-school Georgia and Sophia as well. We knew that no matter what we DID NOT want our kids in your typical public school setting. Not because we feel we are too good for public school but because we feel EVERYONE is too good for public school as it stands today. Classrooms are always so full leaving children without the fulfilling educational experience they NEED to thrive, so many teachers have given up because their hand are tied so tightly. The public school system itself has become overrun with officials who have political aspirations more so than people who have a desire to educate. And schools are simply TOO dangerous, I don't trust the education system to take care of my kids! We looked in to private school options and then we started looking into charter schools. Eventually the search led to a particular charter school which incorporates the Arts into a very strict education plan. I spent much of my youth in the world of the arts and I KNOW all too well what being a part of it can do to your self esteem, confidence and self worth and my children being a part of that experience has my wheels turning with excitement. After discussing it with Tom we decided that next year for Georgia's first year of Kindergarten we are going to enroll her. She is such a spirited child and I know with all of my heart that this is the kind of educational experience she would LOVE. The thing we love about charter schools is that the enrollment is limited which means "if" our kids got in they would have the type of one on one kids need in school. I LOVE the idea of having a public education "experience" on paper. Friends, rewards, homework, school activities, PTA, dances, sports...all things I want our kids to be a part of. It's the politics of it all that I hate. There is NO ROOM for politics when it comes to educating our children and creating productive intelligent citizens. When you have politics and education, education gets lost in the greediness of the race. I know no matter what we will never make this choice for Miriam but with her the ball game is completely different. Schools, none of them, are equipped to deal with an Autistic blind child, something we learned the hard way. She NEEDS one on one education. Actually the thought of it being just she and I eventually kind of excites me. I have a feeling it will be like opening the door to an entirely new world for her.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

A FRESH new year and a FRESH new UNschool!

It’s that time again, time to wake up early and get back into the rhythm of education.

Last year, our first year at home schooling we decided a typical classroom environment would suit us. I wanted Georgia to truly feel like she was in “school” because I felt I was denying her something Miriam had a chance to experience. This year I decided, I don’t want to do that , a “classroom” is purely mental and since I don’t intend on my kids ever being a part of a public education system they don’t need anything resembling a classroom. I want us to focus more on hands on education, free of worksheets, free of the stress of an academic system that puts too much stress on our kids. Lets face it, Miriam will be never be a child who will sit down and fill out a math problem on paper, she won’t ever learn to color in the lines and she certainly isn’t going to be able to see a logic worksheet. Miriam is not only blind but she is very much autistic, she can and will learn as she has shown us she can do but she isn’t going to do it by the book. She CAN’T do it by the book. I don’t see any point in wasting printer ink when I can be teaching her with things in the home that she can actually touch, feel and relate to.

I want to do things like taking my children into the kitchen to bake and cook our meals together, we can use food to teach all kinds of things from logic to math. I want to take them outside the house and let them learn everything they need to know by experience not by just reading about it in a book. I want them to learn how to read because we do it together as a family not because I am shoving flashcards in their faces. I want them to learn logic and math using things in our home not by using a different worksheet. How often in real life will they be handed a lady bug and told to count the dots? Last year I spent a lot of my time printing out worksheets, building weekly curriculum, keeping track of tests and numbers. It interfered in valuable family time together and I honestly feel limiting things like worksheets will help bring us together. It will also help me to teach our kids even better social skills by interacting in a hands on setting.

We will only be doing partial UN-schooling however, which for us means 4 days a week of 99% UN-schooling. Each day we will still be working on our phonics reading program for about half an hour and one day a week we will “play school”. We no longer have a classroom, I got rid of it and turned it into a play room but I did bring some of their classroom equipment/supplies into the living room where they will be utilized on Friday each week. We will do everything you would do in real school including worksheets and flashcards. We will utilize it to pull everything we learned the previous 4 days together. It is a chance for our mainstream children to physically see what they have learned and be physically rewarded for their work with stars and stickers like any other home school or classroom.

Here are a few things we want to focus on each week this year,

Cooking / Baking together
Silly play
Phonics reading
Number & counting
Out door fun
Logic activity
Educational Toy learning
Arts & Crafts
Music appreciation
Reading together
Spiritual education
Meditation/Relaxation time
Hands on Science
Exercise - Physical play
Health education

And much much more! This of course doesn’t include the one on one education we will need to give Miriam by herself such as speech and tactile activities.

In all I think it will be fun coming up with new activities we can do together to really push the aspects of UN-schooling. I want our entire day to be educational from the second we wake-up to the moment we go to bed. Television is going to end up being VERY limited as we find things we can do together instead such as board games and puzzles. Tom and I are both going to be working this together instead of just me taking the reigns. He can really teach the girls what it means to work with their hands with building projects and such. Someday when they are much older he can teach him his own craft. Needless to say, I am so excited about this coming school year!!!

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Freebies Galore!

I just had the desire to share with our readers all of the amazing freebie offers that came my way today. ENJOY! If you have a freebie to share add it to the comments section and I will update this list with it later with thanks.
"SAILING" magazine
"SPIN" Music Magazine (I love this one!)

QUIT TEA (a smokers aid)
SPLENDA Essentials
STAPLES LABELS (must go to store)
NESTLE Frozen Cup
PAPA Johns Cheese Pizza w/ purchase
Jericho Skin care
DOVE haircare
TENA Wipes
Purina Pro plan cat food
Natural Nibbles Dog treats
Shout Swipes

Potty training DVD
Free potty training tools:

And last but not least, if you haven't signed up for swagbucks yet, this is the time to do it. I have been a member for only a few weeks and have already managed 8 Amazon gift cards by putting in a little work surfing the net, taking surveys, playing games and watching TV. You can trade your swagbucks in for a WIDE variety of items , including cash if you have a Paypal account. If you like free stuff, you will love swagbucks!


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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Life is worth living!

Since I was first diagnosed with having cancer cells on my cervix I found myself in a downward mental spiral and it has been really hard picking myself back up again. A part of me really wanted to take the reigns and live my life to the fullest and another part of me was so defeated it didn't know what to do. I think in the end I fell somewhere in between living and not knowing what to do which just caused me to be seriously depressed. And considering I have suffered from Manic depression (IE: Bi-Polar disorder) most of my life the depression hit REALLY hard. I found myself not having anything positive to say, thinking horrible thoughts and just wanting to give up at times. I felt like I didn't have much support, friends who I thought were my real friends failed me and my family at times seemed so neutral. For a while I wasn't sure what I expected out of anyone until I started thinking about it and realized that I wanted someone to be PISSED OFF with me. I didn't want anyone to treat me like a delicate flower out of water, I wanted someone to not only listen to me yell but to yell with me. I didn't really get that, I got just the opposite, sometimes i got people who didn't seem to care at all like my brother who just shook it off saying "Oh well, nothing I can do about it!". Even though, I had supportive people, people who genuinely cared about whether I lived or died I still felt so alone.

Today I am starting to get myself pulled back together even though finances have kept me from going back for my follow up which I REALLY need to do within the next 2 weeks. I am finding myself smiling more and saying/thinking more positively. I know without a doubt that I do have many great blessings from a husband who loves me to children who always smile to a steady income. God is with me, he provides me strength even when I don't feel like he is providing said strength. This trial has showed me that he does love me and no matter what he is always going to stand by my side.

He has even blessed my husband in the past week, prompting him to go to his first A.A. meeting. I am proud that he made that choice on his own without any prompting. I really think opening up about it to our family and our readers helped him to see how much it was hurting us. The pay off was not only stepping into the light of realization but it also brought him some pretty good business contacts as he has been trying to find a second job to help us get back on our feet and closer to family. Which is something we realized we really needed going through the trial of my being sick. I pray with all of my heart that he continues to move forward with his choice to attend A.A. as it will do wonders for our families well being in the future.

Sometimes it takes a trial or two to make you appreciate the life you have. I certainly appreciate the one I have even though it is a little bit chaotic and dysfunctional at times. But then again, whose life isn't? Living and being happy isn't about having a smile on your face 24 hours a day, it is what it comes down to at that last second of the day when you lay your head on your pillow. If your last thought is of something wonderful, like your husband , your children , God or even just the big beautiful sky above then you KNOW your life is worth living. If your last thought is of anything negative all it takes is to change the last thought to something positive. I am confident that we ALL have something beautiful to think about before we end our day.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Our Growing girls!

We got the girls growth charts today and for the most part we are very happy with the results!

Miriam 6 years old

Average height for her age is 41 inches/ weight 46.2 pounds

Miriam is 45 1/4 inches & 43 pounds. Putting her in the 16th & 18th percentiles.

Not bad for a girl they said would stop growing by age 4 without growth hormone. We stopped giving her HGH because every strain made her deathly sick, which is actually quite common with HGH. She was sick 6 months out of the year, throwing up, white as a sheet which I believe caused her seizures to escalate! I am confident we made the right choice. I would rather her be short than not enjoy life.

Georgia 4 years old

Average height for her age is 37 inches/ weight 35.2 pounds

Georgia is 41 3/4 inches & 38 pounds. Putting her in the 80th & 37th percentiles.

As for Georgia, she might be considered chunky for her age BUT she is also taller than the average 6 year old which means her weight is just right. :-)

Sophia 2 years old

Average height for her age is 30 inches/ weight 28.4 pounds

Sophia is 34 1/2 inches & 43 pounds. Putting her in the 18th & 3rd percentiles.

My Sophia monkey might be a little twig but she eats like a horse and is tall like her daddy!


UPDATE on Miriam:
I am so happy with Miriam. Not only did she lose her first tooth today BUT she has been asking to go potty and actually doing so when she gets there. This is such a giant leap for our world. The thought of having a pull up free house is now realized!

She has also been communicating like crazy. Tom accidentally bumped her head on the wall after putting her down out of his lap where she was sitting. She rubbed her head and laughed. I said "geeze daddy, don't knock her brains out...Miriam tell him not to knock your brains out" (not expecting her to say it) and she said to him "daddy, don't knock my brains out!" I praised her for saying something new and she got so excited for that praise that she told him

We have also been playing a musical "game" of sorts. She sits in my laugh and says something. Whatever she says I have to sing it in music form she then has to repeat it EXACTLY as I sang it with melody. She has been really doing great, not only cooperating but she stays very in tune with the things I sing back to her. She likes this game so much that she actually comes up to me to initiate it.

I am so proud and am so giddy to get back to school this year. I have lots of wonderful things planned for her, the other girls and our classroom.

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Living with alcoholism: What is the question?

My husband and I fell in love at first site, we saw each other across the room, our eyes met and eventually we floated together like twin clouds. It was magic and it was wonderful, a story dreams are made of…sort of. The fact is that no a matter what kind of fairy tale you are reading or how beautiful the story, NONE of the fairy tales you will ever read take place where we met. Typically they take place in a castle or some beautiful land not in a crowded, loud and smelly BAR. Meeting in a bar should have been my first clue that my husband enjoyed the drink, especially since he was drinking alone but I fell so hard it wasn't something I wanted to think about. But eventually my lack of thought and the evil veil called love got the best of me. He spent the greater part of my first pregnancy drinking, coming home at 6 & 7am , not being there for me when I needed him most. But I stuck it out because I loved him, it was a fairy tale and fairy tales always have a happy ending. But then I got pregnant again, during that pregnancy things were a bit crazy, his drinking once again got the best of him and it put a terrible rift between us that was near impossible to fix. But somehow, Georgia was born and we saw our way with love once again. When I got pregnant with Sophia he had stopped drinking but a few months into the pregnancy some old friends came into the picture and the booze started flying threw the house once again. Our relationship was put on the back burner and the baby and children became his second priority over alcohol. I was rather thankful when my church came back into our lives. He openly accepted the missionaries into our home, he began lessons and stopped drinking and smoking for a year. Our family was so happy, we were finally together, I could trust him again after numerous indiscretions, we were a family. I finally thought my fairy tale was starting to be read but I was wrong because soon the people who had helped destroy the last bit of sobriety marched back into our lives and he fell off the wagon once again. I eventually left the church , mostly because I was ashamed of his behavior and because I actually felt as if I was undeserving of God with a husband who was so adamantly Godless. I felt like his demons were my demons and someone possessed by demons had no place in the kingdom of heaven. He has spent the last year and a half drinking, thankfully he stopped drinking hard liquor which made him mean and forgetful but the hard beer he has been drinking is almost as bad.

They say when you are married it is for better or for worse but there has got to be a point where the worst calls for “enough”. Every-time I need him, when the kids get sick, the day before I have surgery for cancer, the day before we go on family trips and have lots to do, the days when Miriam’s temperature spikes to 104 degrees which is the first sign of seizures, the days we have family plans or simply the days I want to enjoy his company he shows up to the house wasted which makes him useless. I feel like all of the difficult times I am forced to go through alone and it is starting to suffocate me. I see my children growing up in the same home I had growing up, a father who puts drinking first above all else. He knows how I feel about alcohol but he has quit so much, lied so much about so much that I don’t so much think I am capable of loving him anymore. Mainly because , the man I love is hidden behind a giant beer can. His eyes change, he walks different, he speaks differently and he is simply unavailable to us all. I cannot talk to him anymore about anything because no matter what it is it will serve as an excuse for him to get drunk. I have tried in the past to discuss these matters with his family but all they ever say to me, especially his mother is “he doesn’t ever sound drunk when he calls me” even though I can guarantee them that he has been drunk more than HALF of the times he has called them in the 8 years we have been together.

I love my husband a great deal but I am getting tired. With all of the health issues I am having now I feel as if I don’t deserve this anymore. I don’t deserve to be alone even though my supposed partner is sitting with the neighbor putting them back or DRIVING with booze on his way home which he thinks is OK because he is on the “backroads”. It is not OK, not at all! A DWI nearly killed our family once before, what makes him think another one wouldn’t shatter us? But I guess that is the problem, not only does he NOT think but he doesn’t care to think.

What am I supposed to do? Can I continue to pretend I live in a happy home when I live with a husband who needs help but doesn’t care enough about the people that love him to get that help? He is the father of 3 beautiful girls if those girls are not enough to make him quit hurting us what is? All I know is that my days are filled with fear, anger, hurt, betrayal, distrust and just plain unknowing. I wish his family would help me, I wish they would talk to him, help him, reach out to him but they want to pretend it is not happening even though it runs deep within their family. Even though it was some of them that caused the hurt that got him here. How do you help an alcoholic that doesn’t want help? How do you help an alcoholic who is also a pathological liar? Answer is, you don’t! And if the answer is “you don’t” you have to ask yourself a different question which is “how do you help YOU.” The only answer I find when I ask myself that question is summed up by one word “Leave”. But "leave" isn't always the advice you "want" to take even though it is the advice you should take and the only advice that keeps your kids safe.

This post is my "coming out of the closet" of sorts. I am tired of pretending that it isn't a major problem. It is a HUGE problem and it is killing us in every way. So many people would like me to just shut up about it, keep my mouth shut but I am done keeping my mouth shut. I need help and speaking out is the first choice I am making to find my way to normalcy. I Jenna Bramlett am married to an alcoholic!

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