25+ No-Cook Meal Ideas (Plus a FREE Download)

In just two weeks our family of 9 is headed to San Antonio, TX for the National Bible Bee Competition.  This will be our third year heading to nationals and every year I am trying to find ways to best meet our traveling needs.

As when we are at home, feeding our crew is a huge part of our day.  And when we take our family on an 1,800 mile trip to stay in a 4-star resort for a week, food is definitely on our minds.  How are we going to feed our family affordably (read without going out)?  What meals can I plan that will be quick, nutritious, and be made with many shelf-stable ingredients?  And the biggest question of them all…

How can I  feed our family without cooking for a week???

Here is a list of 25+ no-cook meal ideas to help you and your family with your next hotel stay.  Using some basic ingredients, many of which can be purchased in advance and packed in your vehicle if you are driving to your destination, you can feed your own crew without breaking the bank.

FREE Downloadable Grocery List

Many of these options do not require a recipe, but if you need a starting point, most of the meals are linked to a recipe that I found using a good ol’ Google search.  Adapt to meet your family’s needs!

Chicken (Rotisserie or Canned)

1. Simple Chicken Salad Stuffed Pitas – Canned or rotisserie chicken, mayonnaise (buy the smallest jar you can find), salt, and pepper make for a simple chicken salad.  Fill a pita with it, serve it with crackers, or make a sandwich.  Serve with some baby carrots or other easy to prep veggie.

2. Caesar Chicken Wraps – No recipe needed!  Canned or rotisserie chicken, small jar of salad dressing, tortillas or wraps, and a small bag of salad mix is all that is required.  Assemble these and then wrap them in parchment paper for a grab and go meal.

3. No Cook Cobb Salad – Adapt the dressing recipe to suit your preferences, or use your favorite store-bought dressing to simplify preparation.

4. Asian Chicken Salad Lettuce Cups

5. Thai Chicken Wraps – Simplify the ingredient list as needed.

6. Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches – Canned or rotisserie chicken, a small jar of barbecue sauce, and bread/rolls of choice are all you need here.  Add some sliced cheddar or other cheese if desired.

7. Chicken and Guacamole Tacos

8. Rotisserie Chicken Soft Tacos – Rotisserie chicken seasoned with a little cumin and chili powder (mix it up in a bag or small container and pack it), your favorite taco sauce, a small bag of grated cheese, lettuce, and tortillas are simple to pull together to make these crowd-pleasing tacos.

9. Crunchy Taco Salad – Rotisserie chicken (see above), a bag of salad mix, grated cheese, your favorite taco sauce, and a small bag of tortilla chips (slightly crushed) tossed together in a bowl.  Add sour cream or hot sauce to taste.  *Try this with canned beans in place of the chicken for a veggie version.


Lunch Meat

10. Roast Beef Summer Rolls – Substitute soy sauce in place of the fish sauce.  You can even use a restaurant packet of soy sauce.

11. Build Your Own Sub Sandwich – Keep ingredient options simple.  Consider using those condiment packages that are sitting around in your refrigerator to save space in packing.

12. Roast Beef and Cheddar Roll Ups

13. Thai Beef Salad – See note above about fish sauce.

14. Meat, Cheese, and Cracker Platter – A favorite with our crew!  Add some fruit and veggies to stretch the meat and cheese and to add extra vitamins, minerals, and fiber.


Canned Tuna & Seafood

15. Mexican Shrimp Salad Wraps

16. Creamy Shrimp Rolls

17. Simple Tuna Salad – Serve it in a pita, on bread, with crackers, or over a bed of lettuce.  Add fruits and veggies to complete the meal.

18. Mediterranean Tuna Lettuce Wraps

19. Italian Tuna and White Bean Salad

20. Tuna Sub Sandwiches – See ideas for Build Your Own Sub Sandwich.


Vegetarian, Beans

21. Corn and Black Bean Salad with Tortilla Chips – For this dish, you can put the salt, pepper, and spices into a small ziploc bag to pack along with your other food items.

22. Mediterranean Garbanzo Bean Salad

23. Hummus, Bread, and Chopped Israeli Salad – For less mess, serve the salad in a styrofoam cup and use spoons instead of forks.

24. Vegetarian Burrito Bowls – No recipe needed!  Pinto beans or black beans, salad mix, grated cheese, taco sauce, and some sour cream will have you on your to a satisfying and easy meal.

25.  Pinto Beans, Chips, and Salsa – Season the pinto beans with a little cumin and chili powder.  If you have it on hand, throw in some garlic or onion powder.  You can mash these in a bowl if you want “refried” beans.

26. Marinated Chickpea Salad with Bread – Serve over lettuce, with bread, crackers, pita, or even tortillas.

27. Southwestern Salad with Corn and Avocado – Use canned corn in place of the fresh corn.  Add black beans or pinto beans for extra protein.

28. Guacamole Salad


Check out our very first Color Through The BIBLE Coloring Book!

Use the discount code: FB40 to receive 40% off on your purchase.

Discount code may also be used for any other purchase from our Color Through The BIBLE store.

Thank you!


We are excited to announce that we have just released our very first…


As parents, Claude and I have one primary goal for our children: That they know God and His Word.  As a result, Bible study (and memorization) is a central part of our daily life.

It is our hope that this coloring book will be a way in which you and your family can bring God’s Word to the center of your attention.  Color them, hang them up, give them to friends and family, use the blank pages to write in Bible verses that you are memorizing.  But, most importantly, let the Truth of God’s Word transform your mind.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

-Romans 12:2

Going along with the theme of our Bible study this fall (in preparation for the National Bible Bee Competition), our first coloring book is all about the book of COLOSSIANS!  With passages from Colossians and related verses from other parts of the Bible, this should be a fun way to dig into God’s Word.

We invite you to check out our Color Through The BIBLE store and also grab a FREE download!

And please, please, PLEASE SHARE this with others who you know will enjoy coloring through the Bible with us!



A Treatise on the (Truly) Strong-Willed Child

I hear and read a lot about the strong-willed child.  I see blog posts.  I read tips on how to manage kids who are dead set on doing their own thing.  And I always find that these parents seem to have found a magic bullet – a key that will unlock the sweet and compliant nature in their otherwise stubborn children.

I will insert random happy photos of our children so that you can see it is not all blood, guts, and war around here.  We do actually have fun….sometimes.

I live in a house full of strong-willed people.  I married a strong-willed person (even though he insists the kids get it from their mother!).  And I have hardly ever found a method of undoing our children’s wills and rendering them easy to teach, easy to parent, or easy to work with.  It just doesn’t happen.

What does work?  Time.  Persistence.  A stronger will than the child you are parenting.

Here are a few things that I often see as “tips and tricks” in parenting the strong-willed child.  Honestly, I have to wonder if the authors of such advice have truly strong-willed children or if their children only get stubborn every once in a while.


Coaxing and Sugar-Coating

Okay, so nobody calls it this, but the method is still the same.  Your strong-willed child puts up a fight about eating lettuce.  You give him one piece with dressing.  Or you doctor it up in a salad with other ingredients you know he enjoys.  Basically, you avoid going head-to-head with his defiance.  You attempt to make the lettuce palatable.  As Claude said recently, “When I was a kid, I always knew when someone was trying to force me to do something I didn’t want to do.  No matter how sugar-coated it was, I wasn’t going to be tricked.”

And there is the problem with a truly strong-willed individually and the so-called “tips and tricks” to mold them into compliant people.  They see the tricks for what they are….tricks.

Work With and Not Against Your Child’s Strong Will

This sounds so nice to a mom who would like nothing more than peace in her home.  I would love to feel like I am working with my kids and not fighting against them much of the time.  But the problem is that our truly strong-willed children don’t want to work with us.  They want to do their own thing – be their own boss.

Recently, after weeks of battling our 6-year-old over a task that must be done several times each day, I asked her, “Why do you keep fighting me on this?”  She was unemotional at the time, it not being the height of tension between us.  She very calmly and succinctly said, “I just don’t want to obey you.  I want to do what I want to do.”

In a nutshell: sin.

Every child disobeys and can struggle with complying with rules and authorities.  But truly strong-willed children never want to comply.  Some of them act as if rules are there for them to break.  They often don’t even see anything wrong with this.  At least several of my children don’t….and that is not for lack of parental instruction!

How am I supposed to work with this kind of attitude?  I have yet to find out.

Again, the name of the game here is to avoid going head to head with the defiance.


Include Your Child In Making Decisions

Again, a nice idea and one that works occasionally in our home.  The problem, as it goes, is that when you “give them an inch, they go a mile”.  When I give my truly strong-willed children license to make decisions for themselves (within appropriate guidelines), I have “success” for a short time.  But I am still fighting the strong will on every other front.

So, do I allow my truly strong-willed children to be a part of every decision that must be made?  This is impossible.  Eventually I have still have to face the giant – their willfulness.  I can not avoid it forever.  And neither can the kids.


Find Out Why Your Child Is Really Acting Out

There are times when extenuating circumstances are a major contributing factor in our children’s behaviors.  Times of life transition, when a child is sick, or when he has experienced a big disappointment are understandably difficult for kids to deal with and often result in unwanted behavior as they navigate their emotions.  But in day to day life, our kids rarely have some deep and hidden reason for acting out.

Believe me, I have literally lost sleep and shed tears over this possibility.  Maybe we are completely ruining our children and not providing them the gentlest, most loving, funnest home environment and that is why they are acting out.  Perhaps I am just a huge failure as a mother and don’t know my children well enough to notice that there is something deep within that is troubling them.

There may be a time when these things are true….maybe.  But when I pray and take a step back I can see that it is basically nonsense.  Our children are loved, cared for, and growing and developing quite well.  Our home is not perfect, but upon searching I have yet to find any reason other than what I already stated.

From the mouths of babes.  “I just don’t want to obey you.”

I have heard this statement not only from our 6-year-old, but from each of our truly strong-willed children.  Why are my kids “acting out” against me?  Because they want to be in charge of their own lives and they view rules and authorities as things to be challenged.

What To Do?

I have no quick and easy tips or clear answers.

Prayer.  Time.  Prayer.  Persistence.  Prayer.  Grace.  Prayer.  Wisdom.

Did I mention prayer???


The Problem of Sin (Magnified)

Truly strong-willed individuals have the very real struggle with sin that the rest of us have.  It is not in greater proportion in their lives, but it is way more obvious than in more compliant people.  I can say this from seeing the two temperaments juxtaposed every day in our home.

One child looks much less sinful and requires many fewer corrections than another child.  And this same child will insist that she would not sin if not provoked by her siblings, as expressed in this recent statement, “If I didn’t have any brothers or sisters then I wouldn’t have this sin!”


The constant poking and prodding from annoying siblings brings to light sin that is harboring in her heart.  The same happens with me and, I assume, with you as well.

The thing about a truly strong-willed child is that they are constantly being poked and prodded because they perceive more things as an assault on their autonomy.  They are constantly coming up against rules, regulations, boundaries, limitations, and the authorities who uphold these high walls.  And they will not, in their immature state, suck it up and deal with it.  They will do what they are wired to do: fight.

Their sinful nature takes flight.

Now, I say “immature” because the same exact traits that cause problems when raising truly strong-willed individuals can be a huge asset in a mature person.  Breaking rules in order to do what is truly right, not caring about the consequences to their own person, pushing the boundaries to achieve great things, and standing up to injustice are all good.  But a child hasn’t yet learned how to harness his strong will.  He fights against anything that challenges his own authority in his life.

The Joy of A Challenge

This brings me to another point.  Truly strong-willed kids naturally challenge anything and everything that comes their way.  They find a way to climb under the baby gate so that they can go up the forbidden stairs.  They go back time and time again to the outlet that you scolded them for touching a minute ago.  They challenge your very authority as their parent.  They enjoy a challenge….mostly.

Even then, I find that I still have to fight my super strong-willed children to pursue challenges that are good and beneficial to them.  It really never ends!

Working with this need for a challenge actually does work well for our kids….sometimes.  If I have a child kicking up a fuss, in the right circumstance, I can challenge them to do it.  This works particularly well for our oldest strong-willed kid.  But it only works if he really wants to meet the challenge.  But it does work occasionally.  That’s better than never, right???



The truly strong-willed individual is also looking for chinks in your armor.  They are looking for loopholes, gaps, inconsistencies.  These give them a foothold and an opportunity to challenge you – the authority figure.  They will take advantage of these gaps because they really do want to do their own thing their own way.

We just bought a house.  The front yard runs right up to a country highway with a speed limit of 55mph.  Needless to say, we put up a fence shortly after moving in.  The fence is awesome.  It keeps the kids in and the only way they can get out is if a bigger kid opens the gate (and that must be done with parental permission only).  But there is one problem.  The fence ends at the end post of our front porch.   Under the porch there is no barrier.  So there is a gap.  The kids, should they get it in their head to do so, can crawl under the porch and outside the fence without any hindrance.

Only one child has done this and it was by accident.  At least that time it was.  I don’t count on it always being this way.  There might very well come a day when one of our children is dead set on going outside the fence.  He or she will find the gap and go right through.

Mission accomplished.


When Wrong is Right And Everything Else is Unfair

Of course, any child might do this, but the thing about our truly strong-willed children is that they will not stop to think if they should take advantage of this loophole.  Of course they should!

When I was a child I remember crossing a boundary in our neighborhood that I knew I wasn’t supposed to cross.  I remember thinking if I should or shouldn’t because it was, in fact, wrong to go past that line.  I chose to do it anyway, but the debate was there and I felt sure that at any moment the police would come and find me.  I was doing something wrong!

Not our kids.  Some of them would never give it a second thought.  And once caught, they will admit to knowing the rules but they will also admit to not caring or that they think the rules somehow didn’t apply that one time.  They are always right because boundaries are meant to be challenged.

They challenge the boundary.  They win.  Success.

And the ensuing fight, “Why am I being punished?  This is so unfair!  It’s your fault!  You set the boundary!”

Going Head to Head

I hate confrontation.  Hate it.  Hate it.  Hate it.

But confrontation is not always bad.  In fact, when parenting a truly strong-willed child, confrontation is both necessary and good.

This is one concept that I read a decade ago when I realized we might have a strong-willed kid on our hands.  Dr. Dobson to the rescue….sort of.  (I have to wonder what was left out of that book or how compliant his strong-willed child actually was.  Hmmm….)

Strong-willed individuals need to see that the authority figures in their lives are worthy of their respect.  They need time and testing to be convinced that the rules and regulations they must comply to are worthwhile.  And they need to find out for themselves if the boundaries are strong enough to deserve their respect and therefore to live within them.

So, boundaries must be firm.  Rules and regulations need to be upheld consistently.  They also need to have a purpose.  Of course, not every rule or social construct has an agreeable purpose.  Do we ever hear about these in our home (and not only from the kids)!

Cultural expectations mostly fall into this category.  Not wearing a hat indoors.  Wearing clean, tidy clothing for church or other outings.  Letting girls go first.  And the like.

Sometimes these cultural expectations must be questioned, but for the most part we tell our kids that they need to honor them in order to respect and honor the people around them.  The “rule” may not make much sense, but they may not defy it just because they don’t like it.  In the real world we have to comply with these unspoken rules every day and so even our toughest, strongest-willed kids must comply albeit with a fight on most occasions.

And as a parental authority, I must act like one.  When our children throw a fit because they don’t want to do something, I make them do it.  In short, I fight them.  I go head to head.  And I hate every minute of it.


What’s a Parent To Do?

But what else can I do?  If I coax and sugar-coat, our truly strong-willed kids roll their eyes and see right through the mask.  “Mom is trying to make me eat that lettuce.  I am not going to do it.”

If I try to form an allegiance with them, working with them instead of against them, they see an opportunity to take advantage of the situation.  Or they are misinformed, thinking they have more control than they actually do, and a bigger battle ensues.  “But I thought you were coming over to my side of things, Mom!”

If I ask if they would like to be part of the decision making process, they will very likely say, “I choose not to have any lettuce.  Period.”

And if I assume that there is something very wrong with them that they fight on every front, I bandage the symptoms but never address the cause.  I allow their strong will to be left untrained.  This is not in their best interest because the only way to help them use their powers for good is to come head to head with the defiance.  They must learn to submit to authority.  This is not as heavy-handed as it may sound.

Ultimately, their strength of will can only be shaped and molded into something beneficial to them and to others if they will submit to being taught.  If they will submit to instruction.  If they will submit to rules and regulations.  If they can see where a boundary has been set and have the freedom to choose to push that boundary or stay within it after determining which is the better, wiser option.

Because if left unchecked, a super strong-willed individual will fight and push, no matter what the consequences may be.  Ask me how I know.  In our home, we have a few people who are virtually unaffected by ten times the discipline that their more compliant siblings would easily learn from.

When I, as a parent, avoid head to head “combat” with my truly strong-willed child, I may buy myself some peace and quiet right now.  But my child could very well reap a harvest hardship later in life.


Choosing to Fight – A Real Life Application

We participate in the National Bible Bee.  Our children are quite good at memorization and teaching them what the Bible says is our ultimate goal in raising them.  It is a natural fit for us.  Except….

Super strong-willed kids.

Many people may disagree with our solution to this, but they are not living in our home with our kids.  So, think what you will.  We have made a calculated decision.

We fight our kids to do Bible Bee.

It sounds terrible, I know.  Shouldn’t they like it?  Shouldn’t they enjoy studying God’s Word?  Shouldn’t it be fun???

We would love nothing more than for our children to delight in studying and memorizing God’s Word.  But for some of them some of the time (and a select few of them most of the time), it is not palatable.  They would rather spend their extra time climbing trees, building forts, and having Nerf wars.  To spend a few hours every day studying and memorizing scripture is not what they would call fun.

It is a little bit like eating lettuce.  We make them do it.  We keep our expectations reasonable, based on their ability and potential.  But we do not let them give it up just because it is not super enjoyable for them (or for us).

We fought our oldest child on the lettuce front for several years.  He threw a fit every single time we ate lettuce.  For years.  We did not require him to eat copious amounts of it, but he had to have one decent-sized serving every time we served lettuce.  We did not relent.  And, being super strong-willed, he started (after a very long time) turning his fight against us into a fight to get the lettuce down.

Now, a handful of years later, he does not love lettuce.  He will still grumble about it every once in a while.  But his appetite has grown to accept lettuce.  He will dish it up without asking and sometimes will even have a second helping.  This is rare, but it gives me hope that something is working so I remember it and am encouraged.

This can apply to any child, no matter the temperament, but for our strong-willed kids it is all the more necessary to fight the good fight.  Engage in pretty much every battle.  Really.  Do it.

Our children may not always enjoy doing Bible study.  But it is vital to their growth.  They need scripture, so we will keep feeding it to them no matter what fight they put up against us.  I feel like I must say that this is, of course, all done with wisdom.  We are not torturing our children.  Neither are we “scarring them for life”.  We are teaching them to be disciplined in one area in hopes that they will grow in Christ and also become disciplined in other areas of their lives.

The Path to Full Potential

In order for our children to reach their full potential, nothing must stand in their way.  I am thinking idealistically because we all know that there are obstacles in life.  But if the main obstacle a person has to overcome is a truly strong-will, it behooves me as a parent to help them tackle that beast.  It can be “tamed” to a point of the child being free to choose whether or not their will should be on or off in a given situation.

If it is always on, they will fight what is uncomfortable and unpleasant.  They may very well fight the things that would strengthen and build them up (like studying God’s Word) to the point of missing out on the benefits of these disciplines.

I do my children no favor when I avoid their willfulness.  It is true what is often said about trong-willed individuals.  Their strong will can be a huge asset to them and to others.  The most successful people are often very strong willed.  They push boundaries for the benefit of others.  They choose to fight injustice.  The will get up time and time again and keep fighting toward a goal.  If they have been trained.  If they have learned to be disciplined.  If they are not a slave to their will but instead are able to submit when necessary.  If, ultimately, they are willing to submit to God’s work in their lives.

Claude and I want to see our children succeed and so we will keep fighting them in every necessary battle to win the war, not against them, but against the sin-driven will that can easily lead them barreling down the wrong track.

I have often felt that I am standing at the bottom of steep hill, desperately trying to push a giant train up the hill that it is so intent on going down.  Down leads to a wreck.  Up leads out to open spaces, peace, success.

Fighting to keep the train moving in the right direction is what must be done.  There comes a point when the train has started moving in the right direction on its own and then less is required of me.  Lord willing, there will come a day when the train is headed fully in the right direction, engines running.  Then the world better look out because a truly strong-willed individual will be roaring down the track, ready to take down all things that go against God and His Word, those that are unjust or unfair, or those that put a limitation on the potential of discovery or accomplishment in a specific area.

It takes a very rare person to be set on that track of their own doing.  It is through the work of the Holy Spirit.  Some pushing and prodding from parental units is certainly appropriate as well.  🙂


Reality Check

I will be completely honest here and say that parenting a super strong-willed child is not pleasant all of the time.  There are seasons when it is never pleasant.  When you have multiple children with truly strong wills, then there can be very long seasons when the days are spent in relentless, head to head battles with the wills of your children.  It is exhausting.  It can be very discouraging.  And it is not fun.

I would love to enjoy this season of parenting.  But I don’t always enjoy it.

I would love to enjoy my children in this season of parenting.  But I don’t always enjoy their behavior and attitudes.

The reality is that even when you find something that works to train your incredibly strong-willed child to use that strength for their good and the benefit of others, it requires a lot of hard work.  And that is not always enjoyable.

Sounds like a really uplifting end, doesn’t it?

I really do believe that very strong-willed people have potential that is greater than the average, compliant individual.  Because there is greater potential there is more work involved in training and preparing that individual to reach their fullest potential.

As a parent to very strong-willed kids, I must work harder in training them than training our other children who are a little more easy-going.  It does not mean that I give the “easier” kids the short end of the stick.  They are just easier to raise.  The heed correction.  They listen to instruction.  They do what they are told and they are benefited by teaching and training more quickly than their stronger-willed siblings.

In order to accomplish the same goal – full potential – a truly strong-willed child requires more of the parent.  The end goal is not different.  I do not think that my more compliant children can settle for less.  I do not think that my strong-willed children should settle for less.

We are not settling here.

We are working to the degree that is required to help our children reach their fullest potential in every aspect of their lives.

And, no, the success of a child is not dependent on his parents.  But as a parent, you know how much you love your child and long to see him soar in life.  You give it all you’ve got because that is what God requires of you as a parent.  He will take care of the end result.  But I, for one, want to know that I have done all that I can to show my children the way in which they should go.

No matter how easy, hard, or enjoyable the process may (or may not) be.

Final Thoughts

There is so much more that can be said.  And so many other unrealistic “tips and tricks” that I would love to counter.  I will say that as a parent it is easy to wish that our truly strong-willed children would just give up and comply.  Why can’t they be like their “easier” siblings?  Why are there so many of them in our family?  How does God think that we can raise them?  It’s an impossible task!

Yes.  It is impossible.

That is why prayer is so important.  God knows your kids.  God knows you.  God knew that you and your strong-willed child would be going rounds over wearing socks with snow boots.  He knew that the battles wouldn’t end there.  He knows that you are weary.  He knows.

God also knows exactly how He wired your child.  He knows what makes her tick.  He knows what sets her off.  He knows where her heart is and only He can reach it.

He will give you wisdom when you need it and grace to get through each day.  He will also give these things to your child.

Raising truly strong-willed children has been truly humbling.  Claude and I often say that we would have written a parenting book if we were only working with certain ones of our children.  But God knew better and gave us a house full of kids that keep our egos in check and lead us straight to Christ.  And it is the best place for us to be – unable to rely on our own wisdom and innate ability.  Fully reliant on the Lord from moment to moment.

Then, no matter what the failures and successes are, God alone gets the glory.




How to describe this child?  He is funny, energetic, cute, curious, busy, affectionate, and smart.  Very smart.“Daniel go to store.  Buy phome.  Need Daddy wallet.”

Now, I did go to the store on Sunday afternoon to buy a new phone.  Daniel was not with me.  He rarely goes to any store because we are becoming homeschool recluses.  Life.  Seven kids 10 and under.  Yeah, that.  And still, he remembered where I went and he somehow knew that a person needs a wallet to complete purchases.

At bed time, I told him he needed pajamas.  Then I teased him a bit because he can’t say “PJs”.  Instead he says “PGs”.

“Time for Pajamas.  PJs.  PGs!”

Then he grins and through giggles says, “Cream cheese!”

Rhyming.  Yes, I am 99.99% sure that he intended to make a rhyme.  He thought it was hilarious.

He also likes to change the vowel sounds in words.  This, I think he picked up after I sang the “I like to eat apples and bananas” song once.

“Yes!  Yase!  Yeese!  Youse!  Yice!”

(Please excuse my terrible phonetics…)

Daniel also likes to play with his food.  He will bite off parts of a sandwich, carrot, etc. and then walk it around the table.  He adds growls and grunts, neighs and snorts, to fit the animal he is pretending his food has become.  He will march the animal up to my arm and say, “Lion going to eat you, Mommy!  Nom, nom, nom!  Yummy!  Grrr!”

One afternoon I saw him standing in the doorway to the dining area.  It looked like he had something in his mouth.  When I asked him about this, he said, “Daniel have smoovie in mouth.”  Since we had just had smoothie with lunch, I assumed he was remembering, but it did still seem like something was actually in his mouth.  A few seconds later he threw up on the floor.  He stared at it for half a minute, ran over to get a kitchen towel, and started cleaning up his own mess.  “Daniel clean up smoovie, Mommy!”

So, he did have smoothie in his mouth….Gross….

He likes to call himself nicknames just for fun.  “I Dan!  I Danny!”  We don’t use nicknames for him.  A sibling may have called him Dan or Danny once or twice at most.  I think he just recognizes the word play.

He has a huge vocabulary.  If he doesn’t have the exact word that he needs he will substitute it with a similar word.

Being very verbal means that he narrates his entire day, which is quite convenient.  If he is getting into something he usually informs me of the coming trouble.

“I taking out toilet paper!”

“Daniel climbing up step stool!”

He enjoys making jokes.  “You may have a smoovie, Mommy!”  “I may?”  Looking out of the corner of his eye, a big grin spreading across his face, “No. Waaay!”

He recites Genesis 1:1.  ” Gens 1:1.  In begigning God crated heavens earf  Gens 1:1.”

Note: The previous statement does NOT contain typos.

He likes to play with army figures.  He walks, flies, and flips them all over the house, narrating every move they make.  Sometimes they will talk.  Mostly they make vehicle noises.

He imagines that there are animals out in the woods that will come into his bedroom window – bears and squirrels mostly.  He also remembers that there is a turkey decoy behind the house.  He never forgets that decoy.

When he goes down the stairs he says, “I go down stairs.  Bump.  Bump.  Bump.” a la Winnie-the-Pooh.  I have no idea how he knows the reference or how he understands that it is quite cute.

And he definitely knows that he is cute!

“Sarah coot!  Daniel coot!”  Giggle.  Laugh.  Give Mommy that irresistible smile.

He loves to color and draw.  This has been a favorite activity since….hmmm….I can’t remember when.  I think for close to a year and maybe even longer.  He just turned 2 years old a couple of weeks ago.  He can sit for an hour or more drawing and coloring.  Or, as he likes to say, “I writing, Mommy!”

I don’t really remember him using the fist pencil grasp.  Probably he did very early on…maybe?  Now he picks up his crayon or marker almost as well as his 5-year-old brother.

This week he opened an activity book and traced the circles in it.  His (slightly) older sister was sitting next to him, but she was immersed in her own little world.  I am guessing that he saw her tracing shapes and letters and decided to try his hand at it?

He also eats marker tips and glue sticks.  While he may show signs of being a bit advanced for his age, he is still a newly-turned 2-year-old.

This week I am trying him out with some slightly structured preschool learning – shapes, colors, phonics, numbers.  I am not necessarily tailoring anything to him.  He is simply joining the Preschool/Kindergarten crowd for reading and math.  We are tacking on some simple shape and color crafts that Jer and Rachel also enjoy because they never do crafts because I am tired and realistic and have a lot of food to cook every day and a baby to nurse and I always say “no” to scissors and glue and I never let our kids have any fun in school.  I’m kidding.  Partly kidding.

Oh, and he has decided to abandon nap time.  It was one of his favorite times of day until last week when he very suddenly discovered that he can climb out of his play yard.  He used to lie down on his pillow and stay there until I or one of the older kids retrieved him.  He would wait for us to take him out of nap time.

Now when I put him in his bed he says, “Mommy make comfy cozy.  Mommy make tent please.”  Once I leave the room I hear his announcement, “I’m climbing out!”  Thud-thud-thud go his little footsteps.  And I know that I will be seeing his charming little smile in a matter of moments.

“Daniel got out nap time, Mommy!”




A Comedy of Errors

Last night I decided to try my hand at grilling over our fire pit.  The problem was that I have never started a fire on my own.  While starting it (about 7 times) was a breeze, keeping it burning was an all-out failure.  At one point I asked the kids how long it takes Claude to get a fire roaring.  They very quickly said, “Not this long!”

Then Jeremiah, being ever so encouraging, walked past and said, “Mommy, you’re not any good.”


This is the same kid who said to me while I struggled to make a pot of coffee over the weekend (I used to work at Starbucks, friends, and I can’t make coffee!).  Anyway…this is the same little guy who said, “Mommy, Daddy is good at coffee.  You are good at tea.”

Yes.  He is right.

So, after an hour or more, I prayed for help and Claude pulled up in the driveway.  Hallelujah!

But even he struggled to keep this fire going.  8:00pm came and went, raw chicken over a cool fire pit.  We opted to make the kids something else for dinner while our chicken took the slow road to done-ness.

Green smoothies and rice count as a complete meal, right???

The kids were blissfully unaware of the delayed dinner.  We set out the picnic blankets, the lawn chairs, and the towels.  The kids splashed in the itty bitty kiddie pool, ran through the sprinkler, and helped water the plants.  The big kids worked on Bible memorization and recited their daily passages for me outside as the sun set.


Bed time 2 hours later than normal?  In a perfect world, maybe.  But then in a perfect world would bed time happen right on schedule or would there be no need for a scheduled bed time and it would happen perfectly no matter what time?

I know not the answer to such questions.  What I do know is that it is my bed time.  Yes, 12:05am is bed time for sure!

Super Saturday

Today was a super day.  A super grouchy day.  I will say that at least Claude and I didn’t join in on the Grouch Day celebrations.  This is a miraculous thing and we can take no credit for such success.  And if we made it through bed time without mass meltdown, it is only by the grace of God.

Like anything, though, the day was not all bad.  We enjoyed these little tidbits of cuteness in the midst of Grouch Fest 2017.

If you are going to have a Super Grouch Day, make sure it also coincides with the planned Donuts and Library Day.  Then at least your parents will some reprieve from your grouchiness.

Okay, so everyone looks really happy and decidedly not-grouchy in these photos.  They were all super happy for about 12.3 minutes while they chose and consumed their donuts.  And we like to feel good about ourselves as parents, so naturally we only take photos when everyone is smiling so that we can show the world how fabulous we are at raising a large crew.

I hope y’all know that I’m being facetious….

Can you find the crew members in this picture?  🙂

For such a grumpy start to the day, we really did end well.  And as I watched the kids play this evening I remembered the times my family went out after dinner on a summer night – to the school play ground, for a bike ride, or out for a walk.  I remembered walking to the bakery shop with my dad on a Saturday morning and picking out my favorite donut.  They are happy memories for me.  I can’t remember ever being grumpy, irritable, disrespectful, disobedient.  Dad, Mom….you can call me out here!

I have a feeling that our little crew will look back on days like today and feel all the warm fuzzies that should be felt on a Super Saturday.

And that is exactly as it should be.

By The Numbers

Just for fun, and because I didn’t have anything else to do with my morning (ha!)….

Please keep in mind that chips, peanut butter, bread, milk, cereal, and eggs do not represent all that we eat each day.  We do actually consume fruits, vegetables, and plenty of protein.

Chew Crew By The Numbers

Of Yard Work and Parenting

Not to bore anyone or anything, but here are my not-so-deep thoughts on parenting as illustrated through mowing a fairly large and unruly lawn.

We use a reel mower.  You know, the old-fashioned, man-powered kind?  Yep.  That’s how we roll.  Find the hardest way to do a task and then push through (pun most definitely intended) until the job is done.  When you envision our lawn mower, you really should have this picture in mind:

I hope this is not copyrighted….maybe since only 7 people read this blog it won’t really matter??? Yes, I’ll go with that.

Our mower looks a little more modern than this but that is purely cosmetics – a bright orange cover over the reel, a nifty-looking “ergonomic” handle, and the like.

When we purchased the mower we were living in a suburb with a small-ish yard in one of the flattest states in the Union – Texas.  This mower was perfect for maintaining that lawn.  Then we moved a couple of times and now we find ourselves with quite a bit more yard to deal with, a hill, a large section that was easily over 2 feet tall, and a lot of ditches and holes in the ground.

The yard is a bear.  But one that we are taming, week by week.

Most people would probably invest in a ride-on mower for this yard.  Or at least something powered by more than two legs and some elbow grease.  But we’re not really in the market for either at the moment, and like I said, we prefer to find the hardest way to go about our work.  It makes for an interesting life.

We may not be using the best mower for the job, but we are still getting the job done.  My grandfather probably would have something to say about that.  He was a man who liked to do the job right with the right tools for the job.  He was a bit particular about knives in the kitchen, among other things.  There were knives for every purpose and mixing and matching a knife to a task was a practice of which he would most likely not approve.  But a knife is a knife, and in the end, even if your chicken looks a bit butchered (yes, that was intentional), in the end you still have sliced meat to serve for dinner.

This is like parenting.  We may be facing issues that are beyond our abilities.  We may feel like we really don’t have the right tools for the job.  But the work must still be done whether or not we have the most efficient and effective way of doing it.

After a few weeks of hacking away at the lawn, it is looking considerably better.  And while plowing through a section yesterday evening I thought how much easier it was than the first time we tried mowing the same patch.  We could hardly cut through it two weeks ago, but after some persistence and some willingness to accept a job not perfectly done, it is becoming more manageable.

By more manageable I mean that by expending the same effort as before I was able to mow through a larger section.  It still took over an hour (and that was less than 1/4 of the yard), my heart rate was still in the 170’s most of the time, and I still burned 687 calories doing it (this is the “reel” reason we haven’t replaced our push mower…built in weight-loss plan!) BUT the progress was more evident this time around, more work was done, and I was not nearly as discouraged as previous attempts.

So, dear parent, keep pushing forward.  There will be times it gets a little easier.  There will be times you catch a glimpse of progress.  Even if you don’t, your job is to be faithful to parent to the best of your ability with the wisdom God has given you in the moment.  As much as every parenting book, blog, and Pinterest article would like to disagree, your job is not to turn out the best looking yard while putting forth the least amount of effort and having great hair and makeup while you’re at it.

And here are some random pictures of cute kids, because we have a lot of them around here and I like to remember the very many perks of this parenting gig and why the 271% effort is so worth it.  And, yes, there are three pictures of the baby.

I May Be Going Mad

Life has been crazy these past couple of weeks.  I mentioned in my last post that our first week back to a full school load was not only full of school work but of screaming, tantrums, and who knows what else.

This week has been just as crazy.

I’m not sure why I expect anything different…

We started Bible Bee this week.  Yay!  We kicked off the summer season with a little competition between the older three Crew members.  Who could memorize and recite the most passages from last summer?

Adding Bible Bee study time has thrown everything else out of whack.  And there were things with schooling that just weren’t working well.  So, back to the drawing board we went and created a different school routine.  We may be switching up some curriculum on a subject or so, as well.  Change is certainly the only constant in our home.  Well….change and laundry and meltdowns and really cute kids.

Now, if you’re going to snatch some scones from the cooling rack you might as well take three.


I have been contemplating the many analogies that exist between yard work and parenting.  So far I have come up with three solid ones.  But, of course, the parenting and the yard work keeps me from actually putting them down onto paper.

The basic gist is that, like yard work, in parenting you must go over the same unruly patches of grass day and day out.  If you leave it unattended for even a short period of time, you are guaranteed to have 3.5 million times the work when you get back to it.

Also, even though parents all around the world raise children from birth through adulthood, they are not all dealing with the same issues or to the same extent.  What I mean is this.  You can mow a 6,000 sq. ft. lawn and if it is flat and you have beautiful grass that grows straight up, the amount of effort will be different than a person who is mowing the same sized lawn that is positioned on a hill that is uneven and is covered with crab grass that grows every which way.  So, don’t judge when the second person is dying only a quarter of the way through the job and you are sailing right on through hardly breaking a sweat.

Third point.  If you want to use a weed whacker, you should be certain to allow the battery to charge fully before jumping into a big job.  A half-charged battery will not work as well as a full battery.  Likewise, if you have to raise a family, try your very best to do it on as fully charged of battery as you can.  Taking time to rest or step back and evaluate things makes the job at least a little easier….sometimes.

But, in the case of real life, you may only have an hour to get the yard work done and the only battery you have is half-charged.  So then just give it all you’ve got.

Reality Check

So, in my last post I said that the transition from six kids to seven wasn’t that bad.  And I meant it.  It really has been an easy transition, all things considered.  Sarah is a super easy baby….or at least she was until this week.

This week was a bit of a reality check.

Monday and Tuesday we added in some new household chore assignments and started the Teacher Required school subjects – grammar for the big kids and everything for the little kids.  It went well, but Sarah cried.  She cried a lot.

Wednesday we did more of the same and added all of the independent subjects for the big kids.  There were many tantrums.  I lost track of time and let Daniel take a nearly three hour nap which translated to a late night hang out session with our favorite almost-2-year-old.  And Sarah cried.  A lot.

Thursday we attempted a morning outing as this is my ideal daily schedule.  If we ever manage normal things then we will start going to the park and out for walks in the morning before lunch.  But at this point it is a major IF.  More school tantrums and a pile of messes happened that day.  And I attempted some real cooking.  Again, Sarah cried.

Today is Friday.  The week was good, but it was also relentless.  I am fried.  And I am realizing what I forgot to consider when stating that this new baby transition has been such a breeze.  (How naive was I to even think such a thing?!)


This is what I forgot.

Oh, and COOKING.

And some GIGANTOR parenting tasks.

Okay….so I was clearly delusional when I wrote that.

So, Mom has been stressed this week.  And the kids can tell you how she deals with the constant stress.

I overheard this little exchange this morning.  Jeremiah leans toward Rachel, “Sometimes I see Mommy eating….chocolate!

Rachel, nodding her head and trying to whisper, “I do, too!”

I guess weight loss will have to wait for another season of life.