Self Employed? What Our Family Does for Health Insurance

This post is exactly like the Taco Salad post. Exactly like it.

What I mean is, I’ve had dozens of requests that I share this info and it’s only taken about six years for me to get around to it. (Just like it took me six years to share the taco salad recipe. You see how that makes the posts exactly the same?)  I have nothing to say for myself about this issue. Perhaps there’s a home remedy for this??

Health Insurance for our Self-Employed Family

Our family has qualified as “self-employed” for almost all of our 22 years. Even when my husband worked as an employed minister for churches, we carried our own insurance. So trust me when I say we’ve shopped around for the best type of health insurance to pay for out of our own pocket. We’ve experienced all the good, bad, and ugly. We’ve nearly gone broke in the past from paying monthly premiums, and we haven’t had a co-pay option since 1998.

Lest you think I’m complaining, let me tell you where we’ve landed after all these years of trying to figure out the best way to carry health insurance for our family:

We are so super happy that we get to make the decision for ourselves!

Taking care of our own health insurance means we aren’t stuck with what we don’t need or want, paying money we don’t want to pay. We hear from too many people about how much money comes out of their paycheck to go toward health insurance. We hear many a complaint about poor coverage. Instead of dealing with these frustrations, we get to choose where we want to put our money! We’re thankful for this.

We’ve always chosen a high deductible plan so that we pay less per month and instead put our money toward real food and natural/homeopathic/chiropractic care. But with regular insurance companies, even with a high deductible, our monthly premium payment kept going up and up and up. It was horrible, actually.

The worst of it for us was that we really only kept this insurance for major illnesses or catastrophes. As I’ve shared before, our family doesn’t head to the doctor for every sniffle, and in fact, the only time we’ve taken any of us to a regular doctor in the past 11 years is for stitches.

So it was becoming more and more painful to pay hundreds of dollars each month for what felt like nothing. (Not that we wanted anything major to happen, of course. “Let’s get majorly sick so we can get our money’s worth out of our insurance!” said no one ever.)

We looked into alternative options for health insurance

I’d heard some of my friends talk about Christian Healthcare Ministries, so at the point our regular insurance premium doubled (again!) I decided to see if their price might be better.

Oh my stars and dollar signs.

Their price was shockingly lower. You guys – our family of six pays $135/month for insurance. The price hasn’t gone up for years. I still can’t even believe how good this is. Annnnnd, instead of our money going to who knows where, our monthly payment goes to another Christian family to help them pay their medical bills. It almost makes me want to pay a higher premium. (Except not.)

Now granted, we pay such a low monthly fee because we chose a $5,000 deductible (which is the same deductible we had on the super expensive insurance). We chose the “bronze” level of coverage, which doesn’t cover anything beyond the big stuff because that’s what works best for our needs (since we rarely, if ever, go to a regular doctor).

We’ve saved thousands through the years – putting the money we would have been paying for insurance into savings so we have deductible money if we need it. And here’s the best part:

Instead of paying huge money every month for insurance that covered nothing but catastrophes, we can put money into our natural doctors, chiropractors, and home remedies instead. All that, and we still save money.

I’m not an affiliate for Christian Healthcare Ministries; I don’t get a kick-back for telling you about them. (Actually, I do see that they give incentives for telling your friends. I haven’t yet learned how that works. Hmmm….) I’m just answering people’s questions I get so often about what we do for insurance since we’re self-employed. Just like knowing about home remedies, I believe people should know they have options for health insurance too!

Because they aren’t technically an “insurance company” (though they still meet the government requirements to be considered such) things work a little differently than you might be used to with Blue Cross or whatnot. As a matter of fact, Christian Healthcare Ministries claims, “We are not health insurance. We are a ministry.” I love this! While their system works differently, it’s not complicated and every need and issue we’ve had has been worked out beautifully; every phone call pleasant.

So there you go. Christian Healthcare Ministries. That’s how we handle our health insurance as self-employed family. I can’t believe it took me so many years to finally write this post.

I’d love to hear what you do for health insurance. Do you have it through your employer? Carry your own? Have you tried a Christian ministry option like this one? 

UPDATE

Many have looked into Christian Healthcare Ministries since I posted this. It seems that if you give them our insurance number, our family will get a referral bonus which would cover the cost one month of fees for us. What a wonderful perk! If you feel this is a good option for you, our referral number is 145625. Thanks! :)



My Grocery Store Dilemma and Our New Pet (Yes. Really.)

I’m not sure how you think about grocery shopping but here are the three main things I focus on:

  1. Price
  2. Nutrition
  3. Time

But not in that order.

Except for sometimes.

See, all of those are important to me when planning a menu and grocery shopping. We eat a ton of food at our house now, so cost is definitely a biggie to watch so that I can put the best possible food on the table without going over our already enormous grocery budget.

But I don’t want to compromise on nourishment just for the sake of keeping the cost down. And then there’s the time factor. Time to prepare the food and time to shop for the food. I find my schedule is so full now that I don’t have as much time as I used to for comparing prices, clipping coupons, price-matching, etc. I still do all of these as much as I can, but it sure does take time!

You know what else? I’m finding that price-matching has almost ruined me for buying produce full price. So guess what has started happening? Sometimes I don’t buy enough produce. Me. The one who preaches to everyone about eating lots of fruits and veggies eighteen times a day.

All of this blabbing to say – yesterday when I was grocery shopping, my “eat nourishing foods” won out over my “keep the cost low” arguments in my head. There are actual conversations going on in spite of me up there in my head. They go on and on (“whoa that’s expensive” vs. “dude, you need broccoli”); meanwhile I’m walking up and down the grocery store aisles thinking of our Christmas menu and making a mental note to reply to an urgent email when I get home and also I am wondering if I can make it home or if I should pee at the store before I leave.

No one. No one wants to be inside my head.

Seeing as my “eat nourishing foods” voice won out over my “keep the cost low” voice, today I decided to price-match the few produce items that were a great deal, and then buy a bunch more fruits and vegetables whether they were on sale or not. I did draw the line at strawberries. They were $5/pound and looked like they would taste like red Styrofoam. No thanks.

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I got four bags of Halo’s for a super low price match (plus I had a coupon!). I got three pineapple for just $1.29 each because of price-matching. That’s where my savings ended. I’m over it though. My countertop looked so happy with all the fresh produce that my “eat nourishing foods” voice gave my “keep the cost low” voice a haughty little smack down. My “keep the cost low” voice gave a little shrug, but not before reminding the “eat nourishing foods” voice that ultimately she would be keeping our doctor bills lower so she wasn’t the ultimate loser here, thankyouverymuch.

So now would you like to hear about our new pet? (I know. It’s hard to keep up here. Voices in my head, produce on my counter, goldfish in my living room. Welcome to my world.)

I did not ask for a fish. Of course, I didn’t ask for a cat either. I never wanted any pets. But now there’s Wiggams, the cat, who has won us over with her catness – so much so that sometimes we take play-by-play pictures of her catly activities. For instance:

Malachi went out to feed her one morning, but dropped the bag. (I write fascinating stories to keep you on the edge of your seat.)

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Wiggams considered that perhaps she didn’t need food scooped into a dish this time.

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Indeed. Step back everyone. She’d take it from here.

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Ah Wiggams. Just wipe your mouth when you’re finished.

So now. About the fish. It happened like this:

Last Thursday, Matt needed to go to basketball practice with Justus and Elias. I had Bunco with the ladies. This left Malachi, our 10-year old, without plans and all alone for several hours. I texted Asa (our college-age son) to see if perhaps Malachi could hang out with him on campus for the night. Asa said sure, except that he had a Christmas party to attend. No problem. Malachi would just go with him to the party. As a matter of fact, it was decided that Malachi would be Asa’s white elephant gift.

Therefore, while other college students were wrapping up odds and ends of candy and ugly sweaters for a gift exchange, Asa put a bow on the head of his 10-year old brother. Malachi was thrilled.

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He was, as expected, a huge hit at the party! Everyone loved him and fought over him like all nice college students do during a gift exchange. Later that night, I got home from Bunco and let Asa know that I was available whenever the party was over. An hour later, he texted back that Brittany would be running Malachi home. I eagerly welcomed them when they arrived. But wait. What was this?

Brittany breezed into the house with Malachi and sat a small fish tank on my kitchen counter. “Merry Christmas!” said she. Um. Thank you?

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Well, my friends. Meet Finley. (name brilliantly chosen by Justus)

Apparently Asa wasn’t the only college kid to take a living gift to the white elephant party. White elephant; gold fish. It all makes sense I guess.

So now we have a cat…and a fish. (But not in the same location.) This pet accumulation thing has got to stop.

We began our fish care adventure by putting too much food in his tank and completely polluting his water. I take all the blame. I am, after all, used to feeding teenagers in bulk quantities. We quickly learned how to most efficiently change water in a fish tank without killing a fish. Later that day, Malachi eagerly reported that “Finnley is pooping!!” So we all got to watch. Whatever did we do with our time before we started having pets?

Have any fish? Have any cats? How many voices do you hear in your head while grocery shopping (cost low! save time! eat well!)? 



Thank Goodness I Got Ahead for Thanksgiving!

Thanks to the Getting Ahead for the Holidays series, I was super motivated and had all the food cooked for Thanksgiving by Tuesday night. I did this so I could enjoy the holiday. As it turned out, I appreciated it even more because I came down with a cold on Tuesday night. Booooooo. I was so frustrated!!!

All day Wednesday I sat in my recliner blowing my nose, trying not to talk, watching Netflix, and being thankful I did not have to cook. I prayed that I’d be able to enjoy Thanksgiving. I took a bath with Epsom salt and essential oils. I drank hot tea by the gallon. I rested.

Thank you, Lord, for make-ahead meals – especially a make-ahead Thanksgiving meal.

Come Thursday morning, I was slightly better, though quite stuffy and low on energy. Matt and the boys cleared out the living room and set up tables and chairs. Brittany worked her magic to decorate. I worked on warming up the prepared food.

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My mashed potatoes (which had been prepared and frozen) turned into soup on my crock pot. Now that wasn’t supposed to happen.

I transferred them to a pot on the stove to steam off some of the liquid. It took about 30 minutes, but it worked great! Below, you’ll see that while I was sick, I wasn’t too sick to take an ugly picture of mashed potatoes steaming in a pot for you. Now that is blogger dedication.

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Meanwhile, all the other dishes sat warming in the oven. It took longer than I had planned. The more you load your oven, the longer food takes to heat up. Imagine that.

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I helped myself to another cup of hot tea while the food heated and we waited for our guests to arrive. We had super icy weather that day (still do, actually), so a few of our guests weren’t able to make it. :(

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When it was all said and done the tables were beautiful, the food was delicious, and we had a wonderful time with all our guests. If you look closely, you’ll see that I cheated and used rolls I had bought from Bountiful Baskets.

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What you see there in that 9×13 pan is my friend Maureen’s famous Pumpkin Bars. I need the recipe. We all need the recipe. Maureen? We need the recipe. ;)

Since Thanksgiving day, we’ve eaten more delicious food, watched a couple of movies, and played a 6-hour game of Settlers of Catan. Only the Coppinger family can make Catan last 6-hours. In our defense, we had added several variables, which always adds time – even if you aren’t a Coppinger. But let’s just say that some of the people in this family are verrrry thorrrrrough with their turns. (Don’t look at me. I am a short turn-taker.)

Kleenexes and sore throat aside, this has been an awesome week of Thanksgiving break. Tonight we’re having Lasagna, tomorrow we’re having a new soup recipe Brittany and I came up with, and tomorrow night Asa and Brittany move back to the dorms. School commences, along with all the normal real-life stuff like work and chores. Ooh, but it’s Christmas season, so there is much to look forward to!

Tell me about your Thanksgiving! Was it a good one?!



Thanksgiving Break Fun ~ and My Butter Famine is Over

My butter famine is over! But first:

Now I know how my mom felt when my brother and I came home from college for holiday breaks. Never mind that Asa has only been five minutes down the road in the dorm since August. Looking forward to and preparing for him to be home for a week has made me so excited! Brittany is joining us this week too because she has to work all week. Yay for me! Another girl in the house! (We have made plans to do our nails, make crafts, and watch some girly Christmas movies. Yes!!!)

In preparation for Thanksgiving break week and Thanksgiving day itself, I think I have bought out all the grocery stores from here to Lincoln. I have two full refrigerators, a full pantry, many full freezers – there is food everywhere. After standing on my head to find places for the last of my (many) grocery purchases yesterday and completely filling every space in both refrigerators, I realized we’d be getting our Bountiful Basket order today.

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Thankfully, most of the order didn’t have to be refrigerated. And of course, we’re already doing a great job of beginning to eat our way through all the food, thus creating more refrigerator space. It doesn’t take long for food to disappear around here.

How blessed are we? Plenty to eat, plenty to share.

Do you want to hear about the end of my butter famine now?

Remember how we talked about the high cost of butter and how my supply was running low? Many of you shared the same situation occurring where you live. So have you been able to find some good butter deals now that it’s holiday season? I hadn’t until this week. Wednesday when I was in Lincoln, I made a stop at Aldi and bought 12 pounds for $2.49 each since that’s the best I’d seen it in a very long time. Back home two days later, I found a $2.49 price match for Challenge Butter (a great brand which is normally $5 a pound!). Plus I had a couple of 50¢ off coupons. I bought another dozen pounds, and then I saw that there are 55¢ off coupons inside each box!

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I’m pretty sure I am going to be weird and open every single box, cut out all the coupons, then go back before the sale ends to get another dozen with the coupons. It’s Challenge Butter that I can get for $1.94!! So what if I’ll have 48 loose sticks of butter in my freezer? There’s nothing weird about that. Nothing at all.

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Those pictures don’t do my butter-filled freezers justice. They only show part of my madness. Basically, I’ve just stuffed butter boxes in every nook and cranny of any space in my freezers that I can find. It feels so good to have an abundance of butter again. The holidays can now commence.

We started off our Thanksgiving break with little gifts. I couldn’t help it. Our boys are into crazy socks, and Elias and I found some fun Christmas socks in Lincoln after a follow-up doctor appointment for him Wednesday. (You can guess that those cat socks are for Malachi.) I found a free printable Thanksgiving candy wrapper which I prepped to go with the socks. Here’s the link if you want to make some (candy wrappers, not socks).

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The boys have their first homeschool basketball game tonight. I can’t wait to see them play, but I’m almost more excited to see all the moms I rarely get to see except for during basketball season. I love how God has provided these families and the friendships that come with them. 

The rest of the week, we have plans to watch movies, play Settlers of Catan, eat loads of food, kick back, and unfortunately, do a few math lessons that we’re behind in. With tiny bit of school work and a big bit of fun, hopefully the math won’t seem too bad! I even bought take-and-bake pizzas to make my load easier.

Are you taking a break during Thanksgiving week? Traveling? Staying home? Buying lots of butter?

Have a great weekend!



Free Printables That Make Great Gifts

Before we get to the printables, I thought I’d give you a little insight into family life around here our place.

Soccer season ended just in time for basketball season to begin. I feel like I’ve finally come up for air since school started this fall. Breathing is so very nice.

Asa (our 18-year old) is as busy as ever juggling his freshman year of college. He’s rocking it, working very hard in his classes (and on his social life too). Sleep is optional for him. ;)

Justus (our 15-year old) is taking one college class on campus – Basic Speech – which has been great for him. This is a kid who does not get the least bit nervous giving speeches in front of traditional college students. Dual credit classes are so nice. Elias (our 13-year old) was super sick for 4 weeks and is finally just about back to normal. Ugh, that was awful. I’ve never been so thankful to see my kid eat. Malachi (our 10-year old) has had the opportunity to attend a fantastic horse class as well as participate in some wonderful science days with our local homeschool group.

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science day

So Wiggams. You remember Wiggams? That darling cat has been so high maintenance the past few weeks, bless her little cat heart. You can read here to catch up on all the mama-baby-drama if you dare. Not wanting to risk going through that again, we took her in to be spayed last week. It is a relief to have this taken care of. When we went to pick her up the next day, they said that she appears to have a bladder infection. Ugh, not this too! The poor thing.

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Since she is an outdoor cat they kept her (at our local Adopt-a-Pet facility) so she can heal properly before she comes home. Poor Malachi misses his daily Wiggams play time. We go visit her when we can sneak in a trip (in my spare time).

We’ve been talking an awful lot about holiday food around here. Well, obviously. Food is where it’s at. There is so much to love about food. Slowly but surely I am making our Thanksgiving food and putting it into the freezer. Check out all of the Getting Ahead for the Holidays info here. Here’s what I’ve checked off my list so far:

If feels great to have so many of those big jobs crossed off my list already. Shoot, I’m running out of Pyrex dishes – if you can possibly imagine. It’s a good problem to have, as long as we don’t need to make a casserole between now and next Thursday.

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I’m excited to be participating in a fun online Thanksgiving Recipe Swap this year! It’s a “progressive dinner” so each day this week, more recipes will be added. Start today by finding some yummy appetizer recipes. The first one I’m going to try is the Pumpkin Spice Fruit Dip. Wow, that looks good.

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Go check out all the appetizer recipes and see what’s coming up later this week. This is going to be awesome! I love free resources like this!

So now let’s look at the fun printables, want to?

I’m hoping that next week we can take a bit of a Thanksgiving break from most of our school work. We’ll still need to do math lessons, but overall, I hope to play a lot of board games and work on some fun Christmas projects.

All of the following printables are free. I thought you might enjoy looking through them to see what you might want to use as inexpensive gifts this Christmas. For just the cost of paper and ink, you can put together some nice packages!

This first one says “Summer Blessings” but I hereby declare that they can be used in the fall and winter too. Print them onto cardstock, cut them, grab some envelopes, and tie them up with a ribbon.

Summer Blessings Printables

Blessings Card Printables

Galatians 6:9 is one of my favorite Bible verses. This can be printed and framed for a sweet gift of encouragement.

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Galatians 6:9 Printable

Of course, we have to talk about giving gifts of food. Here are some fun printable labels to go with food gifts that are fitting for this time of year:

Pumpkin and Apple Stickers

Pumpkin and Apple Treat Labels

It’s fun to put together a basket of apples with a jar of homemade caramel dip…

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Caramel Apple Treat Labels and Recipe

Below are sticker printables that can be used to label any treats you put into jars!

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Canning Jar Labels

You can print gift tags to attach to any of your gifts…

Christmas Gift Tags HHM

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Christmas Gift Tag Printables

…Or fun Christmas cards.

Free Printable Christmas Cards

Christmas Card Printables

Our family made these wrapped candy bars last year to give to some of our youth workers at church and adopted college students. They were a hit!

Christmas Candy Bar Gifts

Candy Bar Labels

I have more fun (and inexpensive) gift ideas up my sleeve that I’ll share during the next few weeks!

How are your holiday preparations coming?



The Boy Who Brought Thousands to Their Knees

You know what I’ve really appreciated the past 8 days? My dirty kitchen. It is so normal. The laundry pile. School work. Soccer practice. Vacuuming. Messes. Sibling arguments. Busy schedules. All of the normal.

When there is a tragedy, normal tasks are a blessing. Does this even make sense? It’s just that the things I might normally complain about (dirty dishes and all of the above) became something I was so thankful to be dealing with this past week. After all, my cousins were in the hospital watching their 16 year old son fight for his life. Just days before, they had been doing all of the normal. How we long for the normal when suddenly nothing is normal.

Friday, September 11 our 16 year old cousin sustained a head injury on the football field. He slipped into a coma, underwent surgeries, became weaker, continued to lose ground. I’ve never been so obsessed with Facebook. It was my link to my cousins in Oklahoma when all we could do here in Nebraska was pray and watch for updates from those who were at Ben’s bedside.

Here’s what I watched transpire: All of us who knew Ben were praying. We all asked others for prayer. Others began praying. Word spread. People who didn’t know Ben began praying. In just a few days, I watched as thousands and thousands of people shared that they were praying. Most were praying for a family they didn’t know and for a boy they’d never meet.

This is love, this is Jesus in the heart of people, and this is powerful.

God answered our prayers, but He didn’t let us keep Ben. He healed Ben fully, but not in the way we all asked. Ben is whole again, but he’s not home with his family. He is in his new home. His forever home.

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Should we ask why? It never hurts to ask. Will we ever know? Does it even matter?

God’s plan for our lives, for Ben’s life, for the life of Ben’s family – God’s plan is absolute. Even if it hurts and even if it doesn’t make sense to us. We choose to trust God through the pain.

As we mourn our devastating loss of Ben, we are in awe of the beauty of God and His work in and through His people.

Because of this one boy – this boy and his family who are so loved by so many – thousands and thousands of people got on their knees and talked to the Creator last week.

Because of this one boy and his family, thousands of people are still on their knees, pleading for comfort and peace for Ben’s family. Tears are being shed, love is being shown, and Jesus is being glorified.

Praise be to God for the heart of His people.

May we not wait for tragedy to renew our relationship with our Creator. May we stay humbly and joyfully on our knees as we recognize the truth of the strength this provides.

Praise God with me for the life of this one boy – the one who brought so many into precious communion with others and with the Father this week.

We’re gonna miss you, Ben.



Would You Like an Update on the Cat?

Read the one about our garden and our cat, at which time I wasn’t sure we really had a cat. And now an update:

Actually, how about I just show you what happened last Sunday after Matt fed the cat some milk on Friday night, and then I fed the cat some chicken and tuna from our fridge on Saturday morning…

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Who is that lady and why is she holding that? 

You know what they say about feeding stray cats and how they don’t leave your property once they’re fed? That is indeed a fact. I would add to that fact that not only does the cat stay on the property but within five minutes of consuming the first meal, said cat becomes convinced that your property is not your property at all but her property. Napping in the sunshine on the porch (which now obviously belongs to the cat, and here you thought it was yours all this time) becomes the cat’s favorite thing to do (aside from eating, of course), because even though you pay the mortgage, you certainly only do it so that the cat can have a porch.

So anyway, the bag of food. After one and a half days, I stopped liking the idea of spending a lot of money per pound on organic, free range chicken and humanely caught tuna only to serve it to a cat (who is supposed to be taking care of our bunny issues). I am so, so nice…but I’m just not that nice. This means that Malachi and I found ourselves on a walk to the dollar store Sunday to see what we could find in the way of decent cat food at a decent price. All the way there, Malachi chatted on and on about Wiggams (owner of our porch) and how excited he was to finally have a pet and please don’t ask any more neighbors about her because we don’t want any of them to actually recognize and take the cat away because that would just be so sad.

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Would you look at that.
There is a 10-year old photo bomber with a crazy face.

I have no idea where he gets his personality.

Two things about this cat food, as shown in the above picture. First, it comes from “Local Family Farms” which is an obvious good choice because the word “local” always means good and wholesome things, right? Never mind the ingredient list the size of my hand. I just can’t go there with cat food. I’ll pretend the word “local” here doesn’t actually mean “some faraway factory you’ve never heard of.”

Second, you wouldn’t believe how amazed Wiggams was when she saw that the food was in the shape of tiny fish and miniature chicken legs. This is the only reason she ate the food. In fact, Wiggams was so thrilled that she snapped a selfie with the food and posted it to both Instagram and Pinterest in hopes of this novel idea going viral. The shape of a cat’s food matters more than anything, perhaps even more than owning a porch.

Our three older boys were able to meet Wiggams on Saturday when they came home from camp. All combined, they had about four words to say about her, most of which included “hmm” and “well.” I think that means they like her.

So welcome to the family, Wiggams. We think you’re pretty neat. If it’s okay with you, sometimes we will walk across your porch to get to your van (the shady spot underneath appears to be her second favorite spot) when we need to go somewhere. Thank you for understanding.



Graduation Party A’ La Awesome

You know how boring I am when it comes to picking paint colors for my walls? (“Eh, should we go with white…or off white?”) That’s pretty much how I think when it comes to throwing parties.

For our son’s graduation party last week, I was thinking of serving something exciting like eh…cake and punch? Thankfully, I teamed up with two other moms for the occasion, celebrating our three graduates together in our church fellowship hall. This meant that the buffet table was amazing and if you can believe it – since mine wasn’t the only brain involved in the planning – the tables featured none other than…decorations. (I mean, I would have at least pulled out some table cloths. Though I would have had a very difficult time choosing between white or off white.)

Aside from pitching in on the overall cost and the work involved in putting something like this together, my only food assignment was to order a cake and cupcakes and to arrange for a popcorn machine.

Check out these cupcakes! We were soooo pleased with these – and would you believe, they were made by a 10 year-old girl who is already running her own business? These trays were completely empty within 30 minutes of the party starting. Obviously, I didn’t order enough. They were incredible cupcakes!

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We chose to put a scripture on the cake instead of the graduates names. Asa’s biggest request was that he didn’t want a freaky frosting color that would turn all the guest’s teeth freaky colors. Therefore we went with white frosting with a white border. Hmm. Now I’m wondering if we should have gone with off white. (Relax. I’m kidding.)

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The popcorn machine was running the entire two hours of the party, and our friends set up a fun stacked oreo cake.

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The most amazing part of the food buffet was the Crostini Bar the other moms came up with. I’d never seen anything like it. It was gorgeous!

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The table featured crusty breads, meats, cheeses, dips, spreads, grapes, and meatballs.

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See how much better that is than a simple table of cake and punch? Though I will say that I’m noticing several lovely shades of white and off white in the bread baskets there.

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Last but not least – my favorite part of our graduation party: Our very own godly graduate:

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Asa was so honored by all the people that showed up to celebrate with him that day. Over 200 people came and went. It was every kind of awesome.

I cannot tell you how much we loved this day. God is so good to bless us with such a wonderful celebration with so many wonderful people. I’ve been reveling in the memories all week long (in between taking naps).

So, what’s your favorite: white or off white? (That is soooo not a real question. I just couldn’t resist.)



To My Mom On What Would Have Been Her 66th Birthday

Hey, Mom.

I woke up thinking about you today. It’s funny that even though you’ve been gone for almost 11 years, I still have to stop myself from picking up the phone to call you on your birthday. I smiled knowing that you would have chuckled at the thought of that, but then reality and irony hit about the whole situation so I got teary-eyed. Then I teared up again later on the soccer field watching Elias play (tears and timing rarely make sense, right?). So now I’m writing you, not because you’ll ever read this, but because I need to write it.

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I remember loving that your birthday and Mother’s Day were so close together – kind of like May was your month. Now I sort of hate it because it almost seems cruel to be hit so hard all at once with missing you on all of your special days all at the same time. But shoot. If I’m going to get weepy out on the soccer field anyway, maybe it’s better to just knock it all out at once instead of dragging it all out.

If you were here, I would have bought you a new blue shirt – because I always got you a new blue shirt for your birthday and you always loved it. Matt and the boys will be grilling burgers for me tomorrow; then we’ll play some Mother’s Day soccer. It’s our tradition. Who knew, right? Yep. That’s my life. Boys, boys, boys…and sports. And also food, of course.

You would be so amazed at these boys, Mom. Every day we see God working in them to grow them into Christ-like leaders. They are getting crazy tall, too. You knew that would happen though, right?

boys at wedding

And Asa. Your oldest grandchild. Well, he’s graduating from high school next week. (With a 4.0 I might add, which truly is neither here nor there, but I know you’d be proud because he has worked so hard, and also – scholarships!) Lots of people are coming into town to celebrate. We’ll miss you. I’m making your dip for Sunday night.

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Grammy and Asa, June 1997

I’ve pretty well got the kitchen thing figured out, but sometimes I wish I could ask you stuff, and I still can’t turn out a Sunday roast like you could. What in the world was your secret?

You would love seeing how many ladies God has used to bless me at times I miss you the most. So many ladies – because God always knows. My aunts are the best, and so are many others from church, our community, and even online (that’s a thing now). Dad’s wife, Tacy, loves us so sweetly (is it weird to talk to you about that?). Truly, the two of you would have been friends. Well, anyway. Just know that, while of course no one will ever replace you, I am well cared for.

Uncle Richard and Uncle Wayland joined you this year – a rough few weeks for the Hamm family. This summer’s Hamm Bash won’t be the same, but we’ll just love on each other and appreciate each other all the more.

One last thing. I love coffee now! I knew you’d be tickled about that. Had I learned to love it earlier, we could have enjoyed it together. But hey, since I never learned to like quilting like you did, at least I learned to like coffee. It’s a close second, right?

So Happy Birthday and Happy Mother’s Day all right here two days in a row. I’ll smile now as I celebrate your life and the gift of motherhood. And if I ever take up quilting (don’t count on it), I’ll be sure to let you know.

All my love,
Laura



5 Things You Probably Want to Know About My Week ~ Especially the Part About the Chicken

I have taken several pictures this week, knowing most certainly that you would want to see them and learn what’s been going on at our house. Haven’t you just been wondering if possibly I came across a new chicken recipe that was delicious? Yes, that’s exactly what you’ve been wondering. Let’s start with that picture then:

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That, my dear ones, is called Chicken Lazone. A friend of mine posted the recipe to Facebook, and since I saw that it had both butter and cream in it (and sure, chicken too, but whatever), I knew it was a “must try.” We had it for lunch today. It was awesome (and easy too). Find the recipe here.

In other news not at all related to chicken – flowers are popping up all over our yard. On Wednesday, my husband sent me a picture of 2lips while he was working outside. What? That’s what he called them in the email he sent me. I thought it was cute.

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I had already taken the following pictures of my very favorite purple wild flowers that spring up all over the yard.

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They are so very pretty to me. Sometimes when I am singing worship songs, I pretend I’m dancing in a field full of these purple flowers. Alone. Just me and Jesus. No one else wants to see me dance. No one.

One day this week was especially sunshiny and lovely. I made myself my first iced coffee of the season, then sat outside shivering while I drank it. Apparently it was still not warm enough to drink iced coffee. Oh well. At least it tasted delicious.

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Arm yourself for iced coffee this summer. Learn to make Coffee Ice Cubes. Learn to Cold Brew Coffee. I do both of these, then add just a little bit of cream to my glass. It is iced coffee perfection.

What else? Well, my Amazon Subscribe and Save order came in on Monday. It was a fun one: two cases of Izze Sodas that I got for less than $9 each. A case of organic corn starch. A box of Larabars to take to soccer games. A big box of Bearitos Organic Tortilla Chips. We love Amazon Subscribe and Save deals paired with online coupons. (I just updated our Amazon Deals page with the latest and greatest.)

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Tuesday we made homemade pizza for lunch. Well…it was mostly homemade. I’d ordered the crusts from Bountiful Baskets to give myself a little bit of healthy convenience. It was worth it. The boys did most of the work putting the pizzas together. We added fruit to the meal and had a delicious lunch.

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Yes, I just buy pepperoni from the store. Not the greatest, for sure. I do usually buy turkey pepperoni – which is really only a little bit better. Is it possible that if you don’t read the list of ingredients before eating something then it won’t hurt you? If only.

Many soccer games and practices, too many loads of laundry, hours of school work, and many other blessings filled the week too. And how about you? What are some of the highlights of your week? Have any flowers blooming in your yard? Tried any great new recipes?

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