Bacon Tomato Dip With Baked Tortilla Chips

Bacon Tomato Dip

When I first came upon a recipe like this one, it was called BLT Dip. This sounds delicious, but with one problem. The recipe included no L. There was only B and T.

(Translation: There was only bacon and tomato – no lettuce.)

I considered adding lettuce to the recipe to make it a true BLT dip, but I am quite sure the L would have gotten soggy. Nobody likes soggy L, am I right? Of course I’m right. There are books written about this. People know to run far, far away from soggy L and even limp L will raise eyebrows. So far be it for me to stir crispy L into this recipe and turn out a recipe with soggy or limp L. I love you all too much to put you through that. {wipes tear from eye}

So I played with the recipe and landed on a perfect BT Dip, but decided that BT Dip was a ridiculous name. Come everyone! Try this BT Dip! You will love it! “What a weirdo,” the people will say, “She forgets her vowels.” Then people will try to figure out which vowels and then if they didn’t want to already, they will really not want to try the dip.

Bat Dip, Bit Dip, But Dip (have mercy), Bot Dip… The people would be so busy trying to figure out what the name of the dip is really supposed to be that they would never actually look at the recipe and try the dip. This would be tragic (because this dip is terribly delicious).

I hope this gives you just a glimpse into how hard my life is. This situation has been crippling. Landing on a title kept me up night after painfully long night – so much so that I again considered adding soggy L to the dip just so I could move on with my life and effectively parent my children.

Then I just decided to turn the B and the T back into words. B=Bacon. T=Tomato. Bacon Tomato Dip. How clever.

There is nothing more to say except that you really must make this dip. And also the chips as detailed below because those make the dip many percentages better.

Bacon Tomato Dip (adapted from this recipe)

1 pound bacon
1 cup mayonnaise (I prefer Hain Safflower Mayo)
1 cup sour cream
2 chopped tomatoes

Cut bacon into bit-sized pieces, cook, and drain. Stir cooked bacon into mayo and sour cream. Stir in chopped tomatoes just before serving. Serve with corn chips or homemade tortilla chips (details below).

Bacon Tomato Dip with Baked Tortilla Chips

Now let’s talk about making Baked Tortilla Chips. I did not even consider calling these BT Chips because I’d already been through so much trauma. But as you can see, B and T would have also worked for these chips. (B=Baked. T=Tortilla) Try to keep up.

How to Make Baked Tortilla Chips

1. Cut your favorite tortillas into strips or triangles or shapeless objects of any sort. Do not name the objects. It makes for sleepless nights. (I usually make homemade tortillas, but Bountiful Baskets offered a nice variety pack and I grabbed it. This worked very well as it is very sad for me to go to the trouble of making tortillas only to cut them after I’ve rolled them. Naming recipes is hard enough. Do not make me also destroy my hand-rolled creations.)

baked chips4

Lay the cut tortillas in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place them in a 350° oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the tortillas have become crispy.

baked chips3

Notice that they puff up a bit as they get crispy. Delicious perfection.

baked chips2

Throw them all on a platter and serve them with Bacon Tomato Dip. You will love how delicious this combination is.

baked chips1

I can’t wait to hear how much you love this dip with your homemade chips!

Aren’t you proud of me for actually coming up with a dip that did not involve ground beef or cheese? And also for coming up with such a brilliant name for this new dip? May we all stand (neh, just sit) in amazement.

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A Freebie For You! The 4 Essential Habits of Healthy Families Audio Course

I come across resources like this fairly often, and usually I’m like eh, no need to share. There no new information here so it’s not worth taking up our time listening to these.

But this time I got so sucked in that I actually took the time to listen to all four podcasts while doing house and computer work yesterday. Several times throughout, I said oh, nice to know or write that one down or I am sooo going to start doing that. I am inspired by this. (And dude…it’s free.)

So here I am, telling you about it. I think you’ll really like it. The information is super practical for families in every season.

The course contains a collection of  four 25ish minute long lessons from trusted bloggers:

  • Essential Habit #1: “Nurturing your Best Self” (with Heather from Mommypotamus)
  • Essential Habit #2: “Staying Fit as a Family (Gym Membership Not Required)” (with Crystal from Money Saving Mom)
  • Essential Habit #3: “From Scratch Meal-Making” (with Katie from Kitchen Stewardship)
  • Essential Habit #4: “Using Natural Remedies” (with Katie from Wellness Mama)

Beyond the audio, each lesson comes with a PDF transcript, and a practical “Take Action” guide.

This FREE mini-course called “The 4 Essential Habits of Healthy Families” is brought to you by Spark Health and Ultimate Bundles. You can be looking forward to a brand new Healthy Living Ultimate Bundle coming up in a few weeks.

In the meantime, enjoy this fun freebie! You’ll have to let me know what your favorite take-aways are from these audios. I’d tell you mine, but that would be cheating. ;)

Note: This mini course is only available until Sunday, September 6th, so don’t miss it.

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(No Flour) Monster Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars – The Heathier Way

Real Food Monster Cookie Bars

When I saw the original recipe for these bars here, what really jumped out at me was the “no flour” thing. Avoiding flour is always a nice option in recipes. I also noticed the “mini m&m” thing but decided that while those are fun and tasty, they are on the naughty list and not required to make these cookie bars good. Then I wondered if I could cut back on the 2 cups of sugar and the amount of chocolate chips.

Do I know how to ruin a good recipe, or what? 

Hey. I didn’t ruin a thing. I simply cut back on the sugar and cut out the corn syrup and 10 different food dyes. The cookie bars are still delicious, so says my family and several other people I have served these to who didn’t even know I’d healthified this recipe. It probably helps that these bars still have plenty of sugar in them.

The oats and lack of flour create a really fun, chewy bar. I say, make these then wrap them individually and freeze them to grab out for lunch boxes or on-the-go snacks. This makes 24 good sized bars.

(No Flour) Monster Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

1 cup sucanat or brown sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups creamy natural peanut butter (here’s how to make it yourself)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups quick oats
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Cream sugar, butter, and peanut butter together until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, and baking soda and mix well. Stir in oats until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread mixture into a cookie sheet lined by parchment paper. Bake in a 350° oven for 18-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 24-36 cookie bars, depending on how large you cut them.

No Flour Monster Chocolate Chip Cookies (the real food version)

Make these gluten free by using GF oats. Learn to make your own Quick Oats here.

Enjoy this very easy treat!

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How to Make Quick Oats and Oat Flour

There’s nothing magical about these instructions and many of you probably know how to do this already. I’m not even entirely convinced that this will save much money, as there isn’t much price difference in whole oats, quick oats, and oat flour.

However, here’s why I find these tips to be beneficial:

They save my brain. And also storage space in my pantry, but my brain is obviously a much bigger issue now. Anything that saves my brain makes me so, so happy. (Hello, 40’s. I love you truly. But why do you make it harder to think straight? I think it must be because my children are coming and going more than they used to and also, I have more profound, wise thoughts floating through so I have less space for silly little unimportant things like remembering where I put my phone.)

So see? If I order Whole Rolled Oats, then I can make my own Quick Oats and Oat Flour as needed. My brain is thus saved from ordering three different items and making sure I have them on hand. It takes turning 42 to come up with stuff like this. Be amazed.

How to Make Quick Oats and Oat Flour

Why do I need Quick Oats? Well, I rarely do, except for when I make Homemade Instant Oatmeal – which is da bomb. And Oat Flour? Well, that’s just nice to add to muffins or pancakes sometimes when I want to include a variety of grains. I guess that’s another nice reason to not buy each of them individually. I mostly use whole rolled oats. The rare occasion I need quick oats or oat flour, I can just make it quickly with my whole oats.

So, how to make these delightful oat products? It’s as easy as putting Whole Oats into your blender and turning it on. Whirl for a few seconds until quick oats are formed. Whirl for a few more seconds until oat flour appears. It’s almost the easiest thing in the world.

Making Quick Oats and Oat Flour

Below you will see, from left to right: Whole Rolled Oats, Quick Oats, Oat Flour. Beautiful, right?

oats 3

With that, I will tell you that if you’ve never needed this information before today, you will need it tomorrow because I have a Monster Cookie Bar recipe to share that includes no flour but it does include both whole oats and quick oats. Get out your oats and your blender. You’re going to want to make these bars.

monster bars1

What do you prefer to use at your house? Whole oats or quick oats? Do you use oat flour much?

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The Post Where I Tell You How Much I Spend On Groceries Every Month

I don’t usually like to share the specifics of numbers any more when it comes to budgets, especially with groceries. Why? Because grocery prices are not apples to apples (see what I did there?) from one part of the nation to another. Plus I have international readers. Plus I have readers with young children, readers with many children, readers with no children, readers with adult children…just all sorts of readers. We all live in different places with different food sources and different situations.

So talking about grocery budgets and comparing numbers is not always beneficial.

Still, people are often very curious about how much I spend on groceries to feed my growing family full of teenage boys. I don’t blame them. Whether it makes sense or not, it is kind of fun to talk about grocery spending and compare notes about what works for people. Especially if any of us can gain insights on more ways to save money on healthy food purchases.

So here’s the big fat truth about my real food grocery budget as I feed a houseful of growing teenage boys. There is a comma in this monthly line item. I used to feed the six of us for less than $500/month. Then our boys doubled in size and so did the amount of money it takes to keep them fed.

Our current monthly grocery spending ranges from $900-$1,200.

Ouch. But not.

I mean, that’s a lot of money every month on food. But it’s food. The really good kind. My family is eating it heartily and staying relatively healthy. Because we homeschool and work from home, we typically eat all three meals at home each day, every day of the week. When I average it out, I see that we are spending between $5-$8 per person per day to eat very well.

Could I cut back on our grocery spending? Yes, but not by much. I’m not just throwing food into my cart at random. I’m carefully price-matching each week, strategically buying in bulk, cooking from scratch – doing everything I can to spend wisely and frugally.  We just eat…a lot. Plus, we love to have people into our home for meals. Our grocery money is money well spent, and I’m thankful.

groceries819Last week’s grocery run cost $78. Most of this food was price-matched. Not bad, eh?
Yeah well, the week before that I spent about $500 between Bountiful Baskets, Azure Standard, and Amazon.
Cha-ching.

Now let’s not even talk about car insurance for teenage boy drivers. That is a whole ‘nother conversation and it isn’t pretty, nor is it fun like strawberries and beef roasts. Boo, hiss, car insurance. I curl up into a ball at this subject. Please, let’s go back to talking about happy things like green beans.

So speaking of green beans, and gardens, and other ways of saving money on groceries – which we were so obviously talking about…

The verdict is still out on whether or not our budget will see a big difference with our oldest son moving out and eating most of his meals in the college cafeteria. So far there’s not been much change – but I do predict that our spending average will go down a little bit. I mean, just last week I only had to double our pancake recipe instead of triple it, so that right there was a $1 saved. I think I’ll start saving for a cruise. Or just apply that dollar to his college tuition.

Below is a list I posted about a year and a half ago about ways I save on real food groceries. I can’t imagine what our budget would be if I didn’t continually work to save money in these ways. There would definitely be a 2 in front of the comma. Have mercy.

Ways I Save on Real Food Groceries

I’m working on some posts which highlight some of our lower cost, real food meals. But while my goal is to save money where I can and to be wise with my spending- my bigger goal is to nourish my family with good food. So bring on the wholesome goodness! In large quantities. Frequently. (said the mother of many teenage boys)

Want to share your grocery budget numbers? Have you seen your grocery spending increase as your kids got older? For those of you on the other end, have you found it difficult to adjust to buying less once your kid leave home? I will not even know how to cook in small quantities a few years from now. An 8×8 inch dish? Yes, I think I have one of those in the back of my cupboard.

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Coming Soon: Learn Your Numbers, Learn to Serve! Grab Your Discounts and Freebies!

What’s better than teaching your young children the basics of academics? Teaching them to serve others. Why not teach both at the same time?

Combining these teachings is something we did with our boys before they were over 6 feet tall back when they were pre-school and early elementary age. That’s how Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve was born. Ever since publishing that curriculum in 2009, I’ve wanted to create its supplement: Learn Your Numbers, Learn to Serve. Finally – this new curriculum kit is almost complete!

Learn Your Numbers Learn to Serve cover sm

We still have a few more days of work and editing to do before this is ready to roll, but we wanted to let you know about it and get you excited about it. (With its 155 pages of fun and learning, it is worth getting excited about!) So we decided to offer you a chance to order it early. Your reward for pre-ordering? Major discounts and freebies! More details below. But first, what will you find in Learn Your Numbers, Learn to Serve?

The Academics

Let's Learn!

This book will offer your child the chance to develop skills in

  • 0-12 Number Recognition
  • 0-12 Number Writing
  • One-to-One Counting (one to one = a number is assigned to an object during the counting process)
  • Pattern Building
  • Sorting
  • Critical Thinking
  • Additional areas beyond numbers and counting (such as colors, shapes, etc.)

Bible Learning and Application

What Does the Bible Say

Why not use the story of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish to teach numbers? How about reading the story of the young 8 year-old King Josiah along with learning the number 8? The 7 days of creation while learning about the number 7? Of course! There’s a Bible story/reading suggestion for every number lesson from 0-12.

Count Your Blessings

Count Your Blessings!

If we’re learning to count, we may as well start with our blessings! This book provides you with this great opportunity to participate in gratitude with not only your little one(s), but with your entire family.

The Service Training: Be a Blessing!

Be a Blessing!

This is where we bring it all together. Each lesson will offer a variety of suggestions, patterns, printables, recipes, or other fun ways to use number knowledge to serve others. For example, when reading about the 5 loaves of bread Jesus served the people  – make 5 mini-loaves of your favorite quick bread to deliver to 5 people. What fun, and what a wonderful opportunity for your family to look at ways to serve others!

This will be available in download form only at this time. Printed version to come! But we recommend the download anyway so that you’ll have the file and ability to print the pages as needed.

There are lessons in the book from numbers 0 through 12 – thirteen complete lessons in all. Do one per week, do one per month, do whatever works best for your child(ren) and family! There’s no right or wrong way. There’s no specific Bible translation used. This is all created with flexibility for your family.

Learn Your Numbers, Learn to Serve Curriculum Kit Samples

Now here’s where today’s fun begins!

We want to get this new curriculum into your hands as soon as possible. If you pre-order this weekend, you will be the first to receive it next week when it is finished. Not only that, we’re offering huge discounts and freebies to give you additional resources to work with. Here are some options!

Note: All resources mentioned below are our downloadable versions of these books – the eBook variety. :)

We would love for you to have Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve if you don’t already own it. So we’ve packaged it together with Learn Your Numbers, Learn to Serve! This package deal knocks down the price of both curriculum kits, plus gives you a free Teaching Your Kids to Cook eBook too! Oh and you know what? While we’re at it – we’ll give you an additional free $5.00 certificate to spend on any other download your interested in from our Heavenly Homemakers Shop. Free helpful resources for your family? Yes!!!

Learn Your Letters, Learn Your Numbers with FREE Cooking Book Bonus

Learn Your Letters (and Your Numbers!), Learn to Serve Curriculum Kit Package
with FREE Teaching Your Kids to Cook Bonus
Plus a FREE $5.00 download certificate to use in our shop
$83 Value
$55 (Limited Time Only)

Add to Cart

 

Already have Learn Your Letters, Learn to Serve? Pre-order Learn Your Numbers, Learn to Serve at a huge discount (regular price $25) and receive a FREE copy of Teaching Your Kids to Cook eBook plus a $5.00 coupon code good for any of our eCourses or eBooks! (Code expires August 31, 2015)

Learn Your Numbers, Learn to Serve with Teaching Your Kids to Cook freebie AND $5.00 download certificate freebie
$38 Value
$15 (limited time only)

Add to Cart

 

Watch for your copy of Learn Your Numbers, Learn to Serve Curriculum Kit within just a few more days. How wonderful it is to learn and serve with our children! Enjoy the discounts and freebies!

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No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookie Bites

Because we all like healthy snacks and we absolutely love easy recipes – let us take a moment to review the previous no-bake cookie bite recipes shared here:

One idea turned into another, and now we have No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookie Bites to add to the list!

No-Bake Cookie Bites - Easy Recipes!

With a few ingredient tweaks, a Peanut Butter Cookie Bite came about. Of course, a peanut butter cookie bite must be gently pressed with a fork like the real deal, don’t you think? These taste so much like Peanut Butter Cookies, we couldn’t believe it. But instead of being an actual cookie full of sugar – they are a high protein, high fiber, low sugar snack. But hey, call it a cookie since it still tastes like one. Healthy treats are so exciting!

Peanut Butter Cookie Bites - No Bake!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookie Bites

1 cup natural creamy peanut butter (here are my homemade pb instructions)
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup coconut flour

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined. Roll the mixture into teaspoon-sized (or whatever sized) balls. Press down gently, criss-cross, with a fork. Refrigerate before serving.

It really is that easy.

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookie Bites

Where to get Coconut Flour:

Many have asked about Coconut Flour. I order it from Tropical Traditions or Amazon. A little bit goes a long way, so don’t let the price-tag scare you. Coconut flour is naturally gluten free, high in fiber, and high in protein. I love it for its nutritional value!

Ways to enjoy these No-Bake Cookie Bites:

  • Packed in a lunch
  • As a snack/pick-me-up
  • Before or after a work-out
  • On the road during a trip
  • In a box, on a train, with a fox, in a tree (thank you, Sam I Am) – Do you really need any more reasons to love these? Eat them any where for any reason!

Lovin’ these No-Bake Cookie Bites!

Give me more cookie flavor ideas to play with!! What would you like to see here?

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Pineapple Fluff Salad (All Real Food Ingredients!)

Pineapple Fluff

While we were out at church camp this summer, one of the cooks made a huge bowl of “Green Fluff Salad.” Malachi, our 10 year old, helped himself to seconds and thirds – absolutely loving this salad.

Now I personally think that calling this a salad is kind of like calling margarine butter which no one should ever, ever do in my hearing because I will gag and then I will do the ugly cry on the spot. (Do not picture this.) A dish which contains green jello, cool whip, cream cheese, pineapple (yay fruit!), and mini-marshmallows is…I’m going to say…a dessert? Now if you like that variety of “salad,” more power to you. I understand these types of cravings because I still want an occasional Dorito even though I know better. But I just question the use of the word “salad” here and now back to the story.

Malachi loved the Green Fluff Salad. This is why, when I asked him a week later at home for a side dish suggestion to go with grilled steaks we’d be making, he perked up and said, “Oh Mom! We should make that Green Fluff stuff we had at camp!”

Before I go on, you need to know this: It was my birthday. We were talking about side dishes for my birthday dinner. Mine. Does my child not know me the way I thought my child knew me? Was he also going to buy me some margarine as a gift? I felt an ugly cry coming on.

Catching myself before an outburst because I am always so graceful in my parenting, I gently said, “Buddy, I don’t use those kind of ingredients. I’d rather make something with food we have on hand already.”

To which Malachi said calmly, “I know. I mean we can try to figure out how to make that salad the healthy way. Like you always do.”

Squeeze him. Now that’s a boy who knows how his mama thinks. I mean, I knew all along that’s what he meant. I never doubted for a minute. I knew he didn’t mean for me to go buy cool whip and marshmallows. C’mon now.

Pineapple Fluff Salad (I guess I’m still calling this a salad. I don’t know why.)

8 ounces softened cream cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup sugar or 3 Tablespoons real maple syrup or liquid stevia to taste
14-ounce can of pineapple, drained (chunks, tidbits, or crushed works fine)

Open pineapple, drain, and save juice for drinking another time. Set pineapple aside. In a high-power blender mix cream cheese, whipping cream, vanilla, lime juice, and sweetener of choice until well combined and smooth. In a bowl, fold pineapple into the whipped mixture. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

If you want this salad to be green, I’m sorry. Real food is only green if it comes out of the ground that way. Jello doesn’t grow in a garden. It’s okay though. I put this salad in a clear dish on top of a green plate and that kind of gives it the greenish look. I do what I can.

Pineapple Fluff Salad with Real Food Ingredients

Did Malachi like the results? Yes. He absolutely loved it. No jello needed. Lime juice did the trick, as did a tiny bit of sugar. I didn’t take the time to figure out a marshmallow substitute for this because I am not crazy, and whipping cream was an obvious real food substitute for cool whip. This kid received the “favorite kid in my kitchen” award (because none of my other kids were home) and I received the “nailed it” award on this recipe challenge. Fist bump, high five, happy dance.

pineapple fluff malachi
One might wonder, “Why is there a toilet paper tube behind Malachi?” What? Don’t you keep those on your countertop beside your fruit bowls? It’s soooo Heavenly Homemakerish. But for real, we are working on some projects for a great big new book coming out soon for you and your kids. It’s super exciting and on this very Pineapple Fluff making day, the project involved an empty tp tube. Nothing should surprise you about me anymore.

Are you familiar with Green Fluff Salad? Or other colors of fluff salad? Drop-kick those (but not literally because, eww) and make this amazing real food version.

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How To Make Almond Butter

Confessions of a scatter-brained homemaker:

On Monday, I decided to try making a new variety of No-Bake Cookie Bites. I was out of Almond Butter, so I considered that it was probably as easy to make as Peanut Butter, which I make all the time. Heading to my computer to search for how to do it, I realized: I think I have done this before and maybe even already have a post written about it. So I searched my own website. Sure enough. I told us all how to make Almond Butter back in 2012.

This makes me wonder what else I’ve already taught us how to do that I don’t even remember. Maybe I’ve told us all how to save thousands of dollars or how to save hours of time. What else have I forgotten?!?

Well anyway. I am loving the No-Bake Cookie Bites so much that I will be actually using homemade Almond Butter more often, which will likely help me remember that I know how to make it. In case you also forgot that I have already taught us how to make this easy spread, I am re-posting the tutorial for us all here today. May we all remember and use these instructions often. May our brains be for us instead of against us. May we never forget when we walk into a room, what in the world we walked in to get.

Homemade Almond Butter

So here we go, loud and clear so that we don’t forget:

Here’s How to Make Almond Butter!

Step One: Pour 2 cups of almonds into a food processor. I have found that 2 cups of almonds creates one full cup of almond butter. I don’t recommend putting more than 2 cups of almonds into your food processor at one time. The process takes a while, and the more almonds you have, the longer it will take.

Step Two: Place lid on food processor and turn it on. Plugging it in is always a plus as well. This will be very loud at first, so warn your household.

Step Three: After processing almonds for two to three minutes, use a spoon to scrape down the sides of your food processor and shift around the almonds.

Step 4: Continue to process, but stop and scrape and stir almonds around from time to time to aid in the butter making process.

Step 5: You’re getting closer! Process, scrape, stir, and process some more. Continue until the almonds have become the almond butter you’ve always dreamed of. Because yes, we all do spend much of our time dreaming of perfect almond butter, do we not? (Not me, apparently, because I forgot the stuff existed.)

And there you go – lovely, smooth and creamy almond butter.

What other nut butters have you made? Did you remember that I’ve already told us all how to make this three years ago? I sure hope your brain works better than mine.

P.S. I order organic almonds from Braga Farms. They are a wonderful company to work with and offer high quality nuts. Almond Butter will stay fresh in the refrigerator for several weeks.

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Gratituesday: The Beginning of the Next Chapter

gratituesday[2]

So it’s for real. Our oldest son has moved out and is living in a dorm. I learned that one can prepare for it and know it’s coming, but when it really does – well now that is something else.

asa dorm 1

asa dorm 2

Some of the mothers (okay fine, only me) were crying like babies in the registration line. Well c’mon. If all the people would have stopped being so nice and just looked at me with emotionless, cold eyes saying, “here is a pen. sign this form.” it would have been much better. Instead, they were all, “Oh here you are! Big changes for your family, huh? How are you doing with this, Mama?” Seriously. All the nice people were so mean. They made me cry. They are so heartless. (Love them.)

It wasn’t so much the fact that I knew I would miss him (even though I already do). I mean, he has been gone most of the summer so I’m used to being away from him. And good grief, he now lives a grand total of five minutes from our house and we’ve already seen him at church. My tears came from a place of joy mingled with sadness as I look back on the last 18 years.

This is the kid who made me a mother. Our family grew to include four brothers – all of whom have shared a room, shared the love of sports, shared hobbies, shared books, shared inside jokes, shared games, shared music, shared their school hours, shared so much over the years. This isn’t the end of the world – but it is the end of the lovely, beautiful, delightful chapter of life that has been The Coppinger6 for so many precious years.

The next chapter is sure to hold even more amazingness. I know it’s true. But I always cry at the end of a good chapter of a book. The same goes for this.

Remember our “back to school” tradition? For the past 10 years, we’ve made school supply lists and headed to the store together, then splurged on lunch out afterward. I’ve taken a picture of them with their baskets in the aisle since 2008. Would you just look at these sweet little boys? (More yearly pictures here if you want to take a walk down memory lane.)

shoppinglunch3sm.JPG

Silly as it was, I asked if we could do it one more time before Asa moved out. None of the boys even really needed any school supplies. Sweeties that they are, they posed by the crayons for their sappy mom.

boys school shopping 2015

I told them afterward that I’d decided that this wasn’t our final year of doing this. We’re going to keep doing this, year after year, until the entire aisle is filled with my daughers-in-law and all my grandbabies. Yep. This is written in stone. The tradition must continue. This means, of course, that they must all settle with their families right here in York. All of them. Their wives will love this. None of this is unrealistic.

So the next chapter has begun. Asa is all settled in and consumed this week with three soccer practices and work-outs every day. Classes begin next week. He’s doing great.

asa soccer 2015

There he is, at one of his first soccer practices. This picture was courtesy of my friend, the coach’s wife. Receiving this picture via text sure was a fun gift the night after he moved in!

We look forward to watching God at work in our kids as we begin this new chapter. And now I’d love to hear what you’re grateful for this Gratituesday. :)

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