Quick, Easy, Cheap Instant Pot Meal

This meal is one of my go-to meals!  It comes from the My Plant Based Family blog.  She calls it a Mexican Casserole, but it’s really just a pretty basic and very tasty Rice and Beans meal.  I do it slightly different from the link above – 1 8 oz. can of fire-roasted, diced tomatoes.  My kids devour it, I can keep all the dry ingredients in the pantry, if I had one cupboards, I can set it up anytime during the day and set the timer so it’s ready when we get home, and we even take it camping with us when we have hookups!

The blog is linked above.  Here is the recipe:

Instant Pot Mexican Casserole


  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice (Don’t use white rice.  I tried it and it was way too gummy)
  • 1 cup uncooked dry beans
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 8 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt (optional)


  1. Dump all of the ingredients into your pressure cooker and stir once or twice.
  2. Close the lid and cook on manual for 28 minutes.
  3. Once done, allow the pressure to come down and open carefully. If you are in a hurry you can do a quick release.
  4. Stir in some fresh cilantro and a healthy squeeze of lime juice, and top with diced avocado.
  5. Serve with chips!



Kids Actually LIKE Love and Logic?

Today, my nine year old said, “Mom, you’re like a master at Love and Logic” and I said, “Thanks Buddy!”  I asked him, “Do you like Love and Logic?” He responded, “Mmmm…yeah” with a shrug.  I said, “Oh good, why?” and he said, “It’s really good for parents.”  My husband said, “But not good for kids?” and he said, “For kids and grownups!  Because someday I can teach my own kids Love and Logic, and they can teach their kids and they can teach their kids!”

Not only did this thrill me, and make me feel like a wonderful parent for the first time this week, it told me something even more important: Kids who experience Love and Logic on a regular basis actually see the good in it!

If you’d like to hear a quick little audio blip on how to handle the many situations where it is hard to find a logical consequence, here it is!  Dr. Jim Fay:  Energy Drain



Babies + Love and Logic?

I got to hang out with my favorite 10 month old yesterday – and that’s saying a lot because I’m not a baby person.  Something amazing happened!  He crawled toward the stairs and when he got there, I said, “Uh Oh!” – Love and Logic style.  Guess what he did?  He stopped!  He put his face down on the bottom step, had a little internal struggle, and sat back down.  Then he crawled toward the door stopper that is broken if it gets touched.  I said, “Uh Oh!” and he sat back and stared at it for a minute, and crawled away.  I was loading the dishwasher, and he was having a blast moving the bottom drawer back and forth and then I saw that leg lift and the little knee start to go toward the door, and I said, “Uh Oh!” and he put his leg back on the floor where it belongs.

When his mom got back I asked her if she had been using Love and Logic with him and she said yes!  I didn’t discover the beauty of Love and Logic until my youngest was 2, so this was so much fun to experience!!!

If you have a baby, and you want to teach him early to listen to your instructions, Love and Logic: Magic for Early Childhood is where it’s at!!  Perfect for ages 8 months to 6 years old.


When Foster Care Means Saying “No”

I’ve tried to write this post several times and it’s just really hard to put my heart down on paper.  It doesn’t sound right.  It’s less raw than I feel, which takes away from the truth of it all.  I can’t give all the info, which also changes the story. I write about this because I want to always be an encouragement to anyone who may consider opening their heart and home to kids who don’t know how it feels to be in a stable, loving family.  I also want to give the whole picture.  It’s heart-breaking, and raw and real…so I’ll do my best.

This week has been incredibly emotional.  We were presented with a possible placement in addition to Smiley, so we got excited, sold the queen bed, bought a bunk bed, and started imagining life as a family of six.  We visited a few times with the young lady and I started falling in love.  As time went by, some red flags went up and by yesterday, we were making calls to tell the social workers that we couldn’t take this girl.

It’s one thing to see behaviors on paper and easily say, “no”, but it is a completely different thing to have a hopeful face staring at you when you close your eyes, and know that the answer has to be no.  The children who are already in my care have to be protected.  Not from all hurt or heartbreak, but definitely from irreparable damage.

But this girl is not hopeless!  While it isn’t my responsibility to make sure she is taken care of, it is the deep desire in my heart to make sure she is taken care of.  As my wise husband and wise father reminded me, our young boys are too young to be exposed to things that we can’t reverse.  As my dear friend reminded me, when I step in to parent a child who needs a lot of time an energy, it means stepping away from all of the other places I’m having influence.  Cameron and I look forward to the day when we can hear about a child who needs us and our boys are off in college, and we can say, “Yes!”  And it hurts deep down inside to realized that now is not that time.

I finally realized the truth in this, got up the courage to call the person in charge of the shelter, and then I saw that I had a voicemail waiting for me.  It was a social worker saying what a difference our visits had made in the way this sweet young girl was viewing life.  There’s joy when she wakes up in the morning, ready for school.  There’s excitement where before, there was only melancholy.  She’s telling everyone about our family…and I just lost it.  I want to save everyone!  I want to pour deeply from the well that is filled with all the love that Jesus has given me.  And when that time is not now, it’s devastating.  I don’t want her to walk through life with no one.  I don’t want her to be in a bio family who is encouraging behavior that is damaging to a 12 year old.

I have cried so many tears over the last 3 days.  I don’t know when I’ll be able to think of her without it hurting, but I did get to have a meal with her.  I did get to answer some questions she had.  I did get to ask her if I could still be a part of her life, and when she hugged me and said “yes”, my heart did a little bit more breaking.

If you think of it, please pray for M.  She needs to know how much Jesus loves her and that he views her as worthy of so much more than she’s been getting from people.

May is National Foster Care Month.  Focus On the Family’s recent broadcast tells a beautiful story of how much Foster Care matters.  There are more ways to get involved with Foster Care than simply dropping off coats at Sleep Train, or eating a Wendy’s.  If you’d like to know more, please contact me.  I’ll give you some ideas and put you in touch with the right people.




One Year Birthday!

When you have a baby and it’s their first birthday, it’s so hard to believe.  What’s hard to believe is two-fold though.  First, you can’t believe it’s already been a whole year!  At the same time, you can’t believe it’s only been a year because you feel like your child has always been a part of the family.

With foster care and adoption, it feels the same way – at least to me it does.  I can’t believe it’s been over a year already – and yet, I can’t believe it’s only been one year.  We didn’t know we would get this much time with Smiley when we said “yes”.  And what a blessing she has been.

It’s hard to “celebrate” for the simple fact that a child being in foster care is nothing to celebrate.  But at the same time, we want to acknowledge the blessing she has been in our life.  We do celebrate the person she is, because that is definitely something worth celebrating.

Smiley is the kind of girl who doesn’t like her chores, but does them when asked.  She is the kind of girl who drops everything when Owen slams his hand in the door, so she can sit next to him and tell him stories of her scars while I hold him and wipe his tears.  She is the kind of girl who argues to the death with Peyton and then sits down to help him understand his math homework.  Kylee is the kind of girl who asks me if we can go through the drive-through to buy four egg mcmuffins and hand them out to the homeless man we both smiled and waved at as we came off the freeway – and then when I pull out my wallet to pay, insists on paying for it herself.  She has the biggest heart you can imagine.  My life is better because she is in it.
Foster Care is hard.  I want to be her only mom and keep her for myself.  I want my very own daughter.  But this journey is not about me, and as God teaches me how to live freely in that, I’m thankful for the growth, even though it hurts sometimes.
Our journey doesn’t end here.  Smiley says put for now.  When this smiley bird flies the nest, our family will always be viewed as “five” until we are blessed with another and then it grows to six.  Who knows what the future holds, but never have I ever wished we didn’t start this journey.
I pray others will consider opening their heart and their home!

Easter Chemistry

We had such a fun time with this amazing chemistry experiment on Easter.  The boys were amazed.  I love science and learning and Jesus, and when all of those things come together, it’s pretty cool.

I got the idea from this blog, but it was really confusing for my brain.  I also watched this video, but I needed a simple step-by-step, so I’m making it for future reference, as well as for all you science lovers.

Container #1 is labeled “YOU” and is filled half-way with water, and has 4 drops of Phenolphthalein, which I got on ebay.

Container #2 is labeled “SIN” and is filled 1/3 with water and a splash of clear ammonia, which I had to order on amazon.

Container #3 is labeled “JESUS” and is pure white vinegar.

Step one, pour some “SIN” into the “YOU” container and it turns pink.  I talked with the boys about how when we allow sin into our lives, it changes us.

Step two, pour some pink “YOU” back into sin.  I told them that no matter how you try to get rid of the sin, you can’t undo it’s affect on you.

Step three, pour some “JESUS” into “YOU” and it turns CLEAR!!!  Of course, we know that as soon as you allow Jesus to cover your sin and your life with his cleansing blood, we are washed clean and it’s gone.

Step four, pour some “SIN” into into “YOU” again.  It does nothing.  So even though sin still does affect us when we allow it back in, the power of Jesus is always bigger than the power of sin.  And He only had to die one time, we only have to ask him to be Lord of our life one time, and we never lose him after that.

The boys LOVED this, and so did I.  I hope you do too.  The chemical will last for years, so it’s worth the $10 I paid on ebay.  If anyone knows what to do with the Methyl Red (0.05%) that came with it, let me know!