Monthly Archives: June 2015

Tuna Melt

Bite of melt ~ LifeofJoy.meHave you ever had a Tuna Melt? I haven’t had one for ages!!! My mother used to make them and I have forgotten how good they were. I think one of the reasons I haven’t made one in so long is because it requires the use of a broiler and I have a gas oven which means I have to get on the floor to use it and it just isn’t worth all that. :D

I bought a toaster oven last year and now I have a broiler readily available. Yay!

I make a very simplistic tuna salad. My mom always added diced onion and celery but I have never been a fan of crunchy veggies in something like this. Also, my kids feel the same way. ;) Thus when I make it, I use onion powder and just omit celery completely.

When making tuna salad, you have to start by having some hard boiled eggs. Then open the can of tuna and drain it. I usually open the can about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way and pour out some of the water. Then finish opening the can, leave the top on, and press the can top into the can to squeeze out most of the water.

Drain Tuna ~
I usually use two hands but then I couldn’t take the picture. :D

Remove the lid and empty into a bowl.

Tuna in bowl ~

For each 3 ounce can of tuna add one hard boiled egg (peeled and diced rather finely). If you prefer onion, finely dice a slice and add it now OR sprinkle just a little onion powder over the ingredients in the bowl.

Added Onion Powder ~
Look very carefully and you can see the tiny sprinkling of onion powder that I used.

Then add about 7 tablespoons of Miracle Whip. Now, just like potato salad, Mike and Sean prefer mayonnaise, so feel free to use whichever you prefer – BUT I recommend trying it with Miracle Whip at least once.

Ready to Stir ~

Now stir to combine thoroughly.

Tuna Salad ~

Now, if you prefer your bread toasted, do that first. I did not do this today and my bread was soft with crisper edges. Place your bread on your pan. Cover with about a quarter cup tuna salad and one ounce shredded cheese (I used colby jack cheese).

Ready to Broil ~

In my toaster oven (which I think takes longer than a regular oven to cook things) it took 6 minutes to melt the cheese. I could have left it a little bit longer but I was done waiting.

Tuna Melt ~

Yum, yum!

Tuna Melt


  • 6 ounces of tuna, drained (I used two 3-ounce cans)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, finely chopped
  • small sprinkling of onion powder or a slice or two of finely chopped onion
  • 7 Tablespoons Miracle Whip
  • 1 slice bread (toasted, optional)
  • 1/4 cup tuna salad
  • 1 ounce cheese, shredded


  1. Combine all ingredients for tuna salad (the first 4 ingredients).
  2. Spread 1/4 cup tuna salad on bread.
  3. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the tuna.
  4. Broil 3-6 minutes or so, it's done when cheese is sufficiently melted.
  5. Enjoy!

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Marriage Bids

wordle ~ lifeofjoy.meI don’t know why I find it so difficult to find topics to write about on Mondays. I guess I don’t want to ever appear that I’ve got it all together even though Mike and I will celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary in less than 2 weeks. It is a great accomplishment but has NOT necessarily been easy.

I come from a family full of long marriages. My parents will celebrate their 53rd anniversary next month. Each of my grandparents were married only once and that until death separated them.

Mike on the other hand comes from the opposite situation. His mother was married and divorced three times. His father too was married three times but divorced only twice and died several years ago, still married.

Mike and I are both pretty stubborn. :D I think this is probably the biggest contributing factor, other than my belief that once we said “I do” to marrying each other that became God’s will for our lives and He said “what God has joined, let not man put asunder.” (I do know that there are extenuating circumstances for which ending a marriage are permissible but these don’t apply to us.) This doesn’t mean that I (or Mike) haven’t ever been so frustrated with how things were going that I wasn’t tempted to give up though. I’m pretty sure that I gave Mike the same temptation, especially when the kids were young.

I find it difficult to remember those years very well, as they were hard, tough years. But looking back I know I made Mike frustrated because I frequently ‘rejected his attention’ not realizing that was what I was doing. I read this article recently that talked a little about this, entitled Science Says Lasting Relationships Comes Down to 2 Basic Traits. The two traits are kindness and generosity.

The article tells of tests that were done on couples and found that there were two groups of couples they dubbed either ‘masters’ or ‘disasters’. The ‘disasters’ had a different physiological response during testing than the ‘masters’ did; the disasters had  ‘fight or flight’ physiological signs or symptoms and were the ones whose marriages did not survive.

I know the article is somewhat lengthy but it is worth the read. The next part of the article relates to some of the mistakes I made during those tiring years when the kids were young. It talks of how one spouse will ‘make a bid’ to the other, looking for a connection. What one does with this bid can either help or hinder the marriage. As the years go on, you have to keep working to grow together, taking interest in one another and the things that interest your spouse. Otherwise, you will grow apart.

I guess the bottom line is to remember the person you fell in love with and actively pursue him, watching out for the signs and signals you are sending him. Know that there is meaning behind the ‘bids’ he presents and desires you and your attention.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Birthdays and a Little This and That

It has been a good week!  Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures to show for it. I really am trying to get better at remembering to take them but until then, I hope you’ll bear with me. :\

Sunday after church,  we celebrated my mother’s 70th birthday.  Pictured below is my nieces, my mom, and my dad (I swiped this and the next picture from my mom. :D )

Mom Birthday ~

Here’s a picture of Mom with Tiffany on her birthday celebration the week before.

Mom and Tiffany ~

Earlier this week I ended up doing a LOT of surfing and found lots of interesting things.

  •  First was an article on bibliotherapy. I had never heard of this before and was quite interested. The title asked if books could make you happy. It went on to explain how after WWI traumatized soldiers were prescribed certain books to read. Did I mention all these books are fiction? Of course, I’d still be careful about what I read but it is a very interesting concept. Click here to read the article.
  • Then there was this article about a man in Australia that has a rare antibody in his blood who has made blood donations every week for 60 years. Turns out I may owe this man a big thank you. I am Rh- and the antibodies he has is used to help people like me that carry a child that is Rh+, so that the next child will not be attacked by my immune system. Read about him here.
  • I also read several articles that will be used in posts over the next several weeks on Mondays and Thursdays, so I won’t talk about those now.
  • I saw a neat short video that shows some new creatures discovered in the deep deep ocean. Click here to view.
  • This one is a little tyke that can really play the drums! It looks like he is playing with a full orchestra. Amazing!
  • The last one I’ll share with you is a walrus doing exercises! Too cute! It’s only one and a half minutes but good for a laugh. :)

I hope you will take the time to visit the links I’ve shared today, they are really good.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Five in a Row

FIAR ~ LifeofJoy.meAs I mentioned before, I found Five in a Row (FIAR) at the end of Brian’s kindergarten year. We used it for three years and I loved it!!! My children and I have fond memories of books we rowed (used with FIAR) and my daughter looks forward to using them with her kids one day.

Five in a Row is kind of like a unit study and uses, sort of, a Charlotte Mason approach, if I had to classify it. Basically you pick a child’s picture book from one of the suggested titles (over 60). You get that book from the library, borrow it from someone else, or purchase it yourself. Read through the activities listed in the FIAR manual and pick several that you think will be interesting to your child, yourself or just needs to learn next. Some activities are geared towards the younger children and some towards the older. You’d be amazed at some of the concepts that a younger child can grasp though, so don’t be afraid to do some that you think are more for the older child.


So what you do is take the chosen book, get your kiddos together and snuggle up on a chair or sofa or bed or someplace cozy and read the book to them. :) Then casually talk about one of the activities you had picked. Maybe you were reading The Bee Tree so you talk about onomatopoeia which is simply words for sounds and this book is full of them. Squeak!


Ping ~ LifeofJoy.meThe next day you gather your children together as before and read the book once again. Today you do a different activity. Each book has a story disk which is a small circle with a visual representation of the book on it; place this disk on a wall map on the place where the story takes place. In the case of The Story About Ping, the story disk would be placed in China on the Yangtze River since this story is about a Peking duck on the Yangtze River in China.

Papa Piccolo ~ Lifeofjoy.meSometimes I found extra activities that I thought looked fun. We made some hand puppets to go with Papa Piccalo. I still have them today, waiting for my future grandchildren to play with them after I read them the delightful story. ;)

Each day, for five days (or more if you choose), you follow the same procedure: cuddle up with your child/children and read the book and then do an activity with it. This along with your phonics/learning to read program and math program is all you need. Young children benefit from lots of play time, nature walks, and learning life Puppets ~ Lifeofjoy.meskills helping mommy and daddy. :) This is Five in a Row in its simplest form.

When I used FIAR there were only three volumes. These volumes were written for ages 5-8 but could be stretched to 9 if you have younger children you’re including. Each of the books in these volumes was meant to be covered in one week. There is also a fourth volume which uses a bit more difficult children’s books and are designed to be studied for two weeks instead of just one.

I am a planner, so my first year I worked through the numbers of weeks and the number of books and such and had one planned for each school week (36 weeks). Let me just be the voice of reason here for you! Only plan to do 2-3 books each MONTH. This way you allow for anything that should arise and give yourselves a nice gentle pace. If you find that you have done all that you have “planned” and want another one to do, it is easy to do so.

I suggest that you decide what things are necessary to be accomplished each day. For us it was devotional/Bible story, phonics work, math practice, chores/life skills, and playtime. This way if things happen in the day and you have covered the essentials, you can feel that the day has been successful . . . when we covered FIAR we had a complete day. Many times, that just couldn’t happen because at the time we were rowing I had an infant/toddler.

I do have a warning though, so many extra activities can be found online to go with the delightful stories that you can get yourself bogged down, overwhelmed, and eventually burnt out.

This has gotten long, so I close for now and share why we left FIAR and what we used for the rest of the children’s education.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Once again, my sincere thanks to those few that took the time and effort to comment on my post and tile last week. Your encouragement is really appreciated.

iamthedivacztThe Diva Challenge this week is Beads of Courage. We are to use this to inspire us in some way.  I chose to make strings of beads.

I used beadlines, confettus, holiday ornaments, and just some simple attempt at a few bead like ovals. All of these tangles were new to me, although some were much easier than others. :) Beads ~ LifeofJoy.meI also tried to do a bit of a drop shadow but it is my first attempt and I’ll just keep trying. ;)

I used a string from my Zentangle box booklet but I did make the strings a bit more scooping rather than arched.

Well, that’s all I have so far. As always, I’ll post any others I get done in the next day or two here.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº


Dutch Boys

Ready to Eat ~ LifeofJoy.meI got this recipe from a lady with the screen name Octomom, I think, from the Practical Homeschooling AOL boards. If I remember correctly, she was a homeschooling mom with 8 children. She made life simple for herself by have a menu rotation of breakfast meals that she could put in the oven and bake while she was getting her morning routine done and get her gang fed easily.

This is one of the nine or so recipes she said she rotated through. The recipe she shared was double what I’m sharing here today and baked in a 9×13 casserole dish. While Brian was still at home I fixed it that way but now I fix only half her recipe and bake it in an 8×8 casserole dish.

Put two tablespoons butter in an 8×8 pan in the oven as it preheats to 400º.

Butter ~

In a blender or food processor, put 4 eggs, 1 cup of flour, and 1 cup of milk. Mix. (I usually do this in my vitamix but it needs a piece replaced. Then I started using my food processor, but it slipped a gear or something. I don’t currently have a blender, as my magic bullet died too. So I’m using a mixer here but be sure to mix for a good while, not just until blended, or the end result will be too eggy.)

Batter ~

Keep an eye on that melting but because you don’t want it to burn! Remove it from the oven when melted and pour the batter in the pan.

Into the Pan ~

Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until medium brown or  golden brown.

Dutch Boys ~

It gets all puffy but deflates quickly as you cut it. :) I like to add butter to mine, like French toast. Then add the syrup; we use 100% maple syrup.

Prep to eat ~

Then sprinkle on powdered sugar. We use a small strainer and let each person shake it on their slice.

Powdered Sugar ~

Ready to Eat ~

Dutch Boys


  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • butter (optional), syrup, and powdered sugar


  1. Heat oven to 400º.
  2. Melt butter in an 8x8 pan in oven.
  3. Mix flour, milk and eggs in blender.
  4. Pour in pan.
  5. Bake 30 minutes or until medium (golden) brown.
  6. Serve with butter (if desired), syrup, and/or powdered sugar.

If you want any of the syrup to stay on top of your dutch boys slice, put it on before the powdered sugar otherwise the powdered sugar seems to repel it. :D

I hope you enjoy these as much as we have.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº

I Can Only Change ME

Change Me ~ LifeofJoy.meIn marriage it is so easy to see our mate’s problems and get upset with what they do or say. The truth of the matter is that I cannot change my man; only he can change him.

Here’s another sad truth: My nagging or griping about something he does or says will not change him either. :(

There is one thing I can change: ME. Yep, I cannot change anything about my beloved. I can only change me, how I react, how I speak, and what I do. Is this easy? Absolutely NOT! It is exceedingly difficult BUT I will be much happier when I do not react negatively to anything he says or does. The truth of the matter is that most of the time he is not meaning his words or actions to hurt me; usually it comes from his own frustrations and really doesn’t have much to do with me at all. Do I take it that way at the time? Nope! But this is something I’m putting to prayer and working on changing my reactions.

I’ve heard it said that the woman of the house sets the tone of the house and while I agree with that to a point, I also think the man of the house has much to do with setting the tone of the home as well.

See, my goal and heart’s desire is to be a helpmeet to Mike, make him feel blessed by having me as his wife, and to make him happy, which in turn makes me happy. Thus any time he is unhappy, it triggers a reaction in me that is either similar, defensive, or unfortunately, some other negative impulse. These things are not good! I can only change my reaction to him, no matter how much I want him to change his. I’m guessing he is working on himself and trying to get to a point that he doesn’t react to his frustrations — truth be told, he has changed some already in the 28 years we’ve been together.

So it all boils down to me! If I want things to be different, if I want to not have loud disagreements with Mike, if I realize the only one I can change is me, and if I don’t react to these situations then the situation will be “diffused” much quicker.

So, I continue to work on me as I pray for us both and respectfully challenge you to consider this.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

P.S. After I had published this post, I found an article that seemed to go so well with what I had shared that I couldn’t help but add it on here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

How I Saved My Marriage -Richard Paul Evans

Last of Our Get Away

This is part 3 of our long weekend getaway. Part 1 and Part 2

Natural Falls ~
Day 1
Robbers Cave ~
Day 2

Lauren twisted her ankle on our hike on Friday, so we decided to forego a trip to Arrowhead State Park and just hang around town, after the complimentary breakfast at the Hampton Inn, of course. :)

After breakfast some of our group thought that housekeeping was headed into our rooms because their cart was just outside our doors. So, we decided to traipse around town to endeavor to find an indoor minigolf or cheap theater.

elevator ~
Headed out to have some fun (mini golf)

I must say that the roads around the hotel are absolutely insane. They have an access road off the highway for the local business but it is so close to the highway, crazy traffic patterns and stop signs make it very difficult to navigate. Sure wish I’d have gotten a picture of that craziness.

We headed out and Brian was navigating. We headed in one direction, did an about face and headed in the other, and proceeded to do that several times before we stumbled upon the indoor mini-golf, which would not open until noon. In the process we found a theater which when we looked it up online we found it to be reasonably priced.

Mike had a couple of bills that he needed to mail, so we started our hunt for postal box. We made our way to what I believe was downtown McAlester. They have buffalo statues all over the place.

McAlester Buffalo ~

On top of the street signs they have these cool little metal designs/art.

sign art ~

Postal Box ~

The first one we found was beside an abandoned building. Mike did not feel too safe about putting his mail in that box. :D

Post Box found ~ LifeofJoy.meWe finally found this one after driving around in circles for about 15 minutes only to drive in circles for another 15 minutes or more afterwards, with Brian’s navigation. :D  It was fun though!

We then made it back to the hotel for a while, deciding to go play mini golf shortly after it opened.

It was really cool and my pictures are pretty lame. I’ll do my best with them and use some better ones the kids took too. It was a glow in the dark mini golf and really fun. I got two hole-in-ones! Whoo hoo! Mike beat me by one stroke though!!!

mini golf ~


mini golf ~
Sundae – it’s about 6 foot tall
mini golf 3 ~
Dick Tracy
minigolf 4 ~
Marilyn Monroe
minigolf5 ~
Taken from near the end looking back over the earlier holes

It was a nine-hole minigolf and really was worth the $2 per person fee. :)

The boys climbed the wall.

Climbing ~
Wall Climbing (3 climbs for $2, I think)

After this I got two $5 game cards so we could all play a little video games. Mike did the big Price Is Right $1.00 wheel and it landed on $1.00 so he got 1000 tickets! Sean and I played air hockey, which is a favorite of mine but it doesn’t give any tickets. Oh well! I had fun even though I lost.

Lauren played Deal or No Deal and won 100 tickets and then played Connect 4 and won around 40. I played skeeball but won a miniscule 14 tickets. Tiff played a little light game and won around 18 tickets. Brian and Tiff rode motorcycles that didn’t give tickets either. Hmmmm, I cannot remember what else Sean played. Mike played another stop the spinner kind of game and won a few more tickets. All in all we ended up with over 1600 tickets but really who ever really wants the prizes there. We girls all got one of those thread bracelets. Brian and Sean each got a yo-yo. Mike got a punch ball and 3 suckers. :) It was fun and we all got something little to remember our fun afternoon.

We went back to the hotel for a bit and then I treated everyone to a $5/person viewing of Tomorrow Land. I had low expectations but did like the trailer and I enjoyed the movie. Mike bought 2 combos of combo and drink and Brian got one for he and Lauren.

After the movie we went to a Mexican restaurant. I never know what to get at Mexican restaurants so I ended up with Lalo’s Platter or something like that. I figured whatever I couldn’t eat someone else would. I found I like the tacos, enchiladas, and tostadas but not the other two things . . . . . . . tamale and whatever the pepper thing was. I do know to ask for the tostada with beef instead of bean . . . I really should have read the fine print. ;)

After that we went back to the hotel and the kids played some games while I kept my feet propped up since my feet were swollen. :(  The hot tub and pool area was too crowded so we just all decided to have a nice quiet evening.

I think we played a game the next morning after breakfast before we left. It was raining so no stopping on the way home, which was good because we didn’t need to overdo it. We ended up at a Pizza Hut for lunch and then on home.

It was a fun relaxing time with the family and we made and shared some memories. I hope you are making memories with your family too.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Spelling ~ LifeofJoy.meI wish I could share pictures of all of these curricula with you but most of the early ones have been loaned to my sister. :)

So all my kids were reading but spelling was not their best suit. :( I found one spelling curriculum at our homeschool support group library; I believe it was called The Natural Speller. I used it a bit but not much because it was using word groups and my experience with Brian and Hooked on Phonics (read about that here).

Next I saw Reading Relex at Mardel on clearance, so I thought we’d give that a try; all the while continuing to look online for some ideas. Reading Reflex helped some but none of us were thrilled with it. It could be very good for kinetic learners because there are “tiles” to move around and spell the words. In truth, I think my kids were really too old for this when I tried it out.

By this point in our journey, we had begun using The Student of the Word as our main curriculum. This had some instruction for spelling included so we tried that for a while. I was using some dictation but really did not understand the real way to do dictation and how it encompasses spelling. All the while, any time I heard of a spelling program while perusing my homeschooling forums, I would look into them.

Then I heard about Spell to Write and Read (which is the revised version of The Writing Road to Reading – I think.) This method made so much sense to me because the child is taught all the sounds each phoneme makes – e.g. “ck” has 3 sounds ch as in church, kkk as in character, and sh as in chef. Now remember, I  was using this with older children that already knew how to read, not teaching them to read using this curriculum. Here is a link to more information about the program. (At one time they had a yahoo group for people to investigate the curriculum but I don’t know if it still exists.)

This program teaches the child spelling rules and they create a spelling book with rules and words they study that follow those rules are added to the rule page. There is a huge teacher learning curve with this one but I really really liked it, my kids, not so much – mostly because they liked to get school work done as quickly as possible so they could get on to doing things they wanted to do. We used this program for about a year or so.

In the end, when I saw words that the children had misspelled, I had them write it correctly 10 times on notebook paper or in a composition book, so that they would cement the proper spelling in their minds (visually and muscle memory).

To be honest, on this long road to spelling proficiency, I’m not sure which of the programs “worked”. I think it could be like I once heard about reading programs . . . the one that works for you and your child is the one that you use last. Ultimately, I think it all played a roll in their development.

This is why it is hard for me to make a recommendation for any one reading or spelling program. When teaching my kids to read, my goal was to get them to where they were reading books or any other written material that they came across. I wasn’t concerned about spelling at that time because it seemed that it could take much longer to get to where they were reading books and not just readers and I needed to act while the desire was there. Today, two of my children love the dictionary app and love words and the other doesn’t seem to be hindered at all either; so I think they turned out alright.

{I do have to say that I am currently intrigued with the new programs for primary children that Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) has available.}

Well, that is our journey through spelling. What a winding road! Next week I’ll talk about the curriculum I used throughout the majority of my children’s homeschooling years. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

DC#220 All Boxed Up

Once again I want to thank the ones that commented on last week’s tile. It really is so very encouraging! I’m still behind on some of the challenges and focus that I like to participate in. :( I may never “catch up” so I’m just going to keep on moving forward.

I love to tangle but it takes me a while to get around to it but once I start tangling I really enjoy it and would continue longer if other things did not require me to stop. Such is the way with many things I enjoy doing. :)

iamthedivacztIt seems that I am on a simple trend of late. Today’s tile is also simple. I decided to draw a simple string and fill all section with grid based tangles. I used Knightsbridge, Bales, and this week’s UMT: All Boxed Up by Alice Herndon. (UMT = Use My Tangle and is the focus of the first week of each month and is submitted by the creator of the tangle to Laura Harms a.k.a. The Diva)

DC#220 ~

I added some shading around the edge of All Boxed Up and some scallops around the upper portion of the border.

I really like All Boxed Up because it is another very simple tangle. It can look very different with just minor adjustments be it shading or direction.

After seeing my tile this large, I think I could make it look even better with more shading on the bottom portion. Maybe later . . .

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº