Posted in family adventure, sports

Sports and life lessons


Our boys love sports!  They are energetic, competitive and love the outdoors!  So, sports are a great outlet for them!

S is our oldest!  He is 14 now, but when he was 7, he started playing football!  It was love at first snap!  He loves the contact and thrives on the action!  D is now 11, and he started playing football at age 7 also!  Thankfully, my husband loves football and has had the privilege of coaching their team.

Each of our boys have played soccer and enjoyed that as well!

D loves baseball!  He usually plays short stop.  In the first game last year, he hit two grand slams!  I think he loves the team atmosphere as much as the game!

L is 8.  He played soccer this past fall!  He says it’s his favorite!

I love the fast pace of the game of soccer!  My boys are always exhausted after the game!

I often wonder what our 4 year old daughter, E, will enjoy! Right now, her interests are ballet, juneastics (gymnastics), and soccer. She wants her daddy to be her coach!


Kids sports often get bad publicity!  We have consistently had great coaches for our boys.  We have encountered coaches on other teams who were out of control and taking things too seriously!  If our boys had been on those teams, the season may have ended early (mamabear).

We parents sometimes take the game too seriously….our babies are out on the field giving their entire heart to this “fun” sport!  Sometimes, we don’t remember in the heat of the battle, that the goal is good sportsmanship and fun! But, that really should be the goal! Our kids have to learn to deal with loss and heartache and disappointment!


Sports have provided our boys with great life lessons….

Someone has to lose!  Every child cannot be a winner! Losing builds character and humility!

The referees will make calls that seem unfair…they are only human!

Everything won’t go your way, even if you give 100%!

Other people may cheat or “play dirty,” but you must always strive to play with integrity! Your best is not the next persons best!  Your attitude means everything!

Posted in ditch and switch, healthy eating, Uncategorized

Reading Labels!

Growing up and until about 10 years ago, I never gave a single thought to what I ate!

Brownies or cookies and skim milk for breakfast? Sure!

Soda several times a day? Yes!

In 2006, we had two boys.  S was 4 and D was about 1 1/2 years old.

It was a Sunday afternoon.  I had not been to the dreaded grocery store lately, so D drank a familiar red drink for most of the day.

We made our way to the PM service.  During the service,  D fell asleep and proceeded to vomit red “stuff” on my cream colored sweater!   He was feeling fine by the time we made it to the restroom.  I, of course, was in a panic.

Over the next few months, this red-vomiting situation occurred a few more times.

I mentioned it to our pediatrician at the next well visit.

His response, “It’s probably just a red 40 sensitivity.  Lots of kids have the same sensitivity. Just don’t let him drink red things.”

I had no idea what red 40 was.  Thus began our label reading journey.

I went home after our doctor visit and began to research red 40.  I began to look at labels on every single thing I thought about buying.  Dyes are in almost everything, from cough syrups to gum to gummies to drinks, and any dye with a number after it is especially harmful.  They are made from either coal or petroleum.

Definitely not what I want my children (or other living being) to ingest!

Ten years later, it still makes me angry that this is even in our food.

Do you read labels on food, household products or beauty products?

As I began to read the labels looking to avoid red 40, I began to wonder about other ingredients.

What is monosodium glutamate (or msg)?

It’s a slow poison. It hides in dozens of other names including natural flavoring, caseinate, hydrolyzed pea protein and many others. MSG is an excytotoxin that may play a role in neurological disorders(migraines, seizures, etc.) and likely diseases like Parkinsons and Alzheimers.

What is high fructose corn syrup and why should I avoid it?

HFC causes insulin resistance, diabetes, weight gain and makes my son very hyperactive.  Most corn on the market today is Genetically Modified, unless you grow from your own  non GMO seed.

Why should I avoid soy?

Some sort of soy is present in about 60% of the food on the market today.  Versions of soy have been proven to impair fertility, affect estrogen in women, trigger early puberty in children. ( A great alternative to soy sauce is Coconut Aminos.  It is delicious and can be purchased at many stores.


What is carrageenan?

Carrageenan comes from seaweed. It has been linked to ulcerations and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.  It is also linked to increased inflammation! (from

What is caramel color?

Caramel color is made from highly processing sugar.  Several studies showed that caramel coloring can reduce white blood count and has possible carcinogenic effects. (

What are all those words I can’t even pronounce? There are many other harmful ingredients in food. The best avenue is to eat food without a label….apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, asparagus,

And why are they in my “food?”

Our family is still on this journey today. We still read labels.  When we are in the grocery store (yes, I usually shop with all of my kids), one of them will ask for a boxed-something. They know the answer from me will be to read the label.  Tell me the ingredients aloud. As they do, they know what the ingredients are and if they are banned. One of them  will inevitably roll their sweet little eyes, knowing that it most likely has what we call “junk” and that I, most of the time, won’t buy it!

There are so many options and many companies are moving toward removing the nasty junk from our food supply.  It just cannot happen fast enough!

We are now replacing our cleaning products with non toxic versions.  There are many available, but most of them do not perform! My favorite household cleaner is from Young Living.  It is called Thieves household cleaner.  You can use it from floor to ceiling.  It smells fantastic too!

Young Living Thieves household cleaner!!

I have, over the past few years, replaced most of my cosmetics with more natural, non toxic versions.

My kids don’t use traditional sunscreen, we are slowly replacing  deodorant with aluminum free.

Our family is not perfect. On rare occasion, my kids have soda. We do not eat a perfect diet.  But, when you read those ingredient facts above, you can’t help but make better choices for your family! This takes time and a little effort, but it is definitely something to consider and implement with the sickness and obesity in our country.

I encourage you to do your own research! Type in “damaging effects of….” and read all about it! If you research no other products, please research soda! Check your products!

Check back for future posts on other ways we are ditching and switching toxins around our home!

See you soon!!!

Some food brands we love include:

Larabar! Specifically cashew cookie, which only has 2 ingredients and the brownie version!

Kind bars!

Orgain Organic Protein Powder

Posted in homeschool

Seven years of homeschooling


We started homeschooling seven years ago! Seven years!!! I cannot even fathom how that is possible!!

Homeschooling found us!!! I fought the nudging of God to do this crazy thing for a few years! I always knew deep down that we would find ourselves here, though! Contrary to what some people may think, we do not hate the public school or the kids there. We both grew up in public school. Sometimes, the Lord calls you to do something different. To step out in faith.

We have enjoyed many aspects of homeschooling, but everyday is not a picnic! It’s hard work, serious commitment, and major responsibility. If my child is not reading, it’s my responsibility. If my child doesn’t get algebra, it’s my responsibility.


Thankfully, we have found so many wonderful ways to make this homeschooling journey work!

The best thing to ever happen to our homeschool has been Classical Conversations!

We have been a part of a community for 6 of the 7 years that we have homeschooled.

We now have a student in Challenge 1 (equivalent to 9th grade), a student in Essentials ( Andrew Pudewa makes for a great girls night out), two students in Foundations and one in the nursery.

Foundations literally rocks my world! It makes so much sense to have my kids memorize like little mad men!!! They can absorb tons more than  we think!

Over 400 pieces of information every single year.

That covers 7 subjects. This information will be in their sweet little brains forever like the alphabet song and Jesus Loves Me.

Leigh Bortins, the founder of Classical Conversations, must be a truly amazing woman!!!

The Foundations guide…full of goodness and truth!

This morning, we did a geography quiz. I worked with D (11) yesterday, and today was L’s turn. He is 8 years old and knows the exact location of places I never heard of until I started CC with my kids.

He can point to Latvia, the Treaty of Tordesillas, the Carpathian Mountains, Barcelona, and the list goes on.  This is on an unlabeled black and white map!

My favorite part of homeschooling, though, has been read aloud time! Our favorite read alouds of all time have been The Little House On the Prarie series and books by Gloria Repp!!! We love the mild mystery and details in her books!!

Some of our favorite Gloria Repp books!


This homeschooling journey is well worth the sacrifice!

Would I love a day off occasionally? Of course!

Do we drive each other totally crazy some days? Oh yes!!!!

Our bond as a family is strong, though! That does my mom heart good!!

Posted in Uncategorized


Welcome to raisingfourblessings!  We are so glad you stopped by!

We are a homeschool, ministry family of 6, with 14, 11 and 8 year old boys and a 4 year old girl! We have a couple of small businesses and are teaching our kids about hard work and discipline!  We have been married for almost 17 years and love this life God has blessed us with!

For years, Justin and I have mentioned the idea of starting a blog to share our thoughts…to document different times in our lives!  We are excited to begin this journey with you!  We will talk faith, family adventures, health and wellness and lots of other random topics!

Thank you for stopping by!

See you soon,

Mandy and Justin