Friday, December 30, 2011


well im very excited to talk about my new fundraiser! a dear friend contacted me yesterday and asked if she could set up a fundraiser for us. she owns her own business called sew sew sew your boat. she makes a wide variety of items like skirts, burp cloths and other baby items. i was so excited and felt extremely blessed to have a friend with a heart for adoption and a heart for our family. thank you anna!!! so many people are already interested. so for the month of january 50% of sales will go to our fund. and as always you can go to our donate button on the side of my blog and donate. thank you to everyone that is supporting us and to everyone for your prayers! i will be attaching a link to annas business on the side of my blog.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


normally wednesdays are my homeschooling encouragement day. but since we are on a nice long break i do not have much to talk about in this area. except how great it is to have a break! and i have skipped a few days/topics over our busy weekend. so im going to rewind and give a family update today. christmas weekend has come and gone once again. it was a blur. we had our family time on christmas eve. the children woke up early and we opened presents. i love their giving spirits. they were so excited to pass out their presents they bought or made for each other. and it blessed my heart to see them all working so hard to make presents for each other. that evening we spent time with family, having dinner and opening gifts.
christmas day was on a sunday this year. we went to church in the morning. and it was a wonderful service. my favorite part was having all of the children in the service with us. this is something that has been on my heart for awhile now. bringing our family to worship and learn Gods word together. after church we took the children to visit a care home. i loved seeing my children open up and get over their shyness. when we went for thanksgiving they were very shy and reserved. but this time they were very outgoing and couldnt wait to pass out cookies to anyone who came into the hall. a few of the children played some christmas songs on the piano and guitar. im looking foward to watching my children open up even more and bless these elderly people.
christmas evening was spent with more family. it was a nice weekend. having daddy home for 3 days was the icing on the cake. i am very much looking foward to new years weekend and another long 3 day weekend with daddy!

Friday, December 23, 2011

home study

i am so excited to have something to update this week. wednesday afternoon i turned in our home study applications to the agency. i have been hanging onto them since august! i was shaking with nervousness. when the lady came out to take my 3 copies each with our family photo i was shaking. to my surpise she glanced through the application while i was standing there and asked me if we were wanting to take the adoption prep classes in january. of course!!! i even took all of the children in with me to drop the apps off. they were very well behaved. and the social worker that i talked to is the oldest of 13...7 being adopted. i think we are in good hands :) i couldnt wait to tell hubby that they didnt laugh me out of the office. so my nervous shaking turned into an excited shaking!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

laundry soap

we have been having lots of fun around here finding things we can make on our own. we are feeling healthier and more independant. a couple of years ago i started making my own laundry soap. it was the liquid recipe that i found on the duggar website. i stopped making it when we got our new HE washer and dryer. but a friend sent me a blog with a new recipe and it says safe for HE washers! i was so happy. so we made it this past weekend. i am loving it. its a powdered version. and i am liking it better than the liquid. it seems to get our clothes alot cleaner and they smell very fresh. i didnt find that when i used the liquid.
1 box of borax
1 box of arm and hammer washing soda
1 big box of arm and hammer baking soda
1 3 lb tub of oxyclean
3 bars felz naptha soap (grated)
you can find the felz naptha at raleys.
line a 5 gallon bucket with a garbage bag and combine all of the ingrediants. mix them good and then store it however you like. i was able to fit mine into a big ice cream tub. it fit perfectly. the hardest part of this whole process was grating the soap. my children love to hep but they got burnt out quickly doing that job. you only need to use 1 tablespoon per load. all of the ingrediants cost about 20 dollars. i read one blog where a lady said she did 8 loads a week and it lasted her 6 months. i do almost double that. but 20 bucks for even 3 months!!! cant beat that!!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


this has been a busy time for our family. 2 days after our anniversary we celebrated another birthday in the van clan house!! emily mae turned 9 years old. she is our third child, second girl. emilys entrance into the world was a quick one! she was almost born in the car on the way to the hospital. and only gave the doctor 10 minutes after we arrived! today she is a sweet, gentle spirited young lady. she is always willing to help around the house and is often a second mommy to the babies. she has also taken on the role as family bread baker. she enjoys sewing, ballet and playing the piano. and today is her piano recital! she is playing "silent night". zaccy will be playing "we three kings". later tonight we will be celebrating with emily by taking her out to her birthday movie. we are going to see "hugo". well we get a break from family birthdays until february. that has its good point and bad points. it will be nice to fill that birthday envelope back up but we do so love celebrating birthdays around here! we are looking foward to this next coming week. we have our last recital for this time of year. a ballet/guitar recital. then it will be christmas break! we will enjoy a very much needed down time here :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011


a few weeks ago a friend mentioned to me that she was making homemade granola. i was sold. i love cereal. and why not go a healthier route and make homemade granola to replace the boxed cereal we buy. well i did and so far it has worked. noone is going through cereal withdrawls. i made 4 different flavors but 1 of them really triumphs over the others. the flavors i made were pumpkin pie, stovetop cinnamon, golden cinnamon and dark chocolate granola. all of these recipes i found on i wish i was an original :) after making it a few times though i dont really follow the recipe. i just wing it and eyeball the measurements. my absolute favorite is the chocolate one. the one i liked the least was the pumpkin pie.
many people asked me for the chocolate granola recipe. i posted it on facebook a few times. here it is again:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter or margerine
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups quick oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup craisins
1/4 cup crushed almonds
the brown sugar, peanut butter, honey, butter and vanilla are put together in a bowl and melted. in a seperate bowl mix oats, cinnamon, and almonds. then stir in the melted mixture. then add the chocolate chips. cover a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. then spread it out and bake it for about 15 minutes. let it cool then break it up and store it in a big ziploc or bowl with a lid. this granola has the best mix of salty and sweet. i use kosher salt so it compliments the chocolate chips wonderfully! sometimes i eat it plain. you can use milk but i think that takes away from the wonderful granola experience. yogurt would be yummy on top. it makes such a nice, quick, healthy breakfast and lunch for a busy mom on the go!!! frugal tip: buy your almonds whole or sliced and crush them yourself. they are cheaper that way.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


i cant write today about encouraging our husbands without writing about our wonderful anniversary weekend. i want to think everyone that made this weekend happen. first to my friend that surprised me and asked her parents if we could stay in their home while they were on vacation. and of course to her parents that said yes! a big thank you to my parents for watching the children all weekend and for letting us drive their truck. especially thank you to them for getting excited to watch the children! not many people would want to, let alone get excited to watch 9 children. i am blessed. thank you also to my aunt for hanging out with them while we were gone and bringing crafts and fun things for them to do. we are surrounded by some wonderful people that made our 10th anniversary very special.

it was such a fun and relaxing weekend. we visited many old towns. walking around and enjoying the scenery and the old buildings and walking in and out of every little shop that was open. all of those antique shops that we cant take 9 children into. hehe. i was able to sneak in some christmas shopping. what a wonderful way to spend some money without feeling guilty. hubby and i talked and talked about life, family,our goals, and God. we held hands and walked slow....not rushing around anywhere. i enjoyed my husband and our time together. we were in awe at how fast the last 10 years have flown by and how much we have done in those 10 years. and we were in awe at how much we have changed and at how we love each other so much more as who we are now than who we were 10 years ago.

it was sad to leave our weekend behind but we sure did miss our babies. and coming home to their happy, excited faces is one of the best parts!

Monday, December 12, 2011

cleaning schedules

i remember back when i had 2 children. i used to do a deep cleaning of the house once a week. granted it was our first little apartment. then 3, then 4 children and my cleanings moved to once a month. the houses grew bigger and so did the family. and so did the amount of children i was homeschooling. now with 9 children and 5 homeschoolers my deep cleaning has spread out even farther. im not complaining about this. over the years i have relaxed tremendously. if i didnt i would go insane trying to keep up with a schedule like that. we clean and pick up everyday. everyone has their chores and we stick to a pretty tight schedule. so i had to adjust to what i knew we could keep up with. since our days are filled with school and activities i have set apart 3 times a year to deep clean the house. these are times the children are not doing any schoolwork or extra activities. i go through the house one room at a time and tear it apart. trust me it gets much dirtier before it gets cleaned up. i move furniture, take pictures down, scrub baseboards, dust, mop....and even touch up paint. my first time of year to do this is spring break. the children are off for a whole week. the next time i do this is over summer break right before the children start homeschooling again. right before activities start up again. right before the craziness begins!!! and the 3rd time i do it is over christmas break. i have 2 whole weeks!!! i used to do it over thanksgiving but found it was very stressful to squeeze it all in to 4 days. so this is the schedule that works best for our family. my house may not be spotless but this schedule seems to work and doesnt cause too much stress on everyone. i get asked alot how i fit this in and now you know!

Friday, December 9, 2011

update friday

not much to update on our adoption process this week. i did join a facebook group with adoptive moms. what an amazing group of ladies. i am gleaning so much wisdom from their experiances. i am also enjoying reading all of their blogs and following their journeys. i am cohosting a gold party this month as well. i hope that will give us the little amount we have left to have our home study fully funded. and then i can turn those applications in this month and i will be right on schedule. thanks everyone for all your prayers and support!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

leftover recipes

this time of season we are blessed to have so many leftovers from the holidays. turkey, stuffing, corn, gravy, and potatoes are just a few of the items we had left in the fridge after thanksgiving. i think coming up with meals out of the leftovers is funner than eating it the first time around. here are a few things we came up with.

1. turkey enchiladas. i think this one is pretty common. and it was so easy. mix together shredded turkey, enchilada sauce, shredded cheese and corn in a bowl. then start wrapping it in tortillas. after placing in a casserole dish i make up another mixture of enchilada sauce, cheese and onions and pour over the top. bake and enjoy!!!

2. "shepards pie". i know there are alot of versions of shepards pie. we had alot of leftover mashed potatoes this year. brown ground turkey and mix it with cream of mushroom and green beans. top with mashed potatoes then shredded cheese. bake! this was a huge hit here.

3. stuffing is a great topping for casseroles too. we made a mixture of shredded turkey and cream of mushroom and topped with stuffing and baked. dont forget the cheese. cheese makes everything lovely :)

im looking foward to christmas and what i can come up with then.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


well we are only a couple of weeks away from christmas break. and that means the end of our first semester and about half way done with our school year. some exciting things going on in the vanclan homeschool. a few of the children have finished up some books they have been working on since last school year. we put some extra hard work into getting them done this year before christmas so we could move on. some have finished up books they just started at the beginning of this semester. i try to make a big deal out of it for them. sometimes i announce it for everyone to hear and all the other children will clap. i love these simple ways to encourage my children. we are all looking foward to a nice big break. although i use that time to get all of my deep cleaning done, i still look foward to having the time to do it. we enjoy the break from our extra curricular activities. recitals and concerts are over and we can spend a couple of weeks not rushing here and there and just stay home as a family. i think daddy likes it alot. i think he likes not coming home to an empty house a couple nights a week. but like always at the end of the break we are read to get back to our regularly scheduled program. jonah has a pen pal now. this is very exciting for him. i think it will encourage him to work on his handwriting and reading. hes getting better and better with his speech therapy. praying for the day he graduates from that. we love miss judy but it will be a huge relief to be done with that!

reason # 4 why i love homeschooling....being together as a family

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


with today being " encouragement for our husbands" day and this weekened being my anniversary, i thought i would share about that. this saturday is a big anniversary for us. 10 years of marriage. when i look back at how we began; all wrong, i am reminded of our redeeming God. without going into a long testimony we were 2 young people living life for the world, unmarried and having babies. thank you Jesus for your salvation. i laugh at the old us. we sure thought we were in love then. i laugh because we didnt even know what love was. oh yes, by the worlds standards we were in love and just doing what everybody else was doing. but after giving our lives to Christ, and growing together in God i can boldly say i love my husband more today then i did 10 years ago. i love him now as my head, provider, and father of my children. there are many things that shape a marriage. children, hardships, ups and downs. and we have been through alot in our 10 years. having 9 children has made for a busy (but fun) and challenging time. but being followers of Christ shapes how you handle each of these together as one flesh. im so excited because a friend has blessed us with an amazing anniversary gift. we get to go away together for a couple of days up in the hills. this is so special to us because we never had a honeymoon.

" so adam gave names to all the cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. but for adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. and the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and he brought her to to the man. and adam said, " this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man. therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh." gen. 2:20-24

Friday, December 2, 2011

colossians 3:23

i would have to say the biggest news this week around this house is about roger jr. he has been wanting to earn more money than what he gets around the house so he thought he could make up some flyers and do some yardwork. we have a very small yard and use a push mower. so he has mastered that. my neighbor and good friend called the other day and asked about having jr over. he was so excited. her husband was so nice and went out and bought jr some gloves and wrote his name on them. he enjoyed in taking part with us to teach jr this life lesson. my friend is pregnant and has 3 small children so it is hard for her to get out and do yardwork. so she put jr to work pulling weeds. we walked him over there yesterday as a family at about 1:30 and he didnt come home until 4:30! i was so proud of him. she sent me a few texts throughout the day to let me know how he was doing. he never asked for a break and only asked to go potty once. she treated him to some hot chocolate ( which he drank while he worked).

when he came home we all clapped for him. i hugged him and told him how proud i was of him. he was tired but he could not stop grinning. see how hard work makes people happy! we let him know if he worked hard he would glorify God. and secondary he might get more work. and sure enough he did. my neighbor asked him to come back next week to do more work.

why is it so important to teach your children hard work? well look through the scriptures. all throughout the bible there are verses that talk about the man that works hard. how he will be happy. how he will provide for his family. it even says the man that does not work hard shall not eat and the man that does not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever! teaching them when they are young may set the pattern for the rest of their life. it teaches them responsibility. it teaches them respect. and as a young man it teaches him how to prepare for providing for a family someday. why do we take this so seriously as parents. for one, God takes it seriously. also our country has gotten so far away from having a good work ethic. as parents we need to try and put a stop to it. we can change the next generation for the better. i can already see an attitude change in my now young man. he carries himself a bit differently. he is more eager to help around the house.

that morning before jr went to work hs daddy called him and gave him a pep talk and prayed with him. keeping in line with this scripture which jr memorized before going over there,

colossians 3:23 "and whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men."

Thursday, December 1, 2011


i have so many new recipes im excited to blog about. i have to take it one week at a time. this week im highlighting my homemade "bisquick". it is so simple and the ingrediants are things that are usually on hand. im kicking myself for not making it sooner. i found the recipe on there are many different recipes for the homemade bisquick. some have 1 or 2 more ingrediants than others. the one i went with is super simple. i like simple.
8 cups flour
1/2 c baking powder
8 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup shortening
i mixed it up in a big ice cream tub and store in the pantry. and i treat it just like bisquick. if i add an egg and some milk i can whip up pancakes. if i just add some milk i can whip up buscuits. you can use it for casserole toppings, like a pot pie also. some of the recipes call for dry milk. then you only have to add water to make it cookable. i can now cross bisquick off of my grocery list and add this to my list of homemade items!