All posts by Teri Maxwell

Kittens for Christina’s Birthday!

Is there anything sweeter than a little girl and a kitten?

Is there anything better than a-once-in-a life-time birthday present?

Is there anything more exciting than the-once-in-a life-time birthday present being a surprise?

It was all there double for Christina’s birthday!

A few days before I received this text from Nathan, he asked if he could use my cat carrier:

Are you going to be home today around one? If so, I would send Christina up to your front door to pick up the carrier, but she wouldn’t know she’s picking up the carrier just that she needs something for our birthday outing today, and you give it to her, and she comes back to the van.

That was the start to a day I don’t think Christina will ever forget. Four kittens came home in the van along with kitten supplies. One of their stops was Petsmart, where they loaded up with all kinds of supplies!

Two kittens were for Christina’s birthday, and two went out to Melanie’s parents’ farm. Nathan and Melanie have sought ways as city dwellers to help their children learn responsibility (chickens, kittens… 🙂 ).

Update: for those asking, the girls named them Tiger and Pickles. Pickles comes from a book I read to them called The Fire Cat (Titus2 Amazon affiliate link, see our Privacy Policy here.).

Trusting in Jesus,

Sarah experiencing kitten love (and claws :))

“Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.
Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm 150:6).


Sunday Lunch at the Maxwells

(I, Sarah, will need to work on getting a whole family photo better without a wide angle lens. I’m going to try for a photo from the kitchen. It’s simply impossible to do from the edge of the dining room and get everyone!)

On Sunday after church, we have the delight of the family joining together for lunch at our house. The girls and I do the meal preparation work because we want to give the mommies a break. Typically we have the same simple menu, one we started years ago when Steve wanted to make Sunday more of a rest day for me. Steve, with the help of the girls and me, makes up a huge batch of burrito beans every few months that we freeze and defrost for Sunday lunches.

Green salad
Bean burritos with fresh homemade whole wheat tortillas
Chips and salsa

Recently we moved to buffet style and paper goods to simplify. We reached the maximum size of our dining table seating18—and have a high chair at each corner of the table, and we are still a few more than that.

Our Sunday lunches are happy, loud, and a sweet time of family connection.

Trusting in Jesus,

Abby and Bethany often help Sarah make tortillas. Abby has been Sarah’s apprentice for so many years that she can easily roll them out herself.


Since we’ve overfilled our table, Anna sat with Ruthie here, and also got some baby-holding time in.

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren
to dwell together in unity!”
(Psalm 133:1)

Revamp Your Chore System This Summer!

Summer is the perfect time to put together a chore system if you don’t have one or revise the one you have. I did this early in the summer to teach new chores and give the children practice with them before the faster pace of the school-year schedule.

I reassigned chores between the older children so each would become proficient in all the various chores. I gave all the children new chores. That meant evaluating what each was capable of doing and assigning chores based on that. When we reached a stage where everyone was able to do most of the chores, I would list the chores and have each child indicate which ones he would prefer to do.

If you have older and younger children, remember to move age-appropriate chores down the age chain. Sometimes we are stuck in the easy mode of leaving the chores with the older children when younger ones can do them.

Managers of Their Chores not only will help you plan out how you’ll juggle chores but it also gives you the tools (including a ChorePack Kit) to help your children be successful.


The ChorePacks have been the key to that system: they’re like little ID badge holders and the child’s chores go inside that holder, and clips onto their clothes. Our ChorePacks were specially designed and manufactured just for this use! Order Managers of Their Chores now through June 21st, and receive the Managers of Their Chores CD free. (We’ll include the CD with your book shipment–you don’t need to do anything except to purchase the book in that time frame!)

Sarah’s next Random Life post will be Wednesday! She has some great photos in store for you.

Trusting in Jesus,

“Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening” (Psalm 104:23).

Accountable2You, Internet Protection We Recommend

It’s easy to think it will never happen to your family. But if you were to ask the parents of a son who had an immoral internet addiction, they would likely call it a tragedy. We receive e-mails from families who are heartbroken over this.

One is never above temptation. Even David, a man after God’s own heart, stumbled and fell. As such, we choose to put safeguards in place. Having Internet protection is one such way. Although we’ve tried multiple over the years, our current favorite is an app called Accountable2You.

Last fall we began having problems with K9, the service we were using for Internet protection. It often locked up a computer so that it couldn’t access the Internet at all. We uninstalled and reinstalled K9, but then we discovered, it wasn’t working at all. We tried to get support, but there was no response.

So I asked my married sons, who work in the computer industry, what they were personally using. They both said Accountable2You. Accountable2You tracks Internet activity but doesn’t block. When we initially heard about Accountable2You, we weren’t interested because we wanted blocking. But when K9 wasn’t working for us, and we needed another solution, we realized that we weren’t aware of any of us stumbling onto a bad site that K9 protected us from. Often, though, K9 blocked us from good sites. As I talked to our “computer” sons about that, they said that because we use Google Safe Search, there isn’t as much possibility of accidentally stumbling onto a bad site.

Accountable2You has something called VPN that is part of their phone app that can track web-browsing on any browser, not just their browser. So we also use Accountable2You on our phones rather than Mobicip, our previous phone protection. With Accountable2You VPN, we now use Safari. Mobicip forced us to use their browser, which didn’t work nearly as well as Safari.

I receive a daily report for each device from Accountable2You. Steve gets my reports. It is a summary. I can go online for a detailed report. It is much easier to read and understand than K9 was. If there is questionable usage, I will get an immediate text or email.

We requested support help from Accountable2You a couple of times. Within an hour, they responded and solved my problemamazing! I did not receive replies to my support requests to K9 at all.

We pay $9.99 a month for up to 20 devices on their family plan. So far we are more than pleased with Accountable2You.

Great news. You can try out Accountable2You for a month completely free using the promo code Titus2. The link is Titus2’s affiliate link, which blesses the ministry with a 15% credit each month you’re using Accountable2You. Important note on the free month: the website will say 10 days, as that’s the standard trial, but when you get near the end of the checkout, it will say Promo Code: Titus2 (100% off once). So as long as you have the promo code in there, you’ll get a free month.

Questions? Ask below, and we’ll try to help or check out Accountable2You’s site.

Trusting in Jesus,

“Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”
Mark 14:38

Standardized Testing for Homeschoolers

(Ellie didn’t stay in for the testing. She’s very loyal to Sarah, so she came in while Sarah grabbed the pictures before we began.)

Some states require standardized testing or some other form of yearly assessment for homeschooling students. Our state does not. However, through most of our homeschooling years, we chose to do standardized testing.

Nathan and Melanie have begun down a similar path. Last year I administered standardized testing for Abigail using Iowa Basic Skills that we get through This year using the same, I administered standardized testing for Abigail (4th) and Bethany (2nd).

There is a sweet flow to that because for many years my parents administered standardized testing first to our children and the other children in our homeschool support group and eventually just for our children when the support group no longer offered the testing. Now I get to pass the blessing my parents gave my children on to my grandchildren.

Because of the girls’ grade levels, I can only administer the tests to one child at a time. Abby went first, and she was done in two days. Bethany followed in the same timing. We test for 2.5 to 3 hours with stand up stretching between tests and longer snack break in the middle.

Each granddaughter arrived at her testing with special mini-candy treats they know I likeAndes and York Mints.

After the testing, I give Melanie a report on how the girls did as far as working with the tests and working with me and things they said were hard for them when they had completed a test.

The feedback from Nathan and Melanie are that the girls really enjoyed the testing and Abigail was excited to do it again this year after last year’s experience. That makes me happy!

Trusting in Jesus,

“Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his
help, whose hope is in the LORD his God” (Psalm 146:5).

Delicious Vegetable Beef Soup

Remember when I multitasked and browned ground beef for something sometime? I was working in the kitchen doing other meal prep.

Recently, we put that ground beef to good use. All the kitchen helpers were going to be busy during normal lunch (which is our bigger meal of the day) prep the next day. We decided to make soup the afternoon before that could simply be heated up the next day.

We had available:

  • ground beef
  • a small ziplock bag of green onions that had been previously chopped and frozen
  • about 8 cups of frozen pork roast broth
  • frozen little smokies sausages
  • frozen tomato sauce
  • big bag of organic frozen mixed vegetables from Costco

The pork roast broth was a good amount of liquid for the amount of meat we were using. We just put it into a pot to defrost and boil. I dumped the ground beef into the pot along with the green onions. Then I sliced some of the little smokies sausagesan amount that seemed to compliment the ground beef as secondary meat.

When we tasted the broth that way, we decided not to use the tomato sauce since the flavor was already delicious.

Then we let that simmer a while before adding the mixed vegetables and boiling them.

We finished the seasoning by adding garlic salt and other seasonings to taste.

The result? Delicious soup! If your weather is anything like we’re experiencing in Kansas, soup is the perfect thing right now.

Trusting in Jesus,

“O taste and see that the LORD is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in him.”
Psalm 34:8