Thursday, December 30, 2010

To: 3,067,591,189

Our family has squeezers, shakers, peekers, lifters and shufflers. So to try to keep the contents of Christmas gifts a secret until the big reveal, I don't put who each gift is for on the package. In previous years, I write the name on the bottom of the wrapped gift in small letters. Usually I can see it, but everyone else has trouble finding it. But my children have all caught on and know to look for names or initials and then they proceed to shake, squeeze, lift, shuffle or peek. So I tried something different this year. I used numbers.

As I wrapped gifts in my bedroom, I'd place the just finished wrapped gifts with a gift tag that said something like, "To: 5, From: Papa and Mama". Then the middles would retrieve the gift and place it under the tree. Except that they had no idea what number they were. It definitely helped build up the anticipation and fun. My children all got me back though. I was given the above gift. 3,067,591,189. That's me. And they sent me on treasure hunt throughout the house and even outside (in the cold, in my robe!) to find my gift.  They definitely had the last say. But I'll do it again next year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

4 Dresses

Well, I did a better job at sewing than I did at blogging. I doubt that you were hanging on pins and needles (no pun intended) wondering if I'd get all 4 dresses done before Christmas Eve.  Well, guess what!

Done! Not without a few problems and delays along the way. (Of course I checked the length of the skirt on Emma before cutting it out. She must have grown 6 inches overnight!) 

I couldn't have gotten them finished without the help of my family - they pitched in with cooking, laundry, shopping, and cleaning while I feverishly worked on the dresses for the girls. I literally finished them an hour and a half before we had to leave for church. Phew!! I still need to adjust the back closures a bit, and the fabric for the sashes never arrived, so I quickly cut a sash for Maddie from some ribbon I happened to have. The other girls looked adorable even without a sash. My only regret was not getting better pictures of all 4 girls in their matching Christmas dresses.

Go ahead. Tell me how adorable they all look.

And since I did the sewing in the middle of all the other Christmas-y things - shopping, wrapping, visiting, caring for sick children (you mean that isn't a Christmas tradition for all families?), schooling, and trying to keep the house from falling apart, I think I'm going to settle down for a long winter's nap!

Friday, December 10, 2010

4 Dresses, 14 days (day 3)

Um. Well. This is where I post what I was able to do on the dresses.  Look at this cool photo my son edited for me: 

Oh, you already saw that? You want something new? Sorry. Between schooling, homing, parenting, etc. there was no sewing accomplished. But that's ok. I spent the day thinking and planning how I would make the bodices fit the little girls. Yep. That's my story.

4 Dresses, 15 days (Day 2)

Wednesday - I traced the pattern pieces I will need for Emma, Sophie and Allie. They're all just about the same size the bodice, so this should be a smooth process.  Then I cut the pieces out in muslin to test and stitched it up, and tried it on Sophie for size. Uh-oh. Apparently I did something wrong. The chest fits pretty well, although a little big, but the waist is WAY too small. So I measured Sophie again and compared her measurements to those on the pattern. Nope, I did it right. The size 1 dress should fit her with a bit of room. So then I looked at the directions and the pieces I traced. Yep, sewed everything together correctly. Yep, traced them correctly too. (Go me!) So I took out my tape measure and measured out the pattern, added it all up, subtracted for seams, and came out 3 inches too small in the waist. Fortunately, Sense and Sensibility Patterns has a FANTASTIC degree of customer service, so I hopped onto the forum and posted my dilemma. A few emails later, and it appears that there's a good possibility the pattern was printed incorrectly.

After taking a dinner break, thank you to my wonderful husband for cooking so I could focus on figuring out how to alter the pattern, I went back to the original, decided to change the seam allowance to 3/8" instead of the allowed 5/8", and slashed the back pattern pieces (there are 3 of them) from the bottom to add 1/4" to each one, which should give me the 3" I need in the waist. (Yes, math really is a useful subject.)  I cut new muslin pieces, restitched it, and tried it on Emma - Sophie was not very cooperative - and it fit! Almost. Now the chest was too big (probably because I changed ALL the seams to 3/8"), but with a tuck here and a fold there, we might have a workable pattern. Woohoo!

(Sorry, no cool photos edited by my son today.)

4 Dresses, 16 Days

I haven't sewn anything other than a quilt for Allie in years. Years. But then I saw this pattern. It's beautiful. And I decided it would be a perfect Christmas dress for my youngest girls, and my granddaughter. I ordered it, I bought muslin, I traced the patterns I'd need. And then I got so busy I didn't have time to work on it. Until I realized that Christmas was coming pretty quickly, and if I wanted these dresses done, I'd better get busy. So I thought I'd blog about it.  And my oldest son even made the very cool photo you see above. Love that boy!

I started working on the dresses on Tuesday, December 7. I wrote a blog post about what I did. And then blogger deleted it. I'm not going to try to rewrite the post, but just know that on Tuesday I worked on Maddie's muslin. It's a little snug over her head and will need some adjustments, but I don't think it will be too bad.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Making Wise Decisions

As the Keeper of my Home, one of my main responsibilities is to keep my family safe. I seem to be getting bombarded with information lately that is telling me I need to be more diligent at this. Take for example MSG in tomato sauce, mechanically separated chicken in my soup, and now the ingredients in my dish soap. I use Palmolive because I seem to be able to use less of it than other brands. Now I need to look for an alternative or find a way to make my own. Want to know what's in Palmolive? Check here.

Is anyone else as frustrated as I am at how many unsafe products are being sold to us?

Sunday, November 14, 2010


I spent a blissful hour outside today just before sunset. The moon was up, the sun was setting, the sky was clear, and the air was cool. I took Poppy and Clover (our goats) down to the field for some much needed attention, exercise and free grazing (they grazed, I didn't). They loved it (so did I).

I originally planned to take a walk, but the girls were so happy to just "be" that I sat under an apple tree and kept them company, watching, thinking, and "being" with them. And I realized something. Sitting outside under an apple tree watching my goats graze under the rising moon and setting sun is a beautiful thing.  It IS.  There was no plan. They didn't eat a little and then plan to move over there and eat a little more, then plan to run a little and then eat a little more, then plan to climb on a rock.... I didn't plan out where I would sit and what view would be best and how long I would stay... We just WERE. They did their thing, and I watched. And listened. And breathed.

And I realized that I haven't done that for a very long time. 
Just listening. 
Just breathing. 
Just BEing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rain's gift

The end of a very rainy day brought unexpected beauty.

Photo by my talented son.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Front Garden Visitors

There were six of these little visitors to my front garden enjoying the seeds. I haven't had a chance to go out and gather any to save for ourselves, but our feathered friends are enjoying my lack of time. I did have a chance to snap a couple of pictures of them though.

Okay, you have to look VERY closely, but there are birds sitting on top of the seed heads. I think they're goldfinches, and I wish I could have gotten better pictures, but I can't justify the purchase of a telephoto lens to my husband with, "Just think of all the cool bird pictures I could take!" Nope. I don't think he'd buy it. No pun intended.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mid-Afternoon Chocolate Fix

There are days that call for a little chocolate. Rainy days that start way too early for example. I don't really have the motivation to bake anything big because I have too many other things I should be attending to. So I'll call out the reserves.  Five Minute Chocolate Mug Cake.

I like mine with a spoonful of peanut butter placed on top while it's still hot.

There. That's better.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The end of a Season

My "Thanks Mom" flower. Given by each of the senior soccer players to their mom's to say, "Thanks for getting us to practice, making dinner around our schedule, coming to our games, cheering for us, standing outside in the sun, wind, rain and cold."

His team finished well, with a 14-0 season, and losing only at the last game of the regional finals.

I doubt that my son knows how much I enjoyed watching him play.  I'll miss cheering for him and his team. It's more than the end of a soccer season. It is the end of a Season.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Diamonte Poem

Strong and tough
Dying, breaking, falling
Leaves, branches, trunks and roots
Crashing, moving, rotting
Weak and ramshakle

by Zach

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Growing Up

Emma fell asleep tonight. On her own. In her own bed. For the first time since she was 5 months old. And she is completely, totally 100% weaned. Finally. Except for the 3 or so times that she was tired and assumed her nursing position, laying down in my arms playing with her hair. I was able to distract her and we moved on. She's growing up. And for the first time in 13 months I'm only nursing one baby.

Cooking Bacon

Not too long ago, I discovered a wonderful way to cook bacon. Set the oven to 400℉. Place your bacon in a single layer on a cookie sheet (or two - just make sure they fit in the oven). Then put it in the oven for 15 - 20 minutes depending on how crispy you want it. Be careful taking it out of the oven so you don't spill any of the grease.  Tada! Your bacon is cooked to the perfect crispness and your stovetop doesn't look like it's just been through a splatter war.

And just in case you don't know what to do with the bacon, you can crumble it up onto a bowlful of baby spinach, top with a couple of hard boiled eggs, add some balsamic vinaigrette dressing and mix gently. A super easy and really tasty salad.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Snowbirds are Here

“How often they may be seen thus flitting along in a straggling manner from bush to bush, so that the hedgerow will be all alive with them, each uttering a faint chip from time to time, as if to keep together, bewildering you so that you know not if the greater part are gone by or still to come.”

Henry David Thoreau

I heard the chip... chip... chip... this morning when I went out to feed our animals. I couldn't quite tell where it was coming from. Up in this tree. No. Up in that tree. Wait. Maybe it was that one.  Then, this afternoon I looked out my front window. And there in the yard were at least 50 snowbirds.  They're also called a dark-eyed Junco, but I like snowbird better.  I think winter is on it's way.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

The moon is full and I wanted a minute or five to try something fun, so my camera and I went outside into the cold. (Yes, I consider 36 degrees to be cold.) I tried taking a few shots, but my biggest problem is the lack of light to use for focusing on anything. I did get a couple of fun shots though. Here are some of my favorites. 
 I love the clouds in this one.

I lightened this one up a bit. I love the warm color!

The wind wasn't blowing, so this one is clearer.

I like the way the leaves look all silvery, but I don't like the composition of this one very much.

My home.

I think this is my favorite. The birch tree looks so pretty in the moonlight.

I know I won't win any photo contests with any of these, but it was fun trying something new, and I enjoyed being outside in the peaceful stillness of night. It was cold, but it was peaceful.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


My wonderful hubby thought it would be nice to soak in our tub tonight. So we put on a movie for our middles and our littles, and he told the middles to watch the littles and he'd pay them a dollar for their work. He filled the tub (no small feat, let me tell you), and we went for a nice, long, peaceful soak. In our tub. See our tub?

Wanna see a better picture? You know you do.

Jealous? I'm sorry. 

We actually bought the house because of this tub.  Okay, I'm kidding. Sort of. We bought the house because of the land around the house, and the tub. The house was a bonus. I think if only the land and the tub were for sale we would have bought it. 

Anyway, back to our story. So The Builder and I are relaxing in our tub. The window is open to let in a soft breeze. The trees are swaying outside. The moon is full, peeking in and out from behind the clouds and shining through the foggy windows. There's a faint scent of smoke from the wood stove (it's a good scent, let me tell you), the water is nice and warm and soothing. All is peaceful and quiet and still. Except for our littles, Emma and Sophie, who are just outside the bathroom door, yelling and singing with their little noses pressed up against the small little crack - "Mama-boom, Papa-boom, lalalalalala, hi, tum in?, Paaaapaaaaa, Maaaaaamaaaaa, where is?, lalalalalalalala, up? wady, in? Paaaaaaaapaaaaaaaaaa, Maaaaaaaaaaamaaaaaaaa."  

Ahhhh yes. All is right with the world. I think we'll still give our middles a dollar. They tried.

Friday, October 22, 2010


"If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play! If she would have the courage to let everything go when life becomes too tense, and just take a day, or half a day, out in the fields, or with a favourite book, or in a picture gallery looking long and well at just two or three pictures, or in bed, without the children, life would go on far more happily for both children and parents. The mother would then be able to hold herself in "wise passiveness’ and would not fret her children by continual interference even of hand or eye - she would let them be."

Charlotte Mason

Oh, what a wise woman she was!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

So much to learn, so little time

There's a phrase that is not allowed to be used in our home. (Okay, there are quite a few of them - swearing is not allowed either). It's one of my pet peeves - I can't stand it when someone uses it:

"I'm bored."

You must be joking! There is an entire world waiting to be discovered. You obviously have free time. Go explore! Discover! Learn something new!  

I started thinking about all the things I'd love to be able to do in my "free" time. I thought about making a list, but it would be pretty long. Here's a start:

Learn to play the violin
Learn to play the piano
Learn to play the guitar
Read a book (I have about 500 that I know of that I'd like to read someday)
Make a quilt
Make clothes for my children
Design a pattern
Write a book
Make a difference for someone
Learn to draw (oh, how I wish I could draw, or paint, or sketch!)
Take better pictures
Sleep (seriously!)
Learn ballroom dancing
Start a business (or 8)
Learn about History
Learn about my ancestry
Be active in politics
Design a curriculum
Learn about herbs and herbal healing
Organize my house
Sell the extra stuff
Learn about the plants on our land
Have tea with my children
Learn to weave
Learn to make soap
Learn to make candles
Organize my recipes
Learn French
Learn Latin
Learn Greek
Learn Hebrew
Learn almost anything!

My aunt (who was a teacher) used to tell her students and her children "You're boring" whenever they would dare complain of boredom to her. I think she's right. If someone is "bored" they either think they've accomplished all there is to accomplish in this life (I can't even imagine that), or they have no ambition whatsoever to learn something new.  I think it's the same as watching television. If you have time to sit in front of a box for hours a week (or hours a day! How can you do that?), then you must have LOTS of free time and no ambition to DO something. Don't get me wrong, I love a great movie as much as anyone, but sitting for hours on end being entertained seems like a huge waste of time, not to mention the personality drain that occurs.

So I'm curious, what's on your list of things to do when you have so much free time that you might even consider saying "I'm bored"? Or is it okay to be bored?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Menu Planning Cheats

I have a new best friend. It saves me time, it saves me money, it saves me frustration. What is it? Menu planning.

We all know that planning your meals ahead of time is better for your budget. It makes it easier when you're shopping and helps eliminate those last minute runs to the store for items you don't have and it gets rid of those last minute (very expensive) phone calls for delivery because you just don't know what to cook and everyone's hungry. (Of course, living 30 minutes away from the nearest delivery restaurant has solved that problem for us.)  But menu planning takes time, and there are days when I just don't have any to spare. That's where my new best friend comes in. E-Mealz. I subscribed to it just to see if it would work for us, and so far, so good. It's only $15 for 3 months of weekly dinner menus. That works out to only $1.25 a week. You probably spend more on coffee. They have lots of menu options: Family menus, menus for 2, low-fat menus, low-carb menus, point system menus, even some store specific menus that help you save based on where you shop. It's almost a no-brainer. They even give you the shopping list!! Can it get any easier? (Well, maybe if they came and cooked for me.)

So give it a shot. There are samples on the website that you can try to see if you like it. My only complaint is that the sample menus don't give directions for all the meals on the menu, but they have the ingredients on the shopping list, so you can either shop for everything and figure out how to make the meal based on the ingredients, or just shop for the meals you have directions for.  Oh, and if you sign up by clicking on the link here on my blog on the right hand side (you see it, it's right over there. No. Over there.), I get credit for referring you. So that would be really nice. =) 

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Peek a boo

One of the reasons why I'm canning so much is so my family can eat healthier. I've been finding all sorts of problems in the foods I buy at the store. Even when I try to stay away from "processed" foods and cook only with "whole" foods, there is a problem. For example, we eat a lot of tomato products. We use them in sauces, dressings, as an added vegetable in soups and stews, etc. I looked at my can of plain old ordinary store bought Hunt's 100% Natural Tomato Sauce and guess what I found in the ingredient list - "natural flavoring". 

Sounds harmless enough. But what IS natural flavoring? According to the Code of Federal Regulations, it is:
"the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."
Natural flavor is made by scientists in conditions that are far from natural. They start with one thing, process it, break it down into smaller pieces, combine those pieces in another way, and call it "natural flavorings".

Further research shows that "natural flavoring" often means MSG, or monosodium glutamate.  According to the FDA's definitions, the food ingredient "monosodium glutamate" is "natural", although manufacturers are required to list MSG on the label if they add it to a product.

According to the USDA:
The chemical breakdown of proteins may result in the formation of free glutamate that joins with free sodium to form MSG. In this case, the presence of MSG does not need to be disclosed on labeling. Labeling is required when MSG is added as a direct ingredient.
 Did you see that? "Labeling is required when MSG is added as a direct ingredient."  So if it is "created" through the chemical breakdown of proteins, it is still MSG, but doesn't need to be labeled MSG.

So my search for the true meaning behind "natural flavoring" reveals that it is far from natural, and is often an indicator of MSG. Peek a boo. I see you. And I don't want to play anymore.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Busy, busy, busy

I've been a little busy lately. Between schooling, homekeeping, soccer games, little ones, and canning, I don't seem to have two minutes to put together. I'd like to say that life should be back to normal soon, but this IS my normal. Wakeup, consume coffee, feed children, feed animals, shower, school, first nap, feed children, second nap, make dinner, more school, wash dishes, do laundry, start to can something, eat, run to soccer game, feed animals, finish canning, bed.  Phew! We're stretched to our limits, but I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing. It's exhausting maybe, but I'd much rather be busy than to be sitting on the sofa for hours every night watching something useless on TV.  Here's where we are:
  •  So far, both teams my children play on are undefeated.  (Woohoo!!!)
  • We're pretty much on target with school work, although I don't love some of the curriculum we're using. 
  • The animals are doing well, but our chickens are lazy. We have 13 hens and all we're getting is 3-5 eggs a day. Slackers. 
  • I've canned 6 quarts of tomato sauce, 7 pints of ketchup, 2 quarts and 1 pint of dilly beans, barbecue sauce is cooked and ready to be canned, several bags of green beans are in the freezer, the last of my zucchini is shredded and frozen just waiting to become bread. I still have more to do, but seeing those frozen bags, and the beautiful jars filled with nourishment that we grew, harvested and preserved makes me inexplicably happy. 
That's all I have time for right now. I have recipes I want to share, posts I've started (some of them just in my head), projects to work on and share, but that will all have to happen another time. Maybe when I'm not so busy. (Yeah, right.)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Love/Hate Relationship with a Bible Verse

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:13.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

I love this verse. I meditate on it frequently. But I also hate this verse. I have a tendency to only read and meditate on part of it. And that gets me into all sorts of trouble. If I focus only on the first part, I can do all things, well, just read my last post and you'll see what happens! That's what happens when we take verses out of context. We miss the point. The point of this verse isn't doing everything and asking God to bless our doing. We need to rely fully and wholly on Christ first. He is the one who gives us strength. 

When the entire verse is read in context, the meaning becomes so much clearer. Paul is talking about contentment. About making the decision to be content in all circumstances. When full or when hungry, when we have plenty or if we're in need. The true meaning of I can do is I can be strong or I have the strength to overcome.  I find the strength in Christ when I give him my life. He tells us that His yoke is good (the translation says "easy", but the Greek really means "virtuous" or "good"). 

It's when I add to His yoke that life gets crazy and I start to feel overwhelmed. It's when I start focusing on myself that I might start to feel depressed. If I get my priorities straight, everything falls into place. It may not be easy as we define things, but He never told us it would be. He told us to follow him. And to be content in all circumstances. Even if those circumstances keep me running from sun-up to sun-down. Even if those circumstances aren't always what I'd like. So I'm going to try harder to get things in the right order. Jesus gives me strength, and with His strength, I can be strong.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

What was I thinking?

I have reason to question my sanity. This has been a week. I mean a WEEK. I don't even remember part of it, that's how crazy it's been. Let me try to recap the main events.

  • Monday - Labor Day. Made Overnight French Toast (that was easy-ish). I honestly don't remember what we did for most of the day, but Monday night we had friends over to celebrate Joshua's 18th birthday with pie and ice cream.
  • Tuesday - Joshua's 18th birthday! Good thing we celebrated on Monday, because the little ones were CRANKY. Schoolwork, then took Maddie to the doctor for her foot (she didn't know what she did, but it hurt pretty bad and icing, heating, wrapping and soaking wasn't helping). Turns out she has plantar fasciitis. Nice. Josh went to a friend's field hockey game then out to dinner. I took Zach and Maddie to soccer practice (Maddie took it "easy" and only walked the laps instead of running - did I mention how tough that girl is?), then home, showers, grade school work, bed.
  • Wednesday - Thought I had the day planned out, but a last minute cancellation changed things. It made it easier, but still changed things. School in the morning, then drive to town to drop Josh off at hubby's work to take hubby's car to soccer practice, then haircut appointment for me, drive to another town to get some school books for Josh, then back to town for an oil change, then off to buy soccer items for Zach and Maddie, then to pick hubby up from work since Josh had his car, then home, dinner, review school work, bed.
  • Thursday - Everyone up early. Josh drives to school for chapel, yearbook and a soccer game. The rest of us drive hubby to work then come home for schoolwork, laundry, bake bread, make dinner, soccer practice, clean up dinner, feed goats, do dishes, showers, review school work, wait for hubby to come home, wait for Josh to come home (celebrate his team's win), watch Vikings lose to New Orleans (Grrrr!), bed.
  • Friday - Katie's 22nd birthday!! (Am I really that old?) school work, drive to town to pick hubby up to take him to dentist appointment because Josh needs to drive to soccer practice at the same time then go to youth group, arrive late to appointment because of construction on the way, after appointment go to grocery store, then home, dinner, crash.
Don't forget that there were still diapers to change, a baby to nurse, chickens to feed, eggs to gather, goats to bottle feed twice a day, laundry to do, dishes to wash....

Oh, you were still wondering why I am questioning my sanity? Because in the middle of all this, I decided to use some of our surplus garden tomatoes to make homemade ketchup. From scratch. Yes, I can buy it by the gallon for less than $5, but my hubby likes homemade. So it took me 3 days because I didn't have enough time to make it all at once, and in the end I ended up with not quite 2 pints of ketchup. It's almost half gone already. Why do I do these things??

    Wednesday, August 11, 2010

    Where is the Me I want to Be?

    I think I'm schizophrenic. (No offense meant to those who truly are.)  You see, there are two Me's. There's the Me I am. And there's the Me I want to be. The Me I am: short tempered, impatient, flustered, clumsy, average intelligence, not very creative... well, you get the picture. Then there's the Me I want to be. I dream of being graceful, wise, mild mannered, creative.

    I want to have dinner on the table when my husband comes home from work. Not just any table, but a beautifully set table. With candles, a tablecloth, flowers, cloth napkins.(These days I can barely pull a meal together.) Dressed in something beautiful and soft (instead of denim capri's and a comfy shirt I can nurse in modestly.) Maybe with my hair done and makeup on (instead of a headband and hairclip). I want to be able to comfort him after a hard day at work (instead of comparing his bad day to mine). I want the house to be cleaned up whenever he comes home. I want to be organized so everything has a place (instead of moving from one organizing project to another in the hope that somehow I'll find more space for less stuff).

    I want to be patient with my children. Able to soothe the little ones with music and singing (instead if sighs of frustration). Baker of fabulous comfort foods when they don't feel well. And when they do. Block stacker and castle builder extraordinaire. Game player. Sewer of amazing dress up clothes and regular clothes. Designer of my own patterns (and maybe my own fabric).Creator of wonderful memories of home that will be with them always.

    I want my home to be a place of comfort for my family and for others. I want people to want to be here. To enjoy visiting. Stopping by just to see what delectable creation we made. I want to be able to share earthly comforts and spiritual comforts with them. The "wise one" who can say just the right thing at just the right time.

    The Me of my dreams confidently faces every day and every hardship with grace, dignity, and faith.

    But the Me that I am keeps getting in the way. I stumble through my life, making more mistakes than I care to admit. But then God whispers that He loves me. The real Me. And the Me that I dream of becoming? Well, He is a worker of miracles. Maybe I can slowly become her, one step, one day, at a time.

    Friday, August 6, 2010

    Favorite Blueberry Muffin Recipe

    I made these this morning, and they are a family favorite, so I thought I'd share the recipe.  The recipe comes from my Betty Crocker Cookbook.

    Blueberry Streusel Muffins

    Streusel Topping:

    2 Tbsp firm stick butter
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
    1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

    Cut the butter into flour, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl using a pastry blender or 2 knives until crumbly, set aside.


    1 cup milk
    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1/2 tsp vanilla
    1 large egg
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup sugar
    1 Tbsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup blueberries

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease bottoms only of muffin cups.

    Beat milk, oil, vanilla and egg in a large bowl. Stir in flour, sugar, baking powder and salt all at once just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy). Fold in blueberries. Divide batter into 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle each with about 2 teaspoons of streusel topping. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Makes 12. Eat quickly. =)

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010

    Every Potty needs a Pooper

    Sorry about the title of the post. I couldn't resist. But it perfectly reflects today's big event:

    Emma pooed!

    Yes, I know this is not something that people typically get excited about. But I have two children in diapers ( and we're back to using cloth for them both), so dealing with poo is a frequent occurrence for me. This time it was different. Emma pooed.....


    Can I hear a collective, "WOOHOO!" from all mom's everywhere who dislike potty training as much as I do? 

    I don't think Emma was quite as excited as I was, but she wanted to flush. When she did she looked in the potty and said.........


    I have to go now. Sophie just learned how to take off her diaper cover.

    Thursday, July 22, 2010

    Legal Discrimination

    This is one of those posts that portrays me as a really opinionated person. That's OK. Because I'm a really opinionated person.

    I've noticed lately that there are so many efforts to desegregate and stop discrimination that we've become a segregated, discriminated people. And now it's legal.

    Case in point: The National Black Homeschooling Convention recently took place. Pardon me, but why is it alright to have a Black convention, but not a White convention, or an Asian Convention, or an Indian Convention. How about a National Redhead Homeschooling Convention? If we're going to divide people based on something as superficial as skin color, then why not divide based on hair color, or eye color, or height or weight. (Oh, sorry, I mentioned weight. I didn't mean to offend.)  One woman defended the Black Homeschooling Convention by saying that black people need to teach their children about culture, where some other parents don't need to do that, and that a convention uniting them in this cause strengthens people.  Please excuse my ignorance, but do all black people share the same culture? And why is it more important for black people to teach culture to their children? I'm just asking. And since when does any kind of division result in strength? A house that is divided against itself cannot stand. (Matthew 12:25) So let's stop dividing the house.

    Here's another example: a company nearby has a Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender support group that is openly supported by the company. Anyone who wants to find out when and where they meet need only ask. Anyone. Yet the Christian Bible study group is "allowed" to meet, but you have to know someone in the group to find out when they meet. It isn't allowed to be openly advertised because it might "offend" someone. Another person I know works at what she referred to as the "gayest company in (her city)". Her company allowed an employee to decorate his/her workspace with gay pride related items. I wonder though if a Christian working at the same company would be allowed to have a Bible out, or bible verses on a whiteboard. 

    Just this week a woman was fired from her job because of a video that showed her telling a story of how she didn't help a white farmer as much as she could have, just because he was white. The video didn't show the rest of her speech, only the part where she didn't do as much as she might have if he was a black farmer. So her bosses jumped to conclusions and "forced her resignation".  They were so sensitive about discrimination they forgot to be sensitive about the context of what the video showed.

    Our country has fallen so far from our founding fathers ideals that the name of the country is almost all we have left. The standards have been lowered over and over again and now the standard is based on each person's own reality and opinion of right and wrong. And we've allowed it. There are so many laws that attempt to force people to accept all other people that we're not allowed to have an opinion anymore. It's called "Hate Speech" if we say that we disagree with a lifestyle. We aren't supposed to divide people based on skin color, unless your skin is dark, then it's OK to set yourselves apart from others.  Prayer is allowed in public schools as long the prayer is addressed to Allah or Buddha or goddess, but don't address Jesus or God.

    So where do we go from here? I'm not sure.  Maybe we need to stop passing laws that try to force people to approve of things they don't approve of.  Maybe we need to show everyone Christ's love to others regardless of who they are and what they look like. Maybe we all need to understand that love and like and approval are all different things and none of them can be forced upon us by laws.

    Monday, July 19, 2010

    Dancing in the Minefields

    This Friday, a sweet young couple we know is getting married. Yesterday they were baptized together. They were each baptized before, but wanted to be baptized as adults to show their commitment to each other and to God as they begin their lives together. What a beautiful illustration of love. I can't tell you how blessed us "old married folks" have been by them. Every time we see the soon-to-be-husband he tells us how many more days until they are married. I'll say that again. Every time we see the soon-to-be-HUSBAND he tells us how many more days until they are married. Usually we see the bride counting down the days, and she is, but it is so beautiful to see a man who is anxious to claim his bride.

    I saw this video, what a beautiful song. We are dancing in the minefields. It made me think of my own wedding day so many years ago.  No, it's not easy, but the promise is there for us to claim.

    Just a few minutes ago I called my husband to see how he's doing at work and let him know I'm thinking of him (it will be a rough week for him this week).  He told me of a friend whose wife left him yesterday. She took his children and left. She called him this morning and told him she wanted to talk to him.  As far as I know, they are not believers, but please pray for them. They are truly in the minefields. I hope and pray they'll dance again.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Three Days Off

    I love three day weekends. Back when I worked outside my home, they were a time to recharge, to get things done at home that I normally didn't have time for, and to have some fun.  Now that I'm a full time homemaker, three day weekends are for.... the same thing!

    Last year we spent most of our time settling in. We had moved into our home in December of 2008, and in February we found out we were expecting. Between unpacking, morning all day sickness, two months of nonstop rain in the summer, the arrival of Sophie, the arrival of Allie (our grand baby), and Allie's health problems, well, last year sped by in a bit of a blur.

    I'm trying to make up for it this year, well, this last month. After last weekend's accomplishments, and the stripping of the upstairs bathroom wallpaper. I painted the bathroom. It used to be a soft, pale, wildflower blue color with an iris print wallpaper border. Not exactly the style for a bathroom used mostly by 3 of our children. Now it is creamsicle, sunset orange. (By the way, I LOVE it. More than I thought I would.)  That project took up most of my week, because I still needed to attend to my children, cooking, cleaning, laundrying..... You know the drill.

    This weekend I was able to stain the front porch which REALLY needed it last year, but never got done.  That was done on Saturday. My wonderful hubby attended to the needs of our little ones and the older children spent the day boating and tubing with friends. Sunday was the 4th. After church we had an impromptu picnic at our house with some great friends. Oh, and we met the best veterinarian in the world. But that's another post topic. And on Monday, the "bonus" day, I stained the back deck, which REALLY needed it even more! Once again, hubby stepped in to watch over the little ones. I can't tell you how nice it is now to walk out front or out back and not think of work that needs to be done. We can enjoy the space now instead of fretting over when we'd be able to get to protecting the wood.

    We have been blessed by this beautiful home and setting, and we're doing our best to be good stewards. There are a few more projects we need to get to, but we're on a roll!

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    Weekend Warriors

    Thank God it's Monday! No really. I mean it. I needed a down day. We had such a busy weekend! We:
    • fed children
    • fed babies
    • fed baby goats
    • baked 2 coffee cakes
    • washed the laundry
    • changed diapers
    • vacuumed floors
    • hung 2 windows in our shed
    • framed out the 2 new windows
    • cut down trees
    • took hubby to emergency room for using chainsaw on his leg (long story, he's fine, small cut, one big running stitch)
    • went to a Geoff Moore concert after hubby returned from E.R.
    • built dividers in shed for the goats
    • built a gate for inside the shed for goats
    • built a holder for salt/vitamin/mineral block
    • cleared brush
    • installed 20 T posts for fencing
    • installed 200 feet of fencing
    So, it was a great productive weekend. The goats now have semi-permanent housing, and mostly secure fencing. Today was a down day. I stripped wallpaper in the upstairs bathroom. Yep. It's what I do to relax.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Eating Better for Less

    I'm a numbers kind of person. I love them. When I'm doing something that keeps my body busy, but not my mind, I often run numbers through my head. I figure out how much it costs in gas to go to the grocery store, how many gallons of oil give as much heat as a cord of wood (still working on that one), I do my budget in my head, then figure out how much I spend annually on certain things (a fantastic eye-opening exercise by the way). 

    A huge amount of my figurin' time is spent on budget related items. I'm always trying to figure out how much I'm spending and how to spend less and the largest flexible area of our budget is for food.  So when I came across this post, I was definitely interested. The thought that I could spend less money for nourishing food is huge. The thought of spending less money for nourishing food that I could spend less time cooking? Oh, I can't even put it into words! Ok, so maybe my family won't go for eating kale, oats and milk every day, but it is definitely food for thought. (Sorry, had to do it.)

    Saturday, June 19, 2010

    Birthday Boy!

    I absolutely cannot believe it's been 11 years. Eleven years ago today, my third child was born.

    My little Zach. So much of our lives changed when he was born. Having him was our first step away from the cultural "norm". We had finally realized that we didn't want to be past childbearing age and wish we'd had more children. (Thank you Pat Sarver, wherever you are, for teaching me this.) Zach was our first homebirth. (I got into an argument with my obstetrician when I was 32 weeks pregnant and we found a midwife who agreed to attend our birth.) After Zach's birth I finally left the corporate world behind and became a stay at home mom. We began homeschooling.

    And now here we are, 11 years later. The time flew by so swiftly and I know that no matter how hard I try to slow it down, the next 11 years will go even faster. I don't know exactly when he stopped being a little boy. He still asks me to come tuck him in at night though. I'll enjoy that for as long as I can.

    Happy Birthday Zachy Bear!

    Adding on

    We welcomed two new additions to our home this week. These little beauties are sisters and are a Nubian/Toggenburg mix.  Nubian goats are the ones with the adorable long floppy ears. Toggenburg goats have more erect ears. Since these are a mix, their ears are really long, but they stick almost straight out. Kind of like an airplane's wings.


    They'll grow into full sized goats, and hopefully next year they'll give us baby goats and lots of milk. We don't have names for them yet. For now they're sleeping in a pen in the garage (for safety), but during the day we let them out into a fenced in area put up just for them. They don't like to be left outside alone though, so my middles have been spending lots of time out there with them. 

    Tuesday, June 15, 2010

    Summer List

    I'm already a week and a half into summer, and I feel like it's going way too fast. So much to do, so little time.  So I'm going to try to make a list of things to do this summer and check them off as I go. Maybe it will make me feel like I'm accomplishing more.
    • Paint Josh's bedroom.
    • Read A Charlotte Mason Companion
    • Reread Teaching the Trivium
    • Stain the front porch
    • Clean out the basement
    • Make skirts for Maddie
    • Organize my recipes
    • Paint the upstairs bathroom
    • Finish painting the hallway and guest room
    • Go to the beach with the kids
    • Learn how to use my camera better
    • Make a quilt for Maddie
    • Learn how to make yogurt and cheese
    • Learn how to identify the plants in my yard
    • Learn how to play the violin (this has been on my list for 7 years now)
    • Learn how to play the piano
    • Learn how to draft a pattern
    • Sew aprons for Maddie and I
    • Get a laptop for the kids for schoolwork
    As of right now my list is nowhere near complete yet, but it's late and that's all I can remember. The good news is that the first one is done. Yay me!  I'll try to keep it up to date with what I get done and any new additions to the list.  Looks like it will be a very busy summer!

    Friday, May 21, 2010


    IMG_2202, originally uploaded by Honoring Home.
    Homemade pizza.
    Tossed salad.
    A glass of red wine.
    The scent of lilacs.
    A cool breeze coming in the window.
    Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong in the background.

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    Sense and Sensibility Patterns

    One of my very most favorite sewing sites online has a brand new completely updated website.

    To celebrate the new look, Sense and Sensibility Patterns is having a HUGE sale! The sale was supposed to end today, but I received a notice that it's been extended until Monday! So head over and check it out. All patterns are 15% off!

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    Extreme Makeover Garden Chair Edition

    We inherited these chairs from the previous owners of our home. They are among the many things they graciously left behind for us when they moved out and we moved in. They sit under a pine tree in our back yard, next to the bird feeder, which the previous owners also graciously left.

    I love these chairs. I enjoyed sitting in them last year, after walking up from the garden, very pregnant with Sophie, and carrying Emma on my back. (I'm sure that was a site to see.) These chairs welcomed me. Emma and I sat and watched birds coming to the feeder. We rocked. We nursed. She slept. Did I mention that I love these chairs? They looked a bit neglected though. So I sanded them.

    Found out one of them used to be red. You can see it right next to the rust.

    The other one used to be sort of aqua blue.

    Now, they are all blue and white. The picture makes them look like they're different colors, but they are both the same blue, like the one on the right, with white arms. And the table is blue with a white top. It's what color they wanted to be. They told me so. Now they match the forget-me-nots. You should come sit in them with me. I'll make the tea.

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Busy Day

    Today was a full day!
    • We did school.
    • I cut the front grass (most of it, till I ran out of gas in the mower).
    • Josh cut the back grass.
    • I baked 3 loaves of bread.

    • We did hammered flower impressions on fabric.

    • I made a wire ribbon flower, like this one, only mine is turquoise blue.

    • I made dinner with Maddie's help.
    • Maddie brought me flowers.

    But most of all, I enjoyed my children. It was a good day! How was your day?

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Our Weekend Gift

    This past weekend's weather was gorgeous. We went to a nearby favorite park to enjoy a bit of God's creation and we celebrated Emma's 2nd Birthday (technically a couple of days late, but she didn't mind).Swinging on favorite swings.

    Playing in the VERY COLD water.

    Sophie enjoyed her first ride in a swing.

    Loving the sand and the water, which she called "Weee".

    Skipping stones.

    I've found that there are days where my To Do list can be a mile long, but the best thing for us all is to scrap the list and go have fun. Our days of enjoying each others company are too few and far between, so when God gives us a gift - beautiful weather and everyone home at the same time - we should unwrap it with joy and not stick it aside for another day. What a beautiful gift that day was!

    Friday, April 30, 2010

    Theological Thinking

    Yesterday's discussion at home was interesting. Here's the question: Can you back up all your decisions with scripture? The topic came up because the author of a blog I read posted the statement that "I think it is wrong for Christians in America to have their children in government controlled schools". I'll let you read the most recent post, the original posts, and the comments on your own. There were several things I read that prompted the discussion we had. It was even more interesting because my oldest son told us of a big decision made by someone we know. This person said she "felt called" to do something. So on top of the scripture-backing-up-your-decisions-discussion, we had the you're-not-supposed-to-make-decisions-based-on-feelings-so-how-can-you-tell-if-you're-called discussion. Whoa! Deep stuff! Needless to say, it was a very late night. But a good night.

    So I'm curious. What do you think? Can you (or should you be able to) back up all your decisions with scripture? How do you know when God has called you to do something?

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    We Are Home Makers

    Being a Home Maker is by far the hardest job I've ever had. Even when I was working 16 hour days, living on double cappuccino's with a shot of vanilla because I couldn't get sleep, my job was easier than it is now. But my "job" now is absolutely, by far, the most fulfilling one I've ever had. What I do makes a difference in the world. I make a difference in the lives of my husband and my children. I forget that sometimes. Kelly, from Generation Cedar wrote something that reminded me. I think I'll print it out and hang it on a wall so I can see it often and be reminded of who I am, what I do, and Who I serve.

    We are a culture of real women, with real families and problems, but also a real understanding of the importance of our work in and among our homes and communities. We see a desperate need to return to a more simplistic way of living–for the health and good of all.
    We are sharp; we are thinking women; we read; we have voracious appetites for learning, and for teaching our children those things.
    We value education, and also sitting in the quiet of a day.
    We believe that “the greatest among you is the servant of all”.
    We utilize our computers to assist us with diagnosing an illness, and when we’re done, we hang our laundry on the clothesline to save money.
    We learn to cook from scratch because it’s cheaper, healthier and wiser.
    We make homemade laundry detergent (sometimes ;-) ).
    We are on a never-ending quest to save money because “a dollar saved is more than a dollar earned”, and our husbands treasure that quality in us.
    We believe motherhood is a vocation that comes with responsibilities, and we do what is necessary to fulfill them.
    We delight in serving our husbands a cold glass of tea; not because he demands it or because we are subservient, but because we love him and cherish the smallest opportunity to communicate it. After all, he spends all day “speaking love to us” working hard, making sure the oil is changed, unstopping the clogged pipes, and all sorts of other ways. We don’t feel we’re in competition, but rather, we are “heirs together in the grace of life”.
    We understand the very real fact that humans need serenity, and we make it one of our jobs to create that for as many as we can around us.
    We try to look around us and see if we can meet the practical needs of others.
    We think generationally….beyond today…into our great-grand-children’s lives. We journal about things we want our granddaughters to remember.
    We teach our girls about strength and dignity, and our boys about honor and protection. We also believe in equality, and in a beautiful array of differences.
    We care deeply about politics and what happens to our world; and that is why we are home MAKERS.

    I am proud to be one of them. Read the rest here.

    Monday, March 29, 2010

    My new favorite thing

    Why, oh why did I wait for so long!!?? I finally bought myself a Moby wrap. My midwife told me to, but I didn't listen to her right away. I have 3 other slings, and I used those. (One of which I used to carry 3 other children. Yes, I've had it for a while.) Well, after trying to carry Sophie in one last week, and after my shoulders ached from doing so, I finally broke down and picked one up. I just put it on. Let me just say that this is the most amazingly comfortable baby carrier I've ever used. Sophie loves it. I love it. And it's cute!! I have her in the Hug hold right now. Typing with BOTH hands because I don't need to support her with one even though she's in the carrier. I'll try one of the other positions later and see how she and I like it. I might even try it with Emma. Oh yes, this will definitely be the one I recommend to EVERYONE.

    Sorry, no pictures. My camera has decided to completely quit working. Good thing I have a birthday coming up. =)

    Thursday, March 25, 2010

    He said what?

    I know my husband. One of the things I know about him is that he doesn't say much. I'll ramble on about almost anything, talk thoughts out as they pop into my head, express my oh-so-many opinions at any time. Not my husband. He talks, but he's more careful about what he says. So I know when he says something that seems to be "out of the blue", it isn't just a thought that just popped into his head. He's been thinking about it. So the other day when he said something, I knew I needed to pay attention. What did he say? He said, "Maybe we should look for land closer to town." He said it two days in a row. I guess that means he's really thinking about it.

    Just for kicks and giggles, I thought I'd figure out how much it would cost or save us in gas - closer to work and church, but farther from where Josh goes to school. Enter google maps. Guess what! It is the exact same distance to school as it is from here (think of a triangle). But it's a LOT closer to work and church. Just in gas alone we'd be saving about $300 a month. And that doesn't include oil changes, tires, and other wear and tear on the cars. Of course, property taxes are much higher in that part of our state than in this part of our state, so our savings will probably go to a higher tax bill. But my husband would get about an hour a day back.

    We don't feel like God is calling us to move right now. Which is good, because I LOVE our land and our home. But we do think that God is telling us to get things in order, because you never know. So I have some unfinished projects to take care of around here. Just in case I didn't hear God correctly, I looked online at the current listings. There really isn't anything for us right now. And we're not putting our house on the market. We're just exploring options.

    You know, it's almost funny. Every time I've felt settled and content, God gives us big changes. Maybe I should try to feel discontented for a while. Then we can stay put. Maybe?

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    My Schedule Sets Me Free

    I fought against having a schedule for years. I'm too spontaneous. I don't want to be tied down. I want freedom. Well, not having a schedule really didn't work very well. I always felt like I was behind. I had to get everything done today. Right now. All of it. So this year, I made schedules for us. A schoolwork schedule, a chores for the kids schedule, an errands schedule (this one really isn't working), and a housework schedule. You know what I've found? More things are getting done, my house is getting cleaned on a regular basis, life is flowing more smoothly. And the unexpected find? I'm free! Once we finish what's on the schedule, we're done for the day! We can play without guilt. I have renewed focus because I know what has to be done today, and what can wait until tomorrow. I'm free to change the schedule or ignore the schedule if I really want to, but it works pretty well, so I try to stick to it. I need to adjust the schoolwork schedule a bit more, but even that helps. When we are interrupted we can pretty easily get back to where we left off. I've found new spontaneity in my discipline. Who would've thought?

    Do you use a schedule or are you still trying to convince yourself that you're a free spirit and shouldn't be tied down?

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Happy March!

    Today is the first day of March. March - you know - in like a lion, out like a lamb? THAT March. I can actually feel my fingers itch to start raking up the leaves that were missed last fall. I'm longing for the smell of fresh mulch to put on my flower beds. I'm dreaming of my children playing outside without carrying in wet slushiness on their boots and gloves and snowpants. I actually have crocuses that are beginning to peek their little green leaves out testing the weather to see if they should continue growing or duck back under cover for another week or two. Spring is in the air. I can smell it. Now I can even see it - even if it's just the pretty picture on my calendar and my yard is still covered with snow, I know it's coming. The crocuses told me so.

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    Not Asleep and Blessed

    I've been struggling lately with not sleeping. I want to sleep. I crave sleep. I just don't get very much. My little ones seem to have agreed some time ago that they would tag team. Makes for interesting nights. Sophie wakes to nurse, then Emma wakes to nurse. Then Sophie, then Emma, then Sophie, then Emma. You get the pattern. Sometimes they decide it would be really fun if they both wake at the same time. Yep. It's a blast. Emma pretty much sleeps with us these days. If I even try to put her in her crib, even if she's fast asleep, she wakes up crying immediately. So it's just easier to put her in our bed. That's where she sleeps.

    Sophie still sleeps in her bassinet, although she's quickly outgrowing it. She starts out in the bassinet but usually at her second waking, and sometimes her first, I'm too lazy tired to put her back, so she ends up sleeping with us too.

    This morning they were both in bed with us. And both asleep. At the same time. But I wasn't. I was blessed with being awake. Emma and Sophie were snuggled up together. It was hard to tell where one ended and the other began. I would have taken a picture, but I was afraid the flash would wake them.

    Then I came out to the living room. I found Zach and Maddie sound asleep. They couldn't sleep last night because of the wind, so we told them they could sleep downstairs. I thought one would be on the sofa and the other on the loveseat. I was wrong. The folded laundry was on the sofa. Zach and Maddie were snuggled up together on the loveseat. It was hard to tell where one ended and the other began. I would have taken a picture, but I was afraid the flash would wake them.

    And I was blessed with being awake. So I could see my babies snuggle. Thank you Jesus for moments of bliss.

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    Do The Next Thing

    I read this some time ago on Elisabeth Elliot's newsletter. It's such a help. When it seems like there is too many things and not enough time. When I'm tempted to worry about the future. When I wonder what God's will is. When I don't feel like doing anything at all.

    As far as I know, the author is unknown. This is a slightly modernized version.

    From an old English parsonage down by the sea
    There came in the twilight a message to me;
    Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
    Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
    And on through the doors the quiet words ring
    Like a low inspiration: “DO THE NEXT THING.”
    Many a questioning, many a fear,
    Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
    Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
    Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
    Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
    Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing
    Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
    Do it reliantly, casting all care;
    Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
    Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
    Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
    Leave all results, do the next thing
    Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
    Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
    In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
    The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
    Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
    Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    National CHD Awareness Week

    Today is the last day of National Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week. According to the American Heart Association - Out of 1,000 births, nine babies will have some form of congenital heart disorder. Nearly twice as many children die from congenital heart disease in the United States each year as die from all forms of childhood cancers combined, yet funding for CHD research is five times less than for pediatric cancer. Little Warriors fight against CHD every day. Little Angels have left many who will continue to fight in their memories.

    Fight on Allie! You are so strong and brave.

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    There's a New Man in My Life

    There's a new man in my life. (No, we didn't get another dog.) He's pretty interesting. He has gorgeous blue eyes. A smile that lights up his face. He loves my children. And my dog. (OK, maybe that's pushing it a little.) And my chickens. (OK, that's pushing it a lot.) He works full time, but he loves to build things. He's a pretty talented woodworker. Sound a lot like my husband? That's because it is! My husband, the Builder, is taking a class in blacksmithing. So maybe he isn't a "new" man. But he's a different man. He has something new to talk to me about. A new interest to research, learn and share. So in that way, he's different.

    I think any time we find ourselves stuck in a rut, whether it's a job-rut, marriage-rut (don't worry, our marriage is just fine), a financial-rut, or any kind of stuck-in-the-same-place-and-don't-know-how-to-change-it rut, we need to shake things up a bit. Take a new class. Shop at a different store, drive to work/school/church on a different road. SOMETHING. My husband is taking a class. He needs it. Now instead of beating his head against the wall in frustration, he's "beating the snot out of metal". His words. He's happier. So am I.

    Friday, February 5, 2010

    Can't We All Just Get Along?

    I was running the vacuum earlier, it was just about lunchtime, and lunch was ready before I finished. I called Zach and Maddie to get ready for lunch, and finished vacuuming. When I finished in the living room, I went into the kitchen and found that Maddie had put Emma into her highchair and was feeding her lunch. I thanked her for her kindness and thoughtfulness, and a conversation I had recently came to mind.

    A woman observed my youngest four children playing, and the oldest 2 were watching the youngest 2. (I was having my teeth cleaned.) She said her children would never care for each other like mine, and how nice it was to see children get along so well. How sad! I wonder now how much sibling rivalry is caused by the parents. How many times have you heard parents comparing their children to each other? How many times do you see parents drop their children off at daycare so they can "get away from them" for a few hours, then wonder why their children grow into teens who don't want to spend time with their parents? How often do you hear a parent yelling at a child for doing something the parent often does. Our children learn by example, and we are the ones providing the example - good or bad.

    I don't have it all figured out, and my children are not perfect. But I'd be willing to bet that one of the biggest reasons why my children truly get along so well and like each other so much is because WE like them so much. Yes, we have bad days, and I hear things come out of my mouth that I regret only a moment later, but my family is my treasure on earth. Maybe if more parents start to look at their children that way instead of viewing them as burdens we'll see more children truly loving each other.

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

    My Aunt sent me this recipe at just the time I was craving something sweet and chocolate. What great timing. I made it for us to enjoy while we watched a movie. Now, when you're making a 5 minute single serving cake recipe for 6 people to enjoy, it takes a little more than 5 minutes, but it was worth it. I will make it again, but we will DEFINITELY share - one mug per person was way too much!

    Make sure you use a large size coffee mug, not a little cup.

    5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake
    4 tablespoons flour
    4 tablespoons sugar
    2 tablespoons cocoa
    1 egg
    3 tablespoons milk
    3 tablespoons oil
    3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)
    A small splash of vanilla extract 1 large coffee mug (MicroSafe)

    Add dry ingredients to mug, and mix well. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.
    Pour in the milk and oil and mix well..
    Add the chocolate chips (if using) and vanilla extract, and mix again.
    Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts.
    The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don't be alarmed!
    Allow to cool a little, and tip out onto a plate if desired.
    EAT !

    EDIT: I haven't tried it, but I've read that adding 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of baking powder with the flour gives you a lighter cake, BUT it might spill over, so put the mug on a plate. ALSO, you might be able to cook it for less time, maybe 1 1/2 minutes on medium heat, the check it for consistency and cook in 30 second increments.  I like to put a spoon of peanut butter on top when it comes out of the microwave but is still hot to melt the peanut butter. But that's just me.

    Saturday, January 30, 2010

    Our World Turned Upside Down. And We Love Her

    How do you catch up on 3 months of absence from blogging when your world has changed? I guess you really don't.

    My oldest daughter, Kate, and her husband welcomed a beautiful little girl into the world on November 12, 2009. Little Aliyah Marie changed my world. I'm a mama of 6. I've been a mama for 21 years. But I've never been a Grandma before. I really didn't know what to expect. I thought I knew how I'd feel, but I was so wrong. Aliyah captured my heart more than I ever thought possible. Even before I saw a picture of her. She was mine just as much as my children are mine. She just belongs to others as well. I would do anything for her.

    This beautiful baby girl was a fighter from day one. She was born a month early, and had some problems breathing. We thought that was normal, she was born a month early after all. After spending 5 days in the hospital, she was finally ready to go home, and a nurse was doing a pre-discharge assessment and heard an unusual sounding heart murmur. They followed up with an inconclusive x-ray, which lead to an ECHO of her heart. I was so convinced that this would turn out fine that I went about my day as usual, knowing my daughter would call me with the news that Allie had a little heart murmur, but it was nothing to worry about, and they were on their way home. I was shopping when Kate called me, and I'll never forget the moment. She cried out that Allie needed a heart transplant. I fell to my knees. I don't remember leaving the store, but I know I asked my son to drive home. At the time, we didn't know her prognosis, and didn't even know if she'd live for a week. My husband and I booked a flight out to see her leaving the very next morning. My baby was hurting, and my baby's baby was hurting and we had to be there.

    Allie was born with HLHS - Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. Basically the entire left part of her heart, from a functional standpoint, did not exist. My daughter and son-in-law chose a heart transplant for Allie, and we began the wait.

    Our wait ended this past week, when Allie received her new heart. We will forever be grateful to the family who, in their grief and devastation chose to give life to Allie and others. Allie is currently recovering from her transplant surgery. She still has lots of milestones to pass, but she's a true warrior.

    We continue to pray for her every moment of every day. I am speechless when I think about the number of people who are praying for this precious babe. She is loved by so many. Follow her journey here.


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