Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A little muffin help

Next time you make muffins, try using an ice cream scoop to fill the cups. To make it extra easy, spray the scoop with non-stick spray (like Pam). Works for me!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bedtime here at our house, part 1 (a few words about babies and bedtime)

We just put all our little ones to bed, and as I rocked Sophie in her room, I thought about how many times I've gone through the nighttime ritual since I became a mom. Carter is well past his fifth birthday, so it has been at least 1900 times!

When Carter was first born, I was very unsure about how bedtime should work. I had heard all the stories about babies and then young children who would not sleep for years, and was a little scared that might happen to me. A very kind young mother in our church told me about Babywise, and I followed the prescribed schedule in a rather strict manner. Carter did sleep through the night by his third month, took great naps, and seemed to love his bed (after the first few weeks of scheduling, that is).

Since we were following Babywise principles pretty closely, there was not much rocking at bed time. I did spend a good bit of time rocking Carter, but we usually rocked while I nursed him or during 'wake/play' time. When it was time for bed, it was cuddling while I held him next to the bed and then I would put him in bed and that was the end of that (after the first couple of weeks or so, he would go right to sleep or entertain himself until he fell asleep- he literally loved going to bed).

I was happy with this arrangement, and Carter seemed to be happy as well. I didn't spend a lot of time in bed time rituals- I was afraid that I would create a 'crutch' for him. I have changed a bit since then!

As the years go by, and two more children have been added to our family, I have learned that very few rules are quite so 'hard and fast'- and there are few guarantees. Rocking a baby before bed does not have to create a 'crutch'. But being able to place your baby in his crib knowing that he will most likely go to sleep and sleep until morning is a beautiful thing. Now I do both, but more about that in a later post!

Next post: Here comes Josh- how bed time changed with Baby #2!

Ready for Church

I have been unable to get into Blogger for several days, so I've also been unable to post. I hope to post later today. For now, it's time for school, playing, and then lunch.

Here are some photos for Grandma from last Sunday before church. My little ones are never hesitant to pose for the camera. I'm so glad!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Detangling little girl's hair

When Sophie was born, I entered into a whole new arena of motherhood. Of the many things I've learned over the past twenty-two months, learning to 'do hair' is one of the most important!

Sophie has long, fine hair that often gets tangled, especially right after her bath. To help get the tangles out, I've discovered a great thing: Pantene Smoothing Comb-in Treatment. I put a pea-sized amount in my palm and rub it in from the roots to the ends. This has worked much more effectively than No More Tangles, and keeps her hair soft and shiny and smelling great. One bottle will last at least a year. Works for me!

A new use for Gorham flatware

I learned a new function for my Gorham flatware this morning as my five year old grabbed a soup spoon to smash a very cute, very tiny black bug who had made his way in from the cold of last night into our dining room. I'm sure the Gorham guys in Germany or wherever never assumed their fine flatware would be put to such use. Who knew?

Either way, my three year old is always looking for an opportunity to cheese for the camera. (That I did know.) This morning's events gave him his chance.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A few thoughts on fall

I love fall. Growing up in Florida very close to the beach, after months of sweltering heat and brilliantly bright sunshine, fall was when it temperatures dipped below 90- at least for four or five hours. As soon as the thermometer dropped into the low eighties, we would pull out our sweaters, turn the air a little lower, and drink hot chocolate while sweat dripped down our foreheads.

At back-to-school time, when my mom would take us shopping for new clothes, I was always amazed at the number of sweaters for sale. It seems that department stores buy the same clothing to sell in all their stores, no matter where they are located. So all of us Florida girls had the same long sweaters and stirrup pants (loved those!) to choose from that the girls in Vermont were deciding upon.

Mom would stock us up on sweaters, nice sweat shirts, and a good jacket- which I guess we thought we would need for the one day of the year it got cold enough for us to enjoy them. We could have done several outfit changes on that special cold day and then sent the then-useless sweaters up to the girls in Vermont. Instead, we would continue to wear the sweaters anyway, pretending to need them.

After moving away to college (in north Florida, where it did get pretty cold) and seminary (for my husband) in Kentucky, we moved back to my hometown. Being on cold-weather autopilot, when fall came we bought sturdy coats for our boys (Sophie was not born yet, and we had learned our lesson by the time she came.). They never wore them. Not once. Jeans, long sleeved t-shirts and a light jacket were completely adequate. My husband's very nice Land's End Squall Parka (which is, by the way, the best deal ever on a great jacket) has gone unused since Winter 2002.

Carter, my intense 5 year old, loves-loves-loves cold weather. He has asked me almost every day since he could understand the concept, "Is it going to be chilly today? Can I wear big (long) pants?" While we were in Florida, I had to break his heart 364 days out of the year and tell him, "It will not be chilly today, tomorrow, or the next day."

Learning the seasons has gone a long way in helping to mend his broken heart. So has moving to North Carolina, where we have already had lots of cooler weather than we are accustomed.

We are thrilled with the leaves beginning to change, the fields of pumpkins ripening, and the nip in the air. Yes, the jackets have already come out (but not the Squall yet). Carter has worn 'big pants' every day for two weeks, and cowboy boots are the standard foot attire for my boys. We have enjoyed every minute of fall, even though we do miss the beach once and a while.

Friday, October 20, 2006

To Halloween or not to Halloween??

We don't celebrate Halloween at our house, but neither do we hide from it. (How could we hide from the second biggest retail event in the United States?)

Some of my close friends participate in Halloween, some shun any participation, and several meet in the middle with a hybrid/alternative. I have no issue with any of these approaches, as each of my friends is listening to their consciences before the Lord.

John MacArther has some great thoughts on this subject. I'm happy to refer you to someone my husband and I respect (on this topic and many others). Consider what Johnny Mac has to say.

Also, Crystal at Biblical Womanhood has written a post on the subject and lots of people have chimed in the discussion there.

Homemade Chicken Stock

Here's a way I save money on chicken breasts as well as chicken stock:

Instead of buying (usually expensive) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I now purchase bone-in chicken breasts, often with the skin on (this will depend on the best price). (.99/lb this morning at Lowe's Foods.)

I usually freeze whatever meat I buy and then pull it out to defrost as the week goes on. I de-bone the chicken and place the bones and the skin in a pot of water with some celery tops and big chunks of carrot. I'll also add onion if I have extra. Boil the water until the vegetables are tender. Drain the broth in a colander, discard the cooked veggies and bones. If you want your broth very clear, you can then run it through a fine strainer.

I freeze one cup of stock in individual small (cheap!) ziploc bags. To me, it's like having gold in the freezer!

Now you have lots of homemade chicken stock as well as boneless, skinless chicken breasts ready to use. I used to buy at least one large Swanson's brand chicken stock a week.

Please do not be intimidated by the de-boning! When I was first married, I never bought bone-in chicken because I thought it was too hard and too messy. But with this method, it is ok to leave a little meat on the bones- it will add to the flavor of the stock. If you are going to make chicken soup out of the stock, you can pick the little bits of cooked chicken off the bones to add to the soup.

It also helps if the chicken breasts are still a little frozen when you de-bone them. They are not as slippery that way!

We go through a lot of chicken stock every week- I use it for pasta sauce, soups, and to flavor so many other dishes. Making my own has saved me at least $2.00/week, plus the money I save on the chicken breasts.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

A link on which you should click

Check out this link:

As the wife of a seminary student and (if the Lord wills) future pastor, I just loved reading about Southern Seminary's new approach to preparing students for local church ministry. My husband and I have spent countless hours discussing the local church and the current practice of fragmented ministry within the church. We are not completely 'family integrated' in our approach (we do use the nursery for our babies and love Sunday School for our older children), but we see danger in complete separation of families in the local church.

I could write lots and lots about this subject, but for now, I'll leave you to check out the above link and to join me in being encouraged that a seminary has seen this need in the church and is addressing it in such a radical way.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Day at the Farm

I've finally started to figure out the Google photo software, so I thought I'd share some recent photos of our first homeschool field trip. We visited the local farm of a dear lady who opened her farm and home us.

My children loved the animals, which included goats, a horse, a donkey and a llama. I have never visited a more lovely homestead. Our hostess kept her flower beds beautiful, and still grows vegetables, grapes, and herbs. She made us fresh lemonade, hot apple cider, homemade cookies and muffins.

What a delight it was to take in the beauty of all of our host's hard work and to see how God has blessed her with such talent for making her home and farm such a warm, inviting place. God's character is reflected in all beauty because he is the author of all beauty, and so God is reflected at the farm of this lovely lady.

Hope you enjoy these photos of our visit!

Precious words, precious truth

Yesterday we had a great morning at church. Before the service started, Josh tugged my arm and pointed at the wooden cross that is built into the front of the church right above where the choir sits. He said, "Look Mom. The Cross. For our sins."

My heart soared! Yes, the cross, where Christ gave himself as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). Yes, the cross where God demonstrated his love for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). Yes, the cross where God reconciled us to himself (Colossians 1:20).

Any my heart soared that my three year old is beginning to understand that the gospel is for him. Oh how I pray that God, in his mercy, will save my children while they are still young.

Later during the service, we sang the following song, which so beautifully grasps the wonder of the grace and love of God toward us, his former enemies (Colossians 1:22):

How Deep The Father's Love For Us
by Stuart Townend

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocing voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Donut Day

Saturday is Donut Day here at our house. Donut Day is when Daddy takes the boys to get- you guessed it- donuts. They head out early, while I am usually still in bed. While they are gone, I take a shower, read my Bible, and get Sophie up and dressed.

Meanwhile, at the donut shop (a local shop we've come to love), each boy picks his favorite (powdered for Carter, sprinkles for Josh) along with chocolate milk. They settle into a table and chat and the boys get to watch the only tv they see all week (usually Playhouse Disney or Nick, Jr). At some point, I'm sure Scott would like to transition to more in depth discussions, but for now all three enjoy simply sitting together, enjoying their sweets and each other's company.

After the donuts and chocolate milk have been consumed at the donut shop, my three men head home with my favorite donut (glazed) in tow, along with the least-messy donut they can find for Sophie (usually plain cake). We girls enjoy our treats and grill the guys with the same questions every week, "How was it? Did you like your donut?..."

Saturday mornings are special- the boys enjoy their donuts and Daddy enjoys the quiet ritual of time with his boys. During the week, Carter often asks, "Is tomorrow when Daddy stays with us (his way of describing Saturday)?" Donut Day is a simple ritual with very little financial cost, but lots of impact. I'd love to hear if anyone else has any rituals around their house.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What's for dinner

Here's whats cooking at our house:
I've been trying to cut dinner costs lately and we've been really enjoying fresh produce from the farmer's market, so soup has been on the menu more often. For dinner tonight, the menu will be chicken noodle soup, homemade rye bread (from the farmer's market, not my kitchen!), and salad.

Here is the recipe for the soup. I have never measured the ingredients before, so I am estimating on some of them. Each item can be increased or decreased depending on your taste. Also, I often make homemade stock at the beginning by boiling the bones and skin of the chicken breasts with the vegetables. Remove the bones and skins after about twenty minutes and proceed.

Easy Chicken Noodle Soup
6-8 C of water
2 celery stalks
2 medium sized carrots
1/2 red onion
two split chicken breasts, boned and chopped
2 good handfulls of egg noodles
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried sage
salt and pepper to taste

Chop vegetables (I use my food processor), boil in water until soft. Add chicken, thyme and sage. Simmer for thirty minutes.

I like the noodles firm, so I do not add them until about fifteen minutes before serving. At this point I might put the 'soup' in the fridge or continue to simmer it on low until dinner is almost finished. After the noodles are cooked, you can add more water to make it soupier if you like. This is really the most simple recipe- I add and play around until it is just how we like it.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My space.. who knew?

I have just been introduced to My Space. I thought the My Space world was designated for teenagers and pedophiles (you can tell I obviously got all my info from Dateline!).

But my best friend (hi Jaime!) told me yesterday that lots of our friends from college and many of her colleagues have My Space accounts and use them to keep in touch.

All I have to say is, "Who knew?" I spent a bit of time today clicking around, catching up with people I haven't seen in years. It was a lot of fun! Now I know.

What do these words mean to you?

Roberta at Debtor to Mercy (http://blogofroberta.blogspot.com/) posted a word association meme.

Here is what comes to my mind when I hear these words:

Home: A cozy place where my family lives (we've had several different locations!).

Morning: My husband's favorite time of day. Not so much for me, but I've changed a lot in this area since we had children.

Comfort: Hazlenut coffee, a warm blanket, and my husband's company.

Inconceivable: God's grace- his love, forgiveness, and mercy all lavished on his children.

Monday, October 09, 2006

My roles

I have been contemplating the goodness of God in placing me in the role of woman, wife, and mother. We have had a lot of change in the past several weeks- a different state, vocation for Scott, apartment, church, lifestyle, income bracket, -and all of this change made away from the comfort of my mother's reassuring presence (I miss you, Mom!).

However, in the midst of all this change, my roles in life have stayed the same. I am basically doing the same things- just in front of a different backdrop. I am still a child of God, the helper and lover to Scott, and the trainer and lover of my children.

Even though we have moved hundreds of miles away from what used to be home, I still pray, cook dinner, sweep floors, bandage hurts, counsel various family members, teach phonics and catechism and kindness, and have a lot of fun playing with and caring for my family (because these are many of the everyday ways my roles as child of God, wife, and mother play out during this season of my life). This has made our transition to a new place infinitely more smooth and easy.

These roles are simple, yet quite difficult- and even impossible apart from God's grace. How thankful I am that I am able to embrace and rejoice in how God has made me and the specific role He has given me to play in His grand plan of redemption. And how thankful I am for the simplicity and comfort I receive when I seek to live out who God has made me to be.

Being a woman is a wonderful, enjoyable, God-glorifying thing. As I learn more and more what it practically means to be a suitable helper (Gen 2) and to submit (Eph 5) and to love (Titus 2), I am blessed with great joy in God's perfect plan for women.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The farmer's market and the glory of God

Another Saturday is gone and it was well spent. I had my husband all day, and that was a true delight! We all piled in the van (mini) and headed to our small downtown, which hosts a farmer's market every Saturday morning.

Our children enjoyed learning from the various farmers, who all practice organic farming. We learned about compost worms (would love to try that!), how mushrooms are cultivated, and how my favorite herb (basil) is grown.

I was able to pick up a good bit of fresh produce as well as free-range eggs and all natural chicken (no antibiotics...). Of course, we also had to buy a loaf of homemade sourdough rye bread (yum!).

After we had fully experienced each section of the farmer's market, we stopped by a local artist's studio where I hopped out of the car and enjoyed a quick walk through. I was stunned by the talent and beauty displayed in each painting, carving, and piece of jewerly.

Scott and I shared a few thoughts as we were driving back home. The produce was bountiful, the art beautiful and we were once again reminded of the real purpose of the earth and of all beauty: the glory of God.

God gave his magnificent creation and all the fruits of the earth so that we could look around us and exclaim, "The earth is the Lord's and all the fullness thereof," and, "The heavens declare the glory of God".

God is the source of all beauty, and all good art should remind us of his beauty and cause us to turn in worship of our glorious God. I still remember pastor John Piper saying that when we exercise creativity we are reflecting an attribute of God, whose imagination and creativity can never be rivaled.

So this morning was great, and we had a great time meeting new folks, teaching our children a little about where their food comes from (the shitake mushroom farmer was fascinating!), and have already enjoyed a few delicious tastes of the food we bought. But none of these enjoyments was an end to itself. Behind and around and through all of our activities was the gracious pull of our loving God, beckoning us to come enjoy and delight in and worship Him.

Friday, October 06, 2006

What a week

This week has been busy and blessed. Scott has been on fall break from school, so he has been taking his lunch and class breaks and studying, as well as using the early evening hours to study for next week's mid-terms and papers. He has needed to take the computer with him for research, so I have been computer-less.

The break from cyberspace has been nice, but I realized how much I use the internet to keep in touch with friends and to stay updated with world events. I find it much more simple to catch the headlines and weather online instead of being on the newscaster's time table to find out if Carter should wear 'big pants' (his favorite- the child asks every day if it is going to be 'chilly outside') or shorts.

Ever notice that in order to find out how hot/cold/wet the day is going to be, you must endure at least fifteen minutes of commercials, fluffy filler stories, and various people screaming hello to their children and grandchildren?

Not that I don't enjoy morning news programs. When I was single, I would often turn on Today or Good Morning America while I got ready or ate breakfast. I also found that the morning shows reflect (secularly) what influences mainstream America- as well as our fellow believers.

But now, indulging in such tv viewing, especially in the morning hours, means that someone's breakfast is being delayed, my boys are getting restless in their room, or my daughter is probably calling, "Mama!!!" for the twentieth time from her crib.

On top of the lack of convenience in my mother-to-young-children schedule, I have come to realize that most of the 'news' in the early morning shows is unnecessary nonesense and about 90% of the 2 hours (!) of content boils down to a colossial waste of time! Harsh? Yes, but true!

I'm not quite sure how my update on our week turned into a commentary on morning news shows (which I have watched for so long!), but there it is.

Enough about that. I hope to be able to keep up a little better in the coming days. I have much more on my mind than I have time to write!

Until then, it's off to the Farmer's Market tomorrow with my little family. Carter wants to show me "the meat and the candles and the soap..." Sounds like a great way to spend a fall Saturday morning.