Monday, January 30, 2012

The Prayer Project!

It's almost anyone else wondering what to do with all those beautiful Christmas cards you received from all the people you love?  I proudly display mine every year around the cabinets in my kitchen.  I just love seeing all my family and friends every day - even if it is in the form of a photo.  I could keep them up all year but my husband would not agree and it does seem kind of cluttered.  I never know what to do with them and feel bad throwing them away. 

So...I have a plan that kills two birds with one stone.  I have really been wanting to find a way to pray for my family and friends.  The thought of praying for everyone I know everyday is very overwhelming.  So I made a stand up/pop up book of all those Christmas pictures (kind of like a desk calendar) that I can display on the island of my kitchen or on my dining room table.  Each day we will pray as a family for the family that is flipped to on that day.  Each day we turn it over to the next family.  I have also included anyone that had a special life event that we went to that we would haver received a picture/program for (funeral, wedding, baby announcement).  I won't always know their exact prayer needs, but if I do, I will write them on the back of the card or where there is a space to write.  Otherwise, we will just say a prayer for that family and know that God will take care of the rest.  My plan is to also incorporate the missionaries that are a part of our church.  If we got a card from you, know that you will at the very least be prayed for by our family a few times a year.  If you have prayer requests that you would like to share, please pass them along to me and I will put them on your card.

Here is where I display my cards every year.
 Here is the flip book horizontal - hole punched each picture/card, ran rings through it and attached it to a piece of card board that I hot glued together in the form of a triangle stand.  This is how it looks/stands on the table. 
 All the cards in the flip book.  A vertical view

Fun with a box

My crafty little girl cannot get enough of crafts.  I don't have the supplies to constantly do crafts, and I cannot keep her busy enough.  That's why she goes to school!

She really had been wanting a barn to house her 'my little ponies'.  Since I use to have some, I thought back to what I use to use - a box!  So I thought it would be fun to make a barn with her from an old cardboard box.  We cut out windows and a door and even made stalls.  Way nicer than the one I had to make myself when I was young.  I even took some of our old wall paint and let the kids paint it outside (since it's been nice out).  I think they play with it more than all their other toys!

Old Box

 Cut off top, cut out windows and a door; add stalls/rooms
 Make a roof with duck tape and a glue gun
 Paint it!

Happy Ponies!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cooking for Dummies?

Do you feel lost in the kitchen?  Does cooking a meal, especially a new meal, overwhelm you and give you anxiety?  I have talked to countless women who say they hate to cook, but really what it comes down to is not feeling confident enough.  How does one gain confidence in the kitchen?  By reading the book "Cooking for Dummies"?...possibly.  But I believe you can do it by having a laid back attitude about cooking and just by cooking/experimenting more in the kitchen.  Even the most non-laid back, perfectionst type people (like me), can be laid back in the kitchen.  You just have to tell yourself "it's going to be okay...whatever I make will be eatable"...because really...we know it will be, because it's food, right!??  Even you, yes you, can not screw it up.  The most important thing you can do while cooking, is to follow the heating requirements and timing (boil, simmer, etc) and have as much laid out and measured out before you begin so that you do not feel stressed during the process.  Even if you were not taught by a parent or grandparent, you can learn to be a good cook and feel good about doing it.  Toss those fears in the garbage, and pull out of the cabinet a new attitude towards cooking.  Anyone can do this, especially if I can.  No one taught me how to just takes time and practice just like anything else.

A lot of women, including my past self, get hung up on not having all the right ingredients to make a recipe.  But really, a recipe in my opinion, is just a guide.  You can add or take away whatever you want (in most cases) and make it your own without changing the taste too much.  Don't be afraid of changing things up.  It's just bad can it really be??  Okay, don't answer that, just trust me! 

Let me show you what I did to a recipe I just made this morning.  I am sure that I could never write a cookbook because most of my recipes would have a "use this...or this...or this"....several options to make essentially the same thing.  There are many things you can substitute for something else or just leave out and it really won't change the taste all that much.  Now there are other things you absolutley can not leave out, because it could totally change the texture, taste, etc (like leaving out baking soda from a cookie recipe, speaking from experience).  Whenever I need a substitute, I search online...most of the time you can find something that will work. 

I saw this recipe yesterday on Rachel Ray and it looked so tasty.  I knew I had many of the ingredients but that I would be missing a few things.  Here is what I did with the recipe.

  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided - had this
  • 1/2 cup orzo - I typically would not have this ingredient but I just happened to coupon one of those velveeta skillets dinners and orzo was in there.  I pulled out the other ingredients in that boxed meal and will use those for something else.  You could just use rice though and even couscous would be delicious, and a great source of protein.

  • 1 cup long grain rice - I used a rice a roni long and wild rice mix.

  • 2 quarts chicken stock or broth, divided - I only had 1 quart of chicken stock so my soup was more like a stew which is how I like it...but you could add additional water, make your own stock with boullion cubes, and even use beef or vegtable broth if that is all you had. 

  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped - I used dried parsley found in my spice rack.  You would need to look online to see how to convert fresh herbs into dried herbs (there is a diffence in strength/flavor).

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) - I actually just ran out of this so I used coconut oil which is better for you anyways...but of course you could use vegetable oil, just olive oil, or even more butter.  You would not want to use peanut oil or seasame oil or it would totally change the taste.  Typically I would say coconut oil could change the taste but judging from the other stronger/flavorful ingredients, I knew it would be okay.

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pound button or cremini mushrooms, sliced - I had mini bellas.  You could used canned and then skip the process in the recipe where you cook the mushrooms for 15 minutes to soften them.

  • 4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced - did this

  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped - used dried thyme from my spice rack - need to use conversion online from fresh to dried.

  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped - used dried rosemary from spice rack.

  • Salt and pepper - did this

  • 1/2 cup dry sherry or Marsala - Used red cooking wine - probably changed the taste some, but since I didn't try the other version, I don't know what it should have tasted like.

  • 1 large or 2 medium leeks, halved and thinly sliced - I didn't have leeks - but added other veggies

  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch dice - did this

  • 1 onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice - didn't have onions, can used minced onions from spice rack or skip it. 

  • 2 ribs celery, chopped - I did not have celery but added other veggies (green peppers).  You could throw in just about any type of veggie and it will be good.

  • 1 large bay leaf - did this

  • 1 vine ripe tomatoes, finely chopped - used a can of organic diced tomatos with liquid since I didn't have enough broth

  • 1 pound roast turkey or chicken, diced - used diced chicken from a rotesserie chicken I got a few weeks ago.  I had chopped up all the chicken and put it in the freezer for later use.  It thaws quickly and has already been cooked.  You could use canned chicken or any other chicken diced (breast, thighs, etc)...even lunch meat really.  Or if you find a good deal on meat at the deli, you could just have them cut it thicker.  That is if you plan the recipe in advance, in which then you'd probably have all the right ingredients.

  • As you can see, I didn't use much of what the recipe called for but it tasted delicious to me!  If you don't have any groceries, you really have to be creative in the kitchen sometimes!  It is very rare that I have all the ingredients for a recipe, even if I planned the recipe before going to the store!  I am sure most of you are like that also - you forget to buy something or the ingredient cost too much (not on sale).  So it's really simple to adjust the recipe to what you have at home and what your taste preferences are.  Don't let that recipe or the kitchen get the best of you.  You can conquer the kitchen and meal times! 

    The link and picture of Rachel's originally recipe is here.  Compare her picture to the one below in the skillet...they don't look much different to me.

    Here is a picture of my version of Rachel's recipe:

    The soup mixture...
     The rice and orzo mixture - so yummy on it's own.  Rachel says to keep this separate from the soup mixture or else the liquid in the soup will make it balloon up.  The rice/orzo mixture will absorb all the liquid.  You can tell it did this in my photo with the bowl of the two mixed...I liked it that way though.

    Monday, January 16, 2012


    After my last post, we did finally get the snow that we had been waiting for.  We played outside in both the warmth one day and the snow the next.  In fact, I got a fun photo showing the differences between the two days....

    Wednesday - warm (50 degrees) and light jackets...
     Thursday...bundled up and snow!
     She loved laying in the snow doing snow angels, crawling, and sliding.
     Her gloves got wet right away so she settled for pockets just to stay outside...Brody changed into these bigger gloves. 
     Taking a break from all the walking
     Even in the snow, he's still a boy who loves his cars!

     Those smiles melt not only momma's heart but the snow as well. 

     Brody loved watching the snow trucks.
     We even went sledding.  From smaller hills around our house to huge hills at Highland golf course...I can't believe how much they love the snow and how courageous they were.  They went down all the big hills that the high schoolers were going on. 
     Today we played outside in the warmer weather again (almost 50)...but there was still enough snow to make a snowman. 
    I am so thankful these guys love to be outside.  Although most of the time I wanted to come in because I was so cold.  I don't have the snow weather gear that they have....I settled for 3 pairs of pants and some rain boots.  I made it work for them and it was worth it to see their big smiles in the snow.  I remember the past few years only looking at the snow from the window...what a nice treat and change to be able to get out and make memories in it!  The lighting for taking pictures in the snow is just amazing!  Such bright pictures.

    Can't forget the hot cocoa face after we came hour later and still rosey cheeks with some added chocolate lips and spillage on his clothes...just love that little face!

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Applying the word...applying the truth (update on me)

    On the rare occassion that I am able to blog, it's even more rare that I am able to blog outside...with no coat...basking in the January.  As I write this, I am watching my children wash their truck and tractor...only imitating what they have seen their parents do on these lucky weather days that we have been having.  We are playing in the sun today, but tomorrow we will likely be playing in the snow!  Both are equally exciting for us.  These are the kind of days that I am ready to throw all the rules out the window...skip naps and just play all day.  We tried something similiar yesterday and as much fun as we had, I am not sure I could do it every day.  These kiddos really need their sleep.  My house was an utter mess but my kids were so happy to have the whole day with me.  I figured we will be stuck inside eventually due to cold weather, so we might as well enjoy being outside.  I thank God for days like these and I truly feel that God has blessed me personally with them.  He just knew it was what we needed.  I love being a part of His plan.  There has got to be some strange explanation for these warm days other than global warming!

    I am still struggling with anxiety some but it has been improving as I have been handing things over to God and relying on Him more.  That is all that I really needed...I had just forgot how.  As I have been evaluating my life over the past year, when the anxiety starting kicking in, I realized I have been slowly taking the control away from God and trying handling things on my own.  Sure, I still had my morning quiet time, bible studies, prayer time, etc but I really wasn't relying on God and trusting Him fully.  Without even knowing it, I have slowly been letting the world take over the reigns of my life.  There is no coincidence that I have been writing about that very topic since summer.  I am sure that all that writing has only been for me to learn from.  As I have been staring at the tip of year (Know the Word more than the world)...I suppose, I need that advice more than anyone reading this blog.  Further than knowing the word, it's really about applying the word to our lives.  I know the word...I can quote and recite as much as anyone...but am I really believing it and applying it to my life?  In some situations yes but in others no.  I am now taking what I know and applying it to each and every situation.  We hear so much advice, stereotypes, comments, etc I find myself constantly analyzing what I believe to be true and what God wants me to believe about it - what His truth says.  There are many things we have heard or believed all our life, but it doesn't mean it's true or that it has to be that way, or that it is even God's way.  There a couple that have hit me recently.  Here are a couple of examples - 1 small thing and 1 big thing that we have heard that we believe.  Whether big or small, the things we believe effect the way we believe and sometimes we "infect" what others believe because of it - especially our children.  Here's a small example.  Have you ever heard the comment "Three is a crowd"?  Do you really believe that is true?  Do you think God believes that or would allow that to happen in any of His relationships?  I don't think so.  I don't believe it for one second.  Why does three have to be a crowd?  Because people have told us it is?  It's all in what you believe to be true.  If you make 3 a crowd, then I guess it will be.  Sure, having 3 in a group might be a little more difficult than have 2 or 4, but maybe God planned it that way to have you work through something that might be somewhat uncomfortable at first.  If we love others above ourselves, 3 is not a crowd.

      2) I don't have time to do everything I'm suppose to do.  I don't know how many times I have felt that way or heard other mothers say something similiar..."there are just not enough hours in the day".  God created how many hours we have to spend and also adviced us to He knows that there are plenty of hours to do what God wants us to accomplish.  If we change that train of thought, you will have more peace about what you accomplish.  Give each one of your responsibilities in a day, over to God and let Him direct you on what matters most.  I have so much more peace about the things on my list that aren't crossed off yet.  Nancy Leigh DeMoss says in her book Lies Women Believe, "The frustration comes when I attempt to take on responsibilities that are not on His agenda for me.  When I establish my own agenda or let others determine the priorities for my life, rather than taking time to discern what it is that God wants me to do, I end up buried under piles of half-finished, poorly done, or never-attempted projects and tasks.  I live with guilt, frurstration, and haste, rather than enjoying the peaceful, well-ordered life that He intends".  She goes on to say "Frustration is the by-product of attempting to fulfill responsibilities God does not intend for us to carry.  Freedom, joy, and fruitfulness come from seeking to determine God's priorities for each season of life, and then setting out to fulfill those prioritites, in the power of His Spirit, realizing that He has provided the necessary time and bility to do everything that He has called us to do."  How freeing is that?  I can't tell you how many times I have wondered what other moms do in their day.  In fact, there have been many times I just ask my other mommy friends what they do during the day.  Then I find myself frustrated if I am not doing something similiar - guilty for not spending as much time with the kids or not have a well oiled cleaning schedule.  God calls each of us as moms to different responsibilities.  The service we provide for our husbands and children will be different.  Even what my own husband thinks I should do, is not necessarily what God wants me to do.  It's our job to talk those through so we can be in understanding with what God wants us to do in our families.  We need to go to God to discern what it is exactly that He wants us to accomplish - not what the world (our friends, other parents that give unwanted advice, even professionals/doctors, say Dr Phil) say we should accomplish during the day. 

    I just started a bible study in the book of James called Mercy Triumphs by Beth Moore.  It was no surprise to me that even in this study I would find evidence of reyling on God over people.  In today's scripture we looked at Galations 1:11-24.  11 and 12 says "Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to understand that the gospel message I preach is not based on mere human reasoning.  I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me.  Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ".  Where are you receiving your messages from?  How many times have we placed importance on the things we see our friends and family members do?  Things like:  "She has a job outside the home...maybe that is what is important"...or "she makes all her food from scratch...maybe I am suppose to be doing that" or "her house is always clean...maybe I should clean more".  Each person needs to find out what is important to God for their life.  Discern with God, not with a human source. 

    For me right now, the below pictures represent where I am suppose to be right now. 

    The book "Lies Women Believe" is really helping me to see these truths and use them each and every day.  We have 4 ladies who are studying it together and plan to meet in the next couple of weeks to go over it together (chapters 1 and 2).  The offer is still up if anyone wants to join us.

    Update on Reece

    Back on December 16th, I informed you of Reece's frequent urination problem...see initial post here.  It has gotten better over the past few weeks but she still has episodes of frequent urination.  She might have a bad couple of hours in a day and be fine the rest of the day. 
    On Monday January 2nd, Reece and I headed to St Joe before the sun was up to have her X-ray and sonogram of her abdomen.  I explained the procedures to her so that she would not be scared and it did seem to work, although she has never been a fearful child.  They were quick procedures and we were out of there in less than hour. They didn't tell us much while there and I don't think we will really hear much until we see the urologist on February 4th.  I did receive a call the day after the procedures from a nurse at Reece's peditrician office.  They did say they felt she had a lot of stool and they recommended we put her on Miralax until she had regular daily stools.  I explained that she already has these and that by doing the x ray so early, she wasn't able to go in the morning as usual.  However, I put her on the Miralax for several days which meant, not only did she pee alot...she pooped alot.  Sigh....
    So I took her off that a few days ago.
    I had also noticed 2 weeks ago she occassionally said she felt like she was going to get sick.  She would go get a bucket and sit in the chair until it passed.  I noticed it more so when she would get up from bed in the morning and at naps. I thought it was probably her blood sugar being low from not eating in awhile or something. She also said her throat had been hurting some. The last few days there hasn't been a day when she hasn't said she feels sick. I don't think she's eating that much either so I have tied it up to not eating much and that she is hungry/low blood sugar. But I was also thinking it could be strept since that is going around and has nausea as a symptom. I had also been reading about diabetes and that is a sign for it also. Monday night she sat for 45 minutes in the chair saying she felt sick and did the same thing when she woke up the morning (she didn't finish her dinner that night).  I took her back to the doctor Tuesday morning.  They tested her blood and urine for glucose/blood sugar and that came back fine. They also did a stept test and that also came back fine.  So I am not sure what to think. I guess glad that it came back negative but wanting an answer of some sort.
    Yesterday, the school called and said she started saying that she was going to get sick as soon as she sat down for snack (I do notice it more around meal times and also bedtime and when she gets up). I explained to the teacher all of it and we decided for me not to go and get her this time. I am afraid that if I do, she'll do this all the time. I am now starting to wonder if it's either a) anxiety - maybe she has some worries that she hasn't shared or b) just sinus drainage that is causing upset stomach. The doctor did say her throat was a little red and I know she has a cold. She could have had sinus drainage the past couple of weeks and it hasn't turned into a full cold yet...this has happened to me before. Or c) this is somehow related to the urinary issues she is having (which can be caused by anxiety too). I don't know what to think.  I do know that I am not reading a lot on the internet or asking a lot of opinions because I don't want to worry a lot about it.  I know that God is in control of it and He does have a plan.  I do feel like I have seen glimpses of His plan through it and I will share more at a later time.  For now, we will keep praying for her to feel better and wait for the Urologist appointment on 2/4.

    New Years Pictures

    The kids received two gift certificates to the Children's Discovery Museum for Christmas.  We combined the two and paid a little extra to get the membership that we can use all year round and at other museums across the country!  We have already used it four times!  One of those times we enjoyed on "Noon" Years Eve with some friends.  They did several crafts and got their face painted.  It was very crowded though and after the confetti/balloon drop, we jetted out of there!

     Waiting for the "Noon" Year!

    Christmas Pictures

    We had a great Christmas Season spending time with all of our family. It went by too fast. The kids were really excited this year as they are finally understanding what Christmas is and why we celebrate. It would not be normal for them to not be excited about the gifts though and there is no question that they weren't.   

    We spent Christmas Eve with my side of the family - with me hosting.  My older brother and his wife and 2 kids were there along with my mom and dad, younger brother, and my grandmother. 
    Reece opening her present from her cousin - Mady
     She had been asking for that doll for months.

     Who knew we'd be outside on Christmas Eve playing with a new remote control car
     Our cupcake and cookies for Santa. 

    Christmas Day we spent the morning as a family opening gifts and relaxing.  That afternoon we headed to the Bauers for celebrate the day with them.
    Reece was dissappointed that Santa left part of an M&M cookie...
     They are so sweet to each other and take turns.  Look at Brody's face.  He was excited about her new jammies

     New tractor set
     The doll house I worked so hard on.
     Happy Birthday Jesus!
    At the Bauers

    Waiting patiently for her turn to open.