This weekend...

... we planted our garden! :) Mark's parents came up for the day to help with the yardwork that Mark hasn't been able to do and I haven't been able to keep up with (!) and we planted the garden and lots of other fun outside-stuff!

Here are some photos from the event:

Isaac with Grandma, planting a row of sunflowers

My little focused planter (notice the tongue?!) who told me that when he grows up he wants to be a farmer (with chickens!), but asked, "Are you gonna be there, too, mama?"

My other little diligent planter, who told me she'd ALSO like to be a farmer but then when she had babies, she would just take care of them. :)

And after his nap, a whole new look!

After a long day of work, our farmers got a ride in the wagon with Grandpa pulling them!

ps: for those of you who have so kindly asked about and prayed for Mark, he is doing much better. Thank you for your prayers! God is definitely bringing healing to his arms and hands. Only his index fingers are still painful, but even those fingers are less sore than they were a few days ago. He will try to go back to work late this week. Thanks again for your concern and prayers!

Revisiting my 18 in 90 list

A little over a month ago, I made an '18 in 90 list'. This is a much smaller version of the 101 in 1001 that I read about on Kendra's site. I couldn't bring myself to make a list of 101 things to work on, so my list contained 18 areas to work on in a 90-day period. Amy and I came up with this plan to go through each room of our house to determine the 18 things. See here for more details on the 18 in 90 plan.

Well, it's been a little over a month so I thought it was time to revisit my list and see how it's been going. Will you join me? I'm going to list my original "plan" (in bold type) and then comment on how I'm doing. (This is a bit humbling for me to let everyone in on the fact that I'm not doing too well, actually. Oh well.) Here goes:

-Memorize Isaiah 40 What was I thinking?!?!? Does anyone realize this is 31 verses? Could I not have started with, maybe, 5 verses? Goodness! At one point I had verses 1-3 memorized (that’s all the further I got), but I think those have since faded from my brain. Any memorization tips? Sigh... something to work on in the next 2 months, anyway...

-Pray for Mark daily (using Power of a Praying Wife as a guideline. Wow, wouldn't it be cool if I selected 30 specific things to pray for him for and then did that 3x over (over the course of the next 3 months?! Hm... maybe I'll try that.) See here for the list I made. I posted this by my sink, but kept forgetting to check it. I posted a second list in the shower, so that I could be reminded first thing each day what to pray for. This is working better, but there are still days I forget. Not quite in the habit yet. But I do love this focused prayer when I remember! I will keep this up!

-Organize & declutter clothing (in drawers, closets & bins under the bed) Check! I have done this. A few weeks ago I got rid of MANY clothes (4 garbage bags full!). I also went through my closet and drawers and pulled out all my wintry clothes and brought out all my spring stuff.

-Plan romantic evenings, 2x per week Yes. Doing fine here, too

-Work on kitchen clutter areas (by phone, on top of dishwasher, 5 minutes per day) HA! I haven’t done this once. Well, no. I think I did do this ONE time. So, maybe instead of 5 minutes per day, I should change that to 5 minutes per MONTH?!?! Arghh.

-Practice hospitality by having guests over for a meal (1x per month) Uh, no. We haven’t had anyone over for a meal. We have had people over for desserts and snacks. But… no meal. This actually makes me really sad because I love having people over and I want to grow in the area of hospitality. How do some of you others do this? Is there one day a week that you set aside for having guests over?

-Clean out & declutter & reorganize cupboards (throw lots of stuff away!) Um. I started this one day. Everything came out of the bathroom cupboards so that I could go through them all and decide what to keep, what to get rid of. And then I ran out of time to do it that afternoon. Everything sat on the bathroom floor for a day or two until someone dropped by one evening and I went straight to the bathroom (in an effort to quickly clean!) and pulled the stuff (bins, bags, boxes, etc…) off the bathroom floor and sat the pile in my bedroom, on the floor. And there it sits. The bathroom cupboards look great, though. Just not my bedroom floor.

-Use shower time to pray for the day/activities ahead. Yes. I like doing this.

Kids' Rooms
-Clean room WITH them, teach them how to make their beds (1x per week) Yes on the making of the beds. Each day they’ve been making their own beds, and I’m very pleased about this! As for the cleaning of the room?…This has happened a few times. We were in a good routine for a few weeks and then the accident happened and all routine is off. We’ll do this again though!

-Extended prayer time for each child by their bed, while they're sleeping (1x per week) I have done this only twice, honestly. And I’m ashamed to say it because this is one of my favorite things and rather than doing this once a week, I would someday like to be doing this every night!...

Living Room
-Clean out desk drawers Yes! Did this. And boy, do I love cleaned-out-desk-drawers! It was long overdue, let me tell you!

-Sunday service training (each Saturday evening on couch) We’ve done this 3 times, I think… and it’s been great!

School Room
-Make Chore Chart for E & I Check! See here if you missed it.

-Individual time with each child (14 minutes per child, 3x per week)
*E- alphabet pages, practicing writing her letters
*I- puzzles, cutting or coloring together, play w/ little cars
*I- sing action songs, read board books
We’ve done this a few times (3? 4?) and I really loved it (as did my children!), so… when things pick up around here again will get back into it! I love having this built into the schedule.

-Purchase gardening gloves, practice weeding, which I dread Yes. I actually turned over our garden this year (since Mark couldn’t). Only because I had to, though. Otherwise, I don’t think this would be a check!

-Weekly walk with the kids, just for the fun of it (ie- not 'on the way' to get somewhere, but taking our time!) Ahem. Twice, we’ve done this. My poor children. They love to go for walks! What is my problem?!

-Set specific (weekly, or twice/week) laundry day(s), and stick to it Yes. Mondays and Tuesdays are my laundry days- and I love this! One of my favorite changes!

-Have E & I help with folding and putting away laundry Yes. They love this, as do I!

So. There it is. Not too bad, then. There are a few 'yeses' as I skim over it. Making some progress. And, much more progress than I would have made had I never made this list to begin with, so that's a good thing! :)

My disorderly recipe box

I really like to cook and to bake. I just enjoy being in the kitchen. Maybe it's because I just like food a lot? (Hmm...) I also love trying new recipes. If I taste something somewhere that I like, I will soon be asking for the recipe. I have cook books, recipe cards, notes, and full-sized sheets of paper with recipes on them. Once (on the phone with my sister-in-law one day), I jotted down her recipe for pizza dough on a page in my planner. It’s been there for over a year. To this day, whenever I make pizza dough, I have to track down my planner and find the right page! (I know, I know… this is ridiculous! I should have copied it onto a recipe card in the first place, but you know- then it wouldn't have been neat and tidy; it would have been a hurried scrawl. And I'm a perfectionist, so... I told myself I'd do it later. I just haven't gotten to the 'later' part yet.)

Which brings me to the topic of my post today: I need some help! Or, rather- my recipe box (or entire recipe system) needs some help! I'm sure that's rather obvious.

Does anyone have a better system than this? Does anyone house their recipes differently? Someone must. Please. I'd love to hear any and all ideas! This is getting out of hand.

Someday soon I hope to sit down and completely overhaul this system. If that means re-writing every recipe, I will do so, but first I want to hear if there's a better system out there...

Receiving help

We’ve had a rough week. My husband was in an accident a week ago Friday, and does not have the use of his hands (or, more specifically- some of his fingers). He has nerve damage, and apparently that is slow in healing.

Lately our normal routine has sort of gone out the window. Mark is home and needs a lot of extra care (for most of the week, I had to feed him, give him each drink of water, help him with blankets and pillows and medicines and brushing his teeth, shaving (after the stitches came out), bathing, getting dressed… all of that. Not to mention the extra jobs he normally does around the house that I’ve been doing (taking out the garbage, the recycling, and most of the yardwork). Oh, and on Saturday I tried to fix a leaky faucet in our bathtub while Mark instructed me over my shoulder. I had to climb into the wall in our basement first to turn off the cold water. When I fixed the faucet and went back to the basement to turn the water back on, that valve began leaking. So now we have no cold water in our tub upstairs and our sink downstairs. Great. Anyway… all that to say that it’s been a bit extra in addition to my three little ones who, ya’ know, also need care! I am weary. My house is a mess, we’ve eaten fast food WAY too many times this week, and my laundry is piling up. Any clean clothes left in our house are in hampers, waiting to be folded.

Yesterday morning, I put our youngest down for his morning nap and readied our two oldest to take to church. Mark was staying home. We were running late and I was impatient, irritable and snappy, so much so that on the way to church I had to apologize and ask my children to forgive me.

After church, a number of people came over to ask about Mark- How is he doing? Is he getting any better? How are you doing? And then this question: What can we do for you? Yikes. I don’t like this one. A man in our small group approached me and said, “My wife will be calling you later this afternoon to see how we can help with food and the kids, but I’m asking you now: ‘What can I do for you this week?’” (Now, this man happens to be very handy, and instantly in my mind I thought of our plumbing problem.) But, my response is standard. “Oh, thank you, but we’re okay. Thank you so much for offering.” He was even persistent. Very. And here’s me: “We’re fine, really. Thank you, though. It is so kind of you to offer. If anything comes up, I’ll let you know.” Now, even I realize the ridiculousness of this response: “If anything comes up…?!” As if something hasn’t already come up. (Like, my husband’s hands being immobile, for instance!) Why do I say this?

As we inched closer to the doors exiting the sanctuary, another offer: “Can we bring you some meals?” I recall all the 99-cent hamburgers we’ve been eating all week and you can imagine my response: I say, “Oh, no. We’re fine. Thank you so much. We’re really doing okay.”

And then, once more (we’re in the foyer, now) my dad asks, “Stacy, how are you doing? Can we do anything for you today? Does your lawn need mowing? I can send your little brother up.” (They live right down the street). And I say, “Oh, no. I’ll do that today (I will??). Thanks, though.” And we hustled out to the van, lest any other kind soul offer their services.

As I drove home, trying to decide if I should pick up hamburgers on the way home or stick to PB & J for about the 50th time this week, I wonder, “Am I CRAZY? Why on earth do I say those things? Seriously- what is my problem?” I’ve been pondering it ever since. This really is a fault of mine: I am not good at receiving help. Maybe (okay, probably) it’s my pride. I want to be independent and take care of it myself. I don’t want to be needy and have to rely or depend on anyone. I want to be self-sufficient. And isn’t that just what the Bible says? No.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes of the body as a unit, made up of many parts. He writes, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”

So me saying “No, we’re okay”, is really me saying, “I don’t need you”. And that is contrary to God’s calling for us to be body made up of many parts. And is it possible that me saying no is standing in the way of God’s design and desire for others to love and serve? These people in our church who offered to help us this morning were being obedient to God’s word.

Jesus, after washing the feet of his disciples, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14-14).

Dear children, let us not love with words of tongue but with action and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

In humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

I desire so much to be this kind of a person to others: to consider others better than myself, to love in action and in truth. To wash the feet of others. To use the gifts God has given me to serve others. So why do I refuse this very same thing in others? Lord, may I adhere to your word and your ways.


Mark and I discussed this when I came home and we agreed to make some changes. We called my dad and said, “We actually will take you up on your offer, if it’s still available.” And my little brother just finished mowing our lawn. What a blessing indeed! I just sent him out the door with a hug and his payment: a huge Rice Crispy treat and a Coke. And Mark said he’d be calling that guy from our small group about our plumbing problem...

Overheard in our home this week...

...from our four-year old daughter:

While getting dressed, “This makes me so crabby! I always do this!” (referring to pulling her clean undies on top of the pair of undies she should have taken off first!) And, poor sweetheart. It is a regular occurrence. She forgets often.

We were talking about Lucifer, how he used to be an angel but then was prideful and wanted to be greater and bigger and stronger than God so he was banished from heaven. She ponders this for a second, then says, “He would have to eat a LOT of food to get bigger than God.”

...from our two-year old son:

He was helping me at the table in the kitchen. He had added ingredients, mixed with the mixer, and kept asking if he could lick the beaters. I instead held out the spatula, and indicated he could lick that. He promptly moved forward and slurped off the end of the spatula. (Oops! I was thinking “licking” would entail- you know- him getting some on his finger and putting his finger into his mouth. Not so, apparently).

A bit later, he put the paper liners for the muffins in the muffin tin for me, and I filled them up. As I walked away, I called over my shoulder, “You can lick the bowl now.” A few seconds later I heard this: “But I don’t want to fall in, mommy.” I looked back towards the table and saw his head fully inside of the bowl- trying to get at a good angle to lick away!!! :)

...And since our 14-month old is not yet talking... a picture.

The accident

It was Friday night, last week. I'd seen my husband Mark at lunch, and he said he'd be home around 5:30 that evening. It was 6:00. I'd been trying to hold off on dinner until daddy came home, but everyone was having a meltdown so I'd decided to proceed with dinner. Everyone was settled and had food in front of them. We prayed and began eating. The phone rang.

It was Mark.

I said, "Hi honey! How are you?"

He said, "Not good." I assumed he had to stay later at work than he'd expected and was frustrated about it.

I said, "What's up?"

Long pause.

I became worried.

"Are you okay?"

"Uh...I got into an accident."

Gasp. He briefly explained that he'd been riding his bike home from work and had hit a car. I told him I'd be right there.

He said, "No. You don't have to come. I'm okay."

I asked him where he was, and he mentioned a street name. I repeated: "No. Where ARE you, right now?" He told me he was still laying in the street, behind the car. The police were pulling up, the ambulance was on it's way.

Again, I told him I'd be right there. By that time it was obvious to my children that I was alarmed. My daughter was crying, my boys were looking at me, bewildered. All eating had ceased. I picked up my anxious daughter and explained what daddy had said, but assured her that he was okay: "He was talking to mommy. He's okay."

I called my mom, who lives very close- and asked her if she come up? I had to be with Mark. She was at my door, out of breath, 2 minutes later. She'd run the whole way here.

I kissed my children, hugged my daughter again and told her he was going to be okay, and that mommy was going to go be with him. As I was driving away I met my dad and little brother, walking quickly towards my my house. My dad offered to come with, and I agreed.

When I got to the accident, the first thing I saw were lots of people standing around- across the street, near the accident- watching. I saw a police car, I saw the ambulance. I did not see Mark. I parked and we rushed out of the car, and then saw him sitting up behind a car, surrounded by paramedics. There was blood all over his arms, his face, and his neck. I couldn't tell where the blood was coming from. He was wincing in pain, trying to communicate with the paramedics that he could not move his hands or his arms. I sat beside him and cried a few tears. He assured me again that he was okay.

The paramedics did not think he had sustained any head, neck, or back injuries, which was a relief for me to hear. However, they did want to take him to the ER because of his low blood pressure and obvious wounds. They helped him to a stretcher and told us to meet them at the ER.

We spent the next 5 hours in the ER. About 1.5 hours of that time was actually spent with nurses or doctors or x-ray technicians actually working on or with Mark, the rest of that time we spent waiting around. During the waiting around time, I prayed, Mark and I talked, I called home, I called Amy, I prayed some more.

Mark had four gashes on his face (two on his chin, one on his upper lip, and another above his eye) that required stitches. They x-rayed his hands, head, and neck, and said he had no broken bones, amazingly.

We were grateful, but I could tell that Mark was in excruciating pain- in his hands and arms. He could barely move them. When they asked him his pain level (on a scale of 1 to 10...), he said "Ten, I guess. But it's more like a twelve." The ER doctor told us that the pain in his hands was due to trauma from the impact of the collision; that it should subside in a few days. Finally at around 11:30, we were able to go home.

Mark has been home, in bed, since Friday night. He can move his hands, but only painfully. We're told it's nerve damage. Any sensation to his fingers or forearm feels to him like a burning, stinging, unbearable pain. I opened our bedroom window the other day and the feel of the breeze drifting onto his hands made him wince. I am not joking. He could not use his hands at all, for anything.

He's going to be okay. Yesterday he was up for most of the day. He is able to move his arms more, and his fingers a little (well, his pinky finger on each hand, but that's a start!) He's on medication now specifically for his nerves, and we're hopeful that will help the pain. His fingers and hands ache, but the shooting, stabbing pain has abated.

So. That's it. That's us. I don't have anything profound to say about it, but wanted to say it. I love Mark so much and I am extremely grateful that he is okay. Nothing broken, no damage to his spine or head. It could have been so much worse.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
Psalm 91, 1-2

Our 'Do...Done!' chart

One of the tasks I set for myself on my 18 in 90 list was to make a chore chart for my two oldest children (4 and 2 years old). This is what I came up with:

This new chore chart resides on the side of our fridge. It was a simple project. One day I walked around the house and took pictures of the chores. Then I emailed the photos to my sweet friend who printed them out a bit smaller than wallets (thanks, Amy!) I glued the photo on cardstock (pink for my daughter, blue for my son), wrote their names on the bottom, and laminated them with clear contact paper. I bought some sticky-magnet tape to put on the back, and ta da... done! :)

Here's a closer picture:

We are loving this system. I'm a very visual person and know that my daughter is, too, and my son, well- he's two, so I figure visual is good for him, too. It is truly one of Ella's favorite parts of the day to check the chart, see what she has yet to do, run off and do it, and then come back and move the photo to the 'Done' column. The first morning this was up she did all of her chores in the first hour (except for picking up the toys, since they hadn't played with any yet!)...and she was genuinely bummed to have to leave that one on the 'Do' side.

This has been great, too- for her to assist me in helping her little brother do his chores. It's really evident now as to what he's done or not done, so she's become his little encourager in this, too- "Do you wanna make your bed now? Let's go make your bed! Then you can move this picture of your bed over to the other side! Let's go. I'll help you!" And off they go.

Prior to this I was using a chart I had made in Word that I was weekly having to print off of the computer, hang up, and they would each check off the boxes when done. I usually had to help them find the proper box to check off- ("No, that's Tuesday. It's Monday today. The first box. Right here.") I like our 'Do... Done!' chart better because it's more permanent in that it requires nothing else from me, really- except for an occasional glance to see what else remains to be done.

For those who are curious, their chores are as follows:
E: make bed, put dirty clothes in hamper, take silverware out of the dishwasher, clean up toys in living room, and clear off the table.
I: make bed, put dirty clothes in hamper, clean up toys in living room, clear off the table, and put the books back on the bookshelf.

I'd love to hear from others what chores you're having your preschoolers do! I know we'll have to add to our own list at some point!

My mom

My little girl is four years old. There are days when I look at her and think: when I was her age, just a little girl of four, my dad left us. My mom was abandoned by her husband, and her little girls (ages four and five) were abandoned by their daddy. Can you imagine my mom’s heartache?

A bit later we moved in with a friend of my moms. Mom got a job as a secretary at our church, and my sister and I began going to our church’s daycare. I remember I loved this, because from the playground I could look up at the church office where mom was working and see a window. I knew that behind the window sat my mom’s desk. I couldn’t ever see her through the window, but it was comforting for me to know she was up there. There were many times I would squint up at that window and wonder if she was looking at me right at that moment, too.

For the next four years mom was a single mom: working at the church and taking care of us. When we began to go to school (which sat up the street from our church), we would walk down to the church office after school and sit with mom and staple, fold or stuff envelopes.

She drove a little red Honda, and it seemed like we were always stranded somewhere, having run out of gas. (To this day, I am paranoid if my gas tank gets below a quarter of a tank (my husband thinks I’m nuts; he’s always like, “Stacy, you do NOT need gas YET.” But he lets me.)

Mom’s parents helped her purchase a little house and moved us in. Each weekend we went to stay with my biological dad, who had a house on the other side of town, and who had a different girlfriend every other week. My heart breaks to think of mom having to get us ready to go each weekend, packing our little bags, sending us off with hugs and kisses and reassurances.

Mom prayed for us faithfully. She sang to us, talked to us about God, and answered all of our questions. She tucked us in each night. When I had nightmares or tears, she was by my side: comforting, soothing, and praying me back to sleep. She played with my hair, she scratched my back. She gave lots of hugs and lots of encouragement and affection.

Eventually she met a man who would later become our step-dad. And they had two sons, and we were a family of six.

Mom made our lunches every day, and nearly every day she would tuck a note inside of our lunch box, telling us how very much she loved us, sometimes with a verse of encouragement, or a note that she was praying for us: the test we were worried about, or the friendship we were struggling with. When we came home from school, she had freshly-baked cookies sitting on the counter. And she prayed, and she listened, and she laughed, and she was- and is- an awful lot of fun.

I wish you could meet her today. She is beautiful. I can’t even tell you her age, exactly- because in my mind, she’s always 40-ish. She looks it. She would greet you with a smile and a hug, and make you feel so cared for. If you had a frown or misty eyes, she would ask if she could pray for you, and then she would put her arm around you and pray, right there. Then she would send you a card a week from now, checking in, asking how you’re doing, giving you encouragement and cheer. She would feed you; she’s the best cook in the world. And there is always dessert. She’d make you laugh. She is compassionate, gracious, warm, hospitable, caring, kind, encouraging, fun, spontaneous, initiative, devoted, trustworthy, generous, selfless, prayerful, and loving. She is someone I’ve always wanted to be like.

You’d never know, to look at her today- that she has weathered some of life’s most difficult storms. I honor her today, for the mother that she is. For the friend I now have in her. For teaching me so much about being a mommy to my own children. For teaching me about Jesus and living out her faith openly before us.

I love you, Mom. I am blessed beyond words.

Happy Mothers Day!

The Psalms

Each morning at breakfast we read a Psalm. If, as we're reading, I recognize any songs that have been written based on that particular Psalm, I teach it to my children, and we sing it together a few times. Yesterday we read Psalm 25. It begins with these two verses:

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul;
in you I trust, O my God.
Do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.

I had a pretty low day yesterday. There's an issue I've been anxious about, and it occupied much of my time yesterday. I spent a lot of time thinking about it, analyzing it from every which angle, fretting and pondering and dwelling on it... (does anyone else do this?!) I spent some time with the Lord, trying to lay it down before him and let it go, but- for the most part I just dwelled on it. So, we had a pretty unproductive day. I was a distracted mama and it showed in my parenting and my housework.

I was up early this morning, and again, my mind began wrestling with this issue. And I asked God to help me set it aside, to stop going there in my mind and just truly and wholly entrust it to Him. I thought to myself, "I wish there was a verse or a song that I could launch into whenever I catch my thoughts wandering back to this issue." And there it was- I remembered Psalm 25, and the chorus my children and I had happily sung around the breakfast table the previous morning, and so I breathed a prayer of thanks and am disciplining my thoughts today: when they want to focus on this particular issue, I am bursting into song (or at least singing it in my head).

The chorus is this:

Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul
O my God, I trust in Thee
Let me not be ashamed,
let not my enemies triumph over me.

The other day my daughter asked, "Mommy? What's the name of that really bad man who wants us to do naughty things? The one who wants us to go to that place with all the fire?" Um. Yes, that would be Satan. I know that the enemy of our souls would like nothing better than to have us dwell, wallow, and be discouraged in our thoughts. Today I'm choosing to tune my thoughts and lift up my soul to my Lord, my God, in whom I trust!

ps- OH! Credit where credit is due: I got the reading-a-Psalm-each-morning-at-breakfast idea over at Large Family Logistics. (Thanks, Kim!)

Recipe for a quick breakfast (OTHER than cereal!)

When we were growing up, my mom used to make yummy bran muffins for us, but at some point along the way, she misplaced the recipe. Recently an old friend of hers brought her some muffins- and it was the very recipe we'd all loved so much! The great thing about this recipe (other than how yummy they are!) is that you can store the muffin mix in your fridge for up to 6 weeks! I love this- this recipe has come in handy when I have a meal but no bread- I just grab the tupperware out of the fridge and drop them into muffin cups and voila!- muffins! Or for a quick breakfast for my family- this is great.

Here's the recipe:
6-Week Bran Muffins

7 cups raisin bran cereal (personally, I don't love the raisins, so I use regular bran flakes)
5 cups flour
1 cup honey
5 tsp. soda
2 tsp. salt
1 quart buttermilk (or 4 cups milk w/ 2 Tblsp. vinegar mixed in)
1 cup veg. oil
4 beaten eggs
1/2 cup molasses

Stir dry ingredients. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Store covered and use as needed. Keeps 6 weeks.

Prior to using mix from fridge, stir well. Fill muffin cups 2/3 cups full.
Bake @ 400 for 15-20 minutes (in my oven, 14 min.)


I love a little variety, so... this is what I do when I'm ready to make some. I pull out the big container from the fridge, and pour what I think I'll use to make 12 muffins. Then I add stuff to the smaller batch. This is what I've done so far:

-1/2 banana & a drizzle of honey
-2 T vanilla yogurt and 1 T rasp. jam
-1 mashed up pear and 1 T vanilla yogurt

I've yet to try pumpkin, grated carrots, nuts of any kind, cream cheese (!), or other fruits (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc), but I plan to! But, even if you don't like a bit of variety like I do, the basic recipe is well worth it! :)

No-fuss Meals

Recently my mother-in-law called to ask if we were going to be around the following day for lunch, since they would be stopping by. She did say “please don’t fuss over what to make”, which I didn’t. (I used to, mind you).
I consider a ‘no fuss’ lunch to be one of the following:

a) peanut butter & jelly sandwiches

b) leftovers

c) pizza (and not homemade, either)

However, we had had peanut butter & jelly sandwiches two days before, we didn’t have enough leftovers to serve us and them, and Mark was working, so pizza wasn't the handiest. (It just really isn’t a ‘no fuss’ trip to get boots, hats, and raincoats on each child and haul all three of them outside in the pouring-down rain in order to drive 5 minutes away, heave them all out of the van, run inside the pizza place, grab the pizza, rush through the rain back to the van, get them all buckled in to drive the 5 minutes home. That’s a lot of work for a soggy pizza.

So. I learned a few years ago- in one of my let’s-be-more-frugal ventures, how to handle spontaneous visits: have stuff in the freezer. Not store-bought meals, but homemade meals. For a season in our lives, every time I cooked (so, every night, on a good week), I doubled the recipe and froze the second portion. This worked for awhile, but certain things are better/easier/more functional frozen, and others, not so much. So- I’ve scaled it down a bit, but this is what I DO do:

-Every time I make soup, I double (or even triple) the recipe. After we’ve eaten our portion for the night, I let the pot of soup cool, then scoop it into a gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bag(s), write the name and date on the outside of the bag, and lay it in my freezer.

-Every few months I also buy those enormous cans of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste from Costco, and spend a couple of hours in the kitchen one evening making sauces: pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and lasagna sauce. I usually buy enough to make three batches of each, (sometimes more of the pizza sauce). Then I let those cool, and spoon the lasagna sauce into freezer bags, and the spaghetti and pizza sauces into tupperware-type containers, and load them all up into my freezer.

That’s pretty much all I do for freezer meals, but it makes a huge difference. It is so practical to double a recipe!

Back to the phone call from the in-laws. The following morning I got up, went to my freezer, pulled out a bag of frozen Italian Vegetable Soup, set the bag into a bowl of warm water, and left it to thaw. A couple of hours later I opened the bag, dumped it into the pot, turned the stove on low, and went to make some blueberry muffins. (Also something I have on hand always: frozen blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. We pick them every summer and stock up.) The muffins took me maybe 20 minutes total (15 of that was baking time), and lunch was ready! No fuss!

ps- if any of you readers have any other tips or good frozen-meal ideas, DO share! :) I love this kind of thing... :)

A filing of ideas

We're not officially homeschooling yet, since our oldest is only four. However, that doesn't mean that I don't read a lot of homeschooling books, magazines, catalogs and blogs. A couple years ago, I found that I had too many ideas in my brain (and notes in my planner and markers in various books), and wanted some organization to all of the homeschooling ideas I was gathering. I decided to buy a plastic box, a stack of index cards, and begin writing all the ideas I came across on an index card.

Now whenever I read or hear of an idea, curriculum, book, game, anything homeschool-related, I grab my box, my favorite pen, and an index card (sometimes some scissors, too- if I want a picture of the item) and go to town! This has been a great resource for me to go back to already- when I think, "What was the name of that book...?" Hopefully it will continue to be a resource for us in the years to come, too!

His ears attentive

Today is the National Day of Prayer.

I would like to post only this from 2 Chronicles 7:14-15:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.

I think all of us would say without hesitation that our land, our nation, is in need of healing. We are God's people, called by His name. May we be obedient to His Word.

This is us...

... as illustrated by our four-year old daughter:

(her with the yellow hair, her little brother next to her, me with the brown hair, and below: daddy (who in real life is MUCH taller (6'6)) and her littlest brother in the bottom right-hand corner).

And this is us, as illustrated by our camera:

-our youngest son (1), adopted from Guatemala and home for 4.5 months now (but it seems like he's been a part of our family since day one of his life!) He is sweet, likes to be held, is pulling himself up and standing but not walking yet, and... says dada and hi. He's also into EVERYthing and hears a lot of the word "No" throughout the day as he learns his boundaries.

-our oldest son (2 1/2), is also sweet, affectionate, the cheeriest early-riser you've ever met. Recently he's told me a few times (and I'm soaking it up): "You're my best friend, mommy."

-our daughter (4 1/2), is a little mama, nurturing and helping and caring for her little brothers and us, too, and her 'baby' (who happens to be a stuffed pink bunny and is named Flopsy)- all day long. She is responsible, helpful, and loving.

-my handsome husband Mark, who is my best friend and my most favorite person on this earth. He loves God, me, and our children (in that order), and is faithful, steady, selfless, smart, funny, a hard worker (at work and at home), kind, gracious, and wise.

-and me, Stacy- first a lover of Jesus and then a happy wife to Mark and a happy mommy to my children.

By the way, this happy mommy had another one of those sleepless nights again. I was wide awake long before 2:56, which is when I finally looked at the clock. I finally got out of bed at 3:34 (isn't it funny how we remember these times so clearly?!) and came out to make this post, figuring I might as well be productive.

By 3:57 my computer had crashed three times and I took this as a sign to get back to bed, which I did. I snuggled up next to Mark and told him I couldn't sleep. He scratched my back for about one-sixteenth of a second before he fell asleep. I eventually did, too.

Rebeca, I am absolutely looking into that Sleep Sweet Tincture recipe... today!

Michelle, I was praying for the appointment in Guatemala today... I can't wait to hear how it goes!

So, when I stumbled out of bed this morning at 7:00 (my husband had graciously gotten out of bed at 5:50 when our son woke up), I walked out into the living room and said, "How do I look?" to my husband. He laughed.

Maybe my eyes are puffy?