Coconut Lime Ice Cream

Ever since the grocery store stopped carrying our favorite Coconut Rum Gelato, we've been bitter. I love coconut ice cream, and believe-you-me, I have searched this town high and low for a replacement.

There is none.

Mark would like to add: "All the other coconut ice creams have nasty chunks."

So. Newly inspired by the Fletchers to pull out our ice cream maker and start using it for a change, we set out this evening to make us some coconut-y goodness. I wanted to create our *own* coconut rum ice cream, but I'm afraid the rum "flavoring" (versus the real stuff that you're apparently not supposed to use in ice cream) will be icky. [If anyone's ever used it, please tell].

So we settled for coconut lime.

And oh my word, people. It is good.

You must make this.
Coconut Lime Ice Cream

4 cups milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
the juice from 4 limes
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 can (15 oz) cream of coconut*

Mix all ingredients together and then follow the directions for your ice cream maker.

(Makes 4 quarts of ice cream)

*This is not the same thing as coconut milk. Cream of coconut can be found in the mixed drink section of your grocery store [You know, where you'd buy your margarita mix]. The brand I bought was called Coco Lopez.

Sorry about the fact that I do not have a photo. This is most definitely a photo-worthy post, but Mark left our camera in his brother's truck after their camping extravaganza this weekend and we've yet to get that back. I'm just sure you needed to know that detail.

First day of school, 2009

We started school this morning!

I am not fully organized for the entire year... yet. But I am fully organized and prepped through about the first ten weeks (and about 3/4 of the way done through our full year), so I think that's a good start!

This year Ella (7) is in the 2nd grade, and Isaac (5) is officially in kindergarten. Officially. However, I'm not planning on doing anything formal with him until he takes a greater interest in reading. (So far, no great interest.) So while he and Isaias both join us for memory work, picture study, songs, Bible time, and history- (and are learning a TON), we aren't doing anything *just* for either of the boys.

Audra (6 mo) took a great morning nap, so that was helpful. Adelia (18 mo) was not particularly helpful. *grin* Have I mentioned that she has recently learned the exciting (for her) skill of climbing up onto chairs and couches without assistance? Like I said, exciting times for her, but the rest of us are still getting used to her being able to get into things that were previously out of her reach. :)

We wrapped up our day by noon, other than the reading-aloud we'll do before naps/quiet times.

I was even able to get lunch on the table before Mark got home to eat it with us, and chicken is cooking in the crockpot for dinner. Yay! A good day so far!

When does school begin for the rest of you?

Another orphan home

Congratulations, Stephanie (and family!) Praising God with you!!!

Click on over to view the video on her blog detailing the adoption of their son Davis from Ethiopia!

I love adoption stories, don't you?!

The sleeping arrangement dilemma

[So much for two full weeks of school prep! Last week I was hit with the stomach flu, and I am feeling increasingly overwhelmed about getting ready in just one week. I have decided to simply not fret and instead trust that God is going to free up some time this week for me to get that done!]

Now to the topic of this post.

For several months we've tried to make do with what we already have for Audra when it came to where she would sleep, or more specifically, WHAT she would sleep IN. She began in a Moses basket, next to our bed. Then she graduated to a bassinet, next to our bed. When she grew out of the bassinet- um, two months ago, now?- we realized we had a dilemma. Normally at that point we would move our baby into a crib.

However, we have one crib, and Adelia is in it.

So, we wondered... do we move Adelia (18 mo) from the crib to a toddler bed so that Audra (6 mo) can go into the crib? I wanted to buy more time before we went there (knowing full well that going there equals please-stay-in-your-bed bedtime battles, and I just don't want those... yet. Well, I don't ever want them, but I know we will have them, so I like the option of choosing not to have them just yet.)

We pondered the idea of having Audra sleep in the pack-and-play. We have one (borrowed) pack-and-play that is set up in our living room and which I use daily for Adelia. [Here, honey. Here's a book. Please look at that book quietly while mama puts Audra down. Things like that. Or times when she is being especially let's-get-into-EVERYTHING! and needs some boundaries.] I can't imagine not having that tool to use for Adelia. So then we'd have to borrow or buy another pack-and-play.

However, I wasn't too keen on the idea of putting my baby into the pack-and-play to sleep. It just doesn't seem comfy enough. Now, I know people do it all the time and it's a perfectly reasonable solution-- but I just don't like the fact that it's a thin mattress with little support beneath said mattress. Maybe I'm a comfort snob or something, but I'm one of those moms who- when my children have to sleep on the floor somewhere- brings extra quilts and blankets to fold up beneath them because I want it cushy for them. The pack-and-play does not scream cushy, comfy or cozy to me, so that was a hard sell.

Also, I didn't like the idea of having to throw my back out every time I leaned way in to put Audra down to sleep. [Okay, yes, I'm exaggerating. But I'm just saying: it's a negative to the pack-and-play idea for me.]

Our solution for the past two months was to move Audra into the toddler bed. It's a crib-sized mattress, she can't crawl out of it, and we already have it. It has worked out fine, but we knew at the time it wasn't a permanent solution. Now that she is getting much more mobile, it simply isn't the best solution anymore.

Back to the drawing board.

Once again Mark and I discussed the should-we-move-Adelia-out-of-the-crib-and-into-the-toddler-bed idea, and we both agreed all over again that we don't want to go there. Adelia has potentially another year of sleeping in the crib. Why should we move her out any earlier than we absolutely must? Only because Audra needs the crib. Arggh.

Once again we considered the pack-and-play, but I still don't like it as a sleep option.

One morning the solution dawned on me, and I called Mark immediately to tell him:

We need a second crib.

It may sound crazy, but the thought had never occurred to me before. It was sort of this light bulb moment for me:

We have two babies, we need two cribs.

Duh. Why hadn't I thought of it before? I guess I just figured we would keep making do until we had no other option but to move Adelia out of the crib and give it to Audra. But I am so relieved and thankful that having a second crib will mean that we won't have to rush Adelia out of her crib. ~Whew~

Second crib purchased, dilemma solved.

Tonight Audra will be moving from our room (~sob!~) for a trial run in the girls' room. You should see it. Picture a very small room crammed with two cribs and one twin-sized bed. And three of the cutest girls imaginable.

I love the puzzles that having all these children in our small house brings. It sure keeps us thinking and trying to be creative with the space we do have.

We're already working on the next puzzle:

Where will one of the girls sleep when afternoon nap time rolls around? I'm pretty sure it won't work to have them both in the same room for naptime. *grin* See? Makes life interesting!

Two more weeks...

I have barely two weeks before we start up school again for the year. [And, can I just say...? I can't wait to dive back in!]

A few months ago I was inspired by Kendra's method of getting everything organized for the entire year at the start of the year.

I've been slowly plugging away at getting things ready, but now with two weeks left, it's crunch time.

I thought I'd let you know that I am taking some time away from the blog~ since I'll be typing, copying and organizing instead!

Camp songs. Help, please.

Oh how I wish I'd made a list of all the songs we sang back when I was a camper at summer camp, and then a counselor.

I love those songs, and every once in awhile I remember one and we get to sing it, but I'm after a LIST.

Here's where you can help.

Will you please leave a comment listing all the camp songs you can remember? Then I can compile a "master list" from that.


The ones I can think of off the top of my head are:

Love the Lord Your God...
And the Ducks go by... (Can You Dig it?)

See? Pathetic, my memory.

Help a girl out, would you?

To California and back home again

This past weekend, we went to visit Kendra of Preschoolers and Peace, who is married to Andy at The Mango Times. They are friends with Lisa, who has no blog but ought to. We also were able to spend time with Dana from The Sunny Side of the Room.

I found Kendra's blog shortly after I began blogging (four years ago) and have been an avid reader of Preschoolers and Peace ever since. I was drawn to her blog because Kendra is a lover of God, a devoted wife, a homeschooling mother to many and an excellent manager of her home.

I admire women who have embraced their calling to be a wife, mother, and keeper of their home~ and found in Kendra someone who is doing exactly that, but a just a little further ahead of me in this journey. I have found such encouragement and practical help from Kendra's ministry, and it was wonderful to finally meet her (and her family) in person!

Then to get to meet Lisa and Dana (also women I've come to admire over the years)... I count it a privilege to have had the opportunity to meet them all.

Amy and I (plus our cute babies) arrived on Friday and met up with Kendra, Lisa and Dana that evening for a memorable (Mm!) dinner. Dana kindly chauffeured us and we were able to do a drive-by of her home and meet her cute children. Then we went to Lisa's and met her family and toured her home.

On Saturday morning we took part in a Homeschool Encouragement Day that their church puts on~ and definitely came away encouraged and refreshed. What a wonderful event this was, and it definitely sparked an idea in our minds to do something similar in our area for fellow homeschooling mamas! We spent part of the drive back to the airport brainstorming ideas and making notes.

Saturday evening was spent at the Fletcher home, where we were able to meet this guy, his parents, and the great Fletcher children. We were fed delicious Armenian food, a homemade ice cream recipe that I've been talking about ever since I tasted it (seriously. I'd like a vat of that right now) , and: I finally got to try the famous Fuzz Buzz, which- incidentally, is every bit as good as it is talked up to be.

Sunday morning before flying out we were able to join these new friends at their place of worship.

It was a wonderful weekend full of encouragement, warmth and hospitality~ and I am thankful. But would you believe that I did not take ONE picture of any of that? I had my camera with me and everything, but the few times that I remembered it I was busy with Audra or something and just did not take a picture. Grr!

I'm so thankful to have been able to spend such extended time with my dear friend Amy, too~ what a joy to have lots of time to talk (without interruption!) And wow- none of this would have been possible without Amy's husband Mike making and plan and giving us the best itinerary and being the best go-to person on the other end of the cell when we were stuck wondering how we were to find the rental car place or whatever. (Thank you, Mike!)

Indulge me for a moment and picture Amy and I, our two babies, two strollers, two carseats, and two giant suitcases. The babies were either being carried by us (I love my Ergo.) while we pushed everything else, or they were in the strollers while we carried or pulled the other stuff. There were definitely a few moments of "this is crazy!"ness. But we are quite capable girls, and we made it and we're SO glad we did it.

Now. Get this: while I was doing all of that, Mark was home with our four older children who one-by-one got the stomach flu. By Saturday Mark was feeling pretty ill himself, so he spent the better part of the weekend either caring for our very-sick children, or lying on the couch feeling pretty miserable while watching our children. What a guy.

Oh, I am thankful to be home! I was up early this morning and just waiting- literally with bated breath- until the kids woke up so that I could see them and hug them.

Isaias crept up first, checking to see "if you were home from California yet". He sat on my lap and gave me the lowdown on his throwing up and how it got all over everything (poor Mark!), on daddy reading TWO chapters one night of Prince Caspian to them, and of sleeping in the tent. (Yes, they still did the backyard campout.)

Then he scurried off to play and I heard Adelia. I ran in to get her up and hug that precious girl of mine who spent the rest of the day saying "Mommy" every 2 minutes and between those 2-minute segments saying "up" while stretching her arms up to me.

Ella was awake, then, too- and smiling and hugging me, and wanting to tell me about the four books she'd read while I was gone and show me her book reports and tell me that she was tired of "being the boss of everyone" and was glad that I was home. [Sunday night she was solely in charge of dinner and all of the younger kids while Mark was laid up on the couch; she was tired of being the "adult".]

Then Isaac wandered in, asking me where something was as if I hadn't been gone for three days and I told him to get over here and give me a hug because I missed him so much. Then he remembered, and gave me proper hugs and then promptly showed me all the Lego things he and daddy had built (an excavator, a dump truck and a flat-bed truck; like the ones they've been watching work across the street this past week).

Then Audra woke up~ and I wouldn't have missed that moment for the world. All of the older kids crowded around her and kissed her and talked about how big she was and she smiled and cooed and remembered again the glow of being loved so well by them.

Mark called in sick so I did get to take care of him today, afterall~ and also washed everyone's bedding, gave everyone baths, went grocery shopping and stopped at the library with our oldest four, and fed everyone well, all day long. And I gently reminded Audra that she actually does not need to be in mama's arms all day long, today, even though she has been for the past few days.

A full day. I am tired but so happy to be right back where I belong.


Wow. It's late. Mark is sleeping beside me on the couch. I am off to bed. Still praying I won't get struck with the plague that has visited our home these past few days!

A trip!

I'm headed out of town this weekend, with my dear friend Amy and her littlest guy, Justus. Audra will be with me, obviously.

I'll tell you all about it when we get back!

In the meantime, here are some recent photos:

{All of the kids on a neighborhood walk}

{Ella reading to everyone but Adelia (who was already down for her nap, which is just as well, since she cannot sit still for the life of her!)}

{Ella and Audra}

{The most handsome guy in the *world*, and Audra. Also, the man who will be solo-ing it this weekend with our oldest four. He's promised them a backyard campout and they're over the moon with excitement for a weekend of play with daddy.}

Oh, I'm gonna miss him!

Prayer list

A few years ago I came up with a list of things I wanted to regularly pray for for Mark. You can read more about that list in a post titled Praying for my husband. The list has changed a bit since then, but I still use it regularly for praying for Mark.

Then Elise posted this chart for praying for your children. I love this, and have used it often as a guide to pray for our children.

Then one day it dawned on me that I had no habit or discipline of praying faithfully for growth areas in my own life. It felt a little hit-and-miss to me. So I added my own list.

For ease of reference, I compiled them all into the list you'll see below. The numbers on the left-hand side correspond to the day of the month. [So, for example: on the 2nd of each month, I pray for Mark's work, the knowledge of God's grace in our children, and my relationship with Ella.] This prayer list is taped into the front of my journal, and each day I refer to it and it as a guide to direct my prayers for that day. I share it in case any of you want to make your own similar list.

Prayer List

A few other thoughts:
*I use this list for prayer in addition to praying for the needs of others (friends/family) in our lives. [I don't want to leave the impression that I *only* pray for myself and my immediate family!]
*There are days (heck, even whole seasons) where I do not consult this list, but the format of it makes it easy to get back into it after any absence.

Note: This is my very first attempt trying to post a document in pdf format on my blog. I hope it works. I realize it appears small on my blog, but if you click on the upper right hand corner, it will then take you to a screen with a zoom function (top right hand side of the page, first option on the left) to enlarge it. I hope it's not too complicated. I really have NO idea what I'm doing, so bear with me. :)