Monday, July 28, 2008

See you in the Fall!

No, we're staying right here at home, but I'm heading off the computer until after school starts - at least. Too much to do, most importantly is reconnecting to the Vine (Jesus), and loving up my husband and kids. The computer is what I do when I'm bored or just otherwise want to avoid something. I have a Lord, an amazing husband and three amazing children who I want to give ALL of me. I don't mind. I'm not one of those who needs my own time really. I get it here and there and am so blessed for that! This first day may be the toughest (mainly because we were away this weekend and of course that means a lot to do on Monday morning - things I'd like to avoid ;) ) - but it will only be tough if I focus on it too much. Thankfully my life is full and blessed and when I focus on the Lord and all He's done for me, I won't have time to mull on it :) I'm so looking forward to this - and who knows, as I organize and weed out the unnecessary junk in our home and my life, I may just find the computer is one of those things I won't want to add back in :)

God bless and may you have a God and family-focused summer!

Jen :)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Cheesy Brown Rice Casserole

This was so yummy! I panicked coming to post this, because I could not find the link to the recipe that I originally found. But the more I think of it, I did not even come close to using that recipe anyway! So I will post the recipe just as I made it!

Cheesy Brown Rice Casserole

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1+ tablespoon of butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups brown rice, COOKED
4 oz. whipped cream cheese (or regular cream cheese at room temperature, I used whipped right from the fridge)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
4 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat butter and cook onion and garlic until the onion is translucent.

In a large bowl, combine the rice, cream cheese and basil. Add the onion mixture. Spoon this into a 1-quart casserole dish. Bake uncovered for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. Let sit for 10 minutes, allowing the cheddar to melt.

This was so good! It tasted like risotto - but WAY easier to make than risotto - have you ever made that? VERY time consuming (even though it is the best comfort food ever!)


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My husband is so sweet!

Look at the coffee stain his spoon left on the counter this morning. My husband thinks of the neatest ways to tell me he loves me :)

Plain Cheap Muffins

I whipped up these muffins last night for dinner. The recipe comes from, if you've never checked this website out, you should, it has a lot of great ideas!
Plain Cheap Muffins
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1/4 cup oil (I used 1/4 cup melted butter - so yummy!)
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4-1/2 cup sugar (I used closer to 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 cups flour
In a large bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients (if using melted butter, add the milk slowly to the butter while whisking before the egg so you do not scramble the egg!). Whisk well. Measure in baking powder and flour. Mix well until all dough particles are moistened. **Do not over mix!! 20-30 strokes is enough** Turn muffin mix into well oiled muffin tins (I used a 12 muffin tin). Bake for 20 minutes.
Very yummy and very cheap ;)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Still Working on Organizing our Life

First, I so wish you could smell my house right now! I have a yummy roasted whole chicken in the oven, and its raining outside - can't you just feel the coziness in here? Roasted whole chicken is my husband's favorite meal. He's such a mellow fellow, that he appreciates whatever I cook. Over the years, I've asked often what his favorite meal is so I could cook it. "I don't know, I like whatever you cook." What a nice guy, because as my brother and sister will tell you, my early days of cooking were absolutely gross! Thankfully cooking can be learned, and now I can hold my own.

Anyway, I am still working on organizing our life, and creating lists and routines. Its been really fun, as I love making lists :) Just in time, came a post on, here's the link right to the post I'm talking about. Although I'll make it fit my style more, I love the way she doesn't schedule everything right down to the minute (like I tried to in March!), but has early morning routines, mid-day routines, evening routines and before bed routines. While proof is in the pudding, in theory, I think this is exactly what will work for me. So I've decided to just keep plugging along as we are for the rest of the summer (its working good enough - things are getting done with my to-do lists on scraps of paper, and we're having plenty of time for rest and fun - which is what summer is all about for us anyway). The routines/lists I'm working on now are for the fall when both (I can't believe it!) boys will be in school. Of course come November or so, I will have to revamp everything to include a new little blessing due to arrive in January :) However, if I feel the way I did after my little girl was born, I'll be raring to go - but I know most babies (including my two boys) do not come out of the womb sleeping 6 hour stretches - what a blessing that was since she was/is only 17 months younger than her brother!

By the way, check out the comments on my post on "how much time do your children spend outside". My friend Liz gave some good child-rearing advice. Thanks Liz!

Now off to make a yummy salad and rice to go with that chicken!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

How Much Time Do Your Children Spend Outside?

Seriously. How much time do they spend outside? I guess I've never really noted how much my kids do. We spend more time than most in our neighborhood, but far less than some, and far less than I think they should.

So for kicks, I googled "how much time should children play outside" and the following articles came up (among many articles filled with psycho-babble): (infants should spend 90 minutes outside.) (doesn't say how much time, but a US Olympic gold medal winner says her parents used to lock her and her 6 siblings outside and were told not to come back until dinnertime. I remember my parents doing that a few times, and I was all the better for it. I wonder, as with many things, if in this day in age one could get reported for something like that *sigh*.)

Well, it doesn't matter anyway what the "experts" say, or what others do, but I do know we need to get out more. In the second article, one is quoted as saying that as parents, we need to be outside more too. Perhaps therein lies the problem? While being outside is one of my favorite things to do, dinner must be made, laundry must be done, and, well, my kids are little yet.

Remember the schedule/routine post I wrote earlier in the week? Well, one thing I am planning on planning on (hee-hee, there are better choices of words I know, but I liked saying this for some reason) is having a set chunk of time to be outside everyday. I know for some people this happens naturally, but I'm finding for us, if we don't purpose it to happen, it just doesn't. So as I am working on routines and lists, I am definitely going to purposefully plan on outside time for a few hours AT LEAST

And just because posts are much more interesting with pictures, here are some more pictures of my kids playing outside (none are very recent, but mostly from last summerthis spring):

Monday, July 14, 2008

Remember that Schedule....

....that I created back in March? (Here's the link to that post). Well, you don't know if something will work if you don't try it, right :) And, well, it didn't work. It went against everything that we (as in me, my husband and kids) are. I have friends that will not do anything if it creeps into nap time for instance. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, but that just isn't us, and that is okay too :) If we have an opportunity to do something at 2 p.m., I'll just shuffle things around, and do a nap later, not at all, or on the run. Thankfully all of our kids have done fine with this, and I think this has really helped them (and us) be able to do fine with the flexibility of our weekends.

At the same time though, we need a routine of some sort. While I had been thinking this, when my husband brought it up, I knew I needed to do something. I've always structured my week in a way that the weekends we are off. Because of my husband's work schedule, he may use the weekends to do a project, but all in all (for the most part), the house is decent, groceries are bought, laundry is done, and we can just have fun or do projects together as a family (again, for the most part :) ).

So if it doesn't seem broke, why are we looking to fix it? Well, with 5 almost 6 people in our family, if we all are flying by the seat of our pants (which we are!), often we run into times where things collide. An example: my husband is at work, thinking he'll mow the lawn tonight after dinner. I'm at home thinking, I'll run to the grocery store tonight after dinner (most times I grocery shop with the children, but sometimes, well you know.....). You see where problems could come up and things sometimes don't get done, at least not easily or without frustration. Also, I'm convicted to increase our fellowship with other Christian families, yet when I am not being purposeful in being hospitable, and just being tossed to and fro putting out fires as they come - the days turn into weeks, the weeks turn into months, you know what I'm saying.

I already know I work really, really well with to-do lists, so I plan on making some master to-do lists that will be the same week after week (i.e. on Mondays I need to get XYZ done - doesn't matter what time, just get it done today - so I plan on making a Monday-Friday To-do list). My husband will ride his bicycle home from work every Tuesday and Thursday night, so those nights, I will know and plan for, a snack for the children in the mid-afternoon as dinner will be about an hour or so later than usual. I will make a master menu and grocery list and have a set time every week that I do grocery shopping (we're considering have one night a week where we do this as a family after we went out to dinner. We used to do this when I was a child, and its a memory I remember fondly :) Not to mention my husband's strong arms to do all the heavy lifting :) ) Anyway, you probably get a good idea of where we're heading with this, and there's too much to think about, and include in detail in this post right now. Perhaps later in the week, after the lists are made, and they are typed up on the computer, I will do a separate post with my lists; or as I've tried in the past, I may post links on my side bar that can be accessed easily.

Well, this is a small part of what being a keeper of our home is all about, right ladies? (Titus 2:5)

Thursday, July 10, 2008


We all have these kind of days. I've had a bunch of them lately. I guess the first trimester this time really threw me for a loop. With the other children, I was able to rest more. I still can rest, but I'm just extra tired this time. I could sleep 24 hours and it doesn't seem enough. Now that I'm in my second trimester, insomnia has kicked in during the middle of the night, and come morning and throughout the day, I'm just tired, and well, for me that can lead to blahness. But as I meditate on Scripture, the Holy Spirit is convicting me, that its likely more than just early pregnancy tiredness and blahness.

The Lord has led me to some wonderful scripture lately, both through a sermon at church, and through a friend. It is John 15, where it says Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. A branch cannot bear fruit if it is apart from the vine. Many times in order for a branch to bear fruit, it needs to be pruned - if you've ever done any gardening, it just seems wrong to prune what otherwise seems like a healthy branch, but when you do, and the branches multiply, and you get more fruit or more flowers, you realize it was what was best for the plant.
When I'm feeling blah, feeling like doing nothing but taking naps, driving through drive-thrus, in other words, taking the easy way out, its because my focus is on me, not on Jesus. I'm trying to bear fruit, but on my own strength, without trying to draw my strength and life from the Vine. Because I try to do it on my own so often, I end up burning out and feeling blah - and then I go through a number of days not doing what I should, but doing what I feel like, and that is nothing. John 15:4-5 says "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the Vine, ye are the branches; He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." So the Scripture here tells me, that if I try it on my own, I will in fact be able to do nothing.

"The goal in life is FRUIT not happiness" (quote from our Pastor). Oh how I have this messed up! How much of my life is focused on my comfort and happiness? "I'm feeling blah today kids, how about McDonalds? Honey, can you pick up a pizza on your way home, I didn't feel like cooking tonight. Mommy needs her rest kids, you need to watch this video and not talk so I can sleep." Okay, doing this once in a great while is not bad in and of itself, sometimes when sickness comes (or just for fun), its okay - but when one day leads to the next, and the next, and the - it does become a very bad thing.
So how do I get through the blah days when I don't feel like it. Well, first and foremost, I need to take the focus off me and put it on Christ where it belongs. I will have no fruit if I'm trying to grow and do things on my own - remember apart from Christ "[I] can do nothing". Cut off a branch from the main Vine - and it will slowly die. When my focus is completely on Jesus Christ, I will do things because it is the right thing to do, because it is pleasing to Him, whether or not I feel like it or not. It doesn't matter if I'm tired, or if I'm wronged, or.....I still need to do the right, and godly, thing. I am a wife, and a mother. The right thing for me to do is to be a help meet for my husband and to care for and train my children. Getting out of bed just as my husband is heading to work, throwing the kids a bagel as they watch Clifford and a bunch of other shows, is not accomplishing what I must do. Ways I could help and bless my husband, is to get up with him, keep him company in the morning, lovingly make his lunch, pour his coffee as he's heading out the door, etc. Ways I could care for and train my kids is to make them a healthy breakfast, read the Bible to them as they eat, take them to the park (even when I don't feel like it), smile at them, etc. You see what I'm saying?

A poem that I've come across many, many times is one Elisabeth Elliot quoted:

Do The Next Thing

At an old English parsonage down by the sea,

there came in the twilight a message to me.

Its quaint Saxon legend deeply engraven

that, as it seems to me, teaching from heaven.

And all through the hours the quiet words ring,

like a low inspiration, 'Do the next thing.'
Many a questioning, many a fear,

many a doubt hath its quieting here.

Moment by moment, let down from heaven,

time, opportunity, guidance are given.

Fear not tomorrow, child of the King,

trust that with Jesus, do the next thing.
Do it immediately, do it with prayer,

do it reliantly, casting all care.

Do it with reverence, tracing His hand,

who placed it before thee with earnest command.

Stayed on omnipotence, safe 'neath His wing,

leave all resultings, do the next thing.
Looking to Jesus, ever serener,

working or suffering be thy demeanor,

in His dear presence, the rest of His calm,

the light of His countenance, be thy psalm.

Do the next thing.

Today, I will reconnect with the VINE so that with His strength, I can do the next thing.

All these pictures are from my gardens last year. This year, my vegetable garden bed is a bunch of weeds, kind of symbolic as to what's going on in my heart. With the Lord's help, I can have victory, and those weeds can become beautiful fruit, pleasing and glorifying to Him! But it can only happen if I'm connected to the Vine - Jesus Christ. It is all about having a personal relationship with Him. Want to know more? Here is a link that explains the very first step into entering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Little House on the Prairie

At Christmas, I bought a special read-aloud edition of Little House on the Prairie. During the winter, as I began to read it to the boys, I imagined how cozy it would be to read it to them on the front porch during the summer (have I ever mentioned that my front porch is my favorite place at home?) So, I tucked the book away (which was just as well, even just 6 months ago, the boys weren't entirely interested yet).
Well, what a wonderful part of our day this has been! After my daughter goes down for her nap, the boys and I head out to the front porch, sit on our wicker love seat, and read a few chapters. The boys just love it. One afternoon, my 3.5 year old son, cozied up to me, and just fell asleep while I was reading. Oh how I love when my kids fall asleep on me! This week we haven't read yet, as we're still recuperating from having my sister in law with her 6 children up for a visit for a few days last week. We also had a big 4th of July celebration. I take longer to recoup being pregnant I guess!
We're really looking forward to tomorrow to get back into the story!
P.S. By the way, the Little House TV series is on the Hallmark channel. A few weeks ago, I was feeling a little sick, and did a search and found it! Unfortunately, at this point, Laura is grown, married, and a teacher. Although still fun to watch, it is way further into the story than we are, and it would have been fun to start out when Laura was a little girl. I've heard the Little House series is on DVD, so it gives me an idea of what to get for a present for my kids (and me ;) ) sometime.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Daddy's Little Girl

"Daddy's Girl"

(c) 2003 Christine Michaels

When you jump up on my lap
to give a kiss and hug,
nothing in this world
gives my heart such a tug!
The way you make me laugh
when standing on your head,
acting silly so I'll look
til' your face turns all red!
I know you'll always be...
and I felt it from the start,
no matter how old you get
you're my little sweetheart!
You're growing much too fast
time flies by in a whirl,
but you'll always be
Daddy's Little Girl!

Although a few months old, this picture has become one of my favorites - too precious not to share!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

As We Celebrate Our Country's Independence.....

Tomorrow is Independence Day! The other night we had a community chorus sing "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and once again I marvelled at these words that are still sung across our country today:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with His heel,
Since God is marching on."

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

Written by Julia Ward Howe in November 1861.

american flag

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Stats from 12ish Week Checkup

I had my 12 week checkup this morning with my midwife, Pam. Can I say how much I love seeing a midwife? With my other 3 children, it was with doctors, wonderful doctors I might add, but this is so different, so relaxed, so personal. Also, the practice I'm with, and the hospital I'll deliver in, are Catholic, so there is a strong belief in the sanctity of life :)

Not much to report this early in the game, but I've lost 5 lbs :) . Now, before anyone gets concerned, I think my weigh-in at my 8 week checkup was really REALLY off. If that one was correct, I gained 11 lbs from my annual checkup in March!!!!! My scale at home didn't show that, and this time everything is where I think it should be (and no, I'm not going to share that number with you ;). We were not able to hear the heartbeat with the Doppler today, but I am not concerned, nor surprised as I was never able to hear the heartbeat unless by ultrasound until the 16 week checkup. Pam was not concerned either. Edited to Add: From my ultrasound, my official due date is January 11, 2009. My dates are a little off because my last period was different, and I wasn't sure when my LMP was. That is why I titled this post "12ish Week Checkup." :)

Like with my other children, I am not doing the alpha-protein (or whatever its called) test. Honestly, it wouldn't change anything for us (except add more worry than I already have for the next 6 months). When I was under doctors' care with my other 3 pregnancies, when I refused the test, they read all this information from a brochure to me, and I had to sign a consent, saying I knew what I was denying. So today, Pam said so casually, "oh, yeah, did you want the (whatever its called) test?" I sheepishly said, "well I didn't with these three (I had them with me today :) ), and I don't think I want it now either." I was preparing to have to defend myself. I asked, "what do you think?" She said with the kindest smile, "personally, I don't like it. We just have to mention that it is available." Phew! Finally, no convincing, no making me feel like I'm making a bad decision! Believe me, I understand, and support a woman who wants it, but for me I don't want it. She confirmed everything I've read that its not uncommon to get a false positive, and then it would mean amnio and further testing and more worry. Anyway, I was so thankful for the support of my decision :)

I did a search on the Internet of pictures of babies at 12 weeks in utero. Right now, my baby is about 1.5-2.5 inches long (rump to top of head). How precious! Also, I just read that his vocal chords are now completely formed. Amazing! Here are some of the pictures I found :

Edited to Add: A cute little comment my son C made as we were leaving: "Hey, wait! We didn't get our baby today!" I guess he thought we were going to have the baby today. Poor little guy can't comprehend how long we have to wait! Even telling him that the baby won't be coming until after his birthday and after Christmas doesn't help him understand!
Enjoy your day :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I love this age. My son C is 3 1/2. He's always asking questions "what is our house made out of", "what is my body made out of", you get the idea. Well, he's been simply fascinated about the baby I am carrying. For a few weeks, he was convinced he too had a baby in him (although his was in his throat/chest area :) ). His baby was a boy.

Up until last night, his questions of who is pregnant have remained within private conversations at home. Last week he had this conversation with Daddy when he got home:

C: "Does O have a baby in him?"
Daddy: "No."
C: "Does M have a baby in her?"
Daddy: "No. O and M are too little. The Bible says you need to be married first then have babies."
C: "Do you have a baby in you Daddy?"
Daddy: "My baby is in Mommy."
Me: Silently gulping wondering what conversations this would bring up with my almost 6 year old who was listening on. But the conversation seemed to end there.

Fast forward to last night, when my Mom was over for a visit.

C: "Grammy, do you have a baby in your tummy?"
Grammy, chuckling: "No."
Me: "C, do you have a baby in your tummy?"
C: "No."
Grammy: "Who has a baby in their tummy?"
C: "Mommy."
Grammy (who by the way doesn't even know of our conversation last week): "Does O have a baby in his tummy?"
C: "No."
Grammy: "Does M have a baby in her tummy?"
C: "No."
Grammy: "Does Daddy have a baby in his tummy?"
C: "No. He put his baby in Mommy's tummy!"

I just about spit my iced tea all over the table! What a little character my C is! You just can't beat the precious things these kids say!

Stay, stay at home, my heart, and rest;
Home-keeping hearts are happiest,
For those that wander they know not where
Are full of trouble and full of care;
To stay at home is best.

Weary and homesick and distressed,
They wander east, they wander west,
And are baffled and beaten and blown about
By the winds of the wilderness of doubt;
To stay at home is best.

Then stay at home, my heart, and rest;
The bird is safest in its nest;
O'er all that flutter their wings and fly
A hawk is hovering in the sky;
To stay at home is best.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow