Friday, November 21, 2008

So Much To Be Thankful For

Psalm 69:30
I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

Thanks Nate for Sharing This Picture!

Let me not forget the things for which I thank God for. I try to have a spirit of thanksgiving every day, but I am thankful for this time of year to put me back on track!

1. I truly am thankful for Jesus my Savior. As I get to know Him personally more and more, I am amazed at His deep love for me.

2. I am thankful for my wonderful, loving and supportive husband. We are truly one. I can say the same thing for him, that I am amazed at his deep love for me. It is absolutely true that our love and marriage are better today than ever before. I'm so thankful for the sacrifices and commitment my husband has made for me and our beautiful children. Its no easy thing, but he does it so, so wonderfully.

3. I am thankful for my oldest son. We are so much alike, and I love talking to him, and being with him. Because of him, I have been able to remember so much of my childhood. Things I liked to do, thoughts I had. I feel like through him, I am in a way living my childhood all over again. He is an amazing helper, with such a joyful spirit! I am also thankful for the second chance God has given to me with him. When he was a baby, my whole focus was on a schedule, and getting him to be apart from me, that I didn't necessarily focus on attaching to him, or letting him attach to me. While the love was there, no doubt, he naturally attached to Daddy (a wonderful thing on its own). As the years went on, I wish I could recapture that time, and do it differently as I have done with my littlest ones. That is where the second chance thing comes in, because the last few years, he indeed has attached to me and I to him, and the blessing of that is sweet. 4. I am thankful for my middle son. As much as my other son and I are alike, C and I are so different! But he is a carbon copy of my husband, both in looks and personality. Since a baby, he loves to be held, he loves kisses, and all things affectionate. He is the one who will notice when someone is sad, and be the first to offer a hug and a kiss and to say "I love you." That has taught me so much, as in my "old" age, in many ways I've become hard. This little man of mine has helped crack that tough shell, and helps make me as tender as a roasted marshmallow. I needed that, and God knew that C would be the one to help me get there. He too is a wonderful helper, and he is very unselfish and kind. Sharing is not a problem for my son, what a blessing that is! I am thankful that nearly every night, C comes in to cuddle with us and sleep the remainder of the night. Although some would find this terribly annoying, we find it a wonderful blessing! He loves to cook with me, and when he comes out of his class, whether at church or school, his eyes light up with pure joy just to see me.

5. I am thankful for my daughter, my third born, but first daughter. I always considered myself a "boys" mom, but the good Lord knew I needed her to remind me I am a woman and how special that is. As boyish as her brothers are, M couldn't be more girly. She inherently knows that girls wear pink and purple (although she does love putting on her brother's sweatshirts just the same), and play with dolls and kitchen things. She is a little girl born many years after her time. She loves the long dresses Mama makes for her the best, and responds with anything that makes her curious or concerned with "oh my!" She too is just like me, even down to loving to sleep :) Yes, another blessing for a mother! A little confession here is that most Saturday mornings, while the early birds (my husband and our sons) are up, M and I are sleeping in. I suspect she has helped my husband realize that we girls just need beauty sleep sometimes ;) She was born with the most delicate of hands and feet, not an ounce of baby chub to be found on them (hand and feet that is, baby chub found its way elsewhere on her ;) ). She still has the same hands she was born with, with her little crooked pinkies that I find so darling! She is content with her little toys and small spaces, and through her God has helped me be content with little and small. She is everything innocent to me, with her soft, girly voice, her smile and her kindness. It hit me not too long ago, that when the boys were her age, they naturally became very interested in what Daddy did, and the fact that they were a boy like Daddy. What occurred to me was that M most recently is interested in all things Mommy, what I do in the laundry, the kitchen, doing my hair, etc. My little rose is such a delicate and fragile blessing for which I am so thankful.

6. I am thankful for my little baby nestled under my heart, waiting for her appointed time to be born. She moves so much and so forcefully, and I am so thankful, for who has time these days to sit and make sure she's moving enough? Never do I have to wonder as this little blessing is spending many a day doing gymnastics ;) I am so thankful for yet another chance to be a Mama. God is so right when he calls these children, even in the womb, blessings.

7. I am thankful for my parents. They have always been there for me, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they would drop whatever they were doing to come help us if needed. I am thankful that after many years of living far from them, we now live close. I am thankful for their love for God, and that the sacrifices and Godly protection they gave to us as children, have helped me be who I am today.

8. I am thankful for my sister and brother and their families. No one can quite prepare you for how different the sibling relationship becomes when you are adults. But it is a wonderful thing. To watch our children love eachother so much is a blessing I never expected. Like my parents, I know my siblings would drop everything to come help if needed.

My sister's children are in the first picture of this post.

9. Okay, I have a hard time saying this one, but I've been convicted of late of my strong hate for my dog, but I truly am thankful for him. Its amazing to me how he knows the regulars who walk by and doesn't bother them, but should someone different walk by, he barks like crazy. It is protection that I just take for granted, and rather than let my annoyance with him build (that is wrong I'm realizing), I am choosing to be thankful for Donald.

10. I am so thankful I live in America. Too often we Americans can complain, Christians can be the worst to complain about it. Yet, do you realize the freedoms we have so we can do just that? We are rich, even the poorest Americans are rich compared to our world. We can gather to worship our God openly, and just have in general so many freedoms. I for one am very thankful for that.

I could go on listing all that I am thankful for, but the reality of it is, I have a home to manage, and a husband and children to nurture. I hope you have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving, full of feasting and fellowship. May the busy-ness of this day and every day, never get in the way of a spirit of thankfulness to our God for all He does and even all He prevents us from.

God bless you and yours.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bagel Bliss

I've never even considered making bagels before. I don't know, it always seemed impossible, although admittedly I never even looked at a recipe! Sometimes you have to stop and look into something rather than continually dismissing it, because often, you may be surprised.

And surprised is what I am about HOW EASY making bagels are. Now, as I write this, I'm trying to determine whether it is easy because I know how to make bread, or if its easy, because I have had many, many, MANY failed attempts at baking bread, and this is easier than baking bread. In other words, I'm not sure if one should "master" making bread first before making bagels, or if, like I, you have had many, many, MANY failed attempts at bread baking, if you should put that to the side and try this first. I don't know - I think everyone should try this - it was fast and fun! Enough rambling, let me give you the recipe (with my many comments):

First, I found the recipe at this link:

You can go there directly to get the exact recipe. I will give you my comments based on the above recipe.


2 cups warm water (I always just take hot water from my tap)
4.5 teaspoons of yeast
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of salt*
5.5-6 cups of flour



1. I combined the water, sugar, and yeast in my stand mixer. I let this sit for a few minutes until the mixture started to get foamy.

2. I added 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and combined it. I then added the remaining flour about 1/2 cup at a time until a ball forms. After the dough had enough flour, I had the machine knead it for about 3 minutes, adding more flour a little at a time if necessary.

3. I then added 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and a handful of raisins (cinnamon/raisin bagels are my kids' favorite). I had the machine knead in the ingredients until just combined, about 1 minute. I then lifted the dough ball, sprayed the bowl, turned the dough over, giving one last little spray to the top of the dough. I covered it with a towel and let it rise (1st RISE) for 20 minutes.

4. After the dough is risen (it just about doubled in size). I punched the dough down and placed on a floured work surface. I separated the dough into 16 portions (next time I may do 24 as the bagels were rather large). I did this by pinching off the dough. I've read that if you cut the dough with a knife, it breaks apart the gluten strands, and well, that is what keeps bread together! I chose the "finger in the middle method" as described on the website above. Basically, I took the dough portions, very gently rolled it in my hand (the dough doesn't rise much at the 2nd rising, so only do this if necessary - I didn't have to roll all of them). I then placed the dough on the floured counter, poked my finger through the middle. While my finger remained in the dough, I made the dough do a "hula-hoop" around my finger - or imagine the counter is a cup of coffee, and your finger the spoon, and stir :) I hope that explains it well.

5. I put parchment paper on my baking sheets, and placed the formed bagels on them. I covered with plastic wrap that had been sprayed on one side with nonstick spray. I placed them in a draft free location and let them rise at room temperature until puffy, about 20 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, I added water to a 5 quart soup pot, and set to boil. After the 2nd rise, I dropped the bagels one at a time into the boiling water. I boiled the bagels about 3-4 at a time or only so many that they float freely, and are not crowded. I let them simmer for 30 seconds on each side, turning with a slotted spatula. I removed and placed them gently on a lightly greased cooling rack for a few minutes to drain.

7. Once all the bagels were boiled and drained, I placed them back on the baking racks lined with parchment paper and then sprayed them all with my non-stick spray.

8. I then baked the bagels for 20 minutes at 400°F.
We didn't wait very long for them to cool, although we did for a little bit.
They came out perfectly! Very moist on the inside, and a little chewy on the outside (like every good bagel should be). We lathered them while still warm with cream cheese and called it lunch! (by the way, these are all pictures I took just a few minutes ago, they even look like bagels!)

You HAVE to try it! I am planning on looking up how to make "Everything" bagels as those are my husband's favorite. On the website, it said you can split the dough at a certain point, and add different ingredients to each dough batch. Maybe I'll try that, or judging how fast we may go through these, I'll probably just make one normal batch of each flavor.

Happy bagel-ing :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hair Cuts, Baking and Voting

are on my agenda today. The haircuts are done (you can look at my last post for before pictures):

I finally conceded that our daughter needs bangs, and boy I don't regret it! She looks absolutely darling to me! The thing is, her hair is so pin-straight, that it just goes forward. Any attempts to brush it to the side, and tuck behind her ear, doesn't last long (not even a minute, seriously). "Pretties" (barrettes or clips) eventually end up on the floor, because her hair is also so thin that they don't stay in well. As its drying, it definitely has that "shocked" look, but I will put a little lotion or something in as it dries to calm it down a bit.

I always used to cut the boys hair. However, at times, I justify paying someone else to do it (at a tune of $12-15 before tip!) because of the tiredness of pregnancy or whatever. But I'd continually be disappointed, knowing I could do an equal job for free. I'm glad I cut it this time - and I admit, its always a good test for my patience, and I saved at least $52 (I averaged it out and then added tip to the end).

I am always amazed how instantly older my children look after a haircut.

I also have baking on the agenda today. I have read, in less than a week, all three volumes of The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. GREAT books. The money saving tips are amazing and so do-able. One of her strategies that she used for her family was making a batch of Betty Crocker's Refrigerated Dough (which lasts in the refrigerator for 5 days), and taking dough out as needed to bake. Since I love making bread (I went back to making it over the weekend), I'm really looking forward to this.

And of course, did you know today is election day? LOL! Yeah, its pretty hard to forget this time. Each presidential election year seems to get more crazy, and starts earlier and earlier. As our Pastor jokingly said on Sunday, "On Wednesday we'll have about 6-8 hours of peace before the candidating starts for 2012." Isn't that the truth? Today, I received a call from Rudy Giuliani, and I'm sure President Bush or the First Lady will be the next to call ;)
I'd like to share with you some tidbits from Sunday's sermon, as it is so important for us to remember today. (I am summarizing here, and these are not points that he wrote specifically).

Our Pastor preached from the first few verses of Romans 13. In it, it says that every soul is to be subject (obey and submit) to the government, which whether you agree with it or not, is ordained by God. Of course Daniel is an example when it is okay to not obey and submit to government (when the government is asking you to sin against God).

Our Pastor, like me, grew up in what he called the "evangelical bubble." He made some observations from that bubble, and because, as I said, I too grew up in that same bubble (I'm not saying its wrong!), I couldn't agree more, and was comforted by his words.

1. THE CHURCH AND THE UNITED STATES ARE NOT ONE! They should be separate as the ends are VERY different. Because the U.S. has roots founded on Biblical principles, often we think the U.S. is the church. Not so! Not so.

2. THE CHURCH WILL STILL PREVAIL NO MATTER WHO IS ELECTED. Remember, as it says in Romans, "there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." This is true even if the President doesn't believe in God or His Word.




6. Lastly, the right and privilege to vote today, is precious, and we should not take it for granted. High prices were paid for that right. Ironically, it seems the people who chose not to vote for their reasons, are the loudest to complain.

Trust in God today. Don't be afraid. I've heard so many people say they are afraid if so and so is elected in office today (I've heard it said of both candidates). Nothing will happen today that isn't ordained by God. Seriously, the Bible tells us so. So take comfort.

So on that NOT light note, I'll leave you with a nice picture :)

Kids always have a way of bringing peace to an otherwise worrisome situation :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Catching My Breath Today

What a fun and full fall we've had. I still plan on not blogging as much, but I can't miss this time to post some wonderful pictures of some fun times we've had the last week!

Last Friday, we headed over to my sister's. We visited that night with her family and my brother's. As always, it was a wonderful time. Here are some pictures from our visit with my sister (I kicked myself that I didn't take any pictures the evening before while my brother was there!)

My niece, looking more and more like my sister every year!

My son O in the middle with his cousins, his best friends.

Quick picture of our princess #1 before heading up to Pake's house
After my sister's, we headed up to my father-in-law's house for a nice visit with him, and one last ride on the boat, before he tucks it away for the long winter. It was C-O-L-D. The boat ride was the quickest we ever did. But its the funnest way, and the only way as far as my kids are concerned, to get to our favorite place to eat while visiting Pake (Dutch for grandpa, in case you were wondering). Also, this restaurant is where I met my handsome man :)

In the yard of one of Pake's neighbors. Can you imagine the arguments here? McCain's sign was the closest to the road - I wonder if they argued whose sign could be the closest!

This week, we saw our first snow! Of course, with the first flakes, you must don your winter gear and run out to play! Nothing accumulated really, but there was enough slush on the deck to keep one 6 year old boy busy shovelling for a while (his, and my, favorite activity after a snow storm!) That evening we watched the Halloween Charlie Brown special (can't remember the name for the life of me now), while cuddled in front of our first fire of the year. I could have a fire every night :)

Then, of course, the big event this week was Halloween! I finished C's robe just in time (yes, I sewed the boys' robes, belts, and only O's shirt). O was Anikan Skywalker, and C was Obi Wan Kanobi. Yes, Star Wars is a big thing in our house these days!

The following pictures are from C's Halloween parade at his preschool on Thursday:
Thursday night, we headed up to Grammie and Grampie's for some early trick or treating. I didn't take enough pictures that night, but did capture this cute one of some boys with very luscious lips :)
Friday after lunch, we headed over for O's school Halloween parade. I was not prepared for how fast they make these kids move! So this very large (as you will see in a minute) pregnant Mama ran, found another spot in the crowd, and yelled his name to get a shot - the only shot.
Once O got off the bus, I drove him quick to get his weekly allergy shots. We came home, had a moment to breathe, before dressing the kids up for the town parade, which happens to be walking distance, even for me right now. My husband and I took mental notes, that 2 year olds just do not like Halloween! I have pictures of O crying as a cowboy, C (last year) crying as a Horse, and now this year, M was only happy in a backpack on Daddy's shoulders, with her "bobo and bankie" (pacifier and blanket). Thankfully, eventually she changed her mind :) It was silly in my mind to force her to put on her princess dress, so I put on a cow sweatshirt with her clothes she was already wearing. That way, if, and when, she changed her mind, I just put the hood up. Worked marvelously :)

30 weeks and counting!

Notice his handsome goatee! I guess someone reads my blog ;)
Hope you had a happy Halloween! My kids sure did, they are already talking about what to be next year!

Until next time :) So long!

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