Monday, December 21, 2009

It'll be the perfect ending to a perfect day

This weekend my dear friend Megan came to visit and her and another friend and I went to Marshal to shop.  Marshal is one of those towns that seems like it stepped out of a black and white film, especially at Christmas.  It was so fun, I love those little shops, bakeries, and antique stores it's such a welcome break from the cookie cutter shops and merchandise of the mall.   After our shopping day we went to a birthday party for another dear friend (it was a weekend of dear friends).  It reminded me of the line in sleigh ride that goes "There's a birthday party at the home of farmer grey, It'll be the perfect ending to a perfect day..." and while we didn't eat popcorn, pumpkin pie or tell ghost stories it was a nice ending to a nice day (Hunter beat her husband Mike at wii boxing that was very entertaining).  Makes the holidays seem so warm, does that make sense?

Sunday was the ugly sweater party.  A girl with a sweater with a row of cats followed by a row of hearts followed by a row of bows followed by a row flowers followed by a row of mice was narrowly defeated for best ugliest sweater by a girl with a sweater that looked like a sweater factory had thrown up on her.  It was good fun and we had a decent crowd and all the kids were friendly.  They brought a good amount of stuff for project santa which we'll deliver today.

I am busy every night which isn't really my style but it's all fun things.  I just hate that Christmas gets over so soon, I feel like I just got the decorations out.  I'd like to slow things down sit in front of my imaginary fire place, sip tea and embroider something (no I am not ninety.)  Oh well just have to enjoy the moments.

Friday, December 18, 2009

But nothing seemed very different at first.
There was the usual big mess all over the place--baby angels getting poked in the eye by other baby angels' wings and grumpy shepherds stumbling over their bathrobes.  The spotlight swooped back and forth and up and down till it made you sick at your stomach to look at it and, as usual, whoever was playing the piano pitched "Away in a Manger" so high we could hardly hear it, let alone sing it.  My father says "Away in a Manger" always starts out sounding like a closetful of mice.
From the Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

Sorry it's been a while but the christmas rush has descended upon my home in a full blown way.  That and we're all getting over another round of colds (yuck!)  We've been doing a lot lately the kids and I wrote letters to Santa and mailed them.  I've made one apron that I hope to show you and another that's almost done (but I can't show you right now for reasons...)  It's crazy last year I made five aprons for christmas plus cookies and dinners and all that, this year I'm making two and I can barely get it done, having a baby seriously impairs your ability to get things done especially things of the crafting nature.  I made spiced nuts and man did they smell good, I'm going to make another round of those Monday so maybe I'll show you some pics and recipes then (I can't make any promises as the rush is only getting faster).

And finally we had the christmas pageant and it was. . . fine.  Sorry for the let down, but nothing super hilarious or naughty happened by the children they were, well, little angles.  Hunter was especially good he sang and clapped and was very good.  It was funny though because before the play started there was mass chaos and baby angels were actually getting poked in the eye by the wings of other baby angels, I found that to be quite amusing.  I bought a copy of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for the three adults that did the most in the play (oh shoot I just thought of someone I forgot) and gave it to them as thank yous I really hope they read them because there were so many things in the book that I saw come to life right in our own multi purpose room.  Sorry there are no pictures but Brian said it was too dark the video didn't look very good, and I forgot the camera (bad mom!).

Friday, December 11, 2009

"... Joseph with his espoused wife Mary being great with child..."
"Pregnant!" Ralph yelled
Well.  That stirred things up.  All the big kids began to giggle and all the little kids wanted to know what was so funny, and mother had to hammer on the floor with a black board pointer.
"That's enough, Ralph," she said and went on with the story.
"I don't think it's very nice to say Mary was pregnant," Alice whispered to me
"But she was," I pointed out.  In a way though, I agreed with her.  It sounded too ordinary .  Anybody could be pregnant.  "Great with child" sounded better for Mary.
--From The Best Christmas Pageant Ever



Don't you love that the thing about Jesus that was so extraordinary was that he came to earth in the most ordinary way?  He was born just like you and me, he grew  up, went to school, had chores... he was a man and that in and of itself is just amazing; how God could do something like that how something so big could fit into something so small and so finite.  I have several people in my life right now that are pregnant (they're not "great with child" yet but they'll get there) and it just amazes me how life begins.  One cell one tiny little cell and in only a matter of weeks a heart beat, and in only a matter of months hands and feet, it just blows my mind.  I like science and I love the study of the natural world, but I guess I just see it different then most scientists, then the evolutionists.  The more I learn about the complexities of the universe the more I am convinced their absolutely has to be a God.  Every time I felt one of my babies kick in my womb I knew beyond a doubt that there was something bigger then me out there, it was all just too amazing.  The smell of pine needles and damp earth in the woods, the pictures of the galaxies and stars from the hubble telescope it just all points to one thing, God, and man is he an artist!!!  I am glad that we're not having any more babies but I will say having people close to me "expecting" makes me miss that feeling that there is something amazing going on inside my body, the freedom that my stomach getting bigger was a good thing the anticipation and nervousness about the looming due date.  It's certainly the strangest most special thing I have ever experienced.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

christmas cookies

Mother didn't expect to have anything to do with the Christmas pageant except to make me and my little brother Charlie be in it (we didn't want to) and to make my father go and see it (he didn't want to).
Every year he said the same thing--"I've seen the Christmas pageant."
"You haven't seen this year's christmas pageant," Mother would tell him.  "Charlie is a shepherd this year."
"Charlie was a shepherd last year. No. . . you go on and go.  I'm just going to put on my bathrobe and sit by the fire and relax.  There's never anything different about the Christmas pageant."
"There's something different this year," Mother said.
"Charlie is wearing your bathrobe."
So that year my father went. . . to see his bathrobe, he said.
--from the best christmas pageant ever.

Today we made sugar christmas cookies and decorated them.  I've been giving the kids a little incentive to be good each day and yesterday's was we would get to make and decorate christmas cookies.  I thought it would be a big hassle but it was actually fun, I mean you should see my kitchen it is a HUGE disaster but it was totally worth it.  This spending time together doing little things instead of tons of presents is making things seem sweeter, more special, and you know I think it's things like putting frosting all over that the kids are actually going to remember.

Speaking of Brian and I had our shopping trip yesterday and it was so great.  We went to Lansing so that  he could have me try this really great chicago style pizza (we're always trying different pizzas, we're on a quest to find the best pizza ever).  Did most of our shopping at target and then drove around for a really long time trying to find a kohl's until we decided to just come back home and go to our kohl's.  That ended up working out really well, except we were each allowed to get a new christmas outfit (something I actually need by the way) and I tried on half the store and bought nothing.  Man is that frustrating and it was hard to not let myself feel fatter then our mini-van.  But I didn't let it ruin our day.  We then went to good will to find ugly sweaters (we're having an ugly sweater xmas party with the youth group, I'll post pics of that when it happens) and boy did we find some, along with a pair of practically new boxing gloves which was something Brian and I had looked all over for for Hunter, how cool is that?  Thanks God.  Turns out it was a good thing we came back when we did because it just started snowing and blowing and today it looks like the upper peninsula!!  It was weird and hard cutting back on Hunter I kept saying "I feel like he needs one more thing." but listen to this from proverbs 1:19 "So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of it's owners."  Yikes what are we inadvertently teaching our kids about greed?  Just a thought one that helped me keep things in perspective.  And we did get him some fun things and some great stocking stuffers because for my money stocking are the most fun.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

advent conspiracy

I love Christmas, I really do, but sometimes after it's all over I'm left with this feeling, like I'm not really capturing what Christmas is, kind of like Charlie Brown in his special.  I mean I know about Jesus' birth, in fact I know the story inside and out it's just sometimes the rush comes so fast and then it's gone it's done and what am I left with?  Our church is doing a series this year called "advent conspiracy" and it's spectacular.  It is trying to bring back the scandal of christmas, trying to show us how christmas can still change the world.  It encourages us to spend less, give more of ourselves, and really worship the Lord.  I think it is especially piongaint in our consumerist society and in this economy when so many of our own are going with out.  Did you know that bad drinking water is the number one cause of deaths in underprivaledged countries, and guess what it would only cost 10 billion dollars to give EVERYONE clean drinking water by drilling wells etc.  That sounds like a lot until you find out that americans spent 450 billion dollars on christmas just last year!!!!  It staggers me, and makes me feel so ashamed.

Brian and I are jumping in this year and I can't tell  you how much I'm enjoying myself.  Our christmas tree is actually a real charlie brown christmas tree (I found it at meijers) and it's perfect because it fits up in my plant stand so Conner can't get a hold of it, Hunter loves it because he loves Charlie Brown (he keeps going up to it and waving his hands like in the movie I think he expects it to change into a full tree) and it doesn't take away from my other decorations, but most of all when I look at the tree I remember "less is more" and I think about Linus up on that stage telling the story of Christ's birth.  Brian and I are not buying each other gifts instead we are spending the day together christmas shopping for the boys and I am so excited, jut to be with him all day!!! It's what I'm looking forward to most this year (it's calling for snow storms so please pray that we can go) we're going to take the boys driving to look at lights, I've made our neighbors cookies, and have done a lot of sibling shopping on line to get good deals and save on stress.  We're taking our money and buying a farm animal for a family through either project heifer or compassion international.  They take the animal and teach a family in a third world country how to care for it etc.  The youth group adopted a family from the community to buy christmas dinner for and presents for their kids.

I'm not telling you all this to sound awesome but to let you know how fun it is!!  And it is fun, and more then that something I can't describe like I'm somehow getting a glimpse of the magic of christmas for the first time.  I've heard about it; every pop star around sings about it but maybe I'm finally seeing it like I did when I was a kid.

The best christmas book is "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" I read it every year and she says something in there that really hit me this year,
"When Imogene had asked me what the pageant was about, I told her it was about Jesus, but that was ust part of it.  It was about a new baby, and his mother and father who were in a lot of trouble--no money, no place to go, no doctor, nobody they knew.  And then, arriving from the east some rich friends.  But Imogene I guess, didn't see it that way.  Christmas just came over her all at once, like a case of chills and fever.  And so she was crying..."

You know we could be that rich relative to an entire world, we have the money the resources and we have the Lord.  But mostly I hope that Christmas will come over you all at once this year, that we can all begin to see what the Christ child really was.

Please check out these websites:

Monday, December 7, 2009

peanut butter sandwiches

Thank you friends and family who read this blog, who listen to me blather on and on.  I hope you know how much your comments mean to me!!

All right now, most of you are either parents or soon going to be parents and I have a question for you.  Do you have a mission statement for your parenting?  Before your head explodes let me say I do not... have never even thought about it at least not in those terms, but I'm taking a parenting Sunday school class and this is one of our over all assignments; to come up with a parenting mission statement.  It sounds so incredibly intimidating doesn't it?  I mean I spend most of my day running from one fire to another, making peanut butter sandwiches and changing diapers, I'm not sure I have the energy or time to come up with something like a mission statement.  And what if I do?  I then have something written down that I'm suppose to accomplish on top of the peanut butter sandwiches and what if I can't manage it all?

But then maybe I'm thinking about it wrong, maybe it doesn't have to be something huge or grand.  I mean I obviously want to raise healthy children who can function and contribute in society.  I want them to walk away from my home with a strong faith that is their own not mine.  And I want Brian and my house to be a place they always look forward to coming back to.  Maybe it would be good to write down exactly what Brian and I want to accomplish as parents maybe it will give us direction as we go along, maybe peanut butter sandwiches aren't enough.  It's scary though, I mean children aren't puzzles (as long as you put all the right pieces together it turns out) eventually they make their own decisions and think their own things, there is so much that is not in our control it almost seems like putting down what I hope to accomplish is just setting us up for failure.  Yet I know this is cowardly because I see parents living like this all the time, in the big and small things and it drives me nuts.  They don't encourage their kids not to have sex before marriage because "they're just going to do it anyway" (which isn't always true I know for a fact) they let their small children go to bed when ever they want even if it's eleven p.m. because they don't want to fight, they let their kids eat sugar all day because they just don't want to have rules or be the bad guy or listen to whining, they give up on grades etc...If you have expectations for your children they may not live up to them they may disappoint you and they most certainly will make mistakes BUT if you don't have any expectations at all then they will live up to that and you will have only yourself to blame.

All that being said I want to reach out to you all and ask; what is it that you hope to come from your short time as a parent?  What did you hope for your children while they were growing up and what were and are your dreams for your family?  If your children are grown what are some pitfalls the rest of us can avoid?  Thank you for being part of this awesome, huge, and scary adventure known as being a mom and dad.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

loosing weight for "good"

Today I am going to talk about an idea that I stole and then adapted from weight watchers.  I am not currently doing weight watchers although I have learned a lot from them and am using a lot of their ideas, It's just that I was paying for a service I wasn't really using that much.

Any way, I have always had trouble motivating myself to loose.  I mean I was in my sister's wedding this summer and lost only a fraction of the weight that I could have before I had to squeeze into that strapless gown (how gruesome).  So I have been thinking, what is something that will work, what can I do to give myself that extra push?  Well weight watchers does this thing where you get sponsors to give money for each pound lost (kind of like in an elementary school reading program) and then the money goes to a national food bank program or something.  That got me thinking of change jars and I came up with my own loosing weight for "good".  I am not asking people for money I have always hated that and am a terrible sales person (I had a hard time selling girl scout cookies as a brownie and those things practically sell them selves, not a hard time eating them though).  But why am I overweight?  Because I eat more calories then I work off.  Whether you are a low carb, low fat, vegetarian what ever... the basic science of weight is calorie intake vs. calorie burn.  If you burn off what you take in then your weight stays the same.  To put it even simpler I am overweight because at some point I ate more then my body needed to do what I do all day.  So I eat too much, and yet there are people in my community who don't have enough food who are just scrapping by and in this current economy my local food banks are going dry.  What if I put a jar on my dresser and each time I loose a pound I put a dollar in the jar and when I get a good amount, say every ten dollars, I donate it to my local food bank or shelter?

So this is what I've been doing.  It's an experiment to see if someone else's needs will motivate me since obviously the thought of me in a bikini is just way too far fetched at this point to do it.  It's working pretty good so far; for one thing my favorite and most dangerous time to eat is after the kids are in bed while I'm watching t.v. in our room.  It's the only time of day when it's quiet and I can have my food all to myself with out sharing and we eat dinner so early I'm hungry again by seven or eight.  Having a snack isn't bad unless it's ice cream and cookies which is what I always want.  I see that jar and I think "ok I'll have a graham cracker instead" and there is currently four dollars in there which is pretty cool to see, it's better then the tiny little increments on the scale and it sort of makes me want to "keep it up" certainly I don't want to take any money out.

This coupled with my new way of thinking about health and my body (mentioned in this blog a couple of days ago) I hope that I will start to see and feel a difference in me.  So lets call it the jar challenge, and I'm opening it up to any one who wants to help out and loose a few pounds.  This is NOT for those of you who are pregnant and being paranoid about your weight; your baby is more important then your thighs right now believe me (by all means feel free to give to your local food banks but don't make it about your weight) you know who you are... But for those of us who have already had a couple of kids and have a little more weight on us then that warrants lets' give it a try.  It doesn't have to be a dollar you could do a quarter or any denomination and if you don't want to take the money out every ten pounds then don't, you could do it every month, or leave it in there until you hit a different goal what ever.  But Maybe someone else's needs can get us going and help restore a little balance in our lives and in our communities, and if we all loose together and give together then we can make a real difference to a family right in our own back yard.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanks Giving Bloat

Well Thanksgiving is over and I am left feeling bloated and unhealthy, and also craving sweets like crazy.  "No brain, down, stop you can't eat an entire bag of chocolate chips!!"  Oh well such is the aftermath of days filled with wonderful food and glorious deserts.  I am embarking on a new mindset, one in which I don't beat my self up for days over the extra slice of pie or the late night pizza of the holidays but instead just go right back to eating as healthy as I find possible.  Yesterday may have been a calorie overload but today I am going to make sure I get my four to five servings of fruits and vegetables, I am going to make myself eat something healthy like an apple before I indulge in the chocolate chips, maybe then my brain will begin to rewire itself.  I feel like I can make small changes which hopefully will add up to bigger losses when it comes to the scale, but my new mindset also dictates that I think less about scale numbers and more about the health of my body, the vitamins and minerals and antioxidants that I am putting into my one and only body.  And thankfully my wonderful husband doesn't seem to notice my bigger thighs and sagging boobs, he thinks a big butt is more butt for him to ogle.  Praise God for that man and his blurry vision when it comes to me!!!

Thanksgiving was wonderful and visiting with my parents was great.  I love and miss them so much the only problem with their visits is it makes it so much harder being away from them.  The one thing that I hold on to is the fact that we'll be going out there in a month for christmas (oh crap christmas is in a month!! How will I ever get everything done!!)  I have so much to be thankful for.  Remember that object lesson from when you were a kid and you would trace your hand and make it into a turkey?  Then you would right something in each finger space that you were thankful for?  Well I have way more then four or five things but I will give you five anyway:  God and my spirituality, my husband and sweet sweet boys, my mom dad and sisters who bring me comfort and laughter, my friends who listen to me jabber on and on, my grammy and papa who delight my heart...I have amazing aunts and uncles and a great church, I get to stay at home with my kids and watch a dear little girl, I have a cozy home and a little spending money, couple that with the fact that the christmas season is upon us and I am overwhelmed with gratitude.  Thank you Jesus for all you've given this pretty unremarkable person.

One last little thought to bring this blog fully into the christmas holiday.  When you see the words "happy holidays" plastered on signs and cards don't get bent out of shape.  The word "holiday" means "holy day" and that is a great reminder that christmas isn't about presents and stress it is a holy day set aside to celebrate the birth of our saviour.  Also it isn't a bad thing to respect the other holy days of jewish chanukah; in a way we christians are their offspring, jewish spiritual history is our spiritual history, after all Jesus would have celebrated chanukah as well as his birth day.

Last year christmas morning

Monday, November 23, 2009

Welcome back to the Land of the Living

Well the flue is finally behind us.  I hate getting sick because it doesn't just end with you no matter how careful you are, no matter how many times you sanitize someone else is going to get sick and then someone else after them.  Brian ended up catching it at almost the same time as me so there we were sick as dogs with no one to watch the children.  Although we did have a couple of friends and neighbors who ended up taking a kid here for a couple hours and making us dinner there, thank goodness for the kindness of others.

Hunter watched way too much television and ate way to many weird dinners, poor kid.  He was the only one who managed to come out of it almost clean, he ran a very low fever for a couple of days but I don't think he even noticed.  Conner ran a fever for a good five days and they both ended up with runny noses which was a little strange since that's not what happened to Brian and I.  We really missed Maddie because apparently she is a baby entertainer, Conner was sooooo needy and now today she's back and he's his happy little self again.

Now it seems to finally have ran it's course and while I'm still getting tired easy I think we're finally back to normal.  Of course I had to dig our way out of the house, especially the bedroom where we had been living, and since we had done nothing but lay around I finally was inspired to get out the christmas decorations which I know is early for some but late for me.  I like to get it out because I always dust really well, so everything seems clean and it's just a nice break from my regular decorations.  I love Christmas anyway but it's good because when I take christmas down in a couple of months I'll have a greater appreciation for all of my other decorations, books and tea pots etc.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Things I love about White Christmas

Oh man this movie is good.  It's romantic, cheesy and funny a perfect combination.  Don't you just love all the dancing and awesome costumes?  And I love that the women all wear pearls, even the granddaughter susan wears them.  There is this one scene where Betty is wearing the cutest shoes ever, I mean they look totally uncomfortable but man are they cute.  And I love the scene where Davis and Betty's sister, Judy, are dancing out side in Florida, it's hilarious.  they dance on a pier with a convenient slidy thing and do a tap dance on top of an upside down canoe!!  It seriously does not get better then that.  I am convinced that if we sang and danced our way through life it would be a lot more fun and way more romantic.

Then in the end when the general walks into the dining room and all of his men fall to attention...I cry every time.  He does inspection and goes on about how they're "sloppy and unruly etc." then he says "it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen" tears running down my face!  And of course then at the very end it finally snows saving the major general's ski resort, and a horse and sleigh go by... and you really can't beat Bing Crosby singing White Christmas can you?

Judy and her dance partner look so happy when they're dancing, man I wish I could dance (I can fall really well, dance not so much) They do not make movies like this any more.

I've got the flue

Oh I should have added a bottle of Canadian Dry to this picture.

I've got the flue, or something broncial/ fever/ my hips are aching sooo bad.  Plus of course if I'm sick (or tired, or thirsty, or have watched too much tv) I also have a headache.  Please don't feel too bad for me, I feel a lot better then I did yesterday and I'm hoping I'll feel even better tomorrow.  Really the worst thing with being sick is the paranoia that every one else in the house is going to catch it.  I hate hate having sick children, it makes me feel so completely helpless and super on edge because they aren't old enough to get to the bathroom on time, or tell me what's wrong.  Then there's the problem of wondering "should I take them to the doctors?" it's just horrible.  I would rather be sick ten times then have my kids get sick.  I don't like it when Brian's sick either, he's hard to take care of and then I get tired from dealing with the kids (isn't that horrible to say?) all by myself.  All this to say that I know a lot of women who's husbands aren't that good at managing the house with out them or realizing when they're wives really are ill but my husband is so good at taking care of me, which is probably not that easy because I am a baby when I'm sick (our roles must be reversed in this area) I am a winer when I don't feel good, and if I'm running a fever I cry a lot, it's like my body temperature is directly related to my tear ducts.

Today we had planned a youth event that we were going to take Hunter too and already had a babysitter lined up for conner, so that ended up working out as well as it could.  I get to be at home a lone with a big pile of christmas movies.  I'm hoping that they'll finally get me motivated to decorate and sew (I love christmas but it's been so warm here I keep forgetting that it's already November).  And Conner's babysitter, a friend of mine from church just called to say she's making us dinner isn't that so sweet?  I mean for someone that's not even your mom or grandma to take care of you like that?  That's the church family in action.

So now, after sanitizing all the toys, books, door knobs, and surfaces, after putting all the pacifiers, bottles, and sippy cups through the bottle sanitizer I have to decide what to watch.  I'll probably go with Irving Berlin's White Christmas because I can get Brian or the kids to watch the other ones with me but he really hates White Christmas and I love it.  I consider the movies in the above photo to be the best Christmas movies ever (I'm even having a hard time accepting that there is a new Christmas Carol coming out because I love the muppits so much).  What are your favorite christmas movies?  If you haven't tried The Muppits Christmas Carol, you really should it's brilliant and I think that It's a Wonderful Life is actually one of the best movies ever made.

Well I'm exhausted it's off to a cup of ginger ale and a nap, then a movie, I hope all your days are germ free!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Am I Crazy?

Let the crazy begin!!

Maddie is always such a good helper

The answer is yes I am crazy in a million different ways but today's query centers on one issue.  I have a scheduling problem and while I love quiet I must subconsciously love chaos because I keep adding more and more to my life.  I am not complaining I am actually quite happy right now but I can tell you one thing for sure I am super glad I never had twins.

Let me explain, first my neighbor recently decided to quit her job and be a stay at home mom (good for her I mean this is the one of the best things she'll ever do for her kids) but she needs someone to watch her daughter (a baby younger then Conner) one day a week.  The are offering amazing pay and I think it will be great for Conner...eventually; right now it's just crazy.  I mean I seriously do not know how mothers of twins could do it, let alone bigger multiple births.  They aren't being bad but it's just hard, you have two non-walking babies who want to eat, burp, cry and be held at the same time.  And on top of that I offered to let my other neighbor's new puppy out once a day not really thinking how all of this would collide at the same time.  It's like the perfect storm of crazy.  (And yesterday I totally offered to babysit while forgetting I was having guests for dinner, seriously what is wrong with me?)  But you know what it all worked out and it's only once a week when it all happens at once.  The extra money is going to be really nice, just for fun, "mad money" God really watches out for us doesn't he I mean after complaining about the grocery budget "bam" he provides with the extra money.

I have a couple of things I keep meaning to write about:
conspiracy advent
the jar on my dresser
and coffee club

maybe this list will remind me when I can't think of what to say and hopefully wet your appetite to stay tuned or at least make you wonder what goes on in my brain.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


This is a magic truck box, and tasty  fingers.

It is sooo warm here!!! I know I keep going on and on but any of you that have lived in Michigan or the upper midwest states know how wonderfully strange it is.  I mean it is Nov 10 or 11th (I'm not really sure) and I was sweating outside at noon.  The sun it out, the sky is blue, I mean this is just such a blessing.

I've been wanting to have a tiny garden (veggie)  for the last couple of years but always put it off until it's too late to start.  Really I bought a book about organic gardening with children and it freaked me out so much,  I was like "What how on earth can I remember all of this?" plus the part on pests was way too scary for me.  So I thought, why don't I start small with just a couple of things, sort of ignore the book and do it the best I can and see what happens.  We took down this playskool house of the kids and it was a perfect square of dead grass so I got inspired while we were outside and dug it up!! I am going to add in some coffee grounds for texture (lome?) and go to the store and just buy some fertilizer and grub killer sort of get it ready for the spring (we'll just pretend it's organic), and oh I am going to plant strawberries there because we LOVE them and if it works out and there is enough I can make some jam.  I also have another square of dead grass and started to dig that up for carrots and radishes or something only to find electrical lines; oops!!! I've been thanking God that I didn't go up in flames or short out the neighborhood (really how stupid even after all the advertisements about not digging I still didn't think about it).  I'm also hoping to get raspberry bushes in the spring because those are my absolute favorite and they're just so darn expensive in the store. But I feel like I can handle that; bushes and one square patch of strawberries...

This is what my flower garden looks like today in NOVEMBER!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Indian Summer

This is what Conner did during "Indian Summer"

What do you think?  Pretty dapper in his glasses, am I right?

Oh my goodness it is absolutely heavenly here.  I mean it was so warm saturday and sunday I was outside without a jacket!!!  I think it was in the sixties, can you imagine it's November and we're outside running around like it's May?  I know the ick and snow is coming so this was wonderful it felt like such a huge blessing to be outside and using the new swing set.  We used the opportunity to get the leaves bagged up and then I did the yearly climb to the roof to clean out the gutters (Brian is afraid of heights and I kind of like the challenge).  The part that scares me the most is the climbing off the roof it's just a little frightening taking that first step onto the ladder.

Hunter got his glasses Friday and every one says he looks totally cute.  He's been really good about keeping on them his face so maybe he can tell that he's seeing better.  When you get a new eye prescription everything looks weird Hunter dealt with this by stomping around the office, falling down (on purpose) and totally entertaining everyone there.

Here's a question for you what do you do with a kid who starts punishing himself?  Saturday Brian was in the shower and I was laying in bed trying to get up when I heard Hunter say "Dad, I'm in the naughty chair!" he kept calling him until Brian went to him "dad I ripped that" pointing to a envelope "so I'm in the naughty chair." And then today he had two accidents he looks at me after the second shrugs his shoulders and says "Oh well, no wii." (which is his punishment if you wee in your pants then no wii for the rest of the day).  It's pretty funny, although, the accidents themselves are getting old.  Hunter loves the show Kipper the dog.  Kipper is an english dog and today Hunter comes up to me and says "I'm packing to go on holiday." I thought that was hilarious!!  What would Hunter take on "holiday": a wooden box, a stuffed bear, a red mat, one cymbal and one maraca.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


This apple was huge!!!  And look at these cute helpers, they kept sneaking apples out of the pot when my back was turned.

Isn't my red dutch oven thingy so pretty and fall looking?

Finished product, I used those tongs to get them out of the water, it worked but not well I totally stuck my finger into boiling water.

I did it I canned something successfully!!!  Oh I can see how canning could become totally addictive especially with the right tools (which I did not have).  I made my holiday spice apple sauce out of some awesome and huge apples from Gull Meadow Farms, but since it's homemade I wanted it to keep and thought hey why not try canning?  My only other attempt years ago was a disaster but this worked out great.  I love that little "ping" when the seal took to the jars.

The secret to my holiday spice apple sauce is the right kind of apples (spys and jonathans) cinnamon, sugar and cloves (just a bit a little cloves goes a long long way) yummy.  It's like a grown up version of apple sauce although, my kids liked it too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Today I made pie. I love pie I think that is the principal reason that I finally buckled down and went through the hell it is to learn to make pie crust. I don't care what pillsbury says there is something off about their crust. My Grammy has always been the alfa pie maker in our family followed closely by my Aunt Debbie, who, I'm told, once spent two days in the kitchen making and throwing out pie crusts until she got it right (I also imagine there was a lot of swearing going on during those two days) but she like me was able to look into the future and think that someday someone else beside Grammy would need to know how to make a decent pie (not to be dramatic or morbid). Also as good as Grammies pies are, I like pie so much that in order to get my fill I had to learn to make it myself because there are never enough family get-togethers to warrant getting Grammy to make me enough pie. Plus this gives me a skill that makes cool and invaluable to my dad and sisters.

My favorite pie is raspberry, which has two crusts and tons of raspberries which are more expensive then gold at the grocery store.  Grammy always made me at least one a summer (my Grandpa had raspberry bushes) and would cut my first initial out of the top crust so it could vent.  Oh mama there is nothing better tasting in the entire world then a warm piece of raspberry pie with vanilla ice cream!!  I went years without getting a raspberry pie, then last summer my dad and I discovered wild berries where they live while Grammy was visiting; jackpot!!  I managed to get one this summer as well.  After raspberry it's hard to choose between dutch apple, pumpkin (my sister heather's favorite), pecan (my mom's favorite) peanut butter (my dad's favorite or is his favorite key lime?)...Oh how I love pie!!

Luckily, or not depending on how you look at it, my husband does not like pie (I think it's lucky or I would weigh a lot more) so I only make them if I'm having company.  Today is a potluck at church and I always sign up to bring desert (because beyond pie I love dessert and baking in general) so since it's fall and my fridge is full of apples I am taking apple and pumpkin.

below is my recipe for pie crust, it's a good tasting recipe as long as you use the off brand crisco because it still has trans-fats which must make the crust light and flaky.  Since crisco changed their recipe their crusts are horribly tough.  Some things are just better with a little trans-fat.  I wish I could say that you will never have problems with a pie crust if you follow these instructions but it's just not true.  You will swear and stomp your feet as your learning and you will piece crusts together (at least I still do) but I think it is well worth the pain.  You will be an enigma if you make your own crust, I'm pretty sure I'm one of like only three people my age that can make a pie crust.  Don't worry about how it looks at first it's the taste that really matters I've been making them for four or five years now and mine are only just now becoming consistently pretty.  And remember the number one rule is don't over work it, stir it less then you think you should.

Simple Pastry
makes one 9 inch double crust pie
2 1/2 Cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 stick of butter chilled
1/2 Cup vegetable shortening
1 egg
1 Tbs vinegar

In a food processor (if your lucky enough to have one) or with a pastry blender or your fingers combine the flour salt butter and shortening until you get crumbs that are about the size of peas (don't over think it).  Break the egg into a measuring cup and beat in the vinegar add enough cold water to equal 1/2 cup.  Stir into flour mixture until a soft dough forms (don't over stir you will still have flour hanging out on its own on the bottom of the bowl). Divide dough in half wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk, refrigerate for at least one hour. (The vinegar and refrigerating will make it a little easier to work with and roll out, and allow you to store the crust if you only use one half; you can store the other in the fridge for a couple days or in a plastic bag in the freezer for three months, partially thaw before rolling it out.)

I have a theory that a persons favorite pie can tell you a lot about their personality.  I'm sweet, a little tart and full of crazy (the seeds), so what about you are you spicy and warm like pumpkin, a little nutty like pecan or just plain weird and alien by not liking pie at all?  Let's see if my pie personality idea is correct.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A True Tale of Two Sisters

Luke 10:41-42
"'Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better'"
Where do I even begin?  I have read this story in the gospel a thousand times and every time it just rubs me the wrong way.  I am a Martha, I think I have been a Martha from the womb.  I totally connect and understand Martha in this story and I've always been, if I can be frank, a little annoyed with Jesus and his response to her.  Let me just say I'm pretty sure Martha was the oldest, any of you out there that are the oldest girl in your family will know what I am talking about.  I have two sisters one of which in particular is a Mary with no hint of Martha in her at all.  I know exactly how Martha was feeling as she peeled potatoes, set the table and got ready for all of these guests in her house.  My blood pressure actually goes up while I imagine her getting more and more angry that her baby sister is just sitting there not doing a darn thing to help.  I mean "hello, can you not see Martha doing all the work!!!  At least get up and put the stupid plates on the table."  So here is my journey through this passage (with a little help from Beth Moore and the Holy Spirit).

John 11:5 tells us that Jesus loved them both.  Now going back to my sibling problem I can see this turning into a Jesus loved Mary more thing, and no that is not what is going on here at all.  As a mother there are times when I have to reprimand one of my children, it doesn't mean I love the other one more.  And let's keep in mind that Martha is the one that invited Jesus in, not her brother not Mary.  It is the Martha's of this world that think to do those kind of things, she was not bad.  This passage is not about good vs. bad it is about good vs. better.  Oswald chambers wrote: "The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough.  The good is always the enemy of the best." It took me a while to wrap my brain around what he was saying, I think what he was saying was; doing something that is good can often distract and keep us from doing what we are really suppose to be doing.  Let me use an example from my life, I like a clean organized house with three little ones, a dog, and a husband running around it takes a lot of time to keep it this way.  There is nothing wrong with a clean home in fact it can help keep us healthy and keep our stuff from getting broken, but all too often I find my answers to Hunter's pleas for my attention as "not now I'm busy, not now I have to get these dishes done."  Having a clean home is good, and Hunter learning to play and entertain himself is good too but one day he will be grown, I know that what is more important than a clean house is a relationship with my son.  Sometimes I have to let the dishes pile up and the beds go unmade in order to do what's best.

"Sometimes ministry can be the biggest distraction to the pursuit of true intimacy with God.  God's Word is saying that if we're not careful, even our need-meeting, well-meaning ministries can distract us from what is most important."  I think that this is one of our biggest dangers as women, we are wired to take care of things, that is why women are mothers and not fathers; if something happened to me the children's nails would never get cut, the toilet paper would never get replaced and the clothes would never get put in the dressers.  Likewise I'm sure we could each think of at least one thing that would not get done in our church buildings and for our church services if we women just didn't do it.  But these things are not the same as having a relationship with Jesus.  Service is important James says "faith without works is dead" but it is not the same as sitting down and spending time with the Lord.   Remember "if Satan can't make us bad he'll make us busy."

The issue with Martha wasn't that she was preparing a meal for the Lord "the issue is that she continued all her duties when the time came to sit at Christ's feet and listen." I am so glad the Beth Moore brought this up because one of the things I really hate is when people don't prepare properly for something in a church service and then act like they were doing the Spirit a favor by giving him extra "room" to work.  God is NOT honored by procrastination or laziness, of course there will be times when the Spirit moves you away from something you worked hard on, but he isn't asking you to not work, more often he will bless your hard work by working through that.  The word preparation has the beginning "pre" this means before.  The work is to be done before not during, there is a time to work and a time to sit.  Why is it that we know we need the Lord but when we get super busy and stressed the first thing to go is our time with him?  It's as if we're saying "yes you created me and saved me but you understand how busy I am let's reschedule." Well I had a very very close friend, we practically lived with each other during high school but when we got to college she couldn't say no to other people.  That meant that if we had something planned but one of her more "needy" friends had hurt feelings, or a bad day our thing would get called off.  At first I liked that we were that close and comfortable with each other; that we knew each others needs and I truly didn't want to make her life more stressful but after a while I began to wonder did she not want to spend time with me?  I clearly wasn't as important to her as every one else and I got tired of always making the first move, eventually we spent less and less time together and now we barely even talk on the phone.  Let us make sure that that is not how we treat our Lord!

One last thing, the scriptures don't tell us if Martha ever actually asked for help, maybe she did but I'm thinking she was thinking "I shouldn't have to ask" because that is exactly what I would be thinking.  You know sometimes we should ask for help, I'm guessing most of our husbands and most of the Marys we know would help they just need a little more direction and prodding.  My Grammy always says "many hands make light work" that is true.

There is nothing wrong with being a "Martha" within the correct parameters.  Lazarus was the head of the house, Mary, the depth of the house, but it was the hands of the house that invited Jesus in.  Otherwise Mary wouldn't have had a set of feet at which to sit and Lazarus wouldn't have had a friend with which to recline.  Jesus wants our service but he wants our hearts more.  Right priorities will never choose us, we must choose "Mary has chosen what is better."  Let us not allow good to become the enemy of our best.

Friday, October 30, 2009

email problems

I thought that when I published a new post that it was sending everyone in my email list something that said "jessie has published a new post" with a link, I just found out that it is actually sending my post to your inbox.  This feels really pushy and forward to me I am so sorry I had no idea that was happening.  I am going to ask a friend how she manages things like that I don't know if it's even possible to change it but please know I am working on the problem.  My friend who let me know this was happening told me that sometimes she doesn't get the entire post like pictures and videos and stuff and lets be honest that's the most exciting part.  If you don't want my posts clogging up your inbox I totally understand just email me and I will take your address off the list, (this will not hurt my feelings) if you like getting them in your inbox then enjoy until further notice.

Meanwhile back at the homestead...
The leaves are falling down like crazy and when it's not raining (which is like two days in the last week, do we live in Seattle or something) it is beautiful.

This is what it looked like when I started raking

Every time I turned around this one was chewing on leaves, yummy!

Mom you have a leaf in your hair!

awww aren't they cute

This is why I had kids to do the work!!

And this is what it looked like three hours later when Brian got home!!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nacho Chicken & Rice Wraps

Today's dinner is brought to you by the Campbell's Classic Recipes book.  Today we are having Nacho Chicken & Rice Wraps which you make in the crock pot.  I'm not sure why I feel the need to tell you about my crock pot recipes except that it is just so rewarding to do a little work in the morning and have a hot yummy dinner ready in the evening with hardly any mess!  I had to thaw the chicken in the microwave and didn't notice that I forgot to plug in the crock pot so I turned it up to high for a couple of hours hopefully it will catch up.  Below is the recipe (with my additions and tweaks of course).

2 Cans Campbell's condensed nacho cheese soup (they call for regular cheddar cheese soup but I find this has more flavor)
1 Cup of Water
2 Cups of Salsa (I use medium and the Meijers all natural thick and chunky which is one of the best salsas I've had in a long long time, but if your wimpy then use mild)
1 1/4 cups uncooked regular long-grain brown rice (I think this means not minute I hope so or this won't be ready until saturday and you could use white too it's just not as healthy)
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I used three big ones) cut into cubes
10 flour tortillas (10 inch)
In a slow cooker combine soup, water, salsa, rice and chicken.  Cover and cook on low 7 to 8 hours or until chicken and rice are done.  Spoon about one cup rice mixture down center of each tortilla.  Fold opposite sides of tortilla over filling,  Roll up from bottom.  Cut each wrap in half.

I just now looked over and noticed that the dog was trying to bury a piece of gross raw chicken I gave him in the couch cushions; dogs are so gross!!  I mean really ranger, did you think I wouldn't notice the smell of rotting chicken in a couple of weeks?

So what do you think?  She's a little taller but they sure make a cute couple.

So yesterday Maddie (the little girl I babysit for) said the funniest thing.  She leaned way in to Hunter and said "Hunter I want you to listen carefully to what I say, don't understand me...I want to marry you because I love you very much." Oh my gosh!! could the two of them be any cuter?  Hunter was watching Clifford the Big Red Dog and it got to his favorite part (the speckles story) he pumped his arm in the air like he was watching a game and went "yah a speckles story" in this high squeaky voice.  Oh man for as much as they make me want to scream they sure do make me laugh.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Cottage in the Snowy Woods

Tahquameonan Falls is Beautiful even in the rain

I know I promised photos from the UP and you may just get your wish because today I want to talk about living in the city vs. the woods.  I know that the UP and this topic don't necessarily go hand-in-hand but I believe the reason that this is on my mind is because I was just in the upper peninsula and well it is one of the prettiest places on earth, more on that later.

Ok so lately I've been dreaming about living in the country.  My parents always talked about this when we were kids, how they wanted a house in the country, and I always thought they were crazy; who cares where your house is right?  Well now I am older and wiser and more tired and frankly a little peace and quiet would be oh so nice.  Now I don't want God to think that I'm second guessing his blessing for us in this house because I'm not.  Brian and I wanted to live in town, the last house we had was way out in nowheresville but was not quiet (we had a highway on one side and a turnpike on the other) and was not dark because of the street lights.  We also had our car broken into because of people coming off the turnpike, plus there were no trees just corn fields.  So we lived way out in the country with none of the perks and all of the hassle (no pizza delivery namely).

All that being said there are great things about where we live.  First of all I love our house, it's small and the kitchen is way too small the bathroom still needs to be re-done and I'll have to paint next spring, but I love it.  It's a good size for us and has loads of character, our living room floor is wood and shines so nicely.  We have a fenced in yard and great neighbors who look out for us love our kids and come over to visit.  It's nice having tree lined streets and sidewalks to go down with the dog.  When I do walk the dog people are so friendly (there is something about a floppy eared dog that black, white, old, young, middle and lower class all love).  There are a couple of parks within walking distance (one that they are redoing as we speak) and some really nice ones within driving distance.  And if I am in the middle of baking and discover that I'm out of butter (this happens way too frequently) I can run to the store...

But maybe if you grow up in the woods it gets in your blood and you just can't seem to really thrive if your not in the trees.  There is that smell of pine and the soft way it feels under your feet.  The way the wind whispers through the tree tops, the sound of a creek gurgling happily.  The deer that roam into your yard, the occasional fox and oh the birds!!  I discovered I wanted to be a writer in the woods behind my house as a kid.  There was this tree that leaned out across the creek and I would lay on it on my stomach and watch the water go past and think how magical it all was, especially when the snow was beginning to melt, it just looked exactly like Narnia should look.  I took Brian there last summer, it was sad that it wasn't mine any more.

I know what I want and I'm willing to wait, I understand once the kids are in school living in town will be a lot more convenient, nothing huge just a bit bigger then the house we have now.  It will be nestled in the woods next to a small lake that I can kayak on.  It will have a bigger bedroom for Brian and I so that we can have a real bed with a head board.  The bathroom is going to have a footed tub and there will also be a half bath for those times when you need a second toilet (I do have a second toilet now but it's just in the laundry room right out in open; isn't that funny)?  A front porch in the front and a three seasons type room in the back.  A sewing room with tons of light where I can have everything organized and not have to put the sewing machine away every time the creative bug hits me (if your interested in seeing the perfect sewing room check out  And the kitchen will be bigger!  Big enough for a dishwasher and table and chairs.  And last but not least I would really like a fire place to curl up in front of during the winter.  I know it's crazy and I am happy with what I have now but I can dream can't I...I think it's worse right now too because I have this "Currier and Ives" vision of a quiet snow covered forest that I can cross country ski in and it would be so hushed so quiet.  My life is filled with lots of noise and I'm sure that you totally miss it once the kids are gone, but for now I'll dream of a quiet home filled with the smell of gingerbread and a lake right outside my window.