Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Sweet Girls

Last night I was lying in bed thankful for my family.  I feel very aware of how blessed I am.  There is much to be thankful for, and today I am thankful for my girls.  I have the privilege of being their mama.

One of the things that makes me very thankful is that they are just normal.  Normal little girls.  They are extraordinary to me, but to most they are just normal or average.  I am good with that.  In the past I think I wanted them to be above average, the smartest, the tallest, the best swimmer.  Recently I have thought I just want them to be kind.  Kindness is a wonderful virtue to possess, and it is also a work and fruit of the Holy Spirit's work in their lives.  Who cares if you a genius and a jerk?  And the likelihood of my children (or their friends) being a genius is slim...I mean, how many geniuses are there in the world?

Let me say, my girls have moments...sometimes hours.  But overall I think my girls are very kind, and it is wonderful to watch.  Annelise is so aware of children who are littler than she is.  When kids are over to our house she watched out for the little ones.  If they loose their sippy cups, she finds them.  She shares her toys with them and includes them in her play.  I think that is rare for a 3 year old.  HC does the same thing too.  Our neighbor's little boy is almost 2 and they love to play with him and pick flowers for him, and share their swings with him.  It is impressive.

They are so kind to each other...most of the time.  I love watching them play and fight and make peace.  I love watching them think of the other one first.

I am reading this book, "When Children Love to Learn" by Elaine Cooper.  It is actually required reading for the school that we will send HC to in the fall.  The book is an overview on Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education.  Mason was a British educator in the early 1900s and is brilliant.  I love her heart for teaching children and I am SO thankful that my children will get to attend a school that has embraced her philosophy...like all children are created in the image of God, and children should have lots of time to run and play outside, and children should have lots of access to living books (not textbooks).

Reading this book has just helped me to think through how I think about my kids.  Not that I have to choose between them being smart or kind, but just realizing in 10 years no one is going to care if they learned to swim at age 3 or at age 9.  No one is going to care if they started waking at 9 months or at 18 months.  No one is going to care if they learned to read at age 5 or at age 7.  But they will likely care if my child is kind.  Hopefully we are on the road.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Pioneer Woman to the rescue!!!  Red peppers are my favorite.  I love red pepper soup, red pepper sauce, and one of my favorite salads is romaine, red peppers, sun flower seeds with poppyseed dressing on top.  Yumm-o, red peppers!

I made this recipe last summer when I was prego with True and it became an instant fav.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Love by George Herbert

LOVE bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back, 
      Guilty of dust and sin. 
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack 
      From my first entrance in, 
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning         5
      If I lack'd anything. 
'A guest,' I answer'd, 'worthy to be here:' 
     Love said, 'You shall be he.' 
'I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear, 
      I cannot look on Thee.'  10
Love took my hand and smiling did reply, 
      'Who made the eyes but I?' 
'Truth, Lord; but I have marr'd them: let my shame 
      Go where it doth deserve.' 
'And know you not,' says Love, 'Who bore the blame?'  15
      'My dear, then I will serve.' 
'You must sit down,' says Love, 'and taste my meat.' 
      So I did sit and eat.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Random Thoughts On Churches, Particularly the One I Attend

*These are just random thoughts about things that we are learning...

I realized the other day that I have never left a church.  It seems a little weird.  Even in all of my growing up years the only reason my family left a church was if we moved, and we moved to NP when I was 5.  I stayed at one church virtually my entire growing up years.  I went off to school, found a church my freshman year and stayed at that church until I graduated.

And then I moved here to Atl.  Oooh.  This almost blows my previous statement out of the water, but when  my job here was an internship and I was actually assigned to disciple some high school girls at a LARGE church north of town, so I started attending.  And I hated it.  I remember on Sundays crying all the way there and all the way home.  The pastor was great, everyone loves the pastor, but I hated looking across the theatre (seriously) and not being able to see the faces of the people on the other side.  I am just SO not into that.  Obviously some people are.  The other day my friend said, "Yea, some people like that if they have a child who likes cherries, they can send them to a Sunday school class just for them, just for little girls that like red cherries."  I laughed.  Fortunately for me, after 2 months of attending that church, I randomly woke up one Sunday morning, pulled out the yellow pages (it was in 1998 folks), looked up Intown, and thought...I know where Lavista Road is.  I got on Lavista and drove until I found the church.  I can still remember who was leading worship, what the text of the sermon was about and who preached.  I cried.  This time because I knew I had found my church.  Fortunately for me, the big church I was discipling kids at was in the same denomination as Intown, and had a Saturday night service, so I figured I was not totally cheating if I began to attend Intown.  And I did, and I did not feel bad, well maybe only once.  Since that day in December 1998, every Sunday I have been in Atlanta, I have been at Intown, save one.  One Sunday we visited the Westside church plant.  That was during the one week we thought we might buy a house over there.  Kinda crazy.

Why do all things lead to Germany?  We actually learned quite a few things while we lived there.  And quite a few things about church.  Like (can I say this in the PCA?) you can actually learn to worship God, even in a heretical church.  It is true, because we did.  And not just survive, but I would say we did learn to thrive there.  Not that I necessarily recommend this.  Actually I do not recommend this at all, I am just saying it is possible.  I had to relearn how to worship God apart from singing my beloved hymns.  After singing Majesty of the millionth time, it stopped getting on my nerves, and I was able to listen to the words and think about God, who is majestic and worthy of my worship.  The funny thing is that when I stopped looking for things to complain about I enjoyed the service more.  But I do not think it was just about what I did, I truly think it was a gift the Lord gave to us, to help us grow and worship him.

And the preaching...dude...crap...I could tell you stories.  And you might cry, because it was just that bad.  But sometimes even in the midst of a horrible sermon you would catch a glimmer of the gospel and we would just hold onto that with all our might.  Thank you God for that picture of yourself.  It was such a gift.  It actually wasn't all bad, the last 9 months we were there was had a wonderful chaplain who gave us lots of nuggets of truth.  Not what you might find in a strong church here, but enough.

It's funny because when we made it back to Atl and to Intown we just cried.  I think every service for a long time just made me cry...it was so rich and meaningful and wonderful.  I remember, shortly after we returned home, someone was complaining about how long a particular pastor took to do communion one Sunday.  Dave and I were so upset by the comments.  I just wanted to yell, you have no idea!  There were times when we had gone months without taking communion (because they only did it once/month) and to come back to doing it every week was so amazing, how can you complain about it?  How can you complain about having to listen to the gospel being preached?  Just because he did not do it the exact way you wanted it to be done?  Is that worth a complaint?  Is it worth a thought?

Dave and I promised we would never complain about Intown.

Well, of course that is not true.  We have complained about Intown, and I think it is a shame that I have to admit that.  And I complain about stupid stuff sometimes.  I mean stupid stuff.  I hate that.  How quickly I forget how lucky I am.  Here in Atl, I can be picky, but in Germany I could not.  Is it right to be picky just because I can be picky?  What a snob I can be, thinking that I know the right way, and if they do not do it that way I have the right to complain!

Unfortunately the longer I am at a church, the more I know, and the more I might wish I did not know.  And it sucks to know crap.  It sucks to see where the church is failing or struggling.  And it sucks to have friends leave and it sucks sometimes to be the one who has been left.  That is what happens at church sometimes.  It happened in my church in NP, at my church in college and at Intown.  It sucks because often times it means that relationship is over.  Over the course of 11 years my friends have changed, and that is mostly because we no longer worship at the same place on Sunday.  Church is like family, and there is something important and special about worshiping together.  It totally sucks when someone or something messes with that.  I hate when pastors mess up, and when elders mess up, and when the congregants mess up.  I hate how sometimes our sin rubs up onto other people, what a mess!  But I know that happens everywhere, and it is not particular to a certain church or a certain denomination.

Sometimes I wonder what would have to happen to make me leave a church.  I have no earthly idea.  Sometimes God moves me into places I never thought I would go.  I am sure people do not usually set out to join a church for a few years and then move on.  But somehow I do think our family has been shaped by our experiences overseas, and when I think about complaining I try to remind myself of the wonderful blessings I have at Intown.  It is the place where Dave and I met, where I have been taught Reformed doctrine, and where 2 of my 3 children have been baptized.  It would pretty much suck to leave and I am glad we do not have to.  This is a very long post and I am not exactly sure what I am saying, except that it has been something I have been thinking about a lot over the last little while...and I needed to get it out somehow.  I am thankful for Intown.  I love Intown.  I cannot imagine worshipping anywhere else but at Intown.  And I hope Dave and I have the opportunity to seek its peace and purity for years to come.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beer Light

Does anyone have a cool homemade beer light?  This is the new decor in the "Man" room.  Do you know what is funnier than having a man room in the house?  Hearing my three-year-old daughter talk about the man room.  Hilarious!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

WHY We Teach Our Children Pt. 1 of 3

Probably every Mama wants to be a good Mama.  I certainly did not set out 5 years ago to be a bad Mama.  The reality of motherhood probably hit me around the time Hadleigh was hitting 2 years old.  It went something like this: You are not the best.  So I accepted defeat somewhat gracefully, and started to wonder, if I cannot be good at the whole thing is there at least a couple areas I can be good at?

Usually I do not get the luxury of only doing things in life that I am good at, or only doing things that I want to do.  Sometimes, most times, I need to put on my big girl panties and clean the bathroom, or whatever it is that I do not want to do.  The last couple of years, however, I have really enjoyed discovering what I love about being a Mama and what I am really good at…hint…it’s not housework.

My bathrooms might not always be spic and span, my floors might not always be vacuumed, and my bookshelves might not always be dusted, BUT we will always have good food at my house because Dave and I LOVE to cook.  I love to bake and we love to make things from scratch, from cookies, to bread, to granola, to mac and cheese, to soup.

The other thing I love is teaching my children about God.  It is not only one of the things I love to do, but it is also something that Dave and I think is highly important, and I would hope all believers would put this as a high priority. 

I am going to break these ideas up into 3 different posts.  This first one will talk about WHY we teach our children.  The second post will be HOW we do teach our children.  The third post will be a resource list of things we use.  This list is ever changing and growing because I always love a new idea, and a new book or a new cd.

WHY We Teach Our Children
1. Want them to know the Bible
I want them to know the Bible, not just verses here and there, but to know and understand how the Bible works.  How do all the stories fit together into one big story?  How do these little stories point us to the bigger story of God redeeming the world?  What do all these little stories have in common and how do they show us Christ and our need for him?  Not only do I want my children to understand how the Bible works, but I do also want them to love scripture.  Scripture is an amazing gift, and the more we know of it and love it and immerse ourselves in it, the more we will know and love God.
2. Want them to begin to understand the authority of God
I think that part of the reason that we are the authority as parents is so that when we grow up we have a framework for the authority of God.  My children have boundaries, they receive consequences, they receive rewards, and they receive grace and mercy.  These all go back to God and his authority.  I cannot do whatever I want.  If I choose to live my own life there will be consequences because I am not the authority, God is.
3. Want them to have a language of faith
I want them to grow up understanding the terminology that believers use.  This is a little different from knowing theology and from knowing scripture.  I think this might be how to marry the two together. 
4. Want them to have a working knowledge of theology
I grew up knowing a lot of scripture, but with no working knowledge of theology.  I thought theology was lame and unimportant until after college, when I realized every believer is a theologian, some of us are just better ones than others.  Soon after I began college I began to wrestle with the doctrines of sin and sanctification.  I could proof text my way through an argument, but I could not use the whole of scripture to understand or articulate what I believed.  Theology is such an amazing resource to have at our disposal if I had been more versed in it my college experience might have been easier.
5. Ultimately we want them to have a relationship with Jesus.
This might be a given.  Who cares about all the rest of this if they do not have a relationship with Jesus, and yet I might argue that it would be hard to have a relationship with Jesus without these things.  I cannot make or grow faith in the heart of my children, that is the work of the Holy Spirit alone, however I can give  them tools to help them understand faith and God.  

Monday, March 21, 2011

Black Bean Burritos

While we lived in Germany we were in a Community Group that met once a week for dinner and Bible study.  It was a lively group, to say the least, and we started off studying Romans.  HELLO!  And the group was all over the map as far as theological beliefs, so it was interesting.  We finally began using Tim Keller's notes on Romans, which was fabulous.  And if you have never studied the Bible with Keller, I highly recommend it.  He is our family fav.

Our friends, Jim and Kristen hosted our groups and Kristen and I worked together and often collaborated on meal planning.  This recipe was one of our favorites, along with a chicken, mushroom quesadilla recipe that we used a couple times.  Every time I make it, I think of Kristen, and we make this recipe a lot.  Bean burritos were actually one of the random things I craved when I was prego with Hadleigh and Annelise.  Top this burrito with a little sour cream and yumm-o!

On a random note, Dave and I are getting physicals in a couple of weeks, so we are being more cognizant about our meat intake...is that cheating?

One more random side-note, I think I have mastered the art of cooking dried beans.  So I am making this with black beans that I cooked a few weeks ago and then froze...we'll see how it all goes.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Update on the Playroom

A month or so ago I had about had it with our playroom and all of our toys.  The nice thing about having a playroom is that we do mostly manage to keep all our toys in one room, but sometimes it felt like a war zone in there.  The girls were always good about picking it up with supervision and direction, which was great, but it was just hard for me to add one more thing into our daily routine, especially when it was usually at the end of the day when I am trying to make dinner.

Dave and I tossed around several ideas, and then I got some input from one of my "older" mommy friends. I LOVE talking to my older friends because they have so many great ideas!  Who needs to read a book about parenting when you have wise mamas around who know you and your kids and can speak into the situation.  Love, love, love it!

So, my wise friend suggested that I just let them clean up the room unsupervised.  Interesting idea.  They know where everything goes, why not?  For the past couple weeks I have been letting them clean up the room by themselves right before dinner.  It is usually around 4.30 that I get them started, and they can eat their dinner when they are finished.  I have had to set the timer a few times, which means they have 30 minutes (or however much time I give them) to clean the playroom and eat their dinner.  We have had a couple close calls, but for the most part it has worked.  The girls do not want me to set the timer, so they are motivated to get everything cleaned up.  Annelise is even in the habit now of going into other rooms to check for toys and bring them back to the playroom.

Awesome...awesome...I love it!  One more chore that I can hand over to my 5 and 3-year-old.  And I suppose not only that, but this teaches them to care enough about their things to take care of them and put them away in a place where they will not get ruined.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Black Eyed Pea Salsa

I really enjoy P-dub and I think she has some fantastic recipes that our little family really enjoys.  This is one of our favs.  I made this last March when I hosted my neighborhood's Bunco night.  Everyone went crazy over it and I have made it often ever since.

We love it on chips, on pita bread, in tortillas, on top of quesadillas, and also just straight up by the spoonful and into my mouth.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Thursday, March 10, 2011

More on Bread

In my quest to make my own bread, and because I could eat a whole loaf by myself, I tried this recipe a few months back.  I really like it because I can make it quickly.  It needs to rise for 1.5 hours and cook for 45 minutes.  In my opinion that is a quick bread to make.  I also love this because I can use rosemary from my garden.  In fact, if you ever need rosemary and want to swing by I have more than enough to share.  Save that $3.

It is great with soups, salads, or actually really anything.  Give it a try.  Thank you Pioneer Woman!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

True is 8 Months

I think that poor True is going to have to be happy with the two month updates because I just cannot seem to pull it together enough to do the every month updates for him...poor little man.  My sweet, sweet boy is almost 8 months old.  He has had a busy couple of months.

He had his first surgery at 6 months old.  Thankfully we have an amazing children's hospital in town (yea for living in big cities), and they took great care of him.  And, of course he is fine and did amazingly well.  Poor little man could not nurse past midnight on the day of his surgery, so Dave got up with him several times in the middle of the night.  Surprisingly he was not too fussy before they took him.  The hardest part for me was that I could not hold him before the docs took him (because I knew if I held him he would want to eat), but thankfully Dave was there and was fabulous at keeping True calm.  I am certainly glad all that is behind us.

True FINALLY cut one of his bottom teeth last week.  We are still waiting for his other bottom one, and of course his two top ones.  It is so amazing how different all the kiddos are.  HC cut all of her teeth right on time, Annelise's were all early, and it seems True's are late.  I am just glad that he finally got one of them out.

Sleep is slowly getting better, but is still painful at times.  It feels like just in the last two weeks has he really started napping on any sort of regular schedule.  A morning nap that is over by 9 or 9.30 and an afternoon nap from 12-2.  He loves to go down super early for bed, so it is lights out for the little man at 5.30.  He has slept though the night a couple of times (like after his surgery when he was on codeine), but most times he is waking up once in the night.  I'll be happy when that is over...hoping for some 9 month magic.  Amazing how every baby is so different...guess this all just keeps us humble.

True is finally on the move!  He has become an expert roller which is the sweetest thing ever.  I love lying down on the floor with him so that he can roll over and over and come to me.  Love it.  HE is working on sitting up on his own, but that is still a few weeks off I am guessing.  I am not anxious for any of this because the more he does the closer we will get to crawling...oh my!  I am not ready for that!

True is a lover of foods.  Everything we put in his mouth he loves.  He has recently discovered cheerios which are a real hit (now if he could only figure out how to grab them and take them to his mouth).  Mangos and carrots are a new fav too.  This is round three of making my own baby food.  I really enjoy it so much.  Even Dave got into the action and made some applesauce yesterday.

At his 6 month check-up he weighed 15 pounds, 9 oz, and was 27 inches long.  That is 25 for weight and 75 for height.  I am just happy he is still on the chart, both girls were down to 0% for weight at age 6 months.  He is a chunk compared to them.

Everyone LOVES True.  He has a very sweet disposition and enjoys lots of attention.  He has these eyes that just demand eye contact, when he gets it he bursts into an award winning smile.  He is a little snuggler and loves to be held and kissed and squeezed.  I love that, and am thankful that all my kiddos were snugglers (must be in the genes).  He is such a blessing and I am so thankful that he is part of our family.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

HC's Cake

Holy Moly.  Once a month the women in my neighborhood get together and kick it.  It has been such a blessing to get to know these women better.  Over Christmas one of the ladies made this amazing cake, a mandarin cake.  Holy Moly.  It was amazing, and I brought a piece home for Dave and the girls to share.

This is the cake that HC requested for her birthday, which we ate after her birthday dinner of butternut squash soup.  Here is the recipe.

1 pkg. yellow cake
4 eggs
3/4 cup veggie oil
15 oz can mandarin oranges

Drain and reserve the juice from the oranges and chop the oranges up.  Mix the cake with the eggs, oil and juice, and fold in the oranges.  Bake in 3 cake pans at 350 for 20-25 minutes (or make cupcakes like I did).

Cool whip, thawed
20 oz. can of crushed pineapple
3.2 oz pkg of vanilla instant pudding
Mix it all together.  Frost the cake and refrigerate overnight.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Hadleigh Claire Turns 5

This is my beautiful daughter who is 5 years old today.  Seriously, 5.  Seriously, isn't she gorgeous?  We are in trouble.  I love this picture that my friend, Jess (blog on the left), took because I think it completely sums up Hadleigh Claire in a picture.

She truly is one of the joys of my life.  One of my favorite "chores" of the day is to read to her before naps.  Sometimes it gets a little tiresome because she wants me to do it.  Even on the weekends when Dave is around, she wants me.  But I love it.  I love getting to enjoy every word with her.  Will Dorothy ever get home to Auntie Em?  Will Dr. Doolittle ever find Long Arrow?  Will Louis the Swan ever win his love?

She teaches me things.  Poor little girl is a lot like me.  Sometimes I feel like apologizing everyday to her...oops you go that from me, sorry about that!  But it is interesting to watch how she handles the world around her and see how I may or may not do the same thing.  Could it be the reason we clash a lot is because we are similar?

She is not afraid to love.  The funny thing is that I remember being 6 or 7 and hearing an adult talk to my mom about me.  I remember that she said I loved without fear.  I think that is how HC loves.  She has faced minimal rejections in her life, and I wish I could have spared her even from these (who knew girls can even be mean at 4 years old...I didn't expect that to start until 8 or 9).  But she loves her sister and brother.  She loves her friends.  She loves me.  She loves big.

It is such a joy to watch Hadleigh Claire be a big sister.  She does it so well.  Whenever True begins to cry she is by his side trying to distract him, or reminding me to feed him or change his diaper.  And she and Annelise play for hours and hours without fighting (sometimes they play for hours and hours with lots of fighting, but mostly they work it out and get along).  She serves her siblings by helping Annelise put on her shoes or finding True his blanket or special toy.

Her willingness to serve me everyday is admirable.  She is always quick to grab a diaper for me, or throw something in the trash, put something in the laundry room, put her clothes away, empty the dishwasher or set the table.

We have a little lover of the arts on our hands.  Almost daily she asks to listen to classical music, today she was asking for Dvorak (by name), but then decided to listen to Verdi instead.  And then she and Annelise giggled through the opera section.  Ballet is the highlight of the week, and her teacher has noted that she is excelling.  She also enjoys to swing dance with me to Harry Connick Jr.  She can hear a piece of music and pick out the instruments that are playing (trumpet, violin, guitar, piano), and she can also hum it after only hearing it once.  I cannot wait until she is old enough to begin piano lessons (maybe when she is 6).

Her confidence in her abilities seems to grow daily.  Some people thought it was foolish of me to take her out of "school" because of the social aspect of it.  They thought she would never learn to talk to adults if she is not around a teacher everyday.  Well, sometimes Mama knows best, and socialization is not the most important thing.  She has found her voice and it takes less time for her to warm up to folks than it used to.  I really think it has been very important for me (and such a blessing) to spend time with her over this year.  It is sad to think about her going off to school in the fall, I think I will miss her greatly (even though she will only be gone a few hours a day).

I feel blessed and so thankful to be Hadleigh Claire's Mama for the last 5 years.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

HC and Asher

Isn't this the sweetest picture ever?  Sweet HC putting her arm around sweet Asher (my college bff's oldest daughter).  This was taken two years ago when they visited us in Atl, and I recently found the picture and sent it to Elaine.  I hope they will get to see each other again soon.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


My children are blessed to have two wonderful Grandmas who love them very much.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Dinner: Chicken, Mushrooms and WIld Rice Soup

We LOVE a good soup.  Soon after we got married DAve picked up this awesome soup cookbook.  I can't remember where he bought it, but it was like $5.99, and it rocks!  Our first winter in Germany we started a tradition of cooking a new soup every week.  Thankfully Dave is not a meat and potatoes dude (I mean he likes meat and potatoes, but does not have to eat it to feel like he has had a meal), and loves trying new things.  At this point we have a good selection of soups that we love, so we often look forward to winter.  In fact just today I was asking HC what she wanted to eat on her birthday and she choose scones from breakfast, veggie pita pizza for lunch and butternut squash soup for dinner.  Love it!  Have I ever shared my butternut squash soup recipe?  It pretty much rocks.  My wonderful neighbor graciously gave me hers which includes making your own stock from the seeds and goo of the butternut, and then the best part...topping it with homemade croutons from french bread and brown sugar and cinnamon.  HELLO!

But I am not talking about that soup today.  This Chicken, Mushroom and Wild Rice soup recipe I found in Southern Living, and it was pretty yummy.  I made my own broth which is so easy.  I actually made Chicken Soup and Matzo balls several times in the fall, so I feel like I mastered it a bit.  The day before I want to eat the soup, I throw the chicken in the dutch oven with a quartered onion, a couple carrots and a couple stalks of celery.  And I cook it for several hours adding some krazy salt every now and then.  Once it has cooked for a while I take out the bird and remove all the meat, saving some for other purposes and returning some back to the soup.  I also remove the celery, onion and carrots, and throw the soup into the fridge.  My mom always said soup is better the second day, so I believe her.  The next day I throw the soup into the crock pot with some sliced carrots and celery and let it cook all day.  I taste it often so that I can add salt and pepper and make sure it is becoming yumm-o.  Then when it gets close to dinner time I add noodles or matzo balls or whatever.  Voila.

Sometimes I just throw the chicken into the crock pot and then I will use the chicken for something and freeze the broth for another day.  Homemade broth is awesome and then you don't have to worry about sodium, msg or bpa (which apparently is in cans as well as plastics).