Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Garlic bread and weekly menu

I had a hard time meal planning this week. I am tired of the same ole, same ole, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to find some of these meats on sale. So, this could possibly change a little. We'll see what it looks like when I go grocery shopping tomorrow.

Before I get started on the menu, I wanted to tell you about my new favorite bread I've been making. It's called cheesy garlic bread and it delicious. It's not that healthy, but it sure is good. I made it for the first time for Jude and Ezra's birthday party, and I've made it another time since. I really love trying out different types of bread and this has become a favorite among my guys.
Here's the recipe! Of course, mine doesn't look near as pretty as the one on the recipe website, but as long as it tastes good, I don't really care what it looks like. As a side note, I usually use provolone cheese, but you can essentially use whatever cheese you prefer.

So, here's my menu for the week. Hopefully I can stick to this with our budget and the cost of the meats I am looking to buy...

Honey mustard chicken w/ broccoli and rice

Roast beef biscuits with zucchini patties

Homemade pizza

Chicken & mac n cheese

PW's chicken fried steak with roasted asparagus


dinner with small group

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Learning to teach

I think the more I do preschool at home with Jude, the more I am starting to love it. There are many reasons why we don't do traditional preschool, but since we don't, I feel like he still needs to be learning as we live our lives at home and out in the world.

This is what school time looks like for us:

We don't have a curriculum we go by. Instead, we have these learning books that we do a few pages in several mornings a week. In these books, there are match-the-colors, tracing lines or circles, counting and coloring, follow-the-directions, and other things. The Basic Concepts and Alphabet Wipe Off book were gifts from my sister for Jude's birthday this year. Best books we've ever gotten. We usually work in the books for 30 or so minutes. I try to make sure all the big subjects are hit: numbers, letters and letter sounds, shapes and colors, and we practice writing our letters.

But, life and learning aren't just about head knowledge. We also do things like block-building, reading, game-playing, singing, puzzles, outside playing (and learning), errand running, cooking, alone-time playing, play dates with friends, field trips, library visiting, dancing, and probably other things that I am not remembering right now. We don't do all of this every day, mind you. I am not that organized. But, we try to get a little of it done most days. And for now? That is enough for me.

Now things go pretty smoothly, but when we first started this focused learning thing, Jude would fight it. He would sit there and say "I don't want to do this!" or he would literally fall apart and with as much drama as he could muster, would say "I CAN'T DOOOOOO THIS!!!!!" He has this "can't do this" mentality about everything. He can't clean his room, he can't turn on the light, he can't put on his shoes. Some of this is laziness, but I also think he gets really overwhelmed about things. It took me awhile to realize this. I used to just get frustrated and that makes the whole situation worse. He was frustrated and I was frustrated and that is a recipe for disaster. No one can learn in a tense environment.

When I finally realized that when I am too broad in my instructions, his mind can't grasp it, then he gets overwhelmed and shuts down. That's when meltdowns occur. If I simple it down (i.e. I say "let's try two more times", instead of something broad like, "Let's practice writing the letter A.") and if I talk him through it, he can process it much better and will usually continue to keep trying as long as I ask without melting down. That's all I care about, really. Not that he gets it right, but that he keeps trying.

Hopefully we can get to the point where I don't have to talk him through every step. I do want to teach him to think on his own and eventually do it without much help. But for now, this is good. We are improving and I'm pleased with that. It's so very encouraging and rewarding to see him learn, to have a hunger for learning and to grasping the concept of how to persevere. It's times like these that make me love being a mom.

I know some of you could not care less about this, but there may be a few of you who may be like me. Considering homeschooling, but doubting yourself about teaching your child and even possibly needing a little encouragement to do so. It's possible, folks! If I can do it, you can. :)

Tonight I plan on making a daily chore chart/list for both boys to start doing every day...I hope I can stick to this! It's hard to make kids work when they don't want to. Stay tuned to find out!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Adventurous boys

I’ve found that as a parent, you learn things as you go along...a lot of things. Mostly how to not pull your hair out of course, but in raising boys, I’ve learned a few specific things.

1) Boys are physical. Whether it’s tackling, dog-piling, pushing, whatever...they usually find it very difficult to keep their hands to themselves. (at least mine do) And when they’re sad, a comforting hug or hold of the hand is all they need to recharge and be completely fine again.

2) Boys have soooo much energy. I’ve heard that girls are usually good at sitting and doing a certain activity for certain periods of boys can’t sit still for even a minute. I have to admit, at times it is exhausting, especially trying to think of positive ways to expel this energy.

And my biggest revelation of the last year:

3) Boys crave adventure. It’s hardwired deep into their hearts. Being superheros, playing pirates, pretending to navigate the jungle in the backyard, building forts (that could essentially be anything-a cave, a castle, whatever), action figures that fight, all these things and more are what my boys do on a daily basis. There is something deep within them that desires the need for adventure, to conquer, to have a purpose and do something significant. I absolutely love that God made boys (and men for that matter) this way.

So, what does the newest quest for adventure look like to my 2 little boys? Their recent obsession with play swords and play guns. And in fact, I have not seen anything wrong with encouraging this type of play. And then doubt and fear crept in as they always do. Is this wrong? Are we promoting violence? Are we raising our children to be violent weapon users? I asked Ross what he thought of this, and he didn’t seem at all concerned. Well, let me ask a veteran mom friend then, I thought.

So, at church on Sunday, I asked my friend who has raised three lovely children, two of whom are men now. Her advice was simple, yet so wise. She started out by telling me that when her oldest son was little, she never allowed toy guns or swords in her house at all.  Then at age three or four, for the boy, everything became a gun. His fingers were a fun, his car was a gun, I bet even his toothbrush became a gun. I think she realized some things at that point and that she had been a little too uptight about the issue. She soon started allowing gun and sword play.

She told me that it was a good thing for boys to be adventurous with their imaginations, and that pretend gun and sword play was fine, after all, being a protector is something that God built into them as men. But she advised me to listen to them as they’re playing. What are they saying? How is the play directed? Are they being mean or hurtful, or is it just role playing or done all in fun? I thought that was brilliant. If we pay attention to how they are playing, if it turns to something destructive or unhealthy, we can talk to them and direct it to a more healthy place. They can be a superhero trying to get the bad guys, or a knight rescuing a princess from a dragon guarded tower, instead of something hurtful or damaging. And this can be directed and influenced by me, especially if I am playing with them, which I usually do. 

So, I am more at ease about the gun and sword obsession. Boys will be boys, and they should be allowed to be boys. But in being boys, things can get out of hand if I’m not mindful of issues like these, after all, we are all sinful at heart. To be honest, I love seeing my boys have such imagination and such desire to be men of adventure. I just hope and pray that some of it sticks around long enough for them to be adventurous for Jesus.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Parenting perseverance

I've been wanting to blog about our new learning materials we've gotten (and overcoming some learning mishaps), but every time I try to write it, I get writer's block and it sends into fits of crying and pulling out random hairs from my head.

Ok, that's not really true, but I am having a hard time for some reason. When I sat down to write today, all that was on my mind was the stress from the morning.

We hadn't had a play date all week with any friends, and Fridays are usually our play date days. I was looking forward to our date at the mall with our friends, and the boys were too.

Let me just preface this with this fact, Jude is going through this phase right now that...let's just say it's a hard phase. Sometimes I feel like I'm living with a teenager. He has an attitude problem, he smarts off, and doesn't want to do anything we say. Of course this is not something we like to tolerate. And I will be very honest here. There are times I am really on top of training him on his attitude and there are times when I'm so weary of the daily things that consume me that I get lax on the training and we end up in the place we are in now. Super attitude-y, super rebellious, super smart mouth-y. (you like my super technical terms?)

So today, we meet our friends at the mall. Jude and I had a talk beforehand where I told Jude he needed to listen and obey, and I had him repeat it back to me. We always have this conversation every time we go somewhere. Sometimes he does great and listens, other times, not. Like today. I don't think he listened to one thing I said. Maybe that's an exaggeration, after all, we did get home in one piece. But maybe it just felt that way. Chaotic, stressful, exhausting. Not fun. And Ezra was not listening either. I felt bad that my friend had to be witness to such a stressful outing, and I even thanked her for dealing with my current "baggage." She was sweet about it. But I did tell her that we wouldn't be able to do any more dates out (other than at each other's houses) until the boys and I had some time to work on this not listening issue. It's just too stressful!

For Ross and I, its not near enough to just train him to correct his behavior or for him to just act the way we want him to. I don't think dealing with the exterior is enough. Although, having great behavior is a good thing, it's not ALL there is. I think it's important to get to the heart of the issue. What in his heart is causing him to act this way? The issues of the heart are complex, and even more so for a little one who doesn't understand the depth of such things. In the car after we left, I prayed that God would show me how to get to the root of this issue, and that He would help me parent accordingly. And of course that He would give Jude a joyful heart; after all, I can't change his heart, only Jesus can.

As I reevaluate my current parenting methods, or more like the lack thereof, I know I need to train more purposefully. This attitude business is not good, and I have not been consistent in the training for this behavior/heart issue.  Being consistent is the most effective parenting method out there, but it is a hard thing to do some times. Most of the time, I don't know what to do as a Mom, but when I ask God for wisdom, He gives me what I need every time.

I don't have all the answers, but truthfully, I don't think parenting was meant to be exhausting or stressful. I know it is hard, the hardest job we will probably ever do, and even frustrating at times. But a wise parenting book I read once said that God makes nothing complicated. I really believe that. So, I will persevere.

The end. Thanks for listening to me talk to helps, you know. :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Breakfast and menu time

I wanted to give a little shout out to the breakfast meal of the day. It's so important to get something healthy in first thing in the morning. They say it's the most important meal of the day. The key is making sure you have protein and just making healthier choices can really set a tone for the day.

About 3 mornings a week, I have plain Greek yogurt with homemade granola, some times I scramble some eggs and have homemade toast with it, other mornings I'll have a little oatmeal. Every once in awhile I'll fix homemade pancakes and they are such a yummy treat when I do. And those are just my favorite and most frequent breakfast choices. There are so many other healthy choices, english muffins with peanut butter, cottage cheese with berries, you can even include steamed veggies in your scrambled eggs or put them in a breakfast burrito. Breakfast burritos are so, so yummy.

Anyway, now it's menu time. Here is what we'll be eating for the next week:

Dinner with our small group, I'm taking a dessert (birthday cake, yum!)

Baked tilapia with roasted cabbage (bumped)

Baked chicken in red sauce with noodles

homemade pizza

turkey paninis

something with chicken, but I'm not sure yet

Potato soup with homemade rolls

Dinner with small group, taking something

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Birthday boy!

In July of 2007, I started feeling really weird. Like, so tired I couldn't barely keep my eyes open weird. Like exhaustion I'd never felt before weird. I had no idea what was wrong with me. This went on for a week or so and then it dawned on me. I could be pregnant. In fact, if I'm not pregnant, then I have no idea what is wrong with me. I didn't really believe I was, so I easily dismissed the thought. I mean, we hadn't even been officially trying, I had barely just gotten off the pill (for reasons NOT pertaining to trying to get pregnant), and heck, we had just celebrated our first anniversary and were planning on waiting much longer before having babies. But, I thought I'd rule it out and take a pregnancy test anyway.

I took 2 tests and they were both negative. Whew! I could breathe again. But after another 2 weeks of feeling exhausted and just not right, I couldn't shake the thought. Am I really pregnant? No way. But something told me to take another test just to be sure.


Yikes! I took a second one.

Second positive. I was pretty much in shock. I ran into the living room yelling, "I'm pregnant! I'm pregnant for real!!" several times, as if I had to even convince myself that it was real. Then I sat down beside Ross and cried. Not a I'm so excited I can hardly stand it cry, it was more of a is this really happening kind of cry. I didn't feel ready. I didn't think our marriage was ready. We had talked about it and had wanted to wait to build a solid foundation ourselves before adding children to the mix, and 'we' were still so new. It was so overwhelming.

In the coming months, I settled in to the idea of having a baby. I got excited, giddy, and expectant to meet our new little one. When we learned we were having a boy, we couldn't have been more pleased. We had showers, bought clothes, washed the clothes, got the nursery ready, and when February 2008 came around, we were ready....or so we thought.

When we brought him home, the whole thing seemed surreal. Are we really doing this?? Did I really just have a baby?? It was strange, but in a good way. I was on cloud nine, with a new baby and an awesome husband, this is what every woman dreams of, right?

And then the sleepless nights started happening. I know people warn you about not getting sleep and how tired you are as a new mom, but no warnings will ever fully explain how exhausted you really are those first few months. And how much your baby cries those first few months. It was just plain rough. My world had been rocked and I thought it would never be the same again.

After those first initial months, it got easier. Not easy, mind you, but easier. I was stretched so much those first few months, and while it was hard at the time, looking back, I don't think I've ever been more thankful for another time in my life. It showed me how selfish I really was, it taught me what dying to self really looked like; what it meant to pour out all of myself for someone else; it showed me the tough stuff that a mother's love is made up of. A mother's love is tough, y'all. For those of you who have kids, you know what I mean. The sleepless nights, the piles of puke and poop that get all over you, the endless messes to clean up, all of it made me really love. Not just that surface type love, but the real stuff that the Bible talks about. I didn't do it perfectly, and I still don't, but I couldn't have done even a shred of it without the love and help of my Savior Jesus. There is no way I could have done any of that on my own. I am truly grateful for Him and for that time in my life.

I love being a mom. And I love my first born, my Jude Fergus, who has taught me so much about being a  Mommy. He definitely holds his own very special place in my heart.

Jude, you are a joy to be around and the funniest kid I know. You love to laugh and your laugh is so contagious. You are outgoing and I love that you love to talk to all kinds of people. I am so grateful to know you, to be around you every day, to watch you learn and grow. Even though you may not have been planned on our part, God planned for you and knew when you would be born, long before it happened. I pray for you every day and I know He has great plans for you.

Happy 4th birthday to my boy Jude!! Dad and Mom love you so very much!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Birthday things!

There were 2 birthday boys in the house this past weekend, so we decided to celebrate with a little partying. Actually, Jude's birthday is tomorrow and Ezra's was last week. I hope I can get away with combining parties for a really long time. One party is so much easier to plan than two. Don't you think?

Usually I get a little teary-eyed when we sing happy birthday to the boys. I know that's silly, but every year when we sing, I am reminded of how quickly time flies, and am saddened to know that in no time, they will be off driving, going to college and moving out. Right now they still want me to read to them before bed and rock them when they're sad. Even though this stage is extremely hard, with battling wills and disobedience, I like this age. I like it a lot. Can they stay small for a little longer, please?

We had some sweet friends and family come out to help us celebrate our little boys turning 4 and 2, they were great. I wanted to give a special shout-out to my sister, mom, step dad and mother-in-law for being so helpful in helping me plan, get food together, set up and clean up for the party. I have some really terrific people in my life. They enabled me to do this party on a super-inexpensive budget. The other way I did the food for this party inexpensively? I made this appetizer (actually, they were pizza crescent rolls) and this one. Both were breads, but done differently, and I loved trying out different types of bread! So, yay for good and inexpensive food!

Happy birthday to my 2 sweet boys! 

My kiddos got some really great toys, and they love them all, but these are the few that are their favorites:

They are completely infatuated with these. They've been having a good time pushing them up and down the door. Yes, I said door. They climb things that are metal (which is kind of weird, we must have metal doors?) They are kind of neat, I have to admit.
And this batcave imaginext toy is a favorite of theirs. The imaginext toys are really awesome. 
And I can't wait to open this for E:

And we played with their new play-doh toy this morning. They loved it! It's a fun time, getting new toys. For us parents, too! :) 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Goals update!

Today I've spent the majority of the day running errands, doing lots of baking and getting ready for the boys' birthday party tomorrow.

Since I don't have a lot of time, I will get right down to it.

Here is how I did with my goals this week:

1) Our daily schedule - I honestly forgot about this until last night. But, I did work on it a bit last night and I have a rough draft of how I would like for our day to flow. Hopefully I'll finish it up this weekend and be able to start on Monday.

2) Read our Bible story every day. Sadly, I did not do this. I think we may have read it once or twice, which is ok, but the goal is to read it every day. So, hopefully having a flexible daily schedule will help keep me accountable in this.

3) Plan some activities for us to do during our learning/play time. I sort of did this. I looked at the book I mentioned in my original post and got some ideas, but I need to go one step further and plan them out, then actually prepare for them. 

4) I cooked the meatloaf! And it went well, yessss!

5) Do some planning for future blogs/duties to delights posts. I planned out a week's worth of posts, but haven't gone any further. So, I got a good start. Obviously I need to give this a little more attention because I don't have a DtD challenge for next week. Maybe I'll just post some inexpensive food ideas for parties, since I did a lot of research on this this week.

6) I am not going to say anything to jinx myself about us being well, but we're ok for now. :) 

7) Less tv time this week. We did this, actually. Jude still watched a few shows he likes and had a few movie nights, but we scaled back the amount of time significantly. I am happy about this!

8) Finish the marriage book I'm reading. Nope, still not done. Hopefully this week!

It felt good to write out my goals and forced me to work on some things I've been putting off. I think I might start doing this weekly. Now I must finish making yummies for tomorrow. Hope you all have a lovely weekend! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meatloaf verdict and menu plan

When doing our menu for this week, I realized we are busy several nights this week, especially this weekend. Not that I'm complaining, but that rarely ever happens. So, our menu doesn't look quite like normal this week. Fine by me!

Here it is:

Small group tonight, we're having chili

baked pork chops & roasted potatoes

A friend of Jude's is having a birthday party, so I think we will be eating with them

Jude & Ezra's birthday party is late that afternoon, so we may just be having leftovers from the party, or may do a homemade pizza

Crockpot Chicken sandwiches

Dinner at friends' house

Baked tilapia with roasted cabbage (or asparagus)

Small group night, either an easy dinner (mac n cheese possibly) or dinner with my group

And, for the moment you've all been waiting for. I know you've been on the edge of your seat waiting to hear about this. How did my meatloaf turn out last night, you ask? I looked up recipes, I even watch a youtube how-to video on meatloaf. I was serious about this, folks.

What I learned: There are a billion ways you can do meatloaf. Some people put saltines in their meatloaf. Some people put breadcrumbs, others put in oatmeal. It honestly kind of reminded me a little of mystery meat. You can put just about anything in it. But, I did something much easier. I used THIS recipe here, but added my own homemade bread slices, and I added minced garlic and garlic powder, parsley, basil, salt & pepper, and omitted the cheese.

Going into the oven

All done and ready to be eaten

Ross thought he was in heaven

Verdict: It was a success! At least I think it was. Ross made noises while eating it and the kids had seconds (Ezra had thirds!). So, yeah! My kids are super picky, so any meals my kids eat that I fix makes me happy. However much my boys liked it, I wasn't a huge fan. I have never liked meatloaf, and as much as I tried, my mind just hasn't changed about that. I did eat it, although I had to slather it with mashed potatoes. It could have stood to have a little more salt, but I'm an over-salter, so that's no surprise. But since all my men-boys loved it, I may have to do this again some time!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day in the house!

I think it's so funny to look at facebook on Valentine's Day. I see status updates that are all like, "Happy valentine's day to my sweetie, who I'm so in love with I can't see straight!" and there are others who are like "Screw valentine's day and everyone who likes it."

While I'm not a die-hard gushy Valentine's Day obsessor (shouldn't we be showing love to others every day?) I think it's nice to acknowledge and celebrate the holiday with a little sweets, some yummy food and lots of love.

I love my husband and I love my family. So for today, I wanted to bake these easy strawberry cookies with the boys...

They stirred together

They sat in front of the oven the whole 12 minutes they baked. That's a long time for these busy body boys. "Look, Mom, they're getting bigger!" Jude would say. 

Cookie sandwiches with homemade cream cheese icing

Ezra made a big ole mess, and he loved it

Tonight is the infamous meatloaf night, so we'll see how that goes. I've got a recipe and the ingredients-I'm ready! 

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! Hope you all experience love and show love to those around you today. But let's not forget the greatest display of love of all time:

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8

Monday, February 13, 2012

Snacking and dirty dozen

Something I've always known since marrying my husband of almost 6 years is this: he loves to snack. Especially late at night. And ever since THIS post, I've only been buying what we need for that particular week. Which has been great, for my sanity, and our budget, but something isn't working right. When Ross is hungry, he goes scavenging in the kitchen...and when you only buy what you need for a certain week, there isn't much to scavenge.

So, that made me think. How can we fix this problem? I want my man to be happy and have healthy snacks to munch on when it's scavenging time. So, I did the most logical think I could think of. I asked him. What would you like to snack on? (He's quite a picky eater and how ever much I'd like to be, I'm not a mind reader.) His answer was super vague and not very helpful, so I'm not yet quite sure what to do. However, I will figure this out! I know I can't solve every problem in my life, but I want to at least try.

On another note, I've been reading a lot about the "dirty dozen" and the "clean 15" lists. Ever heard of those? The dirty dozen are the 12 fruits and vegetables that tested the highest in 2010 for pesticides. They are: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale/collard greens, potatoes, and imported grapes. The clean 15 are supposedly the lowest in pesticide residues: onions, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mangos, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potato, and honeydew melon. I haven't given much thought to any of this, but it keeps coming up, so I might need to start paying attention. I do know one thing, I definitely need to start scrubbing my fresh veggies/fruits. No, I have not been doing this (oopsie). Yes, I will start, especially since we can't really afford to go all-organic. In my opinion, it's all about doing what you can, not about going broke to be "healthy." (but actually getting my kids to eat veggies is an issue in-and-of itself, so this point may be moot anyway!) 

Totally unrelated to anything in this post, last week the temp was in the 50s and 60s. And today it weird. But at least it's acting like winter now!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Someday I would like to...... a full marathon.

......grind my own wheat to make bread with.

.....cook a meal of my own and it actually taste good.

.....go on lots of family vacations.

.....move to a different part of the country (or world) for awhile. (not forever though, Mom) closer to my sister and our families, maybe after moving away for awhile. the whole Bible.

.....take my children to Disney World. the world with my honey.

.....see a real broadway show in New York City.

.....have my very own vegetable garden.

.....take photos upon photos of different beautiful landscapes.

......maybe, possibly start my own photography business.

.....cut my hair short, like really short.

......have another baby. Maybe 2.

Just a few things running through my head today. What about you? What would you like to do someday?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Goals. Yes, goals are good.

Every once in awhile I find that it's good to reevaluate the things in my life. In order to keep my home things and family things running smoothly, I have to take some time to see what's working and what's not, restructure some things, try some new things out and let some things go. It keeps me sane.

Now is one of those times.

It's time to set some new goals. I like goals, they're good for me. If I don't have something to work toward, then there's no focus or organization in my life, things don't get done, it's utter chaos, I tell you. Ok, not chaos really, but I don't like it. That's one of the reasons I didn't do a duties to delights challenge this week. I didn't plan one, therefore it didn't get done.


So, in order to bring some order to things, I thought about it and prayed and these are the things I've come up with that need my attention in the next week:

  • Our daily schedule. This needs some serious attention. I'm definitely not a super structured person (and am not militant in any way about sticking to a strict schedule), but I desperately need some sort of order to my day. We haven't been doing our learning time, focused play time, reading our Bible, or doing much of anything other than watching a lot of Dora and doing a lot of sibling bickering. NOT working for us (or for me. Refereeing is exhausting).
  • Read our Bible story every day. I know I should be doing this already, but I've been super lax about it.
  • Plan some activities for us to do during our learning/play time. I have this really great book that a friend gave me for Christmas that I want to get some fun things from. I'll share the book and the activities in another post. 
  • Cook my husband a meatloaf (or at least attempt to) for Valentine's day. I have no idea how this is going to turn out. I'm a little nervous, to be honest!
  • Do some planning for future blog/duties to delights challenge posts. I need to be more intentional about this. Most of the time I just sit down and write whatever is on my mind. Which works sometimes and other times it doesn't. 
  • Get well and try not to get sick again for a whole week. Ok, I know I don't really have much control over this, but I hope we can accomplish it anyway!
  • Less tv time this week. My kids don't watch a ton of tv anyway, but if I'm not intentional (and mindful) about turning it off, more will get watched than I'd like. So, we're unplugging more this week and plan on playing, reading, singing, and snuggling more.
  • Finish the marriage book I am reading. More on that later. 

I think that is enough for one week. Hopefully this will keep me accountable and you know I will report back next week (as my DtD Challenge post) to let you know how things went! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2 years ago today...

Ross and I were at a Superbowl party. Earlier that day, we had had lunch with some family members at a local restaurant. My doctor had scheduled my c-section for that coming Thursday. My friends kept telling me to have a plan B, just in case something went askew. No way, I told them. Things will go just as routine and smoothly as they did the first time. I was convinced of it.

When I was just a few short weeks of having Jude, my doctor found out that he was in breech position and informed me that I would need a c-section. I was crushed. As I sat there, alone, at the doctor's office, I held back tears while I scheduled the date with my doctor. It never entered my mind that I would have anything other than the "normal" birthing process. You know, where you have that moment when it's time to go to the hospital, there's hustle and bustle and it's all unplanned, not to mention exciting. So, for my doctor to tell me we were setting the date to have a surgery to have my very first baby, it was very different from what I had dreamed of my whole life. And I was just plain sad about it. I finally became ok with it, and everything went as planned. And to be honest, afterward, I didn't care if he had come out of my ear, I was just glad he was born and healthy.

So, when it was time to have my second baby, I thought everything would go as it did the first time.

Wrong. God had a different plan. He's funny like that sometimes. Later that night after the Superbowl party, I started to get sick. Food poisoning reared its ugly head, and wreaked havoc on a 9 month pregnant woman. Not long after that started happening, the contractions started. No way am I in labor, I thought. Just a little food poisoning. But, after the contractions got closer together and more intense, we decided to call the on-call doctor at midnight.

Take her in, he says. But we had no plan B! What were we going to do?! Thankfully, a sweet friend came to be with a sleeping Jude while we ran off to the hospital. Yep, I was in labor. Yep, I was vomiting still. Yep, Ross was incredibly sick too. It was chaos. About that time, it had started snowing.

It continued snowing through the night, and by morning, a blizzard had happened. The roads and everything else were covered. And I was finally wakening from my drug induced night, feeling pretty icky, but at least I wasn't in labor anymore. And I wasn't vomiting either. Sweet.

That whole day was a roller coaster. My sweet family had all driven in (in the blizzard, might I add) to be with us and help take care of Jude. The doctor decided not to do the c-section that day because I had been sick, but they kept flip flopping. We might do the c-section, we might not. It was agonizing! After his heart rate dropped, they were convinced that that day, February 8th should be his birthday. And so he was born! 

Ezra James Fergus
7lbs 12oz
20.5in long

 (The pictures from his birth are on another hard drive, and sadly the only person who knows how to access them is in the bed sick. So, these are pictures at 2 days old. Still tiny and precious!)

Before he was born, I wondered, how could I ever love another child as much as I loved Jude? When you have one, you love them in such a way, you're not sure how you could love another. God gives us what we need, folks. He gives us enough love to love all of our little ones, each in a different way.

And as crazy as he coming into this world was, his personality totally fits the bill. He is extremely willful, stubborn, vocal and fearless. But he is also tender hearted, loving and cuddly. He is such a joy to be around. I can't wait to see the kind of man God makes him to be.

I saw this sweet video on facebook today and wanted to share the words:

"Who am I?
I'm a woman with many talents and interests. I love to read and I love to laugh. I love chocolate and I love to experience new things.
I have made many choices in my life.
And I chose YOU.
Yes, I chose sleepless nights. Messes. Tears. Some of the hardest days of my life.
But I also chose JOY. Love. Laughter.
Some of the sweetest moments I have experienced. Togetherness. Moments of peace. Appreciation.
I chose YOU.
And that choice has changed me forever...and quite possibly the world."

It kind of puts in perspective the love that God has for us and how He chose us by sending Jesus to die for us so that we could be saved. One of the hardest things He had to do, no doubt. I am grateful that Jesus chose me.

I have often wondered why God made me a mom. I feel like I fail at it on a daily basis. But, I am so, so grateful that He did. For being a mama to these 2 sweet boys is one of the greatest blessings I could ever experience.

Happy birthday to my sweet little Ezra!! You make life more enjoyable and fun!

Psalm 139:13-14
For you created my inmost being; 
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
   your works are wonderful, 
   I know that full well. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Meatloaf and menu time

I'm doing my menu a day earlier because there is something else I want to write about tomorrow.

So, I realized while doing my menu this week that a bunch of things got bumped from last week. I don't remember why that happened. I think one night I made something else on the list early and then one night I substituted something for a homemade pizza night...but at least we didn't spontaneously eat out and spend money we didn't have. I'm grateful not to have given in to that temptation, at least!

Here's our menu for the week:

Grilled cheeses & turkey roll ups

pork stir fry (this keeps getting bumped, hopefully I will actually cook it this week)

fried chicken breasts with steamed veggies

homemade pizza rolls (bumped)

leftovers (or chicken sandwiches)

Chicken tacos (bumped)

*homemade meatloaf, mashed potatoes & green beans

chicken & mac n cheese

*I have never, ever made meatloaf before. In fact, I don't even like it. But, since it is Valentine's Day, and I love my husband so very much, he specifically requested this, so I am giving it a try. Wish me luck!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Good cook?

Lately, I've been making a lot of these:
(smoothies are my life)

And I even made some of these:

(muffins, not cupcakes, I wish they were cupcakes!)

The more I cook and try new recipes, the more I realize this: I'm not really that good of a cook. I'm not just being modest here. With the exception of bread, which I even mess up from time to time, most everything I cook is just ok. Some people have the gift, sadly, I do not. I have come to accept that cooking is just not my thing, which is unfortunate, seeing as how I have to do it every.single.night. 

As discouraging as this revelation is, since realizing this, I have also come to these 2 conclusions:

1) I don't have to be a perfect cook to cook good meals for my family. 

2) I...will...not...give...up. 

Sure, I could just give up trying all together and go back to boxed hamburger helper and frozen chicken nuggets every night, or I could choose to stay frustrated about it forever.

But I am determined. I have resolved to keep trying. I want to be a good cook and still have a strong desire to continue to cook healthy/yummy meals for my family. I guess it will have to come with practice? After all, I've only really been cooking for (almost) 6 years. Here's hoping, anyway.

And I will commit to learning more about the art of cooking itself, what spices/seasons go well together, what the best ways are to cook certain meats, and whatever else I can learn. I really, really want to be good at this, y'all! 

I will say that I'm so grateful for my husband who will eat just about anything I cook. He's a naturally picky eater, so the fact that he eats (or at least tries) everything I cook makes this gal feel like a million bucks. Thanks, babe. You're a gem. 

As I type this, my son is standing beside me with his football in his hand and his helmet on, so I must go where I'm called. Football time! 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Joy at home?

Ross and I are movie people. We watch a lot of movies. Movies that look good and movies that look not so good. We like to make our own opinions. We watch movies in just about every genre, except we try to stay away from movies with nudity and/or lots of sex in them. It's safe to say that movies are one of our favorite things to do together, we love 'em.

So recently, we got Secretariat from the library and on a night I wasn't feeling well, I popped it in. It's a really neat movie about a racing horse and how that horse broke every racing record up to that time, and even up to the present, while facing all sorts of odds. There was something majestic about this ordinary horse, I loved that part of the story a lot. Especially since it was a true story. I really love true stories movies. I have to admit, that at the end, I got a bit teary eyed, as the main character (Penny Chenery Tweedy) tells the jockey to just let him (Secretariat) run, and he runs so hard and fast that he beats his competition by 30something lengths. That's crazy! That horse loved to run. It was amazing to watch, especially knowing it really happened.

Although I loved the overall story, there was one part of the story that bothered me. The main character in the movie is a stay-at-home-mom who decides to take over her sick father's farm (that is in a different state than where she lives) and the horse business within that farm. While I loved her perseverance, her determination and her drive to save her parents' farm and livelihood, she made it seem like she gave up her career to stay at home, and she wasn't happy about it. She was constantly away from her family, missing her children's plays and other important things, and her husband was not happy about any of it. The writers of the movie made it seem as though she felt she needed to go outside the home to be happy, to find fulfillment and to show her daughters about true womanhood. And even though her husband never tells her to stop the horse breeding and racing, he is clearly unhappy about her doing it and discourages her from it quite frequently. In fact, at the end, the husband comes around and says something like, "you taught our daughters about true womanhood." Really? By investing all of herself into something that took her away from her family and life? And the whole time she was doing horse business, all of her business associates knew her and called her by her maiden name, not even her married name, which seemed weird to me. Like, who she was as a married woman/mama was not near as important to her as her life as a horse-breeder/trainer/racer. I could be overthinking it on this last point, but it still was a part of the story that bothered me.

Let me make it clear that I'm not judging Peggy Tweedy. She wanted to save her father's farm, which was important to her, and I can appreciate that. I am, however, a little frustrated at the movie-makers and writers of this movie. I feel like this film furthers the worldly view that there is no value, joy or fulfillment in being at home with your children, raising them and taking care of your home. I have to disagree with the movie-makers and writers here. While I think it's great, maybe even essential, for a woman to have interests outside the home, we women feel a stir in our hearts and we think we have to go look for happiness elsewhere. So, we use our precious little bits of energy to fill our schedules with things that take our focus off of our families. I am guilty of this as well, and I just don't believe that it is good. I truly believe we can have joy and be fulfilled while raising our babies, and taking care of our homes, and I think this can even be achieved if you do work and have a full-time job. It just might be a little harder. Before I get accused of living in the 50s, I'm all about women having lives outside their homes. Being a homebody is not what I'm suggesting, nor am I saying it is all  that we are. Girls' nights, knitting groups, shopping dates, Bible studies, Zumba classes, guitar lessons, photography groups, (and let's not forget date nights with our men!) whatever you like to do, DO IT. Mamas need some time away from their kids and homes. But, if it becomes a complete focus of your energy, I don't think that's good. There always needs to be a balance.

Now, I know this is just a film, but I also think it's a view a lot of people have. And this is just my opinion, so take it for what it's worth. I love my family and want others to be encouraged that we can have joy IN our lives and homes right now. We don't have to run around trying to find it in other things. It's all a matter of where your joy comes from. Ourselves, our circumstances or Jesus?

I'll get off the soapbox now. :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

DtD Challenge #12 - PHOTOGRAPHY!

I've been so uninspired, photography wise. I'm just not able to get out and shoot the loveliness that inspires me...there's just not enough time on the weekends. I'm ok with that for now, that's just the season I am in. But I long to be inspired, even if it's fleeting. So, I went out quickly to shoot a few places that were significant to me.

I pass this little alley/driveway when I do my long outside runs once a week. Every time I run by it, I always look down the alley, expecting someone to jump out at me and am instantly relieved when no one is there. My mind goes to weird places. Maybe I've seen too many CSI shows. 

This is a street I run down on my long run route. I love running outside, especially on a beautifully cool day!

And this is just a pretty flower that popped up in my backyard. Since the weather has been so warm and spring-like this past week, flowers have started sprouting, moths are buzzing around our porch light, and even mosquitoes have started invading my house again. Craziness. What happened to sweater weather?

I enjoyed it, getting out, shooting some of the city that I live in and love. It definitely inspired I just hope to do it more often!

As for next week, I have no idea what I'm going to do and I'm too tired to think it out. So, it's going to be a surprise! Surprise DtD challenge up next week, woot! 

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Today we:

Crawled through the tunnel

Played outside...
And what would a day be like without brother-aggravation?
I have no idea. Perhaps we will find out someday...actually, probably not. These kids love to aggravate each other.

It's a brother's lot in life.

It's really hard to get a real smile out of this kid...and here it is! 

This boys blonde curls are to die for. (and they're about to be cut, gasp!)

This weather is so beautiful (and weird!), we just had to get out in it. We also had a sword fight, chased around the house, ate our snack outside, read our Bible story outside and did some work with our numbers and letters. Minus a little mommy-discouragement, I'd say this was a great day.

This is the game we use when we work on letter sounds and recognition, spelling, and sounding out words. 
Someone gave this to us for Jude's birthday last year, and we use it quite often. I love it! If you have a preschooler and are looking for a way to work on letters and sounds with them, I'd encourage you to add this game to your collection. Kids can learn and have fun at the same time! 

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Helpful Sites

The Frugal Girl (frugality, repurposing, etc)

The Pioneer Woman (recipes)

MCP Actions (photography, PS/PSE actions)

Coffeeshop Blog (photography, digital design and PS freebies)

Digital Photography School (photography)