Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sweet aromas

Noah put his nose up to the cup and wrinkled it up. "Uggh, Mom!"

Eli put his nose up as well. "I know that smell mom, but I can't remember what it's called....is it called oil?"

I smiled and assured him that it was not oil. Daddy took the cup and very quickly proclaimed "Vinegar!"

We decide to add that cup to our 'don't like it' side.

Next round.......Noah takes the cup and smiles. Eli says "Mmmmm.....smells nice, like....sugar?" Nope, wrong again, but he has the right idea. Daddy smiles and says "It's cinnamon!"

That cup goes in the 'like it' side.

And so go the rounds....through garlic powder and cocoa powder.


Different smells.......some pleasant, some not so pleasant.

And we're reminded of how our prayers are like 'smells' to God. The Bible tells us that all of the prayers from His children are like 'sweet aromas' to His senses. He LOVES our prayers. Prayers from His children go in the 'like it' side, every time.

Zachariah and Elizabeth also prayed. They prayed hard for a baby boy. And God's immediate answer to their prayer was 'wait'. And so they waited...year after year after loooonnnnggg year.

But when a different answer came, when God finally said 'Yes', Zachariah was in no state of mind to believe. A baby...John......one who would prepare the way for the Messiah....was coming to them...a 'Yes' answer to their prayers....and he was too stubborn to believe.

God always hears our prayers......and He always 'likes' them. Are we ready to accept whatever answer God sends our way, be it "Yes", "No", "Wait" "Perhaps", etc, etc?


Two thousand years ago, God sent a 'Yes' answer to the Jewish people's prayers for a Messiah. The 'Yes' answer was in the form of a Baby Boy. As my children wait for 25 more days through all of Advent for the celebration of the birth of a Baby, we also eagerly await the 2nd coming of Christ....when once again God's answers to his children will be "Yes".

Advent, Day 4....we celebrated. What did your Day 4 look like?









Sunday, November 27, 2011

Celebrate

Advent began today---hands down my favorite time of the year. A time to celebrate 'coming'----the coming of the Messiah. A time to say 'no' to busy schedules, holiday obligations, and all the 'responsibilities' of the season. Instead, say 'yes' to quiet times of reflection and meditation with your family. Take this time to rejoice in a Savior who was coming...came....and is coming again. Emmanuel......God with us.

Didn't prepare ahead? Don't despair, it's not too late! Grab a few candles---any color and number will do. Traditional Advent celebrations call for three purple, one pink and one white. But, as you can see, we'll be adding a new white candle each evening----adding up to a total of 26 white candles----so the number and color don't really matter. Light a few candles and enjoy the peace of being together.

Didn't buy a devotional ahead of time? No problem! Many of you probably already have the greatest devotional of all times sitting on a shelf in your living room. Go grab your Bible and read a different section from the christmas story found in the Gospel of Matthew or Luke each evening.

And then pray that God would give you a spirit of reflection, peace, and true joy this holiday season.

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Friday, November 25, 2011

To give Thanks

I have to blog about these kinds of days as they happen. Otherwise, MORE days will happen....and I'll miss my chance to share. Thus, this is how it occurs that it is 11:30 and I should be going to sleep instead of blogging. But hey, we're taking the day off of school tomorrow, so I'll survive :)

We spent a beautiful and calm Thanksgiving Day here at home (we'll be eating with Joel's family this Saturday) I think it was one of the first Thanksgivings that our family has just been 'home', and I must say, I really enjoyed it. It was calm, quiet, and very relaxing. Here are some highlights from our day.


The morning started out at 7:15, with me still in my pj's, mixing up a batch of sweet rolls. I've hunted and hunted for years now for the 'perfect' sweet roll recipe, and was always disappointed. But leave it up to  'Our Best Bites' to come up with the best one yet! These sweet rolls were incredible. Ooey and Gooeyness abounded! :) They take a little time, but actually a little quicker than some other recipes I've tried. Let's just say that, our family, in addition to my Grandfather, who joined us for breakfast, had NO problem plowing through a pan of these. If you're interested,  here is the recipe. We made an extra batch and walked some down to our two neighbor ladies. Since we've moved here, these neighbors have knitted a homemade blanket for each one of my children---definitely a keepsake they'll have for a long time! They are always so happy to see us when we drop in to say hi, and call the kids their 'ray of sunshine'. Such sweet ladies! We were happy to share our treats today :)
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If you look closely, you'll notice that my older Indian is missing his front tooth---he pulled it yesterday. So far, both of my older kids LIKE pulling their own teeth---two scores for me!!!
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By the way, while I fixed the meal, my kids listened to Focus on the Family's Radio Theatre 'Squanto'. This is a great presentation of the story, which we highly recommend!

At the last minute, I pulled out an old tablecloth of my grandmothers. Not exactly my style, but you need something special on Thanksgiving, right? Here are the boys waiting...well....not so patiently ;)
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The kids were highly amused that I bought 'a Veggie Tales guy!!' from Food Lion. They had to give him a face before I chopped him up for dinner.
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Since we're eating with Joel's family on Saturday (traditional meal), I thought I'd make this one a little 'non-traditional' Except for the roasted chicken, nothing else was quite 'normal'. We had those stuffed potato boats, butternut squash gratin, Ruby Tuesday style cheedar-garlic biscuits, and a new sweet potato recipe. It was all quite satisfying and good, and we decided that our 'non-traditional' meal might have to become a 'tradition' :) (Now you want to go watch Fiddler on the Roof, right?)
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Two of the loves of my life, washing all the nasty dishes for me.
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Yes, Eli added war paint as the day went along.
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The after-dinner 'curl up in the chair with Dad and read' time.
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We were all quite happy to see Aunt Kristin later in the day. She joined us for some movies and dessert.
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And this final picture was taken last night---I just thought it was too sweet not to post :)
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After losing my Mom last year, I realize that circumstances and things that we take for granted can change in an instant. Today, I am SO thankful for my family---my husband, my children, our baby on the way. But most of all, I am so thankful for the One Who will never change. My family is a gift from Him---and today, I say 'Thank-You!'

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankful for 'Yay' moments

On this, the week of Thanksgiving, I am thankful when projects or ideas turn out 'right'. Nothing urks me more than when I try a new recipe and everybody gives it a thumbs down. Or when I have a specific project in mind, and it just doesn't turn out the way I expected or hoped it would. I guess that's God working in me to be 'content in all circumstances'.....even when life doesn't go according to my neat, nice little plan :)
This week, however, I have had a couple of 'thumbs up' projects happen. My first 'yay' was when I found this adorable purple hat for Leanna at GoodWill for 99 cents. I washed it up, put it on her sweet little head, and she loved it.
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Well, okay....she loved it for about three minutes. Then it was more like 'Enough already!'
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Second 'yay'. I've had this dress that I got from GoodWill for months. It was a ladies size large, way too big for me, and, well, rather hideous looking. I always intended to do something with it, but never got around to it. Yesterday, feeling inspired, I chopped it up, sewed it up, hemmed it up...............
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.....and made this cute skirt for Cosette :) And it fits, and I did it right on the first try, and.....I'm a happy sewing Mama ;)
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Funny side note: In the picture of just the dress, see the white and blue speckled object in the bottom left corner? I took the picture from way up high to get the whole dress in, and when I looked at the photo, for the life of me I couldn't figure out WHAT that was in the bottm of the picture. Something on the floor? My sock? A......oh wait. I know what it is. It's my baby belly sticking into the photo, haha :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thankfulness is about....

Celebrating the seasons. My husband said this was the most interesting use of dried peas he'd ever seen.
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Homemade tents.
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Rejoicing in the simple. Eli really wanted to take this picture. It was his lunch---just a baked potato with toppings, but he thought it looked 'so beautiful, Mom!' He didn't seem to mind that the picture turned out blurry.
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Trying to capture little 18 month old girls who DO NOT hold still for longer than five seconds at a time. Ever. I'm much better at photographing 'still' objects ;)
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Ahh....Five seconds of stillness. Much better!
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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mornings at our house

Some mornings are just worth sharing. I'm sitting here typing this up while my big kids do their morning chores, Noah brushes his teeth and Leanna finishes her banana. (Ugh...there's that rhyming thing again.) So, anyway, I thought I could grab ten extra blogging minutes or so to give you a smile :)

My boys were sleeping later than normal this morning, so I went in to wake them up. I opened the blinds, turned on the light, and saw this:
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Being the loving mother that I am, I immediately ran to grab my camera. I honestly thought he was sound asleep. The lights had been out, he wasn't moving  muscle. I thought "Good grief! Bunk Beds are dangerous!" But then, as I went over to try to gently wake him up and move him back up to his bed, he started to giggle, the little stinker!! He was wide awake the whole time :)


These were our breakfast this morning. Oh.My.Word. They were delicious! Whole wheat English muffins with cream cheese and a simple strawberry sauce. My kids gobbled them up!
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The general recipe can be found here, but obviously I tweaked it a bit to make it work for what I had on hand in the fridge/freezer :) (Sorry for the blurry photo---I'm no good at food shots :)
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And now, I think that my extra ten stolen minutes are up.....off to get school started!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The truth, for a laugh :)

My cousin got married today, and it was a beautiful wedding. I'd love to show you pictures of how gorgeous she was, and their beautiful reception hall, and of my crazy kids dancing their legs off all night....but alas, I can't. I took my camera, but left the memory card at home :/

That's got to be worse than when I put the fresh zucchini in the freezer the other day, or when I just recently tried to put the lettuce in the pantry instead of the fridge.

Although, I don't think it is quite as bad as the other day when my daughter informed me that I was about to walk out of the house with a hole in the back of my pants. Or the other day, when Bible study was about to start, and I realized that I was still wearing my fuzzy pink socks from my pj's that morning.


You know how they say that pregnancy fries a few brain cells? Well, let's just say I've been dumping flax seed on everything lately...I think my brain could use those extra omega 3's :)



Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Sprucing up the laundry room

Have you ever read the blog Better After? It's a whole collection of furniture/rooms, etc, that people have taken and 'fixed up'. They go from looking old and yucky to new and cool :)

Well, our own 'fixer-upper' room isn't quite as dramatic as any from that blog, but I must say, I was quite pleased with what a little paint can do! Joel decided to tackle our laundry area this past weekend. Our laundry room is really a former back porch which previous owners had made into part of the house, so it's long and skinny. We thought a little paint and work would add some new life to the space. I've been itching to show you all photos, and Joel just got most of the trim-work done tonight, so I finally have his permission to share :)

Here are our 'Before' photos


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For anybody who knows me, you're probably already guessing that I hated the paneling in here. Well, here's what a little paint and new shelves can do:

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(And yes, I'm well aware that there is personal clean laundry hanging in these photos---I was too tired to crop the pictures, and besides, it's a laundry room, after all :)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Library Day

The books haven't quite made it to the shelf yet :)
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My Mom bought that white and red bag for me to take to the library, and then laughed and said it was way too huge. She then presented me with the somewhat smaller green and blue bag. Oh, how she'd laugh now to know that it takes BOTH of her bags to get us to the library these days.
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Don't you just love the smell of a book? I'm sorry, but e-books and kindles lack this fine quality!
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My little guy, as in love with books as his older siblings.
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Sunday, November 06, 2011

A little early...no, more like right on time :)

I kind of took a blog 'hiatus' there for a little while, sorry. That was unintentional! The problem for me at this time of the year is that my mind starts going about 100 miles per hour. I've got ideas going through my mind of Christmas gifts I want to make with the kids, new recipes we're going to try, how we're going to get the whole family together at some point since we don't have my mom here to help this year, how I'm going to make my home a beautiful, cozy place to be in December, ideas swarming in my head of new Advent possibilities and how we're going to make this year special for our family....keeping up my dear Mom's love of the season.

But, let me clarify. Have you ever seen the movie Christmas with the Kranks?

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It's one of my favorite movies ever! I think it's all because of the scene where Tim Allen tries to eat a spoonful of canned peaches after receiving a Botox injection. Cracks me up every time, I'm telling you. But, I degress, as normal. My real point in this story is to tell you that our Holy season is NOT like that. All the ideas and inspirations running around in my head are GOOD things. We're not running around the week before Christmas, searching for the perfect Honey-baked ham for Christmas Eve dinner or suddenly rushing out because we forgot to buy a gift for somebody.

No, I love this time of year. The joy, the ideas, the inspirations I have swimming in my head are not because I'm going to make it crazy around here.....it's an inbred thing from my childhood. Christmas was a beautiful time at our house growing up. We managed to avoid the craziness of the holiday season and instead, I remember nights around the Advent candles, mom peeling orange after orange, roasted potatoes in the oven after a night of Christmas caroling...you get the idea.

And, I want to keep the beauty of it alive for my family. I want them to look back over this time, and the memories that they get will be of beauty, peace, love, joy, etc. Not of WalMart lines, crazy schedules and night after night of being up way too late. In just a few short weeks, we're going to celebrate Thanksgiving....and then Advent starts....what are YOU doing to find the joy this Holy Season?

Look below for some inspirations....


Need some fresh ideas for your Advent Season? Our family will be enjoying this beautiful idea from Ann VosKamp at 'A Holy Experience. Joel made one of these awesome Advent wreaths for our family this year :)


 Doesn't this picture make you feel just inspired? No, I didn't take it :) My decorating ideas stop at a candle and a table cloth :) No, I'm of the belief that some of the greatest ideas in life are ones that are borrowed from those much wiser and talented  :) But I'd LOVE to do more stuff like this this December. This came from Julie Mulligan at floral lifestyle.


Finally, looking for delicious food ideas? (Aren't you glad I didn't say 'yummy'? Yeah, I suppressed the Mommy in me.) Look no further than Our Best Bites. I've never been disappointed with a recipe from them, never. In fact, they had our caramel apple recipe from my last post :)

And that, my friends, is my re-entrance into blogging and inspirations for this soon-to-be Holy Season. Remember----don't stress!! It's not worth it. Years from now, you won't remember the stress (hopefully), but you WILL remember the joy of this time of year. Start a new Adven tradition with your family....invite a widowed neighbor over for your Thanksgiving meal......go Christmas Caroling...spread the  'Good news of great joy!'

(Hey, if I waited until December to remind you, you might not have had time to dump the stress and pick up the joy :)

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