Sunday, April 30, 2006

Birth Progress

Lost my mucus plug (what an awful term) yesterday afternoon. The midwife said that we're making progress, but that it doesn't necessarily mean that labor/delivery are right around the corner. Also, had my first contraction this AM (followed by several Braxton-Hicks contractions), but nothing regular, so I'm not getting too excited just yet. My last two babies held on right up until their due dates so I'm not putting any stock into the chance that I'll go early with this one. (The actual due date is May 11th.)

The days are long when you're 9 months pregnant and standing so close to the finish line. In one sense, I'm ready to get on with life and make the transition now. But in another sense, I'm enjoying every last moment I've been given with my little family of four and I'm not sure I'm really all that "ready". God is sovereign and He knows best... it all rests perfectly in His timing.

Friday, April 28, 2006

WAY COOL WEB SITE

You ladies SO need to check out this website: http://www.topsecretrecipes.com

Pick any brand of food (like Arby's, Applebees, Bisquick, Taco Bell, etc.) and they'll give you recipes to some of your most favorite foods. That's right, you can make it at HOME!!! Some of the recipes you have to pay for (a mere $.79 or so per recipe), but some of them are free. Let me know what you think.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Getting your children to eat healthy

My girlfriend recently wrote an entry in her blog discussing some of the tricks she uses to get her two children to eat healthy. Here were her suggestions:

1) get the children involved in the cooking/baking process
2) use dipping sauces whenever possible
3) puree undesirable veggies into their meal
4) grow a kid garden
4) tell stories at the dinner table

Here are a few of the things that RD and I try:

1) Our children don't enjoy drinking straight water, so we nearly fill their sippies with water and then fill the rest with 100% fruit juice. It's just sweet enough that they drink it right up.
2) When making grilled cheese sandwiches, STAY AWAY FROM VELVEETA. We try to use block cheese as much as possible. Better for you, and tastes WAY better.
3) An alternative to ice cream is frozen 100% fruit juice (in small ice cube trays) or Flavor-Ice/Italian Ice pops.
4) Absolutely no desserts are given until the majority of their meal has been eaten. We watch portion sizes closely so we know cleaning their plate is not an impossible feat.
5) We use a "one bite rule". Anytime we serve a food we know the kids don't like, we make them eat at least one bite. Tastes change over time- they may eventually learn to like it. Works especially well when introducing new foods. RD even applies this rule to me. I despise cooked carrots, but everytime they get served he makes me eat them... in front of the kids. As I gag them down with all eyes on me, I know that an example is being set for them.
6) Nearly all of the snacks we serve are healthy: chopped fruit, veggies and dip, pretzels, peanuts, cheese, etc. On rare occasions, we'll give them chips, marshmallows, candy, chocolate chips, etc. but it's few and far between. Teaches them that snacking isn't bad- it's what you snack on that's important.
7) Eat at home as much as possible. Not only will this save you some major cash, but you'll also KNOW what's going into your food!

What are some of the things that you do to ensure that your children are eating healthy, balanced diets?

Misc. pics

My growing family.


Arianna wearing her new apron she got as a 3-yr. birthday present.


Arianna already loving motherhood.



Me, 9 months pregnant with baby #3

Serving Others

It seems like every time I open my Bible I read yet another passage about being a servant. Gee, could God be trying to say something to me? Here's what I read today:

"... whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." -Mark 10:43-45

Father, may my motives be right today as I serve RD and the children. May I not take care of their needs out of a heart of duty, but out of a sincere heart of worship and service to You. May I put them before myself in all things and may I constantly be looking for ways to "be there" for them fully throughout the day.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

another nifty website

Got another link from my girlfriend to a pretty neat website. Check it out:

http://www.choosinghome.com/

Friday, April 21, 2006

Priorities

Came to a revelation yesterday. It's one of those "duh" moments when something finally clicks in my head and the gray matter starts firing. One of my major frustrations with motherhood/stay-at-home-dom is that there always seems to be so much to do and so little time to do it. Here I am married, 9 months pregnant, mother of two toddlers, and in charge of a home that needs to be maintained daily. On top of that, I've also got church responsibilities, friends, and family that need my time and attention. It gets overwhelming at times.

As I had my quiet time with the Lord yesterday, I cried out for direction and guidance, especially as it pertained to balancing my time with the children and maintaining the home. Then it just hit me... what's more important? My "to-do" list or investing my time and energy into the lives' of my children? I realized that I had been putting my daily list of chores above spending time with my children. Wow... so that's why they always seem to be underfoot, poorly behaved, whiney and annoying... They were trying with everything in their limited power to get my attention. Apparently negative attention was better than no attention. Deep conviction hit my heart. I couldn't believe it! Yes, things must get done around the house. We could easily fall to the opposite extreme and neglect the home because we're too busy "investing" in our children. But I found myself putting my home before my children. No wonder I've been so frazzled, discouraged, and annoyed.

These past two days have been experimental in our home. I've tried really hard to make sure that I play with the kids, read them books, go outside and run around with them, play ball, etc. before I try to do anything on my to-do list. Oh, it's been hard- I look around the house and my head starts to swim with all the things that think I "need" to be doing (laundry, sweeping the floor, dishes, ironing...). But I swallow hard, look away, get down on my knees and play with my two little munchkins. Amazingly enough, I still manage to get most of my house duties done! It's like, now that I'm spending more time with my kids, their little worlds are now ok, they are better behaved, and my time is more freed-up. It's weird.

Like I said, most people would be like, "duh"... but for me, this has truly been an eye-opening experience. Maybe some of you other ladies out there are in (or have been) in a similar situation. May I encourage you to put aside your list of household duties today and do something special and fun with your children. Honestly, what's more important in the long run? That mounting load of dishes that needs to be washed or that precious child of yours that's longing for your time, energy, and attention? Where are your priorities?

Whole Wheat Bread

Finally found a recipe for whole wheat bread that's soft, but stiff enough to cut thin slices with a bread knife for sandwiches and the like. We love homemade bread but everything I've ever made can't be cut thinly for normal cooking uses. If any of you ladies have a better tried and true recipe, I'd love to hear about it.

2-1/4 cup warm milk
1/4 cup warm oil
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbls. salt
2 packages yeast
5 cups flour (bread flour preferrably)

Mix milk and oil in WARM mixer bowl. Beat in egg, sugar, whole wheat flour, salt and yeast at low speed for 2 mins. Add and mix in flour gradually. Knead on floured surface until smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease surface. Let rise, covered, until doubled in bulk. Knead on floured surface for 5 mins. Shape into loaves in 2 greased loaf pans. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Bake at 350F for 40-50 mins. Cool on rack. Yields: 2 loaves.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mile High Chocolate Pie

Meringue Crust:
3 eggs whites
2/3 cups sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
dash of salt

Whip together about 6 mins until stiff peaks form. Spread on foil on a 12 inch pizza pan. Bake one hour at 300F. Allow to cool for two hours in the oven.

Filling:
1/2 cup heavy cream
10 oz. chocolate chips
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups heavy cream

Melt the chocolate chips in the 1/2 cup heavy cream. Mix the remaining 4 cups of cream and the vanilla into the cooled chocolate mixture. Refrigerate overnight. Next day, whip until fairly stiff. Fill pie shell.

Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbls. powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Mix ingredients and whip until fairly stiff. Spread on top of chocolate layer.

Garnish with shaved chocolate or toasted nuts.

Secrets to perfect deviled eggs

(Taken from a recent "Everyday Cheapskate" article by Mary Hunt from our local newspaper.)

The best eggs for "deviling" are small eggs.
Set the carton on its side in the refrigerator a day before you plan to boil the eggs. This technique "centers" the yolks in each egg and makes the most attractive deviled eggs.
Place the eggs in a medium saucepan, cover them with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and let stand for 10 mins. Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with 1 quart cold water and about 14 ice cubes (one tray). Transfer the eggs to ice water with a slotted spoon; let sit 5 mins. Peel.
After boiling and peeling, slice a scant nickel-sized piece of egg from each end to make them stable. Now, halve the eggs crosswise, not lengthwise. Notice how each half resembles a tiny cup and has a "flat" bottom that allows it to sit upright without wobbling on the plate. Look over your eggwhite halves. Discard the two halves that are the least perfect. Now you will have enough filling to make sure all remaining halves are well-stuffed.
Carefully scoop the yolk from each egg half into a quart-size zipper bag, not into a bowl. Add other ingredients, zip and "knead" the bag with your hand to mix all of the ingredients well. Press the yolk mixture toward one of the bottom corners. With a pair of scissors, carefully snip a small bit of the corner from the bag. You now have a neat "pastry bag" from which you can pipe the mixture into the prepared egg-white halves.
When you're finished, simply throw the bag away. No mess, no fuss, no cleanup. Once they are prepared, refrigerate the deviled eggs for at least one hour before serving.

Classic Deviled Eggs
12 eggs; 1 tsp. paprika, 4 Tbls. mayonnaise; 1 tsp. dry mustard; salt to taste

Decadent Deviled Eggs
12 eggs; 2 tsp. dry mustard; 1 tsp. Worshestershire sauce; 1 tsp. hot-pepper sauce; 1/4 tsp. celery salt; 1/2 cup butter, softened

Cheddar Bacon Deviled Eggs
12 eggs; 1/2 cup mayonnaise; 4 slices bacon (fried, cooled and crumbled); 2 Tbls. finely shredded Cheddar cheese; 1 Tbls. prepared mustard

Spicey-Italian Deviled Eggs
12 eggs; 2 Tbls. spicey-brown mustard; 2 Tbls. Italian salad dressing; 1/2 cup mayonnaise; 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper or to taste; 1 tsp. salt or to taste; sprinkle finished eggs with paprika

Zesty Deviled Eggs
12 eggs; 1/2 cup mayonnaise; 4 Tbls. finely chopped onion; 6 Tbls. sweet pickle relish; 2 Tbls. prepared horseradish; 1 Tbls. prepared mustard; salt and pepper to taste; and paprika to garnish

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Homemaking website

One of my girlfriends recently sent me a link to this website.

http://www.ladiesagainstfeminism.com/artman/publish/index.shtml

There are some really neat articles about taking care of the home and what all in entails. As far as I can tell, it's written from a Christian perspective. Check it out.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Shopping tips

For those of you frugal shoppers out there, here's a few little tips I've learned about ALDI. Fresh ground beef costs approximately $4.50 for two pounds. Ground TURKEY (frozen) cost $.79 for one pound. Big price differential! For things like chili or casseroles where meat isn't the main ingredient, you can save some money by using ground turkey and you probably won't even notice the difference in taste or texture. Not sure if this price difference follows true for places like Meijer, Wal-Mart, or Kroger, but it might be worth the look if you don't have an Aldi nearby. Another thing I've noticed is that you get more "bang for your buck" by purchasing 100% FROZEN fruit juice (from concentrate) ($.79-$.99 per container) rather than buying a big container of 100% juice already prepared. After adding your own FREE water from home, you get more ounces of juice for less money.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

A difficult act of submission

If you've been staying tuned to my blog since it's start, you've then read at least two entries discussing the importance of getting up early and spending time with the Lord. While I believe with all my heart that this is a very important thing to do, I also think that submission to one's husband takes a higher priority. For three full weeks, I was getting up early (4:45am) so I could have quality quiet time with the Lord, and, also to get a few chores done around the house before anyone woke up. It was great. I was growing in the Lord, was memorizing Scripture, was able to read and study without interruption... A problem arose, though, between my husband and I. See, my husband is a night-owl (always has been), and so, stays up until pretty late (midnight/1am). With me getting up so early, I would want to go to bed no later than 10pm (and that was pushing it). Our schedules clashed and we found that during those three weeks we hardly saw much of each other outside of parenting. RD asked me if I could rearrange my schedule so that I stayed up later with him and slept in a little later in the morning. Even though I liked getting up early, I have a strong conviction that as a wife I need to follow my husband. He wasn't being cruel... he just wanted to be with his wife. I am currently in transition to adapting to RD's schedule, and I truly believe the Lord is blessing us as a couple for my obedience to RD's request. Rather than getting up at 4:45am, I am now getting up at 6:30am to have my quiet time with the Lord. Amazingly enough, the kids have been sleeping better (and later in the AM) so I'm able to shower/get dressed/snuggle with RD in the mornings/AND get some chores done around the house. Another thing that I've noticed is that my children sleep harder when they first go to bed so I can make more noise doing chores and it doesn't bother them a bit. When I was getting up early, I found that I had to tip-toe around the house and only do those household duties that were "quiet" so as to not wake them prematurely. This new schedule is really actually working out better- I'm getting so much more done around the house! And the most important thing is, RD and I are getting more alone time as a couple. With the kids getting to bed at 8pm or so, we get a good 3-4 hours together without any distractions... and I still get my quiet time with the Lord! Ladies, if you've been trying to get up early like I encouraged you all to do, make sure that you ask your husbands what they think about it and whether or not it's working for you as a couple. God blesses obedience.

homekeeping tip #1

Answer honestly... how many of you ladies out there made your bed this morning? It's taken me nearly 27 years to finally follow my mother's advice, but I'm starting the habit. It's a simple concept, really, but how many of us neglect this one little chore with the thought "oh, I'll just be messing it up later, anyway"? If you have a Queen/King sized bed, I'll bet that your bed alone takes up nearly 70% of your bedroom space (that is, unless you have an absolutely HUGE master bedroom). If you haven't yet started this habit, I encourage you to start this morning. It only takes a minute or two. And if the rest of your room needs major decluttering, I can promise you that a well-kept bed will make it look at least half-way decent and inviting.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Gender differences surface again

This afternoon, I took my two little munchkins to the store to buy them sandles for summer. Immediately, Arianna fawned all over the Dora the Explorer/Princess/pink sandles and Benjamin zeroed in on the Superman/Spiderman sandles. RD and I never taught our kids to be attracted to stuff like that. It just seems to come naturally. I remember learning in my child psychology class in college and there is actually a branch of so-called "psychologists" and "child experts" out there that believe that parents "teach" their children to be male and female. After having children of my own, I've come to realize those people are either brain deficient or have never had children of their own. I'm guessing it's the latter. There's no doubt in my mind that God is the One who's wired our boys and girls differently. The longer I'm married and the more I observe male-female interactions, the more I am absolutely facinated by how different, but complementary, the two genders are. Why on earth would anyone want to blur the two? Seems like our society is trying so hard to make things gender-neutral and I think it's so sad. It's absolutely beautiful to see women being women and men being men... just the way God created it to be.

Aunt Glenda's Yeast Dough

This is another version of yeast dough, although this one cannot keep in the refrigerator for a week. Even overnight, it rises too much. This is excellent and highly versatile.

2 cups warm tap water
2-1/2 packages yeast (just shy of 3 Tbls. if using bulk yeast)
6 heaping Tbls. sugar
2 tsp. salt
6 Tbls. oil *
4-1/2 to 5 cups flour

*Note: Aunt Glenda uses a "continuous pour" method when she measures her oil; a more accurate measurement may be 7-8 Tbls.


Mix altogether water, yeast, sugar, oil, and salt. Add flour until mixed well (may be a little sticky). Drizzle EXTRA oil (approx. 2 Tbls.) around edges of dough; roll or turn dough to coat in oil with rubber spatula. Let raise until doubled (if placed in warm/no breeze area, it'll probably take only 30-40 min). Punch down; flour countertop; barely knead dough long enough to stop it from being too gooey or sticky. Shape into rolls, bread sticks, cinnamon rolls, etc. Let raise again for approximately 30-40 min. Bake on greased pan at 350F for 15-20 min.s or until lightly golden brown. Yields 18-20 rolls or cinnamon rolls.

Don't freeze the dough, as you will kill the yeast. Bake your rolls first, wrap well, then freeze for up to a month.

The use of extra yeast and oil is what makes the bread really fluffy. Also note that I learned this recipe by WATCHING Aunt Glenda. You may need to experiment with this recipe a bit until you get it perfected.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Natural Healing

RD's aunt from New Jersey recommended a book entitled: Prescription for Nutritional Healing: the A-to-Z Guide to Supplements by Phyllis Balch. She said it was an excellent and easy-to-read resource that has been highly useful/effective for her family. We found it on Amazon super cheap so we bought it today!!! There's just so much stuff on home remedies and herbal healing on the internet... it's so overwhelming and it's impossible to know who's credible and who's a quack. RD and I wanted something tried and true, a one source stop for answering minor health concerns we have (something along the lines of the "What to Expect When You're Expecting" books). Let you guys know what we think when it comes in the mail.

Cool web site

My sister recently e-mailed me this web site. If any of you are familiar with impossible pies, you haven't seen anything yet! Check it out: http://www.recipegoldmine.com/pieimp/pieimp.html

Names have officially been picked out

If we have a boy, his name will be: Conner Paul D.
If we have a girl, her name will be: Cassandra Leigh D.

(Paul is my father's middle name and Leigh is my mother-in-law's first name.)

Monday, April 10, 2006

D. Family Get-Together

Yesterday afternoon, nearly the entire D. side of the family came over and we had a big get-together/Birthday celebration (for Arianna). It was so neat to watch the older women. Sure there was a lot of socializing a girly gabbing, but almost all of it was done in the kitchen. They were busy busy busy cooking, baking, making salads, washing dishes, wiping and straightening up the kitchen, etc.. And NONE of it was drudgery work to them. They worked so diligently and with so much joy in their hearts. It was really an awesome thing to watch. What was even more interesting than their actions was their topics of conversation. Sewing, cooking skills and techniques, revealing the secrets to their special recipes, home remedies and healing, things they've learned (and are learning) about parenting... Women were being women, they were in their element, and were happy, joyful, and delighted to work. It was a very encouraging experience. On top of that, not a single time did I see any of the women get frustrated when my children were underfoot, interrupting their conversations, needing correction or redirection, or plain just wanting to be held. They gladly stopped what they were doing and paid complete attention to my kids. They were a welcomed distraction. I want to be like that! I want to find overwhelming joy in my position in the home. I want to be able to see my children as delightful distrations and not as "interruptions to my schedule". I want to work diligently with my hands with no thought that it's drudgery.

Father, change me. Change my heart and help me to totally enjoy my role in life. Thank You for giving me a home and family to care for. May I love and nurture with abundant joy.


PS- One of RD's aunts sewed together a super cute bunny apron for Arianna as one of her gifts. She looks like such a little lady in it! She loved it and insisted on wearing it right up until bedtime. Now she can REALLY help mommy in the kitchen. ;-) It is so awesome to see her at 3 years of age already so interested in things of the home.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Nesting Urge Strikes Again

I don't know if this baby is coming early, or what, but it's been a near obsession with me lately to make sure everything around the house is just-so and prepared for his/her arrival. Just last night, I washed the baby bedding and prepared the bassinet (waterproof mat and all), got out my breastpump/collection bottles/breast pads/Boppy, and took out of storage a box of gender-neutral 0-3 mo. clothes and prepped it to wash. I've also been starting to freeze dinner leftovers so we have meals on hand to quickly reheat those first few weeks postpartum. I think I'm starting to make RD nervous. ;-) What once scared me (having a third child so soon) now brings much excitement. I really think I'm ready for this baby. It's so cute to watch RD get excited, too. Most men seem indifferent to newborns, or maybe they feel awkward and don't know quite what to do with them, but RD really likes babies. It's a wonderful reprieve, too, because with all the breastfeeding that occurs throughout the day, I totally welcome RD's baby enthusiasm. He willingly whisks the baby away with a huge grin on his face any chance he gets. He'll even BURP the baby for me, which is a pretty daring task since my last two babies were major pros at the spit up game. Wonder what Arianna and Benjamin will think of the new baby?

Wild Mushroom Beef Stew (crockpot)

This is a very tasty beef stew my family just tried yesterday. It's a little peppery, so if you're not a big fan, just cut the proportion down to 1/4 tsp.. Also, if your local grocery store does not have Shiitake mushrooms, you can substitute other mushrooms of your choice. (For extra punch, add a few dried porcini mushrooms to the stew.)

1-1/2 to 2 lbs. beef stew meat, cut in 1-inch cubes
1/8 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1-1/2 cups beef broth
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. paprika
4 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 med. carrots, sliced
2 med. potatoes, diced
1 small white onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, sliced

Put the beef in a 4-qt. crockpot. Mix together the flour, salt, and pepper, and pour over the meat; stirring to coat each piece of meat with flour. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to mix well. Cover; cook on Low 10-12 hours (or on High for 4-6 hours). Stir the stew thoroughly before serving. Makes 5 servings.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Spinach & Feta-Stuffed Meatloaf (crockpot)

2 lbs. ground beef
2 large eggs
2/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 package dry onion soup mix
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. grated
1/2 cup ketchup
3/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3 Tbl. sun-dried tomatoes, minced
(1) 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

Reserve 2 Tbl. of ketchup. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, onion soup mix, garlic, Parmesan cheese and remaining ketchup. In a small bowl, mix together the feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. On a cutting board covered with wax paper, pat the meat mixture into a rectangle, approximately 6" x 10". Spread the feta cheese mixture over the meat rectangle to within 1-inch of the edges. Place the spinach over the feta. Using the wax paper, roll the meat loaf so that the meat completely covers the cheese and spinach center. Make sure that the ends of the meat loaf are also completely sealed. Place in a 4-qt. crockpot, on one end, if necessary. Top with the remaining ketchup. Cover; cook on Low 8-10 hours (or on High for 4-6 hours).

Friday, April 07, 2006

Date night with hubby

Last night, my husband and I had an incredible evening out together on a REAL date! It was awesome. RD and I are so blessed to be living downstairs from his parents because once the kids are in bed, we can just hand them the baby monitor and leave. We've been really trying to make our date nights a regular weekly thing (usually on Wednesday's) and have totally been enjoying our time out alone.

Since we live in a small town and are surrounded by small towns, there's really not a whole lot that's open late. Our latest discovery has been Applebee's. Not sure if it's just an Indiana thing or if it's all Applebee's, but after 9pm (Sun-Thurs.) it's 1/2-off appetizers. RD and I will make a meal out of it and spend like $7 between the two of us! To boot, they're open until 11pm. And, of course, we still love visiting our local Wal-Mart. We use diapers as an excuse to go but really we go to scope out the bargin bins and electronics department. Plus, they have a lot of my HBA stuff that I can't get in Peru.

The reason RD and I covet these moments together alone is due to the fact that we've never really had a marriage outside of kids. We realize this was God's plan for us since the beginning and we're totally cool with that. But, we really can't fathom what life would have been like if we would have waited to have children. We didn't even really have a "honeymoon" phase in our marriage because three weeks after we got married I was "praying to the porcelain god" (so to speak) with terrible morning sickness that lasted for four whole months.

One of the things that I struggle with as being a wife and mom is putting RD before the kids. I think I've been off-balance for most of our marriage and am just now starting to put him first in my life (that is, after God). Not that we were strangers to one another or not happy with our marriage, but I started to notice that when we did get a chance together alone, we didn't have much to talk about, and if we did, the topic surrounded itself around the kids. I allowed the kids to become my life.

I'm not saying that it's wrong to be super-concerned and involved in your kids' lives. It's our JOB as mothers to take care of the kids. But we can easily become off-balanced and make them the center of our world.

I encourage you women, especially those of you that work outside the home, MAKE TIME FOR YOUR HUSBAND. I know it sounds weird, possibly even harsh, but he comes first before the kids. While you're busy making and raising babies, you need to be cultivating that precious relationship with your spouse. One day, those babies are going to be adults and will be leaving the home. When that happens, if you've been making your marriage a priority, you'll have something wonderful together to share in your permanent "aloneness". If you've centered your life around the kids, once they leave, you'll be waking up one day next to a total stranger. Don't let this happen. Plan regular alone times. Try not talking about the kids. Be creative. Enjoy your husband.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Confessions of a movie junkie

I'll admit it. I like movies. For the past 9 years I have not had cable, nor any TV for that matter... but I do like my movies. My husband likes movies, too, although his tastes are a bit different than my own. Slowly, I have grown accustomed do his diet of Sci-fi and action flicks so we can watch pretty much anything together. Nothing says relaxation and togetherness than snuggling on the couch with my hubby in the evenings (after the kids have gone to bed) with a blanket, a cup of tea, and zoning out to a good movie. We don't do this every evening, but at least once or twice a week. We love it. But as with anything, moderation is key. Boy, has that ever become an apparent principle within the last few weeks...

When construction was finally completed and we moved into our basement apartment, just to get the kids out from underfoot while I unpacked, I would pop in a kid's video for them to watch. It was a wonderful reprieve at the time and I was able to get MUCH accomplished. But as the unpacking process slowed down, I found myself still popping in videos for the kids (at least 1-2 a day) without giving it much thought. It somehow had quickly turned into a way to babysit the kids and get them out of my hair.

The wake-up call was when, after a few weeks of this movie-binge thing, the first thing out of Arianna's mouth when she got up in the mornings was "Can we watch a movie?". At first I didn't think anything of it and would ablige. But after a few more mornings of hearing that same question out of her, it got annoying and I started to say "no". That's when the whining and complaining came out of the woodwork and I found myself resisting her pleas all the more. Finally, I got to the point where I said enough and completely stopped watching movies altogether. Talk about chaos in the homefront.

I had no idea she was so addicted! I counted how many times she asked for a movie that first day the TV was off and after 20 times I lost count. I kid you not. She's a persistent little thing. Day 2 was a little easier, but her insistant pleadings continued. Each day has gotten a little easier and easier, though.

We've been movie-free now for about 2-1/2 weeks and it's been amazing to see how things have changed at home. Arianna still asks for movies maybe once a day, but I can easily redirect her with books or going to the library or going shopping or going outside to play. Those first few days of abstinence were pretty tough, though (more so for me than for the kids). It was annoying to hear Arianna keep asking for movies all day long, but what was more difficult was finding stuff to do with the kids during those hours (literally) that they were no longer "tuned out". I feel bad even writing this to you ladies and making this confession. But maybe I'm not the only mom out there that uses TV and/or movies as a way to babysit children.

TV and movies aren't bad in and of themselves, but the vegetative state people get into when watching it is not good. The brain turns off, imagination dies, creativity slacks, and relationships have difficulty growing. My kids morphed during that phase, and not for the better. Arianna got really selfish. Her whining increased ten-fold. She forgot how to play with Benjamin. She didn't even want to play. I'd give her recreational options and she turned her nose up at every one of them. She didn't even want to color or look at her phonics cards (which are her favorite past times)!

Mom's... if you think you watch too much TV or movies with your kids, try turning it off. Use that precious time to deepen your relationship with your child, to teach and train them, to play. Invest in their creativity and imagination. Make movie time a treat in your home. You'll be amazed at the benefits.

PS- RD and I have slowed down on the amount of movies we watch the evenings as well. It's even been good for our marriage!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Prenatal visit today

My midwife and her assistant (who will be present at the birth as well) came this AM for the first home visit. Things are looking great! Baby's healthy, strong, and positioned/ready for birth. My midwife said she's expecting this one to be an 8-pounder since he/she seems to already be rather large. Actually, she said the bigger they are the easier it is to birth them since gravity has a little more to work with. She also said that after April 22, I can have the baby at any time and things will be just fine. RD and I are so excited! I'm glad God gives women 9 months of prep time for babies because when we first found out I was pregnant (yet AGAIN) for #3... let's just say I was less than enthusiastic. As the months have progressed, though, I find myself getting giddy all over again as if it were my first. Can't wait to see him/her for the first time... to hear whether it's a boy or girl... to hold them for the first time... and I absolutely LOVE that new baby smell! Does having babies ever get old or boring? Life is so precious.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

More thoughts on getting up early

-sigh- I begin this entry with a bit of frustration, but also a great peace and trust in God that He's Sovereign, in control, and He knows what He's doing. For nearly two weeks now, I have been disciplining myself to get up early (4:45am) in order to spend quiet time with God reading/meditating/memorizing His Word and praying. So far, I've only slept in once (Sat. AM) but was still up early enough to have devos before anyone else got up. I can't even begin to tell you how great the pay-offs have been. God's Word runs through my mind often throughout the day. I can tell I'm starting to see things from a more spiritual perspective. I find myself being a little more patient and wise with my children. I have an increased desire to submit to and build up my husband. And I find myself more grieved with sin. It's truly been a wonderful two weeks. But where my frustration arises is in this: in the past two weeks, everything works against me in the evening hours so that I can't get to bed at a decent hour and/or something keeps me up during the night so I get choppy sleep. Seriously, before I started getting up early, I had NO problems sleeping through the night and getting a full and restful sleep. Now, it's all crazy. Things like crying babies, dirty diapers, having to use the restroom 5 times in the middle of the night, illness, etc. prevent me from getting the sleep I need. I don't understand it! WHY only in the last two weeks does all of this occur?! Is this a test of some sort? Is Satan trying to thwart my plans of personal spiritual growth?... I continue to fight this irresistable urge to curl back up under the warm covers every AM, but it's getting harder. Thankfully, God has provided me with precious naptimes in the afternoons so I do get some rest. And it also amazes me to see how well I'm functioning on so little sleep. It all comes down to sacrifice and what's most important in life, I guess. For me, being alone with God is more precious to me than sleep.

Read something in the book of Mark today that was really encouraging. Mark 1:29-39 talks about a VERY busy/sleep depriving period of time in Jesus' ministry. Apparently, Jesus went to Capernaum to preach in the synagogue on the Sabbath. After He was done preaching, He went to Peter's mother-in-law's house to heal her from a fever. As soon as it was sundown, nearly the entire city came to this lady's house for healing. The townspeople waited until sunset to meet with Jesus because it was against Jewish law to both travel and receive healing on the Sabbath. Let's just say Jesus had very busy evening lined up. But He did it. He stayed up really late healing people's illnesses and driving out demons. What struck me the most was in Mark 1:35 when Scripture says "In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there." Reading on... "Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, 'Everyone is looking for You.' He said to them, 'Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.' And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons." Wow. Jesus may not have had children begging for His attention and He may not have had a huge to-do list that included meal planning, grocery shopping, cleaning house, and doing laundry... but He sure can identify with the weary wife and mom. He's "been there, done that". He had a purpose and a mission that was more important to Him than sleep itself. But notice something important. He didn't heal and drive out demons without first seeking out the Lord. Even if He wasn't allotted a huge amount of quiet time, He still made it a priority and God blessed Him with the strength to carry on with His ministry.

Ultimately Lord, I pray that You will provide me with a full night's rest, but even if that doesn't happen, I will continue to make our quiet time together a priority in the mornings. I also pray that You will continue to make profitable what little sleep I get so that I can continue on in the ministry that You have lined up for me. Thank You for the quiet afternoons so I can rest. Grow me closer to You each day and may Your precious Words be on my heart and mind. May I change and become more like Your Son.

Monday, April 03, 2006

High Maintenance?

I can't fully explain it, but I'm feeling overwhelmed with this incredible "nesting urge" thing. With the "May 11th due date" fast approaching, I'm getting terribly ansy to get the house completely in order and decorated. Last night, I tried to explain it to my husband, but alas, I don't think he quite understood it. The stark reality concerning the differences of gender became quite apparent. Seriously, most men, if they only had 5 outfits, a microwave, a mini-fridge, a TV, and bed would be quite content with life. With women, it is a completely different story. For example... the other day I was looking under our bathroom sink where RD and I store our toiletries and all I could do was laugh out loud. In one tiny little corner was RD's shaver, hair gel, toe nail clippers, and dental floss. Scan over to the entire rest of the cabinet and you see my hair dryer, mirror, make-up, earrings, Q-tips, bracelet collection, hairspray (two different kinds- both aerasol and pump- for my differing hair needs), mousse, comb, costume jewelry, lotion (both scented and non-scented), miscellaneous hair ties/clippies/pony tail holders, lip gloss, etc. RD won't say it out loud, but I know he secretly thinks women are high-maintenance. Perhaps we are, but I think a bigger reason behind our seemingly "high maintenance" lifestyle is that women are preoccupied with making things beautiful. I believe this is a trait that is truly God-given and that wonderfully separates the two genders. Let's face it, girls. Men need us. They may not fully understand it and they definately can't put it into words, but our husbands really appreciate what we do for them in the home. They love the home-cooked meals, the clean/orderly house, the washed/pressed clothes in the closet, and the decor we choose to put up on the walls. They especially like it when we take time to make ourselves beautiful. As you go about your day today, focus on making your home and your body beautiful. First, do it to bring glory to the Lord, but second, rest assured that what you're doing pleases your husband, too.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Manicotti

This is a great way to eat your spinach if you're not a big fan. This is a very yummy recipe.

1 jar (32 oz.) chunky-style spaghetti sauce
2 packages (10 oz. each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
1 container (12 oz.) small curd creamed cottage cheese (1-1/2 cups)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbl. snipped fresh or 1 tsp. dried oregano leaves
1/4 tsp. pepper
14 uncooked manicotti shells (about 8 oz.)
2 cups shredded Mozzerella cheese (8 oz.)

1. Heat oven to 350F
2. Spread 1/3 of the spaghetti sauce in ungreased rectangular baking dish, 13x9x2 inches. Mix spinach, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, oregano and pepper. Fill uncooked manicotti shells with spinach mixture; arrange on spaghetti sauce in dish.
3. Pour remaining spaghetti sauce over shells, covering completely; sprinkle with mozzerella cheese. Cover and bake until shells are tender, about 1-1/2 hours.

Herbs and Home Remedies

Lately, RD and I have been sort of curious about natural home remedies. We're not saying that doctors are bad or that they aren't helpful, but if minor things can be easily treated at home without medical intervention or drugs, we're definately interested in learning about it. Problem is, we don't know where to start. There's just a TON of stuff out there on the internet about this topic and it's a bit overwhelming. First off, we're curious to know if home remedies are effective, and if they are, what are some beginner books and/or materials we could read to brush up on this topic? Any of you women into this sort of thing?

One of the books we've got our eyes on is: The How-To Herb Book, Let's Remedy the Situation by Velma J. Keith and Monteen Gordon. (Has anyone read it?)