I love family. I love learning. I love food. This is simply a collection of thoughts, memories, and recipes that are a piece of me!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Similar Differences.

One of the things I love about being a mother of multiple children is finding out as they grow just how different they really are.  I don't think I really had high expectations that Isaiah and Izzy would be extra similar simply because one is a boy and one is a girl.  In fact, I'm always pleasantly surprised to find ways they are the same.  They both love chocolate milk.  They both love playing with cars (though I think she does it for him).  They both love helping me cook.  They both hate helping me clean.  Their differences, however, are quite glaring, but I don't think I realized just how different these two children were until Bird and I were going through some baby things getting ready for our new hatch-ling, and we came across Isaiah's first Halloween costume.  He was a puppy, and he hated it.  Even in the picture above (he's on the right), we only were able to snap this shot moments after a huge crying fit.  At first, we thought he just didn't like that particular costume, but year after year, Halloweens and plays and dress up time with friends led us to realize that those tears were genuine.  That kid hated dressing up.  This, though heart breaking a bit for the mommy, came to be just an expectation with life.  No big deals could be made of his role in a Christmas play.  No Halloweens with tons of pictures and parties.  No.  I had come to grips with the fact that costumes and dress up would not exist in our house.

Enter: Isabella.

This girl is a princess.  And a pirate.  And a doctor.  And a train conductor.  And, quite happily, a puppy dog.  (It's especially amazing that this still "fit" her since she should have outgrown it a year ago...)

Both of our kids are wonderful in their own right, and I can't get enough of their differences.  Though I will admit, just as playing cars has rubbed off on Izzy, I think her adoration for playing dress up has rubbed off on Isaiah, too.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Grape Salad

I have been wanting to share this recipe for a while now.  I think I have waited as long to share it as I did to try it.  Truth is, my dear sister was making this dish long before I had the nerve to give it a shot.  She made it often, and I always looked at it, turned up my nose, and insisted it could not be delicious in the least.  I was so wrong.  Since then, I've been making it on a pretty regular basis.  It's become a family staple at parties and holidays and potlucks.  The hubs always loves when I make a big bowl of it just to keep in the fridge for snacking, too.  I love it because it's not overly sweet, it's creamy, and it's got this wonderful POP! of flavor every time you bite into a grape.  Do yourself a favor and make this one a staple in your kitchen, too!

What you'll need:
2 lbs red grapes
8 oz of cream cheese
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer until this mixture is smooth.  It's not going to look like much in the bottom of your bowl, but trust me, it's plenty.  Try to keep your fingers out of this because I promise if you taste it, you won't want to add the grape.  I could eat this by itself by the spoonful.

Make sure your grapes have been removed from the stems, washed, and are at least mostly dry, then just mix!  You'll want a bigger bowl for this just to make your life a bit easier.  Refrigerate or eat right away...but do try to be kind and share.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Today my sweet boy woke up, had breakfast, did his day or school work, and changed my outlook on something.  I struggle with pride a lot.  I'm, let's say, a bit of a perfectionist when I'm not too lazy.  My husband will attest the the fact that I drive myself crazy over things I have no control over because I like things to be a certain way.  I had a mini heart attack (metaphorically) when we skipped a night of meals I had planned because he had a softball game.  What is a girl to do with extra chicken and a bag of salad?!

Often times, I tend to take this need for perfection inward when I feel my life isn't as perfect as someone else's, and it can turn to bitterness very quickly.

My 5 year old is very sensitive and sweet.  After he finished his school work, as he often does, he wanted to keep working (his daddy's work ethic on display!), so he asked me what my favorite shape was.  I told him I liked hearts, so he, very secretively, created a "card" for me covered in hearts.  He had written "i (heart) u mom" in big pink letters.  I thanked him profusely, and he kissed my cheek, cuddled up with me and said, "Mom, why are you so nice to me?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, it's just that, you don't have to be nice to me, but you are."

"How am I so nice?  I tell you to clean your room and go to bed."

"You made me breakfast, and you didn't have to.  Isn't that what being nice is?  That's what dad said.  Doing things you don't have to for someone."

Tears welled up in my eyes for a moment, and I kissed his sweet face and told him I did those things because I loved him.  And off he went to his room to race his cars.

I sat and thought about that for a while.  I don't have a fan club.  I don't have hundreds of people who follow my blog.  I don't have a bank account full of money.  I don't have the perfect body or hair or clothes or home.  Things get messy and dishes don't always get washed, and sometimes, I lose my mind for a moment over it.  But there are some things I do have.  Some things that, no matter how perfect I'm not, won't disappear, and I can't believe how un-thankful I've been.  So here's what I've got:

I have a husband who will stay up well past when he should to help me make lunches for the next day then wake up early and write notes for me reminding me how "the kitchen doesn't own [me]" before he treads off to work in the heat for hours at a time with no complaint.  If I continued to write all the wonderful things about this guy, I'd never stop writing...

I have a daughter who makes me laugh, let's my fix her hair, and always want to lay down with me to cuddle.   This girl is a spit-fire, and there are moments I look at her with such wonder and think "there's no way this thing is half me" because she's just so charismatic.

And this guy.  I have this guy.  My sweet boy...there aren't many words I can use to express just how much this kid means to me.  I adore him, and I pity his wife a bit because I fear she'll never be able to love him as much as his momma does.  He's so smart and is full of surprises.  LOVE this kid.

Not pictured, of course, is our soon-to-be 3rd baby bird.  I'm so excited to kiss her little face, and I'm so grateful I get to mother a third baby!

Most of all, though, today I'm so thankful to my God- the one who, even through my sordid imperfections, sees the creation He made and loves me because I'm His.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Dish Cleaning Wishes Have Come True.

If there's anything in my life that bugs me, it's having dirty dishes in my kitchen.  I've noticed in the past few weeks that if I wake up with dirty dishes, I'm immediately in a bad mood.  It's silly.  I know I could easily just wash them when I get out of bed, but it's such a burden to my morning routine, even if there are just a few things that need a scrubbin'.

Frustrated with having to run a full sink of dish water for just a few things last week, I started to wonder if I could just buy some sort of a wipe...like baby wipes, but for dishes.  Now, yes, I'm fully aware that I can purchase a sponge that holds soap and you can wash your dishes without running a sink of water.  I have two problems with these.  First, it uses a lot more soap than I like to use.  Soap costs money.  Second, gross.  No matter how much soap is used, it doesn't take away from the fact that the sponge is sitting out, being covered in germs and used over and over without being sanitized.  Turns out, no.  You cannot buy wipes like this.  So I made my own.

What you'll need:
A roll of paper towels, cut in half (I used Viva brand because they are the thickest, most cloth like I've found, and I cut it in half with some muscle and a serrated knife.)
1 3/4-2 cups of water
1/4-1/2 cup of dish soap
Gallon sized ziplock bags

I'll start by saying that there's nothing crazy inventive about this idea.  It's all over the internet how you can make your own baby wipes.  I simply adapted that idea to make them for dishes.

Start by cutting your roll of paper towels in half to make two equal parts.  This did take a few minutes and a descent amount of muscle to accomplish.  If you have an electric knife, let me suggest using that.

Next, mix your dish soap and water together.  Try to avoid bubbles.  Once it's well blended, place half of the paper towel roll in a ziplock bag and slowly pour the soapy water over the paper towels.  You don't want a pool in the bottom of the bag.  It's important that the towels absorb all of the water and soap.  Gently pull the center cardboard out by pouring the soapy water between the cardboard and inner paper towels.  Once all the moisture has been absorbed, close up your bag and you're done!  These work perfectly if you just need a few dishes washed or you want to use them for an entire load.  Plus, they are great to wash your hands when messing with uncooked chicken and meats.  Store them under your sink, and they are read to use when you need them!

Friday, August 10, 2012


I mentioned this little undertaking our family has taken on of homeschooling.  Now let me tell you how I'm learning more than my children.  In the first week.

Everyone is a creature of habit.  Some people have a habit of sleeping in late, and some get up early.  Some people have a habit of drinking 5 or 6 Dr. Peppers a day.  Some people drink no soda at all.  Some people have a habit of laying on the couch for hours a day watching Law & Order.  Some people play with their children.  The problem with homeschooling is this: of all those habits, I had the wrong ones.

For some time now, I've known I was lazy.  I'm not talking the occasional "I want to do nothing today" kind of lazy.  I mean the "I am depressed at the idea of having to wash that huge load of dishes I've let pile up for a week now" kind of lazy.  It's ridiculous, really, and I have no idea why my sweet husband has not put a stop to it.  (That guy is the hardest working person I've ever known...) The good news is, I have been in Scripture more in the past few weeks than possibly any other time in my life.  The bad news is, that meant conviction.

On Tuesday, after getting up and having breakfast and having school, I made the realization that this is what I'm going to be doing.  Every day.  There wasn't a part of me that didn't want to do it, but every lazy, sinful part of me struggled with the idea of it.  "But when will I be able to sit and do nothing?!" And boy oh boy did the tears flow as I began to feel sorry for my selfish little lifestyle being gone.

So I prayed.

And I read.

And I talked to the two people in my life who spur me on toward love and good deeds mare than anyone else.

And ultimately, the grace of God stepped in and began to help me battle that sinful desire to be lazy and selfish.  This has been the most habit-forming and habit-changing week of my life, and I'm praying desperately that it continue because even though I loved being able to sleep on the couch all day if I so desired, there is a deep, yearning desire in my heart and soul to parent and to teach and to be a good role model for my children.  That's the habit I want to form.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

School Days, School Days (dear old golden rule days...)

This week, we as a family embarked on possibly the craziest journey of our lives.  After years of talking about it, months of planning, weeks of decorating, and days of freaking out a bit, we started homeschool!  The night before, I'm going to admit that I was a bit more than rattled.  For the first time (since he turned 5, at least) I realized my baby boy was no longer my baby boy.  I looked at pictures and videos of him as a baby.  I laughed and I cried.  I prayed for him.  And then for me.  And then for him again.

And then Monday morning was here.

We woke up extra early (not a feat you'll see repeated again anytime soon) to have breakfast with Daddy before we got started and he rode off into the sunrise for work.  Our menu consisted of a very simple pancake and strawberry breakfast.  It's the kiddo's favorite, and we wanted to make him feel extra special.

We left Sister to get a bit more sleep.  This was a morning for just us and our big guy.

Please note the hair.

I have been working on our setup for weeks now.  I swore it would never show up in my living room.  I was convinced guests would not set the eyes on our little corner of education.  Unfortunately, with baby number 3 on the way and an already shrinking house, we were left with no choice.  What this meant, of course, was weeks worth of "what's that?" and "when are we going to use that?" and "what's that for?"  Over and over, he heard "You'll see...when it's time."  The excitement and anticipation in his face was priceless that morning over the idea that today was finally THE day.  It was almost too much for this 5 year old to bare.

Once Daddy was gone, we began our day.  Calendar time.  Talk of seasons and weather.  What's today?  What's tomorrow?  What was yesterday?  Verse for the week (Psalm 24:1) and word of the week (Creation/creacion)...and so on.  We did our Bible lesson, learned what God made on the first day, and colored and cut and glued.

Please note the size 3t pajamas.

We have opted out of doing a ton of worksheets.  We order a curriculum, and we will do what has come with it, but anything we can use our handy dandy dry erase board for, we will...like reviewing basic math facts.

Look who decided to join the homeschool party!

Reviewing ABC's is something that, honestly, this kid doesn't love.  He says every day "Mom, I don't need to do this" but I give him a pointer, and it's the best thing ever.  This, by the way, was my first attempt to hide our school setup.  Our doors all have letter charts or number charts or color posters on the backs of them.

In all, our first day was super fun and made us look forward to the next however many years we can do this. We are excited about field trips and weekly trips to our public library, but mostly, I'm just excited that the hubs and I get to do what we feel we are supposed to be doing- to teach our children in the way he should grow, to know and love and glorify God, and the have a servant's heart.

At least, that's what we are shooting for.