Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Plaque Says It All...

...or maybe the crispy, DEAD leaves clinging to it, ha!
Hey, I never claimed to be an expert gardener, I just try to keep my plants alive,
and unfortunately not all of them make it:(

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Resurrection Cookies

Several of you asked what recipe we used for our Resurrection cookies this year.  I wanted to share it, but wanted to warn you that they weren't a big hit with the taste buds, but fun none-the-less.  The recipe is a lot like the Surprise Meringues that my mom makes, but uses chocolate chips instead of the nuts.  Next year we will probably go with the tastier route:)

Resurrection Cookies

What You'll Need
1 cup pecan halves
1 tsp white vinegar
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar

1. Preheat oven to 300* Make sure you do this first to make the oven warm enough.
2. Place the pecans in a plastic ziplock bag.  Let your child break the pecans into small pieces by beating them with a wooden mallet or rolling pin.  (I divided the amount into 4 baggies...1 for each of the kids so they could each participate).  Explain that after Jesus was arrested, Roman soldiers beat him. Read John 19:1-3
3. Have everyone in the family smell and taste the vinegar.  Add 1 tsp vinegar to the bowl.  Explain that Jesus was offered vinegar to drink while He hung on the cross.  Read John 19: 28-30.
4. Add the 3 egg whites to the vinegar.  Discuss with your child that eggs represent life.  Explain that Jesus gave his life in order to give us life.  Read John 10:10-11.
5. Sprinkle a pinch of salt into your child's hands.  Allow them to taste a tiny bit and shake the remainder into the bowl.  Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus and his followers.  Read Luke 23:27.
6. Gradually add 1 cup of sugar to the bowl while beating ingredients on high with a mixer.  Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us.  He wants us to know we belong to Him.  Read John 3:16.
7. Beat the mixture with a mixer for 12-15 min. until stiff peaks form.  Peak will stand straight when beaters are removed.  Share how the color white represents purity and Jesus can cleanse us of our sins.  Read Isaiah 1:18.
8. Add the nuts and fold in gently.  Drop the mixture by tsp on a cookie sheet with wax paper.  Explain that these mounds represent the rocky tomb where Jesus was laid.  As evening approached, a rich man came from the town of Arimathea.  His name was Joseph.  He had become a follower of Jesus.  He went to Pilate and asked for his body.  Pilate ordered that it be given to him.  Read Matthew 27:57-60.
9. Put the cookie sheet in the oven.  Then close the door and turn the oven off immediately.
10. Give your child a piece of tape to seal the tomb (oven door).  Explain the fact that the tomb was sealed.  Read Matthew 27:65-66.
11. Go to bed! Explain that your child may feel sad to leave the Resurrection cookies in the oven overnight.  To a much greater extent Jesus' friends were sad when He died and placed in the tomb.  Read John 16:20 & 22.
12. Do not open the oven until the following morning.  Allow your children to examine the Resurrection cookies.  They will form small mounds and have a cracked side.  When the children taste them, they will discover that the cookies are hollow representing that on the first Easter, Jesus' friends were surprised to find the tomb Empty.  Read Matthew 28:1-9.

~Recipe from Remember Me Pockets: APRIL~

Friday, April 27, 2012

Creating Margin

It's funny how priorities change over time.

A few months ago Josh read through Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll and told me it would be really good for me to read.  I began reading it on our 10-year anniversary several weeks ago and am LOVING the insight it has given me to better our marriage.  I HIGHLY recommend this book for any couple who is married or about to get married!

At the end of the book Mark and Grace put together a serious of questions to answer separately.  After you prayerfully and honestly answer all the questions by yourself, you are to come together and discuss your answers, putting together a plan for you family.

Josh and I did this on the front porch of a beach house on our anniversary get-away.  Just me and him...and Jude, but all he did was sleep and eat so he doesn't count:)

Through honest discussion and evaluation of our priorities in life and marriage and family, we realized that there are just certain things that we will refuse to budge on in order to keep our marriage exciting and our family thriving.

One of the things that is a priority for us, in this season of life for our family, is creating margin.

It's a little daunting, especially when you think about all the things that a family needs, (and each families needs are different), to set priorities.  Sometimes you get overwhelmed by all that you need to work on that you are just tempted to shut your mind off, turn on the TV, place your laptop and iPhone on your lap and check out, when the thing that you really need is some face time with your best friend!

I used to look forward to the time after the kids would go down for the night to just "relax".  But after closer evaluation I realized that so much of our evening, if not all of it, was spent sitting next to each other, but not actually engaging with each other at all.  

Now don't get me wrong, sometimes it's just nice to sit on the couch and watch TV together, especially after a long, exhausting day, but when that is what occurs every night and there is no face-to-face time with your spouse, then you are really missing out!

Now, after the kids go down, instead of looking forward to writing a deep blog post;) or checking Facebook, I look forward to this:
It may not look like anything special to you, but it has become my favorite place to be.

Laying on the trampoline with a few pillows and blankets next to my baby, my best friend, my life mate, looking up at the stars and just being together.  The phone call I missed can wait.  The blog post stirring around in my mind can wait.  The sticky footsteps on the kitchen floor will always find a way to come back.  The latest TV show certainly doesn't matter.  The emails and office work need to stop sometime...

But this time we have right now...we will NEVER get back again.

We've had nights on the trampoline where we sit in silence, pondering the news we just heard that day, or discussing our weeks plans, or talking about life and all the craziness that entails, or just cuddling under the blankets being silly:)

That time is OUR time.  It is what I look forward to now!  Besides, who wouldn't want to "cuddle" in a blanket on a trampoline under the stars on a crisp, cool spring evening with the hottest guy in town?!

And believe it or not, creating that margin in our lives for our relationship has created more margin in our everyday...

Try it.  And maybe, just maybe, you will become less interested in what everyone else is doing with THEIR time and more interested in the time God has given you, with the family He has blessed you with!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mmmm... - Chapatti

We've added another side dish to go along with our Uganda Rice and Beans night.

Chapatti is a staple in Uganda as well.
It is super cheap and fairly easy to make.

Everything you need is pictured below:
1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup all-purpose Flour
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt (optional)
3/4 - 1 cup Warm Water

Mix the wheat and white flour together w/ salt in bowl w/ wooden spoon.
Add the oil and warm water.  Just enough to make it doughy but not sticky.
Lightly flour the countertop with some whole wheat flour.
Knead the dough until smooth.
Divide into 10 pieces and let sit for 15-20 minutes.
 Heat skillet w/ oil over medium high heat.
Lightly flour rolling pin and surface and roll out the balls until flat.
When the pan starts smoking add a piece of Chapatti.
It will take about 30 sec. to bubble and brown and then flip it over.
Repeat for each of the 10 pieces.

Don't roll out the chapatti too thin.
The oil needs to get really hot to make the bread bubble and brown.
Make sure you add enough oil in between each piece and let it heat up a few seconds.
Turn the vent fan gets pretty "smoky"
You can roll your rice and beans inside of them like a burrito.
You can eat them with eggs in the morning for breakfast.
You can make a sandwich wrap with them for lunch.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Story In Pictures - Colony Cinema

What began as a dreary, cold family day
with a house full of bickering children,
(we now endearingly refer to our family as the Colony)

a cardboard filing box
 paper, markers
 and snacks, of course
 quickly turned into our own home theatre!
 We locked the kids in sent the kids to room time so we could get set up
Then we put on our acting hats.
Ralph here was the ticket master:)

The moral of this story:
Just because you have a small colony living under your roof,
and the price of movie tickets clears out your savings account,
not to mention the time it takes to load the entire colony up in a car for the outing,
doesn't mean that you can't get creative and bring the movie theatre to your own living room!

We used materials already on hand in our house and didn't spend a penny for a fun-filled afternoon.

So, what began as a dreary, cold family day
with a house full of bickering children, 
ended up being a fun afternoon at Colony Cinema.
(full of bickering children, ha!)

Story In Pictures - The Donut Factory

Our family LOVES family day!

Mondays are our family days since we work/serve all weekend long!

This Monday was rainy, cold and we were quickly on our way down the "Monday Blahs" road so we needed a plan of action for the day, and quick!

 As soon as we arrived at the donut factory at Krispy Kreme the workers let the kids pick out a balloon.  Cai kept looking at me, confused...he didn't want a cheap plastic balloon that would pop (yes, they will pop, and usually it will be the most sensitive kid whose balloon will pop first, starting the fun family outing with an all-out freak-out in the middle of the factory...but that didn't happen to us, nope!  Opt for the baker's hats instead...:), he wanted a big juicy donut!

Again, I'm pretty sure Jude was the most enthusiastic.

All-in-all this was a super fun family outing,
minus the my-balloon-popped-I-MUST-HAVE-A-BALLOON freak-out:)
I'm telling you, OPT FOR THE BAKERS HAT!!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012


One of my college soccer coaches used to make us play this game called "Catch-up" for punishment:)  It was a hard game.  There was no margin for mistakes and there was no option to give up.

Oh the analogies I could pull from this illustration, but alas, when Monday roles around after a long (although GREAT) weekend of ministry, my brain is mush!

So, instead of sharing from the depths of my soul I'm just going to play a quick round of Catch-up about life.

Areyna celebrates a birthday the day after her Meme.  Yes, I know, her birthday was the end of February and I am just now writing about it, but if I were caught up on life then we couldn't play this little game now, could we;)  She turned 7 and, like I've posted about recently, she really has grown and matured over the past few months.  Isn't she beautiful?!

Last Saturday was Josh's birthday.  We spent the day catching planes to Memphis together.  Not a bad way to spend a birthday, but I still wanted to do something special for him.  We kind of spread out the festivities.  After we got home I took Areyna and Zeke out to pick out a present for their daddy. Areyna's knew exactly what she wanted to get her daddy, but couldn't find it and Zeke...well, he looked and looked, and changed his mind a zagillion times before landing on the Transformers movie:)  Then, while Josh was gone at a D-now this weekend we sat down together took advantage of Zeke's love for writing letters to people.  We wrote an attribute for each letter of the alphabet, just to let Josh know that we love him, even when he is gone!

In other news, I may or may not have caught myself growling at my kids today out of frustration that normal or am I alone in this (if that actually did happen)?

We were hit pretty hard by some family news that has got my mind reeling...which only adds to the mushiness of my brain today, but thank goodness for FAMILY DAY!  I'll be posting about that soon:)

Happy Monday ya'll! (even though it is rainy and gloomy and the kids have made sticky messes all over the house:)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

We Just Need To Get A Chicken

You'd think we liked our eggs around here or somethin'
And this is just 2 weeks worth...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lessons From The Classroom - March 2012

Since it's almost time to do a school update for April I decided that I'd better get March in before all is lost in the vast space of my mind.

Sadly, I only have a few pictures of actual school progress, but I assure you, fun was had and things were learned!

We learned about Dr. Seuss and read many of his works throughout the month.  The kids are REALLY looking forward to our "group time" where we read our Author(s) of the month books.  Zeke says it is his FAVORITE thing about school:)

Then there was Holy Week which took up a lot of time.

I've also been focusing on Areyna's reading.  My mom, who is a reading tutor, said she could already tell a big difference in Rainy's reading from when she was here when Jude was born.  I think that encouragement only fueled Areyna's dimly lit reading flame.  It has gotten bigger and brighter ever so slowly, but I do believe she is beginning to enjoy reading.

We've been reading A LOT as a family.  My mom wisely offered some helpful ideas for our bedtime routine that we began implementing.  After reoccurring nighttime issues she suggested reading to them in their beds at night.  That way they are already in bed and their heart rates are beginning to slow, which makes for a calmer "good night" than the wrestling matches and tickle fests that we were having:)  But don't you worry, we still fit those in too!  (This is a great tool to help them get ready for bed quicker.  If they don't do what they are supposed to do they don't get their story time!)  It does make for a longer bedtime ritual and it is more time consuming on a mom who is spent by about 8pm.  Josh has gladly taken on this responsibility!

Sometimes we read all together as a family, depending on attention spans and happy hearts, but for the most part he will read to the boys first and tuck them in and then go in to the girls room and read to them.  We began reading through Tales From Beatrix Potter and Rainy and Zeke have REALLY enjoyed that time with their daddy:)

Another thing we focused on in March was DaVinci and VanGough and learned about their lives and works.  Then, of course, we had to do a little of our own painting.

Our verse for the month came out of 2 Thessalonians.  I'm slowly learning how to shift my brain to help Zeke grasp concepts.  We made a puzzle out of our memory verse to help us all remember it better, while giving Zeke something hands-on to do.

Lastly, did you know that March was National Poultry Month?  Of course you did;)  We took a trip to a farm down the street from Meme and Poppie's and learned about miniature ponies, chickens and gardening.  Areyna was in her element!

First, we all got to take turns taking carriage rides with Mrs. Candy (while talking to her during my turn she said she was living out her childhood dream.  Just look at her joy!).
Areyna and Cai could have ridden all day!

Alethia was pretty fearful at first, but that is just her way.  After she warms up to a new thing she has a good time.

And Zeke, well, he is Zeke:)  He decided that he wanted to participate if he could sit on daddy's lap...

I really think that Jude was the most enthusiastic about the whole experience, but that's just me, ha!

After the pony ride we went back to the farm and played with the chickens.

Hmmm...does this picture remind you of a certain little girl with a certain little chickie in Uganda?!

 Then each of the kids got to take a turn picking the eggs up and putting them in the carton.

All in all March was a great month!

Oh, and this is definitely noteworthy... Zeke can now recognize numbers 1-10 98% of the time (those 6 and 10's are so tricky) and is beginning to recognize numbers on the clock and do simple addition:)

Mountains, Molehills and...

Laundry Piles

...and this is my task for the day!
At least it's all clean and everyone knows where to go to get clean underwear:)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The View From Here

Photo Courtesy Of Randa McCaulley

Be Careful Little Eyes

Josh and I realize that each of our children are different and that each of them are going to have their own struggles they deal with, just as we have our own struggles and temptations.

The topic of modesty comes up a lot in our house, especially with two little girls who LOVE make-up and don't even get me started on the revealing princess costumes that they prance around in.  We are trying to teach our children at an early age what is and is not appropriate to watch, wear and do.

This isn't just something we talk about all the time, we put it into practice on a daily basis around our house and in our lives to exemplify what that looks like to our kids.

We already know that we can fall into any of these sins at any time, so don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying we have it altogether, but more so that we realize the gravity of the situation and are putting up protective barriers and doing everything we can to safeguard our family and marriage.  We believe that if we have no parameters for what goes into our minds then we are just making a larger foothold for Satan to use.

All of our electronic devises are setup with Covenant Eyes.  (If you do not have this software, or something similar to it, you need to make that a priority.)  We also have passwords on Josh's iPhone and the kid's computer that "only mommy knows".  The kids don't question it anymore, as we make it a point to talk about protecting what our eyes see.

Over the course of the past couple of months we have really noticed that Zeke, and especially Areyna, have really grasped this concept.

One day when I was in the grocery store with the kids I caught Areyna turning magazines around in the grocery store.  I knew what she was doing but I wanted to see what her reasoning was behind it:)  She told me that the pictures on the cover were inappropriate and then asked why people would put those kinds of pictures of themselves for so many people to see.

On another trip to the store, we were going down the personal care aisle and all of a sudden Areyna paused her conversation with Zeke, looked over at him, and started shielding his eyes.  There was no dialog between the two at all and it only lasted a second.  Then Areyna took her hands away from Zeke's face and he nonchalantly told her "thank you", and their prior conversation picked right back up where they left off.  As we kept walking down the aisle I realized what was going on.  We were in the shaving section and some of the shaving cream bottles had naked ladies on them and Areyna was protecting her brother.  What was cool to me was the fact that Zeke didn't freak out because Rainy's hands were all over his face, because he knew EXACTLY what she was doing and he thanked her.

This softening of Areyna's heart could only come from one source, and that is the Holy Spirit!

She is showing this softening in other areas as well.  Areyna has been reading her Bible to Alethia in the mornings before I get them up.  They'll even talk about what they learned with me.

Conviction for acts are really beginning to set in.  I'll find her sitting quietly after being reprimanded for something and then she will come to me (sometimes hours later), in tears, to apologize.

When the kids were setting up their yard sale for their cousin a few weeks ago I realized that she was "selling" toys that she really had been playing with.  When asked if she was sure she wanted to get rid of them she looked at me and told me that they were inapropriate, because the Barbie clothes and dress-up clothes revealed too much skin:)  I can't argue with that!

I have loved seeing this softening and this guarding of their hearts.  It starts here, in the home, when they are young.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

From Chaos To Control - "Get Rid Of It" Bag

So I am a strong believer that if you have something that you don't use, or if you don't have room for it in your house, then by all means, GET RID OF IT!

Maybe that means finding a loving home for that old bed frame that has been taking up space in your shed, or passing off all your maternity clothes (which was a personal favorite of mine, ha!) or periodically (and frequently) going through the kid's toys and purging their rooms of unused or broken items.

I have a good system for my wardrobe.  Every so often I will go through my drawers and closet.  I make 3 piles: 1 for clothes that I frequent on a weekly basis, 1 for clothes that I think I may frequent one day and 1 for clothes that I wouldn't be caught dead frequenting:)

The first pile goes neatly back into my drawers and closet.

The second pile goes in a bag that I will store in the attic, or under the bed in a bin.  If I've not missed it or looked for it in the next 6 months I'm not going to miss it or look for it later.  So, I'll bag it up (use a blindfold if you must, because chances are if you see it again your heart will go pitter-pat and you'll want to hang onto it again) and head on over to the local clothes drop off to eliminate this extra "pile" from your house!

The third pile goes in my ever-present good will bag.  I have a trash bag at the bottom of the stairs that leads to our attic.  It is a bag designated for things that we no longer like, use or need, to be dropped off at goodwill when full.  Some months it gets loaded up pretty quickly, but the bag that is sitting there now has been there, unfilled, going on 3 months.  The purpose of this isn't to fill a bag as quickly as you can, but to have a "place" for those unwanted or unneeded items.  See, everything needs a place, even those things that don't have a place.

I also like to think of people that might be able to use our unused items.  Those things get placed in our "Lost and Found" that I mentioned earlier so that I remember to pass them off.  For example, I was going through a box in the back of a cabinet in the laundry area.  It was full of random lightbulbs.  In it was a pack of vanity lightbulbs for our bathroom in Charlotte.  We don't even have a use for those kinds of lightbulbs in our house here.  We've lived here going on 3 years.  Those lightbulbs are just taking up space now and we aren't going to use them.  I pulled them out, placed them in my "lost and found" until they found the perfect home with our friends who came to visit:)

I hope you have enjoyed this installment of "From Chaos To Control".  Now go get a bag started and make a home for those items that need one!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Thoughts From The Deep...And The Not-So-Deep

I can't get my mind to calm down long enough to formulate the dozens of half-written posts that I've got brewing in my mind, but I always focus better after writing things down.  Hence the reason that I blog so frequently:)

Josh gets so far behind on my blog and jokes that I need to give my blog readers a break every once in a while, ha!

First things first, I have officially entered the 21st century!  The 12th of April marks the day that we could upgrade.  It was quite a day in history. I retired my trusty, old flip phone for an iPhone.  Isn't it beautiful!  I can now group text my girlfriends back AND my alarm will go off at other times besides being stuck at 6:30am!  I have to admit about being a little giddy about the whole ordeal, but come on, it's a kind of 1st world excited that's worth mentioning.  Actually, not just 1st world people get iPhones.  Half of the Ugandans we met had iPhones before me, ha!

Josh and I had a blast in Memphis together!  We ate the best ribs I've ever tasted, along with visiting some other great eating joints.  Boy, those Memphinians LOVE them some food:)  Jude did rather well, considering he spent the majority of his time in the car seat or carrier.  He enjoyed the plane rides for the most part too.  He giggled the entire time we took off, but spit up the entire time we landed.  I've heard that is quite common.  There was a pediatrician on board one of our flights.  He looked back at us just as we were putting some earphones up to Jude's ears to calm his fussiness with some black gospel music from our setlist.  He almost instantly stopped crying and calmed down for the rest of the flight.  The pediatrician later told us that he was REALLY impressed and was going to share our little "trick" with his patients/families!
You would be SO surprised at some of the conversations that were started as a result of our traveling with a baby.  I felt like I needed a sign on my forehead that said something like, "It's OK, I am a mother of five!" or "I've got 4 others and they turned out just fine thank you".

The other kids did fine with the multiple shifts while we were gone, but I don't think we are going to do it again...I think it was a little too much on the emotionally unstable one(s);)

Oh, here is a FREE tip for your parenting journals - if you have a child who tries to make a "statement" by pooping in their pull-up when they KNOW that they need to poop in the potty, all you have to do to nip that little "reaction" is to strip them down, take them outside and hose them off with cold water.  They'll be shouting, "Me poopie in POTTY!!!" before they even get all the stink off of them:)  Not that we EVER have problems like that in our house.  But who am I kidding, I'm sure you don't either...


Since I have an iPhone now I can get fun little apps that help with day-to-day life.  One such helpful app is called MyFitnessPal.  Josh has been using it for a few months and now I get to join him!  You can sign-up for FREE and it helps you calculate your calories and food intake.  It's as eye opening as tracking your money by using cash.  Just for a good laugh I'll tell you about my first day.  I set up my account saying that I am 5' and 121lb.  I told the program that I'd like to lose 2 lb. a week and try to get down to an average weight for a person my height, which is 110.  After putting all my meals and snacks in for that first day this is what my weight-calculator said:
Yup, if every day were like my first day I'd actually GAIN 7 pounds, hahahaha!!!  Needless to say, I've been getting a lot better at making my calories count.  It's only saying I'll gain 3 pounds now:)

OK, I feel better now.

Here's to a more formulated post tomorrow:)

Happy Tuesday ya'll!