Monday, January 26, 2015

Nap time with my buddy.

Today, after VPK, Tucker was needy and weepy and a little grumpy.
I had a to-do list as long as my arm, just breathing down my neck.
It was a recipe for disaster.
Instead of letting it all spiral out of control (as I sometimes do),
I took a deep breath and snuggled up in the bed with my boy.
We napped for an hour together in my bed, and when we woke,
he was no longer grumpy, and I was no longer stressed.
Funny how taking a break from the doing can help, not hurt.

I took this picture because it made me smile.
His pillow is pushed up against mine, as close as can be.
He nearly pushed me off the bed,
trying to get closer and closer to me.
We both slept under our favorite blankets.
Those sweet stuffed animals he kept tucked under his chin.

In the not too distant future, he won't dream of napping with his mommy.
Today was a treasure.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dan, in short.

Dan recently had to take a survey for work.  We both laughed out loud at this blurb from his results: it  is so crazy accurate!

I kind of want to take it, too.....although I'm afraid of what it might say!!  Eeeeek!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Round here.

Fish tanks at the store still amaze them.
Love how precious they are to each other.

He loves to teach us the songs he learns at VPK:
JOY song
Amazing that he will be with us at school next year.

When did my tiny baby become a real live boy?!
He still needs those naps like a little boy;
he's got long legs like a big boy.
Times like these, I can see him caught between the stages.

Oh this dear girl.
Loves reading like her mama,
loves adventure like her daddy,
she's a creature all her own.
Being her mama is a treasure.

A glimpse into the juxtaposition that is my little girl:
book in her hand, light saber at her side.
Sums her up perfectly.

Fun times at a birthday party with my best buddy:

Swim team friends!
Big sisters are teammates;
little brothers play together endlessly.

Pastor's kids on a Sunday night!
Living the dream.

My buddy has always had a deep love for chocolate,
and I often find him with a tell-tale ring around his mouth:

Winter in Florida is a beautiful thing.
Lazy days off school to enjoy it are too.
Warm sunshine, sidewalk chalk, water guns,
still in pajamas in the afternoon.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Not enough.

Several months ago, an acquaintance posted something on Facebook, directed at mothers, to the tune of

If you are busy working on the weekends -doing laundry, cleaning, etc.-, it is because you didn't use your time wisely during the weekdays.  Be a good steward of your time!

Those aren't the exact words she used, and the poster is a really wonderful woman: her intention was clearly to spur other women on to being stewards of their time and homes so that they could bless their family on the weekends.

However, those words have spoken guilt and accusation every weekend, since I've read them.

Because sometimes, my weekdays are full to the brim with
packing lunches
teaching 2 days a week
swim practice
piano lessons
bill paying
studying for a certification test
church obligations
reading books
answering oil questions
grocery shopping
cooking dinner
squeezing in a quick run
helping with homework
playing board games
unloading the dishwasher
picking up the shrapnel of a dog chew toy
helping a neighbor
taking a small nap
reading books

And.  So.
Sometimes our weekends have to include a family effort.
Sometimes they include
wiping the grime out of the bathtubs
eradicating the horrendous boy smell around the toilet
doing laundry
washing cars
planning meals
chiseling the leftover bits of dinner from the kitchen table
washing sheets
running a vacuum across the rug
wiping the toothpaste out of bathroom sinks

And every single weekend, when we have to take care of household tasks together, I hear the voice in my head
You should have taken care of that during the week.
Dan works all week - this is YOUR job - why isn't it done?
What did you do with your time?
You must be lazy.
You're failing at everything.
A good wife wouldn't have to ask her husband to vacuum; she would be making sure he got to watch the football game, instead.
A good mother wouldn't have her children spending their "free time" doing things like this; she would teach them to take care of their chores during the week.
What kind of home are you creating here?

It's been a millstone around my neck, I tell you.

Just this week, the Lord has freed me from those words of condemnation, and I'm not even sure quite how.  I've been diligent to spend some time with Him each morning, and as I've drawn close to Him, he's just relieved me from that burden.

He's reminded me that the Enemy can take what are meant to be encouraging words from a fellow mother and turn them into accusations, and I've been listening to those lies.

He's reassured me of His love, and His wisdom in giving me only good things.

There's such freedom in Jesus.
Set free from the Law of I should have and I ought to
Set free to love Him and the people He's given me

I'm not measured by the cleanliness of my floors,
or the height of my laundry piles.
I'm not measured by the number of things I can accomplish.

I'm measured by Jesus.
By how much I love Him,
and how much I love His people,
and somehow, that puts it all in perspective.

He would rather me joyfully clean bathrooms with my children,
that rush them through it with a heart of guilt.
He would rather me hug my husband while he's washing dishes,
than bitterly do it myself.
He would rather me have breakfast with the hurting friend,
than make sure the laundry's done by Friday afternoon.
He would rather me sit quietly at His feet with His Word
than have a pristine house.

Am I called to care for my home?  
Does the way I do it measure my worth?
Absolutely not.

Such freedom.

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet,
than a house full of feasting, with strife.
Proverbs 17:1

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Easy Crock Pot Potato Soup

I have seen this recipe several times, but I'm always so reluctant to try new recipes because I hate to waste money on the ingredients for something that we might not like.  So I LOVE it when people post tried-and-true favorites. A friend posted a picture of this soup she was serving her family, and raving about it.  Score!  I was at Publix when she sent me the recipe, so I grabbed the ingredients to throw it in the crockpot.  Perfect for a day I'm working, or for a Sunday afternoon lunch.

1 (30 oz) bag of frozen diced hash browns
1 (32 oz) box of chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken soup
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
3 oz. bacon bits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
sour cream (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Put the potatoes in the crock pot.
2.  Add in the chicken broth, cream of chicken, half the bacon bits, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Stir well.
3.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until potatoes are tender.  
4.  An hour before serving, cut the cream cheese into small cubes, and place the cubes into the crock pot.
5.  Mix a few times during the hour before serving.  Once the cream cheese is completely mixed in, it's ready to serve.
6.  Top with cheddar cheese, bacon bits, and sour cream.

Cream Cheese Delight

My co-teacher Lauren is famous for her Cream Cheese Delight.
I had never tried it before, but all the firstie teachers raved about it,
so I made it for a game night with some friends right after Christmas.
It is SO BAD for you, but SO GOOD.
It's the kind of dessert you should only make 
when there are other people coming over to help eat it, too.

2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese*, at room temperature
2 (8 ounce) packages crescent roll dough*
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
*I used the low-fat versions of these ingredients and couldn't tell at all.  I'm not sure it makes much difference though, haha!

1.  Grease 9x13 pan.
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3.  Spread one can of crescent dough on bottom of pan.
4.  Mix softened cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, and vanilla until smooth, and spread on top of crescent dough.  
5.  Spread 2nd can of dough on top of cheese mixture.  Be careful to not leave too many gaps in the dough.
6.  Pour melted butter all over crescent dough.
7.  Mix 1/2 cup sugar with 1 tsp cinnamon.  Sprinkle on top of butter.  Use all of it - it looks like a lot, but it's just right.
8.  Bake for 30 minutes.

I must figure out how to half this recipe and put in an 8x8 pan instead,
because it's really just a sin to have that much of this goodness in the house at one time.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Crockpot baked apples

My friend Valita made these for small group one night,
and my Lana could have eaten the entire crock pot herself!
They really were the yummiest baked apples I've ever tasted,
including Cracker Barrel's.  
She is a wonderful cook, so it wasn't surprising!
I'm so thankful she shared her recipe with us.

6 large tart apples - peeled, cored, and sliced
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbs all purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
6 Tbs melted butter

1.  Put sliced apples in crock pot.
2.  Drizzle with lemon juice.
3.  Combine dry ingredients and sprinkle over the apples.
4.  Drizzle with melted butter.
5.  Cover and cook on low 3-4 hours.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Dinnertime theology

We are reading The Dangerous Journey
together each night at dinner, bit by bit.  
It is the story of Pilgrim's Progress, greatly shortened from the original,
and written in words that are easier for children to understand,
although still rather old English.

Lana has read it by herself before, and Tucker is doing really well listening to stories these days, so even if they don't really understand it, I thought it would be good for them to hear the rich theology in this story.

We just finished up chapter 1 tonight, and Lana shocked Dan & I both as we closed the book:
You know, this book is really about our Life.
Christian, well, he's like me.  Just starting out in his journey of Christian life.
And Evangelist, he teaches people how to follow Jesus -
like you guys do for me! (pointing to Dan and I)
And Pliable and Mr. Worldly Wiseman, that's like all the people who will try to lead you away from Jesus, and that's real life!

Snacktime theology

"Mom, this cracker is like us, broken by sin....but look, Jesus puts up back together. 
He could crush us, but He just fixes us instead."

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Southern Spice Tea

A friend instagrammed a photo of the southern spice tea she was drinking a few mornings ago, and it looked so good I could almost smell it.  I found the recipe online, immediately procured the ingredients, and made a batch.  It's just the right thing for when I want something warm and cozy, but aren't quite in the mood for coffee.  It's a special treat for the kiddos, too!  I've seen where people drink it iced, as well - I might try that in the summer time!

1 cup instant Lipton tea
1 cup Tang
1 cup Country Time Lemonade
1.5 cups sugar
2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine well and store in a sealed container.
To make a cup of tea: combine 2 Tbs dry mix with hot water in a coffee mug.  If you're using a teacup, 1.5 Tbs would probably be just right.