Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Feeding a friend…

I’m going to see a friend from my Bible study tomorrow. She’s due with her 3rd child in a month, and she also has a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. She’s feeling achy and frustrated, and I so remember being where she was about 5 months ago.

So I thought I’d bring her dinner…. Ok, well, not really, but, sort of…

I’m bringing her all the ingredients for Beans and Rice Soup. I put them in a gift bag, measuring out the rice and the taco seasonings in little separate sandwich baggies. I threw in a box of corn muffin mix, and I cut up half a link of turkey smoked sausage, which I will throw in her fridge. Food Lion has been running a lot of specials lately on low sodium canned chicken broth, and I’ve stocked up.

Here’s the tally on what it cost me to try and bless a friend a bit… plus the few minutes it took to put it all together and print out the recipe.


1 smoked sausage link, chopped: $1.29

1/3 c. rice: $.10

2 cans of beans: $1.58

2 cans chicken broth: $1.10

2 T. taco seasoning: $.25

1 can diced tomatoes: $1.24

Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix: $.50


Total: $6.06


If you’re wanting to help out a struggling friend, but you don’t have a lot of time or energy to make a full meal, you might consider trying something like this instead. We’re all just doing what we can, right? =)


We’re starting nap training here, so let’s see how much I can write before the timer goes off in 6 minutes, and I go to rescue Ben. =)

Good times at my parents… but not really the break I was hoping for. Ben wouldn’t let me hand him off, and he didn’t sleep well. Mom and Dad both came down with a stomach bug, back to back, and I spent a good bit of time worrying that we would come down with it. I was relieved to get into my own bed late on Christmas Eve.

And I think I’m ready to spend Christmas Even in town from now on. It’s been a lifelong thing for me to go to my grandma’s or great-aunt’s on Christmas Eve, but I think it’s time for us to move on to creating some of our own traditions on home turf. The buildup to it and the long drive home late are more than I can handle well right now…

I was pretty worried about this morning, to be honest. I haven’t handled the boys with much joy in the past few weeks, and I hate that. Ben has gone backwards on sleeping well at night, and I know that’s been part of it.

Today has been the best day I’ve had with them in awhile, and I am more than grateful. It’s a rainy, rainy day, and we’ve stayed in our pajamas. Actually, I let the boys put on some new, special pajamas for Pajama Day. (Thanks, Aunt Kelli!) We did lots of reading, snuggling, imagining, playing playdough, and eating popcorn for lunch, etc. Ben napped well, so I was able to spend some good time with my big boys. They got more eye contact, kisses, and big hugs from Mommy than they’ve had for awhile, and it showed in their sweet attitudes.

I can’t make everything right in the world for everyone I love. Oh, how I wish I could! But I can create joy in my own house by pushing out of my exhaustion funk….

Ok, times up, and he’s still crying. =) Catch ya later!

Monday, December 12, 2011

“…. Great things…”


“Then it was said among the nations,
   ‘The LORD has done great things for them.’

The LORD has done great things for us,
   and we are filled with joy.”

Psalm 126:2-3

My life right now is a whirlwind of babies and toddlers and playdough and meal prep and hurried emails… and it is tough to find a place to be still and know that He is God.

That being said, I got one yesterday. Ben has been up and down every 2-3 hours all night long for the past few nights, and Saturday night was particularly bad. (I know it’s the 3 month growth spurt, and it will end eventually.) I could barely move on Sunday morning when the alarm went off, and I dozed past shower gettin’ time. It was at that point that David told me to stay in the bed, and that he was taking everyone to church. (Thank God the baby will take a bottle of formula from time to time.)

I haven’t been all alone in my own house for that long since before the baby was born. I slept until 10:30, took a shower, and settled in with my Bible study notebook. Now, I’ve been getting my study done so I can participate at Community Bible Study on Thursdays. Usually, I’m scrambling to do most of the lessons on one day. Holy Spirit insight is hard to come by in those moments. =)

But it wasn’t hard to come by on Sunday morning, all alone in my room, with the sunlight streaming through the windows. I had a chance to sit and listen and ask God what He wanted to tell me. I got to take time to notice and pay attention to the finer points of Scripture. I saw a theme develop, and I remembered another devotional book I’d gotten to skim this week. I saw that a couple of similar things were standing out in this lesson. I found myself noticing God’s spirit telling me to remember not to be so “relevant” to my unsaved neighbors that I looked too much like them. How many things that He wanted to tell me have I missed in this season of life? I mourn that.

The verse above was in my lesson for the day. I remember reading it and smiling. And when David opened his Bible last night to do our nightly bedtime reading, can you guess what he read? Yep… Psalm 126.

I believe that God wants to encourage me that He can speak to me and show himself to me even in this crazy time of my life. He is gracious to show me that He wants a relationship with me when I show the smallest step in His direction. And the Lord has done great things for me. I see His care for me in the sweetest things.

My mentor mom emailed out of the blue to tell me that she’d be doing my table decorations on Tuesday. (She doesn’t read my blog, as far as I know.) Problem lovingly solved! I didn’t go over there this morning (as originally planned) to discover a scheduling glitch that meant we couldn’t set up after all. A good friend brought by a delicious leftover homemade calzone for my lunch today… along with a little baggie of chocolates. And despite my sleepiness and grouchiness to start off the day, my big boys played together lovingly all morning. Their kindness to each other warmed my heart when I really needed extra grace.

And in all that He whispers, “See, I have been good to you. Have joy…”

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I’m stressed.


I think I’ve decided that when I get enough nights of interrupted sleep, my body gets nauseous at the slightest provocation. I’ve felt bloated, mildy nauseous on and off, and crampy for a week. No period coming… he’s only 3 months old. And, no, I’M NOT PREGNANT. I took a test, since my symptoms were starting to freak me out. Then my brain went to the “Well, I’m probably just going to die of ovarian cancer because stomach issues are the only way you can tell if you have it, and then I’ll leave my three small children motherless, and that’s just great because they won’t diagnose it because they’ll just tell me this is normal for an exhausted, breastfeeding mother….” train wreck line of thinking. I don’t have irritable bowel syndrome. Dr. Wikipedia told me that. Maybe celiac disease? Or paranoia? =)

I like parties… but not this year. I’ve had two Christmas parties this week, and I haven’t enjoyed them nearly as much as I would’ve liked. I wanted to fall asleep in my CBS small group time on Thursday. And you’re going to have to dynamite me out of my house this weekend because I’m not leaving for anything other than church. My children are watching Kipper the Dog on YouTube every day right now. (Yeah, yeah, but that’s something we don’t do at our house, so it makes me feel bad. No judgment on you who do tv and videos, I swear.)

If you give me one more thing to do, I might go ballistic on you. I found out on Tuesday that I am responsible for doing the table decorations at our MOPs Christmas meeting next Tuesday, and that I have to bring a casserole. This means that I have to get a friend to watch my kids so I can go on Monday to the only available set up time. I had to borrow stuff from our mentor mom to decorate with, and when she casually mentioned that I’d have to go to Michael’s to buy candles for it, I wanted to either break something or fall on the floor crying. Or both. (I’m borrowing some from a gal in my small group, thank God, so no breakdown this week.)

But the worst of it is that I didn’t want to go to the park with my big boys this morning. And I usually always want all of us to be together on Saturday mornings. I’m desperate to teach the baby how to nap somewhere other than my arms, so he needed to stay here anyway, but it bothers me that I was glad to have the excuse.

Ben slept pretty horribly last night. Between the 3 of them, we’re both up multiple times a night because somebody fell out of bed, somebody’s having a growth spurt, or somebody started crying for no particular reason. So, yeah, it’s been a bad several months of sleep now, and I guess it’s just leaving it’s mark. My body feels worn out.

Please pray that I start feeling better this week. If I don’t, I’m going to have to make a dr.’s appointment, and I don’t want to add that to the list of things I don’t have the energy to do. And also, please pray that I will have joy in my boys and in my husband and in my job right now.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Ellen’s Chicken Noodle Soup

I love soup weather. Now, we haven’t actually had much of that yet, but I’m pretending. (It’s been a ridiculously warm December so far.) I light the candles in the kitchen in the evening, put on a classical Christmas Pandora station, and start chopping vegetables….

And I’m especially proud of this recipe. I tweaked and added and subtracted from a few chicken noodle soup recipes so much that I think I can safely call this one my own. David and Seth raved about it, and it’s even better the second day.

Ellen’s Chicken Noodle Soup

1 medium onion, chopped

2 small carrots, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t. ground thyme

a generous dash of marjoram

10-11 c. chicken broth (or combination of broth and water and bouillon)

salt and fresh ground pepper

2 c.  medium egg noodles

2 c. chopped, cooked chicken (2-3 breasts seasoned with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning - roasted)- (do this earlier in the day while your children are wrestling and throwing toys at each other)

1-2 T. butter

Melt butter in the bottom of a stockpot and add all veggies. Sprinkle on salt and pepper, and saute for a few minutes. Then add broth and seasonings, and bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Simmer until vegetables are almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add noodles and cook until tender, 5 - 8 minutes more. Add the chicken, warm through and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

baked Chimichangas…

Hey, all. Baby boy let me slip away from naptime in Mommy’s bed, so I get a few minutes to myself today. Whoopee! (That’s why I’ve been scarce around here, BTW. Naptime is short and usually all accounted for.)

I’m making one of my favorite recipes tonight, and I’m tripling it. I always get compliments on this recipe, and I’ve made it a several times for friends who have had babies, etc. It freezes wonderfully, and I can’t think why I didn’t think to do this before Ben was born.

Baked Chimichangas

1 1/2 c. chopped cooked chicken

1/2 c. picante sauce or salsa

1 c. shredded cheddar (we like sharp)

2 green onions, chopped, or 1/2 regular onion, chopped

1 t. cumin

1 t. garlic powder

1 t. onion powder

1 t. salt

1/2 t. black pepper

1/2 t. dried oregano

flour tortillas


Preheat your oven to 400. Combine everything in a large bowl. Warm tortillas briefly in the microwave on a wet paper towel to make them pliable. Put some of the mixture evenly down the center of each tortilla. Fold sides of the tortilla over the filling and place seam side down on a cookie sheet. Brush with melted butter. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Figure out how much filling you put in the center of each tortilla, and put enough of it in a freezer ziploc to feed your family for a meal. Freeze and enjoy!

I got this recipe from a great cookbook. I don’t buy many, but I bought Family Feasts for $75 a Week, and I haven’t regretted it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy THanksgiving…


Thankful for a full table….

DSC_0410 …. good neighbors who deep fry a turkey for us…

DSC_0418 …. food that all came out at the right times…


…. grandparent time in warm sunshine….


…. Pop Pop….

DSC_0413   …. with the newest baby…….DSC_0417….. and Aunt Judy taking a turn for snuggles.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

More later…. but for now…. click here to get your Happy Thanksgiving greeting from Catalog Living. It’s a good one today. =)

In my bathrobe…. ingredients in the breadmaker for rolls… listening to David read to the boys…. time for a shower!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

how to enjoy the holidays…


Our speaker at MOPs today was a wise, older woman with 4 grown daughters. At one point, she had 17 consecutive years of having a preschooler in the house! She often comes to us with great advice… and it’s usually some form of “Don’t stress out so much! Enjoy your children!” =)

Today she talked to us about how to enjoy the holidays. Here I present some of Miss Martha’s wisdom, and some tidbits of my own.

- Write down your vision of the perfect holiday season. Then figure out how much of that vision is actually attainable. Figure out what you can do to make it happen, and think about what depends on others. Hang on to some of it, let go of some of it. PLAN TO BE A CALM, RELAXED, KIND MOMMY!

- Delegate. If your mom-in-law makes good pie, let her bring it. Don’t try to make it all yourself. Do what comes easiest and is most enjoyable to you, and outsource the rest. For instance, I’m making rolls and mashed potatoes from scratch this year for Thanksgiving. Everything else will come from a box or can, be bought from Trader Joe’s, or come from someone else’s kitchen. Everybody gets their traditional Stove Top and green bean casserole, and I’m not a total wreck.

- If it’s a busy season of life (aka. “you have 3 children under the age of 5), don’t think you have to make homemade cookies in order to visit the nursing home on Christmas Eve. Buy a box of candy canes, and head on over. The residents care more about getting a hug from your kids than they do about the cookies, anyway.

- Don’t feel responsible for everybody’s happiness. Do the best you can, make the holidays as beautiful as possible for your immediate family, and don’t worry if Aunt Sue and Aunt Hilda can’t seem to get along for 5 minutes in the same room.

- Think about how some of the different activities you plan can lead your little ones to Christ. Try again with that advent wreath, even if you only get in a couple of readings this year. Patiently explain about how the Pilgrims gave thanks to God. Make the time to order that catalog of geese and cows, and pick out some livestock to gift to a needy family with your kids.

- And remember… You’re the Matriarch now! Enjoy the power to create special, goofy, and tender traditions, and bring it on, woman! =)

first smiles…

DSC_0391 He’s 3 months old now…. and we all, even the big boys, call him our “precious baby.” (Evan especially… he baby talks to him and hugs/crushes him all day long.)

Who wouldn’t, though? I love you, my tiny man.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First leaf raking…


It’s been a whirlwind last few days…. David and I went to D.C. for The Justice’s 20th anniversary on the bench dinner…. spent some time with old friends from when we lived there…. wandered around at our old apartment complex in Arlington with a different sweet baby boy than we left with… and spent long hours in the car, talking and listening to said baby boy cry….

I went to Mom and Dad’s to pick up the big boys yesterday. After struggling with whether or not to attempt the fun, yet ambitious, playdate that I’d planned for my MOPs small group today, I decided that my decision to bail was right after I locked my keys in the car while attempting to load the van. Thank the Lord that David hadn’t left to drive to a courthouse a couple of hours away or I would’ve been picking them up today instead. Sometimes I just have to figure out what will take me over the edge and cancel accordingly…

Sometimes I think we’re nuts attempting everything we do right now…. and other times I think we are probably striking the right balance. It just depends on the week….

Today has been absolutely gorgeous, so we played outside some. Baby napped in his swing, so there was time to read Richard Scarry books, practice drawing “2’s” in a workbook, play games with Seth of his own devising, watch Evan run around with his new ball David bought him on the trip, etc.

Every day, Seth seems so much older to me. He’ll be 5 in January, and I’m just not ready in some ways. But he’s become sooo helpful that maybe I can be reconciled to the change. I sat them both down with blank sheets of paper and leftover stickers from our years of teaching Sunday School. Evan can’t peel stickers off the page yet, but Seth can. Guess who peeled stickers for his brother today for the first time? He would attach them to the end of his new slide whistle and hold it out, and Evan would pull them off. Adorable… and immensely helpful.

Don’t let the picture above deceive you. Both of them cannot rake, even though Evan did a passable impression for the pictures. He did eventually prove helpful by picking up leaves and putting them in the bucket. Seth raked up pile after pile and put them in the bucket, and then he was actually tall enough to take those two buckets out to the yard waste can and pour them in! My first baby is growing up…

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

A good day…


The past couple of weeks have been difficult at the Suburban House. Evan was the main culprit, since he’s been a teething, drooling, parent defying wreck. There were some days when I didn’t know how I’d get the energy to try again tomorrow….

With that in mind, I woke up yesterday to a 2-year-old who’d miraculously had an attitude adjustment in his sleep… and therefore, to a much more pleasant day. =)

By the way, if you are about to become a parent to 3 children under the age of 5, I can tell you exactly what not to do…. =)

But I’ve finally learned that you should start off the morning catering to the baby’s needs the most. Yes, I know, this goes against a lot of conventional wisdom, but it has worked for us around here. If I get Ben happy and secure, feeling like I’m not going to pick him up and put him down every few minutes, then he’s a lot more settled. That means that he’s willing to eventually, possibly, stay asleep somewhere other than my arms. This worked for us yesterday when I was able to transfer him to the swing for an hour of nap.

This means that I’m doing everything with one hand to get breakfast ready, so it goes a little slower. It also means I’m eating breakfast with one hand, so breakfast bars help a lot. Kraft has this new milk and granola bar thing that I am finding useful.

I’ve also learned that I’ve got to let go of the idea of doing anything other than play with the boys for the first 2 hours of the morning. Wanna put a load of laundry in? Sorry, forget it. Wanna wash dishes? Nope, ain’t gonna happen. BUT, if I will just sit with the baby and talk to them while they play, cultivating a patient heart, THEN I might be able to get a few chores or games or reading done later on because they all have their love tanks at least partially full….

Sooooo, some things that I was thankful for yesterday…

- Singing and dancing with the baby in the kitchen, on the screened porch, etc. to Pandora’s Christian Rock station. Who says you have to have a local Christian radio station anymore?

- Boys lining up and racing matchbox cars on the porch in the autumn sunshine.

- Being able to let them go out in the backyard because the new grass is finally established enough. Watching them explore, find sticks, pick up big rocks, etc.

- Cutting a full pink rose from my bush and putting it on the vase for my table. It’s a small, simple thing, but I love being able to cut flowers from my yard for my table.

- Ordering “The Ox-Cart Man” new and hardback on Amazon. Just because….

- Discovering the Amazon Wishlist feature. If you want gift ideas for us, just go there, and search under my maiden name, Ellen H. W……. Great place to keep track of resources I want to get eventually for the boys for school, etc., and then I don’t forget!

- Watching an old episode of “Reading Rainbow” with the boys on YouTube. I have such fond memories of that show. Seth was mesmerized the whole time…

- An almost 3-month-old who is learning to smile and coo at his brothers. “Mommy, he’s smiling at me!”

- Crockpot stew bubbling away all afternoon, making the house smell delicious.

- That Ben can sit up snuggled in the middle of my lap now while I type this. =)

Friday, November 04, 2011

“Oat balls,” Vs. 2…

Ok, I know, I know, I post nothing but recipes right now…. but I’m having to scramble to find ways to cook and feed us easily, so that’s what’s on my mind. I have a version of these that includes powdered milk, but these are just as delicious and healthier for you.

No-Bake Energy Bites

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup peanut butter (or other nut butter)

1/3 cup honey

3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, or other add-in

1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything above in a medium bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls and enjoy! Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

This is our go-to meal after church. We all get home tired and hungry, and if I’ve taken the time to make these on Saturday night, lunch prep is a lot easier. Just throw some bananas and carrot sticks on the table with them, and you have a kid pleasing meal! Evan is a picky eater, but he’s a big fan of these, and they’re not terribly sticky. Most of the time, I double the recipe….

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Crockpot Chicken Marrakesh…

We had another family to dinner tonight, and I served them this. It was delicious, totally company worthy, and I made up the whole thing last night. I put it in the crockpot this morning before we headed out to Bible study, and I didn’t touch it again until they got here at 6:00. With a little garlic naan from Super Target or Trader Joe’s, you’ve got yourself a meal….

Crockpot Chicken Marrakesh

1 onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (can substitute regular potatoes, but it doesn’t have a really strong sweet potato flavor, so I wouldn’t)

1 (15 ounce) can great northern or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, completely frozen

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoon dried parsley

1 teaspoon salt

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

A little bouillon and water at the end if needed (I didn’t need it.)


1.Place the onion, garlic, carrots, sweet potatoes, garbanzo beans, and chicken breast pieces into a slow cooker. In a bowl, mix the cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, parsley, and salt, and sprinkle over the chicken and vegetables. Pour in the tomatoes, and stir to combine.

2.Cover the cooker, set to Low, and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened, 7-9 hours. Shred chicken with a fork in the crockpot, and serve…

I peeled and cut up the sweet potatoes last night before bed, along with the other veggies, and put together the spice mixture in a little baggie. You can store the rinsed potatoes in a bowl of water, completely covered, overnight with no problems.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Crockpot bean and rice soup….

Hey, all. Today was truly hard. Evan is teething, and he has been a drooling, coughing, whiny, whiny little guy for days now. Seth has too much energy, and I didn’t have it together to get us out somewhere to play today. Ben doesn’t want to be put down, and I’m not ready to fight him on it because he’s so little. It’s hard not to get discouraged, even though I know this is just a season. But…. at least I had dinner in the crockpot! =)

Crockpot Bean and Rice Soup

2 cups cooked, cubed pork, beef, or chicken, or smoked sausage (I used turkey sausage, sliced and browned the night before)

1 cup cooked rice (or 1/3 c. uncooked)

2 cans black beans, drained

4 cups beef or chicken broth

2 Tablespoons taco seasoning

1 cup tomato sauce or 1 can diced tomatoes

Toppings: grated cheese, salsa, chopped cilantro, chopped onion

Place all ingredients (except rice) in the crock of a slow cooker. Stir gently. Place the lid on top and turn on the cooker. Cook for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high. Serve with toppings.

This didn’t affect the flavor, but the rice was basically mush because I put it in with everything else in the beginning. I’m going to try adding the rice several hours into the cooking process to see if that helps.

I highly recommend buying taco seasoning from a company like Penzey’s or Savory Spice Shop. No preservatives and less salt. Penzey’s has a salt-free mexican seasoning called Arizona Dreaming that I may sub in for 1 T. next time, since I did use canned broth and beans.

I got this recipe from the Life As Mom blog, and I didn’t change much. She’s got good recipes!

Monday, October 31, 2011

happy halloween

DSC_0345 Happy Halloween from our pirate and his faithful giraffe…

(Seth wants you to know that he is a good pirate that saves all the boys and girls from the bad guys. Just so you know…)

DSC_0351 He kept all this on the whole time… hat, earring, and eye patch. We were really surprised by that. And, just so ya know, cheap black eyeliner makes great whiskers and mustaches…

DSC_0349 Happy Giraffe. I’m glad it was cold ‘cause this costume is warm… $7 at a yard sale, baby! Never been worn… the mom had bought ahead, but she was moving to Hawaii. =)

IMG_1245And last, but not least, my littlest punkin. He was so cute that I wanted to eat him with a spoon… but I settled for kissing him over and over instead. =)

harvest festival….


Our church has a harvest festival every year. It’s just one of the many things we love about our church. They have inflatables, pony rides, and rooms full of games to play. The rooms are divided by age, and the games are manned by kind older kids and teens that make me feel like we must be in the right place. I aspire to my boys turning out like that. And this year, all the food was free! They had hot dogs, snow cones, popcorn, hot cocoa…. and funnel cakes! Personally, I feel ministered to by free funnel cake. =)

IMG_1248This was Evan’s very first pony ride. He was a little nervous at first, but then David encouraged Seth to cheer for him… and Seth did. Loudly. For the entire pony ride. “Yay, Evan! Yay, Evan!” And that took care of the nervousness problem, and the smiles came out.

IMG_1251  Seth’s turn. It was his first pony ride, too. Unfortunately, my horse died before Seth ever got a chance to ride him… sniff. But… now that my mom and dad have seen this cuteness, I’m sure they’re going to go right out and buy a pony. Right, Mom and Dad? =)

IMG_1256This was really, really tall, y’all. David and I realized that it was mistake for him to try and take both of them up, but by that point, it was too late. Seth did it all by himself, and he only got a little scared right at the top. But that was ok….

IMG_1260  ….’cause Daddy took them both down with him. I love this picture. =)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mommy and her….


….. 3 little pun’kins. =)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

fall cooking…

I may have an adorable 2-month-old, but I will not let him keep me from doing some fall cooking! Even if we eat that fall cooking off paper plates until he’s 6 months old! =)

I made an easy cake while the boys were playing before nap today. Seriously, it was really, really easy… and quite good. I made it with Ben strapped to my chest in a Bjorn and the boys playing with cars in and out of the kitchen. There are many variations of this on the web, but I like the kind that include eggs and applesauce…


Pumpkin Spice Cake

1 box of spice cake mix

1 can pumpkin

1-3 eggs

½ c. unsweetened applesauce

Generous shakes of pumpkin pie spice and/or cinnamon

1 c. butterscotch or cinnamon chips

Mix together, put in a greased bundt pan, and bake at 350 for 30-40 min.



Friday, October 14, 2011

Yummy baby photos…


I would’ve made this my birth announcement photo if it wasn’t for the ugly flowered couch background. Ahh, for mad Photoshop skills. But… isn’t he a tiny cherub? =)

DSC_0319IMG_1136 A sweet lady at the park saw me trying to take photos of him, and she got a few good ones of him on my shoulder. Little love bug…IMG_1138 And the boys all together. The video of this shoot is much funnier, but I love Seth’s protective arm around Ben’s shoulder in this one. The big boys love “Baby Ben.”

brain dump…

It’s 4:23 p.m. on Friday, and the boys are still all sleeping (miracle!), so I’m brain dumping. Ben is in my bed, of course. These days, the two of us go down as soon as the boys do. Gotta love that baby. Put him in the swing… he’ll wake and scream every 10 minutes or so. Put him in my bed… he sleeps like a log. =)

I’ve realized that the mild nausea I’ve had on an off for a couple of days is familiar. Yes, it’s exhaustion nausea. Ever had it? I did after Evan… after enough nights of crummy sleep, my body fights back this way. Here you are again, old friend. That’s ok. I can get you to leave for awhile if I get a nap. =)

I feel worse for Seth, actually. He practically has dark circles under his eyes. Evan keeps him up with crying and waking a lot more than usual lately. Evan is our light sleeper, and he wakes up when we’re up and about with Ben, and then he wakes Seth up. The poor guy was having meltdowns today at the children’s museum, and it was because he was ridiculously tired. I was more gentle than usual with him about it. I wish there was something I could do to help him, but Evan wakes us all up, so it’s not like moving him out of Seth’s room would help.

I took a picture of Seth today “breastfeeding” his baby doll. Yep, he hiked up his shirt and put baby “Evan” to his chest. I promise not to show it to his girlfriend one day. If he pays me. Mwah hah hah! I can’t bear to break it to him yet that he won’t be able to do this part of baby caring. He’s such a little nurturer.

David and I have kept striking out on getting a date night the last couple of weeks. One of his friends, realizing how tired he is, offered to take the hit and watch his 2 kids and our 2 two oldest tonight by himself so we can go out. And I will bounce until I’m dizzy with Ben in the baby carrier if it means we can go to a restaurant without Seth and Evan.

I think I’d like to “boo” some of the neighbors. See this for more information. I think the boys would get a big kick of sneaking up to someone’s house in the dark and leaving a treat on their steps, then running away. I bought the stuff to make chocolate kiss acorns, so maybe we’ll make those and do it. Maybe.

See, I want to enjoy my children to the hilt, despite exhaustion. I kissed Ben’s sweet sleeping cheeks a few minutes ago and prayed that I would. I want to take them to the children’s museum and watch them play, even if I’m dead on my feet. And I am so glad that we have three, even though I look around and see other couples with less children who are also struggling less with the tiredness. I don’t envy them, really. The boys are worth it.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

October Saturday…

IMG_1185 ….a fall picnic by our special “rock throwing” stream…

IMG_1168 …. riding his bike up and down hills, racing Daddy with the stroller, and stopping to wait for Mommy and Ben to catch up…

IMG_1199 …. excitedly throwing rock after rock…


… and borrowing a blanket from his baby brother after he fell in throwing one of those rocks…. =)

Embracing the adventure of 3 tiny boys today. I love fall.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

easy hamburger and vegetable stew

Well, it’s time to get back to cooking again! We were given meals by sweet friends 3 times a week until Ben was almost 7 weeks old. I feel very spoiled and loved… and I appreciated every. single. meal. It was such a huge help.

But now I’m getting back into cooking again… and I pulled out the crockpot yesterday. This stew was easy, had cheap, healthy ingredients I had on hand, and had a nice, comfort food flavor.

Crockpot Hamburger and Vegetable Stew

6-8 white or red skinned potatoes, chopped

4-6 carrots, chopped (I’m buying peeled baby carrots again to save my sanity, so more of those if you’re using them)

1 onion, chopped

1 lb. ground beef, browned (I have browned ground beef in my freezer, so I put it in the crockpot partially frozen.)

1 cup tomato sauce and 1 cup of water

Salt and pepper to taste

1 bay leaf

1 T. Italian seasoning

2 tablespoons rice

Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4-5.

Serve with cornbread if you a) don’t have 2 little boys under the age of 5 or b) squeal with glee at the idea of sweeping up many, many cornbread crumbs off the floor.

I cut up the onion and carrots the night before and put them in a bag in the fridge, and I took out the frozen ground beef and put it in the fridge overnight. I also took out all the other ingredients and put them on the counter with the crockpot. That’s the only way I can do something like this in the morning with 3 tiny boys to help get ready…

Monday, October 03, 2011

pumpkin monday…



Hello on this beautiful fall day! I woke up this morning with a determined glint in my eye. I would do more today than simply get by… I would craft, and do laundry, and make waffles, and be outside… all before naptime! As you can imagine, I now have a sink of dirty dishes, I’m tired and mildly frazzled, and I’m praying the baby doesn’t wake up before I finish this post.

But we did have a good morning overall! I made up the batter for waffles last night and stowed it in the fridge, and despite oversleeping and not getting my act together, we did actually have them for breakfast. And then it was on to crafting!

This is a craft I was able to do with both boys at the same time while the baby (fitfully) napped. Seth got out the scissors and cut up orange construction paper while I worked with Evan to rip up his orange paper. Then we all sat at the table, and I helped Evan glue his papers onto a cut out paper plate circle with Elmer’s while Seth used a glue stick to put his papers on. I cut out the stem, eyes, nose, and mouth for them, and I put them on for them after they were done with the rest. Seth spent quite a while trying to get his just right, and he kept telling Evan, “Move away. You’re distracting me from my work.” =)

Then we read “Too Many Pumpkins” by Linda White. It’s a sweet story that I got from the library after reading the linked review.

For lunch, we had applesauce with cinnamon sprinkled in, just like the cinnamon in the baked goods mentioned in the book. Seth enjoyed it especially. And I wondered what I was thinking letting Evan feed himself out of a bowl. =)

I have lots of other plans for fall activities. We’ll see how many of them I get done ‘cause I really need to take it slower than I did today. But I found some great stuff on my new favorite preschool website… Homeschool Creations. Her preschool printables are perfect for Seth’s level right now. I printed off the fall printable pack, and I’m looking forward to doing them.

And if you haven’t seen the neat acorn munchie idea floating around the web, you’re missing out. Take a Hershey’s kiss, glue on a mini nilla wafer with peanut butter, and add a smidge of peanut butter for a stem. You have an adorable snack!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I want to be a better mother every day. I want to see noticeable improvement in my parenting every year.

And I get very tired of not seeing improvement in myself. I pray and pray for it. And I feel like it’s a constant struggle, and if I’m not losing ground, I’m not gaining it either.

Basically, I guess I’m sick of being a sinful person stuck in a sinful world.

And today is one of those days when I think my children might be better off in daycare than with me at the moment.

I have allergies, and so does everyone else in the house. The boys are stuffy and snotty, the baby is snuffly, and I haven’t felt the greatest for the last couple of days. I didn’t sleep well last night, and getting up with the baby didn’t help.

So when Evan decided to cry on and off through his nap because he FEELS BAD, and this meant that I got no nap, I was steaming by the time I got him up. And I yelled at him, had a temper tantrum, and had to apologize for it. And I hate being this kind of mother.

I am sick and tired of failing every day at my resolution not to speak harshly with my children. Because I do at some point every day. I am short, terse, frustrated, angry, whatever. And when I do it, I feel like it negates every good thing I’ve done with them all day, no matter how many of those things there are.

Yes, tomorrow is another day. But I feel right now like that doesn’t matter because I’ll just blight it’s promise of a fresh start like I always do. And I’m tired of that.

The end.

UPDATED THE NEXT DAY… I got my sadness out, asked God to forgive me again, and indulged in some “bad day” pizza takeout. And then I cleaned out my nasty van. And cleaned up some of the backyard mess. And felt better, hugged all my babies, and resolved to do better today. Of course, everyone got less sleep last night than the night before. =) We’re gonna make it, sisters in the trenches… yes, we are…

Saturday, September 17, 2011

cuddly days…


- It’s raining and chilly, and we’re all snuggled in together in the house. David is reading the older boys an abbreviated version of “Little House in the Big Woods” with Ben sleeping on his lap.

- I had leftover macaroni and cheese for breakfast. It was yummy, and I’m not apologizing for it. I don’t like to eat cereal every morning for breakfast.

- The highlight of my week was the 3 hour nap the boys took yesterday afternoon. I snuggled down in the bed with Ben in the crook of my arm, and we napped. It was the best nap I’ve had since he was born 4 weeks ago, and it felt decadent to lie there and watch his tiny face.

- Seth is ramping up his energy to more boyish levels these days. He sure picked a great time to do it. (Insert sarcastic smile.) Yesterday went a lot better than Wednesday, and I attribute that to us going to the mall playplace for an hour to jump and run after doing an hour of “school.” I can only take so much wrestling and jumping off the couch and crying because “He pushed me!” without going slightly insane.

- BTW, you’re not going to get a lot of sympathy from me when you’re crying after you begged your brother to jump on your head. ‘Nuf said.

- I’m reading a book on raising boys called “Wild Things.” It’s useful, but it’s mildly depressing. Apparently, I’m surrounded by little creatures whose brains naturally lack the impulse control of your typical girl. Good times…

- I did laundry, and it’s been sitting in the baskets clean for a couple of days now. And it’s almost time to do laundry again! =) I’m ok with this, but I am wondering when I’m going to find a good time to fold it. If the baby would be willing to be put down some, that might help. =)

- BUT… I love holding my tiniest man. And I don’t want to give it up because I have older boys to take care of. It’s a little more challenging to do much this way, but with the help of the sling, we’re functioning. And if he gives me an hour in the morning when he’s willing to sleep out of my arms, I can get a ton done with the boys!

- We had our college student over last night. He ate what was delivered to us from friends, and I didn’t feel guilty about that, either. I want to be able to see people occasionally, even if I’m not up to cooking for them. We played a game with him. We both kept forgetting and moving other people’s pieces. We were a pathetically easy conquest for Josh, but he was nice enough to play with us anyway. He’ll understand one day. =)

- I’m going shopping today for “fat pants.” My bestie is going with me, and only because she’s also got a postpartum body, and she can handle ugly crying. She insists on calling them “step down” pants. Whatever. They’re fat pants. It’s time to make friends with ridiculous amounts of spandex in my jeans.

- Oh, and Evan walks beside the stroller now whenever we go somewhere. He puts one hand on it to “help” me push Ben. Yesterday, he wanted to stop every few feet through the store to spontaneously lean over and give Ben a kiss. They both adore him…

Saturday, September 10, 2011

easy teacher gift…

Hey, y’all. Writing with Ben in a sling. I think we’re going to be using it a lot in the future. He likes human contact a lot. =)

We’re doing pretty well. It was kind of a rough week. My mom was here helping me, and that was great. It was especially great because David ended up having to work very late every night of the week. The poor guy… It was hard on all of us. And I think I’m about ready to start the “new normal” around here. Monday is my first day without help. Pray.

But anyway… I thought I’d give you a tip for a really easy teacher gift. I have no energy for crafting right now, but I wanted to do something for the Sunday school teachers who faithfully taught my boys during the last year. I taught a class myself, so I know how much a little gesture can mean. And this will be a very little gesture. =)

First, go to the store and buy some packs of Snickers bars. Then buy a bag of Hershey Hugs.

Go home, and drag out a couple of plain colored gift bags that you’ve been hoarding from your stash of used bags.

Open Microsoft Word and type the following:

“Hugs and kisses” to some awesome teachers that have “really satisfied” this year. =) We will miss you. Love, Seth

Then Google “pictures of Snickers” and click on one of the images given. Right click on that, click on “print picture,” and print out a couple. Cut out the pictures and glue on your printed message. Glue the whole message to the front of the gift bag and fill with the appropriate amount of candy.

You’re done! You’ve got an easy teacher gift that even the sleep deprived mother of a newborn can create. Now, let’s hope she actually remembers to take it to church tomorrow…

Friday, September 02, 2011

Mmmmmmmm bop…

Ok, time to embrace all the possibilities of a future of 3 boyness! And here is one possibility… heh heh. =) Three brothers, evangelical homeschooling family…. do I smell a winner? =) Here we have Seth on guitar, Evan on keyboard, and Ben on drums.

Seriously, though, when we walk around the neighborhood, and I hear the sounds of badly played 80’s music screaming from open garage doors, my first thought is, “Thank God we don’t have a garage.”

And please, please, boys, please don’t tell me you want to grow out your hair…


Thursday, September 01, 2011

Homemade board game…


The week before Baby Ben came into the world, I was feeling like doing some last minute crafting. It’s a nesting thing for me, I think. =)

Anyhoo, I ran across this tutorial online. I had a lot of colored card stock, and I had half a piece of white posterboard left from making signs for our yard sale. I used different colored buttons for the playing pieces, and after about 10 minutes of work, I had a personalized toddler game!

I gave this one away as a birthday present to my bestie’s little girls. I hope they’ve enjoyed it.

One of the things I like the most about this game is that it’s more interactive than most board games. You can actually do things, like jump up and down, when you land on a space. That is bound to keep a toddler’s interest better than Candyland… well, maybe a boy toddler’s interest. I don’t know what those things called “girls” like to play as far as games go. =)

Monday, August 29, 2011

One more mouth to fill…


“She says I shall now have one mouth the more to fill and two feet the more to shoe, more disturbed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure for visiting, reading, music, and drawing. This is one side of the story, to be sure, but I look at the other.

Here is a sweet fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which it dwells is worthy all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister in Christ’s name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings have left me.

Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother’s heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her lifelong prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest!”

- From “Stepping Heavenward” by E. Prentiss

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good things: new baby edition…


- A sweet smelling baby with soft, brushed down baby fuzz, fresh from his first bath. And realizing I still remember how to give one… =)

- Seeing the neighbor’s gift of balloons floating down from the backyard trees days after they escaped from our front porch. And getting to call her and tell her that we got her present after all.

- Hot, fresh meals delivered every two days…. and an online calendar full of this kind of love to last us all month. Overwhelmed with this generosity.

- A full box of wonderful toys and games, lovingly chosen by a friend and blog reader, and opened at the end of a hormonal day. Thank you, Powell.

- Lactation consultants that call back promptly.

- That pumping on one side for 24 hours, soaking in salt water, and coating in Neosporin seems to have my one poor, wounded baby feeder back in business… with a nipple shield. Continued prayers for full functionality and healing appreciated. Pumping every 3 hours, cleaning up pumping stuff, trying to get the baby to eat it… not such a fun thing.

- A call from a friend on the way to the grocery store to ask if we need anything… right after realizing I’d forgotten to buy milk.

- A wonderful preschool counting game discovered in my feed reader from Money Saving Mom. Click on “Workboxables” and “Number Wheel By Ami.” I’m looking forward to getting the clothespins for this…

- Lysol wipes. And the fact that me spilling two sugary drinks on the floor within 5 minutes of each other hasn’t taken down my afternoon because of them.

- A morning alone with my 2-year-old baby while Daddy and Seth introduced Ben to his co-workers. So helpful in making me feel less guilt for making my baby a middle child…

- The best husband in the universe telling me that he wouldn’t want to miss out on the early tough days even if he could by going back to work right away.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Benjamin Elliott….


Another sweet blessing came to us on August 17, 2011 at 10:30 a.m. He weighed 7 lb., 5 oz. and was 21 inches long. It didn’t take long for him to steal my heart, just like his brothers….

DSC_0176 Big brother had to have a turn first. He wanted to hold him multiple times for short periods of time. And when he was at his grandparents, he asked every time we called, “Are you in the hospital with Baby Ben? Is he still wearing his little hat? Is he sleeping in his little bed?” =)

DSC_0185 Evan was more interested in trying to knock over my iv bag stand and climb on shiny medical equipment than he was in his baby brother. (At least Ben got one kiss.) But that has definitely changed since we’ve been home… now he’s a 4 star baby helper.


Mom made this cake with Seth for Ben’s birth day. Seth got to frost it with her, and it seemed to make the whole event more real for him. They sang “Happy Birthday” to him, and they blew out his candle. Very sweet…


And here’s one with his eyes open. He’s the cutest little bundle of happiness, and definitely the most easy going newborn that we’ve ever had. We feel abundantly blessed…. to go along with abundantly tired. =) We’re enjoying these early days as a family of FIVE. I never thought I’d see this day. God has been merciful far beyond what we deserve.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

just checking in…

- Gray Saturday morning. Headed out early for a little yard saleing. We have one excited 4-year-old who loves to get little toys with his ziploc baggie of coins.

- I found an awesome tanagram set for a quarter! I was thinking of ordering one from Amazon for over $20, so finding it was such a nice blessing. I think the one I got may be better than the one I was looking at online, and I can’t wait to sit at the kitchen table and do some of the easier cards with Seth.

- Seth bought a beanie baby turkey with one of his quarters. The irony is that we sold off its identical twin at our yard sale. That boy… =)

- Evan has the Cold That Never Ends. He lay down last Friday night and had a bad night with congestion and coughing and a runny nose. And it’s been like that all week. He hasn’t been up and down every night, but it’s been a few. David has slept with the boys in the guest bed a few nights to deal with it more easily. I took him to the doctor yesterday, and I got a prescription for a bubble gum flavored antibiotic. He’s got to have a sinus infection… no cold lasts this long with no improvement. Sigh.

- We’re having a quiet weekend because of Evan’s illness. David is really tired, and so am I, so this is probably exactly what we need. I’m worried that one of us will come down with Evan’s cold if we don’t get more rest, and this would be horrible timing. And I’m a little sad because it looks like he won’t get to meet his new brother on said brother’s birthday.

- My arms and legs feel tight and heavy. No more overdoing it. The floor can just stay filthy…

- But we now have little boy scooters! They were a great deal at another yard sale! And I’m thankful that we have a porch that goes the length of our house. Since we don’t have a garage, this is a great place to keep our increasing collection of riding toys/roller skates/helmets and knee pads. =)

- David had “coffee time” with Seth this morning. Seth thinks he’s a big boy when he gets to sit and drink “coffee” alone with his daddy. Now they’re off for a father/son date at Steak and Shake. He’d been pretending to make me hamburgers out of playdough a lot the past two weeks, so we figured he had a hankering for one.

- Wednesday is D-day. I feel like it can’t come soon enough, and it also seems like it’s not real, and we’re not prepared… This baby thing is like riding a bike, right? =)

Monday, August 08, 2011

stream of consciousness…

I have little things to share, but they’re probably not going to be terribly interesting or well written. Oh well. If you have literary standards, stop reading now. =)

We had a good weekend overall. By the time I hit Friday evening, I was so tired and sore and weary of my cranky boys that I didn’t know how I was going to do anything other than sit on the sofa and stare into space all weekend.

This stage of the pregnancy has been a good bit harder than it was with Evan. I have more muscle pain and soreness, and sitting is uncomfortable a lot of times. The baby dropped more on Saturday, and he is so low that I can’t wear anything but dresses comfortably. I have some amount of trouble standing, walking, and basically getting around right now.

David saw my patheticness and started cleaning. =) Yep, he changed and washed the boy’s sheets and decided that our bathrooms needed cleaning. He said that my state made him think I could actually go into labor this time, so he thought we’d better be prepared. =)

I made myself make the chicken curry for the freezer that I’d planned on. We went to Marbles on Friday night for their once a month evening play time. The newborn clothes are now washed, though I can’t figure out how to sit on the floor to fold them.

Church was great on Sunday… really refreshing. And on Sunday night, we got to go out on a date. Dinner and a movie! David had been dying to see the last Harry Potter movie in the theater, and he got his wish.

I have been praying a lot about my stress and attitude with Seth and Evan. They’ve both been fussy and on edge, and I know I’ve contributed to that a lot. This morning, I decided to be all silly and goofy and read them extra books. And this has been the best day we’ve had together in about 2 weeks. I want so badly to enjoy our last 10 days as a family of 4.

Oh, Evan seems to have come down with a summer cold. Please pray that the rest of us don’t get it….

Monday, August 01, 2011

and I will not have to rip down my porch… =)

Thanks for praying for my porch inspection, y’all. I have been sweating this thing all weekend, praying whenever I felt worried. But it’s been affecting me. For instance, I took Seth to see the “Winnie the Pooh” movie as his first cinema experience, and the part where Piglet was digging a hole made me want to look away. (There’s been some digging around porch footings going on around here.)

The inspector came out, the guy who built the porch was here, and the inspector gave him a very small and manageable list of things to fix. The way the inspector had been acting before, asking for all these things to be taken up and dug up, I had NO IDEA what he could ask for. And I’m a control freak.

David reminded me last night, “Everything we have is God’s. If God wants to waste His money ripping down a porch and putting it back together, that’s up to Him.” =) I just didn’t want to live here while that was happening…

So this is a huge load off my mind. And maybe everything will get put back before my littlest man arrives. Oh, just so there’s no confusion…. We’re not naming him “Trey.”  That’s just been my blog nickname for him since we found out he was the third boy. We knew lots of guys in law school named things like Oscar Hamlet Beauregard III, and they all went by “Trey.” =)

Friday, July 29, 2011

prayer for something dumb that’s stressing me out… =)

Hey, all. I figured I’d put a prayer request out there because extra people praying certainly can’t hurt, right? =)

Ok, so, our lovely new screened in porch is now being inspected. When we contracted with a local guy to build it, we didn’t realize (a) that it would need to be inspected because we’re ignorant buffoons that haven’t owned a house before, or (b) that we’d need to figure anything like that out because the guy building it would know, and he would take care of whatever was needed. After being asked by a couple of friends how much the permits were, etc., we then casually asked our guy if he had gotten permitting done. We found out that he had not. Problem. He had neglected to ask us to get a homeowner permit if we wanted one. And permits are required for new porches and decks in our city.

What to do? We felt like, as Christians, we couldn’t ignore this now that we knew about it. And so began the process of me waddling into a city inspections office with my two little boys, filling out paperwork, etc. A building inspector came out, and an electrical inspector (he’d put in a ceiling fan.) The building inspector immediately demanded that a bunch of boards be taken up and large holes be dug so that he could see the porch footing and how the porch was attached to the house. He also wanted some extra, different bolts attaching the porch to the house.

Our guy, realizing that he had screwed up, kindly came here and did what he requested. It took him a day and part of another. And I had to watch him unscrew boards from our beautiful porch and deck and put them in a pile to the side. This stresses me out, as you might imagine.

In the meantime, our guy discovered that there is a lot of water in our heating and cooling ductwork under the house. Soooo, I called about that, and we got more news. Our ductwork is over 20 years old, it wasn’t insulated right to start with, and now it’s filled with debris and water. It all probably needs to be replaced. I see more dollar signs.

I have scheduled an estimate for the ductwork for Monday, and I have an electrical guy coming to fix the minor things the electrical inspector wanted fixed on Monday…. and I have the inspection with the building inspector on, you guessed it, Monday.

It’s the building inspector that has me worried. The heating and cooling guys had nothing good to say about inspectors in our city. And this one seems like he could be on a power trip, depending on his mood on a particular day. I also confirmed what I’d thought…. we are completely at his mercy. If he tells us to completely dismantle our deck and porch and start from scratch, we either do it, or we face a yearly fine and a black mark on our house if we decide to sell it. This would all be over whether particular bolts are used that aren’t in code now but were 5 years ago, other nitpicky stuff, etc. I am not concerned about the porch not being built well and strong.

Pointless, government bureaucracy at its finest, folks. Oh, how I wish I didn’t believe in being ethical sometimes….

I’m trying not to let this really stress me out because I can’t do anything about it at this point. But it’s been hard on me the last few days, and I just want it all over. So PLEASE pray for me and for mercy on Monday.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

No bake oat balls….

I had Seth help me make these this morning. I was a good chance to talk about 1 c. and 1/2 c. measures, and he got to dump everything and help me stir a little bit. Mom made these for us when we were little. She got the recipe from my Great Aunt Mary, who was the world’s best preschool teacher…


No Bake Oat Balls

1 c. rolled oats

1 c. dry milk

1/2 c. peanut butter

1/2 c. honey

a handful of raisins or chopped nuts


Mix together well, roll into balls, and chill in the fridge. If the mixture seems too crumbly, just add a little more honey and peanut butter.

some folk songs…

My mom was a preschool music teacher before she started homeschooling us. She would go around to the classrooms in our little church preschool, play her autoharp, and teach all of us all kinds of songs… songs about frogs and squirrels and the days of the week and how to cross the street.

I was in the library a couple of days ago, and I ran across a picture book of this old Aaron Copeland song. This was the tune I learned, so I included it. There are lots of different animals and sounds. My boys are enjoying it with me…



The next day, I came across another childhood favorite. There are hand motions for this one, and there is also a tune, but I couldn’t find it on Youtube. We always clapped when the turtle caught the different animals, and I tickle them at the end when we say, “But he didn’t catch me!” Enjoy!

“I had a little turtle,

He lived in a box,

He swam in the water,

He climbed on the rocks.

He snapped at a mosquito,

He snapped at a flea,

He snapped at a minnow,

He snapped at me.

He caught the mosquito,

He caught the flea,

He caught the minnow,

But he didn’t catch me!”



I feel increasingly thankful that my mom gave me a heritage of singing and playing these classics with us. I have treasures to pass on to my children because she taught these to me. Thanks, Mom!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

good things…



- A 4-year-old who spontaneously decides to put his underwear and shorts on his head, just for giggles. And finding out later that his daddy taught him this trick. =)

- A Wednesday night trip to a baby superstore with the BFF to browse and dream and pick up a couple of necessities.

- The husbands who watched the kids so we could take off on a random weeknight for a bit. They’re bigger heroes than Superman, and you can tell him I said that.

- Cold, refreshing water in the local city kiddie pool this morning. And friends to play with there.

- A big batch of taco soup frozen in bags for later.

- 2 eggs borrowed from the neighbors last night to make a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough. And a plate of hot chippers that we walked over there after they were done. They said they’d trade eggs for cookies any day.

- “Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel.” And how Evan loves to point out all the cars and trucks in her beautiful vintage illustrations.

- Brainstorming a couple of ideas for freezer friendly meals that aren’t completely tomato or cheese based. Any ideas, gentle readers? Maybe a stir fry mix I could make up for the pantry and add chicken to later?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A slice of real life…

Ok, so yesterday was rough. Rough with a capital R. It’s about 100 degrees with high humidity, so I can hardly stand to be outside for more than 5 minutes. Seth has been harassing Evan more than normal for the last few days, and that really frustrates me. And naptime was short because a good friend dropped by on her way through town during it, and the boys didn’t stay down well as a result. Sigh. By the time they got up, I was begging them to play the “Mommy’s Eyes Are Closed While She Lies On the Couch Game.” It wasn’t terribly successful. Oh, yes, and Seth pooped in his naptime diaper for the first time in months, didn’t tell me that, and somehow tracked poop down the carpeted stairs. We’re learning how to use the steam cleaner that’s become a piece of downstairs decor tonight.

I told David that I was really wishing it was the weekend. He remarked that that wasn’t a good thing because it was Wednesday. I know, oh, I know.

So this morning, when I woke up, I was dreading the day. (It didn’t help that it started before the alarm went off with “Mommy, Evan’s out of the bed.”) So I spent some time praying for patience and strength and joy and supernatural amounts of energy.

And ya know, He came through.

I had to take them with me to the dermatologist to get a couple of tiny warts on my hands frozen off. Yeah, I know, TMI. But, my point is, this had “gigantic disaster” potential written all over it. You know, small doctor’s office, no way to know how long the wait will be, an inadequate amount of snacks, frowning elderly people with magazines, etc.

We were in the parking lot, and as I was getting out of the car, I swear the Holy Spirit started saying to me, “Ellen, take the huge, heavy stroller. Do it. If you don’t, you will regret it. Seriously, listen to me. I’m your friend.” So I did. It was all I had, and I don’t like using it in small spaces. I knocked into a few doors, and it wasn’t easy to turn around, but 5 minutes of Evan on the loose in the waiting room was enough to remind me how thankful I am for the Holy Spirit in my life. The 3 and 3/4 of us already look like a freak show as it is without 2 of us climbing and diving off plastic chairs.

Evan settles down and stops screaming to “get out of stroller!,” the dermatologist explains about skin to Seth, and I find out that the burst blood vessel smack in the middle of my forehead will probably heal after Trey comes out. Win, win, win! We’re in and out quickly, and I praise the boys to high heaven and promise them a treat at Target.

Off we go to Target, where we get backup carpet cleaner in case the steam cleaner gets mad at us for actually wanting to use it. Seth is hanging onto the side of the cart and making train whistle noises through a plastic straw that he found in the cart. (It was covered with the paper when he found it. I’m not THAT laid back.) Evan joins in. I don’t care because the only people in Target are wealthy middle aged women buying organic incense burners on their way home from the gym and other moms with kids. They smile at us; it’s all cool. My boys are behaving angelically.

They get Bugles in their snack trays on the way home. I used to love Bugles as a little kid. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree apparently.

We get home, and they eat lunch nicely and play well together. Seth and I discover that he likes playing catch now that we’ve unearthed some velcro catcher's mitts and a velcro ball. Who’d have thought that this would be the answer to every game of catch ending in tears? (I’m really looking forward to him getting better at playing catch, y’all.)

Now they’re down for a nap, and I’m soooooo thankful. So if you’ve just had a REALLY bad day, take it from me, tomorrow could be a whole lot better….

Tuesday, July 19, 2011



Seth planted this corn back in early summer. Now he gets to harvest the fruit of his labor. (I’m so glad he gets to experience firsthand where fruits and vegetables come from.)

DSC_0105  “Mommy, it makes a cracking sound!” Papa was proud of the fact that he learned the proper technique of twisting to get the ears off the stalks…


And this is what Evan was doing in his 1 minute of unsupervised time while I was taking pictures of his big brother…. =) Yes, he climbed it all by himself. He was very proud.

DSC_0121 Fresh cantaloupes and “his corn” that Nana served up for lunch.

DSC_0141One of my favorite pictures of them ever. This was my brother’s pedal tractor when he was growing up, and there is a picture of him driving with me in the trailer. Mom, I’m glad you didn’t let Dad get rid of this toy. =)

DSC_0154 Seth taking his brother for a ride. Things go a lot more smoothly now that Evan has learned that he can’t take the pin out that attaches the trailer to the tractor…. =)


Me and my little man at 34 weeks pregnant. I broke down and bought a couple of brand new maternity dresses. They help me feel a little less huge. =)

I went to my parent’s house for the weekend with the boys. In our 10 years of marriage, David and I hadn’t ever thought to take some time alone every once in awhile. If we were doing something away from the kids on a weekend, it’s either been together or going away with other people, etc. I got to experience some alone time on the weekend for the first time in years, and it was really rejuvenating. There was nobody to plan around and nobody’s needs to think about other than my own. If you haven’t done this in years, and you have young children, I highly recommend this kind of mini retreat.

Anyhoo… I got a chance at it, but David didn’t. I wanted him to have the chance for a little personal retreat before “Trey” arrives… and so did my parents. They know how hard he works for his family, and they wanted to give him a gift for all the help that he was with Claire and Isaac while we were at the beach. So they took care of us this weekend so David could rest. We all had a great time… and there was much hugging and rejoicing when we all got back together, too. =)

Friday, July 15, 2011

the truth about preschool….

I just ran across this article about preschoolers…

I’d been wondering recently if I should buy a nice days of the week/month/weather calendar. Seth has been asking about that more. And I don’t think it would be a bad thing to have.

BUT… I like to hear that it isn’t necessary. I like to look at preschool educational ideas, and we have lots of educational games and toys around here. Honestly, there is so much out there that it overwhelms me…

These days, my goal is for us to spend a good bit of time reading together, step back and let the boys create imaginative play together, and do 2-3 short learning activities.

Yes, I did some alphabet themed preschool. I may go back to it sometime. BUT… I think Seth and Evan can learn the same things that they got from that without me planning it all out so much.

Here is a typical day with preschoolers around here:

Seth gets up and puts on his clothes. I point out if his shirt or shorts are on backwards, and he corrects it. Evan puts diapers in the trash can. That’s his “job.” Seth puts his own bowl and spoon from breakfast in the sink.

We read several books together. Evan picks some, and Seth picks some. They will ask me to read a lot throughout the day. At this point, Evan has the attention span to make it through many of the books that Seth reads, including “Frog and Toad.” Pretty good for a barely 2-year-old boy, I think.

I spend about 20 minutes with them doing little learning activities. These can include a few worksheets with Seth from his Rod and Staff preschool workbooks, a letter matching or number matching game, building with multicolored bears, a memory game, doing increasingly more difficult puzzles, playdough, sticker books, etc. We often sit at our little table together, Evan on my lap, and he either tries to do what Seth is doing, or I have a little activity for him to do. We don’t do this every day if we’ve got something going on, but if we don’t, we do this.

If I’m cooking something, Seth helps me dump and stir, and we talk about measurements. I encourage them both to make up rhymes and songs. They pretend all kinds of neat things, often based on books. Seth packed a “picnic” and sat on a “rock” (the sofa), just like Frog and Toad in one story.

I feel like they’re thriving, and I’m trying not to stress about whether or not Seth can recognize all his lowercase letters and his numbers. Since I know he doesn’t know them, I throw more of those games or activities in there for him. David came up with the idea of having him pick a number from the number puzzle each afternoon, and he only gets that many Goldfish crackers. Talk about an incentive for learning numbers… heh heh.

Sooo, preschool? I think we’re doing well here for now. I care most that they’re using their imaginations and loving to read, and I figure that’s most important at 2 and 4…

What do you do with a black thumb?


You see all that beautiful fescue grass? It died.

It’s been a week of putting out little fires here and there. A car inspection here, a permitting thing there. A lamp breaks… you hunt in vain for a good cheap replacement, etc. David’s had the same kind of week at work.

And I realized tonight that I was fantasizing about having a paid gardener. David wondered why I wanted that instead of a full time maid/decorating consultant. I thought about it, and I realized that I feel like I’m making incremental improvement on the house. The yard, however, is another story entirely. Since we’ve lived here, we’ve gone backwards, not forwards.

Behold the seeding and aerating experiment of fall 2009. We paid a guy to kill some weeds, seed, and aerate. It wasn’t cheap. We watered religiously. The grass grew. It was BEAUTIFUL. And then we had a horrible drought. We were paying through the nose to the city to water our lawn. We stopped watering and prayed that the grass would survive. It didn’t. Now, our yard is a wasteland of crabgrass. It looks worse than it did before we seeded because of the patches of ground that were toxic from the guy’s weed killing technique. So almost all the nice fescue died, the crabgrass came, and we now have bare patches on top of that where fescue never grew in the first place. Sad end to story.

Did I mention that I fertilized twice with the fertilizer that’s supposed to keep crabgrass from growing at all? I did. I might as well have spread the yard with bunny feed. Maybe they would’ve eaten the crabgrass…

But I have other examples of my black thumb, my friends. This is not the only sad yard story.

Around the same time that we seeded, a pipe burst under the front sidewalk. We had to replace the sidewalk. They dug up our nice, new grass on both sides of the sidewalk. We replaced the soil. We bought grass seed kits that said “GUARANTEED TO GROW GRASS!” We watered. The grass never grew. Now there are patches of crabgrass and black dirt on both sides of the sidewalk. There is no actual grass.

I called my Master Gardener mom and asked her when to plant tulip bulbs. I had my friend with a yard like the Garden of Eden come over to help. She brought her bulb planter thingy. We put in special bulb fertilizer. We planted 20 bulbs from two different packets.

Not a single bulb came up.

I got a bunch of hardy mint from my mom to transplant on the side of our house. I’d planted some of her mint at the rental house we’d had, and it took over the place. I planted it here. I watered it. It died.

I grew sunflowers in little cups with Seth. When they had come up nicely, and Mom told me it was time, I planted them in the yard. I watered them. They died.

My dad and David mulched the pathway around the large flagstones leading from our deck steps to the fence gate. That was over a year ago. The mulch is now completely covered over with crabgrass. Crabgrass likes our mulch a lot. I want to tear up the crabgrass and cover this area over with rocks. David won’t let me. He knows the boys will just pick up the rocks and throw them in the yard so he can then lose an eye while he’s mowing. He’s right.

We replaced our deck. In the process, we made it a little bigger and had to dig up the monkey grass and hostas around the edge of it. Now we have hard packed red clay around our deck instead of grass or overgrown plantings.

From the proceeding paragraphs, can you guess how excited I am about trying to plant anything there again? Yeah. Not much.

Our yard has defeated me. I’m fed up. I’ve watched David and my dad sweat over it, raking leaves by the ton, putting down mulch, trying their best to beat back the weeds over the last 3 years.

But we’re not making progress. The weeds are winning. Sigh.