Monday, December 31, 2007

I Should Be Doing Other Things

The entire contents of my refrigerator are on the counter. I've been windexing and sudsing its various components when Phoebe awoke from her nap. This is fairly normal for her about forty-five minutes in... she's startled, needs a hug to settle down, and then is back out for another hour or so.

Well, my attempt to soothe her was unsuccessful. Enter the gallant Daddy. He often works when I don't. I have no shame in admitting that she is a Daddy's girl, even at a young age.

This is the scene that I stumbled upon a few minutes ago, wondering if everyone was okay -- since Michael had not returned to his perch on the couch, and yet there was no noise coming from Phoebe's room...Looks like Daddy said, "Watch me!" And all were resting peacefully.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Purge

First of all, to Dad:  This post will be without a picture.  I am SO sorry, but I'm using Michael's laptop!  Thank you for so faithfully reading our blog... we love you!!

So, Christmas was wonderful.  We were blessed so richly this Christmas, but the blessings really made me want to get things organized so everything could find itself a home.  This has, of course, been a long time coming.  I don't know that I ever REALLY organized after moving in, but rather just "made do", what with teaching, pregnancy while teaching, and the arrival of Phoebe Kate.  Also, I was extremely motivated to find a home for my new toy and homemaking essential, the sewing machine my sweetheart surprised me with.  

Anyway, what started out as a simple clean-out-the-closet project turned into a full-on clean house project.  Things had been neglected in the weeks leading to Christmas, so I certainly had a lot to do.  But after sending several items to the giveaway or garbage heap and better utilizing the space I have... wow!  The closets have plenty of room to spare, I'm in the process of freshening up the guest room, and best of all -- the sewing machine is up!  If only I knew how to actually use it!

My sweet husband has also been purging away, and has completely made over the garage.  It looks dynamite!  I'm practically giggling at the mostly empty shelves ready for purposeful storage!  The purging feels pretty good!

If only I'd remembered that fact while eating all of the goodies over Christmas!  (JUST KIDDING, Mom!)


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Not a Creature Was Stirring

...not even a Phoebe Kate!

I should probably devote an entire blog to the sleeping adventures of Phoebe Kate. This is probably punishment for all my pride about her being such a good sleeper and me being such a good sleep trainer. Because for two months, my friends, sleep has been an adventure for our tiny little lovebug. Whether it's insane nighttime sleep, difficulty going down (nobody told me she would wail, "dadadadadadadada!" when she didn't want to sleep!), or shortened naps... let's just say that I don't remember what it's like to go a whole twenty-four hours without a sleep hiccup.

I'm having to adjust my expectations a wee bit.

Poor Phoebe is the meter stick for all future children, so we're doing a whole lot of learning on her. I don't think she's any worse for the wear, but it sure does add to the sanctification process of her mommy and daddy.

So yes. It's 7:50. I'm thankful that she's still sleeping, even if it means I had to refrigerate her bottle.

Anyway, this was supposed to be a Christmas post. Christmas was wonderful, and it was absolutely delightful to spend it with oodles of family on both sides, and also with just our sweet little family on the day after Christmas. As expected, Phoebe was most interested in ribbons and paper, but we were blessed to watch her delight in her "shiny things". In the midst of all the shiny, though, it's our prayer that even at her tiny little age, she wasn't distracted from the Babe in the manger.

Phoebe gave us some early Christmas presents this year... talking! On Wednesday, Phoebe was taking her bath (I'll leave it to Michael to really blog this with video and all) and Michael had the video on. I think he knew something big would happen. Anyway, after being prompted to say "Dada"... she did! Loud, clear, and indisputable. And yes, she babbles away with "dadadadadada" but this is different... it's specific, and it's when her "Dada" is around! And then, to add insult to injury, I'm out getting my haircut Thursday when Michael, Phoebe, and Jaker are all playing together. While Phoebe is playing with Jake (her favorite), she says, "AKE!". It's the cutest thing, really. But seriously. Dada, then JAKE? Where's Mama? I've been working on it tirelessly, but not a glimmer. I see where I stand. :)

No matter what she's said, it delights us all the same. And although there are no creatures stirring right now, I'd better go drag all three of them out of bed!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Miracle Worker

Friends, my husband is a miracle worker. A magician. A saint. A hero. Nothing less.

I woke to shower at 6:40 (should've been 6:15). So did Phoebe, probably from my alarm beeping several times from its incessant snoozing. While I showered, Michael soothed her. When I got out, she was still murmuring.

At 7, I prepared her breakfast, certain that she'd be up in moments. Michael went in for one last soothe, and then... pow. She's out.

It's 7:45.

Hallelujah!

When your child no longer blissfully sleeps through the night, waking with yucky teething pain and stopped up noses... well, let's just say you'll take an extra few minutes in the morning.

Did I mention that I love my husband?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nine Months

Busy...

Although that really does describe my current status, I think it better describes the currently sleeping nine month old that lives with me. On Friday, Phoebe celebrated her nine month day! It's hard to believe she's been with us as long as I was pregnant with her. What a blessed nine months we've had.

I've been reflecting on a lot here lately with her, and I don't have the time to share all of that (I've promised myself no more than 15 minutes to check this off my list while I suck down some coffee) but I'll try to at least share a little. First of all, this is my first Christmas with a little one (obviously). But as I've pondered Mary this season, I've been absolutely overcome with emotion. In fact, I was teaching our little fours on Sunday about the birth of Christ in Luke 2, and as I tried to tell them about Mary kissing and loving sweet baby Jesus -- that he was a real, live baby -- I got all caught up in my throat. I mean, I adore our little Phoebe. But she's as sinful as the rest of us. I cannot even imagine loving her more than I do. But knowing that my baby was the son of God? Wow.

We went to the Andrew Peterson "Behold the Lamb of God" show at our church, and it was incredible. Really incredible. I would've brought everyone I know to it if I'd known how incredible it was. God is really using these artists to share Truth through their incredible music. If you ever have the chance to go next Christmas, you need to. Anyway, one of the songs that was part of that was called "Labor of Love". Here's an excerpt:

But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love


Anyway, I can't even imagine. So that's been part of my pondering...

Also, as I stepped on Noah's Ark pieces that were scattered all over my bathroom yesterday, I realized how much fun has infiltrated my life since Phoebs came along. She is simply a delight, truly. I don't think I can even begin to list all of the fun things that she's doing right now, but I'm going to try...
  • She claps her hands, both when she's excited and when she's frustrated. She does this a lot on the changing table and in the high chair, so I'm not sure if she's trying to sign "All done" or not. She doesn't do it consistently, so we're keeping an eye out. (Also, when I ask her if she's all done, she does not sign anything... so... who knows.)
  • She is crawling faster than a speeding bullet... I mean, this girl is really efficient!
  • She pulls up on furniture, toys, the refrigerator (talent!), just about anything!
  • She can transfer from one object while standing to another -- like from the coffee table to the couch.
  • She will occasionally walk while holding on to a piece of furniture, but only a few steps. She is willing to take one hand off whatever it is she's holding onto, though!
  • She LOVES books. She does not love to sit in a lap for longer than about one minute to read, but she absolutely loves to pull them off her shelf and play with them. She opens, closes, and turns pages. She chews and sucks on the ends of paperbacks, but "reads" board books. She particularly loves books with "real" pictures -- especially pictures of babies.
  • She can identify puppies and ladybugs in books. I'm not surprised. Have you heard me talk about how much she loves puppies?
  • She and Jake are even better friends than we hoped they'd be... he lets her literally walk all over him!
  • She will eat just about anything, but her appetite is not very voracious. At her nine month check up she was 16 pounds, 8 ounces (15%ile) and 28 1/4 inches (75%ile). They really want her to start gaining weight better. I promise we feed our baby! She's just so active, it's hard to imagine that she "keeps" any of the food she eats.
  • She still has no teeth! I thought I felt something this morning, but then again, I've thought that about 20 times in the past four months. Someday!
  • She is responding well to training, but sometimes forgets. For example, Michael had her well trained to not touch the fireplace... she kind of forgot... but now she's retrained again. I imagine it'll be constantly train-retrain for a long time!
  • She will repeat one phrase: "Dada". Mommy is not pleased.
  • She gives "high five" when prompted and is particularly delighted when she does it. She only does this for men and Mommy!
  • She continues to delight her Mommy and Daddy!
There's more, I am certain. But my time is up, so I'm going to end and finish up my Christmas chores! Since you've made it this far, I will promise a picture... as soon as I figure out how to blog one from a .NEF file!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Where's Sarah?

I'm not even going to attempt to blog about the last two weeks. Honestly, I have no idea what we've even done in the past two weeks! I did finally get over Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease... and so did Phoebs, and we're all finally healthy, at least for the time being -- Praise the Lord! Phoebe even appears to be turning the corner with her wonky nighttime sleep, which perhaps require even greater, louder praises. (We slept all the way through last night for the first time in at least a month... WOW!)
Then last Tuesday, Mom came and got Phoebe and me, and we travelled North for an extended visit. My parents graciously offered to purchase me a new pair of glasses, so the eye appointment was the "excuse" for the visit (not that we needed an excuse!), but my sweet, sweet husband allowed us to stay for fun girl time with Mops and Pops. We did miss "Daddy", though -- so he came up Friday night after a very busy week at work. I think he probably enjoyed the ability to work extra hard, as he's been trying to wrap up a project for a VIP. :) Anyway, we had originally planned on going back home on Sunday, but Michael has a meeting up here tomorrow morning, so we decided to extend the visit. Hooray! It has been so wonderful to have fun up here, but I think it'll be nice to wrap up preparations for Christmas and get back into a routine before Christmas! (Only 15 days away!)
We are extremely excited about going to see Andrew Peterson tomorrow night in concert with a bunch of friends, and this week promises fun and festivities for the season. It's difficult to get into the Christmas spirit with 80 degree weather, but I think these parties will be just the ticket!
Anyway, it's high time I get busy folding up some laundry and getting us ready to head home... but when I realized that it had been almost two weeks since I'd last blogged, I figured I'd do a quick update!
More to come!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hoof and Mouth?





This Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease mess is driving us all crazy... and although I know that Hoof and Mouth Disease is really no laughing matter, I couldn't help but think of these fun pictures that we took while in New Hampshire. My cousin and her husband live about a block away from all of these horses and cows... so we bundled up and Phoebe got a look, up close and personal. They were so friendly! The horses, however, were far more interested in us than the cows were. I don't think Phoebe knew what to think about these giant creatures... so far, the only creature she's interested in is Jake. And Lamby.

Okay, off to the showers.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tiny Hands and Feet

I alluded to the fact that we've had a few illnesses going through the house here lately... and judging from other Mommy friends that I've got, we're not the only ones! Well, part of the fun of being a mommy is that you learn about all of these childhood illnesses that you either didn't get as a child or don't remember having.

When we were in New Hampshire, my cousin Danielle told me all about Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (which I thought was a bovine disease, but it's not... that's Hoof and Mouth). One of their little friends had just gotten it, and I'd never heard of it. Then, we go to nursery on Tuesday and find out that Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease has been in the crawler room...so I now know that this isn't some crazy northern disease that Danielle has made up.

And then these weird looking little ant bites show up on Phoebe's feet and ankles. After yelling at Michael for taking her to the grass and not warding off the little bugs, I realized the next day that they not only did not go away, but they got worse. And wait... is that one on her hand? Oh yes friends. On Thanksgiving, we were just thankful that her Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease was not any worse.

Other than looking yucky and all-but-eliminating her already small appetite, Phoebe seems to be doing fine. I think she'd much rather have the hand mess than this yucky nose/chest/throat cold she's got. I mean, she doesn't mind when I touch her feet, but get that bulb aspirator anywhere near her and she starts to cry.

And the best part of all this? Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is highly contagious, spread through direct contact with mucus (have I mentioned that we drool and drip constantly?) and feces (we do indeed change diapers at this house). Holiday fun for everyone! I'm starting to get a little paranoid...

In other news, the Christmas tree is up and decorated, the stockings are hung, and I am totally loving this rain.

Leave of Absence

I really didn't intend on taking Thanksgiving "time off" here on my blog, but I did. When the tubs of Christmas decorations are creating an obstacle course on the floor in my kitchen, a ladder's in the living room, and the baby has illness #3 in the month of November...well, let's just say you have to prioritize. I'm also working on a little scratchy throat/stuffy nose of my own, nursed lovingly by my off-from-work husband, OJ, a green blanket, and hot drinks.

One of these days, I'll blog again. I promise. :) For now, a picture or two:


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sufficient

It's 8:02 am, and Phoebe is still asleep.

She woke once during the night after a difficult "settling down" period... what a blessing after the night we had Sunday night! I don't know how tonight or tomorrow night will go, but we are thankful that the Lord provides us with "our daily bread" -- exactly what we need for today.

Today, I needed some hope...and the Lord gave me just that! Hope that she is back to a normal morning wake up time, hope that we can return to our sleeping through the night, hope that teething may be (for now) almost over, hope that we will be just fine. Praise the Lord!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pavlov Anyone?

I just sat down to do my Bible study that I may be four or five days behind on...

Normally, I do the study in the morning, before little one awakes. Because that's the only guaranteed "quiet" I have. And I sit down with a handful of cheerios to stave off hunger for another hour or two.

What did I havetohave before I could start?

Cheerios.

I literally just felt my mouth water.

Big Girls

Adding a picture to this post would actually require that I find the camera from our travel extravaganza, so... it'll be words only until then.

Just before departing on our adventure to the great north (a blog post to come), Phoebe turned eight months old. EIGHT! Can you believe it? I cannot, surely, fathom a time when time has so quite literally flown. She's changing so fast, too! Here are some things that our little one is enjoying and doing:

  • Eating all kinds of big girl foods: baby goldfish, cheerios, peas, carrots, "crunchies" (rice puffs), crackers, and whatever other treats Mommy and Daddy generously share (Daddy is far more generous than Mommy)
  • We're also eating meat, sort of... she hates it all by itself, but will eat it if it's mixed with a fruit or veggie.
  • Crawling extremely fast... and she just gets faster
  • Pulling up in our crib and on low furniture, like her toy chest
  • Dumping and picking through baskets -- she especially loves to carefully choose several "babies" to love on, or finding paper tucked away in a basket
  • Loves to read more and more... she's starting to sit still for a full book, rather than just finding a way to put it in her mouth
  • Tearing/pulling things apart (you should see her with this one stretchy "livestrong" type bracelet...)
  • She absolutely loves tags of any kind... including zippers and Jake's tag
  • She's beginning to "share" -- will often offer whatever it is she has in her mouth to Mommy, Daddy, Jake... what a generous little darling!
  • Phoebe is beginning to use a cup, sort of. She can bring a bottle (without handles) and a cup (with handles) to her mouth, and will chew on the top or nipple, but will seldom suck. Auntie Danielle bought her a special cup when we were in New Hampshire that she was successful with, but we've only tried it once.
  • We're teething. Interminably. We pray constantly that she will get through this. And that we will, too.
  • Sleeping (related to teething) has not been good, and is still not good. We're looking at some sleep training again after Thanksgiving.
  • Responds to her name, and "No"... most of the time. Will also raise her arms up to get out of her high chair, exersaucer, etc... we're still working on traditional signs, bye-bye, etc.
  • Babbles blah-blah, la-la, and bah-bah... occasionally we'll hear the "p" sound, but she only whispers it. We hear the "m" sound when she cries, and Michael swears he's heard, "Oh Daddy, I love you so much," but I'm doubtful.
  • Absolutely LOVES bathtime. We have graduated from the sink to an inflatable tub to the big girl tub all in about a month. Big tub is totally her favorite, and she would be content to splash for a full hour I think.
  • She is very friendly, and loves to "flirt" with other babies and adults.
I'm realizing that I could never list all of the things that Phoebe does that delights us... we are continually blessed by our Little. God is so gracious to share this little one with us.

Pictures to come soon!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Frostbite

Well, we're in the middle of a family get together in New Hampshire... and man, are we having a blast. But it's so stinkin' cold! Us southerners are all bundled up in ten layers, while our cousins are running around without a jacket. We're swallowing our pride to stay warm, but we're definitely enjoying our time with family. Phoebe is also playing like a big girl with her cousin John, who is two, and sharing all of his toys like such a big boy.

And of course we're eating. Wow, are we eating. In case you didn't know, that's how we Italians roll.

Phoebe was, by the way, a champ on the flight up here... but we're about to watch Elf and do some more family type things. And probably eat some more! (HA!)

Coming soon: Phoebe's 8 Month Day celebration, frequent flier miles, and even more!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me.

Summer and winter and spring-time and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!



So this morning, I wake up with this great old hymn in my head. Let me start by saying that last night was really not a good night. Phoebe had a hard time around 3:00, Jake had a hard time, so we all had a hard time. And then Phoebe wakes again at 5, inconsolable and starving. My alarm went off at 6. I'm throwing back the coffee like it's water this morning.

Now I'm not saying all of this to complain. I just wanted to set things up here. Anyway, in spite of all that frustration, I am reminded of something: God has answered a specific prayer for me. Last week at Bible study, I asked the girls to pray that Phoebe would sleep past six so that I could have time to do my Bible study in the morning, and actually start my morning off on the right foot. The time change had really caused a lot of frustration in that area, and I needed it so badly. And here I am, it's 7:20, and I'm able to blog, drink coffee, relax... all after spending some time in the Word and in prayer. Phoebe slept. Past six. Yes, she woke up for a feeding at 5; yes, I hope we eliminate that feeding again ASAP. But what a beautiful thing! That prayer, that specific prayer, was answered.

I've been feeling a bit "woe-is-me" lately about all of this. See, Phoebs is past the really sick part of being sick and is now in the irritable, "I don't feel good and I'm teething, so I'm going to make things hard" stage. She napped for a total of about 1 1/2 hours yesterday. (Her normal nap total is somewhere around 4-5 hours.) At the end of the day, I was just plain depleted. Michael even took us to Target and picked up pizza for dinner, and it did little to help my mood. But I think God wanted me to change my perspective, to peek in on his faithfulness.

Because this morning, and every morning, God is faithful. Whether I see it, whether I acknowledge it, whether I realize it... He is faithful. This morning, I'm thankful for the blessing of actually seeing it. His mercies are new every morning!

And even though my prayer of sleeping 12 hours, a "7 to 7" night, was not answered last night... I'm grateful that the Lord has been gracious enough to show me that he does indeed care for my prayers. She slept past seven! Praise the Lord!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

By the way...

I'm making an effort to update Everyday Gourmet more frequently... starting with today! I'm no culinary genius, but I'm just trying to share with friends some easy "eats" we eat around here. I'd love to hear what you're cooking, too!

Also, Phoebs has a fever again. We are still praising the Lord for his goodness, in giving us a very restful night and a very happy sick-girl!

Praising

After staying up late (Michael) to give Motrin and setting alarms in the night to redose (Sarah) for her fever that peaked over 103, it appears we have a peaceful babe. We haven't heard anything from her since 2:15,and it's 7:35. (Yes, I've checked on her!)

It is amazing what a blessing it is to go to bed early and then get an extra hour of sleep... I'm feeling so much more refreshed! God is good, and he knows exactly what I need.

Today we'll be hopefully getting back into a bit of a routine... and cheering on our Tide, of course! We have a big adventure planned for next week (anyone have tips for flying with an 8 month old?) that I really should start preparing for. And of course, Thanksgiving is right around the corner!

Note: the picture is blurry, but occurred during yesterday's afternoon nap. For both of us. The infamous "Lamby" is blocking Phoebe's sweet mouth. She can't even nap with Mommy without her precious lamb.

Friday, November 9, 2007

You Give Me Fever

Let me just start off by saying that I feel awful. No, not sick. But really terrible that I got so frustrated about middle-of-the-night wakings. But, if this is a journal, I'm not doing it to please everybody else... so... I suppose a little honesty is okay now and again.

Shortly after blogging yesterday, I went on to clean the bathroom (it now sparkles, thank you) and take a shower. Immediately after showering, Phoebs woke up early from her nap. (Not unusual these past few days...) I gave her a few minutes in there to grunt and squirm, because often she'll go back to sleep. Except yesterday, she started wailing. We're talking red-faced, big-girl-tears, make-mommy-cry-too stuff. And when I picked her up, she was hot.

And the fever began.

At this point I realize that Phoebe is textbook teething. I mean, you name it, she's got the symptom. But gut told me that something else was going on, so I took her on in to see Dr. B. While Phoebe was distracted by her little lion, Dr. B proceeded to check everything... and all looked normal. No ear infection, sore throat evidence, etc. But they went ahead and took some blood (poor Phoebe liked this even less than getting a stick jammed in her throat) to check for infection.

Wonder of wonders, I'm not losing my mind... she's got some kind of icky virus. So bless her heart, she feels terrible and didn't sleep good again last night. At 4:30 we woke up burning up with fever again (101), took some Motrin and a bottle, and rocked back to sleep. I've been downing the coffee ever since.

Precious little angel just wants to doze, cuddle, and eat...


I don't blame her. I imagine we'll have lots of good couch time today... since neither of us slept last night. But since you read this far, I shall reward you with a picture of healthy Phoebe and some notes about her new tricks:
  • Phoebs is now crawling. That's right, kids. Crawling. I decided it was official when she made her way from her bedroom to mine of her own accord. That's big girl stuff!
  • She is also pulling up. Sort of. She has only done a pull-to-standing in her crib, but she'll pull to her knees on her toy chest and baskets in her room. WOW!
  • It's 7:06 and she's asleep. Now, we were up at 5:30... but hey... it's the first time all week I can say that she's been asleep at 7:06! YAY! (I'm hoping the fever's gone and we're feeling better, too)
Have a blessed day today... we're still deciding if we should make the journey north to visit with Aunt Fave and Uncle Gus... we'll see!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Forlorn

Oh sleep, how do I miss thee? Let me count the ways...

Okay, I'm not going to count. But seriously. I have an eight month old. NOT an eight week old. She started sleeping through the night at 11 weeks! That means that for at least five months now, I've been used to lovely, blissful, uninterrupted sleep for most nights of the week. Why then, does she insist on waking every night at least once or twice now? WHY?

Last night, Phoebs, angel of my little heart, woke at 3:30. After delivering her paci (because let's face it, I'd rather be up for 2 minutes than 22), I returned to my own crib. Except she kept making noise. With the paci in her mouth. I dozed off and on until four, not really getting to sleep. At four, I went in to make sure she had the paci (she did). I then removed said paci and inserted three Hyland's Teething Tablets, which I'm pretty sure are just sugar pills but hey... it's placebo enough for me. I then reinserted the paci and returned to my room, trying to sleep unsuccessfully until 4:30. I considered going ahead and getting up, since by then I was wide awake.

That might've been a good idea, because at 6:10 when my alarm went off, I felt like I'd been hit by a mack truck. And I guess Phoebe felt like waking up then, too, because in spite of the darkening blanket to maybe get her to sleep longer, she was awake and ready to play. Friends, the author of the time change obviously had no children. We're almost a week into it, and we're still totally on "old time". If anyone has any good ideas, let me know. I'm ready to pull out my hair and go on a mommy strike.

And although I've cried wolf about teeth about six times already this year, I think it really is time. Which makes all of this even worse. And makes her morning nap shorter, which means I'd better get some more coffee and clean my bathroom PDQ.

Thank you, Mom, for bringing sanity to my life and order to my home this week. I love you!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Tricks and Treats

Wow... so I keep getting these great ideas for posts, and then never doing them. Why? Who knows! So I've decided I'm going to do a boring, "what have we been up to" post... and then I'll feel caught up and can blog again. It's just been a really vicious cycle!

We went to the beach for a week with my mom and dad, which was a wonderful break from reality. We also were able to celebrate my birthday (the big 2-4). Since the beach was my gift from the folks, we had fun opening dollar store "funsies" -- including a whoopie cushion. When we returned home, Michael had birthday elves bring in a beautiful end table, lamp, and throw pillows for my birthday. We also continued the celebrating with Michael's mom and dad with a wonderful dinner and another gorgeous lamp!

All last week was kind of a blur... I'm really not sure I can tell you what all I did? I do know that we spent a lot of last week trying to get back into a routine!

Then on the weekend, we had Phoebe baptized at our church. It was a beautiful, tender reminder of God's grace. We do unreservedly dedicate Phoebe Kate to God! We then had the grandparents over to our house for a delicious brunch, and Phoebe entertained all of us as she chowed down on cantaloupe bits. We all took some naps, and then prepared for the trunk or treat at church!

Phoebs and all of her friends had fun dressing up in costume, and the grown ups enjoyed hamburgers, hot dogs, and fellowship. Michael was a fabulous grill master, and the weather was absolutely perfect. We had such a good time with our precious LIFE group!

It's hard to believe that this week is already almost over... but it was punctuated by Halloween, and we sure did have some tricks and treats that day! Phoebe showed off some new tricks: she is now pulling up (only in her crib, so far), and greeted me after her nap by STANDING UP and smiling over the rail. (I do not yet have a picture of this!) She is also beginning to get closer to crawling... she is a speedy little inchworm, and can go about three "crawl steps" before flopping. We were also treated to surprise dinner with the Jordans, who we love! We had such a good time hanging out. Phoebe totally did not go trick or treating, because really... did we need more candy?

And now... well, Phoebs and I are going to run errands in a few... and then tonight we'll be taking pictures of Callahan! We'll also be headed to Saban Bowl tomorrow, so ROLL TIDE!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Strawberries

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Absence

I haven't really had an absence of things to say here recently, I've just been rather unmotivated to get on the computer. I'm still trying to get back into the swing of things, but we've been really busy, and frankly, I'm exhausted. After Bible study tomorrow, I am completely wide open for the week... I'm looking forward to it. Maybe after some genuine R&R I can return with my usual wit and excitement. For now, here's a little gem from our annual "Trunk or Treat" from last night... couldn't you just eat up that little strawberry?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Vision Forum

I've been "blogstalking" a few homeschooling mom blogs here lately... many of you know that it's our desire to homeschool our children, so it's a delight for me to be able to read about Christian families who are successfully and joyfully doing just this. It's through reading Kim's blog that I found out about something called Vision Forum.

Vision Forum is a pretty remarkable resource for Christian families. I'd encourage you to read about it. Anyway, they have a catalog (accessible online) chock full of incredible books, CDs, DVDs, and more. I looked through it for the first time because of the contest Kim is hosting over at her blog. I figured I'd enter just for fun, so here's my "wishlist" of Vision Forum publications.
  • Passionate Housewives, Desperate for God
  • Family Man, Family Leader
  • Webster 1828 Dictionary
If you'd also like to enter for the chance to win your wishlist, check out the rules here. It's worth your while just to check the catalog out! (By the way, you only have until Midnight on October 26... )

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's about time!

Are you kidding me? The high today is sixty-one degrees! Oh blessed day! It's finally fall!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Breaking News

Phoebe Kate can put in a pacifier all by her big girl self. She has dropped it onto the exersaucer tray three consecutive times. And three consecutive times she has put it back in her mouth. It takes her a second to remember which end she wants, but she can do it, friends.

This very same big girl is wearing a 9 month outfit (!) and quite possibly made the sign for "more" at lunch today. [We're waiting for confirmation on the sign; it's also possible she was just excited and happened to bring her hands together as I was trying to teach her the sign.]

Okay. I'm supposed to be folding her laundry while she plays independently. More to come, eventually. It's a busy week, kids.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Postcards


What a sweet, sweet family we have... and even better, Daddy's being fun and letting Phoebe eat sand. Really.

In spite of the deluge that has been our trip to the beach, we've been able to steal away a few moments in the sand, if not with the sun at our backs. We're still optimistic about a Christmas card picture, but we'll see! It's been wonderful just to be a family, hanging out.

In a word? Memorable.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Drift Away

After a series of several busy weeks in a row (is it really the middle of October already?), we've escaped. It's been a while since we've gotten away for a whole week. Michael is still having to work (hence the laptop and ability to post), but he manages to steal away for some time in the pool or in the sand. And I'm sure that working at the beach is infinitely better than working in an office. Surely.

Our little waterbaby
loves the water. Oh, I had my suspicions from the way she loves to splash in the bath. But oh my goodness. Even though the water was frigid, Phoebs loves just floating around and kicking. She got to try out sand today, too. [Note: by "try out", I mean feel, touch, kick, and eat.] We were a little unsure of the ocean because of jellyfish lurking in the tide, but we've got plenty of time to get in it!

Yesterday was also Phoebe's 7 month day. Seven months! And in the last week, she has changed
tremendously! I can't even imagine what she'll be doing at eight months. We do not have a picture with an Edgar's strawberry cake, but mom is making me a birthday cake this week while at the beach, so I'm sure we'll have a family picture then. :) Anyway, here's an update on all the exciting things that Phoebe is doing at 7 months:
  • sitting with great confidence for as long as she pleases
  • "creeping" across the room... she does this great push-slide-shove thing that works for her to get things that she wants... jake, glasses, shoes, whatever.
  • pushing up onto her knees and rocking back and forth (she's going to be a crawler soon, I can tell!)
  • babbling -- she started this yesterday -- saying "blah, blah, blah", seriously!
  • eating cheerios, rice puffs, and little bits of whatever food we want to share with her (Mops may have given a bite of doughnut, and Pops may have let her try some cobbler...) with great enthusiasm
  • manipulating her toys with hands, and not just her mouth
  • understanding sign for more and all done, but not signing yet on her own
  • trying to pull up (unsuccessfully), but leading to a lower crib
  • chewing on ice in her "Popsicle", but not showing signs of teeth
  • sleeping like a champ both during the day and at night
  • delighting all those around her!
We are so blessed by our little Phoebe Kate... what a fun seven months we've had! And speaking of, she's probably about to wake up from her last nap and tell us it's time to go out to supper.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Everyday Gourmet

The website is still in its infancy, but I thought I'd move my recipes to a new blog. It'll be easier for me to keep up with, and still use this blog for all of my family-related stuff. I'd love it if you'd check it out over the next few days, leave some comments, and make a link to Everyday Gourmet, at http://everydaygourmet.blogspot.com. I hope it's a helpful and fun resource!

Saving Up

So, having moved from two incomes to one about eight months ago, I am having to refine our spending in all areas. The Lord provides generously for our needs, but we also want to be good stewards of what we had. I think Phoebe has learned to be a good steward of her Cheerios... notice how she's storing some up for later? (This is her favorite thing to do with the Cheerios, at least at this point... she has figured out how to get them to her mouth better, but it still takes some work to eat them!)

While Phoebe's Cheerios will taste just as good they way they are (provided they haven't made a stop in the mouth and gotten soggy) zipped up in a baggy for later, my leftovers rarely do. Using leftovers wisely, and making the most of my grocery list, has been a HUGE help to our budget.

Storing up "leftovers" is always good, but you've got to know how to use them. Here are some meal ideas that use all of your leftovers wisely.

Roasted Chicken
Basic Chicken Stock

White Chicken Chili

Monday, October 8, 2007

Cheerio!

My big, big girl... when I called the doctor this morning to make her 9 month appointment (in December, by the way), I realized I forgot to ask her a question last time I was in. The question? When can my little girl start eating finger food? I certainly didn't expect it to be any time soon; she's all gums! Well, friends, since she's sitting up and interested in what we're eating -- it's time to start!

Phoebe embarked on her big girl food adventure with a couple of scoops of cheerios. She thought they were a blast to play with, and loved trying to pick them up as they magically scooted away from her hand. At first, she treated Jake -- dropping each Cheerio off the side of the tray. Pick, drop. Pick, drop. Pick, drop. Then she figured out that she could put these tiny little things in her mouth... the trick was getting them in there! With a little assistance, we managed to try one. We were totally unsure about it, but she grinned when it went down the hatch! I'm sure it'll take a few weeks to master this, but I'm so proud of the way she's trying!

In other big girl news, we're working on drinking from a sippy cup and we sat up in the cart at Costco for the first time tonight. I think October is going to be a big month of firsts for my little bitty girl!

Gullible is not in the Dictionary

I am a very trusting person. I prefer trusting, because that, my friends, is a virtue. Gullible just makes me sound, well, dumb. Anyway, this has been the topic of several conversations this weekend. I suppose I've been particularly gullible? I don't know.

Last night, I had just finished reading
Anne of Green Gables and was laying in bed. Michael was trying to get his laptop up and running. I have no idea where it came from, but I wanted to know why the heck a codpiece was called a codpiece. So this is the story Michael tells me:

Do you know anything about cod? Cod are freshwater river fish (probably untrue). In order to catch cod, fishermen have to stand waist-deep in the water to catch them. Anyway, catching cod is a very difficult profession. These fish are like, well, the kamikaze pilots of the rivers. They swim around, but they don't just benignly allow their enemies to attack -- they attack first, even if it's too their death. Well, picture our friend the fisherman: waist-deep in water, full of kamikaze fish. Wouldn't you want to protect your jewels?

Friends, I believed this. I would have gone on believing this if my husband was not gracious enough to immediately
repent of his leading me astray. And reading this? I cannot believe that I, even for a second, believed this. Oh. My. Goodness. Am I gullible or what?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Like Whoa


I'm too tired to post. Seriously. I thought that a day game would be less strenuous; I was totally mistaken! Although it was lots of fun, I'm now a little (okay, a lot) sunburnt, sleepy, and ready for bed. Although the above picture has nothing to do with the Tide, I thought it'd be a perfect Saturday picture. Happy Saturday!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Me Too!

"Oh Mommy, can I take a picture too?"
Simple pleasures, simple delights...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Yawn

So, my fall resolution is supposedly to start using my slow cooker, so that on days like yesterday, I don't actually have to worry about dinner. It'll be like June Cleaver has slaved all day in her pearls in my kitchen. Except if a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step... let's just say I'm still working on making my packing list. The step hasn't quite been made yet. :)

So after our walk yesterday, I needed to get supper on the table. I had already planned to give Michael a "comfort food" meal for last night since I knew he'd had a really long day at work. Fortunately, some of his favorite comfort foods are exceptionally easy. So easy, I can make it in my sleep -- literally. I think that's been the theme for supper this week! Anyway, I'm posting some yawn-worthy recipes... so that if you're as pooped as I am, you, too, can put supper on the table.

First: the drink you'll need in order to get through the cooking.

Iced Mocha
Serves One
  • Fill a tall glass with ice
  • Pour about half a glass full of cold coffee (I seldom drink all the coffee I ambitiously make in the morning)
  • Add 2 tablespoons of chocolate syrup (the 50% less sugar by Hershey's is great)
  • Fill the rest of the glass with cold milk
  • Stir
  • Resist giving yourself a freeze-headache by sucking it down as fast as I know you will want to
I have yet to try this in the blender as a "frappuccino", but I'm sure it would be marvelous. Anyway, it's a great afternoon pick-me-up, and it's a whole lot cheaper than running out to Starbucks.

So after you've had your caffeine fix...

Simple Beef Stroganoff
Serves Six (even though there are only 2 of us, we make the whole batch -- great reheated)
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1/2 a small package of mushrooms, diced (if your husband hates mushrooms like mine, still include them... we just make them either extra small so they're not noticeable or extra large so he can pick them out; but it DOES make a difference)
  • 1 package of onion soup mix
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 small can of beef broth
  • 1 cup of sour cream
  • 8 oz of medium egg noodles, cooked and lightly buttered
In a pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and allow to cook 2-3 minutes. Add ground beef and mushrooms, and cook until meat is browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle in onion soup mix and stir well. Then sprinkle flour over meat evenly, and stir for about 30 seconds until flour is no longer raw. Stir in broth, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low. Stir in sour cream and allow to bubble for another 7-8 minutes, which is exactly how long it will take for your egg noodles to be done. Spoon beef over noodles, and voila! Super easy, super comforting. If you want to get fancy, add some fresh parsley chopped over the top.
Michael particularly loves this beef stroganoff because once, when we were dating, I tried to make him some Rachael Ray stuff that involved dijon mustard. Kids, don't do it. Don't put mustard in it. We still laugh about it.

And one more super easy pasta dinner...
Easy "Sketti"
Serves 4
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon of basil
  • 1/4 cup of parmesean cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
Place garlic and red pepper in a cold skillet. Add oil and heat on medium low. Cook about 3 minutes until garlic begins to fill your kitchen with a great smell. Add ground beef, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Brown beef. Stir in can of tomatoes and reduce heat to low. Stir in seasonings and cheese. Allow to simmer on low for at least 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it from sticking to the pan. Serve with your favorite pasta and some garlic bread.

Note: Having grown up Italian, I am accustomed to sauce. This is not sauce. This is my easy, "I don't want to slave over a hot stove for four hours" stuff. It's good. It's comparable to what you might get out of a jar, but I think it's cheaper (key) and tastier. If I was of the "canning" type, I would can this stuff so that I would have my own personal stash of jarred spaghetti sauce on hand.

So anyway...
here's a few ideas to get your table full tonight! Have a blessed day!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

While the Cat's Away

Every month or so, the LIFE group girls get together to celebrate that month's birthdays. It's perfect, because, a)the girls all get a night out; b)we end up not having to buy birthday presents, just chipping in a few dollars for the birthday girl's dinner will do; and c)the husbands take care of babies. After a lunch with a very curious six-and-a-half-month-old, I very much appreciated her being in the capable hands of her daddy last night. I asked Michael to take pictures, and he happily obliged. Except on looking at this picture, do you realize that my child is sitting up on her own on the counter of all places? And where is her daddy? Well, let's just say he's the one holding the camera. YIKES! (Sorry, Mops, if that gave you a coronary. We're all fine!)

I so love that Daddy plays differently... I just sometimes wish we didn't have proof! :)


Callahan and her daddy also came to play while the big girls were out. I'm sure it was fun for Michae
l to have a little distraction, and I think the littles had a great time too! Callahan was also well-loved by Jaker, and I think she loved him in return. Let's just hope that Phoebe is still Jake's favorite! It's been a busy, social week for us... I'm thankful for our end-of-the-week wind down. I think the older Phoebe gets, the more of a homebody I get!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Diana Is Invited to Tea with Tragic Results

October is my absolute favorite month of the year. I adore fall, and usually by the end of October, fall has ushered itself right on in -- whether the south approves or not. Anyway, I'm reading for the first time ever, if it can be believed, Anne of Green Gables. And I'm loving it. Anne is absolutely hilarious, and I pray that my little girl is half as imaginative. I believe that this will be a bedtime read aloud of the best kind, when she's just a little bit older.

Anyway, here's what Anne has to say about October:
"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it?"

As for that Diana? Well, let's just say that an October tea ended up with Diana flat drunk off currant wine. Whoops!

One More

I actually don't remember what I sat down to post here. WHOOPS. I probably should abandon ship, but I have precisely 8 minutes to finish drinking my coffee before Phoebs must be scooped from her crib (which really should be lowered pretty soon; I busted her on her knees and holding onto the top rail). We have Bible Study this morning, and then I'll be spending the afternoon getting some goodies ready for Michael's big meeting tomorrow. WHICH MEANS...

...I am likely to forget, again, that I am meeting girlfriends, without our babies (except those that have them in utero), for dinner tonight
...I am also likely to forget lunch with girlfriends tomorrow, with our babies, at Zoe's

SO FRIENDS. Please. Help me remember. I joked while I was pregnant that Phoebe was stealing my brain cells; she'd be the smartest baby around. I'm now realizing that was true -- her thievery was permanent, and I'm totally losing it. If I talk to you today and I make no mention of "fun plans with friends", this means I have forgotten again. And I don't want to forget again again. Seriously.

By the way: the above picture is posted to show my new "mom 'do"...love it!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Secrets

I've just peeked in on Phoebs, and realized that I have a secret. After six and a half months, I've figured out how to check on her without actually entering the room. See, her new favorite lovie to sleep with is this giant lamb blanket thing. (Precise, I know.) Anyway, it usually ends up over her bottom when she conks out... and I can see Little Lamb from the doorway. If it's still, she's asleep. If it's moving... well... get her next meal ready. This is nothing short of miraculous. I praise the Lord every day that she takes at least one real nap a day. [Note: I have no complaints! She is a beautiful nighttime sleeper -- even when she wakes us up singing in the middle of the night -- and so having great naps during the day are just a true bonus. But we're all happier when she does nap well.]

Another secret: the other night, I kind of flaked on my planned meal for Saturday. As in, I was vile, and chose to slam pots around rather than lovingly roll out pizza dough with my husband. But I had a total go-to dinner sitting in my fridge, and I was thankful for it. I thought some of my friends would be thankful for a 5 ingredient supper, too!

What to make when you have nothing in the fridge: Chicken Parmesean
Serves 2 (but you can easily make this for 4, 6, 8, whatever)
  • 1 large chicken breast, butterflied
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T Italian seasoning
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce (or, you can use a cup of prepared spaghetti sauce like Ragu)
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese
Heat a small amount of oil in a large nonstick skillet. Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Saute in skillet for 5-7 minutes, or until one side is golden brown. Turn over, and allow to cook for 3-4 more minutes. Cover chicken with entire can of sauce (this will leave lots of runover) and reduce heat to LOW. Allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes. Top chicken breasts with cheeses, and place entire pan in a 450 degree oven. Allow to bake for 5 minutes, or until chicken is done and cheese is nice and bubbly. In my house, the leftover sauce in the bottom of the pan (which ends up seasoned and cheesy) goes on top of angel hair pasta. Serve with a steamed veggie, and you've got good eats. [Ladies, I would recommend that you sweetly ask your husband to clean the pan, though.]

As I was thinking about this recipe, I thought it would make a really yummy mexican version too: use Rotel tomatoes, mexican 4 cheese blend, and taco seasoning for the chicken. With a guacamole salad or black beans, you'd also be set.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Your Future's So Bright...

It's been a delightful Saturday around these parts... my sweet husband allowed me an extra hour of sleep this morning, taking care of Phoebe's breakfast and early morning entertainment. We had a slooooow start as a result, and Michael and I were able to enjoy scrambled eggs on the porch. Our weather here is absolutely beautiful, and I think it's making me have a little bit of fall fever, if there is such a thing. Fortunately, one of us was productive today -- Michael got a great deal done!

He mowed the grass, ran some errands, and washed his truck. While he was washing and waxing his truck, Phoebe and I came out back, set up camp in the stroller, and watched DaddyTV. Phoebe was totally engrossed by her daddy's spraying and soaping. She thought my sunglasses looked fun, so I decided to let her play. Doesn't she look cute? We're a little biased, of course.

We're watching not much happen in the Bama game... in spite of our cheering, we're not doing much. Fortunately, neither is FSU. Let's hope it stays that way (FSU, not us... we hope we'll actually start doing much).

Phoebs is due to wake up any minute, so I'm going to get off of this... enjoy your Saturday!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Cuties

L to R: Kristin, holding Ella Kate; Sarah, holding Phoebe; and Carolynn, holding Callahan
(all three babies are engrossed by the Boise State football game on TV)

I had the particular blessing of being pregnant at the same time as three other girls in our LIFE group. Our babies were all born within 3 months of each other, and we're hopeful that they'll be good friends like their mommies! Parker (not pictured) and Phoebe were born the same week, and then Callahan came along a month later. Five weeks after that, Ella Kate arrived! Last night, Phoebe, Callahan, and Ella Kate played together while the grown ups enjoyed the premiere of "The Office". Miraculously, all three babies also slept at the same time, too! (There was a baby in each of the bedrooms, snoozing happily.) We were certainly blessed by our time last night!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Good Eats

We're having a get together for the premiere of "The Office" tonight, so I totally don't have time to blog. But I wanted to be sure and throw down a few great recipes for those who are interested.

Sausage and Lentil Stew ("Redemption Stew")
Serves 8, heartily
  • 1 package of turkey sausage
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 starchy potato, peeled and diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 dash of cayenne pepper -- NOT 3 hands full!
  • 6 cups of water or chicken stock
  • 1 large can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of dried lentils
Remove sausage from casings and brown in a large pot with a little bit of olive oil, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. After sausage begins to brown, add vegetables and cook for 5-7 minutes. Add seasonings. Stir in water or chicken stock and can of tomatoes. Allow to simmer for as long as you can stand it. (We actually put ours in the slow cooker on day 2 for about 6 hours and it was FABULOUS.) About 15 minutes before serving, bring back to a low boil and stir in lentils. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes or until done. Serve with cheddar biscuits (recipe below).


Cheddar Drop Biscuits
Makes 8
  • 1 box of Jiffy biscuit mix
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 dash of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a fork. Spoon onto an ungreased baking sheet into roughly even dollops. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

And one more...
Artichoke Chicken Salad with Toasties
Serves 4
  • 2 cups of cooked chicken, diced or shredded
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and diced
  • 1/3 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
Mix ingredients in a medium bowl. Allow to refrigerate for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve with toasties (recipe below)
  • Lightly butter 8 slices of bread
  • Sprinkle each slice of bread with 1/4 teaspoon of garlic salt and 1/4 teaspoon of paprika
  • Bake at 450 degrees until toasted
  • Allow to stand for 5 minutes, and then cut bread into 1 inch chunks
Spread your chicken salad on toasties and enjoy! (This recipe is my attempt to mimic my favorite chicken salad at Clementine's.)

Weddings, Opportunities, and Redemption Stew

Life has been busy these past couple of weeks... I feel like we've had non-stop "go time" without even a break on the weekends. Such is life during football season I suppose! Last weekend we traveled north (which happens less during the fall than during the spring) to help with a wedding my parents had in their backyard. The wedding was Sunday, so we worked all Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to ready things. Dad performed the ceremony, and Michael was also the wedding photographer. After all the hard work, we were certainly exhausted -- but the wedding was beautiful, and I feel like the happy couple was tremendously blessed. I was thrilled to be a part of it!

We're also thrilled to be a part of a really exciting opportunity that's going on with Michael at work. Details aren't finalized, and it isn't my news to share, but let's just say that I'm excited. I can tell that Michael is too!

And finally... a few weeks ago, when the weather started to pretend to be fall-like, I decided to make a stew. Michael loves any kind of stew. As a general rule, I pretty much hate any tomatoey soup that also has potatoes in it (read: stew). As another general rule, I'm pretty bad at following recipes. I'll read about something that sounds good, and then I'll make something similar. Such is the case with this stew.

In the process of using up some veggies and protein in the fridge, I got a little excited about some of the seasonings. I was using a homemade stock that was well-seasoned to begin with, but then I dumped in something along the lines of 3 tablespoons of cayenne pepper. Kids, this was not four alarm. This was like, twenty-four alarm fire soup. And I like things spicy. It was completely inedible. My best efforts to make it edible (pouring an entire soup down the drain seemed VERY wasteful) included adding lemon juice, milk, half and half, another quart of water, etc. But despite my best efforts, it was still terrible. Completely inedible. Frighteningly spicy.

I cried, of course. I'm not used to kitchen failure (although Michael and I often laugh about the Brussels Sprouts incident back in college) , and I feel like kitchen failure is some indictment of my womanhood. Anyway, we let it sit in the fridge overnight while we decided what to do with it. With fresh eyes the next morning, we decided to drain it completely, keep the raw ingredients, and determine if they had been ruined as well. Fortunately they hadn't, so we started over with the meat and veggies, added water, some salt and pepper, and allowed them to hang out together in the slow cooker all day. Wonderful!

The whole event made me ponder redemption. Apart from Christ, we are unusable. Vile. Worthy of being thrown in the garbage. And yet, he takes our lives, redeems them, and makes them new. In Christ, we are wonderful, new creations. I love how the Lord can use something like stew to remind us of truths! Anyway, if I get some more time later today, I'll throw in the recipe for my Redemption Stew. It's delish, and perfect for these fall days!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Navy Beans, Navy Beans

As I have chosen to do nothing productive in the past three days, I am up to my eyeballs in laundry and housework today. What am I doing? Drinking coffee and blogging. Nice. Anyway, in the absence of anything real to post about... how about a recipe instead? We're preparing for a journey to see Mops and Pops, so we'll probably be scarce until the beginning of next week. Au revoir!

Slop, Sloppy Joes [hairnet not included]
Two Generous Servings

  • one small onion, diced
  • half a green bell pepper, diced
  • two cloves of garlic, minced
  • half a pound of lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 small can of tomato sauce (8 oz, I believe)
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • 2 hamburger buns (we used the not-so-fun light wheat buns, but I would definitely recommend the big honkin' deli rolls if you're not trying to lose baby weight)
Okay, so listing all of this made me realize that... if you are preparing empanadas AND sloppy joes in the same week (like we did), for the love, go ahead and brown up all of your meat with onion and a whole bell pepper and salt and pepper. Save time. I totally should've done that, and normally I do. Go figure! Anyway, onto the directions:
1. In a small amount of olive oil, cook onion, pepper, and garlic until just beginning to soften (about 2-3 minutes).
2. Add beef (or turkey or whatever) to the pan, and allow to brown -- break it up with a wooden spoon.
3. After meat is brown, add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Stir in next 3 ingredients and allow to bubble. Reduce heat to low.
5. Add brown sugar and stir. Continue to cook on low until your bread is toasty (see step 6).
6. Toast your buns, hon.
7. Spoon your sloppy mixture onto buns. Michael and I differ here: I eat sloppy joes with a knife and fork. He thinks that's sacrilege. I say, if you eat with a fork, you get more meaty goodness. Whatever. Do what you like.

I should also note that we would typically serve this with tater tots. However... well, okay. We're trying to keep baby weight off until there's an actual baby. :-D I also should note that this tastes nothing like Manwich, so if this is what you're expecting, don't make it. I, for one, could not tell you what Manwich tastes like, so. I think it' s great. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Out of It


It sounded like fun this morning to go shopping. Fallish weather, a morning coffee from Panera, a stroller, and no real purpose. Sounds perfect, right? Okay, I'm starting to see why moms buy online
only. Just the in-and-out-of-the-car routine was enough to wear me out! Add a dirty diaper and a price adjustment fiasco... well, it's enough for me to want to pay shipping charges! Truly, it wasn't that bad... I got a few great finds (love end of the season sales) including a top for 5 bucks. And some khakis, which are part of my "look pretty, feel pretty" plan for fall. {I'll have to blog about this later!} Anyway, I enjoyed the shopping but it wore me out. So since I've been home, let's see... well, it's been four hours... I have:
  • fed the baby
  • played airplane with the baby
  • played on the floor with my big girl baby, who sat up to play
  • watched season 2 episodes of top chef
  • surfed the internet
  • drank a diet dr. pepper
It looks so accomplished when it's in list form! Anyway, the above picture is one I took yesterday of the aforementioned big girl. Who is now officially sitting up. Like a big girl. Michael's are much better, so I'll post one here too!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Someone's in the Kitchen, or, How To's

Okay. This started out as a baby food post, but I have to step back. Lest anyone think I actually know what I'm doing in the kitchen, let me report on what just transpired. Phoebe is napping, so I'm making tuna salad. (It's so much more fun than dusting!) Hard boiled eggs are essential, so I commence the hard boiling. Lesson learned today? Leave the eggs in boiling water long enough to make them hard boiled. Soft boiled eggs do not a good tuna salad make. Can we say do over?

I posted last month about my venture into homemade baby food. I do not wear a long denim skirt, nor do I forgo haircuts. I just thought it would be fun to make my own for Phoebe. A couple of friends have asked how it works, so here it goes. (Note: I still love Gerber! We exclusively use Gerber prunes, and it's all I use when I travel.)

Basic Baby Food - Vegetables
We have made sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, peas, green beans, and spinach. This would work for just about any vegetable you can imagine!
  • Peel and chop vegetables into small pieces. It's also necessary to remove any seeds.
  • Place vegetables in a large pan and just cover with water. (You want to use as little water as possible in order to preserve the nutrition of your veggies.)
  • Bring vegetables to a boil, cover with a lid, and allow to cook until fork-tender.
  • Puree vegetables to an absolutely smooth consistency using a food mill (manual food processor) or a food processor/blender. [NOTE: if you use a food processor or blender, you need to push your vegetables through a mesh sieve in order to strain out any tough, unsavory bits. Your baby cannot digest these.]
  • Add cooking water if necessary in order to make food absolutely smooth.
  • Spoon cooled mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. One cube = 1 serving.
Note: all potatoes should absolutely be done in a food mill so that they don't get gummy. Peas are best when pureed in a food processor and then strained.

Basic Baby Food -- Fruit
We have made apples, pears, and peaches. For bananas, you can just mash a raw banana and thin with some milk or formula.
  • Peel, core, and chop fruit. (Peaches and other stone fruit should be scored with an "x" at the bottom of the fruit and boiled whole, then chopped. This is the best way to easily peel them.)
  • Cover with water and a splash of unsweetened apple juice for some natural sweetness.
  • Boil until fork tender.
  • Puree fruit to an absolutely smooth consistency using a food mill (manual food processor) or a food processor/blender. [NOTE: if you use a food processor or blender, you need to push your fruit through a mesh sieve in order to strain out any tough, unsavory bits. Your baby cannot digest these.]
  • Add cooking water if necessary in order to make food absolutely smooth.
  • Spoon cooled mixture into ice cube trays and freeze. One cube = 1 serving.
To serve frozen baby food, just take a cube (or two, depending on your baby's appetite) and microwave until thawed. It's that easy!

When making baby food, do not add salt or sugar. Also, I find that some foods (like green beans and carrots) work best for Phoebe when we add a little rice cereal. She prefers the thicker consistency.

I would highly recommend Annabel Karmel's First Foods if you are interested in making your own baby food!

Baby food is
not that hard to make, although it does take some time. If you devote an hour a day for a week, you can stock your baby with enough food for 2 months. It is also significantly cheaper than buying baby food! Hope this helps!

Phoebe's comments? . f bbbbbbbbbbbbb rrrrrd tttccccccccccccccccccj mcccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccc

Sitting Up

It's hard to tell here, but Phoebe Kate is officially sitting up! It's hard for her to play well while she's sitting, but she loves to be up and looking around. I'm so proud of my big girl! She has been trying SO hard. More later!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Soooooo Good

I am so proud of our little girl! Phoebe had her six month checkup today, which meant a lot of "tickling" from doctors and nurses as well as some yucky shots. Well, during all the tickling we found out that she's growing so well! She is 26 inches long (75%ile) and 14 pounds, 14 ounces (25%ile). Maybe she'll be taller than her Mommy! Even though she's very petite, she's growing well and developing just fine. She loved showing off her "grab-the-paper" routine, and thought Dr. B's hair looked like a whole lot of fun to grab. Phoebe was also the bravest she's ever been for her shots, and cried much less than she ever has. She has sacked out and is in the crib now, taking her first good snooze of the day. I think she's trying to teach her mommy that shots really aren't that bad!

I've decided I'm going to start posting some of our favorite meals on here, mostly so that I can remember them -- but also to share, if anyone is interested! It has become a hobby of mine to try and get the most bang-for-my-buck when it comes to grocery shopping, which really means strategic meal planning. And I love to cook and try new things, so it'll be fun to record what works and what doesn't! I think I'm probably much more likely to post them here than write them in a notebook. :)

Last night we had empanadas, which are really Mexican calzones. I adapted this from a Real Simple Magazine recipe. They were delicious and really filled Michael up (and left some leftovers, too.)

Empanadas
Serves 2

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 pound ground beef (I use ground sirloin, but you can also use chuck, or for something even leaner, use ground turkey)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper
refrigerated pizza dough (Publix sells their white mountain bread dough for cheap in the bakery, this is what we use -- half of the dough ball was enough for two LARGE empanadas)
flour for rolling
1 can refried beans
1/4 cup shredded cheese
nonstick spray

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Saute onion, pepper, and garlic for 2-3 minutes until slightly tender. Add ground beef and brown. Once meat is browned, sprinkle spices over the meat and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. (You can also add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper if you want it spicy.) Allow meat mixture to cool.
Roll out pizza dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. You will need an 8 inch "circle" of dough for each empanada. [Note: Michael rolls all dough in our house because I hate dealing with flour and dough. Do what works best for you to end up with two 8 inch circles of dough; I really don't know how it's best done.]
Spread 1 or 2 tablespoons of unheated refried beans (technically they're already cooked if they're in the can) onto each piece of dough. Top with half the meat mixture and half the cheese. Fold over the dough so that it forms a calzone-type "pocket". (All of the filling should be tucked inside.)
Place empanadas onto a cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Spray the tops of the empanadas with spray as well. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the dough is golden and done. Enjoy!
(You will have leftover refried beans in the can; heat these to serve on the side or save for another mexican meal later in the week. If you're like us, you're eating Mexican at home something like twice a week anyway!)