Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Happy, Happy you, to you!

We had such a nice day as a family today...Slept in, Cuddled, Colored, Cooked. Life is good. My family is coming in to town tomorrow, so we're aflurry with activity trying to get Thanksgiving Dinner ready.

Elisabeth buttering the rolls before the second rising.

A nice little ball of dough in the hands of Lauren

Don't the rolls look just lovely in the pan?

Meagan decided to make a little snack and was sooo excited when they were ready to eat!

Well, we are going to have quite a spread tomorrow. I have been really wanting to "present" my food nicely lately. Isn't this turkey cheese ball so cute? The s and I had such a fun time making it. We were going to dig in tonight but decided that it was just too cute to eat just yet.
Last night was our school's annual Thanksgiving play. Instead of the traditional turkey, pilgrims, and Indians Thanksgiving program, Chad decided to do a play about George Mueller. It was so good. I plan on posting some of those pictures in the next couple of days.

Over on Daily Pleasures Amy challenged us to see if we did 100 things in a day that we loved. I don't know if I did 100 or not, but I did more than one. Let's see...
1. Nursed the most precious baby in the world
2. Nursed the most precious baby in the world
3. Nursed the most precious baby in the world
4. Nursed the most precious baby in the world
5. Nursed the most precious baby in the world
6. Spent time with Elisabeth in the kitchen
7. Kneaded bread dough (this is one of my favorites!)
8. Peeled 15 pounds of potatoes - I just love seeing the white of the potato
9. Baked a cake
10. Talked to my sil Tracy
11. Listened to my family playing together
12. Looked at pictures of fond memories
13. Laughed with a two-year-old
14. Ate pizza
15. Washed dishes in the sink instead of the dishwasher (There's just something about washing dishes by hand that makes me feel like I just love my life. Why is that?)
Well, there are many more things I did today that I loved doing, but, alas, I must go to bed now! Have to get up early to cook my two eighteen pound birds. ;0)

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Welcome Winter Weekend

So many things to do in the snow, and SO MUCH SNOW! We really only have about 5 inches or so on the ground, but the children just couldn't wait to get outside and play in it! Derek played in the snow for the very first time on Saturday. I had forgotten that I had bought Derek some very nice snowpants last year. It's always pleasant to discover that you prepared ahead of time. Derek was very warm...for awhile! ;) I'm thankful that we live somewhere that is beautiful when it's cold!

Derek feeding Budge hot chocolate. At one point, he grabbed his head and tipped it back. In the background we are watching some fantastic videos about evolution. We borrowed them a friend, and they are fascinating. Another great series of videos is Planet Earth, though they DO contain evolution. However, the footage in this series is wonderful, so we have chosen to go ahead and watch them while interjecting our "two cents" every time evolution is mentioned.

Derek getting ready to play for the first time in the snow.

Meagan went around the house finding as many icicles as she could. She then enlisted Elisabeth's help to get them down so she could eat them. (Gross, I know, but who didn't eat icicles as a kid?!?) If you didn't, you really missed out! :0)

Derek got so "cofe" (cold) that he had to come in and drink some hot chocolate.

On a different note, our Pastor has been preaching a small series of messages from I Thessalonians 4:3-12, entitled "How To Possess Your Vessel." My own personal meditations from the message over the last 15 hours has been from his fourth and fifth points of the sermon: 4. Stay away from bitterness with the help of the Holy Spirit. According to I Thess. 4:8, nearly all human anger is directed at God. 5. Stay in brotherly love with heavenly help. C. H. Spurgeon said, "The mother of all sins is selfishness."

My own personal reflections have led me to this place. I do not love my husband or children nearly enough. If I loved them enough, I would refrain from speaking harshly, from becoming frustrated with them. If I loved them enough, I would bring my body under subjection and not give in to my besetting sin. Sin is really all about love. When we sin, we don't care who gets hurt. We care afterwards, but at the moment of the sin, we don't care. Then we have to spend extra time trying to prove that we really love the ones we just hurt.

My focus today is to really, truly love my family. Doing the right thing.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm Growing, I'm Growing Ev'ryday

It's so fun when the little ones start learning new things. Our babies are typically slow to do everything--slow to roll over, slow to sit up, slow to crawl, slow to walk, etc. In fact, Elisabeth was not even crawling at one year old. The nursery director at First Baptist Church even approached me with the number for the Shriners, thinking that something was wrong with her bone structure that was preventing her from crawling. We had her checked out, but nothing was wrong. She was just a very content baby. She started crawling at 13 1/2 months and began walking at 18 months. I remember a difficult time having two babies (Elisabeth and Budge are 15 months apart) that didn't walk. :)

Well, here is our little Tyler. He is 7 months old tomorrow and is finally beginning to try to sit by himself. He seems to be doing a little better. Taking baby steps. Pun intended. ;o)

Yesterday when I posted the pictures of my fall creations, I forgot to post a picture of my other creation--a pumpkin centerpiece of sorts. A family had given us scads of what was mostly junk. I took a fall centerpiece, disassembled it, and reworked all of its contents, painting and adding in some new stuff as well. I was pretty happy with the way it turned out. It is sitting on a shelf by my front door.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Fall, Y'all!

Well, our computer has been in the repair shop for a couple of days to finally get rid of Naomi, that wonderful computer filter. ;o) In the interim, I have been having the urge to create something for fall. Back in October, I went up in the garage attic to pull down my fall decorations, and when I opened the bin, they were all moldy. ;( I don't know what happened, but I was very frustrated. So, I decided to create something. I went and found some clearance-priced fall items at Walmart and Pier One. I made two cornucopias, here.

My fall table completed

We let the children pick any dessert they wanted, and they wanted this cake. It's called Vanilla Rich Chip Cake. We love it! It's very moist. You can find the recipe here.

Tracy, I will post about children's games in a day or two. ;)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Great Family Game

There are a couple of games that we heard about from our friend Steve Hobbins, pastor of Lewis Avenue Baptist Church in Temperance, Michigan, the church I grew up in. I'm not going to list each one of our favorites today--there will be more to come in later posts. :)

Ticket to Ride is a fantastic family game. The box says it is for ages 8+, but Brian began playing at age 7. I am ready to buy an expansion pack for it soon. We play this game so often when we have a free night. I wanted you to be able to see what the game looks like when you're all done playing! Every color of train cars represents a different person playing. I won't get into the technicalities of the game, you can read them for yourself elsewhere online. We give this one 5 *****! It even teaches a little bit of geography while you're playing because the destination tickets have you travel from one place to another. Very fun! A little pricey, but well worth the investment.

Monday, November 17, 2008

God is GOOD...ALL the Time!

I have the pictures of my two youngest boys and my husband on here for a reason. On Sunday nights I have children's choir at 5:00 p.m. Usually, we all drive in together. Yesterday the two little boys were sleeping, and Daddy had a woodworking project that he was working on and would appreciate a few extra minutes, so the three of them were going to drive in separately. At 5:50, a lady came to children's choir to tell me that my husband had called me twenty minutes before and needed a ride to church because his van wouldn't start. I quickly hopped in the Yukon to pick them up.

As I was driving, the road suddenly became very slick, and I started sliding around -- even in four wheel drive! I had one nt thought the rest of the way home to pick up my precious "men": God did not want Chad to drive those two little boys to church in his van, so He did not allow it to start. Chad's van does not have any traction even in snow, let alone on ice. It slides all over the place. There are only two seats in Chad's van, and Derek would not have been strapped in. The roads were slick, God knew about Chad's van, and He caused it to not start.

That van starts all the time. God protected my family. Thank you, Lord! Yet another reason for thankfulness during this Thanksgiving Month.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Time for Learning

Several years ago I had the privilege of being able to teach my children at home, and I loved every minute of it. Through a series of circumstances beyond my control, my children are attending a Christian school where their daddy is the principal. He teaches them Bible every day and often plays with them at recess. He also teaches the entire elementary gym. To me, I would rather have them home, but if they have to be in school, I'm glad Daddy is there with them.
Anyway, we put Meagan in kindergarten last year, and I really wish that we hadn't. She is doing fine, but my children that have been home until they were in second grade have done better overall (academically, socially, spiritually) than those who went to school earlier. So, we have decided that we are going to keep Lauren home at least through kindergarten and probably through first grade as well.

I just bought some books from Rod & Staff for preschool age. They are really just readiness books, but in just two days of schoolwork Lauren has already learned her right and left. She recognizes all of her numbers and some of her letters. Yesterday she was busily working at the table learning how to write the number two.

To me, there is nothing more rewarding than teaching your child...anything, anything at all. I love teaching them to read, to count, to cook, to set the table, to sort laundry.

Friday, November 14, 2008

We hit the jackpot!

If you have never shopped at Christopher & Banks, you need to start! I just love it. They have such nice clothes there, and if you try, you can find excellent deals there. When they have sales, they REALLY have sales.
Well, since Tuesday was Veterans' Day, C&B was having a sweater sale. All of their sweaters were 50% off. The closest C&B is in Petoskey. Budge also needed a winter coat (Brian ripped his the other day while they were rough-housing), and there is also a Penney's in Petoskey, and their boys coats were half off. So...after school, we headed over there.
Chad said I could get two sweaters, so I was looking around. When I reached the sale racks, I noticed a sign that said "Additional 70% off". I couldn't believe my eyes! I got some really great bargains. Needless to say, I did not get the two sweaters, but I am so pleased with what we found. One of my favorites is a washable suede jacket that retailed for $99.50 that I was able to get for $22! As I understand it, the sale is still going on, so if you live near a Christopher & Banks, head over there!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Styrofoam Cup, Everyday Mug, or Fine China

I have the opportunity to teach a Christian Womanhood class to the 7th through 11th grade s at our school once a week for 30 minutes. I leave after I lay the children down for a nap and get home around the time they wake up, so they don't even usually know I'm gone! Anyway, we have been discussing purity--not just purity in body, but purity in every relationship we have.

Yesterday, we had a small tea party to teach a lesson. I brought my Christmas china, folded napkins, bought sparkling juice (not many teen s like tea!), and had turtle pie. I even played Christmas music. Of course, we were in the school cafeteria, but the s still enjoyed it.

Once they were happily eating and drinking, I taught a small lesson. In the way you deal with others, in the movies you watch, the things you talk about, in every area of life, are you a styrofoam cup, an everyday mug, or a piece of fine china. In Psalm 45, you will see that God views you as a beautiful princess; He values you. He esteems you very highly. You need to value yourself, see yourself through God's eyes.

We had the tea party because I wanted them to feel pampered. I wanted them to see that the presentation is very important. The same food items given in styrofoam cups, on paper plates with plastic forks would have been fine, but it would not have been the same. They would not have felt as special. It was just a fun way to learn a little lesson. :)

All the s
Chandler and Laura being silly.

Elizabeth and Cynthia

A Place Setting

The Sparkling Juice "Tea"

Monday, November 10, 2008

All because two people fell in love...

~~I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me.~~
~Song of Solomon 7:10~

I have a plaque hanging on my living room wall above my fireplace that says "All because two people fell in love..." Everything in my house exists because two people fell in love, but especially my children. I heard something tonight that I thought very profound. There is no exact quote, but the basic thought was this: Pro-choice people need Roe v. Wade to validate their "belief" that abortion is okay because, deep down, they are uncomfortable with their stand on abortion. Deep down they know that abortion is wrong and immoral.

As a mother of seven who has lost one child due to miscarriage (my eighth child is waiting for me in heaven), my very being is rocked every time I hear someone say that abortion is an acceptable choice in any situation. Life is precious. God opens and closes the womb. Any time we see childbirth in the Bible, God is blessing someone. He is giving us a precious gift each time He allows us to have another child.

I remember the day that I lost my precious little baby. It was February 2nd, 2004. It was the last day I nursed Lauren, who was then 14 months old. I remember that I had been waiting to see if I was going to keep the baby or lose the baby. We had been communicating with my midwife via phone calls. She had me order some herbs to take. She said that the herbs would help things go the direction that they were supposed to go. If I were going to keep the baby, they would help. If I were going to lose the baby, they would also help that along. I had taken my first dose of those herbs. Within hours, we knew our precious little one had already gone to heaven.

I remember that I did not realize that having a miscarriage was exactly like having a baby. The pains were all the same; they just didn't last nearly as long. I remember that my husband stayed home from work to help me. I remember that he caught that little one in his hands. I remember looking at my little baby that didn't even really look like a baby yet. There were little arms and legs, though. I remember that Chad asked me, after an hour or so, if he could flush the baby down the toilet. I said yes.

I remember that I had to go to the hospital because, after 8 hours, I was still bleeding very heavily. I could not even walk to the bathroom by myself because I was so faint. I remember that the doctor was very kind and tried not to do a D and C. I remember that he found a second sac in my uterus. I remember waking up after the procedure with a warm blanket covering me.

I remember being upset with my husband for not feeling as hurt as I did about the entire experience. I remember feeling a little numb inside.

Almost two weeks after the miscarriage, I flew with my husband to Fort Dodge, Iowa to attned a spiritual warfare conference at Harvest Baptist Church where Marvin Smith is the pastor. Chad and I had spent some time with Pastor Smith before, so he called us into his office to chitchat. At that time, I expressed to him what a hard time I was having with the miscarriage. He and his wife talked to me for some time and helped me a great deal, but the thing that helped me the most was a prayer that Brother Smith led me in. It went something like this:

Dear God,
I am grieving the loss of my baby. I know that you have a divine plan for my life, and I am trusting You, but it hurts. Right now, I take my baby in my arms and hand it to You. Please take good care of my baby until I can come and see him.

Those were not the exact words, but the idea is right. The thing that I had to do was to stop seeing the miscarriage as something that had happened in my past. I had to take my baby from my past and put it into my future. When I did that, my heart began to heal.

It still hurts today, several years later. As I am typing this, I am crying. However, when I think of my precious little one now, I always think that he or she is waiting for me in heaven! I knew that in my head before, but I couldn't get my heart to feel it until I actually took mybaby in my arms and handed him or her to God.

I am so thankful for a husband who was willing to get me the help I needed at that time in my life. All because two people fell in love...there is a little one waiting for me in heaven. A little one I will be able to look in the eye and say, "I wanted you so badly, but God saw differently."

Thank you for reading my story. Feel free to pass it along if you think it could help someone in your life.

Precious Memories

What a whirlwind of a day! With responsibilities at church and sick children at home, life quickly became chaotic today. Chad taught Sunday school and then came home so that I could go to church and be in the nursery with my friend and bring the three children home who were able to attend this morning. He started my chicken for me so that when I got home I could make pot pie. Then I had to get the music ready to begin practicing for the Christmas program in our children's choir. I left at 4:00. Choir is at 5:00. I left the church at 5:45 to come back home so Chad could go to church and be on the platform to make his announcements. Whew! Some day.

In all of the busyness, though, I was so thankful for some extra time to be with my children. Extra time for Lauren to come and help me make dinner in the kitchen. As the 5th child, she sometimes struggles to find her place in the family. She needed that special time to be with mom and play memory match and cook. (Cooking always brings us together!)

I've included some pictures from this summer. Just some miscellaneous photos that I thought grandparents would enjoy!

Tricia and Tyler

Derek mowing the lawn :) and Elisabeth holding Tyler on the swing

Elisabeth in her favorite position. This was her birthday, and Grandpa Vest was here and bought her several books. (She read them in about a month.)

Lauren and Brianna

Freshly Bathed Derek

Meagan's Kindergarten Graduation

July 4th
Grandpa and Budge

Isn't she beautiful?

I love this one. Grandpa and Derek

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I Love My Life!

I just love being at home! Some people may look at my life and the things that I do each day and feel sorry for me, but I feel sorry for the women who have to work every day at a job and then come home and try to have enough energy to do all of their housework on top of it. I look at it like this: I GET to stay home! I GET to change diapers and see smiles and watch first steps and have time to inspect knitting and listen to piano practices and play blocks and Candy Land and do all of my own laundry and cook homemade dinners every night. I GET to bathe babies and give kisses and hear giggles and train and hold and cuddle--all day every day. I GET to cuddle a baby in the middle of the night and fall asleep with him in my arms and wake up to him squirming. I GET to see his smiles when he realizes he's still in mommy's arms after several hours! ;-}

I love... the smell of fresh laundry waiting to be folded!

I love... the feel of kneading dough and the smell of fresh bread baking!

I love...making special treats for my family!

Caramel-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

We use this bread recipe and decided to try to make cinnamon rolls with it. Well, I remembered that several years ago I had made some delicious caramel cinnamon rolls and decided to try to find the recipe again. Now I remember why I haven't made them very much...I eat too much when I make them! They are soooo good right out of the oven. I just kept picking at them, and so did Derek. Here's the recipe.

Caramel-Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

1 cup butter or margarine, cubed
2 cups packed brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped pecans

2 Tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Make one batch of Amy's bread dough, cover and let rise until double in bulk. In the meantime, for sauce, melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour into a greased 9x13 dish. Sprinkle with pecans; set aside.

Punch the dough down. Turn onto a floured surface. Roll into a 17-in. x 15-in. rectangle. Spread butter to within 1/2 in. of edges. Combine sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over dough. Roll up jelly-roll style, starting with a long side; pinch seams to seal.

Cut into 15 slices. Place cut side down over caramel sauce. Cover; let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes; invert onto a serving platter.

You can probably get more like 22-25 rolls out of the dough, so you may want to either divide the sauce into two separate pans or make a little extra sauce.

I am sitting...on my love seat with my daughter by my side. She is knitting a hat for her little sister Lauren for her birthday in a month.

I am water. So refreshing after a long day's work.

I am my husband cutting the boys' hair in the kitchen.

I am the most patient man in the entire world.

I am thinking...about how much God loves me. He provides for my every need and then some.

I am thankful...that I was able to have a date with my husband today. We had such a nice time together.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Homemade Playdough

We gave Katie a bath yesterday, and Brian took a picture of her because she looked so pretty and fluffy.

Elisabeth had her friend Elizabeth over yesterday, and they wanted to make playdough. Here's Derek playing with his "share of the dough." ;-)

Elisabeth added some glitter to hers. (Notice the nailpolish peeling off!)

Kneading the dough!

We have had such beautiful weather here for the past week or so. When I woke up this morning, the skies were overcast, but as I was washing the morning dishes, the sun broke through and started shining through my kitchen window. It made me smile, and I love to smile!

Please pray for our little family here. We have had several children with colds and fevers these last few days. It started with Derek on Sunday, moved on to Tyler and Budge, and now to Meagan. Chad's nose is driving him crazy as well. I guess it's that time of the year, but I don't know if I'm ready for it. Pray especially for Budge, as he has a history of pneumonia and bronchitis. His cough is already quite "hacky."

Thank you and we love you all.