Friday, September 30, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

This was my attempt to lighten up this crowd pleasing dish.  I will never call anything nutritious that consists entirely of processed ingredients, but at least it's a little less fattening than most versions.  This would be perfect for a football party. I've used canned chicken, a rotisserie chicken and chicken breasts that I cooked in a slow cooker and shredded with my kitchen aid mixer... no matter how you do it, this turns out great!

-2 cups shredded cooked chicken
-4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
-1/2 c light ranch dressing
-1/2 c hot sauce
-1 c shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese

Combine all ingredients until well mixed.  Either pop in a small crock pot to heat and keep warm for a party, or bake in a dish at 350 for 20 minutes.  Serve with your favorite crackers, veggies, or chips.

Quick & easy party decorations

I made these super simple decorations from yarn that I had on hand to decorate our home for Jeremy's birthday party.  (Sorry for anyone local who wasn't invited, our home is fairly small, so we stuck mostly to our community group for the guest list and still had a little over 20 people, which had us bursting at the seams).  There are tutorials all over the internet for these pom poms, so I'll spare you the details, except that I wound yarn 60 times, around 2 fingers, and then cut the loops to make the poof.  Simple, easy, and free (by using supplies that were gifted to me), plus I love instant gratification crafting... when projects take shape in an hour or less.  I think I may even do a repeat of using these for Noah's birthday, and a baby shower that I'm throwing in January.  You could also easily vary the colors to match any holiday... purple, yellow and green for Mardis Gras, red, green, and white for Christmas, and so on.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal

We love my blueberry baked oatmeal so much that I thought I'd give it a fun fall twist.  Most recipes on the internet for baked oatmeal call for oil or butter, but my versions come out so great without it that I just don't see a need for the added fat, although I'm sure it adds some great flavor and moisture.  You could also add chopped nuts, raisins, dried cranberries, or chopped apple to this dish.

-3 cups oats (whole or quick, NOT instant)
-3/4 c sugar
-1 1/2 cups milk
-2 eggs
-1 Tbsp baking powder
-1 tsp salt
-2 tsp vanilla
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp ginger
-1/4 tsp nutmeg
-1/4 tsp cloves
-1 c canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
-2 Tbsp brown sugar

In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, milk, vanilla, eggs, and pumpkin.  Stir in oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves.  Spread into a greased 13x9 dish.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

48 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Your baby is a custom-made, 100% original – even if he happens to be a triplet! That means that your baby is going to do things in his own way, on his own time. Your baby might be perfectly content to sit on the floor, playing with toys. He might have little to no interest in pulling up. That’s OK. Some babies are more physical, more daring. Others prefer to watch the action and learn from the example of others.   Don’t worry if your baby is “behind.” The ages listed for various developmental milestones represent the timeframe when most babies achieve those particular skills. There will always be some babies – some perfectly fine babies – who fall outside of the norm.   Besides, it’s not uncommon for babies to focus on one area of development at a time. If your baby isn’t standing yet, there’s a good chance that he’s talking more than your neighbor’s baby, the one who’s already walking. It’s almost as if babies have only so much attention; when they focus on one skill, others lag temporarily. That’s also why some babies appear to “forget” a skill. If your baby has recently stopped waving – after waving at everyone from the mailman to the preacher last month – it’s probably because she’s moved on to another skill. In time, the waving will return.  But what if you really think something is wrong? If your gut is telling you something just isn’t right, call your doctor. Parents’ intuition is often right on! You should also consult your doctor if your child isn’t vocalizing, interacting or moving independently.
A few short months ago, your baby used his mouth to explore everything. Now, he’s much more likely to use his hands. Before, he crammed everything in his mouth, testing it for size, texture and shape. Now he can hold and manipulate objects – and discover valuable info about an object’s size, shape, weight, texture and intended usage. He can even toss or throw the object to see how it moves through space. Of course, that doesn’t mean that your baby will never chew on anything again. Many kids eat dirt well into their third year!

Noah is getting more and more verbal.  He talks all of the time, and now he's starting to put together more words than just sounds.  Now he says mom/mama, dad/ dad, yes, yeah, Noah, that , beep, bye bye, duck, and no no.  He also knows what sounds lions and sheep make, and can roar and say ba ba when we see them in books.

Whenever we hear music Noah bounces/ dances and claps his hands.  When he does something he likes with a toy he'll stop and clap his hands to celebrate also.  All day long Noah points at things and says "that" over and over again.  He still loves to play in the tub, or to be outside, and to read.  Now when Jeremy gets home and walks in the door Noah says dad.

We're still continuing to give Noah tastes of the foods that we eat.  This week he really loved the avocado pasta, spinach artichoke casserole (his first time eating spinach, mushrooms, and pasta), and the pumpkin oatmeal that I made.  He also tried black eyed peas, black beans, and corn for the first time.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Sriracha, Lime, and Honey

I made these  brussels sprouts with sriracha, lime, and honey.  They were really yummy!  Even Jeremy, who claims to not like brussels sprouts, really liked them and said he would eat them again.  The few things that I did differently were to use canola oil instead of peanut (because that's what I had), I added 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp garlic powder when I tossed the brussels sprouts with the oil, and I chopped the peanuts before sprinkling them over top.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Avocado Pasta

Avocado Pasta

This was an experiment, because I ended up with several extra avocados this week.  It actually turned out really well.  I thought it was a great healthy and delicious summer dinner (yes, while the rest of the country is experiencing Fall weather it still feels like Summer here in New Orleans).  My pantry is running low (tomorrow is my grocery shopping day), so I didn't have much extra on hand to throw in here, but if I was planning this I think I'd definitely add some black beans and chopped fresh tomatoes.  This serves 2, because I didn't want to make too much and have the avocado brown and ruin it, so increase your portions as necessary.

-1/2 lb pasta, cooked al dente and rinsed with cool water
-1 avocado
-1 clove garlic
-3 Tbsp mayo
-2 Tbsp lime juice
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-1/2 bunch cilantro
-couple of handfuls of spinach leaves

Combine avocado through spinach in a blender or food processor, and puree until smooth.  Toss with pasta, and chill at least 1 hour prior to serving.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing

Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing

This may now be my favorite salad dressing!  I served it over spinach with red onion and orange slices, but I think it would be great over a Southwestern salad with corn and black beans, or a taco salad.  This dressing makes a smaller portion than most of my dressing recipes, because it needs to be eaten within a few days (before the avocado browns).  Double the recipe if you're serving more than four people side salad portions, or more than two people large dinner salads.  The avocado flavor here is subtle, next time I might be inclined to use a whole avocado, keeping the rest of the proportions the same.  Cilantro would also be a great addition to this dressing, but I was out.

-1/2 avocado
-1/4 c light mayo
-1/4 c nonfat yogurt or sour cream
-1 Tbsp milk
-2 tsp white vinegar
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/8 tsp dried parsley
-1/8 tsp dried dill
-1/8 tsp black pepper
-1/8 tsp cayenne
-1/8 tsp cumin
-1/8 tsp garlic powder
-1/8 tsp onion powder
-1 clove garlic
-1/2 tsp sugar
-2 tsp lime juice

Combine and mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Chill at least two hours prior to serving.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing

Cilantro Lime Salad Dressing

This may be my new favorite salad dressing.  I served it over greens with corn, avocado, black beans, and red onion, but I think it would be great on a traditional taco salad.

-2/3 c light mayo
-1/3 c nonfat yogurt or sour cream
-2 Tbsp milk
-2 Tbsp cilantro
-2 Tbsp lime juice
-2 tsp white vinegar
-2 tsp sugar
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/8 tsp cayenne
-1/8 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp cumin

Combine all ingredients.  Chill at least 2 hours prior to serving.

47 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Your baby’s needs are pretty simple. He needs food, clothing, space to explore and someone to watch over him. That’s it. No expensive gadgets required.  Sure, there are plenty of gizmos out there that promise to turn your child into the next whiz kid, but the truth is that most babies do just fine with the basics. You don’t need a fancy baby food steamer; at this age, your baby is more than capable of handling finely chopped table food. You don’t need an elaborate activity center for your baby; most babies much prefer to explore the kitchen cupboards anyway.  Low-tech parenting can feel a bit strange – after all, we live in a more-is-more culture -- but you and your child can have lots of fun with empty boxes, books and spoons. Your little scientist will be particularly fascinated with toys and objects that allow him to sort, compare and categorize. Try giving him an assortment of different-sized boxes, and show him how they fit into one another. Hand him some measuring cups and a bucket in the bathtub and let him learn about volume. Attach yarn to an empty box and show him how to haul toys from one room to another. (Better yet – let him figure it out on his own!) He’ll improve his eye-hand coordination, refine gross motor skills and develop an understanding of size, shape and the physical properties of matter. (And you thought your baby just played all day!)

Although it will be awhile before your baby is ready for charm school, it’s not too early to instill some manners. Your baby won’t be able to say, “please” and “thank you” for some time, but good manners are never a waste of time. If you treat your baby (and others) with respect, your baby will learn to treat others with respect. So the next time your baby offers you a bite of his half-chewed cookie, smile and say, “Thank you.” Then pretend to take a bite!

Noah is doing well.  Now that he's close to being a toddler, he isn't changing at such an aggressive rate as he was in the beginning. 

All day long he points at things and says "that", over and over again.  He has also seemed to take an interest in sharing, and brings whatever he is playing with to us and hands it to us, but then waits for us to hand it back, and goes along his way.

He is getting closer and closer to eating the same foods as us now.  He eats most food chunks that we give him, but does not seem to like chunks of eggs (no matter how they are cooked).  This week he had some chunks of our baked penne, guacamole, pinto beans, chicken, and more.  So he is starting to eat bits of what we eat, mixed in with his favorites of cheese cubes, tofu cubes, toast, cheerios, fruit, and veggies.

If you've ever wondered why all of the pictures that I take of him always tend to be in his high chair, it's because I can't get him to stay still long enough for a picture unless he is restrained.  He is a busy little boy, but super sweet, and lots of fun!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Roasted Corn with Lime, Chili, and Parmesan

I made this roasted corn with lime, chili, and parmesan.  It was good.  I followed the recipe exactly, but next time I think I would substitute fat-free half and half for the sour cream, mayo, and milk.  It was a nice combination of sweet, salty, spicy, and tangy flavors, perfect for summertime.

Ginger Salad Dressing

Ginger Dressing

This was my attempt at making a ginger dressing comparable to Japanese steakhouses.  And while that was not the end result, this dressing did end up quite tasty.  I will make this again, but will keep searching for a steakhouse knock-off.  It would be great over greens with carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, and avocados.

-3 cloves garlic, peeled
-1 4 inch piece ginger, peeled
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1/4 cup sesame oil
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-1/3 cup rice vinegar
-2 Tbsp sugar
-1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

Combine ingredients in blender or food processor.  Mix until smooth.  Serve.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Chicken Pavlava

I made this chicken pavlava (African Peanut Stew), and it was delicious!  Jeremy said it was one of the best things that I have ever made, and he doesn't even really like spinach.  We will definitely be enjoying this again.  The few changes that I made were;

-used 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes in place of the 2 fresh
-reduced the peanut oil to 2 Tbsp
-added 1/4 tsp cayenne because my chili powder isn't hot
-added an extra 1/4 tsp ginger, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1 Tbsp brown sugar at the end

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sweet Corn Cake & Horchata

I made this Sweet Corn Cake as a dessert for a Mexican feast that we had with friends.  From what I've read this can be served as a traditional side dish or dessert.  I thought it was delicious, like a sweet, moist version of corn cake.  I think it would make a great side with a warm bowl of chili.  The only things that I changed from the recipe were that I used fat-free half and half instead of the heavy cream, and I used all-purpose flour instead of masa harina.

I also made this Horchata for our beverage.  I've never had Horchata before, so I can't speak as to whether or not this is a great recipe for it, but it turned out tasty.  The two things I did differently were to let it sit overnight (rather than just 3 hours), and per recommendations from some of the commenter's I strained the entire mixture after sitting overnight to strain out the floating cinnamon.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Curried Kenyan Cabbage

I made this curried Kenyan cabbage for lunch (because I'm not allowed to cook cabbage when Jeremy is home because he HATES the smell).  It was delicious!  I will definitely be making this again.  The only things that I did differently were to use 1 Tbsp (instead of 1 tsp) of the curry powder, and I used fat-free half and half instead of the milk.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

my dream job

Over the years my idea of my dream job has changed.  When I was 10, it was a ballerina.  At 17, an Art Therapist.  At 19, a Physical Therapist, or anything having to do with fitness and/or nutrition.  At 21, a Regional Human Resources Manager.  At 23, a yoga teacher.  At 25, a chef.  At 27, an overseas missionary.  What an eclectic assortment.  And while I've always wanted and hoped to be a stay-at-home mom eventually, I didn't realized just how much I'd love it. 

I mean, I had no prior experience with kids... I'd only changed 6 diapers ever before I had my own son.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into, how to be a mom, or what to do with a kid.  I was a little anxious towards the end of my pregnancy.  Excited, but also anxious.  Nervous that I couldn't do it.  Nervous that it would be really hard.  I wasn't what you would call a "kid person" at all.  Some people just know how to talk to and interact with kids, and I didn't have the slightest clue about any of that.

Here I am, almost 11 months later, and I seriously want to pinch myself every day.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE getting to be a stay-at-home mom.  This has become my dream job.  Every day I just can't believe that it is okay for me to hang out with kids all day, it is so much fun it seems like something has to be wrong with it... life is supposed to be hard, right?  It's just an extra added bonus that I get to watch another kid in addition to my own most days.  I guess you could say that I have become one of those "kid people", and I'm loving it!  Praise Jesus for His guidance, provision, and work in me, because without Him NONE of this would be possible.  He is my sustainer, teacher, guide, and the strength made perfect in my weakness (which I have a lot of).

Being a mom isn't always easy, it involves lots of poop, lots of disciplining, lots of cleaning up, and constantly putting the needs of another before my own.  But the good far out weighs the bad, I also get lots of hugs, kisses, laughs, snuggling, and playing.

I'm overflowing with joy today that I really get to do this.  That I have the best job that I could ever ask for. 

Thank you, Jesus! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Baked Penne

Baked Penne

This is my take on baked ziti.  I used penne, not because I like it more, but because it tends to be easier to find in whole wheat rather than other pasta shapes.  The meat here is purely optional, I made two trays with meat (a combination of ground beef and Italian turkey sausage), and a tray with just cheese, and they were all equally good.  Jeremy and I both loved this, it has the great flavor of lasagna, with a few less steps, and a shorter cooking time.

-1 lb whole wheat penne, cooked al dente
-1 lb meat, either lean ground beef, or Italian turkey sausage, or a combination of both
-32 oz marinara sauce (homemade or jarred)
-24 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
-1 egg
-1 lb part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
-1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

Cook meat over medium heat.  Drain.  Combine meat and sauce.  In a separate bowl, mix together ricotta, 8 oz mozzarella, egg, 2 cups of the meat sauce, and the cooked penne.  Spread mixture into a greased 13x9 pan.  Top with remaining sauce, then with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

called to nurture

Lately I've been spending a bunch of time talking to Jesus about what His purpose and plans are for me in this current season of life.  This season in which I work inside our home, rather than going to a job in an office.  This season in which I'm entrusted with shepherding the hearts of two little boys, who will grow up to be men, hopefully men who love Jesus.  This season in which my days could seem very ordinary, insignificant, and mundane, doing the same thing day in and day out, if I'm not in tune with the Spirit, and how He is at work in, through, and around me.

This is a season where the Lord has me first and foremost strengthening my relationship with Him.  My days tend to be quiet, with lots of time to reflect, to talk to Jesus, to be in His Word, to enjoy the beauty of His creation.  And since He has been filling my cup, I am able to pour out His love to others.  To my family, to my friends, to those in need.

The number one area in which He has been telling me to invest lately has been to nurture my family.  To nurture them spiritually, physically, and emotionally.  To be constantly interceding for them, and saturating our home in prayer.  To pray, read, and discuss God's Word with them.  To nurture them physically by preparing nutritious meals for us to eat.  To nurture them emotionally by maintaining a peaceful home, that can serve for a sanctuary for us to retreat to.  A home that we enjoy being in.  A home that is an environment of communication, of service to each other, of learning, of fun, and  of play.  A home that we can use to minister to the needs of others, in which we frequently practice hospitality and fellowship.

To an outsider, my days could seem to be about housework, changing diapers, and entertaining kids, but I know that my days are filled with Kingdom fruit, with service to the Lord, and the overwhelming awareness of His presence and majesty. 

So friend, whatever it is that you are called to do, do it for God and His glory.  Offer yourself as a living sacrifice to the King of Kings, for He alone is worthy, and the peace that He gives when you are right where He wants you transcends all human understanding!

46 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Though at this point his vocabulary likely consists of only a couple of words besides "mama" and "dada," your baby can probably babble short, fully inflected sentences that sound like he's speaking a foreign language. Act as though you understand.  Your baby may be able to respond to simple questions and commands, especially if you give him some clues with hand gestures. For example, ask "Where's your mouth?" and point to it. Or try "Hand me the cup" and point to the object. He may even answer you in his own way, using his own gestures, such as shaking his head for "no."  Because he's receptive now, it's a good time to begin to teach your baby how to help out. Emphasize "please" and "thank you," and make toy cleanup time fun by turning it into a game. Though he probably won't get the idea just yet, it's not too early to start. Break the task into very small parts. At this age, he'll need you to work with him by his side.

Because he's receptive now, it's a good time to begin to teach your baby how to help out. Emphasize "please" and "thank you," and make toy cleanup time fun by turning it into a game. Though he probably won't get the idea just yet, it's not too early to start. Break the task into very small parts. At this age, he'll need you to work with him by his side.

It's up to you to help your baby make connections between objects and their names — the more you do, the faster your child's vocabulary will grow.  Keep talking to your baby and labeling things. Count stair steps as you climb them, and point out the names and colors of the fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. Read your baby a picture book and ask him to point to or name familiar objects.

Solicit his opinion once in a while: Ask him if he'd like to wear the red or the blue socks, or if he'd like to play with his blocks or his stacking rings. Give him only two choices — both of which are right in front of him. He may not answer, but then again, he may surprise you.

Noah has had a rough week.  He has had his first real battle with diaper rash, and it got very bad.  We are fortunate that it took this long for him to get a real case, but it broke my heart to see all of the red welts all over his little bottom.  His diaper rash is almost fully cleared up now though.  Then Noah managed to get a tuna can out of the trash can and cut his finger on it.  It was the smallest little cut, on his little pinky finger, but it was deep, and it took me an hour of applying pressure to finally stop the bleeding.  And now that the cut is finally healing he has come down with a cold.  Ugh.  This poor kid can't get a break this week!  He is a trooper though, and has been holding up well through all of it.  It was all much harder on me than on him.

Noah says "yeah", "yes", and "no, no, no" a lot now.  After I tell him no for something he usually responds with a chorus of "no, no, no" himself.

He still can't get enough reading, and brings me book after book all day long.  I hope this love for learning and reading carries on with the years.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

I made these pumpkin pie cup cakes.  They are way more like individual pumpkin pies than cup cakes though, since they are so moist and dense.  I used fat-free half and half for the cream, and used whole wheat flour for the flour.  With these changes these are virtually fat-free (only fat from the eggs), and are very good.  They weren't amazing though, but for the calories they are perfect.  I topped mine with a little whipped cream, but cream cheese frosting would be delicious for a more decadent dessert.  These are a great, light Fall dessert that you need not feel guilty for eating.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Lace T Shirt Refashion

I did another super quick t shirt refashion to make it a little more feminine.  I just added 4 rows of lace to the front of the shirt.  I LOVE it!  It was super quick and easy, even without a jersey needle.

45 weeks

Here is what is going on with Noah this week according to;

Your baby probably enjoys looking at books and leafing through the pages, though she won't always turn them one by one. Indulge in great picture books, like Anno's Journey, by the great Japanese artist Mitsumasa Anno, Tamara Hoban's Is It Red? Is It Yellow? Is It Blue?, which introduces primary colors through photos of everyday objects, and The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs, a full-color cartoon book about a snowman who comes to life. Or stick with sturdy and inexpensive board books that can stand up to small fingers.  To add variety to your baby's reading time and to find out what appeals to her the most, try your local library or the kids' section at a family-friendly bookstore.

Your baby has probably been wrestling with bouts of separation anxiety during the last several months. This is natural: She loves and depends on you, so she's distressed when you leave.  To ease departures, make them short and sweet. Be matter-of-fact when you leave your child at daycare or with a babysitter at home, and don't prolong the agony with extended goodbyes. Your baby's tears will subside soon after you're out of sight.

You can help your baby feel more independent by not hovering over her all the time. Of course, she still needs to know that you're around and dependable. So if she toddles to another room, wait a couple of minutes before following. If you go to another area of the house, call to her when you're in the next room — but don't come running every time she squawks.

This kid is seriously so cute, and so much fun!!!!!  He can't get enough reading and constantly brings us books to read to him.

We are currently working on trying to get him to wear shoes.  At first when I put them on him he won't put is feet on the ground at all.  After some good distraction I can get him to stand up and walk a bit in them, but he is a little more clumsy than without the shoes.  Hopefully after a few more days he'll get the hang of it.  He walks all around the house constantly.  I'd say that about 95% of his moving around is walking rather than crawling now. 

He is loving have Luke here 3 days a week to play with again.  Those two boys enjoy each other so much that it's hard to get them wound down enough to take a nap.

He seems to understand bye-bye now.  Most times when someone leaves our house, or when we leave somewhere he will wave and say buh-buh. 

There have only been a couple of times ever that he has cried when we left him, for the most part he tends to do really well when we aren't around.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Several months ago the ladies from our community group got together to do a clothing swap.  We all brought all of our ill fitting clothes, and exchanged them for new to us items to bring home.  I volunteered to be in charge of donating the leftovers so that I could have the opportunity to salvage buttons and fabrics for my refashion pile.  Since then my refashion pile has been busting at the seams, and today I finally took the time to make over a few of the items.  Here is what I started out with...

 this dress
 pajama pants

And I transformed them into all of these infinity scarves.

I was SUPER lazy with this projects.  I never pressed any of the fabrics or the seams.  And the first one (the purple plaid pajama pant one) was the only one that I actually used pins on, the rest I just held the fabric together while I sewed (which was even harder with the silk skirts that wanted to stretch as I sewed).  I have never done a sewing project without using pins, but since infinity scarves are very forgiving I gave it a whirl and am pleased with the results.  I was even too lazy to put matching thread in my machine, and just ended up using the white that I already had in there for each of these projects.  They all turned out well, and I had all of them done within an hour.  I will say that Jeremy has forbid me from wearing one of them, because he thinks the fabric looks old lady-ish, but oh well.  It was fun to create with my sewing machine for the first time in a while, and the fact that I gave new life to old discarded items is even better.

Friday, September 2, 2011

4 years

Last week Jeremy and I celebrated our 4 year anniversary.  Jeremy took off of work Wed-Fri, so we had a 5 day family staycation.  It was perfect.  Thanks to Jeremy's parents, Jeremy and I had a good amount of alone time for gym dates, a dinner date, and a trip to the mall.  We also did some fun family activities including a trip to the aquarium, a trip to Pinkberry, and a family walk around the park.  We tend to be really laid back and low key, and we love it that way.  Our favorite things to do include taking walks, getting coffee or Pinkberry, working out together, and just being around each other.  We don't need a lot of frills or excitement, just some good ole quality time.  This was the best anniversary that we've had yet, and it was the one that we put the least effort into planning, and the one where we spent the least amount of money.  We really do delight in the simple things, and I think we get increasingly that way the longer that we've been married.

Our fourth year of marriage was by far our best year yet.  We have enjoyed every year, but we both are convinced that our marriage continues to get better and better with age.  As time goes on, we get better at communicating with each other, better at serving each other, and better at understanding each other's needs and desires.  As time goes on the Lord continues to strengthen our bond and unite us, making us more like Him.  As time goes on we realize increasingly more in our hearts (rather than just in our heads) that marriage isn't about us, or about making us happy (although it does bring us joy)... but that it's about displaying Christ's character and covenant to the world.

I'm so thankful for marriage.  Thankful for an AMAZING husband, who is a wonderful father.  Thankful for the ways in which I experience Christ through our marriage.  Thankful for the way marriage refines me, humbles me, and brings me to the foot of the cross, dependent on Christ.  Thankful for having the privilege of using our marriage to proclaim His glory, forgiveness, grace, and love to the world.  Prayerful that we would stay centered on Him, as individuals, and as a family.

It has been a great 4 years babe!  Here's to 50 more...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

De-cluttering {my soul}

Lately I've been feeling cluttered.  Physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

I had the month of August off from watching Luke, and I seized the extra freedom that I had.  I made lots of plans with friends that I don't get to see very often, and I was overall busy.  As a result, my home suffered, my mood suffered, and my walk with Jesus suffered.  It was a fun month, and it was nice to catch up with some people that I hadn't seen in a while, but I'm not sure that the end result was worth it.

This is my first week back to having Luke, and I had forgotten just how much I enjoy having him around.  I love watching him and Noah play and enjoy each other.  I love having the extra time at home.  I've had extra time to straighten up and do projects around the house that have been collecting dust for a month.  And for me, lots of quiet time at home is good for my soul.  I am continually blessed by fellowship and the close friendships that I have here, but I am really an introvert who thrives on having alone time, and quiet time with my family.  It has been nice to have a slower pace, to sit back and cherish the moments.

I have spent the last month by being overly committed.  For me having plans every single day of the week is overly committed, even if they are just for an hour or two.  I tend to need frequent days where I can be still, silent, reflective, and allow myself to putter around the house as I fancy.   I need the stillness and quiet in order to hear what the Lord is saying, to be aware of His promptings, and to have the time and energy to be available as He prompts me.

I'm slowly working my way through our physical space, packing up Noah's clothes that are too small, and digging out the next sizes that he'll be wearing.  Continuing to rotate what clothes are in my drawers as my body continues to change and get closer to its pre-pregnancy shape (I have reached my pre-pregnancy weight, but am still shocked at how different my body is shaped and how my old clothes still don't fit).

As I've been de-cluttering our home, there has been this feeling inside of me that I'm feeling a tad bit "off", and haven't been myself.  The feeling that I get a few times a year, and seem to need a really good and long cry to find relief from.  Does anyone else get like that, or is it just me?  A friend of mine told me years ago that women cry like men sweat, it's just a release that we need sometimes.  That's how I'm feeling right now, like I need a good releasing cry.  That all of this being busy has my head and heart swimming with ideas of things that I've read, heard, and seen, and that I just need some relaxed time to process all of them.  So many of these things cluttering up my head are good things, they are items that I want to create, ways that I want to serve others, and so forth, and now I need the time to put to action all of the inspiration that has been swirling inside of me.

Ultimately, if I'm feeling cluttered emotionally, it is a result of spiritual clutter, otherwise my emotions wouldn't feel so overwhelming, and I would be resting in the peace of Jesus.  Over the past month I've had many prayers for others that were heavy on my heart.  I've had many theological questions, in some cases changing things that I've been believing for years.  I've just had a lot going on, bouncing around inside of me, without the time to process it, without the time to devote as much attention to these areas in which the Lord is at work in me.  I'm trying to find my way out from this clutter, and so I cling to the basics.  To the Truth that I know.  To focusing on loving Jesus, and loving others (Matthew 22:37-40).  I am seeking first His Kingdom (Matthew 6:32-34), and letting go of all of the details and circumstances competing for my attention.  (Which is VERY hard to do for a person like me, who thrives and enjoys details so much).  So I pray, that He will weed out the thorns that are growing up and crowding Him out.  I'm asking for Him to make my path straight, and to prune back all of the branches that aren't bearing fruit.  I meditate on what it looks like to do everything that I do for His glory, without idle time, resources, and energy.  I seek to experience His presence in each and every moment.  And suddenly, all is well with my soul.