30 November 2014

Monthly Menu...December

My babies are so much bigger now!

Monthly Menu

FYI: On the weekends John and I cook together or we go out to eat so I usually don't plan the weekend meals because John likes to be a part of it.  Holidays we are with friends/family so the meal is usually at a special place.  There is always one day during the week that we have buffet style or left over night.  You will notice that carbs are low this month (I have a wedding in January!)  

Dec 1 Baked Chicken, Raw veggies and dip, salad
Dec 2 Taco Tuesday and black beans
Dec 3 Spaghetti and Meatballs
Dec 4 Buffet Night (left overs)
Dec 5 Tuna Melts/Tuna and Crackers & chips and salsa


Dec 8 Salmon and steamed veggies
Dec 9 Chicken & Rice
Dec 10 Chicken pot pie & salad
Dec 11 Buffet Night (left overs)
Dec 12 Steak & mashed potatoes w/asparagus


Dec 15 Three Bean Chili & corn bread
Dec 16 Baked Tilapia and raw veggies with dip
Dec 17 Shepherds Pie
Dec 18 Buffet Night (left overs)
Dec 19 Pizza Night & salad


Dec 22 Tortellini Salad
Dec 23 Whole Chicken in Crockpot with corn and salad
Dec 24 Christmas Eve
Dec 25 Christmas
Dec 26 Buffet Night


Dec 29 Chicken Soup with Sweet Potatoes
Dec 30 Soup & Salad
Dec 31 New Year's Eve & Julia's Birthday


29 November 2014

Boys will be Boys

The joys of boys...

If you've been reading my blog for awhile you may have remembered my series on "Bringing up Boys" by Dr. James Dobson.

It is very obvious that boys are different from the fairer gender.  I love having daughters and sons for different reasons. Mark and Micah are really different with their own boy personalities.

Mark is very verbal for a boy and extremely smart (he taught himself to read last year at the age of 4).  My in laws are always amazed at how bright and what a great communicator he is.  At the age of 1 he was talking in full sentences.  But he's very sensitive, and sometimes cries at the drop of the hat. He loves playing with his big sister Julia and is very competitive with her.  He really doesn't play by himself he loves having Julia tell him what to play and if she's out for the day he mopes around the house saying, "I'm bored."  Mark enjoys Taekwondo, sword playing, dressing up as super heroes and Legos! 

Micah on the other hand is one of the toughest little kids I know.  He can trip and fall on his head and get up and act like nothing happened.  He very rarely cries.  He is happy go lucky, and very independent.  Every one of my friends says that Micah is their favorite because he's always laughing (he has the best smile) and nothing bothers him (except losing his pacifier).  He's a riot.  

Micah can play for hours by himself in the dirt in the back yard or at the park in a sand box.  He doesn't need anyone to tell him how to play...he's been playing by himself since he could sit up at 5/6 months.  He reminds me a lot of Julia because as a baby she could keep her self occupied for hours with her toys.  Micah is the same.  He can play with a bucket of cars, make noises for each one, read books to himself, and be completely content.  

And Micah ADORES Mark.  Mark is the first name in our family he learned.  (Besides mommy and daddy of course).  I still remember the day he learned it.  We were sitting on the couch watching a show and Mark left to go upstairs and Micah yelled, "MARK!!!!!!!!" As  if to say...Dude, get back here, I need you!  He loves taking a bath with Mark, sharing a room with Mark, sitting at the table by Mark and playing outside with Mark.  Mark is his BOY.  But if Mark was out for the day...he would be completely fine.  Out of sight, out of mind.

Micah is not nearly as verbal as Mark was.  He's gotten a lot better recently because we've taken the pacifier away, but still Mark was a 15 month old genius!  Micah is 20 months old and just starting to put sentences together...although that still is good.  Micah is much more gross motor skilled.  Crawling at 4 months, climbing steps at 6 months, walking by 9 1/2 months.  I think he's going to be VERY athletic like my Dad who played baseball, soft ball, basketball and football competitively...

What I love about having sons is that they love being outside.  They love getting dirty, finding sticks, looking for worms, making forts.  What I sometimes struggle with having sons...is that they love getting dirty, love finding sticks, love looking for worms.  Every day with boys is a bath day.  Every minute is spent exploring, digging, and searching for the next adventure.  And they are always yelling and screaming, and shooting the bad guys.  No we don't let them watch violent shows or play violent video games. How is it that they know what guns and knives are and how is it that even if you never have weapons in the house they can make them out of sticks, rocks, tree bark, or their sister's batons?

Boys are loud, dirty, and dangerous!  I'm constantly saying: "Don't hit your brother with that! Be careful on the stairs! and "Stop, RUNNING!"  Why did I ever expect my third and fourth grade boys to keep their shirts tucked in and have clean desks and lockers?  What was I thinking???

But boys will be boys...loud, dirty, dangerous, and awesome!

I love both my boys...both sweet, both smart, both awesome.  But, who am I?  I'm just a very, very, biased mom.


25 November 2014

The Perfect Holiday Card

The Things We Do For the Perfect Family Photo

1. Coordinate the outfits

This seems like an easy task.  I mean how hard can it be to coordinate or match your own children?  But then you find the perfect shirts and pray they are in the right size.  If you have a newborn you are praying the baby doesn't spit up or poop all over their clothes.  Thank goodness my boys like wearing the same clothes.  Let's be honest, Micah is 19 months and he could care less what he is wearing.  Mark on the other hand is 5 1/2 (don't forget to say 5 and a half)

2. Make sure everyone is groomed properly

Usually by the time you get in the car someone is a hot mess.  So I bring a comb, a brush and duck tape to keep hair in place.  (okay, not duck tape...hair spray works)

3. Choose a theme

I love fancy pics, but this year I went casual and I love how the kids looked.  It was fun to put that tutu on Amelia, especially since she can't talk and doesn't have an opinion yet.

4. Beg, plead, and bring chocolate

Smile at the camera.  Put your arm around your sister.  Lower your chin.  Yeah, right!  You try taking pictures of 4 kids! 4 kids!  You get what you get and you don't get upset.  I looked at Erin, our family photographer who I highly recommend, (Erin Nicastro Photography) and I said, just take a bunch of pics, don't worry if they aren't smiling.  The fact is kids are cute.  And any pic where they are all in it is a good pic.  Even if they are crying they are cute...well, sometimes.


24 November 2014

Not At All

My Right Hand

I always wanted a daughter.  Mostly because I thought it would be fun to dress her, put bows in her hair, find ruffled socks, and take her shopping.  But being a mom is so much more than playing dress up.

And being a mom is so much harder than I thought it would be.  After all these little people watch everything you do, they copy you, they hardly ever say thank you, they take and take and take (because they need you!) and you can never have a bad moment or mess up or need their help.

Well, these last two years I have officially learned my lesson.  I'm sorry it took me so long, Lord.  I have learned that children are not toys or dress up dolls (although it is fun to match) they are little people we are to invest in.  And to do that we have to be ALL in.  That means not expecting thank-yous, not expecting them to be perfect, and that means not expecting yourself to be perfect.

Julia, my almost 7 year old, teaches me on a daily basis by her giving attitude and selflessness.  There was a reason God had me have her first.  She was an easy pregnancy, easy delivery, and a super easy baby.  I mean the kid never cried.  She always wanted to see what was going on around her, always exploring, and very very smart.

When we found out last May that we were having another girl, Julia and I were the most excited!  She wanted a sister so badly and after having two boys in the middle our whole family was anxious for pink toys and pink bows again.  But having babies back to back and moving this past year was really rough on me, physically and emotionally.  And Julia, my favorite older daughter (they are all my favorites) has helped me every step of the way.  

I literally don't have enough hands anymore, and Julia always is helping me with Amelia (3 months) and Micah (20 months).  She folds laundry, she picks up everyone's toys, she helps bring in packages from the house, she puts laundry away, she takes the boys outside to play, she holds Amelia so I can shower, she even pushes Mia's carriage while we food shop so I can push the cart.

This past Friday after food shopping I looked at her and said, "Julia thank you so much for helping me in the store, I couldn't have done it without you."  She looked me straight in the face and said, "Not at all mom." 

Not at all.

I don't know where she heard that phrase but it was enough to make me cry.

She is such a sweetheart.

And I love her to the moon and back.

I am thankful for you my Julia!

This Thanksgiving I am so thankful for so many things.  I am thankful for family and friends, our new beautiful home, God's constant provision, my church family, my amazing best friend and husband John, and my children.  My children are my treasures and even though life is crazy busy and stressful at times, I wouldn't trade it for the world.


22 November 2014

Mary, Mary Quite Ordinary?

Mary, Mary, Quite Extraordinary

There are so many questions I would like to ask Mary.  When I think of all she went through being the mother of Christ, the sacrifices she made, the ridicule and shame she faced being pregnant and not yet married, the glares and questions, and then her own inner voice causing her to doubt or question what was about to happen to her.  I wonder how she did it.  

Motherhood is no easy task.  And here this young girl from Galilee was chosen to be Jesus mother.  Just an ordinary, every day girl from a normal little town.  It baffles me that God didn't choose a woman from an upscale home, someone with wealth, someone with prestige, someone with experience.  God always blows my mind when he chooses the ordinary.  It is just His way of shining his glory in the midst of the every day ordinary human and doing something unexpected.

When an angel came to Mary and called her "favored one," and said "the Lord is with you"...that also amazes me.  The fact that God called her favored.  What was his favorite part of her I wonder?  Does He call us favored?  What was so special about her? And then that the angel was sure to add: "the Lord is with you."  God is constantly reminding us of His presence.  He is all around us in everything.  It can be in simple things like looking at your own hands and seeing the veins and thinking of the process of our circulatory system and how He designed all of our body systems.  Or even when you watch a sunrise or sunset and you see the beauty in nature, or the power of the waves on the shore.  I am constantly reminded of Him when I hold my newborn.  She is so small, and needy, and perfect and I think of how amazing it is that God knew her before she was born, that He knows how many hairs are on our heads, that he knew our names.  And to know that that same God of the universe cares about us...and is always with us...knowing that He loves us is mind blowing.

He is always with us.  It goes against everything society says about us.  We aren't favored unless we are beautiful, wealthy or brilliant.  And here, God chose a young, poor girl, who honored Him, and He called her "favored".  So basically, she was special, because God said so.  She had value because He created her for a purpose.  She was favored not because of what she could offer but because of who made her and because of His plan for her life.

The angel goes on to tell her that "you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the most High."  She finds out that she is having a baby while she isn't even married.  Her question to the angel is..."How can this be since I am a virgin?" I love the simplicity of Mary's question...How is this even possible?  And then I think of verse 37 "for with God nothing will be impossible."  So often I think we get stuck in the thought of the impossible.  We can't even wrap our brains around how God works, how He can make tough situations good, or how He can change a simple heart of stone to a heart of flesh.

Mary was so unselfish.  She didn't protest or tell God, "Look this isn't in my plan! I am not ready to have a baby!"  How did she know that God's plan was even bigger than she could imagine?  How did she know to just accept it and move forward without fear?  How was she able to be the Mother of Jesus and have the wisdom to raise the Son of God?  Wasn't she overwhelmed with the thought of all that was expected of her?  She simply says, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." 

That was it.  She listened.  She trusted.  And she moved forward in obedience.  Mary was ordinary, yes, but she was willing.  She was obedient to God's plan and His calling on her life, even though it would be difficult.  And she praised and glorified His name.  

So often I feel very stuck in this life.  The days are long and hard and extremely lonely as a stay at home mom of 4 kids.  There are so many tasks before me and it is easy to feel overwhelmed, discouraged, and hopeless.  But then I am reminded of my purpose.  I am reminded that I am not alone (God is always with me) and I don't need to be afraid (or worry).  I am still in awe of this young girl Mary, Jesus' mother.  She was pretty amazing. 

 "My soul magnifies the Lord.  And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.  For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.  For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  And his mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation." Luke 1: 46-50

Questions to think about...

1. Mary made major sacrifices to be the mother of Jesus.  It was a huge calling.  What sacrifices does God ask of us daily? or personally? 

2. Mary faced the shame/ridicule of being pregnant before being married...do you ever face shame/ridicule to be a follower of Jesus, what is your response?

3. Mary trusted God so easily.  Do you find it easy/difficult to trust?

Our 4 treasures

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