30 January 2014

Thankful Thursday..My Big Kids


They Make Mommy Proud

Shout out to Julia and Mark who have really made this school year run like clock work.

1. They wake up before me and set the breakfast table...then they wait for me to wake up and come downstairs.

2. After breakfast they get dressed and make their beds. Sometimes Mark forgets clean underwear but hey, he puts clean clothes on!

3. Julia and I do an hour of school while Mark and Micah play in the living room.  Usually the both end up joining us in the dining room, but Mark has been a big help this year with Micah who truly adores him.

4. During snack time Mommy finally has time to take a shower and the big kids babysit Micah for me!  They keep him safe from the stairs and read to him and play with him and find his binky when he needs it.

5. Most days there is no complaining about school work.  Mark has finished almost every workbook I've ever bought him this year.  I had to buy him another Kindergarten phonics book today just to keep up with him.

I am really thankful for these two big kids.  I don't say it enough to them but I am going to read them this post and give them big hugs and kisses tomorrow and tell them how wonderful they are!


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29 January 2014

What Do I Do When Life Gets Yucky?

Book Club Wednesday

Am I Messing Up My Kids...and other questions every mom asks

By Lysa TerKeurst

Sow a thought, you reap an act; sow an act, you reap a habit; sow a habit, you reap character; sow a character, you reap a destiny.--Author Unknown

So, has life ever gotten yucky for you?

Those of you who have had the flu virus recently, I'm sure it got yucky!  We had it in November and starting with Mark and ending with me, it hit all of us in a yucky way.  And Mom and Dad are always the ones (sick or not) to clean up after everyone.

The author of this book, Lysa, was sharing a time when her daughter had the stomach bug and she got sick every 20 minutes all night long....at one point they just sat in the tub because Mom was so tired of cleaning up the mess.  Her daughter at one point asked why God wasn't healing her even after she prayed.  Lysa assured her that God would heal her after all the yuckies got out of her belly.  So they decided to pray...and listen to what her daughter prayed:

"Lord thank you for this most wonderful day.  Please help me to stop being sick.  But most of all thank you for this most wonderful day."

That little girl saw God's goodness even in the midst of her yuckiness.

I have to say, I'd like to be her when I grow up because when life gets yucky to me, I get yucky right back.  And that doesn't do one bit of good.  That isn't working so well for me.  So I really needed to read this chapter on focusing on the Goodness of God even when life may be not so great.

We've all heard the verse from Philippians 4 Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!

(In my whiny voice) But it's so HARD to rejoice when things don't go the way I plan.  It's so HARD to rejoice when I am not in control of everything.  It's so HARD to rejoice when I don't get my way.  It's so HARD to rejoice when the kids are misbehaving, and I'm tired, and I have a lot of chores to do, and we didn't finish school, and John's going to be late AGAIN.

This verse means that God likes to hear us say out loud exactly the opposite of what we feel like doing.  So instead of complaining or being anxious, or being frustrated, say and think of the things that I am truly blessed with and thankful about.

"If I choose to rejoice, not in my circumstances but in the Lord's ability to handle what I can't I invite God's peace to invade that moment."

Why does it take me so long to learn that I can't handle it all?  That I don't see things from God's perspective?  Why do I forget that God has a plan, and I need to get with His program and not try to push Him into mine?

Be gentle.

Know that He is near.

Pray.

"Thank you God for this most wonderful day.  God, will You rid my heart of the yuckies of doubt, discouragement, and stress, and help me to be filled with You?  But most of all God thank you for this most wonderful day."
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28 January 2014

Lemon-Garlic Chicken

What's For Dinner?

Today at Mops the whole meeting was about meal planning.  Our leader Jamie gave us meal planning tips, ideas with how to deal with picky eaters, we all shared recipes, and during our Mommy craft time we all made a zip lock bag full of ingredients for our lemon chicken meal!  Our craft coordinator Wendy came up with the meal and recipe!  I went to the grocery store while the kids were at gymnastics and got the chicken breasts needed for this meal.  My sister and John raved about how much they liked the chicken, and the kids ate every drop!

Here's the recipe!

Ingredients:

No-stick cooking spray
1/2 cup Italian style bread crumbs
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice (optional)
2 tbsp canola oil
1 lb chicken breast

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 375.  spray shallow pan with cooking spray.  combine bread crumbs, garlic salt and lemon pepper in ziplock bag.  Combine lemon juice and oil in another ziplock bag.

Add chicken to bag with lemon juice mixture toss to coat.  Place each breast in bag with crumb mixture, shake to coat.  Place coated chicken in single layer in baking pan.  Sprinkle any remaining crumbs over chicken if desired.

Spray tops of chicken with cooking spray.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in centers.

My Opinion

1. I doubled the spices recipe in the one ziplock bag.  

2. It only took us 20 minutes to bake.  

3. And I can't imagine not using real lemon juice because it made the dish so tasty!!!  

I served with a side garden salad and veggies on the plate with the chicken!  It was truly a hit for everyone.  Even Micah had some of the chicken!

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27 January 2014

And Then There Was Love...Tony's Side

Meet Tony and Jaime

Here is Tony's answers to the marriage interview questions.  I loved Tony's honesty and humor in all his answers...and some of his answers were so sweet.  I can tell that God put two awesome people together.  I love how He can do that!!!

1.     When did you two meet? A long time ago, before Five Guys turned me into Two Guys

2.     Who approached who first? I approached Jaime first, She thought I was cocky and arrogant and didn’t want to deal with me. As you can expect, curiosity got the better of her and she couldn’t help herself.

3.     Who spoke the most and who was shy in the beginning? I spoke first, and neither one of us really gets very shy. Jaime only ever pretends to be shy when she orders a lot of food at a restaurant so she appears dainty.

4.     Where was your first date? How did it go? I took Jaime to the mall, I bought a suit (because… handsome) and drove her down to Atlantic City in my coupe like I was James Bond. (I was) We went to dinner, gambled a bit and I kissed her against a pillar in the casino while we were waiting for the valet to bring my car around at the end of the night. It was as pompous as I could get.

5.     When did you know that Tony was the one! How long did it take to learn this.  I think Jaime was probably most impressed with how handsome I was. Perhaps it was my jawline. On the other hand, I smell really good too. Maybe it was because of how humble I can be? Now that I think of it, my biceps sealed the deal. NO! Wait… my melodious voice.

6.     How did Tony propose?  Were you surprised? I was in NJ for a business meeting. I was living in Pennsylvania at the time. I had already worked things out with Jaime’s parents. After the meeting, I picked Jaime up and pretended to be in a horrible mood. It was the Summer so I asked if we should get ice cream for us and her family from Dairy Queen. As I had set up, the guy at Dairy Queen put an ice cream cake (her favorite) in the bag and everything in our order on top. The cake said “Will You Marry Me”. I deliberately annoyed Jaime and just said I wasn’t in a good mood and told her to just unload the bag. She HATED me at that moment. She was throwing the items on the counter and cursing me out under her breath. Finally she gets to the cake and says “What the heck is this? They messed up and gave us a cake! Idiots!” then she reads the cake and says, “Oh my God! They really screwed up! Someone was supposed to get engaged!” She turned around and I was on one knee. She slapped me. I asked her, “So are you gonna marry me?” Jaime was surprised… she never actually said “Yes”, she just kept hitting me and saying “Shut up!”.

7.     During the wedding did anything unexpected/funny happen during the ceremony or reception? What was your favorite part? What memory sticks with you even now? – We got married on the beach in Jamaica. After the ceremony, both us and the entire Bridal Party hopped on Jet Skis in our tuxedos and gowns (Jaime can always get another dress when she remarries)

8.     What is Jaime’s best trait? Me

9.     What is Tony’s best trait? I am oozing with machismo

10.                        What is your secret to a great marriage? We laugh constantly and both admire how awesome I am.

11.                        How do you solve disagreements? We both have a vote in a disagreement, then Jaime gets the tiebreaker.

12.                        How do you share/divide housework? I do my chores and then do Jaime’s when she doesn’t do them. Jaime nags the entire time.

13.                        What trips have you gone on as a couple that were very special? I chartered a private helicopter to take us on a sunset tour over New York City, followed by an overnight stay in a hotel suite after we landed. The next day, she got to go shopping. We’ve gone on camping trips, fishing trips, Mexico, Jamaica and many other trips and we always seem to have a great time just doing whatever. I like to enjoy the trips, Jaime likes to chronicle them with pictures to make it “look” like we have a great time.

14.                        What is the best part of being married? It’s the only time when someone has chosen you. Your family didn’t get to pick you. Your kids didn’t say “That’s the Mommy or Daddy I want!” You were chosen. (By the way, Jaime made an EXCELLENT choice) The first time that I said this to Jaime, she got angry and thought I was being mean and nasty. I guess saying, “You know, there’s only one person in this world who ever chose you, and that was me” can be misinterpreted.

15.                        If you could go anywhere in the world on a vacation with your spouse where would you go? I was stationed in Pisa, Italy when I was in the Air Force. I’d like to one day take Jaime there. I’d push the Tower of Pisa down on top of her, then watch her striped socks curl up and leave two ruby slippers. (Which I would return for store credit because Jaime keeps all of her receipts)

16.                        If you could sum up your marriage in two words what would they be? “Alright! FINE!!!”



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And Then There Was Love: Jaime's side

  1. Meet Tony and Jaime

  1. Jaime and I grew up in the same schools together. Jaime is a fun loving friend and we both ended up in the teaching field. Jaime and I bump into each other all the time because we still live near our childhood neighborhoods. We both have kids around the same age and Jaime's son used to go to Taekwondo at my hubby's school.

Tony and Jaime are literally the funniest couple I have ever met. We really need to double date some time soon! I gave them the same interview that John and I did...here are their answers...first you will read Jaime's responses...then I will post Tony's...I dare you to not crack up laughing!!! I love their honesty, and I loved all of their answers. I read them to John one night during dinner and I never saw him laugh so much. We had so much fun getting to know them better!

Enjoy!

When did you two meet? Tony fired my cousin. My cousin thought he would be able to keep his job if he introduced us (1998) I thought he was arrogant and he thought I was kind of bitchy. We kept in touch through old school AOL dial up for years and one Thanksgiving Day 2000 he called me randomly and here we are
  1. Who approached who first? Tony pursued me. I was just not ready and interested in something, but he is rather persuasive.

  2. Who spoke the most and who was shy in the beginning? I was very shy no matter what he says. Tony sent me flowers EVERY week for 2 months (never ever the same kind) until I met him. (We had been friends online but had never actually met in person still in Feb of 2001). He spoiled me rotten and wrote me poems. We spent hours and hours on the phone. I refused to meet him in person, because this was too good to be true and I did not believe things like this happened to me. Tony snuck up to my house in PA (my roommates were all in on it) On Feb 27, 2001 and that was the first time I had ever seen him face to face. Our relationship was truly based on getting to know one another without ever seeing each other.

  3. Where was your first date? How did it go? Tony surprised me and took me to the mall where he bought suits (Because before me he was loaded and wanted to impress me I think) and then drove to Atlantic City. We listed to Sade while holding hands the whole ride down and we had a great time.  I do not remember the kiss against the column, but I remember the goodbye kiss.

  4. When did you know that ____________ was the one! How long did it take to learn this. I am not sure. He was special from the very first phone call and made me feel just as special. I was not used to this and it took me a long time to finally say “I love you,” even though I knew I did. He proposed 6 months into the relationship because I think he was afraid I would run.

  5. How did ______________ propose?  Were you surprised? Tony nailed that story. I was SO mad at him for ruining a perfectly good evening. I was SO mad we got someone’s cake and ruined someone’s proposal. It was an emotional night. I do not think I ever said yes. I hit him in disbelief A LOT.

  6. During the wedding did anything unexpected/funny happen during the ceremony or reception? What was your favorite part? What memory sticks with you even now? Thirty of our friends and relatives spent a week with us in Jamaica when we got married. Though we were never alone, I would never have had it any other way. My favorite part was riding off after our vows and pictures on jet skiis. I did not tell my mom because I thought she would be FURIOUS that we were all dressed on jet skiis. She WAS furious, that I did not rent her one! My dress sat in a pile on the floor of my room the rest of vaca, it was wonderful

  7. What is ______________ best trait? My gut response is his ability to tolerate me….. But I would have to say, I love his sense of humor and how much he wants to make me happy.


  8. What is your secret to a great marriage? Love, laughter and fighting. If you do not have a fight, you have nothing to lose and nothing to fight for. If you cannot laugh at and with the other person I would say that is a real shame.  I think even though I loved Tony all this time, seeing him be a father has made me fall in love with him more.
  9. How do you solve disagreements? I like to win. Even when I a wrong I like to spin it so I may have a chance at being right….. We disagree a lot, I could never have married someone who did not question me or push me. (Even though I do not necessarily like it)

  10. How do you share/divide housework? I keep telling him we need a cleaning lady and he keeps saying we have one, YOU! Unfortunately the kids gravitate towards me a lot more so I usually take care of them and Tony kinda cleans up our messes.

  11. What trips have you gone on as a couple that were very special? Our honeymoon of course in Jamaica. I loved Mexico, we had such a carefree time. We have done a lot, but I like laying around on beaches so those are my favorite, not Tony’s. He is not a beach guy.

  12. What is the best part of being married? Having someone to pet my head when I am going crazy to calm me down, and someone who laughs and the same things I do. He knows exactly what I am thinking.

  13. If you could go anywhere in the world on a vacation with your spouse where would you go? I would love to go to Bora Bora (get one of those private on the water huts) or Hawaii (pre contaminated fish and water) and Spain. I would go to a Motel 6 if it was a night of uninterrupted sleep with him.

If you could sum up your marriage in two words what would they be? Controlled Chaos

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26 January 2014

Every Mom Has A Story: Kim Porter

Every Mom Has A Story:  Kim Porter

Kim and I became fast friends when we both realized how close in age our boys were.  Her Liam and my Micah are only weeks apart and it's been so nice to swap stories and watch our boys get bigger together.

Kim and Brenton are a fantastic couple we met at church.  John and Brenton have worked on the wiring of JW flat screens together (our church has a new facility and for the past few months a lot of men and women have been volunteering their time to transform the once Daycare to our church)  The transformation has been amazing!

Kim and Brent both are very talented musically and very funny!  They both are a part of our church's worship team.  I was so excited to interview Kim to get to know her better and also because she has so much godly wisdom!

Here is her story...

1.)  When/Where did you and Brenton meet?

Brenton and I met on August 23, 2002, the first day of my freshman year in college, on a soccer field at Cedarville University.  My roommate wanted a glow stick necklace, but we couldn't find who was handing them out.  I spotted two guys that had them and suggested we go ask...and the rest is history!  

Just kidding about the Disney ending.  

Truthfully I thought Brenton's roommate Matt was hot and friend-zoned Brenton for two years while I dated other people. Obviously, he clawed himself out of said friend zone because he managed to convince me to marry him and have his baby.  

2.)  How long were you married before you decided to have kids?

Brenton and I waited 5 years before I became pregnant with Liam.  We really wanted time to find ourselves individually and as a couple before we added anyone else into the mix.  It allowed us to do some traveling, go back to school, and focus on our marriage.  

3.)  You are a teacher!  How long have you been teaching?  Do you love it?

I've been teaching for 7 years now and have taught every grade 7-12!  I teach Literature (Reading/Writing) and absolutely love it.  I've always known I wanted to work with teenagers (large quantities of little people freak me out) and God really made my personality a great fit for that age group.  I really can't see myself doing anything apart from educating or mentoring teenagers.


4.)  How do you balance teaching, your son, and your hubby?

 In an ideal week, I do all my meal planning and prepping on Friday night and go food shopping Saturday morning.  That way everything's chopped and ready for the week and it's easier to throw dinner together.  Liam goes to bed at 7, so that leave a few hours for extra planning, grading, and prepping his bag for Daycare.

The real deal is that sometimes I have scrambled eggs for dinner, stay up late to finish grad work (I'm finishing up my Masters), my house is covered with dirty laundry, and I forget to feed the dog until she reminds me!  Brent and I do manage to have a quality date night as least once a week, even if it's at home.

Honestly, I couldn't do any of it without Brenton.  He's absolutely incredible and supportive and shoulders more of his share of housework and baby duties.

6.)  What do you appreciate most about Brent as a dad?

I appreciate his selflessness.  Brenton will always sacrifice himself- his wants, his desires, his time- to serve both Liam and I.  He also started a book of letters to Liam that he writes in every few months.  He writes general information about Liam's development, life lessons about friends and family, what he knows to be true about God- and is planning to give it to Liam when he graduates from high school.  A lifetime of letters from father to son- what's more beautiful than that?

7.) What is your favorite part of motherhood?

Liam's young yet, so I'm sure I have many joys and trials to come, but I suppose my favorite part is watching his personality come through.  Everyday is something new to discover about him and I imagine he's going to be quite the determined, stubborn, curious little guy!  

Mostly I'm humbled.  I can't believe that God entrusted me with this kid- what was He thinking?!  What do I know about nurturing the heart of a child?!  I daily ask for patience and joy in the midst of crying or baby puke or a messy house and unwashed hair, and He always delivers.  

6.) What legacy are you trying to leave behind for your family?

That's a tough and loaded question.  The legacy I desire to leave is not necessarily the one I'm leaving (I am human after all).  I guess I want my children to remember me as being humble and honest.  God has taught me over the years to be honest and apologize, even if it's really embarrassing.  I war with myself over it, but revealing your sin and mistakes and asking for forgiveness is glorifying to God.  It also shows a humble model to our children- We all sin and fall short of the glory of God.  

8.)  I love your voice!  How long have you been singing?

My illustrious singing career began with a 6 year old's rendition of Under the Sea, complete with Jamaican accent in my parent's kitchen.  My accents haven't gotten any better, but I managed to stay involved in school and church theater up until high school graduation.  I was in Gospel Choir in college and sang for a few award-type shows as well.  Now, I mostly sing for the church worship team (and a certain 9 month old boy who can't run away even if he wanted to).

9.) You and Brent are the funniest couple, have you always been so witty?

First of all- thank you!  When I read this question I literally laughed out loud.  Who knew I was known for being so witty and hilarious?  We're idiots!  I guess I could say it started because my family is really loud and talkative, so when you say something it should count.  On the whole, though, it's probably that I'm embarrassingly honest, try not to take myself too seriously, and enjoy witty movies and books. Brenton and I have been known to (albeit accidentally) spend an entire dinner talking only in quotes from Zoolander and Arrested Development. 

10.)  What advice would you give to new parents?

Take it one day at a time.  There will be horrendous days, really sweet ones, and ones that seem to get away from you.  Don't let anyone or anything make you feel that you are failing somehow.  Everyday as a parent feels like a lesson in failure anyway.  Someone else's kid is hitting milestones faster.  Someone else had no problems breastfeeding.  Someone else had a better birth story than you.  Someone else's baby started sleeping through the night by 3 months.  Someone else's kid can recite the alphabet and explain Einstein's theory of relativity and make a mean chili for a family of four.  

Breathe.  God has entrusted you with this incredible little person that he knows every detail about.  Trust in Him.  Rest.  Let the house be dirty.  Order takeout.  Buy baby food (gasp!) instead of always making your own.  Rejoice that your kid isn't walking yet because that means you can hold him longer.  We only get 18 years out of our whole lives to live, love, and argue with our children.  It's so fleeting when you think about it.  There's no time to try to be perfect.

*******************
Kim, your words really inspired me.  I always want to be perfect and I am always competing (in my head) with other moms.  God really convicted me that this is not only wrong but damaging.  Thanks for your honesty!

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23 January 2014

And Then There Was Love...

Marriage Interview

This idea just came to me this week.  Everyone knows I love interviews and surveys.  Since we are about to approach February, the month of LOVE, I thought it would be neat to highlight some married couples and hear their stories of how they met, what their wedding day was like, and the secret to their marriage success.

John and I wanted to share our story first!  Each couple will get the same 16 questions.  But the best part of the interview is that since every couple is so different, the way they answer the questions is so unique.  Sometimes one person answers, sometimes both chime in, sometimes the answers are funny, and sometimes they are serious.  Sit back and relax and read our LOVE story.

1. When did you meet? 

John-In 11th grade we were introduced by our mutual friend Mona, who I am forever indebted to.

2. Who approached who first?

Kristi- John had his people talk to me first before we met.  It was cute how he had his two friends that I knew prep me before we actually saw each other face to face.  It was very high school and very cute.

3. Who spoke the most? Who was shy?

John-Kristi spoke the most I was shy.
Kristi- What? I was so shy! How could you say I spoke the most!?
John-Ok, we were both shy.

4. Where was your first date?

John-We went bowling with friends and ate at a diner.  Then we all went back to my house to watch The Lion King.

5. When did you know that ________ was "the one"?

John-She met my dad at a career fair a few weeks after we first met.  Her hair was curled.  I knew then.
Kristi- Oh my word.  That was so soon!!!!! I didn't know for years after we met.  We were so young.  I didn't have a peace until after John really made a commitment to the Lord.  And once he did, it just hit me like lightning that he was the one I wanted to be with forever and ever.

6. How did you propose?

J-At a choir picnic in the Lambertson's back yard, in front of all her friends on June 9, 2002.  In front of about 75 people.
K-It was a few days before I was headed up to Graduate School at Baptist Bible College in Pennsylvania for the entire summer.  I always tease John that he chose to propose to me before I got away!  When John proposed I had no idea.  It was the best day of my life.  I kept staring at my ring for days.  It was so beautiful.  I forgot to answer him right away because I wasn't sure if he asked my parents first, but of course he got their blessing.  I love how when he asked Doug in private that day (he told me this later) he goes, "So Doug...I'd like to spice up your picnic!"  And Doug and Peggie were so happy for us they were glad he chose their place.

7. During the wedding did anything unexpected/funny happen during the ceremony or reception.


J-Bill Weaver dancing on the dance floor like James Brown.  He was good!!!
K-I remember walking down the aisle and seeing John wipe sweat from his brow with a tissue.  I was so worried he was nervous because I was so calm.  But I didn't realize that the air conditioner broke in church and it was a hot August day.  I didn't realize because my dress was strapless and so I was perfectly fine! Honestly, it was an absolute perfect day.  God gave us such a great time.  Everything went very smoothly.

8. & 9. What is ____________ best trait(s)?

K-John has such a strong work ethic.  He is so compassionate.  He forgives so easily.
J-Kristi has a very strong self worth because she knows the value Jesus has put on her life.  Her charming voice and smile and ability to light up a room.  Her innate ability to encourage me as a husband and father as well as others.

10. What is your secret to a great marriage?

John- Our commitment to Jesus is even stronger than our commitment to each other.
K- Our ability to talk things out and LAUGH together.

11. How do you solve disagreements?

J-I wait for Kristi to simmer down and then we talk it out.  We then have a marriage consultant...her name is Victoria's Secret.  LOL
K-I'm not even going to answer that one...

12. How do you divide household chores?

J-As evenly as possible.  I like to do specialized things around the house.  I would rather work on our house than watch t.v.
K-We both chip in.  I do the bulk of it when I'm home but John is really hands on with the kids at night and on weekends, and John always has a "project" going on in the home whether it's fixing up the kitchen like right now with the tile and painting the cabinets, or doing the vanities in the bathrooms, or landscaping, we both work really hard to have a neat home.

13. Where have you traveled as a couple?

K- We went to Dominican Republic for our honeymoon, Mexico for our one year anniversary, we went to London and Oxford for two summers to study with Ravi Zacharias apologetic team, we've led a mission trip to China, we vacationed in Rome, Barcelona, and Paris.  All before the babies came!  So in the first 4 years of our marriage we were world travelers.  It was amazing.  I loved seeing the world with John.  I learned so many different cultures, and began to really appreciate our life in America.  If I could go anywhere again it would be back to Italy...it was breathtaking!!!  Now that we have kids we love taking them to Cape May, the shore, and Camp of the Woods.  We are making new memories with them.  Our first trip with them on a plane was to Florida to visit family and friends.  They loved it!

14. What is your favorite part of being married?

J-We are each other's favorite person.

15. Where do you plan to travel? 

J-Greece, Israel, Turkey
K-I'd love to visit Greece, Switzerland, and Austria (because of the Sound of Music)

16. Two words to describe your marriage?

J-Supportive & Fun
K-Loud & Happy

I love you, John!!! Thanks for doing the interview with me!

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22 January 2014

What Will My Kids Remember Most?

Book Club Wednesday

Am I Messing Up My Kids...and Other Questions Every Mom Asks? by Lysa TerKeurst

What Will My Kids Remember Most?  Chapter 19

"That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet."--Emily Dickinson

From the moment Julia Star was born on this planet...my world became changed.  John and I became a family of three!  It was so exciting and so hard!  But so very worth it.  And from day one God started stretching my character and broadening my world through the daily tasks of being a mom.  Simple things like taking a shower became something I had to actually plan!  My time was no longer my own.  And we will not even begin to talk about the sleep deprivation.  Through it all I think of that very first moment of holding her and realizing I was a mom.  It was such an amazing feeling...and kind of scary...how could I live up to being this little girl's mom???

Then I think of all the things that my children have taught me.  Like when I hear Julia say, "Mom, God will heal me, I prayed!"  I learn that my job is to just trust God with a simple heart like she does.  Or when I have to say something over and over to Mark before he obeys I think, "How many times does God have to remind me before I obey?"  Or when Micah just puts his arms up for me to hold him, I think...when was the last time I reached up and grabbed ahold of God...when was the last time I just longed to be in His presence?  When was the last time I let God just take care of it all and stopped trying to do it all in my strength?

Lysa starts out this chapter reflecting about being an older woman...and looking back at this time of motherhood.  Don't you ever tuck your kids into bed and wonder...when will be the last time they ask for another story?  When will be the last time they share all their secrets with me?  When will be the last time they ask me to hold them?  Because...we forget that childhood ends...they grow up...one day our homes will be quiet and empty, and although that may sound slightly tempting and enticing we will actually miss those smudges they leave on the fridge, we will miss the toothpaste in the sink, and the toys on the floor.  One day the toys will be packed away and they will be off at college or at work.  It's hard to believe, but time is like that...it passes so quickly.

What will the kids remember most?

Mommy was always complaining?  Mommy was always yelling?  Mommy was always rushing us here and there?  Will they remember that we used their favorite icing on their birthday cake?  will they remember the stories we read, the field trips we took, the hugs we gave, the bubbles we blew in the backyard?  I hope my kids remember the trips to the library, the trips to the park, the forts we made, the pictures we drew, the songs we sang...

I don't want to live with regret.  I don't want to wish and hope they don't remember that day.  The day I lost my cool, a day I yelled, a day I was short with them.

Lysa says, "I don't want to be the older woman sitting at the park watching other people live and love and laugh and think about all the simple pleasures I missed out on with my children.  Why didn't I sit in the backyard and blow bubbles?  Why didn't we lie in the grass and name the shapes of clouds above us?  Why didn't we read fairy tales and then find a toad and kiss him just to see?  Why didn't we talk longer, play harder, and spend more time dreaming together?  And did we even once chase a rainbow's end?

This chapter caused me to action.  It begged the question...Do I really KNOW my children?  Do I KNOW their hearts?  Do I take the time to really LISTEN?  Honestly, there are so many times throughout the day that I say, "Not now...you have to wait...in a minute...or the famous "I'm only one person!"  I can't tell you how many times I actually kneel down and look at my children at eye level and really listen to them!  And I am a stay at home mom for crying out loud!  This is why I am home, isn't it?  I want to be with my children to know them, to raise them, to love them...why am I so busy with other things???

Because I am selfish.  I say I don't have time and that I'm too busy...but really I am doing things that are not as important...or I over book myself with outside things.  I do this all the time.  I over extend myself everywhere else and wonder why I have so much to do.  I have such a hard time saying no.  And my family suffers.  And I suffer because of it.  I over commit time that should be spent braiding hair, tickling toes, and listening to someone read me a story or telling me their dream.  I don't need to pray to ask God to give me more time with my children...I need to ask God to help me say no to outside things that may be good, but take me away from my number one ministry... my family.

Lysa says T-I-M-E stands for Take Initiative for Meaningful Experiences

"The real joy of parenting will be watching this child God has entrusted into my care grow to be a healthy, capable adult.  Mixed with the sadness of seeing the doors of childhood close is a great sense of accomplishment." --Lysa

Katherine C. Kersey wrote, "Children come into the world not knowing who they are.  They learn who they are from those around them."

I have such a desire to be that mom that listens, that takes those moments to stoop down and look into her child's eyes and show them you are all that matters in this moment.  You matter more than my phone.  You matter more than my facebook.  You matter more than my agenda and to do list.  You are my precious child.  You matter and you are loved.

Lord, please help me to be that great mom who loves, cherishes, and lavishes time on her children.

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21 January 2014

Every Mom Has A Story: Cinzia Nalewajko

Every Mom Has A Story: Cinzia

Some women were just meant to be mothers.  Cinzia is one of them.  I can say that because Cinz and I have been best friends since the 6th grade in Miss Hallom's History class.

Cinzia will give you the shirt off your back.  She will defend you to the end. And she will always go the extra mile for you.

Cinzia has a passion for fashion and for teaching.  She has taught Italian in the NYC school system for over 10 years.  She has her Masters and she is one of the hardest working moms I know.  She does it all.  And her boys, her family always come first.  Cinzia is the type of teacher that never brings work home (I could never do that!)  She always finds a prep period to finish all her grading and lesson plans and when she is home her teacher hat is off and her Mom hat is on.

She is a giver.  She loves to help anyone in need whether it's passing on clothes or toys, she always wants to help someone less fortunate.  Her parents came to America from Italy and have had to work very hard to raise 4 beautiful children (Cinzia is the oldest and has three younger brothers who are all married).  Her parents were able to provide a beautiful home and life here in America for their children and they have taught her to work hard for what you have and to always appreciate the blessings you get in life.

As a proud Italian American, Cinzia, loves her heritage and also loves family.  I know the minute she got married she couldn't wait to start her own family.  She already had boy and girl names picked out like me.  God has blessed her and her husband Joe with 2 beautiful boys...Joesph is 5 1/2 and in Kindergarten, and James is 2 1/2...

Here is Cinzia's story:

1. Have you always wanted to be a mom?

I have always wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember.

2. What do you love most about having 2 boys?

I love knowing how much they love each other.  My hope is that they stay this close forever!

3. What is the most challenging part of motherhood for you?

The hardest part for me is balancing being a teacher, a mom, wife, daughter, etc...

4. Who helps you? How do you get through it?

Thank God for my mom!!! She is my best friend and is always there whenever I need her!  My mother in law also never says no!! My brothers are there when I really need them.  Joe tries to help me as much as he can.  He reminds me to come to earth and spend time as a family to make memories.  I get through everything by trying to keep a good schedule for everything.

5. What legacy do you want to leave behind to your kids?  What morals/values do you stress with them now?

The legacy I want to leave them is basic: LOVE.  I want them to know I love them to the ends of the universe!!! Everything I do is life is to better their lives!!

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Cinzia, I love you, you are a wonderful mom and a great friend.  I'm so thankful God put you in my life to laugh with and cry with and share each others joys with.  I also love that our children play together and are growing up knowing each other!  I think that is so cool!

We love you Chi Chi

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20 January 2014

My Favorite Food Blog

Two Peas And Their Pod

This is my newest and my most favorite food blog.  I love it because the woman who writes the blog creates the best dishes ever.  I have been posting a lot of her recipes and finally just thought I should introduce her blog to you so you can check it out for yourself.

This is her Black Bean and Quinoa enchilada bake dish:

see below

ingredients:

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed,diced
1 red pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 orange pepper, seeds removed, diced
1 cup corn frozen kernels
Juice of 1 small lime
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
Toppings: Sliced green onions, avocado slices, sour cream, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Add quinoa and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Cover quinoa and set aside.
3. In a large skillet, heat the tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add in the peppers and corn. Cook for about 3-4 minutes. Add the lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and cilantro. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
4. In a large bowl, add the cooked quinoa and black beans. Add the sautéed vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Pour in the enchilada sauce and stir. Add 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
5.Pour the black bean and quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil. Bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and edges are bubbling. Remove from the oven, and let cool for 10 minutes. Garnish with toppings, if desired. Serve warm.
Note-this recipe freezes well!
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I have this new Rachel Ray casserole dish that this meal would look divine in!  Plus we all like beans and quinoa in this house!


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17 January 2014

Every Mom Has A Story: Morgan R.

Every Mom Has A Story: Meet Morgan

I met Morgan last year at Jacobs Well.  I met her in the nursery as I would drop off Micah before worship.  I liked her witty sense of humor and noticed her awesome arm muscles right away!

Morgan is a go-getter!  I feel like she is one of the hardest working persons I know.  I never see her sitting.  She is always ready to help, direct, soothe, care for, and be available.  

Morgan and Chris lead the Well Kids ministry at our church and they do an absolutely outstanding job.  They have the dedication and vision and make all of us parents feel safe and comfortable as we drop our children off before service.

What I really love about both of them is that they are real people, love to tease, and make me laugh practically every Sunday.  There have been times when I came to church feeling drained or stressed (because getting 3 little people ready for church early in the am is quite a task) and by the time I signed my kids in I had a smile on because of a joke, a tease, or something.  

Here is Morgan's Mom story...


1. When did you meet Chris?

We met in August 2003 at Indiana University Bloomington (one of the best places on Earth).

2.  Did you guys want kids right away?

We definitely did not want kids right away.  I loved teaching and was very much into continuing my career without having the interruption of kids.  When my sister had her first child (my favorite little girl Olive), it gave us the itch – we got pregnant 3 months later.

3.    You have a son already and you are expecting another one, what are you nervous about/looking forward to?

I’m nervous to go through the sleep deprivation stage again with a toddler now running around during the day.  I’m also a little nervous about my structured life that will fall apart for a period of time – I’m slightly controlling about schedules, time, etc. and I have a little anxiety about how that is going to be effected.  I am so thankful and excited for Desmond to have a brother!  He loves to be with friends and our families and I am so grateful he will finally have a sibling of his own!  I am also super excited to cuddle a little baby again and to see Chris holding a tiny little one again!

4.     You and Chris are both great parents, how did you learn to become a good parent?

Honestly, we are learning every day how to adjust/adapt/discipline/disciple our little guy.  I learned A LOT from teaching for 4 years.  I learned how to deal with frustrating situations, to be patient, and to pick my battles wisely.  I also learned the most important lesson in those years – you have to be consistent with kids.  If you say you’re going to do something, you HAVE to follow through.  Chris wants to be present with our son, he wants to build his relationship with Desmond and he wants to disciple and discipline him.  I feel like this is half the battle – if you want to put in the time, you’re going to learn from your mistakes and you’re going to seek out wise people to learn from.  We both have learned a countless amount of things from our close friends, watching them parent has been incredibly helpful. 

5.    What’s the scariest part of motherhood?

The scariest part of motherhood for me is the fear of wasting time with Desmond (and baby #2).  When days go by when I feel like I haven’t connected with my son, I feel anxious and sometimes angry at myself for being selfish.  I know I (and every mom) need time to myself but I’m talking about the days where I put cleaning the house before Desmond or where I put answering text messages and emails over playing trucks with him.  I never want him to look back at his childhood and think that mommy didn’t sacrifice/serve/spend enough time with him.  I want to be a selfless mom, not in an overly giving my kids whatever they want kind of way, but a mom who clearly puts the needs of others before her own and one who seeks to love Jesus above all else with a heart for teaching her kids these truths.

6.    Pass on new advice – what would it be?

Every difficult season is just that – a season.  When Desmond was first born and my life was seemingly “over”, I couldn’t see past that first few weeks.  My perspective was that life was going to be hard forever, that he would never sleep through the night, we would never hang out with friends again, etc.  I pray with baby #2 that I will enjoy the middle of the night cuddles and I will keep a perspective that it is just a season.

Love you Morgan!!! You know I think you are amazing!  I want to be you when I grow up!  Can't wait to meet your little one in April!!!!!!!!!!


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15 January 2014

How Can I Give Grace Now?

Wednesday Book Club

Am I Messing Up My Kids? by Lysa Terkeurst

Chapter 18

"It's the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have...One pair that see through closed doors...another in the back of her head, ...and of course, the ones in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and reflect, "I understand and I love you" without so much as uttering a word."

Okay, parenting is hard.  We all know that.  We could read all the books try to do everything right and guess what?  Our kids still won't be perfect.  Our kids won't always make us look good.  And there will be many many times that all they need is our love and our grace.

There will be times when we want to spank, pinch, perhaps shake the Holy Spirit in them? And yet, those might be the times when God whispers to us..."this is the time for grace."

I am absolutely horrible at this.

The most challenging time for me was the first two weeks at home with Micah as a newborn.  Julia and Mark knew that I couldn't do it all.  How did they know?  Who knows, but they did!  I would have visitors over to see the baby and they would be running all over the house...didn't they know we walk and not run in our home.  And they were always giggling and laughing and what seemed like screaming!  How dare they have fun while I was trying to adjust to three children!  I wanted to give them the stink eye.  I wanted to put them in time out.  I wanted to lecture them on the proper etiquette of welcoming a newborn and mother who had a baby without an epidural and experienced 12 hours of labor.

"They are fine."  A friend told me.

"They are being kids."  Another would say.

"Relax, and enjoy this time." Another friend said.

Why is it that everyone else is so good about giving grace to other people's children and not their own? I thought!!!

"Kristi, you can't do it all.  You don't need to be disciplining right now, make sure they are clean and fed, and take deep breaths." A wise woman said.

How can I give grace now?  When all I want to do is wag my finger, have peace and quiet, locate my well behaved children, and perhaps take a nap?

It's during these moments that Lysa says, "And that's what makes this parenting thing so stinkin' hard.  There are really no textbook answers.  It's such a moment by moment balancing act between loving, shepherding, disciplining, extending grace, molding, modeling, loving some more, and maybe having to give a few pinches along the way too."

The only way I can navigate this balancing act is to stay close to God.  Really close.

How can I give grace now?  Ask God.  He will give you the right timing.  He will give you the right words.  He will give you the right measure of discipline or grace when needed.  Stay close to the source!

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing but in everything bring your requests before God...

So instead of worrying, being anxious, getting angry...relax...take a deep breath...and ask God...is now the time for Grace?

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14 January 2014

My Quest For Balance

Starting Small

I've been studying the book of Matthew at Bible study since September.  This past week we learned about the mustard seed.  Have you ever seen one?  They are super small.

Kind of like me, and how I feel at times.

Who am I?  I am just one person, one woman, one mom...what can I do?  How can I impact the world for greatness?  What great legacy can I leave behind?  I am just so small and insignificant, right?

Wrong!

I may be an ordinary person, but because of who I belong to. And with Him since I am His daughter I become royalty.  I become valuable.  I become extraordinary!  

A mustard seed may be tiny...but if you can have faith as small as a mustard seed in an awesome God, the one true God, then you can move mountains!

So today I am taking small steps (with God's great help) and being more faithful in the quality time that I spend with my kids.  We are reading Pilgrim's Progress Every Night and our storybook Bible, and we are having great conversations.  The kids eyes are being opened, and hopefully their hearts are too.  Bedtime was becoming so painfully rushed over here.  And most nights I was happy to send them to bed without any extra quality story time.  

But in my quest for balance, one of my priorities is time spent with my kids.  I want that time to be three fold.


Time with my kids

* I want it to be meaningful. (have an eternal value)
* I want it to be full of love. (I want them to look forward to it and for us to grow closer together because of it. I don't want it to be rushed or hurried or become a burden.)
* I want it to be a heart to heart time. (open for questions and answers)

Many times, throughout the day, I'm with my kids, but I'm not fully present.  I'm cleaning, I'm cooking, I'm taking care of Micah, and the big kids are just use to waiting and not getting all of my attention.  I was feeling really guilty about that.  I am praying that these extra 15-20 minutes at bedtime where I can be fully present with them will be a really great bonding time.

And who knows?  Maybe when they are older one day, they will look back and say, "Mom really did take time to read to us and answer our questions.  She really loved us!"  Instead of, "Mom was always busy."  My prayer is that God will really bless this time at night.  This is my small step towards balance this month.

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