Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What's been happening?

   The days are flying by!  Andy and I are planning a VBS, and also a Youth Night in the next couple months.  I will also begin teaching a Sunday School class and playing the piano for church on Sunday nights.  We have two other piano players as well, so having to play only one time a week gives everyone a break.  One of the girls will be leaving for college in the Fall and I will be taking her place on Sunday mornings as well after that.  
    The fellow in charge of the street preaching ministry at our church as to work a lot on Sundays, thus missing several services a month.  He asked Andy that if he would come on his off day during the week, would Andy preach to him.  So Saturday, he came over to the church and Andy preached his heart out to Bro. Steve Ash, me and the kids, and one other lady who is regular in the street ministry.  It was a small crowd, but a real blessing to Bro. Ash.  Afterwards, he and Mrs. Lori headed out to go pass out tracts on the streets.  Not long after they left, Andy got a call saying they had a flat.  Andy went out and "rescued" them, brought them to the house, and fixed the tire.  It was about to rain, but they decided to go out as long as possible.  About an hour later, Andy received another call from Bro. Ash saying that three teenagers received Christian on the streets!!  What a day!  The devil was fighting, but the job got done anyway.  Bro, Ash and Mrs. Lori are such a blessing!  They are so faithful, rain, shine, snow, or wind, they'll be on the streets every week.  He's a real soul winner and a huge blessing to Andy.  
   The Phillips family who got saved a few weeks ago are as faithful as ever!  They love the church and are jumping in with both feet.  Andy's been teaching four piano lessons and one music lesson each week, and seeing progress.  He's also planning a trip to Vietnam with Bro. Mike Roberts in June, which he's very excited about!  I'm going to HATE being home by myself for three weeks, but I reckon I'll survive it.  :)  Its a wonderful opportunity for him and he's absolutely going to love getting to know all of Bro. Mike's orphans! 
   I've got my first doctor's appointment set for next Monday.  I've really put it off this time.  Trying to get settled in has really kept my mind busy.  I'm 15 weeks not, and it won't be too much longer before we find out what this baby is!  I'm really looking forward to it.  I've got a hunch its a boy, but I've been wrong every time so far, so my hunches don't really count.  :)  My sugar has really been bad this pregnancy.  With all my others I felt better when I was pregnant!  Strange, I know.  But with this one, I'm fighting it every day.  A nurse in our church gave me a monitor and some glucose strips so I've been testing my sugar to see where I'm at again.  I haven't tested in a few years, so I  probably need to start monitoring it for awhile during this pregnancy.  Please pray about this.  I can't seem to keep it high enough throughout the day.  It normally drops in the evening and stays low all night and into the next day, and it takes a lot to get it high enough to where I feel good again.  I really don't want to have to go on insulin or anything during my pregnancy.  I'm trying to get it regulated again by just eating small meals every little while, but its not really working like it used to.  Just can't get it to raise very well.  Please pray for me and the baby during the next few months. 
   Now that the weather is warming up, I've been trying to get the kids outside more.  They are not the only ones who are craving the great outdoors these days.  :)  I've already told Andy what I wanted for our anniversary.  A picnic on the river, some fishing, and perhaps some swimming.  A day with the family outside.  Hey, I'm easy to please.  :)  
   We've been going to Andy's grandmother's farm to work on her peach trees.  Andy's been pruning them and getting them ready for spraying and thinning.  I was able to help out a little bit yesterday with cleaning up the pruned branches and piling them for burning.  Andy's been trying to learn how to take care of the peach trees so that someday we can plant our own when we get a place in the country.   They grow the absolute best peaches in the world up here!  They're soft and tender and sweet as candy!  They literally melt in your mouth.  I've NEVER had one quite like them.  If we could plant our own, I'd never buy another hard store bought peach again! Christian had a great time playing the fields and singing at the top of his lungs!  It was a beautiful sound.  :)  

Audra's birthday present from the Aunts.  THANK YOU!  She loves it!!!

Christian and Audra LOVED Mamaw's walker!  Audra is getting just as bad as Christian when it comes to wheels and things that go "VRRROOOM"!  She's got her Daddy's blood in her!  Sometimes I'll catch her playing with Christian's trucks, driving them around on the floor, revving her engines.  Forget the dolls!  Give me a truck!  Oh...boy!  :(   Its hopeless....with a daddy and big brother who love anything on wheels! 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Great Mexican Rice and Chicken

   I'm not a huge fan of Mexican food, and have never really found a Mexican rice recipe I could say I loved.  Until I found this one.  Its packed with flavor!  Most Mexican food tastes the same to me, but this is definitely different.  It takes a little longer to make than normal, but every step is worth it!  Give it a try! 
 Mexican Rice. Photo by French Tart
Mexican Rice
12 ounces tomatoes, very ripe and cored
1 medium white onion
3 medium jalapenos
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup canola oil
4 minced garlic cloves
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste (may omit if using canned tomatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 lime


Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350.
Process tomato and onion in processor or blender until pureed and thoroughly smooth. Transfer mixture to measuring cup and reserve exactly 2 cups. Discard excess.
Remove ribs and seeds from 2 jalapenos and discard. Mince flesh and set aside. Mince remaining jalapeno. Set aside.
Place rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear- about 1 1/2 minutes.Shake rice vigorously to remove excess water.This step removes the starch from the rice so it will not stick. IF YOU OMIT THIS STEP YOUR RICE WILL NOT BE DRY AND FLUFFY.
Heat oil in heavy bottomed ovensafe 12 inch straight sided sautee pan or Dutch oven with tight fitting lid over low-medium heat about 2 minutes. (The recipe is very specific about this but I used a 10 inch dutch oven and it worked out fine.) Drop a few rice grains in and if they sizzle then it is ready. Add rice and fry stirring until rice is light golden and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Be careful that the oil doesn't get too hot too fast or the oil will splatter.
Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and 2 minced jalapenos and cook , stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.
Stir in broth, pureed mixture,tomato paste, and salt. Increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.
Cover pan and transfer pan to oven to bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-35 minutes.Stir well after 15 minutes.
Stir in cilantro, minced jalapeno to taste, and pass lime wedges separately.

Mexican Chicken
   Dark meat from chicken legs.  Or you could use boneless thighs.  
   Soy Sauce
   Sazon Goya Mexican seasoning
   Taco seasoning  
   Cut raw meat from chicken legs into small chunks. Or cut boneless thighs into small chucks.  Cut an onion in half, then slice each.  Chop jalapenos.  (We like a lot!)  Stir fry the meat, onions, and jalapenos in a small amount of oil in a skillet just til meat is done.  Don't overcook it!  While its cooking add a few squirts of soy sauce, a good sprinkling of Sazon Goya (find it at walmart with the Mexican food), and some taco seasoning.  
   I know there are no measurements to this recipe, but I actually just threw it all together one day and it happened to turn out pretty good.  This chicken is great with burritos, refried beans, and the Mexican Rice.  Add some chopped lettuce and sour cream and you have a wonderful Mexican dish!

  * If you like Chinese, just omit the Mexican seasonings and jalapenos, and add some chopped raw ginger.  Stir fry some Veggies, mix in this chicken mixture and add your favorite Chinese sauce.  !  Oh YUM!!! Now Chinese is MY thing!!!  :)

And this is for you, Mom.   Christian LOVES the hats!  He ran around for the longest time wearing both his and Audra's!  Thanks!  You really went to a lot of work!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Spring Fun

  The warm weather has been calling us outdoors to enjoy Spring's fresh breezes.  There's nothing like the smell of budding flowers, mowed grass, and freshly turned dirt in the fields! 

Fascination with ants.

Audra's First Birthday

   We celebrated Audra's first birthday today.  Some of the family came over and the little cousins really enjoyed playing together.  Its hard to believe Audra is a year old already!  Time sure does fly when you are having fun!  :)
Audra's Cake.  I had the greatest time making this one!  It was a lot of fun putting it together!

The Horses are made out of foam board.  NO ONE sells carousel horse in 2013!!!

Christian with cousin Jaycee

Opening gifts

The Doll with all her little bottles and pacifier was a hit with these two. :)



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Childlike Trust

   My son is deathly afraid of thunder!!!  During a storm last night, I heard a piercing scream and rushed upstairs to find Christian trembling from head to toe, frozen in terror, with tears streaming down his face.  I realized he'd just been startled by a loud clap of thunder that most definitely, in his little mind, meant the end of his existence!  I held him close until his trembling stopped, and then told him that thunder could not hurt him.  It was simply a loud noise in the sky.  He listened, but I could tell he didn't really believe me.  I told him that he needed to trust God.  I quoted the verse, "What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee." to him several times and told him that I'd learned that verse when I was real little and it helped me when I was afraid.  He listened intently, but I could tell his mind was still focused on the crashing thunder outside.
   The storm slowed and the thunder stopped.  I tucked Christian into his bed, and he went right to sleep.  Later that night, as I laid in bed, I could hear another storm approaching.  As the thunder got louder and the storm got closer, I knew it wouldn't be long before the screaming started again.  A few minutes later, Andy went upstairs and got Christian and laid him under the blankets between us.  Every few seconds, by the light of the flashing lightning, I could see his wide eyes as he tucked the blanket close under his chin.  But, within just a couple minutes, despite the thunder crashing outside, and the brilliant flashes of lightning, he fell fast asleep.  Nothing could get him now!  According to him, he was in the safest place on earth.  All he had to do was reach out a little hand and he could touch his father.  Yes, he was safe. 
   As I watched him sleep so peacefully amid his most dreaded fear, I thought about my own trust in my Heavenly Father.  How often do we fret and worry about things that are completely beyond our control?  As silly as crying and worrying over thunder may seem, we do the same thing in other ways.  If we could learn to trust God like a child trusts his earthly father, what true peace and joy we can experience!  If we can learn to rest in the Lord and completely trust Him with every fear and worry, sorrow or temptation that comes our way, how truly happy we will be!  Trust is a hard thing to learn.  Isn't if funny though how at one time, as a child, we had more faith in that area than we do as an adult who ought to know better??  I learned at one point in my life that there are some things that are completely out of my control.  I had a choice to make.  I could either fight it tooth and nail, trying to fix the problem in my own strength.  Or I could simply give the situation to God and let Him take care of it in His own way, His own time.  That was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do...just let go and TRUST God.  Some things are beyond our control, we can't do a thing about it anyway.  So why NOT let go?  That step is a very hard one to take.  To completely let go and rest in Him.  I still fail at this many times and try to accomplish things in my own strength.  But even if we CAN "fix" a situation, why not go ahead and give it to God first, and let him guide us through it in His own way instead of trying to figure it out for ourselves.  Trusting His Will and His Way in His Timing can only result in ultimate blessings, sweet peace, and fulfilling joy!  Trust Him!  With childlike faith!  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Baby and I...

   Here's a little update on my latest pregnancy.  They say that every pregnancy is different, and I've found that that is definitely the truth!  Rebekah's was very easy health wise, but a hard delivery ending in Cesarean. I had morning sickness with her the entire pregnancy.  Christian was somewhat easy, morning sickness lasting only four months, some back trouble towards the end, and another hard, long delivery ending in Cesarean.  Audra, the little rascal, was very difficult pretty much from start to finish.  I was so sick for about four months, and had a whole lot of back pain with her.  A very short labor, though, due to the fact that she was breech and had to be taken before I got too far into the labor.  I'd always tried to deliver normally, once laboring up to 20+ hours with one baby, but I've never gotten further than a two.  With Audra, I have to admit, it was a relief going in and an hour later I'm holding a baby.  Not much work involved, other than what goes along with having the surgery. 
   I'll probably try again with this one, too.  I would love to have a baby normally, but I guess its not the Lord's will that that happen for me.  That's okay.  You do what you have to do.  I thank God for modern medicine because I'd be dead three times over if I lived in the 1800's.  I have a good feeling this pregnancy will also end in surgery, but that's fine.  We'll see how it goes. 
   I've felt really good with this one!  I'm 13 weeks now, and into my second trimester already!  Time sure is flying by!  I've been sick off and on, but nothing at all like the other three babies.  The tiredness is also hit and miss, which is a blessing due to the fact that I've got two other children to chase around all day.  You know, first time moms have it real good!  I get a little frustrated at folks who badmouth first time moms when they fuss and fret over the pregnancy symptoms.  Oh, I think you need to get up and do what you need to do every day, and deal with the sickness and other symptoms like a mature grown lady.  BUT, at the same time, you have to give them a little slack.  Those of us who have had two, three, four, or more children, have gone through it, been there/done that... yeah we're real pros at it.  We know what to expect.  We can't just lay around in bed all day because we'll have three other children jumping up and down on us crying for their breakfast, or needing a new diaper, or a nap, etc.  We have to get up, throw up, get it over with, and then get on with our day and not take a second glance back at that warm, cozy bed that we're just dying to crawl back into.  But remember, those poor girls who suddenly find themselves with child have no idea what to expect.  They may be just learning how to deal with the newness of a young marriage, learning how to cook, clean, and keep a new house for a new husband, and live a brand new life.  Then along comes a brand new baby into this overwhelmingly new world of theirs!  And along with it, comes new sickness, new tiredness, new physical changes, new plans, and sometimes they feel as if its all bigger than they can handle.  And in the midst of trying to cope with all this "new", they get torn down by us veterans who think they should just get up and get over it.  They will learn in time that they must do just that.  But didn't we all go through a little of this on our first time at everything???  Everything takes a learning period.  A time to grow, to mature, to learn to cope patiently with what comes our way.  And even some of us moms who've "been there, done that" still do our share of complaining behind closed doors.  (Our poor husbands)!  Again, don't get me wrong, I think you ought to grow up and go about your day, dealing with those beautiful symptoms and not gripe about it constantly to every listening ear.  But at the same time, everyone needs time to grow.  It doesn't happen overnight.  So have some patience with those first time moms!  They will learn in time.  They will eventually see just how good they've got it.  :)  They CAN get by with sleeping in till ten if they wish.  They have all their time to themselves during the day and can do whatever they wish, whenever they wish.  If their back hurts, go take a two hour soak in a warm tub.  :)  It won't always be like that.  Oh, I'm not at all complaining.  I wouldn't trade my two children for the world!  These busy toddler days won't last forever, and I'll once again have all the sad lonely days to myself when they are gone.  (And from everything I've heard from grandparents, those days aren't as glorious as they may seem at times when you're being pulled in five different directions by tiny hands.)   No, I enjoy these days.  I love their little kisses.  I love getting romped in the morning by a two year old boy who has more energy than Niagara Falls.  No I wouldn't give it up or go back to my childless days.  You young, new mothers out there, just remember.  In the midst of all that newness, all those miserable sick mornings.  Just remember how good you do have it.  Even though having a houseful of children is bliss in its own way, you won't always have all that free time to yourself.  Later on, you get to experience the joys of busy motherhood.  Having had none, and now being one of those very busy moms, I'm dreading the day when I have to go back to an empty house.  So enjoy EVERY stage of it.  Try not to fuss about the symptoms.  They are for a very good cause.  And you mothers of many, try not to get too frustrated at those young moms.  We were all in their shoes at one point and we all did the very same thing!  So have some patience with them and let them grow.  :)
   I'll be going to the doctor soon for my first visit.  I've been putting it off this time.  But I am about ready to go get things started.  I'm feeling the baby move now, and have been for a little over a week.  It came a whole lot earlier this time.  :)  I love feeling those little flutters.  It always brings a smile to my face. 
   I'm always amazed at the miracle of a baby!  It never gets old to me.  I imagine God "fashioning" those tiny fingers and toes as a potter would mold his clay.  The delicate and intricate network of veins, and tissue that complete our makeup is beyond what my mine can comprehend!  The human body is a very complex machine, so perfect that only an all powerful GOD and Creator could put such an instrument together and make it operate so correctly.  It blows my mind how much can be happening in an infant no bigger than an inch long.  When the tiny heart starts beating, try to picture all that's going on in there...those four chambers, the arteries pumping just the right amount of blood through them at just the right speed.  The heart in itself is a complex organ!  And to think of all that going on in a baby no bigger than a bean!!!  WOW!  And they say it all happened when a star exploded somewhere in space???  Evolution?  Common now!  The human body is too perfectly put together, it HAD to have been a Creator Who did it.  Every baby is a miracle straight from Heaven.  And we get to watch that miracle being created over the coarse of nine months.  What a beautiful thing!  It never gets old to me.  I love every minute of it.  And then, at the end, you hold the finished masterpiece.  A tiny infant who can breath, hear, smell, see, feel, and somehow just happens to know who his mother is and how to nurse even though he's never seen her before, or nursed before in his short little existence.  It is a beautiful miracle!  A gift given to us from a loving God.  Motherhood is a beautiful and enormous privilege!  Don't ever take it for granted! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Making Homemade Ice Cream

   It was so nice outside today!  We decided to clean up our ice cream maker and whip up a big batch of mint chocolate chip ice cream, our favorite!  We not only made ice cream, but we also created some special memories of quality family time together in the back yard.  Memories our kids will remember and treasure. 

Spring Is Here!!!

   Spring is my favorite time of the year!  I love searching for the first green blades of grass.  I never seem to catch that "first one" though.  Somehow, I just wake up one morning and everything is suddenly green, as if the miracle of it happened in the middle of the night.  I suddenly realize the buttercups are in bloom.  How could I have missed that first splash of color when I was waiting and watching for it so expectantly???   Did it all happen at once?  I love watching for the first little robin hopping around looking for worms.  The first warm breeze blowing through the trees.  The first green buds on the trees.  The smell of freshly turned earth in the fields.  The sound of tractors rumbling down the road on their way to spray a field before planting.  I love driving down the road with my windows down, and feeling the warm air blowing in my face.  I love kicking off those abominable shoes and getting my feet toughed up for another barefoot summer.  :)  Hey, I despise shoes!  Never have liked them!  I only wear them when I have too.  Another reason why I like living in the country in spring!  You don't need shoes in the country.  And it must have passed on to my son.  He hates them too.  
This is the perfect picture of Spring in the country!!!

My little farm boy.

I love the wispy hair!  :)

Helping Daddy plant blackberry bushes.

Christian loved pushing Audra.

Christian never was a climber until just recently.  He never would have tried this!!!  But Audra is a different story.  Adventure is her middle name.  She's reckless, and acts before she thinks.  And she's paid for it a time or two with some bumps and bruises before Mama could dive to catch her.  She almost made it to the top of the slide!! 

She LOVED this swing and just about fell asleep in it. 

   Spring is here!  There always seems to be a cheerful spirit in spring.  People are friendlier and more neighborly in spring.  But why is it that spring gets old as we pass into summer, and then into fall?  As the days pass, and the fresh new season progresses, we fail to notice those sweet breezes as much.  We don't "see" the robins hunting for their breakfast in the mornings.  We don't notice when the buttercups disappear, or when the breeze blows anymore.  Instead we begin to complain.  We fuss over how hot its getting.  Or how fast that grass grows and that I just mowed it two days ago!  We fuss about how hot the car is when the A/C goes out.  Why not roll those windows down and enjoy that breeze again...even when the A/C IS working?  I love the verse, "This is the day which the Lord hath made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it."  You know, it happens at the beginning of every season, actually.  We notice when the leaves begin to turn and fall.  We notice the beautiful colors of Autumn. We dig out the sweaters and turtle necks.   And we wake up in the mornings and run to the windows waiting for the first flurries of snow, the first snowball fights, the first snowmen, the first chance to bundle up in that new coat.   But then....  "OH, ITS FREEZING!  Turn up the heat!!!  We get sick of soggy mud from dirty, melted snow.  We get weary from shivering every time we step out of the house.  We get cabin fever from the long winter days and having to stay inside, trying to find some new kind of entertainment that hasn't been dreamed up yet.  We wonder if spring will EVER come again!  And the cycle starts all over again.  I was thinking about this the other day as I was sitting outside in a lawn chair enjoying those first warm breezes while the kids played in the grass.  How ungrateful we are!  How dissatisfied can we be???   I thought of the children of Israel.  Oh, they enjoyed that manna for a time, but then began to fuss about what God gave them.  So he gave them meat.  And they fussed, and fussed, and fussed til God was completely fed up with them!   You know, we do the very same thing.  Never happy with what God blesses us with.  Some places around the world have two seasons, rain and sun.  It rains for months on end, then its sunny and dry for months on end, then it rains again for months and months, then its hot and dry, and around and around it goes.  God gave us here in America four beautiful seasons to enjoy every year, and we can't even survive one without complaining about how long its taking for the next one to show up!  Oh, this kind of fussing goes on in many other areas, but right now, my mind is on spring, so that's what this post is about.  I was ashamed of myself as I thought about these things.  We fuss and fret over so many things...even the seasons and God's timetable!  We fuss over God's creation.  The very beauty that God gave us to enjoy every day!   Oh we like it for a little while, but then it becomes too hot, or too cold, or too windy, or too humid, or too wet, or too dry, or too long, or too short.  We're impossible!  Did you ever have to deal with someone who is impossible to please???  Well, look in the mirror!  That's what God must think of you and me sometimes.  I don't want to be that way.  Every day is a gift from God.  Every breath that we breathe is a gift from Heaven.  The soggy, wet, dreary days should be looked on as a blessing from God because that's what He decided to give us that day.  The beautiful "perfect" days should not be taken for granted once the "newness" wears off.  Wake up every morning, regardless of the season or the day, and thank God for it no matter how you feel about it.  I've gotten to where I love rainy days.  They are so cozy, and I always feel like baking something, or curling up on the couch in a blanket and reading a book, or playing on the floor with the kids, or coming up with something new to do with them or show them.  Lets stop complaining about what God gives us and start thanking Him and seeing His creation in a new way, not taking a single moment of life for granted!  Not a single day is identical!  They are all new and fresh, and a special gift from God.  Lets enjoy them!!!