Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Non-Advice

No occupation in this world is more trying to soul and body than the care of young children. What patience and wisdom, skill and unlimited love it calls for. God gave the work to mothers and furnished them for it, and they cannot shirk it and be guiltless.
— Isabella Alden and Mrs. C. M. Livingston

I call this my “non-advice” because I am very unqualified to give advice about raising kids! I’ve only been at this for 14 months and it’s a big job. So I try to keep my thoughts to myself. However, I do feel that there are some things that can help anyone at any stage.

1. Ask God daily for wisdom in training and loving your children. God knows exactly what you need and what your children need. Remember that He gave your children specifically to you.

2. Find a Godly older woman to ask for advice. I would suggest that you pick a lady that is well down the path of raising children and also one who has a great marriage. You don’t want to sacrifice your marriage for children. I have actually given this lady in my life permission to tell me if she thinks I am doing something stupid with my child(ren). I don’t know if she would actually do this because she is very good at keeping her opinions to herself, but my child(ren) are more important than my pride.

3. Read good books. Once again by people farther down the path that love God and have good marriages. My favorite so far as been “Training Kings and Queens” by Cindy Schaap. You can order this through Christian Womanhood.

This will work whatever the age of your children!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dijon Tilapia

This fish is quick, delicious, and healthy! I found the original recipe in a Taste of Home cookbook and just changed it a little.



2 tilapia fillets
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbps. bread crumbs
cooking spray

Place fish on a greased cookie sheet. Combine the dijon mustard and lemon juice. Spread over fish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and spray with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until fish is flaky. (Told you it was easy!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Favorites: Cookbooks

I love cookbooks! Thankfully, I've been blessed with generous people who give me cookbooks. Most of these are from my mom. Thanks, Mom! The magazines are mostly Taste of Home and Vegetarian Times (for Micah). Hurray for food!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Last Notes on Scheduling

I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty and joy to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.
~Helen Keller

There may not be one thing about my schedule that works for you or your family and that’s ok! Do what works for you. Try different things and adjust. You will be adjusting your schedule your whole life through different seasons so you might as well practice some now.

People are very skeptical of schedules when you are expecting a baby. I wish I had kept a list when I was pregnant of all the things people said I would never do again. (People are such downers to pregnant ladies; don’t do it!) It involved things like fixing my hair, cooking, sleeping, going to Wal-Mart, etc. The only things I think I never do are read for hours on end and sleep until 11. And neither of those is that important so I’m ok. However, my schedule is the only reason I have time for those other things. Obviously, a lot of adjustment is necessary when you welcome a baby to your family but don’t give up hope!

And we all have days when nothing goes like it’s supposed to. Someone’s sick, the husband had a change in plans, the alarm clock didn’t go off, etc. That’s ok. Go with it. Be flexible. Do the best you can. Then start over the next day. That’s real life, people. If we wait until life’s perfect to live intentionally, we’ll get to the end of a long, imperfect life and discover we didn’t do anything that we meant to.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Chocolate Cake

We love dessert around here. Chocolate cake is a classic and this is my favorite recipe. (Although I did find a Barefoot Contessa recipe I intend to try!)




Cake:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa
2 1/4 cups unsifted, all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups water
1 bag chocolate chips

Cream butter, shortening, and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs and vanilla; blend well. Combine dry ingredients; add alternately with water to creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into pan(s) of your choice. (2 greased and floured 9" round pans, 2 8" square pans, 1 rectangular pan or 1 bundt pan)



Bake at 350 for 30-50 minutes (depending on pan used) or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan. Cool completely and frost.

You can leave the chocolate chips out. It's an on and off thing for me. If I have the chips and I don't have plans for them, I put them in the batter. My husband likes the cake refrigerated if the chips are in it because the chips get solid.

This cake is pretty moist so I don't put on a lot of frosting unless I make a layer cake. Then I pretty much have no choice. But I'm not crazy about a lot of frosting so I rarely make it that way. When I bake it in a bundt pan I make a glaze to go over it.

Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
enough milk to get the glaze to drizzling consistency
(you can also had a spoonful of cocoa if you want a chocolate glaze)

Mix three ingredients to desired consistency. Drizzle over cooled cake. Eat until you can't eat anymore. Or invite friends over so you don't stuff yourself.



Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Favorites: Dads!



Happy Father's Day Weekend! Dads are really cool people, aren't they? I don't know what we would do without them and I just wanted to say how much I love my dad! I have distinct memories of Dad bringing me a cup of water (every night!) before I went to sleep because I was "thirsty." I'm thinking this was probably a stall tactic! My brother and I used to get in the recliner with him when it was close to bedtime and when Mom came to tell us to go to bed we'd all pretend like we were asleep and snore! Dad used to sing "In the Garden" to me. He taught me to spell "Israel" and helped me work on my speech impediment when I was in the first grade. He did a good job too! It only comes out now when I'm really tired :) Dad worked hard his whole life to provide for us and I really appreciate it!!




And now look at the fun he gets to have!





And Happy Father's Day to my hubby too! You're the best, dear! Micah is very blessed to have you as a dad!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Personal Time Schedule


Our culture does not give the homemaker the honor she deserves.
But God does.
-Nancy Wilson



Anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT a morning person. However, mornings have very distinct advantages. Namely, my child is not a morning person either. So, if I’m going to have alone time, it’s going to be then! So I try to get up at 6. Yes, 6. I cringe even writing it. And almost every morning I stand by the bed looking at my phone trying to talk myself out of the madness. But I (usually) get up. Then I start off with my Bible study; I run with some ladies from church (there’s that accountability for my exercise) and get cleaned up for the day. Now if I’m really moving along I can even get some cleaning or writing done before Micah’s up. But at least I’ve gotten important things done and I don’t have to worry about them until the next morning. Normally the only time I feel super behind is if I sleep too late and it serves me right too! I don’t want to have to try to squeeze in my morning routine into the rest of the day. (Honestly, this part is probably where I have the hardest time being disciplined but I keep working at it and I have gotten a lot better even over the past few months. The latest I've been up lately has been about 7:20. )

And then there’s nap time. Micah takes a 1.5-2 hour nap most afternoons. The first part of this time is almost always reserved for piano practice. I try not to practice shorter than 30 minutes unless I feel really rough and aim for closer to 45-60 minutes. Then afterwards, I nap, read, write, blog, work on MK stuff, get caught up on housework if I’m behind, cook, etc.

I realize that I could easily do all my housework during Micah’s nap but I choose not to. Naptime is really the only time I have to seriously practice piano because Micah also loves to play and it’s hard to practice when you are constantly making sure he’s not into something. Also I want him to continue to learn to entertain himself at a time when it’s still easy for me to keep an eye on him. Mopping is not very all-absorbing.

The time after Micah’s in bed is officially couple time! I rarely talk on the phone and I try to stay off the computer (I’m going to have to get strict with myself again!) That husband of mine is wonderful and he definitely deserves scheduled time as well! Your schedule shows your priorities, right?

As you can see, I’m not exceptionally busy and that’s on purpose. There is no glory or triumph in being so busy that you are miserable. It’s not more godly and I think it might actually be less so. That’s why I don’t make my own detergent or grind our own grain (that's a new trend I've noticed) or get really involved in a lot of activities outside the home, etc, etc, etc. And if you do, that’s great! You have to find what works for your family. Those type of activities just aren’t on our priority list now. My family deserves me at my best. My hope, and I think my reality, is that my schedule allows me to better use my time and serve God and my family.


Monday, June 13, 2011

June Pictures



You can check out my June 2011 album on Facebook by clicking HERE.

Celebration Braid



This is a bread recipe from my Taste of Home Most Requested cookbook. My husband loved this bread and I thought it was even better the next day. This made a huge braid so I might make two smaller braids next time. However, the big one is impressive!

2 packages active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
4 1/2-5 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp. water

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the butter, sugar, salt, eggs, and 3 cups flour. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about one hour.

Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into four pieces. Shape each piece into an 18 in. rope. Place ropes parallel to each other on a greased baking sheet.

Beginning on the right side, braid dough by placing the first rope over the second rope, under the third rope, and over the fourth. Repeat three or four times, beginning each time from the right side. Pinch ends to seal and tuck under.

Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. Beat egg yolk and water; brush over braid. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan to wire rack to cool.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Meditations

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr's, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

©1995 Kingsway's Thankyou Music
Words and Music by Stuart Townend

What more can I say? May we remember all that Christ has done for us, today and every day!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Favorites: Piano

Piano music is my favorite; I could listen to it all day! I even have a Pandora station that's just piano. But better than that, I'm learning how to play! I took lessons when I was younger and then didn't play anymore until a few years ago so there's some catching up to do.





My husband has a great keyboard that I practice on at home! The best thing about it is the volume button since I practice when Micah is napping. I can turn it down and it doesn't wake him up!





But even better is this lovely baby grand that I get to play at church!! There are four of us that rotate playing the second piano and it's a beauty! Sounds pretty too!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Baby Schedule




That sounds a like an oxymoron; since when do babies have schedules?? But I have attempted to do most things with Micah on a schedule and it has worked out great for Micah and me.

Morning
When Micah wakes up, we change his diaper and clothes and we sing through most of this. He seems to like it but he can’t tell me otherwise either! Then we read our Bible story; we are already in the Gospels. (We use Ergermeier’s Bible Story Book and we love it.) Then we eat breakfast and play in the floor together. We play with his puzzles, stack blocks, play with cars, play on his new basketball goal, etc. Then Micah drinks his formula.

After that Micah plays by himself while I do the daily cleaning. When I fold laundry I give him a piece to play with and he loves that! Obviously I am watching him to teach him to behave on his own. We eat lunch and he’s starting to learn to pick up toys now that he can walk. Then nap time!

He got stuck! haha

Afternoon/Evening
Micah gets up and we read a few books and drink more formula. Then we either play or he plays by himself while I cook dinner, depending on the time. He eats with Justin and me and we play until bedtime. He also works on picking up his toys before his bath.

Bedtime
We do have a very specific and simple bedtime routine that we have followed since he was about two months old. He takes a bath, drinks more formula, and goes to bed! Every single night. Usually between 8-9. He typically goes right to sleep when we lay him down because he knows it’s time for bed!

Extra Activities
Now we do break this up. We play outside; we go to the library and the park; we go to Justin’s office to visit. Most of these activities are in the morning. Unless we are traveling I try very hard to be home during nap time. Life is just smoother with a nap. Micah also does really well in the nursery at church and we are going to start going to Toddler Time at the local library this week.

Some Favorites
We play a lot of music because Micah loves music. We read a lot of books and he has several favorites. We swing him around and bounce him on our knees. Justin chases him down the hallway, Micah laughing all the way.

I am attempting to teach Micah to sit on a blanket and stay there for small periods of time. This would be great for times when I need to take him somewhere and not take the stroller! I love the stroller but I hate taking it in some places. He will also need to learn to sit still for Toddler Time. I’m not certain how well this is going to work at his age so we’ll see what happens!

This is one more aspect of our schedule that we love!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Creamy Parmesan Penne

Tonight we ate Creamy Parmesan Penne. I found this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine quite a while ago and promptly changed almost everything about it!



2 chicken breasts
1/2 small package of mushrooms sliced
3/4 lb. penne (or other pasta)
1 cup frozen broccoli
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp. oregano
salt and pepper to taste
~3 tbsp. flour
~2 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup parmesan (or romano) cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, adding broccoli for the last few minutes. Drain. Saute chicken in oil in a deep skillet. Add seasonings to the chicken. Add mushrooms to pan when chicken is almost done. If you don't have enough grease for the sauce, add more oil. (think quantity needed for gravy). Add flour and cook for about a minute, stirring frequently. Add milk and simmer until thickened. Add cheese and stir until melted. Stir the pasta and broccoli into the sauce mixture and serve!

I also made a variation of this for Micah! I love to find ways to modify our food so he can enjoy it! This was enough for his dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow. He loved it!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Favorites: Family Gatherings







When we were at my grandparent's house last weekend, they got a picture with all the great-grandkids. My cousin and I also made the picture because our little ones would have crawled away!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

My Cleaning Schedule

I've had a cleaning schedule since Justin and I got married but I'm not a slave to it. For example, this past week has been a little crazy! Saturday we went to Kingsport, Sunday we had normal church activities, Monday was a holiday and we were at church a lot, Tuesday we went to Cincinnati, and yesterday I went shopping with a friend. Needless to say that messed up my cleaning schedule. But since I have a schedule I was able to adjust easily. I hate feeling behind so I did Monday and Tuesday's cleaning after church Sunday night. It took me about an hour and I did some laundry too. Now I just need to vacuum tomorrow and I'll be caught up!

Here is my normal schedule:

Mondays: bathrooms, laundry (colors and towels)
Tuesdays: kitchen, laundry (whites, Micah’s clothes, delicates if needed)
Wednesdays: dust and vacuum, wash sheets
Thursdays: menus and grocery list; pay bills and update budget
Fridays: ironing, any laundry that’s needed
Saturday and Sunday: basics such as dishes, picking up kitchen, making beds, etc, run-through of house before bed so I don’t feel behind come Monday morning

Usually I do my work either before Micah wakes up or after he drinks his morning bottle. I use naptime for other things as you will learn in a later post. Justin also does most of our errands on his way home for lunch and we grocery shop together one evening twice a month.

Also, I am working into a better schedule for tasks done on a monthly or semi-annual basis. This is something I have not done consistently enough, but at least my house is clean!



And here is the promised picture of Micah in the outfit that Dr. Burrow got him! Isn't he adorable?