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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: July 2008

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Learning for Little Ones: Practicing with Magazines

Welcome to Learning for Little Ones! Do you have an idea or activity you do with your little ones??? Please share it with us. I'd love it if you would write a post on it sometime in the next couple days and link up to our Mr. Linky. I would ask, though, that you include somewhere in your post a link back to this post so others can participate! Thanks!

I've been forcing myself to stay off line and away from email today so I can accomplish something, but I did want to share this little Learning for Little Ones tip.

I've had to put all regular (paper pages) books up out of reach from Tornado. He's just not ready for them yet. As his name so clearly explains, he's a bit destructive and pages in books are easily torn. I'm not ready for his brand new collection of Dr. Seuss to be destroyed before he can read them himself. We've just started reading these books together, but as far as reading himself (something he loves to do), he is relegated to the board books. :)

In the mean time however, I find that magazines are great for practice... and he loves them. He especially loves the American Baby and Parents magazines because there are lots of pictures of kids and other babies. So... when I am done with a magazine, it's fair game. I generally let it sit somewhere he can find it. They keep him occupied for some time too. He just flips the pages back and forth (great for some fine motor skill practice... he's always been better at the gross motor skills) and back and forth. The magazine stays pretty well in tact too... that is until the first accidental tear in a page... then it's over. A little tear becomes a big one, then other pages, etc, etc. :) It's great practice though, and I've been seeing improvement! It's nice to just be able to toss the torn up magazine in the trash and walk away when all is done too. :)

What are you doing with your little ones? Write a post on your blog and link up here. Be sure to link directly to your Learning for Little Ones post and don't forget to link back here so others can participate too. Feel free to use my little Learning for Little Ones banner at the top. Don't have a blog??? Leave your ideas in the comments section. :) I'm so looking forward to visiting your blogs and learning from all of you!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bloggy Giveaway Carnival: I'm giving too!

Welcome to all of you who have found me by way of the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival (and of course to all my loyal readers)! I hope you'll take a moment to look around and make yourself at home with me. For my giveaway, I'm offering a copy of the cookbook, The Sneaky Chef (link goes to main website). I wrote a review on it here and am excited about the riches it's going to add to my family's nutrition!

To enter my giveaway:
  1. Please take a moment to read my review (at least skim through it).
  2. Then leave a comment on here (it's the review). I'll be choosing a winner from the comments on that post (not this one) this weekend and will post it by Monday.
  3. Be sure to leave me a blog or email address so I can find you! (Sorry, but I can only ship to the US and Canada.)
Good luck!! And thanks for visiting!


Review: The Sneaky Chef

Giveaway is closed. I'll get the winner posted by Tuesday... we've had a fun and busy weekend together as a family! :)

It's official... I've found the newest best thing since sliced bread! Ok, so that may be taking things a little far, but it's pretty cool just the same. We talk quite a bit about menus and nutrition for our little ones around here (ok, so we've been slacking on the nutrition a bit since Sweet Pea was born, but that doesn't mean I'm not working on it behind the scenes.) The more I look into all the nutrients we are supposed to have and where they can be found and how many of what foods and which foods how often and all that stuff we need (can anyone say run on?), the more I see how very difficult it is to have children and too feed them at the same time. The whole process can make a person mad (and by that I mean crazy, not angry... just clarifying.)

So several weeks ago I turned to Google for help, searching for recipes that slip veggies and such into other things. I thought it would be easier to get all those nutrients in if the main dish part of our meal also had a little something extra. Then there it was... The Sneaky Chef! I promptly emailed the publicist asking for a copy of her book to review and give away on my blog and she promptly sent one to me. Since then I've been reading and sampling and I have a review for you. :)

Author Missy Chase Lapine gives us The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals. In the book she paints a picture of what many of us moms go through on a daily basis. The takes these things from her own life with two young girls, both picky eaters. Lapine talks about reasons our children are picky and a handful (or more) of strategies to help them get the nutrients they need. Differing from the suggestions my other child nutrition book gave only slightly, Lapine actually tells us how to do it... step by step.

I heartily recommend this book. There I said it. It was an easy read and has tons of great and easy to implement techniques for getting that nutrition into our children. The best part is that she uses those recipes that your children already love, incorporating fruits, veggies and fiber into Mac n Cheese, chicken fingers, pizza, and even brownies! The list goes on! By adding purees you make ahead to everyday recipes your children are getting spinach, cauliflower, carrots, sweet potatoes, blueberries and more... without a fight!

The only negative aspect I found in this book was the "sneaky" component. Though she does a great job of justifying her sneakiness, telling us it's no different than any other mis-truth we would give or detail we would omit for their own good, the idea is still not something I believe would honor the Lord in my home. As you read and implement the principles Lapine teaches, you must remember that it is still written from the world's perspective. Be sure you read it, like everything else you read, through the lens of Scripture.

So what does this mean? Can we not use "The Sneaky Chef" in our own kitchens? I think we can. My plan is to incorporate many of these recipes (especially the animal crackers, granola bars and cookies) into my own recipe box, but not to hide the ingredients from or lie to my children (and let's face it, My Beloved too) about what's inside. Really and truly, Tornado is too young to care at this point what is in the foods he loves. By the time he is, it won't faze him at all that cauliflower is in his mac n cheese... it's all he'll know.

Some of you may have children, like Lapine, who are uninterested in a food simply because of what's in it, even though they've never tasted it. You may need to figure out your own way to go about things. You may choose not to divulge the ingredients list before they eat the brownies or spaghetti, but really... do you tell them the ingredients of the foods you make now?

Over all this is a great book and I believe it will help many of you with your food battles!

To win a copy of this book (only slightly used as I had to review it first), leave a comment on this post and I'll pick a winner this weekend!!! See here for more details on the giveaway (like where I'll ship). And at the end of the week I'll have a link for those of you who don't win the book to get your own! :)

There you have it... my kitchen tip. Find more here.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Low on sleep... and my sample toddler menu

Does anyone have an answer for why a 4 1/2 month old adorable little girl who does pretty well at sleeping through the night most of the time would wake up screaming until I fed her 3-4 times last night??? Let's see... I fed her at 9:30 before we went to bed... then she was up at 1, but I didn't feed her (aparently I should have but she wakes up around then a lot and just goes back to sleep), then at 2 she demanded to be fed, then at 4:30 ish or 5, then she was up around 7:30 or 8. My Beloved and I are walking zombies this morning and, of course, she is sleeping! I'll be watching how much sleep she gets between feedings today. I wouldn't want to go back to those early confused about night and day weeks! :)

I hear Tornado now, so I'm off to get him up. Here is this week's toddler menu. Last week was pretty much a flop. I hope you got something out of it, but I either forgot parts or didn't have what I needed. I made 3 loaves of bread one of the days because none of them worked. Still I had to make a working loaf the next day. I haven't had as much trouble with food in a long time as I did this last week. I'm hoping for a smoother week to come! :)
I think the trick will be looking ahead and actually doing the preparation for meals... instead of the whole "oops, I was supposed to make Mac and Cheese, but now there's no time. Now what?" approach. :)

By the way... be back later for my bloggy giveaway! :)

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Little Boy's Home Going

I received word just moments ago that a missionary couple to south east Asia (people I went to college with) lost their little boy (at least 5, but not 10 years old... I don't remember his age) yesterday.

Not quite 2 weeks ago he had a fever they were attributing to a virus, until it wouldn't go away. The beginning of this week he was diagnosed with Kawasaki's disease, but wasn't responding to treatment. As of Wednesday it was affecting his heart, and last night, his battle on earth ended. We are thankful to know he had placed his trust in Christ and is now with Him in Glory! This is a comfort, but I know this couple must be hurting more than many of us can understand. Please pray with me that the Lord will comfort them in this time.

On a personal note, love your little ones today. We never know what God's plan is. This family had no reason expect something like this only 2 weeks ago. I know I will be holding my baby a little more today than yesterday, and spending some extra time reading with Tornado. What will you do?

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Friday, July 25, 2008

A Bookshelf, Repurposed... again

We've lived in this little mobile home for 3 1/2 years now (I'll get back to our love story someday soon, I promise!) It's amazing how our needs have changed in that time. Our guest room became our nursery, and as such, we needed to redecorate... on a budget. This post, however, isn't about that particular re-purposing. That change marked the first re-purposing of one particular book shelf. This past week, My Beloved approached me with an idea. Could we move the bookshelf from Tornado's room (someday soon to be Sweet Pea's room too) into the living room to hold toys?

Huh... what a great idea. It wasn't holding books anymore anyway. When we "redecorated" that room into a nursery, the books got packed away. Those shelves had held a number of things in the year and a half since Tornado was born: diapers, toys, baby books, blankets, extra clothes (some that didn't fit anymore and others that didn't fit yet), etc, etc. Over time however, most of the toys and books kept ending up out here in the living room. Sure, I would grab a bunch and move them back to the bedroom to decrease clutter, but in less than a weeks time everything was out here again.

Why not. Wednesday night before putting Tornado to bed, My Beloved and I carried the bookshelf out here... then after bedtime, we rearranged some things. What a difference it has made. Sure... it doesn't match ANY of the other furniture in our house. And sure... we needed another piece of furniture in this room like we needed a hole in our heads. But it's so much better. I wish I'd taken a before picture for you, but I didn't think of it (you're shocked right?). The toy situation was just mounding in the corner. Now, I actually feel like I can train Tornado to clean up after himself. Here are pictures of the shelves now.
The best part about all this is that it was completely free! I'm all for frugal... and it doesn't get any better than that!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Learning for Little Ones: Borrowing Nature

Welcome to Learning for Little Ones! Do you have an idea or activity you do with your little ones??? Please share it with us. I'd love it if you would write a post on it sometime in the next couple days and link up to our Mr. Linky. I would ask, though, that you include somewhere in your post a link back to this post so others can participate! Thanks!

Borrowing nature??? What's that? Well, it's possible that it's a number of things, but let me tell you what I mean by it. Earlier this week, My Beloved found a toad in our garden. Ok, so its really a planter full of dirt and weeds where a couple plants have learned to fend for themselves. Regardless, there was a toad... and it was no small toad either. The thing was 3-4 inches across. Did I take a picture for you all? No. Am I kicking myself now? Yes. I just keep reminding myself that it's been busy, but that excuse is getting old to even me.

Where was I? The toad. Yes, the toad. He found this huge toad and we all (we had company) had to look at it. Sadly, Tornado was already in bed for the night. So, after our friend and her little girl left, My Beloved jumped into action and we borrowed nature for the night. Tornado loves animals and we thought it would be a great learning experience... and let's face it, lots of fun... for him to get to see it. My Beloved grabbed a large mouth mason jar and I grabbed a piece of fabric. Before the poor toad knew what was happening he was riding in a jar with plaid fabric closing the mouth. My Beloved even grabbed a spider for the thing to have as a snack if he got hungry in the night.

(Notice that I have done nothing involving actively touching the toad... you will probably start noticing a trend over the years if you stick around long enough.)

The next morning before he left for work, My Beloved had me get Tornado out of bed so we could look at the toad (i.e. "frog" from here on out).

It was great. Tornado and I sat on the kitchen floor and Daddy brought the jar over so he could see the "frog"...after all... as far as he's concerned at this stage they are the same thing. After a minute Daddy handed the jar off to most unexcited to be holding it Mommy and went to finish getting ready for work.

Tornado loved it. He stared and stared at it. Pointed at the jar and jumped when the thing moved. We looked underneath, pointing at its feet. We looked from the side and above and talked about its eyes on top of its head. Odds are he won't remember lots of it, but he had a great time and was exposed to an animal that we don't normally see in our day to day.

When all was said and done we all went outside and Daddy released it into the wild the garden the planter of dirt and weeds where we'd found it. What fun it was for Tornado to see it jumping! :)

There you have it... we borrowed nature!

What are you doing with your little ones? Write a post on your blog and link up here. Be sure to link directly to your Learning for Little Ones post and don't forget to link back here so others can participate too. Feel free to use my little Learning for Little Ones banner at the top. Don't have a blog??? Leave your ideas in the comments section. :) I'm so looking forward to visiting your blogs and learning from all of you!


Raw feelings

Sometimes it's difficult to say what a mother's heart feels. This is especially true because each mother feels so differently from one another and at different times in our lives. We may celebrate the first steps of our first born, while we will mourn when it's our baby. I may feel encouraged to see my little one showing his first steps of independence while you are desperate to keep yours close.

A mother can also feel, I believe, with greater passion. When our children cry, it yanks at us with unbridled fury. When they laugh, our spirit soars! We feel love, joy, anger, sadness, and fear in a way we never knew we could.

Then there is the mother who will never know or bear her own. And the mother who suffers the loss of her own. There are feelings within those women which I cannot pretend to understand.

What never ceases to amaze me is the way many feelings take me by surprise. The way my feelings flip from one extreme to the other also often takes me off guard.

Why this melancholy line of thinking? My heart has been heavy this past week or so with many of the feelings we tend to feel so strongly: fear, hope, guilt, shame and the like. I found myself with reason to believe I could be pregnant... with a 4 month old and a 19 month old. Morning waves of nausea, familiar only from previous pregnancies, started my head spinning at the thought. Fear of what my husband would think, what people would say, and the thought of being sick for the next 6-9 months triggered fear within my heart.

Saturday I finally summed up enough courage to mention it to My Beloved. Knowing he was perfectly content not to have any more children, my worst fear was that he would be disappointed. He lovingly put that fear to rest, assuring me that if we were having another child, that was fine with him.

My next concerns were for Sweet Pea. Would I be able to continue nursing with all on my plate and a growing baby? My heart mourned the possibility of having to stop.

My fear of man kicked in as I began to worry over the comments people would make.

Then the guilt and shame... I so desire to have more children, but I didn't feel ready. I found myself hoping that I wasn't, then feeling guilty at my lack of faith. In faith I want to trust the Lord for the number and spacing of our children, yet in the midst of a trial, my faith wavered.

To keep a long story from becoming longer, I found myself relieved and disappointed, thankful, ashamed and embarrassed this morning as I learned there was nothing to worry about in the first place. I praised the Lord for knowing what is best for our family and sought His forgiveness for my lack of faith.

I find myself, though relieved, somewhat disappointed at the same time. Though I was unprepared to have another baby right away (let's be serious, not enough time has passed for me to forget all that God allows us to forget), I do want another if it is God's plan. And my weakness in faith fears that it may not be.

Thank you for allowing me to share my heart with all of you. Now my fear of man fears the comments that will come.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sigh... and a toddler menu

It's been a long 5 days since I've been with you, but rest assured I didn't forget about any of you, not one bit. I had most of this menu done yesterday, but as always, something called me away and I had to let it go. :) At least I had it to refer too this morning in figuring out what to feed Tornado. Of course I already had eggs cooking when I saw that today was supposed to be a cereal day. No worries... I just went in to the file and switched things around a bit. :) Here is the version I'm printing for our fridge (want on for your fridge? send me an email and I'll get you a printable version.)
I have some new things cooking up around here (haha... get it? "Cooking." And I'm talking about our menu... I'm funny. I often have to tell people that.) Anyway... I was a big girl a week or two ago. I found this amazing cookbook (at least it looked like it would be amazing... now that I've read a bunch of it I can assure you I was right), so I emailed the publicist and asked for a copy to give away right here on this blog! I've read a bunch of it and am trying some of the recipes out over the next couple weeks. Then, full with a review and everything, I'm holding a giveaway right here as part of Bloggy Giveaways starting the 28th! Stay tuned. If you like my menus, then you are going to love this kid nutrition centered cookbook for helping your children get nutrients they need... without even knowing it. :)

More menus here.
Find kitchen tips here.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Something's Gotta Give

Did I mention that summer's are a busy time for us? While most people are extra busy during the summers because of all the recreational activities, we are busy because of our business and My Beloved's job. This week is especially crazy with My Beloved working extra long hours. On the home front, I'm spending extra time at the computer processing wedding photos from a wedding we photographed on Sunday. Well, the long of the short of it is... Something's gotta give!

I had huge aspirations of chronicling my love story with My Beloved in "real time", writing each day as it came to be "4 years ago today". You noticed that I fell behind one day, then yesterday you didn't hear from me at all... and today it's not looking much better. Sorry to say that my next installment probably shouldn't be expected until next week sometime. So it's not in real time any more, but I won't leave you all hanging indefinitely. I'll get back to it.

While we're talking about what's gotta give, I'll also tell you here that my meal plan... the one I do on Mondays. Well, it didn't get done. Sure I have an idea of one scratched out, but we still haven't made it to the grocery store and the cupboards are pretty bare in here. I've been faking it a bunch this week. Hopefully by Saturday we can do the shopping.

And one more thing... I'm taking this week off of Learning for Little Ones too... I just can't do it. Sorry!

I do have something good to report though... I feel so great and free since giving myself permission to let all this go. I'm no longer scrambling to keep up, or disappointed because I am dropping balls... I simply put them all down! (sigh!)

Have a great day! :)


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A quick kitchen tip...

Ok, so we were out of bread. I started up the bread machine this morning, but not early enough to have it ready for Tornado's lunch. That whole sandwich idea was out the window! And with no food in the house (last nights planned shopping trip has been bumped to this evening... I hope) I was left with few lunch ideas.

I'm glad I started thinking about it a little before he was complaining of hunger. I threw a pot of water on the stove and boiled up some pasta. What a great substitute for bread. Of course I couldn't spread PB and J over those, but I put some on the plate with a bit of cottage cheese and a veggie (lettuce, that he didn't eat... just in case you all think things always go according to plan around here.)

Don't miss today's edition of my love story! :)

Find more kitchen tips here!

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4 Years Ago Today (ah, yesterday), Part 4

Ok, so I missed yesterday, but I'm working to keep things on track. I'll try to have today's story up tonight. We're almost done with the first week... then things slow down a bit. :)

If you missed the first parts of my love story, you can start here.

For the first time in my life I wasn’t looking for a relationship with a man. I sincerely wasn’t. Throughout my teen and college years, as well as the few years of my “adult life”, my focus had always been on finding, meeting, snaring, etc just the right guy. I wanted more than anything to be married and entered most acquaintances with guys wondering if they could be “the one”. This put a strain on everything, especially my contentment.

I dated a handful of guys in high school, a couple in college and one in the years after college. Of those three relationships out side of high school I’d broken one’s heart, had my own heart broken with another, and made a fool of myself with the third. Not a great track record.

It had been two years since I’d even been on a date, let alone been in a relationship beyond friendship with a guy. I’d been interested in several in those couple years and was glad to be able to say that the reasons for my “interest” in guys had matured over the years. I now sought a man whom I respected and in whom I saw a genuine love for the Lord. None of these guys had any interest in me.

As my missionary friend was making her final preparations to move to India, we met for chai. It was something we tried to do every week or so, just to catch up on each other. As we sat across the table from one another, me with my chai and her with some of the loads of paperwork left to do before her departure a couple weeks away, I asked her a question.

“How are you doing with contentment?” You see, she was making final preparations to leave as a single missionary, something I would be doing before long. She was moving far away to a place where there wouldn’t be any other Americans. No prospects for her future.

Her answer changed my life. She told me of a time in the Word several months earlier and a portion of Scripture that changed her perspective on never getting married. After reflecting on Matthew 19:12, I, just as she had, I was able to make the decision to give up marriage for the sake of the gospel.


It was lunch time Wednesday before I saw him again. I was standing in line with a group of girls I’d been spending much of my time with the past few days. Any minute the doors to the dining hall would open and we would make our way in. Then there he was, walking past us with a friend. They said a quick hi to all of us on their way to the end of the line. Just after he was out of ear shot I turned to the others.

“I’m so excited!” I announced. “I finally figured out what I’m going to do to him.”

They all stared at me with that look, “Why?”

I explained the whole thing, from the rubber band to the “dare”, before divulging my evil plan. I would find his tray somewhere while he was away and steal his drink! Yep, that’s the best I could do. I had barely finished explaining it when I realized that, really, that type of prank is only possible when stumbled upon and not planned ahead. There’s no way I could plan for him to leave his tray somewhere… let alone for me to know where he was sitting in the first place. I sulked in a moment of defeat… again I had no idea what I could do to “get him back.”

After grabbing a table big enough for our group and dropping our bags, we made our way back around the room toward the salad bar and food lines. As we past the entrance, the guys were toward the front of the switch backs, not far from passing the ticket counter. I smiled my usual friendly smile as I passed them, “Hey, there’s some room at our table over there if you guys want to join us.” I said casually, thinking only of my ploy to do something “terrible” to him at the first chance I’d get. Again, I had no idea that I’d made his day.

By the time I gathered my salad and chicken strips (my standard meal in a buffet type eating situation… I love to cut the chicken up in my salad!) and returned to the table, most everyone else was back. I set my tray down and noticed, sitting next to an empty tray, the guy that had been with My Beloved in line.

“Is that My Beloved’s tray?” (note: Of course, I didn’t call him My Beloved, but rather used his real name) I asked his friend. It was! I glanced around the room to see if I could find where he was. Then I saw him, all the way across the large dining room talking to someone. An evil smile crossed my lips.

“Would you pass me his drink?” I asked his friend again. This was not a convenient thing, you see, because there was another person sitting between the friend and me. None the less, he did it, and around the table came My Beloved’s cups… yes, two of them. I delightedly set them on the empty chair next to me. Then I paused… This is too noticeable… it’s never going to work. I passed them back around the table. “Would you pass me his silverware?” To think about it now, I’m actually kind of amazed this guy participated so blindly. But he did… willingly betraying his friend for a stranger. I wrapped the silverware in a napkin and lay them on the chair.

When I noticed him returning, I forced myself to pretend not to. I simply focused on my plate, eating one bite after the other. How was I supposed to know that he notices everything? Before he even sat down he was saying, “My silverware are gone.”

I casually looked up, “Are you sure you got any?”

“Yes,” was his immediate reply, looking anything but unsure.

“Oh fine,” I grumbled with a smile and passed them back.

From that moment neither of us could tell you the names of most of the people at the table. We spent the entire lunch talking only to each other. I still hope the two poor souls sitting between us at that round table had a nice enough conversation, because apparently they weren’t welcome in ours. Our conversation just flowed from one thing to another. It was then that I learned, among other things, that his life was strongly influenced for missions by Nate Saint, and mine by Jim Elliot—the same story from the perspective of two men martyred together. It was a wonderful time of fellowship.

The hour flew by. Still it wasn’t until we were leaving that lunch that I took any special notice. I was content as a single lady… I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I didn’t even notice when the others at our table left, nor where anyone was as we put up our trays and left the room. As we walked through the corridor outside the dinning room I told him I had really enjoyed talking with him. “I talk a lot,” I said, and apologized, “I’m sure I monopolized the conversation.”

I will never forget his response, “I’ll bet I could give you a run for your money,” he said. That very moment my head whipped around to look at him and I thought to myself, I need to marry a man like this. I started taking notice!!

I was glad that night when he joined us for the evening conference session. Somehow he ended up sitting right beside me. I was thrilled. At one point, we were all standing for worship and I noticed how very tall he was, even though I was wearing heals. I need to marry a man like this! I thought again.

To be continued…


Sunday, July 13, 2008

4 Years Ago Today, Part 3

If you missed the first parts of my love story, start here.

Tuesday was well underway, and after a great morning training session I made my way to the dinning hall for lunch. The line to get in made its way all the way down the corridor of the student center. Once inside, the room was packed full with tables and people. I made my way directly to the salad bar, figuring to gather all my food before finding a table to sit at.

With my computer bag again slung over my shoulder, I began gathering the preliminary lunch items: tray, silverware, plate…. As I began layering salad ingredients onto my plate several kids rushed past me in the crowded aisle. I didn’t give them much thought until my bag got very heavy. I turned, expecting to see one of those kids pulling on my bag. What I saw took me by surprise. It was him! That same guy I’d met Friday. And he’d been pushing down on my bag, deliberately making it heavier. He obviously had no idea that it was heavy enough on it’s own.

He never stopped walking, but now continued on, smiling at me on his way by. “You’re a trouble maker, aren’t you?” I asked him smiling back at him and the bizarre situation I’d found myself in.

Walking backward now, continuing past me toward the main food lines, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Get me back.” With that he turned and was gone, lost in the crowds of people.

I stood there shocked, the line behind me growing ever longer. I can’t do that, I thought to myself. I don’t FLIRT with guys I don’t know.

Whatever he was up to, it was working. I went from never giving him a second thought, to thinking almost exclusively about him for the next 24 hours. You see, though I didn’t FLIRT with guys I didn’t know, I wasn’t about to back down from this apparent dare either. If this was one of those “pick on all the girls” kind of guys, I needed to figure out what to do to poke back at him. I just didn’t know what.

To be continued…


Part 4


Saturday, July 12, 2008

4 Years Ago Today, Part 2

If you missed part 1 of my love story, you can find it here.

The weekend was full of more training, meals, and an opportunity to serve in one of the local churches. Monday had come and with it came checking out of my 2 week home, a lot of down time for the first time in weeks, and the start of the missionary conference. I’d gotten to know a couple people some during the prior weeks, knew a handful of people a little, and recognized some. But in this group of several hundred, most people were new to me. I felt safe in this environment however and my open and overly friendly personality flourished among so many. I enjoyed my dinner at the conference with a table full of people I’d never before met, adding another handful of acquaintances to my roster.

After dinner, I wandered from the dinning hall to the college campus gym, where the main evening sessions would take place. It never bothered me to be at these things alone. I actually preferred it. There was great freedom in being able to come and go as I wanted, without the feeling that I should sit with so and so, or talk with so and so. On my own I could judge each situation and each moment on my own and make social decisions impromptu. I loved it.

As I walked into the “conference center” with my computer bag slung over my shoulder, I looked around. There weren’t many people inside yet as there was still a bit of time before the start of that first evening session. To my left were rows and rows of bleacher seats and spread in front of me were rows and rows of metal chairs set up on the floor in front of the stage. Just to the back of those chairs, near the production stage (is that what you would call that place where they control all the power points and sound and such) I spotted that guy I’d met Friday. Hey, there’s that guy I met the other day, I thought.

“Hi,” I said walking up to him. He responded the same way, with a smile and a greeting. (Only later would I find out that I’d made his whole day and that he was only standing there in hopes of seeing me that evening.) “How was your weekend?” I asked him. He’d been camping with his church, something I’d never heard of any church doing. We talked a few minutes before I excused myself to find a seat to put my laptop, growing ever heavier, down on.

Once I’d chosen a chair in the rows of floor seating, I turned to find the restrooms before too many more people were around and I’d gotten to talking again. Some more people had gathered in the meeting room by the time I returned and as I rounded the production stage to my seat I heard a voice.

“Can you get that for me?” I turned and looked around, unsure if I was the one being talked to. Standing on the production stage was the guy I’d just been talking to minutes before. I looked at him, then down at the floor in front of me where he glanced. A rubber band!

“Did you just shoot this at me?!?” I asked, shocked to be in the situation.

“Yeah,” he replied smiling. I didn’t know what to say, or how to react. It had been a long time since anyone had done something like that, and I didn’t know this guy at all.

“Well, you missed,” was my only reply as I handed it back to him.

To be continued…


Part 3

Part 4


Friday, July 11, 2008

From God's Word: A Mother's Study

As I spend time in God's Word, I am on the look out for parts of Scripture that direct me as a mother. I mentioned that I am seeking the Lord's direction through His Word in matters related to the discipline of my children, but really, I am open to His leading and direction in all matters. As I was reading in John today (and I'll admit that I am not as faithful as I would like to be in spending time in God's Word) I read a verse that stood out to me as a mother.

John 15:5 ~ "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."
Of course this verse applies to all of us, mothers or not, but this morning I want to look at it from a mother's perspective. "Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." This part of the verse really grabbed me. Of course I know and understand the concept of needing to be in God's Word, and I've spent my share of time dwelling and meditating on what it means to abide (dwell with, linger on, etc.) in Christ, but what a reminder that I desperately need this. It is both for my own good, and for my children's. "Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit...." Am I not striving to bear fruit in the lives of my children? How can I expect to raise children for Christ if I am not abiding in him. "...for apart from me you can do nothing." I will not be capable of doing anything in and for my children without Christ. My desire to be patient with them is impossible without abiding in Christ. My desire to discipline them in a Godly fashion is hopeless without abiding in Christ.

My desire is to be a godly Mother and to bear fruit through my children as they grow, to see them know the Lord and to abide in him themselves, but these things are not possible without my first abiding in Christ. What a reminder and challenge to remain in God's Word daily! Not only because I can accomplish more around the house, or even because I can grow closer to him. My desire is to serve him through bearing much fruit around me, specifically in the lives of my children. To do this I must be abiding in Him.

Six years ago I can remember a time when I clung to God's Word. I spent time every day (sometimes a lot of time) reading and memorizing Scripture. I was in Bolivia for the summer and it was a hard time for me. I was blessed to have the time to devote to being in the Word and I desperately needed it. I began each day in the Word and prayer, pulling from that time every ounce of strength for the day I could find. Some days I would return to my bed top to read and be strengthened more. I made the observation then that it is easier to devote so much time to being in God's Word in a ministry/missions atmosphere because we desperately need God for every moment. What an observation. It is so easy in our own culture and country to get comfortable and to think we can do it all without abiding in Christ. Not so with motherhood (or anything for that matter). While it is easy to think we have the ability to do things on our own, motherhood is hard and it is impossible to bear the fruit we desire to bear through motherhood without abiding in Christ!

I challenge you, as I am challenged today, to abide in Him. Spend time clinging to His Word and devoted in prayer each day. Perhaps it can only be 10 minutes, but cling to every precious verse you can. For without Him, we can do nothing!

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Learning for Little Ones: Problem Solving

Welcome to Learning for Little Ones! Do you have an idea or activity you do with your little ones??? Please share it with us. I'd love it if you would write a post on it sometime in the next couple days and link up to our Mr. Linky. I would ask, though, that you include somewhere in your post a link back to this post so others can participate! Thanks!

Ok, so I'm late with my Learning for Little Ones post... but at least it's still Thursday.

I found myself watching Tornado play yesterday and I realized how often I get in the way of helping him learn. Sure we do activities and we sing and we talk and we point out every animal under the sun (at least the ones we see in a day), but I also block him from learning sometimes.

Though all the skills and information I try to teach him are important, it's just as important to let him learn problem solving skills on his own. While I sat on the couch with Sweet Pea yesterday afternoon, Tornado was playing with a Nerf football in the kitchen (ok... so really it's just one big room.) He would flip or throw the ball and it would roll. He would laugh and chase it, only to do it again and again. A number of times the ball rolled under the table. When he was smaller he would crawl in and out and around and through the chair legs to get under the table and move around, but now that he is bigger, it just doesn't quite work the same way. I've got to tell you, that kid is smart. He would see the ball roll threw the chair legs or over to the other side and he would just stare at it. I expected him to plunge through everything in a direct line to the ball, only to complain and ask my help when he couldn't reach it (or when he got himself stuck under the table), but instead he studied the situation and figured out the best way to get it. Sometimes it was to crawl out from under the table to walk around it. Other times it was to reach through this hole, or to get down on his hands and knees to crawl under. I was amazed... and I realized how my sitting back and watching was teaching him valuable problem solving techniques.

Go ahead... I dare you. Sit lazily while your kids struggle through something... it's so much more fun when you can watch them succeed without you!

What are you doing with your little ones? Write a post on your blog and link up here. Be sure to link directly to your Learning for Little Ones post and don't forget to link back here so others can participate too. Feel free to use my little Learning for Little Ones banner at the top. Don't have a blog??? Leave your ideas in the comments section. :) I'm so looking forward to visiting your blogs and learning from all of you!


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

4 Years Ago Today

Can any of you say exactly where you were or what you were doing 4 years ago today? Perhaps you can. Perhaps you were married 4 years ago today, or one of your children was born 4 years ago today. Perhaps you know you came to know Christ 4 years ago today.

Today is very special to me, for it was this day, July 9, 2004, a Friday, that I met My Beloved. This is our story:


July 9, 2004 was a big day. I had spent the previous 2 weeks as a candidate with a missions agency in central Pennsylvania. From breakfast to bedtime we sat in meetings, training, and interviews, and it all came down to today. Today I stood before the mission board to be accepted or denied, sent out or sent home as it were.

My path to this day began years earlier when I felt the first desire to be a missionary in Africa, as well as my first experiences on short term mission trips with my youth group during my high school years. In college I had several opportunities to travel overseas on short term mission trips, but they all fell through. I joined a group on my college campus who met to learn about and pray for missionaries around the world. Out of college my desires to one day become an overseas missionary continued. I spent 11 weeks in Bolivia in the back country to learn that I really did have a heart specifically for the Muslim people of Bangladesh. Upon returning home, I began working to that end.

A friend was making plans to move to India as a missionary herself and had been applying to a mission agency I had long been acquainted with. As I watched her move through the application process with what would become the same mission board I would stand before, we talked of plans and ideas. India, being a neighboring country of Bangladesh had a very large population of Muslim Bengals, so we made plans to go for a survey trip. She and I, with several others, traveled together to India and Bangladesh. During the 3 weeks there, my heart was solidified in its desire to live and serve among those people. I returned home and stepped to action.

Now it was one year later. I had done all the paper work, taken the tests, passed my oral doctrinal exam (yikes), and traveled the long distance from Los Angeles to Pennsylvania. Today I would stand before the board. Many were nervous, but my anxiety was based in excitement to begin the next step. The questions they would ask me would be personal ones, nothing I had to spend months studying. There were no “wrong” answers. And once the board made their decision, I could begin to raise my support and make my move to southern Asia.

I entered the large board room and stood before rows and rows of men and their wives. The mission’s president stood at the front with me, facilitating questions. I was asked a number of questions, all of which I answered with ease. I was light hearted and relaxed through the whole interview. When I had been dismissed, I stood in the hall just outside the doors waiting for the results. Moments later the administrator for my region came through the doors into the hall with the news. I had been accepted… appointed to Bangladesh. It was official… I was now a missionary on my way to Bangladesh.

Much of the rest of the afternoon was a blur. I returned to my hotel room to change and collect my things before catching a ride back to the main office (the board interviews had taken place in one of the hotel meeting rooms.) I was excited to have been appointed, yes… but there were far more important things to be excited about. Now that I was officially an “employee” of this mission agency, I could get the employee pricing on the Microsoft Office software I wanted! Let’s be serious here… that’s what really matters right? I’d had enough of the free word processing software in the last 6 months since buying my new computer and loosing my Word software. I had talked to someone in the IT department a day or so earlier and learned that I could buy it as soon as I was appointed, so here I was, on my way back to the office to get that taken care of.

Things were quieter around the office than they had been the previous couple weeks I’d been there. Most of the candidates were back at the hotel either relaxing or waiting their turn before the board. Many of the staff were also at the hotel serving in some capacity. I walked through the quiet halls before arriving at the IT office.

I entered the office looking for the tall, dark haired man I’d talked with the day before… but he was no where to be found. Somewhat unsure of myself, but overly friendly and talkative I jumped in with both feet. Sitting at a desk in the corner of the office was another man. “Excuse me,” I said getting his attention. I’d seen him before. Several nights before a group of us “singles” had eaten dinner together and he’d been there. We never talked and we hadn’t met, but he was familiar... he was one of two men at the table... it was hard not to notice him. As he turned in his chair now to give me his full attention, I continued, “I talked to someone yesterday about buying Microsoft Office today.”

“Sure,” he said grabbing a paper from his desk. While he began the process, I filled him in on my day, being appointed, and of course how excited I was to get this software. I’m sure I told him how much he was making my day in getting it for me, etc, etc. He took down my information and we continued to chat back and forth a bit. Before finishing everything up, he paused. “Ah,” he started, “I messed this up. I’m sorry, I have to start again.”

He grabbed another copy of the form and we continued chatting about this and that (I honestly don’t remember… I was just so excited about the software.) I mentioned the conference for missionaries the following week and how I’d be staying in town to attend it. I’d love to think that I asked him things about himself and was generally a good listener, but I’m pretty sure I did most of the talking. He was, after all, filling out a form. Then it happened… he handed me the software wrapped in it’s clear plastic packaging. I held it in both hands and just looked at it. I was so excited. I thanked the IT guy with great enthusiasm and walked out of his office looking at my software… not giving the guy who sold it to me another thought. It was only later that I found out he had messed up my order on purpose… just to get a few more minutes with me.

To be continued…

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Make it something they like

I had an epiphany last night as I was finishing up dinner prep. We had Meatballs with Cream Sauce and I was finishing up the cream sauce. Tornado was in his high chair already, munching on this and that... parts of dinner. As I continued with the sauce, I asked Tornado if he wanted more. "Bahhh, bahhhh" he said, signing "ball" at the same time and pointing to the pan of meatballs cooling on the stove. He has taken to calling meatballs "balls", and since balls are all the rage at our house these days, meatballs are very exciting.

This led me to the idea that if we can make unwanted foods look like something popular, we may have a chance at getting them down. Try the meatball thing with your toddlers... if they don't notice the ball, point it out. Maybe you can get meat in them. Tornado already likes ground meat, so I can't promise it will work.

Any other ideas for making food look like favorite things??? I'd love your ideas in the comments!

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy!

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Toddler Menu for this week

Alrighty... here it is. The meatballs of last week got bumped when Thursday changed and we moved that meal over. So now I'll make Meatballs today (instead of having them left over today) and we'll eat them left over on Thursday. :) You'll find the Crustworthy Meatloaf here. Enjoy!

More meal plan ideas here!


Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Too Quiet Chronicles: Part One

One thing all parents learn early is that if it's too quiet for too long, there's usually trouble. We've had more scares in this house than actual trouble, but just the other day we officially had our first of the Too Quiet Chronicles!... an ongoing series I plan to have around her as things come up.

My Beloved and I were in our bedroom... making the bed, hanging up clothes, talking, whispering so the baby (yes, still in our room) wouldn't wake up. I'm not really sure what we were doing, but all of a sudden My Beloved asked, "Where's Tornado?" "I dunno," I replied. He followed my classy, knowledgeable answer with, "Is that bathroom door open?" Again, I replied, "I dunno." Apparently I am super good at keeping track of our children. Whether or not I know where they are, however, I do care where they are, so off I went in search of our very stealthy child.

As I rounded the corner into the bathroom, what did I see??? There he was. Tornado was standing at the toilet playing with not one, but two things he isn't supposed to. I found him removing things from the trash can and putting them into the toilet. It was all I could do not to laugh, but I definitely didn't want to encourage this activity. I thought to take a picture for you, but things were getting soggy and fast so I needed to figure out the best way to get everything out of the toilet. Best way or not???... I used my hand. Yep. My hand. I took a deep breath, reminded myself that it was clean water (at least I was hoping the last person had flushed... sorry, but I'm now not completely sure) and plunged my hand into the toilet water to remove all sorts of very soggy things. Placing your hand in the toilet is bad enough... but doing so to remove any number of things that had been in the trash is even worse! Don't worry... I washed my hands the very next minute.

And what was My Beloved doing while I plunged into trash rescue??? That precious man was standing there next to me wondering how I do it all. :) And he didn't even try to hide his appreciation for me. :) Now that's worth everything!

What's the most recent of your "Too Quiet Chronicles"? Leave a comment so we can all get a good laugh, or at least feel as though we are not alone. :)

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Frugal and Green... Cloth Napkins

I bumped into this site this evening and found a giveaway for market totes and a carnival on being green. I'll admit that we are not a very green family (as is pointed out by an anonymous commenter.) I have some things I would love to do someday to make a little difference in that, but for now, as I reflected on something "green" I could post on to enter this great giveaway, there isn't much. I hope you aren't too disappointed in me... I'm just being honest here.

One thing we began doing right at the beginning of our marriage (3 1/2 years ago) and have continued doing, is both green and frugal! We use cloth napkins all the time. I have several different sets, but one set is for everyday as they don't need to be ironed (it's like a dream.) One step greener (and more frugal)... we don't launder them every day. Sure... if there are guests over, I wash them (though if guests are staying for more than one meal we keep them separate and save them.) If they are dirty, I wash them. The one that gets used as a burp cloth in a pinch... I wash it. If, however, it's not so dirty and it's just the one My Beloved and I share (that's another point by the way... if it's just us, we share a drinking cup [unless he wants to drink green tea and I want milk] and a napkin... saves on water and time), then I refold it and put it in my "we've used this/don't offer this napkin to guests" drawer for the next meal.

Another perk of cloth napkins... if your little one (or let's face it, you or your husband) knocks over a glass of milk, you have something way more absorbent than a little paper napkin to clean it up in a snap.

What are your ideas for cutting down on waste??? I'd love to hear about them... and be sure to enter the contest with your ideas too. Rules etc. are here.

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Learning for Little Ones: Shape Sorting

One of the toys we received for Tornado when he was WAY to young to play with toys was a Fisher Price shape sorter thingy. I wanted it and I'm sure I asked for it, but for a long time it was useless. After a while however, it was very popular in our home. Though Tornado was still too young to do the sorting part (at 10 months old), he loved putting things in and out. Tomorrow he will be 19 months old and things have changed around here a lot. He still can't do the shapes every time by himself, but he has learned to get them in some of the time.

Yesterday we spent some intentional learning time with this toy. I started out just sitting down to put them in the shape sorter with him, but that didn't last long. He tends to get frustrated and move on to something else. While he was "on to something else", I sorted the shapes myself.

I grouped the shapes on the floor by each shape. Then I brought only one shape right in front of me and called him over. Starting with circles I pointed at each one... "green circle... red circle... blue circle". Then I counted them, pointing with each number... "one, two, three."

Once they were named and counted, Tornado picked each one up and put them into the bucket, through the sorter lid. With each one I named them again... "red circle, green circle, blue circle." Don't forget to include lots of affirmation! We did this with each of the shapes until he was bored with it. From there he started taking each block over to a box (a couple feet away) and placing them on top. He was very deliberate with each placement too... it was pretty cute to watch.

What are you doing with your little ones? Write a post on your blog and link up here. Be sure to link directly to your Learning for Little Ones post and don't forget to link back here so others can participate too. Feel free to use my little Learning for Little Ones banner at the top. Don't have a blog??? Leave your ideas in the comments section. :) I'm so looking forward to visiting your blogs and learning from all of you!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008


We've been so enjoying a new season in Tornado's life this last week or so. He's officially starting to talk! And I mean more than Mama, Dada, and a name for Sweet Pea. This weekend he started saying "doggy", last night he said "more" (or something close enough to figure out since he was signing it too), and there are several other words he's been saying as of late. "Buhhhh" is bug which he calls all sorts of bugs and spiders. "Bahhh" is ball, and there is something similar that he uses for bubbles. Yesterday morning at church (for a play date) we had the following "conversation".

Tornado (trying to get into the toddler nursery to play)

Mommy: no no Baby, we are going outside, come on...

Tornado: sie, sie... (running down the hall faster than I've ever seen him run before)

That was a new "word" too. :)
It's so fun to see our little one learning new words. He copies lots of our words, at least making sounds like what we've said. It keeps us laughing! :)

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Whew... a toddler menu

Let's face it... this is the way life is now. Perhaps in the fall things will slow down to a comfortable level. Until then, I hope you'll hang with me and my late meal plans and random posting. I do have a menu for you though. I told you last week that we are switching to a 2 week plan... and we are... but I just don't have next weeks ready for you. Just know that we are doing pizza again next week as well as a couple days of left overs (LO for those who don't know). Cherries are on here a bunch at the beginning because we picked them yesterday and cherries only last a few days... so we're eatin um. :)

Oh, PW's Chicken Sandwich can be found here!
And more meal ideas are here!