Friday, October 28, 2011

(Almost) Two Week Hiatus

I'm back. Yes, I know -- that was quick. The other night when John talked to Comcast about our new house, they told him it would be almost two weeks before they could get there to hook us up. Two weeks! What am I going to do for two weeks without internet? No email, no blogging (reading and writing), not knowing what's happening on facebook? What will I do?

Well, I've come up with a short list:
  • Read. With no internet, there will be more time to read, and that's always a good thing.
  • Study for the Florida law exam. This is the last thing I need to take care of in order to get my pharmacist license here. And I hope to get it done before this baby comes.
  • Get the house in order. That would be a good thing, too, wouldn't it?
  • Start cooking and baking for when this baby comes.
So I just wanted to let you know where I would be for the next couple of weeks because I don't want you to worry.

What would you do with your "computer time," if you didn't have the internet for two weeks?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Planning a Little Time Off

I plan to take a little time off blogging. My mother is coming this afternoon to help us pack up, and we're moving into our new house on Saturday. I imagine that I will be pretty busy for the next few days as we get ready for the move, and I know that we'll be busy unpacking next week. Besides, I'm in a little bit of a writer's slump; I just don't have anything to share with you. However, when I come back, I'll have pictures of our new house to show you. I can't wait!

I do plan to be around the blogosphere a little bit over the next week, and I may even come up with a new post or two for you. But my priorities are elsewhere! I hope you understand, and I hope to come back refreshed and energized by our new house!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: Lonestar Angel by Colleen Coble

Six years ago, Clay and Eden met and had a "fling." When they discovered that Eden was pregnant, they married, but their marriage had a shaky foundation. Six weeks after their baby Brianna was born, she was kidnapped and presumed dead. Eden left Clay, and they haven't seen each other in years. Now, five years later, after both have become Christians, Clay has received a picture in the mail of five little girls at a camp for foster children along with a note saying that one of these girls is Brianna. Clay contacts Eden, and they head down to the camp as counselors to try to discover which of the girls is their daughter. But someone, one of the kidnappers, apparently hates Eden and doesn't want her around.

I enjoyed this book! It was fun watching Clay and Eden fall in love again. While the plot was a little tangled and twisty, it was easy to follow. The premise of this story may be a little far-fetched, but it worked. And the culprit, well, you've got to be following the story pretty closely to be able to figure out "whodunit." This book has love, danger, and intrigue. And it's about Christians and therefore clean. What more could you ask for?

I want to thank BookSneeze for my copy of this book to review, but my opinions are my own.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Recipe Fun Friday: A Cake and Muffins

Last week, I tried a couple of new recipes. I don't have any pictures to show you, but the sites where I got the recipes do. So go check them out!

First, I tried the Awesome Apple Cake recipe that I found on Everyday Mom. I had been wanting to bake a cake, and my mother was coming so it seemed like a perfect fit. And this recipe obviously has apples in it which makes it nice for fall. And it has chocolate chips in it! Could anything be better? Apples with chocolate chips? We enjoyed this cake, and the kids kept asking for it even after it was gone. Thanks to the apples, it remained nice and moist.

Next, I tried a new pumpkin muffin recipe that I found on Savvy Little Women. Oh, boy is this recipe easy! A box of cake mix and a can of pumpkin are all that you need. I really liked these muffins, but no one else did. John thought they were okay, but the children didn't even really try them. (I think they were distracted by Grammy.) That's okay; I'll still make them again, and if I'm the only one who eats them, so be it! They were great the first day, but they got a little more moist on subsequent days. I didn't mind because they were still delicious!

Have you tried any new recipes lately? How did they turn out?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

DVD Review: What's in the Bible?

Last month, I discovered that Phil Vischer, the creator of Veggie Tales, had come out with a new DVD series entitled "What's in the Bible?" And I told you that I would let you know what we think about them, after we had watched a couple. Well, here you go!

The first DVD, In the Beginning, talks about the Bible: how it's put together, who wrote it, things like that. There are also short cartoons about Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and Noah and the ark. The second DVD, Let my People Go, talks about how the Bible got put together (who chose the books) and defines "salvation." It also contains short cartoons about Moses and the children of Israel. Most of the narration is done by puppets with Phil Vischer also doing a little bit.

I hate to admit it, but I was disappointed in these DVD's. I thought they would mostly tell the stories out of the Bible with maybe a little other knowledge thrown in. Instead, they give a bunch of other knowledge (good stuff, too!) with just a little of the Bible stories thrown in. That said, my children love these videos even though most of them is over their heads. And I have learned a few things, too. I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm disappointed in these videos because my expectations were wrong. We enjoy the ones that we have, and Daniel and Sarah Beth may get another one for Christmas. (Shhh! Don't tell them.)

On a deeper level, I was disappointed with more in the first video. Vischer discusses briefly that some people believe that God created the world in six days and that others believe that God used much longer. He leaves it there and implies that it's really not a big deal. That disappointed me. And when Adam and Eve sin, there is no talk of the curse, no talk of a Savior who would come to rescue us from the curse. Disappointing, too. I didn't notice any problems like these in the second video.

Anyway, if you're looking for good, fun videos for your children, you ought to look into these. No, they are not complete, and there is some information lacking, but isn't there always?

Have you seen these videos? What did you think?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Update on My New Routine

Yesterday, I was under the weather. I know that it was from eating two eggs from free-range chickens. Have you had any problems eating those? Yuck! I plan to throw out the rest of the eggs the next time we head to the dump.

Continuing with my kind-of theme from last week about housekeeping, I thought I would give you a little update on how my new routine is working. Basically, it's the same, although I've had to make a few changes. The biggest one is that Wednesday is now my Kitchen Day while Thursday is my Cleaning Day. I had to make that change because we have church on Wednesday evenings, and I was wearing myself out! Besides, the clothes that I wear to clean in aren't exactly appropriate for church.

Monday is my Office Day which works out great since it is the start of the week.

Tuesday is my Errand Day, although we only usually run one or two errands. And one of those is almost always the grocery store. After doing school, we don't have much time. And I just don't think that my children would appreciate errand after errand, and I know that I would wear myself out. Besides, there aren't too many places to go in this little town! (I'm not complaining; it's nice!)

Wednesday is my Kitchen Day. I've been taking it easy lately since we're moving next week. Now is the time to use up what I have stored in the freezer, not add to it. After we move, however, I plan to start baking and cooking again. I want to fill up our freezer, especially with frozen dinners, for after the baby comes. I'll have to be careful not to overdo it, though!

Thursday is my Cleaning Day. It's nice knowing this in advance so I can dress appropriately.

Friday is my Laundry/Catch-Up Day. Our laundry cannot always wait until Friday, but I don't really mind if it doesn't. I can do all of our clothes in three or four loads with my huge washer that I love! Towels and sheets are done at other times of the week, so they don't add to my loads on Friday. Being so far along in my pregnancy and tiring so easily, I let some chores fall on Friday. It's a great day to run another errand or two, bake something else, or finish the cleaning from the previous Thursday.

As for the weekends, well, I don't plan too much. I never know what John would like to do, so I try to hold my plans loosely. The big things that I feel like I need to get done during the weekend are scheduling my next week and preparing for school for Sarah Beth. If I get those two things done, I'm happy. Occasionally, I'll be able to get another chore done which is just an added bonus.

How do you get your weekly chores done? Do you try to take the weekend off, or do you pile up your chores to do then?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Last Week's Happenings

As I told you last week, my mother came for a visit. She actually came to babysit while John and I drove down to my doctor's appointment. Wasn't that sweet of her?! And we really enjoyed her visit, even though it was a little short. But she's coming back in less than two weeks to help us move; yes, we're closing on our new house in two weeks! Hooray!! (I really wish that I had taken some pictures of my mother while she was here, although she's probably glad that I didn't. Maybe next time....)

A couple of other fun things happened last week. Sarah Beth has a couple of dress-up outfits that she loves to wear, and she decided that Daniel needed one of his own. And he agreed. Well, with Halloween coming up, it seemed like a good time to get one.

My little Spiderman! (It's the only superhero that Daniel knows about, and it's actually kind of a long story as to how he found out about him.)

Sarah Beth came out of her room one day during playtime, proudly showing my mother and me that she had just pulled her tooth. Yes, she pulled another tooth. (She has now pulled out two of her teeth.) And I didn't even know that it was loose. Apparently, she had told my mom that it was loose, but I didn't know!

Can you see the "window" in her mouth? Silly girl just won't smile for the camera.

I can't forget a picture of my little "ham." She loves to have her picture taken.

How did your last week go? Did you have any visitors? Did anything exciting happen?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review: Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado

Just in Case You Ever Wonder by Max Lucado is a children's book that reassures a child that his parents will always love him...just in case he ever wonders. This book starts with how God makes each person special and places him in a just the right family, a family that will take care of him and teach him about God and heaven.

My children and I enjoyed this book. The message is good and the illustrations are well done. However, when Lucado talks about parents teaching their children about heaven, he leaves it there. I don't understand why there is no mention of Jesus, the way to heaven. It seems like it would fit very nicely right there. I'm disappointed because I expected more of Lucado.

I want to thank BookSneeze for my copy of this book to review, but my opinions are my own.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Finished Object Friday

I made this blanket for one of my new friends down here in Florida. (If you know who I'm talking about, please don't tell her because I haven't given it to her yet.) She doesn't know if she's having a boy or girl; that's why it's a neutral color. Here is a close-up, so you can see the pattern a little better.

I don't know what else to say about this blanket except that not having a yarn store in town (even something like Michael's or Joann's) is aggravating. I finished this blanket two weeks ago except for two sides of the last round of the border. But I had nowhere to buy yarn, so it languished for a couple of weeks until I could get another skein to finish it. Ugh! But it's done now; hooray!

To see more finished objects, or to add your own, head over to Fresh from the Chari Tree.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Great News!

As you may remember, I've had a complication with this pregnancy. We weren't sure how serious it was, but we were praying that it would not be very serious at all. Yesterday, I had another ultrasound plus my first appointment at the high risk OB clinic. We'd been praying hard (as I'm sure a lot of you had, too) that we would receive good news. More importantly, however, we want God's name to be glorified.

Well, we got our good news! The ultrasound showed the same enlargement of the ventricles in the brain, but it was no bigger. We saw a new doctor (that's what happens in a teaching hospital, isn't it? New doctors every time.) who explained to us that the enlargement is at the upper end of normal. Since the reading hasn't changed any, maybe this enlargement is just the baby's "normal." I made the whole team laugh (yes, there was a team of residents and students looking at my big, ole belly and sonogram) when I told them that my children do have big heads. Dr. D thinks that this enlargement is stable and should continue to remain just as it is. He doesn't foresee there being any problems with the baby or with my having a vaginal delivery. Praise the Lord!

I want to thank everyone who prayed for us and for this baby. And I want to thank God publicly for answering our prayers about this baby.

Now we just need her to turn over because she's breech. But she's got eight weeks to do that!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tuesday's Tip: Picking out Clothes the Night Before

Have you heard of women laying their clothes out the night before? Do you do that? I really didn't think that I needed to do that. Usually, I wear a t-shirt and shorts (or jeans), and that doesn't require much forethought. If I were going somewhere where I wanted to look a little nicer, I might lay my clothes out...or not.

I'm not sure exactly when I started laying my clothes out every night before going to bed, but it's a helpful little activity. When I get up in the morning, it's still dark outside, and I don't want to turn a light on just to pick out my clothes. (It hurts my eyes!) And I certainly don't want to have to think about it. It's nice just to grab what I had laid out the night before and take it into the bathroom with me for my shower. I don't have to worry that my clothes may not be appropriate for the day; I thought about it the night before when I was thinking clearly. Grubby clothes for Cleaning Day and nicer clothes for Town or Errand Day.

Laying out my clothes the night before may not save me much time in the morning, but it does save me a little effort before my brain gets going in the morning. And that makes it worth it to me.

Do you lay your clothes out the night before?

Monday, October 10, 2011

How We (Typically) Spend Our Day

My mother is coming today, and we're so excited! We haven't seen her for almost two months, and after living in the same town as my parents, that's a long time. Because she will be here, I may not be around on the blogosphere as much as usual. I can think of few things more rude than spending time on the computer instead of with my guest. However, I do have a few posts planned for you, and I will be around a little.

I've read a few posts lately about how women spend their days at home. I find those type of posts relatively interesting, and in case you do, too, here is a look into our typical day. (Of course, this schedule is not set in stone, and things do not always go according to plan.)

6:00 - I roll out of bed and hop into the shower.
6:20 - I read my Bible, pray, and read a good-for-me book. Afterwards, I get on the computer and catch-up until my children wake up.
7:20 - Sarah Beth and Daniel make their appearance, and I get Rachel up. They get dressed, and we have breakfast.
7:50 - We clean up the kitchen, finish getting ready for the day, and do a couple of small chores.
8:45 - We start school. Here is what we are doing, if you're interested.
10:00 - School is over. Usually, I read a few books to my children, then I start to work on my chores. We play, do chores, and such until lunch time.
11:30 - Lunch. After cleaning up the lunch dishes, I play some more with my children and maybe work on more chores for the day.
1:00 - Rachel's nap time. And I get on the computer for half an hour while Sarah Beth and Daniel color at the table next to me.
1:30 - More reading to Sarah Beth and Daniel.
2:00 - Sarah Beth and Daniel have an hour of playtime in their room. I read a good-for-me book for ten to fifteen minutes, then I watch some television while I crochet.
3:00 - Snack time. Afterwards, we may play outside, read more books, finish chores, whatever. Also, I finish getting supper ready.
5:30 - 6:00 Supper, depending on what time John gets home. After supper, John usually spends time with our children while I finish cleaning up the kitchen.
7:30 - Children's bedtime. Yes, I know that's early, but by this time, I'm exhausted. We don't expect our children to go to sleep this early (and they don't!). They just need to be relatively quiet. I get back on the computer for a few more minutes and watch a little more television with John while I crochet.
9:00 - My bedtime. John usually follows shortly afterwards since his morning starts so early at 5:15.

I had no idea that my day was so regimented. Sure, there's lots of free time there, but we live by this schedule for the most least, during the week.

What does your day look like?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Recipe Fun Friday: Chocolate Chip Cookies

I received an email from John on Sunday with the subject "Cookies." What in the world is this email about? I wondered. When I clicked it open, he asked me to try this recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I was already planning to bake some chocolate chip cookies this week; it was just a different recipe that I wanted to try. Why not make my husband happy by trying out his recipe first? (John doesn't usually ask me to try recipes. Occasionally, he will look through a cookbook and point out one or two recipes he would like for me to prepare, but he has never emailed me a recipe before.) Chocolate chip cookies are our favorite, but we like them chewy instead of crunchy. I have searched and searched for a good, chewy cookie recipe, but I haven't been lucky so far.

So Wednesday afternoon, Sarah Beth, Daniel, and I prepared the cookie dough. Wednesday seemed like a good time since we have church that evening, and my children might not mind (as much) not baking the cookies immediately.

Then yesterday afternoon while Rachel napped, we baked the cookies. The dough was a little hard since they had been refrigerated overnight, but my scoop was able to handle it. Then, of course, we had to sample them. What do you think? Do you think my children enjoyed them? Rachel woke up in time to get one, too.

More importantly, what did John think? He loved them! He said that they were the best cookies I've made. Wow! These cookies are very good, and they are chewy! If you're looking for a good, chewy chocolate chip cookie, you should try these.

If you click over to the original recipe, you'll see that it calls for pastry flour. Have you heard of that before? I hadn't. When I looked it up online, I discovered that pastry flour has less gluten (the sticky part of flour) than all-purpose flour but more than cake flour. So you can substitute some of each in a ratio of 2:1 all-purpose flour to cake flour. That's what I did, what I had to do, since our grocery store in this little town doesn't carry pastry flour.

Also, if you print out the original recipe, you'll discover that it makes 8 1/2 dozen cookies, and I didn't think that my mixer would handle that much dough. And I didn't feel like chopping up chocolate, so I just used chocolate chunks and chips. (I forgot to buy enough chunks.)

So here's the recipe that I used, after all of my tweaking:

1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup AP flour
1/2 cup cake flour
3 cups bread flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 bag (11.5 oz) chocolate chunks
1 cup chocolate chips

  • Cream together the sugars and butter.
  • Add eggs.
  • Add flours, baking powder, baking soda, and vanilla. Mix well.
  • Add chocolate.
  • Let dough sit at least 24 hours in the refrigerator before baking.
  • Scoop cookie dough onto baking sheets.
  • Bake at 350 for 10 - 15 minutes until lightly browned but still soft.
  • Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
I'm not sure what refrigerating the dough for 24 hours does, but I did it. And it made clean-up easier because I was able to clean up all the mess from making the dough on Wednesday and the mess from baking the cookies on Thursday. That was kind of nice!

Oh, and I got almost six dozen cookies from my halving the recipe; apparently, the person who came up with this recipe used a bigger cookie scoop than I did.

Does your husband ask you to try out new recipes? Does he email them to you? (I think he just did that because it was the easiest way to get the website to me.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Grass is Always Greener....

"The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." Back when we had horses, I remember seeing them with their heads stuck through the boards of the fence, nibbling at the grass on the other side. There was plenty of grass in the pasture with them, but apparently, it looked better on the other side of the fence. Sometimes, like horses, we look longingly on what we can't have. It looks so much better than what we do have, and it's hard to be content.

Several years ago when I was still working full-time (pre-children), the pharmacy at the hospital I worked for decided to make some changes. None of us pharmacists were happy about the changes, and several of us talked about leaving. I'll never forget what one woman told me, "There are problems everywhere; you just leave the problems that you know for the ones you don't." Yes, I had learned to deal with the problems where I currently worked; was it worth it to exchange those problems for ones that I knew nothing about?

What brought about all of this reflection? Last night, I heard about a woman who was leaving her husband so she could find someone "better." She sees the greener grass on the other side of the fence. But my wise, former co-worker would tell her that she is just exchanging one set of problems for another -- problems she knows and has learned to deal with for problems that she knows nothing about.

I wonder how often we do this: wish for something that we don't have, not realizing that what seems so wonderful to us actually has just as many, if not more, problems associated with it. Oh, how I need to pray for contentment because God has placed me in these circumstances, and He surely knows what He is doing.

Are you often tempted by the "greener grass"? What do you do about it?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review: The Grace of God by Andy Stanley

The Grace of God by Andy Stanley takes the reader through the Bible showing how God's grace is made manifest through so many ways. Some of the ways are surprising, like His reaction to Adam's original sin, the giving of the Ten Commandments (and the myriad of other laws for the Israelites), and even His orders to exterminate all of the Canaanites. Of course, Stanley also goes through the ones that are easier to understand: Jonah, the Prodigal Son, etc.. If you're looking for a good introduction to what God's grace really is, you should read this book.

However, as with everything else this side of heaven, this book is not perfect. Stanley says, "Much of our confusion around grace stems from our confusion about sin. Simply put, we severely underestimate the impact of sin on our souls and on our world" (p. 11). True, true, but this statement doesn't go far enough. The reason that we don't understand how powerful God's grace is, the reason we don't understand the full impact of our sin, is because we don't understand how holy God is. Without that knowledge of God's holiness, we don't realize how much God did for us when He gave His Son to die in our places.

Another place this book misses the mark occurs in the epilogue "How Sweet the Sound." He makes it sound as if we can do whatever we like, that nothing is required of us, once we have God's grace. This is not true. Yes, grace is a free gift of God; there is nothing we can do to earn it. If there were, it wouldn't be grace. However, as Paul says in Romans 6:1-2, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (emphasis added). In other words, because we have experienced God's grace, we should work very hard not to sin any more. Or as Evangelism Explosion puts it, we should live a life of gratitude for what God has given us, that is, to stop much as we are able.

Despite these two shortcomings, I did enjoy this book. It was easy to read, and it explained a good bit about some of the cultures during Biblical times. And, as I said before, it is a really good introduction to God's grace. Just be sure to keep reading; don't stop with this book!

I want to thank BookSneeze for my copy of this book to review, but my opinions are my own.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Trip to the Zoo

I haven't posted many pictures of my children lately, and I thought I would take this opportunity to remedy that. We went to the zoo on Saturday; finally, we got some fall-feeling weather with a high of only 80. It was wonderful!

Sarah Beth and Daniel looking for a stingray to touch. Rachel and I stayed out of the area, and I love our zoom lens for the camera because it looks like I was right there!

Here are their faces.

And here is a decent picture of John. I don't get many pictures of him on my blog, do I?

While we were waiting for the others to pet stingrays.

Playing on an alligator statue.

Same thing, different children.

Hard at play.

Riding the carousel was one of Sarah Beth's highlights.

This was the only carousel horse that Daniel wanted to ride. We don't know why he didn't want to ride the real, moving ones.

I just thought this was a cute picture. We were waiting patiently for Sarah Beth's carousel ride.

Sweet girl rode around in the stroller all day. Just look at that wild and crazy hair! We have a trip planned to get it cut this week.

What did you do this weekend? Anything fun?