Monday, October 12, 2015

Another Fishy Tale

Once upon a time, I told the story of Maddie's pet fish and how we did not achieve a happily ever after.  At the time, were living in a small townhome so she stuck to mothering plants for awhile.  In the spring of 2011, we we bought our house and Maddie again asked for a pet.  Within the year we welcomed a dog and in another year, a cat.

Early this year, Maddie wanted to be a plant mother again so she started a catnip plant from tiny, tiny seeds.  It sprouted and grew and began to thrive.  She had to transplant it to larger pots three times!  It even won first place at the county fair this summer.  

In July, a friend asked if she could gift Maddie a fish for her birthday.  I hesitated initially because our original fish project had ended so sadly, but we decided it was time for Maddie to try her hand at fish mothering again.

Maddie was surprised and delighted.  She deliberated on a name for her new betta and settled on Pipp (to compliment our dog named Finn, and our cats, Dott and Tigger).  The afternoon after Pipp came to live with us, Maddie spent hours in a bean bag chair in front of the tank, reading pamphlets and information on how to care for her new pet.  

Pipp is a well-loved, well-cared for fish.  And we are hopeful for a happy ending this time.

The End.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

This Year's Bible Memory Work

We began using the memory box system over three years ago to help us memorize Scripture, and to aid us in continuing to remember and meditate on it.  This year, we are adding a few new passages to our box.  We started with Matthew 5: 3-12. While Ben and Owen took to it right away and can fire off the whole thing in their sleep, the rest of us are having a bit of difficulty keeping all the verses straight!  Thankfully, we'll be coming back to it frequently as we review it every odd day of the week.  

Our current daily scripture is Romans 12:12 and later this year, we will begin I Thessalonians 5:12-24.

These new passages join the many other passages we have learned over the years: 

§  Psalm 23 
§  Psalm 100 
§  Isaiah 30:21  
§  Daniel 7:9 
§  Matthew 5:44 
§  The Lord’s Prayer 
§  Luke 2: 1-20 
§  Luke 6:31 
§  John 3:16-17 
§  John 6:35 
§  John 10:10 
§  John 15:1 
§  Ephesians 4:32 
§  Philippians 2:14-15 
§  James 1:12 
§  James 3:17-18 
§  Revelation 1:8 
§  Revelation 22:16 
§  The Books of the Old and New Testament 

In October 2013, during my 31 Days, 31 Printables series, I shared a set of Scripture memory flash cards which included some of the above verses.  Use the free printable 3x5 cards to begin your own memory box!

Bonus: Check my Facebook page tomorrow to watch Alaine, age 5, recite Revelation 22:16.  Update: To view the video, click here.

Does your family memorize scripture together? 
Have you found any ways to make it fun or methods to aid in memorization?
Are you like me in that you struggle to remember while your kids grasp it right away?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

4 Things I Learned in September

I'm joining Emily Freeman in sharing what I learned this month.  Some things are serious, some helpful, and some are simply fun.

Here's my list, in no particular order:

1) I learned more than I wanted to know about choroid plexus cysts. At our routine 20 week ultrasound, they found a choroid plexus cyst on our baby's brain.  These cysts occur in 1 to 2 percent of babies and are the result of a little bubble of spinal fluid being pinched off as the choroid plexus forms. The cysts are not a concern in themselves and almost always goes away on their own.  They are not considered  brain abnormalities.  The concern is that choroid plexus cysts are a soft marker for Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards' Syndrome, a genetic condition that causes severe birth defects.

I was scheduled for a more detailed ultrasound with a specialist, but I had to wait nine days. I was nervous going into the appointment, but I was also graced with a marvelous peace.  One of the signs of a Trisomy 18 baby is clenched hands, but this was the first image we saw on the ultrasound screen. 

Both the tech and the doctor did a detailed examination of the baby from head to toe (via ultrasound), and not only were there no defects but the cyst had already dissolved!

2) This was the month I discovered chia seeds. Chia seeds are high in protein, fiber, and omega-3, all things my pregnant body needs.  They have a mild, almost non-existent taste so they are easy to add to the recipes I already make.  I'm enjoying them mostly for breakfast.  Combined with oatmeal or quinoa, they keep me full most of the morning.  I've discovered a few new recipes, too:

3) There is an easier way to stir natural peanut butter. Why had I never realized that keeping the jar upside down until ready to break the seal and stir makes things 10 times easier?! The oil settles near the top, which is actually the bottom. Right before opening, flip it right side up.  The oil takes time to rise to the surface so in the meantime, get stirring.  It is so much less messy!

4) I really do have a lot of shoes.  Brian has been telling me that for years and maybe it's not a lot compared to some women, but when I counted, I have 13 pairs for fall. The good news is that Maddie, my 11-year-old, is only about half a shoe size smaller so we are starting to share shoes.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The {Almost} Easiest Pizza Sauce... Ever

I say almost because opening a can or jar of pizza sauce is always the easiest, but if you want a delicious sauce where you can pronounce all the ingredients and you don't want to spend extra time in the kitchen, this is the sauce for you!  It's easy enough that my kids can throw it together while I'm rolling out the pizza dough.  

It's a versatile sauce, too.  We use it for all variety of pizzas-- personal pizzas, family-size pizzas, Naan pizzas, French bread pizzas, etc.-- and also in stromboli, with meatballs, or as a dipping sauce for bread sticks.

The {Almost} Easiest Pizza Sauce

1 clove of garlic (or 1 t. minced garlic)
1 T olive oil
1 15 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

Saute garlic in olive oil until fragrant and lightly browned.  Scrape garlic into blender or food processor. (Or skip this step all together and put garlic and olive oil directly in blender.)

Add a can of fire-roasted tomatoes on top of the garlic.  Puree until smooth. 


Saturday, September 26, 2015

All the Things

We completed our eighth week of school yesterday.  We've been plugging away at this school year for almost two months and it feels as though we have a semi-routine going. 

And then this week happened.  And our extra-curriculars realized that school was back in session, too.

We had a field trip on Wednesday.

Gym class started on Thursday.  This is Alaine's first year to participate.  She picked out a pink water bottle with hearts and laid out her favorite outfit the night before. 

She wasn't the only one that was excited, though.  I'm not sure what they enjoy more: the activities or seeing their friends.  (I could venture a guess.)

Friday was the first day of Book Club for this year.  While Maddie was snacking on homemade treats, drinking tea, and discussing Around the World in 80 Days with her friends, the rest of us picked up what we needed from Walmart...

...and stopped for a late afternoon treat.

With book work every morning and then activities taking us out of the house three afternoons in a row, I need a few minutes this weekend to get my house back in order.  The laundry is clean but not folded, and clutter, papers, and Legos are threatening a take-over.

The forecasted rain is altering some of our weekend plans and since that is keeping us closer to home, I plan to try a new recipe today that requires slow roasting in the oven all afternoon.  I'm also making a new fall dessert recipe to take to Sunday lunch at my parents' house.  The smells and tastes of this weekend are promising!

I'm going to savor it all before we beginning another whirlwind week.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pregnancy Update {22 Weeks}

I've passed the halfway point in the this pregnancy.  With other pregnancies, I remember a sense of panic setting in at 20 weeks, thinking about how much time I had left.  It's different this time. I am determined to enjoy each day that I'm able.  Plus, I've got older kids to keep me busy.  Keeping up with their school and activities doesn't leave me a lot of time for counting down the days.

How far along? 
about 22 weeks


Before the big 20 week ultrasound, I asked for gender guesses on my Facebook page. All seven of us at our house were thinking girl and many of you guessed girl, too.  This is the photo we sent out to some of our family and friends after we found out for sure. 

There was no hesitating or wondering.  The tech said, "Let's see if Baby will cooperate...oh, it's a girl!" 

With all of us leaning toward girl, I had almost convinced myself it had to be a boy.  We had come to an easy consensus on a boy name, too.  We are having a much tougher time agreeing on a girls' name.

The ultrasound photo below holds very special meaning, but I'll get to that in another post.

Maternity clothes? 
It's fun to be creative with what I'm wearing.  My belly is not overwhelmingly big (yet) so I'm working with a mixed closet of maternity clothes and stretchy "normal" clothes.  


Brian and the kids gave me a body pillow for my birthday.  It's not the kind designed specifically for pregnancy.  It's just the long, flexible kind you can find at Walmart or Target, specifically during back-to-college season.  It is so helpful when finding a comfortable sleeping position.  I can lay my head on it, put it between my knees, and push it under my belly for support...all at the same tine.

I feel excellent right now (aside from a head cold I'm battling this week).  I am reveling in the ease of the second trimester.


I started feeling her move around 16 weeks.  By 18 weeks, Brian and the kids could feel her move, too, if they were patient.  Now you can see my belly move from the outside!  

Food cravings:

Still loving my fruits and veggies.  I ate apples with peanut butter for awhile and most recently I've been on an orange kick.  On Monday, I cooked a huge pot of minestrone soup for dinner.  Everyone ate a bowl, though some people only barely choked down the kaleThat's fine with me because now I get leftovers for lunch all week. I'm also looking forward to baking the sweet potatoes I bought at the grocery store.  

My only guilty craving is steak burritoes (or steak burrito bowls) from Chipotle, and I can't even feel too guilty about that.  Quite by accident, I was able to indulge by Chipotle craving twice last week! 
Anything making you queasy or sick?
Morning sickness is long in the past so the only things that make me sick are getting too hungry or getting too full.  It's a delicate balance! 

What I miss:    
I miss the option of staying up late.  I rarely did it, but at least I couldNow I turn into a pumpkin after 10 o'clock at night.

Belly button in or out? 
Out, and trying not to feel self-conscious when it shows through my clothing.
Wedding rings on or off?

On, and they are still a little loose.  I hope they stay that way! 


I've lost my lap! Our cat, Tigger, doesn't mind, though.  He likes to hug my belly.  

I still run about four miles a day, six days a week. I'm so much slower than I used to be, but Brian reminds me that at least I'm out there doing it at all.  I have a 5K race this weekend and my goal is to have fun, not set any speed records.

Not yet.  I expect the Braxton Hicks to start soon.  I think I started feeling them around five or six months when I was pregnant with Alaine. 

Labor signs:  
No, and I hope it stays that way for months to come.

Birth plans:
The midwife practice has grown since my last pregnancy.  When Alaine was born, there were two midwives.  Now there are five!  It's unfortunate that I don't get to know each one as well as I would like, but it's wonderful because there is guaranteed to be a midwife on call when I go into labor. 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

8th Grade

It would be an understatement if I said that our home is under a load of hormones.  Between my pregnant mood swings and two (yes, two) kids experiencing the growth pangs of adolescence...tears, sighs, angst, and ravenous appetites are a daily battle.  It is not unusual for a writing assignment or a simple question to end with someone spontaneously bursting into tears or peacefully seeking time alone. 

There are many happy moments, too, like the fact that Gavin has hit his stride in school this year.  He is in eighth grade, his last year before the scary thing thing called high school.  (It's not really scary, but counting hours and keeping track of credits is intimidating!) At the beginning of the school year, we talked a lot about independence and how he needed to be responsible for his daily and weekly schedule.  He needed to remember what was required each day.  That responsibility gave him the privilege of flexibility.  If he wanted to work ahead or rearrange his workload, it was his choice as long as he completed a full week of assignments.  

Those who know Gavin well, know that he is a bit, shall we say, scatterbrained.  More accurately, he is in his own world.  He is a deep thinker and often tunes out the conversations and happenings around him.  We often participate in family discussions over dinner that he has no recollection of the next day.  He remembers facts well, especially if those facts have significance to something he loves.  Names, however, or places, details, and times come in at the bottom of his priority list.  Requiring him to take charge of his own school work seemed like a stretch.  

This year he is taking Algebra 1.  His math curriculum is self-taught, but I decided to experiment with giving him the answer key, too.  After completing the day's lesson and problems, he checks his own work and then goes back through to fix what was incorrect.  It's not simply a matter of erasing one answer and replacing it with another.  He has to do the work to understand why it was wrong in the first place.  Though he does well in math, he does not enjoy it.  Last year that meant that he saved it for the end of the day when his brain was already frazzled.  This year, with our new system, he has chosen to tackle math first.  When he reaches a concept that he just cannot grasp on his own, I let him know that I am there for tutoring and questions, but this new system of independence is working well and growing his maturity.  

For months, I thought I knew what he would be studying for eighth grade science.  All I needed to do was order the book.  About three weeks before school started, we were having a conversation in the car and Gavin was telling me everything he knew about sharks. I quickly reworked our plans so that instead he could devote his year to learning about aquatic animals this school year.  He is working through the science book independently, with plenty of discussion on the side. He has created an accompanying notebook with all of his sketches, photographs, notes, and science experiment sheets.  This notebook is very important to him and he takes pride in keeping it just-so.

We're expecting the new baby in four months. With  all the joy will also come disruptions, uncertainty, and schedule changes, but now I know that next year when high school, Gavin is ready to take it all in stride.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What Will It Be?

If you haven't liked  my Facebook page yet, now might be the time.  Tonight we are having a discussion about my big ultrasound tomorrow.

Will it be a boy?  Or maybe a girl?

Join the conversation here.

And check back there tomorrow evening for the announcement.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Garden Beauties

Ben enjoying a fresh peach
I love fresh veggies in the summer, but I have such a black thumb that I've never had a garden.  I guess I could say I've made an attempt.  In our days of apartment living, I tried container gardening but I never reaped a harvest.  

With summer winding down, a gardener on our road set up a produce stand with his surplus.  On Saturdays he sold his wares and on Sundays, he gave the leftovers away for free.  Several weeks on the way to church, we stopped and filled bags with tomatoes and squash and peppers and cucumbers and peaches!  

Vegetables literally covered our kitchen counter. We ate our fill of raw veggies and loaded our salads with them.  I'm craving vegetables with this pregnancy  (a wonderful craving to have!) and my 6-year-old, Ben, will chose veggies over sweets for a snack, but even so, we could not eat it all. I turned to the internet for ideas of how to use our vegetables in other ways.  

(Recipes are from around the web; photos are mine.)

For breakfast, I made roasted peaches.


For lunch another day, I tried this stuffed pepper recipe and there were leftovers for the next day, too. 

I made several batches of cucumbers in vinegar.  I used less sugar than what is called for because we like the tang.

I made chunky tomato sauce, but instead of pasta, I mixed it with quinoa.

I brought squash casserole to a family dinner.

For dessert, we enjoyed  peach crisp.  It was just as good leftover with a splash of milk poured over the top. 

September has arrived.  It is still in the 90s around here, but a few cooler mornings are whispering that fall is around the corner.   Any recipes I shouldn't miss before summer produce is gone for the year?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Whats and the Wheres

{This post contains some affiliate links.  If you choose to purchase, my family receives a small commission at no additional cost to you.  This post also contains just-for-fun links for your pleasure.}

As of today, Thursday, August 27:

What I'm Reading:

I'm only reading one book!  My whole reading pattern has changed since I've been pregnant.  I'm in the middle of The Waiting: The True Story of a Lost Child, a Lifetime of Longing, and a Miracle for a Mother Who Never Gave Up, but next up is God and Jetfire: Confessions of a Birth Mother.  Do you sense a theme?

What I'm Watching:
Until fall and winter TV returns (hello, Survivor and Downton Abbey), I'm exploring TV on DVD.  Currently I'm watching The Bletchley Circle: Season 2, which I can only describe as Call the Midwife-era British murder mysteries.  In a totally different direction, I plan to re-watch  The Business of Being Borntonight if Brian works late.  (He watched it with me once years ago, but I doubt he wants a see it again!) 

What I'm Wearing:
I discovered thredUP a few years ago.  Quality used clothes in name brands?  Sign me up!  A few weeks ago, with birthday money in hand, I scoured the (literally) thousands of maternity choices and picked out four pieces.  Less than a week later, they were in my mailbox.  My absolute favorite is this Old Navy dress.
photography by Owen

I'm excited because this dress is so versatile!  I can wear it as an everyday dress with flipflops and shades (left), dressed up with some pretty jewelry and shoes (middle and below), and then transition it right into fall (right). 

thredUp has selections for women and children.  If you sign up with my link, you get a $20 credit and I get one, too.  It's a win for both of us. 

What I'm Eating:
I made this meatball sub casserole earlier this week and LOVED it!  My family? Not so much.  The good news is I get to enjoy the leftovers for lunch.

I'm also craving and eating a lot of Mexican food.  We've had quesadillas twice in the past seven days because they are easy to throw together, filling, and healthy.  We made a batch of chicken, black bean, cheese quesadillas and were eating within 20 minutes of coming home from the pool last Friday.  Serve with a side of chopped tomatoes and lettuce or with sour cream and salsa and a sprinkle or two of cayenne. 

What I'm Drinking:
I am all about water.  I love water.  My kids laugh when I say it is my favorite drink.  However, I've been drinking more herbal tea since I've been pregnant.  I'm not normally a fan of hot tea, but fruit teas with a pinch of sugar or a drizzle of honey is working for me right now.

What I'm Listening To:
Podcasts are my thing right now.  Since I'm all about the experience, not the speed, while I run, podcasts are like having a conversation with a friend. My faves right now are Mystery Show (non-Christian but totally clean) and Sorta Awesome (I pick and choose the episodes that are interesting to me.).

What I'm Looking Forward To: 
We have our big ultrasound in less than two weeks!  We're planning a fun way to do an informal gender reveal to our friends and family.


Where I'm Going:
We're going to the beach for a few hours this weekend.  We plan to get there in the afternoon and bring our dinner.  Last September we spent a day at the beach and I read for hours while the kids and Brian played in the waves.  I had the best time I've ever had at the beach, but they all felt sorry for me.  This time, I've promised the kids that since I bought a maternity swimsuit, I will get in the water with them if only for a little while.  I am not a beach kind of girl-- never have been-- but I'm making a effort to make memories and this is important to them. 

What is on your radar right now? What should I read or listen to or watch?  Any great recipes to share? 

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