Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today Starts with a Downer

1) I'm going to be 40, not in the next year, but soon enough.

2) My 20 year high school reunion is this August.

3) I just got my first pair of bifocals, love being able to see, hate the idea that I need them.

4) I need to lose weight (see #2), a lot of weight but I won't put a number here.

5) My hair is grayer each & every day. And the gray ones have a weird texture - who else has noticed this???

6) And I don't like the cut, I have a friend who says I live in 'Hair Hell.' She's right.

7) I am the parent of a teenager.

8) I am the parent of a 4 year old.

9) I live in a recession and could use a bump in my monthly income.

10) I have nothing to wear.

11) The cooking, cleaning & laundry never seem to end.

12... So obviously this day has been a bummer. Not sure why. Work is busy keeping one part of my brain busy and seems like this makes the negative stuff rattle around in the other part... Then I heard the song 'Mirror' by Barlow Girl and I thought that was just perfect! Here's a snippet:

Who are you to tell me
That I'm less than what I should be?
Who are you? Who are you?
I don't need to listen...

Mirror I am seeing a new reflection
I'm looking into the eyes of He who made me
And to Him I have beauty beyond compare
I know He defines me

You don't define me, you don't define me!

I realized I was buying into crap. So I won't. I have a few blogs I follow. One is the Way of the Moth and the author, Tattoo Girl (don't you love that moniker?), ends every entry with the word 'PREVAIL.' I like that. I won't steal it from her, but will choose to prevail. God gets to say who I am. He gets to say what I do. He whispers how He loves me. I choose to listen. I will choose to follow and act. I know who wins. I will prevail, because He will.

That's it for this 'black Tuesday'!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Parenting Tidbits

I have a short fuse. As you can imagine, by the end of the day I have little patience when putting Grace to bed. After the fight over what to have for a snack, the teeth brushing and flossing war, finding blankie and getting pajamas on, I'm ashamed to say that I could usually open her bedroom door, toss her on the bed and quickly exit. (Well, that should forestall anyone asking me to babysit anytime soon!) I do have visions about a sweet time where we snuggle up and share great parts of our day, and once and a while it happens, just not nearly often enough. So the other night I was trying to get Grace to lay down so we could pray and I could get some down time and she just wouldn't lay down. In exasperation I finally asked her what was her deal and she sweetly said that if she laid down (tummy sleepers, both of us) and Jesus was in her heart, then when we prayed, Jesus wouldn't be able to hear her! How sweet is that! So we laughed and talked about how God, who is Jesus, or Jesus who is one of three parts of God (to a four year old!) can hear us all the time whenever, wherever, audibly or not and how amazing that is! And then she laid down and thanked God for her day and the fun she had and how she loves Him. I would have missed it if I'd just thrown her in her bed - I'm glad I didn't! (And just for the record, I never have.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Recipe Box Wednesday

Pan o' Baked, Bubbly Pasta Goodness (commonly know as Lasagna)

At one of my bridal showers, 17+ years ago, I received a bunch of tried and true recipes from the ladies. This lasagna recipe is from the shower and is one of my favorites - it's so good and you make it with raw/uncooked noodles which makes it super easy. And it freezes well. Bonus! The ingredient's list is mixed in with the directions so I bolded them for easy reference.


1) 1# ground meat (I use beef but have done turkey & venison, both good) Brown, drain, return to largish frying pan

2) In pan with browned meat add:
14.5 oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes cut up w/juice (or pureed)
6 oz. can tomato paste
1 C. water 1 Tbsp. sugar 2 Tbsp. parsley flakes 1 tsp. basil
and mix together.

3) In a large bowl, mix:
24 oz. cottage cheese (your choice large or small curd)
4 oz. Parmesan cheese 1 Tbsp. parsley flakes 1 tsp. oregano

4) Grease 9x13" pan and layer:
* 1/2 of the meat/tomato mixture
* 1/2 box raw lasagna noodles (small box)
* all the cottage cheese mixture
* 1/2 box raw lasagna noodles
* remaining meat/tomato mixture
* 8 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded

5) Bake at 350 for 1 hour, covered. Test noodle 'doneness' w/sharp knife. If soft, remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes. Let stand a few minutes before cutting. Remember to use UNCOOKED noodles. After this is baked and cooled it can be frozen for another meal.


I often double this recipe and make two pans at once, one in a regular cake pan, one in a foil one to go right in the freezer once it's baked. One of my recent goals as a parent is to teach our 13 year old how to cook things he likes and introduce him to things he might like if he wasn't afraid of what may be mixed in them. I hope to send him off, someday, with a sort of homemade cookbook of family favorites, scrapbook pages with recipes and pictures of him making different things and then submitted to one of the places that makes books... great wedding gift, eh?
What does the recipe say???
Spreading the cottage cheese mixture (which he won't eat alone, but LOVED in the lasagna! Score 1 for 'the plan'!) I didn't get any photos of the final product - next time for sure!
Cookbooks are always better with a photo of what you are making.

Let me know how you like it!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Things that make Grace scream

I will leave the office in a few minutes and was thinking about picking up Grace from preschool, walking to the van waaaayy out in the parking juggling whatever great projects she absolutely has to take home tonight, driving the loooonnnngg (BORing, Mom!) ride home (it's 9 miles!) and getting into the house, around the dog who will crowd the door, into the kitchen, getting wet boots off and jacket onto a hook... to the part where she yells about how hungry she is and demands something to eat now! But not whatever is for supper, because she doesn't want that. So I was thinking about things that will make Grace scream in the next 45 minutes or so.

1. I will urge her to hurry as I get her from preschool. She will yell that she is!
2. I will tell her that she needs to carry whatever it it that she picked to bring to school for snuggle time this morning.
3. I will tell her that if she has a project that she must bring home tonight, that must not be crushed in my bag, she must carry it as well.
4. I will say she must wear her jacket, hat & mittens because I am not carrying them either.
5. Her feet will get too tired to walk all the way to the van.
6. I will tell her that we need to hurry, Daddy is waiting for us at home!
7. Her legs will suddenly become too tired to walk all the way to the van.
8. I will tell her that we must hold hands in the street and parking lot.
9. She will clamour into the van (by myself, Mom!), sit on the seatbelt with all her stuff on her lap then complain that it takes me too long to get her buckled.
10. She will tell me that she is hungry and did I bring her a treat? No.
11. But she was GOOD! No. We will have supper when we get home...
12. What's for supper? Whatever it is, I don't like it...
13. She will attempt to unbuckle before the van hits park in the driveway, we will talk about safety...
14. She will attempt to weedle me into carrying her or all her precious stuff or her and all her precious stuff. No.
15. Yell at the dog to get out of our way.
16. Yell that she can't take her jacket & boots off. She needs help!
17. Ask what's for dinner. Inform us she doesn't like it.
18. We inform her that's is too bad and that's what we are having.
19. She asks if she can eat in the living room and watch TV while she eats. No.
20. Fight over each bite of supper, whatever it is.
21. Can she have a treat now?
22. Can she watch now?

Yes Grace, please go. Now. :O)
I'll let you know how this turns out.

Attempt at Organizing Our Lives

At work (an IT department in a state college) we have recently purchased a new software system called Request Tracker. It is a great tool to (wait for it...) track and organize requests, manage projects, and gives a snapshot of what's been done and what still needs doing. Sweet! If only I had this for my life! So I'm hunting down some ideas to help run the household that will make sense for the whole family.

Hubby created a list a while ago detailing what needs done each day to maintain some semblance of order. Things like vacuuming (we have a large, hairy dog), KP duty, laundry and more were listed by day. This seemed to work pretty well for a while then someone's schedule would change and someone would miss out on dishes or garbage and mess up the schedule. For months the list was displayed on the fridge, conveniently overlooked in favor of better things to do. And the house has fallen into disrepair or disorganization... or disclean? Or something. Google search is fabulous and here are a few sites and links that have helped get us on the road to organization.

Lara, the Lazy Organizer is a woman after my own heart and with each post I am finding ideas to use. She has done some organizational stuff like described above for her family, too. Check it out!

I also love MeckMom who has many things she 'just thought she'd pass on.' And I usually find lots to use here, too! Like this post on her Mom Game Plan from which I blatantly stole the format for my end result (with great appreciation from me [who needs to reinvent the wheel] and implied permission from her blog).

Oh, if you are as crazy-inspired by looking at and dreaming about organizational tips and tricks as I am, check out Chart Jungle where you can download and print charts for your personal use as long as you leave the copywrite info on it. Oh the bliss of a 4 year old, motivated by a secret prize if she only earns 7 X's on the 'Listen & Obey' chart! "Can I listen again, Mommy? Right now?" "Why, yes you may, darling!" There are many other kinds on this site than parenting, but if you read my previous post Our Spirited Child, you will know why this turns my crank. ;O)

So, here is my current document:
I made the first column blank to jot down who needs to be where and when. Not too many details - that's what the big wall calendar is for, but enough so we can see if it needs to be a fast dinner and who will be around for kp duty. On Saturday we will use this information to plan appropriate meals and chores for the following week. Hopefully this will keep us a bit more on top of our house situation. I did print this in color and laminate it, thinking we could reuse it again and again, and the dry erase markers just bead up on the plastic coating. Bummer. So now I am printing the form a few at a time to allow for change if something isn't working. And I will admit I get a strange, if brief, flutter of exhilaration when crossing things off lists!

There are a few items that didn't make the chore list, like emptying the dishwasher. It needs doing everyday and as good as crossing things off lists make me feel, it just seemed silly to note it every day simply to cross it off. Yesterday Grace (4) was promoted to chief silverware sorter, which she is thrilled about! Micah (13) usually empties the dishwasher daily and he started with the silverware at about 3 or 4 so I think it's time we start Grace on the chore. Last night as I was loading the dishwasher she could hear the silverware going in and ran into the kitchen howling to not forget her and the silverware are her job! Wonder how long that will last?

How do you organize your family chores? What keeps you organized and on top of it? Let me know!
Finally, here's a picture of Grace 'helping' me with the dreaded chore of braving the grocery store. Polly Penguin, who came home from preschool in a cooler with a snack back of goldfish crackers, had to come too. Grace and I both thought she was particularly at home in the freezer section!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Way to a Teenager's Heart

Tips to reach the heart
of a 13 year old boy:

* Don't take too many pictures. It's annoying.

* Don't ask too many personal questions, especially about girls! Don't be nosy.

* Don't suggest he do anything resembling chores.
He's too busy.

* Don't tell him how to dress. Whatever is on top when he opens a drawer is just fine.

* Don't talk about personal hygiene. Too personal, Mom!

* Don't ask him to try new foods, especially vegetables. Pizza, Mac n' Cheese and pop cover at least some of the food groups, right?

* Don't mention manners. Who really notices if 'please & thank yous' are used and elbows are on tables and chewing occurs with mouths wide open?

* Don't ask him to ... just don't ask him anything.

But when that fails, and you do have to ask him about all these things, because you want him to grow into a strong, disciplined, self-sufficient man, make sure you teach him to cook and bake and then feed him.

Rice Crispy Bars
Don't worry - his heart is in there somewhere!
If the way to a man's heart is through his stomach,
you'll eventually reach it!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Non-Negotiables

Having non-negotiables is (apparently) a great way to know what you know, have a response predetermined in various situations, and rest in where you currently are. I thought I'd give a shot at listing some of my non-negotiables. There are two kinds I am primarily interested in. 1) What I know for sure about God and B) what I know is right for me. (Remember when Paul on 'Mad About You' counted like that? I still think it's amusing... I miss that show!) I fully expect these lists to grow, but this is a start.

Things I Know about God

* God is good. All the time. Anything bad that happens is not God punishing me or anyone else. It's a result of sin in the world, even my own sin, and I will trust that He will use all things for His good purpose. I admit I frequently have an entitled, why'me attitude and when this creeps up on me I will rest in the fact that GOD IS GOOD.

* He loves little old me. Father God would send His Son Jesus to die again, even if it were only for me. I am worth it. I will try and wrap my mind and heart around that and walk in it!

* He forgives me, He forgives me, He forgives me. Enough said.

* God's Holy Spirit is in me, leading, guiding, correcting, healing, teaching...

more to come for this list....

Truths I need to walk in daily

* What I put into my body matters, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I need to be careful about what I am cultivating in my life and remember that I am a temple of the Holy Spirit.

* My husband and children are blessings in my life and each moment together, no matter what we are doing, is precious. Take advantage of these times. Things like dishes, laundry and TV are not more important.

* It's OK to be broken. Only when I allow myself to see this, and let other people see it, can God fix it. I want to be fixed!

more on this one later, too, I'm sure...

These are just the non-negotiables on the very top of my list, off the top of my head. Now that they are down on paper, I can set them asaide and let the next batch filter through. Do you have non-negotiables? What are they? How do you walk them out?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New Perspective

Today I will spend my lunch hour picking out new glasses and putting an outrageous amount of money on my debit card. Thank God for flexible spending accounts! With my new look will come new vision. With my first and last pair of glasses I became aware that what I thought was normal vision wasn't and things I thought were clear were cloudy. And I didn't know it. This purchase will change that again, this time I am getting bifocals. I'm excited to see, I'm not excited for bifocals. I have vivid memories of my mom walking around the house with a 'I-just-got-bifocals-highstep' while muttering about feeling slightly nauseous. While this only lasted a few days and occurred almost 20 years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember my 20/20 vision self thinking that bifocals meant that you are OLD! And now my not-yet-40 self is getting some.

I could be vain and not wear the glasses I have, I passed my last driver's licence renewal without a vision restriction and I can see without them. But the books need to be further and further away when I read and I would be no help with a license plate number were I to witness a dramatic high speed car chase without them. I could keep wearing the glasses I have now. They are cute, kind of funky and comfortable. Cashiers at the grocery store and other random people still compliment me on them, and who has time to read that much anyway? Someone else could always hold a book for me, from way over there, so I could read it...

So I will get the bifocals. But, they will be the kind with no line in them because I don't want to look like I'm that old - you know, as old as my mom was 20 years ago and almost as old as I am now. As I think about what kind of glasses I want I'm finding it an interesting study in how I want to portray myself. You actually get to think about how you want others to see you. Should I go sans glasses and get contacts? My husband has to help me with eye drops (really) and I can't imagine putting anything else in my eyes. I'm sure he doesn't want to add that to his to-do list each morning and night.

Should I get funky glasses? Exactly how funky? Kind of fun, but not too bizarre - I don't want to draw too much attention, but funky glasses could be a fun accessory.

Should I get glasses that make me look studious? Really serious glasses with a heavy plastic frame... hair in a bun, scowl on my face, permanent frown lines...? If you Google 'horn rimmed glasses' you'll find these described as emo, I could be emo... Maybe not.

And then you get to choose if you want clip-ons to turn the glasses into sunglasses. Or transitions (one of the banes of the 80s, but really much better in the 21st century). Or anti-glare coating. Glass or plastic lenses? Sometimes you even get a fun case to put them in. So many choices. And it all costs something so you have to weight what you want against what you have in your wallet. How do I want to be perceived?

So I picked out glasses today. You'll have to wait and see what kind, maybe I'll post a picture. It's been fun and frustrating to decide on the glasses, such a little thing. But most of all, it's reminded me that other than my glasses, I have chances everyday to decide how I want people to perceive me. Every time I make a decision I get the opportunity to show the people around me who I am and more importantly who I represent. I hope I represent Jesus. I hope I wear love on the outside. I need to remember to count the cost of my actions. And I'm sad for all the times I know I show something else. How do people perceive you? What do they see?

And just for fun, here are some real beer gogglesand some glasses that include your third eye. I don't think I'll wear either of these.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Flashback Friday

I love looking at old photos, no matter how old! My dad visited last summer and we had the opportunity to talk about photos of he and my mom before I was even born! Names and places I hadn't heard in years came back and parts of my history were just a little more filled in and a bit more colorful. What an unexpected blessing! And who doesn't love to look at pictures of their kids when they were little (littl-er) ? So, I thought I'd devote a day to looking at at least one to jog my memory and be thankful! Besides, who doesn't love how alliterative 'Flashback Friday' is?

Here's a not-so-old one of Micah and Grace at about 9.5 and 7 months. I love the look of love on Micah's big brother face and the putting-up-with-it, squirmy look almost erupting on Grace's face. Micah has since graduated to the get-out-of-my-room-and-leave-my-stuff-alone phase of a typical 13 year old and Grace has perfected the all-about-me attitude of most 4 year olds. But I love to see them loving each other like this.

And since I'm thinking of my kids loving each other, here's another one. This is right after Grace was born. Micah and Dad got to spend these first few minutes with her before I did.

I think I'll go home and hug my kids! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Recipe Box Wednesday

This is one of my mom's recipes. I don't know where it came from, but it's a favorite of mine and tastes like home each time I make it - like a good Minnesotan meat and potato meal. I hope you like it! And let me know!

Poor Man's Salisbury Steaks

Before mixing the ingredients up put a non-stick frying pan on the stove w/ a small dollop of shortening in it or non-stick cooking spray and a plate with about 3/4 C. flour on it next to your stove top. Mixing this recipe is messy so it's nice to have these set out to speed up the preparation.

1# Ground Beef (at least lean or better)
1 egg
1 C. Corn Flakes
1 C. Milk
salt & pepper
(result will be very 'loose' or runny)

Make 6 patties with the meat mixture, dredge with the flour, place in frying pan (I usually do 3 at a time). Brown well over med. heat turning as needed. When brown, place in a 9x13" pan, single layer.

Cover with 2 small cans or 1 large can Cream of Mushroom soup, thinned with 3/4 can(s) milk. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. While baking, make mashed potatoes to serve under the 'gravy.'

I have also made this recipe for the freezer, multiplying the recipe times 3 or 4. I make these patties, flash frozen them, then wrapped them in heavy foil, label and put in freezer. When I want an easy meal, I put the patties in a baking dish the night before and defrost in the fridge. The next day, cover with the soup and bake (or have our 13 year old do that part and it's ready when I come home!) And of course you can add anything to the meat that sounds good... (onions, peppers, mushrooms...)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Shrinky Dinks

Oh - and I just saw somewhere that you can wash #6 recycled plastic (polystyrene - usually the clear plactic containers in your supermarket's bakery, can find other places too!) and use it to make shrinky dinks! How cool is that? Grace loves to make shrinky dinks! Charms, necklaces, for cards... I think you need to lightly sand one side and then that's the side you color on, or skip this step and use permanent markers. Cut your shape, punch holes if needed and put on foil in a 350 degree oven. Watch it shrink & curl, when it flattens out, it's done. Remove carefully, it's hot! Yay! I love recycling and reusing stuff!

All Around Me

I woke up with this song in my head. I've already listened to it a few times today, I need to find something else to listen to; my coworkers look at me funny as I'm dancing when they come in. Here's a snippet of the song, just for you!

I can feel You all around me
Thickening the air I'm breathing
Holding on to what I'm feeling
Savoring this heart that's healing

Take my hand I give it to You
Now You own me, all I am
You said You would never leave me
I believe You, I believe

It's all really good. It is called 'All Around me' by Flyleaf. I love it, the music, the lyrics, the energy of the music, even the video, which you can see here on YouTube: Flyleaf, All Around Me Don't you love the dripping, oozing colors and complete abandon of the lyrics and the way she moves? That's how I feel inside, often too inhibited to let it come out (which my family no doubt appreciates!).

I do feel Jesus all around me. I feel expectant, excited to see what today holds. I Have a busy weekend. Tonight and tomorrow morning a mini conference called GodSpeak, Hearing God without being Weird by Rick Evans and then right from there to practice for 5 worship services this weekend. Waking with this song in my head and on my heart feels appropriate and exciting! I hope you like the song and I hope you feel Him too!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Our Spirited Child

We have had a hard time lately with the strong personality our daughter houses in such a cute little package. A friend loaned me a book, Raising Your Spirited Child, A Guide For Parents Whose Child Is More *Intense *Sensitive *Perceptive * Persistent *Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Grace is definitely more, more everything. I nodded and agreed my way through the first chapter which reads like a Jeff Foxyworthy version of his redneck schtick (i.e. If your child [is like a super ball in a room of rubber balls, rages because you opened a door that they expected to open, cries over the feeling of certain clothes while refusing to be dressed in them, sobs because their pb&j was cut into triangles instead of the squares they expected...] you may have a spirited child.) Yes, yes, yes & yes!

We have a few labels we use for our precious 4 year old. Things like emotional, attention-getting, high maintenance woman in a little girl's body and Miss Interuptess. The book encourages 'redesigning the labels' we give our children. Instead of demanding, she holds high standards. Not argumentative, stubborn, loud and unpredictable, Grace is a creative problem solver who is enthusiastically and strongly committed to her goals, assertive and willing to persist in the face of difficulties. Whew! Not nosy but curious and instead of explosive and picky she is dramatic and selective.

It is my great pleasure to introduce you to Grace, our [HIGH] spirited child. She will capture you heart with her imagination and spontaneous declarations of 'forever love,' then make your head spin in confusion when she changes tactics, utilizing not manipulation but the full strength of her formidable charisma to try and get exactly what she wants. Here she is last night, the disgruntled, 'hrmph!' like look still on her face at being told that she really must sleep. She does keep us on our toes, but I think we'll keep her.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Recipe Box Wednesday

We have made this recipe three times in the last three weeks. We were having friends over, this was requested, and then we had to reschedule twice. Since this dish needs to be prepared the night before, we have been forced to eat this three weeks in a row! It's really good, freezes well, and has a carmel-ly topping that makes it almost a dessert. I give credit to the cookbook 'Cooking Among Friends.' It does have eggs and dairy in it...

Baked French Toast

1. 1# Loaf French Bread, cut diagonally into 16 slices and lay flat in 2 greased cake pans or one 12x18x1" jelly roll pan.

2. Beat together the following and pour evenly over the bread. Cover & refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 C Milk
  • 1 C. Cream or Half & Half (light or fat free is ok)
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
The next day:
3. Preheat oven to 350. Meanwhile, in sauce pan over medium heat, bring butter, sugar & syrup to a boil, stirring constantly. Pour evenly over the bread.
  • 3/4 C. Butter
  • 1 1/4 C. packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs lite corn syrup
4. Bake 40 minutes. Serve for breakfast, or dinner! We like them with strawberries or mandarin oranges and whipped cream. If you want to freeze them, cool completely and layer in a freezer container with plastic wrap or wax paper between layers. When you want a quick meal, reheat the right amount for your family.

What's in a name?

So... this is my new blog. Ta-daaaaahh!

I have an old blog. You can see it here:

I have been having a great time lately, getting to know other moms through their blogs, and realizing their blogs were more like what I wanted my blog to be; a mix of family updates & observations, recipes, project updates, & stuff God is doing in & around me. I think I started the other one too narrowly. That's why I'm starting over.

The first obstacle to starting a blog is choosing a name. But, it must be a name that no one else is using, which is the hard part. You can find the perfect name, but someone probably signed up with that name 6 years ago, posted one thing, and now it sits idle. Never-the-less, you cannot use it.

As I sat on hold during some phone calls at my desk today I tried some random names. Here are some of the names that were unavailable:
Broken not Beaten
Now and Then
Here and Now
Drops of Love
Little Drops of Love
Drops of Grace
Mercy Reflections
Reflecting Grace
Reflections of Grace
Daily Grace
Can you hear me
Work in Progress
Moving Forward

And like I said, many of these have one or two posts, from years ago! Frustrating.
A few that weren't taken include:
Restoring Brokenness
Remade by Grace
Mirrored Grace
Part of the Reflection

I liked all of those and couldn't seem to get away from 'Grace' and not because of my 4 year old Grace, I just felt like everything I would blog about comes from the grace God showers on me. I even looked up the names of all the characters (ever!) in Dr. Suess books - Marvin K Mooney was taken. So, the address is EskimoMamma and the name is Now & Then, Here & Now and I might add This & That. All that to say, the name might change, the address won't, and I'm glad you stopped by!