Friday, January 22, 2010

Another Beautiful Sunrise

I am not a morning person, ask my family,
but most mornings I get to work quite happy
because of this:

I'm pretty sure God plans these with me in mind.
I'm not being narcissistic here,
I think He plans them with you in mind, too!
But I'm quite sure He has in mind the
Expectant HOPE
these glorious sunrises give me.
What a gift!

Have a brilliant weekend, everyone!
I plan to spend mine painting the family room.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sunrise, 1/21/10, Duluth MN

TV Tokens

The child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.
~Benjamin Spock, Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care

I'm not a huge Spock fan, but I agree with that! =0)

We needed a system to limit Grace's TV watching. The more TV she watches, the crabbier she gets. Anyone else noticed this? Grace is also all about having stuff, really anything, if she thinks it's hers, she's thrilled and quite protective of it. I wanted to come up with something that would make sense for the way she's wired, so now we do 'TV Tokens.'

I just made these in Word:
Printed them, x 2, cut them out, glued them together so you could see the token on both sides, heat laminated them, and cut them out one more time. Now we have a small supply of tokens.

Heat laminating them, especially after the paper has been cut to size, makes them really sturdy and we haven't lost one yet because they are pretty precious, to Grace.
We keep these high up on our refrigerator door in a magnetic clip. Grace generally gets two tokens a day which usually get handed out when she comes home from school. She can get them taken away for misbehaving - a consequence she hates! and interestingly enough, the fight to watch more is gone. "I'm sorry, you have used all your TV Tokens for today. You will have to find some other fun thing to do now," works great for us because she understands the payment system. There is really no arguing with us because she chose to spend the tokens and now they are gone! This has really only failed when we have failed to give her the tokens... parental failure.

If you want the pattern and can't print from the jpeg above, send me an email and I will send you the Word document!

And a quote the could have been written about us (me):

The beauty of "spacing" children many years apart lies in the fact that parents have time to learn the mistakes that were made with the older ones - which permits them to make exactly the opposite mistakes with the younger ones. ~Sydney J. Harris

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Just Pictures

Micah, playing Xbox,
while reading his Bible.
I thought it was funny.


Linus, while everyone else played.

Comfort Food

This recipe doesn't really have a name - wanna give it one? We just call it that 'Round steak & gravy stuff over rice.' It's Micah's favorite meal, possibly because we always have popovers with it. We just made this for another family (of 8, EIGHT!!!) so we tripled our regular recipe and made their portion gluten free as well. It's comfort food for me because it's something my mom used to make. Here's the * approximate * recipe:

Round steak, 1-2 packages, 2-3ish pounds each (Micah will eat the leftovers for bedtime snack and breakfast so we like to make extra). Cut off all the fat and cube lean meat to 3/4-1 inch size.
Throw in a 2 quart dutch oven over a drizzle of olive oil and a handful of diced onions and brown well over medium heat. (I really like to add fresh mushrooms here, but usually don't because the kids balk them. You could also add peppers or whatever else you like to this step. My mom also added Kitchen Bouquet as it browned, but since I was going for gluten free I left it out because I don't know what's in it. And now that I think about it, it was great without it - I may as well leave it out next time!)When the meat is browned through, add beef stock (3-4 Cups? I told you there really isn't a recipe!), throw a lid on it and simmer it for 2-3 hours until meat almost separates when you stir it. Add water as you notice it cooks down. The amount of liquid at the end should just about equal the amount of gravy you want - I just eyeball it.
I boil water for Minute Rice and as I wait for that, I prepare thickening for the gravy. You can use starch & water (gluten free) or flour & milk (my husband's preference) - put in shaker to get rid of any lumps. Put rice in water, cover & remove from heat. The add the thickening mixture to the simmering meat mixture, stirring until gravy consistency. Season to taste. The rice & meat should be ready at the same time. Here's Micah's plate tonight:
Hubby also likes to eat this with Chinese noodles, kind of a Minnesota chow mien.

Delicious Popovers

Soooo... let me know if you make it, if you like it, and what it should be called!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Everything That's On My Mind & Then Some

I have really sucked at doing Multitude Mondays, and I can totally tell in my spirit. I really need to work on being more thankful. So I will.


I also seem to be sucking at picture taking. I resolve to do or see something photo worthy - soon!


Grace slept 11 hours last night - ELEVEN!!! She yelled once while I was still up and I prayed/rubbed her back to sleep, which she didn't even remember this morning. She was the definition of exuberant, amazing what a good night's sleep can do. (She has been plagued with nightmares, scary shadows & sleepless nights lately so we do a lot of praying about this with middle of the night snuggles on the couch while Dad or I doze off holding her.)


I am still praying about all the stuff in my last post. What restrictions should my life have right now? This is a scary prayer, putting me in a vulnerable place. May I have courage to obey!


Our teenager is mad at us. Does that make all right with the world? (To keep his trust, I won't detail it here. Let's just say that Grace was on to something when she yelled, "I HATE consequences!" I'd imagine Micah agrees today. Maybe I'll ask him if he ever speaks to us again.)


We finally saw Avatar this past weekend. The 3D effects were amazing! The story line was OK, not too surprising, but worth seeing for the special effects alone. One thing in the movie struck me and I can't seem to get it out of my mind. The movie details a group of scientists trying to learn about an aboriginal-type culture on another planet. (Much more to it than that, but I won't spoil it!) While learning their language & customs, you get to see a main character greet her father with, "I see you, father," and later one of the lead scientists explains that this greeting is more than merely physically seeing someone, it means 'I see into you, I see who you are.'

This reminded me of a similar idea from a book that has been rattling around my head for a while. The Eragon series, by Christopher Paolini, is an epic series involving dragon riders, elves, dwarfs, bad guys, etc., arguably with bits and pieces from more popular series, but an OK read for scifi fans never the less. The idea that grabbed me, and which I expect more from in the awaited 4th book, is the idea that knowing someones true name gives you power. It is special knowledge that may bind someone to you. Of course, for the purposes of the book, you wouldn't want the antagonist to know your name as they would proceed to make you do all sorts of nasty things in their name, however the elves (who are good) often know their own true name, allowing them to control their own destiny. (This is, of course, all my own paraphrase - read the books if you are interested.) The idea being that there is something special, something out of the ordinary that happens when someone really knows you - the real you & really sees who you are.

So I apply that to my life. It wells up like a psalm.

Oh God,
You are the God who sees me,
the real me.
You don't run from me, You never show disgust.
Instead of turning away, You say,
'Give Me more. Everything you've got, I'll take.'
Who else cares like You? Who else is everything I will ever need?
You are the God who knows my name,
You know and love all that I am now, all that You created me to be.
You are the God who sees little me, and I am so thankful!
I rejoice in You!

David's is better:
1 God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. 2 I'm an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I'm thinking. 3 You know when I leave and when I get back; I'm never out of your sight. 4 You know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence. 5 I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too - your reassuring presence, coming and going. 6 This is too much, too wonderful - I can't take it all in! 7 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? 8 If I climb to the sky, you're there! If I go underground, you're there! 9 If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon, 10 You'd find me in a minute - you're already there waiting! 11 Then I said to myself, "Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I'm immersed in the light!" 12 It's a fact: darkness isn't dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you. 13 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. 14 I thank you, High God - you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration - what a creation! 15 You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. 16 Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day. 17 Your thoughts - how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them! 18 I couldn't even begin to count them - any more than I could count the sand of the sea. Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! ... 23 Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; 24 See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong - then guide me on the road to eternal life.
Psalm 139 from the Message

Don't you LOVE having a God that SEES you, too?


I am thinking ahead to next Christmas and may decorate packages with some crocheted snowflake ornaments. Like these, or this, this or these. Here's a whole page of free patterns!


And oh yah - it's hump day! Happy Wednesday! The weekend is coming!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Part of the Mystery

Do you ever have one of those moments where you see or hear something and it just clicks? Where suddenly you feel like you found that piece of the puzzle you were searching and searching for? I had one of those today. Here's how it started:

Last night I cried my way through the new season premier of the Biggest Loser. Parents & kids, family, couples, all suffering from being overweight. I know - you think these people just need to stop eating. I need to just stop eating. But it's SO much more than an issue about what goes into my mouth.

Then today I was listening to a message on iTunes from a church in Denver. The topic was 'Absolute Truth' referencing Galatians 2 and I thought it sounded good, then the pastor started talking about how the only real freedom is found in restriction - then it got interesting. In fact, a couple of his examples in discussing this could have been taken right from my life. Paul, in Galatians, says very clearly that it is 'TRUTH that sets us free' and this speaker argues that almost every aspect of our culture today there is the prevalent idea that there is no absolute truth because everyone wants or believes their absolutes are the only truth, which of course bumps up against someone else's truth... People don't like restrictions like that. I know I don't. I listened to this podcast and had to refrain from answering back, things like, "I hate when 'they' do that!" & "Right! Who are 'they' to think they get to decide what I do?!?" And then he said something that seems polar opposite to what I have always thought of as truth regarding my personal freedom.

"Freedom requires restriction... Freedom is found in restriction." What??? ***

I have heard this before, or something similar, and never quite 'gotten it' in the past and suddenly it makes sense. For instance, my weight - if I am living a life without restrictions, I am actually limiting my freedom and even cutting the quality and length of my life.. This is limiting my quality of life, because of the resulting weight I choose to not do some things socially. I did not go to my 20 year class reunion (there were other reasons & other things going on, but this was one of the reasons and I hadn't said it out loud to anyone. I still may deny it if you bring it up, because I like to think that I'm just fine...), I don't do things the kids might like to do because it's too strenuous. I perpetuate a nasty cycle in my daily activities of eating poorly which increases tiredness followed by watching some TV because I am so tired, and then that gets me sucked in to some show that is not worth my time to watch, but I'll stay up late to watch it anyway, making me more tired, and hungry... Epiphany! If I were to restrict my activities in regard to eating (make better food choices, eat less, deny my flesh, stop eating to fill an emotional or spiritual need) I would actually gain freedom in this area of my life. By restricting myself, freedom may be gained!

Another example was of a musician who sacrificed and restricted themselves when younger by practicing and working hard so when they are older, they have the freedom to use, practice and bless with the gift of music. I had 12 years of piano lessons and I did 7-8 of them kicking and screaming and doing the minimal amount to get by all because someone else was not going to tell me what to do or how to practice of play. And now, at almost 40, wow do I wish I had imposed some restrictions on myself and how freeing it would be to have more confidence and skills when playing in front of people!

And then I thought of a few more examples. I have a good friend who has really changed herself to fit into the marriage relationship she is in. Conversations often include statement's like, " 'Bob' thinks 'this' works better or is the right way to do that" and through the years of our relationship I have interpreted this as a completely one-sided, wrong relationship. An acquaintance, male this time, has made comments like, "She would have picked this church, but I wanted that one, so we go to that one," or "She wanted to do this but I said no." And I would inwardly shudder. In these relationships and statements, what I hear is how little freedom these ladies have. I am always trying to make sure I am heard. If my opinion is not considered and acted on, I don't think you have been paying attention. After all, aren't I free to think what I think and want what I want?

And then as a parent, THIS is what I am trying to explain to our teenager! (Duh!) You come home from school, you do your homework, you do your chores, then you may play Xbox. If you don't do this, you get poor grades or the chores are not done you will definitely lose some freedom... Makes sense to me!

Am I really trying to get a teenager to accept this when I am not modeling it? Wow. In my defense, I didn't have words for exactly what I was doing and how I was hindering my own freedom until right now, but... just WOW!

So this is part of the mystery of why, no matter how hard and viciously I fight, I am not experiencing freedom as I try to make my own way, get my own way or try to make others see how much better (not!) my way is.
By restricting myself,
in the ways and areas God is indicating, real freedom can be found!

*** I invite you to hear the podcast here. The above is only a smidgen of the message and info in the message from September 27, 2009, titled 'Hedonists for Jesus: Absolutes' from the Arvada Vineyard Church.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Overheard while cooking dinner tonight, as Grace was showing me a blanket (colored coffee filter) that she made at Sunday school for Baby Jesus in the manger:

Dad: What are you giving Jesus?
Grace: A blanket
Micah: A headache!


But really - what a thought! I wonder how often I give Jesus a headache? Probably way more than I would like anyone to know!

Grace's Calendar

Grace finds a great sense of peace, or control ;O) , when she can plan ahead and know what is going on the next day, or how many days until whatever the next wonderful thing is. She can't read yet so I needed to come up with a way to help her see what's coming up next.

She received a calendar with her new Highlights subscription and it came with stickers for various holidays. We had some fun putting them all on the correct days and talking about when some of them were coming up, and why we weren't using all the stickers for holidays we don't celebrate. She was so excited to start crossing off days that we had at least 14 conversations about why she had to wait until the new year! So I decided to make her some stickers with some of the things that she does.
I just used regular Avery mailing labels and copied some free clipart onto them, two per label. I made labels for stay-at-home day (little green house), church day (church w/family worshipping), dance day (pink fairy dancer), and school day (little red school house).
Then I used a paper cutter to quickly cut them into squares, just the right size for the squares on the calendar. Stickers are always fun to play with!
Now Grace knows exactly what day it is, as long as she remembers to cross her days off, and it really seems to give her some security to know what is coming next, or how many days until dance class (or whatever). And even better, she's learning to use a calendar and she doesn't need to get frustrated because she can't read yet. The calendar is hanging right on her bedroom door.

She's pretty happy with the result, maybe it will help your little planner, too!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmmm

Like New Years. New Year's Day. And looking over the last year.

Welcome 2010.

I've never been a big fan of making resolutions. New year resolutions mostly seem to last a week or two for most people. They last even less for me, it seems. I have spent too many minutes, hours, days and even weeks trying to decide in what areas of my life I should change, and how I got there, and why. And even more time trying to decide exactly how I should change to meet some shadowy goals. I say no more!

I do want to change. I obviously have areas in which I need to improve.

But, the difference this year is this; I'm going to let God dictate the change. I'm going to let Him point out where we are starting from, where He wants to tweak this and heal that, and grow discipline in that area. I want to let Him be in charge of the change in my life this year. I think He is rubbing His hands gleefully, a twinkle in His eye, saying, "just wait to see what I have for you!" I'm excited to find out exactly what that is.

Here are the areas I think He may focus on:
  • Loving who I am, as He loves me.
  • Loving my husband as he is. Seeing him like God sees him.
  • Parenting better, with out anger, exasperation, or apathy.
  • Working harder, as unto the Lord.
  • Allowing God to come and heal me, abolishing fear of change, fear of vulnerability.
And I know there is more. These are just the areas, today, where I feel Him calling me, wooing me.

Happy New Year! May 2010 bring you closer to Him!