Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wedding anniversary

9 years ago, I married the love of my life. And he is still that today, my Love! Our marriage is sweeter and richer today than it was when we said "I do." Our history began over 14 1/2 years ago; the roots of this relationship go deep.

Aron, you are a profound example of God's great grace in my life. You have shaped me, truly, into who I am today. I am humbled, almost daily, with how you love me. You listen to me as I process aloud, you give me breaks from mothering when I'm in need, you serve me around the home without being asked, you love to spend time with the kids, and you love to do life with our little family.

You are a safe place for me, a place I've learned to rest and trust in as a harbor from this world. I have thrived under your love and care. Ultimately, you are so very Christ-like; you are fulfilling your duty and joy as a husband by loving me, your bride, as Christ loves His church, giving His life as a ransom (Eph. 5:25). You are constantly putting my needs above your own. It blows my mind and it doesn't get more achingly beautiful than that.

Happy 9th, Aron! I'm eagerly and joyfully anticipating what is to come.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

some shel silverstein

videoI don't advocate this kind of talk in our family, but we've been listening to a lot of Shel Silverstein in the car and his rendition of "One Sister For Sale" is totally hilarious and the kids love it.

Curren cracks me up!

s'mores



Saturday night we headed to Rachel's house for fajitas and s'mores. Gotta love cooking over a fire pit in the fall! How cute are Hud and Mags? Love their sweet smiles.

It's a really unique experience to return to friendships after moving away; not many people get that opportunity. I have loved being back in Dallas and reconnecting in person with my good friends.

breakfast picnic

On Saturday morning we met our friends Tyce and Bethany and their boys at Coffee Park (our new fav and so appropriately named) for breakfast. This wonderful family used to live across from us when we first lived on campus at DTS. Tyce graduated in May and they are living in Tyler, TX, not too far from here. Bethany quickly grew to be one of my closest friends here on campus and we've remained close in the time spent apart. I love how God providentially placed us as hall mates 3 years ago.

I baked a quiche lorraine (with my own pie crust!) and it turned out yummy. Even Mags, who does not eat eggs, really liked this "breakfast pie." I think that's what I'm going to call it from now on. Bethany picked up muffins and coffee from Central Market (if this isn't one of the most glorious stores ever created, I'm not sure what is) and we devoured our delicious breakfast in the park on a cool, fall morning.

I told Bethany going into our time together that I had high hopes it would be idyllic--fall weather, good food, our husbands getting to catch up, the kids playing well, she and I getting to connect--and guess what?! It totally met all of my expectations. Love that.

So thankful for good friends and ones that all parities involved really get along (wives, husbands, and kids), a true and rare gift. We love you guys!

Bennet and Kate--the two newest additions to the family. B is 3 1/2 months older than Kate and totally smitten with her. I think they make a lovely couple, no?!
Asher and Cademon, whom Maggie adores playing with!
My kiddos, having a hard time smiling for the picture
The wonderful Jensen family
So thankful for this friendship!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

my boy


Oh, this boy. He melts my heart...that's always a strange phrase to me when people use it. I think what I want to say is that my heart swells with joy when I look into his face, especially in the mornings when he comes out declaring, "Good morning, Mama! The sun is yellow!" I love to watch him learn and grow. He knows how to put his shoes on and clear his place at the table by himself. He unexpectedly walks up to me most days and says, "I love you, mama!" and can quote most of The Hungry Caterpillar. He drums on everything with my spatulas and everything he holds in his hands at some point becomes a guitar (be it my broom or a pencil). And it's these times of sweetness that I need to savor, to remember when the hard times come.

I really dislike labeling kids as "stubborn," I think this has such negative connotation. For truly, because of our sinful natures we are ALL stubborn and choose our own way all the time, refusing to listen to wisdom; we all do what is right in our own eyes (Prov. 3:7). With that said, I also think some children are more compliant than others so their "stubborn" ways go unnoticed or overshadowed by a sibling's. Regardless, any sinful, defiant behavior needs to be corrected and currently, I am in a tough season with my boy. Curren is my more "spirited" and challenging child and is pushing me to new levels of growth in my own spiritual life.

For example, he is an *extremely* picky eater. And has been for most of his little life. I haven't met many kids who are as selective about food as he or gets as angry as he does that he can't have what he wants (milk!). It has caused me to cry in recent days, it's such a frustrating battle. "No whinning," "food first, then milk," are common phrases he hears, and yet he continues to push, and push, and push. He's also been waking up early and getting in his sisters' beds at night. And he wants more water when he gets put to bed. And again, when he doesn't get what he wants, he gets frustrated. Oh, so frustrated and angry.

When days, hours, or minutes push me to utter discouragement (too many days recently!), I pray first. It's been helping a great deal; this new challenge in my parenting is causing me to seek the Lord's help anew. I try to encourage the positive areas I see in Curren, while gently and lovingly correcting his behavior (this can be so tough). In such dark moments, I remind myself of his sweet and gentle side: daredevil, adventure-loving, active, hilarious belly laugh, sweet right-cheek dimple, sharing toys with Kate, playtime with Maggie, helper in the kitchen, snuggler at night.

Thanks to my children, I see my own sinfulness in ways I never anticipated: I'm quicker to frustration, anger, joy-lessness, selfishness, *especially* when my children need me most--in their OWN sinful moments and it's almost always (always!) when I want to do my own thing--clean the kitchen, talk to a friend on the phone (and it's only a quick call, what the heck!), a playdate where I simply NEED mom time and want to visit with my friend while all the kids should play happily together, etc.). Talk about needing Christs's strength to not only help me examine my own heart, but to help my children do the same.

I'm continuing to find joy in my mothering. It's a sweet, humbling, and beyond-challenging job of shaping these little souls God has given to us. But, He gives strength and I'm thankful for that.

ballerinas

There is something so terribly special about sisters. I love the way my girls interact. Maggie's love for Kate is kind and gentle. She shares easily with her and loves to make her laugh. And for the most part, when Kate is sad, Maggie is quick to comfort her.

My sister is my best friend, a comforter, a listener, and someone who really gets me and loves me as I am. I hope our paths cross again one day soon, I miss doing life with her. It's hard to believe that pre-kids we lived next door to each other! Those were special days.

For now, I watch my girls and look forward to their continued growth in friendship as they learn to cherish each other and do life together.



Saturday, September 17, 2011

new recipes

I've been making some new recipes this week and overall, been very happy with them. I have been using a new favorite cookbook, Poor Girl Gourmet, for many of my main dishes and all have been excellent. Below, I made the smashed sweet potatoes and braised pork shoulder and it was outstanding. A good company meal, ones I'm always on the look for when guests come to dinner. The honey balsamic chicken thighs with roasted thyme carrots is also amazing. One thing I think I'm still learning to do well and finally ready to master is cooking meat. It's so easy to overcook or undercook it, both of which are less than desirable. The meat dishes from PGG have turned out perfect. This is a dessert I made for a mom's prayer group that I recently joined here on campus. As a side note, I'm loving this group already, wonderful ladies at the same season of life I'm in, with children my age or older; much to be learned and gained by weekly fellowship and community. I brought these Biscoff Cheesecake Bars at the rec of my friend Renee and they were delish. I couldn't find the Biscoff brand cookies, so bought another cookie, a chocolate coconut one and thought it tasted great. I hear the Biscoff brand (which I spotted at another market today) is addicting! These bars were better when they had sat overnight. Even Aron, who does not like cheesecake or sour cream at all (AT ALL), loved these bars.

Lastly, I made my own carnitas this week and they were killer. I'll make them all the time. Great to have the meat in the freezer for a quick and easy meal. I took pork tacos and the fixins to friends who had a new baby this week and had enough left over for our dinner. No picture, but trust me, this recipe ROCKED.

What have you been making lately?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

homeschooling



I've officially started the homeschooling journey! While I myself was not home schooled, after my experience teaching at a homeschool co-op in California over 10 years ago, I knew that's what I wanted to do with my own children some day. I actually love the model of part-time at home, part-time at a school; a beautiful blending of both worlds for me. But, believe it or not, I have felt overwhelmed with starting the process. The amount of resources available is overwhelming, which is both a good and bad thing for me. But, after some research and talking with other moms, I've come up with a game plan for this year. I'm sure as we go along, I'll be gathering info for Kindergarten next year, but we have time before we are doing full-time homeschooling. I welcome this year to test the waters!

Maggie is doing another year of Pre-K and I am also hoping to have focused time for Curren to work on ABC's, numbers, sorting, and other various activities, least of which include time to work on sitting still and listening skills, even if it's for 5-10 minutes. For some children, I do not think these skills come naturally when it comes to learning. I can tell that Maggie is a more compliant child and said skills have been easier for her. My sweet boy on the other hand has a much more difficult time with said skills, so I'm welcoming the opportunity this year to use Maggie's schooling time (which we are doing 2-4x a week, I haven't quite figured out if I'm going to expand beyond only Tuesdays and Thursdays) to work with Curren as well.

For Language Arts and Math, I plan to use the Uppercase Letters, Lowercase Letters, and My First Book of Numbers 1-30 from Kumon. I love their approach of teaching how to write the ABC's, the colorful pages and texture (thick, good quality paper), and the simplicity of each lesson, taking no more than a couple of minutes per page. Maggie has already worked through some of these books in the past year, My First Book of Cutting and My First Book of Coloring, both of which I attribute to the fact that she colored very well by age 3 1/2 and can cut well now. In short, I think you can do no wrong with Kumon. And an added bonus is they are reasonably priced.

For Bible, we will be reading The Jesus Storybook Bible continuously, memorizing a verse each week, working through Catechsims, incorporating lessons from Desiring God's The ABC's of God, and also reading through a fantastic ABC book of key players in early church history, The Church History ABC's.

For Science, I plan to use the kit Lindsay (see below) recommends available on Amazon: Primary Science Set and Big Bag of Science. I'm loving the idea of this being a daddy and Maggie activity once a week.

I found Lindsay's post on her schedule and curriculum choices for her homeschool day extremely helpful and plan to utilize much of what she recommends (I didn't list various items on my blog, because she listed them on hers). If you don't follow "Passionate Homemaking" I cannot recommend this wonderful site enough. It's one of my top 3 favorite blogs.

I plan to include poetry, other math actives besides the workbook mentioned above, history, cooking together, service projects, team teaching 1x a month with a couple friends on campus, and 1x a month field trips with said friends.

We are off to a good start with our homeschooling year, wrapping up our time together on Tuesday with a science experiment I have wanted to do with Mags for awhile. It was actually a rather impromptu moment I seized to have her pretend to be a Paleontologist (what she wants to be when she grows up) and excavate the ice (grated, I hid no bones in it, but it was still fun for her). She asked questions, tried a varied of tools to "dig" out the toys, and was very patient with the process. It's fun how sometimes the moment/activities that you think are just "OK," not stellar, turn out to be the highlight of the day!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Curly hair!

After I saw this post on Julie's blog, I had to give it a try. I'll admit I was really skeptical as my hair is fine and thin, but wouldn't you know, it totally worked!? Wash hair at night and dry, tuck it into an elastic headband, curls arrive the next morning. Seriously cool.

I LOVE it, it was so easy to do and believe it or not, lasted almost 2 days. I didn't wash my hair before church on Sunday, but there was still wave and curl to it. How much better can it be than getting up in the morning and your hair has basically styled itself?! Seriously cool.

It's my favorite new go-to style.

You know you are loving the bathroom robe shot. Just keeping it real.

First DART ride

We took the kids for a ride on the DART on Saturday and they loved it. We headed to downtown Carrollton, about 25 minutes away via the train. Curren was mesmerized almost the entire ride up and did surprisingly well staying in his seat; the ride home around 7:30pm, not so much. It was fun to watch the landscape roll by, to point out familiar landmarks, to people watch, and to enjoy being together.

We stopped in a local candy store called Blooms, which, to be honest, felt more like an airport stop candy shop than an old fashioned candy store like the website promotes. Nevertheless, the kids knew no different and enjoyed picking out something sweet--both chose lollipops, which was the best thing Curren could have chosen as it kept him occupied the whole time.

The downtown Carrollton area was cute, with a few restaurants and antique shops. The last picture highlights a shop door with a bird on it and I couldn't resist taking a picture of it in honor of my friend Nicole. She introduced me to the video shorts Portlandia and one specific episode is how we are so obsessed with all things birds in this culture: "Put a bird on it!" It's a *hilarious* short and if you have 2 minutes, you need to watch it.

The train ride and family time spent doing something new was great fun. As the kids get older and older, it's the best to watch them enjoy all the new activities we do; makes things we plan more worthwhile, wouldn't you agree?