I am wife to a magnificent man and mother to five wonderful children. Three of my children were born in the Northwest and two were born thousands of miles away in Liberia, West Africa. Birthplace is no matter, all of my children were born in my heart. This is our journey.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Economy

Times are getting tough and I have been reading many articles online about the status of the economy. I recently saw one about a family feeding their family of four for $105/week. This got me thinking because a lot of months we do that for our family of seven. I have been asked how we do it so I thought I would post about some things we do. Today I purchased two large chickens, five pounds each and some supplies to go with including: tortillas, noodles, cheese, and sour cream. I first boiled off the two chickens. My mother-in-law asked if I would make her some chicken soup as she has been ill for a few days. I made two quarts of stock, chicken and noodles for her.

I then made five, one serving pans of creamy chicken enchiladas for her for her freezer. We like to do this every once in awhile as a gift knowing that cooking for just one isn't always easy. I also made one large pan of enchiladas for dinner and another for our freezer for a busy week later.

I was then left with almost three quarts of stock and chicken that I will add noodles and garden carrots to for dinner tomorrow evening. I will also make a batch of crescent rolls to go with it. Total for my supplies for the soup, enchiladas and bread came to approximately $24.

11 servings of soup + 19 servings of enchildas = 30 meals = $.80/meal

We as a society have become dependent on things being ready instantly. We have gone away from making things from scratch in the name of convenience. Canned soup, frozen entrees and the like. I believe that it costs us more to do that long term. Saving money on meals takes planning and a little extra effort. But in my opinion, if you have the time, then the payoff both financially and health wise are worth it. And so is my family.


Hubby is off work this week and we just got back from camping for 4 days. Check back for a post later today with some great pictures. I played with my camera that I got for mother's day since I had some time with no TV, computer, house chores and laundry to do.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I am so tired.

I am happy. My hubby hung up the long awaited clothesline. I hung out three loads today plus a comforter. How sweet it was. It's like a little break in my day to stop, pray, think and hang laundry. So of course you know it saves you money not drying but as a bonus you also save more money because your clothing lasts longer. I am all for that.

Lil picked 6 green beans this morning. Canning season is here. But we need the production to pick up a bit before we start.

Lij decided he wanted to help mom and big sisters bake. Lil is showing him how to measure out three cups of flour. (He insists that he must wear tanktops if it's sunny outside. Cracks me up.)

Els wanted to check progress on the scrumptiousness in the oven but the steam got to her a bit. So she found a way to look that worked for her.

There's the loot. Five loaves of pecan nut bread and eight loaves of zucchini. Yes, those four in the back did get some extra time in the oven. Just keep it to youself, would ya? I'm busy, a timer gets missed on occasion. The kids like them anyway and that's what matters, right?

So, 13 loaves of bread, 3 loads of laundry hung out to dry, folded and put away, 2 freezer meals made, 2 loads ran through the dishwasher, everyone fed and five kids to VBS for the evening. Can I put my feet up now?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Birthday season

This little muchkin will be turning six in just a little over three weeks. This was her first birthday and the way she is enjoying her cake is the way she enjoys life. All the way, good and bad, this girl gives it her all.

Have you heard of hunting season? Well around here we are coming up on birthday season. All of our kids have their birthdays within seven and a half weeks. All six of them including little Olivia with Jesus. Kind of an interesting fact since it is almost harvest season as well. Someone had a dream about me years ago after we lost Olivia and before we had any other children. The woman having the dream was bringing several large bags of seeds to our home. When she arrived I was too busy to talk as I was tending to the seedlings all around me. She said that they were everywhere, so she went on her way and left me to to my task. When she woke up she and her husband felt very strongly that John 12:24 was for us.

"I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

That dream became a promise to me as I went through the dark time of grieving our loss as well as the excruciating adoption process that followed 2 years later. I find it kind of cool that all of the children we have had, adopted or biological, here or in heaven, all have their birthdays during harvest. We celebrate all of their birthdays individually here at home with presents and having them choose their favorite dinner. Last year we started a new tradition where we also have one big bash with their cousins and friends celebrating all of their birthdays together. It is my hope and prayer that someday when they are grown they will still choose to get together for their birthdays.

Now, God may have more children for us. I don't know. They may even have birthdays in the spring and that would be alright. But for now, this little fact about their birthdays I enjoy. It makes me smile. It's a reminder to me that he cares about the littlest of things and that makes me feel cared for in the darkest of times.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Beach

As promised, here are the beach pictures. For the fourth of July we stayed at the coast for 4 nights. It was gorgeous weather off and on and our neighbor friends got to come with us. It's so much fun to spend time away from home with friends fellowshipping and getting to know each other better.
Of course, we had sparklers as the sun was setting. We were able to watch the fireworks show right there from the beach. How cool is that?

Lij spent much of his time on the beach doing the above. The picture came out a little fuzzy, but I love his expression.

There he goes again.

The weather was so mild we didn't need jackets and it wasn't too hot. The kids could just run around and do whatever suited them.

Lil was our chief firewood collector. Most everyone helped but I would say she collected the most.

Bub was feeling particularly free on this outing. King of the mountain, don't you think?

Els had a grand time drawing in the sand. When that got boring she found other ways to write that were more of a challenge.

The girls and I were feeling especially patriotic and so we proudly donned the grand red, white and blue. Cute, yes?

No trip would be complete without a lesson in checkers with Dad.

I like this picture. Such a capable gal, isn't she?

I hope you enjoyed your fourth as much as we did.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A reading meme

Lori tagged me so here we go. (Even if it is 9 days later. Please forgive me, Lori!)

1. Do you remember how you developed a love for reading? My mom read to us a lot growing up so I am guessing that how it was developed for me.

2. What are some books you read as a child? The Little House Series and Nancy Drew mysteries is all I remember.

3. What is your favorite genre? I lean more towards non-fiction as I like practical stuff that applies to my life or makes my life easier.

4. Do you have a favorite novel? Hmmm, this is a tough one. Not sure I can answer so I won't.

5. Where do you usually read? In bed or on vacation. I get interupted too much anywhere else.

6. When do you usually read? Right before I fall asleep at night. Reading makes me tired and helps me shut my brain down.

7. Do you usually have more than one book you are reading at a time? Always more than one book.

8. Do you read nonfiction in a different way or place than you read fiction? Nope, I am a creature of habit.

9. Do you buy most of the books you read, or borrow them, or check them out of the library? The books I read have usually been given to me or I check them out at the library.

10. Do you keep most of the books you buy? If not, what do you do with them? I keep only a small portion of the books I read. I do not like to store them so I only keep the ones that I was really moved by. I give others away, sell them at garage sales or donate them.

11. If you have children, what are some of the favorite books you have shared with them? We love Anne of Green Gables, the Little House books and Abeka readers so far.

12. What are you reading now? A Mother after God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George and The Shunning by Beverly Lewis.

13. Do you keep a TBR (to be read) list? Not really. It would probably help me though.

14. What’s next? Probably going to do a Beth Moore Study next.

That was fun! Ok, I tag
Brooke and Kelli again!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Garage sales

I love them. Really I do. My neighbor and I joke that I am a frugal snob. Friday I took the kids out junkin' with me. Junkin' is a new term that I picked up from the same neighbor and I love it. The kids came home with yarn, a couple toys and an appreciation for things that cost less.

Then yesterday it was mine and my husband's anniversary. We went to a city wide garage sale just the two of us and found some great stuff. A great harvest basket for my garden, some tools for hubby and some great books for the kids. We rubbed shoulders with some old neighbors and chatted with others along the way. I think garage sales promote the feeling of community.

I believe that taking my kids out with me on occasion is a great lesson in finances for them. They see the value in finding things that are nice for much less. Toys, fabric, yarn, books, tools and clothing. All things we have found in the last 3 weeks and all for less than $40. Not too bad, eh?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I did it!

I made cream of mushroom soup! My sister-in-law and I have been searching high and low for a recipe that a person could can. I finally hit the jackpot a few weeks ago and have just been waiting for mushrooms to go on sale. Finally, this week they did, for $1.49/lb. When all was said and done I was able to make 9 pints which is equal to 13.5 store bought cans. I can sometimes get the good stuff on a really good sale (the one that starts with a C and has the pop-top lids) for $.75/can. I was able to make ours for $.44/can and that makes me very happy. Less salt and additives plus I saved money. $5.94 in fact. It did help that I used turkey stock from an already cooked turkey that I had in the freezer. I do intend to that again, only with chicken instead. It's so nice to boil off chicken for one meal and then use the stock for great soups. I almost always have some sort of bone broth in the freezer.

The finished product came out darker than I was expecting but when mixed with milk it looked just like the store bought stuff. How cool is that? We may do a little tweaking of the recipe for next time but that goes with the canning territory. That's the beauty, you don't like something, well then fix what you don't like.

Now we wait for the mushrooms to go on sale again and we will have a soup making day. Hopefully, we will be able to put up what we will use for a year and save me the backache of yarding the cans around the store each time I go.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It's a beautiful Sunday

It's another gorgeous day here. Here is a snapshot of the lillies by our front door, one of my favorite flowers. Today we visited a nice, little church just outside of town, took a long nap and had grilled cheese and pickles for dinner. We finished if off with a rousing game of who can balance on the exercise ball the longest. I hope you enjoyed your day.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Is what's good for the goose really always what's good for the gander?

I am still working on a post about our recent trip...it's cooking...on the back burner, but not forgotten.

Currently, I have been thinking about why we do what we do. You know, the things that make our lives efficient, decisions we make, what we eat, how we school, etc. It's easy for me to find out something new and want to share it with everyone because I think it is so cool. Thinking about all of that brought me to something that I have struggled with for some time, several years in fact. There are so many theories out there and ways to do things. Now to preface this "could-be" touchy subject, I am not talking about things that don't line up with scripture or things that are clearly outlined in God's word. But I do believe that there are a lot of things that God eludes to that I believe he leaves open to interpretation on purpose. I believe it is an avenue for deepening our relationship with Him. If we had all of the answers, would we still go to Him?

Anyway, to the topic on my mind and heart. Here is my question. Why is it, that when some Christian people have something revealed to them, for them, that now, if everyone is not doing that same thing the same way that they are sinning? Let me give you an example. Say God has revealed to me that it is no longer ok for my family to drink soda. Now, does that mean everyone should quit drinking it? Should I now make sure that whenever we are in someone's home that we inform the host or hostess that we will not be partaking and why we believe it is wrong and that they should not be doing that either, and why? Of course not, that would be extremely rude to go into someone's home and behave that way. So why do we act like it is ok to do that to other Christians when God shows us something? Why does it now become a mandate for all other Christians?

Arguably, soda is not the best choice for us for so many reasons. If God has asked my family not to drink it, then I believe we need to look past the obvious and see why. Maybe our dependence on it has become an idol, maybe a drain on our finances or possibly indicative of an overall lifestyle that is not healthy. God does want the best for us, but if I have a soda, don't go to Sunday service or am only involved in one ministry does it mean I am sinning if He has called you to more or something different? I don't think so. God is interested in our hearts. Our hearts. Not our actions, but why we are acting thus and so. My heart is different than everyone else's. What He asks of me may not be what He asks of you. What is sinning for me may not be for you. Again, I will say that there are specific things outlined in the Bible that are very clearly sinning. I am not referring to those things. I am referring to what we eat, where we live, what we buy, what we drive, how we school, what we do with our free time, what church we go to, whether or not we go to VBS or bible study, which parenting philosphy we subscribe to. You get the picture. I believe that He is interested in why we do what we do more than what we actually do.

If you are reading this today, here is my heart, for what it's worth. We need to be careful that we do not place the expectations that we believe God has for us, onto the shoulders of others. He may have a complete different set of expectations or requirements for someone else. I think sharing what God has revealed to us with others is great, can be encouraging, challenging in a good way and is important for our relationship with others. I think sharing why soda can be bad for you or how things are changing for the negative in the public school system is ok.

What I believe gets forgotten is this -

I will not be standing on anyone's behalf before Him on the day of judgement, nor will anyone be standing on my behalf. I cannot answer for anyone else's choices and no one can answer for mine. Nor do I think anyone would want to.

Each of us will stand before Him on that day and can only answer for ourselves. Each of us has our own journey that we are on. My hope is that we would all work to encourage one another in what God has uniquely called each of us to do. That we would not be focused on advancing our own agenda, but rather, the Kingdom of God and His purposes.

Disclaimer - These are a lot of jumbled thoughts that have been rolling around in my head for awhile. The above is an excerise in me organizing my thoughts and processing any judgements that I may have on others as well as the judgement I feel from others. It is not a rant and not intended to target anyone specifically but rather a self examination. Thank you for your patience. Back to your regularly scheduled programming. As you were...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Peach fuzz

We just got home from VBS (thus the hat). Lij and I had a little conversation.
Lij: "Mom, will you feel my lip?"

Mom: "Your lip? What's wrong with it?"

Lij: "I'm growing a beard. A mustache AAAAND and a beard."

First year of Vacation Bible School and he thinks he feels a little peach fuzz. Hilarious. I obliged him and felt the imaginary fuzz.

Did you think I forgot about you?

The day last week was so busy that we ended up living through it, packing up for the beach and leaving the next day without posting about it. I figure blogging is for remembering life so I will catch you up if you missed us. We got a lot accomplished. Here is the pan for lasagna that we made. Too bad in the midst of being busy I didn't take a picture of the finished product. It was beautiful, quite delicious and very heavy.

We moved on to strawberries and the kids were a big help as is usual. We stemmed, washed them and made jam. Not sure if you can see it, but I believe there is a slight pinkish hugh around Els' mouth. One of the benefits of helping mom make jam.

This girl is a master stemmer. She flew through those strawberries and enjoyed a few herself. She's gonna be a great momma.

So there they are. Eleven yummy jars of jam and, thanks to my husband, enough crushed strawberries for five more batches in the freezer. Some will be made into jam and some will be used for strawberry lemonade and shortcake this summer. Isn't it grand?

Stay tuned for beach pictures...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Busy day...

It's going to be a busy day around here. It's laundry day, we are cooking ahead for some time at the beach and we are making strawberry jam. Check back for pics of the piles of laundry and beautiful jars of freshly made jam.

Canning reminds me of my mom and grandma. I wasn't into it really when I first got married and then with five kids under 6 it was more of an annoyance, until winter would come and I would be so grateful for the fruits of our labor. It's grown on me I suppose. Now with the gas prices and economy on the fritz it has become more advantageous to do it ourselves. I love growing and canning our own food, making us less dependant and affected by the financial downturn. In years past we have grown a rather large garden at my mother-in-law's house. She has two acres and a well. It worked pretty well until the last year or two. Gas prices, things getting busier and a desire for simplification led us to reassessing last fall. This year we decided to grow our own garden at home. We have plenty of room for one. The kids and I have weeding parties in the morning, just 30 minutes or so to keep the weeds at bay. Having the garden out my back door means it will also be easier when it comes time to harvest. I don't have to get everyone up, get dressed and ready for the day before it gets too warm. Instead I can go out myself in the quiet of the morning to weed and water and collect my thoughts. I have been finding myself out there more and more checking the progress and making plans for building up the soil next year to get even more out of the property God has given us.

This year we should have from our own yard:
green onions
Green beans

Not a bad list. Next year we hope to add:

So off to the shower I meander. Lots to do. Check back for an update as to how it went. That is if you are interested. :>) Have a great day!