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.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What's for dinner?

BBQ Beef. That's what. I love this recipe that I got from my sister-in-law and it's pretty simple. I sometimes double this recipe and freeze the filling for quick dinners later on. I didn't have any hamburger buns at the time that I made this so I just made some homemade dense rolls instead.

BBQ Beef on Buns
9 servings

3 # Chuck Roast, boneless
1/2 c. Dehydrated Onion
1/2 c. Celery - chopped
1 1/2 c. Ketchup
1/4 c. Brown Sugar, packed
1/4 c. Vinegar
2 T. Dry Mustard
2 t. Worcestershire Sauce
2 t. Salt
1 t. Chili Powder
1/2 t. Paprika
1/2 t. Garlic Salt

Place roast, onion & celery in Dutch oven. Add just enough water to cover roast. Cook covered for 3 hours. Remove meat; reserve liquid. Trim and shred meat and return to Dutch oven. Add 2 cups reserved liquid. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Cool. Put into 3 qt. freezer bags. Freeze.

To prepare:
Thaw. Heat in a sauce pan for 30 minutes, or until thick. If mixture becomes too thick, add 1-2 T. water. Serve on grilled hamburger buns.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Leftover scraps

Our kids started back to Awana for the first time in a few years. The one at our church that we have been at for the last year is really fantastic and the kids are enjoying it very much. Since we home educate it is so nice for them to see their friends from church more than just on Sundays.

They have their memory verse books, bibles and vests that they need to take every week. It was suggested that each child have a bag of sorts to bring their things together.

I had some leftover scraps of fabric and ribbon and threw these together for the girls yesterday afternoon. Lij already has a little book bag and Bub would like me to find some fabric a tad more manly for him. The project only took about an hour.

I had enough of a coordinating fabric to line the bags as well as this funky ribbon to make little handles. I didn't have a pattern and they are not perfect. However, they are eclectic and fun and the girls were thrilled when I gave the bags to them.

Who says practical can't be pretty?

Friday, October 23, 2009

What I love about my kitchen

I am really digging my kitchen. There is still work to be done but compared to the way it was when purchased this house, you could say it's come a long way baby. Our white dishwasher and the last appliance to be replaced, finally said goodbye. My dishes have been coming out dirtier than they went in for awhile now. We are pretty sure the top sprayers were not working and then the loud buzzing noise was the final straw.

This pretty stainless steel model on the left matches the other appliances now and it doesn't feel so hodge podge in there. I am more of an electic girl than a bed in a bag type but I do like my appliances to match. It's like Christmas when I open my dishwasher now. My once dingy looking dishes currently have a renewed sheen. The next project in the kitchen will be counters and backsplash but it's not a big priority at the moment.
Notice the low lighting. I almost always prefer ambient lighting even in my kitchen. It's just more calming to me. Calm is a very valuable commodity in my house. I spend a lot of time in my kitchen and it's nice when it's clean and organized. It doesn't happen all of the time but I love it when it does. I also love my laptop that you see on the counter that Steve bought for me last mother's day. I use it in the kitchen looking up recipes, chatting online or I take it out in the school room for blogging. I'm off to finish some BBQ Beef for the freezer in my pretty kitchen.
Have a good weekend!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Using what you have - a tour of our school room

Not every family that home educates has a school room. It's not required for a great education. A dining table and some great cabinets can work just as well. For us though, a school room just works better. Last year as our school room became less then *ahem* organized we transitioned to working on school in the house. It was more relaxed in a way but it wasn't as structured as I like and too many school items were being left around in the house. We have spent the last couple weeks getting things back in order and I am loving it. I love seeing the spaces that other families are using so I am sharing ours here.

We have a shop to store bikes, clothing boxes and tools so we are able to use our garage to school in. We had a large piece of carpet left from the remodel three years ago and so we coupled that with a nice area rug for the play area and we have a softer floor.

Our five year old is working on some school this year. Here he has a nice little table to work at that my grandfather built for my me and my sisters when we were little.

He only work for bits of time at this point so close by is the rug within my eye sight for him to play on. We also have a four year old boy that comes one day per week and he plays here too. The two rocking chairs work for them to "read". I have filled the bins with lacing activities, animals, blocks and Leap pads to use.

Here you can see my desk by the side door with our computer counter behind me. It's nice to have a window in there so we don't feel so closed in. The door is also handy when I realize that I forgot to put put out the garbage can and I hear the truck coming. Moving on.

This computer is so nice to have set up. The kids watch their Math DVD here as well as play fun educational games during school. They also earn time during the day that they can use in the afternoon to play some other games. It's also going to come in handy this year as we do some research projects. It's important to us to be close by when the kids are using the internet.

Steve built this desk for me a long time ago for an office in another house. It worked so great for what I needed it for then and now it is perfect for our little school room. Each child has a work space that is their own. They have a place for supplies and books and for a few other things they like to have out there.

These wire cubes were recently gifted to us. (Thanks, Kelli!) I love them for our school. They are a place for me to keep our science kit, some manipulatives and our bins of supplies. I have things like ribbon, art items and stickers in the bins so far.

I use our chalkboard quite a bit. Sometimes for lessons but most often I write there what I would like that kids to work on that day or a special project for the day. The kids also come out and draw with colored chalk in their freetime. Honestly the kids spend a lot of time out there when they aren't schooling. They love the workspace and it's a place to be alone when they are working on a surprise for someone. To the right is my filing cabinet where I keep work samples, future ideas and other supplies.
So there it is. Our little one room school house if you will. It is not fancy but it is organized and I love it. I am looking forward to many projects out there this year. For my personality it works better for me to have a school area that is seperate from the house. If you educate at home, what's your space like?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Pretty exciting title, eh? Well things are looking up a bit. Sometimes you just need to unload everything in a heap for your view to clear a bit.

Well that and a package of sugar free mint patties that your husband brings home for you. That can really go a long way.

I was awakened this morning just before 4 with a seven year old girl with the stomach flu. It could be an interesting day for sure. Steve isn't feeling well either so I'm off to the store soon for tummy supplies.

We've been working hard getting our school room re-vamped and organized and I am excited to post photos of that soon. I'm still working on my desk. Once that desk is done I will breathe a sigh of relief!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Good Morning Monday

I wish I could say that I say that I was excited for the week and full of energy but I'm not. Oh well, as Scarlet put it, tomorrow is another day. Quite literally. That's good for something, right?

I am trying to remain optimistic that the week will finish well. I am hoping that each day will be better then the last. Anyone want to jump on that train with me?

This fall is really taking it's toll on me and I can't put my finger on why. There are lots of little reasons that I suppose in totality could be enough to render me a mess.

"This is day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Again with all of the choices. I want to be refreshing and a place of rest for my family. I'm afraid that hasn't been the case lately. I'm a bundle of nerves and anxiety. Sheesh, sometimes I can't stand to even be with myself.

This too shall pass. I am praying that it will be sooner rather than later. Not just for me, but more for my husband who had to listen to me unload when I'm sure he really wanted to be sleeping. (Sorry about that hon, thanks for listening.)

I hope if you are reading this that you are having a great start to your week. I am going to go have some coffee and work on picking up my optimism by it's bootstraps and getting on with it!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

10 years

It's been ten years today since we lost our sweet little girl, Olivia. She was so tiny and fragile yet her impact was so deep and strong. October is Miscarriage and Infant Loss Awareness Month and today, October 15, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day. Take a moment if you will and hug your children, grandchildren or a child close to you. They are so precious.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fighting H1N1

I know there is a lot of worry going on about the flu and the H1N1 virus. It makes a person consider what the best course of action is.

To vaccine or not? That is the question.

We have decided to forego the vaccine. Some may think us foolish but I do have some concerns about it. I am not anti-vaccine but anytime a new vaccine or medication is introduced I prefer to give it some time before taking the risk. There are always little bugs to be worked out and I would rather not have my family be the test cases.

I want to be clear. Everyone has to make the decision that they feel the most comfortable with. In fact, Steve did receive the flu shot at work because he is in healthcare and decided he was most comfortable with that.

That said, too often I believe that we go to the quick fixes rather than being preventative. There is a lot that we can do to boost our immunity to fight off disease and illness. Diet is key to our good or poor health which is no secret. We take raw garlic, eat fresh fruit and veggies and lots and lots of bone broth soups. Especially during the flu season. Hand washing is also very important and we are teaching our kids how to watch the spread of germs when sneezing or coughing. Light switches and door knobs are in the weekly cleaning rotation.

Last year our youngest was diagnosed with Influenza A. They prepared us for the "horrible" week to come. Now I know that the flu can be very serious for some people and it should not be taken lightly but boy did they make it sounds like this was the worst that could have happened. There was no medication for our son to take so we did what we usually do. Lots of bone broth, vitamin C and raw garlic. He had one lethargic day and then walked around with sniffles and a small cough the rest of the week. I believe that the milder symptoms were due to good diet along with the grace of God.

Since we started taking care of ourselves this way we have not seen the doctor in the last year for ear infections. We used to have an average of 4-6 visits each year for that for one or more children.

I suppose the proof is in the pudding for us.

What things do you do to protect yourself during this season?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More Chicago

The shopping in Chicago is not lacking. I had to take a picture of the Skechers store for my oldest girl. She would have loved to have spent time there. For some reason that has nothing to do with me, she loves Skechers.

Our last evening in the city we went to dinner at the House of Blues. The music was excellent and the food even better. Steve had a rack of ribs and I had the teriyaki salmon. Both plates were incredible and I dare say mine was one of the best meals of my life.

The next picture is of a monument honoring those in the military. It also serves as a place to warm the birds but it was very touching to see it. The flame is always lit and the stone slab is inscribed along the edges.

While I am not much of a city gal, Chicago was a lot of fun to see.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Our trip was fast and furious but so much fun. The hotel was very nice. While we ended up with a smaller room, it was very attractive and clean.

Did I mention how clean it was?

Clutter free. And clean. Really clean.

We were able to go into the city twice. Steve pulled a tendon/muscle in his foot before I arrived and we decided that it might have been a good thing for me. He was full of energy and wanted to walk all over kingdom come and see EVERYTHING. It was a good thing that he did though. We saw so much more than I would have ventured to see. The picture below is Buckingham Fountain. It really was beautiful to look at in person. The weather could not have been more perfect.

I loved this little "Art on the Farm" kitchen garden. It was well done and gorgeous.

The buildings there were breathtaking. This apartment building freaked both of us out. The bottom floors are the parking garages with the apartments/condos on top. I cannot imagine living there but it was neat to see.

At the stop we got off of the El train there was an Italian festival going on. Lots of flavor and items to look at.

Steve is describing our surroundings to some of our kids here in the square. That's also the CBS studio behind him on the left. You can see the big screen of a show being advertised.

The hotel had a very friendly and helpful concierge. The guide on top proved to be invaluable for our time in the city. This pile of magazine/brochures were our best friends and guides for a few days.

More pics to come.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Back from Chicago

Details to come soon...

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Struggling with OCD

When hubby asked if I would like to go with him to Chicago, I was pretty excited. It's a no-brainer really. All it would cost us is a plane ticket and a little food money. Some time away with my husband and some time to myself while the kids stay and have fun with family?

Hmmm, let me think about that.

He will have a conference to go to during the day and I am looking forward to having some uninterrupted time to read, shop, possibly meander. Then dinner each night with my man taking in some fun sights and the timing really couldn't be better. I have alluded to the last six months being on the challenging side before. We have been involved in some emotionally hard situations the last six months and it has taken it's toll on both of us.

We are not falling apart by any stretch. But sometimes when you are too close to a situation, you need to take a step back and gain some perspective. Finding the vision for our role and just getting a breather can be enough to keep us putting one foot in front of the other for a good while longer.

It can be hard to get that breather and perspective at home even when the circumstances aren't right in front of us. Caught up in the day to day happenings can make it hard to focus and see things clearly.

This trip wasn't the easiest for me to yes to, however. Since starting a family, I have developed somewhat of an anxiety issue. When Olivia passed away (our ten day old, premature, infant daughter) I became pregnant within a few months. We were over the moon but about half way through the pregnancy I began to have serious panic attacks. I struggled with them until my last trimester when there was some relief when our second daughters impending birth took center stage. But the issues were not gone. They resurfaced when our little girl was a few months old and post partum depression crept in.

The darkness was there and I felt like I was in a hole with no help in sight. At that point, it became clear to us that I had not fully processed Olivia's death. I had supressed a lot of my emotions through the pregnancy, refusing to give this new child inside of me a sobbing, grieving mother. It didn't seem fair to a newborn baby. My guess is that the supression built up and that is what triggered the panic attacks during the pregnancy.

But here I was now a sobbing, grieving, anxious new mother. It was at this point that I began medication to help me get a handle on things. I also went to a see a counselor a couple of times just to tell my story to someone who didn't have an emotional tie to my family. It was hard for me to really open up and talk about things with either side of our family because I knew that my pain was their pain. They were grieving also.

Seeing the counselor helped me to get outside of myself. Those two sessions were some of the best two hours I have invested. It has been almost ten years but while I have been able to process the grief and move on, there are some residual effects of that time in my life. I now find my self struggling with an obsessive/complusive side to things. I obsess about my children and their well being, with my relationships, with conversations, homeschooling, with finances and it goes on and on.

It is not always a daily struggle. The fall and winter months are the hardest though. The familiar smells of this time of year that take me back to those places where the pain overcame me. I have to make a conscious choice each and every day to submit my fears and obsessions at the foot of the cross. They are too heavy for me to carry alone.

That is why this trip, as enticing and exciting as it sounds (and will be), is so hard to say yes to. There are fears. Fears of dying and leaving my children alone, fears of my children not being taken care of the way I would like them to be, fears of just generally awful things happening. They are irrational and that's why saying yes to this trip is so important to me and to my husband. I have to look those fears straight in the face and say no way, I am still going to live. I will not be paralyzed by the fear.

Olivia's birthday will be while we are away and I think it's no conincidence. We will celebrate ten years since she was born, together, just the two of us. The way it all began.

And I can't wait.