Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Father's Day

 

Okay, so I know I am REALLY late on this post, but it has been a busy week and a half since then, and I guess a late post is better than none at all :)

I have the best husband in the world and he happens to be an AWESOME dad. I don't know many guys who are as involved as B.J. is with their kids and able to balance high expectations with reality and gentleness as well as he does. Yes, there are times where I think "Wow, there is no way (fill in the blank with one of the kid's names) is able to do that. Why would you expect such a thing?" And then they amaze me and rise to the level expected of them.

B.J. knows his kids. He knows their strengths and weaknesses. He is intentional in his time with them and yet can throw his ideas out the window and sit down and play party with them. He is gentle and humble enough to apologize if he has caused hurt feelings and models wonderfully that it is okay to make mistakes, but here is how to fix them. My kids are so blessed to have a dad who loves God with his whole heart and seeks to walk uprightly before Him. Jesus is Lord of his life and it shows in every area of his life. I love that I have a husband who I can be proud of, who I can look up to, and who I get to be a partner with for the rest of our lives.

It is so cool how God designed families to have the balance of a mom and dad. Moms, overall, tend to be softer, gentler, and more nurturing. Dads tend to be more active in their play, expect more, and teach their kids how to 'brush it off'. Kids need both to grow and thrive. Though the generalities tend to hold true more often than not, B.J. is still good at nurturing, cuddling, and teaching our girls how to work through problems. He is also really good an helping me see areas where I am not following through like I should be. He is willing to learn and study all he can to help us grow in our abilities as parents, partners, and believers. Our family life would not have the richness and purpose that it has without B.J.'s support and partnership. I am blessed to call him my husband and my kids are tremendously blessed to have B.J. as their dad. Happy Father's Day, B.J.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Encouragement for a Mother's Heart



So it can seem like many days all I do is correct, reprimand, re-direct, clean up, direct again, etc. All too often, I get into a 'rut' where it seems like all I can see are the negatives - the character flaws I need to help my children overcome - and the task is overwhelming. It is frustrating to see the vision you have for your children and then to see how far they need to go to get there. It can feel like there is no way to get there.

However, then there are those moments when you see a glimpse of the work God is doing in their hearts. It is like sunshine after a week of rainy skies. I have been challenged lately to focus more on the positive moments instead of dwelling on the less than stellar moments. I want to praise my kids publicly when they do something right and privately correct when they choose to do something wrong. I want my children to look back on their childhood as a positive, building, uplifting time, not a time of frustration and negativity. I want the feeling in my house to be sweet, warm, welcoming, encouraging. I want my children to feel safe to open up to me and know that I will not 'air their dirty laundry' to others. I want to show verbal fidelity. Yes, it is easier to dwell on the negative - it is so apparent, but I have been challenged to choose a better focus. That choice benefits my family at the same time as it benefits me.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Phil.4:8

Last week, during that stretch of beautiful weather, I was able to take several walks around my neighborhood with my kiddos. The girls would bring their strollers, I would strap on Simeon and away we would go.
 
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The second or third day, Janaya decided to not bring her stroller. She wanted to just carry her baby. Now, in case you don't know, Janaya's baby is HEAVY! I tried to tell her that she would get tired of carrying her and that I was NOT going to carry her, but she insisted and I decided to let her give it a try (fully knowing the outcome). Sure enough, by the second block, she was tired of carrying baby and tried to put her in Elianna's stroller. Elianna graciously agreed to share the stroller space, but then she decided that her baby was getting too crowded, so Elianna hoisted Janaya's baby onto her hip and pushed the umbrella stroller with one hand (not an easy task :)  
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By the third block, Janaya's baby's weight proved to be too much and Elianna tried to give her back to Janaya - who still didn't want to carry the baby. So, Elianna thought for a moment and then asked Janaya if she would like to push the stroller and Elianna would continue to carry baby. Janaya happily agreed and the walk resumed.

I, however, had just received a gift. An encouragement to my heart. I had just witnessed a 2 year old and a 4 year old solve a problem in a way that would honor each other. They could have been selfish, but they weren't. I could have focused on nagging Janaya with "I told you you should have brought your own stroller", but I didn't. I enjoyed that wonderful bright spot of encouragement. It was just what a mom needs from time to time to remind her that it is worth it. It was also, perhaps, a glimpse of how God feels when he sees us seeking to honor others with our thoughts, words, and actions. May we seek out more opportunities to bless God in our daily interactions - just like this little action blessed me.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Homemade Ricotta Cheese

So I love cheese. My family loves cheese. We love ricotta cheese but it is so darned expensive that when I found a blog that gave instructions on how to make ricotta myself I decided to give it a try. Below is my tutorial. It was remarkably easy and SOOO yummy. The best part is it is definitely cheaper (if you have a fairly inexpensive milk source - Halo Farms is a good one around here) and healthier (no stabilizers or gum additives).

Making Ricotta Cheese



You will need 1 gallon of milk, 1/2-1tsp salt (I did 1/2tsp and it needed a tiny bit more) and 1/2 cup vinegar and cheesecloth. You also need a thermometer. I couldn't find mine, so I rigged up the meat thermometer....



Heat the milk over medium heat to 180 degrees - stirring regularly to keep the milk from burning.

Remove the milk from the heat when it reaches 180 degrees. Stir in salt and vinegar. The milk will start to curdle immediately.




Cover and let sit for 2 hours. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the curdles from the pot and put into cheesecloth lined collander. Let drain. Store in the fridge for about a week. Or enjoy right away....






The liquid that is leftover is called whey. It can replace the liquid in biscuits, breads, etc. Or you can use it to feed your acid-loving plants like I did. My blueberry bushes loved it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Worship

There is little else that I love more than when I get to witness my kids in true, genuine worship for their God. It is a worship that comes from the heart, unencumbered by the social pressures that we learn to feel as we grow older. It is pure, heart-felt, and precious. And yes, it is cute :) I am fairly sure that the worship that children offer blesses the Father far more than the most elaborate performances, eloquent prayers, or generous gifts from adults. This is true worship and it encourages my heart as a mom when I get to see one of my kids engaging in it.

There is so much that children pick up from being in the 'grown up' worship time with their families. I still remember looking around at the adults in the VERY formal church I grew up in when I was no more than 5 or 6 and being impacted by their worship. I saw the joy in their faces when they opened the Word. I witnessed their reverence in prayer. I watched how they paid attention to the Pastor's sermon and took notes so that they could remember the important message he was giving. I watched all of these things and they had an impact on me. Was I bored sometimes? Yes. Did things go over my head sometimes? Yes. Am I forever grateful to my parents for doing the hard job of parenting me during church and teaching me how to worship God with the rest of the congregation? YES!

My kids aren't perfect. They don't just sit quietly in church because I have such well-behaved, easy children. It is work to have my girls and baby boy with me in church. Parenting doesn't stop when you enter the church building. This is one of the most important times of parenting out of the whole week. Although B.J. and I get the chance to introduce our kids to the Saviour of the World throughout the week, Sunday is a special time. This is the time we get to teach them how to worship God with a body of believers. What greater joy or responsibility could a parent ask for?

Where do my kids learn to worship? They learn it in our daily songs and verses, when we pray in the evenings, when we help a neighbor, when we bring a meal to a family in need, and when we stop and pray for a need, and at my parent's hymn sing. And they learn it in the corporate worship and teaching on a Sunday morning. Enjoy :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

HOT week








This past week was HOT! Trying to keep three little ones happy and learning when I am exhausted and cranky from the heat was not easy, but going out in the early mornings and the pool in the afternoons certainly helped :)

Say "Please"

So, we believe that it is never too early to start teaching manners and are always encouraged and surprised when one of our littlest ones figures out what we mean. This video was from last week - the hottest day of the week - and Simeon was REALLY enjoying the water...


videod

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

All in a day...

So, apparently my attitude makes an impact on my kids. Who would have known? When I am frustrated, short tempered, and irritated, my kids are annoying, disobedient, rude, and disrespectful. When I determine to focus on the positive and encourage that, I get kids who look for ways to honor the rest of the family and much more positive interactions overall. No, it doesn't fix a two year olds needs to fill the toilet with as many objects or as much toilet paper as possible and it doesn't stop all the arguing and selfishness, but I handle it better. And, as a result, my attitude doesn't perpetuate the problem. Wow, that is a lot of power for one person to have!

Has my day gone perfectly today? Hardly. I currently have a baby boy who had difficulty going down for nap so I got to cuddle with him twice, a two year old who is yelling upstairs about how she doesn't want to go to bed (though she clearly needs it and I have done EVERYTHING to help her) and a four year old who has not quite mastered the art of quiet naptime. Am I handling it all better than yesterday? Way better! It is amazing what a little prayer, offered at key times can do. I am asking God to give me wisdom and grace with my kiddos so that I can respond in a way that show His love for them. It hasn't been perfect today, but it is moving in the right direction.