Thank you for stopping by! Here you will find a variety of things as I post whatever happens to be going on in our home - recipes, crafts, homeschool, birthday parties, travels, meals in muffin tins and more! I'd love to know what you think so please feel free to leave comments!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

Time for a menu plan! I've been doing a great job at planning but not so great with putting it on here. Things are finally starting to slow down a little bit, so I might be able to get around to doing a few of the things I've been letting slide - like blogging! Anyhow, here's what will be on our table this week:

     B: French Toast, Sausage
     L: Mini Grilled Cheese, carrot sticks with ranch, strawberries
     D: Bunless Cheeseburgers, Potato Salad, Apple Carrot Slaw w/ lemon chia dressing

     B: Eggs & Bacon, Orange Wedges
     L: Leftover Slaw & Potato Salad
     D: Chicken Chimichangas, Beans, Guacamole Salad, Salsa

     B: Oatmeal, Fruit, Boiled Eggs
     L: Beef Fried Rice & Veggies
     D: Grilled Steaks, Baked Potatoes, Honey Glazed Carrots

     B: Pancakes, Sausage, Fruit
     L: Avocado Egg Salad Sandwiches, Fruit Salad, Celery Sticks
     D: Sweet & Sour Chicken, Rice, Broccoli, Pineapple

     B: Yogurt, Fruit & Granola Parfaits, Boiled Eggs
     L: Chicken & Cheese Quesadillas
     D: Salmon, Zucchini Rice Casserole, Green Beans

     B: Eggs & Bacon, Grapefruit
     L: Tuna Salad, Leftover Zucchini Caserole
     D: Deer Roast, Roasted Potatoes &Carrots

     B: Oatmeal, Boiled Eggs, Fruit
     L: Easter Dinner North (my family)
     D: Easter Dinner South (hubby's family)

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Monday, April 7, 2014

An End to Innocence

    Today is an anniversary day for me, though not one that I celebrate. Today, April 7th, is the anniversary of my last day of innocence. An innocence in which everything turns out the way we think it’s supposed to be. Life is lovely, filled with possibility and futures to be planned. Happily-ever-after exists and each approaching new day promises excitement and wonder. For me, that fantasy ended on April 8th, 2003.
    I was five months pregnant with our first child - a child we struggled nine long years to conceive. We woke up early and excitedly got ready to go to the hospital’s imaging department for the first glimpses at the little life growing in me. My heart was swelling with joy as I anticipated seeing a tiny heart beating and those 10 precious fingers and 10 precious toes.
    Moments into the ultrasound, I sensed there was a problem. I pretended not to notice how quiet the technician was. I forced myself to pretend like it was a normal thing for the technician to excuse herself from the room only minutes after starting what was supposed to be a half hour long event. Panic was welling up inside me but I made myself remain calm as I prayed that everything was going to be fine. After 15 agonizing minutes, the technician came in again and told me we were done and I could head to my doctor’s office which was located in another wing of the hospital. We saw no images of a beautiful, active, tiny person moving on the screen. No heart beating. No fingers. No toes.
    As we made our way through the halls, we both knew there was something terribly wrong though neither of us could even begin to speak it. We sat in the waiting room for another 30 minutes. Waiting. Praying. Hoping.
    Finally, sitting in front of the doctor’s desk, we heard the words. "Your baby has died." It echoed in my head. I only remember snippets of the conversation from then on. He gave us our options for how to proceed and we left the hospital in the deepest grief we had ever known. Physically, I knew what I would be doing in the coming days, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to emotionally get through everything that was coming. I wept that entire night.
    When morning came, we quietly drove back to the hospital, dreading the coming hours. I was induced into labor and later that day, gave birth to a beautiful, silent, tiny, baby boy. I marveled at how perfectly formed his little body was. Tiny fingers, tiny toes, tiny mouth, tiny nose. Perfect save for one thing. Silent and still, I held him. We wept over him. We named him Alexander. The nurse dressed him in a tiny white gown that was made and donated by a volunteer from the area. The nurse took pictures of our son and then brought him back to us one last time before taking him to the morgue.
    My heart had been filled with the excitement and joy of expecting the birth of a child but two days later, my heart was broken and stricken with grief. We buried our son on April 12, 2003 in a tiny, white casket, covered with miniature blue and white carnations. Leaving the cemetery that day, knowing my son’s little body would stay there forever was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I was a mother who would never see her child grow up. There would be no diaper changes, no sweet giggles, no first words, no memories to be made, no sight of him again on this side of heaven.
    Only by the grace of God did I manage to make it through those days, weeks, months - though, I was never the same. Those around me were disappointed that I didn’t snap back to my old self, but that woman died the moment the words came out of the doctor’s mouth. The person that I am today was born in the days that followed those words. I became a woman who desperately needed to lean on her Heavenly Father to make it through the rest of life. My days of happy innocence were gone. Though I went on to have two living children, I wasn’t able to fully experience the joys of pregnancy. I worried about all the things that could go wrong. I needed constant assurance that the little one growing in my womb was okay. I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief until the day that I held each of those little ones in my arms and saw the life in their eyes and heard their newborn cries. And even then, I still worried about what might go wrong. Honestly, I still have days when fear tries to take over and trusting God seems to be an impossible feat.
    It’s been 11 years since I experienced that last day of innocence. Since then, I’ve been able to have moments of joy that I never imagined could have happened while I was living out those days of grief. While the innocence is gone, joy never left me. It was just hidden for a time. There are still days when my grief flows as fresh as it did that day when I held my silent child. Days when my mind briefly wanders to what life might be like today with an 11 year old boy added to the mix. I wonder if he would have had the same gentle and loving spirit as his younger siblings. If he would have had the same fiery hair and fair complexion. If he would have the same love of life and learning. But, the Father gently reminds me that all life is but a moment on this earth. This place is not my home. It’s just a stop on the way. I miss him terribly, but Alexander is waiting for me in my true home. And there, joy, like none other, will never get lost behind grief.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Muffin Tin Monday - Groundhog Day

Every year, the kiddos and I wake up extra early in order to watch some of the spectacle that is Groundhog Day. We watch it from the warmth of our house, on television, because I don't think I will ever be willing to stand amongst 25,000 people in the freezing cold for hours and hours in order to see the whole 15 seconds of Punxsutawny Phil being thrust up in the air before he "chooses" a scroll which spells out our meteorological fate for the coming 6 weeks. I do, however, thoroughly enjoy watching it on tv. From the fireworks at 6:30 AM to the crazy men singing popular tunes with the lyrics changed to pay homage to the ground dwelling critter to the Pennsylvania Polka being played as the festivities end - I'm down with all of it. For that short time, I will even make comments about how cute the most famous groundhog in the country looks. My opinion of groundhogs does, however, change quite a bit in the spring when the local beasties start to lay waste to my garden. 

Anyhow, in order to celebrate the fun that is Groundhog Day (even though he saw his shadow) I decided on a Groundhog Day themed Muffin Tin Monday! Here is what was in the tin this week:

Punxsy Phil PB sandwiches (tortilla rounds with peanut butter, candy eyes, blueberry nose and cheese whiskers and teeth), broccoli trees, pretzel sticks & cashews to represent things a groundhog might eat (they eat plants and bits of trees) and blueberry applesauce & pom plum juice to represent the darkness of the shadow Phil saw.

The kids really enjoyed the Groundhog Day theme and gobbled everything down. Well, Micah skipped the broccoli. No big surprise there. I'd share pics of the kids with their meals but the 4000+ photos on my phone are making it difficult for me. I think I need to spend some time uploading some pics!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tiny Lunch

I decided to have a little fun with the kiddos for lunch today. After finishing morning school, I sent them on quiet reading time while I tried to decide what to make for lunch. Our usual plan of leftovers for dinner was not doable since we ended up having a last minute dinner elsewhere for our little nephew's 2nd birthday. What fun! He's too cute!

I scanned the fridge and the only thing that stood out to me was about half a pound of ground beef left over from burger night. Mini meatballs popped into my mind. We could have cheese cubes and boiled eggs with mini meatballs. Add some crackers and veggies and we'd have a rounded out meal. As I stood in the kitchen for 7 hours (or so it seemed) forming approximately 97,000 mini meatballs (ok, it was actually only 90), I thought it might be fun to surprise the kids with an entire mini meal.

As the mini meatballs cooked, I cut tiny cheese cubes and cut pieces off the egg putting a wee bit of yolk in the center to look like a half a boiled egg. Then I put it all together! Here is what lunch looked like when my two little redheads came out to eat.

They were quite amused! They said we should have tiny lunch every day.

And yes, my son is wearing one of his sister's old, pink & purple jammies. Hand-me-downs - it's how we roll.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

One of my goals for this new year of 2014 is to get back into menu planning. It saves me time and removes the age old question of "What should we have for dinner tonight?" which is almost always answered with "I don't know." I don't have a recipe for "I don't know." Anyhow, I'm on my 4th week of menu planning now so I thought maybe it was time to blog it and link up with other meal planners (though I suppose I should have checked to make sure the website I used to link with is still hosting). Here is what's on the menu at our house this week!

Monday: Bunless Cheeseburgers, Fried Potatoes, Steamed Carrots.
Tuesday: Chicken Chimichangas, Fried Rice & Beans, Guacamole Salad
Wednesday: Family Table at SLW
Thursday: Grilled Chicken, Pasta Alfredo, Steamed Broccoli
Friday: Out to Dinner for My Birthday!
Saturday: Venison Steaks, Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Golden Beets
Sunday: Out to a Super Bowl Party

Sounds like a pretty good week - especially since I don't have to cook so much!

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Muffin Tin Monday - Snow Day Theme

Well, it's been a while, but I finally made it back to my poor, nearly abandoned, little blog. I am really hoping to be able to spend more time here now that we are getting more organized in our home and daily schedule. It's simply amazing how busy life gets as the children grow. Once upon a time, life was busy due to all the things you must do for a baby and toddler, and I thought (silly me for thinking) that once they were old enough to do things like go to the bathroom on their own, bathe & dress themselves and even get their own snacks, then I would be able to sit back and relax a bit. I was wrong. All those baby things have been replaced with homeschooling, homeschool group meetings, Trail Life, American Heritage Girls, Gym & Swim, Uchooz (Wed night kids church), service projects, field trips and social things like play dates and birthday parties! Wow! In the beautiful chaos that is raising children, I sometimes stop and think that maybe changing diapers 10 to 12 times a day wasn't so bad after all! The truth is though, that I wouldn't change a thing. My kids are happy & healthy and enjoying all the wondrous things and amazing people God has brought into our lives. 

Even though we are undoubtedly busy, I've missed the fun we used to have with Muffin Tin Mondays. It takes a bit of time to plan and even more time to put together, but I love seeing the kids' faces when they see their little trays of fun food. Plus it gives me a chance to be creative in a different way. It was a last minute decision to make a muffin tin meal today, so I couldn't put much time into planning. Since the snow is still steadily falling here, I decided to make today's theme Snow Day. 

Top: Blueberry applesauce with snow sprinkles, sliced apples (the center looks kind of snow-flakey) and snowy white milk
Bottom: A snowy white boiled egg (these were meant to be molded to look like bunnies but the eggs were too small for the mold and they just look like eggs), carrots (if you intend to build a snowman on a snow day, you must have a carrot for the nose, right?) and pita crackers with snowflake cheese bits (I thought I had a tiny snowflake cutter but this was the closest thing I had)

Yeah, I know. Some of these are a bit of a stretch but it worked for the kids! Hopefully, we will be back next week with a new tin! I intend to keep up with this since we don't have too many years left before they start to think they are too grown up for MTM!


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