In Training Part 2

Something beautiful happened yesterday. After a frustration filled morning on the part of both me and toddler, I decided that an afternoon of peace was much-needed.

As soon as she woke up from her nap, we headed outside. Weather-perfect, the day welcomed our frazzled spirits. Toddler puttered happily in and out of the sandbox, on the swings, hopped on the trampoline…and my 8 and 6 yo had a great time “doing school” outdoors. We just pulled our lawn chairs up close to the sandbox and went to work. No mad runs to the bathroom, no puddles on the floor to clean up…deep breaths of fresh country air cleansing away the stress. Thank you to all who contributed to this by praying for us!

I’d been so harried all morning, between rushing toddler to the toilet and trying to teach “spelling rules” and “math”…and I realized at one point that getting frustrated with my “constant interrupter” (toddler) wasn’t in step with my desire to raise my older girls to value their little sister. After all, she is way more important than multi-letter phonograms and practicing higher addition!
In this world that views children as burdensome, my job of raising them becomes of paramount importance. Yes, at times it’s hard, but it’s never burdensome.

Sometimes you have to stop the frantic-ness and enjoy the gifts God gave you. Children are a good place to start.


In Training

Been spending a lot of time in the bathroom lately. Sigh. It’s tranquil, with dark brown wallpaper and a wildflower/hanging basket border. Don’t worry it’s not too dark, the cream tongue-in-groove woodwork on the lower half lightens it up. No, we’re not re-decorating, we’re toilet training.

Day One, Monday–I’m set. Toddler’s been showing signs of awareness for two months now, can’t put it off any longer. Besides, I’m out of diapers! My supply of training pants is never-ending, I’m stocked up on all of toddler’s favorite drinks…got marshmallows for incentives! By the end of the day we’re gonna have this baby trained!

10 A.M. Maybe this is going to be harder than I thought

4 P.M. First success! (After about 20 failures!)

Day Two, Tuesday–Toddler definitely was not ready to toilet train, but I’m not giving up. She’s got to catch on soon!

Blessing #1: Thankfully I put her in a pull up for the drive to Grammy’s…cause she had her first and only bowel movement since we began this roller coaster ride!

Blessing #2: I’m coming to appreciate the two mattress pads I own. One is protecting our couch, the other my wool rug. Sigh. My laundry detergent supply is getting low. Patience?…we won’t even go there.

Lightbulb Moment #1: 9:30 A.M. I hear a gasp and a “whoopsie!” as toddler looks down at the puddle at her feet. (have I mentioned that I’m very blessed to have only linoleum and wood flooring in our house?)

Lightbulb Moment #2: 3 P.M. For the FIRST time, toddler comes running saying “Go potty Mommy!” It’s dripping down her legs, but she’s getting the concept! (TELL MOMMY WHEN YOU NEED TO GO!)

Day Three, Wednesday–Toddler’s self esteem is sinking. She’s made so many messes, she knows to take me right to them. My song and book routine in the bathroom is getting really old to both of us. So I take a doll in and we have her go “potty” (I pour a small cup of water behind doll where my toddler can’t see it). This fascinates my twenty-six month old. Now that’s all she wants to do. Every 2 minutes. Today, she had 14 accidents before noon. How this is possible, no clue. We were on the pot most of the morning.

What I’ve learned today: Toilet-training+homeschooling=INSANITY

to be continued…

P.S. Please pray for us!

Cooking and Food

Pizza Hut Breadsticks

The other night I called my friend’s teenage daughter for advice. She used to work at Pizza Hut, you see, and I wanted to know if she could share any special tips on how they made their cheese breadsticks! Boy could she!

First things first, if you don’t already have a good “dough” recipe, use mine for No-Knead Crusty French Bread (directions at the bottom tell how to use it for breadsticks). Okay, now for the good stuff. It’s simple and oh so good, I made them just the other night.

Roll the dough into a rectangle, sprinkle a nice layer of mozzarella cheese on top. Place in a cold oven, then turn oven to 400*F and bake till crust turns a nice golden color, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle a mixture of Parmesan cheese and parsley over the melted mozzarella. Let stand a couple minutes and slice into sticks. My family couldn’t tell the difference…in fact, it’s been so long since we’ve eaten at Pizza Hut that they actually told me mine were better! Ha.

Btw, that No Knead Crusty French Bread is so delicious…I’ve got some rising right now for one of our favorite suppers…French Dip sandwiches. I just love recipes that are both easy and scrumptious!

Weekend Kindness

Weekend Kindness: Give a Food Gift

So, week 6 of Weekend Kindness…and our mission was to Create a Confectionary Masterpiece. I’ve done a few confectionary pretties in my life, but didn’t have time this weekend! However, I did give the gift of my time with my children as we made caramel corn and an apple pie for their daddy in celebration of all the work he does as the official “laborer” in our family! Apple pie is his favorite dessert, and my oldest daughter took the leftover pie crust and created small heart-shaped treats which she frosted and dusted with sprinkles. So we had plenty of special treats for Labor Day.

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Get the Weekend Kindness code here! The purpose of the meme is to get people motivated to be kind to our fellow men and women and to encourage one another in that pursuit. If you participate, leave the link to your Weekend Kindness in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Weekend Kindness with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their Acts of Weekend Kindness. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Cooking and Food Family Ties Writing

That Old Time Women-Power

Picture this…a large, high ceilinged old-school gathering room…a former gym or cafeteria. A grassy ball field is easily visible through the window-lined north wall. The brightness from these, and the hum of a zillion ceiling fans on high speed is the first thing that grabs your attention. Then your eyes travel to the smaller than standard rectangular tables dotting the room in no particular order. Each one is covered with the darlingest cotton tablecloth–all pastels, some plaids, some flowered…a variety of old-fashioned charm topped with a mason jar of fresh wildflowers, salt & pepper, and a saucer of butter.

Pretty soon, a bevy of aproned farmwives are hustling around with large pitchers of sweet tea and water, and the two long tables below the stage area are gradually covered with foods. Hearty foods, that feat of mid-western women that for years has been an expected requirement. Whether for threshing crews, their own men, or church potlucks…these women know how to feed a crowd.

With main dishes of homemade chicken and noodles atop mashed potatoes (might it interest you to know that the noodles took the entire previous day to prepare…yes, even till midnight), or eight large meatloaves such as we fixed last night, and sides galore from potato casseroles to baked macaroni and cheese, cooked veggies and always two tire sized bowls full of garden fresh salad alongside a large tray of thick-sliced homemade whole grain bread. Mmm. Veggies all organic…straight from the head cook’s garden. Romaine and spinach, zuchini, onions, radishes, carrots…made a super-colorful salad. A five gallon bucket full of beets appeared, causing the skeptic in me to cringe. We filled a sink with the things and scrubbed each one, then boiled them till the skins fell off…melted real butter on them and they were the first food to disappear from the lunch table!

The college kids we fed were from all over the USA, here for a week long conference put on by an environmentally friendly institute. Nice people, au natural somewhat…loving their veggies and beer (nope we didn’t serve that), very appreciative of everything. Ladies mostly devoid of make-up, deoderant, and several apparantly with an aversion to razors! But tattoos were okay…

Anyhow, I digress…10 hours of cooking with 4 other women and 2 male dishwashers. I think I know now what a ship’s galley must look like, long and narrow with elbow space at a premium…but how nice to make a mess and hand it off to a man with a soapy sink whose only job is to keep those dishes coming back clean! The only electricity we had was at one end of the kitchen away from the counters…Wish you could have seen the shelves lined with loaves of wheat bread and rolls, cookies, and the six loaves of banana/pineapple bread that I stirred up by hand as supper foods were being carted out to the big room.

Amazing what goes into keeping a group of fifty people happy and fed for a week. I loved my day of it, so did my oldest who pitched in by washing veggies, separating onion rings for salad, stirring the simmering gooseberries (yep, for cobbler…had cherry cobbler too, and chocolate sheet cakes), carrying refill pitchers, sweeping…and innumerable other tasks. There is just something spiritual about a group of women in an agricultural community gathering to create meals. By spiritual, I don’t mean religion, rather–a spirit of fun, of a common goal, a shared satisfaction in what we were accomplishing. We identified.

I’m sure this sounds silly, women all over are working together every day on the job and here I am raving about it like it’s a new discovery. It’s the pioneer spirit of it I think. Can you imagine what the first Rosie Riveter’s must have thought, taking the places of father/husband/boyfriend in the factories during the war? A noble sacrifice. Woman power, in its innocent days.

It’s a good thing. But it’s the best thing, to arrive home to my hubby of 13 years sitting at the kitchen table with my six yo on his lap…to hear the running feet of my toddler and her “Hi Mommy! Hi Mommy!” as she smacks into my knees and hugs them tight. To fill her hungry tummy up with leftover meatloaf and scalloped potatoes and do all the mommy-things that Daddy’s neglect in favor of all the daddy-things they’re so good at. Getting to wash a baby up for bedtime, see their sleepy relief at clean diaper and PJ’s, to loosen curly hair and hand over a special blankie. To sing that favorite song, get that last wet kiss and a quiet, “Nite Mommy”…

That’s woman power to me.


Christianity Family Ties

Operation Christmas Child: Info and Tips

Tears were in my oldest daughter’s eyes as she implored me, saying, “Mommy, please just don’t give me as much this Christmas, these kids need things more than I do.” She needn’t have begged, I was all for the idea.

Operation Christmas Child. With the National Collection Week in mid-November, now is the time to start planning your box. My friend Kim had the great idea of adding flip-flops to our boxes this year. But you need to get them bought now at end-of-summer sales!

OCC is a great way to encourage the gift of giving in your children every Christmas. Each year Samaritan’s Purse collects boxes from all over and sends them overseas to boys and girls ages 2-14. You pack your box with a specific age/gender in mind, and label it accordingly. The best thing about these boxes is that Samaritan’s Purse includes in each one a Gospel booklet that’s followed up with a discipleship program. Over 7 million children received these last year.

Wrap your shoebox and lid separately. We choose to buy plastic Rubbermaid containers (shoebox-sized) simply because they can be reused by the recipients. If you’d like, place a photo of your child in the box. We were touched by a shot in the Samaritan Purse magazine showing a young girl kissing the picture of her giver over and over with true thankfulness.

Their website has all the info you need on drop-off locations and gift guidelines. You can even mail your box (es) directly to Samaritan Purse if there’s no drop-off nearby. They ask a $7 donation be included in each box to help cover shipping/handling costs plus printing/distribution costs of the Gospel storybooks.

Three or four years ago, my friend Jana’s family sent us the most special card printed by Samaritan Purse. It informed us that they’d sent an OCC box in honor of our family. What better gift this season, than a gift that keeps on giving?

I’d love it if you’d share your ideas/tips on OCC, or other ways in which your family reaches out during the holidays. It’s my most favorite time of the year…


Only One Thing

Later on today, at MInTheGap, a post of mine will publish that muses on the glorious job of a Pastor’s wife. I hope you’ll head over there and tell me what you think.

After writing that one–which, btw, I’ve titled Life in the Fishbowl–a verse came to mind along with (of course!) more thoughts!

“But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42

Why is it easier to be a Martha than a Mary? It’s infinitely more rewarding to be like Mary, to reap the blessings of rightly dividing our time…putting God first and having so much more of Him to spill over onto our earthly relationships.

So often we try to get by on just a little bit…we’re insanely busy trying to meet everyone’s expectations. We grab a verse here or there and end up praying mostly surface prayers for good health and material needs (vs spiritual prayers), till we’re spiritually tanked-out and going about “doing good” on nothing but fumes.

It’s easy to think that what really counts is what is seen/done in public. That as long as we’re busy doing “God’s work” everything will come out right in the end.

We’re spiritually short-changing ourselves. Go to God. Exchange your exhaustion for His strength, your questions for His answers, your anxiety for His peace. He’s got what you need, whatever it is.

It’s not enough to agree with me, and depend on good resolutions alone. Make time, make it a habit, and don’t let anything sidetrack you.

Maybe the only time you have to yourself, with a quiet house is at midnight. Maybe it’s during a long commute–hey the Bible on tape/CD is better than nothing. Wasn’t it Susannah Wesley who would sit amidst her houseful of ten children with her apron up over her head while she read the Bible and prayed?

May God bless you, renew you, and grant you grace.