Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Rich's New Book

I am having a hard time finding exactly the right words to say about the image above. I am sitting in my bed right now, sipping coffee, and enjoying the quiet that will come to an end in about 51 minutes. I just finished making coffee, breakfast, and lunch for Rich and helped him get out the door for his Tuesday/Thursday classes that he teaches at  UNC School of the Arts. In keeping a family journal of all of our happenings, I absolutely must blog about his new book!
I'll just say this: I am proud of him. He works so hard for his family. I am so very thankful for him and all that he does for us. I am thrilled for him that his first book has been published and the joy that I've seen it bring to him. He has already begun work on his next book, and I can't wait for that to happen for him too!
His book, God, Time, And The Incarnation, will be available soon at BN, Amazon, etc. For now, you can purchase it directly from the publisher. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Our Journey of Lent

After dinner last night, Rich read our first Lent Scripture reading. The children had been anticipating this all week and were excited to begin. Then afterward we each confessed a sin ... some of us had a harder times than others thinking up something they had done that was wrong.
Rich said that the way we ought to do this is to have the "crown" out and accessible all day long and as we sin throughout the day, we should place the toothpick. Think about what we did wrong, pray and ask for forgiveness, and put a thorn into the crown.
So, already on the first day, the process has changed a bit. I like this better for several reasons. It brings the whole activity to the forefront of our minds all throughout the day. It will potentially lead to a habit of ongoing repentance, and is much less ceremonial.

The one thing I have already seen in only a few short hours of doing this is that the children have a much easier time seeing their sibling's sins than their own. (isn't that just how it is?) I have had to point out a couple of times that this isn't an exercise in you pointing out someone else's sins ... it is for you to recognize your own.

I am hoping that this activity will lead each of us to an ongoing attitude of repentance, thankfulness, and joy that can only come through Christ and His forgiveness.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lent: 40 Days of Anticipation ... making it tangible

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. I've been pondering this thing called Lent for a long time now and I think I finally have a plan on how to make it - a special time of anticipation - while also making it tangible for the children. A few years ago we began a family tradition of Advent. That tradition has become special to all of us as we read the Scriptures together and think about the birth of Jesus. This year we are going to do a similar activity together during the 40 days of Lent ... leading up to Resurrection Day. My friend, and college roommate, gave me a kit of symbols, and a book with suggested Scripure Readings that we will use each day leading up to Resurrection Day. 

But that is not all we will do. While the Scripture readings  will be a focused time of anticipation and reflection ... and the symbols are even a tangible way to express the readings ... I still wanted something more... I just didn't know what, until I read this blog post written by a friend from college...

It was just the idea that I was looking for to implement into our family for this time of  Lent. So, I bought the supplies that I needed and tomorrow we begin this time of anticipation ... together. Each day we will read a Scripture Passage together that will lead us to the cross. The idea is that we focus on being repentant for our sins and as much as we can remember and as we are convicted, place a toothpick in the "crown" as a symbol of our sins being on Jesus. 

Supplies for the Crown of Thorns: styrofoam wreath, wooden toothpicks, and purple fabric

Process: Start with an empty wreath. Each day confess our sin to one another and place a toothpick into the crown. 

The night before Resurrection Day, I am going to remove all of the toothpicks and wrap the wreath in purple fabric for the children to see on the next morning. No more thorns. Jesus is Alive. Sins are washed away by the blood of Christ for those who believe in Him!

Jesus bore our sins! What a tangible way for the children to see that! My prayer is that even the youngest ones will understand the significance or our need for a Savior! I pray that our family will draw closer together as we confess our sins to one another. There is no question that children need to be taught about repentance and even more importantly have it modeled for them ... so, I hope that this will be an exercise of humility for all of us as we come together as sinners recognizing our need for forgiveness.

John 14:6

New King James Version (NKJV)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

1 Corinthians 15:3-8

New King James Version (NKJV)

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.

And she can swallow ...

pills! This may not seem worthy of a blog post, but since this blog serves as a journal for my family, I have to document this monumentous event! During cold and flu season, besides being cautious about what the children eat ... especially sugary foods/drinks that depress the immune system ... I give the children supplements almost on a daily basis to boost their immune systems. Each child has learned to swallow pills at a different age ... and each one has been able to do it a little earlier than the last. Martin was probably about 7 before he could do it, Aaron was 5, Jonathan was 4, and Rosalie at just 3 years old ... can now do it! I always have liquid supplements and herbal homeopathic teas on hand for the ones who aren't able to swallow ... but the pressure to be able to swallow pills is pretty high around here, so she was super motivated to be able to do it!
For now, she is able to swallow only the small ones ... but it's a step!
In our family, we have been passing around some sort of upper respiratory virus over the past couple of weeks. So, we have been drinking lots of herbal tea and swallowing lots of supplements. So far, Rich and Rosalie has had the worst of it. Martin, Jonathan, and I haven't had anything more than drainage. Aaron had a sore throat and a little bit of an eye infection ... that I treated with some throat coat tea and some green tea bags and tea drops, respectively. (his ailments manifested in weird ways, but we managed to get rid of them quickly!)

Rosalie thinks that she is something else to be able to swallow pills like her big brothers! It was a huge celebration when she did it the first time ... her brothers surrounded her and cheered her on and gave her big hugs! (ummmm ... I think that avoiding princess syndrome in a house full of doting big brothers is impossible!)

Only 1 more month until Spring ... stay healthy!!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Aaron's favorite cookie

I am not even exactly sure what to call them because I came up with this recipe through years of tweaking and experimenting to get a yummy whole grain cookie. 
If I had to give them a name, though, I suppose I could call them Spelt Chocolate Coconut Cookie with Almonds. It's kind of a mouthful, though. After reading this post, let me know what you think they should be called!

Last week, I measured out all of the ingredients and put them all in separate bowls, and let Aaron go at it! He had the best time mixing all the ingredients together, putting the dough on the cookie sheet, and putting them in and taking them out of the oven. He made it known to everyone that they were not "mommy-made cookies" they were "Aaron-made!"
The first recipe will contain the ingredients that I use to make them, the second recipe will be an alternative for those who may not have certain ingredients on hand.
Here is the recipe: (For my Spelt-Loving friends)
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees
2 1/4 Cup Spelt flour
1/2 C Cocoa Powder
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 Cup Butter (or 1/2 Cup Butter and 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil)
1 2/3 Cup Evaporated Cane Juice + 1-2 TBS of Molasses 
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 Cup of sliced Almonds (I pulse them in the food processor slightly)
1 Cup of unsweetened Coconut (hard to find at a regular grocery store)


1 3/4 Cup All Purpose Flour (you will have to play around with this a little - I've never made it with APF before, you may need a little less than the 1 3/4 Cup or perhaps more ... just add slowly)
1/2 Cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter
1 Cup brown sugar
2/3 Cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 Cup sliced almonds ... slightly chopped (or any nut of your choice)
1 Cup coconut

You can eliminate nuts if you wish ... we love the crunch that it gives to the cookies, though.
Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Combine butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla until creamy. Slowly add dry ingredients until combined. Fold in almonds and coconut. You can toast the coconut in the oven on low heat for a few moments if you wish(before you add them to the cookie dough) ... just be careful and watch closely, they burn easily and quickly! 
Drop Tablespoons full of cookie dough on a cookie sheet and bake for 12-13 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Remove from cookie sheet and place on a baker's rack to cool.

If you happen to make these ... let me know how they turn out for you!
Also ... if you would like to try it with spelt flour, stop by The Grain Mill of Wake Forest, and pick up some freshly ground spelt flour. It's fantastic grain that is low in gluten and has about 30% more protein than other wheats. I use spelt for our sandwich bread, muffins, pancakes, waffles, brownies, and cookies!

And one more thing ... don't forget to help me name this cookie! I need creative help!

Friday, February 17, 2012

I have arrived!

This picture doesn't actually have anything to do with my topic today ... other than the fact that I am going to talk about Martin.
I am so thankful for Martin! He is such a wonderful kid. He has a helper's heart, is a super hard worker, and is an excellent student. This school year has been amazing for both of us.
The reason I feel as though I have "arrived" is that I can send Rosalie outside to play and assign Martin the job of watching her ... and he does an amazing job watching her, helping her, and taking care of her.
I have so often dealt with mom guilt over not having the time to take her outside ... while all the other children are outside playing. I try hard to have dinner preparations done early in the afternoon, so that I can take her out and give her outside time too. It just doesn't always happen.
Now, when I am needing to work on things inside, I can count on Martin to take care of things outside. I am so thankful for that boy!
I have asked Aaron a few times to watch her ... when I was inside doing something that also allowed me to be watching out the window ... and he does a great job too.
It won't be too much longer before we will have a live in babysitter ... and date nights won't be as expensive!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Dinner Winner!

I am not exactly sure what I would call this ... it's sausage, onions, and peppers with a plum tomato sauce served over whole wheat penne pasta.

When we make something new at our house ... we talk about the process and then Rich most often ends up cooking it. I chop everything so that all he has to do is prepare it. (wouldn't you love it if you had someone to do that for you?)
olive oil
1-1/2 Pounds of mild italian sausage
1 28 oz can of Whole Plum Tomatoes(I ran them through the food processor because I didn't want a complete melt down from the little Hollands about chunky tomatoes in their bowls.)
1/2 of a large onion chopped
1 large green pepper chopped into large chunks
5 cloves of garlic chopped
6 T or so of prepared pasta sauce(whatever you happen to have on hand)

Rich started by putting a small amount of olive oil in the skillet and cooked the sausage until most of the pink was gone(add onions part way through that prices). Then add juices plus some water to the sausage and cover to finish cooking the sausage thoroughly. Add green peppers and garlic to the skillet and sauté for a couple minutes. Then add the tomatoes. Add about 6 heaping tablespoons of prepared pasta sauce to the mix. He also seasoned with coarse black pepper. You can sprinkle with mozzarella or you can throw it all in a casserole dish and top with mozzarella and put it under the the broiler for a few minutes. We just sprinkled mozzarella on ours after spooning it into the plates.

It was a winner! The children ate it. Martin and Jonathan liked it the best. Rosalie was only okay with it. Aaron would have preferred to skip it. Aaron would have like it better if the texture of the tomatoes were more smooth like spaghetti sauce. I loved the texture of the tomatoes!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Passing down bikes ...

Last week we passed down bikes. Rosalie got a brand new bike for her birthday ... and as she was riding around on that tiny bike, I noticed that Jonathan was way too big for his tiny bike. Aaron was also outgrowing his bike.

So, I evaluated the bike situation and decided that the new bike needed to go to Martin. Even though the he hadn't really outgrown the bike he had ... he was ready and able to handle a bigger bike. Jonathan got a new to him bike passed down from Aaron. Aaron got a new to him bike passed down from Martin.

Martin got a brand new VERY AWESOME and VERY COOL bike! It is his favorite color, green. It is also a trick bike, so he might be learning some fun tricks on it.
My children are growing up ... I am not sure how we got to the point that all of our children are bike riders!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Story About Marriage ...

Years and years ago ... we had a beautiful german shorthaired pointer named Katie. We got her when she was only 8 weeks old. The backstory to that is this:
Not long after Rich and I were married, I started really wanting a dog ... and making my requests known. Rich's response was pretty adamant that we would never get a dog. He went on to say that he is allergic to dogs ... and there was just no way we could have a dog. So ... I completely respected him and agreed that we should never have a dog ... ever.  (how many of you believe that is actually what I said?) That was actually what I wished that I had said.
What I actually said ... or more accurately whined ... is that surely you would get used to the dog after a while. I've heard that you can be allergic to cats or dogs ... but can get used to your own pet and not be allergic to it anymore.
It was an on going fight in our marriage for many months and no agreement was going to be made! I finally decided that I would just pray that either God would change his heart or mine.  I also silently made a decision that I would not mention the word dog again. About 6 months later, out of the blue, Rich said that he thought that we could start thinking about getting a dog. I was shocked! He went on to say ... as long as it's a german shorthaired pointer. About 3 months after that, we had our dog!

This dog that I had wanted for so long ... was Rich's dog. She adored Rich. He took great care of her and was very fond of her. As you can see from the picture above ... she thought she was a lap dog... all 80 pounds of her!

We got Katie as a newly married couple ... about a year and a half in ... It was a lot of fun to have a dog and I loved her like a child!(or at least thought I did ... until I had my first human child!) However, I have often thought of those conversations that Rich and I had about getting a dog and cannot believe how selfish that I was! It is quite clear that my desire for a dog was far greater than my concern for Rich. Now that we are almost 15 years into our marriage ... I can say without reservation ... that I would NEVER ask that of him now! I wouldn't consider it! I asked him to put aside the fact that if a dog even touches his skin, his skin becomes inflamed ... and put aside the fact that dogs make him sneeze and sniffle ... and put aside the fact that dogs make his eyes watery and miserable! I did that! He, on the other hand, just wanted me to be happy. He did put all of those things aside because he thought that getting me a dog would make me happy. His was sacrificial love. Mine was just pure selfishness.

Marriage is a journey, though. I am pretty sure we never really get "there". There is no question that there are good days and bad days, bumps along the way, and many lessons to be learned ... especially in the area of laying down your life. Sacrifice. I will still make some terribly selfish mistakes, but I also know that I will learn from them and hopefully not make them again. (although I am sure I'll find new ones to make) I have thought a lot about our dog over the years...and while I am thankful that she brought us many years of joy...I am even more thankful that I have learned from what I went through to get her.

Philippians 2:3-4
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

I'd love to hear from you on this relevant topic! Have you struggled in laying down your own desires?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Off She Goes!

Rosalie loves her new bike! She rides it as much as we and the weather will allow! She already knew how to steer and pedal by using Jonathan's old tricycle. The thing I had to work on with her was learning how to stop. She caught on quickly, though! It's been so much fun watching her riding her bike along with the boys! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jonathan's new book

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I am no longer doing formal Kindergarten with Jonathan. This was a good decision for everyone involved. One of the things that I want to do, though, during this in between time for us ... is to give Jonathan practice with writing and phonics.
Jonathan is already able to read on a basic level and he is pretty good with writing (except that he gets frustrated).
One of my favorites for early reading and writing is the Explode the Code series
Since Jonathan is already reading, I was able to skip the Get Ready, Get Set, and Go books(these books focus on the sound each letter makes and the practice of writing each letter) and go straight to Explode the Code Book 1
I love that these books work on handwriting/motor skills while also working on the basics of phonics. Martin and Aaron loved doing Explode the Code, and now Jonathan is loving it too. If you are looking for some exceptional workbooks for some extra practice and some fun, check these out! 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rosalie's Birthday

We told Rosalie to keep her eyes closed while my Mom and Dad wheeled her present in ...

It's her first BIKE! It's PINK! And it's MINNIE MOUSE!!

She is so excited to ride her new bike! It's been rainy since they gave it to her, so she hasn't been able to ride it ... other than around our living room!

Okay ... you caught me ... I didn't bake her a cake. She never eats cake when I make it ... she just spoons off the icing. I was planning on making an actual cookie cake, but I had just made a bunch of cookies the day before when we had a family over for dinner and dessert ... so I just used the extra cookies that I had ... made some pink (strawberry) frosting and formed a heart with the cookies, made a border with the frosting, and put the candles in the frosting... It certainly wasn't the most beautiful creation in the world ... but she was happy and that's all that matters.
On a side note, I made the frosting pink using real strawberries! It was the perfect color pink and the frosting was delicious! 
Do you think this girl likes being a princess, or what?

This is quite possibly - my most favorite picture - ever of my girl!

She had so much fun blowing out the candles!

Monday, February 6, 2012


Rich began to use the Philips Sonicare toothbrush about 6 or 7 years ago. He has always said amazing things about it, but I didn't start using it right away. It is very expensive and the replacement heads are expensive as well. I finally started using one last fall - and very quickly understood why Rich liked it so well. It really is amazing! My teeth have never felt so clean ... and I know that the 2 minutes that it takes to clean all of my teeth, that they are getting a much better cleaning than I could do with a regular toothbrush.
After using the sonicare toothbrush for only a couple of months, I was convinced that we needed to spend the money and buy them for our children as well. The good thing about them is that you can buy one base and more than one child can use it. (each child has his own toothbrush head)
We bought one for Martin and Aaron to share. I love how the sessions are timed, and they are forced to keep the toothbrush in their mouth until it goes off. They both LOVE the toothbrush and LOVE how clean their teeth feel. I am so glad we decided to buy it for them.  

You can see that there is a place to store 2 toothbrush heads behind the base. Our plan is to add Jonathan very soon to the mix. We just need to get some more toothbrush heads. We wanted to test Aaron and Martin on it first. We'll add Rosalie when she gets a little older.
If you are looking for an excellent way to get your children's teeth clean, I highly recommend this system. It is definitely an investment. I used to be a 2 toothbrushes for $1 kind of a person, but I never had peace of mind about it. I never was comfortable with the teeth cleaning process - and always thought the children just weren't getting their teeth clean enough. With these toothbrushes, I don't worry about it anymore!

What cleaning system have you found that has worked for you?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

From Nanny and Pupup

Princess Rosalie is 3 years old today!

She asked me a few days ago if I was going to get her a wand!
I didn't get her a wand, but Nanny and Pupup got her a princess tiara, dress, and a WAND!! She was one happy little Princess!

Jonathan immediately ran upstairs to get his sword ... he told us that he needed to guard her! Martin grabbed his sword and also guarded her!

Happy Birthday to my precious baby girl! I had no idea what in the world I would do with a little girl in  the middle of a house full of sword fighting boys ... now I cannot imagine what I would do without her. She is a joy and a blessing to our entire family!

Thanks Nanny and Pupup! Princess Rosalie is in HEAVEN!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Sometimes you just want to remember the things they say!

Rosalie: Aaron can you make the darkness go away?
Aaron:  I don't understand what you are saying.
Jonathan:  I know who can make it go away, God can! He created the earth!
Rosalie: God can wash the sky, clean it, and then it will be light when we have suckers. (aka: lollipops)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

NC Museum Field Trip

Last week we went on a field trip to the NC Museum of Natural Science

We all enjoyed it!

They all especially enjoyed the dinosaur room!

Martin liked it okay ... but really wants to visit  the Planetarium in Chapel Hill. (it's on our list of field trips this year, we just haven't made it yet!)

Aaron liked it because he got to enjoy it with his BFFXL, Katie. (have you ever heard of that? He told me it means "Best Friends Forever, Extra Large) 

Katie and Aaron have been good friends since they were 2 1/2 and 3 years old - when we lived on the Seminary Campus! We love taking field trips with our dear friends from our Seminary days!