Monday Menus

*Hopefully* today we'll finish our kitchen reorganization....and then I am ready to cook up a storm. For a variety of reasons, I haven't done a lot of cooking from scratch lately, and we are all ready to remedy that! Here's the plan for the week:

* Little Cheddar Meatloaves, Cheesy Broccoli, and Red Potatoes
* Mock Lasagna, Bread Machine Bread, Salad, Green Beans
* Tuna Croquettes (at Billy's request :)), Veggies and dip, Loaded Mashed Potatoes
* Brisket, Macaroni Salad, Corn on the Cob
* Breakfast for Dinner--Bacon and Cheese Waffles and Eggs
* Enchiladas and Rice

* Turkey Wraps
* Cheesy Rice and Fruit
* Pizza Grilled Cheese
* Leftovers
* Frozen Pizza


* Banana Bread
* Scones
* Applesauce
* Peanut Butter Bars

To see what others are cooking this week, visit Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie.

Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside My Window... sunshine and singing birds.
I am thinking... about plans for the week ahead.
I am thankful for... springy weather, the promise of a quiet week, small steps toward making our house a haven.
From the kitchen... Little Cheddar Meatloaves, Cheesy Broccoli, and Red Potatoes for supper, Banana Bread for snacks today.
I am wearing... Billy's fuzzy Field and Stream pullover...it's cold here this morning!
I am creating... VBS projects, graduation invitations, school activities.
I am going... to stay home all day today, I hope!
I am reading... When All Hell Breaks Loose, by Steve Lawson
I am hoping... for a quiet, uneventful week this week!
I am hearing... a completely quiet house and the songbirds outside my window.
Around the house... there is still much work to be done, but I'm encouraged and inspired by the *pockets* of order and beauty that are appearing...my *new-to-the-kitchen* chair, new shelf paper, and a clutter free blue cabinet. :)
One of my favorite things... Ammah Grace running by and saying "Me Loves You, Mama!"
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Invitations finished, VBS craft samples started, VBS supplies organized, craft for Tuesday moms' Renew, school everyday, and continue working our way through the spring cleaning. :)
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
(Bayley with Great-Papa at the nursing home on Saturday. Hopefully I'll get the rest of the GA pictures uploaded today...I had almost finished a post with quite a few pictures and text on Saturday, and Blogger ate it. *rolling eyes* ;-))

For more about the Simple Woman's Daybook, visit Peggy at The Simple Woman.



We had a transient visitor this week. *Flash* was a mostly well-behaved guest, although he did escape from his temporary home at least once. ;-) He developed a taste for strawberries while he was here, and inspired a certain 10 year old to do some in-depth independent research, which he then presented to the rest of us during school on Thursday. :-)

Flash has now gone back to his more permanent hedgy home, but we got a few good pictures before he was set free:


Sweet Sleep

I love these pictures of Ammah Grace. She fell asleep waiting for everyone else to get ready for church Wednesday afternoon. :) Hard to imagine that just two days before she was creating total chaos by getting a fake jewel stuck in her nose!


A few quick pics of Emlyn...

Little lady...

Em has always loved kitties...I found these at the GKS sale and thought they were too perfect! :-)

Random Insomniac Thoughts

Ugh. Once again, my body clock has reset itself to awaken at 4 a.m. Hopefully this round will only last a few days, and not weeks. Meanwhile, I've been browsing around online trying to make myself sleepy again...which isn't, by the way, working. So, I thought I'd sneak in a blog post. :-) Given that it *is* 5 a.m., I hope you aren't expecting great words of wisdom or wonderful wit...I'm only up to a few random ramblings. :-D

1. First and foremost, "Happy Birthday" to my friend Tauna's gentle giant of a daddy, Mr. Woody. You can pop over to her blog to get to know him a bit (and see a wonderful picture :)), and send him birthday wishes. I wish I could give him a hug in person today. We have a special, if sometimes goofy, relationship, and I miss him and Mrs. Bettye, and Mary and her gang, and Matt-man terribly.

2. I'm in a baking mood. Nothing especially extraordinary about that, except that I *haven't* been in a baking mood in a while, and now that I'm finally back there, (a) my kitchen is in the midst of reorganization and I'm barely able to make pb and j in there, and (b) I'm almost out of eggs. This is made even more frustrating by the fact that I *went* to the store last night at 8:30 and I *thought* about buying eggs, but for various reasons decided to wait until my *real* shopping trip tomorrow to do so. *Sigh* Now I have enough eggs to bake *one* recipe and by the time I make up my mind what that should be, I will probably be out of my baking mood. ;-)

3. We have a transient guest at our house right now..."Flash" the turtle. This came as quite a surprise to my friend Kathy last night when one of my children asked for prayer for "our new turtle" in children's choir. I'm not sure exactly what we were supposed to pray for for Flash, but news of his (or her, as the case might be) existence definitely started Kathy a bit. I forgot to mention that little tidbit in any of our several phone and IM conversations this week. I suppose that is an indicator of the state of my life these days...a resident turtle is pretty low on my list at the moment. :) Sorry Kathy! ;-)

I plan to take (and post) pictures later today. The kids have made him a pretty cool little habitat, and Peter has actually done some impressive independent research on turtles, which he did a great job of presenting during school yesterday. Unfortunately, Flash will have to be returned to his hedgy home soon, but in the meantime, he (or she) has been a source of great enjoyment and education. :)

4. I missed choir practice last night. Well, technically I didn't *totally* miss it. I sat down in my chair and pulled my music out of my packet just in time for Lyndel to say "Let's pray". ;-) What I had thought would be a very short conversation with Bro. Kent ended up being not-so-short. :-) I'm actually thankful for that...but somehow the week just isn't quite the same when I miss choir, and thanks to the stomach bug last week this is two weeks in a row I have missed. That hour is like an oasis in my week (even when Kathy and I are convinced at times that Lyndel is trying to kill us :-D) and when I miss, I *really* miss it.

5. I'm finally starting to get sleepy again. Of course, it is now 12 minutes until I have to get Billy up to get ready for work...so not much point in going back to bed now. Hopefully I'll be back with another post or two later today. Meanwhile, I'm going to try to wake myself up a bit until I get Billy up, and then I think I'll try to catch a quick nap while he is walking.



"Be careful what you pray for..."

Last year when my mom broke her arm, I remember walking down the hall at her house thinking that I was the tiredest I had ever been in my entire life. Tireder than when Ammah Grace was in NICU in Little Rock (which was the tiredest I had ever been to *that* point), tireder than I had been the last three months before Daddy died (which was tireder than I had been when Ammah Grace was in the hospital). But something about the days after my mom broke her arm made me even tireder than either of those times.

This year was not as physically demanding, but it was still extremely exhausting. I know that part of that was that just like last year (when we went into things worn out from Papa's fall and surgery), I started out this experience worn out. We had gone straight from the Growing Kids Sale into the test, and I had struggled with insomnia the two nights before Mother's fall.

Somehow last week I just never could seem to get my steam back...I kept trying, but it wasn't working. So I began to pray for rest...that we would somehow get rested from the exhaustion we were *all* experiencing.

Next time I will be more specific.

I really didn't *mean* I wanted the house to be invaded by the stomach virus. Nope..that wasn't at *all* what I had in mind. But rest we have...well, once we got through the night that Emlyn kept Billy and I up all night sick, and the night that Billy and I were up sick all night ourselves.

It completely knocked us off our feet. We have *all* laid around doing absolutely nothing but sleeping and occasionally watching parts of a movie in between catnaps. I woke up this morning and realized that I had been lying on the sofa for over 36 hours. And suddenly thought..."well, you prayed for rest..."

I'm still not feeling exactly refreshed. And I've got to hit the laundry and dishes (neither of which have been touched since late Thursday) pretty hard today. But hopefully we'll have an easy weekend (well, if Bayley doesn't come down with the bug today...she's the only one who hasn't had it), and we will all be ready to go by Monday.


Thankful Thursday

Lots to be thankful for this week!

1. Window repaired last Thursday from the storm damage. The more we hear about the damage in this area, the more thankful we are that ours was not *much* worse.

2. Wonderful friends who provided yummy food for us last week!

3. A new-to-us sofa and recliner given to us by a friend, and the friend who helped deliver it. It looks 100 times better than the old one, and it is oh-so-comfy! (My poor children are embarrassingly excited about *this* part: "They match, Mom...look, they *match*!!" <> The hazards of having a houseful of second-hand furniture and a mom with eclectic decorating tastes. ;-))

4. Spring!! :-)

5. And along with it...spring cleaning. :-) Our spring cleaning is going slower than we had planned, but we are making progress and I am thankful for every small improvement.

6. My children. I realize more and more every day how blessed I am to be mom to these four healthy, creative, crazy kiddoes.

For more Thankful Thursdays, visit Sting My Heart.


I haven't cooked much lately. Between Mother's accident, dealing with storm damage, and just general busy-ness...Growing Kids' Sale, annual homeschool testing, VBS workshop, etc., I just haven't had much time or clarity of mind to cook. We've eaten convenience foods, eaten out a few times (more than we should have...ack), and had several wonderful meals brought by friends. Last night I was *determined* to cook, but not really up to anything requiring a lot of work or thought...we had been up all night the night before with a sick Em, and I was completely exhausted. I was trying to figure out what to fix for supper when I happened upon this recipe. It looked like something my crew would like, I had all the ingredients, and, best of all, it looked quick and easy.

I have a tendency to use recipes as a *jumping off point* for doing my own thing (except when I am baking...baking intimidates me and I rarely deviate from the recipe there ;-)), and this was no exception. The less onion the better at our house (in most cases), so for this I left it out completely. I also left out the red pepper. :-) And after the cheese melted, I threw in a handful of bacon pieces. (For my crew, everything is better with a bit of bacon. :-) ) It turned out great...Billy asked me to send leftovers in his lunch today (the sure sign of a successful recipe around here), and the kids loved it.

Here's how our final recipe looked:

5 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (I'll use more next time...not everyone was eating last night :))
2 cans chicken broth
seasoning salt to taste
pepper to taste
12 oz. cream cheese, cut into chunks
Hormel real bacon pieces, a handful :)

Combine broth, potatoes, and spices.
Boil on med. heat till potatoes are tender.
Partially mash potatoes with potato masher to release start for thickening.
Reduce to low heat.
Add cream cheese.
Heat, stirring frequently, until cheese melts.
Toss in handful of bacon bits.

Serve with biscuits and honey butter and a salad. Yum!!


Thankful Thursday...Peace in the Storm

The "storms of life", as Bro. Kent calls them, have been our almost constant companions the past few years; we have seen over and over God's provision in those storms. Last night, though, we experienced His protection through storms of the literal sort...heavy thunderstorms/tornadoes with heavy rain, incredible winds (with lots of rotation), and the biggest hail I have ever seen. We got to see it up close and personal...our living room sofa was full of it!

Our 60+ year old house really doesn't have a good "hidey-hole" for storms, but we were all piled under mattresses in the back of the house last night listening to the radio say that strong rotation was coming over the border straight toward us. We had heard that the hail that was coming was phenomenal...some that was *bigger* than softball-size. Eek Sure enough, we began to hear it hitting the roof. As we quoted Scripture and prayed for safety, my thoughts were directed toward our "iffy in the best of times" roof. Then we began to hear reports on the radio of windows being broken by the hail.

As the worst of the first wave passed, Billy got up and headed to the front part of the house. *Later* he told me, "I realized I was smelling fresh air all of the sudden." Eek What he told me when he returned was "Your living room is done for." I thought it was the roof at first; then he went on to tell me that the large front window in the living room had been completely broken out by the hail.

God's protection and provision are amazing, though. There were glass and hail all over the couch and the center part of the living room floor; however, the mountain of laundry across the room waiting to be folded was completely dry and glass-free, as were the bookshelves (*full* of books) that flank the sofa. My piano, only feet away from the window, was also completely dry and undamaged. The *only* thing, other than the window, to sustain damage, was our couch. *It* is completely trashed (glass shreds totally embedded all over the nubby upholstery). It's one of those times that you can almost see God grinning...Billy had just moved that couch under that window a few days earlier. Friends had offered us a newer sofa, and we were just waiting for the first dry day when the guys were both off to move it to the house and put ours out for Dial-A-Truck. So...the only thing in the house that was damaged was headed to the dump already!

From the other reports of damage nearby...including homeschooling friends who lost their house due to downed trees and a fire in a small outbuilding at our church...I am amazed that our damage was as minimal as it was. I am so thankful for protection throughout the storms, and for protection so far from looters with the gaping hole in the front room. I'm thankful that although both vans have quite a bit of hail damage, the badly cracked windows are for *now* still intact, and it appears that the formerly driveable one is still driveable. :-) I'm thankful for friends and family who called often to check on us and who offered to help in various ways after the window incident.

I had more thoughts...but got interrupted several hours ago and can't remember them now. :-) Most of all, I am thankful for a God who truly does bring peace in the midst of the storm.

For more Thankful Thursdays, visit Iris at Sting My Heart.

Other recent thankful thoughts: the best husband in the entire world, simple pleasures, and not-so-simple pleasures.


I just have to tell you...

that it is now official. I have known it for a long time, but now I can *prove* it to everyone else.

I have the *best* husband in the whole entire universe.

I drug in the door last night sometime after 10:30, after an excruciatingly grueling day. I started the day off right by not sleeping much the night before. Then Peter, Bayley, and I headed out for our annual homeschool testing. Much, much better than last year, as it was 3 hours instead of three days, but quite stressful for all involved regardless. We celebrated by going to lunch with friends, and then came home planning to have a restful, fun day with Dad, who had taken off work to stay home with the little girls.

We'd been home all of an hour, when my mom called.

She broke her arm. Again. The *same break* in the *same bone* in the *opposite arm* from last year. My mom is talented. "Almost identical" were the words the doctor used about the breaks ten months apart. Not everyone could do that.

But that is another post. *This* post is about my wonderful husband. And my proving to everyone that he is the *best* anywhere.

NOT because he was home with kids all day long yesterday, and not only did he not complain about it, but the house was cleaner when I got home than it was when I left. NOT because he not only cooked two meals, but did all the dishes, too. NOT because he made sure all four kids had baths. NOT because he did who-knows-how-many loads of laundry. NOT because he said, "Honey, go take care of your mom. We're fine here," without any hint of grumbling, even though he *knows* from last year what turmoil this will throw our lives into.

Nope...not because of any of that. None of that was any surprise, because that is just my husband. I was thrilled, and thankful, and appreciative, and grateful, for all of that. But none of those things *prove* what I have known all along...that I have the best husband ever. *This* is the proof:

He ironed.

Now you have to understand. I didn't *ask* him to iron. I didn't even mention needing to get clothes ready for everyone...I just figured I'd be up at 4 a.m. doing all that. But he knew that we would have to be up early this morning to take him to work and then head to my mom's in anticipation of taking her for surgery this morning, and realized that we needed to have clothes ready. He found clothes for everyone, and then *ironed them all*. With *starch*, even. He even ironed things I wouldn't have bothered ironing (my son's t-shirt :-)).

See? I told you. I rest my case.


And the Not-So-Simple...

I was thinking yesterday about my Simple Pleasures post, and others that I've read this week. I was walking along the sidewalk at church with my four-year-old, on one of those days that is the perfect blend of *just-warm-enough* sunshine and a *barely there* cool breeze. As I was thinking what a perfect moment it was...the couldn't-ask-for-more weather, the soft scent of spring grass, my little girl's soft hand in mine...Ammah Grace began to chatter about our shadows. She was noticing the differences in our shadows depending on where we moved, and giggling as she talked about them as if they were real people. I thought, "here's another one for the simple pleasures list." And then I I was suddenly stopped in my tracks with how completely *un-simple* it was. The little shadow-chaser holding my hand wasn't supposed to be chasing shadows...for a while it was doubtful if she would ever walk or talk. I was reminded for the billionth time in the past four years of God's incredible power and sovereign grace that brought us from being mere hours from consulting with a neurosurgeon about the "brain bleed" that was supposed to cause all manner of brain damage, to this *simple* shadow chasing moment with this bright and healthy little girl. Why have we been allowed this awesome miracle and blessing, when similar prayers for other children have been followed by grief and loss? Not-so-simple, indeed.

Earlier this evening, I heard running water and odd clattering sounds from the kitchen. I wandered in to find my husband washing the last few dishes in the sink. I realized, not for the first time, how blessed (and yes, spoiled :-)) I am to be married to this man. How much I appreciate his heart to please God and his desire to be a godly husband and father. How loved I feel when I see him up to his elbows in dishwater. :-) Why am I blessed with such a husband, when many women pray daily for a wandering husband to return, an abusive husband to change, or a lost husband to come to Christ? No simple answers there, either.

Then tonight I went with a friend to look at a sofa that needs a new home. As I was walking out to her van, a friend from out of state called to share a story she couldn't wait to tell me. We laughed and reminisced for a few minutes and my two friends, who have never met in person, sent messages to each other through yours truly. :-) A short time later, we picked up a third friend to join us on our outing. I got home tonight and realized that in those 2 1/2 short hours, I had laughed until my face ached and been encouraged immeasurably...just by being with, in person and by phone, these three best friends who are each such a tremendous blessing from God. These friends have literally gone from the mountaintop to the valley with me (many times) and have helped carry burdens so heavy I felt like I needed an 18-wheeler to transport them. Why am I blessed with such friends...when so many women express such loneliness and desire for even *one* deep, intimate friendship? Again...not-so-simple.

I've struggled again this week with trials...tragedies, even...that are *so* impossible to understand. The "whys?" of the situations have assaulted with near-deadly force in the past few days. I keep returning to the answers God has given from the beginning...primarily the fact that God is sovereign, His ways are beyond our understanding, and He is in control, whether it *feels* that way or not. The words sound so deceptively simple, but the life lessons behind them are so, so complex.

I'm reminded again that the same God who gives us simple pleasures, and not-so-simple blessings, gives us the not-so-simple lessons in pain, suffering, trust, and obedience as well. I can't thank Him for the simple pleasures, praise Him for the awesome, blow-your-socks-off blessings, and then at the same time grumble....or even rage...about the painful, heartbreaking, impossible-to-understand-why trials of my life.

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8-9


Simple Pleasures

A message board I'm part of is starting a new weekly blog meme. This week's theme is "Simple Pleasures." Here are my ten, in no particular order:

1. Watching my children create. Their creativity is amazing to me. It is especially neat to me now that my ten year old actually realizes the joy in being creative. Not only does he enjoy the creating process, but it means something to him that he is *being* creative. What fun to get to be part of that!

2. Little girls' hair. I always dreamed of having little girls and doing all sorts of things with their hair, and now I have three! Sometimes life is so crazy we don't have much time to curl and braid and try new styles, but I'm trying to make more time to do that lately. Our time to do that will run out all too soon, and I want to savor it while I can.

3. A new stack of library books. There is nothing like a fresh stack of free books waiting to be explored.

4. Hymns. Old, much-loved favorites. New hymns like the ones I love by Stuart Townend and Keith Getty. Old hymns that take on new meaning because we've lived their truth now. All are treasures.

5. Family stories. I love family stories, whether they are silly anecdotes about our children this morning, or family lore passed down through generations. There is something comforting about the stories we pass on from generation to generation.

6. Laughter. Laughing at my husband's crazy sense of humor. Laughing *with* my husband at something our silly children said or did. Laughing with my children about anything and everything. Laughing with a friend over something no one else would even think is funny.

7. A compliment from my husband. There is nothing that makes my day more than a genuine compliment from my sweet husband.

8. Cards and letters. I love cards and letters. Billy is the *best* at bringing (and sometimes even mailing) just the right card at just the right time. My stash of special cards and letters from family and friends is one of my most treasured possessions.

9. Paper and Pens. One of the things I inherited from my mother and her mother is a love of paper and pens. I love to sit down with a fresh Sharpie or package of colored pens or pencils and a new notebook.

10. Hugs. From my hubby, my children, or a good friend...a sure way to cheer me up on a grumpy day. :)

What are your simple pleasures?

Thankful Thursday

My mind is scattered this week, as are my thankful thoughts. Here are my random thoughts of thankfulness this week:

1. Safe travel for Billy, Bay, and the rest of the family to Billy's grandmother's funeral last week.

2. Several *biggies* over and off the calendar...starting to see light at the end of the tunnel in our schedule!

3. God's constant reminders that He is God and He is working in the circumstances of our lives, even when we can't see or feel it...reminders to continue to trust in His sovereignty and goodness, even in the dark times.

4. God's provision in finding clothing for the summer for all four children at the Growing Kids' Sale yesterday. I found some great deals and completed everyone's summer wardrobes! Even found clothes for the big boy...which I really wasn't expecting. Everything I brought home fit but *one* pair of shorts for Peter, and, even better, everyone *liked* everything I brought home! I'm thankful for my friend Jodie who kept my children so I could shop, my friend Kathy who prods me on and commiserates about how much work it is :), my mom, who came and helped me shop, and my dear, patient, longsuffering husband, who was patient to wait to be picked up from work while I finished shopping.

5. Getting back in the creative groove. I have finished *five* scrapbook pages in the past week and a half! It has felt so good to be creating again, and I'm looking forward to more. I also have a fun project starting (well, fun for *me* anyway...:)) that I'll be working on for the next 6 weeks or so, *and* I'm making some baby steps toward getting my business off the ground.

6. My grandmother's jonquils. The flowers in the pictures above were planted by my grandmother. They have to have been planted at least 15 or 16 years ago, because she has been gone for almost 12 years, and broke her hip and required nursing home care for several years before that. The flower beds were completely neglected for several years before we bought the house, and by that time, they were completely grown up with weeds and a tangle of who knew what. Billy finally mowed the whole mess down last summer and I hadn't gotten around to doing anything else with it yet. Then one day a month or so ago, Billy came in and said, "You've got to come look at this." Sure enough...there were little green shoots poking up from the ground...unmistakably my grandmother's jonquils. After all this time, they are still there. They definitely need some work to be at their best, but they are still there, a beautiful reminder of my grandmother and of the awesome-ness of God's creation. They've been an extra-special treat this spring!
For more Thankful Thursdays, visit Iris at Sting My Heart.