Thursday, July 29, 2010

believing in Baptism

As a Christian (protestant) mother I have been thinking alot lately about Baptism. My oldest son was Baptised at 8years old on Christmas Eve. He was begging for months but I wanted his Dad home to witness such a special event. He was gone on a deployment and had long since passed the one year mark, I was expecting him anyday and just couldn't bear for him to miss one more thing! Now that my second son Paxton is 6, he has a firm grasp on what it means to be saved. He often asks questions and ponders Jesus and Heaven. He is not quite ready for Baptism but I know the time is approaching fast. Im overjoyed that he has become a follower of Jesus and cant wait for the day we make that decision official and follow that decision in believers Baptism. Because of our recent thoughts and discussions I have turned my own personal study to Baptism and what the Bible has to say about it. which leads me to share my Baptism story....

My story is quite different than my son's. How I would love to share that I accepted Christ as a child ( I did) and quickly followed him in Baptism. But that is not the case. Baptism wasn't regularly discussed at my house or church. I only recall seeing a Baptism once as a child and even though we weren't regular church attenders I assume they weren't doing it alot or i would have seen a few more. I remember a friend being Baptised in private. She was freezing wet and confided in me that it was scary and she did not recommend it. That was all I needed to hear, i wasnt doing it, and nobody was talking about it much so I easily got out of that one :) Fast forward 15 years and there I was a member of a big beautiful Baptist church in Alaska. Not much different than my nondenominational one back home besides the Baptist part. My friends brought me there and my dad was a Baptist so i figured there wasnt much to be afraid of though many before and since have encouraged me otherwise. Each week I watched people get Baptised. Quickly this raised questions for me. I knew I was a Christian and a follower of Christ, I had recently and swiftly been growing in my walk with him, but was Baptism gonna ruin all that?? I mean, i was NOT going to do it (certainly not at this big church in front of everyone and on TV) so i needed to know if I still had a shot without Baptism? was I doomed? because again, I was NOT going in that water! well I met with my beloved pastor at the time. He encouraged me to get Baptised and skated around the fact that yes, i was still going to heaven with or without being publicly drowned and humiliated. I could walk through those pearly gates regardless although he was not really excited to tell me the good news, i was thrilled and comforted that I would never join the crazy masses who have entered that water only to be permanently traumatized :) I would survive eternally escaping that fate! Acts 16:30 clearly states "what must I do to be saved?" the answer "believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved" hooray

When my son wanted to go for it, i was thrilled! I thought Baptism was great, just not for me! and what a joyful memory for him to mark his rebirth washing away all sins forgiven by God. I was so proud and even as we walked up the stairs to be baptised, i said to that same pastor "I should do it to" and he of course encouraged me, but did not push and so I took pics, hugged, grinned and enjoyed the Baptism of my son remaining perfectly dry and hidden from the crowd by a curtain! by this time I was beginning to understand the importance of Baptism as an act of obedience and public profession of faith. I knew how special it was, but there was a whole lot of fear holding me back.

A couple of years later we made the move to az which meant the move to a new church. We quickly found the biggest Baptist church in town, Sierra Vista First Baptist. There were a few hundred members and it became our new church home. We were welcomed and felt loved like never before! It was great, and join I had to take a class??whaaat, a class, an all day class, no way! I cannot , I will not, i have 3 kids (pregnant with a fourth) and I just dont have the time. It made no sense just to join? .....But then I met Jennifer and her two beautiful daughters. She told me she was taking the class the next week. Both of our husbands were out of town (which to me meant putting it off till later) but as she would show me over and over, army wives are strong, we can do many things with our kids and without our husbands, when we have to. Even join a church, so I signed my name under hers. This beloved church provided food and childcare and really made it to easy to say no. So the next sunday Jennifer and I began our journey to get to know the church. It turned out the class was a great idea! I truly knew what I was signing up for! I spent that day with Pastor James Harms and learned exactly what SVFB was all about. As the session came to a close and my love affair with SVFB was warming up, Pastor Harms brought up the B word......he obviously didnt know that I had long since researched my way out of that mess!! He shared a personal story of his mother's own delayed Baptism and Jennifer openly shared how she had been saved for a long time and also not baptised. What a coincidence I thought, they were both like me, only I was NOT gonna do it. Jennifer was ready , no fear at all. I told Pastor Harms all the reasons I could not, my husband was gone, I was hugely pregnant, i even told him it was scary, there were too many people looking at me etc etc. He comforted me and assured me (he did not force or push) that I would emerge from the water safe and sound if I chose to follow Christ in Baptism. He assured me that those prying eyes were simple loving churchgoers proud of my decision and willing to support me as a follower of the Lord. He even mentioned that as a pregnant mother the baby would be Baptised too! 2 for 1! "Really"i asked, "Nope haaa" he laughed but who says pastors aren't comedians :) and so, i thought, for just a moment, that maybe, possibly, i could do it. I was certain a catastrophe would befall afterwards and my very first panic attack was eminent, but I was going to do as Christ had asked, I was jumping in belly and all.

With Jennifer by my side the next sunday, I dressed in my best maternity suit, put on that white Baptismal rode (complete with weights at the bottom to keep everything covered lol) and joined Pastor Harms in the dunk tank. We did a couple of mini practice dry runs before so I trusted he wouldn't hold me under or throw me over into the choir. The lights were bright and man, the faces of those choir singers were awfully close, but it was wonderful, comfortable and most of all symbolic of the sins Christ washed away on the cross that day. I was saved, and now Baptised and I felt it. Christ was there, he was proud that I conquered my fear. For me that day was not the beginning of salvation, but the end of separation. No longer would I be keeping a secret, holding Christ at arms lengthy defiantly. I would go on to grow closer with him over my period of time at that church and I have no doubt that God used Jennifer and Pastor Harms that day to help me get there. God gave me a place and people that made me feel safe and comfortable and most of all helped me to feel the love of Christ shining. Before I left I would dedicate two children there with the support of the same congregation who supported my Baptism and commit to raise them with Christ and hopefully to choose Baptism for themselves!

So looking back do I regret waiting...yes and no. Now I know that it would have been better to choose Baptism as soon as God gave me the knowledge of its importance....but God also gave me a very special Baptism at a very special time in my life with a very special friend , Pastor, and church to guide me. I hope to teach my children the importance of Baptism, letting them choose the right time to follow through just as Parker did. Hopefully they are less defiant than their mother :)

If you , like me , are avoiding Baptism, my advice is to find someone to hold your hand. Maybe a longtime friend or someone like Jennifer whom you just met. Someone special to walk you to the tank, helping to ease those earthly fears of crowds or water or drowning in general. You must enter by yourself but as soon as you get in you will quickly feel Christ there with you and you will not be alone, you never really were :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

the end of an era

The Mall Era...........atleast its over for me.

As a child of the eighties i loved the mall (The Hickory Ridge one specifically). The mall was where I walked with my mother scoping out the jewelry counters and all the madonna-ish teenagers with their legwarmers and crunchy bangs. The mall was great, there was a carousel, a food court, fountains to throw money in. Who didn't love the mall back then...

But as I got older and into my teen years I discovered the outdoor shopping center :) Not the icky strip mall type but the well laid out, coffee shop and boutique filled stroll about kind. You know , the ones with wide sidewalks, nice fountains, and hefty price tags to match lol. There are no payday loan stores or pawn shops in sight. This is where I would go with my mom, my friends, anybody with a car......even when i had no cash and didnt need to buy anything. At that age i had no clue what the magnetism was but I was drawn to the shopping center (luv me sum Saddle Creek in Gtown Tenn). I know I'm not crazy because everybody else was their too. Back then I thought this place was just a needle in a haystack, the only one of its kind, a treasure for Tennesseans to enjoy. Then I met/married (hey it was fast) Beau and among all the things I learned that year (salsa is good, debt free is a realistic concept, way too many wrestling moves) I learned from my real estate developing mother in law that not only was my beloved shopping center not one of a kind, it was one of many and they arent shopping centers at all, they are "Lifestyle Centers".

I moved to Louisiana, then Alaska, then Arizona and there were no "Lifestyle Centers" to be found. I assume if they ever built one in La, it has long since sank in the swamp and all the gators ate up the designer duds. Alaska is just too cold. Im sure Arizona had one somewhere, but not near us, but then again, there wasn't much near us besides mountains, saguaro and a whole lotta pricky pear.

But then came the orders, and the movers, and all that jazz. I was headed to Colorado!! I had long since forgotten the joy of the lifestyle center. That magnetism never pulled me across state lines and eventually it faded all together. I became, once again, a maller. But wait, with Colorado came a new house, new colors, new things to see and the reappearance of the Lifestyle centers. As if that wasn't good enough, there is even one brought to you buy the same folks who built Saddle Creek. It looks the same , feels the same, is even set up in the same half moon shape perfect for people watchin!! even most of the same stores. Its been a busy few weeks but today I had a date with my daughter (and some Gymbucks burnin a whole in my pocket) and we headed out to Briargate.

I finally figured it out. That whole "Lifestyle" thing. It wasn't really about the shopping. It was a day together, sharing a melting ice cream cone on a bench. Dipping our napkins in the fountain to clean up the sticky blue mess (only later did i see the "reclaimed water" sign, "please dont touch" oops). We strolled along the sidewalk, did some window shopping, thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful weather. None of this could be done in a mall under icky fluorescent lighting being heckled by cell phone salesmen. We wouldnt have seen pictures in the clouds or oodles of cute puppies lounging outside starbucks or gotten sunkissed shoulders. Today if was definitely a Lifestyle Center kinda day :) sure there was shopping involved, but there was so much more, in fact, it seemed like everyone else was enjoying the lifestyle center as much as we were. Even the friendly faces of the workers there had a glow, unlike disgruntled mall employees who have been cooped up all day and are suffering from carbon dioxide induced delusions and claustrophobia.

They show outdoor movies , have puppy adoptions, even free samples of ice cream. Now that is a lifestyle I can get used to !!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

a tale of golf and cake

Tomorrow will be my husbands 31st birthday, woo hoo. He is officially over the hill not just standing on it lol. A few more hills to go but the first one has almost been tackled. I however cannot sympathise as I still have a few more years in my twenties and Im considering staying this age for awhile, but I wanted to do something special for the old man. We don't really know enough people to justify a party and as is typical, he bought his own uber expensive present a few days ago (this happens every time he is due a present lol). I wanted to make the day special and give the kids something to present so I suggested we make him a cake. We always make him a cake, the same cake he has had since he was 5. I was given the recipe from my MIL the day after our wedding (along with all his favorites typed up in a cute little recipe book). He isnt much of a dessert guy but he does love this one so I try and make it for him every year. Usually I let the kids decorate it but like i said, i wanted to do something beyond the usual so we looked through some online pics and decided dad would love a golf cake. I'm sure their choice had something to do with the fact that we had just spent weeks in golf lessons and getting fit for the kiddos custom clubs, golf was on the brain. So golf it was.

I had no clue where to start but i figured a golf course cake seemed easy enough. Technically that is a lie, i knew exactly where to start. I have two friends who are the queen of cake. One just moved to Korea and had just given me a lesson on dyeing and dealing with fondant and frosting decor before she moved. The other is still in the US and I can get a hold of her pretty easily so the first thing to be done was to hit up Holly for tips and support. She gave me some great advice and links to get started. It all seemed easy enough (no doubt it would have been for Danielle and Holly) but things arent always what they seem lol.

First I knew I wanted to make his favorite chocolate sheet cake. Its a bit different than the standard version, thinner, more moist and flavorful, and features a hot melted frosting poured over top (this really makes the cake). I knew hot poured frosting would not make a fab golf course but i put that aside. I figured if the golf cake was fab enough, beau could deal without the usual frosting. I whipped up the cake yesterday with the help of the trusty Kitchen Aid. Normally I name my friendly gadgets, but this one is the one an only gadget that I truly believe has been adequately named straight outta the box!! :) i was really excited to get started so last night I went ahead and mapped it out cutting the green, the sand traps, and the water out of fondant and moving them around till they were in the perfect spot.

This morning we got up, went to swimming, stopped at the store to pick up the rest of the ingredients I would need for the frosting and grabbed a caramel macchiato just to make sure I had enough energy to finish the job. I whipped up some Hungry girl BLT quesedillas (amazing btw!!!) for lunch and planned to get started on the cake. I estimated that it would take an hour or so to add the fairway and the rough and then put the finishing touches on our course du jour. Uh huh.......

I started off with the rough. I wanted to get a much darker green than I used for the putting green. Holly had warned me about the cheap dye so I got the good stuff. I just used a smidge for the green fondant putting green so i assumed just a smidge more for the butter cream grass to complete the rough and fairway. I also had a dilemma at this point. Buttercream frosting is great, but is just isn't "chocolate sheet cake" style. I really wanted choc frosting so I went for it. I didnt look it up or ask my buddies (i did run it by the mil who thought it would not be a good idea). I left out the vanilla and tossed in a bunch of cocoa right into my green butter cream. I worried it would ruin my color but wow! it looked and tasted perfectly, and I was thrilled! So yes, that green grassyness you see above is chocolate. I used a Wilton grass tip and began applying it to my masterpiece.....but we had probs....the frosting was too thin, the grass blades were melting into a ribbon shape and didnt look like grass at all. Beau would be home in a few hours, there was no time to make more frosting or buy another tip so I had to improvise. I didn't even google! i just dumped in a bunch more cocoa and sugar and made a much thicker version of the previous grassy green mess. This time it was perfect! but what I didnt factor in was how much more work it would take to push this grass on. Can we just say, ARM CRAMP! I had to take breaks to nurse the baby and shake my arms out lol but a mere 3 hours later I had a dark grassy rough, a lighter fairway and a smooth putting green. The PGA would be proud!! the kids were thrilled with my work, informing me multiple times they never thought i could make a pretty cake etc etc..........HATERS!!!!

After a good arm shaking session I realized it was time for the finishing touches. I really just wanted to quit. I was covered literally in green frosting from my fingertips to my elbows, in my hair, all over my chest, it was even on my feet. I had become the hulk, i was exhausted, i felt as if i had run a marathon.....but I had come so far to quit now....Beau would be home in an hour or so......In true army wife fashion I did what we do, I sucked it up and finished the cake :)

There was no time to search the net for tips etc so I had to wing it at this point. I painted a bit of water on my lake and shimmered it with blue sugar crystals in a flash moving right on to the sand traps. I mentioned going for the pricier Wilton dye but what I didnt mention was that it only got me so far. A nice rich spring green, way to similar to the putting green, so I had to use my leftover cheap dye as well, and then a few other colors, to make the variety of greens for the rough and fairway. A nice artificial Wilton blue was used for the water. My friend Jen would take one look at this bright colored work of art and head for the hills nauseous no doubt (she like many other people smarter than me, has successfully cut out all artificial dye) , but like i said, we are moving on to sand traps. If you have a friend like Jen and decide to make this cake just remember the sand traps are safe! I dyed the fondant with a smidge of cocoa powder giving it the perfect sand color and made the sand texture with some organic dye free cookies crushed and sprinkled on top, so Jen, on your way home from Alaska stop by and have a sand trap with me :)

I used crushed organic oreos for the hole and shark fin ( What golf pond doesn't have a resident shark? ) and Piper polished off a Dum Dum to help me out with a stick for my flag then our work was done.

well almost, a mother's work is never done. I then had less than an hour to shower, clean up the hulk explosion left in the kitchen, and prepare dinner (hungry girl buffalo chicken quesedillas YUM)!!

All in all it was fabulous, Beau loved it, the kids loved it and it only took a mere 6 hours outta my life. its bound to be easier and faster the next time right? well worth it either way :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Precious are all things that come from friends, Theocritus

As a military wife I have endured many moves to many foreign lands. The hardest part for me is making a new friend. I have a terrible time talking to strangers and getting a phone num and making plans, well you can forget it. Once someone speaks to me my heart is open, I'm yours if you ll have me, but that first meeting ranks right up on my list second to waterboarding. Making friends fast is a great quality most military wives have, I'm one of the few who survives this life without it, through no fault of my own of course. The Lord has blessed me with the most amazing close friends. Friends who call me and chat like im next door, they love me like i never left and without them I would be alone ( i was blessed to have two amazing friends move to co at the same time, but trust me, this almost NEVER happens).

Many of these friends I'm not even close to. We share experiences and lifestyles, we have bonded and will always be able to pick up where we left off but we dont call or write silently knowing we will always be there for each other and if we should meet again good times will be had! There are a handful of others who have become my family. Women I truly love and would hop on a plane for, women who I will shamelessly manipulate my husbands career to be near. These are my besties, and at the top of the list is my dear Martha.

Her name says alot about her. The biblical Martha was busy cooking and cleaning and taking care of others. That is my martha! Martha Stewart if you will. She made me the most beautiful apron, shipped it across the continent (she lives in Alaska) just to lift my spirits. She careful chose fabrics she knew i would love and made me a bag that holds my beloved wrap stash. Since I met Martha, I havent given birth to a baby that didn't receive an amazing handmade gift from her. Not because she has alot of time (she is most often a single mother of three) or because it was quick and easy (the shipping charges are atrocious for one) but because she loves me, and instantly cares for any child Im blessed to conceive. She has served me three course dinners, made me birthday cakes, fed my children when i was too depressed by deployment to do much more than cereal (her husband was on his second or third at the time). She sews, she knits, I have one of her paintings hung in my home, she does it all! but thats not where her talents end and its certainly not why I love her.

Friends like Martha are few and hard to find. When my son took off for a run in the dark, cold, moose and bear infested forest near our home in Alaska after an argument, it was Martha who chased him barefoot in the snow. When I was exhausted from deployment and patience had run out, it was martha who could pick up where I left off. I cherished to opportunity to be there for her in the same way. She has no problem telling me when I'm wrong, yet because of her grace we have never argued. She cuts me slack when it takes days for me to return a call. I know she will be my friend forever whether or not we ever see each other again. I love martha unconditionally and try my best to always make sure she knows it every time we talk. God broke the mold when he made martha, she is as strong as an ox, smarter than most, creative and artistic, she is a devoted mother and wife and servant to our military, but to me she is one of Gods greatest gifts an awesome friend!

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother Proverbs 18:24

above are some of my amazing Martha gifts. You know a friend is truly happy for you when she carefully crafts a quilt to match your new living room, featuring your favorite flowers :) thank you Martha, my forever friend, i love you :)

its a pepper party!

Growing up we had some fabulous meals. While Im certain my mom did plenty of cooking, she was a working mama and that meant occasionally dad did some too. I recall complaining for hours "why do we allways have steak and baked potatos, ribs, filet, etc etc" he was a red meat man, unless he had been fishing in alaska. Then it was salmon for a month i swear (thank you beau for following in his footsteps and forcing me to relive this nightmare as an adult). I really did love dad's grillmaster skills in spite of my complaining, but one dish i never learned to love where his shish-kabobs. I loved the beef and chicken, but hold those veggies please :) Especially leave out those peppers! I never liked them but they were allways on my stick and I guess (though he wouldnt live to see the fruits of his labor :( ) it paid off. Now that Im a real live grown up, i have found the pepper love!

Bell peppers have double the amount of Vitamin C as an orange. They help neutralize free radicals and help reduce your risks of heart disease. All bell peppers are not alike, but all are beneficial. A pepper starts green and goes from green to yellow, to orange, then red and can be picked at any stage. Green are often the cheapest but to maximize the fab factor on the plate I like to offer all colors at my table. As for those complaining kiddos, it is a fact of science that bell peppers have no heat. They lack the gene to produce heat so if your complainers persist, a simple homeschool lesson is in order. As a child i swore they were hot, but truly they are not! They are packed with flavor, amazing texture and lack all that fat, sugar and artificial nastiness you will find in most anything else available in a rainbow pack!! Its important to note that the more you cook them, the less nutrients your body recieves so I am allways on the lookout for recipes that keep my peps lightly cooked.

Most likely I could have avoided them for the rest of my life and never found the love, but then I married Beau. He luvs sum peppers and he spread the love to me. In return I spread the love of "almost raw" peppers back to him and lately we have been loving the stuffed sort. We are working on spreading the love to the kiddos, making the stuffed variety a must. They eat the stuffing (usually containing chopped peppers) and dont starve if they are having an anti-pepper evening. Paxton is feelin the love and munches his peppers with pride, allways beggin for more :)

here are a few of our favorites so far :

Hungry Girl Bacon n cheese bell pepper skins ( a great sub for potato skins, less funk more flavor)

--preheat oven 350

--cut peppers in half and remove stems and seeds, slice peppers into quarters if you want a potato skin feel or leave halved if you prefer

--spray baking dish with nonstick spray (we use an olive oil sprayer) and place peppers cut side up baking 20 min (or less)

--cook up some turkey bacon (3 slices per pepper) then chop into small pieces

--remove excess liquid from peppers and sprinkle with shredded cheese, scallions, and bacon.

--bake 5 more min until cheese melts and serve with sour cream!!

veggie-stuffed peppers

--preheat 375

--add mushrooms, onion, and chopped bell pepper to skillet (about 1/4 cup per pepper, maybe more of your favs). cook until veggies slightly soften

--mix veggies with roma tomatos (about 1 per pepper unless its a big guy) cooked ground turkey or soy crumbles (1/2 cup per pepper)

--add 1/4 cup tomato sauce per pepper and 2T shredded cheese per pepper. add in some taco seasoning if u like it spicy

--slice of the top of your peppers and cut them in half if u want. remove seeds

--spray baking dish and bake peppers cut side up 20min (or less)

--soak up any excess moisture and spoon in veggie mix.

--lower oven temp to 350 and bake another 20min or so


Pepper pizzas

--preheat oven 350

--quarter each pepper discarding stems and seeds

--bake peppers in sprayed sheet or dish until slightly softened, cut side up (about 20min)

--in a bowl mix tomato sauce with your fav italian seasonings (1/2 cup per pepper) then stir in mushrooms and onions

--blot moisture from peppers (apparently an important step)

--give each pepper about 2T of sauce and top with pepperoni

--sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and bake ten min.

--top each pizza with parmesan if you wish and yum it up!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

babies au natural :)

Since the beginning of my journey through motherhood Ive always thought babies are better off as close to nature as they can get. I became a young mother at the age of 16 and I didnt know much but the first natural parenting decision I made was to breastfeed. I didn't make it long and lacked alot of educational resources available today but what I did do was set the tone........and each child since has been breastfed longer than the one before. In addition to breastfeeding I prefer thin light fabrics and shade to sunblock, a gentle bath in water to babysoap and absorbent cotton to whatevertheheckthatgelcrapisindiapers. I leave the stump alone, forget the epidural, let a fever hang out for a bit and few of my children have ever had antibiotics (i myself am allergic to many and have only had them a few times). Ive been known to make my own laundry soap, clean with vinegar and i have washed anything and everything in a simple drop of Dawn (does a fab load of laundry in a pinch). I avoid chemical and alcohol laden wipes in favor of oh so soft warm water moistened infant wash rags. I find it simple and fun and I never worry about that mystery rash that baffles most moms at some point.

One of my most favorite and fun natural decisions was to make our own baby food. I started with Paxton (my second) and met many naysayers along the way. as I began the babyfood journey I played their voices in my head alot. I still wanted to give it a go, but for me that meant starting with all the first foods currently offered by Gerber. I assumed they must know best??right? I also strictly adhered to my pediatricians standards for order of introduction. Sticking with certain colors, moving from veggies then fruit (because if you start fruits first they will never eat veg UH HUH). All the order and rules sucked the fun right out of the extravaganza. It got a little fun around stage 3 food time, but by that time truth be told, your child can prob eat table food and your work is done :(

After Paxton I gained experience, made more mommy friends (thankfully from many cultures) and had an epiphany. One day a Mexican mommy friend asked if i had given my baby avocado yet. Instantly I informed her that you shouldnt give a baby that, it was not on the list, they could be allergic, the world would end, your ped would find out and turn you into the powers that be, and life as we know it would be over!! for sure :) She laughed and said, "all babies in Mexico start on avocado". I paused and thought, of course, babies all over the world don't import Gerber. Green Beans arent in season year round, they don't even grow in Alaska. I thought of all the simple natural foods excluded from the lists (watermelon being a favorite :). It dawned on me that only the easy to puree and preserve foods make the cut and thats no fair. I had full plans to introduce Piper to a variety of foods and I was excited to break free of my chains!! To my dismay, she had none of it. Piper barely ate babyfood at all and moved very quickly to picking up finger foods. I became a master chef at making anything into soft bitesized pieces and her mealtime featured me, my cutting board, and her high chair pulled right up to the counter. As nature would have it, all children are different and some babies will never go for the traditional smooshed food at all. This made sense, Native mamas weren't using hand turned blenders in their teepees after all?

Fast forward to Pearce and there I was with my babyfood fantasies churning full force. I developed a strategy. I would buy a round of store bought food, save the containers and use those to make whatever I saw fit. It worked out great, minus the expense on that first round of food. Pearce loved cantaloupe (his first food) and pumpkin and all sorts of local in season foods from the Arizona farmers market that runs year round! It was great! but like every mom Im always on the lookout for what is best for my babies. I liked the convenience of those containers but hated buying them, was skeptical of their reheatability, and in general i loathe plastics. I learned with Pearce to throw out those food schedules and patience is key. I started foods much later than most (8mos) and by that time he was truly ready and enjoyed food. There was no pushing it out with their tongue. This is believed by peds to be a normal reflex, but believed by Courtney to be a waste of time. Babies get all they need from breastmilk (or formula) and the food is just a bonus. Until a year it is merely a tasting and learning experiment and should be taken as such. If it isn't fun, wait a month and try again.

Employing this tactic I recently started my fifth baby on foods. I bought my usual storebought stash just to acquire containers. I didn't want to do it, but they are the oh so perfect size. Then we hopped on over to Costco for sample day. I tasted some sorbet that was served out of halved lemons and oranges and coconuts and then came the lightbulb. The plan= to eat and save the fruits, freezing the rinds for the oh so perfect, most definitely microwave safe, ready to serve baby dish :) The results are amazing and im thrilled. The kids are tickled and eager to help me store up some rinds. Parker is working on my coconut as we speak :) I have to give a big thanks to last nights dinner guests (the Vandewegs) who brought the watermelon and did an even trade for fresh cantaloupe. they are the best!! I still have a bazillion plastic containers on hand, ill use em up and phase them out for the new more natural version asap :)

as for further food adventures to come, I have made a ton of quinoa puree with green beans and last night tried my hand at chicken parmesan mousse. Ill let you know what the critic thinks soon :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

suburban bliss

For most of my life I daydreamed of having kids and raising them in the city Kelly Ripa style, or out in the country like my grandmama kelly. I envisioned globe trotting with a baby on my hip like Angelina Jolie or having my ducklings help me churn butter in the field behind our Dad-built home on a farm in Eudora Miss. I sat in my suburban home thinking how boring it was, how much more was out there and how much more fun we could be having in the real world. I'm a lover of extremes. Why get a Lab when you can have a Great Dane? I prefer a chin length bob, or my current uber long locks, loathing the in between. Consequently, suburbia has never appealed to me. And yet , here I sit in my suburban palace, giddy over the milk man's latest delivery, where my biggest tasks will never consist of milking the cows, shared laundry machines in the basement of our high rise, or even what time zone to sched the kids naps around. Instead I fret over the delay of my plantation shutter installation and the amazing amount of fluff produced by new carpet. We have spent most of our previous time in small teeny towns, and of course Alaska, so this is our first adventure into true suburban lifestyle.

So far so good.....but there is one problem. Im loving all the benefits, but one by far sends me running for the hills. It is what the mom of many fears most! The community pool :) For the mom to many, the community pool can be a nightmare. Once you have more children than you can rescue at one time, more children than you and your husband can rescue at one time, the pool becomes a scary place. So far our oldest (11) is the only one who can swim but there it was, the pristine pool in all its glory calling out to my destined-to-drowned blond babies. It couldnt be avoided of course, due to its perfect location. The library, 2 playgrounds, splashpark, summer camps, preschool , baseball field and prob more things i have yet to learn about, are all in one central spot. The oh so cute and perfect community center. I thought this was a suburban myth, after all, i grew up in the suburbs and i never recall a place like this other than on after school specials and episodes of Growing Pains. Its like walking back in time, where strangers smile and wave hello. They ask your name not to steal your identity, but with the intent of inviting you to a bbq, after all Colorado Springs is one of the safest cities in the US.Its all paid for by the lucky folks who play the lottery each week not out of greed of course, but merely to support Colorado's beautiful children. So it was our destiny to assimilate, join the community center, and the first priority was swimming lessons! for all 4 non-swimmers. No small task for a mom of 5 but it must be done. The pool is our home for the next two weeks :)

Today was our second day. Piper and Paxton are testing the waters first. So far they love it. Paxton is in the indoor pool and Piper is in the outdoor 3ft pool for little learners. Parker and Pearce are bouncing back and forth between 1.5 ft pool which is perfect for him (he and pike start official lessons later this month) and the splash pad. Pike is putting his linen wraps to work snuggling and napping while mom snaps photos.

We follow each lesson with an hour or so at the playground and a trip to swap books at the library. Even though the sonic buy one get one free milkshake special is over ,we stop there on our way to the post office (ironically not located at the community center). After all, life cant be so perfect in suburbia, the mailman cant decide who is available to take our route and nobody at the usps is in a rush to install our mailboxes, so we bond with our neighbors as we wait daily to see what goodies have come today :) Life aint bad, i could get used to it, yep i love suburbia but then i allways know there is a move in our future.....

Monday, July 12, 2010

book review number 2

My first book review was a few weeks ago on Christopher Mcdougall's Born to Run, a definite life changer! and since then i've been steadily reading and running along in my vibram fivefingers looking for the next book that could equally spark my spirits. Of the ten or so books Ive read since BTR only one has deserved the attention of my fellow bloggies :) I started reading it a few days ago (when i caught the plague and scored lots of couch time) and couldn't put it down.

"On Earth as it is in Heaven" is an awesome read for all my Christian friends, and anyone who has ever recited the Lord's Prayer and wondered "whats that all about?". This prayer is typically memorized by anyone who has set foot in a church a few times, often said rhythmically, without much thought or attention. This book was amazing because it truly helped me to value the words ive known and said many times putting thought into each and every line. This is no repetitive prayer to be said casually, this is the one prayer hand picked by Jesus for us as our model for prayer anytime and every time. It is an amazing and often overlooked gift.

I realized while reading that all of my children didnt know how to recite the Lord's prayer. Guilty mom totally accepts responsibility for that one!! and the book also shed some light on the prayer's history cited a few non-divinely inspired accounts of the early church. It has been recorded that the disciples and their followers recited the Lord's prayer at every gathering! and many Gentiles (hey thats me :) of the day often said it 3 times a day similar to the way Muslims pray today.

The fear of many modern churches is that this would cause Christians to devalue the Lord's Prayer and not give it the reverence it deserves. Well heck, imo that has already happened. I absolutely have recited it without blinking giving no thought to the words coming out of my mouth at times. I assume I'm not alone in my folly. Thats why i loved this book. It took the time to teach me the meanings and origins behind every line and every word. I can never again utter "thy kingdom come" without knowing why and thinking towards the future.

The book challenged me much like BTR did, to make some life altering changes. My personal goal this week will be to say the Lord's prayer with thought and reverence 3 times daily. Shouldn't be too hard right, for a mom of 5 to find 3 times of solice to be still and know that he is God?? well the book gave me some help here as well! The author took the time to remind us that the Lord's prayer is a family prayer. Sure it can be said in solitude (I'm hoping atleast one of my 3 times a day will be), but it is above all a prayer given to the family both biological and otherwise. After all Jesus wasn't alone in the garden silently praying, He was sharing this with his friends , his brothers. The Lord's Prayer starts of with "Our father" not "My father" showing us that it is the prayer to share :) so for the next week or so we will replace our nightly blessing with the Lord's Prayer serving many purposes. Glorifying the Father, Teaching the prayer to our children, Placing it daily upon our hearts, and last but not least, blessing the food to the nourishment of our bodies :)

I was reminded throughout this book of things I already knew but sometimes forget. When you dont know how to pray, when you don't know what to say, God always delivers. It is NEVER the wrong time to pray the Lord's prayer. When you have that friend who needs you but you have no words, when you have been asked to pray but are nervous, when you want to spend time with him but just dont know what to say , use it! That is what He gave it to us for and their is nothing more powerful than praying His words as long as you do so with reverence.

So back to the book review, "On Earth as it is in Heaven by Warren W. Wiersbe" is another life changer challenging me to do a better job today than I did yesterday :) and I love it! too bad i didn't read this before I went on that skyride at the zoo :)

and now for the best part.....its free today on amazon Kindle :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

bring on the babywearing

Can I just say that today was an awesome day!!!!!

I had a few firsts today....1t all started with first babywearing meeting. For those who have never been to one or never considered it you MUST give it a try. I have been babywearing for about 4.5 years. I have tried a bazillion carriers and in all that time i have mastered 2 front carries and 1 back carry. Many brand new babywearers can do that much. Sure i have those down pretty well but i can say without a doubt , I mastered those carries largely due to having a real life person help me tweak them to perfection. Ive tried a few others and can do them ok but the ones i can do well and therefore love, were taught in person. There was on in Alaska and one an hour or so away in arizona, but i always put it off. Now i regret it :( so if you have a baby carrier, want a baby carrier , or are thinking you might be interested in one, find a group and drop in. If you think you dont need to use your carrier anymore, your kid is too big, or your baby doesn't like carriers, go to a meeting! i thought i knew every carrier available, but i met a few new ones today so lesson learned~ there is always more to learn/love about babywearing :)

this brings me to my second first of the day 2.meeting people from online irl . It was fabulous! Nobody was a serial killer and I escaped with my children and never did anyone even attempt to put me in the trunk of their car! if that wasn't enough to make it a great time, the ladies were awesome. I was the newby and Rachel welcomed me into her home (which was awesome) and showed me around a bit. She even threaded my ring sling which for me has proven an impossible feat. All the ladies in the group generously allowed their carriers to be played with and i even got to hold a super sweet itty bitty baby. Marcia taught me a new carry (3.rebozo for all my Latin mamas out there :) and Beth helped me through it. Billie introduced me to a carrier id never even heard of before (manduca). She also folded my wrap. Sounds boring, but when you buy a wrap don't think you will ever be able to fold it back into the box again, unless of course you run across an amazing woman like Billie (in fairness she owns a babywearing/cloth diaper store so she gets lotsa practice) It is truly an amazing feat!!

It felt so comfortable to be with other like minded mamas. 4.There was not a disposable diaper in sight. Well technically, there was one in my diaper bag i keep for church nursery, but it wasnt in sight and i left my dirty little secret at the bottom of the bag lol. There were nursing mamas galore and nobody even needed to wear a hooter hider, it was great.

I cannot wait to do it all again and I'm so excited to perfect the rebozo. After 3 years in Arizona i never even saw one irl. It is a traditional way many Mexican women carry their babies. I love learning new things and meeting new people and Pearce and Pike had a blast too. this brings us to the fifth and final first of the day 5. this was the first time since Pike has been born that maybe , just maybe a 6th P might not be the end of the world but shhh you didn't hear that from me and certainly nobody is allowed to hold me too it :)

I felt right at home

Saturday, July 3, 2010

fun on a sat. night!!

This Saturday is kinda boring. We spent the day at the park but apparently my 2yo Pearce caught a bug there so we decided to watch the fireworks tomorrow and keep the little ones in tonight. Dad is out having a guys night with Parker and I found myself with a quiet house and thought i would do something productive.

I have been a bit anxious since moving here. Even though school seems like it just got out, Ive been so worried about gathering all my curriculum and getting my plan ready. This will be my first year homeschooling three and Im determined to be prepared! so i spent a portion of this evening going through the boxes in the garage labeled books. Weeding out the ones we cant reuse and going through all the hand me down stuff to figure out what we need to purchase for the year.

I was thrilled to realize that through the grace of God i will need to purchase NOTHING as far as books and curriculum. So many homeschool families have passed on homeschool items they werent going to use that we have everything we need and more! Total confirmation that God supports our homeschooling, since some of our stuff is brand new, and many items i have no clue where they came from??? cant wait to pass on the blessings!

I started homeschooling Parker halfway through second grade. with the help of one of the best homeschool moms ever and I spent just a couple hundred dollars to get everything we needed. Ive never spent more than that because the Lord has always provided and ironically, the year im homeschooling three will be our cheapest yet! yay God!

but sorting through the books got me reminiscing. At first I thought of all the time we've spent together bonding throughout our homeschooling years. I recall fondly teaching my kids to cook and watching Parker show Paxton how to add. Spending all day working on a project instead of a little at a time and turning it in weeks later. There have been so many great times spent together as a family, so many impromptu science projects and nature hunts that I almost forgot about that first year.......

My husband was deployed and had been gone over a year with no date set for return. I had 3 great inspirational friends, 2 who were veterans in the homeschool world and one who was beginning her journey. Many more were in the background serving as unknowing examples but these 3 ladies took me under their wing. I saw the fruits of homeschooling within their families and children and I was inspired. Many people say that they don't need to homeschool because their kids are in "good schools". Well I can assure you Parker was in a fabulous school with an award winning teacher, one of the best in the country! but it wasn't all about that. there is just soo much more, however my husband wasnt falling in love with these families. He hadn't even met them and the only homeschool families he knew were weirdos he recalled from childhood. He thought if you have a good school option, why waste it?

I did something that probably wasn't the best option. I made the decision without him, i ordered the books, i prayed, and i waited. Shortly after I placed the order (also mentally confirming my choice) Beau came home almost sixteen months after he left. The kids had grown, I had begun to walk closer with Christ, our home had been redecorated, everything in his world was different and on top of that I wanted to homeschool. We went back and forth on it for a bit finally settling on the ever popular "whatever you want but don't complain to me etc etc". So I set forth building a plaster volcano and instructing parker through a mock publishing of his first book "Yellow eyes" which scared his sweet friend alison to death, I'm certain she is in therapy over it still lol

Many moms have come to me asking about homeschooling and something I always advocate is family support. It doesnt work well when everyone isn't on board. but somehow I forgot that I homeschooled and persevered for over a year, merely supported by tolerance. I never vented, never complained, just proudly displayed every project and presented the Preamble to the Constitution via memorization with pride. Slowly I would win over my skeptic. I attempted to show him the kind, faithful, well behaved children from other homeschool families, with little results. It wasn't until my husband also began digging into his faith and seeing those results within our own children, that he truly understood my motives. He began to appreciate the freedom to teach religion in our home, making it a part of everyday beyond just dinner time prayers. He loved that we could come and go and school could go with us, we could catch up on saturday, that a failed test didn't mean we move on to the next chapter, but a re taught lesson that would press on until our son completely understood .

If your family has decided to homeschool and everyone is thrilled, consider yourself lucky!! be oh so thankful! but if you are like me and are the sole advocate in your home, don't fret, persevere, we are a success story. Work hard and those traits unique to homeschoolers will inevitably shine. It wasn't a quick or painless ending, I walked on eggshells for longer than I could stand but today Beau is a proud homeschool dad, and proud of me for my perseverance and for taking the narrow road alone when i had to.

Tommorrow is Juy 4th and as a homeschooler I'm so proud of the freedoms we take part in. Thank you to all the men and women who serve so American may remain the land of the free!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

mei tai, you tai

Over the past couple of weeks Ive been getting lots of carrier questions, mostly do to that summer baby boom i think. tons of pregnant and new mommies out there! combined with a move to a new bigger city where everyone in town wasnt familiar with my babywearing ways lol.

Most of the time you find me sporting and posting about my two favorite types of carriers. Wraps in general (specifically didymos , my fave) and ring slings (mostly sakura blooms which keep me drooling). But there is another type of carrier out there that many haven't tried. No, I'm not talking about an ergo, but those are awesome too! Its called a Mei Tai. It looks like some type of cool new thing but actually these are traditional asian baby carriers that have been in use for hundreds of years, maybe thousands! Proof positive, they are comfy and they work. Carriers that don't, get ditched quick by moms and consequently fall off the face of the earth. thats why you find so many snuglis in give away boxes, thrift stores, and eventually trash cans :)

Many mamas see a wrap and want to run for the hills. They seem complicated and do require a learning curve which many new moms just don't seem to have the time for. Wraps are amazing and will always be my first babywearing love, but if you just dont feel the same keep reading!

Many mamas see a ring sling and find it a bit scary. Plenty of mamas ask me if the rings can slip or break (no a safely made ring sling will never!) Some folks are turned off by having to adjust each time they put baby in. The other complaint i hear about ring slings is the lack of back carry ability. While it is true, many advanced babywearing mamas can successfully backcarry in a ring sling (i cant after four years) its not so easy for everyone. Don't get me wrong, I have quite a few in my closet and drool over them daily, but if you just arent feeling the ring sling love, keep reading on!

The Ergo is quickly becoming the new Bjorn in the mommy world. Parents all around the world are trading their front facing crotch danglers for this more ergonomic "weight on bum" option, and rightfully so. They are easy to use and very comfortable, but those mamas who are looking for something a little more stylish don't always love all the straps and buckles. sure they come in some new colors and prints, but options are limited and there is no shiny silk option or custom add ons, if the ergo just aint purdy enough you are reading the right blog.

There is an answer to the carrier madness and its the Mei Tai. They are as easy to use as a soft structured carrier (ergo, beco , etc) but much prettier. My favorite Mei Tai shown above is a Himmel (not readily available) but my favorite brand is the Babyhawk , although there are many others out there. The mei tai is great for a newborn, and also works for a toddler just as well. They are strong and sturdy and can totally take a beating. Most come in a reversible option and you can get many with a sleeping hood like mine, this helps when a kiddo falls asleep so you can pull up the hood and avoid that infamous head flop. Also keeps strangers out of your sleeping baby's face lol! They have sturdy canvas straps that stick well and don't slip. If you have mastered the apron and the backpack, then you can do a Mei Tai. One of the best things about a Mei Tai is that there are no adjustments to be made. Each time you put it on it fits you and baby perfectly! Beau has declared my Babyhawk to be the only carrier he is truly comfy in and can work himelf.

When a little baby is in a Mei Tai they are snuggled in right next to mom and as they grow the oh so clever self adjusting Mei Tai allows a little one to decide when they are a big kid. They will simply pop their arms out one day and your little baby carrier just became a toddler toter! No changing settings or removing inserts, it is a perfect design! Some have padded straps, some don't, I find the Mei Tai to be so comfy that they arent necessary. Best of all, they are affordable. I always recommend checking out reviews on if you are purchasing a random carrier from someone on ebay or something used as well but there are boatloads of safe and beautiful Mei Tai carriers available.

sooo if you think your kid just doesn't like carriers or just dont feel they are for you , give a Mei Tai a shot! a 2.5 year old sleeping on your back in the grocery store is soo much more fun than one throwing a tantrum! you will never again have to decide between a nap or an outing :)