Friday, December 31, 2010

An answer to prayer, an update and some plans

We made it back to home-sweet-home yesterday afternoon! I'm am so thankful for how Ava did on this trip. We did end up getting a hotel around Peoria because I was exhausted and Ava was starting to hit the wall... but, PRAISE THE LORD - we think those Sea-bands worked! She wasn't sick at all the entire 11 hours home. I'm amazed! And, she thinks the little wool bracelet is a special "big girl" bracelet so she doesn't even attempt to take it off. We are so thankful! {It was getting tough to turn my pregnant self around in the van to catch puke!} Thank you all of you who were praying!

And now, the first "May baby" picture update. Warning: this was first thing in the morning - so, its me, in the real... at the end of 19 weeks.

On the way to Ohio I started feeling the first kicks and wiggles and that progressed more and more as the time went on. Now we are up to full blown jabs, pokes and flips. I loooove it! I love this time! We have our 20ish week ultrasound and appt this Wednesday and I'm starting to lose sleep over wondering what this little kiddo is... a HE or SHE. Wondering if they will cooperate, unlike big sis did. Not that I have tons of money laying around...but, I'm kinda antsy to start baby shopping again. :)

I'm feeling great - and have gotten a little more energy back. I love maternity clothes and am so thankful to be in them FULLY again. {I have no shame in loving that stretchy band in my jeans} I am however, curious about the end.... will I go naturally? Be induced again? I know, I know - many weeks until then.

Something I totally missed doing prior to Christmas was to introduce another baby added to my family. My brother and his wife welcomed baby girl #2, Miss Hailie Paige, at the beginning of December. She is precious and I can't wait to meet and hold her. Her big sis, Kaci, is thrilled!

Aren't they precious?! It kinda makes me want another little girl... just to have pics like this! :)

And now for plans:
Tonight is New Years Eve and everyone always gets jazzed up about resolutions and what not. I'm not one of those people - tho, I do like to make "plans". And since I like to go a month at a time here is what I have planned for January 2011 -
-Start some sort of home learning with Miss Ava. Thinking of the alphabet. Maybe a new letter every two weeks with some activities to go with each one. Something very basic and simple just to get her started and make the most of our days.
-Work on having more consistent date nights. Even if I am the one planning every one of them.
-Creativity at home. Whether its making something homey, baking something new or rearranging a room... I want to continue working on being creative.

What are your "plans"? How can 2011 be better then 2010?

Happy NEW YEARS eve!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Travelling Van

Today is the day... I always dread it.
It's the day we load our little family and belongings back into our van and head home.
Christmas is over.
Time to return to normalcy, routine, and reality.
I dread, not so much that part, but, the actual ride.

The irony in my personal life is that I hate all things having to do with puke and my daughter gets terribly car sick equaling puke.
However, we are trying something new this time - Sea Bands. Ever heard of 'em? Used 'em?
So, we'll load up and pop on of these onto the kiddo...and pray for a miracle :) Here's to arriving back home sometime tomorrow!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

...19 weeks.

This morning we are having a lazy day at home - home, being my parents home. Ava was up most of the night sick with a high fever and coughing - and time seemed to stand still as I propped up next to her in our bed stroking her hair and asking God to be gracious on my little one. She was miserable. But in the middle of that misery a few precious things happened that I'm tucking away into my heart...

1) Every few minutes between her feverish doze-off's Ava would reach out to feel my face or hand... just to make sure I was there. Or she'd whisper my name and just turn her tiny face toward mine - as if just by having me there made it all better.

2) "May" baby has become quite the active kiddo this week. I was getting kicks, bumps and full body rolls most of the night. Since I was awake anyway... it was wonderful to just lay there and enjoy. If I press on my belly - baby kicks back - it's a fun game we have going. I love it. And although lastnights circumstances were not ideal, what a precious memory this momma has of spending time with her TWO babies. :)

Speaking of baby "May" - I got my 19 week update this week in my email box. I'm still confused about how to count the days and some newsletters say I'm 20 wks, while others say 19, and one still says 18... so, we'll stick with the middle number and wait and see. Anyway, check out this incredible picture of a baby at 19 weeks gestation - awesome.

This isn't our baby, just a pic Pregnancy Weekly sent me for a visual. But, isn't it breathtaking?! I'm itching for our ultrasound on the 5th!!! Poor baby "May though" - we've done a terrible job keeping up any sort of picture documention of the belly and I haven't begun a baby journal yet as I did with Ava. It's just SO different this time around. We got our first baby gift on Christmas Eve from my Grandpa - a snowy white baby blanket, a couple of "neutral" outfits and some receiving blankets. I just held them and kept touching them over and over, every stitch, feeling so surreal that God has blessed us again!

Christmas is over. All those months of anticipation and planning are done with - and now its time to relax and enjoy. Today I'll be enjoying snuggles with my little sicky girl, time spent chatting with mom and watching my husband enjoy endless hours of free reading time. I have a zillion ideas for things "to do" around my house when I get home and I can't wait to share some Christmas pics on here... but, another day. Celebrating 19 weeks today!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Blessings!

Hello and Merry Christmas {eve} from Ohio! We made it in safely after our 2 day road trip and everyone is settling in and enjoying some time together. I don't know how it is with your family during the Christmas season... but for mine, it always equals some sort of busyness. Family events here and there, Church services, rushing to dress children and self, opening gifts at lightening speed... and then onto another grandma's house. Repeat.

I want to wish you personally a very, merry Christmas. I pray that God shows you glimpses of WHO He is and how much He loves you. I pray that each of us have time to lavish love on our families and friends. And I pray that despite the busy in-and-out's of this season that we each find time to bask in the Fathers love. That's what its all about.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The last Christmas...

Tonight we had our last Christmas as a family of three {Lord Willing}. We head for vacation this week and tomorrow is a big packing/cleaning day - so tonight we gathered near our little tree, Brad read from Luke about the story of Baby Jesus and then we opened our gifts to each other. Simple. Precious. Memorable.

I'll never forget watching Ava open her "big kitchen" and her eyes as they watched me set up every part. She was so eager to get in and "get cookin'". I always enjoy watching Brad be suprised {or at least fake it} as he opens his gifts and when we open our stocking's it's always a fun time looking at all the little things in there! What a sweet time. I couldn't help but get choked up a bit when I had a few seconds to myself while everyone else played or relaxed, thinking of how blessed we are - and how different next year will be. God has continued to provide for us and bless us with abundance.

I was thinking about Brad and I's first few Christmases, and especially the last one before we moved to Iowa. No money. Minimal gifting... but precious, precious memories and closeness. Usually our small apartments would be decked with whatever hand-me-down decor my mom could afford to part with, or something I tried to create to look festive. Never fancy - we just couldn't. But somehow, it seemed to shine every year. We watched as year after year God provided some kind of "Special treat" {even if it were just a fresh snowfall} and we would marvel. I hope we never stop looking at life that way - or marvelling at what God does. So tonight, as we unwrapped our gifts and laughed - my heart was very full. My blonde haired two year old was filled with wonder as we "opened tresents". My husband smiling as she tore open tissue paper packages... (sigh).

And maybe we'll never be millionaires - actually - I'm hoping we never even make it close! All I pray for is togetherness, closeness and the love of my family. Bonding together to remember what Christ sent to us on that special Christmas all those years ago. Below I've posted a video - one of my favorite songs, that will always and forever remind me of Brad and I. Enjoy. I'm sure many can relate. :)
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

And the #2 birthday continues...

On Ava's 2nd birthday we had kind of our first REAL good snow fall! How lucky to be a little girl with a winter birthday! So, after daddy got home from work we suited her up and shipped her to the snow. She had never actually played in it before and kept asking, "can I touch it?". Precious.
She loved shoveling with daddy and attempting to make a snowball.We actually got enough snow to fill the whole back yard - which made my "favorite" tree all the more my favorite.

On top of getting snow - the #2 birthday continued when we let her open up just 1 more present. {her party isn't until today} This little car with little people is something I knew she'd love! There is one at our church and she finds it every week! Her reaction was priceless and she plays with it all the time. I loved when she woke up from her nap this week asking for, "little people car" with her bed-headed self. :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

.:Traditions- part II:.

A few weeks back I started reading Noel Pipers, "Treasuring God in our Traditions". It was a gift after winning a contest and something that was on my personal "wish list" anyway. Bonus! I have one more chapter left of this book and I am so glad to have read it. What a challenge! I don't want to give the whole book away... because it IS worth your time, and it's only 114 pages. But I did want to share some especially convicting and mind provoking thoughts that I was reviewing today again...

In the chapter, "How do traditions teach?" Noel says,

"We are always teaching our children, whether we mean to or not. Our children come to believe, probably unconsciously, that whatever is repeated regularly has significance."

Skip over a page and she mentions this...

"All of us are training our children both intentionally and unintentionally. We need to make sure we aren't leaving the important things to happenstance. We know it's crucial that they become familiar with God, our Heirloom and our only hope for real life. We yearn for them to love and trust and follow Christ. It would be foolish just to wait for them to learn that by chance. We must plan to reflect God and teach about Christ in the repeated events of our lives."

I am so challenged this afternoon and thinking of a million different ways that my family can work harder on making Christ central - teaching Him always. And as the momma-at-home, I'm finding this responsibility especially exciting and overwhelming. I wouldn't expect Ava to learn her ABC's, #'s and shapes "somehow" - why on earth would I think her mind/heart for Christ would come along any old way? What a challenge! Needless to say, after I let my hubby read this book - we'll be a LOT more intentional, and I'm so thankful for the Lord using this book as my wake up call.
Even though ministry is a priority... our family, and more specifically - our children - have to be our #1 mission field.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Turning 2

Ava has been under the weather most of the week, and especially last night. This was such a bummer because no momma likes to see their baby sick...but, especially NOT on their special birthdays! So, as much as I wanted to, I didn't make a cake to tempt her sicky belly and we aren't able to do her big #2 family party tonight :( But, somehow... the simple birthday morning we had today made up for all of that. She woke up "Caw-ing" with the crows outside so we went in together to get her - singing "Happy Birthday to you..." and she just sat there smiling with her big ol' bed head. Then...promptly asked for presents. Hmmm, gonna have to work on that one. :)
So we carried her downstairs telling her all about how she was two now - a bigger girl - and how much we loved her. Then we sat down by the Christmas tree and dug out some birthday gifts.

In the picture above she is opening her brand new wood drum! She loves that thing and just plays and plays on it. It was neat how 1 year makes all the difference in present-opening. She was a pro and knew just what to do!
I loved watching the anticipation and hearing the gasps and "ohhhhs" as she tore the beautiful, shiny paper. Such a new world!

Waaay too interested in her TWO ponies to even look up for a picture. She loves them and we've been playing with them all morning.

In lieu of a big, fancy, rich birthday breakfast - I kept it as "BRAT'ish" {bananas, rice, apples and toast} as I could with some simple french toast and apple juice. Poor girl. But, I did at least hold a #2 candle she could blow out...and really, she could care either way. I loved the simple morning and the blessing of holding my two year old.

The tears didn't come until I started writing this post. And now... looking at her slender, little girl face it's just kinda hit me. My baby is two. Praise God for her - that's all I can say.
Happy Birthday Ava Edyn!
Here's a video of her opening her drum this morning - please don't mind my hilarious husbands commentary... one of the reasons I love him so.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Change of plans...again.

I went to bed lastnight pumped about our playgroup at church this morning. I had told Ava all about how the next day we would wake up and go play with our friends. I LOVE our playgroup time - always a different blend of women and kids, and always just a quick, fun time of play and convo. And it helps to have it at church so you don't have to have your own home all clean and ready... just, a fun time to be had by all. {not that I don't love people in my home... I do!}

But, once again... my plans were changed. Ava slept in again, I mean, really slept in. She is normally my 7am riser - but lately its been getting later and later and today was no exception. As 9 oclock rolled around she was still in there snug as a bug. I credit the great sleep to two things: 1) she hasn't been feeling great 2) she is using my very special great-grandma quilt. That thing is com-fy and 3 times her size! She loves getting all snug in her bed and having us drape that quilt over her, rub her head and say goodnight. She even asks for naptimes earlier so she can get BACK into bed... is this a picture of whats to come in her teen years?! OH well - so, no playgroup for us. Instead, we curled up on the couch and watched the classic, "Frosty the Snowman" and then she asked to go back to bed. What will I do when I have another kiddo and life isn't this...easy? {don't tell me}

Ava Edyn turns 2 tomorrow! TWO! I keep thinking about this day two years ago - my mom was in, and we were going in to be induced on this night. After finding I was already pretty dialated they sent me home to come back in the morning...apparently it was a busy night at the hospital. I didn't mind the wait, though, it was hard to go home sans baby. Tomorrow I'll have a super mushy post, I'm sure, as my hormones and thought of having my baby turn 2 get to me... but for now, just some cute pics of the little one as she's growing up. She's beautiful.

Please note the leg warmers, tights and socks. She sure is 2!

Loves dancing with daddy now... they just spin and dance and sing. so precious.
So thankful to God for our little, "Plan changer", and how He is using her in our lives in such a big way!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

...dawdling... refers to this word as...

verb (used without object)
1. to waste time; idle; trifle; loiter: {"Stop dawdling and help me with these packages!"}
2. to move slowly, languidly, or dilatorily; saunter.

I am claiming that my dawdling lastnight was more of an option #2... only, not languid, because I def had spirit and vigor... Holiday Spirit! But it was slow and calm - just as I'd hoped it would be.

A friend and I decided to sneak out after out little ones were down for bed and head to Target for some Christmas shopping. I am still picking up little things here and there and was especially excited about the prospect of walking the Target aisles with my HOT peppermint mocha. As anyone who attempts to shop with children knows:

1) You don't really get to walk the aisles, it's more of a marathon race to get the objects and get out asap. Usually.
2) Mochas...{if you get one with your children}... very often end up chilled prior to even your first sip. Or, in my case, spilled all over the cart onto the box of diapers, new neices outfit, etc. Teaching you to NOT attempt a hot mocha with children in tow {or cart}.

But, anyway, lastnight was a childless dawdle through Target with a friend. The time was much needed and though I'm not usually one for "late" nights... I was surprised how refreshed I was just being out and about having some girl time. And, BONUS, I found so many gifts I needed... and, there was hardly anyone there so no lines! Second bonus: did YOU know that Monday is kids clothing mark down day @ Target? I didn't. We bumped into another gal we knew who let us in on that info... and it turned out to be true.

We walked just about every aisle and looked at kids toys, clothing, makeup, shoes and accesories, underwear, home improvement things, baskets and bathroom towels, mops, nail polish and curtains - all the while sipping our drinks and chatting about life and ministry. It was wonderful! Having a friend is wonderful. I'm learning as I journey on down this "mommy road" how important it is to take a few hours out now and then to get refreshed, be a friend, and push beyond your comfort zone. {in my case...not going to be at 9pm} This morning I feel like a better wife and momma. I feel like I'm refilled and ready to go - I'm re-motivated. God's word talks about times like this, too. Did you know that?

Proverbs 11:25 "The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed."

Philemon 1:6-7 "I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people."

Romans 1:11-12 "For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours."

So, see, in this hustle-bustle, busy time of year...
a little dawdling is not so bad. ;)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just another day in paradise

After such a nice, relaxing weekend indoors... I wasn't prepared for what this day held. You see - church was cancelled yesterday morning and we all slept in, the afternoon was lazily spent reading cookbooks and lounging on the couch. The days prior to that were similar. Then, thismorning, my family was all asleep {again} once the clock hit 9am. Perfect, I thought! Another calm, winter day indoors.


Brad woke up and asked me what time it was - when he found out went into overdrive trying to hurry and get ready...he didn't mean to sleep in, we were both kind of waiting on Ava to wake up at 7 like normal. But, Ava was still asleep... after 9. Weird. But, soon enough we heard her chatting so I got her out of bed. She looked tired. We attempted a bowl of Kix for breakfast - of which she took 2 bites and begged to be done. Not normal. And about 3 seconds after that it dawned on me... "uh oh, I think Ava is getting sick." And while I can't yet tell what kind of sick... I know it's coming. The gag reflex when she coughs, wanting to be held constantly and the lathargic lounge on the couch are all tell-tale.

So, most of our morning was spent watching a certain 4 yr old cartoon kid...

My brain will explode if I watch one more episode.
And accompanied with Caillou was lots of...


And while we don't know yet what exactly we are facing with this mystery illness, yet... I'm doing everything just like my mom would do - and somehow, that's comforting, and reminds me that I WILL get through this.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


As we sat in front of our 3 ft tree tonight, holding mugs of hot mocha and dodging the occasional bouncy ball to the head from Ave's... we enjoyed life together as a family of 3.
It was good for my soul tonight. It was beautiful.

We turned out all of the "big lights" and just let the tiny white bulbs of the tree and the strand glistening outside the window illuminate our faces. We told stories, talked about life, and sang songs together. Beautiful. Something that all too often in the hustle of life doesn't happen.

We held our daughter and sang, "Jesus Loves me" and "Jingle Bells" and "Deck the Halls". Ava is learning how to try and say the words with us and my heart absolutely falls apart when I hear that tiny mouth say, "Jesus loves me this I knooooow." She cuddled into my chest and we gazed at the lights and talked about each ornament on our special tree. I pray it's as special to her, as it always will be for me.

These precious times are so beautiful to me.

Days when my husband is home all day and snow is falling and we have no where to be anytime soon. Days when jammies are worn until well into the day and the smell of pancakes hovers in the air. We read books together and talk about what's going on in our worlds.

It's beautiful to watch my husband read stories to our baby in the rocking chair and how he sings to her after the book is done - she relaxes and is silent in his arms. I can't help but feel that burn of tears well up as I watch from the door... and the smell of baby lotion will forever remind me of this special time. It's beautiful how his arms are always open to me...despite my hard days, unkind words and exhaustion.

I savor tonight. I'm praying it burns into my brain to be replayed over and over...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Holiday Recipe

I can't help myself... tonight's dinner was just too goo to not share. And super easy
even for a weeknight. It's a Christmas-y taste and I loved using whole spices!
You will need some method of grinding for that. Enjoy!

Spiced Pork Tenderloin:

1 t. whole cloves
3 dried bay leaves
1/2 t. whole black peppercorns
1 t. crumbled dried sage
2 t. sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
1 T. olive oil

1) Heat oven to 400. Finely grind the cloves, bay leaves, and whole peppercorns using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (I used our coffee grinder and it worked just fine) and toss with sage, sugar and salt. Pat the spice mix evenly onto all sides of the tenderloin.

2) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloin and sear on all sides - about 5 minutes.

3) Transfer to the oven, and roast until the tenderloins internal temp reads 140 -about 20 minutes. Transfer meat to a clean cutting board adn let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve hot, at room temp or cold. I served it with some vermicelli on the side!
*Note - it took WAAAAY longer then 20 minutes - because I don't have a meat thermometer and I have a husband who despises undercooked-in-the-very-least meat. So it may have been closer to 40 mins roasting time. Just eye it!
And, if you like recipes like this - you MUST check out
Country Living's website here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DIY: Christmas Goody Gift Baskets - and an overload of pics!

Whew! Today my back is aching... and not just because I'm 17 weeks prego {yep, 17...somehow my count is off according to my doc}. I'm aching because I literally spent 5 hours yesterday working on our Christmas Goody baskets for some friends - this including baking, creativity and TIME. All of which God has graciously given me... yesterday. ;) I love homemade gifts, especially if they taste good. And, I'm hoping that those who will be on the receiving end this year will be blessed! But, before I go into recipes and all that...

Do you recall awhile back I blogged about those awesome candle holder/vase things everyone was making? I can't find my link to show you - but, long story short - people were making beautiful glass vases using Dollar Tree vases and candle holders. I so wanted to have some done for Autumn, but, I'll take Christmas season as a close second! And by only spending $4 bucks... we'll take it! So, here's what I did with mine...
For the big one I just plopped this big shimmery green candle in it... and saved one un-touched candle holder for my lone green taper. :) I went kinda country-Christmas in our dining room so on the other side I filled another vase with mini cookie cutters and yet another with a rustic-y red ball candle, and stuck my little tree right in the middle. I love it - and it was so affordable and mostly free. I already owned my worn looking tray, tree, and candles. :)
Ok, now, onto the good stuff :)
For a few years now I've been holding onto these little buckets...with every intention of filling them with delicious goodness to give away. And this WAS the year! So all day yesterday I made: Merry Mocha Mix, Dipped Candy Canes & Chocolate-Mint Brownie Pops. {drool}
Merry Mocha Mix {or, Mocha Coffee Mix}:
1 c. powdered non-dairy creamer
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. instant coffee granules
2 T. baking cocoa

1) In a blender or food processor, combine the creamer, sugar, coffee and cocoa. Cover and process until fine. Transfer to an airtight container. Store in a cool dry place for up to a year.
*Makes 8 servings.
2) To prepare: Place 1/4 c. mocha mix into mug and add boiling water. Stir until dissolved.
*Marshmallows optional.
*This DOES NOT taste like a Starbucks Mocha... be warned. It's a little stronger {bolder}!

So, I whipped up some of this and they are ready to go!

Chocolate-Mint Browine Pops:
1/2 c. butter
2 (1oz) squares unsweet. chocolate
1 (10oz) pkg. Andes creme de menthe baking morsels
1 c. sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
Parchment Paper
2 T. shortening
5 (2oz) chocolate candy coating squares
31 craft sticks
4 (2oz) vanilla candy coating squares
Crushed peppermint candies

1) Preheat oven to 350. Combine butter, unsweet choco, and 1 c. mint morsels in a medium saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat; add sugar, eggs and vanilla, beating until smooth.
2) Combine flour and salt; stir into choco mix until blended. Stir in remaining mint morsels.
3) Pour batter into 8 in. square baking dish. Bake for 32 minutes then cool completely on wire rack, in pan.
4) Using a Tablespoon, scoop out balls from cooked brownies in pan. Gently reshape into a ball; place on large baking sheet lined with parchment. Chill 30 minutes.5) Place shortening and chocolate candy coating in a glass measuring cup/bowl. Microwave 1 min or until melted. Stir until smooth. Insert craft stick into each brownie ball. Dip each pop into chocolate mixture and then place on parchment paper. Let stand until FIRM.
6) Place vanilla candy coating in a bowl. Microwave until melted. Spoon into a plastic bag; seal bag. Snip a small hole in 1 corner of the bag - and squeeze chocolate onto dipped brownie balls. Sprinkle with peppermint pieces.
Last but not least, Dipped Candy Canes:

Thankfully, I had some help on this part ;)
So, there you have it... DIY Good bags. Once everything was done I busted out the gold ribbon, green tissue paper, etc. and packaged it all up in one nice presentation. :) Super easy. Delicious. And straight from the heart :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Praise His Name!

I don't know what it looks like where you live, but, today when I woke up and put on that 1st pot of coffee THIS was happening out my kitchen door...little, teeny, flurries! {piling up}

Needless to say I was instantly giddy and wanted to flip the Christmas Carols on and get right to work finishing up this house. We have our staff dinner/ Christmas party tonight and one of Ava's favorite babysitters is coming, so it should be a great night to be had by all. :) Ave's helped me get started today by grinding my coffee beans - her favorite chore.

Can you believe this precious child will be 2 this month!? {gulp} I can't.

This weekend was our churches Rejoice event and WOW was it a good one this year. God is doing so many things in the lives of our church women - I wish I had time to share every story I heard or saw that night. I was moved to tears more then once and God just broke my heart in new ways that I was calloused or hard to. It's beautiful to me how after such an exhausting week God can refresh my soul with good company, His word and a beautiful setting. The tables looked awesome and I think mine even turned out halfway okay... I decided to go super simple and stick with glittery silvers and golds. And, it turned out just fine. And, I already have some ideas for next year :) Another bonus: I was able to meet and get to know three new ladies from church that I had never really gotten to talk to. One is due the day after me - so I loved finding that common bond.

Speaking of pregnancy: Things are going just fine. We are in week 16 and I feel great. I'm tired all the time, but, that seems normal. We have our next appointment this week & I'm antsy to hear that heartbeat again. We haven't taken any "baby bump" pics which is sad - considering with Ava we snapped one every weekend. Oh the difference between 1 and 2. :/ But I did start to "Show" more this week which is exciting. :)

Lastly, has the Lord ever layed a passage of scripture on your heart over and over? Recently this is what has been playing through my mind/heart at the most "random" of times...

"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Eph. 4:1-3

I'm finding, especially around this time of the year - that unity doesn't always necessarily come easy. That it's my job, my HIGH CALLING to work for it - to live out all of the descriptions above and fight for it. God keeps bringing it to mind over and over. Especially the lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering and bearing with one another parts... words that so often DON'T describe me - that I do so yearn to be. What a challenge. So...

When someone hurts my feelings or says an unkind word... I can be gentle.
When my husband is criticized or wounded... I can show patience and longsuffering.
When there is strife or discord or just hard ministry nights... we can endeavor and fight for unity.

Praise His name! And, we don't fight alone!

I'm attaching a video of a song that was sung this weekend at Rejoice titled, "Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground)" by Chris Tomlin. If you've never heard it or had time to really drink in the words... hopefully you can take a few minutes and enjoy it here. I'm so encouraged that our Savior God came to us in humility... and taught us how to live and love.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Friday Fa-la-la-la-la

We've had a pretty, slightly rough week here adjusting back to life in Iowa. Ava took several days to get back into a normal sleep routine (wasn't expecting that), we are super busy with ministry stuff (expecting that), and have been having several toddler firsts that we don't care to experience seconds with. I'd like to jot down last nights experience so as to not forget... not that I ever will... nor will the people sitting near us.

Brad came home from work and the plan was to suit up and head out for dinner and then to conquer our Christmas tree - tho it may be fake, still must be conquered. So off we went. Ava and I both got an excellently long afternoon nap and she was in a great mood, so I didn't even think twice about bringing an "activity" for the restaurant. She can normally busy herself with straws or coloring pages or whatev. Well, we are in the place not 5 minutes when she starts whining... just whining. I can handle that most days. We speak some corrective words to her and she shapes up. {whew} We order our food and then... all choas broke loose. I still can't put my finger on what the trigger was, if there even was one, besides being almost 2. Our darling, precious, offspring began to wail and cry and scream as loud as she was physically able. Now, I'm somewhat used to that and have learned how to stay calm, etc.... my spouse... well, he's not around it so much. So, we both tensed up. Our order was in and at this point people are starting to watch us - says my spouse - I didn't notice. After a daddy/daughter trip to the bathroom for a "talk" they were back and she was LOUDER, if that was possible. I tried two more methods which usually are sure-fire fix-its and neither worked. Hubs decided we needed to leave as this was unfair to all the lovely people sitting around us gawking. (as if they've never gone through this!) So he scoops up the screamer and I stay behind to pay the bill and collect our heavenly-scented uneaten meal. What a temptation to this pregnant momma! I threw a look of apology at everyone who would catch my eye {there weren't many}, collected our things and hustled it out of there. I find my daughter in the foyer smiling and happy as a clam because some random stranger that was coming in to eat gave her a stuffed lady bug toy. Lovely.

Long story short - no dinner, no tree, crying daughter, weepy momma - early to bed, the end.

It was not a good night. I so had my heart set on the tradition of getting our tree, the special dinner out, decorating, etc. I just couldn't get on top of my emotions and when we got home just sat in the van and cried a few seconds. What a new stage we are in.

Today has been much better. I even had some time tonight to set up some Christmas decorations around the house. We dont' have many... but what we do have means so much to me.

This was my idea for the built in this year. I'll add some gold bulbs once our Christmas program ends at church tomorrow...using them there. Found the letter-art at TJ's last year on clearance for like $3!
My precious mini-tree. My mom made the skirt!
I found these two fun stocking on sale @ Pier One last year after Christmas and snatched them up! They were less then $5 a piece and very much our style.
{yep, still no big tree...please note the void}
And, the rest of our Christmas stuff is in a heap on our dining room table - not speaking to me. I'm ok with that. And, I'm out of ideas right now, until our ladies event is over. :)
Tonight I read a quote that has stuck with me - something my heart so desires - and what I hope to be in my family first. I know I have so much work to do...
"Welcome Home! That's what I want my life to say to everyone whose path crosses mine. I want to create an atmosphere of serenity and joy, blessing and belonging, that embraces people and draws them in - that makes them feel loved and special and cared for."
-Emilie Barnes

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

joy robber

it was another early start today.

At 5:40am I heard this voice {not a quiet one} YELLING my name. 5:40am.

We tried to ignore this voice and doze back off, while it babbled and yelled for fun.

But, funny, the harder we buried our heads in our pillows...the louder it became.

These are the days that my joy feels so easily robbed. When I would gladly choose sleep over joy. And I'm sure eyes are rolling... especially those who are nursing newborns around the clock, etc. But when you are USED to sleep. When you were getting sleep consistently...the game changes.

I need to get a grip. Perhaps this little voice is just preparing me for a certain event that will be taking place in about 5 months.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snowflakes are falling today...

I arrived home lastnight from our "vacation". The quotes are because....
1) Everyone got the flu - minus me and Ava. So we really didn't do anything.

2) All the delicious Thanksgiving food never even got to be leftovers because of how sick everyone was...and we feared contamination.

2) Ava was a LOT of work seeing how I was a single parent, basically, the entire week - while Brad recovered.

I'm not in a funk, really. Just stating the facts. But, it was nice to enjoy sitting in shorts on the porch swing in 80 degree weather. And it's always nice to be with family you don't often see. {even if they were all puking}

Ava has been waking up XTREMELY early...she woke up shortly after 6am every day in FL due to the bright sun. But, here, I don't know what her excuse is. She's back in her normal bed, semi-normal routine with just us here... {sigh} ok, maybe I am in a little bit of funk. I'm tired.

Let me refocus here.

SNOW is falling. Keep in mind it's tiny...and I'm probably the only one who can actually see it...but, it is. I have Christmas music on and have started pulling out the bins of Christmas decor. It will be a good day. I want it to be a good day. This morning I grinded and brewed my first pot of Christmas coffee... complete with Peppermint Mocha creamer. If you haven't heard me rave on and on about this specific coffee... here's a quick promo:

Santa's White Christmas Blend from Barnies Coffee is amazing. It's a flavored coffee that just tastes like Christmas goodies. The beans are white because of the flavor coating... yum. It makes your home smell amazing while its brewing - and it actually tastes like what it smells like. It's my fave. And since we were just blocks from an actual Barnies... could not resist! You can order online, too. Just click the link.
I wish I could sit around in some sweat pants today, sip my decaf and just listen to music. I'm severely tempted, actually. Too bad I have a jillion things on my list to get done... and a little girl that has now disappeared from my side and is no doubt eating toothpaste or scouting out my chocolate stash. Let it snow...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Some SWEET, really.

Two of my favorite Thanksgiving/Fall time Yummy's are: Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bread & Sweet Potato Crisp. I made both of them this weekend... and have plenty of leftovers to munch on til we head to Florida! {oh wait, that's tomorrow!} :) I'm sharing these recipes with you because 1) They are super easy 2) Always a crowd pleaser.

So, if you are looking for something sweet and new for your Thanksgiving table - here you go!

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Bread
{makes 2 HUGE loaves}

3 c. sugar
4 eggs
3/4 c. water
3 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. nutmeg
15oz canned pumpkin
1 c. oil {I use canola}
2/3 c. peanut butter
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon

1) In mixing bowl, combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, oil, water, and peanut butter; beat well. Combine the dry ingredients and add to pumpkin mix; mix well.
2) Pour into 2 greased 9x5 pans. Bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes. Cool 10 mins in pans, then transfer to wire racks.
*Note: I usually end up baking several minutes beyond the recommended cook time - it's a super dense bread. I test by sticking a knife in and keep baking until it comes out dry.

Sweet Potato Crisp

8 oz. Cream cheese
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. dried cranberries
2 T. brown sugar
3 c. Honey Bunches of Oats cereal
2 lbs Sweet Potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
OR 40 oz can.
1 c. chopped apple
3 T. flour
3 T. butter

1) Preheat oven to 350. Beat cream cheese, potatoes, 1/4 c. brown sugar and cinnamon with mixer on medium speed until blended. Spoon into 2 qt. baking dish; top with apples and cranberries.
2) Mix flour and 2 T. brown sugar in large bowl; cut in butter until resembles course crumbs. Stir in cereal and then sprinkle over fruit.
3) Bake 35-40 minutes or until heated through.
*Note: I used the 40 oz can of yams, generic cereal and Granny Smith apples and think that's the best combo! The flour, butter and cereal crumble on top are great...but, maybe don't need so much my opinion.

Are you hungry now? Yum! It's only 9am and I want those now... for lunch! :)
I think those two items will always be in our Fall/Thanksgiving menu somehow. I heart them.
Well, as I mentioned before, we are headed out to FL tomorrow for the week and so looking forward to some family time. And, oh yea.... the low 80 degree temps! :)
Have a wonderful, blessed, Thankful, Thanksgiving and may you and your families be blessed! And I'll leave you now with a cute little quote I read this morning that made me chuckle... yes, chuckle. I don't have wrinkles...Yet, but... the fact still remains...

"There is always a lot to be thankful for if you take the time to look for it. Right now, I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt."
-Barbara Johnson

Friday, November 19, 2010


On Tuesday I attended a "Keeping the Holy in the Holidays" ladies tea party at my church. It was the last day of our bible study and our leader had this great idea to end on a holiday note! Right up my alley! We enjoyed delish treats, Coldstone hot cocoa, birthday cake {Happy Birthday Jesus birthday cake...} and great conversation. But maybe my favorite part was when each woman shared their family traditions. It always strikes a cord with me when I hear that word, Tradition, because... I feel like Brad and I haven't made great strides at creating our own, and I SO desire too. I want to raise our children to treasure holidays, special days and even normal days by the way we magnify God in how we celebrate life. I heard tons of great ideas: Jesus Tree, serving at homeless shelters, operation Christmas Child, advent wreaths, PJ's on Christmas eve, bible studies, etc.
I guess my definition of what tradition is needed some reviewing.
During one of the games there was a prize up for grabs. And wouldn't you know it... I won. I opened it up to reveal Noel Piper's book - "Treasuring God in our Traditions", something that was on my Amazon "wish list" but I just hadn't bought it yet. SCORE! I'm on day #3 of reading it and so far.... soooo good. I've been challenged on my "why" to want to set traditions. I've been intrigued by hearing her family's stories and most of all inspired by the Word of God and what it has to say about traditions. Even today reading about King Josiah was so challenging... good stuff! I'm eager to finish the book and then have some good conversations with Brad about what we are doing. What we NEED to do.
Anyone else read this book? Have any good thoughts on traditions - the "why's" and "what for's"?

Thursday, November 18, 2010, yea, our life got a little more exciting...

Blah, Blah, Blah... I cannot think of an interesting enough opener for my BIG news... so rather then trying to be creative I'm just gonna blurt it out!

WE GOT A VAN!!! God has provided for us in a HUGE way and I am so very thankful!

A 2005 Chevrolet Uplander - it's now sitting in our driveway. The heat works. All the windows open {that should}, and I actually get radio stations... I'm just still kind of not believing it! I keep peeking out my kitchen door at it, "yep, still there". I'm a nerd like that. This van is such a blessing to this momma's heart as every time I stepped on the brake peddle of our current car that moaning, creeeeking sound would start. "God, we cannot afford a new car...". "Lord, how can we make it through another winter with this vehicle...?". He always knows and always has an answer. Though it may not be in our timing. ;) Needless to say I'm BLOWN away by the timing of this one!

So, wanna see it? Ok. And, please note how excited our little lady is... she thinks she's the driver.

We took a ride downtown in the van this morning to do the title transfer and all of that - and still have a few more paper work things to do later this morning {working with Brad's schedule}. But we did get celebratory doughnuts and I did really enjoy feeling heat while in a car. Not to mention the fact that if we wanted to... we could pop in a DVD and watch it...right in the van. We are rejoicing in God's awesome provision! Thanking him for where He has in life right now and how He continues to show Himself faithful time and again. Praise the Lord!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A busy weekend

We had so much going on this last week/weekend. I went to bed and crashed hard every night. I love those kinds of days...where you feel like things were accomplished and you know your family enjoyed something. :) Love 'em. I had a random burst of energy this past week which was great for getting so many little things done. Hoping those little bursts come every few weeks :)

But, today I'm back to exhausted - and, really should be napping as Ava naps. Right after I devour whatever I can find in the fridge - lethal combination of hormones this week!

Rather then go into every little detail I thought it might be fun to do a week/weekend update picture style.

Happy 27th Birthday to my handsome Hubs! This included a lovely date night dinner at
Cafe Di Scala! Yum!

A trip to the mall to spend Daddy's b-day money! Somehow we always get sucked into this kid trap :) But it was followed by some killer Hyvee, momma was thrilled!

Hubs and Ava were such great helpers, too. They cleaned all the floors for all the company we had over this weekend!

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Let me introduce you...

This was baby Pausley #2 {yes, I've got to come up with something other then that to call him/her}

at our 8.5 week appointment a while back. The moment I saw that little shadow-like picture show up on the ultrasound I had to fight to hold back the warm tears starting to form. Every baby is a miracle - pure and simple. And, since losing a precious baby prior to having Ava - I acknowledge that more and more. What a gift to get to live in this country where we can gaze at our unborn children - watch them wiggle and turn, measure them, observe them... I'm still blown away at every one of these ultrasounds.

Yesterday we went in for our 12.5 week appointment. I had trouble sleeping the entire night prior, as if it were the night before Christmas and I was 7 again, only...not. Doubts and fears plagued me... will there be a heartbeat? Can I handle another loss? What if they find something wrong? Am I gaining too much weight? And the list goes on... I don't consider myself to be a worry-er, so it was strange having all these thoughts and fears. I know it's a spiritual battle I fight each time I'm pregnant. And, I'm asking God for victory to take captive my thoughts and HE will help me...always does.

Anyway, the appointment went very well. My weight was down - on account of being SO sick for so long - and my heartbeat/blood pressure was great and the best was... after just a few seconds hearing that amazing little, "bump, bump, bump" from the doppler. Our baby was alive and doing great! Praise the Lord! And yet... we would praise Him even if the doppler was silent.

So, sometime in the middle of May {Lord Willing} we will welcome this little person into our home and life. Though, as any mommy understands, this child has already found a home in my heart. :) I'm eager to see what God has in store for us as a family of 4 - the things we need to learn and areas we need to grow. I'm eager to watch Ava blossom as a big sister. I'm eager to see Brad with a newborn again. I'm eager to wear maternity pants without shame... LOL.

We have another appointment in 4 weeks - which, always feels like half an eternity. But, until then we'll keep praising God for life and wait with anticipation at what He's going to do! And then soon after that we'll have another ultrasound to see if baby is a SHE or HE. We are thrilled! I found these awesome pics online of what baby would look like in the womb today... how can people doubt a God after seeing things like this?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fall, Fall, Fall... fare and fotos {pardon the alliteration}

Is it Autumn? Because... being outside yesterday felt more like late May or even a July night. Not that I'm complaning - just sayin'. It's terribly difficult to listen to Christmas music and make paper turkeys when the sun is beating in on your dining room table and every window in the house is open. Again, not complaining.

Ava is loving so much warmth because it means more outside time, which, is good for both of us. If I can manage just to get myself together and GO. ;) Yesterday we raked leaves, make piles to jump in, played babies and did laps in our yard. She is precious!

My favorite thing about Ava right now is listening to her try and talk. She is constantly jabbering something - I can make out most of it, but sometimes its just down right funny to hear her ramble in a language only she knows. Trying to say our big words is tough I suppose.
Now onto the fall fare. Lastnight I made two delish recipes that went so well together. I mentioned it the other day on FB and several people asked for the recipes, so, here they are - enjoy! It's a wonderful fall meal :)
Pork chops w/ Spicy Orange Glaze
4 bone-in rib or center cut pork chops, 1/2 in. thick
1 t. plus 1 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
3/4 c. orange juice
1) Rub each chop with 1/4 t. oil and sprinkle with salt, (I use kosher) pepper and cumin. Sprinkle one side of each cop with 1/8 t. sugar.
2) Place chops, sugar side down, in large nonstick skillet and press meat into pan. Cook, without moving, over med. heat until lightly browned, 6-9 minutes. Turn chops, reduce heat to low, cover and cook additional 3-6 minutes. Transfer chops to platter, tent with foil, and let rest while making sauce.
3) Add remaining oil, garlic and pepper flakes to empty pan and cook over med heat until fragrant, about 30 secs. Add juice and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Tip accumulated chop juices from platter into skillet. Cook 1 minute. Serve over chops.

Twice - Baked Sweet Potatoes
2 Lg. sweet potatoes
2 T. Milk
1/4 t. cinnamon
2 oz. cream cheese, cubed
1 T. brown sugar
1/4 c. pecan pieces
1) Heat oven to 425. Cut potatoes lengthwise in half, place cut side down on foil lined pan. Bake 30-35 minutes.
2) Scoop out centers into a bowl, add cream cheese, milk, sugar and cinnamon to pototoes and mash.
3) Spoon mix back into shells; top with nuts. Bake 8 minutes.
Yum! I especially loved the baked pecan taste! Happy November!