Monday, December 27, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 12/27

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I needed to take a little break from any type of regular posting while I spent time with my family and prepared for Christmas. Though we're still busy, I wanted to pop on and do Menu Plan Monday again. I can assure you that we've been eating the past few weeks, I just didn't take the time to write down what it was we ate! :)

When my mom left to go back to MD after Christmas, my brother decided to stay here with us until Thursday. I take special requests when we have guests, so my menu includes a few special things I don't make too often (because fun meals get pricey!) I am excited for the opportunity to cook a few 'fun' things, because I sure do love to cook!

So once again, I am linking up with Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday: French toast/ home fries after church, Homemade pizza (with leftover homemade sauce) for dinner
Monday: My version of a dish I had at Robin Alexander when Joe and Abigail took us out to eat there; I think it was called 'Black and Blue." I toss farfalle with balsamic marinated, blackened steak strips, sauted onions, roasted garlic, sun dried tomatoes, and fresh spinach. Then I make a Parmesan and blue cheese white wine cream sauce to go over the whole thing. Yum!
Tuesday: Roasted tomato soup with veggies, beans, and pasta. Filling, healthy, easy, and cheap!
Wednesday: Lime marinated flank steak fajitas with grilled peppers and onions, guacamole, homemade refried beans and lime-cilantro rice.
Thursday: Edamame, onion, and broccoli stir fry served over brown rice. Teriyaki tilapia on the side.
Friday: Manestra (Greek style orzo) with sauted garlic green beans
Saturday: Bean and rice enchiladas

We're planning on doing beans and rice for lunches again, something I got out of the habit of during this busy season. That doesn't really make much sense, since eating the beans and rice takes very little prep, but it does require forethought since the beans take about 12 hours to cook. I also have some bread leftover from the French toast on Sunday that I'd like to use up before it goes stale, so I might make some tuna for lunch one day.

Just about all of the leftovers from the big meal I made on Christmas Eve are already gone, so that's why they're not included in this menu. While we all loved it, Abel in particular has been chowing down on my leek/mushroom/provolone/spinach stuffing! I'm so thankful he is such a good eater!

I'll post Christmas pictures soon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On Sharing A Car

As most of you know, I was in a car accident a few weeks ago (I was driven into while stopped at a red light) and my car was totaled. For about 2 weeks, we had a rental that their insurance paid for. Reed and I put a lot of miles on the car while we had it, traveling to both Tennessee and Maryland. It was wonderful to have such a nice car, a 2011, even if it was just for a few weeks! Reed liked to joke that we would have a 2011 car like that for sure... in about 12 years. The rental place is just up the road from us, and I wave to the car when we pass. :) We miss you, nice car!

So now, we're sharing a car. We've decided that since I am home full time it would be the wisest decision. They did give us more money for my totaled car (Snow White) then we thought they would, but still not really enough to buy something that will last. So, we've stuck the money away into savings for when Reed's car (Elmo) decides to bite the dust.

When Reed and I were first married, we shared a car for over a year. Then, we were both taking classes on campus, and worked three jobs between the two of us. So most days, there were five places the two of us needed to be. Reed would walk to Starbucks after school, and sometimes would wait hours after work until I could come pick him up. Or he would have an early class, and I would take a nap in the car since school didn't start for me until later in the day. It was crazy! It felt like we never had any downtime at home.

But now, while we still work three jobs between the two of us (though they're different than they were then) Reed is the only one who needs the car. I am fortunate enough to be making money from home babysitting, and Reed's other job is within walking distance to our house! (Can I tell you how much I love living across the parking lot from the church?!) While it does take some shuffling for things like groceries, it's not that big of a deal.

I'm actually finding that the more time I spend at home, the less I want to leave! That feeling may be exaggerated due to the ridiculous cold, but I honestly just love spending time at home, particulalry with my boys. And I sure am staying on top of chores (okay, most chores!) more than ever before. That is a perk for sure!

The biggest downside is that Elmo the car is only a 2 door. That means that when we get Abel into his car seat, we have to climb into the back with him, hoist him into his seat, then climb back out. It is pretty pesky, and makes Abel angry. Because of that, I am leaving him home with Reed when I go shopping instead of all of us going out, or Abel and I going while Reed's working. I hate that! I love my little travel buddy, and it really breaks my heart to leave him at home!

I am so very thankful that we were a two car family to begin with, and that we have jobs that allow us to share one car. I'm also thankful that we did get a nice chunk of money from the insurance company. But I am most thankful that Abel and I are okay! I want to remember, particulalry when something like this happens, that it is purposeful. God knew it was coming, and He allowed it!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Abel's Daddy

Abel (10 days) and Reed

My heart is filled with such joy to know that Abel will call such a wonderful man 'Dad.' Reed finds so much pleasure in being Abel's father, and he truly delights in his son.

Taking a nap together

Reed changes Abel into his PJ's every night, then reads him a Bible story and prays with him before bed. One night, while Reed was changing Abel, he calls me into the room. "Toni! I was putting on Abel's sleeper, and look what I found!!" I looked Abel over quickly, and found nothing. "I found the cutest baby EVER, " Reed beams. He says things like that a lot. :)

Staring at each other

I love to see Reed treasure the little things. He often just stands and watches the baby crawl around, giggles when he giggles, gets a huge grin on his face while watching Abel act silly. By Reed's reaction, you'd have thought that Abel won a gold metal the day he learned to clap. Reed really appreciates the day to day with Abel, which shouldn't surprise me since that's the kind of guy he is.

My handsome boys <3

He is quick to spend time with Abel as soon as he gets home from work. He reschedules plans to accommodate baby without complaining. He wears him in a girly sling, and loves Abel's cloth diapers so much, he even knows the particular way to clean them. And checks on me to make sure I'm doing it right :)

Camping together

Abel began teething again the other day, and was particulalry fussy the other night. He woke up at 3AM and screamed until 5, no matter what we did. Finally, at 5, Reed decided to take him into the living room to play, so that I could get a little sleep before Chase came over. When I woke up at 6:30, I found my boys passed out on the living room floor together.

Both boys, totally asleep on the living room floor.

I am so thankful that my husband is such a wonderful father, and that he loves children like he does. He is a wonderful example (for Abel and myself), has a servant's heart, and truly demonstrates his love to us everyday!

Picking Abel's first pumpkin

I really appreciate and love you, Reed!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Picking Abel's First Christmas Tree!

On our way home from a super quick visit up to MD to see my grandparents, we picked up our Christmas tree! I wanted to start a new tradition and cut it down ourselves this year, but we wouldn't have had time to do that until next Sunday, and I thought it was more important to already be enjoying it :) We went to the same little lot we went to last year, but this year Abel joined us!

Silly Mama makes Abel smile. I didn't know I was in the picture :)

We always buy a real tree, because that's what I had growing up. I'm a little crazy about it. I apologize in advance if you have a fake tree, and I glare at it when I visit your house. And then take pity on your poor children. :)

It was super cold out, so we had to wrap up in a blanket!

Can't wait to finish decorating our tree! I am just about done, but I also have to unpack from our trip this weekend. I better go work on that while the boys are napping! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Favorite Baby Things (part 1)

Now that my little guy is almost a year old, I thought I'd write about the baby gear I loved the most this year. I am pretty picky about what things earn a place in my home- I hate wasting money on things that will just waste space. Partially because of this mindset and partly because we already had a lot of the *big* stuff, we didn't even register for Abel's baby showers.

So here is the first half of my Top Ten list of first year necessities, in no particular order:

Single Diaper - Cool Blue
This is by far my favorite cloth diaper (though I do also like the BumGenius One Size). I wrote a whole post about Smartipants that you can read here. While originally we were intimidated by using cloth and chose to use them to save money, we sure love them now! We haven't bought a disposable since Abel first fit into these- a little late at about 2 months old since he was so small.

Abel's Babylegs are peeking out underneath him

A mom invented this next favorite product of mine when she wanted to give her daughter some diaper free time to clear up a rash, but wanted to keep her legs warm. We do use them for that, but I also love them because they make diaper changes easier (no pants to take off) which is particularly useful when changing him in the back seat on road trips. Also, since Abel is small but his cloth diaper butt is big, it's hard to find pants that fit him right. But Babylegs fit just right! They come in lots of cute patterns and colors, and the ones for girls are even cuter!

The Big Picture Story Bible jesus-storybook-bible.jpg

Before Abel was born, Reed nearly finished reading him the Jesus Storybook Bible. He would have finished if Abel hadn't come early. Sine he was born, Reed has read both of these through to him more than once, with a story every night before bed. These are our go-to gifts for baby showers. If you know me and have had a baby in the past 2 years or so, chances are you have one of these from us!
We love the subtitle of the Jesus Storybook Bible: Where Every Story Whispers His Name. How true that is! Alongside wonderful illustrations, this book does a great job of telling the one complete story of how God redeems His people, unlike most story Bibles which make the Bible seem like many unrelated stories. It speaks to parent and child alike. I've cried every time I've read the story of Abraham and Isaac.
The big Picture Story Bible is for younger children, and has much less text on the page than the first Bible (though we read both to Abel because we want him to be use to sitting and listening, even if he doesn't understand). This Bible also, as it's name suggests, portrays God's 'Big Picture' of His work in the world. It's name has a double meaning, as the 'big pictures' in the Bible are great to look at for little ones. Reed and I appreciate how much of the Biblical accounts are captured in the pictures, even though the text on each page is simple.

4. Baby Slings- Moby, Maya, Ergo

Abel and I with the Moby, first time leaving the house after delivery

Me, pregnant with Abel, holding my cousin's baby Jacob in the Maya ring sling.

Daddy with Abel in the Ergo while we were camping.

I LOVE slings! Abel was born in the winter, and carrying him in one was the easiest way to keep him warm and keep strangers from touching him! I can count on one hand the number of times I've used Abel's car seat as a carrier or used a stroller. (I still sling him while we're out.) These three slings are my favorite, and each truly has a different function.
The Moby is the coziest, and is my preference for a newborn or for when you want to wear any age baby for a long time. It can get hot, and it's hard to put on, but was perfect for Abel in his first few months of life. I would put it on at home so I wouldn't get it dirty in a parking lot , and then pop him in and out of it as I ran errands or if someone at church wanted to hold him.
The Maya is easy and fast to put on (once you learn the tricks), and can also be cozy for a newborn. I also liked that there is a zippered pouch in the tail for my phone and keys. The tail can also act as a nursing cover. While running errands, even now, it's easy to pop Abel in a hip carry and go, without having to put it on at home. The downside though, is that it only goes over one shoulder and so it gets uncomfy for long periods of time or if you have a big baby.
The Ergo is not a sling but a soft structured carrier, and is used for bigger babies. I love how the part that holds Abel is cozy, and because it goes over both shoulders and around the waist, it is very comfy for hours. It also has a pocket to put little things in (keys, wallet) and since it's structured there is no wrapping required, which means it take little effort and is the easiest of the 3 to learn how to use. However, it is the most expensive. I also like the little hood that's attached... you put it up for head support if your little one falls asleep.

Bangle Teething Bling

I own both a necklace and a few bracelets. They are made of food grade silicone and can be thrown in the dishwasher. While (I think) most of the colors look like stone, they are actually teething rings! Some people think that these encourage your baby to chew on jewelry, but if you baby is anything like mine, they already chew on EVERYTHING! This just keeps little hands (and mouths) busy and mom doesn't even have to carry an extra toy. Genius!

Part 2 is here

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

It sure has been a busy week! Reed and I left last Tuesday to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with his family in Clarksville, TN. I had to work until late Tuesday afternoon, so we drove as far as we could that night and stayed in a hotel. We arrived in Clarksville early afternoon on Wednesday. Both Reed's sister and brother live there with their families, and Reed's parents were in town from Ft. Lewis in Washington state. Next year, when his Dad retires, his parents will live there too. They have already bought their house in TN, and that's where Reed and I stayed.

Abel's Papa and Mimi (Reed's folks) had only met Abel one and twice, respectively. Abel's aunts, uncles, and cousins had also only met him once as well, so it was great to see everyone!

Playing Peek-A-Book with Abel in our room. I can't get over how cute he is! That stuffed animal on the floor was Reed's when he was a baby. His mom gave it to us when we visited.

Reed and I. I love you more everyday!

We celebrated Nathan's (Reed's brother) Birthday while the family was all together.

Abel and cousin Anderson playing. I loved watching the cousins play together.

We also celebrated Christmas while we were all together, since we won't be together for Christmas.

Giving Abel a bath in the sink. Can't believe he's still small enough to fit!

Playing with my sweet, happy boy <3

Mimi reading to the grandsons.

Papa snuggling with Abel.

Our little man who pulls up on anything he can reach! Walking's next!

Anderson getting a kiss from his daddy, Steve. I wish this picture wasn't fuzzy, but it's so sweet I had to post anyways.

Anderson and his crazy hair after a nap. His pretty mommy is Reed's sister Rachel. Love them!

My little family.

Maddie, Anderson's sister, playing with Abel. She was so sweet to him! I loved having her around. And yes, that's all Starbucks coffee :) Reed saves up the bags he gets for free (from working there) and brings it to his coffee-aholic family :)

Steve, Rachel, and Jenn (Nathan's wife) checking out the Black Friday ads.

Abel and Uncle Nathan.

I wish Anderson had made it into this picture, but it's super cute of Maddie and Abel!

The Thanksgiving crowd.

Reed's parents and Sarah (Steve's mom)

Abel and his Mama. Happy Thanksgiving!

For the record, I am so thankful the boys take their naps at the same time! While I make good use of my time and get a lot done while they're awake, it's much easier to blog with two sleeping boys!

Monday, November 22, 2010

No Menu Plan this Monday

For the past two weeks, I've been doing menu plan Monday. But this week, we're planning on visiting Tennessee for the majority of the week, so no menu plan. When I went grocery shopping this weekend, I bought us salads, a frozen pizzas and sandwich stuff to eat before we leave. I didn't want to spend much time in the kitchen-- either cooking or cleaning-- before we left. I also bought the ingredients to make chicken salad. I am a pretty picky eater, and I don't enjoy eating fast food the whole trip there and back. So, along with our chicken salad, I have an assortment of nuts, granola, and dried fruits. Oh, and a bag of salt and vinegar chips. Yum!

We're not positive yet if we get to go on our trip, though. I was in an accident on Friday night, and the car we all fit into was totaled. I was completely stopped at a red light, and someone drove into the back of me! It was pretty scary, especially because the baby was in the car with me. She hit me so hard, that her car spun around 90 degrees into the shoulder, and the force of the impact made me skid and hit the person in front of me. I am just so very thankful that we are okay! It happened about a block away from where Reed works, so he was over to the accident even before the police officer was. We know that her insurance will cover a rental car for me, but we're not sure how long we will have one or if I can take it out of state. We'll see!

Well, the boys are napping and I need to get some laundry done. If we can go on our trip still, I want to be ready!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Beans and Rice

Recently, I read a blog post about a family who ate beans and rice at dinner time for a whole month, then donated the money they saved to their friends that were in the process of adoption.


I have to admit, my first thought was, "We're adopting. Do we have friends that would do that for us?!"

I quickly realized that was the wrong question. And realized it was a sign of my selfishness that I thought of that first.

When Reed got home from work that night, I shared with him what I read. By now, I had been thinking about it all day. And Reed had the right attitude immediately:

Who can we be eating beans and rice for?

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21, emphasis mine

Everywhere we put our money, we are making an active choice not to put it somewhere else. When we buy a new car, we are choosing not to save the money. When we buy a new outfit, we are choosing not to go out to eat. When we buy the CD, we are choosing not to buy the book. Americans like to think they have endless money, and can do all of these things without repercussion. But if we're honest, money only goes so far; you cant give it all away and keep it for yourself. By spending money on lunches, we are choosing not to spend it somewhere else.

Now, there is nothing wrong with buying a nice lunch. Or going to a movie. Or buying a new outfit. Going to an expensive concert or the 'big game.' We just have to be careful when we come to expect these things. When our lives become characterized by these things. When we feel like we deserve it. What are you known for among your friends? Eating out? Always having a soda or coffee? Having fancy cars?

In our case, we didn't have a big ticket splurge, but were putting our wants before the needs of others. If we saw a starving child, the family that can't afford heat, or medicine, would we still be able to spend money on our new DVD? Put ourselves first? It's easy to forget that people all over the world have real needs, when our biggest dilemma is whether or not to 'supersize' our combo.

Of course, eating beans and rice for lunch is such a small thing. We're trying to allow this mentality to trickle into all we spend our money on. But we still pay for internet, have two cars, buy new books. We bought a pizza the other night for dinner when we didn't need to, and we're buying Abel a few unnecessary things for Christmas. But you've got to start somewhere, and for us it's beans and rice!

"But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth." 1 John 3:17-18, emphasis mine

When someone is going through a hard time, do you only love in word ("I'm praying for you!") or do you act? Can you act? Or are you spending all your money on 'lunch'?

*By the way, this might not seem like a big deal to some of you, maybe you already eat the same thing for lunch every day. But because I am pretty picky, and I love to cook, I felt like it was important for me to be thankful for a simple, healthy lunch. even if it's the same every day. Many people all over the world are thankful to have beans OR rice, as their only meal in a day! Having this lunch also reminds us to be thankful for what we have.*

Monday, November 15, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 11/15

I am linking up again this week with Organizing Junkie for Menu Plan Monday. I enjoy sharing each Monday, because it keeps me accountable to at least one blog post a week! My hope is to be writing more often, and I'm hoping this will kick it off. But for today, here is my menu for the week:

Monday: Chicken, onion, and roasted broccoli in a coconut curry sauce over Basmati rice, homemade naan (Planned on this last week, but we were invited to our friends' house instead!)

Tuesday: Manestra (Greek Style orzo) with sauteed garlic green beans

Wednesday: Meatball Subs, sweet potato fries

Thursday: Reed closes at work, I'll have leftover subs

Friday: Reed closes at work, I'll have tuna salad

Saturday: Roasted tomato and red pepper soup with squash

Sunday: Baked beans and cornbread

Still eating cream of wheat (us) or Greek yogurt (baby) for breakfast. The baby (10 months) eats a modified version of our food for the other meals. Lunch is still beans and rice. One week of eating that every day and going strong! I do still owe you a post explaining why we've switched to beans and rice for lunch...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Typical Day

I want to be a schedule person. Really, I do. I would love to do the same thing at the same time most days. I love to plan, to make the most of my time. But in reality, this doesn't always happen! (And I do love being spontaneous, especially when it comes to enjoying my precious boys!) But particulalry since we're still having issues with Abel's night time sleep patterns and we're waking up exhausted, getting up bright and early does not appeal to Reed and I!

But now, I'm watching Chase. He arrives at 7:30, which means I must be showered, dressed, and have a tidy house by (I think) the crack of dawn :) Now that Abel is use to being woken up (he hears us getting ready) at 630ish, he gets up then even on the days we don't have Chase.

Here is our new typical day schedule:

Up at 6:30
Shower, dress, make our bed
Abel up, nurse
Chase here at 7:30
Tea and breakfast with Reed
Abel breakfast
Boys play
Abel dressed/ bath if needed
Laundry/ etc
9:30/10:00 Boys go down for nap
Spend time with Reed if he's home, read/computer/prep lunch/clean if he's not
Abel up 11:30ish/ nurse Abel
12:30ish Chase up
Clean kitchen and/or start dinner while boys eat
Playtime, finish any chores
Nap for Abel around 3
Play with Chase, get him ready to leave, have him help pick up
Abel wakes up/nurses, Chase leaves both sometime between 4 and 5
Enjoy Abel
Finish making dinner, nurse/feed Abel dinner if he will miss dinner with Daddy
Dinner when Reed gets home sometimes before, sometimes after Abel is in bed
Abel gets ready for bed about 6:30, story time with Daddy, he nurses one last time, usually down at 7
Spend time with Reed
Clean up from dinner
Bed sometime between 10-12 but trying to aim closer to 10

There you have it! On days where Chase doesn't come, it's pretty much the same but I also run errands during time slots where the boys usually play. Our schedule also changes around Reed's work schedule, which is all over the place. Abel might stay up later the nights Reed closes, because I like to go visit him at work (Starbucks). If we're both home, sometimes we play together with the boys, or take turns watching them so the other can get stuff done! :) Also, depending on the day, we have church, ladies/mens bible study, small group, and the church children's program.

I'm so thankful I have the privilege of spending the day at home!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Menu Plan Monday 11/8

This week, I am joining up with Organizing Junkie for the first time to share my menu plan for the week.

I menu plan every week for my family, and have for some time. I've found that it seriously helps with keeping the grocery bill under control, and (for the most part!) prevents those "Oh my goodness I'm starving but there's nothing to eat let's eat out!" moments. Typically, I do not buy processed food (i.e hotdogs, boxed whatevers, frozen dinners. You know, the stuff hubby would survive on if I didn't cook!) Of course, the occasional bag of 75% off Halloween candy just might find it's way into my basket. But for the most part, I prepare all of my family's food from mostly whole foods.

For breakfast, we generally have homemade granola, oatmeal from oats (not those little instant packets) or cream of wheat. The baby (9 months) eats Greek yogurt with banana for breakfast. The rest of the time, he eats a modified version of what we eat.

For lunch, we typically will eat leftovers, a quick pasta, or veggie stirfry over rice noodles. Since my husband's schedule is all over the place, sometimes we eat dinner for lunch since that's when he's home. But after some serious thought and prioritizing in our lives, we've decided to exercise some self control for a while and have beans and brown rice for lunch. Every day. More on that another time :)

Dinner, for the week of November 8, 2010

Monday: Grammy's Spaghetti sauce, salad

Tuesday: Lentil and veggie soup with dumplings

Wednesday: Lasagna (made with leftover sauce from Monday) and roasted broccoli

Thursday: Reed will be at work at dinnertime, so I will have leftover lasagna. He takes leftovers when he goes to work, too.

Friday: Again, Reed will be at work. I'll stir fry the rest of the broccoli with garlic and an onion and add some teryaki sauce, maybe eat it over rice noodles.

Saturday: Chicken in Yellow Curry Coconut sauce over rice with homemade naan

Sunday: Finish up the leftovers

Thursday, I will also be making a spinach and onion quiche for a Ladies' Bible Study fellowship in the morning. Sunday, there is a fellowship breakfast for Sunday school, and I think I'm bringing a loaf of cider-pumpkin bread which I made a few weeks ago and froze.

Happy Eating!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Understanding Love

We had a baby shower at the church today for one of my friends in celebration the upcoming birth of her little one. I was invited to give the devotional, and this is what I shared:

I know that nearly each of you in this room has been a mother longer than I have, with my little one just 9 months old. It is humbling to me that I am suppose to share something with you all this afternoon. I pray that I will encourage each of you, but particularly you Sara, with a little part of what I have learned and realized in my short time of being a mom.

When I was younger and my mom would tell me that she loved me, of course I would respond with, “I love you, too.” Every once in a while she would look at me closely, and tell me that I had no idea how much she really loved me. I just shrugged it off, frustrated that she thought I didn't know what love was, and say, “I know mom, I love you too!” Then she'd reply, “Toni, you won't understand how much I love you until you have a child of your own. When you do, then you will understand.”

So I grew up, hearing this every now and then, thinking my mom was a little bit crazy. I knew her love for me was special, but she really thought I couldn't comprehend it?

Then I had Abel. And I understood.

Sara. When you have your baby and as you continue to watch him grow, you will understand too. You will go into protection mode right away, and your love for him will be fierce. When he smiles at you, learns to clap, or says Mama for the first time, you will melt, into one big mommy puddle.. You won't care about anything else, because you're beaming with pride and love that your son called you Mama. When he cries, your heart will break and you'll want to fix it. You'll want to shelter him from anything that can harm him. When he is in pain, you will hurt. Physically, and deep down in your soul, you will hurt. And wish you could take away the pain, or the fever, or the cough. When he does something wrong, you'll pray for him to just learn the lesson so you won't have to discipline for the same thing over and over and over. And when you pray for his salvation every night before he goes to bed, you will truly understand the meaning of the scripture in Romans 8:26, “ ...For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” That's the kind of love my mom has for me, and now I understand, because that's the kind of way I love my son.

As I've grown to love Abel more and more, and to understand this deeper kind of love, I've realized something. The way we love our children is just a shadow of how God loves us, His children. We might think we understand the depth of His love, or the power of His love, we might think we know how precious we are to Him, but I believe this is beyond our comprehension. Eph 3:19 tells us that “ the love of Christ surpasses knowledge.”

Just like a parent, God disciplines his children to bring them to maturity. He is faithful when we are in pain. He is patient as we make the same mistakes over and over and over. Like earthly parents who try to understand problems their child faces, the bible says that Jesus can “sympathize with our weaknesses.” The love God has for his children is so vast, and immovable. In Romans 8, the Bible tells us just how awesome God's love is for His children. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?.... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

And like a parent, God protects His children. He has made us his own, adopted us into His family, at great personal sacrifice-- the death of his only son. We are his children now. 1John 3:1 says. “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” Before Abel was born, I knew of course that God had sent His only son to die for me, and my sins. But when Abel was born, and I had an 'only son' of my own, this took on a whole new meaning. The God of the universe sacrificed his son, his perfect child, for my disgusting rebellion. Not only has he redeemed us, but he has made us co-heirs with Christ. Romans 8 declares that we “ have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” How rich is this truth! And how deep it is to me now that I have a son. God has sacrificed His son, to make those which have rejected him, his heirs. We've been adopted into his family. And we carry his name.

I love the song by Stuard Towend, How Deep the Father's Love for Us. I know you're all familiar with this song, but let me remind you of the first two verses

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

So Sara, I want you to remember, that when you see that sweet face for the first time, and when every day you fall deeper in love with your little boy , that that is just a shadow of the love Christ has for His children. We might think we understand how God loves us, just like I thought I understood my mom's love for me before my son was born. But God's love for us is beyond our comprehension. I pray that each day, as you grow to love your son more and more, that you will be reminded of, and in awe of, the immeasurable love our Father has for you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Anne Bradstreet

Recently, Reed bought me a biography on the Puritan poet Anne Bradstreet. I was encouraged and convicted while reading about her deep faith in God, and I enjoyed learning the stories behind some of her poems. The beginning of her poem titled "Upon my Son Samuel his going for England" hangs in Abel's room. I read it once again as I nursed my precious baby, and I was reminded again to surrender his life to the Lord.

Thou mighty God of Sea and Land,
I here resigne into thy hand
The Son of prayers, of vowes, of teares,
The child I stayed for many yeares.
Thou heard'st me then and gave'st him me;
Hear me again, I give him Thee.
He's mine, but more, O Lord thine own,
For sure thy Grace is on him shown.
- Anne Bradstreet, 1657

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Letter to My Little One

Dear Little One,

Today marks the first anniversary of your due date. Had God seen it fit for you to be our first born, you would have been one today. But God had other plans, and your little brother is nearly one himself. Your brother, Abel, brings us such joy and happiness. We love watching him grow and learn new things. We love meeting his needs, reading him stories, and snuggling before bed. Your daddy and I have grown even closer through loving him together. Had you been our firstborn, dear Moriah, I would not know your precious brother. Though my Mama's heart loves you both immeasurably, I believe that is one of the reasons why we never met you face to face.

But because you came first, though you were not born, I am a different kind of parent. I know not to take any little moment with Abel for granted. I trusted God through my dangerous pregnancy and delivery with Abel in a deep way, because through your life I learned just how in control God is. I learned how faithful He is to meet out needs. How loving He is to care for His children. Your Daddy and I grew and learned so much from our time with you, and through the time we clung together and to God after you died. Your life taught us to live in total surrender to God's glory, and to submit our desires to the will of God.

Whenever (if) God sees fit to give Daddy and I a little girl, we plan to name her after you Moriah. You will never be forgotten, and we will always remember the things we learned from your brief life.

With all my love,

Genesis 22: 1-3, 11-12
After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I." He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him..... But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”

To read more about our first baby, read this post.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Working Again

After a little hiatus, I am back to making money! God sure is faithful, and provided this job at just the right time. It fits what we wanted exactly- not full time, in my home, and enough money!

When Abel was born, I quit working full time because I had a crazy schedule which included too much time away from home! First I quit one of my sitting jobs altogether, then brought Abel with me to the other house where I babysat. But leaving our house would throw off his nap schedule, resulting in a fussy baby. Also, Abel still HATED the car at that point, so the trip over would turn him into a grouch. After a short time I began watching Sophie at my house, which was wonderful. But she just began Kindergarten this Fall, so after watching her for 4 years I needed to find someone new!

On Monday, I started watching Chase. He is a sweet little guy, about 18 months old - I am embarrassed I don't know exactly how old he is! I have him about 9 hours a day, 4 days a week. Chase had been in both a home daycare and a regular day care, but his parents wanted him in a smaller setting. On the first day, his mom warned me of separation anxiety that he'd been experiencing. He'd developed it recently as result of being bitten at daycare; she showed me the bruise on his arm.

Watching him has been a smooth transition. Honestly, waking up at a regular time has been the hardest part for me! I would usually let Abel be my alarm (except when I had Bible study and Church) and then just bring him into bed to snuggle when he did wake up. Hearing my phone go off at 6:30 has been a much less pleasant alarm. And a side effect of this is that now Abel gets up at 6:30 too, because he hears Reed and I moving around. I'm hoping that getting up early will force Reed and I to be going to bed earlier, and having a regular wakeup time will help us have more of a routine with our day.

I do wish that Chase didn't like the TV so much, he really throws a fit when I tell him no! I have a small selection of kids movies, but he even brings his own. His mom encourages him to go to the DVD player when she first drops him off. Ugh. We are more 'TV is a special treat' type people than 'lets have it on as background noise all day' type people, like his mom told me they are. I just don't want Abel getting use to it on, so it's a battle I'll keep fighting.

Both boys are napping well, typically at the same time. I am so thankful for that! Even on day one, they took both of their naps at the same time. I thought I would be too busy to get my chores done during the day, but since naps are so successful and because the boys entertain each other so well, I've been getting more done than usual. I can even write a blog post!

I am off to go prepare lunch for the little men, they should be waking up from their 2+ hour naps soon!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Still Here!

Just a quick update to prove that we're still here :)

Since my last post:

  • Our camera broke! This is why (if you're my Facebook friend) I've not been posting my usual 'Abel month-by-month' pictures, or any day to day pictures. Our camera is not worth repairing, and until I've been working for awhile, we don't have enough extra income to replace it with the one we want. However, a family from our church was kind enough to let us borrow theirs until we buy one! So even though I did miss about a month's worth of pictures (which makes me sick!) I have been taking some the past week or so, I just need to upload them.

  • I got a job! I've been looking for quite a while, because watching one little girl here and there was just not cutting it with the bills. (If you don't know, I stopped working full time when Abel was born, Reed and I wanted me to just be working inside the home.) Now that the little one I've watched for four years has gone to Kindergarten (!) I was looking for a full timer. In God's perfect timing, I found a family with a 1.5 year old that needs someone 4 days a week. I will be watching him in my house, beginning Monday. I am so thankful! It is enough money, with a little extra to save, and I'm not even working 5 days a week. And since they didn't need me until mid- October, I had time to get settled into our new house! Perfect!

  • We moved! You should come over for dinner :) The Kerr's now live in a wonderful 3 bedroom that I love! Since we now have a borrowed camera, I will be posting pictures soon. The house has been such a ridiculous blessing, and so is Reed's part time job that provides the house! I'd love to share the long version sometime, but the short version is that along with the experience in ministry that Reed is gaining by working as the director of children and youth at our church, we were also offered the opportunity to live in the parsonage. So we packed up our apartment, slapped some paint on the house, and here we are!

  • My mom was married last weekend! The ceremony was beautiful (on the beach at sunset) the food was great (crabcake and steak!) and I loved visiting with all of my Maryland friends and family at the reception. We don't head up to MD that often and though we were only there for about a day and a half, I am so glad we could go. We've been praying for my mom and her new husband (you'll never guess his name-- Tony. Haha) since they began dating. It's wonderful to watch how God uses different life circumstances for a purpose, to shape His children into His image. We're praying that they continue to grow together in their relationship with each other, and that they continue to encourage each other's relationship with God.
Hope to be back on soon with some pictures!

P.S. Abel is crawling, and has 2 teeth. He is such a joy! I love watching him grow and discover new things, though it's breaking my heart that he's almost one.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy Birthday to Reed

Happy (belated) Birthday to my wonderful hubby, Reed! I am so thankful to be spending my life with you, and now to be raising our son together. I admire you more than I can say, and everyday you become more precious to me.

Reed's birthday was on the 11th, and we spent the whole day painting the house, trying to get it ready before we move in on Saturday. We spent the day before that painting, too. I had high expectations of surprising Reed with cake and balloons at work that night after he painted, but I didn't get home until after the balloon store (Dollar General ;) closed. I did make him a cake though, which we ate for breakfast before church. It must have been yummy because even Reed, who doesn't like dessert, has already had several pieces. Success!

I am so very thankful that my mom came down for the weekend to help us paint because it was a huge job! Reed and I had never painted anything before, and we didn't know where to begin. After taping off all of the rooms and filling in nail holes, we ended up painting two bedrooms, half the living room and hall, the bathroom, and the kitchen. Four of those rooms needed two coats. I still can't believe we finished!

I will post pictures of the new colors soon. I have to admit, I totally forgot to take 'before' pictures. Whoops! I do have a 'before' video that I'll post instead.

Here is the Cat Cora recipe for Italian Cream Cake that I made for Reed. Trust me, it's totally worth the work!

For the cake:

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing cake pans
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar, divided
  • 5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk, divided
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups (1 pound) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts, divided

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit each of two 9-inch round cake pans. Grease the pans with butter, fit the parchment into the pans, then grease the parchment.

To make the cake: Sift the cake flour, baking soda and salt into a medium-size bowl and set aside. In a large bowl and using a hand mixer, cream 12 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a a time, beating well after each addition. Add one-third of the dry ingredients and mix well, then add half of the buttermilk , beating on medium speed and scraping the sides of the bowl down, using a rubber spatula. Repeat, alternating the remaining dry ingredients and the buttermilk. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla, the coconut and 1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites, slowly adding the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar, until the whites form stiff peaks but are not dry. By hand, fold one-third of the egg white mixture into the cake batter until it is incorporated. Fold in the next third of the egg whites; when incorporated, gently fold in the last third. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans.

Bake until the top is golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, for 30-35 minutes. Set the cakes on racks and allow them to cool completely before removing them from the pans.

To make the frosting: In a large bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese, 8 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon vanilla at medium speed until creamy. Add the confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating at low speed until blended. When all the ingredients are incorporated, beat the frosting at high speed until smooth. Stir in 1/2 cup toasted walnuts.

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate, bottom side up. Ice the sides and top. Place the other cake round on top, rounded side up, and ice the top and sides. Place the frosted cake in the refrigerator to firm up the frosting. Remove the cake from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving, and press the remaining 1/2 cup toasted walnuts into the frosting on top.

Makes 10-16 servings.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Abel at our campsite

This past weekend, our church went camping for a night. It was such a blast! There was swimming and fishing in a lake, a campfire with s'mores, tons of food, and fellowship. Over the summer, our church has a cookout every other Sunday after the evening service. I never want to go home when those are over (which usually means we stay too late :) This trip was like one long cookout!

Abel and I in the lake. His outfit has a camper on it and says 'Let's go camping!'

This is Abel's betrothed, Bella. Hopefully she'll start wearing clothes when she's older :)

Camping with a 7.5 month old is a little tricky. We couldn't lay him down for a nap in the hot tent during the day, especially because we were on the other side of the campground at the lake. Daddy carried Abel in the Ergo so he could sleep :)

You could pull yourself across the lake on this float-y thing. I got a splinter from the rope :(

Our church had the whole place to ourselves. The grounds are owned by another church, and I think they primarily use them for scouts to go camping, and for other churches. There was a screened in canteen area, with a full kitchen. We didn't know that, so I packed a cooler and camp stove. I took advantage of the kitchen though, and was able to cook the bacon I brought for breakfast inside :) There were also bathrooms with running water- yay!- and bunk style cabins. We slept in our tent.

I've heard that we might be going back this fall! I sure hope we do! Missing a night of good sleep is worth it for the wonderful company, and enjoying God's creation together.

I had to edit this post, because I had exclamation points after nearly every sentence. I just enjoyed myself so much, I was a little over-enthusiastic. :)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Culinary Baby

Reed and I waited until Abel was a little on the older side to introduce solid foods. We thought, why hurry? If baby can only eat food that's been turned into a runny drink-like mess, isn't that a sign that baby should still just be drinking? Anyways, parenting philosophy aside, Reed and I really want Abel to be a good eater. I love to cook, and our weekly dinner schedule always includes at least one international dish. While nursing and pregnant, I've never cut out strong flavors (tons of garlic, spicy things, curry) so I know he is already familiar with many different flavors, even if he hasn't eaten them directly.
I do make all of Abel's food at home; simply because I typically don't feed Reed canned or prepared foods, why would I serve them to my baby? Abel still primarily nurses, but among a few other things he does enjoy squash, sweet potato, plums, and avocado. We've also recently given him spinach- a big hit the first time, not so much the second time, so we'll see. :) Last night during dinner, we gave Abel a bite of tilapia sautéed with some teriyaki sauce. He loved it! Every time that Reed or I would go to take a bite, Abel would lean towards us with his hands out... he wanted our bite!

Spinach baby

Fish stealing baby!