Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Post-Christmas Thoughts: Part Whatever

As I finish up Isaiah, I was struck by how much it has fed my encouragement. Being more of one to poke fun and criticize, I am glad that it has helped me to focus on how I can encourage others with the promises of God. This morning I was especially struck by the need to encourage my single family and friends. In the process of waiting for a spouse, I know it can feel hopeless. I was struck by these two verses that bring hope.

First, a message of hope from chapter 60:9:
For the coastlands shall hope for me, the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your children from afar, their silver and gold with them, for the name of the Lord your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he has made you beautiful.

Just remember that God has made you beautiful and can bring you a spouse from afar.
Lastly, to remind you that God is actively working on your behalf, from chapter 62:12
And they shall be called The Holy People,The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

We have...

...video! Thanks to my family's creative gift of a Flip video camera, I can catch things on video myself! We'll see how this goes because as you can tell from this first video, I'm not exactly competent. But it seems that it takes forever to load, so I'm not sure this will work.
video

Friday, December 25, 2009

Tandy


My favorite word is "Tan-ny" or "Tandy"-- my first word both this morning and the morning before were "One tandy, mommy? Jus' one tandy?"

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Thought: Success

11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Travis and I have had many discussions lately about success. One of the reasons has been our celebration of Travis' sucess this year in his job. He has kept a job in the same company for a year now AND done well, getting recognized and promoted for his efforts. This was not the case for the first couple years of our marriage-- he held a series of jobs that were poor fits and with less well run companies. His has been a long path to get on the road to success. It is paved with none less than his blood, sweat and tears. And Travis and I agree that there is still a road ahead of us. As you celebrate this Christmas season, we remember that God is always successful with his purposes and plans.

---don't you love Isaiah and how many promises are found in it??

.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Thoughts: Part 6-- Making Room

Isaiah 54:2 “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes."

When I moved to Arizona four years ago, this was a crucial promise for me. The Lord spoke through this verse as I struggled with the difficulties of moving, getting married, adjusting to a new church and family, and, ultimately, the growth process. It was a stripping process. It was painful at times. But ultimately it was about making room. Instead of accepting the status quo and the comfort of what I already knew, God was enlarging my heart and my life.

At times when we feel crowded by life's responsibilities, it can be easy to hold back in our lives. We are afraid, we are uncomfortable and we would rather have our security. God is not about fear. He is not uncomfortable with His purposes. And he promises that "The Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer" vs 5.

As you look at this Christmas season, how are you making room in your life for Christ? As you look at the new year filled with anticipation-- or are you filled with fear? God wants us to prepare our hearts for his plan-- which usually involves stretching growth. Make room for Him!

I know God is preparing my heart for the stretching (literally) of adding another child. And instead of getting caught up in the "How am I going to's??!", I want to prepare my heart to make room first for Christ, who is a good Maker! I would love to continue to remember that God has always been faithful--

my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. 54: 10

He brought me through that inital season and he will be faithful again, no matter how crowded I feel by my life's responsibilities and difficulties.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Thoughts: Part 5

Isaiah 52:1 Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city


For some reason this verse helped me this morning as I was battling back tears about my father's depression. It reminds me that God will indeed clothe us with his righteousness despite our wayward weakness. It reminds me simply to put on Christ in this Christmas season. There is hope in the city of God for his chosen ones. And that day there will be no more sorrows--for indeed he has "borne our sorrows" yet given us the promise and hope of everlasting and joyful life with Him.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Thoughts postponed

Down and out with a cold... and we dropped our other laptop on Friday (that makes two in two weeks)... so we are praying that God would continue to speak to you through His word during this holiday season. We'll be up and running on Monday hopefully.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thought Four- A Prayer

This morning I was struck by the possible loneliness some might feel during the holidays. Whether it be from physical distance or separation or depression, it is possible that we can feel like the Israelites. They were longing for their coming Savior, but the wait was filled with hundreds of years of physical suffering, emotional separation and sinful wandering. God has words for each us in the Christmas season--and He speaks comfort for all who feel alone:

For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord;joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song.

In winter there is a deadness about the world-- yet, just as there seems to be nothing beautiful, there are still roots in the ground resting for a coming spring. LOur hope is delayed but our Savior has come once and will come again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Thoughts, Part Three

This morning's theme is "The Profit of Godly Labor"--sounds good, right? As I read in Isaiah 48 and 49 I was provoked by 49 vs four's question:
"But I said, I have lavoured in vain. I have spent my strength for nothing and
vanity!"

Yesterday was a difficult day for me. Anytime I stay up late I am exhausted by a normal day's activities. Kate woke up sick, so there was the added burden of caring for her abnormal fussiness. At the end of yesterday, and other days just like it, I am tempted to feel like, "What's the point??" Thoughts run through my head like my floors are still dirty, my kitchen is dirtier, and I really wanted to have enough energy for my husband!

In this Christmas season, I want to remember the strength of God's redeeming purposes for those days and moments by applying this answer found in chapter 48 vs. 17:
"Thus says the Lord, Your Redeemer the Holy One of Israel. I am the Lord your God who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go"

The ESV study bible says "The servant confesses his sense of failure due to Israel's poor response yet the servant does not turn from God in cynical unbelief. He accepts emotional suffering and frustrating toil with confidence that God will reward him."

In this season, I want to encourage my own soul with the promise that the Lord teaches us to profit from every effort and labor that we undertake in His name.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Thought Two

Isaiah 46: 9 "for I am God, and there is no other, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done."

This morning I am reminded by this verse of waiting. I think we all have experienced waiting for events or things to begin or end. This year I am freshly aware of how God has beginnings and ends for all things according to His good will. I always just wanted the process to be over and to get the result. Those years I was "house-less" and "child-less" and "spouse-less" are over. I have a wonderful husband, a funny daughter and one child on the way, and a beautiful home. The lessons the Lord taught me in those seasons were truths to LIVE. He taught me that patience isn't about just waiting until you get what you want or think you deserve-- it is about accepting what He gives, when He gives it. The delay was always Him waiting to provide something better, richer or fuller. As we celebrate Christmas, let us wait on Christ. Let us wait for His goodness, His richness and His fullness, not just the gifts He gives His children.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Thoughts- Part 1

I am reading through Isaiah in preparation for Christmas and wanted to encourage everyone with twelve days...errr, ten...daily meditations. Today I was encouraged by these words:
Isaiah 45:24 “Only in the Lord, it shall be said of me,are righteousness
and strength"

As we all prepare our homes, our tables, and our families for the holidays, we must also prepare our hearts with the strength of his promises. Let us remember that it is only in the Lord that we find all our righteousness--that we deserving nothing and yet we have received everything--as well as all of our strength--which is especially important as we make the final push in the next ten days.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Snow, snow, snow, snow, snow



We were so fortunate to have snow while here in Maryland--Kate's first and my first in almost four years! We have enjoyed our time here in Maryland, seeing friends and family, cooking, fixing a few things around the house, and getting everyone into the Christmas spirit.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving



Joy and blessings from the Shanks on this day of thanks--we have much to be thankful for, even when this little one woke me up at 4 am--but as I lay there snuggled in my warm bed, in my own house, with my belly and womb full, and my girl snuggled in my arms with my husband's toes touching mine, I thought, "So much to be thankful for"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Meatless meals

I always fall back on the favorite Lentil Casserole, but my friend Becky proposed a new stand-in that was surprisingly good. Both my husband and daughter ate two bowls of it each.

Apparently this is from Nourishing Traditions?

Barley and Broccoli Casserole

2 cups barley, soaked overnight, drained
4 cups chicken broth
1 bunch green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb. broccoli, trimmed into florets
16 oz cottage cheese
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper.

Cook the barley in the chicken broth (I added the garlic midway through). Then mix together the remaining ingredients, minus the cheese, and season. Put into a 9X13 pan and sprinkle with the cheese. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pumpkin Granola

Among our all things fall activities, Kate and I made an exceptionally good batch of granola the other day, using her fresh little pumpkin we baked.
---
Pumpkin Granola

In a large mixing bowl, mix together:
9 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup each: coconut, sunflower seeds and pepitas
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. allspice
1 Tbsp. ginger

Boil in a medium saucepan:
1 cup honey
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 c. oil
1 cup water
1 cup pumpkin puree
Once brought to a boil, remove from heat and add 1 tsp. each vanilla and almond extract

Pour wet over dry ingredients, mix thoroughly, let stand 5-10 minutes. Bake on 2 foil-lined baking 1/2 sheet pans at 325 for 15-20 minutes. Stir and rotate pans. Bake an additional 15 minutes. Continue this process until granola is lightly browned. Let cool completely and store in an air-tight container.

Enjoy!

Halloween



A spur of the moment trip to Old Navy got me this costume for Kate for $1...loving the coupon blogs...so we went with the theme. Kitty cats and Travis wore a "Hello. I'm ___" sticker as "Tom Kat..and those are my kittens". As you can tell, Kate liked the loot better capturing the event. Should have taken the pictures earlier.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Announcement

If you didn't catch it on facebook...Number 2 Baby is on their way-- due around late May.
I only had three weeks of feeling nauseous and fatigue--and at week 10 I am feeling much better. Sonogram pictures were done but the baby looks like a gummy bear, according to the sonographer, which is funny, but accurate. We'll get some better pictures around 20 weeks, as well as hopefully figure out if it's a girl or boy!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kate at 15-16 months




We went to a late night party the other night...and she has NO problem staying up late when around other people. This is the cute shirt my brother gave her last Christmas...glad it got cold enough the other day for her to wear it before she grows out of it. These pictures show a little of her faces--the 'whoa" face she makes when something delights or surprises her. More teeth are coming in slowly: she has all four front teeth, one eye tooth, and one molar. We're working on the other molar on top. Maybe then she'll chew some meat. She has about 40-50 words, not clearly spoken but intentional, nonetheless. At her check-up she was 75th percentile for height and 60th percentile for weight, and her head is still a peanut.
Her favorite comedian is Mason, aka "Mace", who makes her laugh like no one else. You can view it here if you're on facebook. She has more attitude than ever, keeping us busy with her "mean" face and her opinions on what she does and doesn't want to do.
Most of all we are happy that she is a healthy, beautiful little girl who bring everyone so much joy!

The broom


Let me explain our relationship.
There is no other phrase more appropriate than,"all day, every day", especially for life with a 16 month old. Dark hardwood laminate floors are beautiful, but not when peppered with breakfast's dried out scrambled eggs, a stray assortment of snacks, the cook's accidental droppings, and coffee cake crumbs mixed in with a little outdoor chalk dust and the regular variety of dirt.
Thus we spend a lot of time together.
We have bonded.
We hold hands every day, unless I am cheating with the vacuum. We get together after meals, in between meals and in the morning and at night. We are very committed.
Until a new relationship replaces me; but, alas little Kate is still a little young for starting a relationship...even if it is only with the broom.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

All Things Coupon

Meet the "coupon lady".
She stands in line for twice as long as you.
She questions every price; she wheels the cart around with authority.
She grills the cashier.
She might even wear her hair in curlers with the plastic hat tied under her chin.

That was then.
This is now.

Meet me.
The newest convert.
After several months of out-of-control grocery months, I caved. My friend Steph convinced me with promises of extra cash to eat out, buy gifts and clothes and has greatly helped me source some of the best ways to keep my grocery budget down.

Down to $40 per week.
No, I am not joking.
And it takes me ten minutes a week, the cost of a Sunday paper and my computer.

Here's the cheapest way-- follow this site and find your state's "Screaming Deals"
and then buy:

1) only the items you need
2) stock up on only the 5-star items

It's really easy with this site: www.pinchingyourpennies.com
And I am not buying junk.
It's what I did already, except helps me cut down the cost of the few premade basic items I do purchase like pasta, applesauce, cereal, icecream; and, it helps me discipline myself to buy only the items I really need or that are really cheap. It even helps me figure out where produce is cheapest!

So now if I could only use all that money to buy a fabulous new wardrobe with all those great fall accessories :)

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Fall Beginnings

No air-conditioning today. It is cooler many other places around the world. For us, in Arizona, this is the tipping point.
A warm sun but cool, cool air.
The highs this weekend will only reach 88 degrees.
We had Mushroom Barley Soup last night from Frog Commissary with warm buttered biscuits.
Kate and I took a trip to the library.
We bought our pumpkin.
No sweaters but long pants all day long. What a relief not to be wearing shorts.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Ciao Bella

We're back!
What a trip! We loved every minutes; some more than others, but how could you not love all those smaller moments, even like every lick of Italian gelato?


Friday, August 28, 2009

And we're off...

On Tuesday, we leave for two weeks in Italy.
Kate will be partying with friends and family while we are gone.
Ciao!
See you when we get back.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A New Look

I told you.
I am on a quest to update.
Feeling better already.
Wardrobe is coming together for Italy.
Hair appointment tomorrow *who knows what will happen**
and a new look for this blog...my sister told me my background was "a little much".
Thanks sis.
I simplified.

ps...if you haven't seen it yet, check out what Kate has been doing while I've been working here

Friday, August 14, 2009

Laugh

I had to post this photo. It is just classic. that's what you get for taking your children to museums :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ever feel...

like you WISH you could do something, see something, be something, cook something or look more than just something?

All those things have evaded me recently.

Realized most of my clothes have past the five year old mark and the sweater I wore to work yesterday has reached decade status.
All my purses are just old, abused and unused.
My staple shoes are battered Rainbows and Dansko clogs.

Two weeks of work have made my menu plan look like this:
Spaghetti
Pizza
Steak
Pad Thai
Frozen lasagna

I am on a quest to update. Update my hair (appointment next week!) update my wardrobe, buy a fabulous Italian purse, buy some impractical shoes and come back from Italy and bake some fabulous time waster cookies like these.

Once I return, I shall update this blog and return to the world more than just in something mood.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Gigi, we miss you...we wish we could be playing with you this week too!
Don't be too sad about Emily-- remember I am going to be MUCH closer than she is...you can always visit me :)

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Mental Photo

She stood there. Naked. Delighted.
Her shoulders were slightly raised; arms up in the air with open palms.
She had a quizzical smirk on her face.
The drops poured down on over her pigtails.
She must have just realized what it was-- it wasn't just about being wet.
It was a shower of drops.
They must have tickled because she kind of giggled.
The golden evening light in the pool shower made the moment even more magical.
It was an image I thought to myself, "This is one of those moment you will try and remember for your lifetime. When it was just her and nobody else. "

I will try to remember when you were just one, and it was just the three of us at the pool on a Sunday afternoon. I will try and remember that you were only two tiles high. I will try and remember when it was the mere magic of a shower that delighted you.

As Emily's time to leave for Africa approaches and I spend these days here at work away from Kate, I think very much about mothering and "sending off" children. I am sad only because I know my turn as a mother will come one day to say goodbye too. I am sad only because as mother, a little more space widens between us and our children every single day--they crawl, then they walk, then they ride away... It is like we stand as mothers with a magnifier focused intently on their joy and pain and then they naturally move away a little bit at a time farther from us. The space is a sweeter, more sorrowful, and fuller experience than I have ever known. It is an irreplaceable joy.

My favorite things...

I appreciate the small things about living in my own house.
Like putting fresh flowers on my own kitchen table.
These we did from neighborhood flowers for Janis' brunch.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chicken.

Let's face it ladies.
We need inspiration.
Daily.
Dinner time rolls around and the same 20 ingredients stare you in the face in your kitchen.
I'm back in the kitchen again too.
Every night.
On my own, for the first time in over a year.
Here's a new one I tried tonight that I really liked. I altered it to be a sauce without heavy cream (substituting a roux with whole milk) and added chunks of pre-cooked chicken to it and served it over pasta. I liked the fresh taste of the mushrooms with the snow peas. I also added some frozen peas to the sauce for my little pea-in-the-pod Kate (her favorite vegetable).


Chicken with Creamy Mushrooms and Snap Peas
adapted from The Food Network Magazine, June/July 2009

4 chicken cutlets, patted dry, salted and peppered, lightly dredged in flour
2 Tbs. oil

1 Tb butter (I used olive oil)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (1/2 cup wine and water can be sub) 3/4 cup heavy cream ( I used whole milk)
2 cups snap peas, stemmed and cut in half lengthwise
---
Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet on medium high heat. Sear the chicken breasts on each side until golden brown for about 2 minutes per side. Remove from heat and place on a plate.

Wipe out the skillet and add butter. Saute scallions and mushrooms over medium heat until mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Scrape the bottom of the pan to scrape the browned bits. Let boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add cream (milk) and stir to combine. Add snow peas (and peas), then top sauce with chicken breasts and cover, reducing heat to medium. Simmer until chicken is cooked through about 5-8 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cultish

You could say I have a following.
Some people read my blog for my daughter.
Some people peruse it for nutrition advice.
Most people are just curious.
And a few people prod me until I give them these kinds of recipes.

My mother didn't make cookies for us growing up except occasional oatmeal raisin for my Dad, but she always made muffins. These were one of those food moments that I remember my very first bite of all those years ago. The smell is incredible. They freeze beautifully and they are by far the best muffin I have ever had, hands down. Once again, from the one and only Frog Commissary:

Coffee Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins
- makes 1 pan of 12 and 1 pan of minis

1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
1/2 cup white and 1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs. instant espresso powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. baking powder
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line muffin tins with paper liners or grease
well. Cream butter and sugars together until light in color. Add espresso powder
and vanilla extract. Beat together eggs and milk. Whisk together dry ingredients
(flour, salt and b.powder) seperately. Add dry and wet ingredients, alternating.
Mix until barely combined. Add chocolate chips and walnuts. Mix again briefly.
Fill tins with a 1/2 cup scoop or until 3/4 full. Bake 20-25 minutes. Cool 5
minutes (do not skip this step) and remove from tins. Let cool.

Our version of camping

is staying in an old cabin in the woods, according to Travis who adamantly stated, "Nora, we will NOT be camping until all of our children are at least six."
We spent a wonderful weekend in Pine, which is about an hour and a half away..and about half the temperature of Phoenix. It even rained and we had a thunderstorm on Saturday night. We went with our friends the Ross' and Richardsons. It was an experiment as we had six adults and five children under five in a smallish cabin-- but we proved we still had them outnumbered :) Everyone did very well and despite our run-in with the accidental wall hot-water heater waking Kate up our last night, we had a blast. We even braved a hike to the Natural Bridge which was beautiful. It was only ten minutes away and the perfect amount of hiking for all the little ones. We brought a hot-dog picnic with us and ate on the rocks underneath the waterfalls while the little ones splashed around in the cold pools around us. It is a blessing to be out of the extreme heat and to witness the beauty of God's creation in person, not from behind glass or from a chilled home or car.
Here is Kate all cozied into her backpack--we borrowed from our friends, and she loved it. We can't wait until it gets cooler and we can take her on more hikes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Results



It didn't work.
No vent hood last night.
But look at the steal of a deal we got on craigslist.
Have I said I love craigslist yet???!
We got a brand new Martha Stewart 8X10 rug for $125 dollars. Ridiculous deal. Retail: more than $500.
It is thick and plush and a great pattern-- not too modern but not too traditional.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Devious plans and clever tricks.


I am trying my darndest to get my husband to install my vent hood...
My method of persuasion is unusual, I must admit, but definitely not intentional.
First, burn some beans on the stove, then rescue them for dinner and call it "Smoky Bean Soup". Pretend it's delicious and serve it to him as leftovers as well.
Then, make his favorite dessert, pie, and allow the juice to burn on the bottom of the oven.
Allow more smoke to saturate the downstairs.
Let's see if my clever trick works after I feed him this.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Thursday, July 02, 2009

How many licks???

This was the best birthday present she thinks she received!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

One.

I attempted to take a picture of her in this adorable outfit on her birthday, the one her Daddy bought her when she was just a few days old. She was too busy being a party animal.
Here's her stats at one year, one week:
21lbs - 45th percentile
29 inches- 70th percentile
Still a peanut head at the 25th percentile....but good thing it grew a whole inch :)
We cannot believe it has already been a year. What a joy!

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Birthday Girl





How can we collect one year of joy into a "birthday"?
Our little girl turned one on Friday. We hosted a "Hungry Caterpillar" birthday party at our new house on Saturday for a few friends and family.
She refused the cupcake.
She LOVED the lollipop.
It was delightful to see the joy she brings to others as much as she does to us.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bathtub fun

I don't know about other kids, but my daughter loves her bathtime. Thanks to bathtub baby skills she loves all water activities. Her new favorites are the bathtub crayons I had been saving for her. I didn't know if she would use them or know what to do with them, but she did chalk about a month or so ago, and she LOVED them. Tempers abound when I take them away.
Don't you just love the chubbyness?


Sorry about the song...but I added it and I don't know how to edit it :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

We're getting ready...


The move date is Saturday, but Kate moved in already to her new "house"...except she got a barn too, lucky girl.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Home life.

We have been going at creating a home.

We are tired, but so excited.

I keep going to bed late and waking up earlier than Travis (a RARE occurence) excited about all that we have to do.


Last weekend, we have ripped out all the old flooring. The comment after this was done by very courageous men and boys was, "There wasn't one 3'X3' segment that wasn't stained".

we have painted almost the entire downstairs.

which was really good, because we thought the carpet was coming first for the upstairs. But then Lowe's called me and the hardwood will be installed on Tuesday.

all we can say is WOW.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Likeness



I ran across this picture and could not help but laugh at how similar they really are.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Toothless no longer


We were seriously concerned that she would be one and toothless.
Yesterday's post had a lie in it-- she popped her fourth tooth before yesterday.
Here are pictures of top and bottom. More are probably coming because we had a "cheerful" Kate yesterday and then she woke up just as easily irritated as she has been the past two weeks while she's been teething. Maybe some molars??

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Eleven

Eleven months.
Top accomplishments

1) Walking and running.
2) Standing up without assistance from sitting.
3) Three teeth (working on the fourth).
4) Swimming underwater passes.
5) Attempting to use a fork and drinking from a cup.
6) Giving hugs and kisses on request.
7) Throwing tantrums when she doesn't get the rubber Korean magnet from the fridge.
8) Words-- saying"mama" and "Daddy" indiscriminately; "duck", "nana" and repeating "Ta-ta" for Taylor, even though Connor is her favorite person right now. His handsome looks and ever-fruit-filled hand have won her over.
9) Dancing-- her favorite soundtrack is "Slumdog Millionaire".
10 )Eating. alot.
11) Take books off one shelf and move them to another.

Monday, May 25, 2009

thisisnext#

1998.
I'm eighteen.
Josh Harris has this conference called "New Attitude".
I go. I meet people. It's the best thing ever.
Now it lives on as "next".
My sister sends me a video text with Riley playing worship.
I'm a little jealous, I must admit.
It all comes back to me.
The butterflies in your stomach, the dimmed lights, the band music swells.
All I can say is that I knew John Riley way before and that we sat on a slouchy couch in Philadelphia and he played his guitar and sang right next to me. Let's just say he is way better than any Chris Allen.
Don't you miss that part of your life sometimes? The drama, the intrigues, the girls, the boys.
It was so much fun.
A little part of me still thinks I'm not that old to be so far away from that scene.
But reality states my little brother who is ten years younger went this year for the first time.
And then I crawl into bed next to my husband's warm body and think, this is better.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


The envy factor is over. Beautiful winter and spring moments are two months behind us. No more sunny and seventy. We have already seen one hundred degrees ten times or more. What time we spend outside is mostly in the pool but no matter what, we try to get out a little before the real heat sets in. Even the green haze over our dry earth has shriveled up and blown away. It isn't about damp cooler evenings in June here; it is shiver of cold air-conditioning after your afternoon dip in the pool. I enjoy this part of our early summer. It is the months ahead that I try to ignore- the endless amounts of radiating pavement, the hot wind, and the dust storms. This week we have had a welcome relief of two rainy and cloudy days. Those are rare indeed and it reminds me that I do love dry heat, not the humid pressure of moistness I grew up breathing. The rain brings a purity and sweetness to the air, sending earth's fragrances into the air. I miss those smells of moisture-- cut grass, rain, wet pavement, and mulch.
I cannot wait to reinvent them in my own backyard.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A ten year affair


One knee is frayed and ripped. The other has worn through. The thighs have faded into a beautiful white and blue cross hatch. They slide on without effort. They wash and dry perfectly. They have been with me through thick and thin, literally. I wore them through almost every year in college all the way through most of my pregnancy.
Paper and Denim cloth jeans are the best. The thickest denim that wears like iron and fits perfectly. Online, they call them a "cult" jean.
I bought them ten years ago. Before jeans were cool. My friend, Elizabeth, the only sorority girl I have ever known well, had a pair. I was hooked.
I had looked for them in stores, but they don't sell them anywhere. My husband found some new ones for me online. I think he figured I was due.
They are a sweet price too. Not overpriced like some of the other popular ones.
I kept the lightest ones. Perfect for a summer jean.
But now that I know they are on bluefly.com, you better believe I'll be adding to the collection more than once every ten years. Especially when it comes wrapped and put in this beautiful blue bag with a coupon for next time :)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

That which goes up...

does not know how to come down yet :)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Provision

Our home is in need of a few upgrades and basics. First, we pursued getting some appliances off Craigslist. The guy turned out to sell us a stainless steel fridge, stove and microwave for less than the price of a fridge itself! Then, today Travis and I took Kate to a local mega-store shopping center to compare some kitchen tables. We walked into World Market and found the exact table that the Nam's have as a floor model clearance. It was less than the price of the ones I had been seeing on Craigslist! We have all the chairs we need-- we just lacked a solid table that can hold all our friends and us around it! It was an answer to prayer as we both feel that the heart of a home is around the table...what can we say but that we love to eat and make other people food. We can't wait to host our friends and family around it.

PLT/PTL

Despite what you might initially think, PLT is not a new take on the classic "BLT" (although I will admit that I have an inordinate fondness for bacon.) 
When I read my baby journal that my mother kept, she was very prolific with her use of "PTL" which in our early church culture was short for "Praise the Lord". 
Today I have my own cheesy shorthand---why? Because as a woman and mother I am quickly aware of how precious is my time.
I woke up acutely grateful for a good night of sleep, a healthy and very busy daughter, and a new house to own in one week. These gifts are made beautiful at moments when you slide your house key on your key ring for the first time. Or when you daughter runs smilying to you with her new teeth popping out. Or how her face beams when she takes her first lick of cookie dough. 
They are priceless moments.
Precious times.
Praise the Lord.

Monday, May 04, 2009

I will be supporting my sister as she serve at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya this next year. Consider supporting her monthly. For more information, visit her blog.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Exercise

Mason and I were trying to have a push-up contest. We think Kate won...
video

Monday, April 27, 2009

Elusive

She just wouldn't do it...
I thought we would never get one.
Then, pop! In my mailbox, a photo from my friend's visit in January.
She caught one!
Proof! She loves her mama! We both smile all the time together!
By the way-- 10 months yesterday, and can you believe, I caught her running across the room...but not a tooth in sight. truly, a toothless wonder.
O my.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Introducing...


...Home Sweet Home.
Out of eleven offers, the bank accepted ours on Monday for this cute house very close to where we are living now. We are very grateful for the Lord's provision and kindness and cannot wait to get started on making it into our home.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Second and Third


How odd that it was that I received an email from my uncle stating that he was just asked for the recipe for the marmalade....I told him not to worry about it; I've got plenty to go around.
On the second day, you merely boil again then let it soak.
Here we are on day three, and we boiled it again, this time just adding a little water.
We're on our way to some magical Arizona sunshine in a jar.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

When it's hot outside...

make marmalade out of free citrus.
Day One of Three.
Today was the manual labor.
Thirty oranges and six grapefruit are soaking their thinly sliced selves in filtered water to release their golden citrus goodness.
Follow us tomorrow for day two of this exciting process as we create one of our favorite free preserves.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

On another note..

I would love to win this contest at http://www.tollipop.com/ to put these pictures (eventually) in Kate's room. How cute would they be??

According to...

...my friend Rachel, comes this heroic tale.

Rachel and her son went on a trip and returned home. Rachel's mother-in-law picked them up from the airport in Rachel's car, which she had left in Maryland while they were gone. As they were driving down I-95, the major interstate, they hear a noise.

Now, you and I both know what it feels like when you hear those freaky car noises. You are absolutely panicked and paralyzed at the same time because we have no idea what they mean, except that things are not going to go well for you and your credit card at the mechanic shop.

Well, for Rachel that day, things didn't turn out so bad.

You see, as they looked behind them sparks were flying from underneath the car. Rachel's mother-in-law pulls over on the side of the highway (it is more than 6 lanes across at different places) and with complete calm, climbs under the carriage and proceeds to tie up the muffler with her scarf.

Nothing like a little ingenuity :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Organic Panic

I often get emails in my inbox from family and friends and friends of friends or family...
What should I feed my toddler? What could I pack for lunches? What are healthy snacks?
You get the idea. They are all looking for advice or nutrition counsel.

Here's the most recent request from my second cousin:
"I have a friend who is due to have a baby. Some friends and I are trying to make them some meals that they can have in their freezer for after the baby is born. The wife only eats organic. We thought some soups might be nice--any other ideas, Nora?"

This is a difficult request because for most of us, we do not keep an organic kitchen, much less an organic pantry. Here's what I told her for her non-organic friends to try to make:

-organic pasta dishes made with multigrain pastas because they freeze better...any "baked ziti" type recipe will work here with sauce, meat and cheese-- organic ground beef in smaller packages is cheaper, and the sauce can be purchased as a unit. Same goes for mozzarella cheese.
Don't worry about spices and herbs or garlic or olive oil not being organic.

-soups are great too...but remember that organic broths are more expensive and I think Costco has a pack of organic chicken broths that would serve well here. An easy chicken soup can be made with an organic store roasted chicken (try Whole Foods). Check here for my recipe.

- muffins are a great addition to the meals-- they can be frozen fully cooked. All my postpartum friends love muffins as an easy healthy snack. Try for an organic pancake or muffin mix and then add your own mix-ins. It can be difficult if you don't buy organic eggs and milk but they can be bought in smaller quantities.

-marinate an organic steak in some olive oil/rosemary/garlic in a ziploc bag and then they can just grill or freeze it. This plus a bag of organic salad would be an easy and great meal.

-Jumbo organic baked potatoes with purchased toppings like cheese, green onions-- even include this with:

- organic chili since all the ingredients can be bought in cans, this is an easy way to make sure it is all organic plus the organic ground beef can be cheaper than all the other organic meats.

- one of my favorite is Lentil casserole which would be very easy to make organic and it is super cheap...for the recipe visit here.

- Leftover grilled salmon (just buy wild cohoe salmon-- don't bother with organic here) with steamed green beans (easy to buy the frozen organic package) with a rice pilaf (again, easy to buy the organic quick-cook package). I cook extra of this meal and freeze a few for Travis' lunches.

-Chicken pot pie-- this is easy when you combine packages of frozen organic mixed vegetables with an organic cream of chicken can of organic soup plus a small package of organic chicken breast boiled and cut into chunks and then put it into a premade organic frozen crust. Usually the frozen crusts come in packs of two so just use the other frozen crust to form the top crust. The whole thing can then be frozen.

-Mexican meals like burritos can be easy because you can buy organic canned beans, tortillas, cheese and then a quick pack of rice and your in the game... a homemade salsa can be organic with the quick salsa recipe and a bag of organic chips. The frozen burrito thing is great too because it helps with lunches as well.

Hope this helps Annette!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Renewal

It started to creep up on me since the weekend.
Then yesterday I realized I had reached maximum fatigue the day before that.
You know what it's like: late nights, busy days, holiday festivities, child-rearing demands, household responsibilities, a dirty kitchen floor, dusty books, forgotten exercise, cooking, laundry, the never-ending pile of ironing, working and then there are the cares of life.
Travis told me, "You are boring after seven."
A little tactless as he later confessed, but true.
I had started to go into autopilot from five o'clock on.
Finish dinner prep, kiss Travis hello, nurse Kate, feed Kate again, clean Kate up, bathe Kate, eat my dinner, nurse Kate, put Kate to bed, finish household chores, get ready for bed, talk with Travis, fall asleep.

I realized that I was not only boring, but that if my marriage was boring, it meant I was bored in God.

You might think this is a bold statement. Our relationships on earth reflect our relationship with God. Our spouse is a mirror for us of our inner sense of who God is, what He is about and what He gives us through his Spirit. When I lack creativity, intelligence and the spark of joy, and slide into the automatic boredom of life's duties, it requires me to examine my inner self.

I am reading a book by Charles Lindbergh's wife Anne Morrow Lindbergh called Gift from the Sea. She reflects on this tendency in women, saying:
I walked far down the beach, soothed by the rhythm of the waves, the sun on my bare back and legs, the wind and mist fromthe spray on my hair. into the waves and out like a sandpiper. And then home, drenched, drugged, reeling, full to the brim with my day alone, full liket he moon before the nights has taken a single nibble of it, full as a cup poured up to the lip. There is a quality to fullness that the Psalmist expressed: "My cup runneth over." Let no one come--I pray in sudden panic--I might spill myself away! Is this then what happens to woman? She wants perpetually to spill herself away. All her instincts as a woman--the eternal nourisher of children, of men, of society--demands that she give. Her time, her energy, her creativeness drain ou into these channels if there is any chance, any leak. Traditionally we are taught, and instinctively we long, to give where it is needed--and immediately. Eternally, woman spills herself away in driblets to the thirsty, seldom being allowed the time, the quiet, the peace, to let the pitcher fill up to the brim. But why not, one may ask? What is wrong with woman spilling herself away, since it is her function to give? Why am I, coming back from my perfect day at the beach, so afraid of losing my treasure? It is not just the artist in me. The artist, naturally, always resents giving himself in small drops. He must save up for the pitcher-full. No, it is also the woman in me who is so unexpectedly miserly. Here is a strange paradox. Woman instinctively wants to give, yet resents giving herself in small peices. Basically is this a conflict? Or is it an over-simplification of a many-stranded problem? I believe that what woman resents is not so much giving herself in pieces as giving herself purposelesly.... Purposeful giving is not as apt to deplete one's resources; it belongs to that natural order of giving that seems to renew itself even in the act of depletion. The more one gives, the more one has to give-- like milk in the breast...Even purposeful giving must have some source that refills it. The milk in the breast must be replenished by food taken into the body. If it is woman's function to give, she must be replenished too. But how? Solitude...every person, especially every woman, should be alone sometime during the year, some part of each week and each day. How revolutionary that sounds and how impossible of attainment.
I sincerely think that we underestimate our need for rest. In a society that values productivity over purposefulness, I know that it can sweep me into it's frenzy. Yet then I quickly find that I "crash".

Where to start for me? Rest.
After a nap yesterday I felt the renewal of my energy as well as my spirit.

My goal is to experience renewal of my spirit from purposeful planning to rest my body and renew my mind. It is not just from a good desire to be "interesting" for my husband; I want to return to the experience of being filled up, spilling over, and overflowing with the Spirit of God living in me that breathes life into every thing that I do.

Don't you want that kind of life?