Sunday, December 6, 2009

A day in the life...Version "That" woman

As you can tell on my blog, I've been pretty introspective lately. I've had something like 5 or 6 major life changes within the past 3 months--you know, those that qualify for big stressful "points" or whatever. It's definitely been a place of transition for me. Some days I'm patient with myself, and other days I wish I could run to the opposite end of the world from myself. :) If only that were possible...

On my rough days, I'm usually frustrated with "why" can't I do it all? The world seems to think that it can be done. That a woman can be Career Woman--climbing the corporate ladder. And Wife/Mother--being that perfect housewife and doting mother who always has time to do the baking and scrubbing the baseboards. And Super Christian Woman--making sure she is helping to feed the hungry, spend an hour in prayer/Bible study every day, and encourage others in their walk with the Lord.

I ponder these things. I realize that I "could" do them all--but probably not well, and most likely my health would suffer. I come to a place of acceptance that it must not be God's will for me to do everything perfectly and then I try to focus on one thing at a time. But still I'm frustrated. I feel like there is something missing and that I constantly don't measure up.

Last year, I spent some time in a Bible study about marriage where we looked at the example of "That" woman in Proverbs 31. I would look at this woman and think, "Who IS this woman? And where does she live? What does she have that I don't, and how on earth is she doing all of this, doing it well, AND the people in her city praise her? What gives?"

One night, the Holy Spirit gave me this revelation about the Proverbs 31 woman. He said, "You're looking at her life and thinking she is this perfect woman and does all these perfect wonderful things every day. But my intention was to show you her LIFE. Not a "day in the life," but her WHOLE life."

You see, it's a picture of seasons. In one season of her life, she selects wool and flax, working with eager hands. In another season, she considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard. In still another season, she makes coverings for her bed and is clothed in fine linen and purple. Later on, she speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. As she gets on in years, her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all."

Of course, this is just my interpretation and how I feel God explaining the passage to me. But it is SO encouraging. I don't have to be under this pressure to be a perfect employee, perfect boss, perfect mother, perfect wife, perfect housekeeper, perfect Christian--all day, every day. Instead, the Lord showed me He is looking at the book of my life to find the value. Not at each individual chapter (though He sees them all). It's the process--the journey.

Every day I remind myself that without Him, I am nothing anyway. I am never great at asking for help--but I'm trying to remember how much I need Him. Am I going to fail, and have bad days and bad "chapters?" You bet. But then I think those situations might lead to something that would help me to "speak with wisdom" and give me "faithful instruction" for someone else going through that season of life.

I'm learning to like "That" woman--I hope you will, too.

A day in the life...Version "Me"

Some sweet pictures and later, some thoughts.

First, Kenna practicing her girliness. She loves necklaces, scarfs, purses, shoes. Combinations are especially important.

Her new thing when she watches "Praise Baby" DVDs. I love the crossed legs and arm holding up her chin. Nightgown and slippers complete the ensemble... She is already way more girly than I will ever be!

Me and my sweeties, in Washington, D.C. We took a crazy, spur-of-the-moment trip there yesterday (only 3 1/2 hrs away), and got back tonight. None of us had ever been, and we braved the snowy roads on the way there. We were rewarded with beautiful, clear blue skies and plenty of amazing monuments and buildings. The architecture and history behind all the sights is just overwhelming. Marc & I fell in the love with the city--we hope to go back & visit again when we can spend more time. The beauty of it is that almost everything is free. My kind of city!

Kenna Boo at the mall this weekend. New play areas always fascinate the kids. This one was not enclosed--to our displeasure and Kenna's joy. :) She spent most of her time here testing us on "staying on the carpet," and would walk right to the edge of the carpet, look at us, put her foot in the air, smile, and then turn back around to run to the other side and do it all over again.

Zach and the "important man." (his words after I explained who Lincoln was!) Both my kids captivated the tourists. People kept coming up to us & asking to take pictures of the kids. Kenna especially seems to have this magnetism with strangers--we'll have to watch her closely! Marc says he thinks that with her strong will and this magnetism "we've got a leader on our hands." A bit scary that it's our job to raise her....we have to remember to be intentional about looking at this in a positive light. She's not "strong willed" but "determined."
Zach really loved the Lincoln Memorial and asked to go back up a second time. He's definitely a "Stone" though--the 2nd time he went up, Marc said on the way out Z managed to bang the large metal sign which proceeded to echo throughout the whole memorial. The sign reads, "Quiet please, let's be respectful!" Ha ha. The Stone family has a reputation for being clumsy; I think he'll fit right in.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A list for my friends

Things I like:
  • Popcorn made the old fashioned way, on the stove. Topped with parmesan cheese and salt.
  • My new reading corner where kids flock to me
  • Pajama pants and comfy socks
  • Booking plane tickets to go somewhere fun
  • Other people booking plane tickets to come see me.
  • SweetTarts: only yellow, purple, and orange. I throw away the green and blue. Sometimes I eat the pink, but not often. Mostly those get thrown away too.
  • Dad's homemade spaghetti sauce
  • My laptop
  • Quiet moments with my daughter
  • Looking at the lake from my living room window
  • My job
  • God's Word
  • The number 7 and the letter M
  • Watching penguins at the zoo. Just pull up a chair, I'm entertained for hours.

Things I'm planning:

  • To drink more water tomorrow
  • Buy a car this weekend--Z says it should be white. We'll see.
  • Get family pictures taken that the stitches are out.
  • Have a cup of hot chocolate with mini marshmallows
  • Read my Bible more this week
  • Eating SweetTarts. Yellow and purple only.
  • Pay the bills, so they don't kick me out of my house.
  • Go back to college.
  • Love more. Laugh more. Sleep more.

Things you do:

  • Make me laugh
  • Keep me going
  • Put up with my crap
  • Inspire me to be more
  • Inspire me to do less
  • Challenge me
  • Help me finish off that last bit of ice cream. Because someone has to.....
  • Laugh at my stupid jokes
  • Laugh at my funny jokes
  • Love me

Thank are faithful friends.

Monday, November 9, 2009

You can't have it all. But you can have some of it, all the way.

In my 14 free minutes every day, I've been doing some thinking. And I just want to get it all out on "paper." One of the things I love to do is to make lists--not only does it give me a concrete way to accomplish things, but it gets all the "stuff" that's swimming around in my head a place to land. And frees up my mind for other more important thinking about what I'm going to eat next.

Anyway, I'm remembering what my life as a "working a full time job" mom used to be like when Zachary was little and I had a stressful job. Trying to be the best employee I can be, giving my job my all while I'm there, while still being the best Christian, the best wife, the best mom, the best homemaker, the best friend I can be. All at the same time. I remember I was always successful in certain areas at a time--never all at once. I used to feel really upset that I couldn't be "the perfect woman" who can juggle a 50-hr-a-wk job with all the demands of a family and home. Now I'm just sad that I can't, but I'm trying to give my all in whatever role is mine for the hour.

I really love my job, which makes the 7:30-5:30 hours of my day go by very quickly and enjoyably--for the most part. We all have our days. But in the past 2 years I've spent being "only" a wife, mother, homemaker, friend, I've forgotten what it was like when you had no free time. When you have to take personal or vacation time just to go to the chiropractor. Or figure out how you're going to get your hair cut without losing any work time. When your spare minutes at home are spent wishing your kids would give you 5 minutes of alone time....and then missing them intently after they've been in bed for 30 minutes.

I don't think that I can ever be that "balanced" woman that everyone talks about. Who is the perfect everything? I'm not even convinced that being balanced means you can do it all well like the world seems to believe. Maybe it means that you have to let some things go for the sake of other things. Tip the scales in favor of something important for things that are less so.

So my free 14 minutes a day this week are being spent pondering the things that are going to remain on my scales. Not everything's going to make the cut, that's for sure. Probably not everyone, either. I hate that with everything in me....I am a perfectionist. I want to do it well, I want to do it excellently, and I want to be the best. But I'm realizing that I need to "choose this day Whom I will serve," and that I, and only I, am responsible to make those choices. Others may not like it, but I don't answer to them.

Some things that are definitely staying (or being added because they are being forgotten!):

Rest & down time....
Bible reading & prayer times
Family time with no tv
Work, done well
Cuddling with my kids
Checking the mail. By myself.

Things you might not find me doing as often:

Phone calls
Cleaning (that's what my "house husband" is for now)
Cooking, except on the weekend
Cutting coupons and seeking "deals." A regular sale price without a coupon is still a deal if I get to save time.
Blogging, though I love it
Blog-reading, except for my friends

I would ask all my friends and family to be patient with me, but I think I'm past that point right now. I'm to the point that it just doesn't matter to me what other people think because all that matters is what He thinks. God's given me this job to do (literally and figuratively), and I plan to do it and do it well.

If I could learn to be content with hardly seeing my husband, dealing with a fussy newborn daughter and a rambunctious 2 yr old son, on a tight budget, in a 2 bedroom house....then I can learn to be content with a demanding job, a new lifestyle, and remembering what it's like to be married again. Is it the life I would have hand-picked for myself? Maybe not. But is it good?


"Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." - Psalm 34:8-10

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A moment

If you'll allow me a personal moment...

I'm hurting today. Should have been 25 weeks pregnant, should already have known whether it was a "he" or a "she" kicking the crap out of me. Should be enjoying the belly rubs and back aches.

It's a hard thing when it feels like everyone around you is pregnant.

Sometimes I'm still asking why. It just doesn't make sense. 5 babies I won't know til heaven.

p.s. no stupid comments please. i don't want to deal with any single men who don't have a clue what i'm dealing with and always have something smart to say. it's my blog & i'll cry if i want to. if you don't like it, there's a red "x" at the top of your page. click it.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The new

"He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God." Psalm 40:3

"You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow." Isaiah 62:2

"His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you a heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26

"A new command I give you: Love one another." John 13:34

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17

"You were put off your old be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:22-24

"But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness." 2 Peter 3:13


Change is hard. And yet, without change, life would be boring. Without change, we'd still be cooking over an open fire and living in the woods somewhere....instead of this nice house I have with an electric stove I can turn on and off at will. Or mailing letters to each other instead of emailing and facebooking.

Even when we are the ones who desire change (and not someone else imposing change on us), the transition can be hard. Frustration with the old way helps pave the path for the new way, but the new way is still bumpy.

I brought myself back to God's Word tonight because it renews my mind. It penetrates to my very soul, looking past the crazy hormones, past the way-too-tired brain, past my lack, past my failures. It looks at the "me" that God sees, and reminds me of His truth. I need His truth.

Even though this new path is exciting, and blessed...still I struggle. I miss my kids. I miss being the homemaker. I miss the more relaxed way of life and training my kids' character, even on the hard days. I miss cooking. :) I don't know this new's not somewhere I've been before. I don't know how to be "the husband" and yet not be The Husband. It feels weird to leave my clothes on the floor for someone else to pick up because I'm too tired, and strange to not be the one doing endless dishes and laundry.

So even after a really good day at work, I came home a bit frustrated and sad. I don't want all my kids to see of me to be "the tired mommy who works all day." Not sure how to fix that yet.

And then my husband, a man of few words, sticks his face in mine as I'm contemplating all these things and starting to whine a little on the inside. He says, "Thanks for working. I just wanted you to know."

So maybe I'll embrace the new. Not just stick my toe in the water, but jump in and get soaking wet. Sometimes it's more fun when the wave just knocks you over and you come up laughing because you didn't expect it. He knows the way, and I can trust fully in Him.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


So. Now that I've got everyone all hyped up... :) Most of you know the big news anyway, and I don't know that this post is going to be anything special because I'm tired. But I have a few minutes while I wait for my clothes to dry here in the hotel laundry room, so I thought I'd try to put my thoughts down on paper. Or computer. Or whatever.

The deal is, we have been praying for a long time about our lives. The last two years have been hard...don't get me wrong, they've been good. But hard. Marc's worked two jobs for two years in which 5 nights a week he doesn't get a full night's sleep. I was pregnant, nursing, and/or taking care of a fussy fussy crankypants baby for two years. We lived paycheck to paycheck for two years. We always had enough to eat, but usually not any extra. We lived in a two bedroom house with all the above conditions for two years. It was hard, but through it all we felt God speaking to us about His providence and about learning contentment.

Contentment. Now that's a word you don't hear every day. Seems like we all want what we want, when we want it. And usually, we want it NOW. But God was asking us to wait. I wish I could say we waited patiently. Or pleasantly. So many lessons to learn! The biggest lesson I learned was that in everything there is a lesson to be learned. Ponder that one for awhile...

We had gotten to a place in our lives where we KNEW that we were following the right paths but still feeling frustrated. It's hard to continue hoping for change, putting your hope in God and Him alone, when you're not seeing any results. One day I was really struggling, and the Lord spoke to me through an old prayer notebook from 10 years ago. I saw a quote from a Sunday night church service that said, "Anything you can do on your own is not faith." Now I know that in many contexts, this quote is not entirely accurate. But for me, for that day, it was exactly what I needed to remember. That this battle wasn't mine, but God's. That He still had our best in mind. That He was the only one who could deliver. And that He would, in His timing.

God brought me to a place where I had no one else to hope in but Him. And what I learned, once my answer came, was that this was the answer. To have no other hope. The answer wasn't "give me whatever I think I need." It was learning, no matter what my situation, "to be content."

There are so many details that lead to where we are now, but I think the details mar the overall awesomeness of what happened. And what happened was....Marc lost his full-time job. Yeah, I know. Not the answer we were hoping for, exactly. But in all of it, I was able to pursue an opportunity to work for my former company in a new location, doing a job I have dreamed of doing. We prayed: "God, open the right doors wide. And slam shut the wrong doors. We only want Your will." All the doors have been opened as wide as can be, and here I am.

"Here" is Morgantown, WV. I get to work for a company I loved working for, for my old boss (in a new location), and doing what I really love. Oh, and I get to make money, too. Isn't that cool? So Marc & I are switching for awhile. He'll be the stay at home parent, able to renew his relationship with the kids, get some much-needed and much-deserved rest, and remember what it's like to feel normal again. I will get to help provide for my family in a new way. Both of us will probably go back to school (not at the same time). I'm loving my job so far, and God has blessed me in every way. I am remembering things from 2 years ago I should have forgotten, and I just feel overwhelmed and humbled at how much He loves.

We'll be moving our family here this weekend, and I get to see my kids in two days. I love the new city, and while it's not Knoxville, I know it's where we're supposed to be, so don't hate me if I have a love for it. :) It's beautiful here, and Zach is excited he gets to see snow.

So, in all this, I'm hoping that what shines through is what He has done. He hears, He answers, He loves. Hope in Him. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

He answers.

I want to take some time to share what God is doing for our family and in our lives, but I really want to do this post justice, and I'm not sure I have the necessary time at the moment. My brain is spinning (in a good way), and I am trying to process all the amazing ways that God has answered our prayers.

For those who have been (and are still) praying for God's deliverance and blessing: Don't stop praying. Don't stop hoping. He listens. He waits for the perfect time. He changes you through the process. He answers.

But be careful, because His answer may not be what you expected.

It may be better.

Much love from our family, and more details to come!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


This is my family's homemade pierogie recipe--I am half Ukrainian and half French, and this recipe comes from the Ukrainian side. It takes a lot of work, but is well worth the effort. Because it's so labor intensive, when I make it, I typically make a large batch--about 11 dozen pierogies. If you want to pare the recipe down, you'll have to attempt it yourself. :)

Now, there are lots of different types of pierogie recipes out there--potato, meat, or cabbage/sauerkraut. This one is your traditional one, filled with potato, cheese, and onions. It also happens to be my favorite. The techniques that follow were developed by my loving mother, who made and sold about 300 dozen pierogies one year to make money so we could have an awesome Christmas (I think I was 11 or 12?). She's the master!

Here are the ingredients. Detailed instructions follow.

Filling (makes 11 dozen pierogies)

5 pounds russet potatoes
1/2 pound (8 oz) grated cheese, typically Farmers Cheese
salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds medium yellow onions, finely diced
1 stick butter

Dough (you'll need to make 5-6 batches worth of dough to equal 11 dozen pierogies)

2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp melted butter

The first thing I would recommend is to prepare the onions. You'll need about 2 lbs yellow onions and 1 stick of butter for this part. If you have a food processor, the easiest thing to do is to peel your onions, slice into quarters, and pulse them a few times in the processor. This saves your can definitely do it the old fashioned way with a knife; it will just take you a bit longer. Once you get all the onions diced pretty finely, add them to a large saute or frying pan along with the butter. Cook over medium heat, until the onions caramelize or turn brown. Watch them carefully so they don't burn. I usually add up to 1/2 cup water to help keep them from burning. Depending on how many onions are in your pan, this could take 20-30 minutes.

Once you get the onions cooking, peel and quarter your potatoes. You'll need 5 pounds of russet potatoes. Don't use any other kind of potato (red, large baking, etc). Russet only. Just trust me. Place the potatoes in a large stockpot along with a bunch of water. Boil the potatoes until tender and drain. Add a couple Tbsp butter, mash them well with a potato masher, or use a potato ricer if you have one of those (I don't, but it's on my wish list!). You don't want lumpy pierogies. Whatever you do though, don't use an electric mixer--this makes the potatoes too fluffy.

Add about 2/3 of your onions to the mashed potatoes. (Save the remaining 1/3 onions to use for topping the pierogies.) Make sure to salt and pepper your potato mixture to taste...these need lots of salt. Grate 1/2 pound (8 oz) cheese and add to slightly cooled potato-onion mixture. (If it's too hot, the cheese will start to melt and get stringy. Not a pretty sight.) Traditionally, the cheese used in this pierogie recipe is farmers cheese, a soft, mild cheese similar in texture to mozzarella. Cheddar cheese also works well, but I'm picky. If I go to the trouble to make these things, I want them to be GOOD. So I use farmers cheese. You can usually find it in the specialty cheese section at your local grocery store. (TN residents--I find this fairly easily at Kroger.)

Because this is such a large recipe, I typically make the onions & potatoes a day ahead of time, then refrigerate for use the next day, when I make the dough, fill the pierogies, and cook them. It breaks it up, especially if no one else is helping you prepare them.

When you're ready to start assembling the pierogies, make a doubled dough recipe (4 cups flour, 2 eggs, etc). Do not try to use an electric mixer to make the dough. It's fragile and just take it from someone who's experienced. Use a regular old bowl and wooden spoon. Mix all dough ingredients until well blended but try not to overmix. Let the dough stand for 30 minutes, covered with a damp dishtowel. Then take about 1/3 of the dough, roll out onto a lightly floured surface until you get a thickness of about 1/4-1/8 inch. Not too thick, not too thin. Don't be afraid of the doesn't hurt. Take a round biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass, lightly floured, and cut out dough circles. Take up the pieces of the dough left, re-roll and cut out more circles. When you sense the bits and pieces of dough getting tough, discard it & start again with the remaining dough in your bowl. Always keep dough you're not working with covered with a damp towel to keep it fresh.

Next, you'll want to fill these dough circles with the potato/onion/cheese mixture. In our house, we take it a step further and roll the potato mixture into small/medium balls with our hands. This makes it a bit easier to work with and works well when you're cooking "assembly line style." Put the potato ball or small spoon of mixture in the center of the dough circle and bring the round edges of the dough together, pinching as you go along to form a seal, keeping all the potatoes inside. You can use a commercial "pierogie maker" or ravioli maker if you want to, but we find that wastes a lot of dough.

Bring a large stockpot full of water to a boil; place filled pierogies into water and boil for about 2-3 minutes until the pierogies float to the top. You can cook up to 10 pierogies at once this way. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a cookie sheet with edges (to catch any drips of water).

Now your pierogies are cooked and ready to eat. They're yummy this way, but not super attractive. A great finishing touch is to fry your pierogies in a bit of butter until golden brown on both sides, about 3-5 minutes per side. Serve with remaining caramelized onions and sour cream.

**You can freeze pierogies after they are boiled. Simply allow them to cool, then place in freezer bags. They'll last several months this way and taste just as fresh when they defrost and you fry them up. You can also freeze any remaining onions for topping. Do not freeze any leftover potato mixture, though. I tried that already and trust me, it doesn't work!

I know this seems like a lot of work, and I won't lie to you. It is. But the end result is so worth it, so much better than any pierogie you buy from the freezer section of your grocery'll never want to go back. I promise!

Turkey Tetrazzini

This is not your cafeteria style Turkey's so yummy! I freeze leftover diced cooked turkey (from Thanksgiving or other), and make my own broth from the turkey carcass. Homemade turkey broth/stock makes all the difference!

To make the stock: Remove as much turkey meat as possible from your carcass. Dice the meat & freeze in ziploc bags. Place the remainder of the carcass (bones & skin) in a large stockpot. Add water so the pot is approximately 2/3 - 3/4 full. Add 2 whole bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then simmer on med-low heat for about 2 hours. Drain in a large colander over a large bowl to contain stock. Freeze cooled stock for later use.

Turkey Tetrazzini

Yield: 6-8 servings

4 cups cooked pasta
8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, divided
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 cup hot turkey stock or canned broth
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2/3 heavy whipping cream
Salt/Pepper to taste
2-3 cups diced, cooked turkey
1/2 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp dried bread crumbs

**Cook pasta 1-2 minutes less than suggested time. Drain and toss with 2 Tbsp butter. Set aside.

**Saute mushrooms with 2 Tbsp butter; cook til butter is absorbed and mushrooms' liquid is evaporated. Set aside.

**Heat turkey stock or broth in one saucepan; melt 2 Tbsp butter in another. Add flour to butter, making a roux, stirring to blend for 2 minutes over medium heat. Gradually add hot turkey stock and simmer sauce on low heat for 5 minutes, stirring as it thickens. Pour in cream and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then fold in diced turkey and mushrooms. Set aside.

**Butter a 2 quart shallow baking dish and layer the bottom with half the cooked pasta. Spoon half the cream sauce over pasta. Repeat layers. Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and cheese, and dot with remaining 2 Tbsp butter.

**Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly and lightly browned.

{I don't like mushrooms, so I omit them, and this is still very flavorful. But my friend June who gave me the recipe, loves the mushrooms and says they add terrific flavor!}

Friday, September 11, 2009


It's quiet here. Kids in bed, Marc just left for work. I'm winding down myself. I love the strength that is found in the quiet. It's enough to remind me that I am only me. And He is God. And that is enough.

Monday, August 24, 2009


I love those days when you go to bed really tired, but you know you've accomplished a lot.

Today, we had a beautiful sunny day. This is awesome because since we've moved into our new house, every weekday has been rainy. I love the rain, especially on the heels of the drought the past few years, but it's been so sad to see Zachary have to be cooped up. He just got his brand new yard but couldn't use it yet! So today, we got to play outside....we love it!

Marc has challenged me (and himself) to speak only positive things this week. I thought it wouldn't be too hard, but now I'm realizing that I've been more negative than positive these days. It's eye-opening when you have 2 ways to present something, and you have to actually stop to think about how to express yourself in a positive manner!

I feel like I've spent most of the day in the kitchen, although I really only spent a few hours. It would have been easy for me to complain about this, since it was such a pretty day, but instead I found myself being thankful. Thankful that I had so much extra food that needed to be put up today.
  • Free tomatoes that were about to go cut up & made into a great little sauce to be frozen. 2 meals worth of it.
  • Muffins made for my moms' group tomorrow. My favorite, lemon poppyseed!
  • Yesterday, I got some meat on super-sale at the grocery store. I always look for the markdowns and got our favorite italian sausage and some ground turkey for half price. The use-by date was only one day away so I had to cook it fast. 3 pounds each of sausage & turkey. I got to make 60 meatballs and browned up 1 pound of turkey & 2 pounds of sausage for using in other meals. That makes it so easy for me to start a meal off on busy nights...
  • We ate a rotisserie chicken the other night. Today, I put the bones & bits of meat into a pot, added water & some bay leaves & made my own stock.
  • The stock got made into homemade chicken soup, and I made homemade noodles out of pierogie dough. Yum, yum, yum! Marc had to force himself to save some for his lunch for work tomorrow. :)

And I got to clean up my laundry room area, did 4 loads of laundry, went through Zachary's fall clothes, and emptied a few random boxes. SO much to be thankful for today! I laughed because tonight I caught Marc just wandering around the house with this funny look on his face. I asked him what he was doing, and he said, "just enjoying my new actually looks like a house now and not a storage unit!" It sure feels good.

A few years ago, I would have laughed at "this" me. The "me" that enjoyed staying at home all day, enjoying the kids' laughter and the smell of good things coming from the kitchen. But now, I'm just smiling at how much God knew the desires of my heart, and He gave them to me. "Every good and precious gift...."

Freeze and Bake Yeast Rolls

This recipe is from one of my "moms." :) Janet, this is your mom's recipe! I bake these rolls a lot, but the secret is I only have to "make" them once. You get the convenience of the store-bought frozen rolls, but the goodness of knowing exactly what's in the rolls. No crazy chemicals...

Freeze and Bake Yeast Rolls

2 pkg active dry yeast (equivalent to 4 1/2 tsp, if you buy in bulk)
1 & 1/2 cups warm water
2 tsp sugar

Put the above together in a large bowl & let sit for about 5 minutes. You'll see the yeast start to work.


1 & 1/2 cups warm milk (not hot)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 tsp salt
7 & 1/2 to 8 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Add enough of the flour to form a stiff dough. Turn out onto a floured surface, knead until smooth, 6-8 minutes. (**Krista's note: If using a mixer with a dough hook, let the mixer do the work for about the same amount of time.) Place in greased bowl, turning dough once to grease the top.

Cover and let rise (about an hour), punch down and form into shapes or balls. At this point, you can form the balls into any shape you'd like. I make them fancy & place 3 smaller balls in each cup of a muffin tin--this makes a cloverleaf shape. You can also roll a larger ball into an 8"-10" rope & tie into a knot, pinching the ends together (do this on a floured surface).

Place rolls onto a greased baking sheet (or greased muffin tin), brush with melted butter, and let rise again until double (again about an hour).

To serve immediately, bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes.

To freeze for later, bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes. Allow to cool, freeze in ziploc bags. Bake frozen rolls at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until browned.


This may seem like a lot of work, but the most time is spent waiting for the dough to rise. Don't be afraid of yeast--give it a try! Hope you enjoy.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

And she walks!

Kenna surprised us last week by taking her first step (at 10 1/2 months). It was a sweet time & it was neat because I happened to be talking to Marc on the phone at the exact moment she did it. So he got to be part of it, too!

It took Zachary about a month from the time he took his first step til the time he really tried to walk everywhere, so I thought I had some time with Kenna. But it looks like she's going to be as stubborn and strong-willed as I think (and not just in the bad ways...) and she is walking. Zach will run by her in the house & she gets right up, starts laughing, and for a minute, you think she's going to run after him. It's ridiculously cute, because she's so small and it looks like this 6 month old is walking around the house!

Speaking of house, we are in the new house. Marc & I have decided we're never moving again, so the landlords may have to kick us out of this house before we choose to leave. I have revised my stance about the ease of moving when you've done it almost 30 times, and I now believe that moving with children involved is a nightmare. Especially when you have a very high-maintenance daughter who also happened to be cutting 3 teeth at once. Enough said.

So, we're in, the new house is painted, and I am unpacking. My favorite part about unpacking is seeing stuff I haven't seen or used in the last 5 years & putting it in the "garage sale" pile, a pile which is growing by the day. (We also moved our storage unit, which hasn't been touched since we moved here 2 yrs ago, so I am shocked by the things you "collect" over 10 yrs of marriage.)

Pictures will come at a time when I actually remember to take them during daylight hours, and when there are no boxes on the front of my wonderful, covered porch, and when the lawn gets mowed, and the house is clean. And all that stuff. But, it is lovely. Old house meets new paint, big yard meets happy children, tired mommy meets comforting white porch swing. Enough said.

Zachary starts "school" in a little over a week (his birthday falls too late to enter true preschool this year so it's sort of a Pre K 4 program)...he is excited. I am excited, not to get rid of him, but because I realized I have never had a day or even more than an hour with just my daughter. So I'm looking forward to hanging out with her all by myself.

It's hard to believe that it's almost September again. New milestones coming for our family this fall--Zach starting school, Kenna turning one, Marc turning 30, and we celebrate 10 yrs of marriage. Lots of new pages turning, and I am thankful that I know the One Who Writes the pages, and Who Knows the Endings, and Who Holds my Heart in His Hands. Do you know Him?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Can I just be sad today? I go through phases of grief...I think that this move to a new house and all that entails has helped me to not "think" so much. But it just hit me again today how sad I am about losing another baby.

People have told me they think we are strong because of all we have been through, and I think in a small way they are right--we've had a lot of practice at this kind of grief. But mostly, we've just learned Whom to hold on to. Our hope is in God, in our Savior Jesus Christ.

But just because we know that God works all things for our good according to His purpose, doesn't mean that disappointments won't come our way and that we won't suffer any on this earth.

I have to remind myself that it's ok to be sad, to grieve for this lost little one. It's ok. To take a few moments and honor the life that God allowed us to be part of creating, even for a short time.

The hardest times are those a few months after a loss, when the "news" of it has died down. You are still grieving, but everyone else has forgotten or just moved on. Your heart cries out to remember your little one and you want everyone else to remember too.

And, though I am happy for them, it's hard to see my friends announce their pregnancies, with due dates around the same time. I don't begrudge their happiness, not for a second. It just makes me sad to realize again all that is lost. All the excitement of hearing the heartbeat, seeing that tiny body through the ultrasound, finding out "girl" or "boy." Feeling the flutters of the first movements, rubbing my belly, bumping my belly into everything, using my belly as a table.

Yet, I am so thankful. I have not been left alone to deal with my loss. I am not forgotten. I am not betrayed, or forsaken. It was prophesied about Jesus:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. - Isaiah 61:1-3

"The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." Psalm 147:10

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cinnamon Muffins

Not so healthy, but these were quick to make & so so yummy. (The recipe says to serve warm, but I made them, let them cool, and we ate them for dessert. They are still good cold, but would be excellent warm, too.)

Cinnamon Muffins

Yield: 1 dozen

1/3 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg (we hate nutmeg, I replaced with cinnamon & it was good)
1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 Tbsp butter, melted

In a bowl, cream shortening & sugar. Add egg; beat well. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg (or cinnamon); add to creamed mixture alternately with milk and mix well.

Fill greased muffin cups half full. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. (Mine took only 15 min...these do not really brown so be sure to check with toothpick.)

In a shallow bowl, combine sugar & cinnamon. Dip muffin tops in butter, then in cinnamon-sugar. Serve warm. (Note: I had a lot of cinn-sugar left over--you might even be able to half the amounts for the topping depending on your preferences.)

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Today, I am celebrating MY independence. Yes, remembering what made this country great, our beginnings. But also remembering what Christ did for me, and reveling in the ways I get to experience that freedom on a daily basis.

Mostly, today, I am thankful for the freedom I have to raise my kids, at home. This is such a gift to sweet husband working so many hours so that I can do the best work there is. Nurturing new lives, training hearts, and in the process realizing how He wants to change me through it all.

I have a few links to share with you. These are powerful to me today; I hope they minister to you, too. (And maybe all you SAHMs reading this will get a few minutes to click on them since it's a Saturday...)

A Mother's Work...a new perspective. "Tonight, I’ll finally linger at the last light switch. I’ll have worked today but no one will have paid me a cent. Real work rises above the necessity of mere money. Tonight, I'll have more than money. I’ll have a bouquet of words, mumbled words from around the table from mouths too full. Words He too will say at the end of time to the faithful servants. Like the words He said in the beginning, when He began His work, when He finished each task..."

Not a Stay-at-Home-Mom? "~Hold a sleeping babe in your arms, mouth agape and warm breath drifting, and stand before a map of this world. Which would you rather have? Paris, New York, Tokyo, London------or this flesh lying against yours, this one made in the image and likeness of the very Divine? This world is going to burn up, cinders for the universe….but your child is a soul without end, forever and ever existence. The world has pitifully, laughably little to offer in comparison to this holy opportunity to raise up a child."

Relationship with God in the Midst of Crazy Family Life "Sometimes it is too loud in here. Sometimes I don’t know if I am going or coming here. Sometimes I’d like to leave here. But here, within these four walls, is where we live, and laugh, and love…in the presence of Him Who knows no boundaries...."

Kids are like Ice Cream. "Sometimes being a stay at home mom is like eating ice cream that has a little frost bite on it. You really love the ice cream so you keep eating it, but those little pieces find their way onto your spoon every now and again. It doesn't make you stop eating it, since you love it so, but it does put a sour taste in your mouth every now and again...."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Army museum, Ft Rucker, AL

Apparently, this was either the highlight of our trip, or the only time I remembered to take pictures while I was in decide!

Z going into the CH 47 Chinook helicopter.

Mom, Pete (Mom's boyfriend and a retired-Army-pilot-turned-instructor...and a great tour guide!), and Z...sorry these are dark, but there wasn't a lot of light in there!

Kenna was enjoying her "ride" in the back of the Chinook.

Bad picture, but if you can see it a little, it will give you some perspective of how big this helicopter is.

Pete and Zach. Z was SO excited about the pilot's hat Pete bought for him!

See how little she looks next to that thing?

Some old airplanes

The story of the Red Baron

Pretty much the only thing we heard the whole day was, "Hey Pete..." Zach was just so excited!

In the simulator

Kenna had to take a turn, too!

This place was really very cool. I find it hard to believe I lived in Dothan for so long and never went here! Hope this wasn't picture overload for you... :)

Dothan pics

Actually, I realized some of these pics were taken at home. Oh, well!

Cool girl

When she's super fussy, the only thing that will calm her down is watching Praise Baby DVDs. She is absolutely mesmerized by them!


Z and Quay Quay at Pizza Kastle in Dothan. Fun games, expensive food. Isn't that always how it works? :)

Z and Katie--such a great picture!

Some random pictures from May

Snapshot of our daily life! Z is always wrapped up in some kind of blanket that he carries around the house, and K always has to be right where her brother is.

Vacation Pictures

Here are some pics from our vacation with Marc's family in the Smokies, taken by my sis & bro-in-law. They took a ton of pictures, but since I'm posting so many, I narrowed them down to my favorites.

Kenna Boo

Me & my girl, riding the carousel for the first time

The baby cousins...Kenna and Kadence...after their baths! So cute!

Not the best pic of me, but I never get to snuggle with Kierlyn, so this was a special treat!

Marc's sister Shauna & Kadence--Love this picture!

Our attempt to get the kids to take "good" pictures. These were taken in Cades Cove.
Garren, Kadence, & Kierlyn

All 5 cousins


Friday, June 19, 2009


It's weird. I usually don't let a month go by without posting anything. But it's been a good season of quiet for me. Next post I will update you with some pictures--we've had some good ones over the last month.

Kenna is 9 months now, crawling, pulling up & cruising everywhere. She is a curious one and gets into everything. Zach was also curious, but she just has this look about she is headed for trouble. It's cute now, but I'm sure it will get interesting! She's babbling a lot more, shrieking, smiling, laughing. Just making us love her like crazy.

Zach is growing up. He's tall and so smart. I'm amazed at the stuff he comes up with these days, and loving how he expresses himself. He's really starting to think about some abstract concepts...keeping me on my toes! He was watching Robin Hood (Disney) with Marc a few weeks ago, and said, "Dad, but Robin Hood is stealing. That's not okay, right?" He just doesn't miss a beat! His chocolate brown eyes will melt my heart every time.

For Marc & I, life is busy. Hard, exciting, challenging--all at once. We found out several weeks ago we were expecting another baby, a huge surprise since I am still breastfeeding Kenna. (Yes, we knew it could happen, just didn't think it would...) Shocked does not even begin to cover it. :) But then, the shock wore off and we were just very excited. We started to plan for this new little one. Living in a 2 bedroom house was most certainly going to have to be the first thing to go! So....we're moving! Still renting, and still in Knoxville, but now it's a 3 bedroom house with beautiful yards, no stairs, and did I mention it has 3 bedrooms? :) We'll be moving next month and it can't come soon enough!!

But we did get some bad news this week. It seems that this baby is not to be. For reasons we will never understand, we have lost this little one. I wish I could say that this gets easier to deal with the fifth time around, but it's still so hard to deal with, to process. After the experience with Kenna and discovering I had some medical issues that seemed to be the reason for the previous losses, we felt like we were in the clear with this pregnancy. So, needless to say, we are struggling to accept this loss...of what was for just a few weeks, of what could have been for the rest of our lives.

I say all this, hoping that I do not make you uncomfortable in any way. I know that miscarriage is a part of people's lives that often remains hidden, and for good reason. It IS uncomfortable. It is private. People don't know how to respond--what to say, what not to say. Often times I find myself seeking to comfort someone else I have just told about our loss, because I have found a way to cope, but it's still shocking to them. (I guess I'm doing that now...ha ha ha.)

Just know that I am sharing this because you all who read my blog are a part of our lives and we love you. We would covet any prayers you might wish to pray for us. And also know that we will be okay. We know and fully believe that God is holding us in the palm of His hand. He will never leave us or forsake us. He is walking this difficult path with us. We may never understand this side of heaven what purposes and plans were accomplished with this suffering, but in everything, we just want His will for our lives.

(The following applies to us, but I know that it would also apply to anyone else who is hurting with a similar loss...) If you would like to do something besides pray, there are a few things we have found that help us during difficult days. A meal, a babysitter so Marc & I can have some alone time to talk or just laugh together, an outing with or without the kids to keep my mind occupied. (But sometimes it's hard for us to ask for help when we're hurting; if you want to help, it's always helpful for us if you have an idea already in mind, rather than just say "let me know if there's anything I can do." We believe in your sincerity in wanting to help; it's just hard for us to ask specifically.)

Hug your kids a little tighter tonight, okay? I know I am snuggling with mine, holding to these days so closely...they are going by quickly. We love all of you and pray you are doing well so far this summer!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sometimes you feel like a fitted sheet

I would like to own one of those factory machines that fold brand-new fitted sheets. I mean, does anyone really know how to fold a fitted sheet perfectly? The stupid elastic stuff makes it so hard to fold them "nicely" so they stack up prettily in your linen closet. Instead you end up just haphazardly rolling the sheet over and over your arm until it sort of "looks" folded enough and you stuff it into the back of the shelf where nobody sees.

Flat sheets, on the other hand, are every woman's dream. Every side folds corner to corner. It all lines up til you have a perfect little rectangle. If I have a choice? Sure, I'm going to pick the flat sheet every time.

As I, ahem, "folded" one such fitted sheet this morning, I was thinking about how lately my life feels like a fitted sheet. Not such an easy task, folding my life into a perfect rectangle. Doing everything "just so" and, when I'm done, putting it away on the shelf in admiration.

I'm tired of the hard stuff. Tired of trying to make my own expectations line up end to end and feeling like I'm never going to get there. Sometimes I just want to give up & roll it over and over until it resembles something barely close to the original design. And sometimes I just sit & whine, "Why couldn't I have been a flat sheet?" You know, those people you look at and think, "Their life looks so great. Everything seems so pleasant and perfect."

But, the Lord reminds me of a few things. The world needs fitted sheets. Laugh at me. Go ahead. But when you're done laughing, think about what life would be like with your bottom sheet moving all over the place. Husbands and wives would have one more thing to argue about...

I pondered the elastic for awhile. After all, it's the magic elastic that keeps your sheet in place. Elastic is stretchy, flexible, adaptable. It conforms to whatever it is wrapping around. You know that it's there, doing its job; yet you can't see it, hidden under the edge of the fabric. And when the bed is all made up and beautiful, the elastic is at the very bottom. The lowest of the lowest (well, except the bedskirt. but that's for another day...).

So when I think about the end result of my life, my goals, what I really want to look like when it's all said & done, I realize I want to be a fitted sheet after all. I want myself to be conformed to what (Who) I'm wrapped around--Jesus Christ. I want the "me" part of myself to be hidden underneath it all so that He can be showcased.

I think that's one of the reasons why I try to be transparent. I think that most people naturally want to showcase their good side. The happy occasions, the beautiful pictures, and perfect family moments. I totally get that. And normally, that's the side I err on: wanting to make sure I am not being so transparent that all I am doing is sharing the "yuck" with you. After I post things going on in my life like feeling like a crazy person or struggling with postpartum depression, I go into this panic mode where I want to retract every word I have just typed. My intention with this blog is not for it to be my yucky journal, but to share my life with you. The good, the bad, the ugly.

Having said that, I could be missing it here, but I feel like my greatest opportunities for ministry to others have come when I have laid down my "perfect-ness" and become vulnerable. I hear from so many women who tell me, "Yes, I have been there," and encourage me that I am not alone, or that they have received encouragement knowing they are not alone either.

I've also heard from other women who say that it was my testimony that spurred them on to be even more vulnerable themselves. Let's face it--in a small group setting, no one wants to be the one to say "I struggle with -------." Fill in the blank: Anger, Unforgiveness, Pornography, Slander (gossip), Lust, Pride, Envy. But I believe that the enemy (Satan) has so much power over us when we hide that stuff from each other. It is the boldness of one person saying "This is not who I am, it is a sin I struggle with, and Jesus has forgiven me" that can release others from the grip of that same sin.

People---the devil wants us to hide our yuck. He wants us to push it down and think that no one else deals with "my little problem." He wants us to think "it's not a big deal" or "God isn't really bothered when I gossip. It's just a little thing." But, if we are brave enough, vulnerable enough, we will be saved from even the little things. "By the blood of the Lamb (Jesus Christ) and the word of our testimony."

So I have decided I'm going to continue being vulnerable, sharing my struggles as well as my victories, in the hopes that it might minister to someone. And in the hopes that every bit of the struggle will "create in me a new heart" that is growing to be like Christ.

James 5:16 "Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective."

Friday, May 15, 2009

Don't fight

I will spare you the messy details of my last few weeks, but suffice it to say, they've been rough. I'm not a crying kind of girl, but I've cried hard 4 out of the last 7 days. Really rough.

I'd like to know a few things. What's the deal with mommy burnout and how come no one ever talks about it out loud? Why do I feel like I'm the only one spilling my guts about how rough life can be with young kids? Why do I feel guilty because no one else is sharing, though I know others have to be feeling the same way (or did at this same point in their lives)?

Is it a woman thing? A pride thing? A Southern thing? Somebody, help a woman out!

I've been feeling desperate this week. Among other emotions. :) Responsibility and commitment have kept me at my mommy post, when everything inside me was screaming "I need out!" Apparently, from talking this over with a few very close friends, it turns out I'm not the only one who's been through this. What a relief!

I got some much-needed alone time tonight. It's always hard to know what to do with myself when I am forced to be alone, away from my house. I feel lost, like I don't even know who the real me is anymore apart from PB&J sandwiches or changing diapers or shushing crying babies.

I'm walking this line, it seems, between "I know that this life is not about me being happy and I can be content no matter the circumstances because the joy of the Lord is my strength," and "Somebody let me off this train to nowhere-land because I'm going to lose my mind and this is not what I signed up for when I chose to follow Christ!" It's a really fine line. You know, like those extra-fine ball point pens? Super fine.

Anyway, during my time away, I spent some time reflecting over the ways the Lord has been speaking to me this week. Or trying to speak to me--I've been a little hard-headed and obstinate, feeling like I wanted to do this my way and not His way. Sometimes you've just got to drill it into my head before I really hear it....guess this was one of those weeks.

My girl Celina reminded me (via a random facebook status) that "there is real joy out there...but it doesn't come without some sacrifice of the superficial things that give us temporary happiness."

Then tonight in the car, this Proverbs 31 commercial came on. Normally, these cutesy little stories annoy me, but I happened to listen this time. The woman was talking about a situation with her son who was saying "Why is this happening to me?" (about a necessary medical procedure) And she was thinking to herself, "Yes, why me?" Then she taught her son that God uses our sufferings to teach us things...I believe she said that He teaches us "in the classroom of sufferings." She went on to quote Hebrews 13:5 where God says, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." And 2 Cor 12:9 where Jesus says to Paul, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Ok, God, I'm getting it! I started to realize what my heart already knew but my brain needed some time to absorb. He IS with me, He DOES love me, and I CAN do all things through Christ's strength.

Then, two separate times in the car, this song came on the radio. Normally, I'm super annoyed by the fact that the radio stations feel the need to play certain songs a hundred million times until it gets drilled into your head so much you can't stand it anymore. But, tonight, it was a blessing.

By Your Side
Tenth Avenue North

Why are you striving these days
Why are you trying to earn grace
Why are you crying
Let me lift up your face
Just don't turn away

Why are you looking for love
Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough
To where will you go child
Tell me where will you run
To where will you run

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Look at these hands and my side
They swallowed the grave on that night
When I drank the world's sin
So I could carry you in
And give you life
I want to give you life

Cause I, I love you
I want you to know
That I, I love you
I'll never let you go

And I'll be by your side
Wherever you fall
In the dead of night
Whenever you call
And please don't fight
These hands that are holding you
My hands are holding you

Monday, May 11, 2009

A picture journal

Dad & Lisa came to visit a few weekends ago. We had a great time with them. Dad was helping us fix our couch...somehow we all ended up in the kitchen at the same time & we realized, "Where's Kenna?"

At this point, she wasn't crawling, but she could still get herself where she wanted to go. I guess she wants to be a handywoman! (You know it's your second child when you run for the camera before taking away the sharp, pointed screwdrivers!)

Finally! A "real" family picture of the four of us. Maybe the next time, we'll ALL be smiling! :)

Dad, Lisa, & the kids

Kenna enjoying her breakfast one morning. I love seeing her smile behind those fingers!

Marc & Zachary on a rainy day.... "Before"


And "After!" He had so much fun!

Kenna turned 8 months yesterday. It's hard to believe, yet I'm thankful all at the same time! Every time I feel sad about her lack of newborn-ness, I remind myself of the hours of screaming every day. :)
These baby blues get me every time.

Z couldn't be left out of the picture taking!

She's always got her eye on whatever her big brother is doing!

I love this picture of her. She's such a thinker!

She was trying to get my camera here & had propped her arm up on my leg. This smile makes all the hard times so worth it!

Marc came home from work today & caught us in a quiet moment together (the first quiet moment all day!) He grabbed the camera so we wouldn't forget what peace looks like.