Thursday, January 28, 2010

What Margaret May Not Tell You

If you are a Minnesota blogger, you KNOW Margaret. Many of you beyond this great state KNOW Margaret. And if you don't, well, you've gotta get to KNOW Margaret.

She's a hoot! She writes with wit and humor, grace and honesty, faith and substance. If I ever need a laugh, in comes Margaret. If I need encouragement, in pops Margaret. Spiritual growth? Yup, there's Margaret. I'll admit it, I eagerly await for Minnesota Mom to come up in my Google Reader. She's a faithful friend, always there when you need her.

Well, image my sheer delight when I stumbled upon something last week. As I was looking for the latest updates on the Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference, I grinned as I read Margaret's name. With few details at that point, I sent Miss Margaret an email telling her that I knew her little 'secret' and could not wait to hear her speak. She replied, sharing how truly honored she was to have been invited. And then she even gave me a sneak peek at her two talks. You wanna hear them?

The first: "Grace for the Baking: A Humerous Look at How to Turn Those Daily To-Dos Into Teaching Moments"

The second: "Keeping Your Eyes on Your Own Work: Other Homeschoolers do it Differently. It's okay to be okay with that and by the grace of God, you can"

Don't they sound wonderful? I know that with all of her knowledge she's got to share and her humor sprinkled in there, Margaret's going to have us feeling full and satisfied after she speaks.

There are a number of superb speakers on tap for that Saturday in May and I cannot wait to listen and be refreshed and rejuvenated in our Catholic homeschooling adventure.

Just as I wait for her in Reader, I'll be waiting patiently IRL to see her at the end of May, she is Margaret In Minnesota after all.

*Editor's Note: This is a shameless plug for a fellow blogger. No goods were exchanged for this promotion. :)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

From My Four-Year-Old

On Jonah's mind today:

"When God made everything, He had to take a rest. It was A LOT of work to make all that STUFF!"

"When He was making everything and He made the pretty rainbow with all of the colors, then he took all of those colors and made crayons. Then He took all of them to the store before it was even opened, so that people could buy them."

Try It, You'll Like It

Since this post last week, my children and I have been enjoying some very simple and tasty snacks. Thank you for your comments and advice!

I've also found that due to the links you provided, I've also felt rejuvenated in the kitchen. Ready for new recipes and venturing away from those oh-so-popular Midwestern hotdishes. They didn't grace our table super-often, but often enough when I was stuck in a culinary rut.

Here are a few new places to try when you need some inspiration:

America's Test Kitchen
Food Network
Kraft Foods Recipes
My Kitchen Cafe

Thanks to all of the above links, this week I'm planning on adding Hearty Pasta Tomato Soup, Cheesy Chicken Vermicelli, Fun Taco Cups and Slow-Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken to our menu.

Hopefully all of the links are helpful for the next time you are stuck when your kids ask, "What's for dinner?"

If you try none of these links, might I HIGHLY suggest trying this one: Peanut Butter Crunch Snack Balls. This recipe did not disappoint! Good snack that the whole family will enjoy and it's a super easy, freezer pleaser too!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Love This Author

I find myself regularly (and especially during the winter months) reaching for a good book. Admittedly, sometimes it's awfully tough to find an author who takes the moral high-road and sticks to just good 'ol fashion, well written fiction. You know, something that doesn't involve innuendos, obscenities or other moral indiscretions.

I enjoy reading and always have since my childhood. Although my quiet reading times are fewer and far between since motherhood, I like my time to be used wisely. I want a page-turner, something that I want to come back to enjoy.

I have found that the author, Richard Paul Evans, always delivers. His writing appeals to my tastes and each of his novels inspires and gives me that 'feel-good' that I need after a busy day at home. I have been a loyal follower of his and eagerly anticipate each of his releases.

I received his latest, The Christmas List, as a gift and while the four of us spent a weekend sick with the flu it allowed me extra time to read it. Again, Mr. Evans did not disappoint. After his obituary is mistakenly printed in the local newspaper, James Kier realizes how many people wished he were gone and that others' perceptions of his life was not at all what he expected. He realizes that he hurt many people in his life all out of his pursuit of money and prestige. He decides to try and make amends to a list of people who he mislead and disregarded while merely 'taking care of business' and rising to fame.

This book was a reminder of the need for amends and forgiveness while journeying through life and that the decisions we make affect so many different lives.

I highly encourage giving his novels a try. I'm sure you can find a whole treasure trove of them at your local library.

How about you? What do you enjoy reading? Who is your favorite author?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Simply Put, Good Book

Have you read Mitch Albom's latest, Have A Little Faith? I have been an on-and-off reader of Mitch's books over the last several years. Mitch has authored such books as Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet In Heaven and For One More Day, all of which I have read.

His books are pretty simple reading and this mommy's brain appreciates that. As much as I try, I just can't get into those thick, heavy, mind-numbing, overly intellectual books. Sorry, just not me. I enjoy my simplistic nonfiction, thank you.

In Have A Little Faith, I was once again left with thought provoking intrigue as I continued through the book. It is the story of an eight year journey that the author shared with two very different men of different faiths and communities. A Rabbi and a reformed Christian Pastor. An African-American and a white man.

Asked by his childhood Rabbi to perform his eulogy when the time comes, the author begins spending a lot of time with the man to understand him better in order to perform the task laid before him. At the same time, near his current home, Mitch becomes involved with a Detroit pastor who ministers to the poor and homeless.

During the book as America begins to struggle, he finds that many are turning to their faith and beliefs. Although there are many differences in these two men and the faith they believe in and profess, Albom recognizes some of the unities that lie between them. In the end, he finally understands that what the men have been teaching him throughout this process is what he knew (and had forgotten) all along:

Believing in something much bigger than yourself brings profound comfort to those who simply, have a little faith.

I'd highly encourage this book if you are searching for an easy, quick-read and perhaps are looking for a small reminder of the strength and hope found in Faith.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fun(ny) Competition

Since the Christmas addition of our newest family member, Wii, we have been enjoying lots of time in our living room (it is the dead of winter, after all). Using Christmas money I received, we added it's friend, the Balance Board, as well.

We've been sure to set limits and keep all things in healthy moderation. I'd read for months many other bloggers who had this in their home and we took a long hard look at every aspect of it before considering the purchase. But seriously, can I tell you how much we enjoy Wii? I've even incorporated it as part of the kids exercise/physical education during school. The fact that using the Wii Fit Plus provides stretching and balancing exercises that even my little ones can try, is an added bonus. At first, we enjoyed the Sports games and the Carnival Games a lot. But since adding the Board, it's all about the KungFu, Obstacle Course, Running and Hoola Hooping to name a few of the favorites. Did I mention that mommy can even do her exercising on here?

This week, the kids noticed that daddy gets to use the Wii the least due to him being gone all day. It showed when they opened up the Wii Plaza and we all saw that although our little Mii's were full of energy and jumping up and down, daddy's was drooping and sleeping. We felt bad and realized that we needed to get Reed's Mii in tip-top shape again.

And so, last night began a new family time tradition, Wii Wednesday!! This way, we'll be sure to set aside some time for family fun and competition. It proved to be just that. Lily has been declared All-Time-Wii-Coach (or shall we say, 'boss'). She stood there alongside each of us on a number of the games and told us when to extend, run, walk and watch out! She's a Pro, that one. Of course, you couldn't have this type of competition without laughing. Albeit, sometimes laughing AT someone in this case. It's a hoot when you sit back and watch others doing some of this stuff! And sometimes, your kids think the way you do a certain activity looks so funny that they call you Mr. Tumnus (you know, from Chronicles of Narnia), because when you 'run' through the Obstacle Course your feet on the Board sound a lot like the way his hooves sound when he's stomping the snow off of them!

That's okay. It's all in good humor and in the name of fun-filled family time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In Search Of....

...Snack Ideas!!

I know I have some VERY smart ladies who follow me here. I also know that there are many of you who are frugal mamas. You also try your best to provide healthy choices for your children.

Sometimes I get in a snack time slump. You know, when it's just easier to open up a box of Teddy Grahams or store bought Granola bars and call it a 'snack'? I would love to offer better homemade options, since I am at home and can take the time to make and create good snacking options for my family. Still, I like to keep snacks easy and quick. That's where you come in!

What recipes do you have? Where do you find recipes? What are your favorite websites that help you out?

This Munching Mama and my Little Bears eagerly await your suggestions!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

In The Arms Of The Angels

Our Great-niece, baby Hazel Marie, entered God's eternal kingdom at 11:44 this morning. She was held in her mother's loving embrace, as her father hummed her to sleep. Hazel fought hard for almost two weeks, but her little body could not take any more.

We weep with sadness as our hearts ache because we are not able to join her. She rejoices today as she enters her Heavenly reward. In her short time here on earth, she blessed so any lives. Hazel brought so many to their knees as we awaited a miracle. Her parents exhibited a deep faith and strength beyond belief as they shared their journey with us and became such witnesses to those of us who waited. Hazel's mission was simple: to bring a piece of Heaven here for a short time on earth. Today, she rests peacefully in Jesus' arms.

The family has felt your continued support through prayers you sent their way in abundance. Please keep them coming as we continue on from here without the littlest member of our extended family.

Eternal rest grant unto Hazel, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.


These are VERY overdue, I know. Please excuse the delay, but some of these were much too pretty to pass up. Of course, the ones during the snowstorm are much easier to consider 'beautiful' three weeks later, when we are not breaking our backs shoveling and trying to keep up with it. And, the fact that today we are sitting around 30 degrees instead of the single digits like we were back then!

Reunited At Last

My old friend has arrived safely. And never have I wanted to hug that delivery man in brown more than I did the other day!

After my computer decided that it needed a (well deserved) break, my heart froze. How would I get through the day? What about all of my 'stuff' on there? What if it couldn't be retrieved? What if I sent it in and it came back working, but everything lost? What then?

It seems silly now, but at the time it was a source of much stress. You know what though? I survived. And I waited. I used my iPod Touch to do what I NEEDED to do. Nothing more. But oh how I missed my beloved bookmarked websites!

And then, the man in brown appeared and brought back my big, bulky friend. The screen seemed so huge. My fingers seemed out of shape after being confined to the small typepad on the iPod. I started the computer, bracing for the worst and yet hoping for the best. And there it was, EVERYTHING. My photos, my documents, my bookmarks, my Inbox. Thankfully, 'James', the computer wizard-man, took care of my dear friend and left everything where I could find it. Sweetness!

What did I learn during those two weeks?

1. I seriously need to back EVERYTHING up on my computer so that I don't go through that heartache again!

2. The computer also holds my brain and has a lot of my stuff there. I depend on it A LOT. That's probably not good.

3. And while technology is great, I was able to read several books during my brief computer hiatus. It felt so good to sit and read again!!

4. I can survive. I did survive. It wasn't really all that bad.

Dear friends, I am glad to be back to blogging, commenting and reading all of you back on full screen again! You all look so wonderful and many of you have made some very cute new changes on your blog layouts/backgrounds. Perhaps it's time for a little winter modification on my end. We'll see.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Calling All Prayer Warriors!!

When you read this, please say a prayer. Or perhaps two.

Our dear great-niece, baby Hazel, whom we have been praying for has taken a turn into an unknown outcome. She has been gradually taken off of her ECMO machine for her heart, today. While we are remaining prayerful and hopeful, her parents are preparing for the worst since her body is not responding as it should. There are too many complications and too many signs of other problems and conditions that are not allowing her to heal normally and completely.

Members of the family are making the trek to the Mayo Clinic and could use prayers for safety. The rest of us wait by our computers, hanging on every update. We are trying not to give up, but our hearts are aching with sadness at the possibilities.

We are pleading for a miracle, if that be a part of God's plan. And if not, we are praying for strength and grace for Hazel's parents and grandparents as they are led down a path with an unknown future.
May Hazel's guardian angel watch over and protect her as Jesus leads her in His perfect plan.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Looking For An Upgrade

Mommy's Monday Ego Booster #64:

Shouts Boy, who has just been reprimanded for unkind words toward Sister:

"I want to be adotered by different people so that I can be the boss and do everything myself."

Confused Mom:

"You want to be a doctor? Are you going to be able to cook for yourself if I'm not there?"

Angered Boy:

"No! I want to be ADOCTED by OTHER PARENTS!!!"

She finally gets it:

"Oh, you want to be ADOPTED."

So, I guess he's looking for an upgrade. Any takers??

Actually, this a fairly common occurance these days. Not the adoption request, but the wish for leniency. Jonah has developed a soft spot as of late. When the parental voice becomes slightly elevated, he covers his ears and the water works begin. He doesn't like being shouted at. In reality, our tones are far from shouting. I guess our raised tones are an in-your-face reminder of his wrong doing and he'd rather it go unnoticed and forgotten.

It's a tough spot to be in, trying to discipline and yet get around his tender heart at the same time. Another hurdle in parenthood to jump over and work through. Of course, having been labeled 'sensitive' for a certain portion of my formative years, I can completely sympathize with the little guy.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

*Update* On Baby Hazel

Your prayers are helping! Keep them coming!

Miss Hazel, my newest great-niece, made it through her surgery on Tuesday. Unfortunately, it was found that she has an issue with her lungs, pulmonary hypertension. She is still on a machine for this and also still on a bypass machine since her surgery. She has not been able to be taken off of these yet as the doctors are cautious and making sure that the heart and lungs are strong enough first. They are hoping to give it a try tomorrow, Friday.

Hazel did open her eyes to watch mommy and daddy today and look around her room. She also moved her toes and fingers a little bit too. Her parents have become an amazing testimony of strength as they have shared of their reliance on God during this time and witnessed to His greatness and plan in all of this. Wonderful testimony for young parents in their early twenties!

Keep those prayers flooding this way. There's a little girl who is relying on every single one of them.

Thursday Morning Random

From Lily:

Jonah has such soft hands. He's so handsome too. Isn't he cute? He isn't going to have any trouble when he grows up finding a wife. He looks so good already, I can't even imagine how nice he'll look when he's a teenager.

These are the things filling the mind of my seven year old girl this morning. As for me, I'm contemplating supper ideas and still trying to get said cute boy dressed for the day. Getting him out of the house and married can wait.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Urgent Prayer Request!

Our family could use prayer warriors, especially today. So, naturally, I am turning to you.

I am confident that you will wrap my dear little great-niece, Hazel, in an abundance of prayers from wherever you are. Hazel was born New Year's day and was airlifted Saturday night to the Mayo Clinic. She has been diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrom and needs an initial surgery, with another at six months and a third, at two-five years old.

Little Hazel has been stable, but surgery is scheduled for 7:00 am TODAY and is expected to last eight hours.

Please keep Hazel, her physicians, nurses and parents in your prayers as much as possible. It is appreciated beyond measure.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pardon The Interruption

Sometimes things happen at the least opportune times. And sometimes they happen in order to slow you down and teach you a lesson. I'm still trying to figure what this last week has been.

I do know that when my laptop mysteriously locked up last Sunday, that my heart sunk. I did, after all have blog posts to write. I had photos to share. I had things to say. All of that needed to be put aside.

So, instead, I have kept tabs on the outside world via my Google Reader and my beloved Facebook. This, all thanks to the great gift Reed gave me for Christmas, an iPod Touch. And the splurge we made last year of wireless internet in our home. Oh how grateful I am!!

Please excuse my absence. Trust me, I've missed you here. Please also excuse my posts in the coming week or two if they are less than perfect. Getting the hang of the little screen and typepad is a challenge. I sincerely hope that my computer will be back in working order soon, but it needs to get sent back to the manufacturer since it's problem needs to be taken care of by them and the warranty has been extended due to this issue.

I am sincerely praying that all will return to normal soon and that all of my precious data will be intact when the laptop is operational again.

In the meantime, I do have good news from this week: We were able to celebrate my family Christmas over New Year's and we had together. We've also had plenty of time to spend with Reed's family and the kids and I enjoyed lunch out with friends on Wednesday. I also became Great-Auntie for the third time to yet another precious baby girl. Hazel Marie was born on New Year's day. Congrats new daddy and mommy, Ryan and Angie!

The bad news from the week: We are currently hunkered down at home, all four of us, due to the flu. We're getting through it, but hope it passes quickly and things are back to normal soon.

Well, there you have it. If you have been wondering where I have been, now you know.

Happy New Year Everyone!

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