Monday, August 20, 2012

Crafting Monday

I've been spending time "stalking" blogs that I love. Reading almost everything I find while thinking about why I love them so much. These women are no different than me. They are crazy busy, just like me. They want to be creative, just like me. They love God, just like me. I guess what is comes down to is they are JUST LIKE ME. So I thought I would do something fun with my blog and write about one of my passions for each day.  From now on Mondays are Crafting Mondays.

Today I'm going to tell you about my main passion and that is Crochet. My aunt Karen tried to teach me how to crochet when I was 7 years old and for some reasons my fingers just couldn't manage the hook and yarn. She eventually gave up, but I did enjoy watching her work her yarn. I have a few of her pieces and when she passed away she gave me all of her yarn, needles, patterns and unfinished projects.

Fast forward 13 years and I'm a married woman. A dear friend, Nancy was pregnant with her son. I wanted to give her something special and set my mind to crocheting an afghan. I turned to my mother-in-law, Joyce, to once again try and teach me how to crochet. She pulled out an old pattern that was her mother's and taught me how to chain, single and double crochet. Looking back, there were a lot of mistakes, but Nancy loved it and I was proud and hooked. :D Yes pun intended.

My passion escalated while I was in Pennsylvania when I met the women of the local Crochet Guild of America. Jane, our fearless leader, is not only an amazing teacher, but a great encourager. She does amazing work that is truly beautiful. Not only is she our leader, but she is a member of the board for the Crochet Guild of America. We met once a month for our meetings, but we got together weekly to chat, crochet, drink coffee and develop friendships. We visit amazing yarn shops, learned new techniques, and I learned how to take my crochet from handmade to a hand crafted art. I'm not at the level of the ladies there, but I'm learning and as Jane keeps reminding me, I'm trying to climb out of my pattern box.

This leads me to today. As I'm expecting baby number 5 I begin my journey to find the perfect pattern and yarn to crochet their own special afghan. I stopped by Hobby Lobby and found a beautiful baby yarn called Baby Bee and the color is called Charming. It is a lovely variegated of purple, pink, green and white. Since I have my yarn I had to begin my quest for a pattern.(I don't know if I'm having a girl or boy, so I will make two afghans but decided to start with one for a girl.) I looked over my stitch books and couldn't find a stitch that I loved. I turned my search to the Internet and found something that inspired me. For a girl afghan I found a pattern that is textured and though sounds complex is relatively simple. Picot Stitch Baby Blanket, is what I found. It is solid white, but will look just as lovely in a variegated.

I began this yesterday while taking care of my sick family. If I work on it regularly it shouldn't take me long, but I will tell you now it is delicate and is lovely to the touch. I can't wait to finish it and show it off.

Until tomorrow,
Give life to those you meet,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Princess has the ear of THE KING

I know this was suppose to come out yesterday, but I was sick with a high fever and couldn't think straight. My words were jumbled and I couldn't seem to stay on track. I hope you will forgive me and enjoy my post just the same.

As a parent, I found the greatest pleasure at sitting and listening to my children's thoughts. I want to hear all about what is on their minds. Whether it be stress of school, worry for a friend or even their greatest fears.  This really came to me one night when William had an upset stomach. He vomited all over the place, including me, and this pregnant mommy just can't handle that. I changed clothes and left the clean up to daddy, as he asked. Pip came into my room wanting to curl up with me. He began sobbing and when I asked him what was wrong his reply was, "I'm going to miss William." When I asked him what he meant, he responded with, "I know he's going to die now and I'm going to miss him." While I quickly reassured him that William wasn't going to die and that he would start to feel better soon, it dawned on me the love and trust this precious little soul has in me that he would bear his heart to me. He knew that I would listen and would reassure him.

This is just a small example of the love my KING has for me. I may have carried this child under my heart for 10 months, but I'm not the perfect creator of the universe, the one who holds the whole world in his hands. I'm just a small person-- one in a billion. BUT my KING knows me. He knows how many hairs are on my head. He counts me as valuable. If I would want to hear the deepest desires of my child's heart, why wouldn't a KING who gave His only son for me want to hear the deepest desires, pains and loves of my heart?
My KING wants me to curl up next to Him telling Him the pains, desires, dreams, wishes and cares of my heart. This has become more and more evident to me the older I am. I have a great desire to go to Him with everything on my heart. Not just for things I want, but for desires for other people. Prayer is something God not only wants but expects of us. Did you know that the Bible the word pray 312 times, if I counted correctly, prayed is mentioned 65 times, prayer is mentioned 114 times, while prayers, prayest, prayeth and praying are mentioned 53 times? Something that is mentioned that many times, must certainly be important not only to God, but to us.

You know that communication is essential to any good relationship. Marriages break down because of lack of communication. Business transactions fall apart because of lack of good communication. What is more important to us that our relationship to our KING and heavenly Father? I can't think of a single thing. Can you?

So with all of this information, we come to the conclusion that He wants to hear what we have to say. Not only does He want to hear it, but He really listens. Take for example, a friend and brother in Christ,Scott Sandusky, was wounded two days ago in an accident. Once the news was out, Scott was immediately lifted up before our KING and Father in prayer. Not just by me, but my people across the country and world. It wasn't just one quick prayer it was a constant stream a storming of Heaven, not only for him, but his wife, family and the doctors who were taking care of him. God couldn't help but notice us bowing before him begging for the health and recovery of our friend. Scott did end up losing his leg, but he is on his way to recovery and will be able to continue to live and serve his family and his God.

God knew what was going on. He saw it all. I'm positive He had a plan for what was going on and how it was going to happen. Just imagine for a moment that He stopped what he was doing to listen to each and every plea of His people. He knew our hearts' desire. He knew what we begged of Him and in His love for us as His people granted our wish. His people came together as one voice not to murmur and complain about some thing for themselves, but for a dear brother and His family. For that moment when we were at prayer before the KING, we had his ear. We placed the desires of our hearts upon Him. We gave Him our pain and burden and He lifted it off of us.

This is just one example of how we have the ear of the KING. If we can do this, if our faith can move mountains, help to save a life, help to give life not only to those we know, but to everyone we meet, imagine what else you can do if you are willing to take the time to speak to your KING. Imagine how your marriage can change, your children who drive you insane how their hearts can change, the brother or sister who has walked away, the friend who has no relationship with God. Prayer is powerful! It can change lives!

Now I have a question for you. Do you have an example of how prayer has changed your life? If so please share. Please take a few minutes in the comments to bear witness to how the KING has listened to you.

Until tomorrow,
Give life to all you meet,

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What it means to be a Princess of THE KING

I've spent a lot of time thinking about my blog. About what it is and what I want it to be, and if this is something God wants me to do. For the past several days I've had a strong desire to have a series of posts about something that is on my heart.

A friend of mine, Mindy, talked about calling herself a princess. At first I thought it was just cute and because she is in a household of four guys, but the more I thought about and let it sit on my heart the more I began to wonder if there wasn't something more to it. I came to this simple conclusion, if God is my KING and I am a child of his, doesn't that make me a Princess? Can it be as simple as that? Can I just call myself a Princess? Am I worthy of being such a person?

Like most women my age, I grew up adoring Diana, Princess of Wales. I wanted to be her. I wanted to grow up and marry my own prince and live in a castle with nothing to do all day, but sit around and be waited upon. I did find my prince, but my bubble of a princess has been burst by the many princess movies that have been made.

You can't compare a movie princess or one in real life, to one that is a Princess of THE KING, but there are some similarities. I'm going to take a couple of weeks to talk about these things. I'm sure I will learn a lot along the way and maybe you will as well. I am hoping that through this journey I will become a true Princess of THE KING, and that others who are in doubt of themselves like me will become a true Princess as well.

Since this is my introduction to this topic, I will start blogging about my first topic tomorrow.  If you have ideas, suggestions, questions, or comments, please don't hesitate to make them. Everything you share is a bit of wisdom that others need to hear to help them on their journey to become a Princess of THE KING.

Until tomorrow,
Give life to those you meet,

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pregnancy, SPD and School Planning

It has been a while and I was asked for an update. It will probably be a long post, and I should probably break it up, but I don't know when I will feel as good as I do this morning. To some this first part will seem like nothing but complaining, but I've been asked how my pregnancy is going and I strive to be honest.

For the past 8 weeks or more I've been sick. I'm sick if I eat and I'm sick if I don't. If you add to that the lack of sleep, then you have one miserable mommy. I seem to sleep for an hour and wake up completely for at least 15 minutes before I can fall asleep again. I am constantly tired and sick to my stomach.

There is also the emotional roller coaster. Stephen says I'm pretty stable, but I feel like I'm all over the place when it comes to my emotions. One minutes I'm crying and the next I'm scared and fretting over something. I've been fighting panic attacks on a daily basis. In one way this is good as it is forcing me to spend more time in prayer as I know I can't deal with this alone, in another way I feel so emotionally drained and as if I have nothing to give to my family let alone to be able to take care of myself. I've had to give it all to God and pray that He will make sure it all works out.

Jackson and Audrey seem to be handling the pressure well. They are gladly fixing breakfast and lunch for everyone as the smell of cooking meat usually causes me to run to the bathroom. I'm so thankful now for taking the time when they were younger to teach them how to cook. These meals are nothing super fancy, but they are good, sustaining and edible. There's nothing more I can ask of them than that.

Along the lines of my pregnancy I've discovered that I have what is called Sensory Processing Disorder. When most people hear this they think of the Autism Spectrum Disorder and how SPD goes along with that. Now maybe I am on the ASD, but I've learned some ways to cope with it, where my William is having troubles.

Let me take a few minutes to explain some things to you. I can not stand crowds of any kind. I refuse to walk down the center aisle at church after services until most of the people have left. It's not that I think people are unclean, it is just I don't like that many people around. I do not like some one sitting on the couch right next to me. This drove my family crazy for years. If someone sat on the cushion right next to me I would get up and sit somewhere else. I just don't like having people that close. I'm easily touched out. This usually happens at the end of the day, but it can happen first thing in the morning as it did yesterday. Stephen wanted to kiss me good bye and I had to sit perfectly still to let him do it. It made my skin crawl and I just wanted him to do it and go away. Now don't get me wrong, I love it that my husband will kiss me goodbye and I miss it when he doesn't, but yesterday was not one of those days. I'm very picky about food textures. I HATE beans. I will eat green beans, but not if they are over cooked. Any other bean I just can't stand the texture of it. I won't eat lumpy mashed potatoes or jello. I refuse to eat something that is burned over cooked or over ripe. The texture in my mouth is just repulsive. I don't like how it sits in my mouth. I can't handle loud noises or bright lights. If my kids start getting to loud I will either send them outside or I will go hide in my room. Hiding in my room will also help with bright lights as I have black out blinds. I also have to wear sun glasses outside especially when I'm driving as I lose some of my vision.

Those are just a few of the things I deal with on a daily basis. Some days are worse than others, but most days I can cope with. It seems with this pregnancy things are worse though. I don't want to be around or with anyone. I want to curl up on my couch and just be left alone. I don't mind my children running around or spending time with them, but to have guests over will send me over the edge. I've done it a few times, and Stephen says I have a deer in the headlights look the whole time. It will also emotionally drain me. I still love having people over, but it may have to wait until after the pregnancy.

I'm still in the planning stages of school for 2012-2013. Stephen and I have been doing a lot of talking and praying about some changes that need to be made. Right now we have Jackson who HATES school. This is not what I wanted for any of my children. When asked if he could get rid of any subject what would it be. He replied that he would love to get rid of the math books that have no purpose and make no sense. Now this boy is a great math student, but when thinking about his request we came to the conclusion that it isn't the work, but he sees no practical value in what he is doing. This has lead us to look for some practical math texts and other solutions. As Jackson is interested in starting his own business we are looking into business accounting and finance.

Audrey still struggles with reading. It's not that she can't read, but that she tries to phonetically pronounce everything she sees and as we all know the English Language is a mess. We have so many homonyms that it makes it hard for any American student to understand let alone an ESL student. The goal with her is to have her read to either the boys or me on a daily basis to help build her confidence.

William is doing very well with his math. He uses a number line still for addition and subtraction, but he is following along very well with everything and seems to comprehend all that is asked of him. His language skills are still lacking, but they are improving everyday. He will now use a complete sentence when requesting something and has even used a complex sentence now and then. He is able to read most CVC words silent E words. He still has trouble with two vowels together. From where he was a year ago this is great progress. He still loves to sing and has learned to sit still for over an hour of family reading time.  All of these are huge progresses for my boy who is autistic.

Philip on the other hand LOVES school. Everyday he is the first one to ask if it is time for school. He usually does most of his work on his own with very little help from me or anyone else. This is such a huge blessing from God as I have to spend a lot of time helping William and the older two with any questions they have. Sometimes I feel like I might neglect him a little, but he is very persistent to make sure he gets one on one time with me. He will remind me that he needs to read to me daily so he can fill in his chart and earn his free book at the end of the month.

What changes does this mean for our family? We have begun copy work again. I tried it before and we fell off the track. This year we are going to use something from our nightly family reading for each of the children to copy in the morning. So far it has gone well.  Kenneth Grahame, who wrote The Wind in the Willows gives me something every night. Usually it is a very, very long sentence, but the kids are learning correct grammar and sentence structure.

We are removing almost all of our workbooks this year and replacing them with notebooking. I'm tired of at the end of the year tossing out the "unwanted" work. If it is so unwanted then why did we do it in the first place? This has bothered not only me, but my older two children for years. It was more noticeable to them while we were in Pennsylvania and had to pull portfolios together. It is my prayer that not only will this show them that all they do is valuable, but will bring some life and joy back into their work for them.

Finally for organization we are going to implement Work boxing. This is something I discovered on Pinterest and started digging into. It was developed by a woman on the west coast for her homeschooling children, one of which was autistic. It not only keeps the child on task, but also gives them a sense of order, control and knowing what comes next. She promotes the children getting up from their desk to work on special projects, to play an education board game, an interactive poster, or to have a family activity. This will be perfect for my boys especially as they love to know what comes next and they all have trouble being organized. Jackson loves the idea as it will give him the ability to do something besides sit at a desk/table all day. Philip loves it because he just has to know what comes next. William doesn't care, but I think it will help him with his issues as well.  Audrey on the other hand doesn't want me to tell her in what order to do things, and seems to get her work accomplished quickly on her own so for now she is exempt.

All things considered, I think the planning is going well. I'll let you know more as we get to it and decisions are made.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Discovering a Talent

The other day I was at my friend, Becky's house and I asked her how she makes such amazing food.  She blushed and then proceeded to tell me her secret.  She LOVES food shows.  She watches Food Network, reads their magazine along with a few others.

You are probably wondering why I told you this, well here's the answer.  You see for years I never believed I had ANY talents.  I believed that God just skipped over me, when he was handing them out.  Others have tried to tell me, and I still think some of their answers are silly, but it took a while to sink into my stubborn head to realize, "Hey, yeah, I can do that."

To add to this story, I will tell you that I live in a box. No not literally, but creatively.  I do not create anything. I make or remake things, especially when it comes to food.  From the time I was a teenager I HAD to have a recipe. I couldn't come up with something on my own.  This has frustrated my mother in countless ways. (Do not ask her or my dad about my adventures making hamburgers. lol) To this day I'm still this way, especially when I'm trying something new.

Here's the thing though, whenever we are going to a party, pot luck or for a holiday, I make a brand new recipe that I have NEVER tried before. This drives people insane.  I don't know how many times people have told me they would never do something like that, but it is second nature to me.  Now I will tell you, I spend a lot of time researching these recipes. I check reviews, advice, and compare it to other recipes that are similar.  I've never made something that I don't know the taste of each and every ingredient. If these ingredients don't sound like they would mix together then I save it for a family night dinner, but otherwise I bravely use people I don't know as my guinea pigs. :D

While sitting there listening to my friend talk, I realized that I was in a food rut.  I've been making the same things over and over again. My family was tired of eating what I make and frankly I was tired of cooking what I cooked.  I was just going through the motions of feeding my family just to get them to be quiet and to go on with my selfish ways.  This was not only selfish, a poor example, but everything that goes against the nature and way God made me.

On the way home I was talking "at," this usually happens when I keep talking and don't give him a chance to answer, my husband about this and told him how I use to be that way.  I use to love trying new recipes and treating my family to a festival for their mouths.  I told him there was no reason I couldn't do this again.

It was when we arrived home that my daughter pointed out to me that it was a talent of mine to be able to do this.  I argued with her about this and then my husband joined in and argued with him about it as well.  I told them a talent was a natural gift from God, not something that I cultivate.  A talent is like his drawing ability, my daughters ability to create a crocheted item without a pattern, my son's ability to know when I don't feel good before I do.  It was after they gave up trying to convince me, me walking away to my room to cry that I began to pray about it.

While I was praying, I realized how unyielding I was being.  That I was refusing to listen to the love and advice my family was giving me.  I was ignoring God speaking to me through them.  I was so wrapped up in pitiful me to notice to grace that was being bestowed upon me.

So in order to keep myself positive about my talent, I'm going to start another blog about food.  Each day I will post about what I've tried to make for my family.  It won't always be great, but it will always be edible.  So here is to a new beginning to my new venture.

If you have any ideas what I should name my new blog please let me know.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

June's Goals

Here are my goals for the rest of June.

1. Finish organizing my bedroom.  Right now it is so disorganized I really hate going in there.

2. Finish organizing the school books in the basement.  I have re-purposed two more book shelves and need to move them down stairs.  Once they are downstairs I can finish the process of getting them done.

3. Read to my kids every day.  I know this was last month, but it is important to me.

4. Eat dinner at home everyday.  This may sound easy, but with the way I've been feeling it hasn't been.

5. Eat at the table for every meal.  This means we have to clean up after ourselves after school.

6. Read TWO books both non-fiction. I really love fiction so this will be a bit of a stretch for me and will push me to read something new.

7. Spend time everyday outside.  I HATE humid days, but I'm really lacking in Vitamin D3 and spending time outside will help.

8. Try ONE new recipe each week.  This won't be too hard, but something that will challenge me as I've fallen in a rut.

9. Plan our trip to Gatlinburg for late August. This I will enjoy as I love to plan.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Problems with Comparisons and May Report Card

It is so easy for me to start comparing myself with other people.  Especially when I'm around people that mean something to me.  I'm sitting at my in-laws house (not sleeping) in their study.  Right behind me are the family photos.  I know ours need to be updated, but once my photographer is well that will be taken care of, but I digress.  On this wall you will find Stephen's two brothers, their children, his sisters and their families.  I certainly don't compare myself to his brothers as that would be silly, but it is his sisters that I compare myself with.

Stephen's sister Elizabeth, Beth, has recently finished her degree.  She is now a certified teacher. She did this while working part time at her children's school, busy with the PTA, the kids extra activities, being a preacher's wife and I'm sure keeping a company ready house.  Beth is truly an amazing woman, one to admire.  The picture of her family is classic and she makes sure they are done every year so their mom has a new picture up.

Beth left Indiana to marry the love of her life, Travis, almost 16 years ago.  She left home and hasn't really looked back.  Since leaving home she has lived in Oregon and two different places in California.  All of this without the comfort and security of family.  (Here I complained when I was 6 hours away. I know pathetic.)  I could go on and on about why my sister-in-law is admirable, but there is another one that I need to tell you about.

Katy is the youngest and a spitfire.  She has determination and the brains to back it up.  There is NOTHING that gets in the way of what Katy sees that needs to be done.  I have always admired her courage, sense of self-worth, and direction.  Katy married the love of her life, Ross, and proceeded to move to Texas.  She picked up, left Indiana and hasn't looked back.  She loves it down there and doesn't plan on moving back.  Katy is an amazing paralegal that is doing wonderful things for her law firm and the area.  I'm very proud of all that she has accomplished.

Don't get me wrong, my sisters-in-law come home as often as they can, but they are content where they are.  That isn't the issue here.  The issue is me.  What have I done with my life?

Well I moved out to Pennsylvania and all I could think about was coming back to Indiana. If you ask me I had great excuses, but that is all they are excuses.  I have four children, Beth has 3 and Katy has only been married a few years.  That is it.  I have nothing else to say for or about myself.  This is my struggle, my problem, my pain. My sisters-in-law are amazing women who have accomplished amazing things, while I feel like I can't keep my head above water.

Here is the hard answer though.  This isn't about them, it is about me.  I'm so worried about what am I doing and comparing it to what they are doing that I'm forgetting one very important thing. I AM BEING SELF ABSORBED.  As my friend Mindy would say, I need to stop making this about me and make it about God.  I need to think about the things He is doing in MY life instead of worrying about meeting up to their lives.  I don't know all the struggles they face.  I don't know the physical, spiritual, emotional and sometimes even marital problems they face.  By comparing myself to them, I'm judging them.  I've set MY standard, played God, and judged my sisters in Christ.  Forget about being fair to me, I'm not being fair to them.  They deserve so much better than that.  They deserve all my love and admiration, not judging them by my standard.

I need to worry about living up to God's standards instead of the imaginary ones I set up for myself by comparing myself to other people.  This is an OLD habit of mine and it is going to take a lot of work and prayer to work through.  I just pray that my comparisons haven't damaged any possible relationship I could have with them.

Now for the May Report Card

1.Eat from my menu daily. I would give myself a C for this one.  It would have gone better if I would have planned a menu, or used the one I printed and put on the refrigerator.

2. Keep a company ready house.  I can give myself a B for this one.  My house hasn't been spotless, but it can be company ready in less than an hour and from where I was before this is a BIG improvement.

3. Finishing reading 2 books.  I can give myself an A+ for this one. I read THREE books.  One was fluff, one was about home school organization and the other was a book about the Proverbs 31 woman.

4. Read to the kids daily. I can give myself an A for this as well.  We even supplemented with books on tape as well.

5. Declutter my bedroom. I can give myself a B for this one.  I started it and never finished it.  It does look better, but still needs more work.

6. Clean Carpets. I get a big F for this one.  Nothing happened, but we did vacuum weekly.

7. Declutter yarn. I get an F for this one.  It looks like a war zone where my yarn is. UGH!

8. Blog weekly. I can safely give myself a B+ for this one.  I think I missed a week, but I did blog every other week and that is a BIG improvement.

 This gives me a B for the month.  This is a lot better than I expected.  I'll post later this week about my goals for June.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Passing Judgement

If you don't want honesty, then please stop reading.  I'm going to be honest about myself here because God expects me to and I know there are a few others who feel this way, but are ashamed of how they feel as I have been in the past.

There are hours, days and weeks that I just don't like being a parent.  I especially don't like being a homeschooling parent who never seems to leave her house.  I really don't like being a homeschooling parent of teenagers with issues.  There are days that I don't like dealing with my children at all.

Now before you scoff at me, you need to take a walk in my shoes.  Let me describe my day to you.  This may seem like complaining and in a way it is, but there are enough people out there who would judge me and I feel the need to explain.

My kids are in bed by 9pm every night.  The boys fall asleep pretty quickly and so do the teens depending on several things, but most every night they are out by 10pm.  This means I should be able to get some good sleep, and for a normal person this would be true.  It isn't for me.  Most nights, meaning I took something to help me sleep that worked, I am asleep by midnight.  This would be ok if I didn't wake up every hour or two tossing and turning.  I can list a handful of times that I have slept well and woke up refreshed.  Most mornings I feel like I have been run over by a truck and that is after 2 cups of caffeinated tea.

My boys are up by 6am at the earliest, but it is usually about when the sun rises.  This means if I want time for myself and for bible study I have to be up by 5am.  So even if I do go to sleep by midnight that means 5 hours of sleep a night. You see how this is setting up for a bad situation?

I drag, awaken, my older two children by 7am so they can be up, accomplish their chores, and be ready for bible at 8:30am and school can begin by 9am.  They have no idea how spoiled they are to be up that late as they are up after the public school bus has already been through our neighborhood.  They would love for me to change their sleeping schedules to let them stay up as late as they want, but sleep is important and they would miss half of their life if they stayed up late all the time, and they would be completing school work instead of valuable time with their dad when he is home.  My children NEED their dad.  He is vital to keeping balance in this family.

So now they are up and the arguments begin.  The older two are tired, "I never let them get enough sleep."  According to their doctor they are fine and the sleep they are getting is plenty.  By 7am, Pip has asked me 12 times what is for breakfast, and my nerves are running thin because I have told him it is baking in the oven those 12 times.  Eating gluten free is hard, when you make everything from scratch everyday for every meal. If you have food allergies or children with food allergies you know what I'm talking about, but you do it because you know it is vital to their lives.

So while breakfast is cooking I look over the menu for the day to make sure I have everything I need for lunch and dinner, finding out half the time that "someone" has eaten something that I needed for a meal later that day.  I'll foolishly ask, but an argument ensues as no one remembers eating it themselves, but are sure that someone else did it.  This means I have to either leave out that ingredient or plan something else.  At this point I am ready to go back to bed and praying the day will start off differently, but I know I have to keep going on.

So breakfast has been eaten and the chores begin.  It is usually a quiet time in the house as we are all busy, except for Pandora playing in the background.  Each of my children have their assigned chores and I go through making sure they are "done to the list."  Yes, I have a list for each room so my children know what the standard is and it keeps me in check to make sure I don't change the rules.  It has worked well for our family, but I still have to check their work and if it doesn't meet that standard then the complaining starts about the stupid rules, stupid chores and how their friends don't do chores because "their mom's are good moms who keep a spotless house all the time instead of being lazy and useless."

All of this is before 8:30am. UGH!  We stop at 8:30am and sit down for our family bible lessons.  I've tried starting school without it and the day goes down hill FAST if we don't start our day off with God.  Some may think I am being over dramatic about this, or I'm using our family bible study as a crutch, but I say to you YES IAM!  It is THAT important and it is my daily crutch.  Everyday God seems to know exactly what our family needs for the day.  When attitudes get out of whack, when we start complaining, grumbling, having a lack of grace for each other, that we KNOW God has for us, we remind each other of what we studied.  It is HARD to take criticism from my children about my bad behavior, but God gave them to me to help me grow and be a better person, and so I better accept this with Grace or not only will I not grow, but they won't either.

It is only 9am and I'm already tired.  I've had my personal bible study, made breakfast, Pip and William are up, got the other two up at 7am, ate, chores, the daily chore argument, and had bible study.  By this point I know how the day is going to go.  You can tell me I'm being negative, and I will say again, walk in my shoes, because there is a lot I'm not talking about here.

You see in among all of this I am dealing with William.  He can wake up feeling great or he can be grumpy and will never see the light of day.  My William isn't your typical child that you can just say get over it and he is over it.  We have to walk through things.  If something in the schedule changes for him that is the worst thing that could happen.  He falls apart.  Since we have changed up his medicine and gone gluten free, sugar free, it has gotten better, but he is still sensitive.  This is part of his autism.

William is my cleaning buddy while the others work on their own.  This can cause jealousy and has caused a meltdown a few times of the other three, but if I don't stay with William he will not complete his tasks.  I've explained it to the older two, but they don't care.  While Pip, he seems to understand it better, but just wants time with me, so I've added two buddies and the boys do their work together.  The jobs are perfect, but they are accomplished and if I wanted perfect I would do it myself and my children would NEVER learn anything.

By 9am I am emotionally and physically drained.  I've already drank a pot of tea, prayed more times in 3 hours than I do in month and shed more tears that I do with a sad chick flick, all this and my day has just started. This is my typical morning.

When we decided to have children, I NEVER realized how exhausting it would be.  I mean I knew I could be a brat as a kid, ok a real brat, but this is beyond my scope of understanding.  Then you add Autism into the mix with teenage hormones and you have insanity.  I thought I would be like these women who are always well dress, always smiling, never bothered by anything.  That somehow my joy would always be filled up and nothing would ever get me down.  This is the life I wanted isn't it?  I wanted this and it would make me happy, right???

Why is it instead I find myself exhausted, emotionally?  Why is it that I find myself just wanting to stay in bed with the covers over my head, crying myself back to sleep?  The answer is this PARENTING ISN'T FOR WIMPS!!!

Parenting isn't for the faint at heart.  Being a parent of a "normal" child will stretch you to your limit, add a couple of children with learning disabilities and you are crying to God daily asking Him if He is sure He chose the right woman for this job, because you are pretty sure He didn't.

I am the one who disciplines my children on a daily, no hourly, no minutely basis.  I'm the one that has to not only tell the teenager why they can't do it their way, but why it has to be this way. I'm the one who hasn't been able to use the bathroom on her own for 14 years, unless they were all gone for the day.  I'm the one who is suppose to have a good attitude and not allow their bad one affect mine.  I'm the one who is suppose to be awake and being mom even when I've not slept for two days due to a migraine.  Finally I'm the one who usually has to hand out the consequences when there is bad behavior from selfish attitudes.

All of this is hard on me.  I'm tired.  I sometimes really hate my job.  I sometimes wish I could dump them in public school so someone else could raise them for me. I sometimes just want to quit. So why do I get up every morning and do it again and again?  Because I hear my grandma telling me that Parenting isn't for wimps and she KNOWS I'm no wimp.  Well grandma I hate to disappoint you, but I am.  If I wasn't a wimp I certainly wouldn't be posting this here.  I certainly wouldn't be questioning my job and I certainly wouldn't be a disappointment or as someone once said a poor example of what a Christian woman is suppose to be.

Maybe I'm not your idea of what a virtuous woman is suppose to be.  I KNOW I'm not the best at the job. I will tell you it isn't my prayer either.  Each morning I get up and pray to God that I will live up to HIS standards.  I will live my life showing the grace, love and mercy He has shown me.  That I will not grow weary in doing good.  That I will finish the race that is before me.  That when I lay my head down at night, I know that I have, while not being perfect, have given my family and my God everything I had to give.  That I am drained of all I am and have poured it onto the people who matter most.

Some days are better than others.  Some days I wonder why I got out of bed in the first place.  Some days I go bopping through and don't realize the time until Pip tells me, mom it is 6pm and you have dinner ready. LOL

I am sure I am no one's ideal woman, wife, parent or child of God, but I am thankful that I don't have to measure up to the standards of humans who don't walk in my shoes.  I have to measure up to the standards of God who knows my life, heart, desire, pains, sorrows, weakness, and love.  He is the one that will fill me up each night making me ready to face another grueling day of being a mom.

I was up one night when all of this fell into place for me.  I was reading about another mother who had opened her heart and talked some about her struggles.  I start judging her when it was placed upon my heart that I was doing the same thing that others do to me. It's easy to look and and just KNOW how the other person should live their life, isn't it?  I came to realize that God will be a righteous and merciful judge.  I also realized that I was like her and all I wanted was for someone to understand, for someone to not be one more thing that tears me down in the world of parenting and being a child of the King.

So here before the world, I say I am a SINNER.  I put my foot in my mouth all the time.  I say stupid things that make sense to me, but to others is foolish and immature.  I lose my patience with my children all the time and I mean ALL the time.  I do not set a perfect example to my daughter of what it means to be a godly wife and mother.  I have tired, and beat myself up emotionally, but I can't ever seem to have a perfect day. I don't treat other people the way I want to be treated.  I pass judgement on them. I some times refuse to forgive wrongs that have been committed against me. I don't always like being a mom.  I certainly don't always like being a homeschooling mom.  I get jealous of other women who have careers and make wonderful money, thinking that could have been me, if I had wanted it too.  I could have been somebody instead of just a punching bag.

These are just a few of the things that are in my head and on my heart.  I'm sure most of you will have just one more reason to look down on me.  I know there are some that already do, they have made no bones about how I am unfit as a Christian wife and do not want their children around me, especially their daughters.  This path I am on is hard at times.  There are times I just want to quit.  I know that if I want to see my God in the end I have to keep moving forward. Even if there are people passing judgement about me and my choices, I have to keep moving and let them fall behind me.  It is the painting of how God sees me that matters, not that of the other "Snoodles," that are weighing down my backpack.

I will end with one last thing as I know this is already long enough.  I have a friend who told me about her last time talking with another mom.  This mom was having a hard time being a mom and wife.  She was tired, worn down, and feeling desperate.  She didn't know what to do, so she turned to her "perfect" friend to help her.  Well, instead of taking this opportunity to build this woman up, she told her that her "attitude was awful and that things will never change unless she stopped being so selfish.  Her husband and children deserved her best not the waste that she had allowed herself to become.  If she stopped worrying about herself, stopped being a wimp, and lived for her family things would be fine."  This woman ended up telling her how ashamed she was to call her friend, that she didn't want her children to come over and be infected by her, that she would pray for this woman's children and husband and that the world would be a better place without pathetic people like her.  That night this woman had her husband take the kids with him while he went to the store.  While he was gone she quietly slipped into their bedroom and shot herself.  She was there when her daughter age 10 found her.

This "godly" woman, who claimed to be her friend, was the last person she really spoke to.  This woman helped Satan destroy this other soul with her judgement and cruelty.  This woman helped Satan set up a legacy of destruction that will go for generations.  The sad thing is that at the funeral all she could say was, "well her children will heal faster without her there to bring them down with her negativity."  I wanted to SCREAM!  I wanted to SMACK this person!  I did neither, but I did stop having much to do with this person and over the years I have lost most contact with her.  I do know that her children are NOT faithful to God in anyway at all.

I guess my warning is this, Do NOT pass judgement on others.  You have no idea what it is like to be them. You have no idea what is going on in their lives, bodies and heart.  You have no idea if they love God and are trying to serve him, but just don't meet your standards.  Not only does passing judgement on others destroy them, but it also allows you to play at being god, which will destroy YOU as well.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Family Recipe Stories

While cleaning my bedroom this week I found a box full of recipes.  These are papers that I've torn out of magazines, mini cookbooks, newspapers and all kinds of odd and end places.  I thought it was time to start sorting them.

Most of them were from Taste of Home Magazine and other magazines from the same company.  It is while looking over these that I was reminded of something.  Every recipe has a story. This is one of the things I LOVE about Taste of Home magazine, besides the fact that it is cheap.  With almost every recipe the person who submitted it also adds a little blurb about where it came from.  Sometimes these recipes came from their mom, sometimes they found it at a pot luck and sometimes it is just some thing they made up in desperation to feed their family on what they had in their home.

To the casual reader it doesn't matter as long as it tastes good, but for someone who loves food and the memories that come with it, it is where it comes from that makes it taste so good.  You know exactly what I'm talking about.  For Stephen it is things like Molasses Sugar Cookies.  It takes him back to being a little boy and trying to sneak them out of the cookie jar this along with Strawberry Pie makes him think of his mother.  Now if you give him Chocolate Pie or homemade biscuits he thinks of his Great Grandmother Raymer.  While for me fried Okra makes me think of my Grandma Minton and homemade noodles makes me think of my Mimi. These are just a few of our favorites, but it is the people they are tied to them that makes them even more valuable.

These recipes have history and weight for our family.  They have become part our our children's heritage.  They  have become part of our family story.  Stephen can't eat a Strawberry Pie without telling stories of trying to sneak strawberries while his mom wasn't looking, even though we mother's know better.  When he eats Chocolate Pie or makes biscuits, he tells stories of his great Grandmother.  These ties that bind generations.  This gives my children references not only to food, but to where they came from, and these stories will be passed down to their children and so on.

This has brought me to think about the Raymer/Hatcher cookbook.  Several years ago, my mother-in-law blessed me with a copy of a cookbook she had pulled together of family recipes.  I probably submitted more than I should have, but she took them all and added to them all of the others.  When it comes to things to make, it is my go to source.  I think I have tried everything in there at least once.  Some of these have become standards for my family.  Family traditions being passed down to the next generation.  Stories that are part of who we are, where we came from, and why we are here today.

I have begun the process of retyping up this cookbook, not only for myself, but for the rest of the family.  With this I plan on adding a family tree of the wonderful women in the family.  I want my daughter to have a copy of this, but not only her but her grandchildren and great grandchildren as well.  As I told her this is a living cookbook.  It will grow as our family grows.  It will evolve and develop by adding more recipes and more stories.  Though I am only a Hatcher by marriage, I have been blessed and touched by every single one of these women because they helped mold and shape the man who is my husband and the father of my children.  It is because of this gift they have given me that I wanted to continue to share their love with the rest of my family for generations to come.

It is while I am doing this that I am also beginning a cookbook of my side of the family.  I want my children to have a rich heritage, especially my daughter.  I want her to know that she comes from wonderful women who have blessed their family with amazing food.  Food that not only fills the body, but the heart and soul.  That with her labor of love comes rewards beyond mention.  I want her to understand that by doing her part in her family that she will join the ranks of some great women, women who helped make her who she is.

With all of that being said I thought I would share one of the family "secret" recipes. Stephen said if he could only have just one recipe from his family continue it would be this one.  The older two children were in agreement.  It is their all time favorite.  According to Audrey, "this is the recipe that just says Grammy."  So without further ado here is my Mother-in-law's Molasses Sugar Cookies.

Molasses Sugar Cookies
By Joyce Hatcher

¾ c shortening (you can half this with butter)
1 c sugar
¼ c molasses
1 egg
2 t soda
2 c flour
½ t cloves
½ t ginger
1 t cinnamon
½ t salt
½ c white sugar for coating

Mix ingredients. Cool in refrigerator for at least an hour.  Roll into 1” balls then in granulated sugar.  Place on greased cookie sheet about 2” apart.  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Finding Peace in the Midst of Depression

Before I start here, let me add this disclaimer: I really don't feel like I know what I'm doing so please take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt.  Also I am being very honest here so please be kind. These are just some things that have worked for me.

I have never been a morning person as I have sleeping issues, but when I wake up I am usually chipper and moving. It was a friend of mine who took me out to dinner before I left Pennsylvania that told me about a promise she made to herself.  She promised that she would get up every morning and take a shower, get dressed and take care of herself.  This amazed me because she has 4 little ones just like I do, yet she finds time for herself everyday.  It wasn't until last year when I lost the baby that Kelly's words came back to me, but this time it was from my dad's mom.  She knew that I was hurting, depressed and in some ways desperate.  She told me very seriously to make sure I change my underwear everyday.  This isn't what Kelly said, but it is the same concept.

Both of these women were telling me to make time for myself.  They aren't talking about me going away on a trip spending hundreds of dollars, but doing something for myself everyday.  This was a hard concept to swallow as it seemed selfish to me.  I wanted to be a SAHM, shouldn't I put my children first?  They should be my highest priority, shouldn't they?  But what are they really telling me to do.  I spent some time in prayer about this as I always do when something is weighing heavily on my heart.

These are the things that God laid on my heart to ponder and what I want to share with you.

1. Christ went away to recover. I am not claiming to be Christ or to even understand what He went through, but with that being said I am smaller and weaker than He is.  This tells me that I need to take time to heal and recover physically and emotionally.  If Christ needed it, then how much more do I as a weaker human need this same thing.  This can be solved in many ways.  It could be curling up to read a book on a rainy day while my children either do the same or play a board game.  It could be taking a walk admiring God's creation.  It could be enjoying my favorite hobbies.  It could be enjoying fellowship with a friend.  Any of these things take me away for a moment from the weight and responsibility of being wife and mom.  I am not running away permanently, but just taking a break a breather.

2.We all empty ourselves out when we give and need to be refilled.  While this is true something that is just as important is what do I fill myself with.  I will admit that I use to fill myself with fluff.  I would read nothing but fiction, watch movies, Facebook games and silly TV shows.  Now I'm not saying these things are bad, but everything needs to come in moderation.  If you noticed no where did I say study God's word!  I was filling myself with things that are shallow, so all I had to give of myself to those around me was shallow.  I have found that when I fill myself with Godly, wholesome and up lifting things, that I what I give to my children and those in my life are Godly and wholesome things.

3. Christ came to serve not to be served. If Jesus who is God came to serve, then who am I to sit around and not serve others.  I can't call myself a Christian and not be Christ-like.  My mother-in-law reminded me that when I am feeling down that the best way to pull myself together is to do something for someone else.  It doesn't matter what it is, but the serving of others lifts the spirit like nothing else can.  I have seen this in my children as well.  Though what happened in Henryville was horrible, my children were happier when they were helping.  I have never seen them smile more than when they were serving others.  My Audrey has made meals for a family who's mother has health issues.  She knows she is blessing them, but the blessings that have poured on her are HUGE!  This has made be begin to look for other ways we can begin to do this on a regular basis.  It is my hope to be posting about that soon.

4. Do not allow me to get in the way of myself. It is very easy for me to be a perfectionist.  It doesn't help that I am a first born, but I am the first born of a first born.  I also married a first born who was the son of a first born and so on.  (I pity my oldest.) I have a tendency to allow my perfection to get in the way of accomplishing anything. I have horrid thoughts run through my head like: Why should I do the laundry there will always be more? Why do the dishes the kids will just dirty up more?  Clean the house? Why is anyone coming over?  These things have set on my mind and heart for years.  I've allowed them to fester and they have hurt not only me but my husband and children.  My perfectionism is not from God, but from Satan.  It is Satan's way of trying to destroy me.  I'm not saying I shouldn't try, but that I should be thankful for the mess and for the ability to do what I can do instead of complaining about what I can't do.

5. Finally you can't have peace without contentment.  I have spent most of my life rushing around from one thing to the next hoping to find peace and happiness.  Not only is that fruitless, but it is exhausting.  Nothing ever seemed to make me happy.  As I child I looked to people to make me happy, never understanding that people fail and that forgiveness is necessary.  As a teen I looked to peers to make me happy, never realizing that they were just as lost and sometimes desperate as I was.  As a wife I looked to my husband to make me happy, never giving him the grace that I expected him to give me.  As a mom I looked to my children to make me happy, but the first time they disobeyed I became angry.  If they loved me they would never disobey.  Can you see my problem here?  I was looking around me for contentment and peace instead of looking up to where all good things come from.

I'm not saying I have this down pat.  I am better at getting a shower everyday, as long as I don't have cluster migraines.  For the past few months I have spent time daily with God.  No this isn't time I set aside in the middle of my day.  This is the first thing I do in the morning after I am dressed for my day.  He is given the first part of my day and the day is so much better.  I am working on giving my family the grace that God is giving me.  It is a daily fight, but one I refuse to let go of the wheel on this.

I still have dreams. I have even started a dream journal.  In it you will find things like wall colors for painting a room, designs for flower beds, books I want to read, and meals I want to cook just to name a few.  I spend time daily reading to my children, not only books for school, but from God's word.  I share with them my love for him.

Am I at peace?  Am I no longer depressed?  I don't know the answer to that.  What I do know is this.  Like the lightening bugs that my children are start to catch as summer comes on, I see glimpses of hope, peace and God in everything around me.  I feel that I am finally starting to grow up, to become the woman that God planned for me to be.  I'm far from perfect, but I am perfectly loved.  I am adored.  I am beautiful to my creator.  It is in those things that I find peace and comfort in my life.

It is my prayer that you will too.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Setting and Accomplishing Goals

On January 1st of every year we have a family planning meeting.  We set goals as a family and allow others to help us in the setting of goals.  Once a month we sit down to a fun easy meal and go over the goals.  This has worked well for the past three years and we will continue down this path.

I'm also a crazy to-do list kind of girl.  My husband knows, if I'm feeling overwhelmed and stressed out because of things going on in our life, that the way to make me feel better is to tell me me make a list.  So it is to daily to do lists that the day to day things are accomplished.  Sometimes Stephen will even add things to the list and I really enjoy that because I know it is something important to him that is going to be accomplished that day.

Recently though I began reading a blog called She Learns As She Goes.  This newly married lady has inspired me with not only her zest for life, but also her talent.  There are things she is doing in her marriage that makes me wish I could start over and accomplish some of these things, but the past is the past and I will just implement them now with joie de vivre.

Today she set her goals for the month.  These are things that take longer than a day, but it doesn't allow you to become lax by having an entire year to accomplish them.  This allows me to have a close, but far enough away deadline so that I can accomplish some bigger goals. At the end of the month, she gives herself a report card grade of what she has accomplished.  I have decided this would be a great thing for me to do so here I go with my goals for May.

1. Eat from my menu daily.  I know for some this isn't a big deal, but for my family this can be a really big deal.  With this being the worst time of the year for my allergies and sinuses, this will be difficult, but I know it will be better for us financially and physically.

2. Keep a company ready house. My house is never spotless and most of the times I'm fighting clutter and the chaos of children or my half finished projects.  At one point I had written down what a company ready house was, that list is on one of the computers in the house.  I need to find it and post it for the entire family.

3. Finishing reading 2 books. I am the world's worst person about starting a book and never finishing it.  Don't ask me how many I have sitting around about half way finished.  This month my goal is to finish at least 2 of those books.

4. Read to the kids daily.  I'm usually really good about keeping up with this, but there are days that it isn't a priority.  I need to make it a daily priority to make sure my children are being fed with good books, grammar and syntax.

5. Declutter my bedroom.  My bedroom is the place where things go that no one else knows where they belong, at least according to my children.  It is time the clutter moves out so it will become a relaxing place for my husband and I.

6. Clean Carpets.  This hasn't been done in a year and boy can I tell.  It is time to spruce up my carpets and see if what color they are again.

7. Declutter yarn.  I only collect two things Books and Yarn.  A while back my kids and some of their friends used my yarn for bombs.  Some of them are still in tangles and some were tossed.  I need to spend some time going through what I have to see if it is salvageable or time to pitch it.  I have some big projects coming up and I want to make sure I have what I need before I start them.

8. Blog weekly.  I have not been consistent in my blogging and I really regret this.  There have been some wonderful things happen in my life that I think at the time would be great to share, but I never seem to get around to it.  By making this a goal, I will make sure to accomplish this.

I know there are a lot of goals here, but some will be short and others will take time.  Most will just require consistency on my part.  So with this post I am dedicating myself publicly to accomplishing this task.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cooking Adventures

When I was first married, I was foolish enough to believe that I knew everything there was to know about everything. Things were going along, "ok," until we started having children. It is amazing how much you really don't know when you have children. One of my biggest problems was the lack of money and learning how to cook with nothing. I was suppose to feed my family of 4 on less than $150 every two weeks, and some pay periods were easier than others.

It was at this time I turned to my cook books especially my Betty Crocker red checkered cook book that I had purchased two years before. My mom worked full time and when she was home we would get special treats of her amazing cooking. I was a bratty kid and paid very little attention. So here I am starting on my own and having to cook from scratch.

Now there are many recipes from that cook book that I have never tried, but for me it started with pastries. Stephen isn't much a cake eater, but he loves pies. Now if you ask my mom she hates making home made pie crust, so I never really learned. Here I am the day of my husband's birthday and I haven't made him a pie. There was no money to go out and purchase a pie crust, and I was in a panic. I decide to pull out my cook book and see if it could possibly have a pie crust recipe.

So there I sit at my kitchen table with Blue's Clues playing in the back ground, pouring over a never opened before cook book. I do think I took the wrapper off though. Here I find a pie crust recipe. There were two, single and double. Since I was making a pecan pie I did know to make only a single crust. I pull out the ingredients and begin.

The first crust I made didn't work. I didn't let it rest after making it, and it tore apart while I rolled it out. My second crust I let it sit on the table but it still tore apart. I rolled it back up and put in the fridge to try later. After sitting on my couch cuddling with my babies and crying for about an hour, I got up and decided that I should try again to make this crust. As it turned out, that is exactly what the crust needed time to chill out. I rolled it out, put it in the pan and it worked.

Since then I have never purchased a pie crust, I think Stephen would have a fit if I did. This carried on to making my own biscuits, cakes and other expensive pastries. Did you know that pancakes don't have to come from a box? We learned that the hard way as well and haven't gone back since.

This leads me to today. Since the new year we have become a gluten free and processed sugar free family. For several months I was in a panic. I had trouble finding recipes. I spent way to much time online searching. I spent way to much money trying to make it work and wasted way to many tears. Not to mention how much tension it created in my house because of how much money was being spent and I had no idea what was for dinner each night still.

Now I have cookbooks, actually a full shelf of them, but none of them was giving me what I need. You see over time I have become addicted to a menu mailer. First it was from then I turned to because she was free. Once she started charging I stopped using her website. We were saving money, but we weren't eating a gluten free, sugar free diet with her. I had found a few gluten free menus mailers, but they were still expensive and none of them went so far as to be sugar free as well.

In my search to make my house run more smoothly and spending less money, I went back to Low and behold, Leanne had added gluten free to her menu. The menu wasn't gluten free, but she told you how to change it to make it gluten free. Also, Leanne is a great supporter of removing processed sugar from our diets. This was exactly what we needed. Yes it was going to cost me some money, but if it would bring peace to my family, continue to help my William recover from his autism, then the cost was worth it.

Here's the catch, Leanne makes me cook things and put things together that I never would have before. Last week we had Cuban Flank Steak with Mango Rice. We were suppose to steam asparagus, but instead we wrapped it in turkey bacon and cooked it on the griddle (This comes from a dear friend of mine who started my addiction to this at a potluck. Thanks Lori B).

It was a huge leap of faith from this traditional southern girl, but it has so been worth it. Stephen is so busy eating and enjoying not only the food but the left overs the next day for work. William is continuing on his recovery, completing his math assignments alone and even reading and spelling three letter words.

This has also reminded me of something else. When I first started trying to cook from scratch, I would look at a recipe and just know if it was something my family would like. Over time I lost this and just made what was easy and convenient. With the menu mailer I'm still doing this, but I'm given a variety of healthy recipes.

This has also brought back the tradition of using visitor as guinea pigs. It was a tradition of mine to try new recipes when people come over. We had two new recipes on Sunday afternoon. It was the first time I had ever made a Dulce de Leche cake, and it certainly won't be the last now.

I guess if you get anything from my ramblings it is this. Don't be afraid to try a new recipe as it may become the new family favorite. Don't be afraid to stick with traditions, because if you don't they will be lost and that would be a tragedy. Always trust your instincts when it comes to food. You know what your family likes. Lastly if you are in a cooking rut, do some research. There are some amazing cooks out there, who really don't mind sharing.

What is on your menu tonight?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Learning to Cook

Not everyone was as blessed as I was to have a chef for a mom. She wasn't a Chef in a formal restaurant, but she was the head cook for the IUS Cafeteria and for ACBL.  Mom learned to cook in mass quantities. Then she would come home and cook for the four of us. It was a hard change and we grew to love leftovers, well not really but don't tell her that.

At my bridal shower I received two cookbooks as a gift. One had some really great recipes and the other was empty for me to fill. Silly me put recipes in the book before I tried them. White out became my friend. The other cookbook had some neat recipes, but the ones that became staples for our family were the cookies, cakes and other desserts.

By the time I was 10 years old I was cooking meals myself. Mom was working crazy hours and I would be home with my brother alone after school. I would call her up asking what she wanted me to make and she would tell me with exact instructions. I learned a lot in that time and my dad and brother were the Guinea pigs. I learned that just because a hamburger is done on the outside doesn't mean it can't be raw on the inside, along with that was cooking a hamburger on 8 doesn't get it done on the inside, but will burn the outside. My favorite is more spices in a spaghetti sauce will not make it better only worse.

A year after I was married I purchased my first cookbook. It is by Betty Crocker and has become my favorite and my go to cookbook. I've learned so much from it and it has become my go to gift for new brides. It is the book my Audrey uses when she wants to cook as well.

All of these experiences have prepared me for where I am now, learning to cook all over again. I've been told for years, and most recently by Alton Brown, that cooking is a science. It wasn't how I was trained to cook, but using these new flours has changed everything and it has become a science. This has caused me to read more blogs to take the time and follow the recipe exactly and to cook things I never would have cooked before. I'm once again being stretched to be a better cook. I'm no Chef Ramsey, but I am determined to feed my family good, healthy meals.

One of my favorite things is to make homemade noodles. Now if you ask my dad he will say that the frozen ones are faster and almost just as good. When I told his mom this, who taught me how to make noodles her face was priceless. I've been looking for a gluten free version and came across one recently. I have all the ingredients and I'm ready to tackle this. I have a turkey that I'm cooking to make a stock for soup and hope to be able to eat it either today or tomorrow.

Wish me luck. I've been missing egg noodles and this might just be what I've been dreaming about.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Chapter in My Life

My middle son William is on the autism spectrum. There are many reasons that I do not believe he should be there, but there are several reasons he is so we will just deal with it.

A couple of years ago we began to fight this battle by visiting a DAN doctor. After some testing we found out that his immune system is almost completely zapped. There were a few other things that were missing, but what was very prevalent was that he had a systemic yeast infection. We began fighting this with a probiotic and a year of Nystatin.

Things were going well, but I noticed that his teeth were looking funny so after taking him to the dentist we found out that the yeast had attacked his teeth and rotting them from the inside out. This is very odd as most cavities are on the outside of the teeth, but he was losing the core of his teeth. So after having oral surgery and having 8 teeth removed, one capped he was on the road to recovery or so we thought.

A year later we moved back home to Indiana. Once we were in our own place I began the task of taking my family on a journey of living a gluten free lifestyle. To say that some members of the family hated this change would be an understatement. I have made some fabulous dishes and made some HUGE mistakes along our journey, but we are starting to tread water.

One day while William was sitting down to take a math test, he told me that he didn't want my help. That he could do it on his own. I read the instructions to him for each section. I while he did his sections I helped Pip with his Language Arts test. It wasn't until later that day that I finally graded William's test. He had not missed a single problem. He had 100%. He had taken this test on his own with out ANY help from me. To make matters even better, the curriculum we use is a grade level ahead of where he is.

As I told Stephen about this after dinner that night, he asked what had changed. Now I have to confess, I have not been keeping a food journal like I should, but I knew what he had eaten for the past two days and something important was missing... White Sugar. It was at that moment that I remembered what his DAN doctor had told me 3 years before. Eventually I would have to take the leap and remove what the yeast feeds on, and that is sugar.

Over the holiday break I began the task of looking into what it would take to go not only Gluten Free, but Sugar Free. Going gluten free was daunting, but going sugar free scares me to death.

It is after much prayer and thought that I have decided we will go down this path. I have been told by his doctor to keep and journal and I really hate writing. He recommend that I try blogging, SO I am going to do this. I will fix our daily meals and take pictures of some of them. I will post my recipes, and our family reviews.

I know most who read this won't care and will think I'm crazy, but if I can help someone else along the path of living this lifestyle then it will be worth it. So starting tonight I will add something and see what happens.

Please pray for me. I'm going to need it to find food my family likes.