Of course these two handsome guys are my on my favorite things list!
* Watching Isaac trace letters and looking up at me saying, "How is that 'E', Mom?" * Malayna crawling all over the place with her favorite Dollar Tree ball. She carries things around with her when she crawls, and who knew that a three pack of dollar store balls would be such a hit? * Getting braces!! I had them in high school, but the orthodontist dropped the ball on me. He took them off too early, and my teeth shifted quickly. For so long we debated whether or not for me to get braces. The Lord has graciously blessed us through a friend who works for an orthodontist. She is giving me her "professional courtesy" discount, which means the price is greatly reduced!! I'll have lingual braces that go on the back of my teeth. I might talk funny for a few weeks, so no poking fun!! * Christmas music playing, beautiful Christmas tree sparkling, and yummy coffee in hand. * A wonderful visit with my dad, Uncle J.P., Aunt Donna, and Pappy Jack. This was the first time my dad has seen Malayna. He was so good with her... just wanted to sit and hold her. My pappy will be 91 this month and loves the Lord. He is gentle, humble and truly a blessing in my life. I love him dearly and am so thankful we got to visit this past weekend. (We also inherited a plethora of grapefruit, fresh from my dad's Florida grapefruit tree!) * My accountability gals. The Lord has grown us so deeply in the past few years. I'm a pretty open person, but some things are hard to share regardless of one's personality. These women allow me to share my good times and bad and continue to love me through it all and hold me accountable for my attitude and actions. * Shane and Shane and Phil Wickham concert date with Matt... Malayna tagged along, too! The three of those guys sound so great together. Malayna and I got to meet them before the show... so friendly and down to earth. We hope they come back for another Christmas tour next year. You really should get tickets if they do! * Phil Wickham's Christmas c.d. It has a vintage 70s feel to it. It's wonderful. * Sucanat - I tried this for the first time a few weeks ago. It's unrefined cane sugar. It has a bit of a caramel flavor due to the molasses content. Sugar in its natural state - I'm hooked! * Isaac doing an incredible job at his preschool Christmas program. Oh my, pure cuteness. I got some great video that I'll upload soon. * Seeing Isaac and Malayna love on each other. * Good Christmas deals. I even stocked up on some things to give our nephews for next year. Can't resist a good sale! * These yummy gingerbread cookies. A friend brought them to Isaac's co-op Christmas party. They are gluten-free, but you would never know. I made them at home and used honey instead of molasses. I didn't have any on hand, but I like them a lot better with molasses. I also used an egg because we're not vegan. I think you need to use two eggs to help hold the batter together better. She topped them with this delicious spiced buttercream icing. Mmm... such a great holiday treat. * Two new open cardigans. Can't resist buying them either. * Stumbling into a new blog. * A cozy, snowflake Christmas mug.
Wowzas! It's been a while since I've been on here. I have so much to update on, but for now, it needs to be quick b/c this mama is one tired lady.
My little darling (7 mo. 4 days!) is now crawling! She started scooting ever so slightly and rocking on her knees a few weeks ago. Well, yesterday she mustered her strength and started to really go. She crawled all over the place at house church tonight. I tell ya, her first year of life is flying by so quickly. People always seem to say that, but for real, time just needs to stop for a bit. I am in no rush for Malayna to be a big girl. Err... well, except for sleeping. If she slept like a big girl, I would have no problem with that whatsoever!
Will you celebrate this mama's joy with me for a moment? Just take a second to say, "Go, Malayna, go!" I love her to the moon and back a million times over and over!
Our first day of homeschool has come and gone. Daddy was even here to join in on our excitement. We started later than I wanted to, but Isaac's teacher was kept awake the night before by a needy baby. I guess she needed more sleep or something of the sort! Our day began with calendar time, followed by introducing our character virtue (attentiveness) and our Bible verse: Pay attention, my child, to what I say. Listen carefully. Proverbs 4:20. We then spent some time reading from Isaac's story Bible. I piggy-backed off of his Sunday school lesson on creation. It makes me smile that he enjoys his Bible time in his class. I love that we can continue reinforcing the same truths at home. After our morning devos, we worked together on letter sounds and had a snack. We finished our day with letter and number tracing, a read aloud, and reading CVC words (hat, hop, set, big, etc). I'm happy that we're off and running with homeschool. I count it a privilege to teach and lead my precious, growing boy. I see many fun times in our future homeschooling endeavors.
Daddy tried getting a picture of us. Isaac was a bit shy about it.
Morning calendar time. We need to add a few elements, but he's quickly getting the hang of it and asks to put the number up each morning.
There's the real Isaac smile I know and love!
Working diligently on letter tracing. My little lefty; it's so cute watching him write.
We just returned from Myrtle Beach, and while I'm a saddened that I won't see the ocean every day, I'm happy to get back to our routine at home. We're in operation preparation homeschool mode. I need to get a few more things and order a teaching resource online. I'm still hoping to start September 1st. For now I want to share some of my favorite dairy-free recipes with you that we've recently tried. Our dinners are just not the same with good ol' dairy, but we're making it work. These recipes are tried and true. If you have a dairy sensitivity, give these a shot. Most are also gluten free.
* Lemon curd bars - The original recipe is delicious and easy. I also made just the bars and spiced them up a bit by adding about 3/4 cup of shredded coconut and a little more honey. I make a double batch each time. Matt and I gobbled up most of them while in Myrtle Beach.
* Creamy avocado pasta - This is from a vegan website, so she uses no animal products. It's a great resource if you don't eat any animal products. Her pictures are nice, too! The primary flavor is avocado, so if you're not a fan, skip this one.
* Orange-apricot porkchops - Incredibly easy crockpot meal full of lots of flavor. We serve it over rice. It would make for a lovely fall meal. (I will skip the cloves next time, though.)
* Homemade chewy granola bars - This snack is quick to whip up in a flash. We all like these bars. Be careful not to overdo the peanut butter or the mixture will be too moist and gooey. Measure carefully!
* Tomato basil pasta - Out of all things, the base of this recipe is made from cashews. Sounds strange, but trust me, it's a winner. The cashews give it the creaminess it needs while still being dairy-free.
* Cashew chicken - An easy recipe if you have a hankering for Asian.
* Homemade Larabars - Simple and wholesome, Larabars are one of my favorite snacks. However, they are pricey little guys. My favorite flavor is the cashew cookie. It's simply made of cashews and dates and easy and frugal to make. All you need to do is grind up 1 cup of cashews in the food processor. Take it out and put into a separate bowl. Then grind up 8 oz of dates and add them to the bowl of cashews. The mixture will be sticky. Form into a ball and press down flat with a rolling pin. Roll out onto parchment or wax paper and cut into strips. I actually like these better than the store-bought version.
Chocolate-raspberry coconut flour cupcakes - I made these for house church one night, and everyone who ate them enjoyed them. The honey frosting is tasty but a bit sweet. Next time I make these I will cut back on the honey. I think I might make some for Isaac's birthday.
So, if you or someone you know has food allergy/issues, try some of these recipes. I hope they can be of use to someone out there!
It has been almost 5 months since I've posted anything. I have good reasons - having a baby and trying to keep my head above water as I learn to parent two small children. Thankfully, the Lord is gracious and forgiving and showers me with His unconditional love and provision to get me through this new season. I feel like I have so much to write and to tell you all the things that are going on in our family of four. Tonight, I'll try to recap a few and expand on them more later.
*Malayna is almost 5 months old. She is a gem. I absolutely adore her sweet, charming personality. She lights up the room with her beautiful smile and bright blue eyes. She coos and laughs and loves snuggling. She is pensive, "talkative", and calm-natured all at the same time. I couldn't have imagined a happier baby.
*Isaac keeps me on my toes, that's for sure. He is sweet and defiant all at the same time if that makes any sense. He is my sweet boy who needs lots of guidance right now, just as any almost four-year-old does. He still melts my heart and is growing up too quickly.
* We begin homeschooling September 1st. I've researched and prayed about what we should do for preschool. I want to challenge Isaac yet not push him to do things he is not ready to do. We'll go at his pace. I want this year to be full of excitement for learning and character development. We need to work on specific things to help with his attitude and heart. We're doing Sonlight this year with some additional math and reading elements.
* Isaac will also go to preschool for a couple hours three days a week. I'm excited for him to have fun making new friends, submitting to other authority figures, learning how to work out problems effectively, and many other things in a play-based environment. His teacher is solid in her walk with the Lord. This is a good fit for our family this year.
* Malayna has some dairy and caffeine sensitivities. I've tried lots of new recipes, and surprisingly, I've liked each of them. I will be one happy lady, though, when I can have milk!
* I had a pretty nasty infection from nursing, which led to a pretty nasty abscess that needed drained. Thankfully, I healed nicely and feel much better. Those babies get us one way or another!
* Matt has had some important work to do, so the kids and I have spent a lot of time at my mom's house. It's nice to relax and watch Food Network whenever I want.... the lazy days of summer!
* I got to see my niece and nephew this past week. Ian is 15 and Hannah is almost 10. They are both wonderful kids - wish I could see them more often.
* We bought a 2005 CRV. We had been looking for a while and knew we wanted a smaller SUV or minivan. We found one for a great price with great mileage.
* We're Myrtle Beach bound soon. Matt's grandma and some of his aunts/uncles live there. We're looking forward to rounding out the last of our summer with family.
* Our house church is about to multiply. I have mixed feelings about it. We love everyone and will be sad to not see them every other week.
* Right now Malayna is crying. She is supposed to be asleep but wants her mama to hold her. Poor baby.
* Matt is taking me on a date tomorrow. We're going to the place where he proposed to me. It's a quaint little town with a romantic feel to it. Makes me smile just thinking of it.
* Last night I had a dinner date and evening out with some dear mama friends. Love me some Japanese steakhouse food and time away from the kiddos. It does a mama good to have a break.
* Isaac said the sweetest thing this evening. I was telling him all the people I love. At the end of our conversation I said, "I love all of our family." He then says, "Mom, God is part of our family." We have been stressing that God loves him more than anyone. He put me in my place in a kind way, making sure I knew that God is most important. Love him to pieces.
* My aunt and uncle just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Can you believe it? 60 years of marriage! As I was leaving their celebration, my aunt told me to do the same thing. They've lived life together through the many ups and downs, and she wants the "young" couples in our family to live that way as well. A wise woman she is.
* I also go to spend time with two of my best friends from high school, Mandy and Suzanne. Mandy has three adorable 15-month-old triplets. Her life is lovely chaos and she handles it with such grace and ease. Suzanne has two young ones and is also raising her 9-month-old cutie patootie niece. She's also a wonderful photographer. She blessed me with some mommy/daughter pics for a gift. I can't wait to see them!
Well friends, that's it for tonight - just normal life around here the past few months, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I will be back soon, before five more months pass by!
I could not be any more thrilled to be the mommy of two beautiful and unique kiddos. Our adjustment into parenting two little ones is going much better than we anticipated. Malayna is the most content baby, eating and sleeping most of the day. She loves snuggling into our chests, hearing Jesus Loves Me, and listening to her big brother run around like a crazy man! Honestly, when I think of how the Lord blesses us with gifts, this is completely over the top. He's outdone Himself once again.
The c-section was much more difficult this time. For some peculiar reason, the spinal block was not enough to numb me from pain. My doctor did several "feel tests", and I pretty much failed all of them. The anesthesiologist gave me an additional local in my IV and said if it didn't work, then I would have to be put to sleep. At first it seemed to work, but about five minutes into the surgery, I felt pain. Not pressure, mind you. Pain. Ouch. It hurt. All of the sudden I started panicking. The doctor asked if I wanted her to proceed or put me to sleep. What? How am I supposed to make a rational decision when you're doing what you're doing? I'll spare you all the details! Thankfully, Matt was right by my side as I started to cry. I couldn't think clearly. Can you blame me? I was pumped full of all kinds of intense drugs. But, I gathered myself as best I could and decided to press on. I wanted to be awake when my baby girl entered the world. Matt reassured me that my hope is in Him. How I needed so desperately to hear those words. As soon as I stared to calm down, the pain ceased. About 10 minutes later, Malayna Hope entered the world.
Now we're home and things are settling down as I recover and we learn how to parent two children. In my heart, I feared this new phase of life for all of us would be hard to handle. Of course we'll have good times and bad times, highs and lows. I feared having post-partum depression and did not want to ever feel that way again. I prepared my heart by reading Scripture cards and praying about particular issues. I prayed that if my hormones did not cooperate, that I would still hope in Him and believe He has a good plan. For He is sovereign and knows precisely what we need. As Beth Moore aptly states it, "God promises us a good plan, not a painless plan." I embrace His plan because no matter what the world or my flesh speak to me, His plan is redemptive, good, and righteous.
The Lord is faithful and attentive to our prayers. He promises to draw near to those who draw near to Him. I pray that you believe and embrace His truth in your own life no matter the circumstance. I pray that for myself as well. He certainly taught me a lot about trust this past week; He reminds me to always fix my eyes on Him.
"Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;For I shall yet praise Him,
The help of my countenance and my God."
(Psalm 43:5 - I read this the night before Malayna was born.)
Our sweet Isaac loves Malayna so very much. He already helps soothe her and is concerned when "somefing goes wrong wif Mawayna." Matt captured this short clip of a very tired but sweet boy shortly after Malayna's birth.
I'm thrilled to get my hands on the GAPS book. I was one of three winners in the giveaway. I'm not looking into going completely grain-free, but I'm interested in learning more about how our gut-brain is really connected. I've had great success from following a more traditional diet of properly raised meat, dairy and properly prepared grains. I'm sure reading through this book will give me more ideas of how to help lessen the symptoms of Crohn's and improve our overall health as a family. I'll keep you posted on any grain-free, appealing meals.
You just never know when you might win a blog giveaway - what a sweet surprise and blessing to my Saturday.
~But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name Be joyful in You.
For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as with a shield. ~
Psalm 5:11,12 (NKJV)
A few of my sweet and dear mommy friends and I just began a study through the Psalms. These verses clearly remind me that through Christ I have a constant, abiding joy. The last fews days a certain little someone in our household has needed lots of discipline, patience, and firm yet gentle guidance. At times I let it bother me and affect my attitude. But as I took a little rest yesterday and read through Psalm 5, the Lord calmed my heart and brought it back to Him. And boy, I needed it. I can rejoice in all circumstances, big or small, because my trust is in Jesus. I have an advocate through Him. His Word is pure and true and today, again, I find rest in Psalm 5.
Not yet, but she'll be here soon - our sweet Malayna Hope! In preparation for her arrival, I'm looking to stockpile our new, as in Craigslist-you've-got-yourself-a-great-deal, upright freezer. Matt picked it up tonight, and I'm so thankful we found it for a wonderful price! Makes this mommy smile! I'm looking for some tried-and-true good freezer meal type recipes. We like any kind of meat, casserole, pasta, breakfast items, pretty much anything except peanut sauce. Sweet hubsters isn't a fan so much! So what do you got for me? Feel free to reply here or shoot me an email!
A friend from my MOPS group challenged me to think of a word to focus on and live by this year. Too often for me, I neglect a new year's resolution almost as quickly as I state it. I then become discouraged and guilt-ridden over the many "should haves" and "could haves". I like the concept of one all-encompassing word, a succinct vision statement. This year my word is focus. On so many levels, I need to grow in this area. Specifically, reading and meditating upon God's Word, serving Matt according to his love language and unique needs, and gently yet firmly teaching Isaac the way he should go. These are broad categories, but I already have goals in mind to live a more focused life in my roles. With the Lord's patience and guidance I'm already noticing seeds of fruit. His word tells us to live according to the Spirit and not the flesh, to put to death the deeds of the flesh. It's a hard thing to do, but that is why the Spirit came. He leads us into all truth. I will pray my way through this year. With the many changes coming my way, I need the Lord to help me focus on His will.
Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in your way.