Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dear newlywed

I was recently asked to write a blessing for a newlywed. As I started writing, I realized what was going down on paper was the same prayer I've prayed for every newlywed wife since I was married. I am sure it is the same prayer that was prayed for me. I'm saving it here.

Dear Newlywed,

my prayer for you is that you will become a wonderful wife and mother. I pray that you will learn to love your husband in a way you can't even imagine now (you probably think I'm silly for saying it's possible to love your hubby even more than you already do. That's okay. I thought the old married people were silly for saying it also). Love done right only grows with time. Your heart gets bigger.

I pray that the often difficult lessons of honoring and respecting your husband would come easy to you. Sometimes it's okay to just let something go, to choose to honor your husband instead of choosing to be right. I can't tell you why or how this works, but I can tell you it does. Remember that the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit is valuable in the sight of God.

I pray your marriage will be fruitful, and that your little ones will be the light of your eyes and joy of your heart. I pray that even when you are exhausted in a way you truly can't imagine now, you will understand the joy that parents can't put into words. How looking into one tiny face, seeing one tiny smile just for you, and suddenly it's all worth it--in a way you can't describe to anyone else. I pray that the joys of motherhood would be fully, wholly, completely yours.

I pray that you and your entire family would become masters of forgiveness--of each other, and of yourselves. Families fall apart over bitter, harsh words. They thrive on forgiveness. Remember to forgive yourself also--for not being perfect, for not being the wife or mother that you thought you would be. If you don't forgive yourself, you'll take it out on your family. That doesn't work (been there, done that). When you are frustrated or upset with any member of your family (even yourself), take it to God. He knows all about it, and it just waiting for you to come to him with it.

I pray that you remember every single day that you are the one that sets the tone in your home. If you are happy and cheerful, you will have a pleasant an inviting home. If you are sad, exhausted, and overwhelmed you can be sure that your family will seem stressed as well. Your husband may be the head of your home, but you, dear wife, are its heart. That is more power than you know.

I pray that you'll remember Who loves you with an everlasting, unending, phenomenally beautiful love. I pray that you will strive every day to throw yourself onto His loving-kindness, and remember that his mercies are new every day.

I pray that your marriage would be a beautiful and that will bless the world.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Coconut Flour Pancakes

Dear Tirza,

In the last couple months I have introduced you to the wonders of pancakes. Because I have decided not to give you gluten grains for awhile, I had to be creative when it came to baked goods. When I stumbled on a recipe for coconut flour pancakes I knew I had to try it and see how you liked it. It was a hit!!

Now I make a batch of these every few days and store them in the fridge or freezer. You eat at least one each day, and often two. I usually have about three. I'm glad you like it so much, because these pancakes are fairly high in protein, and have lots of good healthy fat.

5 eggs
1 cup organic apple sauce
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut flour
Add ins of choice (your favorite is blueberries)

1. Heat griddle or skillet to medium heat (I lean toward a medium low heat, and let them cook longer)
2. Whip eggs together until fluffy (don't skip this step to save time! your pancakes will be flat!)
3. Add all ingredients except add ins and coconut flour. Beat together.
4. Add coconut flour and mix well. Gently stir in any add ins. Allow mixture to stand for a minute or two to thicken.
5. Make small pancakes on the hot griddle--I make them about the size of my palm.
6. Allow to cook for several minutes on both sides. Coconut flour pancakes cook slower than wheat pancakes. I cook for at least 5 minutes on the first side, but you will need to pay attention until you get the hang of it. If you try to flip the pancake and it's still gooey--that's too soon. Give it a bit longer.
7. After cooking on both sides, remove from griddle and enjoy!

Usually I give you your pancakes plain or with a bit of applesauce on top. My favorite way to enjoy them is either with homemade strawberry jam or maple syrup. You love the sweetness of mommy's, but I'm careful about your sugar intake so for now you just get occasional tastes of mine. So far we're both happy with the arrangement.

The recipe is based on Wellness Mama's recipe, and Fluffy Coconut Flour pancakes by Nourishing Days

Friday, August 2, 2013

14 months and counting

Dear Tirza,

You are 14 months old now, and growing up so fast! It really is hard for me to believe how far you've come, and yet also hard for me to remember what life was like just a few months ago. You've been crawling for awhile. You can stand, but not walk (unless you are holding my hand). You took a first step the other day, but when you realized what you'd done you sat down right away.

We dance a lot. I turn on big band or Celtic music, and we dance jigs all around the house. You stand up and bounce tentatively up and down then clap your hands. You sometimes turn circles on your hands and knees since you can't stand and twirl like mommy yet. When we visit your grandparents or great grandparents, you'll turn on some of their musical toys and dance there. The more people watching the better.

As I sit here on the floor you are crawling in circles around me. You stop every so often and grin at me, and I give you a bite of my breakfast. I've given you more than a bite, really. You've eaten it all. Two eggs, two tiny purple potatoes, and a couple onion slices in a scramble. Then two coconut flour pancakes with strawberry jam. I did manage a few bites, but you ate most of it. Your appetite constantly amazes your aunts and uncles--Arthur and Christiana in particular are impressed (and fairly convinced that eating is the ONLY thing you do).

One of your latest discoveries is Inside and Outside. You are fascinated by taking smaller objects and placing them inside larger objects. One of your favorite toys is a glass vase that you carry around with you. Any small objects like coins, bobby pins, pens and/or pencils get placed in the vase. Then you ask me to empty it, so you can fill it again. You are equally interested in pulling things out of drawers. If we leave the Tshirt drawer open, the clothes will be pulled out. If I'm not watching, the diaper drawer is emptied. I like to see how much you are learning.

Sometimes you help me around the house. Last week you tried to help me unpack groceries. You decided that it would be less work if we skipped the unpacking, putting away in the fridge, taking out of the fridge, and preparing steps, and instead go straight to the eating. I got the blackberries for you so I didn't mind you eating them, but unfortunately I still haven't figured how to get the stains out of the carpet. Oh, well. The picture is adorable. And you really did mean well.

Another late development is that you like us to read books to you. You thought of that on your own, because I never was good at reading to you when you were younger. You will come to your daddy or I with a book in your hand, and ask us to read by actually opening our fingers and wrapping them around the book. I see you crawling over here with a copy of Hermie the Wormie (or something like that) and a copy of Zack's Alligator. Looks like it is time to  wrap this up.

I love you, dear.

Your mommy

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Ultimate Homemakers eBook Bundle!


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What's Included in the Sale?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Bringing up Bebe

When American journalist Pamela Druckerman has her first baby while living in Paris she hadn't even considered differences between American and French parenting styles. In fact, she hadn't even decided if she liked living in France. As her child began to grow she started to notice differences in the ways her neighbors raised their children. She became more intrigued with every new observation. Pamela determined to find out what the parents of these children were doing that got such radically different results, and share it with the rest of the world.

Many of the differences she noticed were in extreme contrast to what we are used to seeing in the States. The children in France often slept through the night by 3 months old, while in America this does not usually happen till one year old. French children have a wide variety of foods they eat, while in America it is common for a child to limit their diet to one or two food groups. French children tend to be independent much earlier, where it is common in the US for parents to be overly involved.

When Pamela asked questions she often got blank stares. There are not various "parenting methods" in France as there are in the states. There is only one parenting method, and it is so common that the French don't even realize they are  using a method. This style is simply the way parenting is done.

When I first heard of this book I thought the premise was interesting, but I assumed it wouldn't have an effect on my parenting style. I assumed French parents would be different, but not the kind of "different" I choose to make a part of my family. All I expected was an interesting diversion. I was very wrong.

Halfway through I began taking detailed notes. After the fourth chapter I began implementing the method in two areas, and immediately began to see changes. My daughter is now sleeping through the night, and eating at regular times throughout the day. I had resisted this change because I wasn't convinced it was best for her. However, the change was so fast I believe she was waiting on me all along. I just had to ask, and this book showed me how.

Bringing Up Bebe is solidly in my top three favorite parenting books. It doesn't have lists of stages or charts of "what is normal when Baby is ____ months old" but it does contain a parenting mindset that can be a huge help as a baby is added to the family. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested, but especially to new (or semi-new) parents.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My favorite Hat

A door stands to the left of our kitchen entryway. It opens to a small closet of a room, empty but for a single tall bookcase at the back. The bookcase is filled, but not with books. Each shelf is home for a handful of unique and beautiful hats. My collection is already extensive, and each year I add several more. 

My hand reaches automatically to the middle shelf, but as I do I accidentally knock a hat from the shelf just above. It falls to the floor and I stoop to pick it up. I brush it off and look fondly at the woven straw brim. It is simple, but elegant—trimmed in ribbon and flowers. Proper, but still spunky, it reminds me of white dresses, summer days and church picnics.

I gently return my church hat to the top shelf, and as I do the one beside it catches my eye. It’s completely white and styled complements of the 50’s. It looks brand new, but I know daily wear has left it even more comfortable than the first day I tried it on. A white feather floats on one side, and netting swoops over the front like a veil. This is one of my favorite hats, maybe because it reminds me of the day I brought it home—my wedding day. 

A soft smile touches my lips, but I must continue on to the hat I came for. It’s one of the newest hats in my collection, but also shows the most wear. I lift it off the shelf and eye it critically. A spitup stain peeks out of one side, and is that a pickle smear on the other? I've only owned this hat for eight months, but I love it. It’s the hat I was given the day my daughter was born. 

There is no time to linger over the other hats, although many are well worn and well loved. My daughter peers into my little room, wondering where her playmate has gone. I lift the final hat and place it on my head. For the next few hours I am mommy.


Written in January as part of my husband's 30 Days of Writing Prompts. He will be publishing the book next month, so stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Records were made to be broken

#13: Records were made to be broken.

The rolling pasture stretched as far as the eye could see, dotted here and there with clumps of trees used to shelter cattle. It was early spring, early enough that even the Texas heat hadn't set in full force. The trilling of wild birds and grasshoppers filled the air with the sounds of a newly budding year. 

A trio of individuals stood at the base of a softly rolling hill. There were two men, one in his 20s, the other several decades older. A petite young woman stood in front, a long  blond braid down her back. Both of her hands uneasily gripped a small handgun. 

The young man coached from behind, "Lean forward a bit--yes, there you go, and Amelia--don't put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to fire!" 

Oh, sorry, Jack." The girl quickly loosened her fingers, as though the gun was a living thing about to bite her. 

"Good. That's right." Jack praised, then pointed forward, "You see those posts? That's where you will be aiming. Your goal is to hit the target on top. It doesn't matter where. You won't get extra points for being center mass. Just try to hit it."

He stepped back as the girl tentatively fired her first few shots. The targets didn't even sway, but Amelia pressed her lips together and tried again. Jack stepped back to rejoin the elderly gentleman. 

"Well, uncle, I never thought we'd be standing her together like this, Amelia taking her first lesson."

Jack's uncle nodded. "I've never known a person to be so dead set against firearms as your sister."

"Looks like that's changing now--ever since a couple months ago. She still hasn't told me what happened, but whatever she saw was enough to get her thinking."

"I guess it was." His uncle nodded downrange. "You've got some unusual targets down there."

"Oh, yeah--I found those awhile back and thought they'd be perfect. Reactive targets are the best for beginners--keeps them interested." 

As if to underscore his statement, downrange a shiny round target shattered into a hundred black pieces. A shriek of delight filled the air as the student made her first shot.

"I guess you're right about that." The elderly gentleman chuckled. "Looks like Elvis is still breaking records."


Written in January as part of my husband's 30 Days of Writing Prompts. He will be publishing the book next month, so stay tuned for more!

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Fresh Start

Continuing to count to 1000 gifts with Ann over at A Holy Experience.

463. A new dress finished
464. Tirza's first tooth
465. Making Tirza laugh while she nurses
466. Snuggling with my hubby
467. Tirza discovering windows
468. Tirza's first haircut
469. Monkey foot PJs
470. dimpled tiny hands
471. A sparkling clean house
472. delicious grassfed beef
473. A beautiful spring day
474 Cleansing rain
476. Sunshine
477. Daughter asking to be held
478. Madelyn, my helper
479. A friends faith in the midst of suffering
480. Beautiful baby Luke
481. Cheese on bread
482. a new recipe done perfectly
483. Girls laughing over dye and perfume

484. Beautifully colored handmade soaps
485. The beautiful trust a woman of faith showed when the Lord took her infant son home
486. Butter on bread
487. A delicious steak shared with my man
488. A yummy meal with my hubby for our 4th anniversary
489. A gallon of farm fresh milk
490. A Sunday afternoon nap
491. Luke's footprint on Psalm 139--baby with Jesus
492. Visiting with family for Chinese New Year
493. An aunts amazing talent in the kitchen
494. A beautiful camera strap
495. Faith in death
496. Clean hair

497. A tidy home
498. Sharing an audio book
499. Gliding on the ice alone
500.  Delight shared after gift given
501. My baby asleep
502. A movie shared
503. A quart of homemade elderberry juice
504. Spending valentines with my man
505. An old romantic comedy
506. Red roses
507. Over a gallon of homemade salsa
508. A fresh start

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The sock drawer

Peals of laughter sounded from the office where I knew my husband and our baby were playing. He agreed to keep an eye on her for a little while so I could get a few things done in the rest of the house. 30 minutes I challenged myself. I have 30 minutes to get this room where I want it.

His deep voice and her baby giggles made my heart laugh as I zoomed around the room. More than anything I wanted to go watch them play together, but I'd been playing with my baby most of the day. 30 minutes of focusing on something else would be good for both of us. 

 Socks always travel in pairs, so it would stand to reason that each load of laundry should always contain two socks of each kind. Yet more often than not we find an odd sock--the one that went missing. A baby is to household chores what a washing machine is to socks. At the end of the day I look at my to-do list and can't give a good reason this chore or that chore didn't get done. Somehow in making sure the baby survived another day, the time for doing the chore evaporated--just like that oddball sock.

Evenings like these were my way of going through the mismatched sock drawer--both literally and figuratively. I have the chance to catch up on all those chores that evaporated. I only had a half hour, so I had to make it count. With some peppy music on my side and a smile on my face, I could make that thirty minutes of focus worth two hours at any another time. 

As the timer went off I stood back to admire my work. I'd done well. I smiled at another loud giggle from the back room. It was time for mama to join the fun.


Written in January as part of my husband's 30 Days of Writing Prompts. He will be publishing the book next month, so stay tuned for more!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Seven months and change

Dear Tirza,

You are nearly 8 months old now, and it is hard for me to believe how fast you are growing. Your seventh month has been a month of huge changes. You've learned so many new things, and grown and developed in so many ways!

A month ago you had your very first fever. It was Christmas Eve, and when we got you home from your grandparents you were burning up. Your daddy and I were pretty worried, but all you wanted was for us to cuddle you. So we did. The very next day I noticed you were sitting up on your own.

Three weeks ago today you took took your first wobbly crawl. For two months you had been practicing all the different parts of a crawl individually, but it wasn't until New Years Eve that you figured out how to string all the parts into a whole. You were slow and awkward--but when you crawled that first yard you were so proud of yourself that you did it a second time!

Just last week you pulled yourself up for the first time. You were holding my hands. I couldn't tell if I'd helped you or not, so I put your hands on a dresser drawer and sat by your side cheering on. It took you a minute to figure it out, but you soon stood on your own two feet without any help!!

Now that you can get around on your own your world has completely changed. If you don't like a room, you go to another room. If you hear voices in the rest of the house, you will go see where they are and what their owners are doing. If there is something interesting just out of reach, you simply go get it. You love to follow me around the house, especially if I'm in the kitchen. There are so many interesting things in the kitchen!!

One thing you HAVEN'T figured out yet is how to get down once you've stood up. This is unfortunate, because you are scared of falling.  Last night you pulled yourself up in your crib for the first time. You stood quiet for a few minutes just looking around, but then you started crying. Your legs were tired and you were so afraid you would fall down and hurt yourself!!

You have also discovered what it is to be frustrated. You didn't have many reasons to get frustrated before you were able to move around, but now there are so many things that keep you from achieving your goals!! You try to crawl under the table, and the table legs get in your way. You try to pull yourself up on mama's bed and your legs are too tired and won't cooperate. You find mama's veggie basket, bend over the top, and your arms aren't quite long enough to reach the apples and potatoes. It can all be very frustrating, but only because you are such an inquisitive little girl.

Your newfound mobility has given me a new favorite thing. When you are tired, or sad, or just want more mommy time, you will come crawling from across the room to me. Sometimes I'll scoop you up, but most of the time I'll just sit on the floor and let you come to me. When you reach me you pull yourself up into my lap and hold me close. You are a snuggle-bug, and a sweetheart. There is nothing I love better than snuggling with my sweet baby.

I love you, little girl.

Your mama.