If I may say so, they were quite good! Of course, homemade bread is always better fresh. It has toughened up a bit over the last day or two. But, I have to admit, I am rather impressed that I was able to do it. Don't know that I will do it again anytime soon (since we don't buy hot dogs very often), but for some goofy reason, I find satisfaction in knowing that I can if I want to.
In the last 2 weeks, I have implemented a great schedule, gotten my kids started on a terrific chore system, learned to bake all sorts of new things from scratch, and generally have a clean house and happy family. I had this smug satisfaction creeping up on me this week. I mean, it is all too easy to let these kinds of things go to my head! I mean, hey, I was in control! I guess someone decided I needed a bit of humble pie. Yesterday, JR came downstairs after his afternoon nap. I helped him get a little snack, and left to finish whatever I was working on. I heard some strange noises coming out of the kitchen, so I returned to check on things. This is what I found:
JR had finished the snack I gave him, grabbed the jar of peanut butter, gotten onto the counter and made himself comfortable (not something that my kids generally do unless we are actively creating something in the kitchen, and ONLY with permission), gotten a spoon out of the drawer, and was chowing down on peanut butter! I honestly didn't know whether to scold or laugh, so I just shook my head and grabbed my camera. I do love my children and the surprises they throw my way!
6 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/8 cup light brown sugar
6 Tbs. Maple syrup
2 1/4 cups rolled oats or mixed grains
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup miniature marshmallows
In medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in sugar and syrup until sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Stir in oats, flour, salt, and graham cracker crumbs. Stir until dry ingredients are well-coated.
Pour just over half of mixture into a greased 9x9 or 7x11 casserole dish. Press firmly, and let cool for a few minutes, until it begins to firm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle chocolate and marshmallows evenly over top of crust. Top with remaining crust mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until marshmallows and chocolate melt sufficiently. Remove from oven and let cool for about 20 minutes. While still warm, cut into bars. Use a spatula to gently press crust back down into melted center. Cool completely. Enjoy!
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cup wheat flour
1/8 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. molasses
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
In medium mixing bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. Add butter, and mix thoroughly until mixture resembles wet crumbs, or about 30 seconds. Add the remaining liquid ingredients. Mix until dough begins to stick together into a "dough ball" of sorts, or about another 30 seconds. If it seems too loose, just add sprinkles of wheat flour until desired consistency. Scrape dough out of bowl, and lay on seasoned baking stone (or parchment paper).
Flour rolling pin, and roll dough until about 1/8 inch thick. Chill in fridge for about an hour or until firm. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If dough is not already on a baking stone, then remove from paper and put on cookie sheet. Re-roll to ensure 1/8 inch thickness. Using a pizza cutter, cut into 1x3 inch (or as desired) rectangles (these can be snapped apart later). With a toothpick, prick holes spaced about 1 inch apart.
Bake about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned on edges. Remove from oven and use pizza cutter to re-cut into desired sized sections. Set aside to cool on pan about 20 minutes. Using a thin, firm spatula, gently scrape cracker sections off the baking sheet and onto a flat surface. Cool completely. Enjoy!
- These are pretty sweet crackers, so you can eliminate the sugar if desired.
- These crackers rise to almost double while baking, so be sure they are thin enough before baking.
- If you use a baking stone, be sure to scrape the stone when finished and save your homemade "graham cracker crumbs" for later use.
Well, every Sunday after church, we have our weekly meal out at a local restaurant--one that happens to be a part of a popular nationwide chain. However, since I stayed home today, I gave S my order so he would bring me some home. When he arrived home with my lunch, I could not believe what was written on the to-go bag! I mean, I know non-organic food has chemicals and preservatives, but to actually print this on their bags:
Enough said. Once again, unless you grow it, you don't really know what's in it!
- For sweeter bars, add 1/3 cup brown sugar instead of applesauce, OR decrease the amount of applesauce and add a corresponding amount of honey.
- Add a crisp cereal and use roasted nuts for a crunchier bar.
- In the 2 cup mixture, you could also use other dried fruits, chopped nuts, flaked or puff cereals, etc.
On Thursday, we took a trip to Chuck E. Cheese's. I have found it to be a relatively inexpensive way to give the kids a thrill. For less than $5, all of us can play for about an hour and a half, the kids get as much stimulation as they can handle, and we all have a great time. This week, my schedule allowed me to plan it in such a way that S was able to share in our fun.
Last night, I found time to try out a new recipe for natural, extra healthy, granola bars. I surprised the kids with them for snack this morning. They love them, but I think they taste a bit like a health-food bar! I will let S be the final judge, and based on his opinion, I will decide whether to post my recipe.
And last, but far from least, I have allowed myself to become more aware of moments like the one below:
When we allow life to get too hectic, it is far to easy to forget to enjoy the things in life that count. Our relationship with Christ, our relationships with others--particularly our spouse and children, ensuring our personal (and family's) health--the temple of Christ, and caring for the things with which God has entrusted us are the things we should truly value.
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil--this is the gift of God."
- First, starting this schedule did not mean changing everything as we knew it, but improving on what we already did during our day. My original schedule was a very good starting point, as some of it had become habitual, and the older kids were already familiar with it.
- Secondly, a couple of Bible verses got my attention. 1 Corinthians 14:33 says, "God is not a God of disorder, but of peace." Along those same lines, 1 Corinthians 14:40 states, "But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way." I realized through these verses, that order is a Biblical thing, and is, in fact, expected of us as Christians. Order brings peace in our lives.
- Thirdly, I realized how beneficial it is for a child to have scheduled order in their lives. A routine is predictable, and children thrive on predictability. Such predictability eliminates many potential discplinary issues with children. If they know what to expect, they are better able to mentally prepare for it. This fact was emphasized to me recently when I had to very suddenly leave my children for almost 2 full weeks, and many loving people, who were otherwise unaquainted with our routines, stepped in to care for them. It was so wonderful to know how well my children not only coped, but also helped direct their caretakers in their daily lives. They knew where to find needed items, JR was able to help them discover the "rules" of the house, and M was able to help ensure things were done "normally." In addition, a predictable schedule can truly help a child in many ways as he matures.
- Fourthly, having my habitually valued "me-time" is not a Biblical principle, but a secular one. In fact, scripture reminds us time and again, "They get into the habit of being idle....And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to." 1 Timothy 5:13
That all being said, I also learned that this type of schedule does NOT mean rigid, structured, and inflexible. Rather, it should be a guide, or tool, to help you, as a mother, accomplish everything you need to do in the time you have allowed. If set up correctly, the schedule allows plenty of flexibility. In addition, unexpected interruptions are to be expected. James 1:2-4 provides comfort in this fact; "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." This helped me stop stressing over issues I had dealt with in my 1st attempt. If I managed to get the whole house cleaned, and turned to find the kids had messed something, I used to get irritated. If I was in the middle of baking and had to stop to change a diaper, I could get frustrated. I have since realized this is to be expected. Relationships with your children, and with others, are much more important than a "spotless" house. I once heard a statement to the effect of, "When your child is off in college and decides to invite a friend home for Thanksgiving dinner, do you want him to say, 'oh, my mom does such a great job of keeping a clean house and you will even find all the table linens perfectly folded!'? Or would you prefer he say, 'I can't wait for you to meet my family! They are the most loving, accepting people I know!'?" If you think about it, this has a good message. Furthermore, "order" does not have to mean a spotless house. It means an orderly house. There is a big difference.
So, we are well into our first week with the new schedule. As you can see, each person (except S) has a schedule that corresponds with everyone else's, and it is color-coded for quick reference.
The day is basically divided into 30 minute increments (or a combination of several 30-minute increments). This allows plenty of time slots for needed accomplishments, while also allowing a few minutes of "flex" when you finish something early or have an interruption. To allow a little more flex, I have scheduled items in the late morning hours that I can sacrifice, which allows us to do big things on some mornings. For example, Wednesday is a baking day, and Thursday is a field-trip fun day. When we return, we pick up at the current time, and I don't feel like the whole day is lost. I scheduled things for myself during their nap that gave some flexibility based on my desires that day, and scheduled some things for the kids immediately after nap that I won't mind being missed if the kids need a little extra sleep. Some moms prefer to wake the kids at a designated time, but I prefer they get the sleep they need. They may need more on a field trip day than a day at home.
This type of schedule is "busy" in one sense, but I can honestly say it is very rewarding. Unlike days where I feel like I have been"busy" but have nothing to show, I have lots to show with a schedule. If I miss something, I just pick it up the next day. It is, at times, exhausting, but I have been sleeping much better (waking at night to feed the baby helps in that area too!). The kids' bickering has been significantly reduced because they are kept busy. I wake up feeling like I have a "plan" and direction for the day, and feeling in control. It does take self-discipline, which I continue to struggle with, but teaching my children to be self-disciplined, orderly, and obedient is much preferred to many other popular, more secular upbringings today.
Paul counsels the young widows in 1 Timothy 5:14, "...to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander." (emphasis mine) Having an orderly home involves dedication, commitment, hard-work, and perseverance, but is Biblical and rewarding on so many levels.
As always though, our Father in Heaven showed his presence once again, and in a wonderful way! Since I picked up N from the adoption agency, he has been seen by 2 pediatricians and 2 orthopaedists, all of whom told us he had a moderate case of hip displasia. He was last examined this past Monday, just 2 days ago, and the pediatrician confirmed it again. I was given the information regarding the leg harness he would have to wear, and it was explained to me that he would likely have to wear it for 6 months to 1 year. But, before he could get the harness, he had to have an ultrasound of his hips to find out just how severe the problem was. I had the appointment today. The doctor performing the ultrasound kept asking for the details as they had been explained to us. Then he turned the ultrasound monitor so I could see the screen. He pointed to the image of N's hip socket, looked at me, and said, "This is a perfectly normal hip." He then proceeded to take several other measurements while he attempted to literally pop the hips out of joint (N did NOT appreciate that!). Nothing. He said there was absolutely no give, his tendons were fine, everything was shaped normally, and his final report would state "Normal."
As a medical professional, he explained that it is possible that his tendons were just very loose after birth, allowing more flex than normal, and that they may have just tightened. However, I have trouble believing they went from "moderate" displasia to "normal" in just 2 days! I am in awe. We have been praying for him, though probably not nearly as much as we should have. Perhaps some of you were praying as well. Whatever the case, I am amazed and in awe of God's unconditional and loving grace and mercy.
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God..." --1 John 3:1
So this go around, JR came down with sniffles and a mild fever, but he seemed fine within 24 hours. Then M got the sniffles and a bit of a cough, but all in all, she is doing OK. Then A caught it 2 days ago. His raw milk is limited at this point, so he is generally fussy and wanting to be held a lot. Unfortunately, since I have been away from home, I had no raw milk and limited organic foods for about 2 weeks, which I think weakened my immune system. So, this morning, I woke up feeling horrible!! But, it still isn't nearly as bad as the colds I used to get. Nonetheless, today, this TV-hating mommy has already popped in 2 different Disney movies for JR and M, and has Veggie-tales on standby! And when I am not blowing my nose, testing my blood sugar (illness wreaks havoc on a diabetic!), or washing my hands in an attempt to keep little N healthy, my limited energy is focused on A.
I certainly don't enjoy my little boy being sick, but I have to admit it has its perks. I love holding a sleeping baby. They seem so peaceful!
Despite how bad I may feel, I am also reminded how blessed we truly are. I spent a few minutes this morning sorting and de-tagging gifts from a baby-shower last night. A few weeks before N was born, a friend called and asked if she could throw me one. I love baby showers, but felt almost awkward since this was, after all, baby #4. She insisted though, and I was truly blessed by the ladies who came, to show their support for our adoption and for little N himself. I had a couple ladies take pictures for me, so I can put them in N's scrapbook. In the event he ever wonders, I can show him that he was loved and celebrated by many. Thank you so much ladies for the blessing you are!
Baby wearing has been around since women have been having babies. It is something of a skill that requires practice to perfect, but once perfected, it is a wonderful tool! Using just one strip of a breathable cotton knit cloth (jersey is my favorite) about 18" wide by 6 yards long, you can create a dozen different ways to carry your baby, toddler, or even preschooler. It holds them up against you, unlike carriers and backpacks, it distributes their weight based on what is most comfortable for you (shoulders, hips, both, chest, etc.), and the kids seem to be very comfy in it. In fact, little A will fall asleep in a hurry when I wear him.
A in the same front cross wrap, but positioned for an older baby.
A in a pareo-style wrap, using the same strip of cloth. This is another of my favorite wraps for toddlers and preschoolers, however, it is the one that I have perfected the least, so I rarely use it.
I found the wrap to be most useful when:
- trying to cook dinner or clean with a fussy toddler under-foot
- traveling in an airport where you need free hands and/or the ability to wear a backpack and don't want the hassle of a stroller
- taking multiple children out in public (wearing one makes this task easier)
- an unexpectedly long walk with young children (just carry one in your car or diaper bag so you have it for an unexpected situation)
- soothing a newborn
You can learn more on the wearyourbaby website. Have fun wearing your baby (or child)!
S decided to surprise the kids with my arrival, so he pulled them out of bed around 11:15, bundled them for a bit of cool weather, and left for the airport. When I met them, S and A were the only 2 that were truly awake with big smiles on their faces. S was wearing A on his back, and A was dressed in his PJ's, his sister's socks, and a goofy looking hat for warmth. M was wearing her little footed-sleeper PJ's, her purple bathrobe, and cuddled into one of daddy's arms, while JR was wearing his PJ's, his green robe, and his house slippers, and he was cuddled into daddy's other arm. When they saw me, S smiled, but A looked at me like he couldn't figure out what was going on, M ran over and scrambled into my arms without saying a word, and JR slowly walked over, actually fighting back tears. I am not sure if it was because he was so tired, so excited, or a combination of both. Notice the lady in the background of this photo. The "double-take" looking over her shoulder at our gang is something I started noticing when I had 3 youngsters, so I can only imagine how frequent it will be with 4!
Daddy cuddling N for the first time, shortly after we arrived home and got the other 3 tucked back into bed.
Today, we had to get up early and get over to the base to get N officially registered with the military and our insurance, then I had to scramble to get an appointment with the pediatric orthopaedist out here. I then dropped S off at work, and returned home. That's when I "lost" little N to JR and M. They wanted to hold, feed, stroke, "pet," cover, ANYTHING I would allow them to do. If one wasn't holding him, the other was. I timed JR--he held N for a solid 50 minutes. I kept asking if he wanted me to put him in his bassinette, but JR kept responding with, "No, he's sleeping, so I'm just stuck here holding him for a while!"
Little N is doing great. He has almost doubled the amount he eats, from 2 ounces a feeding to about 3 1/2. I am convinced he is growing, but maybe I am just getting used to his size finally. It has been interesting going in public with him. I keep him pretty covered up to help prevent total strangers from touching him or possibly exposing him to viruses before we get home. It is actually pretty funny to see the double takes and surprised looks on people's faces when I peel the blanket back and they see a little black baby instead of the white baby they were expecting. It will probably get old after a while, but I think it is kind of entertaining at the moment.
I have had fun spending time alone with N, hanging out with my brother and sis-in-law and their daughter, but I am sooooo ready to go home. JR was sick and running a fever yesterday. On one hand, I am relieved N wasn't exposed to him, but on the other hand, I wasn't there to be mommy and hold him when he wasn't feeling well. I am so thankful and fortunate to have a wonderful husband that I can fully trust to take over for me. It has been such a relief knowing they are still being loved, cared for, and the house kept in order while I am away. He has done all the laundry, washed the sheets, made baby preparations that hadn't been done, and he has even grocery shopped and cooked a few extra meals to freeze for after I return. He does need to get back to work though, so please pray that ICPC goes through and we get approval soon.