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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yummy Slow Cooker Lunch 12/30/09

I had no idea what to make for lunch, but I knew I did NOT want to pack both kids into the car just for some fast food. So...I pulled out some frozen hot dogs (Nathans - the good stuff) and put them in the fridge to thaw. Then I had thought: slow cooker. I proceeded to do a search for "slow cooker hot dog recipe." I found a few things, most taking hours, of course. One, however, Hawaiian Hot Dog Surprise, only took 30 minutes, and I had the ingredients (at least I thought)! Working with what I actually had, I subbed half the hot dogs with leftover ham and left out the beans (which I amazingly didn't have - I ALWAYS have baked beans!) and the white sugar just because I figured it was sugary enough. I also cooked it on high for 30 minutes because it wasn't bubbling like the recipe implied it would. The end result was SO YUMMY! The Nathans hot dogs are salty, which gives a nice contrast to the sugary sauce and pineapple. The ham was good in it, too. I highly recommend this recipe, though I would bet money that the white sugar is unnecessary. I served lightly-buttered peas with this meal, which sounds weird but complemented the dish well. Toddler approved.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Education: Food for Thought

I would love to homeschool my children. My husband? Not exactly on board. I have searched and searched for evidence of what I know to be true about homeschooling, and I've found a lot of great resources. Isn't it funny, though, how some good food for thought falls into your lap? Here are a couple of links that have made an impact on me. Do you have any?

Why Schools Don't Educate
Is there hope for our children's education?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

God's Blessings This Week 21-27

Monday: Ellie made up her own words and sang them to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle. That's a first! She's so smart!

Tuesday: Ellie stood in line to see Santa saying, over and over, "Santa's lap? Santa's lap?" The moment we put her on his lap, she cried like we cut off her arm. As soon as we left Santa's Village, she started up again with, "Santa's lap? Santa's lap?" She told us over and over all day about "Santa's lap." Oh, and then there was the candy cane Santa gave her...

Wednesday: God kept us safe while I fought exhaustion behind the wheel. "They" say it's the same as intoxication, and I'm guessing "they" are right. First, my vision went. Then I started having uncontrollable daydreams. Finally, my speech slurred as I belted out Christmas songs to stay awake. That was the most scary, not having control over my speech. That was the scariest 15 minutes of my life.

Thursday: What Christmas memory includes bribing the children with green beans? Seriously. BOTH children (Ellie & Trenner) would only eat more dinner with the promise of more green beans to follow.

Friday: We remember the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Saturday: Ellie decorated the tree with ants from her Ants in the Pants game. Precious.

Sunday: Ellie helped her Grandma and me make the Elmo face invitations for her second birthday party. Mike got pictures of it!

Menu Plan Monday 12/28/09

(Sorry about the weird formatting; Blogger is acting up on me)
  • Meaty Monday:
  • Gluten-free pasta w/ sauce from a jar and crumbled spicy sausage
  • Garlic Bread
  • Tasty Tuesday:
  • CrockPot Tuscan Chicken from Saving Dinner served over rice
  • Wild Card Wednesday:
  • Not sure yet - probably takeout
  • Spaghetti Night (Well, since we did Spaghetti Night on Meaty Monday, we'll do Meaty Monday on Spaghetti Night):
  • Morton's Roast from Costco on the grill
  • Sesame Broccoli (like this recipe)
  • Free-for-All Friday:
  • Not a clue; no idea what we'll be doing

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hidden Opportunities

Yesterday, while I was browsing one of my groups on facebook (an aspect of facebook I tend to completely ignore) for the first time in months, I saw that a person I wronged had joined the group. I have been kicking myself for 11.5 years about how I treated this person. I silently hoped I'd run into him (no, he's not an ex-boyfriend) at some random place and time so that I could apologize. I just couldn't seem to forgive myself for my adolescent wrongdoing. I spent just a moment verifying it was him before sending a very sincere apology through his facebook page. I thought perhaps he would think I was some crazy person and not reply, but I nevertheless felt completely released from the sin that was my bad behavior.

Today that man replied, revealing that he did not remember how I treated him, and he apologized to me for mistakes he made back then! I already knew I'd done as much as I could to write the wrong, so his response was a bonus blessing from God. I thank God for the opportunity to apologize to this idividual, through facebook though the opportunity was given. Be sure to keep your eyes open for hidden opportunities from God. What you find may surprise you!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Playing with the Christmas Tree 2009

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Luke 2:1-20 (New International Version)

The Birth of Jesus
1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to his own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Seven Wonders of the World

An email I received:

A group of students were asked to list what they thought were the present Seven Wonders of the World. Though there was some disagreement, the following got the most votes:
1. Egypt's Great Pyramids
2. Taj Mahal
3. Grand Canyon
4. Panama Canal
5. Empire State Building
6. St. Peter's Basilica
7. China's Great Wall

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one quiet student hadn't turned in her paper yet. So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list.The girl replied, "Yes, a little. I couldn't quite make up my mind because there were so many." The teacher said, "Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help." The girl hesitated, then read, "I think the Seven Wonders of the World are:
1. to see
2. to taste
3. to touch
4. to hear
She hesitated a little, and then added,
5. to feel
6. to laugh
7. and to love
The room was so full of silence you could have heard a pin drop. Those things we overlook as simple and "ordinary" are truly wondrous.
A gentle reminder that the most precious things in life cannot always be bought.

When God reveals His plan...

This happened to me back on September 1st, and I have to share:

The most amazing thing just happened. Actually, the most amazing realization just unfolded. All day long, an email from Way of the Master kept catching my eye. While I always have good intentions to read those emails, I never seem to get around to opening them. But this email kept pulling and tugging until I finally opened it. I read through it, skimming a little, and clicked on the Facebook icon, thinking I was sharing the wonderful stories. It turned out I was going to their fan page; I didn’t even know they had a Facebook page. I became a fan and proceeded to read some of the wall posts. I saw a couple about Judy N. needing prayers, so I prayed for her. I didn’t read the posts in depth because I was just seeing what was on the page. I went back to the email and looked at the button I clicked, still hoping there was a share button, and there, right above the button, was more information about Judy N. The blurb included an address for sending cards. I never send cards to strangers to whom I have no personal connection, but God put it on my heart to send a card. Without hesitating, I grabbed a notecard, one of my fanciest, thinking Judy might appreciate the beauty of it. I started to write just a two-sentence note about God putting it on my heart to write her and tell her I’m praying for her. All of a sudden I remembered that a few weeks ago, while I was praying, the name Judy popped into my head suddenly. I assumed God was asking me to pray for a friend, but when I asked that friend about it, she didn’t know why she’d need prayers. I kept praying for “Judy” every night, since obviously God knows the reason. As I told this to Judy, I also realized that the email kept catching my eye because God was telling me to open it so that I would read about Judy. I told her how amazing it is that He revealed His mysterious plan in the span of writing a short note. He IS amazing!

Books That Stuck

You read "Suck," didn't you? Yeah...most people do. This is another facebook goodie.

Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. List 15 books you've read that will always stick with you. They should be the first 15 you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. I'm interested in seeing what books my friends choose.

1. Fahrenheit 451
2. Island of the Blue Dolphins
3. Great Expectations (but not in a good way)
4. Eat Pray Love
5. She's Come Undone (again, not in a good way)
6. The Bible
7. Tuesdays with Matthew
8. A New Leaf
9. The Joy Luck Club
10. The Bonesetter's Daughter
11. A Brave New World
12. Hamlet
13. Jude the Obscure
14. Animal Farm (in a creepy way)
15. Kitchen God's Wife

Book Nerd?

This is one of those fun facebook activities, but I think reading is important, so I'm sharing...

BC believes most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. How do your reading habits stack up?

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen-
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien-
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte-
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling-
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee-
6 The Bible-X
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte-
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell-
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman-
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens-x

Total: 2

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott-
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy-
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller-x
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien-
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faul
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger-
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

Total: 1

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell-
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald-x
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams-
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky-x
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck-
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carrol-
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame-

Total: 2

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis-
34 Emma-Jane Austen-
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis-
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hossein
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne-x

Total: 1

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell-x
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown-
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery-X
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding-
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

Total: 2

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens-
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley-x
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Total: 1

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck-x
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy-x
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville-

Total: 2

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens-
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker-
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett-X
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno – Dante-
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

Total: 1

80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens-
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker-x
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White-X
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom-
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

Total: 2

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery-x
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl-x
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo-x

Total: 4

Grand Total: 18

Tradition of Giving

This year we started a new tradition with the kids: we make room for new gifts by donating old ones. This year we are giving a trash-bag-full of stuffed animals to Operation Noah in Chandler. Technically all the animals were mine, but I gave them to Ellie a while back. They were all as good as new, most still with the tags!

What traditions did you start this year?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mikey Update 12/23/09

The cardiologist said he doesn't hear or feel that Mikey's heart is working extra hard, and Mikey's weight gain is great ("growing like gang busters" was his term; he was very impressed with his length). Basically, there is no evidence that the hole is causing any problems or symptoms. The EKG was normal, and his BP was good, too.

We can't make an appointment with the cranio-facial specialist until Monday because the scheduler is on vacation. We will continue with the chiropractor next week so that we're at least doing something.

Mikey weighed 9 lbs. 1 oz. and measured 20 inches (with their highly inaccurate method).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Mikey Update 12/22/09

Mike won't sign off on the cranio-sacral specialist, and neither will our pediatrician 'yet.' The pediatrician is sending us to a cranio-facial specialist, however. He also wants to do a modified barium swallow to check swallow function and to check for aspiration. I talked the doctor into tabling talk of the test until his appt. on the 6th so that we can give the elimination diet enough time to work (to make sure his symptoms aren't from food sensitivities).
Oh, and Mikey weighed 9 lbs. .5 oz, which is a 13-oz. gain in 14 days!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Like A Mosquito

I've been praying pretty hard lately because of everything we're going through with Mikey. I haven't just been praying for his healing. I've also been praying really hard for strength and endurance and patience. The last couple of days when I pray, I hear a tiny little voice in my head saying, "What if there is no God? All this is silly, for nothing." My mind (or perhaps my heart) immediately replies, "Of COURSE God is there, listening, performing miracles." I get so - dare I say it? - proud of myself for having that belief so ingrained that I reply without fully processing the conversation. (That pride is an issue for another day.) Then I think about that tiny little voice. It doesn't take me long to recognize that the voice is not me but Satan. Today I realized it in the midst of prayer and immediately asked God to kick him out of my head. The cartoonish attitude I held made me giggle a bit. Humor is always good in these situations so you don't take Satan too seriously and let him in further. While I was feeling so entertained by the thought, I thought about how the tiny little voice kept coming back and buzzing in my ear, and I thought of mosquitoes. I almost slapped the side of my head as if swatting a mosquito and then realized, in my very exhausted state, I was getting a little carried away with the visualization. Nevertheless, the metaphor was perfect for this type of attack by the enemy. He says the doubts in such a small, innocent way that you think they're your own thoughts. They keep coming back and coming back, whispering, buzzing in your ear, and they'll eventually suck out your faith if you don't swat them. Lack a swatter? Ask God! He always provides.

Mikey Update 12/21/09

PKU results were negative - yay!
Next cardiologist appointment is this Wednesday the 23rd.
Mikey had a huge breakthrough at the chiropractor on Wednesday the 9th. That Friday he didn't need any adjustment. By the next Tuesday, though, he was returning to his earlier condition. He's only gone downhill since then. He's basically back at square 1 today, having trouble eating out of the bottle and fussing for no obvious reason. The chiropractor is at a complete loss and referred us to a cranio-sacral specialist in the event she might find something he missed. The two will collaborate and try to find the missing piece(s) of the puzzle.

Menu Plan Monday 12/21/09

Menu Plan Monday

This week is all messed up, and not entirely because of Christmas!

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Some slow cooker chicken dish I have yet to select (depends on my ability to get to the store today)

Wednesday: Freezer cleanout (I see chicken dino nuggets in our future...)

Thursday: Tenderloin roast (hubby's choice), cheesy potatoes, cheese dip, Spicy Sesame Green Beans (only half spicy, though, for the wee ones)

Friday: Ham, Jello salad (yes, I said Jello salad), corn, peas, scalloped potatoes, whatever else we add to the list...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

God's Blessings This Week 14-20

Highlight of my Wednesday: Sitting in Chick-Fil-A for an hour and a half enjoying a leisurely breakfast and coloring with my daughter while my son slept peacefully alongside us. Well, that and listening to Ellie call out the subject of each Christmas song as it starts on the restaurant's sound system like she's playing Name That Tune. I forget she's not even two yet.

Ellie, totally unprompted, told Mike, "Thank you for dinner," at the end of a meal out. Remember, she's not even two yet!

All the Arizona Ericksons got together for our "Christmas Eve" celebration on Friday. Swedish meatballs...sweet and sour hot dogs...beef stew...cookies... Unfortunately, I didn't get to eat the fudge this year (no dairy), but oh, was it a good meal and good company! Thanks for making the meatballs, Uncles!

We bought Ellie Pull-Ups in anticipation of starting potty training next week. She's getting SOOO big! She tries to pull down her pants and asks to sit on the potty before she goes. She then asks for a diaper change as soon as she's done. We asked Santa for a potty and some panties!

Ellie sings the ABCs by request now. She sings the whole thing, though "LMNOP" is a bit muddled. Oh, and the end is "Now I ABCs, next sing me." It's close enough! Ellie can now sing all of Twinkle Twinkle on pitch. It's so precious! She also sings the Elmo's World theme song on pitch. Maybe we have a singer among us...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Review of this week's recipes

Meaty Monday:
Morton's Pot Roast from Costco – Good but not as sweet as I’d hoped, since it contained sugar, and very fatty
Stir-fried corn – Turned out better than I’d hoped!

Tasty Tuesday:
Last-minute change of plans led to dinner out

Wild Card Wednesday:
Last-minute doctor appointment led to takeout

Spaghetti Night:
Spontaneous dinner out with friends, conveniently also Italian

Free-for-all Friday:
Erickson Family Christmas!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 12/14/09

This week is an easy week for me. I deserve it!

Meaty Monday:
Morton's Pot Roast from Costco
Stir-fried corn

Tasty Tuesday:
Tuscan Chicken from SavingDinner.com (received in an email from Flylady...I don't feel right posting it, so if you want it, message me or comment with your email address) over rice instead of pasta (I love it when the veggies are part of the main dish!)

Wild Card Wednesday:
Cranberry Stuffing Turkey Breasts from Costco
Roasted green beans

Spaghetti Night:
Fancy pasta with sausage (haven't decided which fancy pasta or sausage yet)

Free-for-all Friday:
Whatever's left!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Give Freely Part II

The other day I talked about giving freely of our stuff. Today I want to talk about giving freely of our time. This is the one where I fall short. I have great ideas and good intentions (or paving stones, if you catch my drift), but I forget, I'm afraid, I'm lazy, I'm any other excuse you choose.

Is the problem that I forget? Do I intend to do things that just aren't right for me? Do I overschedule the rest of my life? I've taken a spiritual inventory, but I think I need to take a practical one. I have abilities in many areas, but what can I actually fit into my life? I spend a lot of time on the computer for various reasons...is there something I can do on the internet or in Microsoft Office? I run clothes to Wheat's Silo already...can I make a couple other stops on the way? (I did add Crisis Nursery to my run, by the way, when I asked myself this question.) I already collect food for our local food bank...can I find new sources for the food? (This one made me ask my moms group, and I got a few donations!) Is there some way for me to contribute without doing all the legwork myself...do I have friends or family already contributing their time to a cause? (A friend collects labels and box tops for education and has even offered to send me an envelope each quarter! I refused, of course, and will send them to her with my own supplies.) Do I have to lead the CROP Walk for my church or can I help find a leader? Do I have to work in a soup kitchen or can I offer to organize volunteers to work? Additionally, it is clear to me that I need to schedule these activities so that I can't forget or plan over them.

My challenge to you is to first take a spiritual inventory of your gifts to narrow down your possibilities. Then, consider your talents and abilities and availability. What one thing can you do this month that helps someone else? Can you pick up groceries for an elderly relative or even just sit for a bit and chat? Can you collect pop tops at work for the Ronald McDonald House? Can you call your friends to ask if they could donate books to your niece's school's book drive?

I'd love to hear what you decide!

Review of this week's recipes

Review of this week's recipes:

Meaty Monday:
Easy Slow Cooker Meatballs – They were good, but the meatballs themselves could have used more seasoning (the only seasoning was in the breadcrumbs) and they didn’t hold together well. They have hope, though!
Roasted Parsnips – I also made some with cinnamon and sugar. They were ALL good!!!
Garlic Bread – Well, our bread molded spontaneously, so no garlic bread for us… :o(

Tasty Tuesday:
CrockPot Brown Sugar Chicken over rice – It was very good but tasted just like Picante Chicken. Since the Picante Chicken has fewer calories and more veggies and is less work, we’ll dump this recipe and keep that one.
Garlic Sesame Green Beans – Good as always, though I forgot the almonds and made the beans without red pepper flakes so that Ellie could eat them (I like them better that way, anyway). I also added chopped garlic to the oil (because I accidentally started to make my garlic green beans instead of Mike's). I give a huge thumbs up to veggie recipe that makes my toddler ask for more until there is no more.

Wild Card Wednesday: Changed to a meal out, since Mikey’s chiropractic appointment got in the way.

Spaghetti Night:
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce – Since I doubled the meatball recipe on Monday, I decided to just break up the meatballs into sauce. I’ll have to try this recipe another time.
Honey Mustard Broccoli - MUCH better with Ken's Steak House Honey Mustard dressing than with Safeway Honey Mustard
Garlic Bread

Free-For-All Friday: Whatever is left!

Family Dinner (Saturday or Sunday): Ditched the food plans when the family plans changed...had yummy brinner

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Love One Another

Many parents worry that they won't love their second child as much as their first. I can't say that I had the worry, but I can say that I understand how they might come to have that worry. The birth of your first child is something you can't understand until you've gone through it. Trust me; I've been on both the giving and receiving end of the you-can't-imagine-how-wonderful-it-is talk. You just can't believe that a) you can handle that kind of emotion again and b) it could ever be as wonderful and amazing. Still, and maybe it's because of my trust in God, I merely wondered how this miracle of loving your second child happens. I never doubted that it would.

Other, experienced parents say that your heart just grows bigger with each child. While I agree that your heart does grow bigger with each child, I have to add that that growth is exponential. I, far and away, love both my children more now that Mikey has come along. It would seem that I've learned to appreciate motherhood so much that I appreciate my children more, which makes my love that much greater.

I was very excited to have this revelation today, especially when I thought back over the last month, this first month as a mother of two. I have had SO MUCH FUN with my daughter. My creativity has gone through the roof. My ability to just play without inhibition has gone through the roof. (And many of you know I'm NOT a shy, inhibited person, so just try to imagine me truly uninhibited...) My old pastimes have bubbled up to the surface. (Color with crayons, anyone?) I have never known such happiness. I have to remind myself over and over how wonderful the afterlife will be because sometimes I never want to leave my earthly motherhood!

I have no doubt that I will have plenty of time and love for however many children God sees fit to give me. The trick is simply to allow the love to happen. Sure, it's overwhelming. Oh, man, is it overwhelming! It is a rush that you could never find on this earth. It changes you. If you allow that love to happen, to wash over you and through you and enlarge your heart and open your mind, you will know, at least I believe, the next best thing to eternity with Jesus. I believe that God gives us this gift of loving one another so that we will be even more excited about loving Him!

Give Freely

I admit that it wasn't the Word of God but rather Flylady who started me down the path of gifting. What do I mean by "gifting?" Gifting, used here, refers to giving away my perfectly-fine, however-unneeded household items, from clothing to cookbooks to toys to kitchen gadgets to...whatever, not because you have to but because you can. Do I need it? Do I use it? Do I love it? Can I use something else in its place? Is it more valuable to keep than to rent or borrow if I need it in the future? Could it bless someone else more than it blesses me? These are just a few of the questions that I ask myself about each and every item about which I think twice before purging. Flylady calls this "decluttering." I couldn't agree more. This is decluttering of my home, my life, my responsibilities (less stuff=less to clean/care for/move around/store/etc.) and my spirit. Oh, wait. That's why I brought up the Word of God. How can I possibly care for others and bring to them the Gospel message when I'm lugging around a houseful of material goods? (Don't read into this too much. While I have been tempted to sell everything and become a missionary, I don't see that as a real possibility in my future.) I just mean I can't have complete faith in my eternal life through Jesus if I'm hoarding stuff.

I'm sure many of you are thinking, "Sure, I don't use all this stuff, but I paid good money for it! At least let me try to sell it." WRONG. How much time and energy will you spend trying to sell these things, all the while storing them and filling your mind and heart with false ideas of their worth? I'm not suggesting you throw the stuff away. GIVE the stuff away. I don't care if you gift it to friends and family who genuinely need it (don't just thrust your clutter upon them, though!) or if you box it up and leave it on the curb for Big Brothers Big Sisters (or any number of charities who pick up). Goodwill usually has drive-by drop off, and most libraries take books and magazines. If you just can't let go of that monetary concern, ask for a receipt! (No, don't ask your sister for a receipt when she takes that extra toaster off your hands.) Most donation collections, even the curbside ones, offer receipts. Big Brothers Big Sisters will leave a receipt on your door if you leave a note on your stuff requesting it. The libraries have them at the help desk. Just ask! I've only once ever not been able to get a receipt, though technically I probably could have if I'd really cared that much. I go so far as to take pictures of my donation items to attach to the receipt just for good measure.

Why gift? The obvious reason is it's a fast and easy way to get stuff out of your house. Box it up, drop it off, wipe your hands of the mess. Think about who might be receiving your items, though. Depending on the charity you bless with your items, you might be helping clothe the baby of an abused woman in a shelter. You might be helping a young, unemployed dad buy inexpensive clothing for a job interview. You might be helping an elderly couple on a fixed income replace aging cookware. You might be helping the library earn money to create more literacy programs for children. Hey, you could be helping a fan complete his collection of trinkets! You just never know!

What's my point? Start peeling off the layers. Ask the questions I listed earlier and unload your stuff. It might be hard at first, but it does get easier. Now, I actually go through my house with a bag chanting "purge purge purge" as I desperately look for more to gift to others. The experience is so freeing, of space and spirit! I challenge you: what stuff can you find to gift today?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mikey Update 12/8/09

Mikey had his one-month well check today. He weighed 8 lbs. 3.5 oz and measured 20.5 inches long (though their method of measurement is highly inaccurate). Everything about Mikey looked great, including his weight gain. The doctor had nothing to report!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Menu Plan Monday 12/7/09

Here I go with my first week of complete menu planning! I'm very excited!
(Oh, and be sure to check back at the end of the week for a review of this week's menu!)

Meaty Monday:
Easy Slow Cooker Meatballs
Roasted Parsnips
Garlic Bread

Tasty Tuesday:
CrockPot Brown Sugar Chicken over rice
Garlic Sesame Green Beans

Wild Card Wednesday:
Ham Sandwiches
Fruit Salad

Spaghetti Night:
Spaghetti and Meat Sauce
Honey Mustard Broccoli
Garlic Bread

Free-For-All Friday:
Whatever is left!

Family Dinner (Saturday or Sunday):
Slow Cooker French Dip
Sweet Potato Fries

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My crazy daughter

Ellie is learning so much so fast. She loves to mimic, but she's reached a new, low level. A lot of little girls pretend to breastfeed their dolls. My little girl pretends to use the breast pump. No joke. She sat down on the couch where I sit to pump, lifted up her shirt and tried to put the tubes up to her chest. I was both entertained and horrified at the same time.

On the positive side, Ellie tried to pull down her pants and asked to sit on the potty yesterday. She was doing it so she'd have a reason to wash her hands, but she did actually go potty at the time she asked. It's just too bad she'd already gone when she asked. I guess that Elmo potty might not be a birthday present after all. I'm not going to listed to all the unsolicited advice out there, though, and start now, just 2.5 weeks before Christmas. That's asking for failure. Maybe Santa will bring the potty and we can do potty training bootcamp that weekend.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Sun Magazine | Why Schools Don't Educate

The Sun Magazine Why Schools Don't Educate

This article really makes you think...and feel guilty...

On the other hand, it motivates you to speak up and make a difference!

"Now, here is a curious idea to ponder: Senator Ted Kennedy’s office released a paper not too long ago claiming that prior to compulsory education the state literacy rate was 98 percent, and after it the figure never again climbed above 91 percent, where it stands in 1990. I hope that interests you."

Friday, December 4, 2009

News Headline: Katie is not a vegetarian

I'm reposting this from facebook for my visitors who are not on facebook (and who will , inevitably, question my food choices if they don't read this).

You people get all excited about the silliest stuff. I decided to start eating meat again to unify my family and make us healthier. We weren't able to eat together, much less healthfully, because we were always preparing two or three different meals. I want our children to learn to appreciate what is put in front of them, too. That's a lesson they won't learn if every member of the family is allowed to choose their food at each meal. I figured it's a personal sacrifice I can make that doesn't compromise anything more than an ideal in my head, and it's an action that should make me healthier in the long run via meal planning and the joy of family dinners. It won't hurt to save some money with that meal planning, either! Oh, and I made the switch Thursday night before bed, not realizing the baby was going to try to get out before I could eat any meat...

Mikey Prayer Requests

I'm going to start by copying all the old posts here, so just scroll down if you've been following this on facebook. I did add a new one at the end.

Mikey has a loud heart murmur that wasn't picked up until yesterday. Thank goodness we had to go back to the pediatrician yesterday for a jaundice-scare followup appointment! The cardiologist's office performed an ultrasound and an EKG and took Mikey's blood pressure in a few locations. He also listened to his heart (well, we should hope so!). The results point to a ~3mm hole in the wall in Mikey's heart. I can't remember the name of the hole, but it is the most common heart defect in newborns. The hole is the type that typically closes on its own with time, though 3mm is on the large side of "small hole." The doctor said he's 90% sure Mikey will not need surgery. I'm not worried. I went into the office expecting exactly what he said, though I was a little surprised that it's as "large" as it is. Nevertheless, I have no reason to worry, and I'm not worried. We have a followup appointment in six weeks. Thanks for your prayers!

1. See my cardiologist note from 11/11/09. 2. Mikey has been mostly unable to nurse so far. He is having a frenectomy (tongue-tie fix) on Tuesday, and we're hoping that's the only cause, which means he'll be able to nurse come next Friday. Pray that he's still willing and that he's able. 3. Mikey's initial PKU test showed an abnormality for hypothyroidism. We should have the followup PKU test results by Monday at our two-week appointment. (Note: Yes, he takes breastmilk from the bottle. I am very grateful that I am able to pump enough milk that he doesn't need formula, especially since I've been pumping since day 4, well before my supply was established.)

No PKU results yet. Still had a good bit of umbilical cord left that had to be burned off. Murmur is louder which means hole must be getting smaller. He weighs 7 lbs 4.5 oz, which means he gained back his birth weight and then some. The doctor is very happy with everything.

Debbie, our lactation consultant, noticed today that Mikey has a quite asymmetrical jaw structure (his top and bottom jaws aren't parallel). I've noticed this before but always figured it was situational, the way he was laying or the way he was crying, so I never brought it up. She says it's a simple chiropractic adjustment to fix it. Mike doesn't like the idea of chiropractors, especially on babies, so we're going to the pediatrician tomorrow for a second opinion from "an actual doctor." Our appointment with the chiropractor is Wednesday. I hope Mike lets him fix it! This particular doctor does these adjustments all the time, on babies, so it will be fine! Hopefully we won't find another problem after this one's fixed! (Note: The doctor gave his emphatic blessing. Off to the chiropractor tomorrow!)

We had our second chiropractor appointment today. I am so optimistic! Even though Mikey's progress is slow because he's starting from a really bad state, he IS improving. He was a different baby Wednesday after the adjustment. He really, truly, felt like a different baby in my arms because he was relaxed. He could also be soothed immediately with a simple "shhh" or pat on the butt. Dr. Ross is amazing. He's like a baby whisperer. He just talks to the baby and he instantly calms (the baby, not the doctor). Mikey took a huge leap in the right direction at today's appointment. The doctor got so excited! Our next appointment is Monday.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Just 15 minutes...

I have been totally motivated to get organized lately, but my head has been all over the place (and, conveniently, not in the one room desperately needing my attention). I have to go back and read old posts like this one to get back on track. Maybe I need a new mantra: just 15 minutes...just 15 minutes...just 15 minutes...

No photos? No problem!

No, I will not be posting photos of our family on this site (except, maybe, for the furry family members). As many of you know, Mike has asked me not to post pictures of any of us anywhere on the internet for safety reasons. I fully respect his request, so please respect my request that you do not BUG ME for photos! If you are in our family's 'close' circle of 200+ contacts, you are receiving plenty of photos. If you are not but think you should be, contact me. Chances are I just don't have your email in my address book.

Now...let's get blogging!

Menu-Plan Plan

I've been agonizing over menu planning for the longest time. I follow Jessie's Menu Plan Monday blog posts. I follow the Menu Plan Monday blog posts she references. I follow FLYLady's menu plan ideas and testimonials. I have done SO MUCH research into this to try to figure out how to make it work for me. My stumbling block is my recent vegetarian history. I have no arsenal of recipes to fit into a plan! Thankfully my husband finally heard my plea for a new slow cooker and bought me a 6-qt. Crock-Pot from Costco for our anniversary. I have jumped into slow cooking feet first! Now I'm motivated. Now I do have a new stumbling block: I have to stay dairy free for my son. Hopefully this will only be temporary like it was with my daughter (14 months temporary, but still...), but for now I have to work hard for my recipes. (If you have any good dairy-free slow cooker recipes, please share!) So...

Here's my menu-plan plan:

Meaty Monday - Slow-cooker beef recipes
Tasty Tuesday - Slow-cooker chicken recipes ("Tasty" because chicken tastes like whatever you do to it) :o)
Wild Card Wednesday - Whatever I feel like, pork, vegetarian, slow cooker, not slow cooker...
Spaghetti Night (Yeah...nothing really goes with "Thursday") - or whatever pasta dish sounds good
Free-For-All Friday - Leftovers, anyone?

Welcome to my blog!

I finally broke down and created a blog. I've been so inspired by my friends' blogs, Jessie and Felicia specifically, and I do find myself writing blogs on other sites, like SparkPeople and facebook. Writing blogs is therapeutic for me, so I'm hoping having an official blog will motivate me to do more therapy. :o)

I chose the title "Kandid Katie" not just for the alliteration but because I want my readers to know I'm telling the truth. I am honest, often to a fault, and I try not to sensationalize or provoke. I do, however, have very deep passion inside of me that spews out like molten lava and mountain shrapnel. If you feel injured by my words, please let me know. It's probably a misunderstanding, but maybe you can open up my mind in new ways!

I should also warn you that I am very flighty in every sense of the word, good and bad. I have very strange - and sometimes derailed - trains of thought. I pick strange topics to ponder and get upset about seemingly-small things. That's just me, as most of you know.

I hope you enjoy my blog. Feel free to laugh at me or with me. I hope I provide some food for thought, and maybe, just maybe, inspire someone else to try blog therapy.