Wednesday, June 30

life's little snafus

Please pray! The car that Michael has been using to get to and from work (my first car, ever, boo hoo hoo) has finally bit the dust. Would you pray that God would provide just the right vehicle for us? We don't always need 2 vehicles, but there are days when it is somewhat necessary. We'd like to find a vehicle that is reliable and inexpensive, and our budget is stretched pretty maximally now. I know God will provide, but would you pray with us to that end?



Yesterday, I made a trade with the last two produce shareholders for a 1/2 pint of jam for their quart of berries. I was delighted, and for some reason they were too.

So I've got another batch of jam going. This time, I added the last of last season's blueberries, thawed in the fridge overnight. I am out of applesauce, so this one will be straight-up strawberry-blueberry. I've only added 1/4 cup of sugar to this batch, much to my delight.

Then, this morning my mom & dad gifted us with the last of last year's raspberries, so I'll make some jam and give some back to them - I may even make some raspberry-rhubarb, although that will take some sugar!!!

Thank you, Lord, for a beautiful cool day to make jam, lots of jars, and lots of fruit for free!!

Tuesday, June 29

Random and Unrelated

Happy Tuesday! It's been way too long since I blogged - thirteen days, to be exact. A lot has happened, and yet, not much.

1. We're 3 weeks into our Community Supported Agriculture group (CSA) and I've thoroughly enjoyed my drive of solace every Tuesday morning. I've been thrilled with the produce, too.

2. I have a kidney infection that, in hindsight, has been around for about 2 weeks. The side effects for the antibiotic they put me on are scary. It's the same drug they use to slow the onset of anthrax. The doctor hopes to get me off this one to something more specific once he knows what type of bacteria got me into this mess. So, I also can't nurse Evan while I'm on it. We were down to once at bedtime, but it appears that most likely this will be the end of that. Mixed feelings, a little sad since I didn't really know it was coming, but ultimately it will be good. He's 22 months.

3. I made jam today. I started with a quart and a half of strawberries, and was going to make a small batch for the fridge, but things kind of got out of hand and before I knew it, I was dragging out the supplies. I ended up pureeing them (thanks, Carrie, for that great idea!) and adding pureed raspberries and about a cup of applesauce and making spreadable fruit. Well, it was going to be sweetened only with fruit juice concentrate, but it was a little tart. So the whole batch has only 1 cup of sugar, which isn't bad, considering. I ended up with 8 1/2 pint jars, for about $3 - not bad at all! (I had a lot of the items on hand) and it turned out pretty great. I was surprised!

StrawRazApple Jam

3 cups strawberry puree
6 oz box raspberries, pureed.
enough unsweetened applesauce to make the whole batch 5 cups
1 cup 100% juice white grape raspberry concentrate (thawed, from the can, do not dilute)
1 scant cup sugar (optional - you could use stevia if you wanted, or nothing if your berries were sweet enough, but tasted it and chose to use sugar)
1 box no-sugar needed pectin
jars and lids

Puree fruit, stir in applesauce, concentrate, and gradually add pectin. Bring to a boil, add sugar, return to a boil, stirring constantly. Ladle into jars and process, or try the inversion method, or store in the fridge and use it up fast. This is an adaption of a recipe from the Ball brand no-sugar pectin. It said it would yield 6 8-oz jars but I got 8 full ones.

4. I love my husband. A lot. That has not changed since last I blogged.

5. My parents are so sweet. They came over this morning to watch the boys and when I got back the yard was mowed, the clean clothes were folded, my mudroom was straightened, and more. They have always been great parents. This also has not changed since my last post.

6. (and final) after a sticky, humid and hot several weeks in a row, today is the perfect day. 68 degrees, sunny, low humidity. It's perfection. This has been a great weather day!

Wednesday, June 16

Breathe in, breathe out.

Whew! it feels like I'm running a marathon this week.

Crazy Monday
CSA Tuesday
Crazy Wednesday
VBS Thursday...

I need a vacation! (or a very, very long nap and the ability to say NO)

I'll be back, eventually.

Friday, June 11

Fun on Friday, week 2

This morning I got a call from my friend Michelle, reminding me that it was Friday Story Time at the Children's Garden in Dow Gardens. I'm trying to keep us all out of the house a little more, so I quickly finished the project I was in the middle of while the boys finished up breakfast and watched a quick cartoon (to keep things moving!)

So anyway, we did meet her there, briefly - basically just said hello to each other - the boys and I were too late for story time, but there was lots of fun still to be had. We only stayed about 40 minutes, but Aaron & Evan sure had fun playing in the bubble tables! Here's to many more fun Fridays at Dow Gardens!!

Wednesday, June 9

ohhhh, wow.

Does anyone else have a temper-tantrum-thrower? Mine is almost 4, and will throw a big old tantrum at least once per week. I just got off the phone with my mom and she said she doesn't remember us throwing tantrums. Wow, and I would have pegged myself as a many-tantrum child, but I guess not.

I know what I do, how I handle it - not always well, not always effectively, but I am relatively consistent. But I'm curious - how do YOU handle tantrums, full out tantrums in a public place? Key thought there - public place!!! (ours are handled somewhat the same in public and in private, btw)

I want to clarify - the tantrums are bothering me less but that is more because of my outlook, and some godly counsel from some awesome women of God, and most of all - THE HOLY SPIRIT!!! But they are very concerning for me. I so want my children to understand the heart of God and true repentance.

So, please share. I'm endeavoring to be a student of your parenting skills!

Tuesday, June 8

Constantly Evolving

Ever have an experience that sort of re-awakens you to your walk of faith? Or makes you ask questions you haven't asked in years? Sometimes I welcome these questions, and other times the questions cause a reaction I'm not prepared for - fear and doubt.

For the last month or so, I have been confronted with situations or by people and events that at first discourage and weigh me down. These situations force me to ask questions, to seek the truth of God's Word and be honest with what I find – and anything that leads me to God's Word is definitely not a bad thing. Slowly, studying the truth of God's Word answers my questions, soothes my doubts, and gives me peace.

I've always been a person who asked questions. Sometimes this gets me into trouble. I'm seeing this pattern repeated in my oldest son - "Mommy, why is that man's belly so BIG?" But asking questions has also helped me learn. Along the way, I had somehow quit asking so many questions, and consequently, the learning process had slowed significantly. Now I'm being forced to re-examine some things I accepted without question, or issues I thought already had a final conclusion. Sometimes I end up in the same place, but more well-grounded. Other times? Different conclusions.

A surprising side effect of this study process has been an increased thankfulness for my spiritual leaders, pastors, and teachers who encourage me to ask questions, to go to the Bible to find the answers. These kinds of leaders have nothing to lose by my being a student. They encourage me to search out even their sermons and lessons to make sure they ARE the truth. I'm thankful - increasingly so - for my pastors, who want God to be glorified and are encouraged when I grow in my understanding of God's Word.

So, the answers to my questions are constantly taking on different nuances. The truth of God's Word is a constant, unchanging rock – but as I grow spiritually, in tiny increments, my understanding of who God is, what He has done for me, His awesome grace, and what I'm supposed to do - these are the things in which I am constantly "evolving" - I'm being transformed, as my mind is renewed (Romans 12).

This is exciting, this fresh growth. I can't contain how I'm feeling - giddy! And yet, here, on this blog, I have been silent. Sorry for that - I did not want to come across the wrong way - I know that, aside from His grace, it would not be happening. Those fears, that doubt, those nagging questions? The heaviness of spirit? Replaced with joy! He has turned my mourning into dancing (Ps 30:11-12)!

Friday, June 4

Fun on Friday

It's been quite some time since I posted - probably not a whole lot of readers still out there! I have been doing a lot of reading, thinking, praying the last couple of weeks. I've also been trying to come up with a new "normal" for keeping the house and yard up to semi-par condition, fighting a summer cold, and having a blast with my two little guys. When Michael is home, we've been trying to knock out last minute items on the list of things to do before our re-financing, which we hope is sooner than later.

Today Aaron played with "Gears Go 'Round," a relic of my own childhood and mom's (short-lived) Toys That Teach selling days. We thought it was great fun as we got to play with all the fun toys she had on hand!! Aaron was "getting it" for the first time today and it was GREAT to watch his creativity at work. He's also starting to draw "robots" which is pretty funny, too. Not as funny as his hilarious facial expressions.

Evan is getting to be more of an independent spirit, which is fun to watch. He loves to "torment" his brother by grabbing a toy in Aaron's perimeter of influence and then taking off at a dead run. We've been working on Aaron's responses as well as Evan's pilfering ways.

He is always excited about eating, although you would never guess it by his slight build. He'll bring boxes from the pantry, signing "eat, eat!" and enthusiastically helps transfer clothing from basket to washer and from washer to dryer. He's growing up quickly!

Both boys enjoy playing in the pool and drinking from the hose. It's so hard to believe that they will be 2 and 4 this August! WOW, how the time flies!!!