Sunday, March 11

the brotherhood.

Evan: Aaron, get back here, I'm trying to presto you into a princess!!!
Aaron: I don't want to be a princess!!!
E: oh, a prince then. PRESTO! you're a prince!
E: a mad prince. you're a mad prince!

(cough cough aCHOO!)

They are sick today, but they are still cracking me up!

Thursday, March 8

Surviving and Thriving

It's no secret that I'm not a HUGE fan of ladies' meetings or conferences - at least, not the type of meetings I imagine they are. I've never been a girly-girl, rarely been excited to sit around whispering hushed secrets of laundry stain removal (obviously), time management (obviously) or sharing "prayer requests" while other women nod knowingly. Raised eyebrows optional.

Of course, the few times I've actually gone to a church retreat or conference or seminar, it was about 300% better than I expected.

A big part of me hungers for a woman to speak God's Word in a practical, deep, knowing way - without the trappings of "we women" and "you know how it is, ladies." Because I'm just a believer, hungry for God and His Word, true Christian fellowship, adult conversation about things that really matter, and I happen to be a woman.

And maybe other women really love those trappings, and I'm just the odd one (no surprises if that is the case) and I know God uses it, because He can and does use anyone at any time to accomplish HIS purposes. And lately, He has been using that phrase, that I heard at a women's conference, to be my mantra.

This work that He has me doing is not easy. It's not the hardest thing anyone has ever done - don't get me wrong. My friend Heather is now in Heaven, and the struggle of her journey these last few months doesn't even compare to my daily life. And, my daily life isn't even that different from what people and families have done for generations, with varying degrees of uniqueness and difficulty. It's not a comparison game, this work, our struggles.

I do know that is that it is the hardest thing I've ever done, and I do struggle with what God wants me to do. I pray, I worry, I wonder. I cry out for wisdom, I wallow in failures, I choose joy and I choose self-pity. I change diapers, I nurse a baby, I home school a crazy kindergartener, I corral and/or occupy a busy three year old, I make a lot of mistakes, I learn much of grace - and at the end of the day, I'm exhausted. In a very, very good way.

I would love to say that I love every minute, but I don't. I don't love the sibling spats, I don't love watching my beautiful children's eyes darken in defiance, and I don't love my reactions. I don't love sin, I don't love watching people I love suffer, I don't love wondering if I'm really getting to the heart of the matters at hand, and I DON'T love knowing that it's a process and I'll never really know the answer to 93% of my questions until the answer is no longer relevant.

However, there is a lot that I do love. I do love those hilarious quotables, the giggle fests, the made up stories, the hugs for no reason at all, the "I love you mommy" whispers, the slow, milk-drunk grin of the baby, the lightbulb moments, the good news, the supportive arm of a loving spouse, the excellent (albeit endless) questions, and so, I'm doing more than surviving.

Sometimes God lets me step back, and look, and see this tiny part of what He has already done, and it is awesome. It's this strange and wonderful painting of darks and lights. It's uniquely ugly and uniquely bright. It's something I could never have dreamed up. It's breathtaking.

I have to seize this calling, this thing He has created me to do, and I have to cling to Him, to lean on Him heavily. He wants me to trust, to let go of my own ideas, the desire for things I can't know or control, and grasp this, grasp Him. It is then that I thrive.

"14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?" (1 Cor 2:14-16, niv)

Monday, March 5

Cooking a Little Extra

I found a picture of a gorgeously organized freezer on Pinterest the other day, and drooled. And then I repinned it for inspiration.

This is not that picture, this is my freezer. It's not nearly as pretty, but it definitely works for us. See that box marked "premade" - the former amazon box? That is my lifesaver.

Someone commented on my gorgeous inspiration freezer photo - that a friend of theirs couldn't afford to buy ahead that much. A valid thought - not too many can just fork out enough money in one chunk for a month's worth of meals. But...just about everyone CAN afford to do modified freezer cooking. This is not to say that everyone HAS to, but it is very, very helpful for any busy mom.

The first time I did freezer cooking, for real, was when Cadence's delivery was pending - I had a goal to get it all done by 37 weeks of pregnancy. I wanted at least a months' worth of main dishes, and I got it done, praise the Lord. I mentioned in the post that I spent $150 on the food, but in reality it was a little more than that, if you figure in what I already had on hand (included ground beef I had in the freezer.) I can't tell you how awesome it was to have dinner ready to go. I got used to how easy it is. And now we do modified freezer cooking.

So, if you can't afford to buy a whole months' worth of food in one week and cook it up, you don't have to! If you don't have space for a whole months' worth of food for your freezer, that's fine! This photo here (the one with the processed meal in it?) has main dish items - or parts of main dish items - for 9 meals in those little quart size freezer bags. It's totally do-able.

Anyone can benefit from the ease of having a meal or two in the freezer (the type of meal that isn't a frozen pizza). My favorite items are precooked meats. This type of thing means that I can get a dinner together in less time than it would take to go pick up fast food. Which is KEY when the troops are hungry!

Below, from left to right - meatballs (36) 3 meal-size amounts of chicken taco filling, 2 cups of cooked and chopped chicken in a bag.

Bear with me - I'm going to tell you what I do. Last week, chicken was on sale for $1.69/lb at a local meat/fruit market - so I bought 10 lbs of chicken for $17 – this equals meat for 9 meals for 4 eaters (2 adults and 2 hungry boys)

Chicken Tacos 3 lbs = 3 meals + leftovers -Chicken ($5) + Salsa ($2- 1½ cup) + taco seasonings (cumin, chili powder, seasoned salt -a few cents) a total of around $7 for 3 meals. I divided the meat up into 3 qt size ziploc bags, squished out the air, and froze them flat.

2 lbs cut up chicken pieces frozen raw (1 inch cubes) for tikka masala or stir fry (3.38) in ziplocs frozen flat. For stir fry, I use wheat-free soy sauce, onion or onion powder, garlic or garlic powder, and sesame oil and whatever veggies I have. My family really likes broccoli slaw in stir fry. For Tikka Masala, I use a modified recipe that is a little complicated, but I freeze the chicken IN the marinade to cut down on time.

The remaining 5 lbs, I baked and cut into chunks for casseroles, soups, wraps, chicken salad, etc. ($8.45) Divided into 4 bags (a little over 2 cups per bag) also in ziplocks frozen flat.

We'll eat a couple chicken based meals this week, and still have enough for the next week, when I'll cook extra beef and make a couple bags of beef taco filling for the freezer, or a double batch of meatballs, or double the amount of burgers for the grill (I like to season the meat for patties with worchestershire sauce, Mrs. Dash Steak blend, and salt), freeze them and use later.

The next week, I might have a couple chicken meals left, so it's time for pork - I might buy a pork loin if it's on sale and cook 1/2 of it in the crock pot with garlic and onion, then shred it up and have pulled pork for BBQ sandwiches, or BBQ pizza, two or three meals' worth - then cook the other 1/2 with mild banana pepper rings and garlic and onion and have a Qdoba-like shredded meat we serve with rice and beans for a delicious meal - and I'll have two or three meals' worth, frozen in bags.

So each week when I shop, I just buy the meat that is on sale. I do enjoy cooking, so on the days when I have the extra time, I make a meal that doesn't involve anything pre-cooked. Or some days I'll do a crock pot meal and skip the freezer meals. So it's not a freezer meal every day.

I've been meaning to do the same with baking - make a double batch of muffins and freeze some for quick breakfasts, etc. but I just haven't made the time.

That, and my kids smell muffins and they're pretty much already gone.

And this is how excited I am when I don't have to wonder (or work very hard) at what is for supper.


Thursday, March 1


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