Wednesday, December 19, 2007

CVS, take 2

There are hundreds of bloggers out there to tell you about the fabulous deals to be found at CVS. It can be intimidating. Even my forays into posting about CVS have been less than helpful. I am going to try again tonight while I am here waiting for my hubby to come home from a late meeting.
Buy Energizer batteries (AA/AAA 8 pk, C/D 4 pk, 9V 2 pk) on sale for $5.29.
Buy 2 Trident 8-count mulit-pak gums for around $2.29 each.
Buy 1 travel size Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo for $.99.
Buy any 1 Tresemme shampoo, conditioner, or hair product on sale for 3.33 each.

Use your Extra Care Card.
Use this $2 of any $10 CVS purchase.
Use this $5 off Energizer coupon.
Use this B1G1 free Trident coupon.
Use this $2 J&J coupon.
Use this $2 Tresemme coupon.

Pay around $1 for it all!

Or just do the battery deal $ .29 for a pack of batteries? That is a deal any day!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

O Holy Night

by Placid Cappeau

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!


This is probably my favorite Christmas song, purely for the majesty and drama of the music coupled with a clear and stated lyric. When sung by a talented soprano, it is breathtaking. See all 3 verses here.

How many shopping days left?

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? Joe and I finally ordered the last few things online last night. Now we wait at the mercy of the USPS.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My littlest man


What a sweet baby Charlie is. I am so thankful for him!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Life


Well I haven't posted in a while, which means that real life is happening. Hopefully I'll have a chance to post an update soon.

In the meantime, here is a picture of all of us from getting our Christmas tree last weekend.

(Edited to add: The picture! Oops, here it is!!)

Monday, November 26, 2007

True Worship

Yesterday at church was one of those mornings where I shuttled from one thing to the next without feeling like I did anything well. I missed Sunday school because I was nursing Charlie and then it was too late to join the class without majorly interrupting. Joe was assisting in the worship service and so that means he is up front until just before the sermon; he comes and sits with us during the sermon. Will and Joseph are usually quite squirmy and need lots of redirection some mornings during church. Yesterday was one of those. About 5 minutes into the sermon, Charlie was too fitful to be in the service (and I thought that he might be getting sick and so he couldn't go in the nursery) and so I slipped out to take care of him.

As I was walking out to the car after church, I started to feel sorry for myself. I hadn't worshiped. I had been distracted and doing something for my children all morning rather than worshiping. I missed Sunday School. I had a few quick, surface conversations with other believers, but not much substantive. All I wanted to do was to be able to worship God without interruptions. Is that too much to ask? Why am I always so busy with my children? Why don't they behave/sit quietly/not need me so much so that I can at least participate in church? Why can't I do what I want to do?

As I walked out to the car thinking about this, I realized something vital.

This is my worship
.

Being a mama to these boys that the Lord has given me. Obediently submitting to His call on my life. Focusing on their discipline instead of my agenda. Caring for a baby. Reacting with peace when plans don't go my way.

To obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15:22b

There is nothing magic about being about to sit through a sermon quietly, or going to Sunday School, or talking with other Christians that makes going to church be true worship. The Lord God is real and active, and by obeying Him in doing the work that He has given me to do in being a wife and mama, I am worshiping Him with my life.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. John 4:23

Crystal wrote a post along these same lines that talks about how she has realized that her ministry right now is her family. It was right on target. And especially pertinent to a pastor's wife. It is too easy to neglect the simple and sometimes mundane in favor of "ministry." The good can trump the best.

Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven

by Henry F. Lyte

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore His praises sing:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Praise the everlasting King.

Frail as summer’s flower we flourish,
Blows the wind and it is gone;
But while mortals rise and perish
Our God lives unchanging on,
Praise Him, Praise Him, Hallelujah
Praise the High Eternal One!

I have loved looking at the rich texts of all of the verses in the hymns that I post each week. However, in order to focus on a more manageable chunk, I am going to post fewer verses each time. I'll always include the link to the whole hymn too though. See the rest here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

CVS Black Friday deals

Meg and I ran to CVS early yesterday morning to get these great deals. Crystal's write-up of some of them is here. There are lots of things that are free after ECBs and you can stack many with printable online coupons. The ads that list the free things were in the newspapers, but you can see them here too.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! Now let's get crafty!

Go and see what a beautiful centerpiece Meredith made with her kids for Thanksgiving. Here is the Holland version. Can you tell that I am not at all a craft person? Still, I was pretty proud of myself since I am not creative. Thankfully, Meredith is and included step by step instructions and picture. At least I can follow directions....

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rainy Sunday

Today Joe preached and served communion at the homecoming service of a small church about an hour from here. We enjoyed the potluck lunch after the service and the gracious hospitality of the people there. It was a very Southern experience all around. Here are a few verses of an excellent communion hymn that focuses on the believer's awe in response to Christ's sacrifice (see the whole song here).

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
by Ber­nard of Clair­vaux

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Do you CVS?

I have been learning how to "CVS" (yes, the drugstore and yes, it can be used as a verb apparently) for the past few months. I started by buying the items each month that earned equal money back in Extra Bucks and therefore are basically free as long as you remember to pay with the Extra Bucks the next time you go to CVS. Extra Bucks print out on the bottom of your receipt and can be used like cash at CVS stores. Then, I starting finding manufacturer coupons for the items that earned Extra Bucks, meaning that now I was getting paid to buy things. Next, I realized that I should break my transaction into several smaller transactions to be able to use a CVS store coupon with each transaction and to use the Extra Bucks from one transaction to pay for the next transaction. Now, I am learning to add more store coupons and rebates, as well as trying to minimize my cash expenditures so that I am only paying with Extra Bucks.

I just have to show what I got today.
The total rang up to just under $100. After all of my coupons, I paid $23 dollars in Extra Bucks and just 12 cents in cash! And I earned $10 in Extra Bucks for next time. The net loss in Extra Bucks is for the milk because everything else that I bought earned as many Extra Bucks as it cost.

Right now, this is taking me a ridiculous amount of time to read the ad and find the right coupons, which must be factored into the equation when considering if it is all worth it. However, I am getting faster and faster and have already cut down on my preparation time. For example, one huge lesson was learning that I don't have to clip every coupon in the paper. I can just look in the ad online and then clip only the coupons for the things that I am going to buy for an Extra Buck deal that week.

If you are interested in learning how to CVS to cut down on your grocery and household items budget, I highly suggest that you start with MoneySaving Mom. Crystal has a CVS primer that explains the basics and she posts some of the best deals each week. Hot coupon world posts the CVS ad and the coupons available each week (here is the link to 11/18-11/24) as does SlickDeals (here is 11/18-11/24). Both include links to online coupons that you can easily print. The post at SlickDeals is a wiki of each week's ads and so readers edit it to add whatever coupons they find. Both sites also have extensive discussion forums on CVS deals where it is possible to waste lots of time. Here is HCW's and here is the CVS discussion on SlickDeals. I'm learning to stay away! Both also have lots of coupons if you have time to click around.

Anyway, in another month or so, I hope to understand all of this well enough to use a few extra minutes here and there to dramatically cut back on our grocery bill. And, I am planning on using some of my great CVS finds in gift baskets for Christmas presents to cut back on our Christmas spending.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Eating an elephant

I just sent in an extra payment towards our mortgage and it feels so good! Our major financial goal right now is to pay off this house and we are on track to do so in 2-3 years. I wrote a while back that we were trying to sell this house to move into town into something cheaper. After sitting on the market for 4 months with very little interest, we decided to take it off of the market last week. We probably will list it again in the spring. In the meantime, the house not selling has caused us to recommit to paying down the mortgage as fast as we can. It was such a nice feeling to put that check in the mailbox! I can't wait until we are debt free (and yes, I'm planning on calling Dave when we do it)!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Weekend news

Joe is in Belize this weekend on a quick mission trip with one of the elders from our church. The boys and I have been doing well and having fun. I think since I am the only one here, I have given myself permission to be the "fun" parent some too instead of leaving that to Joe while I usually am the "get things done" parent.

Church with all 4 to myself tomorrow should be an adventure.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Guns and good wives

Joe read from Proverbs today about the foolish or wayward woman. He told the boys that it would be their job to choose a good wife and that they should watch out for bad women.

Will's response?

"But, we will buy guns and shoot the bad women!"

I'm thinking that Joe might need to do our morning devotions on the 6th commandment tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My men

I decided to use this morning to try to take a picture of all 4 of my boys. I re-dressed everyone in clean clothes (it was only 9:00, but they were already dirty from playing outside and I wanted matching outfits) and washed 4 little faces. I wet down and brushed everyone's hair (although Will's still sticks up no matter what I do). I brought the tape player into the living room and turned on a happy Sesame Street tape (a fun gift from a friend who is decluttering and gives us all of her old homeschooling and baby/young child type things). I grabbed a rattle to keep Charlie's attention and later even brought in a bag of chocolate chips for a treat for smiling.

"Sit still."
"Smile!"
"Hands in your laps."
"David, take your finger out of your nose."
"Look at me."
"Sit still!"
"Say cheese."
"David, take your finger out of your nose!"

....It was a fun morning....Here are some of the outtakes. If you know me in real life, you'll just have to wait to see if I get my act together enough to send out Christmas cards to see the best shot.

Joe and I decided that this one captures our boys' personalities amazingly. Joseph, our firstborn, serious, methodical, helpful, and down to business. William, number 2, a fun-loving goofball with a lot of silliness and spunk. David, our third, is pictured here kind of fussy--which he is. But not to only capture a negative trait (even though it is his most defining characteristic right now), he is also a sweet, tender-hearted, tag-a-long to his big brothers, especially Joseph. When they play outside, I can usually find him following about 10 steps behind Joseph. And Charlie, our sweet baby, such a sweet disposition. We'll see how he grows and develops.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sunday Hymn

Jesus, I Come by William T. Sleeper

Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,
Jesus, I come to Thee;
Out of my sickness, into Thy health,
Out of my want and into Thy wealth,
Out of my sin and into Thyself,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of my shameful failure and loss,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the glorious gain of Thy cross,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of earth’s sorrows into Thy balm,
Out of life’s storms and into Thy calm,
Out of distress to jubilant psalm,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of unrest and arrogant pride,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into Thy bless├Ęd will to abide,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of myself to dwell in Thy love,
Out of despair into raptures above,
Upward for aye on wings like a dove,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Out of the fear and dread of the tomb,
Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;
Into the joy and light of Thy throne,
Jesus, I come to Thee.
Out of the depths of ruin untold,
Into the peace of Thy sheltering fold,
Ever Thy glorious face to behold,
Jesus, I come to Thee.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

All of us!

Our church had a Fall Festival as part of our annual Missions Conference. Here is a picture of all 6 of us (a rare thing to get us in one shot) on the hayride taken by my friend Christi.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday Hymn

How Sweet and Awesome is the Place
By Isaac Watts

How sweet and awesome is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!

While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

“Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?”

’Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly drew us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Wife, Mama, and What?

I have been writing at this blog address for over a year now and never have posted on it's unusual name. Some of you may have already understood the allusion, but others of you have probably wondered at some point or another. Here is the story....

When logging in to Blogger for the first time, one is immediately prompted to provide a name for the fledging blog to be created. It is a daunting task to name something that then is put out into the world for anyone to see. I knew that my blog would be only about me. After all, personal blogs are by definition the epitome self-centeredness in many ways. It would be what I thought about, what happened to me, and my observations about the world. However, I wanted to portray in my blog what I value about myself and focus on my main callings in life. Thus, "Wife" and "Mama." I started writing here just after we moved to Kosciusko, and thus "Country Mouse."

Richard Scarry wrote a little story called "The Country Mouse and the City Mouse." It is about a little country mouse named Annie who is visited by her city mouse friend, Melissa, and awed by Melissa's descriptions of rich city life, decides to return to the city with Melissa. After being chased by a cat and a dog in Melissa's grand house, Annie runs all the way home and settles back into her cozy life with a new thankfulness for her humble home. The story ends with these words, spoken by Annie, "I would rather live a simple life in peace, than dine on riches and live in fear."

And so it was with me last year when we moved to Kosciusko. The blog name asks the question that I was asking myself, "Am I really a 'country mouse?' Do I really want to be here?"In many ways, this simple life can pale in comparison to the comforts and opportunities that come with living in a larger city. The draw to be a "city mouse" is strong. And the draw to choose a place based on what I want and what I like is strong.

Yet, I know though that God went before us and clearly called us here, to this place, to this small Mississippi community. I too have learned Annie's lesson. I am thankful for a chance to live "a simple life in peace."

Rainy Thursday

Today was Joe's day off and it was a treat to have a little extra time with him. Our church's annual Missions Conference starts tomorrow and so the next few days are filled with extra activities. Our little MS church proudly supports many missionaries and has a legacy of passion for missions that has been passed down from previous generations. It should be good to hear of God's work in advancing His kingdom around the world.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Back to Budgeting

When Joe was in seminary in Charlotte and I was home with Joseph, we lived on his part-time internship salary and our savings. We were so young and lived very simply. God provided abundantly for us during that time (as He still does today), but I have many stories specifically of His provisions for us financially then.

I also was very careful with our money and have realized recently that I have grown sloppy about it. Inspired by the women at Frugal Hacks and Money Saving Mom, I have reinstated a tighter grocery budget and am looking forward to the challenge of keeping to it. I am learning how to do the CVS system and am cutting back on our weekly Wal-mart grocery run.

Towards that end, I have also become an affiliate of Crystal's Supermarket Savings 101 e-course. Crystal runs Biblical Womanhood, which is a site that exists "to promote femininity and build up women as they embrace their Biblical callings." It is a great site to check out as it is full of thought-provoking articles on being a Godly wife, on graceful parenting, on cheerful frugality, and on current news. Crystal's posts on her blog often provoke intense debate from a spectrum of viewpoints.

Crystal is a savvy business woman who has written many e-books that she sells on the site in addition to traditional hard copy books on family, womanhood, modesty, marriage, etc. Her Supermarket Savings 101 course started with an e-book that she wrote about feeding her family on $35 a week that she then expanded into an online course. The e-course is only $8.97 for the next 48 hours and also includes 6 other ebooks.

Click here to learn more about the course and buy it. And as a bonus, I'll get a little money back for being an affiliate!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sunday Hymn

In Christ Alone by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
‘Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand(x2)

Monday, October 15, 2007

One more

For all of you mamas of little ones out there, this one hit home to me....

Notables

I've had these links bookmarked for a few weeks now and just want to go ahead and post about them. This is just a random list of articles that have caught my attention and so it is a really hodge-podge list.

  • Just in case you needed another reason to avoid the public schools in Massachusetts.
  • Tracing a new movement in evangelicalism, this article chronicles a growing number of conservative Christians who are embracing environmentalism, organic foods, and anti-consumerism.
  • As I am on an ongoing mission to conquer the toys that are trying to overtake our home, this article was right on target.
  • I've written here before about how much I loved my experience giving birth at home with my midwife and here is an article that spells out why.
  • And here is a link to my midwife's site!
  • Lastly, my aunt has a store at Ruby Lane where she sells beautiful handmade jewelry. Check out her store here.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Kind and wise

Another great post by Sara on taming our tongues. This one is so applicable to me--very convicting!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A hard truth

It all started easily enough. I was reading through my usual blogs and checked in with Jess at Making Home. I've only just recently started reading Jess's blog, but have found her posts to be informative, well-written, and thorough (I am actually amazed that she finds time to write so much so well!). From time to time, Jess writes a round-up of articles of note that she has read recently. And then under the category for "Food For Thought" , I read:
"Vaccines and their ingredients: You may be surprised (as I was!) to learn that aborted human fetal tissue is an ingredient in many mainstream vaccines. Take a look and make an informed choice about these issues from now on."
I have read anti-vaccine information before. It seems that many of the natural birth, home birth, whole foods, homeschooling, etc. crowd are also anti-vaccine, and I was interested by the idea although I had not done much research. Then, this past week, Jenny McCarthy spoke about the MMR vaccine and her ideas about it causing her son's autism. I was curious, did some research on MMR and autism, and told Joe yesterday that I wanted to consider not giving it to Charlie. But nothing prepared me for the information I read today.

I thought that surely this idea that vaccines were made from aborted babies must just be the latest right-wing rumor making its way around the internet. So, I clicked her link and was brought to an anti-vaccine website that contained a table showing the ingredients in different vaccines. I chose one that I recognized and think that my boys have gotten: Varivax. The chart says it contains (among other things) "human diploid cells from aborted fetal tissue." What!?

Still not convinced and since there are so many rumors going around out there, I went to the manufacturer's website and found the prescribing information for Varivax. The first paragraph that describes how the vaccine is made says:
"The virus was initially obtained from a child with natural varicella, then introduced into human embryonic lung cell cultures, adapted to and propagated in embryonic guinea pig cell cultures and finally propagated in human diploid cell cultures (WI-38). Further passage of the virus for varicella vaccine was performed at Merck Research Laboratories (MRL) in human diploid cell cultures (MRC-5) that were free of adventitious agents."

I still didn't believe what I was reading and called Merck (880-672-6372) to hear it directly from them. After only a minute or two punching the right numbers on my phone to get to a service representative, Stacey answered. I described going online and finding the prescribing information, and then I asked my question.
"Where did you get the human embryonic lung cells?"
"I will be happy to find that answer for you, Mrs. Holland. Can you hold, please?"
Stacey placed me on hold and when she picked back up, it was obvious that she was reading a scripted answer.
"Thank you for holding, Mrs. Holland. The cells cultured for this and other vaccines were approved by the FDA for use in vaccine development from an aborted fetus from 30 years ago...."
I really didn't hear much after she said "aborted fetus." Nothing else that she said mattered. I do remember her emphasizing the "30 years ago" part, as if profiting from a death that took place a long time ago made it less heinous. I ended the call politely and went and found Joe and told him what I had learned with tears in my eyes.

I have spent the remainder of my free moments of time (stolen in between the normal work of day to day life) pulling up article after article. Apparently, many vaccines were developed using embryonic stem cell lines derived from aborted babies. They actually know in the case of some of the stem lines, what baby it came from (a boy or girl and it's gestational age) and the situation around the abortion! I had no idea! I am still just in shock and feel so deceived. I hate the horror that is abortion and have wept before at the magnitude of its evil. But, I never before today realized that I have ever done anything to support it.

Read it!

I read a great post a few days ago. I am late in referencing it since made the rounds in the blogosphere while we were on vacation, but nevertheless I had to post it here too:

The Invisible Woman by Nicole Johnson from Fresh Brewed Life
http://www.parenthood.com/articles.html?article_id=10240

(HT to Barbara at Mommy Life)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Wreck update

Joe rode to Jackson with a friend today and got a rental minivan. So now the boys and I will be able to get out of the house! The adjuster from AllState looked at our minivan too and estimated the damage at $2900. Now, we'll take it to the body shop and they can make their adjustments to AllState's estimate and start working on the van. It is borderline on whether it will be declared "totaled" or not...we'll see.

Joe is still pretty sore and I've kept Will and David on ibuprofen until last night. Will is more bothered by the 60 or so chigger or tick bites on his ankles than he is from the wreck. David can't say, of course, but seems to be fine.

Just another manic Monday

I know that it is going to be a long day when I am giving the boys a bath already at 10 AM. Monday was one of those days. With energy to burn after being cooped up in the car for 2 days, the boys ran and ran Monday morning and were coated in mud. I popped them in the shower (they were actually too muddy for a bath to have done any good) and got them out and dressed. I ran to answer the phone and it was a realtor wanting to show the house...in an hour!

I said yes and scrambled to get ready. Thankfully, Charlie had fallen asleep in the swing and I plopped Will and David down in front of a movie. Joseph and I worked our way through each room straightening and cleaning. He was such a good little helper and had a great attitude the whole time! I grabbed a loaf of bread, block of cheese, and some waters and put the boys into the Corolla (the van is still out of commission from the wreck). The three bigger guys where in the back and I sat Charlie's carrier on the front passenger seat. We drove just barely down the street since Joseph and Charlie weren't buckled in and waited. They ended up looking at the house for almost an hour. Later, the realtor said that the wife really liked the house, but that the husband wanted more land.

I was grateful that I had left the house presentable before we left on vacation and that we had put most things away on Sunday when we got home. I was also grateful for God's peace as I "stashed and dashed" cleaning up. He knew each part of my day that Monday and had a plan and a purpose for the busyness. I kept on reminding myself of his sovereignty as I cleaned and repeated Isaiah 26:3 ("You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.") to myself.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

On the road again

I'm checking in tonight from the Courtyard Marriott in Chattanooga where we are staying on the way home. What a week! Joe was rear-ended while driving the van with David, Will, my dad, and my brother-in-law in the car with him. It has added drama to an already intense week. And tonight, Joe realized that he left his prescription muscle relaxant for the whiplash in Lynchburg.

We have talked a lot (okay, not a lot because it has been busy, but whenever we could) about how God has a plan for this too. We are wanting to learn to be content in all circumstances!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tuesday morning


It is 74 degrees here this morning and my boys are excited because they think, "Fall is here!" They insisted that they were freezing and needed to wear their jackets. I wonder what they are going to think when we go to Virginia this weekend and it is in the 50s?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Update

I made meatballs for the first time today using a recipe from Tammy's Recipes. I doubled the recipe and froze 3 meals worth, while we enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs for dinner tonight too. I also made Tammy's Italian Cheese bread, which reminded Joe and I of something we used to order out from Gumby's in Charlottesville.
Charlie has finally turned a corner (and it is not a corner leading to a dead-end as Joe predicted) and is happy! He is starting to sleep more and doesn't cry all of the time. Hallelujah!
We leave Friday for Virginia and can't wait to see everyone!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

by Louisa Stead

’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
And to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus says the Lord!”

Refrain

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Refrain

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

Refrain

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.

Refrain

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Good reading

I've found a few new blogs that I have been enjoying the past few days. The first is from Sara, who with her husband and daughter have downsized to a RV and are traveling the country, eating organic, locally grown food, avoiding consumerism, and generally living intentionally and "green." (She writes her story here.) While in many ways, we couldn't be more different (she has dredlocks and I'm growing my hair longer), she loves Christ. She writes on the notorious Proverbs 31 woman and I especially loved this part:
Bring Good, Not Harm

v. 11-12
Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
v. 23
Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.

In the early days of my marriage, I decided that I would never speak harshly about my husband in the presence of others. Not even in jest. No matter how frustrated or annoyed I might be with a situation, it was between Matt, myself, and God. I didn’t run to my girlfriends, my co-workers, my mom, or the message boards. I spoke directly to Matt about my feelings and also to God. And in 7 years of marriage, we have never had a “fight” that lasted more than a few minutes. We never go to bed angry. I attribute those things largely to the fact that I focus on “bringing him good, not harm”. I don’t talk to others about our home life and let harsh feelings brew and brew all day.

Of course, it goes without saying that if you are in a verbally or physically abusive relationship, you must speak with someone about it. And if you and your spouse cannot get past certain issues, you may need counseling with a third party. But those interventions are very different than speaking with others about him and bringing him “down” in their eyes. Build him up! Help others to see him for the amazing man that he is.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday night

I've had a lot of thoughts swirling around the past few days, but none have made it all the way to blogging fruition.

Tonight has been a nice change of pace. Joe was here at home having some guy time with a friend from church, and I took Charlie to Wal-mart with me after the other boys were in bed. I never knew Wal-mart was such a hopping place on a Friday night at 9:00 (you know that you live in a small town with nothing to do when....)!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sling

I gave up thinking that I'll make a wrap and ordered one this morning. I can't wait until it gets here! (thanks for the encouragement to do so, Katie!)

Friday, August 10, 2007

"Blameless before the presense of His glory"

We have family in town who have taken Joseph and Will out to lunch and so I am here with just my two little guys...as good a time as any to post a quick hello. I haven't posted in weeks: 1.) because I didn't have the time, and 2.) because I remember being taught, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." :) Charlie is an extremely fussy baby (colic maybe?) and there are many days when I have held him almost constantly to try to stem the never-ending crying. Most times holding (while walking and bouncing, with a pacifier in his mouth) would help. However, if he drifted off and I put him down he would wake up within 10 minutes screaming again. He would have times of happiness, an hour or two here or there when he would be normal--smiling, cooing, and being content. Most days, he would not nap consistently and would wake up crying when I could tell he was still so tired. He pulls up his legs, squirms, and grimaces which shows obviously that he is in pain.

We tried Axid for reflux since all of my babies have spit up a lot, but that didn't help. Yesterday, the dr. put him on some drops that are mild muscle relaxants that are supposed to help colicy babies. Today he has slept like a champ, but is running a low grade fever from getting shots yesterday and so I am unable to tell yet if the new meds will help. I'll know better in the next few days.

All of that is for explanation of both point 1 and 2 above. Obviously my time was (and still is) limited. But more than that, I just didn't have anything worthwhile to add to the blogosphere. I know that I don't intend to write "happy-happy, joy-joy" things all of the time, but I don't need to be writing from the "pit of despair" either.

God is good. All of the time. And He has a good and perfect plan in giving me Charlie, fussiness and all. My head knows that, but my heart was (is) still dealing with what that means, and I didn't want to write until I was more settled in that realization. Now again, I have to say that I realize that a fussy baby is such a small thing compared to what so many other people are going through. It is all-consuming for me though right now and it is the lesson that I am currently learning. What does it mean to live in the light of the Gospel in the middle of long days and short nights with a baby who constantly needs me and 3 other little ones who still need life to go on as usual? What does it mean to realize that God loved me enough not only to send Jesus to atone for my sin, but also to give me difficult circumstances in order to sanctify me? What does it mean to realize that how I respond to the thousand questions of my children or how I deal with their disobedience shows the state of MY soul? Am I patiently submitting to God's current calling on my life? Am I patient, kind, loving, joyful, gentle, self-controlled?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Ephesians 5:22-23


These days have shown me again and again how I am in need of Christ. I need the Holy Spirit to work His good fruit into my life. I need to fall down on my knees in awe at His sovereignty that includes giving fussy infants to sanctify self-centered mamas. I need, hourly, His blood to atone for my sins (because, oh, how quickly they show these days). And I need His strength.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Many people understand this verse to say that God will not give us more than we can handle. I think, however, that I am given more than I can handle by myself. It is only in running to Christ and saying, "I can't do it and I need You," that He then comes and strengthens me to walk in the path He has laid out for me. The "way of escape" is the cross. It is realizing that I couldn't and still can't save myself. It is only through the blood of Jesus that I can stand before God and it is only through the blood of Jesus that I can live day by day.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life....Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Jude 20-21, 24-25

Monday, July 09, 2007

On the market

We've signed the papers and our house is officially on the market. It is scary because we don;'t have a place to go. Our realtor told us this morning that the house (seen below) that we had looked at twice and were planning on as our back-up house got a contract on Saturday. It wasn't in the neighborhood by the church that we are hoping to get into, but it was a cute older house that had been fixed up nicely and it had a great yard. We won't accept a contract without giving ourselves some time before closing, and we're praying that God will provide a house for us in that time.

This is definitely a step of faith--moving from our much-loved space in the country to a smaller place in town. We know that God has a plan and are grateful to be following it through something as easy as a housing transition when others are following it through job loss, cancer, death, pain, and long term uncertainty. Pray that we will grow in our faith during this time as we follow where He leads.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Rainy Saturday

I haven't written much recently besides family updates because my brain just isn't at the capacity right now to think deeply. Not getting many continuous hours of sleep can do that. Katie had a short, but strong post yesterday that I have been mulling over though. Maybe when my brain clears I'll add my agreeing thoughts to hers.
We are putting our house on the market on Monday and we'll see what happens. Today we are cleaning like madmen.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day!

Thinking about leaving this house has sweetened the time that we have here. Tonight after we got home from the prayer meeting (where Joe taught since the senior pastor is out of town and where our family made up more than half of the attenders), we had fireworks in the front yard. Now, when you are under 5, fireworks that consist of sparklers, Roman candles, and bottle rockets are top of the line because you don't know any better. And actually a smaller show was nice because I didn't have to worry about the little ones getting scared. Even timid David ran around with a sparkler by the end of the night--imitating his brothers and squealing with glee. A game of tag ensued after the fireworks. When I jumped out of my usual chair to join in for the last few minutes ("Mama is running!!!"), I realized that I had been pregnant for a long time--especially in the mind of my boys who probably don't remember Mama running. The game dissolved into chaos because everyone wanted to chase and tag Mama. And Will really hauls off and hits when he is "tagging." Ouch! A rousing good time for all!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

At home

I'm home from church today with 2 sick children and one newborn. David and Will have a diarrhea bug and David has been running a high fever too.

I only fed Charlie once in the night last night! When he woke up at midnight, I was just too exhausted to get up and asked Joe to give him a pacifier and he went back to sleep. He woke up again at 2 and I fed him and then he held off until my usual wake-up of 6:30. I hope this is the start of a trend!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Saturday fun

After the boys went to sleep, Joe and I went out to poke around in the garden. It was my first trip since Charlie was born. Everything had really grown, including the weeds. We had a bountiful harvest and our first cantaloupes of the season. I need to learn how to make something with tomatoes--spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce, or just canned tomatoes because we are going to have so many tomatoes! Any suggestions?

This morning, we also got to see the inside of one of the houses that we are considering. It is less than 2 minutes from church, but they are asking way more than it is worth.My littlest man after his bath tonight.


Friday, June 29, 2007

Fried Green Tomatoes

We must be turning into Mississippians. Last night's supper was catfish, pasta salad, and fried green tomatoes. Our garden is in a lull right now and so when we looked for something to have as a side last night Joe said, "Well, we have a lot of green tomatoes." The fried green tomatoes actually turned out pretty well for my first try. The recipe was from The Joy of Cooking and called for some fresh parsley and thyme in the flour dredge. I thought they were delicious, but Joe and the boys weren't as enthusiastic.

The coloring in the picture didn't turn out very well, but you can get the general idea.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"You had the baby!"

I had my first trip to Wal-mart today, but with only Charlie and David instead of all 4 boys. Joseph and Will played at Mrs. J.'s house and had a grand time while I shopped. I got to show Charlie off to all of the workers who we have gotten to know from our weekly shopping trips. Being hugely pregnant and shopping faithfully every Wednesday morning with 3 young children in tow makes me an easy person to remember, I suppose. :) I had trouble finding room in my cart for the groceries with David up front in the child seat and Charlie in the back in his carrier. I overdid it too and was exhausted afterwards. It was lifting the 50 lb. bag of dog food that finally was just too much.

Joe and I have been talking some recently about downsizing and we actually went and looked at some houses yesterday. We have been thinking about buying a smaller (cheaper) house and paying for it completely rather than keeping this big house with a mortgage. It is definitely appealing to think of being 100% debt free ("Freedom!!!!"), but we really love our land. I am not attached to this house, but I love the yard. Joe did mention today how much more free time we would have if we didn't have to keep up with the yard though....

Anyway, it is an interesting discussion and it gets to the core of what we are going to value as a family. Land or being debt free? Being able to save now to free us up for future ministry or paying on a mortgage? Living in 1600 or 3200 sq ft? Having the huge yard and driveway for the boys or the usual backyard play area? We'll see where God leads.

Lastly, here is a picture of Charlie from today. He's just under 10 lbs now and doing great!

Confidential to the aunts: The "teenager" is back and banging against my living room window again!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Home alone

....well, not really. David and Charlie are here with me. Joe, Will, and Joseph have gone to church for prayer meeting and an ice cream social afterwards. Charlie had slept for most of the late afternoon and has been crying for the last 45 minutes. He is finally settled (for the moment, at least) and in my lap contented.

I am home alone in that my last visitor/helper left today. Meg, my little sister, left this morning after lunch. She was invaluable the past few days in caring for the older boys leaving me free to tend to Charlie and the house (and she vacuumed for me--always a way to make me happy). The boys loved the extra attention and having a new person to play with. I am so grateful that she was willing to give herself and her time to serve us (thanks, Meg!).

I must admit, however, that it is good to be just "us" again. The boys need more consistency, and we need to figure out our new normal as a family of 6. As I pulled a load of laundry from the dryer, I realized that I even enjoy the simple responsibility of providing clean clothes for my family. For a "doer," 2 weeks of inactivity is hard! I am glad to be up and about again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tuesday

Meg has been here since Sunday helping out and she is getting the full experience. I just sent her to Wal-mart with Joseph and Will...and a grocery list...and it started pouring just after they left. :) Do you think she'll survive? And even more importantly, will she still be smiling when she gets home? Seriously though, she has been a huge help. She has taken care of the boys full-time allowing me a bit more time to rest before I am on my own.

Melinda is coming this afternoon for a 2 week follow-up visit. It will be fun to see how Charlie has grown.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The birth of Charles Edward

All of my previous labors have been 12+ hours long and so when people asked, "What if the midwife doesn't get there in time?" I would laugh and say, "Well, that would mean I was in labor for less than 2 hours and that sounds great to me!" And then I'd reassure them that I have lengthy labors and don't have to even worry about it. My cousin just had her second baby, and I had commented that I envied her short, albeit a bit harried labor. This experience with long labors was even what led to my idea to live blog the labor--I mean, when it lasts for so long, there are lulls and I was going to need something to do, right?

Well, Charlie (and the Lord) had different plans for this birth. Monday must have been my energy surge day, though I didn't realize it at the time. Sunday night, I had been awakened at night by relatively painless, but definitely intense contractions that came every 15 minutes or so all night long. I was sure that I'd be in labor by morning, but the contractions petered out as I got going for the day. I brought the boys to Bible School and then visited with friends and played with David at church for a while. I ran to the grocery story and got some meat for supper, ran home to put the groceries away, and got the boys from Bible School. The afternoon was normal--naps, playing outside, supper, bedtime.

Monday night the contractions started again and went from 12:00 to 5:00 again about every 15 minutes, but this time they hurt! I would wake up at the peak of the contraction from a deep sleep. Surely this was the start of labor. But again, they stopped the next morning. On Tuesday I was in a bad mood. I hadn't slept well (I was having contractions all night) and I just didn't feel good. I dropped the boys at Bible School again and came home because I was grumpy and wanted to rest. When Joe got home that afternoon from work, I insisted that we finish up preparations for the birth. I even wanted to put the boys' overnight bags by the front door and get out the pack-n-play. He thought I was a bit over zealous, but joined in the preparations. (Remember, at this point, I had been telling him for 2 days that I felt like I was going into labor and I hadn't.)

Sometime around 4:00 I had a contraction that was different. It is just like everyone says, when you are in labor, suddenly you just know. And I knew. I told Joe and after 2 more contractions, called Melinda, my midwife. I told her that I was in labor and she should head this way. I told her I was having contractions every 8-12 minutes, but that these were real. Thankfully, she didn't ask how long I had been having contractions because I would've had to tell her that I had only had 3. Later she told me that she knew by my voice that this was it. She said that she was already in her car and would just continue on to my house. 2 hours and she would be here.

At this point, I went outside and told Joe that I wanted him to believe me that I was really in labor. He still wasn't convinced. :) I managed to make calls to friends to come and get the boys between contractions. I called Mama and told her I was in labor. After that, I just had to focus on staying on top of the contractions. When my friend Angie came to pick up David and Joseph, she came and prayed with me and I knew that things were moving very quickly. I had sat down on my bed to pray with Angie came and now realized that if I moved at all another contraction came right away and the intensity was just too much. So, I stayed in the exact same position sitting on the side of my bed.

After the boys left, Joe gathered a few things that we still needed to have and brought them back to our room. I was so glad that he was there and that the boys were gone because I needed to concentrate. A little while after that, I got nauseous and threw up the yogurt and juice that I had eaten to give me a little strength. Joe told me later that it wasn't until I threw up that he actually believed that I was in labor! Around 5:45, the contractions were coming every 4 minutes and were very strong. Joe called to check on Melinda and she said she was a half an hour away. I remember thinking that I wasn't sure I would make it until then, but really didn't want to deliver until she came because it would worry Joe so much. So, I didn't move and anxiously watched the clock.

Melinda arrive promptly at 6:15 and pronounced me at an 8. She set up her things and was so quiet and unobtrusive as she got everything ready. She listened to the baby's heart tones on her handheld Doppler (like the ones you all have seen the OB use during office visits) and he sounded great. There were two times during the next hour that she listened to the baby the whole time during and after a contraction to be sure that he was handling them well. It was painful, but I knew that she needed to do it.

At this point, I was resting on pillows on the bed and Joe would apply counter pressure to my lower back during contractions. Poor guy, his arm fell asleep, but I needed him right there during every contraction and he was. I threw up again and contractions spaced out a bit as I went through transition. My water broke at the peak of a contraction and soon I started pushing. I only pushed for 10 minutes and he was born at 7:50. He was born with the cord loosely around his neck and also wrapped around his body. He also had his hand by the side of his head (a favorite position even now) as he was born. As soon as he was placed on my stomach, Joe peaked and announced that he was "a boy!" I held him briefly and then the post-delivery shakes that I get after each birth started and so Joe held Charlie. I was so cold and eventually warmed up after they covered me with some dryer-warmed blankets.

Melinda examined Charlie and weighed and measured him. I rested for a while and Melinda cleaned up, packed her supplies, and started some laundry while Joe held Charlie. After 3 failed attempts (I was too dizzy at first) I finally made it to the bathroom for a very comfy bath. After I was back in bed, Melinda checked to be sure that we were comfortable and felt ready to have her leave and gave a few more instructions. Then she left and we were alone.

I told Melinda before she left that it was the birth that I had always wanted to have. It truly was. I was so glad to be at home and in control. It was a very relaxed and comfortable labor (if labor can be relaxing) and there was just a peacefulness about the whole thing. It was....simple.

I am so thankful for God's protection of me and little Charlie and so grateful that he is here!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Overheard

"Mama, if Charlie is out of your tummy, why is it still so big?"

....Nothing like a 4 year old to keep you humble.



"And now that Charlie is here you can RUN with us again!"

....and thankful for the enthusiasm of little boys.

Friday, June 15, 2007

First news

I want to start on this post, although things might get too busy for me to finish it right now. Joe is currently upstairs getting the older boys ready for bed and Charlie is sleeping in his infant carrier in the kitchen while my mom is doing dishes. Mama leaves tomorrow and we are sorely going to miss her! She told me before she came that she never feels like she does anything when she comes after a new baby is born....I don't think that will be her impression after this trip. As I mentioned earlier, I have had a slower recovery with this birth and so Mama has done everything--watching the children, keeping up the house (and cleaning it from top to bottom to make up for my negligence the last weeks of pregnancy), doing all of the cooking, AND waiting on me hand and foot. I have been able to completely rest this week save for the care of Charlie, and I've even had help with him. I have my third follow-up visit with my midwife next Tuesday and hopefully after that I'll be cleared to do normal stuff.

Charlie is a sweet baby. He has done well most nights and has already gone down from 3 to 2 night time feedings. If I can get one little nap during the day I am able to do the night time feedings without bothering Joe. (One night after I hadn't had a nap in 2 days, I slept through some of Charlie's fussing and had a rough time being awake to feed
him).

The boys LOVE Charlie and this has been so nice. Even David, who tends to be the most temperamental and possessive, oohs and ahhs over him and chatters and laughs at him. Joseph and Will both love holding Charlie and can barely resist patting him each time they see him (even when he is napping or nursing--we're working on that). My mom has been so great about entertaining the boys and helping them hold and see Charlie.

Joe has been working tirelessly, as he always does. Daddy duties and pastoral duties plus lots of my usual duties. I am looking forward to being better so that I can take some of the load from him. I am so grateful to have such a hard working and thoughtful husband.

Here is a picture of me and my little man from a few days ago. Pay no attention to my pale skin and sleepy eyes. They just come with the territory. :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Quick update

I have been dreadfully negligent in blogging and just wanted to post a little hello. My recovery is going well, but is a lot slower with this little one. I can't wait to get back online and tell about the very fast labor and the first days with Charlie. But for now, know that all is well and I'll be back soon.
Joe is posting new photos on our flickr, so you can see our little man there.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Pics of Charlie on flickr

You can find subsequent new pictures of Charlie at our family flickr album.

Joe

Charlie at 12 hours old


I know, I know, everyone wants to see pictures. They will be forthcoming in abundance. Here is the first one of Charlie this morning, some 12 hours after birth.

Both Hallie and Charlie are currently taking a well deserved nap.

Joe

Charlie

Hallie had the best of intentions of live-blogging our birth. But those intentions were counting on a long labor. The Lord had different plans.

Charles Edward Holland was born last night at 7:50 pm. He is beautiful. He is 7 lbs 3 ozs, 19 inches. He and Hallie are doing fantastic.

I'm sure Hallie will update you more when she feels up to it.

Joe

Monday, June 04, 2007

Ice cream social, Holland style


We had chocolate ice cream on cake cones for dessert tonight, which was the incentive to get the boys to eat a less than favorite dinner. We had marinated grilled top round steak, grilled squash with herbs, and some leftover Mexican salad from today's Bible school lunch. They are not huge fans of squash and certainly weren't fond of the herbs--garlic, oregano, and a bit of mint--so good! And they never are good salad eaters. However, whenever they know a good dessert is coming, it is amazing what they will eat. They enjoyed their cones immensely, as you can see, and were then shepherded off to baths. I should have taken an after picture too.

Bible School!

It is Bible School week at our little church and we have spent a fun morning getting caught up in all of the festivities. William got to join Joseph's class (even though he's too young they said he could come, which was so nice) and both boys were exhausted when I got them home. David and I hung out in the nursery visiting with friends most of the morning and then ran to the grocery store before going back to church for lunch.

Right now, everyone is sleeping and I'm eating chocolate ice cream and enjoying the quiet. I need to do a bit of cleaning before the boys wake up, so I'd better go. I'm going to try to get Joe to get a 39 weeks picture for me later tonight.

BTW, does it count as nesting if the reason that I am cleaning is because I know that "nesting" indicates impending labor and I want to be in labor?

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sunday afternoon

As much as I am eager to have this baby, Joe says (and wisely so) that it would be much better to wait until next weekend when my mom is here. The baby seems to be on his side sadly. I had a fine, but short nap and we are all up and about. Time to get the boys outside to run off some pent up energy.

Checking in

I suppose one can't live blog a birth without at least a few false alarms and so risking that I will mention that I might be in early labor. Time will tell over the next day or so. At any rate, I'm going to take a nap and Joe is going to enjoy a peaceful household with everyone sleeping.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Live blogging

Just wanted to mention that I am considering "live blogging" the birth of our little one. If you haven't heard of the concept, it just means that I (and Joe) would periodically post updates throughout the day or night. (Now remember, we have dial-up, so it won't be much.)

I've read two other live blogged births and loved knowing what was going on. One of my favorites is from a great site that I subscribe to--girltalk. They recently live blogged the birth of Nicole's daughter Tori and had previously chronicled Janelle's birth of Callie.

So anyway, we'll see if I'm really up to it at the time, but right now that's the plan!

Monday, May 28, 2007

First fruits


Yes, that's right, we're enjoying the first "fruits" of our vegetable garden. Yesterday, we had squash and today Joe and the boys picked several meals of beans. Even Joseph tried to eat his beans at dinner tonight since he said, "I picked that one." David loves green beans and ate his happily--both this afternoon, uncooked, while I was snapping them and tonight at supper.

Joe also fertilized everything and planted a few more tomato plants. We have aphids pretty badly and are going to have to spray soon.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

38 weeks

Much to the surprise of the greeter at Wal-Mart, I still have 2 weeks to go. Here is a picture from tonight--one of 2 taken by my dear hubby as opposed to the 40 that I took of myself last time before I got it right.

Sunday Hymn

Joe preached this morning in Lewisville, MS at a historic church built in the 1850s. The building was beautiful, as was the fellowship with the saints there.
Returning to our home church this evening, we sang the following hymn--one of Joe's favorites from our time at FPC in Jackson. You'll recognize the final stanza as what we commonly sing as the doxology, but the whole song is instructive and a fine evening hymn of the church.

All Praise to Thee, my God, this night
by Thomas Ken

All praise to Thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light!
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.

Forgive me, Lord, for Thy dear Son,
The ill that I this day have done,
That with the world, myself, and Thee,
I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.

Teach me to live, that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed.
Teach me to die, that so I may
Rise glorious at the judgment day.

O may my soul on Thee repose,
And with sweet sleep mine eyelids close,
Sleep that may me more vigorous make
To serve my God when I awake.

When in the night I sleepless lie,
My soul with heavenly thoughts supply;
Let no ill dreams disturb my rest,
No powers of darkness me molest.

O when shall I, in endless day,
For ever chase dark sleep away,
And hymns divine with angels sing,
All praise to thee, eternal King?

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday Hymn

Take My Life and Let it Be
by Frances R. Havergal

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Bits and pieces

Still struggling with issues at church, but we have already seen God's goodness, mercy, and unexpected work.

On the pregnancy front, I was marveling at how good I felt last week and this week is another story, unfortunately. But, we are in the final stretch now and that is exciting!

Will and I traveled to Jackson yesterday for an appointment with an orthopedist about his legs. For now, the dr. just suggested getting him some good support shoes and so I ordered some New Balances for him this morning. We'll see if that seems to help.

Edited to add (thanks, Katie): Oops, forgot that I hadn't written about Will yet. What I first noticed about a month ago was that one of his knees seemed to bend in when he was standing. He also started falling and hurting his knees--talking about them bending or poppping--and then he would limp badly or refuse to walk (which means it was significant pain; he's usually pretty rough and tumble). Children are naturally "knock-knee-ed" (even the dr. used this term) and then grow out of it, but Will is more than normally so. The orthopedist said that he also had pronated feet and that his hips rotated in too. All of these things are connected and interrelated, and that is what the shoes are supposed to help. The dr. said he also might have a problem with his meniscus, but couldn't tell for sure.

We are generally a Keds-in-the-winter, plain, brown leather buckle sandals-in-the-summer sort of family, and so it would be nice if some more supportive shoes would help. The problem is (as I found out while shopping today online) not many small kids shoes come with the kinds of support and stability that will help. Anything under a size 10.5 in New Balance is an infant shoe with nothing fancy about it. In recommending that we buy Will some New Balance shoes, I think that the dr. was thinking about how you can find great adult shoes with stability features as he wears NB himself. And I bet he often recommends them to his adult patients as a first step in trying to help.

My MIL and SIL are coming for the weekend and I am working today to try to get some extra meals in the freezer for when the baby comes. I have a few now and I know that I will wish I had many more!

We still haven't made final determinations for a name for this little one. We're pretty settled on our girl's name since we've had it for 4 years, but are still wavering on a boy's name. We are thinking about doing a non-family name, but aren't sure since the other boys all have family names for people that we love and admire. I guess we'd better talk about it more and soon!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Car seats and 911

Today I faced the extreme of an issue that has bothered me time and time again since we moved to Mississippi. The boys and I were waiting in the car for Joe while he was in the movie store picking out a "man movie" after a very strenuous day of manual labor all day Saturday. The small sedan next two me had 5 small children ages 3-6 in the back seat and an adult in the passenger seat. Then, the other adult returned to the car with 2 more children! One of whom became #6 in the back and the other who sat in the driver's seat with the driver. It was at this point that I was itching to call the police, but waited for Joe to get back to double check with him. (Sometimes I am more gung-ho about these things than he would want me to be).

He said it was fine if I called and so we drove a few aisles away, took down the cars make, model, and license plate, and parked to call the police. Imagine my surprise upon dialing 911 when I got a message saying that this number could not be dialed from this phone!

I had always assumed that even though we live in a small town, the cellular service would be linked locally to allow the use of 911, but that does not seem to be so. Joe is going to call on Monday to figure this out and in the meantime we are going to program his phone with the appropriate numbers. So, I pass this on as a caution...check to see what your cellular company's policy is on 911 and find out if it will work for you. Fortunately, we learned about all of this in a non-emergency situation.

As for the seven small children not even buckled in, I hope they were okay. And I'm sure that I'll have many more opportunities to be a concerned citizen in the future.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

35 weeks and counting

I just spent a ridiculous amount of my boys' nap time trying to snap a cute pregnant picture of myself. Adjusting angles, flash or no flash, how much to zoom, and the addition of a little make-up--I finally found one that I am comfortable posting for all to see. :)

And to pre-answer the obvious comments (that I have heard a time or two at church or Wal-mart)
....yes, I do carry my babies "all in front"
....no, it is not a basketball under my shirt.
....yes, the baby is very low.
....yes, I do realize that I look like I am about to pop.
....I have 5 more weeks to go!
....yes, I will actually get bigger between now and then.
....and finally, I feel great...which means it is probably going to be 5 weeks.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sunday Hymn

This evening, we had Communion at church and sang this as the preparatory song. (Although only verses 1, 2, and 6 are included in our hymnal, not the original 11.)

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded
by Ber­nard of Clair­vaux

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,
Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.
How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!
How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!

Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;
From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.
Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;
Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.

My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,
For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.
I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;
Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;
O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,
When soul and body languish in death’s cold, cruel grasp,
Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I’ll clasp.

The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,
When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.
O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,
Beside Thy cross expiring, I’d breathe my soul to Thee.

My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;
Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!
When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,
But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday Hymn

My Jesus, I Love Thee by William Featherston


My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Recent Happenings

We celebrated William's third birthday yesterday. Joe was off and so we had a family day of housework and yard work while the boys enjoyed playing with Will's new toys. Then, we had a family from down the street over for pizza, salad, and birthday cake!

Afterwards, we went "downtown" to the square for the opening night of the Natchez Trace Festival which had the usual offerings: chicken on a stick, gyros, funnel cakes, slushies, arts and crafts, and deep fried anything (oreos, dill pickles, etc.). And we wonder why Mississippi is the fattest state?! The highlight of the night was when we sat on a hill overlooking Gasoline Alley, which is where the motorcycle rally was held this morning. There were 2 teenagers there early though who zipped up and down the street performing wheelies, doing other tricks, and revving their engines. My boys were impressed!


I've also been enjoying my rose bush, which just started blooming this week. It is really healthy (no thanks to anything that I've done since I know almost nothing about roses) and is producing abundantly. Here is a bouquet that I put on my bedside table (yep, that's the one that we got as part of the free mahogany bedroom suite from Craigslist). When I am resting sometimes I catch a whiff of their gentle sweetness--very relaxing.


Lastly, can you stand more about my bagels? I am just so pleased with how they are turning out these days. Here's the tray I made for lunch: poppy seed, sesame seed, and an Italian bagel topping of oregano and garlic. So good!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"Goodbye, Daddy!"

This morning, I sent the camera with Joe as he was leaving for work. He captured a few pictures of his farewell committee, which has recently gained a new member. You can barely see David at the top of the driveway.

It is a pretty long trip to the mailbox at the end of the driveway where the boys stop to wave goodbye to Joe each morning. If you look very closely, you can see me waiting by the house to be sure that David comes back to finish his breakfast rather than taking a trip down the gravel road. They love it though and sometimes they meet him there again when he comes home in the afternoons. They love their Daddy!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bagel recipe

Easy Homemade Bagels

Makes 12 large bagels.

2 t. brown sugar
1 ½ t. salt
1 ½ c. warm water (cold if to rise overnight)
2 ¼ c. white flour (+ or – a bit)
1 c. whole wheat (I use freshly ground, sometimes I use all white flower too though)
1 T yeast

Set to dough cycle, but take dough out after mixing (they don't need to rise). Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Then, divide each part equally again. Finally, divide these parts into 3 equal parts. You should have 12 small balls of dough. Roll them between your hands a bit for uniform smoothness, flatten them a little, and place them on the counter.

Take the handle end of a knife and press it through the middle of each bagel to make a hole. Stretch each hole out (gently) to a diameter of about 2 inches, keeping the overall shape of the bagel smooth.

Drop the bagels one at a time into a small frying pan of boiling water. After a few seconds (about 3), flip. Leave in for another 3 seconds and then put the bagel on a kitchen towel to dry a bit. If you leave them in the boiling water for too long, they won't rise as much and you'll get a thicker “rind” on the bagel. Once you have boiled all of the bagels, you can dip each bagel bottom into cornmeal if desired. Place on a greased cookie sheet.

Now take an egg white mixed with 1 t. of water and brush the tops of the bagels (I don't always do this). At this point you can sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or other toppings, if desired. No need to let these rise! Just put in a preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. That's it!

(This is a recipe that I altered from an original found at Laine's letters.) http://lainesletters.com/recipe/bagels.html)

Bagel lessons (I know you didn't ask, but I have to tell!)

To fully understand this quest, you would have to know that I went to college in Charlottesville, Va, home of Bodo's Bagels, and that I spent most of my eating out money in college at Bodo's. Bodo's is one of those local hot spots that is always packed, no matter the time of day simply because they serve good food. Nothing too trendy (although they offer lox, bean sprouts, and tofu--it is a college town and more people naturally eat more healthy things), but always fresh, delicious bagels. There were 2 stores in Charlottesville during the time that I was there and they were owned by one man; it wasn't a chain. I've tried several other chain bagel stores since leaving Cville, but nothing even comes close. (Now if any of you are reading this from the Northeast, home of the bagel, I will have to concede that I haven't traveled to the Northeast. But I am willing to wager that Bodo's would stand side by side with the best NY bagel out there).

I normally make bagels for our family once a week--usually for lunch on Thursday or Saturday. Joe makes his into a sandwich, both older boys like theirs with cream cheese, and David and I prefer plain and simple--hot out of the oven with warm butter melted on top. I recently altered my recipe to make 12 instead of 8 bagels to keep up with the appetites around here. They still mix nicely in my bread machine and fit on one cookie sheet for baking.

This morning, I changed a few things about how I make bagels and am so pleased with the results! Tammy's Recipes had a very complicated bagel recipe that overwhelmed me but produced beautiful bagels (it required several timed rises and many more steps than my easy recipe). Intrigued by how nice her bagels looked, I tweaked my process a bit, keeping the simplicity but adding a few new ideas.

The main change that I am happy with is that her recipe recommends forming the dough into a smooth ball and then making a hole in the middle and stretching the dough into bagel shape. This is so much better than my old method of cutting the dough into strips and trying to connect the ends to make a ring shape. No matter how I tried to smooth the dough, my old way always ended up looking misshapen. Today, my bagels came out looking....well, like a bagel should!

Reading the recipe on Tammy's site also showed me how to fix the problem of having too thick a rind on the bottom of my bagels. Today, after boiling the bagels, I laid them briefly on a kitchen towel to dry before I transferred them to the baking sheet. Having no puddles of water under the bagels lets them cook more evenly and prevents the hard crusty bottoms that my bagels used to have.

The last thing that Tammy's site encouraged me to do is to try toppings. This morning I made 6 plain and 6 poppy seed bagels. We used them to make egg and cheese bagel sandwiches for breakfast. Yum! I'll post my updated recipe soon.