Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hiking to New Heights: Growth and Maturity

A few weeks ago we took the kids on a small hike.

The kids were thrilled. They stomped in snow, waded through a stream, picked up sticks, discovered cool rocks and pine cones and wandered on and off of the trail.

I have three boys and a little girl. They were consumed with the sights and sounds of nature.

We were surprised when my four year old daughter off-handedly said,
"I'm afraid of hikes."

She said it more than once but then she'd immediately run or splash in the stream, laugh or look intently at some precious mud covered gem.

My husband and I were confused by her statement.
We didn't give it much thought as we watched the kids soak up the sunshine and the stream.

After awhile, my husband had to return to the car to retrieve an item and my daughter asked -begged- for him to get her blanket, her "Bobby."

With as much whine as she could inflect, she said,
"I am afraid of hikes... like David."

My husband and I exchanged a knowing look.

As my husband grabbed a few items from the car, my daughter tromped happily through the water.

He delivered her beloved blanket. She hugged it, looked at us with all of the seriousness she could muster and informed us, "I am afraid of hikes. Like David."

My four year old daughter, Elisabeth, adores her 8 year old brother, David.
She wants to do everything he does.
At dinner, if I give a drink choice, her drink selection is "What David has."
She copies him in every way she can.
There have even been times that she has said she wishes she was a boy so she could be "like David".
It's humorous and at times, very frustrating.
She often refuses the choices that she would prefer because she prefers to be like her brother more than anything else.

There are times when I look to those that I admire with longing. I want to have what they have. I want to be the person they are.
I have tried to emulate the behaviors that I admire in others. I copy leadership traits.

I don't think about it like that, of course. I am just trying to learn from others and grow. I want to be mature. A strong woman. Spiritually solid.
I have looked up to those that I see as pillars of faith, those that exemplify the woman that I want to be.
I want to be like them.
I want the good I see in them.

It isn't all bad.
It is just dangerous.

Though my motives are pure, I cannot become the woman that I want to be by looking at others.
I have to grow from within. I have to depend on my faith. I have to look to God- the only one that can truly form me into who I need to be.
For I cannot truly discern from another's behavior where their motivation comes from. I may misunderstand what they say or I may interpret what they do incorrectly. I may misread that very well written book. I may glean something unintended from a sweet comment from a friend.

Or, more likely than not, I may not be able to be what they are because I am not made to be them.


My daughter reminded me of these truths.

My son David is not afraid of hikes.

He is afraid of heights


I can only be the person God wants me to be by depending on God.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Tried and Tasty Favorites

This week, my favorite new recipes were:

Taco Casserole
Easy Chicken Parmesan
Homemade Croutons
 --not a new recipe this week but still a fairly new favorite recipe

Taco Casserole Courtesy of Melissa Guay

1 lb ground beef (I used almost a pound and a half)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I just pressed mine)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup taco sauce (I used mild)
4 oz can diced green chilies
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
8 taco shells -- broken (I believe I used 10)
2 cups cheddar cheese -- shredded
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1/8 cup sliced green onions
sour cream
1 diced avocado

Cook beef, onion and garlic until beef is browned. Drain off the grease. Stir in water, taco sauce, chilies and seasoning mix. Cook over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Layer half of broken taco shells on bottom of greased 8" x 12" baking dish. Cover with half of meat sauce; sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Repeat with remaining shells, meat sauce and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Serve with tomatoes, green onions, sour cream and avocado as desired.

This dish was a hit with the family. This is recipe I referred to yesterday as getting 4 out of 6 stars from the family. Four of us loved it. One thought it was okay. Only one of my four kids claimed to not like it. I think it was because he could see the green chilies. Once we wrapped it up in a tortilla, he ate it up pretty quickly.

I didn't take a picture. We didn't have any leftovers. You get the picture!

Super-Easy Chicken Parmesan Courtesy of Jenny Vollmer 

1 jar spaghetti sauce
6 Tbsp, grated Parmesan cheese, divided
6 small boneless, chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Pour sauce into 13 x 9 baking dish. Stir in 4 Tbsp of the Parmesan cheese. Add chicken and coat both sides. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes. Uncover. Top with mozzarella cheese and remaining 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese and broil on low for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Serve over hot pasta.

Everyone in my family of six enjoyed this meal. I served it over angel hair pasta, with bread and a side salad. I would note that if you don't have small chicken breasts, you need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. I think next time I will use chicken tenderloins as we ended up cutting up the chicken before putting it on the plates.

I took this picture before I added salad dressing and my homemade croutons.

Croutons are so easy to make. I love making my own- they are quick, simple, cheap and tasty.

Here's the Crouton recipe: Quick and Easy Garlic and Herb Croutons

As you can tell, the crouton recipe makes plenty. I store them in a ziploc and enjoy them on salads at lunchtime.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Thursday Thanks Tank #178

Each Thursday I try to make a list of my thankful thoughts. Sometimes I jot it down on paper, sometimes I share that list here, and other times I just highlight one or two things that I am thankful for. This is my Thursday Thanks Tank.

I am thankful for:

  • Coffee in the morning
  • Losing a few pounds
  • My husband's hug and kiss before he leaves for work
  • Sunshine
  • Cute things my daughter says, like "Awesome is way better than cute."
  • Board games
  • School projects (and watching the kids work hard to accomplish the work)
  • Intercession. 
  • Tasty new dinner recipe (4 out 6 stars, and the 2 people that didn't love it thought it was good)
  • Neighborhood kids hanging out at our house (it seems our basketball goal is popular)
  • Marking off items on the To Do List
  • Silence (those rare moments when the house is peacefully quiet)
  • Playful noise (the sound of the kids playing together nicely)
  • Bubbles. Yesterday we played with bubbles outside. Right now, my 4 year old has the sink full of delightful sudsy bubbles and she is washing a few dirty tupperware dishes. 
  • Daily one-on-one time with my kids. Each afternoon, I spend time with my kids one-on-one.  We talk about the "high point" and "low point" of the school day. This week I've played a quick board game with them.  We all love it.  It is precious time. 
  • New lights. We have new lights in our bedroom. 
  • Tickle bugs. (You never know when those critters are about to strike!)
That's all of the time I have this afternoon to share my thankfulness...
Take time to be thankful. It's time well-spent.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What-in-the-World Wednesday

Look what we found when my four year old was working on number recognition on the preschool computer at the library.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Works-for-Me-Wednesday: Dinner Responsibility Chart

After years of inconsistency with dinner chores (read that as, mom did most of the work), I created a simple, effective Dinner Responsibility Chart.

I made a list of dinner responsibilities, printed it, and put it in a frame. I use a dry erase marker to write my kids' names next to their responsibility. The kids rotate through the four main responsibilities, while the blessing is rotated through the whole family.

I am amazed how much the kids enjoy their jobs. As each one is doing a job, we work with them to teach them the right way to do it. We've been doing this for almost two weeks now and I am thrilled with their progress and enthusiasm.

Before when I asked for help, I was often met with grumbles and complaints. Now, the kids expect to help.

It's a simple system that is benefiting the whole family. The kids are learning and growing in responsibility and I no longer wait to clean the kitchen until they are in bed.

Most wonderful of all, I no longer clean the kitchen by myself. That really works for me!


This post is linked up with Works-For-Me Wednesday. Be sure to visit We are THAT Family to check out the other WFMW posts.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Thursday Thanks Tank #177

March 1st. Wooza, how did it happen? What do they say- In like a lion, out like a lamb? I'm marching right into this month with thankfulness. I'm determined. I'm planning to slide into April with a thankful heart. That's my plan.

To help, I'm participating in Ann Voskamp's March Joy Challenge. If you don't read Ann's blog, you should. She is gifted with words and an ability to share honestly about her faith. Here's her post for today: How to Make Your March Amazing

Now on to my thankfulness...
Here's how my Thanks Tank is being filled today:

Recipes that can be thrown together with pantry items: With a basketball game in the late afternoon, my original dinner plan for Monday wasn't going to work. I threw together this Crockpot Sesame Chicken. It was wonderful. The only thing I didn't have was sesames.

Snow Snow is beautiful. I really enjoy seeing it fall. In fact, it is crazy windy here today and there are snow flurries blowing wildly about. It makes me smile. Here's a picture I took of a sweet bird on Monday.

Businesses that support schools: Every little thing that a business does to support a school makes a difference. I've been helping my kids' school with a fundraiser and I am thankful for those that offer resources to schools.

Writing: Black marks on white paper- almost as beautiful as this journal. I've decided to journal again. It's been a while. It nurtures my soul in a way that other things cannot.

Words with Friends What a fun little game!

My phone: I got a new phone recently and, quite honestly, I love it. I'm not sure why it took my husband so long to convince me to move from a Blackberry to an iPhone. Oh my word, it's fantastic!

A growth in confidence: It is gratifying and exciting to watch a child grow in confidence.

My family: We laugh, we irritate, we tickle, we hug, we exasperate, we call, we text, we smile, we comfort, we pray, we miss, we look up to, we aspire to be, we love... we are so many things to each other each day. I am thank for my family, both the ones that I live with and the ones I don't.

What are you thankful for today?
Take time to think about it.
Take time to look at the little bits of goodness in your day.
Appreciate. Appreciate. Appreciate.

Let your heart be full of Thanksgiving.
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalm 100:4