Saturday, December 27, 2008

Aunt and Knees

The other day, the two little girls were playing with Papa/Abba, and he asked "Rosalind, where's your aunt Kathryn?"

With a grin she pointed to Kathryn, "Da da."

"Kathryn, where is your niece?" he the asked.

Promptly, she reached down and pointed to her knees.

Dynamics certainly change when an aunt and her niece are just five months apart, but they sure love playing together.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Grimy little fingers

"Here mommy, just for you. I love you," her little eyes seemed to say.

Though taken months ago, for some reason I simply cannot forget this picture. Her smudged face and grimy little hands lifted up to me are etched upon my memory. Looking into her deep blue eyes as she tries to please, makes me want to pick her up, clean her off and just smother her in kisses.

But looking again, it has even deeper meaning for me. For, in many ways, I am the one with the grimy hands. My hands are soiled time and again with worry, anger, disrespect, apathy, laziness... and my attempts to love and please my Father fall so miserably short. Coming before Him, there is no work of my own that could ever merit His favor.

In her book Mimosa, Amy Carmichael shared how the young believing Indian mothers would pray, lifting up their empty shawls and asking simply, "My hands are empty, fill them." And that is the place where I too must come. Emptied of reliance on myself, realizing that my feeble attempts to please, my works, my mothering... are nothing, no, worse than nothing. But believing that "as a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him." (Ps. 103:13 ESV)

Looking up at my Father, He sees past the failures to the perfect sacrifice of Christ. Beyond me, to the beauty of His Son. As I wait for Him, He will cleanse my hands and fill them with His love and mercy and joy.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A bad idea

Yesterday, after a leisurely morning, we sat down in the living room for a late brunch. While Joshua and I talked and laughed, Rosalind wiggled her way off the couch and spied the espresso. Before I noticed, she was chugging it down.

I didn't think that much of it and we finished eating and got ready to go to Missouri for Christmas. It was three before we finally headed out and I thought she'd be sound asleep by the time we reached the outskirts of town.

But no, she was still munching on crackers as we left it behind. Half an hour later she began the sock game: Pull off your socks, hand them to Mama and innocently say "sawk?" while pointing to your wiggling toes.

I put them back on, gave her a drink and told her it was time to take a nap.

"Ni- night," she said, nodding her head sagaciously and clasping her dolly. I turned around and settled back in. A minute later a little voice said "sawk?"

Thus continued the afternoon. It wasn't until almost 5:00 that I remembered, "She had COFFEE!"

By 9:00, when she finally succumbed to sleep, I had learned a valuable lesson: long car rides, babies and coffee do not mix well.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

St. Bartholomew's Eve

Life has been pretty crazy around here the last week or so. During Joshua's late nights of studying, I've been busy recording, finishing Christmas crafts, writing (though not for the blog, as you may have noticed) and intensely longing for Wednesday to pass and usher in the Christmas break.

After a desperate battle with the trains and planes and passing traffic for a little bit of quiet, I finally finished recording Henty's St. Bartholomew's Eve for Librivox.

Though Henty is hailed as "the boy's own storyteller", I loved his stories growing up. I vividly remember doing a paper route with my siblings one summer years ago and pooling our earnings to buy a set of G. A. Henty’s adventure stories. When the box arrived, we gathered gleefully around and spent hours brainstorming and trading, trying to divvy them up evenly. This memory made me want to record one of his books.

As long as you don't expect anything spectacular, here's a link. And if you're not in the mood for a "predicatable historical boy's adventure story" ;), Librivox has a huge selection of other recordings here.

photo by Claudia

Monday, December 8, 2008

Study partners

Now that she's figured out how to remove the lid, maybe highlighters aren't such a great toy. How about reading a book together instead?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Carmel corn

Christmas is full of memories. Huge family get-togethers with cousins and aunts and uncles. Singing Christmas carols then coming home for hot chocolate. Getting up and running to look out the window to see if it was white outside. Taking turns reading the story of Christ's birth. Opening presents together... and the list just goes on and one.

But the memory from childhood that is etched most tenderly in my mind was simply spending Christmas Eve together. As the Christmas tree lights shown brightly in the dimmed room we'd sit around and sing and talk and crack nuts. And as we kids persuaded Mama to let us open just one gift pleeeeeaaaase, we'd munch on delicious caramel corn. Now the smell of caramel corn baking is forever linked to many fun memories from Christmases gone by.

Carmel Corn

15-20 cups popcorn
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda (wait)
1 tsp vanilla

Heat sugar, butter, syrup and salt until bubbly. Meanwhile, combing soda and vanilla. Cook sugar mixture over medium heat for 5 min stirring just enough to keep from burning. Remove from heat and add soda/vanilla. Coat corn. Place in greased pan and bake at 200 for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


A New Year. So often begun with new resolutions, new goals, new books and ideas to explore. Yet more often than not, by the end of the year, these goals have fallen to the back of our mind, perhaps to be dug up again at the beginning of another year.

As we've taken the first few steps into December, I've been pondering the goals we had for this year. Some, like law school, have been an overarching theme of the entire year. And as I type, Joshua is in the midst of his first final.

Other goals are in the works, and much as I'd like them to be over with, there's no way they'll be done before the New Year. That's when Joshua will gently remind me "honey, chill." Life is not about the list. These things will still be here in the January, and pale in comparison with my duties as wife and mother and homemaker.

But that leaves those smaller desires, like finishing my recording of St. Bartholomew's Eve. With the many late nights Joshua will spend studying over the next two weeks, I know that there will be time, if I work diligently, to complete this goal without compromising more important matters, and be able to start the year afresh.

So if you have time in the midst of the Christmas busyness, I'd encourage you to pick up that book or project you've meaning to finish all year, and enjoy it! :)

photo by Mia

Mouthwash recipe

While reading a recent post, some of you may have been wondering why I was so desperate for the Vodka. And so here is the recipe for the nastiest mouthwash you'll ever taste. But, it really works.

In a quart jar combine:

1 1/2 cups vodka
1/2 oz. of sanguinara (blood root), crushed
1 T myrrh
3 T dried spear mint

Let sit for two weeks, shaking daily. Strain and add enough water to make a quart. Use a teaspoon to a tablespoon daily.

I'm afraid the purpose is to cleanse the teeth/gums and not the breath, so I certainly wouldn't recommend using it before having company over. But the terrible toothache I had when hunting for the Vodka is all but gone, and I'm not quite so nervous about visiting the dentist now. ;)

The recipe is from this handy little book which, along with many other recipes, explains the benefits of each of these ingredients. One thing I know, myrrh was not precious because of it's nice sweet flavor.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Turkey and more turkey :)

A couple weeks ago I was at a friend's home for a play day. While the children covered themselves in (edible) finger paints, my eyes kept getting drawn to her fridge. Or rather, the menu planner hanging on the fridge.

It was so cute, so simple and so tidy. I'd been wanting to get a dry erase board to hang on the fridge for a while and kept putting it off. But really, this was just too cute and I found myself really wanting one.

"I just love your menu planner Shawanna," I finally said, "Where did you get it?"

"Oh, it was a dollar at Wal-mart..."

So guess what's hanging on my fridge now. ;)

Last Wednesday I finally went in to the store to pick up the turkey. The sale turkeys were all gone and the only ones left at a reasonable price per pound were massive--like 30 to 40 pounds each. Besides the fact that it wouldn't have even fit in our oven, can you imagine how long we'd be eating turkey?

But Rosalind had made friends with one of the stockers (shopping with a baby really does have it's advantages) and he had pity on our family of three. After a few minutes talking to the butcher, he emerged with the smallest turkey they could find... and gave it to us at the sales price. :)

But it was still fifteen pounds... so I think we'll be eating a lot of turkey from now 'til Christmas. Anyone have any great recipes for using up leftover turkey?

check out more menu plans here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

So many things

How this weekend has flown past! With exams coming up this next week, we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving at home, just the three of us. After growing up with the at least a dozen or two gathered 'round the table celebrating and feasting, it was strange loading up three plates.

Thought we barely made a dent in the turkey, and really missed family back in Missouri, it was delightful just spending the day together. Over and over I was reminded of how much I have to be grateful for.

  • For fresh mercies each morning. For God engraving my name on His hand. For His compassion which is like an earthly father's toward his child, yet even more patient and overwhelming.
  • Getting to watch my little girl with her father. Papa was certainly the highlight of the holiday for Rosalind. All day she dragged out book after book for him to read. He, I'm sure, got his fill of "There's a Woset in my Closet"... the 20th time reading it in a record 1 minute 15 1/2 seconds. ;) After feasting, she cuddled up in his arms for a nap and soon they were both sound asleep. I'm so grateful my little girl has such a wonderful Papa.
  • ...and that I get to be his wife. For the way he comes into the kitchen just as the gravy is thickening and puts his arms around me, telling me he loves me. And then that he'll listen to a forty minute long illustration from the lives of Catherine de Medici and Henry of Navarre and still love me. ;)
  • A few fallen kernels of corn brought to mind the first winter the pilgrims spent in Plymouth when the daily rations dropped to just five kernels of corn. Truly there was great cause for thanksgiving the following year when the tables were weighted with food. And what great cause I have for thanksgiving for God's constant provision for us...
I have so so many things to be grateful for. God has been so abundantly good to me.

Photo by bosela

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I can count to three....just like daddy

Rosalind certainly thought it quite the accomplishment.

I can count to three from Anna Christensen on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Vodka adventures...

Rosalind and I stood in Wal-mart's alcohol aisle searching for a bottle of Vodka. Didn't need to be fancy, any sort would do. But after slowly pacing the aisle there was not a single bottle to be had. Where else would they keep it? So, I went in search of help.

In an amazingly short time (for Wal-mart) I found someone and asked where the Vodka was.

"Honey, this is Wal-mart (
Yep, that's why I'm here)... we don't carry vodka." (well, I thought it was Wal-mart!)

So then we headed to a large regular grocery store. Surely, they'll have some. C'mon. You could get lost in their wine aisle. But no, they didn't have any either. "Ma'am, you'll have to go to the Alcoholic Beverage Control store."

What a weird town! So we turned 'round and headed over. And, of course, I passed it. But traffic was busy so I just pulled in to the parking lot next door.

After stepping out of the car, I realized we were in an empty lot with a huge ditch between me and the vodka. Great. Now I get to walk along Main street with my little munchkin in tow.

The store was packed. Come to find out it's one of the busiest stores in the state--thanks to several surrounding dry counties. (When did Prohibition end, pray tell?) But finally I found the vodka, grabbed the cheapest bottle, paid and walked back along the busy street with a baby in one arm and a brown bag in the other.

And at last I have everything needed to make some mouthwash.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving food

It's hard to believe that we're almost to the end of November. How quickly these last three and a half months have flown by! Many times the days dragged on while Joshua was so busy studying, but the months have just disappeared and the holidays are really here.
and there

Since with the holidays comes finals, and knowing Joshua's schedule is going to get even more crazy, we've decided to celebrate Thanksgiving with just the three of us. After always being with at least one to two dozen others gathered 'round the festive table, it's going to be really different. But I'm looking forward to it.

And if I can manage to not have leftovers for a week solid afterward, I'll be happy. :)

Dinners this week~

Monday- Lentil barley soup with salad and bread

Tuesday- Chicken pot pie

Wednesday- Black eyed peas and sausage over rice with cornbread

Thursday- Thanksgiving dinner

Friday- Turkey soup

Saturday- more leftovers (???). I've not found any good deals on tiny turkeys. ;)

Check out more menu planning ideas here.

photo by Taniasha

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Imperceptible changes

Anyone hanging around on mom blogs for a while is sure to come across many ideas on what food is best. Time and again the challenge of preparing healthy food is bound to come up.

I’ve enjoyed reading the discussions and pondering the different ideas. At this point we eat fairly healthily: home cooked meals, little pre-processed food, whole wheat bread... Yet reading more, I really started getting discourage and stressed. Of course I want to feed my family what is best, but what is best for my family? does any food stand unchallenged?! can we really afford all the newest greatest organic products out there?

The more I thought about it, the more frustrated and guilty I felt.

But putting the questions in perspective made answering them much simpler.

Flipping through the pages of history or glancing at the newspaper, there are countless stories of famines and food riots, of mothers unable to put even a loaf of bread on the table for their children. The fact that I am faced with the decision of what food is best, is a tremendous blessing many do not have.

On a less dramatic note, the "science of health foods" is, to put it mildly, not perfect.

  • Often yesterday's health food craze is one to be avoided today.
  • Years ago it was the free range chickens that weren't good--just think what they may have gotten into!
  • Trying to follow the latest recommendations for feeding your infant is mind boggling. "Last year, we advised against feeding meat to your 9 month old, but new studies now find it helpful, besides that's what the nomadic tribes fed their children..." You get the idea.
Now of course, I'm not advocating tossing the salad and going on a diet of Doritos. But keeping in mind just how blessed I am and that health food does not hold the answer to life's woes, it is easier to look soberly at the question.

As the queen of my home, my goal is to make meals that both nourish and please my family, and keep to our pretty strict grocery budget. To seek a balance of these three ideals. And, as I'm able, make the little, seemingly imperceptible, changes towards better health. Keeping in mind the principle from Proverbs: "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it."** The healthiest meal cannot take the place of a peaceful home, filled with love.

**For vegetarians I suppose it'd be switched, "better a fattened ox where love is..." ;)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Laundry soap: making your own

Homemade laundry soap. I didn't know such a thing still existed until earlier this year. What? You can make your own? How cool!

But I kept putting off gathering the supplies until one day I was standing in Wal-mart at the end of the month, and hence the end of the grocery budget, thinking "laundry soap or more chocolate?" ;) I decided to look more closely into making my own and discovered...

Making your own is simple, fun and cheap... and it seems to be getting ever more popular. My friend Natalie just started making her own too!

Since there's not enough room in my laundry room to store five gallons of liquid detergent I decided to go with a powdered recipe. Though, if you have the room I'd definitely recommend checking out Natalie's liquid version.


1 cup fels naptha bar soap (Dove works too)
3/4 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda
3/4 cup borax
1/2 cup oxi clean (opt.)

1. Grate the soap

2. Add the other ingredients and mix well

3. Use 1 T per load.

Complicated, huh? :) It works for me and is super cheap.

Using these calculations, it costs about 2 pennies a load.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sayin' goodbye

The weekend past all to quickly. Sunday afternoon we took a nice leisurely stroll before it was time for them to head back to Missouri.

Crunching the leaves as she walks with Uncle Sam.

Beautiful Aunt Becca with the little Rosebud.

"The girls"--Mom, Hannah, me and Becca.

A few last pictures before loading up... Tim, Sam, Josh and Becca.

Joshua and Mom...

Way too soon the house was quiet again and it was just us. Now I can really hardly wait 'til Christmas!

Anybody else?

Will you read me a story?

Reading with Nonny

And with Uncle Johnny and Mac

and U. Daniel, Mommy, U. Mac and A. Hannah.

and Aunt Hannah and U. Mac
and Aunt Becca and U. Mac
Anybody else want to read me a story? Please...

Check out more wordless Wednesday posts here.

At the park

Saturday afternoon we drove around town to see some of the football craziness and then stopped at Rosalind's park. Brrrrrr..... it was COLD!

Rosalind going down the big slide with Aunt Hannah.

Joshua, me, Becca and Timmy. We really need to think of something warm to do...

Oh yes.... let's have a competition. How many pull ups can you do?

Go Tim! Just as we decided to play tag, the camera batteries died, thankfully!

A fun weekend!

Friday evening, Joshua's parents and some of his siblings (just seven of them ;) came for a visit. Ever since we heard they were really going to come, Rosalind and I have been looking at pictures, saying "Nonny and Poppy and .... are coming coming to their little Rose."

After the first few minutes of "overwhelmedness" Rosalind was so happy to see everyone again and just loved all the attention she got.

Here's part of the crowd gathered 'round watching Jeeves and Wooster, a hilarious old British TV series. As you can see, it was nice and cozy.

Game time. Sandwiched between neighbors, we were trying to find quiet things to do...

Oh my, have I got a good hand or what!

Becca and I washing dishes together. It was great getting to talk to an adult while cleaning up! :)

Joshua and Dad.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Chex mix

This sweet crunchy snack quickly became a family favorite and is great for parties and get togethers. I've even witnessed friends "fighting" for the last few pieces... ;)

Caramel Chex Mix

8 cups chex cereal
1 1/2 cups pretzels
3/4 cup peanuts
3/4 cup b. sugar
6 T butter
3 T c. syrup
1/4 tsp baking soda

Combine first three ingredients in large bowl. In saucepan, combine sugar, butter and syrup. Stir over medium heat until it begins boiling. Let boil for five minutes without stirring. Remove and add soda. Coat cereal mix. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes, stirring once.

Check out more recipes here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The best part of our day...

Rosalind waiting for Papa to come home. (do you think he'll like my two pigtails?)

Dinner over, it's time for more studying... only now with help. (and yes, he liked the pigtails)

Check out more Wordless Wednesdays here. :)

Working together...

The make your home a haven challenge has been such a blessing!

After a wonderful nights' rest, we got up at six for breakfast together before Joshua left for school. Then Rosalind went back to bed for some quiet play time in her crib. While she looked at books and talked to her dolly, I read from the Psalms, made a plan for the day and got a bit of writing done.

About an hour later, a very happy little girl awaited me. (She wasn't just happy to get out of the crib, the time alone does wonders for her attitude. :)

Then we set to work cleaning some of those things that I just keep putting off. Like windows and the front porch. Something about knowing that no matter how hard I scrub, the porch is still not going to look really clean with pieces of the fifth layer of paint peeling off the floor makes it a bit harder to be motivated. But I know there is quite a bit of dirt that will come off...

Don't worry, it's not been used yet!
My precious little helper!

As we were finishing cleaning the porch, a neighbor friend invited Rosalind over to play with her cat. And she said you could tell a difference even from across the street. I didn't know it was that bad, but at least it looks better.

Just as we got cleaned up from cleaning the porch, my friend Candace called to see if she could drop something off that I'd left at her house... and we talked her into staying for a little while.
I just love spontaneous get-togethers!

It would have felt like a nice British dropping-in-for-tea time, except we sat on the floor reading funny kid's books and didn't have any tea. But we had a good time anyway. Not only do I love talking to Candace, but as a mommy I just loved watching the little girls playing, interacting and learning patience and kindness.
When Rosalind got up from her nap, we tackled the office area.

Then it was time to make dinner. The kitchen floor will just have to wait. :)

Making my home a haven

Monica at the Homespun Heart is hosting a week long challenge, encouraging us to focus on making our homes havens. Since that is one of the great goals of being a homemaker, I was excited to join in...especially since we have family coming this weekend! Hurray!

Yesterday was a long, fun and busy day. Last night, rather than posting like I had planned, I fell asleep getting Rosalind to bed. But waking up with her sweet little cheeks snuggled up against me was definitely worth loosing a couple hours of getting "stuff" done.

I like to spend Monday getting the home back in order, tackling the light cleaning and catching up on laundry after "taking the weekend off". With those things out of the way, here are the projects I hope to accomplish.

To do today:
Organize the office area
Wash living room and bedroom windows
Clean front porch
Wash kitchen floor

And assuming I don't fall asleep with Rosalind again, I just might post a progress report this evening.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Laid off

Because of our recent move, I had to lay off one of my faithful servants. Though sad to part from her, I am thankful not to have to pay unemployment benefits, for she was quickly hired to clean someone else's pots and pans.

This past week as I scrubbed the dishes, I got to thinking of her and you know, especially now that the weather is getting cooler, I really don't miss her all that much. What's so bad about washing the dishes in hot sudsy water myself?

But that got me thinking about the other servants in my kitchen that I really don't ever want to fire or have quit or go on strike like:

The Kitchenaid~ Kneading bread by hand may be wonderful exercise, but I'm quite happy to let her keep it all to herself. Besides the bread tastes so much better when she helps me make it.

Miss Krups: the espresso queen~ She was added to our employ last Christmas and my do we love her! Her coffee is delightful and she's always bright and cheery in the morning--ready to get to work to make us bright and cheery too.

The popcorn popper~ Rosalind makes sure she never gets bored (and would've polished off five bowls of popcorn this morning if I'd let her). Of course, I love her too since her popcorn is so nice and healthy (and cheap!).

And then there's all the ones who serve me faithfully that I so often take for granted:

My frigid maid:
I really don't know what I'd do without her! We certainly wouldn't get to have milk very often and that would be sad, really sad.

The oven and stove: Cooking over a fire may be fun for one night, while camping, but what wonderful service she does-day in and day out.

And the list could go on and running indoor water and the blender and heat and.... but these are five of my very favorite. So as I hear again and again about the economic crisis we're facing, I realize just how much I have to be grateful for. So much that I usually take for granted.

Only four days left...

...'til the Christensens come! Hurray! Rosalind is going to be so happy to see her Nonny and Poppy and some of her aunt and uncles.

Rosalind with A. Hannah, U. Daniel & U. Mac

After spending hours pouring over the scrapbooks and carrying on animated conversations with the pictures, she's just gonna love seeing everyone in real life again. :) And, of course, Joshua and I can hardly wait either.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Christmas shopping: continued

I just love this whole shopping early for Christmas thing. Each day as the mailman comes, there's the hope that a Christmas gift will have arrived. But no fear it won't get here in time. :)

After making out a list of who we're getting gifts for, brainstorming for ideas and getting a workable budget in place, the fun part begins:

  • working on handmade gifts
  • scouring the internet for good prices
  • watching the local ads for sales
Which is just one of the many reasons why earlier is better! No more last minute rush shipping fees. Instead there's time to get good deals and hopefully end up with better, more thoughtful gifts in the end.

It may seem like it's just dragging out the consumerism, but I don't think so. This year I hope to have all the shopping done by the first of December. Finishing the shopping early will make the weeks leading up to Christmas peaceful and relaxed, especially since I'm not a "good shopper". Instead of last minute dashes into town, I can focus on family, friends and the true Reason for celebration.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A little bit of...

A quick trip past Wal-mart's children's aisle reveals a vast array of innovative, cute, fun, creative, and generally unnecessary, toys. It has often been remarked that a toddler prefers anything but toys.

While Rosalind does love her toys, a set of measuring spoons or pile of Tupperware provides countless hours of fun.

Over at Rocks in my Dryer the question of the day is "what toys are worth getting and keeping?" In answer, here are a few pictures.

Books, of course! Never too little to start learning. :)

A dolly and stroller- mommy training in action.

Her sweet cuddly friends...

While there are many other toys she loves --like her blocks and puzzles and Noah's ark-- I think the best "toy" of all is still just a bit of creativity....

Joy at discovering a fallen acorn.

After watching me wash the sink with a white cloth, she walked over the the toilet paper, pulled a few pieces off and began scrubbing the toilet seat lid. Toilet paper is white, right?

Guess what I have...

Mama's keys.

Now guess what I have....