Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A teaser

I know, I said no kitchen renovations for at least a year, but I was just itching to get this cabinet out of the way. We will call this part one.  


After part one
1. I removed the doors on the built in bookshelves way back in the picture by the fireplace. I'm going to paint those white and the backs some fun color (red or blue). 

2. The whole kitchen is going to be gutted and made bigger (we plan to knock down some walls and take out some closets), but that is on the one year plan. I want to work in the space for a while and get a feel for a good flow. I did know I wanted these cabinets that blocked my view of the dining area gone. Goodbye cabinets. Hello, openess. 

3. We will remove that random piece of wall between the fireplace room and kitchen area when we gut the kitchen. I just want to kick it out right now though. Why? Who thought two doorways would be a good idea? 

4. That wood paneling is going to be painted soon. I give it a month, maybe two. It is near the top of the list. 

5. That bulkhead above the cabinets is horrible. Lost storage space and it makes the kitchen smaller.  That will be torn out when the kitchen is gutted. 

We are going to play around with this space a lot before we actually change it. We plan to try some paint colors out while we wait. 

Before (cats cats cats - the biggest cat I have ever seen hopped up and sprawled out on the counter when I first visited the house...yes, Up. On. The. Counter. Where food is served and made.)

After part one

Oh, and the dishwasher, stove, and frig are all 15 years or older. They aren't going to be replaced until they bite the dust. Why spend money when you don't need to? I hope they live a nice long life. 

Can you paint a refrigerator? I really don't like it white. But I am not about to replace something that works. 

Monday, January 30, 2017

I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God...

Exodus 17:8-13
Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.

Two weeks ago ESL started again for the Spring semester and I just wanted to give you a brief update. God is moving in some amazing ways to evolve the ESL program into something better and it is so neat to watch.  Sometimes God uses people and ways that you don't expect. We are moving forward to stage 2 of the ESL plan.  

When I proposed the ESL program almost 2 years ago I wrote in my 5 year plan that I wanted to partner with other churches in the area to expand the program.  I also wrote that I wanted to have a ministry to the three colleges in the area.  I had NO IDEA how either of those things would come to be. 

Over this Fall I was starting to feel a little bit like Moses - weary.  This Fall was going to be my break, time to regroup, time to think through the ministry and come up with new ideas for it.  But that didn't happen.  The director that was going to take over me for the fall semester (while I was on maternity leave) moved away.  So, with less then a month to ESL, we scrambled around to figure out some way for ESL to run each Thursday without me having to be there.  Of course, God provided staff to be boots-on-the-ground and they did an amazing job or keeping things running.  I am so thankful for the three people he provided to keep things straight every Thursday and all the many additional hands that came and helped with set-up, registration, and interviews.  God provided, but I still had to spend time organizing and directing some. It wasn't the break I was hoping for (especially when you add in a newborn and mono). 

But God is always moving and working. I entered December tired and discouraged because it was getting harder to find volunteers, especially for our children's ministry. But guess what? In the summer, a friend of a friend had contacted me and asked to teach in our ESL ministry. I accepted, of course, who says no when someone is asking to help?!? I didn't expect her to have the same vision for ESL and want to take ideas and run with them. But she did and she is moving the vision of ESL forward to other churches. I am so thankful for Ginger.

I have had policies to update since last Summer. She has taken them and transformed them. She has set up meeting with other churches and contacted people at local colleges. She has recruited childcare volunteers, ESL teachers, and snack donations. I just show up for meetings and talk about ESL. She has held my hands steady so that ESL can continue and I am so grateful for her encouragement and desire to partner in this ministry. 

I am excited to see what happens in the future. We continue to pray for doors to be opened to sharing the gospel with international students and people in our community.  Please, pray with us when you think of us. We can do nothing without His power. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

New Series

Maybe instead of new series it should say, "first series ever". Yesterday we closed on a house (more on the house later). It is dated, but livable while we update things a little at a time. So, lots of home projects and before and after pictures will be coming. 

The previous owner loved cats. I mean LOVED cats. I've never seen so many cat figures and pictures and rugs and shower curtains. It was crazy. 

The first things to go where all the carpets. Goodbye cat hair. Goodbye smell. Next up is refinishing the hardwood floors that were below the carpets. When those are finished in about two weeks we will officially move our stuff over. I will post lots of pictures, but not now. I have all the before pictures loaded to a Flickr account just for house projects. 

(Look at all those cats!!!!! Yes, these is a screen door between the dining room and kitchen...see it on the far right... It is now out with the carpets on the back porch.)

How did the name of the series come about? My dad had a coworker that would tell him whenever anything broke around the house, "so, you want to be a homeowner, do you?" That is too long of a name for a series... SYWTBAHODO? It is shorten to HODO (the home owner series). 

We have a whole notebook of ideas and I can't wait to share them with you all as we check them off the list. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Quick Chicken Enchiladas

Quick Chicken Enchiladas
Serves 4

* 1 onion, chopped fine
* 1 T vegetable oil
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 pound ground turkey (we usually use shredded chicken, but you can use ground beef or ground turkey or ground chicken or ground pork)
* 8-12 oz. monterey Jack cheese, shredded (2-3 cups use more cheese if you like them cheesier, I just use 2 cups -- I also have used sharp cheese when I am out of monterey jack) 
* 20 oz red enchiladas sauce (see note below)
* 1/4 cup jarred jalapenos, drained and chopped
* 1/2 cup minced cilantro (Jared doesn't like cilantro, so I leave this out)
10-14 (6 inch) corn tortillas (we have friends that do flour tortillas, but we like the corn better)
(optional) 1 can black beans
(optional) rice or corn (whatever you have around that you need to use up)

--Note on enchiladas sauce.
Giant Brand was a good. 
El Paso tastes like weak tomato sauce.Not good.
Acme tastes like chili powder. It is spicy and gritty. Not good.
Food Lion Brand is the best I have found so far. It is also mild, but not quite as bland as El Paso. Unfortunately, their brand comes in a glass jar of 18 oz.  So, I just add a bit of water it stretch it to 20 oz. I am not going to open another can just to skim off 2 oz. 

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and head to 400 degrees. Combine onion and oil in skillet over medium-high heat and cook until onion is softened and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in meat (shredded chicken or ground meat). If using ground beef or chicken, add it raw and cook 5-7 minutes until no longer pink.  Stir in 1-2 cups of cheese,1/2 - 1 cup of enchilada sauce (I like more in mine), jalapenos, cilantro, and black beans (if you are adding them). Season with salt and pepper.  

2. Meanwhile, stack tortillas, cover with plastic wrap or damp towel, microwave until softened and pliable, about 1 minute.  

3. Pour a little enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 13" x 9" pan. Place about 1/4 of a cup of the chicken mixture on a tortilla and roll up.  Place the seam side down in the pan. Repeat until the pan is filled. I put 10 across and then tuck 2 sets of 2 on the sides.  Top with 1 cup enchilada sauce and 1 cup cheese. 

4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is completely melted, about 5 minutes.  I don't use the foil.  I just bake it until the cheese is melted, but they can dry out if left in to cook for too long.

Note: We have noticed that they taste better if you make them in the morning and let the spices sit together all day and then cook them in the evening.   The flavors have time to develop more.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

Legos = math

I think Legos are going to be math for a long time. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Quiet time!!! Love love love.

Can I just say how much I am loving my 45 minutes of quiet time every day?!? This is one of the best ideas I have ever had. We all are better for it. 

The scheduled meals and snack time are also wonderful. It simplifies everything. 

I'm not completely bound to it, but I follow the structure. For example. Today the kids woke up an hour and a half earlier than normal. I bumped lunch to ten, quiet time to noon (and boy, did they need it), and snack to one. We'll probably eat dinner early too. 

Usually I spent most of quiet time with him. He's so snuggly and jolly. How can I resist? 

Also, he is growing way too fast. How can he already sit on my hip? We are like twins with our bald spots. :) Well, his whole head is bald, I just lose hair in the temples. Got to love that post baby hair loss. Jared keeps reminding me that it comes back. You can see it is already coming back in in short wispy pieces. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


I mentioned a few weeks ago that I wanted to add a little more structure to our lives. All the times for daily and weekly events are in my head, but that makes them easy to shift around and easy to forget. I sketched up a cleaning plan (what rooms get cleaned on which day) and worked in some times for reading, watering plants, cooking, playing, outside, and some schoolwork. 

More details later.  I'm sure it is going to change and shift around a bit. It is already making things smoother around here. Instead of staring off into space and wondering what to do I check the schedule. :) I follow it about 50% accurately right now. It is a good start. 

It is really easy to get everything done when you just have one child. But add in a few more children and they all need different things: the baby needs to be fed, the toddler needs attention and some sit-in-mom's-lap-and-read time, the 3 year old wants to learn some letters... It makes is so much easier to plan for these things. Otherwise, I find I get to the end of the day and I have either just done whatever they ask all day (which is exhausting) and nothing that I need OR I have done all my chores, but not spent much time with any of them (which is exhausting). There has to be a good balance. 

One thing I wanted to do was draw up a chart for the boys. They ask me all day long, "when is snack? When is lunch? When is dinner?" To make is easier for everyone I decided to make it the same time every day. 

Today Martin traced circles and then cut them out. Aren't they great?!? I made them into clocks. Warren helped me count them (quite a few times). I asked them for suggestions for breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner. You will see oatmeal, eggs and bacon, a sandwich and grapes, an apple, goldfish, and soft and hard tacos. 

When we finished putting it all together and hung it below the clock it was 11:00. Martin looked up and informed me that it was lunchtime. 

Monday, January 09, 2017

Roller Coaster

Guys, you know that feeling before you jump on a sled to ride down a hill or when you ate first in line for the roller coaster, but it hasn't pulled in yet? It is like, if I don't get on, I won't experience any danger. I won't get myself into something I can't handle. Run away! Get out while you can! 

Know that feeling? 

Sometimes it happens before events in life. Should I have another child? Should I take that job? Should I buy a house that needs a lot of work? Should I start an ESL ministry? Should I expand that ESL ministry? 

It comes at the point where you still have time to turn back. Whatever the decision is you know it is going to require a lot of work.  Probably more work then you can handle. But you know what, I'm learning that is probably a good thing. Because in my weakness and tiredness, God pulls through. When He calls you do something He provides what you need when you need it. You might not feel prepared right now, but when that moment comes, He'll be there. 

And today I'm about to step on that roller coaster again, front seat, where I can see everything that is going on. Where I lose control, but where I give over control to a God who controls everything. 

Tonight I present stage 2 of our ESL ministry - partnering with other churches in our area to expand our reach. And if it is approved, it means work, lots of it. Writing new policies, recruiting more staff, paperwork, meetings, and presentations. It means scheduling my time so that every moment counts, no twiddling my thumbs while I flitter away time on Facebook or putting aside a book I want to read so I can work on emails. It means not spending evening doing things I want to do with my family because I am at meetings or ESL.  Self control. It means opening my house up inviting people over (something I am not good at doing).  

But it also means giving God a chance to work through my messes. I know I can't handle this, which just means all the more glory to His name when anything good happens in our ESL ministry. It is a scary place to be. Knowing you can't handle something, but taking it on anyhow. 

So. Tonight at 6:30 the roller coaster car arrives. I take a deep breath. Put one foot in front of the other. Buckle my seatbelt. And that is all I can do. I hold on for the ride. 

To God be the glory. Great things He has done and is doing. Pray for wisdom as we hopefully get approval to move forward to stage two. 

One of my favorite Piper quotes. 

Saturday, January 07, 2017


It snowed 10" around here. That is rare. We are usually happy with 3". The boys, Martin especially, are loving the snow. They've been out three different times for over an hour.  Jared took two of those trips while I was feeding the baby. But I did make it out and I spent most of the time running around to keep warm. :) 

In my spare time I've been working on slides for an ESL presentation, made waffles, bacon, and eggs for second breakfast (after the first round of snow playing) and made a new kind of soup (I'll probably blog about it because it was delicious).  

I also fixed three of our window blinds that the boys had broken. I'd take photos and tell you how to replace a broken slat, but there are several really good YouTube videos. It is pretty easy and it looks so much better then have a broken (or taped) slat. If you have a broken slat, look up a video and fix it!! You can do it. Really. You can do it. It takes about five minutes. 

The chickens aren't big fans of snow. 

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Book Total for Year

I updated my book list for the year just in case you want to see what I read this year. Maybe someday I will have more time to write brief reviews.

Mexican Rice

This recipe is very good, but honestly, I cheat and buy the little boxes of mexican rice most of the time for dinner.  I am going to post the recipe for the enchiladas we love next week. They are from ATK as well.  :) I get almost all of my new recipes from them these days. 

Mexican Rice – From America's Test Kitchen (of course)
Serves 6 to 8

2 Tomatoes, peeled and quartered
1 white onion, peeled and quartered
3 jalapeno chiles
2 cups long-grain white rice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 T tomato paste
1-1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cup minced cilantro

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and over to 350 degrees. Process tomatoes and onions in food processor until smooth. Transfer mixture to 2 cup measuring cup. If necessary, spoon off excess so that volume equals 2 cups. Remove ribs and seeds from 2 jalapenos, mince and set aside. Mince remaining jalapeno, including ribs and seeds; set aside.
  2. Place rice in large fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until water runs clear, about 1-1/2 minutes. Shake rice vigorously in strainer to remove all excess water.
  3. Heat oil in oven-safe 12" skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes. Drop 3 or 4 rice grains into oil; if grains sizzle, oil is ready. Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until rice is light golden and translucent, 6-8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; add garlic and seeded minced jalapeno; and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1-1/2 minutes. Stir in pureed tomatoes and onions, chicken broth, tomato paste, and salt. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Cover pan and transfer to over. Bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-35 minutes, stirring well halfway through cooking.
  4. Stir in cilantro and reserved minced jalapeno with seeds to taste. Serve immediately with lime wedges.