Friday, December 31, 2010

Hello, Oklahoma!!!

Tad's family

Well, we're here in Oklahoma!!! It was a crazy last couple weeks, but we made it!! Our last couple weeks were filled with people visiting, getting together with our Chicago friends, and our kids being really sick!! Our last 2 nights we got to stay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel to use up Tad's comp nights that he gets with the Four Seasons. We got a double connected suite to share with Tad's 4 siblings. It was awesome!! Definitely a Christmas to remember!!
Though we will miss Chicago, our friends, our church, and our awesome city, we are excited to be here in Oklahoma. We are hoping it will be better for family life, and an added bonus to be near so much family!!
So with the start of the new year and the beginning of a new chapter in our lives comes the launch of Urban Momma...Gone Country!!! I hope to continue blogging about cooking, family life, updating pictures, and doing book reviews, but also adding posts concerning big family life (living with Tad's family), country living, life outside the city, and some new additions to the site, coming soon!!
I am looking forward to blogging about our life change from the big city to the big, wide open country!!
Happy New Year!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas happenings

Well, since life was so crazy around the time of our move, I'm going back and showing you some fun things we did before we left!! It was busy with all the Christmas stuff going on while we were packing our stuff in boxes and getting together with people, but we had fun!!!

We made sugar cookies, Russian tea cakes, gingerbread men, and chocolate mint fudge!! Yes, I am crazy to make all those cookies 2 weeks before our move!!
Maddy and Judah playing amidst the clutter of packing!!
We delivered cookies and Christmas cards to our neighbors, doormen, office ladies, security guards, and apartment workers for the last time!! We were so blessed to live at the Atrium Village for over 4 years!!!
Maddy, all dressed up before the Atrium Village (our apartment building) Christmas party!!
Maddy's time with Santa!
Having a little chat.
She came away with a Barbie, stuffed animal, and a tube of tootsie rolls!!
The Four Season's kids Christmas party!! Judah was soooo sick! Poor guy!

A blurry pic of me and the kids in the Four Season's hotel lobby.
Inside the party, there were little stations for kids to do stuff. Here, Maddy is working on coloring and making a craft.
A little dance floor for dancing and tables set up for eating the yummy gourmet kid food!
Little stage where Santa would arrive!
First, Judah curiously looked up at Santa, but after that, it was screaming and complete fright. Maddy liked him though!!
He was so miserable at the party, and didn't feel good. This is the happiest he got, I think. He loved his little Capri Sun juicebox!!
Daddy was working, but he got to come up for a little bit and see the kids at the party!!
Poor Judah!!
Maddy patiently waited in line for this artwork on her face!!
My best friend in Chicago, Emily's twins and Judah. About 3 months apart.
Judah and Wil.
Maddy, Gwen, and Wil.

We had a packed, full, busy last couple weeks, but they were fun!! I'm so glad we got to do the parties, even though we were sick, and see our friends and neighbors!! We miss you all, already!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Challenge Week 6: Our Health

Last Week
Merry Christmas!!! I know it was a crazy week with Christmas and all, so I'm sure I didn't get too many followers who were focused on Organizing their homes last week!! I was in the process of moving so it was more pick up, pack, and clean out than "organizing my home." But for my future home here in Oklahoma, I will have to get back to my normal routine!!
You can even implement some of the basic ideas in last week's post at the beginning of the year, once everything settles down from the holidays, and you are left with a huge cleanup job from all the parties, houseguests, and opening presents!!

This week

We are at the end of our 6 week Being Intentional Challenge!!! I hope you have read through these posts, and have been able to take away some helpful tips and challenges in regards to your relationship with God, marriage, parenting, relationships with others, organization of your home, and then this week, health. Life does get so crazy, and with all the schedules, lists, mundane tasks, errands, and commitments, it is easy to get away from what's important. I have really come to see that if I don't commit to being intentional about something in my life, chances are it will not just happen on its own. That's why it's important as stay at home moms, that we make the important things a priority, and let the other tasks fall into place around the important things, and people, in our lives.
The last area we will be tackling in our 6 week challenge is the area of our health. I don't know about you, but this is a perfect time to focus on health, our bodies, and shedding some weight. Every fall/winter, I get all nostalgic, which means the cold weather and being stuck in the house just makes me want to cook, eat, and repeat. Cook, eat, repeat. I just can never get enough of the comfort food, holiday baking, and warm drinks. And it shows when I can't get into most of my jeans!! So appropriately enough, with the first of the year right around the corner, I'd like to challenge myself to eating healthier, working out regularly, and saying "no" to all the holiday food that's still sitting around. For me, I still have to be reasonable or else I will resist everything, and then follow it with a binge.


I just want to say, that I will be participating in this challenge, and with posting here on this blog, I will have accountability!!! So for anyone who wants to join this last health challenge, just comment on this post, write me on Facebook, or email me at, and we can all keep each other motivated!!
So for 30 days, starting January 1st, we can all make a list of 4 goals. You can write one goal under each of 4 areas: Eating goal, Exercise goal, saying "no" goal, and a Weight Loss goal (if appropriate.) If you are really motivated, you could add more than 1 goal to each area, but for starters, and for something realistic, I would say 1 thing will suffice. So for example, mine will be:

Eating Goal: To practice portion control at each meal, get at least 3 servings fruit/veg a day. Exercise Goal: Do some sort of workout 5 days/week.
Saying "no" Goal:
No soda for 30 days.
Weight Loss Goal:
To lose at least 5 lbs in 30 days.

So for 30 days, this will be my goal list. I may not be perfect each day, but these are my goals. If you would like to join this challenge, then you can leave a comment (as mentioned before) and/or send me your challenge list, and we can encourage each other!! I am also hoping to get back to my Maximize Your Mornings challenge, and this will really help with discipline, having scheduled time to workout, and getting other things done before the kids are up!!

I really hope some people join this challenge, because having accountability always helps with motivation. It is really hard after the holidays to start saying no to all the food that is still lingering in the kitchen; believe me I know!! But I want to start making choices that positively affect my overall health, lower my weight, and make me feel better. I am excited to start going to the YMCA to workout, get back to running, and hopefully take up the 30 day shred with Jillian Michaels that I started last month and didn't get a chance to finish!!

  1. Make a list of 4 goals.
  2. Leave a comment joining the challenge!
  3. Send me your goal list, if desired, so we can keep each other accountable!

If you would like to read any of the previous posts on the Being Intentional Challenge, here are the links. Otherwise, look forward to a new look for my blog, coming soon!!!

Challenge Week 1: Relationship with God
Challenge Week 2: Marriage
Challenge Week 3: Parenting
Challenge Week 4: Relationships with Others
Challenge Week 5: Organization of Your Home

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Judah!!!

I can't believe it's been a whole year since this little guy was born!!! He has been such an amazing blessing to our family. Last year, on Christmas Eve, I was in the hospital meeting him for the first time! And he was only a city boy for the first year of his life. Having a boy has been so much fun, and he will be ready for a whole new country adventure as he learns how to walk and play in the dirt in Oklahoma!!
Happy 1st Birthday, Judah!!!!
Mommy, Daddy, and Sissy love you so much!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Packing and More Packing

We are in the midst of our last few days of craziness!! Actually, as of now, we have 3 days left! We have guests in town back to back, mostly staying with us, lots of packing to do, Christmas parties, getting together with people before we go, and lots of goodbyes!! My parents, my grandparents, my best friend Liz, and Tad's 4 siblings are people who are all visiting us before we go! And in the midst of all of this, my kids have been sick nonstop. Sadly, Maddy has had to miss almost all of her "last" things - last 2 Cubbies (Awana), last Mom2Mom group, last week at church - I feel so bad! But she has been so miserably sick with colds, pink eye, and an ear infection, that she wasn't well enough to even go, let alone be around other kids and give it to them too. Judah has gotten everything after Maddy, pink eye (or some kind of eye infection), a nasty cold, and an ear infection! I feel like we have been at the doctor more than anything else!
And now that we are down to our last few days, with packing and Christmas quickly approaching, I'm thinking to myself, "what were we thinking of moving right after Christmas??" It's enough to pack, move, and say goodbyes, but to add a Christmas letter, Christmas baking, Christmas parties, and the works, it adds a load of stress!!! Though I have chosen to do a lot of stuff I maybe should have put on hold!
We are excited to move! We are counting down the days! I have started getting anxious though, as I say goodbye to good friends, realize the finality of our few days left, and anticipate a completely different lifestyle, especially as we will be living with Tad's family for a short time! This time is bittersweet. We have been ready to move on to another place for awhile. But Chicago has been our home for 8 years. We met here (at Moody Bible Institute), had our first place here, spent our first 5 years of marriage, and had 2 kiddos here. It's the only home "we" have ever known, as a little family.
As our time is winding down, we are grateful for good friends along the way. Some very thoughtful ladies from my old homegroup had a going away party for me, where they got a cake from Sweet Mandy B's, filled a huge gift bag with treats from Trader Joe's (an awesome store that isn't in Oklahoma at all!!! and I will greatly miss) for our long drive, and sent me off with many blessings.
I appreciate the people who have taken the time to come visit us at the end of our time here, to help us pack, watch the kids, and wish us well as we will be moving so far away. Some of our closest friends we will dearly miss, and are glad we got to see at the end of our time in Chicago.

Homegroup going away party
Beautiful cake from Sweet Mandy B's
My best friend from Chicago and her family
My dad and Maddy bonding
My dad and Judah bonding
My mom and Maddy working on Christmas cookies

So with a few more goodbyes, some more packing, 2 nights at the Ritz with our last comp nights, and Tad's 4 siblings coming, we are wrapping things up in Chicago!! This will probably be my last post before we move, though who knows, I may be able to get one more out before we leave!!! Hope your Christmas season is going well!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Challenge Week 5: Organization of our Homes

Last Week

Well, we are already in week 5 of the Being Intentional Challenge!! It has gone by so fast! I hope you have been taking the time to read the different challenges each week, and to put them into practice in some small way in your life. And who knows, it might even start a habit in your life that you can continue on down the road. Last week we talked about relationships. About healing our relationships with people. About loving people. Forgiving people. I will not say it's easy, but I will say it's rewarding and it's what God calls us to do as His saints, loved and forgiven by Him. Call on His Word and His promises!!

This Week

You know, it is a challenge to be a stay-at-home-mom and keep you house neat and clean all the time. If you are a SAHM, you know it just doesn't happen. It might seem like we have all this time and if we are home, how could we not keep a perfectly clean house? But when you have 1, 2, 3 or however many little rugrats running around, in direct opposition to all your cleaning efforts, then you know what I'm talking about!!
And then we have the question of how clean do we need/want to keep our homes. And what is the reason we want our homes to be clean in the first place??
I know for me, a clean house means my heart is at rest. I can relax, calm down, and breath in a clean house. A dirty house makes me restless, irritable, and more impatient! I know this about myself, and I'm not saying it's all good, but it's how I roll. I will say that my home is definitely not clean all the time, not even close!! And so there are things I must let go of, especially during this season with small kids, so that I'm not grumpy throughout the day as they play and make little disasters!!


Since I already blogged about Organized Homemaking at the beginning of this month, I won't repeat myself. There were many good hints, helpful blogs, and different resources mentioned in that post. So to read more on my finds, click here. But there are some other things that I'm finding lately that are helpful, especially as we are getting ready to move, but are still entertaining and having a myriad of houseguests before we leave. I still want my house to be presentable, and walk-thru-able (you like that?), so here are a few hints:

1. Set a goal. I have found that when I look at a huge mound of laundry that needs to be folded, I put it off because it seems like too much. But when I say "every time I walk past it, I will fold 5-10 things," it gets done so much faster, even if I can only get that much done at a time. Or I will set a time. Like I need to finish cleaning the kitchen by 9pm so I can start doing_____. Little goals can help you move along.
2. Do little things that make your life easier. When the kids are in bed, it's a great time to do small things that don't seem to get done when they are awake. At night, I measure out formula for Judah's night/morning bottle. I also make coffee so all I have to do is push the button in the morning. These small things just help my morning go that much smoother because I don't have to spend time doing those small, mundane things as I'm trying to do my morning routine.
3. Enlist little helpers. I'm not always the best at this, but I know that teaching responsibility and delegating little jobs make for a happier home. My daughter is 4 so she is perfectly capable of doing little jobs and cleaning up after herself. Teaching them good little habits like immediately putting shoes/coat away, bringing their own toys back into their bedroom, and clearing their own plates at mealtime not only helps mom out, but it instills a little responsibility in them. Try to make it a game. See how fast they can go. I set little timers for Maddy when her room is a disaster. She will get a 5 minute timer on the microwave for her to make a dent in cleaning her room. That way she isn't overwhelmed with cleaning the whole thing herself, but she is at least making some progress.
4. Make a night to-do list. It doesn't have to be exhausting or grueling. But if we can get some things done when the kids are sleeping, it lightens the load for the next day. Or do your online banking since it's a quiet, easy thing to do at night. I like to blog at night, especially if Tad works the evening shift, since the house is quiet and I get a little "me" time. If you still want to spend that special time with the hubby, then fold laundry while watching a movie together. Do what works for you!
5. Do little things that bless your family. I really love the philosophy of this blog Home Sanctuary because she is striving to do little things that can make a big difference. If you haven't already checked out how to be a Company Girl, this is a good way to be challenged to do something small daily, and to earn points towards winning prizes!! Check it out here!
I like to clean my house at night, because it is refreshing to wake up to a clean living room. When I don't, even my 4 year old notices!! If I clean Maddy's room, she is so blessed and will thank me for doing it. It blesses my husband if I can clear the front area by the door so that when he gets home he can get in the door. When there is trash ready to go out, the stroller, a laundry basket, etc. and he can't even squish through, it's not a very good "welcome home!" If the living room is clear of toys, clothes, trash, food, books, and whatever else accumulates during the day, then it is a blessing to my 11 month old son, because he can crawl all over the place and play in a bigger, more open space. We can even bless our babies!!

So these are just some simple hints, things that I've found that help me in my day. I'm sure when we move and our circumstances and living situation are different, things will change. But for now, in this small apartment, these are things that I've found helpful, and I hope they challenge you too!
So this week, these are more reminders than a firm week-long challenge. But I still do challenge you to pick some of these things, and try to bless your family this week!!

Here's a recap:

  1. Set a goal.
  2. Do little things that make your life easier.
  3. Enlist little helpers.
  4. Make a night to-do list.
  5. Do little things that bless your family.
During this busy season with lots of family get-togethers and parties, we need all the help we can get towards making our lives easier and simpler! When we find good routines and little things that help make our day go smoother, it can help us to rest and find peace in our homes. Have a great week!

Don't forget to check out our first 4 weeks of the Being Intentional Challenge:
Week 1: Our relationship with God
Week 2: Our marriages
Week 3: Our parenting
Week 4: Our relationships with others

Join me next week for our last weekly Challenge #6: Our health!

Beef Stew with Mushrooms

I will just say that I love entertaining. It's in my blood. I love having people over, preparing my house (an excuse to get my house looking beautiful!), planning the meal, and talking over a good dinner with good friends. I can't believe the people we have been getting together with will be changing in a few short days!! We will miss all our good friends!!
This meal is one that I have made on 2 different occasions, and it was a hit both times!! Of course, I will reference my favorite Pioneer Woman here, and if you haven't heard me rant and rave about how much I love Pioneer Woman, then I will just direct you to click on this link so you can find out for yourself how wonderful she is!! And not only do I love her, but I will be moving within hours of her beautiful home in Tulsa, Oklahoma!! I promise you, I will not stalk her. But if I do, you can be sure I will post about it on this blog!!!
So I won't bore you with my version, I will just send you straight to her blog for the recipe:

Beef Stew with Mushrooms

This dish doesn't seem like stew to me at all, probably because I love this recipe and I don't like beef stew. It reminds me more of a good version of stroganoff. The recipe calls for stew meat, which she explains is already-chopped-up-sirloin. This time I got stew meat, but Tad said he liked it a lot better the first time I made it, and we were wondering if I bought a sirloin steak and cut it up myself. You basically brown the meat, then cook up the veggies with the sauce, and add the meat and mushrooms in and let everything simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes. That's what makes this a great dish for entertaining, because once you have that done, then you have 30 to 45 minutes to prepare anything else you're serving. Then you just serve the yummy beef and mushroom goodness over any kind of noodles you want. Mmmmm. I just served a little red leaf lettuce salad with mozzarella on the side, and there you go! Add a little Pineapple Upside Down cake and coffee for dessert, and you're set!!
These were our lovely dinner guests, who we will really miss!! My dear college roommate, Alison, and her new husband, Jeff!!
They are so cute, aren't they??

So if you are huge mushroom fans, and we are, and if you are big beef fans, which, we are, and you love comfort food, which, we do, then try out this meal on a cold, wintery night. You won't be sorry! And as always, I'd love to hear from you if you do!! Or, I'd love to hear your favorite Pioneer Woman recipe!!! Just leave a comment in the comments section!!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Challenge Week 4: Relationships

Last Week
I know these weeks are flying by and getting so busy, but I hope you have a chance to sit down and read these little blog posts about being intentional, so that even though we're busy, we are still focusing on those important areas of our lives. With packing, moving, houseguests for the next 2 weeks, and 2 kids in a small apartment with lots of energy, it's been crazy around here!! Not to mention all the Christmas things I'm trying to get done on top of it all!! But it's been good to try to remember to pray for my kids. To try to spend extra special time with them. To show them that I love them and care for them. I know I haven't been doing enough lately, and it's tough with all we have to do right now, but let's all remember that they are little people with feelings, and they know when we are "too busy for them."
This Week
The next area I want us to be intentional about is the area of relationships with others. We were made to live in community with one another, to bear with one another, and forgive one another. We were made to work together with our different gifts, to build each other up, and to be united as we all work towards the kingdom of God. It all sounds so beautiful, but our world of relationships can get so ugly. All the nit and grit, all the feelings that are left undealt with, the scars, memories of injustices done to us, and the list goes on. It's tough. None of us is immune from people we just plain don't get along with, or family we can't get away from, or people who rub us the wrong way. Or even people who try to abuse us, to ignore us, to make us feel "less than." I'm reminded again this week of the injustices in this world, the situations I forget that people are going through, and how much we can't control.
But God encourages us!!! He gives us promises and truths to hold onto, His Word will never fail us, and we must keep our eyes on Him as we work through these hurdles, lay ourselves on the line, bear our hearts to Him, and let Him work in us a spirit of servanthood and forgiveness.

Live in harmony with one another.
Romans 12:16a

Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.
Romans 14:13

Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.
Romans 15:2

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children, and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:1-2

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21

Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:4

There are so many verses on how we should relate to each other so that we can honor God and be refined by our relationships. Pick a verse and memorize it, repeating it to yourself throughout the week as you encounter people, especially those who may get on your nerves or aren't the easiest to be around (even if it's your husband!!!)

We all probably have at least one relationship that could use a little (who are we kidding, a lot!) of work. Maybe it's a broken relationship that needs forgiveness. Maybe it's someone you are around all the time, but you don't speak kindly to them. Maybe it's someone that you don't treat very nice, and can change how you interact with them. My challenge is that you pick just one person and take a step towards healing. Pray over the verse you have chosen to memorize and put the person's name in the verse. Such as, "Bear with _____ and forgive whatever grievances you may have against _____ . Forgive _____ as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3:13) This week, work through the issues you have with someone. Don't put it off, leaving your ill feelings to take root and grow into bitterness, anger, and sin. Don't let Satan get that foothold. It's gone on long enough. It's time to deal with it now.
Get on your knees. Spend your time with God today dealing with one relationship. Heal it. Make a phonecall. Write an email. Forgive them. Forgiveness is a conscious choice, not an emotional feeling. It is hard. You might not feel like it. But with God's help, we can choose to forgive, and continually give it over to God for healing. I would recommend you to read Choosing Forgiveness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss if you would like some further reading on forgiveness. It is an excellent read.
This is a great time of year to start the healing process. A time where we will see and be around family that we might not otherwise see. People we might choose not to see the rest of the year. We might go home and see friends who might not be as much a part of our lives anymore. There might be buried feelings. Don't let this time pass by without intentionally making one of those relationships right. Satan has a way of lying to us by getting us to subconsciously put off dealing with our feelings and grudges. By the time we realize it, we have unresolved anger, hatred, or grudges that can go on for years. It's ugly. Don't even wait to make it a New Year's Resolution. Do it this week!

So, here's a recap of this week's challenge:
  1. Memorize a verse to challenge you in the area of relationships.
  2. Begin the healing process with one person this week.
  3. Pray over your verse and insert their name.
  4. Take action! Pray for them daily, contact them, resolve forgiveness in your heart.
If you have just jumped on the Being Intentional Challenge, here are the links to the first 3 weeks of challenges!!
Week 1: Our relationship with God
Week 2: Our marriages
Week 3: Parenting

As always, I'd love to hear from anyone who is reading, participating, or just popped by the site!! Leave a comment, or email me at!

Join me next week for Challenge #5: Organization of our homes!!

Time for Christmas

As I have been writing and going through the "Being Intentional Challenge" (we are on week 3), I have been encouraged be intentional in different areas to focus on the important people and things in my life. I hope you find some practical tips for being more intentional this Christmas season in this post, and things to incorporate into your family holiday traditions.

Every year, it seems like it's a challenge to remember the "reason for the season." That sounds so cliche, and we hear it so much every year, but what does it really mean? How do we know if we remembered Christ more than we celebrated the culture's worship of material things, the obsession with the perfect family get-together, getting everything checked off the master Christmas to-do list, and finishing all our Christmas crafts and baking? It's hard to tell, and it's different for everyone. I don't think there's one pat answer that will satisfy that question, and I don't think there is anything particularly wrong with celebrating the holidays with baking, crafts, get-togethers, and presents.
I have come to really like the tradition of Advent because it is the month long remembrance of Christ, daily digging into His Word and setting time aside to read the Word, not just on Christmas day, but all throughout the season.
If you don't know anything about Advent I would encourage you to read about it here. This is a great informative read on the history and celebration of Advent. I would especially encourage you to read under the heading "Celebrating Advent" for some practical ways to include your children in worshiping God and setting aside time during this busy season to focus on Christ.
Our church, New Life Community Church (Lakeview location), chose to celebrate Advent this year with a special reading each Sunday during service with the lighting of a candle, and they gave out some Advent Scripture readings for the entire 4 weeks to read at home. They encouraged us to light a candle each night, to be quiet, silence our homes, and do our Advent reading and really intentionally focus on the season. I like this more than just reading Luke 2 on Christmas morning before we open gifts, because it is a daily shift in our thinking, busy lives, running around, and getting things done. I will include the whole Advent season's Scripture readings, even though we are about 2 weeks in.

First Week of Advent
Starts Sunday, November 28
Sunday: Romans 13:11-14
Monday: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
Tuesday: Mark 13:33-37
Wednesday: John 1:1-5
Thursday: John 1:6-9
Friday: Jeremiah 33:14-16
Saturday: Isaiah 60:19-22

Second Week of Advent
Starts Sunday, December 5
Sunday: Romans 15:4-13
Monday: Psalm 43:3-6
Tuesday: Psalm 27:1-4
Wednesday: Psalm 119:105-106
Thursday: John 12:35-36
Friday: Ephesians 5:6-14
Saturday: 1 Peter 2:5-9

Third Week of Advent
Starts Sunday, December 12
Sunday: Isaiah 60:1-3
Monday: 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
Tuesday: 1 John 1:4-7
Wednesday: John 3:16-21
Thursday: Isaiah 40:1-11
Friday: John 9:1-7
Saturday: Luke 3:1-6

Fourth Week of Advent
Starts Sunday, December 19
Sunday: Isaiah 11:1-10
Monday: Zephaniah 3:14-17
Tuesday: Matthew 1:18-25
Wednesday: Luke 2:8-20
Thursday: Matthew 4:14-16
Friday: Isaiah 2:1-5
Saturday: Luke 2:25-33

In Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas, Sharon Jaymes reinterprets 1 Corinthians 13 with the following:
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights, and shiny glass balls but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator.
If I slave away int he kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals, and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.
If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home, and give all that I have to charity but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.
If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties, and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.
Love stops the cooking to hug the child.
Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.
Love is kind, though harried and tired.
Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.
Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.
Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

If all our busy striving leaves us empty, angry, exhausted, spent (literally), and proud then that's a pretty good indication that we have missed the point. We should each look inside ourselves this Christmas and examine our own hearts. Ask God to show you where you could make some changes, set aside some more time, and serve others this Christmas. Start some new traditions in your family that include serving others through giving your time, money, or material things to help those in need.
One idea is each year to give your children a specific dollar amount that is to be spent on someone else less fortunate, and as they get older, let them choose what they would like to do. Or have your young children choose one thing from their toybox that they would like to give to someone who couldn't afford toys for Christmas. Or participate in Operation Christmas Child by building a box for those in need. You can volunteer at a shelter or food pantry as a family to serve together.
I would just encourage you to think outside the box. Get uncomfortable. Do something that isn't the most "fun" or "Christmassy" but will make a difference in someone else's life. Let's teach our children that Christmas isn't a time to get all our wants satisfied. It's not all about "me." It's about Christ being born, and it's a time to model Christ to our dying world by serving them out of our abundance, even if we feel like we don't have a lot to give.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to let this Christmas pass me by to direct my children to worship our Savior, and to think of others. Let's glorify God this season!!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pumpkin Soup and Cranberry Scones

(Velvety Pumpkin Soup with Blue Cheese and Bacon from

It's the holiday season, and I am in baking, cooking mode! All I want to do is fill my house with Christmas cheer and make comfort food, baked goods, try new recipes, and deliver cookies to friends, family, and neighbors! I love this time of year! Which is why come January I will be posting about weight loss resolutions/goals, but until then, let's eat on!
For Thanksgiving this year, the kids and I joined my college roommate Alison, and her family (who are like a second family to me) while Tad worked. I made this delectable Pumpkin Soup to bring to their house, and I made it last year for Thanksgiving as well. Last year I made it as an appetizer to the main feast. This year it was just part of the main meal. Tad loves it!! The blue cheese just melts into the warm soup when you garnish it, and the bacon gives it that extra crunch and taste that put it over the edge. Here is the actual recipe, but if you click on the link it will bring you straight to the recipe on and there you can print it in notecard format or regular format. Enjoy!

Velvety Pumpkin Soup with Bacon and Blue Cheese
Serves 6

2 (15 oz.) cans pumpkin
1 Quart chicken stock
1 cup half-and-half
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup molasses
2 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
6 slices bacon
1 cup blue cheese crumbles

1. Stir together the pumpkin, chicken stock, half-and-half, shallot, molasses, butter, pumpkin pie spice, salt, and cayenne pepper in a large stockpot over low heat. Simmer 10 minutes.
2. Put the bacon in a large skillet and cook over med-high heat until crispy. Drain on paper towels, cool and crumble.
3. Ladle soup into bowls, top with blue cheese and bacon.

(Buttermilk Scones from

This recipe came about because I had some leftover buttermilk on hand, and I knew that some recipes for scones had buttermilk. So I found this recipe on and adapted it per some of the comments on the recipe, and added some of my own flair. They were so good and light, and we ended up giving some of these babies with some homemade chocolate chip cookies to Maddy's class teachers. She was suppose to tell them, "eat the scones warm with butter and jam." I'll include the recipe again, the link to the recipe, and then my notes and adaptations.

Buttermilk Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbs. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 1/4 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add butter and buttermilk and stir until soft dough forms.
3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press dough into a rectangle about 3/4 in thick and 4 inches wide. Cut into 8 equal pieces.
4. Place scones on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 min. or until golden brown.

Notes: I did 3 things different.
1. I took the advice of others and instead of cutting out the dough, I just simply dropped the dough onto a baking sheet into tablespoons or a little larger, and made small scones. They were small, light, and turned out perfect! And it was much easier than rolling it out, forming, and cutting. That cut out step 3.
2. I added dried cranberries, but you could add anything really. Cheese, chocolate chips, other dried fruits. I think I will be making these with chocolate chips in the near future!!
3. I added a pinch of sugar to the top of each scone. The scones don't have sugar in them, and this added a little sweetness, as did the butter and homemade strawberry jam we added to them!

Hope this adds to your already overflowing list of recipes to try this Holiday season! Happy baking/cooking!!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Unexpected Oklahoma Trip

We went down to Oklahoma in February and Grandma, Pops, and all the kids got to meet Judah! They knew we were moving down there, and we decided we wouldn't visit again until we made the big move. Well, in October, Tad's Grandma Davis died and we decided to go down for the funeral. About a month later, his grandpa died as well, but we couldn't make another trip. So in tribute to them are a couple pictures of them with the kids. They were great people, and raised 6 great kids who all walk with the Lord and have beautiful families with children and grandchildren. We will miss them, but we know they are in heaven together, and would have been married for 65 years recently!

Grandpa Davis in February with the kiddos! Maddy loved when he would "moo" like a cow, and often imitated him!
Grandma Davis always spoke her mind. She was sweet with the kids, and loved holding them!
Hello, Oklahoma. My soon-to-be homeland!!!
Taking a walk down Tad's family's street with the dog in tow. Peaceful. Quiet. Nature. I loved it!!! And so did Maddy! Walking that dog like a pro!!
She had to stop and inspect every bug, grasshopper, anything she saw. Such a city girl, about to be country girl!! At least she's not afraid to get dirty!
Walking down the street with Grandma. Precious.
Our future home!! Well, Tad's parents house. But we will be living there while we get settled, Tad gets used to his new job, and we find our own place!!
My beautiful sister-in-law, Lydia. She is 17 and studying Cosmetology while she finishes highschool. She just got her driver's license and works at the local grocery store bakery. She is adorable. I love her!!!
Pops and Judah. Chillin'.
This was one of the best things we did while we were down there for our short trip!! Their Pastor and his wife have lots of animals and land and let us come up and see their chickens, cows, horse, goats, and let Maddy feed some of the animals!!! She had a blast!! Here is Judah trying to decide what he thinks about chickens.
We brought apples that had fallen from his parent's apple trees and fed them to the chickens and cows. They were happy.
Well, hello there.

Aunt Anna and Judah checking out the horse.
Here is my country boy! Looks like he'll fit in just fine!

Is this tractor big enough for him?

She was lovin' it!
Maddy has always loved to feed any kind of animal. Dogs. Cats. Her fish. Anything. But here she is feeding the goats and wasn't afraid even though there was one that was pretty feisty. She actually befriended him and got him to eat the food that she had.

Oh yeah. And this place was right around the corner from where we will be living. You can actually see the sky in Oklahoma. The sunrises. The sunsets. The stars. Things I have been deprived of for 8 long years!
Tons of family was there for the funeral, and this is the girls table eating their food!
Tad's cousin Trevor holding Tucker (who Maddy calls Chucker) and Aunt Anna holding Judah.
Adorable. They will be best friends. And have I mentioned how excited I am to be living closer to Trevor's wife Julie? Yeah, super excited. She might have to kick me out of her house.
This was so precious. Judah crawled over and was helping to feed Tucker his bottle!
Sunset from their grandparent's porch.
Everyone pretending to sleep on the way home.
Right outside the church for the funeral.
Maddy, Aunt Naomi, and Aunt Lydia.
Anna and I.
Maddy and Uncle Nathan.
Drivin' and being cool.
My beautiful sister-in-law again!! I just love this girl, and am so excited to be living close to her and being able to be more a part of her life!

Playing in the backyard!

So, with our move just 3 weeks away, we are getting really excited, as is Tad's family. We have lots of visitors coming in the next couple weeks to help us pack and to say goodbye. Tad's job is getting lined up and his future (hopefully) job has been contacting him and they sound really interested. His application and resume have been sent in, and he had a phone interview. So we are just waiting to hear!

Our trip to Oklahoma was so good. It was so confirming and really gave us a peace and an excitement for our move. We looked at houses a little bit, Tad talked to his contact for his new job, and we looked at the place like it was going to be home. I will keep you posted about how we are doing, and will actually have more time to blog once we are down there and I don't have a whole house to take care of by myself (for a short time!). We will of course be helping out at Tad's parent's house, and I hope to blog more about cooking for a big family, seeing how a big family works, and homeschooling while we live there.

Someone asked if I would keep my blog once we moved, and my response to that is...of course!! I look forward to it taking a turn towards more country-ness and I hope you stick around to see our lives change from fast-paced city life to a hopefully more calm slower-paced country life. We are excited!!!