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A Heart For Home: September 2008

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bundle of Joy

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Birth Details and Photos

Jonathan was born on September 23rd at 3:54 PM. He arrived 4 weeks early and was only 4 pounds 14 ounces when he was born. He is 18 1/5 inches long.

This time around my labor was very quick, only about 2 hours of hard contractions 2-4 minutes apart. What a change from Emahry's birth, 27 hours total with 25 hours of contractions 2-4 minutes apart.

Jonathan's quick entrance and our 45 minute drive to the hospital almost combined for a roadside birth. Thankfully we pulled up to the entrance as his head began to crown. Tim wheeled me to the birthing center and we were rushed into a triage room at 3:45. Nine minutes later Jonathan was born. Our midwife didn't make it to the hospital in time, so a doctor who was giving a tour of the facilities actually handled the birth. The cord was around Jonathan's neck, so the doctor quickly clamped it and Tim cut it. Then Tim caught the new baby and handed him to me. I think it takes more time for us to tell the story than it did for it to actually happen.

A few minutes later, we were wheeled into our room. Jonathan's breathing was a little fast, so the nurses began to monitor him. He also had some trouble keeping his body temperature up, no surprise since he has so little fat. He ended up needing an IV for fluids to help get his sugar levels up. He also had to be under a heating lamp for a few hours. Other than that, he was completely healthy, just very, very small.

After a few hours in the nursery, he was brought back to our room to nurse and spend the night with us. His IV was removed around 3 AM. He stayed with us for the rest of our time in the hospital.

We're now back home and Jonathan is doing great. He is very slightly jaundice, so he's wrapped up in a blue light blanket. This is mostly just a precautionary measure since he is so small. His levels have already dropped, so hopefully we'll just have to deal with this for a few more days.

(I've finished Jonathan's complete birth story. Go here to read it.)

Here are some photos of the "little guy." I'm sure there will be many more to come.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Living Simply Saturday ~ Involving Our Children

I know that being a parent of a small child can be overwhelming in many ways. There's a constant balance between spending quality time with your children and still maintaining the house and other responsibilities.
Tim & I have found that the best way to simplify the tug of war between our daily tasks and spending time with our daughter is to involve her in everything we do. Not only does this allow us to complete our work, but we are also teaching her at the same time.
Yes, involving children in chores takes time, but we've found that it's much less stressful than trying to get everything done while she's napping or occupying herself. As you involve your children, you'll also be amazed at what even a very young child can do. Emahry is only 16 months old and can already help with the laundry by placing dirty clothes in the hamper and placing washed clothes into the dryer. She can also rinse silverware in the sink and hold the dustpan when we sweep the floor.
Here are some photos to give you some more ideas of how you can involve your children and simplify your life.

Emahry helping Tim fix a leak under our kitchen sink.

Helping with the dishes is one of her favorite daily tasks. Emahry loves to help whenever water is involved. She especially loves when we finish with the dishes because she gets to rinse off her hands and even her feet. For those of you who may eat at our house, don't worry, her feet never come in contact with the dishes and the sink is washed out after "feet time."

While Tim & I taped the drywall seams, Emahry worked right alongside us "taping" with the drywall tape's peel off backing.

Do you have any suggestions or thought about how to get children more involved in daily life? Please leave a comment to share your ideas.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Announcing Baby Jonathan

Jonathan was born on Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008 after only 2 1/2 hours of active labor. He was 4 weeks early and weighed in at only 4 pounds 14 ounces. He is 18 1/2 inches long. After a little trouble transitioning, he is doing fine and we are now back home. More details to come. We'll get pictures up as soon as we can. Please, continue to keep us all in your thoughts & prayers as we take care of tiny Jonathan & help Emahry transition to life as a big sister.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Summer Squash Soup

Our friends, Seth & Kristi, introduced us to this deliciously creamy soup earlier in the summer. So, when I saw baskets of yellow squash at the farmers market last Saturday, I knew just what they'd be transformed into once I got them home. Here are some in progress photos and a link to the original recipe.

Just a Note ~ We added a chopped bell pepper and 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic in with the onion and butter.

The pot of veggies after they've cooked down.

Pouring creamy soup into a large bowl after blending.

The finished product with a little ground pepper & fresh parsley. (I didn't have the ingredients or the time to make the parsley mint pistou, but if you have time it really is very good.)

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Friday, September 19, 2008

Garden Goodness!

Tim's been busy in the garden since early spring and it's really paid off. We've been eating out of and sharing from the garden all summer. We've canned so much spaghetti sauce, that we've had to get more jars (thanks to Freecycle). Now with our growing season winding down, Emahry & I have been enjoying one of our garden favorites ~ cantaloupe. Here are some photos of Emahry with her "just my size" cantaloupes.

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Frugal Friday ~ Eating Out for Less

My husband, Tim came home one day last week after being gone all morning with classes. I asked him if he wanted lunch and he said he had already eaten. I later found out he had eaten in our local university's cafeteria.

Most larger universities allow non-students or students without meal plans to eat at very reasonable prices. They also have a wide variety of foods and are all-you-can-eat. Tim went into the cafeteria, after paying $6.14, filled his tray and sat down at an empty table to eat and study. I never did find out how many times he refilled his tray, but I'm sure he got his money's worth :). He said the next time we go out for lunch, we should definitely go there.

Here's a sample menu from our local university. This is just the list of special items for this particular day. There is also a lengthy list of items available everyday. Yes, this is all in one place at one time. I'm getting hungry just reading it.

BREAKFAST- Ham, Egg & Cheese Croissant, Corn Beef Hash, French Toast

PETE'S ZA PIE -Steak Lover's Pizza


SOUP - Hearty Beef, New England Clam Chowder, Ginger & Carrot

GOLD 'N' CRISPY - Clam Strips, Hush Puppies, French Fries, Fish & Chips

MARKETPLACE DESSERTS - Cookies, Assorted Desserts

ROASTERY - Roasted Strip Loin, Peppercorn Sauce, Garlic Roasted Potatoes, Succotash, Broccoli, Pork Chops Provencale, Seafood Newburg, Lemon Dill Rice, Spinach, Peas & Mushrooms, Gravy

VEGGIE PATCH - Chef's Choice of Entrees, Broccoli, Corn, Baked Potato, Baked Sweet Potato, Cheese Sauce

LOTSA PASTA - Rotini, Ziti, Chunky Sausage Sauce

BISTRO - Beef-A-Roni, Baha Chicken, Falafel, Pita Bread, Tzatziki Sauce, French Baked Potato, Orzo with Garlic & Herbs, Garlic Green Beans, Cauliflower Paprikash, Gravy, Fried Chicken, BBQ Ribs, Fresh Catch, Macaroni & Cheese, Potato Salad, Chuckwagon Corn, Low Fat Coleslaw

S.S. GRILLERS - Santa Fe Chicken

WOK 'N' ROLL - Double Cooked Pork, Brown Rice

BISTRO DESSERTS - Mint Chocolate Chip Bars, Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, Tiramisu, Carrot Cake, Sugar Free Pie

Our local university also has a children's price and kids under 5 eat for free! So, if you live near a large college or university check out their dining services for an inexpensive, all-you-can-eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

For more Frugal Friday Ideas head over to Biblical Womanhood.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Slow Cooking Thursday

We tried this recipe for the first time yesterday. We combine a few different recipes to make it "ours." So here's our revised recipe.

Creamy Crockpot Chicken & Brown Rice

1 cup uncooked brown rice
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 - 14 oz. package of frozen broccoli florrets, thawed (chopped finer if you have reluctant veggie eaters)
1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
*3 cups homemade condensed cream of chicken soup (recipe follows)
*1 - 7 oz. can of sliced mushrooms, chopped
2 cups water
salt & pepper
2 lbs. of chicken pieces, boneless & skinless** (about 4-6 pieces)

1. Mix all ingredients, but chicken, and place in crockpot.
2. Put chicken on top.
3. Cover & cook on low 6-8 hours.

*You can replace the homemade soup and mushrooms for 1 - 10.5 oz. can cream of chicken soup & 1 - 10.5 oz. can cream or mushroom soup.

**We didn't have any boneless & skinless on hand so I just put the pieces in as they were. When it was finished cooking I quickly picked the chicken & mixed it into the rice.

Homemade Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup (thanks Tammy!)
yeild: 3 cups (about 2 cans)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp parsley
dash of paprika
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 c milk

1. In medium saucepan, combine broth, seasonings, & 1/2 c. milk. Bring to a boil.
2. In a bowl, whisk 1 c. milk & flour. Add to boiling mixture & continue whisking briskly until mixture boils & thickens.

Can be frozen in 1 1/2 cup portions to use in recipes that call for a can of cream of chicken soup.


For more slow cooking recipes, head on over to Diary of a Stay at Home Mom.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We're Ready, Baby... Well Maybe Not

With less than 4 1/2 weeks until our due date, we're starting to get really excited for baby Jonathan's debut. However, it seems that the closer we get, the more there is to get done.

A few nights ago I realized that if he happens to come early he might very well be coming home wrapped in a pink receiving blanket. Since, this is only our second baby and our first boy, all the baby necessities we have are pink and purple.

With our daughter we knew we'd be having a baby shower so we registered at a couple different stores. We purposefully registered for some gender neutral items so that we would be able to use them for the next baby no matter the gender. However, once people find out you're having a little girl it is very hard to get them to pass up the pink for the green or yellow you registered for. So, almost all of our baby items are in various shades of pink and purple.

We have been generously given 3 large totes of boys' clothes (thanks Christy!), but most of them are 3 months and up, so for now it looks as though we'll be doing laundry every day to keep the few yellow and green outfits clean. No one will know if he wears pink at home, will they?

Edited to add: I just found 2 yellow & green receiving blankets and one of the receiving blankets you get from the hospital, so don't worry, we won't be bringing Jonathan home in pink. :)

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Well, today is our big once a month shopping day. We're a few days late this month, but somehow we ended up with extra last time, so we've been eating out of the freezer for the past week or so. Now that we've made enough room, we're heading to the grocery store.

This month I've decided to plan out breakfasts and lunches as well as dinners, mainly because I've noticed that lunch has become a little hectic with Tim back in school. Hopefully, having a plan will make our mornings a little less hurried.

B – (E) cereal, eggs, banana, (T & A) cereal, fruit, & yogurt
L – (T) egg salad pita, (A & E) Papa & Meme’s
D – Crock-pot Ratatouille

B – (E) cereal, eggs, banana, (T & A) cereal, fruit, & yogurt
L – (T) egg salad pita, (A) peanut butter & banana pita, cheese, carrots, (E) pita, applesauce, cooked carrots
D – Steak stir-fry & brown Rice

B – (E) cereal, eggs, banana, (T & A) eggs, fruit, & yogurt
L – turkey burgers & salad
D – yellow squash soup & no knead bread

B – (E) cereal, eggs, banana, (T & A) cereal, fruit, & yogurt
L – (T) egg salad pita, (A) peanut butter & banana pita, cheese, carrots, (E) pita, applesauce, cooked mixed veggies
D – Creamy Crock-pot chicken, broccoli, brown rice,

B – (E) cereal, eggs, banana, (T & A) muffins, fruit, & yogurt
L – pack BLTs for trip home from our midwife appointment
D – spaghetti & meatballs, salad

B – (E) cereal, eggs, banana, (T & A) eggs, fruit, & yogurt
L - raw veggie pizza with pesto sauce
D - Pan-seared tilapia, rice, veggies

B – (E) cereal, eggs, banana, (T & A) eggs, fruit, & yogurt
L - Not sure yet, we're normally out and about on Sunday
D - Small group, Crock-pot Swedish meatballs
What's on your menu for this week?
Check out other meal plans at I'm an Organizing Junkie.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Being Real

I recently read a blog post that made me take a look at how I respond and portray myself to others. Here is a brief snippet from that post. Please visit Amy's Humble Musings to read the rest of her thoughts.

"The path of the Christian who carries her cross is difficult (in whatever occupation she finds herself, motherhood isn’t the epitome of hardship), and I don’t do anyone any favors by pretending it isn’t. It is better to say, consider the cost. It is better to say, it is only by grace. It is better to say, I am weak and the Lord is strong. I don’t do anyone any favors by hiding my failure and sin."
It is so important to be real with others, but sometimes it’s just so much easier to pretend we have it all together. However, by pretending we're something we're not we actually deceive and discourage others. No one wants to be around someone who’s perfect.

Not only do we deceive others by our mask of perfection, but we deceive ourselves. As it says in Galatians 6:2-3, "Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself."

I've heard this concept of being real with others referred to as the blessing of mediocrity. Letting others see our shortfalls allows them to relate to us and accept their own limitations. Only once we have acknowledged our weaknesses can we seek to overcome them by the strength of God given to us through the Holy Spirit.

So, the next time you're tempted to pretend like your life is perfect, remember that the person you're talking to might really need to hear that someone else has bad days when the laundry piles up, and dinner gets burned; days when plans fail and expectations are disappointed. Decide instead to be real and to encourage by making yourself vulnerable, only then can we truly bear each other's burdens and help build others up in the image of Christ.

photo © Michael Jastremski for CC:Attribution-ShareAlike

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Living Simply Saturday ~ Life Without Television

Our family has been living without a T.V. for about 2 years. I think this is one of the best ways we have simplified our lives. Not having a television not only frees up time to do more important things, it also frees up space in our home. Just think of being able to arrange furniture without the T.V. stand or entertainment cabinet, or without having to worry about where the cable connection is located.

I'm not saying that everything on television is bad or that watching T.V. every once in a while is a waste of time. There are lots of great eduational programs out there, but we've discovered that we can find most of the same information on the Internet or at our local library. If you're family isn't interested in getting rid of your television why don't you try a T.V. free day or weekend. See what other things you can come up with to do together as a family.

For more great ways to simplify you life visit Keeper of the Home.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

5 Reasons I Love Our Little House

When I say little house, I mean it. In total our house is 936 square feet--smaller than the one bedroom apartment we use to live in. Living in a small space does have its disadvantages & there are definitely things we'll change as our family grows. However, right now I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. So, here are 5 Reasons I Love Our Little House.

#1 ~ It's easy to clean. With a total of five rooms, I can completely clean our house, top-to-bottom in a couple of hours.

#2 ~ It forces me to be organized. In a little house having a few things out of place makes a huge difference.

#3 ~ It's easy to keep track of our daughter, Emahry. During the day, we shut the bedroom doors. This means Emahry's almost always in the livingroom, although she does migrate to the kitchen and bathroom occasionally.

#4 ~ It helps us from becoming too materialistic. When you only have two closets and very limited storage space you are forced to keep only what you need or what you really love.

# 5 ~ It keeps us close. Literally and figuratively. We spend a lot of time together as a family instead of having each person in a different room by themselves. Even when we're not doing something together, we're more often than not in the same room. This reason alone is enough for me to love our little house.

Do you have any tips for living in a small space? Tell me about them by leaving a comment to this post.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Wonderful World of Hand-Me-Downs!

We have some great friends and it just so happens that one of the families we absolutely love has a daughter a few years older than Emahry (you guys know who you are). So, when we stopped by to visit last weekend we ended up leaving with two huge bags of "new" clothes for Emahry. Well, tonight Emahry & I finally got to go through the bags, it was better than Christmas (no messy wrapping paper on the floor). We are now well on our way to completing Emahry's fall/winter wardrobe.

Needless to say, this shirt is my favorite. In case you can't see it the shirt says,
"I Love My Mommy."

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Saturday, September 6, 2008

I'm a Home Keeper

An idea came to me this morning as I was cleaning up from breakfast. I wonder who first used the term homemaker? I've always used the term to describe someone who stays home to take care of the house, children, etc.

As I carried dirty dishes into the kitchen, the thought dawned on me that that the term homemaker is a little deceptive. When I think of making something it implies to me a one time action, but taking care of a home and all that it entails is definitely not a one time deal. I think that is probably why Paul wrote in Titus 2:5, that the older women are to teach the younger women to be "keepers at home" (KJV) or "to be busy at home" (NIV).

I think it is very easy for stay-at-home moms to become frustrated with the constant chores and responsibilities of daily life. It is true that our job is never ending; no matter how many times you do laundry, more clothes will get dirty and no matter how many times you sweep the kitchen floor, little feet will track in dirt and little hands will spill the remainder of their afternoon snack. In the end, as long as you are doing the job it doesn't matter if you refer to yourself as a homemaker or home keeper. But somehow understanding my role as a home keeper makes the pile of dirty dishes on what was my clean kitchen counter seem a little more manageable.

So to all of you other home keepers out there, keep up the good work of being busy at home.

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Children are a Blessing!

We've been parents for almost 16 months now, and while it's been more difficult than we expected it's also much more rewarding.

It's hard to believe that our second bundle of joy will be here in just about 6 weeks. Lots of things will be trial and error when Jonathan gets here, like tandem nursing and having 2 children in our bedroom at night. However, there are a couple things we know for sure. First, we know that children are a gift from God. Not only does He tell us (Psalm 127:3), but it's reinforced every time Emahry looks at us and says "Da-da" or "Ma-ma" & blows us kisses or when she hugs us tight around the neck and pats our back with her tiny hands. Second, we know that we can't possible be the parents we need to be without the grace, strength, & wisdom of our Father. I love the fact that we are promised again and again throughout scripture that God is our strength (Exodus 15:2, Nehemiah 8:10, Psalm 118:14, Isaiah 40:31, & Philippians 4:13 just to name a few). I'm glad I don't have to lean on my own strength as a mom, especially as a soon-to-be mom of two under 18 months old.

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Whole Wheat Pitas

A few nights ago, the three of us made whole wheat pitas together. We've made this recipe a few times and we absolutely love it. We had a lot of fun mixing, kneading, & rolling out the dough. Emahry even helped with her new rolling pin from Aunt Kate. The pitas were delicious, and we all ate some before calling it a night and heading to bed. Here's the recipe if you're interested. It looks a little long, but it's really very easy. The recipe is from Tammy's Recipes. Check out her blog for lots of other great recipes.

Description: Soft whole wheat round breads with a pocket inside!
Yield: 8 whole pita pockets (or 16 halves)
Preparation Time: 30-45 minutes (faster using bread machine!)
Rising Time: 1 ½ hours
Cooking Time: 4-5 minutes per batch

1 1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)1 tablespoon oil1 teaspoon salt2 teaspoons sugar2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour1/3 cup gluten (May use whole wheat bread flour in place of the whole
wheat flour and gluten.)
Allyson’s notes: I just substituted regular whole wheat flour for the gluten
& they turned out great!
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

1. In a large bowl, combine first 4 ingredients. Add the gluten and 1 cup of the flour, along with the yeast, and stir to mix. Add remaining flour and knead to make a soft dough. (Add additional flour if necessary during kneading.)

Alternately, if you have a bread machine, you can put the ingredients in the pan in the order listed and use the dough cycle. Skip to step 3 if using your bread machine! :)

2. Put your dough into a bowl, lightly oil the top, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise, until almost double (about an hour). I like to turn my oven on for a minute or two, then turn it off, and let the dough rise in there, since our house is cool.

3. Punch dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a 6- or 7-inch circle.

4. As you roll the rounds, set them aside on a lightly floured cutting board, cookie sheet, or non-terry tea towel and cover loosely with a towel. Let rise for about 25-35 minutes, until slightly puffy. (The rounds will still be thin though.)

5. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place rounds side-by-side, onto a wire cooling rack. Place rack in the middle of the oven. Bake for 4-5 minutes, until puffy and just slightly browned. (If bread is too browned, it will be dry and not pliable.)

6. Remove rack from oven and immediately wrap/layer pita breads in a damp towel (not terry), to soften. Allyson’s notes: Lay a damp towel on the counter, place pitas directly from oven onto the towel & cover with another damp towel. Continue baking the remaining pitas, layering them between damp towels as soon as they're baked. Allow breads to completely cool.

7. Cut pita breads in half, or split the top edge, and fill as desired.

8. Store pitas in a plastic zipper bag in the fridge for a few days, or place in the freezer for longer storage. To re-warm pitas, wrap them in a damp towel and then wrap in foil. Place in a warm (200-250 degree) oven for about 20 minutes.

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