Friday, March 28, 2008

We Believe in Babies!

 Today, my kids (all nine of them) and I sat in front of the computer to watch home birth videos on You Tube. We were all smiling and talking, and my kids had to ask me why I was crying now and then. For a moment, time stood still, and I felt a rush of joy; my children value babies! 

This was a wonderful epiphany for me. It made me realize that the attitude of welcoming children in our home has been passed on by my husband and I. We have not sat our children down and told them that they should all have big families, or given lectures on birth control. What we have done, is joyfully look forward to the birth of every child, with excitement and eagerness. We have asked their opinions on baby names, have been very open about the birthing process, and even invited our 13 year old daughter to our last birth. (All the other kids burst in right after the baby was placed in my arms!)

Today's society seems to only value children in a "controlled" environment. As long as they're perfectly clean, perfectly quiet, and perfectly angelic, they are worth having around. And they are only valued in small amounts.

Whenever I go anywhere with all my kids, I can hear the collective breath intake as we enter the room. But because my older ones help with the little ones, and because of practiced patience, they are usually the best behaved children in any establishment. It is my opinion that children of big families learn to not be so demanding of their parents attention-- they have to learn to wait their turns for just about everything. They learn that their brothers and sisters care about them, and they can create close relationships.

Now, I want to state plainly that I realize God has a different plan for every family. Not all families should be the same size! What I am saying, is that children are worth cherishing-- that babies are a blessing, and that children pick up our attitudes regarding bringing new spirits into the world.

For us, I am so thankful that we have a "quiver-full." And I am so grateful that my children know that we love and welcome each and every one.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Gratitude

Painting by Greg Olsen

 I am so grateful for this time of year!

I love being reminded of all that God has done for me. I am thankful for clear, blue skies, the smell of blossoms lingering in the air and the gentle breezes. I love seeing my children with grass stains on their jeans (the boys) and flowers in their hair (the girls). I love how the little ones are constantly plucking new blossoms for me, so I can place them in a paper cup full of water on my kitchen counter. Is there any smell anywhere that could rival the dripping-sweet scent of orange blossoms in the groves?! Mmmmmmmm...

Most of all, I am thankful to my Father in Heaven for the gift of His precious Son. He lives! And because He lives, I can have my family forever. What a wonderful, amazing gift...

"I Stand All Amazed"
by Charles H. Gabriel

I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me.
I tremble to know that for me he was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died.

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

I think of his hands pierced and bleeding to pay the debt!
Such mercy, such love and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.

Oh, it is wonderful that he should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

Breakfast Casserole for Easter Morning

Yum! This is a great dish to prepare the night before, and pop in the oven on a busy morning-- it would work great for the up-and-coming Easter morning. You can serve it with toast, bagels, hashbrowns, grits... You get the idea!

(At the end of the recipe, I have some ideas for variations on this casserole. I think it's fun to try different combinations!)

Hearty Breakfast Casserole

1/3 cup milk or cream
 12 eggs, beaten
 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
 1/4 pound shredded cheddar
 4 slices diced, uncooked bacon
 1/4 pound sliced mushrooms
 salt and pepper as needed

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and pour into a greased 9"x13" casserole dish. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle extra grated cheese on top to melt before it cools. Variations:
  • breakfast sausage, onions, green peppers, and mushrooms
  • diced cooked ham and green onions
  • chorizo (Mexican sausage), green chilies, cubed potatoes, and Jack cheese

Peanutbutter-Chocolate Chip Brownies

I got this recipe from my dad, who got it from a lady he worked with. These blond "brownies" are soooo good, yet very simple to make!

2 cups sugar
1 cup melted butter
2/3 cup crunchy peanutbutter (creamy works, too)
4 eggs
2 tea. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups semi-sweet chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream sugar, butter, peanutbutter, eggs and vanilla together until well-incorporated. Slowly add flour and mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread batter into a 9"x13" baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.   

*You do not want to overcook! (They are wonderful served with vanilla ice cream!)

Rachel's Chili

This is my own humble recipe. I am a big chili fan, and I love to make this with black beans, lots of spices, and serve it with chips, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and green onions. 1 lb. ground beef 1 large yellow onion, diced 2 large garlic cloves, pressed 1 lb. pinto or black beans, soaked and cooked (canned ones work, too) 2 (15 ounces each) cans of tomato sauce 2 (7 ounces each) cans of diced green chilies 2-3 Tbl. chili powder 1-2 Tbl. ground cumin 1 Tbl. dried Mexican oregano leaves (regular oregano works, too) 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon salt and pepper to taste In a large saucepan, brown the ground beef. Remove meat from heat, and place cooked meat in a separate bowl. Set it aside, leaving the beef drippings and grease in the pan. Return the saucepan to the heat, and saute the onions and garlic in the drippings until the onions are soft and look clear. Return the ground beef back to the saucepan and mix it with the onions and garlic. Add beans, tomato sauce, and green chilies. Stir in chili powder and cumin. Rub oregano between hands while adding it to the mix. Add cinnamon, salt and pepper. Simmer until the flavor is right, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Whole Wheat Pancakes

My daughter, age 14, makes these for us every Tuesday morning. She does a delicious job! *NOTE: This recipe once fed our BIG family just fine. But now, with two growing boys, ages 11 and 12, and their 14 year old sister, (not to mention the other six children, my husband, and myself!) we've had to increase it even more. It should feed most families above and beyond what they need! 4 cups whole wheat flour (white wheat works best) 6 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt 4 beaten eggs 4 Tb. honey 4 Tb. oil 2 cups milk 2 cups water In a large mixing bowl, stir the dry ingredients together until well incorporated. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, beat together the eggs, honey, and oil. Pour over the flour mixture, without stirring. Then pour the milk and water over all. Stir everything together just until mixed. (Lumps are fine!) Cook on a griddle for pancakes, or in a waffle iron for waffles. Makes LOTS.

What about abstinence???

The above article burns me up!

According to a new study, one in four female teens has a sexually transmitted disease. Then the majority of the article goes on about doctors providing screening and vaccinations and other "preventative" measures.

HUH?!?! Unfortunately, there was no mention whatsoever about teaching or promoting abstinence!

Isn't it interesting how much of a protection and safeguard virtue and purity really are? It's too too bad that those that really need this message are not hearing it, because the roar of permissiveness in today's society is so loud.

The world needs virtuous women more than ever...

"Mother Is Always There"

I found this poem, author unknown, and thought I'd share it here:

"Where are you going?" you'd say to him,
and "What are you going to do?"
And with a shy smile he'd toddle outside
to slay a dragon for you.
Or perhaps there was a prince to be,
or a lion to track to its lair,
For a little boy's life is a wondrous thing,
as long as his mother's there.

"Why do birds fly all in a flock?"
"How far are the stars from the ground?"
A thousand questions he'd ask of you;
a thousand answers you found.
"Please tell me what makes a puppy dog bark,
and why is the sky filled with air?"
Oh, a little boy's life is a learning thing,
as long as his mother's there.

"Sing me a tune," he'd say to you,
"Sing me some soft lullabies."
And you'd sit by his bed for a moment or two
until slowly he closed his eyes.
How quiet he'd be as you covered him up
and caressed his silken hair,
For a little boy's life is a peaceful thing,
as long as his mother's there.

"Don't cry," you'd say, as you held him close
when he'd fallen and hurt his head.
You held back a tear yourself, you know,
when you kissed the spot where it bled.
And the tears dried up, and the hurt hurt went away,
under your gentle care,
For a little boy's life is a loving thing,
as long as his mother's there.

And one day you'll look up,
as the years have sped by,
And on that day it will suddenly seem to you
that he isn't a little boy anymore,
But a fine young man grown
straight and tall and true.
How fast they have gone, those childhood years,
thank God you had them to share,
For though a little boy's life is a fleeting thing,
to a mother it's always there.

Moving-- Part Two

WHEW! At last, I feel like I'm recovering from our move. Most things are unpacked, and we're finally settling in.

I thought I would share some lessons I learned:  

1) Let others help you. We are LDS, and one thing that we have found in every ward (congregation) we've been in, is that the men are always willing to help load and unload. The men in our old-- and new-- Elder's Quorums picked up and moved all of our boxes and furniture for us. A friend of mine in our former ward organized a group of young men and young women to come and clean our empty house, and also moved a few extra odds and ends into her truck after moving day. What a blessing!

I don't know how I could have done it without the generous help of those wonderful people. Because I've had so much help through the years, I try to help others when they move. Cleaning with a move-weary mother has been a blessing for me as well as for the one I'm serving. Pay it forward!  

2) Let sons help their father. My boys (ages 12 and 11) really stepped up to the plate this move, and accompanied their father with a load of just boxes to the new house the night before moving day. (We had the grown men help with the furniture the next morning.) This was not some contrived "job"-- the boys stood a little taller, because their help was really needed! It was much appreciated by our whole family, and relationships were strengthened.  

3) When moving a short distance, use the moving truck for several loads, rather than trying to cram everything in one. We rented the biggest truck U-Haul has, and filled it up twice!!! Now that our nine children are getting bigger, we've found that all of their stuff is bigger, too. They need more room for clothes, books, treasures, and they have more furniture. Our oldest three, in particular, are studying on their own more, and have their own desks and bookcases. I wish we had reduced more of our stuff, but moving day came, and we had to make quick decisions about what came with us.

Which brings me to number...  

4) Let go of the guilt! Okay, so I didn't de-junk as well as I should have. But, I let go of the guilt, unpacked the necessaries, and have been de-junking as I unpack. It's actually been a good thing, because now I'm not rushed with the pressure of an impending move.

I have been examining things much closer, and getting rid of the things that just don't work with this new home. I've also been reevaluating things like books. Yes, we homeschool, so books are really important, but some of them are not really "classic." I've been the beneficiary of lots of people's generosity ("Hey! You homeschool! Have some books!"), but I've found it's best for our family if I keep the best, and cull the rest. (I'm letting go of that guilt, too!)  

5) Let gratitude be a priority-- say "Thank You!" We had so many people help us at both ends. From my daughter's Young Women's class, who brought us dinner the last week in our old home, to the lady in our new neighborhood who brought us a basket of fresh oranges, we have been blessed beyond measure. I have tried to be good about sending thank you notes, or even just giving a sincere "Thanks so much!" I know I can improve in that area, but I'm trying.

Moving is such an adventure! I'm so grateful for the lessons we learned.
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