Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

For He has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
Luke 1:49

Much love--Justin, Holly, Gramm, Brooklyn (on left) and Vivian

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Help! I need Christmas gift ideas!

Hey friends-- The twins are rounding the corner to three years old and are often bored with many of their toys. I need suggestions for what to get them for Christmas. They have a play kitchen with dishes that they love, plenty of outside toys, dolls and other random stuff. Any tips on what to get little girls who are 2 years and 9 months old? We already got them some dress up clothes, but that's about all I had as far as good ideas. All tips/suggestions are welcome! Thanks!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Special Date Day

I took Gramm to see the Nutcracker today. The twins were at home with a sitter and my sweet boy and I went on a little date. As the music began and the curtains were just starting to open, I looked down at my five year old. He was looking up at me, clapping, and smiling the most joyous, precious smile. I cried. I did. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. Something about his lit up face reminded me to thank God for my son.

Minutes before this special moment, I'd been wrangling my son and struggling with feeling embarrassed and frustrated by his behavior. The people pleaser in me dies a very, very ugly death every single time my son offends another child. It has to die. If I let the people pleaser rear it's head when Gramm embarrasses me, I end up punishing him for what I think he did to me. The thing is, when he sins, he's not doing it to me. He is sinning against God. It took me a loooooong time to not take Gramm's behavior personally. I was angry at my son for behaving in ways that were inconvenient, embarrassing or annoying to me. I now see that this anger was fueled by the fact that I care(d) so stinking much what other people think of my son and my parenting skills. I mean, really, if I were just a better mom, my son wouldn't repeatedly poke a complete stranger, he wouldn't hit anyone, etc. Right? Right? Wrong. My children will sin. They are fallen from birth, just like me. They need grace, forgiveness. They need Jesus. Just like me. And, they need loving discipline. Not the teeth gritting, threat making, flustered, unkind Mama I've been in some not-so-great moments. I am so thankful that His mercies are new every morning. We didn't make it through the entire ballet, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. :) And, by God's grace, I stayed calm. Here's a pic of the two of us:

These are two of our favorite peops who just happened to be there; Julie and John Isaac. I have such a kind, non-judging, loving friend in Julie Majors. Btw, that is not her normal expression. Tehehehe.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kitchen Help from Kiddos

Long before my now five year old son, Gramm, turned two, I began letting him help me in the kitchen. This was such a fun time for us! I would let him play in the tupperware, or I would put dry beans or rice in a 9x13 pan and let him "cook". It was a great bonding experience and it kept him entertained while I cooked dinner.

My twin girls, Vivian and Brooklyn, are nearing three and I've just started letting them help me in the kitchen. They really aren't much help at all, but I don't think they should have to miss out on time in the kitchen occasionally just because there are two of them at once. And, you know if the twins are cooking, Gramm has to help, too. Having six little hands in the kitchen at one time while I'm trying to cook can get a little crazy. Along the way, I've learned a few things that have helped make our time in the kitchen enjoyable.

First off, get over my bad self and let the kids make a mess. Below is Gramm at 16 months in the kitchen.

Secondly, don't freak out about knives. Seriously, Gramm started using a rounded-tip steak knife to chop vegetables when he was 4. He cut himself one time and it was just a little scratch. I am convinced this helped with his fine motor skills. He still cuts a mad carrot. And, he grates cheddar like it's his job.

Brooklyn wielding a butter knife and showing the mushroom who's boss.

Vivian concentrating hard:

Thirdly, pretend to be Julia Child and explain to your children every single thing you are doing. Gramm has always been very articulate. I've done my pretend cooking shows with him on a very regular basis from birth till now. And, it won't be long till one of my little sweeties tells me "don't crowd the mushrooms!"

Fourthly, it's okay that I don't let my kids help me in the kitchen every time I cook. Helping me is a privilege, it's not a given. It does take more energy from me and I need to be sure I'm in a place where I can tolerate messes being made and children in my kitchen while keeping a smile on my face. I have a strict 'no cussing in the kitchen' policy at my house. If we're in the kitchen, and you're gonna make me cuss, then you gotta get out. :) But, of course, this little man never makes me cuss....this picture was taken in July of this year.

Lastly, enjoy the process. Let your kids be kids, even in the kitchen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Easy and Delicious Bread from my new Bosch!

After a year of saving my pennies and a little love (in the form of cash) from my handsome hubs, I bit the bullet and bought a Bosch mixer. I was nearly killing my beloved Kitchenaid mixer by forcing it to knead wheat flour and I couldn't stand to see my Kitchenaid die such a slow, painful death. The Kitchenaid was also yielding inconsistent results. More often than not, the bread was crumbly, dry and barely good enough for toast. So, I traded my Kitchenaid in for a guitar (seriously) and bought a Bosch!

For my initial venture into large-batch bread making, I chose to master unsoaked/unsprouted whole grain bread. The margin of error is greater in baking the latter and I'm still working on just the right technique. In the mean time, I've chosen not to make the best the enemy of the good and enjoy fabulous, freshly baked whole wheat bread made with real ingredients. While I love to cook, I also love to spend time with my family outside of the kitchen.

I will share my recipe with pictures very soon, but first, I must mention the lovely lady who sold me my Bosch. Dixie at answered my many, many questions, gave me a great deal on my mixer, shared her bread recipe (including tips on kneading, etc.) and even called me to make sure I was getting the hang of whole wheat bread making! She still has the special going that she offered me. Go here to read about it.

Dixie's Basic Whole Wheat Bread (my commentary added in italics)

6 cups warm water
2/3 cup oil (I use coconut oil because I'm an addict)
2/3 cup honey (I use more like 1 cup...can't help myself)
8 cups Freshly Milled Whole Wheat Flour (additional flour needed later)
2 Tbsp. Vital Wheat Gluten (bought mine at Whole Foods, bulk food section)
2 Tbsp. Dough Enhancer (get it here)
3 Tbsp. SAF instant yeast
2 Tbsp. Salt
4-8 additional cups Freshly Milled Whole Wheat Flour

In the Bosch mixing bowl, combine water, oil, honey . Next add 8 cups of freshly ground wheat flour. On top of the flour, add Vital Wheat Gluten, Dough Enhancer, SAF instant yeast, and salt. “Jog” off and on using the “M’ side of the switch so that flour won’t rise out of the mixing bowl. Then mix on first speed until smooth. Then add the additional freshly milled whole wheat flour. Add it slowly as to not over flour. Stopping periodically to test it (we add the flour until the dough doesn’t stick to your floured finger when you “tap” it lightly) The amount of flour you add will depend on the moisture and protein levels in your wheat. Look for spots on the walls of the bowl that are clear of dough momentarily. You might stop the mixer and tap the dough gently with your finger to see if it sticks. It shouldn’t stick to you, if it does just add a little more flour. I add the flour very slowly towards the end.

This is what my dough looked like for this batch when I began the kneading cycle, but don't assume that your dough should look exactly like mine. The goal is to have a good not too wet, not too dry dough.

At this point turn your mixer to speed two and mix for about 5 minutes. The dough that was stuck to the sides and the floor of the mixing bowl will completely clean off. Form dough into 5-6 loaf pans.

Above is the dough, ready to rise. I bought these lovely pans from Dixie as well. They are the BEST bread pans I've used and they are priced very well. The red pan on the end is a silicone pan that works pretty well, but doesn't allow for a very tall rise because the pan is flexible. I didn't get it from Dixie. :)

When they are fully risen you should be able to put a small dent in the side of one of the loafs with your finger and the dent will not come back out, or it will come back very slowly. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes.

Above are the risen loaves, ready to go in the oven (see below). Please inspect the inside of my oven well so that you will feel better about yourself as a housekeeper. :)

Beautiful, nutritious bread, fresh from the oven. At our house, we pop the bread out of the pan as soon as we it can be handled, about 30 minutes after baking, slather butter on each slice and enjoy the yumminess.

Using vital wheat gluten really helps with the rise and the texture of the bread. The gluten really helps the dough become more stretchy, which makes a good sandwich bread that won't fall apart easily. See the difference below:

I used the vital wheat gluten on the left, and the bread on the right did not contain vital wheat gluten. The pores in the bread on the right are quite a bit closer together, which makes for a more crumbly, less flexible bread.

Enjoy! Feel free to comment with any tips or inquiries.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Aslan the Great Lion and the two pink piggies wish you and yours a Happy Halloween!

Gramm's costume was super simple. I bought a black hoodie and made several large and small yarn balls and then safety pinned them to his hoodie, black pants and black gloves. I even made a tail that was PRECIOUS!

This is sweet little Brooklyn. I let the girls pick out their costumes and they chose the piggie costumes based on the color. These girls LOVE pink. I was never a pink lover and am still not a huge fan...I think they have some of Aunt Sharla's genes. :)

Vivian on the left, Brooklyn in the middle, Gramm on the right. Unfortunately, I didn't get a good pic of Vivi in her costume, so here's one of my sweet little Vivi in her every day attire.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

True Woman Conference

Julie and I made the trek to Dallas this weekend for the True Woman Conference.
The conference was amazing. I am now home with a full heart.
A few highlights from the weekend:

1--HOURS of uninterrupted conversation with my soul sista, Julie. During one of our many convos in the van on the way to DFW, a ginormous grasshopper splatted on the windshield. I removed said insect so that Julie's vision would not be impaired while driving. That act alone should fill Julie's love tank for months because I don't like bugs.

2-I was so blessed by many of the speakers, namely Crawford and Karen Loritts and Kay Arthur. All of the speakers brought the Word, but the words of these three people resonated deep in my heart. I am going to get my hands on the audio from the conference soon and re-listen and digest some more truth.

3-We brought a long a true little woman, Julie's baby girl, Caroline. She was a trooper and smiled and talked to everyone.

4- A few of Julie's friends from Arizona met us at the conference. It was such a joy to get to know these Godly, genuine women. (Left to right: me, Angela, the other Julie, Laurel)

5- Meeting up with my precious gal pal, Spring, and praying for our children. It is a wonderful blessing to have two entire families of people that just LOVE each other. Her kiddos love my kiddos and our hubbies love each other, too. :)

6- Stalking a couple bloggers....I spotted Lindsey from Passionate Homemaking early on and let Julie know. Unbeknownst to me, Julie flagged her down and got a pic with her.

When we were checking out of our hotel, I thought I saw a familiar face. As it turns out, it was Angie Smith. I've read her blog for a couple years now and her sweet family has melted my heart. Angie has a set of twin girls, too. There's nothing like good twin talk to help a Mama out.

7- Coming home with a full heart and renewed mind has been so refreshing. I see my role as wife and mother in a different and better light and am praying for more grace, more patience, more joy almost every second that those darling little people are awake. :)

I took away from the conference that I have got to be in the Word daily in this stage of life. I do not have the liberty of sporadic quiet times during this stage of life. I must be intentional about getting scripture in me, so that I can hide His word in my children's hearts and live an example worthy of my calling as a Christ-follower, wife and mother in front of my husband and children. (left to right, Brooklyn, Vivian, and Gramm)

Many thanks to my sweet husband for taking care of our kiddos while I was gone. He graciously allowed me to go away for a little over 2 days and didn't complain one bit. He even cleaned the house before I got home! So thankful for such a wonderful man!

Monday, October 4, 2010


Brooklyn is super spunky. When she was a newborn, she would stick her little tongue out almost as if she was waiting for someone to laugh at her. She still sticks her tongue out a good bit and is quite the little ham. She has a loud and infectious laugh. It is not uncommon for this little girl to laugh so hard that she snorts. :)

In some ways, she is independent, but for the most part, she is a mama's girl. It has only been in recent months that she will get down and play at playdates and at the park. She was content to sit on my lap or be carried on my hip while her sister and brother played (from about 15 months till around 27 months).

She is very gentle and nurturing. If her "sissy" or "bubby" are hurt or upset, she will kiss and comfort them.

Brooklyn Lea--
You kill us with your cuteness! I love your laugh and I love your sweet bedtime kisses. I pray that the Lord uses your gentle nature to comfort those who are hurting with the only True Comfort. I pray that your smile will reflect God's graciousness all your days. We are so thankful for you, little girl, and our lives are richer because God entrusted you into our care.
Mommy and Daddy xoxoxox

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Each one of our children is so unique. I love seeing their personalities and preferences develop. I've had some good one on one time with Vivian lately and thought it'd be good to post some pics of her cuteness for you all to enjoy.

Vivian is, at this point, my most free-spirited, independent child. She abruptly weaned herself at 15 months. She does not like to hold hands when we are walking anywhere. She prefers to walk, left thumb firmly in the mouth and explore her surroundings on her own time. She can barely make it from the van into the house without stopping to inspect something. She loves to be rocked and read to almost anytime. She loves playing outside and LOVES to eat sand. :) She loves her "bubby" and her "sissy" and misses them when she is not with them.

Vivian--What a blessing you are to us, little girl! Your daddy and I love you very much. I love your desire to explore and see things from your very own perspective. :) I love your hugs and kisses and I love rocking you in the rocking chair. I love your raspy voice. We are ever thankful to God for you, our Vivi Beth.
xoxoxo Mommy and Daddy

Monday, September 27, 2010

Don't Hate The Okra

I visited the West Little Rock Farmer's Market last Monday and loaded up on some beautiful and yummy okra. I can't resist fresh okra. Below is my favorite okra recipe. It's hearty, savory and just delightful.

Fresh Okra and Tomatoes (straight out of the Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook)

8 slices bacon
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups sliced okra (1 pound)
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black or white pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat till crisp. Remove bacon, reserving 3 tablespoons drippings in skillet; discard remaining drippings. Crumble bacon, and set aside.

Stir flour into reserved drippings, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until roux is caramel-colored (10-15 minutes).

Add okra, onion, and garlic, cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in tomato and remaining 3 ingredients. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until okra is tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with reserved crumbled bacon. Yields 4 large servings.

We served ours alongside delicious, grass-fed, NY strip steaks. :) Hubby is not a tomato lover, but he really enjoys this dish. Hope you like it!

Check here for today's offerings at the WLR Farmer's Market.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hanging with my Homeys

I made a discovery last week (thanks to the Spirit's work in my heart). When I do something daily that causes me to focus on my children and no one else, we are all in a better place emotionally. I forget sometimes that my mood as Mommy is the barometer in our home. My mood can ruin this day or make this day great.

I've taken my kids to the park, on dates to the bakery up the street, riding scooters in the cul de sac, and for long drives in the car a lot lately. And, I've not talked on my phone during any of these outings. The only reason I keep my phone with me is in case I need to call 911. :) I have found joy in their joy. Doing things that they enjoy is going from a sacrifice to a pleasure for me.

Gotta take these kids to get a treat. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Our Boy is 5

Gramm celebrated his fifth birthday in July. I cannot believe my wee little dumpling is five years old. He's almost completely lost all his baby chubbs and that makes this mama very sad.

We had a very low key celebration here at the house on the day of his birthday complete with a (swelteringly HOT) trip to the zoo, watermelon for breakfast, cantaloupe for lunch, Little Caesar's for dinner and yellow cake with chocolate icing for dessert. Sydney came over for dinner and cake and even helped blow out the candles. Mimi and Pops came too, but they stayed away from the candles.

We waited a couple of weeks to have a birthday bash for our boy. We shared the part-ay with the amazing Eli Wilson and fun was had by all. Brooklyn on left, Vivian on right all dressed up for bubby's party.

Daddy helping Gramm skate. Notice Eli's Mommy in the background (orange shirt). Beautiful inside and out.

What is up with the semi-strained smile? My sweet son was strangling me. He just loves me so much, he can't help but squeeeeeeeze my neck till I'm having trouble breathing! :)
What's a party without good food? On the menu: roasted red pepper hummus and chips, veggie tray with ranch dip, mini slap-yo-mama cookies, gooey chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies, rhubarb pie, and peach pie.

We picked the peaches in the pie with our sweet friends, the Majors.

Gramm with a table of some of his faves. He's asking (ordering) Sydney to please not blow out his candles this time.

A little letter to my five year old:


How did you become a little boy so quickly?! You melt my heart with your tight hugs and good morning kisses. I love that every night as I leave your room you say, "Jesus loves you too, Mama!" Your love for people is so evident and genuine. Some of your favorite people these days are Sydney, Eli, Clara, John Isaac, Jonathan and Becca. You are so smart and love to learn and try to figure things out. If you find a screw driver, you will unscrew whatever is within reach. You love to "trim the branches" in the backyard and you've been a great help watering the garden and flower bed all Summer. I love the way your little man hand fits in mine and that you almost always let me hold your hand. You love to look through your mommy and me cookbook and point out recipes for me to try. You are a great eater and really love milk, steak, pizza, "yellow cheese", all fruit, crunchy veggies, and sweets!

Your Daddy and I love you so very much. Your sisters (or "the sissies" as you like to call them) love you, too. Our lives are more full because of you. The day you were born, all I could say was "Thank You, Jesus". I was in awe of the wonderful gift you are to your daddy and me. I still am. I will never stop thanking God for you, my precious son.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

He gets me and He gets me good

Okay, so the title of this post was taken from a little joke between me and my hubby after watching this qvc video. Check it, yo. Now, onto the purpose of this post.

My man and I recently attended a marriage conference. One of the many things we took away from the conference is that I must have God time daily if I am to mother my precious babes with kindness and love. The Lord has blessed me with a babydaddy who can scramble eggs for three hungry munchkins and let his wife have a minute with her Father.

Being the Beth Moore junkie that I am, I picked up my copy of Jesus: 90 days with the one and only and have been loving praying through scripture and learning more about Jesus. Today, I read Psalm 113: 5-8 per the book's suggestion. Here it is:

Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated in high,
who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.

I have a new study bible which really clarifies certain verses. I checked to see if there was any clarification offered for these verses and this is what stood out to me among the writing:

"God's majesty never implies His remoteness from those who look to Him, it implies instead His exhaustive attention to detail, and His inexhaustible ability to care for His faithful. "

He cares for me in every detail. He knows my every need and I don't wear Him out. He truly cares about the details of my life between cooking for our fam and disciplining our babes. Mostly what this scripture spoke to was my bewildering desire for another child. Mothering is so blessedly wonderful and difficult right now. Each day is a challenge. Why would I so strongly desire to add another little one to care for into the mix? He assured me today that He knows my desires. He grace for me is inexhaustible. He has surrounded me with children, He may surround me with more children and He will give me the strength to love them. His ability to care for me (as I care for my babies) is inexhaustible. Thank You, Jesus!

I am reminded of the chorus to a beautiful hymn:

I need thee, oh I need thee;
Every hour I need thee;
O bless me now, my Savior, I come to thee.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Terrific Times with Twins

Whenever I see a mother with twins, I talk to her. I say something like this; "Hi. You have twins? So do I!" And, if her twins are younger than mine I try to encourage her and nearly offer babysitting services to a stranger in spite of the fact that I have three small children.

If her twins are older than mine, my question of choice is this: "What's been the hardest age with your twins?" The unanimous answer is 2 years old. At this point, I say, "THANK YOU for validating me! This is so stinking hard. When does it get better?!" Most moms say that age three is better.

I love my girls. I love my son. Having two children who are 27 months old is not for the faint of heart. There's one problem....I AM THE FAINT OF HEART! :)

Some super fun things the twins do these days:

  • Brooklyn is potty trained and only wears a diaper at nap and bedtime. If she tee tees even a tiny bit in her diaper, she wakes up, takes the diaper off, throws it in the floor, puts her pants or panties back on, falls asleep and pees all over her crib in her sleep.
  • Vivian is not potty trained and will be sometime by the time she is 18. In spite of peeing an pooing exclusively in her diapers, she often whines and states that she needs to go peepee or poopoo, thus confusing all caregivers (minus Justin and I) and then she will take her diaper off, sit on the potty for 2 seconds and then whine till I put her diaper back on so she can go peepee in it.
  • The girls love to color. They also love to destroy and eat crayons and markers.
  • They are such good buddies that they often bite, push and pinch each other. The offended child will come to me amid wailing and tears, while the offender usually comes to me all smiles and says, "I push!"
  • The girls love to jump in their cribs. Daddy won't let us get a trampoline, arguing that they get to jump in their cribs which is a perfectly safe alternative. Both babies have now almost completely broken both cribs. The cheaper crib is held together by Gorilla Glue. The nice, precious, sentimental crib is now totally without one side and beyond repair.
  • They give great kisses and hugs.
  • They say, "Mommy HOME!" whenever I return after being away from them.
  • Both Vivi and Brook will let me rock them and pretend that they are still little babies.
  • Speaking of little babies, they LOVE babies, dogs, cats, etc.
  • They love their daddy and kiss and hug him whenever they get the chance.
  • They still compliantly ride in their double stroller. HUGE BLESSING!
  • They are fruit and veggie fanatics and especially enjoy cantaloupe, pronounced "Ca-la-lope" by the gals. See below. Vivi:
All in all, I am blessed to have these girls. This stage is at times overwhelming and I've been pushed to be more patient, more kind, more loving and more selfless. Their brother is also quite a handsome, loving, hilarious little thing. The Lord is growing his 5 year old heart more each day to serve and love on his sisters. I am so proud to be the mama to three little ones!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bread Making Fun and Vacation

Hey friends, I just spent some time putting together a post on how I make our bread. Go here to read it.

In other news, I've taken a bit of a break from blogging because we went on vacation. My precious younger sister and her fam met our fam in North Carolina for six wonderful days. It was a huge blessing to be able to spend that time together. My sweet, super extroverted son was in heaven. He loved every minute spent with his cousins. And, the twins fell in love with my sister. So sweet! My sis and I cooked for each other a lot which totally filled our love tanks. Here is the butterscotch pie I made for her, complete with NINE eggwhites in the meringue:

The gals enjoyed my sister's creamy shrimp pasta. Soooo goot.

I so enjoyed spending time in the mountains away from cell phones and every day life. The Lord ministered peace to my heart during our trip. I returned much more relaxed than I was when we left.

The "babies". My niece is just a few months younger than the twins.

Gramm posing as a tiger. :)

Uncle B and the big kids:

Our view:

What's this? Oh, it's a HOT TUB! Party on, Garth!!!!!!!!!

Me and my seester. Love her.

Gramm and my nephew hugging good-bye. Precious.