Sunday, September 30, 2012

Eight Years Later...

A few days ago, on the 27th, Rob and I celebrated our 8th anniversary of our first date, it was a blind date too!  Eight years later, we have definitely endured a lot together, more than either one of us would have asked for.  Especially the past five years, there is no denying that we have struggled, to the point of almost breaking even, the repercussions of the flood we went through are still far reaching, emotionally, and very much financially.

Rob's work schedule has been a stress on us all, but in the past few weeks, it has been getting better, last week he actually had two days off.  I hardly knew what to do with him here.  He has had to work most Sundays, but the past few weeks he has gone in early so he could leave at 11 so he could be at church with us, considering Pastor Casey has been teaching on marriage, this has meant a lot to me.

One of the things that I have seen make a noticeable difference in our relationship is our weekly "team meetings", where Rob and I sit down and talk about our family's calendar for the week, our finances, and anything else regarding the kids that we need to discuss.  It allows us to stay on the same page when it comes to managing our home and family.

Another thing that has made a noticeable difference is that we have started doing the finances together, previously I had been doing them by myself, then Rob took them over and was doing them by himself, and both ways just really didn't work, with both of us working on them together, we have really seen a big difference, not only in our attitudes toward money, but we are well on our way to being out of debt (FINALLY!!!).

Something that Pastor Casey challenged us to do was go out to dinner together and commit to each other to do whatever it takes to make our marriage work.  We chose a Wednesday night to do this, because all the kids were going to be at church for youth group and Awana, that night, we realized that it was the perfect night to have a weekly date night.  Previously we were trying to make Sunday evenings work, but it was a struggle with the kids schedules and we recently joined a small group that meets on Sunday nights.  But Wednesday nights are great, the kids have their activities and we have two hours all to ourselves to work on our marriage.  Because we are working hard to get out of debt, we won't be going out to dinner every week, so there will be some creative date nights happening, I'll post some of those ideas another time.

I'm so proud of us and the distance that we have come, I feel so blessed that Rob is so committed to working on our marriage and makes efforts to grow our relationship.  Just the other day Zach walked into the room while Rob and I were kissing and said, "You kiss too much!", I couldn't help but feel some pride at that comment, it is something that Rob and I had consciously made a decision to do.  Kiss more, hug more, talk more, especially if you are a newlywed couple, that might sound strange, but we have realized that life is crazy busy (especially with all these kids!), and if we don't consciously make efforts to show each other love, sometimes it doesn't happen. 

In eight years, what I am very sure of is two things.  1) Rob and I are very different, like night and day in almost every area.  2)What we do have in common, what is the most important, is our love for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and that is really everything we need for this marriage to work.



Monday, September 17, 2012

A Less Than Great Morning

This morning Zach said something that hit me smack between the eyes, and maybe it was because this morning was a really rough one, but I couldn't even hold back the tears when he said it. 

Today started with me hitting the snooze, not once, but 3 times, followed by my first attempt to wake up the four kids, then climbing into bed with Zach who looked especially snugly this morning.  I only had a few minutes of snuggles before I had to go and try to wake up the other three again, Ethan climbed down from his bunk, and Grace finally climbed out of hers, but then Faith wanted to snuggle, so I climbed in with her for a few minutes.  That was the pleasant part of the morning, it quickly went down hill from there.

Faith threw a fit and insisted on taking a shower with me.  After we got out of the shower, Zach was in my bed, still not dressed and I could hear Ethan in the kitchen already very vocal (this is a bad sign when it comes to him).  Then Zach quickly got dressed and I got Faith ready, and in the process of getting myself ready I could hear yelling and fighting coming from the kitchen (GROAN!). 

I was checking backpacks and found Ethan's Pokemon cards (that I despise, but have allowed), he had been warned about taking things like that to school, and I told him last time after I took them away for two weeks for the same offense that they would go in the trash next time.  So this time I knew I had to follow through also, it really did pain me to do that, but I have to teach him a lesson.

Grace wandered down 10 minutes late, we didn't work on our Bible verse or pray, instead we rushed out the door with Ethan stomping all the way, Faith saying she didn't want to go to school, and Zach complaining that he didn't want to eat hot lunch. 

On the way to school, I was asking Ethan why he chose to disobey, why did he think that it was a good decision, and so on.  Then the car got very quiet and that's when Zach said, "Mommy, can you turn on God?".  Now I knew that he was referring to the radio station that we usually listen to on the way to school, but it hit me like a ton of bricks.  In all the chaos of this morning, I had neglected the most important part of our day, I had left God out. 

This weekend I was blessed to attend the Kansas-Nebraska Southern Baptist Association's Wonderful Weekend for Woman, and as the way with these kinds of conferences, you come back energized and pumped up, but as is Satan's way, he throws distractions in your direction in all sorts of ways to throw you off course.

Yesterday I did a much better job staying determined, today, not so much.  My desire is to stay focused on His goals for me.  I am still trying to wrap my brain around everything I took in over the weekend, so I hope to share more about that soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Faith's First Day of School

Today was the big day, for Faith and for me.  She has been so excited to start, and today was too perfect, from the time everyone got up, to showers, breakfast, and walking out the door (notice I said WALKING and not running!) into BEAUTIFUL weather.  We even had time to take some super cute pics before leaving.
This outfit was just so fun on her, and she got to wear her beloved 
pink cowboy boots even! 
I was a little nervous about how she would be with the other kids, 
she is very social, 
but kind of finicky social.  
When we got to preschool, she was bouncing, she was so excited, she saw one familiar face and a bunch of new ones, and you couldn't tell which was which.  
Before they even got inside she had made new friends, there were three little girls that started playing Ring Around The Rosie 
(one of her favorites!),
Faith immediately went over and asked to play also, no problem.  
When it was time to go in, she went in, no problem.  
I was so proud of her, she was such a big girl.
She got to meet her speech therapist and her teacher said 
she had a great first day.
As for Mommy, I did good too, I kept plenty busy and got LOTS done, it never ceases to amaze me how much I can get done within such a short amount of time when I have no kids with me.
When I picked her up, she was such a chatter box!  
The best thing I heard, was clear as it could be, "Old Mac Donald had a farm!"
I was THRILLED TO TEARS!
Everyone has said that preschool will make a big difference in her speech, but I was expecting a few weeks at least, not the same day.  
I know this won't be the case every time probably, but I am so hopeful now and praising the Lord tonight!
Almost every time we pass a McDonald's she asks to go and it had been months (literally) since we had been, so for a special treat for her first day, we ate there, she could barely finish eating, she was talking so much, most of which I didn't catch, but I was so happy to see her excitement for school and how happy she is to go.
After we got home, Faith crashed hard, and didn't wake up till it was time to pick up the older kids, and I fully admit to the same.  
All the emotions and excitement of the morning really took it out of both of us I think.
She is very excited for Friday now.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Grown-Up Birthdays

We didn't throw huge parties, just a smallish family gathering for two great members of our family.  Stacey had her birthday and then a few days later, Rob was having his, so we celebrated them together.  I took some fun pictures that I thought I'd share...

I gave Stacey coupons for home cooked meals.

Simon helped open Mommy's gifts!


The girls, cheesin it up.



Gift cards....always welcome!


Daddy had two helpers to get all his gift's opened!







The desert for the party was apple pies, instead of cake, and ON Rob's birthday, per Rob's request I made him that AMAZING brownie that I made him for Father's Day also.  It's a good thing he took some of those to work to brag on me with, 
cuz those are DANGEROUS to keep in the house-ya feel me??? 

The weekend after, my mom and dad kept the kids for Rob and I from noon on so that we could go on a really LONG date to celebrate his birthday, armed with gift cards, we saw three movies and ate out.  It was such a great, relaxing time, I can't remember the last time we had so much alone time.  It was greatly need and much appreciated.  I think the kids had a pretty great time at The Children's  Discovery Center with Nana and Papa too.
Good grief, that man's good lookin in this picture!
On this past Saturday night, Rob was sharing the love (i.e. more of his gift cards) again and took Faith, Zach and I to Red Lobster for dinner, that man better look out, I'm feeling spoiled and it was for HIS birthday!  Oh, and he's wearing a shirt he got for his birthday too!
Zach and Faith had never been, the tank of lobsters was especially amazing to them, Zach didn't like the idea of eating them, he said he wanted chicken fingers, so Rob asked if he was ready to go see the cage of chickens!  
LOL!  
His face was priceless, I wish I had a picture of that!  
They both waved and said good-bye to the lobsters on the way out.

Rob and I have about two more dates coming from his birthday gift cards, I have to say, we sure are enjoying his birthday gifts this year!

Menu Recipes

Have you been wondering what recipes I use in my menu?  Well, I know some of you do, because I've been asked for them!  So I thought I'd just go ahead and post them, so everyone can try them out, some of these are from various places, but I tend to change little things in all my recipes to my family's likes and dislikes, so they are a little different than where I go them from originally. 



Chicken Pot Pie
(I think I got this one right off the box of Bisquick!)
Ingredients:
2 Cans Mixed Vegetables
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
Chicken Breast cooked and cut up
1 ¼ Cup Bisquick
½ Cup Milk
1 Egg
Instructions:
Heat oven to 400. 
Mix veggies, soup and chicken in 2 Qt. Casserole dish. 
Stir in remaining ingredients in small bowl
until well blended. 
Pour into dish on top of chicken mixture.
Bake 35-40 min or until golden brown.
 
Baked Ziti
Ingredients:
1 lb. Hamburger
1 Jar Spaghetti Sauce
15 oz. Ricotta Cheese
2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
4 Cup Grated Parmesan
8 oz. Uncooked Ziti Noodles
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400.  
Cook noodles to directions on package
Combine everything except 1 cup mozzarella
in 13x9 dish.
Cover with foil and bake for 55 min. 
Remove foil and sprinkle with leftover cheese, then bake uncovered for 5 minutes. 
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Crock Pot Roast
Ingredients:
5lbs Chuck Roast
Lipton Onion Soup Mix
1 Bag Baby Carrots
10-12 Small Yellow Potatoes or Red Potatoes
Instructions:
Place roast in crock pot,
sprinkle with onion soap mix
and add 4 cups of water. 
Add carrots around meat,
clean potatoes and if red-do not slice,
if yellow, cut into 2 inch pieces. 
Cook on high for 4 hour,
then on low for 3-4 more hours.


Spaghetti Pizza
Ingredients:
Spaghetti Noodles Cooked and Drained
Cook and drain 1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Cup Milk
2 Eggs
1 Jar Sauce
Pepperoni, Cheese, or whatever toppings you like.
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375.
Put noodles in 9x13 pan and pour milk and egg mix over noodles.
Spread ground beef over noodles, pour sauce over beef, and top with all over toppings. 
Bake for 20 min. 
Take out and spread cheese then
bake for 10 minutes more.

Tater Tot Casserole
Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef, cooked and drained
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup (substitute with Cream of Chicken if you prefer!)
1 cup Grated Mild Cheddar
1 (2lb) bag Frozen Tater Tots
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350. 
Mix beef and soup in bottom of 9x13 pan,
top with cheese, then spread frozen tater tots over mixture and cheese. 
Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes,
uncover and bake 15 minutes more.
 
 Cheeseburger Pie
(Off the Bisquick box too, I think!)
Ingredients:
1 lb Ground Beef, brown and drain
1 ½ cup Shredded Mild Cheese
1 cup Bisquick Mix
2 cups Milk
4 Eggs
Instructions:
Heat oven to 400.
Grease 9x13 pan.
Spread beef on bottom of pan. 
Sprinkle with cheese. 
Mix Bisquick, eggs, and milk together,
pour over beef and cheese.
Bake 25 minutes, or until knife comes out clean.


 Sloppy Joes
Ingredients:
1 bottle Original KC Masterpiece BBQ Sauce
1 lb Ground Beef, cooked and drained
1 can Pork and Beans
Hamburger Buns
Instructions:
Mix beef and beans together,
add BBQ Sauce to taste. 
Heat through. 
Serve on buns.

 Hawaiian Chicken
Ingredients:
6 Boneless Chicken Breasts
1 can (8oz.) Crushed Pineapple
1 bottle BBQ Sauce
4-6 cups Cooked Rice
Instructions:
Grease crock pot, place meat, combine pineapple and BBQ sauce over meat. 
Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours or
on low 6-8 hours. 
Serve over rice.

 Beef Stroganoff
Ingredients:
1 lb Stew Meat
1 block Cream Cheese
1 can Beef Broth
2 tsp Garlic Salt
Egg Noodles, cooked and drained
Instructions:
Place stew meat, ¾ can beef broth, garlic salt and 1 cup water in crock pot, cook on low 4 hours. 
Place cream cheese in microwave safe dish and melt, stirring occasionally,
add leftover beef broth, stir well,
then add to crock pot, stir all together. 
Serve over noodles.
Sauce will thicken as it stands.

 Country Salisbury Steak
Ingredients:
1 ½  lbs Ground Beef
1 Box Chicken Stuffing
1 ½ Cups Water
Instructions:
Heat oven to 375. 
Mix meat, stuffing mix,
1 ½ cups of water until blended.  
Shape into patties, place in jelly roll pan. 
Bake 25 minutes or until done. 
Meanwhile cook brown gravy according to package and serve over steaks.

 Lawnmower Taco
(From HERE)
Ingredients:
1 lb Ground Beef
1 Package of  Taco Seasonings
¼ Cup of Flour
2 Cups of Chicken or Beef Broth
9 oz. Tortilla Chips, Crushed
2 Cups Grated Cheese
Instructions:
In large skillet, brown beef.  Stir in taco seasoning.  Sprinkle with flour over top.  Stir to combine. Stir in broth and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until sauce thickens. Grease 9x13 baking pan.  Place ½ crushed chips across bottom, layer with ½ meat sauce and then half the cheese.  Repeat layers.  If cooking right away, place in oven at 325 and bake for about 20 minutes. 
If making as a freezer meal, thaw before baking.


Meatloaf Muffins
(If you love your meat loaf recipe, use it, just put it in the muffin pans!)
Ingredients:
1 Beaten Egg
About 15 Ritz Crackers, Crushed
¼ Cup Milk, Beer, or Apple Juice
1 Tbsp. Dried Minced Onion
½ Tsp. Basil
½ Tsp. Oregano
1 lb Ground Beef (Lean)
2 Tbsp. BBQ Sauce
Instructions:
Heat oven to 350. 
Grease 12 Cup Muffin Pan.
In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. 
Spoon mixture into muffin pan. 
Bake for 25 minutes or until cooked through.


Chicken & Noodles
(From the Reames website? Not sure)
 Ingredients:
3 Frozen Chicken Breasts
6 Cans Chicken Broth
Reames Noodles
Instructions:
Boil Chicken and cut up into small pieces. 
Boil Reames Noodles in chicken broth and then add chicken.  Thicken with flour, if needed. 
Serve over mashed potatoes.

 Taco Bowls
Ingredients:
2 Cans Jumbo Biscuits
2 lb Ground Beef
Taco Seasonings
Refried Beans
1 Cup Shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese
Instructions:
Brown and drain ground beef,
season as package instructs. 
Spread biscuits into muffin pans
making cups with them. 
Spoon refried beans into bottom of biscuit bowls, then spoon taco meat on top of beans. 
Bake for time instructed on biscuit can. 
Sprinkle with cheese as soon as you take them out of the oven.

Lasagna
Instructions:
1 lb Ground Beef, browned, drained
2 tsp Dried, Minced Garlic and Basil
1 Jar Ragu Traditional Sauce
1 Tsp. Dried Oregano
Lasagna Noodles
1 Beaten Egg
1- 15oz Ricotta Cheese
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
8oz Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Instructions:
Heat oven to 375. 
Mix egg, ricotta, Parmesan, 6oz. Mozzarella,  and spices. 
Combine sauce and meat. 
Layer a 9x13 pan with
1)Noodles
2)Cheese Mixture
3)Meat Sauce
and repeat.
Top with leftover Mozzarella. 
Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes. 
Remove foil and bake 10 minutes more.

Chicken Enchiladas
(From HERE)
Ingredients:
3 Chicken Breasts Shredded
1 Pkg Cream Cheese
2 28oz Green Enchilada Sauce
1 Can Black Beans, Drained and Rinsed
2 Cups Cooked Rice
20 Tortillas
3 Cups Shredded Monterrey and Colby Cheese.
2-9X13 Pans, Freeze 1!
Instructions:
Heat oven to 375.
Cook chicken and shred, boil rice. 
Mix the chicken, cream cheese, and 2 cups of the
enchilada sauce together. 
Pour half a cup of the sauce into the bottom of each 9x13 baking dish.  Layer the bean and rice on each tortilla, top with the chicken mixture in each tortilla. 
Roll up each tortilla and place in dish, seam side down. 
Top with one cup of the enchilada sauce and cheese. 
Cover with foil and bake for 25 min. 
Uncover, then turn on the broiler and broil for 3-5 minutes,
just long enough to brown the cheese.


Chicken and Cheesy Rice
Ingredients:
3 Chicken Frozen Chicken Breasts
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
6 Cups of Cooked Instant Rice
2 Cups Shredded Mild Cheddar
Instructions:
Heat oven to 400.
Place frozen chicken in a 9x13 dish.
Pour soup over top. 
Cover with foil and bake for 55 minutes.
Remove from oven and cut up chicken.
Cook rice and then mix rice with chicken and soup mixture.
Top with cheese and serve.

 I don't have pictures to go with any of these, maybe someday, if I make a cook book (NOT!), anyway, just passing along some of what my family eats!

Levi

My favorite sister in law had her baby boy a couple of weeks ago, August 28th!  Looking back at all my pictures, is reminding me why I haven't posted in awhile, there has been a lot going on!


He's a big boy!  










 
Came out weighing, 9lbs, 8oz., 21.5 inches long.  





Fresh out of the "oven".





Faith was almost as excited as Eliza to see this little man here.



Ethan thought he was 
pretty sweet.



Zach was more happy to see his Uncle Nick, than the baby, but he was really excited to hold him, "All by himself".

Here's the ol' pro, she's held a lot of baby cousins and baby brothers and sisters 
in her 13 years.  



She's was pretty pleased with this one.

Pretty much on a daily basis Faith asks about Levi now, he made quite an impression on all of us!