Thursday, February 24, 2011

Guilt, Flu Shots, and Boys

Today is the first day that I feel just about normal again.  And, normal feels pretty good.  You know it's easy to forget what normal feels like when you are sick.  And when normal returns, it's so so nice.

I took the baby to the doctor yesterday.  Actually, I had all four boys with me.  Wyatt was still home sick from school.  And, Edison had an early dismissal.  So, off we all went together to the doctor's office.  The look on the nurse's face when she called Joseph's name and she saw ALL of us coming was....well, she didn't look thrilled.

I was having Joseph seen because he was hit the hardest by this whole flu thing.  He spiked a very high temp over the weekend.  I called on Monday but they said to give it one more day. Then on Tuesday he seemed better.  But, yesterday morning he woke with a high temp again. So, I took him in.

They tested him for 'the flu' - whatever the flu is this season.  And, he does indeed have it.  In fact, the doctor said that most likely we all have it since pretty much the whole family is symptomatic.

And then she continued.  Children who haven't been immunized for the flu (mine were not) have been having some serious complications from the flu.  There have been several hospitalizations.  She even mentioned meningitis.  (On top of this I learned through facebook of a local 7 year old girl who died suddenly from complications from the flu). 

As she's telling me all this and I'm holding my sick baby I am experiencing some definite guilt.

You see I've had some strong opinions about the flu shot.  I know there are as many opinions on this topic as there are people.   I have not gotten the flu shot for myself or for my children.  Just so you know, I am not anti-vaccination by any means.  My children receive all their other scheduled vaccinations.  But, the flu shot has seemed unnecessary in my mind.
My reasoning has been this - Our bodies are designed to fight minor illnesses like the cold and flu and in doing so they are able to strengthen our immune systems.  I have feared that we are breeding 'superbugs' by trying to immunize against something that changes each season anyway.  I kept hearing that people who had the flu shot still got sick anyway.  And, it has all seemed like a lot of hype to me and another way for drug companies to cash in.

Now, I'm second guessing myself.  This year's flu hit us hard.  (We even dealt with the swine flu last year and it wasn't as rough as this.)   And it's especially hard seeing the really little ones so miserable.  Am I taking unnecessary chances with my children's health?   Should I be taking every precaution possible to guard against potential sickness?   Even if that means a flu shot?

I really don't know. 
All this being said, I was able to send both my big boys to school today.  It's been almost a week since at least one of them has been home sick.  I'm run down.  Winter and sickness is wearing us all thin.  Boys are bouncing off the walls even more than usual.  And, my patience is almost non-existent.

I feel like a terrible mother to admit it, but, I was so relieved when the bus came to pick them up.  

Which brings us right back to that guilt.  Ugh.  How many more days until Spring?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Seeds Winner!

Hi everyone!  Thanks for being patient with me.  Some of us are still battling the flu in our house and others are in recovery mode.  It hasn't been a real fun week, but it sure has made me thankful. 

I'm so thankful that we live in the time and place that we do.  We have a warm house.   Medicine is readily available.  The help of doctors and nurses is readily available.  We have plenty of food and water.  We have indoor plumbing (and therefore the ability to soothe feverish bodies in a bath or a shower).  

Can you imagine living in time or place where these things we take for granted were NOT a given?  That is when sickness would cause even greater suffering than it does now.  So, I am grateful.

So now, I am ready to announce the winner of the Seeds Family Worship 'Faith' CD and prayer journal.   

And the winner is......

Congratulations Thy Hand!  I will be in touch!

I hope everyone has a blessed day!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Not To Leave You Hangin'....

I just wanted to pop in and say I haven't forgotten about the Seeds Family Worship giveaway.  I said I was going to post the winner on Monday.  But we are all pretty sick right now at our house.  As soon as I can manage it I'll be back to do the giveaway announcement.  Hopefully it will be sooner than later.  

Talk to you all soon....

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Book And A Recipe

A Book

One of my greatest pleasures in life is when I find a book that so completely enthralls me that I can't put it down. And, when I must put it down that book keeps calling to me and I can't wait to pick it up again.

I love it when that happens.

I wish it happened with every book that I read. But, it takes a great book. And, I found such a book this week at a visit to the library.

I almost didn't pick it up. I found it among the new releases in the inspirational section at the library. I've learned from past experience that 'inspirational' doesn't necessarily mean Christian. Sometimes it just means 'spiritualism'. So I was cautious.

I saw this book and it caught my attention because it looked different from the typical Christian fiction. Truth be told I get frustrated with Christian fiction many times because it all seems to be romance. And a lot of times it lacks the meat in it's writing that I crave.

But this book was different. And, it's authoress is indeed a Christian. And the novel contains a powerful Christian message.

Here's the description as found on the back cover,

"The Legions have left the province of Britain and the Western Roman Empire has dissolved into chaos. With the world plunged into darkness, paganism and superstition are as rampant as ever. In the Down country of southern Britain, young Indi has grown up knowing nothing more than his gods of horses and thunder; so when a man from across the sea comes preaching a single God slain on a cross, Indi must choose between his gods or the one God-and face the consequences of his decision."

I can not say enough good things about this book. If you enjoy historical fiction and are looking for something new to read, this is definitely the book for you! I won't say too much more about it so as not to give away the story. But, I have to say that one of the most fascinating parts for me was how God's plan of salvation was presented to a culture and a society who knew nothing of God, a society who had no knowledge of any of the scriptures.

A Recipe

I mentioned in yesterday's post that I wanted to share a recipe with you for Chicken Rigatoni. I love pasta. I love eating Italian food when I go out to eat. But, try as hard as I may, I can never seem to capture the same flavor that I love so much in a dish from a restaurant when I cook at home.

This recipe actually tasted like something I'd eat at a restaurant. And, I loved it!

Now, if you are the sort of person who must follow an actual recipe then you will want to go to this link where I found the recipe for a Chicken Rigatoni that tasted like it came from the Macaroni Grille. ( I didn't have mushrooms, cooking wine, or cream).

I didn't follow the recipe exactly because a) I didn't have all the ingredients and b) I have trouble following recipes.

So, here's what I did....
My Version of Chicken Rigatoni

1. Cut about 1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast into strips. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and onion powder. Melt about 4 Tb. butter into a cast iron skillet. When butter is melted and skillet is hot, add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Remove chicken and set aside.

2. In the same skillet add another 2-4 Tb. of butter and 1-2 Tb. of olive oil. Heat until butter is melted scraping bits of chicken from bottom of pan. Add 1-2 TB minced garlic & 1 Tb. onion powder. Saute for about 1-2 minutes and then add 1 Tb. ground basil (fresh would be even better!).

3. Here's the weird part. I didn't have cream and we were out of milk as well. But I DID have liquid coffee creamer (non-flavored) so that's what I used. Strangely enough it worked just fine. Add cream ( or in my case coffee creamer) slowly to the pan stirring all the goodness together. Add about 1/2 cup to start. Allow to simmer a couple minutes. Then add about another 1/2 cup to 1 cup. Stir and simmer a couple more minutes (I'm completely guessing here about how much I actually put in).

4. Right before you are ready to serve, add about 1/2 cup parmesan cheese to the mixture and stir until it thickens. Return the meat to the sauce mixture. Then add enough cooked rigatoni to coat the rigatoni but still leave plenty of saucy goodness.

5. Serve & eat.

Next time I will absolutely make this with mushrooms and carmelized onions...and actual cream. I never thought to add basil to a cream sauce before, but that is absolutely what gave it such a great flavor.

A Reminder
The last day for entries for the Seeds Family Worship CD and prayer journal giveaway is Sunday. Don't forget to enter!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New 'Do's All Around

We're all sporting new hairdo's at our house. Would you like to see?

It all started with Joseph.
As cute as I think my boys are with longer hair. And, as much as I wanted to hold off on that first haircut and keep him a baby a little longer...he was getting downright shaggy.

I decided to try my hand at giving him his first trim myself. How hard could it be?

Oh, that's right. Babies don't really sit still for haircuts. Like at all. (Also, I just noticed how completely unflattering these pictures are of me so if you could ignore that, that would be great!)

The end result was a little choppy, but not too bad.

Then this past Saturday my husband took the big boys to the barbershop. A real, honest to goodness barber shop! The boys came home with a lot of gobbity goo in their hair, but they were thrilled with their cuts. My husband even got his cut (he usually just trims it at home with a clippers). This barber was thorough! He even trimmed up the hairline in the front and trimmed his eyebrows (which freaked my husband out a bit).

Ok - the next two pictures aren't actually related to the haircuts...other than to show you the way that I typically had been wearing my hair - clipped up. But, I also have to show you me in my glasses. I normally wear contacts. I only use my glasses at night or if my contacts are giving me trouble. Which they were the other day.

I love these glasses. I've had them for probably 12 or 13 years. The frames are bent. The one arm is about to break off. But, since I rarely use them & I really like them, I haven't replaced them yet. I suppose I'll have to someday.

Finally I'd like to show you my new and improved look. I hardly EVER go to the salon. Maybe once or twice a year. But, my husband got me a gift certificate for Christmas. And, I decided I needed to perk myself up a bit.

I wanted to keep as much of the length in my hair as I could (so I could still do my ponytail thing if i wanted). But, I had them add in some more layers to hopefully give it some shape and lift. I got my hair colored too. They gave me a base color and also added in lowlights. There are supposed to be chunks of darker hair throughout. It's not really obvious though and I might go a bit more dramatic if I do it again. The gray is covered though!

One last picture. I usually don't make a big deal out of Valentine's Day. But this year I decided to have a special night for our family. I went to the Dollar Tree and got some cheapy decorations - a tablecloth, some balloons, dessert boxes. I got everybody a card which I put at their spot at the table. I made a special dinner (I made a Chicken Rigatoni that tasted like it came from an Italian restaurant. I kid you not. I was in love. I will share more about this & give the recipe tomorrow). The boys had ginger ale. Mommy & Daddy had a glass of wine. We lit candles and turned the lights low. It was a special night.

Then we ended the night by watching my all-time favorite movie with the boys, The Princess Bride. It was their first time watching it. And, I loved that we could watch it together.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Our Love Story (condensed version)

Once upon a time there was a girl who believed wholeheartedly in fairy tales, but she didn't really believe in herself.

In her desperation to find true love she made a lot of mistakes.
Then, along came a prince who showed her what love really was.

Love that was unconditional & full of grace. Love that mirrored the love of our Savior.

And, even though the Prince rode in on a motorcycle instead of a horse, the girl realized THIS was a love to hold on to.

And, it turns out that 'happily ever after' takes work and sacrifice and sometimes there are tears. But, it is worth fighting for!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Good Things

Today I am celebrating good things.

Things like this yummy bar of dark chocolate I picked up yesterday just for me....

And, the cute little sign I've been waiting to become available again at Vintage Chic Boutique...and I picked up today!

In addition I found a fun cookbook there! ( I love cookbooks!)

I am also thrilled that yesterday's mail brought me my order from Seeds Family Worship! The prayer journals are a bit (ok - a lot) smaller than I thought they would be, but they're still cute. Don't forget you still have time to enter for my giveaway where you can win the CD and a prayer journal!

I'm jazzed about the new chore routine we've tried out the last couple weeks with the boys. And, they seem to really like it too. Here's a picture of our Responsibilities & Chores chart. We worked together to make the list...

The daily responsibilities are things they are expected to do each day as part of our family (no reimbursement for their services). The chores are the things they can do to earn money toward a weekly allowance. Each item is worth 10 cents and they can choose which ones they'd like to do. So, essentially they earn as much or as little money each week as they choose.

We keep track of completed chores in a super simple way. It has to be super simple for my sake because I'm notorious for starting chore charts, etc. and not keeping up with the maintenance of it. They each have their own plastic container with their name and we also have a container stocked with colored popsicle sticks. When they complete their chore they show me for my approval that it was completed satisfactorily and then they pick a popsicle stick and put it in their container. At the end of the week we count the sticks to see how much allowance they earned. So far it's fallen in the $1 to $1.50 range.

I'm also celebrating those rare moments that the boys play together nicely...

And, I'm definitely celebrating that tonight my husband and I are having a date night! John's parents are watching the boys and we are going to the Sweetheart Banquet at church.
I love this man! (Even though he always makes goofy faces for the camera. Yes. That's his tongue sticking out.)

I hope your day has been filled with some good things as well! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Rules For Going Out With My Children or How I Try Really Hard to Avoid Temper Tantrums in Public (Mine & the Kids)

Whew! Long title, I know. And, just so you know, I broke my own rules today. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Way back when I mentioned this topic in a list of topics that I thought I'd write about. I went back and forth in whether or not I'd actually write this one.

Because, I am not an expert. I don't always succeed in my attempts. As a matter of fact, I often fail miserably. And, I don't want to sound like a 'know it all'.

But, as I kept going back and forth in my mind I pretty much ended up writing this post in my mind anyway. And, when I've got something basically written in my head, I have to get it out or it will drive me wacky.

So, here's what I'm gonna do. I will share with you some things that have worked for me over the years. Every family, every child, every situation is different. But, here are some general rules I try to follow to try to avoid public temper tantrums with my children. (And, as I mentioned, I broke my own rules today...but more on that at the end.)

1. We usually only go out in the morning. There have been exceptions to this rule, but as a general rule of thumb, any errands I have to run, any appointments I need to make for myself or the children I try to schedule between the hours of 9-12. That puts us back at the house in time for lunch and naps. As the boys are getting older, there's been more flexibility in this. But, when they are small, this is has been key.

2. I keep my time out to a minimum. Generally speaking, the kids are good for an hour or maybe two. Depending on the length of my errands that might equal 2-3 errands max. If I try to fit too many more in then me and the kids are both weary of the in and out of the van dance (having multiple children in car seats is exhausting).

3. I watch my kids for signals that they are about to top out. There have been times we haven't made it to that last errand I had planned because I can tell my children have already reached their limit. Rather than push it, we go home. I have also been out with them on playdates and have suddenly played Cinderella and (seemingly) rushed off. It's because I can sense the drama that's about to ensue unless I get them home. I try to avoid reaching the melt-down stage.

4. I try to give my children an idea of what they can expect that day. When I worked in child care there was one mom in particular who was in my office if there was any kind of change looming in the day care's calendar (class parties, new teachers, etc.). She wanted to know the details so she could prepare her child. We certainly shared these details with the parents through newsletters and the like, but she was always there to follow up and to make sure she was giving her child the right information.

At the time I thought this was a bit excessive. But, now, I kinda get it. If I can tell my children basically what it is that we are going to do that day, they might still whine and complain. But, as long as I stick with that basic agenda they like to know what's going on. (On that note - be careful about changing or adding to the agenda. Not that our children should rule over the day's events, but even as adults we don't always like to be hit up with surprises when we have ourselves set up for things to go one way and they go a different way.)

5. We don't go out every day. This relates back to fact that I am a homebody. I'd often rather be at home than out 'running around' anyway. And, my children are an awful lot like me. Many times they'd just rather stay home. As a matter of fact, yesterday Charlie asked me where we were going when he saw me put on my coat to check the mail. When I told him we were staying home that day he had a look of relief and said, 'Oh good!'

Again, everyone is different. Some people, and some children thrive on being out and about. And, they would be miserable if they stayed home the majority of the time. So, for them, this rule might not be realistic.

6. When the meltdown does happen (because sometimes it will), stay as calm as you can and get home as quickly as you can. My one son went through a phase where he completely freaked out anytime we went to the doctor or the dentist. It was an anxiety issue for him, but it didn't make it any less embarrassing for me. He would refuse to get on the scales, or sit on the exam table. He'd try to run away. He'd scream. He'd cry. He'd thrash about.

In that particular situation there was very little I could do. It's not like I could just leave. He HAD to have doctor visits. Fortunately my doctor and dentist were always very understanding. Often times they'd just have to take him from me and send me to another room. But, in this particular instance I just had to wait out the phase he went through. (I also started having my husband take him to a couple appointments, because he wouldnt' do the same thing when daddy was around.)

But, if it IS somewhere you can leave, then it's probably easier than trying to deal with the meltdown in public.

7. Try not to let disapproving looks get to you. My one friend and I lament that it seems people would much rather glare at a mom struggling with a misbehaving child than do something to assist let her in front of them in line, or offer to help carry her bags to the car. I think often people don't know what to do or if they SHOULD offer to help, so they stare.

In the same way, Ineed try to remember to have that same grace when I see a mom in the same situation.


So, I mentioned that I broke my own rules today. I realized I needed another ingredient for the Chicken Tortilla Soup I'm making tonight. Plus we were out of milk. So, I decided we'd make a quick run to the store right up the road. (Broke rule #4 - this was not part of our day's original agenda).

When we got to the store an announcement came over the intercom that there was a large number of clearance items in a particular area of the store. And, we were right beside that area! I decided just to 'quickly' check and see what they had. (Broke Rule #4 and Rule #2).

As we were looking around at the clearance items I ran into another mom from church so we started chatting a bit. Then, when I did return to looking at the merchandise, Charlie was beginning to whine & become antsy, but I kept 'quickly' looking. (Broke Rule #3).

By the time I actually finished getting the few items we actually came for and went to the checkout the lines were completely clogged and we had to wait a really long time to check out. I talked them through it but we were dangerously close to Rule #6.

So there you have it - what works for me (and sometimes doesn't work for me). None of us are perfect. Our kids aren't perfect. And I DO believe children have to learn how to behave out in public, so we can't keep them completely shut away.

What has worked for you to avoid public temper tantrums? And, what works for you if that temper tantrum happens anyway?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

View From My Kitchen Sink

Pam, from Views From My Kitchen Sink celebrated her blogging anniversary last week. She asked her readers if they'd share pictures of their own view from their kitchen sink. I'm late in doing this post. And, actually I hadn't originally planned in participating. But, I've enjoyed seeing everyone else's so much that I had to join in.

I wish I were talented at photography like it seems so many bloggers are. But, alas, I am not. The first 2 pics are taken from inside. We are slowly replacing the windows in our old home. But, the kitchen window is still orignal. I know it's dark, but if you look in the bottom right corner you might see the hand crank we use to open the window. Each side has one.

It also still has it's ancient mesh screen which is why it's so hard to actually see my view to the outside

So, I stepped outside on our deck to snap a better picture. I wish I could say that entire area is our backyard. Unfortunately our yard only goes to about where the swingset is. The rest is the farmer's field behind our house. So, even though we have a tiny yard, it feels large.

You'll note the sleds are still laying out there on the hill. You can't really tell in the picture but our backyard actually has a down slope.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Random Things You Might See Around Our House

I feel the itch for Springtime. And, with that comes the urge for a fresh look in our home, for cleaning, and decluttering.

I haven't actually acted on this urge yet mind you. But, I am hopeful that this is the year that we de-stuff our house.

Almost anytime you read something about decluttering you will hear the words 'hot spots'. Those are the areas that seem to invite clutter to appear.

Sometimes it seems my entire house is a hot spot. But, in particular, if there is any flat surface with open space, that space is quickly filled.

I try my hardest to keep our kitchen table and our kitchen countertop clear. But it seems they are the easiest places for everyone to place things that need a temporary home. Actually, if I didn't clear those areas, it would most likely become it's permanent home.

Here's a look at some of the random stuff that appears on the kitchen counter. I think I had the counter cleared for about 10 minutes before random stuff started making it's appearance.
First of all, let me say that this is VERY clear (even with the random stuff) by normal standards. Usually there are piles of papers and about 10x this amount of randomness accumlulated there. But, here's a sample of what starts to happen as soon as the counter is empty. Let's get a closer look...
So, in this corner we have a burnt out light bulb, 2 old batteries, a receipt, and a gas card.

Here you will see a water cup, an opened piece of chocolate, an almost empty package of venison jerkey, and some tools.

Here's the thing....I often don't know where to go with some of this stuff. And, if I do move it my husband is looking for it later on.

Like I said, these pictures aren't bad at all. But, the thing is, everything will stay exactly where it is if I don't move it. And, it will multiply 100 fold!

How do you keep hot spots under control in your homes? And, how do you get your family on board?

The next picture is something my husband observed after the boy's bathtime and we both thought it was pretty funny.
It's a shark eat shark world!

Finally, I had to share my experience with making last night's meal (as listed on my sidebar). It was Cilantro Ravioli with Pumpkin Ricotta Filling. I was so excited to try this. It sounded amazing to me. First, I LOVE cilantro. And the filling sounded divine with pumpkin, ricotta cheese, sundried tomatoes, and roasted garlic.

I was really hoping it would completely WOW me. At best, I would say it was OK. The recipe wasn't all that terribly difficult. The time consuming part came in with rolling out the dough, cutting, filling, and sealing the ravioli. Since I don't have a pasta machine (which would have allowed me to get really nice thin sheets of dough) the ravioli itself was rather heavy and doughy.
The filling itself was delicious. I think I would make this again, but forgo making my own ravioli and use the filling to make stuffed shells. I would also add more ricotta and sundried tomato next time and a bit more salt.

The recipe came from a cookbook all about Pasta. I love pasta and I love eating at Italian restaurants. I often wish I could recreate some of those dishes at home. I haven't given up on this cookbook. I plan to try something else out of there soon.

Have a blessed week!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

One Year of Blogging + A Giveaway

Happy One Year of Blogging to Me! Exactly one year ago today I wrote my very first blog post. Blogging has been such a great outlet for me. It has helped me recapture my love of writing and has helped respark a creative spirit in me. Best of all, I've met so many wonderful people through blogging and have truly been enriched and encouraged by all of you!

So thank you!

I mentioned in a post earlier this week a little about one of my favorite CD's to play around the house for me and my kids. It's from Seeds Family Worship. And, it's such a simple concept. Each song is a Bible verse set to music. It is such a great tool for Bible memorization and for worship.

The great thing is that each CD comes with a duplicate CD so that you have one to keep and one to share. I knew I wanted to order another of their CD's so this seemed like a perfect giveaway.

The giveaway will be of album #2 - Seeds of Faith

In addition I'm including one of their Prayer Journals.

If you'd like to enter, here's what you can do for an entry. (Please leave a separate comment for each entry).

1 entry - Visit the Seeds Family Worship site and tell me anything that stood out to you - a product you liked or whatever
1 entry - Tell me what your favorite music is to listen to around the house
1 entry - Mention the types of posts you most like to read from me or one of your favorite posts that you read here in the last year.

I will accept entries for this giveaway until Sunday, February 20, 2011 until 11:59 p.m. The winner will be announced on Monday, February 21st.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

On Becoming Landlords - The Honeymoon is Over

Some of you might remember the series of posts I wrote several months back in which I talked about how my husband and I decided to purchase a rental property and become landlords.
The topics were...

On Becoming Landlords or How My Husband Talked Me Into Doing Something That Scares Me To Death - Part One

On Becoming Landlords - Part Two - Our Financial Background

On Becoming Landlords - Part Three - How Do We Do This?

On Becoming Landlords - Part Four - The End/The Beginning

Well, a couple weeks ago I listed a bunch of topics that I planned on writing about in the upcoming weeks. Among them was an update on our experiences as landlords...The Honeymoon is Over.

When I shared with my husband what I was planning to write he asked me not to. And, I can understand his thoughts on this. There are some details of our experience that are probably best kept to ourselves. But he was OK with me saying this much...

It's been a difficult, often frustrating learning experience for us. We are struggling to find long-term tenants for our one unit. My husband has put a lot of work into the property which makes it even more frustrating that we can't seem to find the right tenants.

Unfortunately, there are people out there who do not have the same sense of responsibility as most of us. We've given the benefit of the doubt many times over the last few months and have felt very taken advantage of.

That's the extent of what I'll share here. I will say that my husband is still very optimistic about this endeavor being a successful one for us. He even has been talking about finding a way to purchase another rental property. Oh boy!

Could you pray for us that we would find the right tenants for our property? We are taking applications right now from several people and we could really use the Lord's guidance in choosing who to rent to.

Thanks! Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Stuff I Want to Share

I just have a few random things I want to share on this icy (in our parts) day.

1.  The big boys are home from school because of the icy conditions today.  Everyone (except the baby) was up at 6:15 a.m. anyway.  Ugh.  But, I am happy to report that all four boys are now taking naps.  Yup.  Even the big ones (much to their dismay & insistence that they weren't tired).  Even Mommy got a 10 minute cat nap.

2.  Have you noticed my weekly menu on the sidebar?  I've even included links for recipes I'm using that are available on-line.  May I highly recommend checking out the link for Monday's meal?

Last night I made Asian Pork Linguine.  It was the first time I had ever tried this recipe.  And, I really liked it!

I was a little hesitant at first to try it.  One of the ingredients for the sauce was peanut butter. I was leary.  Will it taste too strongly of the peanut butter?  While it did give it a slightly nutty flavor, it also gave the sauce a creamy, smooth texture.  This is a recipe I will use again.  (P.S. - I substituted a bag of cole slaw mix for the carrots slices.  I really like the flavor and crunch that shredded cabbage adds to Asian dishes.  Also I think next time I will substitute chicken for the pork.  Just my preference.)

3.  I've been trying to employ some Anti-Funk strategies.  I can't say I've been completely successful in chasing away this mid-winter funk, but these little things seem to help.  I almost never light candles around my house because usually a curious boy ends up blowing it out within 10 minutes.  But, as I've been preparing dinner or working in the kitchen I've been trying to light a candle or two and, for as long as it stays lit, it seems to cheer and cozy up the atmosphere a bit.

I also have been playing some music softly in the background from time to time.  Again, it's something I don't do all that often because we usually have enough background noise at our house.  But, this too has been helping.

A couple years ago I received a sampler music CD from Seeds Family Worship

This is what Seeds is all about...(as taken from their website)

"Seeds Family Worship was planted when worship leader, Jason Houser, was asked to write some songs to help kids remember the verses from his church’s summer
Bible school.
Jason began writing songs and singing them for the kids and families at church. The songs were well-crafted, catchy, and taken straight from scripture. Families liked them. . . a lot.
From just a handful of songs, Seeds Family Worship was planted – providing God’s Word set to music for thousands of families all over the world. We are gladdened by stories of worship times at home, scripture memorized, and object lessons taught using Seeds songs. The fifth Seeds Family Worship album – The Power of Encouragement – has just released. In total, Seeds has grown to 58 portions of scripture set to music!"
The kids loved the music on the sampler and I really enjoyed it too.  We bought the first of the 5 albums available at the time (soon to be 6), Seeds of Courage.

This is what I've been listening to over the last couple days.  This is unlike any 'made for kids' music that I've owned before.  It's very much like listening to a worship CD and it really helps to solidify scriptures in your heart and mind.
You can go here to to hear a sample of one of their songs....
I went to the website yesterday and decided that it's time to order another of their albums.  The really great thing is, each of their albums that you order has two identical to keep and one to share with someone else.
4.  Sounds like the perfect makings of another giveaway doesn't it?  Stay tuned.  My one year blogoversary is coming up on February 5th!  I will officially announce & open my Seeds music giveaway then.
5.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot....I also updated my weight loss progress on my sidebar.  While I didn't reach my goal of 185 this month, I still technically met my goal of losing at least 5 pounds.  It's a start.  So far the only thing I've really changed is that I've cut out my night-time snacking.  I know that will only take me so far and I'll have to continue to make healthy changes to my diet and even add in some (blech) exercise.  But, if there's one thing I've learned from the past, it's that trying to make all the changes at once is too drastic for me.  So, a little bit at a time is how it will be.
Have a great week!
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