Monday, November 28, 2011

Simplifying Christmas

A few weeks ago, we sat down as a family and had a chat about how we are in the process of decluttering our house and our lives from the "stuff" that so easily entangles us.  Things are great when they have a purpose and are used, but when they just end of being "stuff" instead and start to demand our time (because there is no end tojust attempting to organize them), then things have become a burden instead of a tool.  Since we moved houses last year, many of our things have been in boxes and it helps to see how much stuff we really don't need to have in the house and get rid of stuff that has accumulated.  Little by little, we are making progress on this goal of decluttering and living more simply.  We have been blessed with generous friends and family members over the years and have benefitted from their many gifts and gently used items that have been passed on to us.  But, in an attempt to no accumulate as much this Christmas, we made a family pact to give fewer gifts, give away things that we don't need or use, and focus on the importance of giving to those in need at this time of year.  As an alternative to traditional Christmas gifts, we have asked our family members to write each of our daughters a personal Christmas greeting that includes the sender's favorite Bible verse.  We will collect these and put them together in a scrapbook as a special Christmas 2011 gift that will be a wonderful memory for the girls in the future.  Also, as a family we are going to pick out a gift from the World Vision catalog that will be given to a family in another country to enrich their lives - a goat or some chickens, perhaps.  And that is what it really comes down to when we think about Christmas, anyway.  God sent us His Son, the best ever gift at Christmas to be the Saviour of the world; at this time of the year, it only seems appropriate to direct our thoughts to giving in meaningful ways rather than just on the things that we will be receiving. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Climber

Literally overnight, #5 (the baby of the family) figured out how to climb up on a chair and from there climb up onto the table.  And this is how I found her, very pleased with her new accomplishment.  So, now not only is she even more closely supervised, but I am pulling chairs away from the craft table in the play room to discourage this type of adventure.  Not that I don't appreciate her adventurous spirit, but I would prefer to keep the climbing to hiking around our yard outdoors.  It is amazing the things babies learn and so quickly, too, especially with older siblings as models.  And, yes, my kids are the type that like to stand on the couch, etc., when Mom isn't looking (I admit it).

By the way, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!  May your day be blessed and joyful as you celebrate with friends and family on this day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

A little avoidance, a lot of being busy, and some laziness wrapped all in one

Ever since my daughter being in the hospital a couple of weeks ago, despite my best intentions I have not gotten down to blogging as much as I would have like to.  I was in part avoiding my computer and all it entails for awhile; sometimes the demands of technology seem to be many and I need self-imposed mini-breaks throughout the year to just step back and do other things (namely read books).  I've also been a bit lazy about getting on and blogging, just because (and also because I've been a bookworm lately).  And, finally, things are always busy around the holidays.  The week started out with yet another visit to the doctor with #2 because her fever returned not long after finishing up her antibiotics; she had rebounded with an ear infection and is now taking meds again (and I'm fervently praying this is the end of it!).  The, it was off to the doctor for me to get my annual "fair-skinned-girl-mole-removal" done; I've never had anything malignant, but better safe than sorry.  Tuesday was volunteering in #2's classroom for a few hours with Grandpa on duty at home with the little ones, then off to Bible study on Wednesday.  Thursday was grocery shoppping and errands, and today wrapped it up with volunteering in #3's kindergarten classroom for a Thanksgiving feast (with baked drumsticks and veggies in tow).  Now, I have bread in the oven for a church party this evening.  Whew!  I'm tired just recounting it all.  :-)  Thank goodness for a week of Thanksgiving break off from school for the kids.  The question is, does that make it a break for mom, too???

Monday, November 7, 2011

For the Love of Bread

Challah made with brioche dough.
When my friend, Janene, lent me a book called Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, I was a bit skeptical.  I love to bake my own bread and have had good success with making baguettes and Italian loaves from a recipe that start by making the dough in my bread machine and involves a few more steps thereafter.  This takes about 3 or 4 hours from start to finish, but since I'm at home this works just fine for me.  This book, on the other hand, is based around the creation of doughs that are high in moisture and don't require kneeding, punching, or multiple rises.  I started by making the master recipe from the book and it turned out really well.  So well, in fact, that I couldn't tell any difference between it and the regular bread recipes that I had been using.  Since then, I've tried several more recipes, all with great results and very little effort on my part. 

Basically, you just mix up the dough and let it rise for a couple of hours.  After that, you can either use the dough right away or just store it in the fridge in a non-airtight container for quite some time and use it when it is convenient.  When you take it out of the fridge, a quick stretching and molding of the loaf is needed and then it is left to rise for a bit.  Then, it is off to the oven.  This type of bread-making definitely cuts down on prep time, the mess of mixing a new batch of dough every time you want another loaf, and the time involved in letting bread rise (a great way for those that work outside the home during the day to still be able to eat fresh, homemade bread for dinner).  This is one book that I will be purchasing for myself and I will continue to use these bread recipes.  I even got a little more creative the other day and added my own sourdough starter to the "master recipe" (that makes a baguette or boule type of loaf) and the sourdough loaf that came of it was one of the best I've ever made.  The crust was crunchy and the crumb inside was chewy, soft, and tasty. 

If you are curious about this book and high-moisture doughs, the website for it is found here:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Week Absent from Blogging

When I blogged last Saturday, I was happy to have several new blog posts in mind and excited to get typing.  Little did I know, our daughter #2 who we thougth had a virus was sicker than we thought.  By Saturday evening, she was running a fever that would not come down with Tylenol and couldn't stop coughing.  When she asked to go to the "hostible", I knew she was really unwell.  I got all 5 girls in the van right after 9:00 p.m. and dashed off the the urgent care which closed at 10:00 p.m. with a 1/2 hour drivve ahead of us.  My hubby was chaperoning at Homecoming at the school where he works and got in his car immediately and drove to meet us.  Selah was seen by the Dr. at Urgent Care, sent by ambulance to the ER (so that she could stay on the oxygen she was using), and was admitted around 2:30 a.m. to the Children's Hospital Ward of our local hospital.  On top of having an ear infection in both ears, she also had pneumonia which was further complicated by her asthma.  We had hopes that she would come home maybe the next day, but her oygen levels weren't up high enough and she stayed until Wednesday at lunch time.  My hubby and I were able to stay with her alternately at the hospital while also taking care of our other 4 girls at home, and a wonderful friend from church came to the house early Monday morning and stayed with our daughters all day so that I could stay at the hospital with our little sickie.  As a mom, it is hard feeling torn beween your kids; I wanted to be at the hospital, but I also wanted the other 4 to feel cared for at home, too.  It was hard for any of us to get much sleep at the hospital between regular checks of vital signs to respitory therapists coming in every 4 hours, from Dr.'s visits daily to medicine to be administered.  We were all extremely thankful to be back home when this short ordeal concluded.  But, through it all there was so much for which to be thankful:
  • Living in a country that has very good health care and medical facilites
  • Having good health insurance and being able to afford co-pays
  • #2 having the opportunity to truly heal and get better in a place where she was well taken care of and given all the tools she needed to get better quickly
  • Kind, caring, and professional  medical personnel at our disposal
  • The many friends and family that took time to pray for Selah's healing
  • God's healing touch and having His hand on us and our daughter during this time
So, I have been gone from my blog for awhile because my brain capacity and physical energy were being expended elsewhere, but thank God, we are back to our usual "normal" routine and I'm ready for a new week of blogging adventures.