Sunday, February 26, 2012


We got home Sunday night from another wonderful trip to Outer Banks, NC. We’ve gone there for a week many Januarys over the past ten years. We often have people ask us why we go then but we really like it- no heat, no crowds. Yes, lots of places are closed- but how many restaurants do you need to go in a week? Too cold to swim on the beach, but the indoor pool is great for swimming and the kids love building sand castles.

The six of us drove down Sunday morning. We packed sandwiches but along the way remembered Keagan’s Irish Restaurant in Virginia Beach, VA so we surprised the kids by stopping there for yummy Sunday brunch. And our hostess was named Kayleigh. Sunday afternoon we just unpacked and watched one of our new Disney movies. Monday morning we had a blast swimming in the big indoor pool. We woke up from a nap to cold rainy weather and decided to go Bowling- perfect for B week at the Beach and Monday was family night. $1 Bowling. KG & T loved running around the arcade. The kids were all excited to eat hotdogs and fries too!

Tuesday morning we headed to the Beach- it was a little chilly but the kids made sand castles and we took some good pictures. Afterwards we went to Jockey’s Ridge State Park where we climbed the tallest sand dunes on the East coast. The sand was a little too damp for much sliding but the kids did it anyway. All that climbing made for good naptime and then Nana arrived that night. Quite excited children!

Wednesday was C’s birthday. He’d been counting down for days. And told everyone he saw that it was his birthday. I can’t believe it’s been 6 years since our scary night in the hospital and our little miracle arrived. The NICU nurses said he was quite a fighter and he’s definitely turned out to be that. He has a lot of heart and determination. C was sure what he wanted to eat for his birthday- eggs for breakfast and ham and cheese for lunch. Sometimes he’s pretty easy to please! We did mix it up a little by going to Black Pelican for lunch and ham and cheese for dinner. But he was okay with that - especially after he got his own pizza and then the waitress brought a huge brownie with lots of ice cream & sang Happy Birthday!

Thursday we went to Wright Brothers. The kids wore their new park vests and got many compliments. They also got new Wright Brothers badges after completing the Junior Ranger program. We had a picnic outside and really enjoyed the new replica of the first flyer which the kids could climb. We headed back to Jockey’s Ridge that afternoon for sunset pictures. Beautiful! And worth the long walk carrying a sleeping little girl!

Friday we made our first trip in ten years to Roanoke Island. The kids earned their Fort Raleigh Junior Ranger badge. We enjoyed the movie- although it really made the first European settlers seem pretty bad. Outside was chilly but didn’t stop us from a short walk to the stage for the Lost Colony. The kids performed for us with a beautiful backdrop. Then we went to one of our best yummiest meals- O’Neals Seafood. I don’t think you could get much fresher- they were filleting fish right before us and their mottoe is “Come where it’s caught, cleaned, and cooked.” After a yummy lunch, we bought clams, oysters, and scallops to take home for Saturday night. We’ll definitely go there again- next time we may have to try the crab- I don’t think you can beat the price unless you catch them yourself.

Saturday we headed back to the beach to enjoy the views and then a quick trip up to our old stomping grounds in Duck where we enjoyed the boardwalk along the sound. After another walk and some time at the playground, we finished off the week with a delicious seafood dinner at home. Wonderful end to a wonderful week!

Endings and Beginnings

New Years Eve is a time to remember the last year and look forward to the coming year. We wanted to have some family traditions and here's our start.
Everyone picked out an appetizer, then prepared them and served them. As we served our plates, we told each other something we love about them. We started with K serving crab cakes, then T served Thai chicken skewers, C served empanadas, and KG served fried shrimp. Between "courses" we filled our first family time capsule. It'll be fun to open later! James and I just opened our time capsule from when we got married 15 years ago- lots of changes since then!

I've started to write this post a few times but struggled with what to write. How do I sum up this year? It's been a good last year- our move last April brought lots of changes. Funny that Baltimore is much bigger than Fayetteville but we spend lots more time just the six of us. In some ways I've gotten used to lots more options- there are so many museums, playgrounds, parks, ... we could never go to them all (although we've gone to a lot.) But we haven't really gotten to know a ton of people. When we're having a rough day, instead of inviting a friend over, it's been time for me to talk to God. (Of course, there have also been many phone calls to a few of my closest friends.) Ann Voskamp always names her years- maybe my name for 2011 could have been focus. Focus on James and our kids instead of time with lots of friends.

Some other traditions that we continued were our New Year's Day Run and traditional dinner Hoppin John, ham, greens, corn bread. This year we added baked donuts for breakfast- yummy!

we're excited for the New Year (even if I'm finally posting this in February!) :)


I remember hearing someone say “the days go slow but the years fly by.” How true- not every day goes slow, but the years do seem to fly. I can’t believe that for the first time in 7 ½ years no one in our house is sleeping in a crib. Well KG is still in the crib that we got before K was born, but last night James took the side down so it’s really a day bed now. Part of me is happy about not lifting our growing girl into the crib anymore, but part is definitely sad. I’m feeling that way about our diapers right now too. Not that changes are my favorite part of being a Mom but as we’re pretty much done with diapers (other than KG nighttime), I’m a little sad to part with our well-used cloth diapers. We have a super cute pic of 5 cute kids in cloth diapers (2 Cole kids and 3 of ours) And who wouldn’t love seeing a sweet baby girl in a pink polka dot diapers? But it’s also pretty nice to not change diapers!

I started this post a while ago- too bad that I already don't remember the last day with KG in her crib. but another milestone last Sunday 19 Feb we went swimming and no one wore swimmie diapers (not even me as my Facebook friend joked.) we had a lot of fun swimming

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I've always enjoyed reading Janelle's gratitude journal entries. I've often thought I should do that. So important to be thankful of all the blessings I have instead of thinking about what else I'd like to have. Kind of like Peter walking on water and then when he focused on the wind and other problems he sunk. I always loved that song "Fix your eyes upon Jesus." And tonight as I relearn Colossians. I typed over and over on "be thankful" "in all things give thanks" "sing with gratitude" ...

so here's the beginnings of my thankful journal
1- God loves me so much He sent His only Son to die that I might have eternal life
2- I have a terrific husband who loves me
3- I have 4 wonderful children here with me
4- I have a great family- parents, brothers, in-laws
5- I have some wonderful friends
6- my husband works hard to provide for our family
7- I get to stay home to teach our children and care for our home
8- my husband is living here with us- not deployed far away
9- we got to make Valentine crafts today
10- I get to spend eternity in heaven
11- we live in a nice warm house
12- we have plenty of good food to eat
13- we have two paid for vehicles that work well
14- we have plenty of clothes, toys, stuff...
15- I get to go to Bible study tomorrow morning
16- we're making friends here in Baltimore
17- there's tons of fun stuff to do here
18- I still have some great friends in NC
19- I think we'll get to see the Cole's several times this year
20- C is very excited about his new watch from Uncle Steven
21- we're planning another beach trip with my parents
22- I got to sleep for 7 uninterrupted hours last night

so many more but i better go to sleep now. who knows what the night will bring.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


My friend has been reading and reviewing tons of books. I enjoy reading and finally decided to review too. When I read the book list, I selected Awakening: 21 Days That Will Revolutionize Your Walk With God by Stovall Weems. I have not fasted much before and was interested in learning more. But I left the book on my shelf until James asked if I was planning on doing the fast that our church was doing. He said Awakening and I thought that sounded familiar. Turns out it was the fast described in this book.

I really enjoyed this book. I thought I would breeze through the early chapters and hurry to the how to part of fasting. Instead I enjoyed each chapter. Stovall’s premise is that most people have bought into the lie that we can’t always have newness and excitement in our relationship with God. He says “we’re constantly bombarded with images, sounds, and counterfeit experiences that demand our attention … and we settle for these cheap substitutes.” In part one, Stovall describes four steps of awakening- experience surrender, experience passion for God, experience God’s goodness, and create space for God to fill. As he describes those steps, he includes scripture to reinforce the importance of fasting and life stories to show God’s work in people’s lives when they fast.
One of my favorite chapters was “God is a Filler, not a Forcer.” This was a great reminder of how although God does pursue and woe us, He does not force us. We must carve out quiet time so that we may hear Him. Fasting is one of God’s ways to do that. With those thoughts, Stovall leads into Part Two- the Awakening Lifestyle. After an excellent chapter on unlocking the secrets of prayer, he outlines the differences between OT and NT fasting and how that understanding is very important in how we relate to God. With scriptural support, he also explains that fasting is a command from God. I love his statement that fasting disconnects us from the distractions of the world and prayer connects us with God.
Stovall completes the book with the 21 day Awakening plan which includes some specifics on fasting such as acceptable and unacceptable foods, different types of fasts, and a 21 day devotional. I loved the devotional which was scripturally based and included motivation for times you may struggle during the fast and help focusing your time with God. I loved when he discussed the importance of disconnecting and how you can nourish our souls through talking, socializing, playing, and entertainment. He says “When our souls are full of those things, we don’t often hunger for God.” How true!
I thought this was a great book on fasting and how it can help “awaken” your relationship with God. Stovall did a good job of explaining the steps of awakening, backing everything up with scripture, and describing different ways to fast. He concludes the book with a daily devotional for the 21 day fast. For anyone seeking to improve their relationship with God, I recommend reading this book and fasting.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review


here's thoughts I wrote down during the 21 day Awakening Fast that James and I finished yesterday (just in time for the Super Bowl party that I'm so excited to go to in a few minutes.)

So we’re on day 5 of our fast. I’m’ so glad we’re doing this. I’m typing on word now. This was James’ good idea when I was thinking about whether updating the blog was okay. I’m not trying to be legalistic but the purpose of saying no internet during this fast was to disconnect from the world and connect with God so why do I need to blog now? It has gotten a little easier each day to not check internet and I’ve been amazed at how much more time there is each day. I never felt like I was on the computer that much but it’s amazing how it adds up. Most of my internet time was been checking email and looking for good home (recipes, chores, discipline) and homeschool ideas which are not bad in themselves, unless they distract me from doing the things I should be doing or the internet becomes my source of comfort. I listened to part of Focus on the Family this morning and the book Made to Crave sounded really good. The author says God created us to crave Him, but we sometimes substitute and fill our cravings with food. Sounds like in Awakening, where Weems says we settle for cheap substitutes that bombard our days instead of making space to be filled by God.

27 JAN- today is day 12 of our fast. I really do feel much better. I was pretty hungry for the first week and still am at mealtimes now but I don’t have the spikes in my blood sugar that I usually have. We eat pretty healthy but we usually start of our day with brown sugar in our oatmeal. I started off the fast putting date honey in my oatmeal but gradually changed to a little salt and fruit. Now I like it. It’s amazing how your taste buds adapt and you can really enjoy the natural flavor when you stop having processed foods and sugar. Wednesday night we had baked potatoes with salt and pepper and James said it was the best baked potato he’d ever had. Pre-fast we’d just decided to start making our own salad dressings but they had lots of sugar. During the fast James made olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper which now I really like a lot. 1 part rice wine vinegar, 3 parts olive oil, salt & pepper.

I really think it’s true that sweet/ processed food (or TV or internet or whatever your go to item) can be distractions that can keep you from experiencing truth (like God) and really connecting in your relationships (with your spouse, your family, your friends, your own emotions). We had such a good weekend- not doing anything big- just connecting together. I think when you remove the distractions you can see more clearly too. This morning for Cereal Sunday (another great family tradition!) I had granola again but this time it was really good. I really like granola but this recipe took a little time to like. The granola is sweetened with pureed dried plums, a little apple juice, and dried fruit- our usual granola recipe has brown sugar and honey. Did the recipe change over the last two weeks? No, when I stopped filling myself with sugar I was really satisfied with the natural sweetness of the food. Isn’t that true for life too! I feel so much more content in my own life when I stop comparing my life to everyone’s perfect image on Facebook or their blog pictures of their perfectly clean house with perfect familes, perfect friendships, …

We’ve enjoyed the food (mostly). We used some vegetarian recipes we already had plus Susan Gregory’s books the Daniel Fast: feed your soul, strengthen your spirit, renew your body and Daniel Fast on a Budget. Some of our favorite meals have been quinoa hash, crepes with spinach filling, pasta with broccoli and almonds. We’ve eaten a lot of salad, fresh fruit, carrots and hummus. Unsweetened almond and soy milk has been good too for smoothies and granola. No we’re not planning on becoming vegetarians or vegans, but we do plan to have more meatless days (even James agrees now!), less sugar (love our new oil- vinegar salad dressing), and less processed items (we didn’t have much before but even less now.)