Approaching Zion—A Quality Quarantine

IMG_7756I hate to express unpopular opinions, but for many reasons I am LOVING this quarantine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of deadly viruses or endless school closures, but some of the resulting outcomes of a worldwide pandemic have actually benefitted our family. The mandatory quarantine is one example.

During the mush and mix of motherhood—especially on days when I feel totally overwhelmed—I have often wished for a long VACATION: a few weeks (or months) where the world stops and we can actually catch up on life. Right? Get through the family photos, organize the cupboards, finish the books, watch the movies, take the walks and DO everything on our “someday” lists.

Well, my at-home dream vacation wish has come true!

Our calendars are EMPTY! Our kids are all HOME! My husband CAN’T go to a meeting or run an errand or leave on a business trip. The soccer games are gone. The dance practices are on hold. The flute lessons have been cancelled. There is NOTHING going on.

Frankly, this absence of appointments is HEAVEN! For a few blessed weeks (err….months) the world has stopped spinning.

And I love it. Continue reading

Simple Things: Kate Middleton’s take on Motherhood

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I traveled on a plane this week and listened to a podcast I’d never tried before: Happy Mum, Happy Baby, by Giovanna Fletcher. The episode caught my eye because HRH Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, was the guest.

Like most of the world, I’ve watched Kate with interest during the past decade as she married Prince William and started motherhood. I felt for her when she appeared on the steps of the hospital holding a newborn–her make-up and hair flawless–and wearing heels(!) while smiling at the enamored masses. Poor Mama, I thought.

I was stunned when she arrived a few weeks later for royal duties and I couldn’t detect any baby fat anywhere! She looked amazing!

When she quickly became pregnant again and struggled with morning sickness, my heart went out to her. I hate those long days, weeks and months when nothing stays down and you become a limp mass on the couch or floor, holding onto hope that “this, too, shall pass.”

When her daughter, Charlotte, was born, I was also in the hospital (with my 10th baby) and felt a strange kinship to Kate. But, again, I was eternally grateful that I could lounge in my nightgown while she dressed and showed up for the crowds.

And when she had her 3rd child, Louis, my interest and respect grew yet again. She appeared a committed and happy mother.

Anyway, as my plane took off, I settled in with my headphones to hear what the Duchess had to say about motherhood. And, I was pleasantly–in fact, more than thrilled–at her replies.

Here are a few of my favorite take-aways from Kate’s comments:

*families are at the CENTER of our society

*it’s the SIMPLE things that create a happy childhood

*the world is a ‘real adventure for children

*the more loving people you have around, the better

*nature takes its course during birth

*midwives can play an ‘extraordinary’ role in birth

*I totally UNDERESTIMATED the impact our first baby would have on our lives.

*once a baby is born, it’s amazing and extraordinary to see pure joy on a husband’s face

*we have to try and remember the SIMPLE THINGS through the complications of life

*the STRENGTH OF FAMILY and SIMPLE ACTS OF KINDNESS unite us as a society

*How can you physically get three children out to the car at once? You can’t!

Kate also shared two aspects of childhood which make a tremendous difference:

1.) the quality of relationships

2.) the environments children spend time in, including a happy home and the power of spending time in the out-of-doors

And my favorite quote…

“Since being a mom I have found a new enjoyment out of life.”

Like I said, I LOVED her down-to-earth answers and the respect she emanated for parenting and motherhood. I felt like Duchess Kate truly valued her role as a mother and was doing her best to raise her children in a happy, loving home.

Here’s the link to the full podcast: http://aca.st/045608

I HIGHLY recommend listening!

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Meals for the Masses: Lots of Lunches

I manage LOTS of lunches everyday… You probably do as well!

And like any meal, I get tired of food and redundancy. That’s why I try to keep lunch SIMPLE and HEALTHY. And, I streamline my efforts so that my kids pack their lunches in the morning. That’s one less thing for me to think about during the day.

Here is an overview of how I manage MEALS FOR THE MASSES…at lunchtime.

Meals for the Masses: Three Easy Breakfasts

There are a MILLION ways to be a good mom… AND, there are a MILLION MEALS to fix!

Spending time in the kitchen is (unfortunately) one of my least favorite parts of motherhood. However, cooking is a necessity! And there are lots of people who depend upon my efforts everyday.

Welcome to my next three posts: MEALS FOR THE MASSES. I like to keep food simple and healthful, with minimal cleanup during the week–especially when I have kids (and a husband) coming and going at all hours.

Here are my THREE FAVORITE BREAKFASTS that make my kids happy while keeping my kitchen life stress-free.

What do you like to fix for breakfast???

 

Sibling Solutions

Every family deals with sibling rivalry, right? Arguments, bickering, disagreements… Irritation is common among brothers and sisters. After all, living in a house with other human beings isn’t always easy!

I’m not a child expert, just a mother of 10 children. But I’m happy to share what works in our home when arguments pop up. Here are a few ideas I use to limit contention among my kids.

(Thanks to my friend, Shellie, for requesting this two-minute tip.)

Enjoy!

Christmas Collage: Three Ideas to Brighten your Holiday Season

The best part of Christmas is the TRADITIONS! Here are three simple ideas that brighten our season:

-Christmas Cards

-An old Christmas story

-Cinnamon Roll Wreaths (See the traditional roll dough recipe below.)

I hope this collage of ideas makes your season a little bit BRIGHTER and SMOOTHER.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

Traditional Roll Dough (From my mom! I usually quadruple this recipe to make two full sheets of rolls, or four wreaths.)

1 TB yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 cup milk

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup shortening or butter

1 tsp salt

3 1/2 cups flour

1 egg

-Soften yeast in warm water.

-Combine milk, sugar, shortening and salt in a saucepan over medium heat while milk scalds. Cool to lukewarm.

-Pour into mixing bowl.

-Add 1 1/2 cups flour and beat well.

-Beat in yeast and egg.

-Gradually add remaining flour to form a soft dough, beating well.

Place in greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover and let rise till double. Shape as desired. Cover and let rise till double on greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes. Makes 2 dozen rolls.

For Cinnamon Roll Wreaths:

Roll dough to 16×8 inch rectangle. Combine 1/4 c sugar, 2 TBS melted butter, and 1 tsp ground cinnamon; spread over dough. Sprinkle with raisins or craisins.

Roll as for jelly roll.

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Place on greased baking sheet in circle/wreath shape.

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Cut rolls nearly through dough and twist out. Let rise rill double. Bake at 375 for 15-18 minutes. Glaze with mixture of powdered sugar and milk.

Add a festive bow and enjoy!

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Homemade Hungarian Christmas Ornaments

My daughter is in Hungary this December, and she sent me a photo of a traditional simple ornament she found at the local Christmas market in Budapest.

I decided to make one myself…using ONLY what I had on hand. No shopping!

The ornaments turned out beautifully and they SMELL SO GOOD. Just like Christmas!

The Polar Express: A Christmas Program

This month I wrote a program for a church Christmas dinner. Our theme was The Polar Express! I combined images and phrases from the book by Chris Van Allsburg and the movie staring Tom Hanks to share a Christmas message of faith in Jesus Christ.

Producing the program is simple. Here are the steps:

  1. Invite two readers to be the Conductor and Narrator. We used a married couple and it worked great! We did one practice read-through before the night of our event.
  2. Find someone to manage the PowerPoint presentation. Simple! My teenage daughter did this task for me.
  3. Download the Polar Express soundtrack and have someone cue up songs and play them throughout the narration. This can easily be done by creating a playlist. It takes a little bit of practice to fade songs in and out during the narration, but really, anyway you do it works great! The music provides a magical background to the readings.
  4. Ask one to three people to perform during the program. They can sing or dance!

Suggested Songs:

-When Christmas Comes to Town (This is especially cute if children sing it. There are easy minus tracks available online.)

-Believe (We had small ballerinas dance while the soundtrack played.)

-End the program with any song about the Savior. A Christmas carol? A contemporary piece? Even singing Silent Night as a group would be meaningful.

That’s it!

The script is included in this link: Polar Express Program

Here is the PowerPoint: PolarExpress2019

Feel free to edit and rewrite the script or rearrange images to best fit your audience and needs.

Here are a few pics from our successful evening:

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Of Abundance and Apathy – A Tribute to the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Life is easy right now. Most of the people I know have a car (more than one), a phone (more than one), a T.V. (more than one), they often take vacations (more than one) and even own a home (some have more than one).

I don’t personally know anyone going hungry, and even friends of mine who’ve experienced a “downsizing” in their job status are still able to make ends meet and live comfortably. Some would call our current standard of living “the abundant life.” And it is very abundant. However, we must be very careful that the “abundant life” doesn’t become the “apathetic life”.

This month is a good time for a wake-up call.

IMG_3159My wake-up call came when my teenage son excitedly told me one day that he had seen a piece of the Berlin Wall.

“It was behind glass,” he explained. “A real piece of the wall. Imagine that!” I waited for him to finish the story of his museum field trip before I replied.

“Actually, I have a piece of the wall downstairs,” I told him.

“You do?” He didn’t believe me.

“And, you can touch it,” I added. As he eagerly followed me to the basement, I realized that I had never shared with him two important experiences of my youth.

img_3161.jpgVarious circumstances took me to Germany twice as a teenager. The first time was in 1988, to visit Hans Dieter and Inge Wittke, Scouting friends of my dad’s. They lived in a small village near Düsseldorf, West Germany. I stayed with the Wittkes for a month while I practiced my junior high school German skills.

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As active Scouters, they provided an opportunity for me to attend a German Scout camp near Immenhausen for two weeks. Hiking, bicycling, camping, and backpacking through the green fields and hills of West Germany is an experience I will never forget. Continue reading