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So, this might be the most random post I have ever written… but I felt like writing again, it’s been a while now, and these are the thoughts that happen to be on my mind to share… 🙂

Lately I have been thinking a lot about how LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG winded I am.  This is not a new concept for me, or TO me for that matter… but I’ve just been taking notice more recently!  I know my husband has mentioned it a time or two over the years… 😉  (Edit… he mentioned it again tonight while I was telling him something that happened in my day… not in a mean way or anything, but I found it highly amusing that I had written this (not published yet) and he noted “my mad skill” again!!) 🙂  In fact, the first time I can remember hearing it was from my third grade teacher.  She didn’t use the words “long-winded”, but she did say I talked a lot.  Teachers think they know everything! 😉  *hehe*   I’ll write a facebook status and more often than not I am forced to edit my perfect words 😉  because there are too many characters involved.  Look, sometimes I have a lot to say and it needs to be said a certain way! 😀   I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing…but with me, you don’t have to worry about missing out on many of the details… which I am also not sure if that is good or bad!  LOL

I first started composing this blog post, in my head,  at 4am this morning.  I was completely and totally, 100% awake from at least 4 to 6am… possibly being prepared for middle of the night feedings and baby awakenings?!??!  🙂  I had a million thoughts going through my mind,  I wanted to get up and type then, but I didn’t want to bother anyone who WAS able to sleep like a baby in the room… 😉   I am trying now to remember everything I wanted to say then… and it seemed like a good thing to blog about at the time, but now that it’s coming out, it doesn’t seem all so interesting… 🙂  I won’t be offended if you quit reading! 😉

One thing I did definitely want to share was about  our extremely “interesting” week last week… our house was hit HARD with a flu bug.  Mike was bed-bound for 2+ days and was hardly able to eat a thing… that is very unusual for him.  It’s hard to even get him to stay home when he is sick, let alone see him pretty much physically unable to get out of bed for so long!!  😦    104* fevers, coughing, the works…   And in true Cusano fashion, all three girls took turns coming down with the bug as well, thankfully at different stages, so only one was super bad at a time.   We love to share EVERYTHING around here you know! 😉  Today was the first day in two weeks that they were ALL able to be back at school!  We are still battling coughs, but apparently that is to be expected for a while yet!  Paige ended up at the doctor’s office yesterday because I suspected she had an underlying/secondary  infection and I was right… over the years I have gotten a little too good at figuring these girls health situations out! 😉   She has a sinus infection that was causing her nasal drainage to continue on and on and on and on, so much so that she developed a rash (aka impetigo) under her nose from the constant wiping.  Her cough was also worse than the other girls due to the extra infection raining in.  She is now on antibiotics and hopefully on the mend in a QUICK way!  The doctor we saw said they have seen a multitude of cases of the H1N1 flu over the last few weeks in their office, along with a lot of cases of RSV.  She said that is more than likely everyone here had the H1N1 virus, all of the symptoms matched.   WOW!  All that hype last year about this nasty flu and hardly a peep this year and then we get it!!  I am actually quite glad I didn’t know at the time exactly what it was!!   What I did find HIGHLY interesting though were the facts she gave me that a doctor friend of hers had shared.  They had NUMEROUS cases of adults in the area, and surrounding areas, who were admitted to the ICU because of this flu, some of the most afflicted were  pregnant women!!   Apparently (any flu bug)  is one of the worst things you can get while pregnant… your body has a very hard time fighting it properly!   I shared with her that I was the ONLY one in our family of five who never had a single symptom!!  I find that pretty interesting and more than a coincidence!!    I know that many of you were praying for our family, and several of you specifically mentioned that you’d pray that I didn’t get it, and I didn’t!!!!  God was working to protect me and our precious unborn baby and I am so thankful to him for that!!! 🙂   Thank you to all of you who prayed specially for us, your prayers were answered in a mighty way, by the all mighty God!!!  🙂  God knows our needs… my family has witnessed this first hand in MANY ways over the last few weeks.  It’s really something, to watch a situation that only you and God knows about, and see that situation be resolved!  Many times at the last possible minute!  I’m not sure why God allows all of that nail-biting in there… I guess to teach patience and trust… but it DOES make the answer, which I often consider to be a miracle, even better! 🙂    God knows our needs… he meets them accordingly… not over-abundantly necessarily, but sufficiently! 🙂  What a great God we serve, even when we are SO undeserving!!   I am also extremely thankful for my mother, who even though I am grown and out of her house, STILL takes care of me as if I lived there almost! 🙂  She brought our family chicken soup and some goodies to get us through, what felt like, the valley of the shadow of death!!   I remember Mike saying at one point he didn’t feel like he would ever feel normal and 100% again!!  It was a rough week+ with lots of answers to prayer,  and us seeking God’s face and him showing himself faithful, as he always does! 🙂   What a blessing, in a huge disguise!!! 🙂

I have had a song in my head frequently over the last month or so… I wanted to share the lyrics.

One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day they led Him up Calvary's mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now He's ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing
My Savior, Jesus, is mine

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

Oh, glorious day

 

Thank you for reading my ramblings… it’s nice to get things on to paper, not just so that you can read them now, but so that I can come back to the blog in the future and re-read posts and see what was going on in the Cusano household at the time.  This is my on-line journal!  I guess that shows how often I journal! 😉     Things are about to get crazy around here… many things will change in the next couple of months.  We will welcome a baby and I feel like life as we know it will not be any longer.   I am not saying this is a bad thing, but a very “different” thing.  I am excited to see the changes emerge, to see the girls with a new sibling, to see Mike with his own infant again (because we all know that the guys aren’t the same with any other baby as they are with their very own!) and to see how life with an infant feels… I have three children, but find myself feeling like I’ve never even been through the infant stage before!  I am hoping to remember a thing or two along the way!  🙂

We’ll keep you updated as the dates get closer… fourth and final baby Cusano is on the way… fast and furious, can’t wait to meet him OR her! 🙂

Until next time…

Come in-laugh much-visit often

 

My first-born turned eight years old today… eight seems SO old for a child (as least any child of MINE!)  A friend an I were talking about how eight seems SO much older than seven… it really does!  It’s sort of  a scary thing when *I* myself can remember being the age that one of my children are… time goes SO fast!!!  Eight is old, I can remember things from when I was around that age, and from here on out (and quite possibly even before now) she’ll be able to remember things up into her adulthood from right now!   I guess that means I can’t mess up as a mom anymore… hmmmmmm!  :/

My kids are all growing so very fast!!  I feel like it was just a little while back when I had Ainsley!   I can remember that day oh so well!  (UNLIKE the fact that I can hardly remember what I ate for breakfast most of the time these days!!! 😉 )        The doctors had tried to induce labor the entire day, because I was starting to have serious blood pressure issues and they wanted the baby to be born.  I never did dilate and ended up needing to have a c-section… it was a LONG day, I was given a lot of unpleasant medicines to help with the blood pressure issues, so I was extremely groggy and tired and had been through a lot.   I remember the nurse trying to instruct me on something after the birth and I kept falling sleep while she was talking.. ahh the memories of that day! 🙂   After Ainsley was born, all was well… she was born at 3:19pm, weighed 7lbs 13 oz and was 20 1/2 inches long!   She is now almost 5 feet tall!!!  Mike used to measure her under his chin… like saying she was from his chin to about half way down his chest, when she was just a baby… NOW, she is from his chin all the way down to his toes!!  When she stands, he is only the height of his head taller than her!  She may just pass him up one day!!! 😀

I had to be in the hospital for a few days because of the blood pressure and having had a c-section, but finally we were released.  I remember coming home and Mike, Ainsley and I laying on our bed and me thinking… “oh my goodness… I have a baby… WHAT where we thinking and what in the world do I do now?”   I was only 20 years old when I gave birth to Ainsley and had only been married 11 short months!!!   I wanted a baby more than anything… but I was young, and had NEVER taken care of a baby 24/7!  (Even though I had TONS of experience with babysitting… even some “live in”  babysitting… when I’d go and spend a week or more at a time with the family!)  I THOUGHT I knew everything about having children… that is until I had my own! 🙂    By the grace of God and lots of help and encouragement from friends and family along the way… we’ve made it!  Here we are EIGHT years later!!! 🙂  It’s unbelievable!!!

Ainsley is such a blessing!!  She is the best first-born child I could have ever asked for!  She was a GREAT baby… a super toddler/preschooler, she never really gave me any big problems… I was telling some friends the other day, I had NO stress just having one child… I can hardly even remember those days, we just did whatever, she was so go with the flow.   She has always been an excellent big sister, I can remember when Paige was born, Ainsley was 2 1/2 at the time and she’d get me diapers or wipes, whatever it was I needed, help entertain her, feed her bottle of  “mute-la” to her (what she called formula back then).   She’s always been an excellent helper!    One of my favorite words she had when she was younger was “chupet”… that was her word for Ketchup.  Those are some of the things I NEVER want to forget… it’s hard to remember the little things that made those first years so special!!! 🙂   Ainsley  has always been very teachable, a very fast learner!!  She does so well in school, it comes easy for her and I am thankful for that!  She definitely gets that from her daddy and I hope it stays that way!!!  She is so pleasant, even others say that… I guess THAT is how you know it’s for real, when she’s like that for others too! 🙂   Granted, she has her moments, she’s definitely not perfect, but she is a GREAT girl and I couldn’t ask for more!  😀   She has such a kind heart, (just don’t ask her sisters! 😉 ), she loves to please and wants to do what is right! (Usually :p )   She has the greatest, deep down, from the depths of the belly laugh, that comes out when she is really happy and someone makes her laugh!   You can’t help but laugh yourself when she laughs like that!!  She used to laugh so hard when she was little, that every single time you’d make her laugh she’d get hiccups and we’d have to be careful because she’d laugh until she threw up… I know not a pretty sight… but a sign of a HAPPY kid! 😉  (And yes, that was TOO happy for me! 😛 )

I truly have a special girl… born eight short, short years ago today!  I am thankful for that day, for these past eight years and for God’s protection and grace he’s given our family over the years!  Without him, we wouldn’t be where we are today… Ainsley wouldn’t be the girl she is today!!!   I pray Ainsley continues to grow in the Lord… she asked Jesus to come into her heart on August 16th 2008.   She has a desire to  learn more and asks questions all the time… that makes us as parents happy!

Parenting is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do… but so worth every moment!!!  My girls are the world to me and I wouldn’t trade them or my husband for anything in the world!!!  I love them dearly!

HAPPY 8TH BIRTHDAY SWEET AINSLEY… MOMMY AND DADDY LOVE YOU “BIG MUCH”! 😀

Until next time…

Come in-laugh much-visit often

Hey friends!!   I’m going to share something here, that I wasn’t sure if I would share… it was information kept on the “down low” if you will… but I think it might be important to tell my story… maybe it could help someone else?!  I never intended for this to be a “secret”, I just wasn’t going to publish the information, but I think it’s a good idea to get it out, to “talk about it” in a way.   If you ever have a question for me about what you read, or ever want to talk if you have been through, or are going through a similar situation… feel free to send me a message.   I am a talker, I’ll talk to most anyone… I want to help.   There is a reason for things that happen… good or bad, I don’t know what that reason is, but I surely wouldn’t want to miss my part in making this situation an easier place!

This has been a challenging week in our world at the Cusano house.  I know of several families who have had hard weeks this past week!  I hope everyone is finding some solace in God’s love!!!   Sometimes though, that can be much easier said than done.   God has a reason for everything he does, I do know that.   Ecclesiastes 3 tells us “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven”.   Sometimes it is hard to hold fast to those truths we know so well… we let grief and self pity leech in and take over our crying soul!  The flesh is always there, whether a person has Christ in their lives or not, it’s an ever present force fighting against us… TRYING it’s best to overcome the spirit that lives within us.  BUT, with God ALL things are possible… ALL things!!!

This past week, we found out we had lost what we thought would be our fourth child entering this world, due on Christmas day.   I had decided to wait on “announcing” the pregnancy publicly because I didn’t want to have to come back  and “un-announce” if anything happened.   I was twelve weeks into my fifth pregnancy (we lost another baby back in February 2004).  I was having some anxiety and wanting to hear this child’s heartbeat, so I set up an appointment to go in earlier than my scheduled check-up (which was to be this Wednesday, I would have been 13 1/2 weeks along.  My doctor was on vacation this past week, which is why I had to wait a week past the normal 12 week check in a pregnancy) to listen for heart tones on our baby.  It was a nurse visit, and she attempted to pick up the heartbeat with what they call a doppler device that listens for the tones through my abdomen.   She was unable to find one, but thought she was hearing some flutters and couldn’t find baby under my own heart rhythm.   The nurse sent me back to the ultrasound technician there in our office to check and see what was going on.   The tech ran a scan, I knew there was most likely a problem,because she wasn’t getting right to “the good news” she was poking around and measuring and asking questions… I’ve had enough ultrasounds in my day to know what a heartbeat looks like and I hadn’t seen one on this scan yet…  there was not one.  Our baby had died.   Our baby only measured about nine weeks along, which means the baby had been dead for about three weeks.  😦   I had my two little girls with me, so both myself and the ultrasound tech were trying hard to keep things low key and not make a huge deal.   When I did start to tear up, Chloe asked me if I was sad because daddy wasn’t here?  I told her YES!  That was definitely a reason to be sad!!!  Thankfully she came up with her own reason for me to be sad, because I wasn’t ready to tell them what had happened just yet.   They set me up with a doctors visit right away, and one of the nice nurse staff came and took the girls to color and have juice boxes in another room.    I talked with the doctor, we discussed all my options and the most likely reasons that this sort of thing happens.
What I had is most commonly known as a “missed miscarriage”.  They are not all that common in a pregnancy though, only a small amount of miscarriages are the “missed” sort.  The number one cause of a missed miscarriage is an abnormality in the chromosomal makeup of the baby.   This sort of complication is just not compatible with life.  My doctor assured me it was nothing that I did, or could have done.  Even if we would have known exactly what was wrong and exactly what would happen, there was nothing they or I could have done to prevent this.   It doesn’t make the situation one bit easier to handle, this was my child I was carrying… even though it was only nine weeks into gestation, this was a real life, I saw the heartbeat of this baby at only 6 weeks along, via ultrasound!   A LOT has happened by nine weeks into a pregnancy, all of the baby’s vital parts are formed and in place, the heart has separated into it’s four separate chambers, it’s really quite amazing!!!   This was really a little life that we lost and that is exactly how it feels!!!

One very positive thing that this situation does is makes me very EXTRA thankful for the three beautiful lives I have been able to successfully bring into this world!  I SO love my girls and hugging them is a bit sweeter these days!  I hug a little tighter each time,they are so special to me and I am so very thankful for them and who they are and all that they mean to me and my husband!   I’m also so very thankful to have a great husband through this sort of trial.   He deals with this sort of thing differently than I do, I am very emotional, I still have those crazy hormones giving me grief as well, so that just heightens the situation all the more.   My poor husband, I know he doesn’t always know exactly what to do with me ;), but he does a great job and is there for me and my girls!    The little girls didn’t seem to be too phased by this… they don’t understand everything going on, but our sweet Ainsley knew exactly what all of this meant and was very sad right away.   Her and I had our good cry together and then took a nice nap with each other!   She is a sweet, sweet girl and I hate to see her upset and sad!   She and daddy had a good talk later on while going to the store together too, and that helped her understand better and start healing a little!  That girl and her daddy have a special relationship that I am so thankful for!   Often times he does better talking with her and getting her to tell what is on her mind than I can!  (JERK! 😉  JUST KIDDING!!!!!)  I am happy she confides in him so freely, and I informed Mike a LONG time back that I took the baby years on, he gets the teenage years!!!  🙂  The thing is, I think he’ll handle it with no problem!!! 🙂   He is a great daddy!!!    (HAPPY FATHER’S DAY MIKE!!!)

My doctor and I decided that it would probably be best for me to go ahead with a surgical procedure called a D&C to remove the pregnancy.   All the factors involved seemed to favor moving ahead with that decision.   I had the surgery this past Tuesday afternoon.  I had the absolute BEST team of caregivers on my side that day.  They did an EXCELLENT job of taking care of me!  From the lady who checked me in at the desk to the final nurse who wheeled me out to my car, post-procedure, the staff at Bronson Methodist Hospital is TOP-notch and the very best around!!!  I couldn’t say more about the care I was given!  They were GREAT!!!!   I wish I could do more to thank each one of them… during a situation like that, it takes a special person to care for the patient, they are having a rough time and need tender care, they ALL had what it took and then some!!!   The recovery process was pretty quick, physically.

We decided to have our precious baby buried at the sight we buried our other baby in 2004.   There is a wonderful funeral home in Plainwell, MI with a service just for still born and miscarried babies.  They have a special plot dedicated for these babies to be buried.   This used to be a completely free service, when we used it in 2004, we didn’t pay a penny.  They do have a small fee now, as the times have changed and they do have costs that go into offering these services.  They pick the baby’s remains up from the hospital for us, wrap the baby appropriately and bury them for us.  It’s a nice thing to have a place to visit and remember this child of ours for years to come!   We now have two babies to go and remember even though we know they are both safe in the arms of Jesus, not in that dirty ground!!!    Heaven got sweeter to us, six years ago, when our first baby went home to be with Jesus at around 13 weeks gestation… now we have two babies up there waiting for us to arrive and meet them someday.    I am thankful for the promise of heaven we can have and hold on to, even in days when I am weary, days when I wonder why, why, why???… God is still there, waiting for me to look to him and take his hand and just walk with him.   He’s ready to carry me, I don’t even have to walk!!!

A friend of mine on facebook had a few lyrics from a song on her page this week… I stole them and put them on my status as well. 🙂  They are a real comfort and a real truth to remember in time of hardship!

“God is too wise to be mistaken…God is too good to be unkind…so when you don’t understand, when you can’t see His plan, when you can’t feel His hand – trust His heart”

Wow, that is good stuff isn’t it?!?!  🙂

Thank you to my friends and family that were praying and sending me special notes and even flowers!!!  It was HUGE to know others cared… to know we were NOT alone in this, even when there were many times I felt like I was!!!    THANK YOU… never think that there is such a thing as too much care and concern… a note can mean so very much!!!

We don’t know what the future holds now for our family… we look forward to God’s plan and what he has for us.   Only he knows the perfect path for the Cusano family!!

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.”  2 Samuel 22:31

So, I haven’t been keeping up with this whole blogging idea all that well… but what can I say?  My life has been busy, busy, BUSY lately!   We’ve managed to encounter basically EVERY germ type and sort known to man here in our little family, in the last few weeks… ok so not really, and boy am I ever thankful for that!  We have had our fair share of germs lately though.  Of course it all started on Mother’s day… I rang in my day being a true Momma… we had a nasty stomach bug that hit all five of our family members within 48 hours of the first onset of symptoms, wow was that a fun one! 😦  We had to miss Mother’s day festivities with the family and hang out at home.  We seem to be getting REALLY good at missing “holiday” events.  We tend to choose those days to be sick! 😦  My mom says we just should stop planning things, maybe she is right! 😉

My girls are such troopers, they do their thing, deal with their illness,  and move on!  WAY better than I did at that age, or really even do now! 😉   We decided we shouldn’t just stop at stomach bugs,  we managed to catch strep throat and pink eye over the past couple weeks as well, I think Ainsley carried it home to us from school (how sweet of her!) … that stuff tends to take a little longer and has taken longer for each new person to get it, which prolongs the “sick period” around here to what feels like an eternity!   Going through all of this can really weigh a person down… man!   I am ready to trade in my “nurse-momma” card for a new one… I’d even take the “referee momma” card at this point!  LOL  It’s amazing the things you forget you are normally bothered by when the kids are sick.  Such as arguing and fighting… I LONG to hear that when they are all down and out… if only they were well enough, they could get up and fight over something! 🙂   I remember hearing them arguing in the other room the other day after several days of not feeling so well, and it was pure bliss to my ears!!!   Strange huh?!? 😀
It’s the little things we tend to take for granted… is that why I’ve been faced with all this to deal with?  I need to remember to remember?  Who knows… but I have come to realize I am so thankful for even the small things, the fact that my kids are healthy (contrary to the popular, most recent,belief!) and not chronically ill, not facing an illness that we don’t know from one minute to the next if they’ll even be here for me to take care of!  I guess that makes me thankful that I am able to take care of them, even in sick times!  They are an inspiration to me, to be better… to be as strong as them even when they are sick!   That is a concept… they are sick and stronger than me?  Yep, I think it’s true sometimes!  They don’t lie around complaining… they usually soak up the extra attention, take advantage of being waited on hand and foot, and watching tv 24/7 without consequence!  🙂   Kids are great… they really are!  At least mine are! 🙂   I’m so thankful for them and the gift that they are, the enlightenment they bring to our lives and the joy… pure joy! 🙂   I am SO looking forward to a healthy spurt around here, if we can get one… I think like the next 10 years without illness should just about do it! 😉   I am also UBER (that word is dedicated to you Mike) thankful for a husband who helps me out so, SO much!   We don’t have that “wife’s job” rule at our house, even though he works an out of the house, 40+ work week job… if he sees things aren’t just right for whatever reason, he’ll pitch in and do them for me and make sure things are getting done when I can’t or haven’t been able to get to them! 🙂   This team work thing, really makes life SO much easier and more enjoyable! 😉  Thanks Mike, you’re a charm! 😀

In other news… this is memorial day weekend!!!  The “official” start of SUMMER!!!! 🙂  WHOO-HOO!!!  I am so excited about summer and summer break and HEAT!  We have had no lack of heat this past week around my area, which is FINE by me… I have air conditioning! 🙂   There is actually a very funny story behind that… you see, about a month or so ago (back in chilly days) I told Mike, I think we can make it through a good part of the summer without turning on the air!  We have a REALLY nice breeze most of the time at our house with all the windows open, we live among fields and it usually travels through nicely… well, I made it through day two of the first hot spell… that is pretty good RIGHT!?!? 🙂  Hey, things change… a woman suffers, cries and whines and then the air gets turned on! 🙂  (Not really, but I did have some influence in the decision! :P) I say it is all in the name of a “test run”.  We wouldn’t want to wait until it’s BLAZING hot out and then try out the air for the first time of the year and it not work RIGHT?!   We are still in “test run” mode… not sure how long this test will take to complete! 😉

I love ALL things summer and am so excited about this one! 🙂  Nothing huge in the plans for our family, but it looks to be a nice few months!   I love it when Ainsley is home with us each day, no getting up early for school or rushing the kids off to bed at night because they need extra sleep for school… it’s ALL good! 🙂   Trips to the beach, park play dates with all of our friends, picnic lunches, garage sales… the list goes on and on!!!   I hope you are all enjoying these first heat filled, bbq calling our name, new sprinkler buying, kids frolicking in the heat, SUMMER filled days! 🙂   Until next time… stay cool!   (WHY on Earth did I just think to say the phrase.. “Stay Classy San Diego!” ???  MIKE!!!)

Come in-laugh much-visit often

I’m adding this on… I haven’t heard this song in YEARS, but thought of the lyrics this afternoon…

Lately I've been winning battles left and right
But even winners can get wounded in the fight
People say that I'm amazing
Strong beyond my years
But they don't see inside of me
I'm hiding all the tears

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
The warrior is a child

Unafraid because His armor is the best
But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I'm amazing
Never face retreat
But they don't see the enemies
That lay me at His feet

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and and cry for just a while
'Cause deep inside this armor
the warrior is a child

They don't know that I go running home when I fall down
They don't know who picks me up when no one is around
I drop my sword and look up for a smile
'Cause deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
Deep inside this armor
The Warrior is a Child

Recently we took a small vacation up north to spend the weekend away,  just us and our lovely girlies!  We ended up getting a hotel with a small water park right in it in Mackinaw City and the kids had a BLAST!  It was the perfect little getaway for us!  While we were so close, we decided to give my big brother a call.  He lives up in Germfask (blink and you’ll miss it little town about an hour and a half northWEST *edit 🙂 * of the bridge.)   We ended up going up there for the evening and enjoying a nice time with him, his wife and their family!  We don’t get to see them much, so it was a great time all together!  The kids had a blast up in “wilderness ville”!  There isn’t much to do there, you have to entertain yourself with the “great outdoors”! 🙂  Thanks to Jim’s kids and their friends, our girls stayed well entertained!!!

While we were there my sister-in-law, Julie mentioned this REALLY yummy sounding dinner she’d made for my niece’s birthday a couple of weeks back.  Homemade Chinese dinner is what they called it!  Julie says she doesn’t EVER go to a Chinese restaurant to eat out, “you never know what you are going to get” is what she says! 🙂  YIKES! 😉    Can’t say I don’t blame her there. (They don’t eat out much anyway, because the nearest restaurant of any kind is an hour or more away!!)   She makes her own Chinese meal at home, she shared the recipes with me and I made it a few weeks after we got back home, and OH MY WORD… YUMMY!!!  It is SO delicious and not too hard either!  I’ve been telling a lot of people about it recently so I said I’d post it on my blog so you could try it too!  If you like good Chinese, you won’t regret taking the time to make this… SO delicious, my mouth waters just thinking about it all!! 🙂   I will say one thing, it’s best to have EVERYTHING all chopped up and ready to go before you start, because the actual process is pretty quick and if you aren’t ready to go with stuff, you may run into trouble!  I had to stop at one point in my first attempt at this meal to “catch up” on some prep, but went along fine after that and all was REALLY well! 😉   I’d say make and assemble the egg rolls first, then you can fry them up while you are working on the stir fry part!

Chicken with Cashews

1 1/3 Pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

6 tablespoons soy sauce

4 teaspoons cornstarch

4 tablespoons dry sherry (Rachel Ray says you should NEVER use a wine labeled “cooking wine” so buy the real thing and keep it around for this recipe… believe me, if you make this meal and much as me,  it will go fast!) 🙂

2 teaspoons grated ginger root (I just bought mine pre-grated in a little jar by the jarred garlic)

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 tablespoons cooking oil

2 medium green peppers, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

4 green onions, bias sliced into 1 inch lengths

1 cup Cashews (I use the halves and pieces can)

Hot cooked rice (I used brown rice, it was just as yummy with this!)

Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir soy sauce into cornstarch; stir in dry sherry, ginger root, sugar, salt, and red pepper.  Set aside.  Preheat a wok or large skillet over high heat; add cooking oil.  Stir fry green peppers and onions in hot oil for 2 minutes or until crisp-tender.  Remove from wok or skillet.  Add cashews to wok or skillet; stir fry 1-2 minutes or until just golden brown.  Remove from pan.  (Add more oil if needed at this point) Add half of the chicken to the hot wok, stir fry for 2 minutes (I did mine until I felt like it was DONE!) 🙂  Remove meat and add remaining half of chicken and stir fry2 minutes again.   Return all chicken to wok or skillet.  Stir soy mixture; stir into chicken.  Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly.  Stir in veggies and cashews; cover and cook 1 minute more.  Serve chicken and veggies at once.  Makes 4-6 servings.

Egg Rolls  (um, yeah, I said HOMEMADE EGG ROLLS!!!)  Heaven, in your kitchen! 😉

1 Head of Cabbage – chopped  (I used my grater and grated mine up finely)

Carrots – chopped  (I cheated and bought a pre-chopped bag and just dumped in enough to look like a good mix with the other ingredients)

Green Onions – chopped (I used 3-4?)

1 can baby shrimp (This didn’t seem like enough to me, so I used two… if you like the baby shrimp in your egg roll to be NOTICED… add extra… you KNOW who you are! 😉  )

1 can bean sprouts (yep, just put it in, it’s good!) 🙂

Fry up all ingredients in frying pan until it mixes well and is warm throughout and soft.

Add in 1 Tablespoon Peanut butter (yep, just put it in, it’s good!)  🙂   Let it melt all in.

Put into Egg Roll wraps, I found these in the produce section of my local store… like by the bagged salads. (You seal these with a mixture of cornstarch and water, just paint a little on the edges with your finger.  The wrapper inside of the egg roll wraps shows instruction on how to assemble the “perfect” egg roll… it really worked)

Deep fry until done!   ( I choose to use canola oil, TRYING to make it a teeny bit better!) 😛

Now, I know what you are thinking… this lady just posted like 2-3 times about eating healthy and making better choices, why is she now deep-frying egg rolls???  Well, this is a SPECIAL occasion meal! 😉  You know, like oh, it’s Tuesday and I need an egg roll kind of special??? 😛   Yeah, I know, this isn’t something we’ll have often!  Quite honestly I HAD to try this meal because my brother sent me home from his house with some homemade jalapeno jelly and told me I HAD to try it with these homemade egg rolls, so that is why I first made this, before the jelly was gone! 🙂   I was JUST trying to obey my brother! 😉  He IS my elder you know!   Anyway, then I HAD to make the meal again the next week, because we were having dinner at my mom and dad’s.  So I made it for them too! 🙂  It was a hit! 🙂    You’ll be happy to know, I am making this meal this week MINUS the egg rolls! 🙂  The rest seems to be an ok dealy to have here and there! 🙂  I will omit the fact that we finished the meal at my mom’s with a “coca cola cake”… but yeah, I am omitting that part! 😉

If you try this meal, please let me know what you think!  It is SO worth the little bit of extra time it may take to put it all together!  My family was all impressed and it was really like having Chinese take out at home… only fresher… tastier… and you KNOW what is going into your food! 😉

ENJOY!! 😀

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I had a SWEEEEEEEET friend tell me tonight that she was looking for updates on my blog from previous post topics! 🙂  I LOVE it that someone was wondering how my new adventures were going! 😉    I have one word for how my new adventures are going…. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRREAT! 😉  (In the words of the famous Tony the Tiger!)   We’ve been venturing into more new and exciting foods with my girls and I’ve been making the purees I mentioned in the last post and HIDING them in things, and the girls haven’t even noticed!  I’d say that is success!! 🙂    Last week I made the mac and cheese recipe from Jessica Seinfeld’s book “Deceptively Delicious” with whole wheat pasta, low-fat cheeses, and (HIDDEN) butternut squash puree… I got rave reviews, even from the neighbor boy who stayed over for dinner and had no idea what he’d just eaten!!!  😀   They gobbled everything up and never blinked an eye!  I of course served it with other veggies too, because the amount of puree added into the entrée can’t be a full vegetable serving or the taste would be too obvious and ruin the “fun”! 🙂   We’ve also tried banana bread (with hidden cauliflower), the girls loved that!  I on the other hand, was not so much a fan… I prefer my old standby recipe full of fatty oils and butter and white flour and sugar… BUT… that recipe will have to remain just that, a standby!  If the kids like the new and improved, I am good!   The pancake recipe with sweet potato went over really well too, they gobbled them up without asking any questions! 🙂   The only one who asks is the hubby, but only because he KNOWS! 😉  He comes to the table asking “so what did ya hide in this meal???” 🙂   Gotta love it! 😉
I can’t say enough good about this puree idea… you just roast or steam the veggie of choice, puree it in a blender or food processor (I used a blender because that is all I have, but I fully intend on getting a food processor, I think that will be MUCH easier!!!) then divide it into 1/2 cup serving sizes (which is most frequently used).  I choose to store the purees in sandwich sized plastic baggies and freeze them, then when thawing time comes, I just put the frozen baggie in a bowl of hot water in the sink and within about 5 minutes, we have ready to use puree! 🙂   Couldn’t be easier!  (Well, unless the magic fairies came and did it for me, but I don’t see that happening, since they NEVER show up to clean my house, I doubt they’ll come do my puree making! 😉 )

Tonight we had a delicious menu that didn’t include purees, but did include two new foods to see our table top!   We had grilled chicken (wonderfully prepared by the hubs grill-master himself), baked sweet potato fries (um, YUM!), pan seared asparagus and watermelon!  The girls had never had sweet potato fries OR asparagus before and really liked them both!  I am just SO proud of my girls for doing so well on this venture of ours!  They are willing, (of course after a couple of weeks of coaxing) to try new things and they usually end up liking them!  HOORAY!!!   Ainsley told me tonight that she wants asparagus in her lunch everyday!  LOL   I am now a true believer in making kids try things, and then try, try again! 🙂  (Maybe not in the same sitting, but in the next couple of days!  It’s working!!!)  Granted, there are things they don’t like, Chloe is not a fan of the sweet potatoes… she did eat one or two of the fries tonight, but that is not her favorite thing, and that is ok!  As long as she tries it, I am fine, and she did eat the other veggie option, so our bases were covered!  I think that is key, making sure there is something they will eat, that way you don’t try fighting  a losing battle! 🙂  I’d rather lose the battle than clean “the battle” up off of the floor because it really just disgusted them too much to keep it down! 😉    And please let me re-iterate here… these are my chicken nugget loving- french fry eating- the more processed and fried food choices the better-children we are talking about here… not children that are used to all the colors of the rainbow appearing on their dinner table plate… it has taken time and effort on everyone’s part, but the road is less bumpy these days, smooth and steady wins the race eh?! 🙂

Another venture we began recently is gathering around ALL together as a complete family and reading our newest book called “the Jesus Storybook Bible” each night before bed.  The kids are really enjoying it and are learning so much from the descriptive stories we read!  It is always so exciting to teach our kids about Jesus, the information they retain is amazing and even helpful to their little lives, even at these young ages!!  They know right from wrong, and occasionally try to follow that! 😉   LOL  We call Paige our “little sponge”!  Boy does that girl soak up the knowledge!  You can watch her face and know just by the look she has that she is “processing” and retaining things!  It’s amazing to see her at work!    And she really remembers!  Mike was quizzing the girls on the stories we’ve read thus far, and she remembers a lot of surprising details!   (Especially about Jacob’s first wife Leah and how she was a princess in God’s eyes!  We NEVER miss a princess story in this house!!!)    This is a great reader for the kids, as well as the parents! 😉  Thank you SO very much to our dear, sweet, and special 😉 friend Lisa for recommending this read to us, we love it!!  AND ours came with audio cd’s that can be listened to in the car, our girls are always anxious to hear them!!   This purchase was definitely WELL worth the money spent and I highly recommend it! 🙂   (Maybe even BEFORE you purchase the “deceptively delicious” book! 😉 )

During our story time, a song came to mind… yes it’s a children’s song, but one I remember well (actually mostly from teen group days, not childhood days!)

        • Happiness is to know the Savior,
          Living a life within His favor,
          Having a change in my behavior,
          Happiness is the Lord.
          Happiness is a new creation,
          Jesus and me in close relation,
          Having a part in His salvation,
          Happiness is the Lord.

          Real joy is mine, no matter if teardrops start;
          I’ve found the secret, it’s Jesus in my heart!

          Happiness is to be forgiven,
          Living a life that’s worth the living,
          Taking a trip that leads to Heaven,
          Happiness is the Lord,
          Happiness is the Lord,
          Happiness is the Lord!

It’s really true, my greatest happiness comes when the Lord is involved! 🙂

I’m just sure there was more I planned to ramble on about tonight, but alas, I cannot think of anything more!  You know this IS Monday after all!   (And yes, I did have to think for a minute to figure out this was ONLY Monday!  YIKES!)  Mike and I were talking the other night about how we vote to add in another Friday night to the week… there is no better time of the week than Friday night if you ask me!  We usually make it our family night, have a fun dinner (maybe even OUT!) then a family movie or activity…  not much better than some good family time! 😀   And then, to top it all off, you get to sleep in the next morning!!!  (Or, if you have early risers that don’t respond well to being knocked back out for a couple of hours with a large mallet,  at least there is usually nowhere to have to be the next morning!)  🙂    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh  BUT, this is Monday, so we won’t dwell on all of that right now!  We’ll just focus on this wonderful week ahead and the promising weather for tomorrow in the lovely Kalamazoo region! 🙂     I hope you all have a super week! Hey, just go ahead and plan for it to be a super week!!!  😀

Thanks for visiting!

Come in-laugh much-visit often

Boy, I was all excited about this here blog of mine and then look at me, I didn’t write for DAYS! 🙂  Oh well… I was kind of busy.  My dad was in the hospital for 3 1/2 days trying to scare the gravy out of me.   He was diagnosed with pneumonia, but also had a really  high fever (for an older person) which we think caused him to hallucinate and become very agitated!  He was NOT the dad I knew there for a couple of days!  They also had him heavily medicated for the first while which made it hard for him to know up from down.   Praise the Lord, he is doing MUCH better and was able to go home today!  I had so many wonderful friends come to my aid and pray for him and our family!  Without them, it may not have gone quite so well!  So thank you, all of you!  I truly have the greatest friends, and I am increasingly  thankful for you all!!!  ❤

Well, back to the here and now… I wanted to write about “current topics”, things that are going on in my life and things that are going on around me.  One thing that seems to be ALWAYS going around is some sort of diet.  The new thing to do, the newest food to avoid like the plague,  the newest pills to pop, the newest workout (including those great glove accessories that if you wear you are sure to lose an extra 1000 lbs on top of your already guaranteed 2000!) 😉  Everyone and their brother has heard of “yo-yo dieting” we’ve all done it and failed miserably.    Why is that?  Why can’t we find something that works for us?  WithOUT going under a knife is the way I prefer! 🙂   (Although that is an amazing thing for a lot of people, I am not knocking gastric bypass surgery, just hoping I never have to take the route!!!)   Anyway, I think it’s not as hard as I once thought it was… being healthy and (possibly) loosing some weight along the way, that is! 🙂

My main goal in making changes in our house, wasn’t even initially to lose weight” it’s to make sure I am being healthy and most importantly, that my children are healthy!  I am the only chance they have at this point, I am responsible for the first (lotta) years of their lives, and if I fail them, they can look back and blame me… it WILL be my fault as their mother, the one who prepared their meals and told them what they could or could not have.  The one who chooses what foods enter the doors of this house!   I watched an episode of Dr Phil recently on obese children (I RARELY watch this show, but noticed the topic and decided to tune in.)  It really was a wake up call to me!   We as parents have the opportunity to mold our children’s health and quite possibly their entire future right now!   I am teaching my girls what is healthy and what they should or should not eat, I am molding their tastes… there are studies out there that show if you offer a particular food to a small child enough times that he or she will eventually learn to tolerate and possibly even like the food!!!   Trust you me, I KNOW all about finicky eaters!  I have one that will gag at the sight of a disgusting food, we’ve learned that the hard way! 😉  However, our kids are made to take at least one bite and really try it.  I do NOT make my children “finish their plates” I don’t think that is ever a good idea, in my opinion it teaches them to finish the food whether or not they are still hungry, which can lead to over eating and a misunderstanding of what being full really means.  We’ve had a LOT of new things on our plates over the past couple of weeks, veggies galore!!!  I think I’ve served three different kinds of squash over the last week and two of them Paige and Chloe had no part of liking… however when I put the butternut squash on the table tonight and only called it “a yummy new vegetable” they ate it up and loved it!  Sometimes an association is all the problem is… they THINK they don’t like it… they won’t even give it a real try!  We are learning, trial and error it is for us.  We are making progress though, if Paige can choke it down, anyone can!!! 😀  Would you believe there were times I served a meal at our house and didn’t even have a vegetable?  I mean sure maybe a bag of frozen corn, or a can of green beans here or there, but rarely a thought out, cooked from a recipe veggie!!  I was always more focused on my “fancy” meat dish, or my glorious potato concoction! 🙂  I’ve switched my focus, we have a lean meat of some sort, one to two veggies, and a fruit.   Occasionally a whole grain added in there, but we usually cover those earlier in the day with sandwiches or breakfast items.   It’s really not a hard concept, just a missed and often forgotten one.

I learned a rule of sorts from a friend of mine, it’s called “OPH”!  I think it’s a great rule and can really help out in “times of need” 🙂  At home, I am really strict with what I bring into the house… NO junk, all whole grains, lots of veggies, fruits, lower sugar items (ie, natural peanut butter (NEVER thought I could do that!!!) unsweetened applesauce, low-fat natural dairy products etc…) however when we are out or at Other People’s Houses “OPH” we can stray a bit from the “norm” of at home life.  Maybe have that steak or that ice cream we’ve been really wanting!   It’s also helpful, because I don’t want my kids to be rude when we are at someone’s house.  And say “well you can’t eat that, you’ll be dead by tomorrow for sure” 🙂  It’s also kind of a crutch in the process!  I know from experience, if you feel completely deprived of something you are much more apt to cave and fail at your goal!  This allows for some leeway, but with limitations, which are very necessary in this process!   The ultimate satisfaction in this all is that feeling you have at the end of the day, when you are in bed, ready to go to sleep at night and can honestly say to yourself you didn’t over-indulge, you made healthy choices, and you are “doing the body good” 🙂

That brings me to what I believe is the second step in this process… “over indulge?” 🙂   Now that we’ve switched to healthier choices, it’s now onto portion control!  Even though I’ve prepared a healthy meal and placed it before my starving eyes (oh, and stomach!) I need to realize when I am full… seems like that would be a normal part of eating doesn’t it?  Well I think for most people it isn’t!!!  We eat until the food is gone, because that is what we were served or at times just because it is there.  Restaurants these days,  serve WAY too much food for one sitting, (which I usually enjoy because that can mean leftovers!!! :))  We are just accustomed to eating too much in a sitting.   One thing I’ve learned is to eat off or a small plate, or a salad size plate.  We got (GORGEOUS) new dishes for Christmas from my momma and daddy and I RARELY get the large ones out of the cupboard… we use the smaller ones!  Less room to fill up and less “feel the need” to eat! 🙂  I really think it helps!!

I am certainly NO expert in this area, just a “sister trying to make it in da hood!” 🙂   It’s just a subject I am on fire about right now and REALLY want to stay on top of… I have bigger things to worry about than me… I have three kiddos that are depending on me to give them the best start I can!    (And YES!  I DO need to worry about me too, I need to be able to be here to raise them, but you know what I mean!!! :))

The next step in my journey at hand is movement.  We try to go for regular walks and are trying to make it a more frequent and regular thing!  What is more peaceful than being out on the open country road, with your sweet family, taking a walk in the glorious warmth and gorgeous sunlight anyway???  I can’t think of much!  It’s some of the greatest family time we’ve had recently!  And it gets us ALL involved in moving.  Sometimes we can all walk, other time we’ll let the kiddos take their bikes.  Shaking it up a bit and “keepin’ it real” 😉    I am also interested in starting a “biggest loser competition” locally.  I’ve talked with some friends of mine and have some interest, I just have to figure out how to work things and where to start… I think having partners and encouragement along the way is a “secret weapon”!  I think we’d all do better to stay accountable to others and know they’ll know if I’m not being good!!! 🙂   If anyone has any suggestions or interest in this endeavor, feel free to comment, all suggestions welcome!! 🙂

Another thing I am starting and VERY excited about is from a book by Jessica Seinfeld called “deceptively delicious”.  You make all kinds of different purees from all kinds of fruits and vegetables.  Then when you make a recipe you can sneak veggies in without the kids (and possibly even the husband)  knowing!!  How cool is that?!? 🙂  My kids can ALWAYS use an extra helping of good for you, make you stronger, and grow like Popeye, serving of veggies on their plate, and hiding them sounds like fun to me!! 🙂   An example that comes to mind is a homemade macaroni and cheese recipe that she has in the book… you make the mac and cheese (with whole grain noodles and low-fat cheeses, skim milk and healthy things like that) but then you add in some butternut squash puree.. just enough so that the taste of the squash is NOT what you taste, its just hidden in there!  She makes sure to always use a veggie that won’t discolor your dish and cause suspicion!  The picture looks TOTALLY delicious and I am TOTALLY going to be trying this book out on the fam this next week!!!  I already made my grocery list full of new and exciting veggies to puree.    You can puree as much or as little of a particular veggie as you want and then freeze them in individual servings until you are ready to make the dish that calls for that one.   This is an upcoming experiment that I will be sure to keep you posted on as I try new things out!  I am THRILLED about it!  If you’ve never heard of this book, I HIGHLY recommend it, she has a lot of good ideas, from one mom to another! 🙂    There is even a brownie recipe in there with spinach in it!  Now, I have the QUEEN of brownies at my house (Paige!  Along with the king… MIKE!)  we’ll see if we can get that passed them!   She even has good tips on how to make the dish work it’s magic, like with the brownies, you don’t want to serve them warm, you want them too cool completely, otherwise the spinach taste is not totally covered!   I’ll keep you updated, as I plan to try lots of her ideas next week!  (I’ll be having a puree making party soon!!! :D)  LOL

Well, I guess that is all the rambling I’ll do for one night about this!  It’s easy for me to talk about, because it’s so exciting for me right now!  I feel like it is such a simple concept, can I just keep it up?!?  I think so! 🙂  And now I’ll have blog readers to know what is going on and know if I’m not doing my part! 🙂    (And hopefully a biggest looser group to have a good time with soon too!) 🙂

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to leave your comments and suggestions! 🙂

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