Saturday, November 1, 2014

Why We Let Our Kids Go Trick-or-Treating... and other thoughts on Halloween

 Halloween is a very controversial topic among Christians.

*I am not suggesting that this should be the standard for your family. I believe that each Christian should ask the Lord what he/she should do and should base their actions on that.*

My husband and I have done that. We are comfortable with our decision.
I will not judge you for your decision... please offer me the same level of respect.

So, with that said, here's our thoughts on Halloween.

I personally am quite uncomfortable with most Halloween decorations. I place pumpkins around my home, but it pretty much stops there. I don't believe in ghosts or zombies and I don't want my home to be covered in those things. I want my home to always be inviting, warm, loving, and traditional Halloween decorations do not reflect those things.

While we obviously don't want to train our children to participate in evil, we do want to train our children to get in there and actively fight it.

And, while you can make a point by standing on the sidelines, you're not truly in the fight unless you're IN the fight. You can't win a battle if you don't participate.

Jesus didn't sit on the sidelines. He called out the demons. He ate dinner with hookers and corrupt tax collectors. He looked evil in the face and, when it seemed all hope was lost, he rose again and conquered it forever. 

He got his hands dirty.

I was the kind of kid who, if kept away from something "bad," began to fear it. I still fear the unknown. I wish that instead I had someone walk me though scary or controversial situations to show me how to handle it and how to stay above reproach in the midst of it.

Fear and lack of understanding is NOT how I want my kids to face unknown or new situations.

We will accomplish so much more by taking our small children around and showing those who hoped to scare them that our kids are already wise enough to know there is nothing to fear by their decorations and costumes because they have Jesus on their side.

I want my kids to be able to walk into every situation armed with the power of Christ and the ability to bring light into it. And, I want them to show others that we can always have fun and experience joy with them.

I will not send them into situations unarmed or alone. But, my husband and I can walk with them through this and teach them how to be "in the world but not of it."

It's possible.

And, I don't think I'll do it perfect every time, but thankfully God shows me grace and I trust that He can protect my kids even when I fail.

I know that as they grow, situations are going to be a lot harder to discern than 'should I let my kids put on a cute costume and get free candy?' But I believe the principle will remain the same.

Instead of staying in our own little bubble to make a point, we can go out on a night where most of our neighbors are outside, walking around, open to talking and getting to know others. We can introduce ourselves and let them see that we're humans, too. We can be friendly and kind and compliment their children's costumes. We can laugh with them and share some sweets. We can make memories with them. We can set a good example by having fun and creative costumes without the scary/gory aspect. We can "do life" with our neighbors.

We can get our hands dirty. 

What if Jesus had said, "Oh geez, that guy is demon possessed! That's too much darkness and I won't take part in that, because that's just too much! Obviously Satan has won this round..."? I don't ever want my kids to think there is so much bad that the good they can bring isn't worth getting into it.

I don't believe that by trick-or-treating I'm being passive and exposing my children to evils that they don't yet understand. I KNOW I'm being intentional and using this to teach them spiritual principles... and letting them have a little fun and a little sugar-rush along the way is a plus.

If we don't stand up and fight evil, bring light into it, show it that it cannot win, who will?

I believe that by ignoring it or fearing it, we give it more power. We need to get involved. We need to participate. We need to go in armed with God's power and spread His light. We won't be able to share our opinions about the origin of this day if we aren't around anyone who will hear it. And, we'll never be able to speak to someone on a heart level when they are feeling judged. Do life with people. Love them where they are. Stay above reproach in the midst of controversial situations. Be the light that Jesus wants us to be. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Hide it under a bushel? NO! Let it shine.


Sunday, September 28, 2014


I've only been the mom to three kiddos for a month now, so I don't claim to be an expert here, but... here are some of the things I've learned this past month.

1. Us parents may be outnumbered now and we may have had to switch from man-to-man to a zone defense BUT we still have four hands between the two of us and there are only three of them so we still have the advantage... right?

2. 2-year-olds enjoy having a baby in the house for approximately 15 minutes each day. The whole rest of the day is spent in agony over the fact that they no longer can command mommy's full attention at any given moment.

3. Number 3 has the ability to know the second you are about to put food in your mouth and will demand to also be fed at that precise moment. Count on it.

4. With all the baby gear finding it's way out of storage, my otherwise uncluttered house is beginning to feel quite claustrophobic. I feel another round of purging, garbage and donations coming on... if only I could find the time...

5. Being SUPER INTENTIONAL about spending time with your spouse becomes even more important. Merely being roommates is unacceptable. We must be a team. And there has to be life-giving friendship and romance between the two of you or these days can get long and lonely.

6. Making sure the older kids feel connected to the baby at least once a day is invaluable. Letting them "hold" her or help with a diaper change (read: throw away the dirty one) makes them feel like they are important and they seem to love her even more in those moments. And, it helps them be more patient when she is taking me away from them temporarily.

7. Having some alone time in the morning before the older two wake is even more important for me now. I gotta get my game face on before the littles attack my morning. Otherwise, I feel like this...

8. Let people love you. Having help is not a sign that you can't do things on your own. It's simply an expression of the care that others have for you and, frankly, a blessing. Accept it.

I'm sure I have many more lessons coming my way, but this is all I have time for right now.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hey Baby

Goodbye heartburn and goodbye Tums.

Goodbye carpel tunnel.

Goodbye insomnia.

Goodbye Restless Legs.

Goodbye sore hips.

Goodbye limited mobility.

Goodbye maternity clothes.

Goodbye waddle.

Goodbye side-sleeping.

Hello, baby.

Is there anything sweeter than a newborn?


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Baby Girl Bed Head - Installment 8

This was the loveliness we woke up to on August 11th.

She actually asked me to take her picture.

My little lovey.

Monday, August 11, 2014

So,... this is happening...


One of the things my husband and I disagreed on in the early negotiations of our marriage.

He was all for it.

My thought was, "Why would I homeschool? I survived public school. Our kids can, too!"
(Seriously, though, the thought totally intimidated me!)

But, this boy.

Oh, this boy.

He's so smart. And, he LOVES to learn.

We feel like he's ready to be challenged more than can be provided right now in a classroom setting.
Not to mention how far we live from school right now.
And, the fact that his newest little sister is going to show up in about 2 1/2 weeks. 

Yes, my motives are (kinda) selfish.

No, I don't want to have to drive into town 3 days a week with a 2 year old and a newborn this winter to pick the Little Mister up.
No, I don't want the morning battles we had last year when he needed to get up for preschool but was sleeping soundly.


Mostly, I want to see him be challenged and learn at grow at a pace that is best for him,... not dependent on what is best for all the kids in his class.
I want to spend that time influencing him.
I want to have a Bible lesson included in his studies.
I want the chance for his dad to be involved, too.
I want his little sister to get the benefit of watching him learn.
I want to be the one who gets to see how excited he is to learn new things.
I want the chance to plan field trips and other activities with the other homeschool families here.

This really has nothing to do with the school.
We honestly love the teachers he'd have this year and he really loved going to school last year.

It would be good to send him back to school,...
   ... but we feel that this is best.

So, today we started this journey and honestly, it was awesome.
We finished a lot sooner than I thought we would and he was asking for more.
I had a doctor's appt to get to so we couldn't do more today but I love the flexibility that this will give us. Most days we will be able to do what he wants/needs. He was so excited.

I think the biggest challenges are going to be mine: patience, preparation, etc.
But, I'm excited to see how we both grow through it.

I've also felt a little bit like he has been overshadowed by the Little Miss's health issues. This is going to be quality and focused one-on-one time just for him. I'm excited to see how we bond through it.

Wish us luck!
I plan to post updates and things I learn along the way.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Baby Girl Bed Head - Installment 7

Well, it's been a while.

She has woken up with shockingly pretty hair for a while now. In fact, there have been several mornings where I've thought, "Man, I would love it if I woke up looking like that!"

She has soft curls, swoopy bangs, the perfect side part... she's beautiful.

Not Monday.

This is what we woke up to...

The crazy thing is that the ONLY WAY to get rid of the hair that covers her face most mornings is to COMPLETELY wet down her hair. Good thing she LOVES that. (cue: eye roll)

Anyway, Isn't she lovely?

Love her.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Cherry Scones

Let me start by saying this...

I don't like cherries.

There, it's out there now.

But, I really don't think it's my fault.

I blame cough syrup manufacturers.

Cherry-flavored medicine was one of the WORST ideas.

Although, I was very fond of playing Hi-Ho-Cherry-O upstairs at my grandparent's place.
Anyone else grow up playing that game?

Well, now that it's out there, I will tell you that my husband loves them.
A sweet friend brought us a bag that she got at a fruit stand and, I kid you not, he'd have eaten the whole bag (if his stomach wouldn't have argued with him about it later).


ANYWAY, one of my favorite memories from my childhood was making scones with my dad. Our family recipe has worked for Chocolate Chip Scones, Blueberry Cinnamon Scones, Cinnamon Raisin Scones, and Cranberry Scones (sometimes with White Chocolate Chips, too - YUM!).

So, I thought I'd see what would happen if I tried Cherry Scones.

The beauty of this recipe is that you can add ANYTHING. I think the cherry scones would be great with dark chocolate chips added in but since I didn't have any, I used white chocolate chips.

Here's how it works:

Rinse off some fresh cherries.

Chop and pit the cherries until you have a cup and a half of chopped cherries. (At this point, I set them out on a paper towel to dry a little bit... it'll help later)

Place flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and cream of tarter into a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir to combine.

If you're not familiar with cream of tartar, here's a picture. (You find it in the spice aisle. A certain husband, who shall remain nameless, might have thought that I was asking for a kind of cream and spent some time in the dairy section. Oops.)

Dice 2 sticks of butter and add to the flour mix.

Now, the way we used to do this when I was a kid was by using a pastry blender and combining it by hand. However, I use my fancy stand mixer with the paddle attachment to blend it all together.  It should resemble small crumbs.

Beat one egg and one egg yolk and add that to 2 tsp of vanilla and 1- 1 1/3 C half & half. (This is where it gets tricky - Use 1 C for fruit scones and 1 1/3 C for scones with things like raisins, chocolate chips, etc - or if you live in a drier climate.) Set this aside.

Add the cherries and cinnamon (and I might have added some white chocolate chips, too) to the dry ingredients and gently fold together. (I only use the paddle attachment on my mixer when making scones with hard ingredients like chocolate chips. For the fruit scones, use a spatula and be gentle!)

Make a little hole in the middle of the dry ingredients to pour the wet ingredients into.

Gently fold together until mixed... It doesn't have to be super well mixed. And, having a few little chunks of butter is ok. Scones are very forgiving.

Cover the dough and put it in the fridge overnight (or if you make the dough in the morning, you can bake them that night). DON'T SKIP THIS STEP. It makes the next part WAY easier and you'll want the butter in the dough to be chilled again.

When the dough is fully chilled, turn 1/4 of the dough out onto a floured surface. There's no kneading necessary. Sprinkle a little flour on the top and gently pat into a circle until the dough is between 1/2 and inch and 3/4 of an inch thick.

Use a large knife to cut the circle into 8 triangles.

I use a spatula to lift them onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. (Let's hear it for parchment paper! WHY DIDN'T I START USING THIS STUFF A LONG TIME AGO?!)

In another tiny bowl, beat an egg with 3 tablespoons of water and lightly brush the tops of the scones with this egg wash.

Sprinkle on as much sugar as you're comfortable with. ;)

Here's what they look like on the pan before baking:

And, after being in a 425 degree oven for 13-15 minutes:

That, my friend, is a beautiful picture. A delicious, beautiful picture.

Serve them warm with a little butter melting over the top.

I often try to convince myself that these count as breakfast, when, let's face it, they are definitely a dessert... or snack... or anytime sort of yummy treat.

I did bring a few over to the friend who brought me the cherries and she gave me her seal of approval, so now I feel comfortable sharing the recipe with YOU!

Click HERE to download a PDF of this recipe card.
***I live at a very high elevation, so to adapt this, I only use 3 tsp baking powder, I used 1 1/4 C half & half, and I did a slightly heaping cup of flour for the 4th cup of flour added.***


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fun on the 4th

I love the 4th of July.

The weather is usually great, it's a good excuse to see friends and family, the food is fantastic.
As a kid, it usually included going to my aunt and uncle's lake house, Mt. Pleasant fireworks with my dad's popcorn, the big fireworks on Lake Michigan (ALWAYS with good friends), popsicles, potato salad, bbq chicken by dad on the grill, bonfires, pool time and loads of sunshine.

And, the occasional matching t-shirts from Old Navy.

Seriously, who didn't have to wear one of these as a kid? And, a better question, will they EVER stop making them?

This was our third 4th of July in CO. And, while I have very high standards set by good ole Racine, I have to say, Lake City does the 4th well. If they didn't, I'd be tempted to travel back to WI just for the holiday.

It was a little bittersweet for us that this was the first year John wasn't riding a horse in the parade. It is so fun to watch him and other camp people riding by on our sweet horses, but this year he actually got to sit with us! So, that's fun.

We live in a town of between 300-400ish but for the 4th, our population EXPLODES. There are people everywhere. My parents were here for the 4th last year and laughed when I told them this morning that we actually had a traffic jam in town after the fireworks last night. We sat still for no more than 5 minutes. BUT, to us, that's a HUGE traffic jam.

Anyway, on to pictures!

The day starts here with an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at the school (which we didn't go to) followed by a parade (which we did go to).

Somebody was mesmerized by the firetrucks...

I think he gets that from his Papa Scott.

Then, this fella came wandering through.
Because what parade is complete without Uncle Sam on stilts? No parade I want to be at, that's for sure.

I got to see this lovely lady. (Check out her blog for tasty recipes)

This is most people's opinion... especially during this holiday...

This little lady was a trooper in the hot sun. She especially enjoyed when they started throwing candy. (note the clenched fist)

The parade is followed by booths full of goodies, crafts, and fair food around the park and near our shops "downtown" where you can find ice cream, coffee drinks, t-shirts, souvenirs, candy,... all sorts of goodies, all with an old-fashioned, small town feel.

The park is packed with tourists and locals and everyone anxiously anticipates the start of the foot races.

No kidding.

The afternoon is spent with all different age divisions participating in foot races at the town park.

And, cut throat. Some of these races get intense!

We made the executive (read: mommy and daddy) decision to take our kiddos home to rest. But, not before getting our annual turkey leg to share. (Yum!)

The kids were exhausted. And, in true Lake City fashion, it down-poured during the afternoon anyway. Here, that is welcome. It cools off the heat of the day and always brings that sweet mountain smell. I think that must be what Heaven smells like.

Anyway, the next stop for us was dinner, games and fireworks with some sweet friends that evening.

We played this game (that I can't remember the name of) and other than the times when my third-trimester-sized belly got in the way, it was really fun!

This little man is not picky, as long as it has wheels and he can get some good speed, he'll ride it.

And, then there is this girl.

We do NOT take enough photos together.

But, I try to get plenty of them!

Ok, so we were up the hill where Lake City starts. There is a valley you can't see in this picture that town is nestled in.

WAY across the valley (I had my 'big girl' zoom lens on my camera) and up another hill is a water tower. That is where they shoot the fireworks off from. This picture is of them watering down the brush near the water tower. Can't be too careful!

Here's a picture pulled back a little further. The circle is around that water tower.

And, this was my first attempt at firework photos with my 'big girl' camera. What do you think?

After the fireworks, when all the kids were nice and sleepy, someone wrapped up the little miss and she turned to me and said, "Look! Mom! Cozy," with the sweetest smile on her face. 

I'm so thankful for the men and women who have gone before us and for those who are currently devoting their lives to making sure that my family and I can have days like this.
Hope your 4th of July was as great as mine.