never a coincidence…

so had a few bubbles bursted today.

“daily blessing” held this title, “be content whatever the circumstances” based off of philippians 4:11…

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.

yep. never a coincidence with me & the Big Guy…

we slept in yesterday morning, missing church. both of the girls had a rough night, thus mommy & daddy had little sleep as well, so we all stayed in bed as long as possible. when i asked my sister-in-law later what we missed, she said it was a good sermon from philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

man, a favorite for this frazzled, over-anxious, worry-wort mama. i was sorry to have missed it. even sorrier after leaving my doc appt this morning. it was honestly the first thing i thought about getting in my car to drive away. wish i heard that sermon… had ava not been in the car too, i probably would have cried. when i cry though, she asks, “what’s wrong, mom?” & gets this horribly worried look on her face & i don’t want to instill the worry-wort spirit in her already…

well, long story very short – the past couple of years have been really icky physically for me. things have been progressively getting worse, often random. i’ve gained two unbelievably gorgeous, loving, sweet baby angels out of the ickiness, so it’s been more than worth it. i finally decided to get things checked out. haywire eyes…check. joint pain…check. rashes…check. headaches…check. first cavity in like 15 years…check. fatigue…i mean what mom isn’t tired anyway, right? a few unmentionables in there as well. let’s just say – it ain’t pretty some days folks.

honestly, i was expecting the doc just to think i was nutso & send me home with a “you’re perfectly fine. get some rest.”

instead i got a “i definitely think you have a disease….an autoimmune disease” & a “you cannot get pregnant again.”

those were not the right words to say in front of my husband. i even said to the guy, “that is the worst thing you could have said in front of my husband.” i could see the proverbial nails going into the coffin.

it’s probably a good thing i’m writing this 11 hours later, b/c this morning, i was two tears from a wreck. i want more kids. just the other day, ava pulled out the little boy outfit i bought when i found out i was pregnant with her. i bought it along with the little lace dress that hangs on her bedroom wall. it reads, “my daddy is my hero.” it made me a little teary to see it, b/c i still wonder sometimes if we’ll have any more & what will happen to that little outfit if we don’t ever have a little guy to fill it out. she pulled it out again tonight…

basically, today was rough. started out with the rheumatologist…16 vials of blood work…yep, 16…my arms are very sore tonight…x-rays…dentist.

yuck, yuck, yuck.

i was also supposed to see the lactation consultant today to talk about re-lactating. she actually had me pretty pumped up (no pun intended) that it was gonna work, but now…no breastfeeding for me. the meds aren’t breastfeeding-friendly. yet another twist of the knife.

guess it could be worse. i may just be stubborn. well, i know i’m stubborn, but i’m not giving up the baby thing that easily.

i’ll find out more in two weeks. until then, gotta get that stinkin’ cavity filled & give it all to the Lord. oh & read philippians 4 a few hundred times…

frenchy french toasty toast & pancakes…

so, hubs & i were chatting last night before bed & the blog came up…i was telling him about my upcoming giveaway. i’m uber excited of course – he thinks i’m bananas. i asked, “you read the blog right?” his reply was, “yeah i read them. all except for the ones that start out with lines about “frenchy french toasty toast.” oh, that’s my guy… hence the title of this post. funny enough though, i then blurted, “hey! i was actually going to blog about french toast & pancakes today, but never go the time!” we both got a good laugh out of that. i informed him that i often incorporate stories & such into even the recipe blogs, so he should take a look. seeing that he will probably skip this one – i can freely talk all about him! hehe

so anyway, let me talk breakfast for a bit…

we’ll start with the french toast.

i’m always critiquing french toast. especially my own. i loathe soggy, tasteless french toast. mine has been just that for years, so i’ve been looking for the best recipe to really satisfy my taste buds. i think i’ve found it. however, like i’ve said before, i don’t follow recipes well & i’m always changing things, so here’s the gist…

* quality, sliced bread (i can usually get 5 slices coated out of this) – set aside
* spray/lightly coat your cooking surface with oil
* i warm my griddle pan over med/low heat. someday, i’d love a gas stove. our electric one is so difficult to adjust. i’m obsessed with the heat when making pancakes or french toast, b/c i think the perfect temp really makes a difference in the cooking process. just enough heat allows everything to puff up nicely. who likes french toast or pancakes that are overly browned on the outside & still goopy in the middle? save that for chocolate chip cookies…
* then, in a shallow bowl i whisk about 2 tbsp of FLOUR with about the same amount of a sweet, citrus JUICE (i’ve typically used orange, but this week i used pineapple orange, which is lovely btw & reminds me of our honeymoon…we drank fresh pineapple juice every morning & it was awesome…) try this – the juice makes a world of difference!
* next, in a separate bowl, crack 2 eggs & add milk (i use vanilla coconut milk, in which case i omit adding vanilla extract. otherwise, add a tsp of vanilla). i usually just add enough milk to cover the whites completely, so it looks like 2 yolks bobbin’ around in there…whisk well…
* combine the 2 mixtures together & add 2 tbsp of granulated sugar
* lightly coat your bread slice w/the mixture & place on pan. at this time i sprinkle the one side of the toast with cinnamon. i’ve found that if you add the cinnamon to the egg mixture, you just end up w/clumps.

voila – that’s it! enjoy!

and if you have any suggestions, let me know. as you know, i love experimenting & making things better!

ok, not quite finished – there’s still my pancake story to tell. keep reading hubs! haha…

{courtesy of pinterest}

absolutely. no one calls me “darling,” however…

so, i was making the usual pancakes yesterday morning for ava, myself & mr. wonderful. i know the recipe by heart now, so i just had at it. i make cinnamon banana ones for us gals & hubby gets chocolate chips added to his. {recipe here}

he always complains about the lack of chocolate chips. i personally don’t care for chocolate in my pancakes – i’m an extremist. it has to be triple chocolate, make you sick cake or nada. my favorite chocolate chip cookies are the last of the batch that you have to scrape from the sides of the bowl, so there aren’t any chocolate chips in them. weird, i know. my grandma’s the same way, so i think it’s hereditary. she shares her stash of chipless cookies when i come over. 🙂 ok, rabbit trail, sorry. so, bottom line i ration 2 things in life…chocolate chips & gasoline. they’re too expensive!

i felt like pleasing him yesterday, so i loaded ’em up. see?

then, i tuck the chips into the batter w/my spatula, so the chocolate doesn’t burn. it’s like putting them to bed. aren’t i sweet? haha no, i just don’t like the smell or texture of burnt chocolate on the pan. i tried mixing the chips in with the batter in advance one time, but they sunk to the bottom & poured out in clumps & this ocd chick said, “oh no, no, no!” so i insanely sprinkle them evenly, tuck & flip. you gotta be quick if you do it that way though…

oh yeah, i was telling you i have the recipe memorized – well, no, i goofed it up. gloriously goofed it up, b/c i liked them better & they were fluffier! i was thinking, “how come you can make something the same way each time & get different results?” then, it occurred to me that i hadn’t done it “right.” i forgot to double the bananas. i only added one good-sized banana, rather than two. so do that. it’s better. 🙂

this recipe turns out about 6 “daddy-sized” pancakes (roughly the size of my hand) & nearly a dozen of “girlie pancakes” (roughly the size of my palm). i stash the excess in the refrigerator for easy breakfasts over the next few days.

see my little pancake thief?

sorry it’s blurry, but i had to catch her in the act & the flash is broken, so i rarely capture great moments these days… she had no mercy…

the time is now

i’m not getting any younger.
my kids are not growing any slower.
the space between the here & hereafter isn’t getting any further away.
i’m not being morbid or melancholy.
sometimes reality smacks you in the face & you realize the time is now.

the time to love my husband & enjoy our youth together while we have it is now.

stop yelling at him for where he leaves his dirty socks.
praise him in private & in public.
tell him at least once a day that he rocks as a father/husband.
smile at him. laugh with him.
hug him ’til he has to pull away to go do something dumb in the garage.
pray with & for him. he needs it as much as you do.
love him.

the time to enjoy & give my all to my children is now.

stop rushing.
bend down, look into their eyes & tell them you love them…you adore them…they are special…they are wonderful…praise them ALWAYS.
get silly, wacky even. who cares? you’re building their memories more than your own.
how do you want them to remember you?
“mom had it all together, all the time.” OR “mom was the best. she laughed & hugged & kissed me ALL THE TIME.”
i know which one i’d choose. the dishes can wait…read them a story.

the time to grow in the Lord, live completely Kingdom-minded is now.

i have 3 titles. that’s it.
i have only 3 things to do exceedingly well in my lifetime…
be a faithful, respectful, loyal, loving wife to my husband…
be a loving, nurturing, protective mother & role model to my children…
be a genuine daughter of the Most High God.

now is the time to get to it.

a mother’s love letter…

dear isla rae,

let me tell you a story.

once upon a time, there was a mommy and a daddy. they had broken hearts. a baby the mommy had inside her belly was taken to heaven, and it made them very sad. the mommy cried and cried. the daddy held her tightly and told her everything would be okay. that was late august of 2010.

months passed and skies were gray for the mommy. in october, for the mommy’s birthday, God gave her a miracle. on her birthday, her 29th birthday, the mommy found out that God had given her and the daddy another baby. this healed their broken hearts.

the mommy was very careful and watched over this new baby for a long time. it took 41 weeks for this beautiful baby to grow inside of her belly. she ate lots of healthy foods. she especially loved blueberries, which were very good for the baby too.

on wednesday, july 6th, 2011, at 11:12am, the mommy gave birth to her little miracle. the miracle’s name is isla rae.

she was perfect and healthy, just like her beautiful sister, ava lee. her name means “bright and shining one,” and it couldn’t be more fitting, because her sweet eyes sparkle like sunshine.

the mommy and daddy took isla rae home. she made their lives more complete.

the mommy and daddy still love their “heaven baby” and will hold him/her someday when they go to heaven, but they are so very, very thankful that God turned something sad into something beautiful. He took the mommy and daddy’s hurt away and gave them sweet Isla to have and love for all the days of their lives.

we love you forever, isla rae. we thank God for you, sweet baby.

i journal for my babies.
one day, i won’t be here, but i can still share with them a bedtime story…
try it. i promise, you won’t regret it.

you are my sunshine, my little sunshine.
you make me happy when skies are gray.
i hope you know dear how much i love you.
you’re my sweet, little isla rae…

the S is SILENT

what does this remind you of?

how about this one?

if you said the “beach,” close…if you said “an island,” even better! now think of the word “island.” how did you say it? now, drop the n & d. yep, just drop them…throw them out the window. drop ’em. now say what’s left…”isla.” hey! what do you know…that’s my daughter’s name! “isla” say it w/me “eye-la,” “eye-la,” “eye-la.” yay! good job! now spread the word! haha i know it’s my fault, but i get “iz-la” at least once a week.

funny story…we’re sitting around the dinner table w/my in-laws (who sweetly brought dinner)…she’s like 4 days old & my father-in-law is holding her, lovingly staring into her eyes & says, “ice-la.” yep, he thought her name was “ice-la.” granted, we didn’t talk about her name much, nor did we frequently address her as isla until after her arrival…but even our own family didn’t say her name right. the doctor’s office butchers it monthly. i fear it will never end. sorry, sweetheart. guess i should have named you “apple.” 🙂

no…isla fits you perfectly. in greek it means “bright/shining one” & this sweet baby surely does sparkle. her eyes light up my day. she has the countenance of an angel. i love her & i love her beautiful name. so i just wanted to share her beautiful name once again w/you, so maybe you can call around, throw it into random conversations you know at like the post office, school, grocery store, hair salon, gas station. like…”hey, yeah, i really like the shade of your car. it reminds me of the ocean. you know what else reminds me of the ocean? my friend’s baby’s name isla. it’s spelled w/an ‘s’ you know, but it’s silent, like in ‘island.'” they’ll probably look at you like you’re nuttier than a fruitcake…but you never know…that person just may encounter an “isla” in their lifetime & you may have spared them from calling her “iz-la.” better yet, it may be my little isla, or isla fisher, that you bump into at the grocery store b/c she’s in town filming “wedding crashers 2” or “confessions of a reformed shopaholic,” & you ask her for her autograph & you say it right & she’s like, “wow! no one says my name right!” & she gives you – i don’t know – i’m not witty enough to think of something fabulous, but she does & it’s all b/c you read this crazy blog…so worth it.

is it annoying that i took something that could have been stated in one sentence – “the ‘s’ is silent” – & turned into a whole diatribe…no not really a diatribe, b/c i’m not bitter about it, but it is a crazy ranting of sorts…anyway, i’ll make it up to you by showing you some more great photos from our honeymoon…you’ll like them…

like this one…isn’t it pretty? the church, not the mcdonald’s people…are you craving french fries now? sorry…

i like this one. i really like that man standing next to me. 😉 i like that outfit. i can’t find it. i think it’s hiding in the closet i have to share w/ava…i think i stashed it in a bag of “i WILL wear this & look good in it again someday” clothes. i should try to find it…i should really be exercising…

oh & this one…

haha – sorry i had to…funny, though, huh? this was actually a popular look down there in mexico…i tried to talk my hubs into wearing one, but he was too bashful…good thing i guess…someone as cruel as me may have posted him on the internet! gosh i hope my mystery speedo man doesn’t come across this & scold me…or worse sue me! geesh…the things i’ll do to make you laugh! haha

ok, ava’s up from her nap…TWO hours early…there’s a downside to potty training…no longer will your child sleep peacefully in a semi-wet diaper…

isla’s been chatting w/me while i write this, which inspired me in the first place. we decided her nickname will be “izzie.” totally her idea… 😉

a GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold. ~proverbs 22:1

it’s a mom’s life…

so, hubby’s big 3-0 bday is tomorrow. i had the fabulous idea to go out this morning with a 21 month old & a 2 month old to “get daddy a birthday balloon!” “yeah, ok.” that’s what my almost 2 yr. old says to everything appealing & she especially loves balloons. she cracks me up. as i type she’s actually sitting next to me coddling her sippy cup, “i hold you.” haha she’s a trip. guess nurturing comes before eating her chicken nuggets…

anyway, got said kiddos in the car…drove 15 mins, passing lots of backed-up traffic, to the party supply store that mysteriously closed down who knows when…on to plan b. the other supply store is now 30 mins in the OPPOSITE direction & i can’t throw in the towel b/c ava will ask about daddy’s balloon for the rest of the day. lovely.

break out the garmin. thank you, Lord for that little invention, (since i still have a “dumb” phone). find an alternative route to avoid that traffic jam i passed on the way…drive 20 more mins to the other store…spend waaaay too much on supplies, but rationalize it b/c my 2 yr old picked out a $6 balloon amoungst a truckload of other fun things, & what kind of a mom would i be if i didn’t get the stuff she picked out for daddy’s big day?! ok…leave the store w/2 kids in tow…forgot the double stroller btw…thankfully, i had the single & a free arm…

get the gang in the car…fight w/the ridiculously over-priced, but totally necessary balloons that wanted to follow the breeze out of the car…stinkers were persistent, but i won…buckle everyone in…baby cries…15 mins past feeding time & out of gas…adding to plan b…or would it be plan c now?

pull into nearest gas station….80 cents off! woo hoo! makes up for the ridiculously over-priced but necessary balloons…pump gas…overflow the tank all over my right foot trying to hit an even 50 bucks…baby now screaming…

find an inconspicuous parking spot…climb into the backseat w/the girls (my car has no middle seat mind you)…nurse screaming infant on a 10-inch-wide plastic hump while keeping the older one happy by discussing french fries…she really enjoys french fries…put baby back…hit up a drive thru to acquire promised french fries & chicken nuggets…forgo plans to grocery shop b/c it’s now past naptime…arrive home…eat fries…abandon chicken nuggets to nuture the sippy cup as mentioned above…too late now for naptime, b/c we have a doc appt in 40 mins…reality of evening errands & impending tantrums thanks to no nap set in…tis a mom’s life & i love it…

ava & isla’s first family vacation top 10 memorable moments…

10 – changing isla’s massive diaper explosion in a vacant lot across the street from “clay’s beach house” of one tree hill…

9 – major public milk leakage in a 50’s style diner…oh the joys of being a nursing mother…

8 – making smore’s in the microwave with my mother & sister-in-law while the kiddos snoozed & the hubby was pier fishing…a mess that was never more worth it…

7 – watching the dolphins swim & play every morning & spotting a sting ray in the shallow surf…

6 – seeing the girls in their matching bathing suits that i bought before isla was born & realizing this day had finally arrived… *tear*

5 – family game night…my in-laws are hilarious…hubby’s pretty comical as well…”sounds like coast ricky” (clue given for “costa rica” in catch phrase. hmmm…) 🙂

4 – taking ava into the ocean & a wave hitting us in the face. thought she’d cry, but we laughed & licked our lips instead… 🙂

3 – saying good-bye to the beach & “jesus’ pool” in the moonlight while fireworks went off overhead. perfect ending…

2 – strolling along the shoreline looking for shells w/isla sleeping peacefully in my sling…about the only time she slept btw…

1 – watching ava & her chubby little legs run & play on the beach w/her daddy & cousins…
i miss that scene so much already…

i love my girls & i’m so thankful we could take them on vacation. i can’t wait until next time!

daily blessing…

thanks to a christian friend, i receive these “daily blessing” e-mails. today’s was especially good at ministering to me. i have, like everyone else, encountered some pretty major blows & disappointments over the past several months.

a particular family situation has left me especially down. i force myself daily not to think about it or tell myself i don’t care. as soon as i let reality strike though, it’s right back to that plethora of undesirable emotions…disappointment, sadness, disbelief, & most unfavorable…resentment & a truckload of bitterness.

i found this article on bitterness, b/c i think it’s at the root of the lack of forgiveness i feel at times & the hopelessness when i consider reconciliation as possible & it had some pretty good thing to say about finding victory over bitterness…

The Holy Spirit fills you & controls your life when you have no unconfessed sin in your life. You can trust the Holy Spirit to reveal sin to you when you commit it, or even before. When the Holy Spirit is in control, He produces His fruit (Gal. 5:12). the fruit of the Spirit does not include heaviness, bitterness, discouragement, disillusion, anguish, sadness, dejection, or loss of productivity. Consider these points:

* love is free from bitterness.

* joy pushes bitterness out.

* bitterness can not coexist with peace in the soul of the believer filled with the Holy spirit.

* long-suffering gives the ability to deal with bitterness & other troubles.

* gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, & temperance are fruits of righteousness, which is divine good. divine good takes the place of bitterness.

so, although my struggle is w/those emotions, i will be praying these points rather than battling those feelings. bitterness, resentment, sadness, unforgiveness, discouragement…
they will all fade away if i let the Holy Spirit take control over helping me develop the fruit of the Spirit in my life.

here is my “daily blessing” – hope you find it useful as well…

Dealing with Disappointment

Though the fig tree does not bud & there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails & the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen & no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. – Habakkuk 3:17-19

After preaching a sermon on disappointment, several men & women approached me with the same reaction: “I desperately needed to hear those words.” Countless people feel defeated & let down by disappointing situations. But our response can make all the difference. Frustrations can be either an opportunity for spiritual growth or a destructive blow.

A right response to disappointment begins with resisting the natural tendency toward bitterness. If someone else was involved in the situation, don’t be quick to judge his or her conduct. We can’t fully understand what is going on in others’ lives or what motivates them to act as they do. Our second step should be to ask the Lord, “How am I to respond?” God can guide us to a wise & righteous reaction because He has all the facts.

Third, follow His direction, even if it isn’t what you want to do. Oftentimes the Lord’s way contradicts our own desires & the advice of friends. However, His plan is the one that will bring about growth & result in our greatest good.

And finally, keep your focus on God & His higher purpose in your life. People are prone to dwell on their hurts & the harm that comes to them, which is what makes disappointment so destructive.

There is only one healthy method for dealing with letdown—pursue the Lord’s way & His will. Though human plans can be derailed, nothing alters God’s purpose. No matter how deep your hurt goes, He will shepherd you through setbacks & sorrows while growing your faith.

Charles Stanley