The Cure for Hiccups

This is no joke, my friends. I really think I found the cure. Ok, well, it works for me. And my kids. My husband just patted me on the back when I excitedly told him. Ya, he’ll appreciate my discovery. … Continue reading

45 ways to BE a better spouse

Early on in marriage, so much of what makes marriage good comes easily.  During the long stretch between I do and ’empty nest’ we can get weary and lose focus…many times even becoming bitter and keeping a long list of wrongs.  Marriage is hard and requires hard work.  That is just a fact.  It never means you chose wrong or should give up.  And, even if you did choose wrong…you still chose.  Just keep choosing.  In my ‘book’, and in black and white in God’s, marriage is forever. It’s easy to forget you’re on the same team.  To forget the early days of your love.  How easily we forget the good stuff in life.  The things that really matter.  I need reminding often.  We need things to help us remember to choose to feed our marriages and not let them wither.  Without proper care and feeding, we will not survive this long road.  I don’t regularly do all the things on this list.  Neither does my husband.  We both mess up everyday.  My pride and hurt feelings get in the way.  And, I can only control my own words, thoughts, actions and decisions.  This is not a list about changing your spouse.

I made this Marriage 101 list for my brother and his wife when they got married.  I hope it is a good reminder for you, too.  Our loving, encouraging words and actions are so powerful.  Just as our un-loving and discouraging words and actions are powerful.  I’d love to hear your additions to the list!  Just as each person is unique, so is each marriage.  Be creative.  Make this list your own.

 

  1. Spend the first of your day with God. (Without this I can’t do #2-45)
  2. Love her
  3. Respect him
  4. Tell her she’s beautiful
  5. Tell him he’s ‘the man’
  6. Be honest
  7. Spouse before self, in word and deed
  8. Learn their favorite things
  9. Make eye contact
  10. Kiss for 10 seconds (at least!) every day
  11. If you must compete, be the first to say ‘I’m sorry’
  12. Make traditions
  13. Make memories
  14. LAUGH
  15. Learn your Love Languages
  16. Listen.  For real.
  17. Tell each other jokes
  18. LOVE (I Corinthians 13:4-13)
  19. Count to 30–instead of 10
  20. Be kind
  21. Plan surprises
  22. Sweep her off her feet
  23. If you need to keep a record, be it of blessings
  24. Be humble
  25. Don’t let the honeymoon end
  26. Plan dates
  27. PLAY
  28. Ask for help
  29. Accept help
  30. Learn together
  31. Pray together
  32. Forgive
  33. Expect the best
  34. Be his #1 fan
  35. Cheer her on
  36. Care for him
  37. SHARE
  38. Pack his lunch
  39. Empty the dishwasher
  40. Never say, “No.  I have a headache.”
  41. Revisit places you went before you were married
  42. Reminisce about pre-kid days
  43. Look forward to post-kid days
  44. Rub his feet
  45. Compliment each other to your friends

5 Musts for a Productive Day

We all like to be productive, right?  Maybe your productive is different from my productive.  Productivity is subjective.  So, let’s define it for the sake of this post.  Let’s just say productivity=getting stuff done.  When at the end of the day you can say…I accomplished what I set out to do.  The things on this list are simple things that help me ‘feel’ more productive, thus, I usually am more productive.  They are in no magic order.

1. Get up first.  Before anyone else in the house. It’s so nice to be alone in a quiet house. Make coffee, spend time with the Lord, read a novel, sketch, journal, take a bubble bath, go for a walk, listen to the birds, or just be still. Do something that satisfies and makes you happy. Do not start on a list or chores if you can help it, until you’ve had some time for yourself!  Usually I use the time for praying, journaling or reading the Bible. My day is off to a good start when I have this time.

PicMonkey Collage

2. Make a plan.  This doesn’t have to be fancy.   Don’t go crazy here.  Just come up with a few items that should get accomplished that day.   I don’t want to over-spiritualize, but I usually pray for guidance before I make my list. A bowing of my heart and will to His plans for my day. You can write it down in a notebook, on a chalkboard, or if you were gifted with a better memory than mine, keep it in your head.  Now, here’s the hard part…stick with those few realistic goals.  As moms, we know there are so many unexpected events and interruptions in our days.  It’s hard to stay focused and get stuff done. When I have a realistic list I stay more focused and get more done.

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3. Get dressed. Come on, I’m serious. Put on some clothes that you would actually wear out of your house.  I’m all for being comfortable, but       sweat pants should not be your go to.  I like to remind myself that someone could knock on my door at any moment. I don’t know about you, but I’m not too fond of receiving guests before I look a little more together.  I kid you not, I feel more productive just by getting dressed.

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4. Make your bed.  I know, this would make your mom so happy.  I won’t tell her she was right.  This is such a simple task that can make such a difference.  Really!  You walk into a room with the bed made and you feel better…it’s orderly, neat and pretty. Keep your bed-making simple and quick. Pull up the covers and add a few decorative pillows. Time yourself. If it takes more than 60 seconds it’s time to pare down your bedding.  Seeing that bed made makes me remember I did get something done that day.

picMonkey0.5075893435640065

5. Take a nap. So this might seem counter productive…stay with me. There are days when I drag myself through every single task, chore and interaction. So. Tired. I’m usually a pretty driven, task-oriented person, but many days, I ‘allow’ myself to sit, rest and fall asleep.  Sometimes I set an alarm, but generally I wake up within 30 minutes. My girls are all old enough to survive my nap time without a serious catastrophe. If yours aren’t old enough…nap when they do or use one show as a sitter (gasp!) while you rest on the couch next to them. When I get up from my nap I feel more ready to tackle the rest of the day.

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I pray that these simple tips help you as much as they help me. But, hear me friend…our productivity does not equal our value. We are so much more than our accomplished to do list.  There will be days when nothing gets crossed off the list.  Days when productivity does not equal getting stuff done. Days when our accomplishments are those little things that really matter.  Some days will be so hard we’ll just want it to be over. Give yourself grace.  Remember that His mercies are new every morning.  We can start fresh tomorrow.

the ‘what ifs’

Do you ever think of a ‘what if’ scenario and play it out in your head?  The whole chain of events that would follow?

I do.  I think through how I would react in any given situation and how to do it most efficiently.  And, these ‘what ifs’ of mine are not lovely events.  I wish I could say it went something like, “What if I won a million dollars?”  Or, “What if a shower of season-appropriate, in my size, Banana Republic clothes fell out of the sky?”

Nope.  Not the kind of stuff I think on.  I go for the run-of-the-mill disaster scenarios.  “What if my girl gets in an accident while she’s out riding her bike?”  And, “What if my husband dies?”.    Or, “What if there is a terrorist attack too close to home?”   It doesn’t take a genius to know that these things could happen.  They do happen.  Also, I’m pretty sure we all have these thoughts and others like them.

I would guess that just about everyone goes there sometimes.  So what’s the big deal?  My problem is in the dwelling.  Thinking through the scenario in great detail.  Making plans for what is not and maybe never will be.  I’m no Girl Scout, but I do like to be prepared…just to an extreme.  Bad stuff happens every day.  But, the bad stuff shouldn’t be the focus.  Shouldn’t command so much of our attention.

My Grandpa J. taught me to look far down the road when driving, instead of at the road directly in front of the bumper.  When we look out ahead we’re looking at a larger view and we can better stay on course.  We’re not ignoring the road right ahead of us, we’re just taking in a bigger picture.  Our view still includes the foreground, it just won’t be our focus.

The same is true in life:  

If we look at the ugly situation right in front of us vs. the Big Picture, we can’t very well stay our course.

 

As a follower of Jesus, my Big Picture focus is Him.  I trust He is in control of it all.  I trust that everything He does is for His glory and my good.  When the ‘what ifs’ pop up–take those thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5), give thanks and ask for protection (Philippians 4:6), and think about something else (Philippians 4:8).

Maybe it’s like we’re in training.  If we, with the help of the Holy Spirit, can train our minds, He will become our go-to when the ‘what ifs’ strike.  When something bad does happen, hopefully, we will be ready to turn to Him first.  Yes, we will still feel in that situation–anger, grief, depression…  Yet, maybe we can stay on our course of living a life that glorifies Him and is eternally-minded.

Jesus wants us to bring all our cares to Him.  Talk to Him.  Tell Him your worries.  Acknowledge Him as the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present, loving Father He is.  Let’s try to lean on Him in this.  Trusting Him in all situations, real or imagined.

Kitchen on Wheels

One especially crazy weekend I made fruit salad in the car.  I had overextended our family with too many commitments.  At this point in the weekend we were on our way to a family function.  My contribution was fruit salad.  With barely enough time to go to the store for the ingredients, I was going to be hard pressed to assemble the side dish before arriving at the party.  We were running late…as usual.  I knew everyone would be eating by the time we arrived.  It was bad enough that we would be late; I didn’t also want to be unprepared.

 

Fortunately, we had a 45 minute drive and I just happened to have a paring knife in the car.

 

(I’ll let that sink in for a moment.)

 

So, I proceeded to chop strawberries, kiwi and grapes while my husband drove.  (You may be saying,  “You didn’t make the fruit salad AND drive?”)  I am a multi-tasking, overachiever.  But I left the driving to my husband.

 

As he drove and I cut I had time to think.  I knew there must be some life lesson that needed to be realized. (I did tell you I’m an over-achiever, right?  I can’t just leave it alone without looking for the moral to the story.)  And, I’ve been a follower of Jesus long enough to know that He will use the silly, little stuff of life to make us more like Him.  I also knew that others who passed us on the highway must have either pitied me (fellow-mothers), thought I was losing it (women yet to be mothers), or didn’t even notice (men).  My husband was part of the last group. He barely made a comment about my traveling kitchen.  (This was one time when ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ was an unfortunate thing. It really would have come in handy.)  Maybe my wise husband was choosing to be discerning and not row into unpredictable waters.  I’m not always kind and patient when questioned while under pressure.

 

So, anyway…a lesson.  Somewhere.  I guess on the surface it’s obvious, right?  Don’t try to do too much.  Use some wisdom in scheduling.  We really don’t have to do everything.  Why do we make that our goal?  Our ridiculous, totally impractical goal.  Some days I just can’t get it through my brain that I am not a super-mom.  And, uh, you’re probably not either. (Hugs.) With all the love I can muster…you don’t have it all together.  Can we be honest with each other?  Live real?  It’s so hard.  I know.  We want to appear put-together,our lives in order.

 

We are not, have never been and will not ever be super-moms.  It’s a lie and only creates anxiety.  You may be able to keep all your plates spinning for a time, but not forever.  I’ve tried.  So let’s choose wisely.   Set priorities.  When given a choice let’s decide if it’s in line with our priorities.  Learn to say no.   We’re on the same page, right?  We agree that we don’t have it all together?  I do know someone who does.  God.

 

It’s very simple.  Well, simply said, but harder to do.  Choose real, vulnerable weakness, so God’s strength will be obvious.  And this is when the lesson gets below the surface.  And, as with any other area of our lives, this isn’t something we’ll do once and it will stick.  It will take work.  Day by day.  Moment by moment.  But what freedom and joy there can be if we just grab onto this idea!  To shed the idea that we need to have it all together.  A little closer to that abundant life.  Not only will we make our lives more bearable, but those around us will breath a little easier.  Let’s chose what has eternal value, not over-commit and allow ourselves some vulnerability.

 

Oh, and, remember…it’s not safe to use a knife in a moving vehicle.

 

 

Noodles!

IMG_20160807_182403523

Homemade noodles are one of those foods that make me think of my childhood.  In my memory we ate them often…and always with chicken.  My mom would buy the whole chicken and cook it until it was fall-off-the-bone tender and yummy.  Add to that some gravy and pour over homemade noodles or dumplings.  Comfort food, for sure.

Also in my memory is that we had chicken often.  A lot.  Or at least my child brain and taste buds thought so.  How could I ever get tired of chicken and noodles?   Pretty sure I bought my mom a chicken cook book for Christmas one year.  Guess I was looking for some variety.  Now I’m a mom.  Head chef and menu planner.  I’m a bit sensitive to constructive criticism when it comes to the meals I’ve prepared.  Sorry, Mama.

Back to present day.  I like winging it when I cook.  I don’t always follow recipes exactly.  And I often like to change ingredients to see if I can improve the finished product.  So, par for the course, I changed this recipe.  I browsed some noodle recipes on Pinterest and got the main idea of noodle-making.  I decided to sub some of the regular flour with some potato flour and cornstarch.  Just aiming for a little more fluff.

IMG_20160807_163458008

IMG_20160807_161435012IMG_20160807_162132978

(Milk didn’t make it into the group picture.)

IMG_20160807_161811472

Mix together dry ingredients. I used a KitchenAid stand mixer.

This recipe can also be mixed by hand.

IMG_20160807_161552344

Make a well in the middle.  Ready to receive the eggs and liquid gold.  Uh, butter.

IMG_20160807_161738349IMG_20160807_161645776

Lightly beat eggs.  Whisk in melted butter.

IMG_20160807_161902629

Pour egg and butter mixture into waiting well.

IMG_20160807_162044467

Using paddle attachment, mix dry mixture with eggs and butter, until combined.

IMG_20160807_162052232

Add milk slowly.  Again, mix only until combined.  Don’t overmix.

IMG_20160807_163057377

Here’s is my finished dough.  It was pretty soft and a bit sticky.  Be prepared to flour often as you roll.

IMG_20160807_164102710

Flour counter and dough and get rolling.

IMG_20160807_164431005

I was aiming for about 1/8″ thickness.  See the holes?  Somewhere between 1/8-1/4″ is great.

IMG_20160807_164513570

I decided to cut the rolled dough in half to make it easier to transfer it to parchment paper before cutting in strips.  This move will come in handy later.

IMG_20160807_164727901

Once transferred to parchment paper I cut each half into 4 sections…for shorter, more manageable noodle sizes.

IMG_20160807_165320749

Slice away.  Perfection is not the goal here.  I was aiming for 1/4″ wide.  As you can see, no two noodles are alike. Just get your pizza cutter going and cut lots of noodles.

IMG_20160807_165441109IMG_20160807_165457885

This is where the parchment paper goes to work.  Slide a baking sheet under the paper and lay a cooling rack on top.  The tricky part is to flip over the whole thing: baking sheet, parchment paper, noodles and rack.  The aim is to end up with the noodles on the rack alone so they can rest and dry.

IMG_20160807_165612861

There are goals and there are results.  They don’t always match up.  But if you never set a goal, where will that get ya? So I lost a few during the flip.  No fear.  Just gather them up and put them on the rack with the others.  Unfortunately, some fell on the floor.  Very sad.  One less mouth full.

IMG_20160807_170047477

Moving on!  Once all (well, most) of the noodle strips are on the racks, let them dry for a bit.  Some recipes say to let them dry for hours.  Hours?  Really?  I’m just not that good.  Most days.  I have my moments.  Today was not one of them.  So, let them dry as long as you can.  Mine sat out to dry for about 30 minutes.  Now…you could make them a day ahead, let them dry on the counter for a couple hours, then store in the fridge overnight.

If you like to do that kind of thing.

Back to business.  Gently loosen the noodles from each other.  They’re a tight knit bunch.  At this point in the post I could have added a picture of a pot of boiling water and noodles.  Use your imagination, people.  It was past dinnertime.  Kids were asking when we would eat.  There is no picture.

Fill a large pot with water and crank up the heat…medium high is about right.  Once it starts to boil, add the noodles.  I cooked them in two batches because I was worried they would come out as one big glob.  Unless you’re using a small saucepan for cooking the noodles, it should be just fine to cook in one batch.  One big, happy noodle family.

They should boil for about 5 minutes.  Go ahead and test a noodle at that point.  Once they are cooked to your liking, drain the water.  I added butter, salt and parsley to our hot, drained noodles.

IMG_20160807_182403523

Oh, and we didn’t eat them with chicken.  Nothing against chicken.  We love chicken, but this night the meat on the menu was Swedish meatballs.  Let me just say that the Swedish meatballs I make should have a post of their own.  The recipe is from my mother-in-law.  They are one of my husband’s favorites and his most-requested meal.  So delicious!  Paired with homemade noodles…yum!

IMG_20160807_182348611

Just so you know, I was about ready to bite in to my meal when I remembered to snap a picture.  You’re welcome.

2014-04-12 16.35.03

These two ladies are my favorites.  My mama and mom-in-law.  This meal made me happy because it made me think of both of them.  Thank you, lovely ladies.

Noodles!

IMG_20160807_182403523

Homemade noodles are one of those foods that make me think of my childhood.  In my memory we ate them often…and always with chicken.  My mom would buy the whole chicken and cook it until it was fall-off-the-bone tender and yummy.  Add to that some gravy and pour over homemade noodles or dumplings.  Comfort food, for sure.

Also in my memory is that we had chicken often.  A lot.  Or at least my child brain and taste buds thought so.  How could I ever get tired of chicken and noodles?   Pretty sure I bought my mom a chicken cook book for Christmas one year.  Guess I was looking for some variety.  Now I’m a mom.  Head chef and menu planner.  I’m a bit sensitive to constructive criticism when it comes to the meals I’ve prepared.  Sorry, Mama.

Back to present day.  I like winging it when I cook.  I don’t always follow recipes exactly.  And I often like to change ingredients to see if I can improve the finished product.  So, par for the course, I changed this recipe.  I browsed some noodle recipes on Pinterest and got the main idea of noodle-making.  I decided to sub some of the regular flour with some potato flour and cornstarch.  Just aiming for a little more fluff.

IMG_20160807_163458008

IMG_20160807_161435012IMG_20160807_162132978

(Milk didn’t make it into the group picture.)

IMG_20160807_161811472

Mix together dry ingredients. I used a KitchenAid stand mixer.

This recipe can also be mixed by hand.

IMG_20160807_161552344

Make a well in the middle.  Ready to receive the eggs and liquid gold.  Uh, butter.

IMG_20160807_161738349IMG_20160807_161645776

Lightly beat eggs.  Whisk in melted butter.

IMG_20160807_161902629

Pour egg and butter mixture into waiting well.

IMG_20160807_162044467

Using paddle attachment, mix dry mixture with eggs and butter, until combined.

IMG_20160807_162052232

Add milk slowly.  Again, mix only until combined.  Don’t overmix.

IMG_20160807_163057377

Here’s is my finished dough.  It was pretty soft and a bit sticky.  Be prepared to flour often as you roll.

IMG_20160807_164102710

Flour counter and dough and get rolling.

IMG_20160807_164431005

I was aiming for about 1/8″ thickness.  See the holes?  Somewhere between 1/8-1/4″ is great.

IMG_20160807_164513570

I decided to cut the rolled dough in half to make it easier to transfer it to parchment paper before cutting in strips.  This move will come in handy later.

IMG_20160807_164727901

Once transferred to parchment paper I cut each half into 4 sections…for shorter, more manageable noodle sizes.

IMG_20160807_165320749

Slice away.  Perfection is not the goal here.  I was aiming for 1/4″ wide.  As you can see, no two noodles are alike. Just get your pizza cutter going and cut lots of noodles.

IMG_20160807_165441109IMG_20160807_165457885

This is where the parchment paper goes to work.  Slide a baking sheet under the paper and lay a cooling rack on top.  The tricky part is to flip over the whole thing: baking sheet, parchment paper, noodles and rack.  The aim is to end up with the noodles on the rack alone so they can rest and dry.

IMG_20160807_165612861

There are goals and there are results.  They don’t always match up.  But if you never set a goal, where will that get ya? So I lost a few during the flip.  No fear.  Just gather them up and put them on the rack with the others.  Unfortunately, some fell on the floor.  Very sad.  One less mouth full.

IMG_20160807_170047477

Moving on!  Once all (well, most) of the noodle strips are on the racks, let them dry for a bit.  Some recipes say to let them dry for hours.  Hours?  Really?  I’m just not that good.  Most days.  I have my moments.  Today was not one of them.  So, let them dry as long as you can.  Mine sat out to dry for about 30 minutes.  Now…you could make them a day ahead, let them dry on the counter for a couple hours, then store in the fridge overnight.

If you like to do that kind of thing.

Back to business.  Gently loosen the noodles from each other.  They’re a tight knit bunch.  At this point in the post I could have added a picture of a pot of boiling water and noodles.  Use your imagination, people.  It was past dinnertime.  Kids were asking when we would eat.  There is no picture.

Fill a large pot with water and crank up the heat…medium high is about right.  Once it starts to boil, add the noodles.  I cooked them in two batches because I was worried they would come out as one big glob.  Unless you’re using a small saucepan for cooking the noodles, it should be just fine to cook in one batch.  One big, happy noodle family.

They should boil for about 5 minutes.  Go ahead and test a noodle at that point.  Once they are cooked to your liking, drain the water.  I added butter, salt and parsley to our hot, drained noodles.

IMG_20160807_182403523

Oh, and we didn’t eat them with chicken.  Nothing against chicken.  We love chicken, but this night the meat on the menu was Swedish meatballs.  Let me just say that the Swedish meatballs I make should have a post of their own.  The recipe is from my mother-in-law.  They are one of my husband’s favorites and his most-requested meal.  So delicious!  Paired with homemade noodles…yum!

IMG_20160807_182348611

Just so you know, I was about ready to bite in to my meal when I remembered to snap a picture.  You’re welcome.

2014-04-12 16.35.03

These two ladies are my favorites.  My mama and mom-in-law.  This meal made me happy because it made me think of both of them.  Thank you, lovely ladies.