Tuesday, July 31, 2012

While the Cat's Away...

Claire Will Play!!!
{with bubbles that is}

Yesterday Stephanie and I took a quick walk to my friend's house to borrow a sewing pattern...

While I was away, Papa stepped into the garage...
 "Claire got some bubbles in her hair."
{as announced by Isabelle}

When Claire heard Mama come home through the garage, she came running to see me...

"Uh Oh!"
{was all Papa could say!}

I couldn't resist sharing!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Monday, July 30, 2012

You Can Choose Your Friends...

But You Can't Choose Your Family!

This past weekend we hosted a birthday party turned family reunion!  In honor of Grandpa Steve, over 30 people arrived to celebrate together!  Some spend time with each other every day, others hadn't seen each other in over a year, while still others were meeting for the first time ever!

The evening was filled with much food, chaos and laughter, and as I started processing pictures this morning, it had me reflecting...

So often I hear of families that are so tight that they share in each other's thoughts and dreams, joys and sorrows!

Then there are families that are estranged and don't even know if the others are still alive!

Ours falls somewhere in the middle...but one thing remains...we are family!

Honestly, many of our paths would not cross were it not for a family tie. Different beliefs, backgrounds, and lifestyles would leave us not "choosing" one another.  Isn't this what makes family so interesting?  We have to step out of ourselves and learn something new about someone else, hopefully accepting them for who they are...differences and all!

My goal is to build relationships with and between my children that will last a lifetime! How do we do this? {It starts early ~ which I will expand upon later this week}.

For now I hope that they see an example set before them of loving others right where they are and enjoying God's choice for our family!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Can Large Families Be Green?

OK, I'll admit it...last night some musings started running through my head and it all started with this:

In reality, these thoughts started last week after I had finished a market research study on compostable sandwich and storage bags.

7 of us women sat in a room and gave our opinions about compostable bags that we had sampled over the previous few weeks.  What amazed me about these women, was how "religious" they were about their green-ness!  They were throwing out words like "carbon footprint" and "eco-friendly".  It seemed as though each one had to prove she was more crunchy than the next!  Seriously...we were reviewing bags for Heaven's sake!  If we were really being "eco-friendly" then we would never purchase bags, whether they were compostable or not, and would make our own out of cloth (preferably upcycling clothing we were ready to move out of our homes!)

One woman in particular seemed to have a couple of comments that were thrown my way about the size of our family...  Trust me, I let them slide right by...I got over the large family remarks around #5 or 6!

So, then reading Arthur at bedtime last night got me thinking again!  Considering we do most of the items on Arthur's Green Machine list...is it possible that large families aren't leaving as big of a carbon footprint as our smaller familied neighbors?

Check out some large family blogs...out of necessity, most of us are:
  • Using Cloth Diapers/Napkins
  • Buying in bulk = less packaging
  • Bathing children together or taking shorter showers so everyone has a turn
  • Combining all of our errand running on one day = less gas (Let's face it, who really wants to drag 8 children into the store multiple times a week?)
  • Gardening
  • Making our own storage bags or using canning jars
  • Handing down clothes
  • Simplifying for the sake of sanity
  • Generally being pretty resourceful!!!

One of my all time favorite blog writters video taped herself talking about this very topic!  Her blog is a huge wealth of encouragement and her video will give you some food for thought!  You can find Kelly at Generation Cedar!!

What is your family doing to be green?  Or does it even matter to you?

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Big Reveal! {It's A...}

Last week we had our 20 week ultrasound and while there, we were able to see what the newest Cook Baby will be! 

Needing a great way to announce our news, I copied an idea that my oldest daughter used when announcing the gender of her baby girl ~ the "Reveal Cupcake!"


Basically I baked standard cupcakes and then used a cake decorator to insert colored frosting into the center of the cake.  Afterward, I frosted the entire top of the cupcake in white!  We waited until the next day{when my oldest would be over} for each of the kiddos to get to take a bite of the cupcakes.  Everyone was pleasantly surprised!

The only glitch was that Noah was at church camp.  Thankfully my friend Andrea was headed down to camp for the day, and offered to deliver a cupcake to him!  I'm so grateful that she caught this video!

Many of you are friends with me on Facebook, so this video is not new, but for those of you who aren't, without further ado...

I know many of you don't even check the gender...wanting to be surprised!  Recently I read that some see checking the gender as "unfaithful", quoting Psalm 139:15 where it says we are made in "the secret place".

What are your thoughts? Is it sac religious to know before the baby is born?

Any other great announcement ideas {there are not a lot of creative ones online}?

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Ombre Banner {A fast naptime project}

This is the view from my "office"! 

 For years it was decorated with a simple Monet print that my husband purchased for me many years ago!

Last year, as I spent countless hours grafted to the couch nursing my sweet babe, the view became a bit "dated".  I needed a change of scenery.

Down came the print and up went this thrift store find mirror and some made by me monogram letters.

Ahhhh...so much better!

One thing I love to do is change the decoration on the mirror to match the season!  It keeps things fresh and interesting.  I have been hanging a little wreath off the corner of the mirror and had intended to make a coffee filter wreath for summer...but then I saw this lovely banner with tutorial on Emily's blog...and knew I needed to make one myself!

Seriously, it only took about an hour to make!

 Here are some hints if you want to make one yourself:

* Measure!  Decide how long you want it to be and how far apart you want your paint strips.  Then place the strips using a ruler above your twine as a marker. 

* Remember to accommodate for a little extra on each end...it's looks a little funny if your strips go all the way to the end.  I had to take two off, and let me tell you trying to get hot glued paper of twine is no easy task!

* Odd numbers look best!!!  Most of you probably already know this, but just in case...plan an odd amount of paint strips for symmetry.

* Yes, you can take that many paint strips from the sample wall!!!  My sweet hubby {who used to manage a paint store} assured me of this!

Have fun!  I'd love to see your finished products!

Today I'm linking up to: Women Living Well

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Helpers in the Kitchen {It's Never too Early!}

One of my all time favorite recipes for a quick dinner is Ranch Chicken Taco Salad!  My friend Janice gave me the recipe around 10 years ago, and it is still a family favorite!  I'll post the recipe at the end ~ it's sure to become one of your family favorites too!

One area that I've never been very good at is letting little ones help in the kitchen!  I posted about this very topic here.

Lately, I've been trying to be better and have found that while it may take me a bit longer, the peace during prep time is actually more enjoyable as The Littles relish in some real responsibility and Mama time!

For little Claire, at 18 months old, helping in the kitchen means pulling up a chair to the counter and just being by Mama's side!  Of course this means she becomes the little food sneaker tester, but she's learning the joy of working together!

For Isabelle, at 8, it means learning to use real kitchen utensils and being safe!

Look at how intent her concentration is!

And of course the infamous Salad Spinner makes helping Mama just plain fun!

And now for the recipe!  Get those kiddos in the kitchen and make some tonight!

Ranch Chicken Taco Salad

1-2 Chicken Breasts {Chopped in bite size pieces}
2Tbs. Oil
2Tbs. Chili Powder or Taco Seasoning
1 Head Lettuce {Chopped}
1/4 Cup Ranch Dressing {I've used Sour Cream in a pinch}
1/4 Cup Salsa
1 Cup Shredded Cheese
Tortilla Chips {Crushed}
Any other "fun" extras you have on hand...beans, avocado, olives, mango, etc.

Cook chicken pieces in oil and chili powder or taco seasoning.  While the chicken cools,  in a large bowl, mix together lettuce, cheese, crushed tortilla chips {saving some to sprinkle on top} and any extras. Add chicken.  Mix ranch dressing and salsa, and pour over entire salad.  Mix well!  Sprinkle remaining tortilla chips on top!  Enjoy!

I'd guess this serves 4!  For our family of 10, I use about 3 heads of lettuce, 3 large chicken breasts, and about 2 cups cheese.  I also increase the dressing measurements by 1/2 cup each!

Thanks for stopping by!  Be Refreshed!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Post Not Written...

So, I've been a bit quiet around here the last few days...

It's been a difficult couple of weeks...

As many of you know, I had been helping care for my friend's kiddos while they were at Children's Hospital with their sweet baby Jude...

On June 12th, Jude Andrew went to be with the Lord!

While everyone knew just how fragile his life was, I think the suddenness of it, after so many daily miracles, was a shock!

So, I have battled with announcing it on my blog...knowing that many of you have been praying...but it simply was not my story to tell. Yet, it didn't seem right to just keep posting like "life had just gone on."

I personally have been walking through my own grief.  To walk along a path with someone as you implore the Lord for miracles makes their journey part of your own journey.  And frankly, I am one who gives my whole heart to those that Christ puts along the way...so for my friend and her family to lose their sweet Jude was as though I had lost him too!

I am thankful for another friend in my life that has walked alongside many situations with me!  She knows just how much I "love with abandon" and has allowed me to pour my heart out as I do my own processing. She even blessed me with this beautiful Hydrangea to plant as a remembrance to such a precious time ~ an unexpected, yet very healing gift!

Jude and his family have been a testimony to many, of God's faithfulness and our security in Him when the answers are not as we would like them to be!  I have been blessed to be apart of the journey!

Thank you to everyone who has been praying!  Please continue to pray for this beautiful family as they navigate through their loss!

Thanks for stopping by!