PB Honey Nut Clusters
1/2-cup peanut butter
2 cups honey nut Os cereal (Obviously Cheerios is the name brand here, but I used the cheap-o store brand ones I had.)
1. Put the honey and peanut butter in a micro-safe mixing bowl. Heat on high for 30 seconds. Shake around or stir a bit. Heat for another 30 seconds.
2. Stir well and then add the cereal and stir gently to coat.
3. Put small clusters out on parchment paper. Let them cool about 30 minutes and then enjoy.
Depending on your cluster size, the recipe makes around two dozen.
My only notes are that to get them onto the parchment paper, I used two spoons. I scooped the cereal out of the bowl with one and then used the other to help plop it onto the paper. While I use parchment paper for this, I think that wax paper or even aluminum foil would work just fine as well.]]>
I posted that it was my lunchtime view. At the time I had a nearly 2-year-old daughter. Getting to eat lunch alone somewhere peaceful was nice, but there is a story behind this photo that is far more than a quiet lunch alone in my car. I had just dropped of my child with her grandparents, gotten some lunch and was waiting for a doctor’s appointment. I was going to see if I was going to be able to carry another baby in my womb. My heart was heavy that day. I had some complications after my daughter was born and I didn’t know if my uterus was going to be a friendly place to another baby. I’d always assumed I’d have two children, but now I wasn’t sure that was going to be possible.
I didn’t share that information with anyone at the time aside from my husband. I couldn’t talk about it. I certainly didn’t post it on Facebook. My heart ached to have another baby. We had gone back and forth about expanding our family, but when I was faced with knowing that having another baby might not be an option, my heart was only more solidified that was what I wanted very much. And I prayed. I prayed and asked for God’s will. I prayed and ask for Him to take the desire for another baby from me if that wasn’t His will. I prayed and I trusted. I knew that no matter the answer that He was in control and faithful. At the same time, my heart couldn’t help but be a bit heavy. I just didn’t know what to expect. I was working on trust.
I ended up working with my doctor and was able to have another baby. In fact, by the next summer my second little one was just starting to grow in my belly. Today, four years later, my heart is filled with love for an almost 6-year-old little girl and her 2-1/2-year-old brother. God is faithful and God is good. He gave me the desire of my heart. And that’s what I am reminded of when I look at this photo. I’m reminded of the fear in the midst of trusting God. I’m reminded of how very much I wanted this precious child to be in my life. And it is just the reminder I need on a day like today. It’s a day that started with frustration with this very child that I so desperately prayed for and wanted when he would only circle around me whining while I was trying to get a few tasks completed in our day. For this child, I have prayed. For this child, I am thankful even when my patience is wearing thin.
It has been good timing. I am facing situations now that have my heart again calling out to God with all that I am. I’m not longing for a third baby. My baby days have ended; just nine months after my son was born I had to have a hysterectomy. But other circumstances in life have me waiting and wondering. I know that God is faithful; I know He is always in control. And I know that He always has blessings to bestow. Sometimes He tells us no. Sometimes we seem to have phases of our life where He always says no or wait. However, I trust and know it’s because He really does know what is best. I have spent my life learning that hard times always come. They just do, but God is always faithful. And I need reminders of His faithfulness when my faith starts to waver and dip with fear and anxiety. I need reminders of His faithfulness when I am overwhelmed by life and want to just curl up in a ball and cry.
For that reminder today, I have no farther to look than the face of this precious boy. I can’t imagine my life without him. I wish I could send this photo of him back to myself as I sat in my car looking at the river, eating a sandwich and wondering if a second baby would ever come into our lives.
But then again, I wouldn’t have grown in my faith and trust, I suppose. For now, I will just enjoy this sweet little dude and our surprise doughnut date we had this morning when we went to order cupcakes for his sister’s upcoming 6th birthday party. God is always good even when life is hard. He is always faithful even when we have to wait for answers or hear Him say no. For that, I am grateful.]]>
Since I gave my daughter a white, ribbed tank top to wear under an …]]>
Since I gave my daughter a white, ribbed tank top to wear under an itchy dress back in February, she has been wanting to wear a tank top almost daily. The fabulousness of this plan is that we live in Indiana. February is filled with things like snow, wind chill factors and winter coats. None of these things scream tank top season.
For months we have battled in the Great Tank Top Wars of 2015. We have battled fiercely over dresses. Oh my! Little girl fashion includes quite a few tank top dresses (even winter ones!) that have matching sweaters or lightweight jackets over the top of them. We cannot abide by these things, evidently. There shall be nothing covering arms and keeping us warm, even if it is 50-degrees and raining. In fact, my daughter has one beautiful winter dress that she has yet to wear because she won’t concede to wearing the jacket with elbow-length sleeves over the top of it. We’re not even talking long sleeves here, people.
We have warred and we have battled. And now it is finally the end of May and the temperatures are climbing into the 80s and I can abide by a tank top wearing child. In fact, when I went shopping for her clothes for summer, I made sure to get a few tank tops in the mix. I’m not a tank top wearer myself. I have a few pajamas that are tank tops for warm weather, but I don’t wear tank tops out of the house. I’m not drawn to them and mostly it’s because of my own body issues with my upper arms. I don’t want to pass those issues along, so I am all for tank tops for my children. However, my daughter has a whole drawer filled with adorable warm weather shirts — 70 percent of which short sleeved. I am not inclined to go buy an entire new summer wardrobe consisting solely of tank tops. So even when I thought the wars would end because I no longer object to tank tops since the weather has warmed, the wars still rage.
The wars rage, in fact, over a new tank top that she loved when I showed her, but loathed AFTER I clipped the tags and washed it. Guess what she’s wearing today? The wars still rage. Back and forth we go. I inform her of things like, “This is your only clean tank top. You either wear it or you wear short sleeves.” She informs me that she has tank top dresses she could wear. I inform her that nice dresses are not for days that will be spent playing outside. Back and forth we go.
I am not sure if the war will end any time soon. In fact, I don’t see much end in sight. I’m working on my patience. Just this morning I nearly bit my tongue off to keep from threatening to just get rid of every single tank top she owns so this won’t be an issue any more. I TRY to be reasonable. But, we are on our merry way to more stern consequences as this war rages.
I know that I am merely scraping the tip of the iceberg on clothing battles with my daughter. She’s 5 now and I’m guessing as she gets older this won’t get any better and most likely will get worse. I love that she is opinionated and strong willed — most of the time. I could use a little less battle of wills many days, including in The Great Tank Top Wars of 2015. But, I will stay in my bunker. I will hunker in with my most trusted advisers. I will see this war through to its bitter end and celebrate victory.
What kinds of parental wars have you been in lately?]]>
Today, my daughter is graduating from PreK. This is actually her second graduation. Her preschool class last year was filled with older kiddos who headed to kindergarten last fall. Last year’s graduation made me a bit sentimental. This year’s does even more so because it is the end of the preschool era. Come August 6, she’ll be a full-fledged kindergartener. I’ll have a school-aged child. How did that happen?
Yesterday, as I was organizing our schedules and paying some bills, I started really planning our summer. The big kiddo is taking a reading class that will run mid-June to almost the end of July. And both kids will have swim lessons in July. Then there is Vacation Bible School at church near the end of July. At some point we’re hoping to squeeze in a family vacation and a weekend of camping. We have only until August 6 when school starts to make it all happen. At the same time, we also have our house for sale and a couple of other big things going on. I’m just hoping to make it through the summer! I thought we’d have a quiet summer without much going on to just enjoy being together, but life goes forward. It moves fast. And I just hang on trying to enjoy the ride.
For full disclosure, the rest of this spring and summer, my blog posts may be more sporadic. Life is busy and hectic. Life is crazy and fast. Right now my children still think I’m pretty fun to hang out with. They still want to be with me. I want to enjoy every minute of it that I can. There are no do-overs in life. I’m doing my best to not mess it up too much this first time around. Now, you’ll have to excuse me while I go cuddle with my children in our PJs.]]>
My 5-year-old came over and sat beside me. I noticed her moving out of the corner of my eye and turned to find her doing something with her hand. I asked what she was doing. She hesitated a moment and then said, “I’m waving at Jesus. He’s everywhere.” She went on to repeat a phrase she learned in children’s church months ago that keeps coming up around here: “Just like air, God is everywhere.”
Boom! What was that about feeling distant from God? I gave my kiddo a hug and told her that she was absolutely correct and it was perfectly fine to wave at Jesus any time. I told her I was quite sure that He liked that. And then, well, I basically got over myself. I remembered back to my own childhood when I’d sneeze alone in my room and say “Excuse me” to Jesus. I mean, if you’re going to be polite, you ought to be polite to the Lord. I had faith back then that He was always there. Just like my daughter has faith that He’s always there to see her wave.
Sometimes as an adult I have times where I start to forget that exact sentiment. I start to forget that Jesus is always there. I start to forget that we can just hang out and be friends. I start to forget His closeness and relegate Him to corners of my life. I feel His presence in my prayer and Bible reading time. I feel His presence in worship throughout the day as I listen to and sing along with Christian music. But sometimes I miss Him in all the little ways that He’s around me. I’ve been praying lately for Him to open my eyes even more so that I see all the small stuff He is involved in. He used my daughter last week to remind me that He really is around all the time. He’s hanging out all the time even when my mind isn’t on Him and it’s on the task at hand or worrying about a situation out of my control. Just like air, He is always there. I just have to look for Him.
As I hugged my daughter in her preciousness last week, all I could do was thank God for using her to remind me of His presence. I thanked Him also for her love for Him. I have many times heard and read the Bible verse from Matthew 18 about having faith like a child. I remember my own faith as a child. I see the faith my daughter now has as a child. And I get it now. Children don’t have life experiences and responsibilities to get in the way. They just believe and they see Jesus everywhere. Oh that I may see God as my daughter does! And that I might never forget He surrounds me, loves me and holds me close when I need it most. He has promised to never leave nor forsake us. I can take Him at His word. Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you for not giving up on me!]]>
I love being a mother. I don’t mind being known as a mom. I feel honored to be a mom to my two precious children. And I love being a wife. I’ve been at it for 15-1/2 years and I love my husband more now than I did the do we said, “I do,” which I didn’t think was enough possible. We’ve been through all sorts of life together and I love him more for it. He is an awesome dad.
Sometimes, though, I get lost in the fray of life. I especially get lost in motherhood. New babies are so consuming for the first couple of years really. Now that my kids are 5 and 2, I’m starting to get a few chances here and there to meet up with myself again. It’s nice. I’ve missed me, I suppose, in the way that I didn’t know I missed something until it started coming back. Oh! There I am! Well, nice to meet you again. I didn’t realize I was missing you until you showed up and now I’m so glad that you’re here! (What? You don’t have conversations with yourself?)
And the truth is that I don’t need to be me or find me all the time. Most of the time, I am content to be mom. I am content to make food, wipe noses, change diapers, listen to stories, drive to preschool, run errands, pick up toys and all the other many tasks that go along with being a mom to small kiddos. I am happy and blessed and content.
However, it is nice to meet up with myself sometimes and remember that I can do grown-up things. I can be a professional. I can have intelligent conversations. I can conduct interviews, do research and write articles for publications. These are the things I used to spend 30 to 40 hours a week doing back before babies came. I wouldn’t change it right now and go back to that. I am quite thankful and blessed to be able to concentrate most of the time on just being mom. But I like having a chance every so often to go back to professional Stacey instead of Mom Stacey. I like remembering who I was. I am still that person, yet I have also changed and grown. That’s what happens with motherhood. It’s still nice to meet myself again sometimes, though.
Mama, how have you met yourself again recently? What can you do for even an hour to remember the woman you are besides mom and wife?]]>
Children are messy. Motherhood is messy. I have gotten in worse messes with my kids that are much less pleasant than stray cereal bar goo. There have been gross bodily fluids. I still have one child in diapers and am dealing with those messes throughout the day. That’s not to mention extra stuff that goes along with sick little ones. And let us not forget the toys and mess that occurs when playing. We have just put our house on the market to move closer to the interstate for my husband’s commute and I am trying to keep the house clean. I have deep cleaned and organized. I did this while the kids enjoyed grandparent time. Within 5 minutes of their return home, I found toys on my kitchen, dining room and hallway floors. My 5-year-old is pretty good at putting her things away. My 2-year-old, though, is like a roving toy tornado who lets no toy go unturned. Messy.
I’m not sure any aspect of motherhood is clean. Even when we are sitting together reading books quietly, there are still noses to wipe or fingers that are slobbery because they’ve been sucked on. That’s just how kids are. I must also admit that I have never been a kid person. I know women who have loved kids and babies since they were young themselves. I was never one of them. I didn’t know what to do with kids. I didn’t know how to talk to them. And I surely didn’t want to be in charge of cleaning up their messes. Now that it’s my own kids I don’t mind one bit. I don’t give a second thought to wiping noses and bottoms, cleaning off messy hands, picking up toys over and over again. OK, maybe I do give that last one a second thought sometimes. We’re working on everyone putting away their own things, but it is most certainly a work in progress. Mess just goes with the territory of motherhood.
I have thought maybe that will change as my kids get older, but I don’t think it will. The types of messes will change, in that I won’t be looking at a Little People Superman and his plastic dinosaur pal lying on my dining room floor in another 10 years, but there will still be messes. There will be school papers and maybe athletic equipment or musical instruments. There will be muddy footprints from being outside alone and running back into the house without thinking. There will be laundry dropped to the floor instead of in the hamper. There will always be messes with motherhood as long as kids are around. Even once they have left home, they’ll still bring their messes back with them. Messes go with people. We all have some degree of messes that alerts the world to our presence. And moms don’t mind. I’m guessing once they’ve left home that when they come back with bags of dirty laundry or eventually their own messy kids that I won’t mind nearly so much. I’m guessing that I’ll be thankful for that mess to be back in my house because one of these days, I really might miss it.
Knowing that makes today’s messes just a little bit easier to clean up. Knowing that one day my daughter will be off on her own in college and not need me nearly so much makes me want to sit and hold her close in the midst of the toys. Knowing that one day my son will be off on his own and no longer wanting to snuggle with messy hands and face makes me want to hold him all the tighter now and get as messy as it takes. The mess of motherhood, dare I say, is a precious one. So, go ahead, kid, give me a hug with your gooey, sticky hands. The mess will wash away while the memories will always remain.]]>
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
— Isaiah 40:11 (NIV)
That last sentence is what sprang to my attention: “He gently leads those that have young.” I stopped and re-read it wondering if it said what I thought it did — what I needed it to. It does. Tired mama of small children, God sees you! He gently leads you, because he knows having young children isn’t easy. That was what I needed to hear as I was looking forward to a really difficult and busy week without much relief. God knew it. My pastor facilitated it. And my heart was renewed because of it.
I am not a fan of the line of thinking that nobody understands what I’m going through in life or how hard it is, because I have been down that path and that line of thinking and found it to be a bunch of nonsense. When I spent my early 20s just after grad school laid up on the couch, inside more than out and trying one medical procedure and appointment after another to try and get my bladder into manageable condition again, I felt woeful. I felt sorry for myself. I felt like nobody else understood. I have been down that path. I have been down that path again in the years since when other hard times have inevitably come. In the last few years, though, I have seen how I’ve let that stinking thinking cloud my thoughts.
Life is hard. Everyone has a story and a struggle. We all have stuff we deal with. And maybe my stuff is different than yours. But that doesn’t mean we can’t relate to each other having a struggle. We all know what it’s like to have something turn our lives upside down. As mothers, we all know what it’s like to get up each day and try again to make it a good one and find that balance of getting things done and spending time with our children. We all know how sometimes just making it through the day is an accomplishment. We all know how sometimes we want to hide in the bathroom for five minutes of peace and quiet just to get away from the fray. We can relate. We are more alike than we are different.
And God knows that, too. He knows and understands us even better than we do ourselves. He’s been involved with mothers of young children since Eve first delivered Cain and Abel. If ever a young mother needed help, it was Eve. She was the first to do it. She had no sisterhood of mothers or even her own mother to talk to or learn from. But she had God and what more help can any mother ask for than that of our Divine Creator? He saw her needs. He has continued seeing the needs of mothers ever since. Years later this verse was penned to remind mothers of young children that God sees them and leads them.
I particularly like that this verse promises to lead us gently. The last thing I need in my life right now is more complication or even more forcefulness. I battle daily with a 2-year-old who strongly wants his own way all the time (what toddler doesn’t?) and a 5-year-old who is pretty sure she knows everything about everything and certainly has an opinion on it all. And that’s just the abrasiveness I face with my children. There are lots of other things coming at me from work stuff, family relationships, finances, major life decisions and more. I don’t need more conflict. I don’t need a heavy hand. I need a soft place to fall. I need a gentle hand on my back guiding me the way I should go. That is just what God has promised in this verse and what He continues to do now years and years after that verse was written. His Word stands strong and true even in 2015.
I am left feeling thankful and awed. He knew the struggle and had a response for me. I’m sure there are different ways to interpret this verse; that’s usually the case with Bible verses. All I know is what this verse said to me this week. It gave me a promise to hang on to. It gave me hope to know that God sees me. God understands. More importantly than other people understanding our plight (and trust me, others really do understand more than you might think), God understands our plight. He sees our hearts. I feel like every year I learn more about who I am and how I tick. These are all things He has known about me since I was in my mother’s womb.
I praise God for knowing what I would need this week and providing it. Self-pity gets me nowhere. Reassurance that God is always with me keeps me moving forward. Come, Lord, and continue to gently lead me.]]>
1. We all need Cinderella moments. Whether sparkle, ball gowns and fancy shoes are your thing or not (the girly girl in me loves such things!), I think we each have an innate desire to feel beautiful (at least sometimes) and have shining moments. We may not seek or desire the limelight. We may not want a whole ballroom of folks looking at us or need pomp and circumstance, but we each need to feel validated. We each need to feel seen by someone. We each need to feel cared about. Perhaps more than anything, we each need an occasional break from the mundane tasks of daily life. We all need a bit of fantasy sometimes and a bit of a break from reality. We need something to look forward to, to hope for and to fondly remember later on.
I think back into my own life and the times I’ve had these moments. Some of them have been big events, like when I dressed in a big white dress and married my beloved high school sweetheart just over 15 years ago. And some of them have been smaller events, like when my husband and I returned to our high school years later on a scavenger hunt and stood in the parking lot, dancing to our song next to my car. I was wearing jeans and a hoodie yet felt as beautiful as I did on my wedding day. For those couple of minutes, I was totally his world and he was totally mine.
And I think of my daughter. I think of the kind of magical moments I want for her. She’s had a few already in her five years of life, but I know there are so many more to come. There will be proms and maybe a wedding. She will grow in grace and beauty even more and I hope and pray that she will have Cinderella moments.
2. We all need love. The last few Disney movies I’ve seen have focused less on romantic love and more on other types of love like between siblings (“Frozen”) or between caregiver and child (“Malificent”). I get that. I appreciate that. I don’t want to teach my daughter that her validity comes only through the love of a man, but at the same time I also want to teach her that true love does exist and she deserves it. Will she learn this solely from Disney movies? Heck, no. She’ll learn it more from watching her dad and me and her grandparents. She’ll learn it from lessons at church. But is it so bad to dream of finding true love? Not one bit. There is something magical and special about finding it. There is something magical and special about marriage.
Please don’t mistake my romantic musings for ignorance. Romance isn’t necessarily being swept off your feet by Prince Charming and whisked to the ball in glass slippers. It isn’t necessarily having a man come striding in to save you from your rough life. It is finding a man who cherishes you, who loves you, who cares for you, who is kind to you and who makes you better just for knowing him. While all of these things aren’t conveyed in a Disney movie (because there’s only so much that can go into a two-hour movie, anyway!), they are important tenants of life. It’s important to dream. It’s important to love. It’s important to hope.
So many times marriage advice tends to focus on how your spouse may drive you crazy and you live with it. Or churches may even dole out advice to avoid adultery and other pitfalls that can destroy families. All of these things are important and vital, but it’s also important and vital to remember the good things about marriage. My life is better because my husband is in it. He doesn’t bring me flowers all the time. He doesn’t write me love letters daily. He shows me love in working for our family. He shows me love in supporting me. He shows me love in the responsibility he feels and takes seriously to help me navigate and enjoy life. I have seen his romance in sitting by my bedside after surgery wearing a T-shirt proclaiming “My Wife Rock” or advocating for me to try a new treatment that might help my bladder. I have seen his love when he notices that I am worn out and frayed around the edges and sends me off to nap in our bedroom for an hour while he takes charge of the kids.
It’s OK to want romantic love. It’s OK to admit that you are better for it. Yes, these things can be misconstrued and we will certainly teach that to our children. We will work to instill in them a love for God, their family and themselves, but I do dream and pray that my children both find true love one day and have wonderful spouses who help make their journey easier and better.
3. We all need courage, kindness and forgiveness. Perhaps more than any other message, this latest version of the Cinderella story focused on these attributes. These are things I find mostly through my faith in God and that is what I am sharing with my children as they grow. Cinderella isn’t a religious movie or story by any means, but these attributes are all things that would make the world a better place if everyone adhered to them. It takes courage to be brave and face new and challenging situations. There are times in life when it takes courage to even get out of bed and face the day. Other times courage is much bolder in taking big leaps of faith. We may be scared, but we more forward with courage.
And let us not forget kindness. Can you imagine if everyone you ever met in the world was genuinely kind? It would solve so many problems. At its root, kindness is thinking more of others than yourself, which is exactly what Jesus taught. A smile for a hurting person, a sandwich for a hungry man, a cup of cold water given on a hot day — kindness comes in many forms and makes a profound impact.
Finally, forgiveness. In the end, Cinderella forgave her stepmother before she moved on with her new life. (I’d say spoiler alert, but it’s pretty much the story of Cinderella that’s been around for ages.) You cannot move forward when you’re clinging to the hurts of the past. It’s not possible. Forgive. Move forward. Simple and yet profound.
And this is why I was surprisingly dazzled this week when we went to “Cinderella.” I’m not sure she’ll take over as my favorite Disney princess. I can’t help but love bookworm Belle, and I have an attachment to her after spending a summer in marching band performing a “Beauty and the Beast” show. But I really enjoyed Cinderella more than any other recent Disney movie. (Sorry, “Frozen.”) It spoke to the romantic girly girl in me and it spoke a bit to the mother in me. Who knew that a Disney movie would make me wax philosophical and sentimental?!]]>
So I had to improvise. I hated to waste the pizza crust. I decided to go with the flavors in my husband’s favorite bacon bread recipe. And thus bacon ranch pinwheels were born. They were yummy and a hit with our whole family. We at them with some ranch dip and baby carrots. The kids also had blackberries. We enjoyed the rest of the kettle corn from the farm festival for dessert.
Bacon ranch pinwheels
1 can refrigerated pizza crust
1/2 packet ranch dressing seasoning (I used the kind you add to sour cream to make dip, because that’s what I add, but the kind that mixes into salad dressing would work as well)
1 cup pizza or mozzarella cheese
7 slices bacon, cooked until desired crispiness (I use the precooked bacon and heat in the microwave until it’s crispy)
1. Preheat the oven to 425-degrees.
2. Cook the bacon to desired crispness. Set aside to cool enough to touch without burning your fingers.
3. Spread the pizza crust out on a flat surface (I use my cutting board to make life easier).
4. Use the powder from half of the ranch dressing packet and spread over the pizza crust. Pat it into the crust gently.
5. Sprinkle cheese all over the ranch-coated pizza crust. Break up the bacon and spread over that.
6. Roll from one of the short ends of the rectangle into a log. With a very sharp knife, slice the roll into 1-inch thick circles.
7. Place the circles on a baking sheet. I line mine with non-stick aluminum foil to make clean-up a snap. Parchment paper would also work well. If you aren’t using anything of the sort, you may want to spritz the pan with a bit of non-stick cooking spray.
8. Bake at 425-degrees for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Serve warm with ranch dressing or dip.]]>