No, this is NOT what our "Manners Table" looked like...it is just a picture I had...:)for those of you who need a picture to look at!
I know I write a lot about my family and our children when they were little, but my husband and I made a real effort to do some things a certain way when raising our children...and we are truly reaping the benefits now as they are both teenagers! We wanted our children to contribute to the family...not only as an act of "helping out", but as they grew up in our home we wanted them to feel the importance of their role in our family. Trust me, there have been times and there ARE times when it would be so much easier and LESS exhausting to have everybody get their own food, use paper plates and heat prepared food in the microwave...and there is a place for that. However, it is so rewarding to work together in preparing meals together, setting the table, clearing the table, and cleaning up afterwards. It creates a bond. We will chat about that another day.
Now that we are off the bunny trail, back to the SUBJECT!
We always wanted our children to help with meal preparation. There were times I had to remind myself why. Some days I just did not have the patience to repeat myself over and over again as to what needed to go on the table etc., but I knew that I wanted my children to be able to be nurtured by me, yet independent enough to know how to function in the REAL world...as they grew up.
Parents! Take advantage of your children wanting to help when they are little. It is going to be TOO late to start when they are teenagers!
OKAY, maybe we are the only family in the world that had this littttttle problem, but EVERY time we went out to dinner, it seemed like our children just lost all sense of what it meant to behave at the dinner table. You know you have a problem, when you are ignoring ALL invitations to have dinner with friends and family. The one exception being it is a picnic invitation when the children just nibble on finger foods and would rather play than eat! And there is NO way that someone is going to take you aside to offer a "tiny bit" of parenting advice!
SOOOO, my BRILLIANT hubby, the father of my two darlings, came up with an amazing idea. We were only going to eat AT the kitchen table until there was a major improvement in table manners. That was fine with me, because I am pretty sure that whoever put carpeting in our dining room was completely INSANE! Well, maybe they just didn't have a toddler in a highchair!
Scott's plan was great. We ate in the kitchen and would work on a manner. Once both children had it down, we would set the Manner's table, which was always so exciting for them. We would pretend like we were at a restaurant or at somebody's house and we would use the manner we had learned. We eventually got through MANNERS 101. It also just so happened that whenever we had company we would HAVE to use the Table because it was so much bigger than our kitchen table...needless to say it worked like a charm. Not only did we have better behaved children, but who knew you could have so much fun with a "MANNERS TABLE"!
Here are a couple of Thanksgiving ideas...using things I already had on hand: I baked a few pumpkin bundtlettes with rum sauce, lined the Chinese take out boxes with wax paper...the pre-folded ones... placed the bundtlette in the box. I had some leftover verses I had made as Thank you cards,so I glued them down to the top of the box. Some fresh rosemary and a plastic spoon tied to the handle with a brown ribbon is already to enjoy. This is a quick, simple gift...that can be shared!
The plan was to give my mom some leaf punches for Thanksgiving decorations for above her dining room table. My leaf punch decided NOT to work, so, I printed some Bible verses on cardstock and used a luggage tag template. I tied a ribbon to the top and put some fishing line through the hole. The verses...all based on giving thanks...will hang from the light above the table, and the guests will each take one home to use as a bookmark or whatever else they want to use it for. The tags are to remind them that this life is temporary...just traveling through...but most importantly to remind them of the JOY we have in Christ.
You know how excited you get when you get to go somewhere really exciting? Who knows what the journey may entail? Late planes, cancelled flights, a flat tire...but there is still the anticipation of what is to come. And I am so thankful to have ALMIGHTY GOD in control of this journey with Him reminding me that He is with me every step of the way...detours and ALL.
These are the best muffins in the Fall. The bright cranberries, the zing of orange and the crunch of walnuts make them extra yummy!
1 cup fresh cranberries 1 Tablespoon flour 1 Tablespoon sugar
1 3/4 flour 2 3/4 teaspoons 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup sugar 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 grated orange rind 1 egg 2/3 cup vegetable oil 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside. Combine 1 3/4 cups flour and next 5 ingredients in a bowl, and make a well in the center. Combine egg, milk, and oil. Add to dry ingredients, stirring until moistened. Fold cranberry mix and walnuts into batter. Spoon into greased muffin pans, filling 2/3 full. Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon Streusel Topping. Bake at 400 FOR 18 TO 20 MINUTES. COOL IN PANS ON A WIRE RACK FOR 5 MINUTES. Remove from pans. Makes 12 muffins.
1/3 cup packed brown sugar 1 tablespoon flour 1 tablespoon butter 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Years ago while your Auntie and Mommy were playing, it was decided that whoever had the first baby girl would name her Laurissa...Mommy's name and Auntie's names combined.
Your Daddy just knew you were going to be a girl from the VERY beginning even though we never found out until you were born. He was SO SURE that he bought you the most adorable white t-shirt dress that was sporty, yet girly. It was kind of like a white tank top that was pleated at the waist with a sprinkling of dainty pink roses stitched around the front. He bought it for you months before you were born!
I clearly remember watching the movie "FATHER OF THE BRIDE" shortly after you were born. On the way home, I was crying and told Daddy, " I never want Laurissa to grow up!" We just loved holding you, playing with you...even watching you sleep. Daddy calmed me down, like he always does, and whispered, "Lisa, she is so tiny-we have a long time before we need to worry about that." I feel like I wiped my tears and now here you are a very dear young lady...full of grace and charm and a CHEERFUL spirit...which is exactly what your name means.
Mommy never journaled a lot when I was pregnant with you. I didn't really write down my dreams, my joys, my fears and my hopes for you. I guess that I just wanted to savor every moment. I had so many thoughts I am sure I wouldn't have been able to write them all down anyway. Every thought I had was so real I didn't think I would or could ever forget the feelings I was feeling. As I am writing this letter to you, my little sweet Lauris, some of my memories are as vivid as though they happened yesterday:
Sunday afternoon naps Afternoon walks on old country roads Sheer delight in your BIG blue eyes when Daddy came home from work Your love for Caleb: Crawling into his crib to comfort him Carmex as hair gel MILK...MOOK First snow ice cream runs Long walks through "BEAR COUNTRY" with Daddy Rides on Daddy's motorcycle Your love of family...Nana,Poppi,Oma,Opa,Aunties, Uncles and Cousins! School carnivals Surprise lunches Rainy soccer games Sunday picnics and walks Bike rides...with bikes that broke down...a long way from home! Studying for your driver's permit...Celebrating BIG when you passed! Long talks Girl's nights,Christmas programs Your love of BASKETBALL and BIRTHDAY PARTIES...
I have seen you go from my strong newborn, to a babbling infant, to the busiest toddler, to a very social teenager who is loyal to her friends, and last but not least a daughter who has become my dearest friend.
I am ever touched with your compassionate spirit and your deep love for the Lord. I know things have not always been easy, and there have been a lot of difficult years. I am, however, comforted in the fact that you have learned to depend upon the Lord for your strength when I have not been able to be as strong a mother for you. Thank you for loving me despite my faults and for the unconditional love you shower me with. You, my dear, challenge me when I walk by your room and there you are reading your Bible and praying...NOTHING, absolutely nothing , brings me more joy.
You my dear, are my firstborn with whom I have shared my youth and with whom I will share many more years making memories that have WORTH beyond WORDS!
Happy 18Th Birthday to the SWEETEST BIRTHDAY GIRL! I love you. MOMMY and FRIEND
BEAUTIFUL photo courtesy of Rob Buster Digital Reflection PDX
The majority of us learn the most from our parents.
It is from them that I have learned that the greatest joy in life is not from what is received, but from what is given of oneself to others...A gift from the heart.
They served our Country for a total of seven years...Dad in the Air Force and Mom in the Army...but it has been over the past 35 years that they have continued to pour their hearts into the lives of military men and women.
I am thankful for my heritage. Thankful that they served our Country and continue to this day- to encourage sons,daughters,uncles,aunts,dads,and moms etc. here in the United States and abroad as they now serve as missionaries to the military.
This morning on my way to taking my son to basketball practice...I didn't take my cell phone, I kept the radio off, and drove down our old route (SPEED BUMPS AND ALL!) and we prayed.
As we talked about Veteran's Day, I reminded him that if he ran into anybody at the gym who may be a Veteran-to be sure to thank them for their service to our Country. He listed the men he knew had served and assured me he would thank them if he were to see them.
As I drove out of the school parking lot, I noticed I was driving on empty AGAIN! I can't stand stopping for ANYTHING when I haven't had a shower, brushed my hair or teeth and have my slippers on!
Reluctantly, I pulled up to the gas station and found the least intimidating gentleman to help me. I stuffed a piece of gum in my mouth, rolled my window down and asked for $30.00 of premium... not really wanting to "chat".
I HAD to say good morning and ask how he was. It wasn't his fault I was running late and a bit irritated. How RUDE would that be? As I wished him a good morning and asked him how he was doing...I was completely overwhelmed. This is what he said, "Just HONKEY DOREY, MAAM!" Smiling back, I said, "That's nice, we need more people in this world like you!" He had a twinkle in his eye as he squinted just a bit and was quick to add, "I woke up this morning, and that's something to be thankful for!"
I have seen this gentleman quite frequently. I never talk to him because I am usually on the cell phone, cleaning out my purse, trying to hush my dog when they are out of "TREATS" or whatever other crisis is happening in my car...anyway, I just simply have not taken the time to REALLY talk to him. BUT it was quiet this morning. Most people were taking full advantage of their day off!
As the gentleman went to open my gas tank-which I forgot HOW to open!!! I thought since I had just lectured my son on thanking a VETERAN, I should at least ask him if he was. He acted surprised that I would ask. He walked over to my window and said, "MAAM, most of us old guys here are!” We had quite the conversation. I should have had him fill my tank to the brim...just to listen to his heart and to hear his passion for his COUNTRY he still carried in his voice after all of these years. What was it that he had seen, experienced or achieved in his life that gave him such a sweet spirit and a zest for life on such an early, chilly November morning?
OH MY GOODNESS! As I started up my car and thanked him for his part in serving our COUNTRY, I was completely fascinated by him. Maybe because he reminded me of my very favorite Grandpa...something about his sheepish grin, the lines in his face, his slight limp. I don't know!
Baffled, I pulled out of the gas station. My vision was a bit blurred from tears. As I drove home, I was wondering how many of these men and women are out there amongst people like me and like you who are so compartmentalized and are too busy to even recognize the people we pass every day who have served with a willing heart ? The sacrifices so many of them have made? How many have lost a friend in their very arms, and then come home to hold a new life only to find out that they, too, have forsaken them, lost hope that they may return.
I know that we realize there is a price for our freedom, but I don't usually think about these amazing men and women as individuals. They each have their own stories. Their own lives have been altered in one way or another. Maybe one night they were being kissed by their mom and the next, only by the dripping rain! Who knows?
As I pulled into my garage and turned the car off. I just sat for a minute. It dawned on me why this distinguished gentleman was still on my mind: He was still experiencing the greatest joy in his life...not from what he had received, but from what he had given of himself...although many years ago...it was the gift from his heart!
When I am called to duty, God Wherever flames may rage Give me strength to save some life Whatever be its age.
Help me embrace a little child Before it is too late Or save an older person from The horror of that fate
Enable me to be alert and Hear the weakest shout And quickly and efficiently To put the fire out
I want to fill my calling and To give the best in me To guard my every neighbor And protect their property
And if according to your will I have to loose my life Please bless with your protecting hand My family, children and my wife.
Did you know that the Maltese Cross...the badge every firefighter has earned and wears...is YOUR symbol of protection? It means that the firefighter that wears this cross is willing to lay down his life for YOU. The Maltese Cross is a firefighter's badge of honor, signifying that he works in courage- a ladder rung away from death.
Adapted from The Firefighter's Badge by Aaron Feldman and Holman Bible Publishers
SOOOOOOOO, the next time you are in the grocery store line with your screaming little ones who are in desperate need of a nap, and you are dreading the afternoon of feeding the babes, putting the groceries away, cleaning toilets, folding laundry and fixing dinner, and right there behind you in line are four firefighters who have had the luxury of shopping together (Can you even imagine how much fun it would be to do grocery shopping with Three of your best friends!) Remember this... there is a reason that they shop as a crew and that reason is that for 24 hours every third day these men and women must be ready at a moments notice to respond to any emergency situation they are called to. During that time they are on shift they do just about everything as a group. They do their house duties, shop, cook, eat, work out, respond to emergencies and do other various tasks together. These people become a second family to each other. They learn to live and work as a team... a team that will be there for you in YOUR time of need... arriving there to work as a team to make better your bad situation... and putting their lives on the line for YOU!
"There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends"
John 15:13 New Living Translation
Photo courtesy of Marlo Fitzgerald Smith...thank you for the photos and the memories!
Have you ever had something in your life that brings you so much joy and then, as circumstances change, THAT VERY THING that brought about joy suddenly brings about fear and pain?
Years ago, as our neighborhoods started to expand, and traffic patterns were altered, new houses went up, new roads, new lights and new signs. A small stretch of road added SPEED BUMPS! I thought it was ridiculous, but there they were one morning as the children and I were already running late for school. Talk about one more inconvenience!
The "Pollyanna" in me decided right then and there that those speed bumps were going to be another reminder for our family to slow down and to pray! To this day I still have vivid memories of our children's innocent little voices praying with such sincerity. We prayed for everything: sick friends, teachers, special privileges...like ice cream after school, lonely friends, friends without Daddy's and Mommy's, the "blueberry lady" who sold her land, animals. You name it! I looked forward to those speed bumps. They were a comforting reminder that no matter how hurried we are in our lives, Jesus is NOT! He is never in a hurry. He is ALWAYS there waiting for us and He loves it when we slow down and talk with HIM.
Several months ago, I was in a car accident and my BIG TAHOE absorbed any discomfort a healthy, strong body might feel in going over those bumps, but let me tell you, my "new" car is much smaller, and the suspension is TIGHT. My sore and achy body can feel every inconsistency in the road, let alone the pain that radiates through my body when we go over bumps.
I have started taking different routes, longer routes...any road I can find where the ride is smooth. At times, when I am going somewhere new or different and I see an unexpected bump, it causes instant fear of the pain that shoots from my hips all the way to my neck. Something I had come to find comfort in is now something I avoid and fear.
Tonight, on our way home, I felt like God was wanting me to Trust HIM. This Speed Bump in my life is not something to be avoided. It is going to be HIS teaching tool in my life. The only difference is this: He is in the driver's seat and I am the immature and weak child praying in earnest. I am completely inadequate, but with God's power I am able to overcome the difficulties I face, and I, too can trust my God who is sufficient. Out of this experience, I know that the same way I loved hearing my children pray, He loves hearing me come to Him.
It dawned on me, even though they are much older, I am still teaching them. They are still observing. I may never have this opportunity again to let my children know that the same God who has been listening and answering our prayers (NOT ALWAYS THE WAY WE HAVE PRAYED FOR!)over the years is completely capable of alleviating my fear and pain or in giving me the courage to deal with it differently. He has a purpose and a plan...he wants me to slow down and to trust in HIM. Don't avoid the SPEED BUMPS in life...because with Him we are Never without HOPE.
"Come to ME, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30.
My fun, bubbly, energetic friend has just started her new business of helping others GET ORGANIZED! She works fast and this is the perfect fit for her. SHE LOVES HELPING PEOPLE AND SHE IS GIFTED in the organizational department. So, if you are feeling overwhelmed and don't have a clue where to start...she would love to help you out...and her prices are very affordable for those of us who are on a budget. Just think, in the long run you will be saving money, not to mention having peace of mind living in a home with much less clutter. More time for family, friends...and the list goes on!
It awes me to think of Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a distinct character trait I have inherited from my Dad! One of my earliest memories was waking up on Christmas morning to "Handel's Messiah" playing on an old record player. It was LOUD and there was no doubt as to WHO we were celebrating! I remember really thinking there were angel's proclaiming the birth of Jesus in our home as they sang HALLELUJAH so beautifully...but Thanksgiving can't be overlooked!
The thought of Harvest is so fascinating to me...the vibrant colors of the leaves, the moonlight that is so crisp and extra bright against the dark, dark sky, and the beautiful produce that is so unbelievably colorful not to mention how good it tastes. I always thought it would have been so neat to be in on that first Thanksgiving, just to hear the earnest prayers of gratitude. There is no doubt about it; God provided the feast without the help of Winco, Costco or Trader Joes. Through the heartaches and many tribulations the Pilgrims experienced, God was beyond faithful. I cannot imagine their conversations over their dinner, but I am sure Lamentations 3:21-23 might have come up at some point."Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness."
Every Thanksgiving is different. Some are a reflection as to how God has blessed our family and friends. There are other times when I am giving "thanks"...reluctantly...not wholeheartedly, giving thanks with a heart that is guarded while thinking that I could really be full of thanks and really enjoy the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie a whole lot more if certain things or situations were different in my life. I want to learn to be thankful and joyful despite my circumstances and trust God for His timing in my life and say good-bye to my color-coordinated, cute, bright pink organized daytimer!
Yesterday's sermon was right out of Psalm 139...You need to read the whole thing! I was so encouraged. Just knowing that I am a child of God and that he created me the way that I am, and everything that has ever happened to me and everything that will ever happen to me in my life until the day I die, HE HAS IT ALL under control. That is worth giving thanks for in and of itself. So, for those of you who are reading this I pray that this Thanksgiving will be one full of joy. Hearts that are overflowing with gratitude, hearts that are not guarded...but are full of hope despite the difficulties we may be facing. It is possible that Christ will be your greatest comfort during this month of giving THANKS!
Here are a few quick, sure-fire recipes to keep stress at bay while entertaining your friends and family. I always hated finding a great recipe and then trying to figure out what would go with it, so, from here on out, I will post a menu for the month. They are all tested and have been part of our family traditions...some are very old (from when we were young!) and some are new. Most of the recipes are seasonal, so, you should be able to find all the ingredients without any trouble. The Swiss Sweet Bread makes three loaves, so you may wrap one up in cellophane and take it as a hostess gift. ENJOY!!!
SALAD INGREDIENTS: 4 cups broccoli florets cut small 1 cup toasted almonds, sliced 1 bunch green onions, sliced 1 cup celery, sliced 2 cups red grapes cut in half
DRESSING INGREDIENTS: 1 cup cranberries 1 cup mayonnaise 1 tablespoon vinegar 1/3 cup sugar
DIRECTIONS: • Combine salad ingredients; • Mix together dressing ingredients, stirring to dissolve sugar; • Combine salad and dressing and let stand for 3 to 4 hours before serving; • Top with toasted almonds just before serving
Swiss Sweet Bread
INGREDIENTS: 1 tablespoon yeast 1-2/3 cups warm water (Let sit for five minutes) Add: 1 cup dry potato flakes 1 cup sugar 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (let slightly cool before adding) 2 teaspoons salt 4 eggs 1 tablespoon orange extract 1-1/2 cup golden raisins, currants, or cranberries
DIRECTIONS: • Knead in flour until smooth; • Put in greased bowl for 1-1/2 hours until it doubles; • Punch down; • Let it rise for 10 minutes, divide dough into 3 loaves; • Place on greased baking sheet, cover and let it sit for 45 minutes; • Bake at 350 for 35 minutes or until golden.
Swiss Style Chicken
INGREDIENTS/DIRECTIONS: 10 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into half Salt and pepper, to taste 1/2 pound grated swiss cheese One can cream of chicken soup with 1/2 cup Cream Sherry 2 cups (Blue Label) Pepperidge Farms stuffing One stick butter, melted
DIRECTIONS: Place chicken breasts in 9 x 13 casserole pan; Sprinkle with salt and pepper; Spread with swiss cheese; Thin cream of chicken soup with Sherry and drizzle over top; Place stuffing on top; Drizzle melted butter over all of it; Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for one hour.