Kids or Coyotes?

It was later than usual. At least, it was for locking up the chickens. So, I marched out there with a flashlight hoping they would all be accounted for. They were. However, they were running low on  food and water. Brian was inside with the kids, and it would soon be their bedtime too. So I thought, I’ll just do it tonight since I have a moment. Bringing the containers back to the house with me, I heard a lone coyote howl. He was down the valley a ways but coyotes and I have never gotten along. When I meet one, I want to have a gun in hand. Which I didn’t. I had chicken feeders. I wondered if I could land a good blow with the feeder or if it would just make the coyote mad.

It’s childish, I know. Coyotes are nearly worthless animals, more scared of me than I am of them. At least, that’s what my dad used to tell me as a child. You see, I have had this aversion since childhood. I grew up next to them and let’s just say coyotes and I never became friends. I heard it howl again, this time closer. I decided the feeder would not be a good line of defense so I decided to hurry this little project along. Besides, it was probably the chickens it was smelling anyway.

As I was finishing this lovely task, I heard another coyote from the other end of the valley answer the first. They were closing in, anticipating a chicken dinner, and I was there in the middle of them. So, as any courageous adult would do, I forced myself to walk back to the house.

As I approached, I could hear it from outside. Brian had announced bedtime and the three toddlers were screaming and crying in protest of the dreaded event. It had been like this all day. And a long day it had been too. I knew what was next. The kids don’t give in that easily. This was a bedtime fight and they wouldn’t concede until they were all doing nose to wall.

Another howl rent the air. My hand was on the door knob. Coyotes or kids? At that moment, I looked inside and hesitated. It had been such a long day with the kids, the fresh, crisp air felt so good and coyotes aren’t so bad… are they? I doubted the pack would even know I was there. I’ll just hang out outside in the dark for a while, maybe walk around the house until the kids concede and go upstairs.

I’m not a smoker. Never smoked a cigarette in my life. But as I stood in the darkness, listening to the pack close in, I desperately wanted something to do with my hands. Smoking a cigarette seemed like it would have been better than nervously poking them in and out of my pockets. I peeked inside again. Kids were still at it. Brian has always had more patience than me. Finally the house grew quiet and I peeked in a window again. All was clear. Now I could peacefully go in and make coffee before going upstairs to help. So what if there was an extra pep to my step? No one was there to witness it.

pray for them

We live in a culture that loves to microwave, yet we serve a God who prefers to marinate. Perseverance does not come naturally, yet the reward is so much greater than we could ever conceive. Let’s pray for our loved ones to persevere in the face of resistance.

Spinach Tortellini

  • 2 packages Mixed Cheese Tortellini
  • 1 qt San Marzano Pasta Sauce
  • 2 cups Chopped Fresh Spinach
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Boil water and add tortellini. Cook for 8-10 minutes until tender. In a sauce pan, bring San Marzano pasta sauce to a simmer and add 2 fresh cups chopped fresh spinach. Drain pasta and add to sauce. Serve with sprinkled parmesan cheese over top.


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What I Will Miss

Everyone seems to think the best response to a hard day at home is: you’re going to miss this. It’s almost as annoying as the “you’ve got your hands full” statement when your kids are having a horrid trip to the grocery store and you’re about to be in tears yourself. Sometimes I want to snap back, “Actually, no I will not miss the perpetual ringing in my ears from the shrieks and screams that have happened all day.”

We hear it all the time do we not? There’s merit to it. It originates from the generations who have gone before us and look back and know that yes, we will absolutely miss this time of life. I just wish someone would go a little deeper. Break it down more for my fried senses to take it in with understanding. Tell me that while I won’t miss the ringing in my ears, I will miss the joyful sound of laughter and the pitter patter of small feet running through my house.

In an effort to stop rolling my eyes the moment I hear you’re going to miss this,  I decided to queue into the beauty in the mess. Focus on things I know I will miss so that I develope an appreciation of this “now” season. So that when it is over I won’t look back and say, I wish I had cherished it more.

I won’t miss the sleepless nights and the black circles that publicize them. But, I will miss those midnight moments when I rock a sleepy baby who is for the moment content to soak up all the snuggles I will give her.

I won’t miss the pain from boney elbows that pierce my chest when they suddenly want off my lap. However, I will miss the times when they wanted to sit on my lap at all and they were small enough to actually fit on it.

I won’t miss stubbing my toe on a talking toy in the middle of the night thus waking up the whole house. But, I will miss watching my kids toddle around while carrying their favorite stuffed animal– usually bigger than they are– under their arm.

I won’t miss the difficult trips to the grocery store with the five of them knocking things off shelves and dropping things from the cart just to see if it will break. But I will miss the days when they begged to go with me because all they really want is time with their mommy.

I won’t miss the dried oatmeal on the floor that hurts my feet when I walk over it. But I will deeply miss the days when we all sat around the table and there were no phones, no radios, no tvs, and no school meetings or practices to pull us in different directions.

For now, in this moment in our family, it’s just us. We are all here, together. Their love for Brian and I is untainted and unconditional. They hear opinions from others but care only for our praise and approval. Right now, in their tender, young hearts no one means more to them than us. Someday, as they grow and mature this will all change. It is as it should be. I will be proud of the independent and strong men and women they will become. But yes, I will miss this.

Pray For Them

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, over 18% of American adults suffer from anxiety disorders. That’s over 40 million Americans. In a society that struggles so much with fear and anxiety, we need to be battling on the front lines for our loved ones to find peace. Peace that persists in every situation and goes beyond understanding can only be rooted in Christ. Let’s pray today for our loved ones to find true peace in their lives.

Perfect Pie Crust

For all I know, this could be straight out of a 1954 Betty Crocker cookbook. But folks, it was handed down to me all the way from my great grandma and it is delicious. It never fails to be perfect. People who don’t like crust only exist because they haven’t tried this one. Pie season is coming up and you need to be ready!

This makes three 9″ pie crusts. Freeze what you don’t need and when you’re ready for your next pie just pull it out, let it thaw in the fridge and bam, you’re set to go.

  • 3 cups Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Lard
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbs White Vinegar
  • 2/3 cup Cold Water

Blend flour and salt. Add lard and cut into flour mixture with a pastry cutter until crumbles are pea size. Beat egg in a cup, add vinegar to it and mix together then add cold water. Pour into flour and combine with a fork until it pulls away from the edges. Divide into three even sections. Turn out what you need onto a floured surface and roll it out. Freeze what you don’t need.

If your filling is already cooked, poke holes in your crust with a fork and pre-bake your pie crust in the oven at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Then add your filling. (You poke holes so the crust doesn’t have big bubbles during baking.)

If your filling needs to be cooked in the oven, just pour it into a raw pie crust (no holes) and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.

Note: If you want your crust to turn out just right, you cannot substitute the lard. It’s a completely natural product and makes things deliciously flakey like pie crusts and biscuits. Shortening won’t do your recipe justice (besides it’s made only from chemicals in a lab) and butter doesn’t have the same abilities.

Surviving Sick Days

Fall hits and so do the viruses. Before I know it, I am longingly looking outside with my nose pressed against the window. Every parent faces this challenge. One year the three kids literally caught one virus after another and we couldn’t go to church for 8 weeks. Something about choosing to love on people by not exposing their kids to a string of exotic viruses. This year is not so bad. But this weekend we faced down the challenge anyone living with young children can identify with in the cold and flu season.

Ruth and Gabe are both sick with opposite viruses. Anyone been there before? Gabe has that cough that makes every parent cringe. Which means I dare not take him somewhere that will expose him to other kids. Or the wind. Ruth has a fever and “other things” that go with it, which seals the deal on me not going anywhere. Windy walks are off limits. Long car rides are off limits. Basically, for the last four days I have been here at home staring at my impossible laundry pile.

Why is it impossible? Because there are 28 kid socks that have no match. Every time I gather them up in a neat, isolated pile the kids come by and distribute them around the house. Again. I contemplated throwing them away just to remove the stressful sight but I keep thinking, maybe the next load will match a few. Besides, that’s a lot of pairs of socks to be without. Silly that something like socks should be stressful, but in truth, for an already exhausting and chaotic day it is more about the stress that comes from the compounding chaos.

Cooking is fun. Creating new recipes, balancing flavors and colors. But let’s be honest. On a sick day we are talking about cranky kids at the end of a loooong day who are in need of a little extra TLC than usual. (Note: Preparing dinner at the usual time on sick days will not happen.) I decided I would save myself a little stress and assume early on that it wouldn’t happen.

So, at 2pm when the kids were fast asleep I poured 8 minutes into dinner preparation. I busted out the Dutch oven. Put a hunk of frozen meat in there — I wasn’t even sure what it was, only that it was of the red variety. Mystery dinner! — with a few veggies and put in the the oven on low. I trust my dutch oven. It makes all things delicious, even mystery meats. Eight minutes later, boom. Dinner is taken care of with hours to spare. Because even on a good day, at the end of it, we are all in need of a reprieve. Sick days are a whole different beast.

Comes in 9 Colors!! I have the 7.5 Qt since I know I will not run out of room.

Turns out we had pot roast! (Yes, it honestly was a surprise. I took it out and thought, Pot Roast! That sounds good. There’s nothing like a little mystery to an otherwise repetitive day.) Ironically, it was the best I had ever made. Nothing ministers to the weary soul like pot roast. What about you?

Share your stories with me! What are your go-to recipes for days at home when your little tikes are under the weather (or being protected from it)? What are your quick, easy recipes for dinner?  Assuming you don’t spend the day chasing socks and applying Desitin,  what activities do you do with your board kids when you’re home for sick days? And no, I am not going to judge you for movie marathons. Sick days are about survival my friends. So lets share our ideas and create a bigger idea pool to choose from.

Pray For Them

Praying doesn’t have to be intimidating. Take a few seconds to pray scripture over your loved ones by praying for their faithfulness in Christ. If they aren’t saved yet, consider it a prayer of invested faith that they will one day walk in the freedom of Christ and be faithful to him.

Pot Roast for the Soul

There is a series of books called Chicken Soup for the Soul. I read them all. This recipe is named in honor of that series. On days at home when you have sick kids who need extra TLC, throw this in the oven and at the very least you’ll have a soul-tending meal at the end of that long hard day.

  • 2 lb Beef Chuck Roast (frozen)
  • 2 cups Beef Broth
  • 4 large Red Potatoes halved
  • 4 large Carrots halved
  • 1 Tbs Thyme
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbs Steak Seasoning
  • 3 cups Jasmine Rice
  • 2 Tbs Butter
  • 2  Tbs Flour

Combine first 7 ingredients in a dutch oven and bake at 325 degrees for 4 hours. Use a rice cooker with a delay timer to preset rice to be finished 20 minutes before you are ready to serve. Before sitting down to dinner, melt butter into a sauce pan and stir in flour. Once smooth add the excess broth from the roast and stir until the consistency is what you want for gravy. Add milk or water if it is too thick.

Chicken Tacos

This recipe is so easy to make! The kids ate these without dissecting them first and removing all the offending vegetables too. That’s a win-win if you ask me.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 10×15″ baking dish. (This baking dish is big. Not as easy to find. But save yourself some dishes and just get one.) 

  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 1 Onion
  • 1/2 cup Frozen Kale
  • 2 cans Cooked Chicken Breast
  • 1 can Corn
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream
  • 1/4 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Powdered Garlic
  • 1 cup Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 20 Crispy Taco Shells
  • Mix the first 9 ingredients together in one bowl and set aside. Place taco shells in a baking dish so that they are all standing up and fill them with the chicken mix. Top with shredded Cheese and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes until taco shells are toasted and the filling is hot. Top with lettuce, tomatoes and your choice of salsa. I usually have a mango pineapple salsa on hand.
    Feel free to adjust the spices to your liking as I usually go light on them for the kids.  And if you have a little bit of filling left over, don’t worry! Use it the next morning as an omelette filler. YUM.


    Citrus-Herb Chicken Soup

    The other day I made this recipe up because I couldn’t find one. It is perfect for crisp fall nights. I like to pair it with a fresh piece of homemade bread.

    In a Dutch oven, simmer for two hours:

    • 2 Whole Rotisserie Chickens (or fresh organic whole chickens)
    • 2 Tbs dried Parsley
    • 2 Tbs dried Thyme
    • 2 Tbs dried Basil
    • 2 cups lime juice
    • 1 cup water

    Remove the chicken bones and pour everything else into a large stock pot. Add the following ingredients:

    • 1 1/5 cups wild rice blend
    • 1 diced onion
    • 2 chopped green onions
    • 3 Tbs minced Garlic
    • 1 lb chopped kale
    • 1 large lemon quartered
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp pepper
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1 1/5 tsp Better than bullion (Chicken)
    • 1 1/5 tsp Better than Bullion (Veggie)
    • 4 quarts water
    • 1/2 cup cream (optional)

    Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally. Serve with homemade croutons. I use the heels and tops of my bread loaves for homemade croutons. I just chop them up and toss them with olive oil, onion & garlic powder and grated parmesan cheese. Then I bake them at 375 on a foil lined cookie sheet for 10 minutes until crisp.

    Note: If the soup is too hot to serve to your littles, adding cream to their bowls cools it down quicker. Its delicious with or without it so go with what you love!

    Makes about 1.5 gallons of soup. I freeze what we don’t eat.

    Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread


    • 24oz pumpkin purée
    • 1 1/2 cups coconut oil
    • 2 cups white sugar
    • 2 cups brown sugar
    • 6 eggs
    • 1 t. black walnut extract
    • 4 3/4 cups flour
    • 1 1/2 t. baking powder
    • 1 1/2 t. baking soda
    • 1 1/2 t. salt
    • 1 1/2 t. cinnamon
    • 1 1/2 t. nutmeg
    • 1 1/2 t. cloves
    • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

    Grease and flour three 9×5 inch baking pans and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together pumpkin, oil, eggs, sugar and walnut extract. Mix together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture to the pumpkin. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter equally into the prepared baking pans.

    **Note: Walnut Extract and the chocolate chips are optional. If you are taking this bread to a party, make sure you write on the label whether this recipe contains nuts.

    Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the center of the loaf is firm to touch.