Kick ‘Em Out!

It was nap time and they were all supposed to be going potty and getting in their beds. As I was tucking in Grace the uproar began. Annoyed at Esther and Micah for being unable to carry out my simple request of “go potty and get in bed” I took a quick evaluation of the situation.

Apparently Esther got to one bathroom first and Micah wouldn’t leave. Micah knows better. So I sent him to his room and I took a deep breath. (Because I have been working on this!!) Sitting on his bed I very calmly I explained to him that if someone is in the bathroom he finds another one. That when Esther asks for privacy he gives it to her and vice versa. He is never to enter the bathroom while someone is trying to use it.

Happy with my cool, calm and collected response I could tell something was wrong. I wasn’t yelling. Why was Micah crying so hard? “Micah, do you feel like you have been treated unfairly?” All I got was blubbering. Micah’s lips swell when he cries so it really is a blubbering mess with more lips than he knows what to do with.

Eventually he took a gulp of air and said, “yeah.” And I said, “Why? Did Esther ask you to leave?” “Yeah.” “Did you?” “No.” “Then why are you so upset? You know that isn’t how you behave. You knew you wouldn’t get away with it.” “She was kicking me.” “What?” “When I didn’t leave Esther starting kicking me hard!” “Okay. Well she should not be doing that either. I’ll have a talk with her. But next time someone is in the bathroom just find a different one.”

So I moved to Esther’s room to clear up this mess. “Where you kicking Micah?” “Yeah. He wouldn’t leave.” “Okay, I know you need your privacy and I’m proud of you for not going in front of him, but you can’t just kick people to make them do something.” “You told me to! You told me that next time I need to get dressed or go potty I am to kick the boys out of the room!” Oops! I did say that. “Sorry Esther, it’s my fault for using that wording. I meant for you to make sure they leave the room. We don’t hit, kick or push people. This whole thing could’ve been avoided if you had just asked for help. Try that next time.”

Sigh. Time for a brownie.


Pray for them

Lord, empower (Name) to “keep [his/her] tongue from evil and [his/her] lips from speaking deceit.” May (Name) “turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” For, “the eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ear toward their cry.” In the name I Jesus I pray, amen.    -Psalm 34:13-15

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Brownies with a twist

Speaking of brownies… I have taken to the habit of making my brownies with coconut oil instead of regular vegetable oil. It is so much better for you AND it adds that delicious suggestion of coconut. Make sure you get the extra virgin coconut oil that is solid or it will not have the flavor. Coconut oil liquidates at 76 degrees, so it just needs a little boost from room temperature before you can stir it in, but oh my is it good!

 

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Judgment Day

It was Esther’s helper day at preschool. We did her hair special and she wore pink from head to toe armed with her favorite toy for show and tell.

At the beginning of the class, I was standing between her and another girl when I smelled an awful smell. The kind of body oder that comes from unwashed kids. My heart became sad for the little girl I stood over. What kind of home did she come from?

We moved to circle time and Esther got to sit in the middle and the other little girl was on the opposite end. Again, even from that distance I caught a whiff of it. Frustration grew inside of me at her parents. I knew I was judging but I didn’t care. It’s unacceptable for a kid to be so neglected.

With a silent huff from me we finished that portion of circle time and Little E came to sit by me, so proud her mommy was there. She swung her arms around me and gave me the sweetest little bear hug.

Then it hit me. That smell wasn’t coming from across the room. That smell was MY kid. How on earth? I sniffed her shirt again and wanted to groan. When? How? Geez. There I was judging the daylights out of some unsuspecting parent when it was MY fancy parenting skills on display. On her helper day no less.

During a private moment later I asked her,

Esther? How many times have you worn this shirt since we washed it?
Two Times! Today is my third. Isn’t it great? It isn’t even dirty yet!
Uh huh. Well Sweetie, I would like to wash all your clothes after you wear them. Especially now that we are playing outside more often in the sunshine.

That verse came floating back to me later… about whatever measure we use to judge others with will also be used on us. Yeah… turns out that’s true.

It’s so easy to point fingers and make harsh judgment calls, but appearances are not always the case. Regardless, we could all use a little extra grace.


Pray for them 

On that note, why don’t we all just come into agreement with this prayer right here…

Father, keep (Name) from judging others “that [he/she] be not judged. For with the judgment [Name] pronounce[s] [he/she] will be judged, and with the measure [(Name) uses] it will be measured to [him/her].” Therefore, I ask you to guard (Name’s) heart and keep it pure from judgment and criticism. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.   – Matthew 7:1-2

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Joanna Gaine’s Buttermilk biscuits

These are the best. I thought I had found a favorite biscuit recipe until I discovered these. It’s the Cream of Tartar that makes all the difference. I’m totally buying her cookbook when it comes out. (Hint Hint BRIAN… Mother’s Day gift!)

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 3/4 cup butter or 1/2 cup butter and 1/4 cup shortening
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Milk for brushing (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine first five ingredients. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add buttermilk all at once. Using a fork, stir just until mixture is moistened.
  2. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it just until dough holds together. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Pat dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle. Cut into 12 squares or rectangles with a knife or pizza cutter. Do not separate.
  3. If desired, brush with milk. Bake 10 to 14 minutes or until golden. Serve warm. Makes 12 biscuits.

Does the Supermoon Wear A Cape?

Last week Brian and I got up early to watch the full eclipse of the “Super Blue Blood Moon.” Given this event is not expected to happen again for another 100 years at least, we decided to get the older kids up too.

Armed with coffee and binoculars (no comments allowed from telescope owners) we watched the beauty of this phenomenon. That’s when Micah asked, “Hey Dad, does the Supermoon wear a cape?” And I realized all over again just how much I love these kids. I think Brian’s response was, “No. But he should shouldn’t he?”

It is so easy to get caught up being an adult I forget the joy of discovering the world for the first time. It was fun to see the kids watch the moon and fight over who would get the binoculars first. Gabe was brave enough to take on the cold, dark yard to get a better look at it with Daddy while Micah and Esther stayed inside where it was warm.

In watching my kids’ wonder, I too could not help but feel God’s presence in something so incredible. Knowing that He pays as much attention to the details of our lives as He does to the work of His hands.


Pray for them 

A fresh 2018 is here with it’s promise of life and memories to be made. This year, I want to invite you with me in my commitment to pursue the presence of God. Let’s also pray the Spirit of God would go before our loved ones, be upon them and remain behind them touching and changing the lives of everyone they come into contact with.

Lord, I ask for the presence of your Spirit to be poured out on (Name’s) life. May Joel’s prophecy: “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy,” be fulfilled in your servant (Name). Grant (him/her) the necessary discernment and wisdom to answer your call and be faithful to the end. In the name of Jesus, amen.      -Acts 2:17-18

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Honey Lime Tart

Pulled this from our copy of the Magnolia Magazine. So thank you Joanna Gaines for your delicious recipes! The original recipe is for tartlets but I altered this to make it one tart. (Mamma’s time is precious.)

  • 1 cup flour
  • 6 Tbs Butter (unsalted, cold and diced into 1/2″ chunks)
  • 2 Tbs Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1 Tbs Ice Water
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp Lime Zest
  • 1/3 cup Lime Juice
  • 3 Tbs Butter (Unsalted, cold and cut up)
  • 1 Tbs. Honey
  • 1 cup Sour Cream

Crust

Preheat oven to 375. Combine flour, 2 Tbs sugar and salt. Cut in butter until it is pea sized. Add egg yolk and ice water and combine until it begins to form a ball. Press dough into an tart pan with removable bottom. Bake for about 12 minutes until golden. Cool completely.

Filling

In a saucepan, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in heavy cream, lime zest and lime juice. Cook and stir over medium heat until gently boiling. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes more until it thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in butter and honey until smooth. Pour into the tart shell and chill for at least one hour.

Leslie

 

 

Refocusing

Friends! Thank you for giving me a little grace as I took a few weeks off of the blogging world. Christmas is a special time and this year I decided to scale down my activities and focus only on what was the most special. Brian and I watched a lot of the classic Christmas movies and even brushed up on some nostalgic 90s Christmas movies too. The rest of my time was spent cuddling kids.

We did attempt to take some family photos…  so, here is a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’s to you from the Crouse family!

New Year’s always holds mixed feelings for me. I love the fresh slate to begin a new year, but it is mixed with a sadness that the Christmas hullabaloo is over and then there is the ever present pressure to come up with some really great resolutions.

This year I rebelled. I always end up forgetting what the resolutions were about two months into “Mom can I have another ham sandwich?” So this year I decided to have one resolution:

This year I will focus on what God is accomplishing and how to align myself with him

Thats it. I think I will remember it this time. No more pressure to perform. No more guilt for failing (or in my case forgetting). This year, I am putting my self-centered goals away. I will step aside and embrace God’s plans, purposes and celebrate His accomplishments.

Never have I entered a year with such peace, freedom or joy.


Pray for them 

This 2018 embrace the peace that can only be found in knowing that no matter what happens, Christ has complete authority and His enemies are a footstool. His Word will always stand and you can find rest in Him. Pray your loved ones will too.

Father, I praise your holy name. I ask you to reveal the full authority of your Son Jesus to (Name). Open (his/her) eyes to the great might “that [you] worked in Christ when [you] raised him from the dead and seated him at [your] right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Prayers taken from the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.

 


Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows

This year I discovered that when it comes to hot chocolate, I am a marshmallow girl. (Please don’t make that my new nickname as people may get the wrong impression.) For years I thought I liked whipped cream. But after drinking them side by side (because Christmas time is the only time you can get away with something like that), I realized I have been depriving myself of my true love.

  • 1/2 c. Sugar
  • 1/4 c. Cocoa
  • dash Salt
  • 1/3 c. Hot Water
  • 4 c. Milk

Mix sugar, cocoa and salt in a saucepan; stir in water. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils; boil and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in milk and heat until it steams. Do not boil. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

This recipe is right off the side of a Hersey’s Unsweetened Cocoa Powder can and it is extra good with a teaspoon of cinnamon in it (add in with the dry ingredients). Plus, if you switch from white sugar to brown, it adds a rich nutty flavor to it.

Leslie

Spectacle

Ever get that feeling that everyone in the vicinity is watching you with rapt attention? I felt that way three times in one morning.

Let’s just begin with… I am so done with that double stroller. For years it has been a saving grace. But now that it has weathered two sets of twins and the girls are sufficient walkers, I have started ditching that squeaky old stroller and walking all the kids into stores and buildings.

And let me tell you- we are the immediate entertainment for all to see. The first time was perfect. Everyone cooperated and it went so smoothly. The second time not so much. You see, Grace has this independent streak where she sometimes refuses to hold my hand. She’s a big girl you know. She likes to do it all by herself. So, in protest of this new “big girl” status she flung herself to the floor in a classic almost-two-year-old tantrum. Right in the middle of MOPS children pickup. Of course, I couldn’t have asked for a more empathetic crowd.

The third time I was unloading at a store for a quick Christmas kids gift exchange hunt. I needed five small things and I was going to the Dollar store to let the kids pick for themselves. Unfortunately, there was a guy in his big white duly pickup parked right beside me watching the fascinating scene of getting them all out of the car and rounded up in a safe-like fashion.

First I unbuckled them all which meant my backside was right in his face. Then I got the girls out and waited for the rest to climb over the groceries and car seats obstacles.

Micah found a donut from yesterday that he distractedly began munching. Gabe got his feet wrapped up in the girls blankets and began scooting out of the car like an inch worm. When Esther was finally ready to jump down, Micah was too absorbed in his donut ecstasy that he wouldn’t make room for her. He also had his name tag stuck to the bottom of his shoe.

Finally with all feet on the ground, we began the game of follow the leader into the store. Micah in his distraction had gotten in line backwards and backed his whole way up to the door tripping over everything he couldn’t see.

Then, once inside I saw the shopping cart and literally heard angels singing in my head. That’s about the time Esther made a swift case for why she should be the one to ride in it. Unfortunately her request fell on the deaf ears of Momma’s iron will. I had plans to stuff those girls into something safer and restore our group to relative order before the chaos of the toy isle began.

And then we did it all over again. Round and round we go. It became glaringly clear that it’s time to pull out those little stuffed animal backpacks I have with little leashes on them. It’s perfect for toddler independence and keeping them close too. I have found them to be indispensable. Especially in airports or theme parks where there is just too many people and they can get away too fast. We name them too.

Meet George.


Pray For Them

Did you know that all the prayers on my blog are from the FREE BiblicalPrayers mobile app? I needed something to pray over my kids when I had only one minute and one hand to spare. It offers a full year of daily prayers that take less than 60 seconds of your time to pray. Show your loved ones how much you care by praying scripture over them personally. Send it to ten of your closest friends and see how the power of prayer can change even the most impossible situations.

Lord, you said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Teach (Name) to walk in your ways and how to follow the leading of the Father. May (Name) be counted as “one who does the will of [our] Father who is in heaven.” In your name I pray, amen. – Matthew 7:21

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Short and Sweet. That’s how I like my dinners to come together.

  • 1 bottle of your favorite BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Apple Jelly (or preferance)
  • 1/4 cup Orange Juice
  • 15 Chicken Legs
  • Garlic Salt

Season fresh chicken legs with garlic salt to taste. I recommend you do it thoroughly. Line a baking sheet with greased foil for easy clean up and bake them at 350 degrees for one hour. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan combine BBQ sauce with jelly and orange juice and let it simmer until the jelly is fully melted. Set aside.

When chicken is ready, pull them out and let them rest for about 5-10 minutes. Then coat them in the prepared sauce and serve hot.

Tip: Pour a portion of the sauce into a bowl and simply roll the chicken around in it. The rest of the sauce can be used as extra or for other dishes too. Serve with garlic cheddar mashed potatoes.

Found Her Wheels

Gracie has found her wheels. After running around the house for several months, she has now found a way around the gate to the stairs. While I was in the kitchen with what I thought was all my kids, I heard the pitter patter of little feet cruising the upstairs hallway over me. I took a quick head count and it was Grace. She made a beeline for the kids toothbrushes and was having much fun testing each toothbrush out on her own teeth. What they don’t know can’t hurt them.

It was sixty degrees outside, so until I figured out what to do about the stair/gate dilemma, I sent all the kids outside. When about 10 minutes later I couldn’t get an eye on Grace. So I went in search and found that she had climbed up into the kids tall play house from the ladder. Calling her only brought forth a new game of tag. When I was about half way up, she narrowly escaped by sliding down the slide backwards on her tummy. Only a wagon ride by big brother trumped the play house slide.

Afterward she went from that to playing with her siblings under the tree out front. Finally something harmless! But then, when I couldn’t see her anymore. When I found her the third time she had crawled under the yard fence and was enjoying a rip roaring good game of “Chase The Chickens” in the coop. They won’t lay for a week after that. Feeling like I had been running circles  myself all morning, I brought her back inside and strapped her into her high chair where she watched me prepare lunch.

Really. Something will have to be done about those stairs.


Pray for them

Sometimes justice is mistakenly believed to mean exposing the sin for the world to see. However, a just and righteous person will never seek to shame or expose a person to contempt. Let us deal with each other in love and not with a self-righteous attitude.

Lord, I ask you to continue to shape (Name’s) character into one of honor and justice. As Joseph was “a just man and unwilling to put [Mary] to shame,” I pray (Name) will also be a (man/woman) of justice who sees people through your eyes and who is therefore resolved not to shame anyone, but rather to live a life that honors others. In Jesus’ name, amen. -Matthew 1:19

Favorite Old fashioned Gingerbread

I make this recipe every year several times. It is not too sweet or dry and I love to add cinnamon butter to a warm piece fresh out of the oven. This is a recipe from Allrecipes, so just search the name and you will find it there.

  • 1/2 cup White Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 cup Molasses
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 cup Hot Water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8×5″ baking pans.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter. Add egg and mix in molasses until smooth. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Blend into the creamed mixture. Stir in the hot water. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans.

Bake fore 35-45 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

 

Whirlwind

Goodness! I think the whirlwind has stopped. I never would have thought that the three weeks leading up to Christmas would be less busy than the last month. I may be proven wrong yet…but as of now, the boys birthday, thanksgiving and Esther’s birthday parties are all over. Now I feel like I can take a deep breath, slowly decorate for Christmas and enjoy the season. Which is my favorite.

Cute Right?! I went to my first ornament exchange party this year and one of the ladies brought this cutie. I was immediately in love with it and my brain started ticking…

The weather is about to be cold soon and my kids will be in need of indoor projects. So we will make our own ornaments. Clear, shatter-proof ornaments are everywhere. So I got orange and black Sharpies and some little puff balls and we will make snowman ornaments this year. Each year we’ll do this and grow our own collection. I am excited.

Also- it’s Christmas movie season and I always kick it off with the classics. Meet Me In St. Louis, The Shop Around the Corner, The Man Who Came To Dinner and White Christmas. Because what is Christmas without Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Jimmy Stewart and Bing Crosby? It’s not a Crouse Christmas. That’s for sure.


Pray For Them

It is so hard not to judge. It’s embedded into my nature I think. I see things as black and white, and I believe it’s an asset as it keeps my moral compass pointed north. But I have learned that judgment without compassion is cruel. God is certainly just- His righteousness demands it. But, He is also gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. He does not treat us as our sins deserve but rather separates us from our sin as far as the East is from the West. That is the good news of Christmas!

Father, keep (Name) from judging others “that [he/she] not be judged. For with the judgment [Name] pronounce[s], [he/she] will be judged, and with the measure [(Name) uses] it will be measured to [him/her].” I ask you to guard (Name’s) heart and keep it pure from criticism. In the name of Jesus I pray, amen.

Prayers taken from the daily prayer on the BiblicalPrayers mobile app. Download today on the App Store or Google Play store.


Christmas Coffee

In the Christmas season I love to put a little Christmas in my cup if you know what I mean. Here is my secret: When I brew my regular coffee, I add a dash of cinnamon and a tiny pinch of ground cloves in there. Then I add the water. No floating spices, just smooth and delicious.

Why load up on sugary Starbucks drinks when you can have this delicious treat every morning?