Potty Training Frustration

Wait, why didn’t I change the picture? …because I didn’t need to! I couldn’t tell you how we got here. There haven’t been any major changes or upsets in the routine and this hasn’t been a one time episode. After several weeks dealing with accidents, the glaring wake up call happened at a couple weeks ago. Both boys were not only misbehaving at lifegroup on  a grand scale, but they both peed their pants. They have been potty trained for a year. A YEAR …and they are four. So you can imagine my frustration when we had to make an early exit.

After getting to the bottom of this delightful parenting pothole, I discovered that somewhere along the way my boys both decided (probably together) it wasn’t time to stop playing and go to the bathroom until their underwear was already wet.  So now I am retraining the mindset and we are home until they get it. Hello, Cabin Fever!

Basically, the only story at our house is: “Son, you get to choose: You can go places and do fun things when you go to the potty and keep your underwear dry,  or you can stay home and miss out if you have accidents.” (Which by the way are not accidents. But I had to relabel it so they understood that wet underwear was in fact a problem).

It puts the control in their hands. They understand they get to make this decision and no one else can make it for them. Points in their power bucket. It’s working too. It took a few missed events to get their attention, but it is starting to sink in and I am seeing a few consecutive days here and there with dry underwear. Which is awarded by going somewhere fun.

Sometimes it feels like I am cutting my own nose off. No MOPS, no gym, no church, no lifegroup. At least Brian and I can alternate church and lifegroup. I know parenting is a sacrifice and it will be worth it to see them clean, with good hygiene, self-confidence and self-awareness. It’s worth it.

Almost every parent goes through this on some level or another. Every kid is different and as parents we have to discern the situation and decide what is best. My four year old boys hate being controlled. They need to expand their sphere of influence and tend to test boundaries. So I decided to put the control directly in their hands. They get to choose and be in charge of the outcome. It’s a slow process but when it’s over it will be ingrained and is worth the temporary sacrifice.

So if you are frustrated, possibly in tears and sick of doing dirty laundry… I get it. No judgment here. They will learn and it will all be worth it. These days will soon be behind you – and you will move on to blissfully forget how bad it was.

Parenting tip: If you don’t have one yet, buy a portable potty and put it in your car because public restrooms can be gross and you may not even be close to one anyway. I line mine with trash bags for easy clean up. Make sure it has a lid that closes… for obvious reasons.

Pray for Them

We all need support, love and comfort. Pray that your loved ones find it in Jesus Christ and in healthy relationships with those who love him.

Father, “if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,” I pray (Name) will with (his/her) brothers and sisters in Christ be “of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Protect the bond of unity and peace between (Name) and the church. In Jesus’ name I ask this, amen. – Philippians 2:1-2

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

Valentines Shortbread Cookies

I use a shortbread recipe for these. YUM. Shortbread cookies are one of my very favorites and I only eat them on worthy occasions. For this recipe you’ll need big and small heart shaped cookie cutters. My favorite shortbread recipe is from Pioneer Woman.

  • 1 cup +2 Tbs Softened Unsalted Butter
  • 1 cup White Sugar
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • Less than 1 cup of Corn Starch
  • Jam of your choice
  • Powdered Sugar for dusting

Mix butter and sugar until fluffy. In a separate bowl sift together flour and corn starch. Incorporate into butter mixture with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Form into a ball and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Dust a surface with flour and roll out the chilled dough until it is about 1/4″ thick. Cut an even number of large hearts first. Then separate half the large hearts and place on the cookie sheet. With the smaller cookie cutter, cut the center out of the remaining hearts and gently move onto cookie sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes at 325 degrees. Once cooled, spread the jam on the solid hearts and place the other hearts on top. Dust with powdered sugar and then take a bow because those are the prettiest cookies yet.

Shortbread recipe affectionately taken from  http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/shortbread-cookies/.





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


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.


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.




Parenting Fire

Sometimes I feel like her. Some weeks I question whether God is deliberately putting me through the parenting fire or if this is standard territory for raising boys. Perhaps both.

The other morning I was getting my coffee together when the boys came down the stairs with huge grins on their faces. I said good morning boys! To which they replied:

“Hi Mom! Can we have oatmeal for breakfast?” “Of course.” “Micah peed on me.” “What?” This could not have been an accident. They have their own rooms and they are not allowed to be in the bathroom while someone else is going either. So I was curious how this went down.

Gabriel tells me that Micah was going to the bathroom and peed on him. Micah says, “Well, I went into the bathroom and I shut the door and locked it. But then Gaaaabe unlocked the door and came in anyway. So I peed on him.”

Realizing that my less-than-one-year-old door handles will clearly have to be changed out if a four year old can unlock it with his fingernail… I understood Micah’s dilemma. The boy just wanted his privacy. If I were Micah I would’ve been tempted to handle it the same. But of course – I am not and therefore wouldn’t. Which really was not the point I needed to focus on because this is not behavior I can allow.

They both were given the same measure of discipline. Gabe for unlocking a locked bathroom door and violating someone’s privacy. Micah for peeing on his brother. Then I gave Micah a few wipes and told him to clean up every drop. Thank goodness for Lysol Wipes. A staple product I highly recommend parents buy in bulk.

Pray for them 

What takes you less than 60 seconds to invest in eternity? Praying for your loved ones of course! All the prayers from the BiblicalPrayers app take less than 60 seconds to pray.

Father, I give thanks to you for (Name) because (he/she) is “beloved by the Lord, because God chose [him/her]…to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.” Therefore, I pray (Name) would hear and accept your calling and “obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.   – 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

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

BBQ Wings

The Superbowl is rapidly approaching, and with two dedicated Eagles fans in our family you know there will be a party. This recipe is one my Mom passed down to me almost a decade ago and perfect for football parties.

  • Chicken Wings
  • 1 bottle Sweet BBQ Sauce
  • 4 oz Grape Jelly

Cut off wing tips and dispose. Divide the remainder at the joint and salt and pepper. Bake at 350 degrees until golden. Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine jelly and BBQ sauce until smooth and bubbly. When chicken wings are golden, place them into a bowl and toss with BBQ sauce until coated. Serve hot.


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.


Book Review: Ladies of Ivy Cottage

Over the last five years I have spent a lot of time rocking babies and reading books.  One of my favorite authors is Julie Klassen. I think I have read every one of Julie Klassen’s books. Recently I finished the second book, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage in her newest series Tales From Ivy Hill.

First of all, I could not put this book down it was so good. I found the diverse range of characters and various unique-to-women struggles refreshing to this genre. Rarely do readers get a closer look at the historical aspect of universal issues like miscarriage and women in business. Because of this unique perspective I believe this book will connect with many readers on a personal level.

So Good!

All my favorite characters from The Inn Keeper of Ivy Hill return bringing with them their personal histories as well as intriguing new characters. In fact, in comparing the second book with the first, The Ladies of Ivy Cottage provides the rich background of the relationships between all the characters that The Inn Keeper of Ivy Hill lacked. So much so, I found myself wondering why Klassen did not put some of this background story to the first book to help provide context. Be it as it may, with The Ladies of Ivy Cottage, Klassen will keep the reader riveted to a great story and concludes it by setting  the next book up with a new twist in Jane, Mercy and Rachel’s future.

Let’s do this together! Join me in my journey back in time to Ivy Hill village. The newly released The Ladies of Ivy Cottage is now available on Amazon.com or at your local book store. Looking forward to Julie Klassen’s next book!




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.

When Did She Grow Up?

After having just turned five, I am shocked at how fast Esther is growing up. She went from my little 3-4 year old who played only with her brothers to this little diva who goes to school and comes home with playground drama.

This school year Esther has a friend she just loves to play with every recess. Apparently last week Esther and her friend had a run-in with another girl who was not so nice. Esther knew this other girl from summer sports. At recess, this girl told Esther she wasn’t allowed to play with them. When Esther stood up for herself and re-established their link from the summer, this girl reluctantly allowed her to play but then turned on Esther’s friend. Said she couldn’t play because she wasn’t their friend.

Then, Esther stood up for her friend too. Said that she should be allowed to play because she was her friend and besides it was important to include others. Apparently that was enough to sway the team because they were both allowed to join the game and play. When she told me this story I was so proud of my little girl.

I have spent time teaching her the importance of including others and standing up for herself. Standing up for her friends and siblings too. So when I heard this story I was so proud of my girl and a little taken back at how fast she is growing up.

When did she become so mature? When did we move from living room fights with her brothers to playground drama with mean girls? I best put my big-girl panties on because there is no going back. It has begun.

Pray for them

Fear is such a liar. Let us stop wasting our lives in fear of things we cannot know, cannot control and cannot prepare for. Find rest in the Lord and fear only Him who understands it all, sees it all and holds it all in his hands.

Father, may (Name) never fear anything or anyone but you. When fear seeks to take hold of (Name), I pray (he/she) will seek you and find deliverance. Just as David did, may (Name) also boldly testify, “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.” In Jesus’ name I pray, amen. – Psalm 34:4-5

Sugar Cookies

These are the thin, decorating cookies that are so good at Christmas time. My Aunt Marsha gave this recipe to me when I was 12 for my birthday. And yes, I still have the 1997 shiny new penny she laminated with that recipe for my birthday too.

  • 1/2 cup Butter (softened)
  • 1/2 cup Lard
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Blend butter, lard, sugar, egg, vanilla and milk until creamy. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Divide dough into two sections and roll into large balls. Refrigerate for an hour or more until dough is stiff.

If you don’t want to decorate them or cut them out, just make them into single cookie size balls and roll them in sugar. Smash with a flat glass and bake. If you do want to decorate them, skip this step and go to the next.

Dust the counter top with flour and roll out the ball of cookie dough into 1/3 inch thick. Cut cookies into shapes and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Decorate with sprinkled sugar now if you want it baked on. Bake for 7-9 minutes until slightly browned around the edges. Let cool and decorate.