Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tasty Tuesday

First off, thanks to my two friends who commented on my last post and gave me some good ideas for new authors to try! I'm looking forward to trying them.

Well, when I woke up this morning, the sky was absolutely crystal-clear blue with not a cloud to be seen anywhere......now, it's gray and white and cloudy.  I'm waiting for summer!

So I have another recipe for you.  It's kind of a weird one, but it's one of my favorite things to eat, and it's summery, and I'm in the mood for summer!!  I first tasted it at a Mexican restaurant here in town and I think I ate three servings! They serve it with chips and salsa and a small plate of homemade beans.  Here it is!

Cabbage Escabeche

1 head cabbage
4 Roma tomatoes
1 bunch cilantro
1 sweet onion
2 carrots, grated
Juice from 2 lemons, or about 1/2 C lemon in a bottle
Juice from 4 limes
Salt and pepper to taste

Shred or slice cabbage in a large bowl.  Chop tomatoes and onions and add to bowl.  Chop cilantro and add to bowl.  I acually use scissors to snip my cilantro directly into the bowl.  Shred carrot into bowl.  Toss like a salad and salt and pepper to taste.  Let this mixture sit while you juice the lemons and limes.  I've made this with store bought lemon juice AND fresh lemon juice, and in my opinion, there is just no comparison to juicing the lemons and limes yourself.  So just squeeze the lemons and limes into a bowl or glass, being careful to avoid the seeds, and if you do get a seed in there, fish it out.  Pour that juice over the cabbage mixture and mix well.  Let sit for 30 minutes so it can get really juicy.  Serve with warm tortilla chips and refried beans as a side to your Mexican fiesta.  YUM!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Books

I love to read.

I cannot remember a time when I did not know how to read.  It seems to me that I have always loved to read.  I started out liking books, and very quickly became addicted to books.  I cannot tell you how many books I've read in my lifetime, nor how many authors I've read.  I'm a very fast reader, and I have been known in the past to read two books a day. To me, books are the only friends who are always there and will never let you down. They give without taking and can be anything you want them to be! You can visit and revisit them at will.  They last forever and you can pass them along to others too!

My favorite author has to be Jan Karon.  Have you heard of Jan Karon? I discovered Jan Karon probably about 10 years ago, when I spotted a book in a store with a gorgeous dust jacket, and on the back was a beautiful picture of its author.  The book was called "At Home in Mitford", and, since I simply adore hardback books, I bought it.  Thus began my love for and obsession with all things Jan Karon.  Her books are sweet and beautiful and poignant and sharp and insightful and took me by surprise.  I mean, when you set out to read a work of fiction, are you solely hoping to be entertained? That was my aim, before I found Jan Karon.  Her books about the fictional town of Mitford, North Carolina totally changed my view of what my goal was in the pursuit of reading novels.  The life and times of Father Timothy Kavanaugh, and susbsequently, the dear people in his life, have taught me so much, as a Christian and as a person in general.  I remain surprised at how very much I gleaned, and continue to glean, each time I read the Mitford series.  I believe that I have all of Jan Karon's books now. 

And just so you know, my passion is first edition hardbacks, and a lot of my books by Jan Karon are first edition hardbacks.  Yes, I will pay the higher price for a hardback book.  I look with fondness and love on my little bookcase where all of my tomes rest quietly, waiting to be visited again.  And I do read and re-read my books. 

Another book by Jan Karon that is very special to me is "Patches of Godlight".  This is a collection of quotes, journal entries and scripture references compiled, over the years by Father Tim.  I carry this book with me. I know, it's slightly strange, but I do claim a few eccentricities! This book is a wealth of wisdom and I've used this wisdom on a number of occasions. 

Some other authors I love are Jane Kirkpatrick and Ruth Bell Graham.  I deeply admire Ruth Bell Graham.  Hers was a daunting life as first the daughter of a medical missionary in China, and then as wife to one of the most well-known preachers of all time.  I tell you, there are those whom you wish could just go on living on earth eternally, and for me, Ruth Graham was one of those! I don't always agree with her spiritual philosophy, but she was the glue that held her family together.  She was everything and all things to her family.  And she was also wise and insightful and honest and deep, and funny!.  It'll be exciting to sit with her and be able to talk things over in Heaven someday!

I do read Agatha Christie also.  I like Lillian Jackson Braun.  These are authors I've been able to share with my beloved mother-in-law.  Our family would go out to their farm close to the river and I'd sit and read her books for hours while the kids made cookies and roller skated in the house and frolicked on their 46 acres.....those were precious days and I cherish those memories.

So, reading is my favorite thing to do.  I always keep a notebook or journal close to hand when I'm reading, just in case some savvy quote or bit of insight catches my fancy.  I love to write too, and I wonder, are all writers prolific readers also?

Who are your favorite authors? Do you have a book you love that I ought to read? Tell all!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Weather

If you live in the United States, you know that it's getting on toward summer, right?

And my question is, how many of you are experiencing and enjoying summer weather right now?

Because let me just say that, here in the Northwest.....it's the end of May and not even 55 DEGREES!! It's been rainy and gray for about 5 days now.
To be fair, I'll say that last week, for over a week, we had gorgeous, sunny, warm weather, and it was fantastic enough for us to get some of of our veggies planted!And let me just say that half the time, it's even raining on the 4th of JULY!!!  

And today, right now, out my window, it's POURING down rain!

During the warm weather we had, the girls and I cleaned out their closets and put their winter things away.....and wouldn't you know it, as soon as we did that the temperature plunged 20 degrees and it began to rain.....and rain....and rain.....

So leave me a comment and make me drool by telling me all about your weather! Is it hot where you live? Is it beach weather? What kind of weather are you having right now, in your state? And what do you do when the weather gets sunny and beautiful? Do you have humid summers? Do you have dry summers? Come on, let me know!!

Sigh.  I guess days on end for months on end of rain is the price we Northwesterners have to pay for lushness and fertile green-ness all throughout our region!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Breastfeeding 101

Okay. Some other mamas have done posts about breastfeeding so I thought I'd try to do one too.

I've nursed 7 of my 8 babies.

If I've learned anything at all it's that I am definitely NOT an expert. So sorry to disappoint you! I'm not Michelle Duggar. Just because I have a lot of kids doesn't mean I know everything there is to know about babies and nursing! I've also realized that each baby is different and nurses different and has different needs. Hey, it only took me having 8 babies to acquire this priceless knowledge!! I'd say that that is one of the most important things you could know. Each child is different and your nursing experience is going to be different from anyone else's. With that in mind, let's get down to business.....let's call it The Business of Boobies, shall we??

The one piece of advice that I would advise you to act on is this: If your hospital or your pediatrician's office offers the services of a Lactation Consultant, TAKE IT!!!!! I have to say, this was my saving grace. I admit that, after Sara my 4th child was born, I am ashamed to say that I snubbed the lactation consultant. Yep, and I'm NOT proud of this. I thought that, since I already had 4 kids, I ought to be an expert now and I sure didn't need her help!! Yikes. How little I really knew!! Because when Kellie, my 5th child, was born, I needed help! (A small side note here: I came to my senses soon after Sara was born and was so embarrassed over my behavior that I made an appointment with the lactation consultant and apologized profusely to her for treating her so badly and in such an unChristian manner). So after Kellie was born, she sucked so hard that I became abraded and so raw and sore that I would cry every time she would nurse. Finally I called the lactation consultant and that was the turning point. She said that Kellie was my Barracuda Nurser and that it would get better, and she encouraged me to apply Lansinoh in copious quantities at the end of every nursing session, which brings me to my next point......

Get some Lansinoh. My hospital offers Lansinoh whenever a baby is born.  Does yours?? I highly recommend it.  I've tried other brands of lanolin cream, and Lansinoh is the very best.  If your hospital doesn't offer it, please, do yourself a favor and buy some.  OR you can put it on your baby registry when you register for gifts for your baby shower.  It's a bit spendy, around $10 or so, but you will be SO glad you have it in case you get owies on your boobies from a Very Vigorous Nurser, and it lasts forerver.  A little bit goes a LONG way!
Ask your veteran Mom friends for advice. Don't isolate yourself.  Don't think you're the only one who has problems nursing.  It ain't easy!! Just because it's a natural process of our bodies does NOT mean it will be easy! Ask your veteran Mom friends any question you can think of.  If you need help or have a question, I'm available if you don't have any friends to talk to.  Please, ask for help from someone you trust!
Try to establish a schedule early on by reading your baby's cues.  Yes, your baby will give you hints as to how long/often/much they want to nurse.  By about one month old, your baby should be establishing some sort of regular eat/sleep/awake cycle, and it's really great if you can tune in to them so that you can be on a regular shedule.  It is my opinion that if your baby is on a shedule they will probably be a better nighttime sleeper.  This is not a hard-and-fast fact, it is just a more-often-than-not observation.
Nursing bras or camis are a MUST! Yes, I know you think nursing bras are not sexy.  I'll wager that you aren't feeling all that sexy right now anyway! Sexiness isn't the most important thing right now.  Having easy and quick access to your boobies is! Nursing bra prices can run from super duper expensive (Elle McPherson nursing bras are at least $54) to super reasonable (Leading Lady nursing bras are $15).  Do an internet search for nursing bras.  There are nursing bras for every lifestyle/income bracket out there.  Trust me, if you use your regular bras for nursing you will ruin them.  They will get stretched out and if you prefer underwire bras, the wire will pop through the fabric.  Just today I saw some really cute nursing bras from Leading Lady on Zulily for $14 or $15.  You should get fitted for your nursing bras in the last trimester of your pregnancy, when your boobies are bigger anyway.  You can either go to a mall, to a Motherhood Maternity store, or somewhere like Macy's, or a local department store that has a maternity section. I recommend having 4 nursing bras and maybe two cute camis that you can wear under T-shirts.
Well, I think that's all of the advice I can think of right now.  One more thing you should know is to make up your mind that you're going to nurse and to stick to your guns.  Nursing really IS the best and healthiest choice, both for your baby AND for you.  I could go into how beneficial it is for you, but that's another post idea for another day!
Go ahead and leave any questions you may have in your comments!

Friday, May 18, 2012


This man is the reason I have such a blissful life.  Seriously.  You may want to stop reading right now, because I'm going to brag on my man for a bit here, and it might make you sick, if that type of thing makes you puke.....so stop reading!! Seriously.  He has always, from the time he was very young, wanted LOTS of kids, like TWELVE.  Man.  It's so funny in a weird way that we ended up together, because I never wanted to get married or have any kids at all.  Oh, I praise God for bringing me to this man's church when I was a young teen! He knew early on that he wanted to homeschool too, which was something I had never heard of until Russell was at least 5.  He has been so patient with me and so forgiving and he has kept his vow to me through nearly 19 years of marriage.  I can't believe this is our 19th year of marriage! September.  19 years seems like so long to me.  And believe me, it probably has seemed like TOO LONG to him some days!! But he has been as true as the sunrise and as steadfast as the mountains.  He's been supportive to me when I needed it and he's lit a fire under me when I needed it.  Not to mention that to me, he's the hottest thing going and his kisses still make my tummy feel like I'm on a roller coaster. I still get super excited to see him when he comes home from work every day.  I love his unique smell and I love the way he dresses.  I love that he wants to honor me and remain pure to me and his family.  I love that we come first in his life and everything we do,he wants to do it together! To say I love him with 100% of my being is an understatement.  But it would be true!!

These girls have decided that they're best, best friends.  Bosom friends.  Kindred spirits.  They're 2 years apart, and their birthdays are in the same month, 20 days apart.  They were destined to be very close.  They both speak the same Love Language, which is Physical Touch with a good bit of Quality Time thrown in.  They're different, it's true.  Sara is very quiet and loves math and reading.  Kellie talks all the time and HATES reading.  But isn't that the way it goes? Opposites attract.  Kellie (the younger one) is so attached to Sara that I fear for the day that Sara gets married!! IF she gets married before Kellie.  These two girls have been such a boon to me.  I miss them deeply when they're gone and their presence in my home assures me that the sun is going to be shining, even if it's not!

This girl. Oh, This Girl.  Be still my heart.  This Girl.  I'm curiously, deeply, painfully grateful, every SINGLE day for her.  I'm so eternally thankful that God allowed her to live.  I find myself feeling surprised and totally unworthy whenever I see her face.  Yes, I do wish that there was another of her.  Yes, I do wish that.  BUT I need this girl, for herself, for just who SHE is.  And I know she needs me too.  Sometimes, when I look at her, deep in her blue eyes, I can see that she knows.  She knows I need her.  She knows that we need each other.  And that makes me indescribably happy.  I have come to realize that it is a delicate balance of remembering Olivia and being grateful for Pennie.  I found myself swinging over to dwelling on Olivia and what I was missing not having her here, and totally losing sight of PENNIE.  So, I'm swinging the other way now, to being grateful and thankful and deeply appreciative for just Pennie.  I've also decided to cultivate a thankful heart for the fact that I had TWINS.  I was able to have twins.  Two babies.  In my tummy.  And remembering all of the feelings of bliss and excitement and the sense of my feet not touching the ground for days after we found out.  Those are the feelings and thoughts I want to remember. 

This girl is a firecracker!! And she LOVES it! She simply idolizes Hannah, her oldest sister.  This girl is rough-and-tumble.  She loves to rough house.  But she loves to dress up and play princess and wear some lipstick and have her hair curled.  She's the best of both worlds.  She's my Life Baby.  She's the first baby we had after Janie died.  She sort of redeemed my belief in life.  She caused a part of my heart to come back to life, in a sense.  I've decided to love her extravagantly.  I've decided to not waste the time with her.  I've decided to let her be herself.  To let her be shaped by her oldest sister.  She can't do any better than that! I do so enjoy her and love to hold her hand.....when she SLOWS DOWN!!

And one more picture, just to keep it real.  Yep, this is me.  And my messy house! We were relocating our computer that day, from the "office" in the hallway to the front room.  The "office" is getting a make-over to be a more adequate studio for Dave.  He's even building his own music station! (I'm proud!) This is me, folks.  My daughters love to take pics of me when I least expect it....at random times.  Oy.  Okay, I'll live with it.  I've got nothin' to hide! Obviously.  Oh, for some real good makeup!!!!!!

Have a fantastic day!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Have You?

Strings of shimmering jewels
scattered about
like so many priceless gems
strewn over the Jeweler's soft green cloth,
by turns winking and blinking
their message
as the warm liquid gold of sunshine
gently teases out
each facet's myriad hues.
Have you an ear to hear?
Have you an eye to see~
the loving touch of the Jeweler,
the voice of His ceaseless refrain,
calling all to His workshop
fitting all with His
magnificent Name!

copyright May 2012 by leeswords.  All rights reserved.  Reproduction prohibited without express written permission of author.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Tomorrow is our daughter Janie Rose's birthday. 

And it also happens to be Mother's Day.

I've been a bit more contemplative lately.

For those of you who don't know, Janie Rose died in my womb 8 years ago when I was almost 7 months pregnant.  Nothing like that had ever happened to us before.  I was completely shattered.  Broken.  Brought low.

Today, looking back 8 years, the pain has subsided some. 

I heard a song recently. It's by Mercy Me.  This phrase describes me perfectly:

I'm alive
Even though a part of me has died
Take this heart and bring it back to life
I'm falling in Your arms open wide......

It's been a really long, really tough road. 

When we found out that Jane had died, my doctor gave me the option of having her that day, or he said I could do whatever I wanted.  That day, when I had been in the hospital for some hours, my favorite nurse was working and she said that if I came back on Wednesday (this was Monday) I could labor with her and she'd take care of me.  That's what I did.  I felt very well taken care of.  Several of the nurses that I knew came to my room to sit with me and cry with me and just hug me and offer their support.  That was priceless to me.

When she was born I got to hold her.  Oh, how hard that was.  She weighed 1 pound 12 ounces and she was 14 inches long.  She was perfect in every way, except her dear little face was crushed from the hard contractions. How sad I was to see my tiny daughter that way! How I sobbed! I lavished kisses on her hands and her fingers and her toes. She smelled just like a newborn! She had dark hair.....I will never forget those few hours.  Her face so crushed my heart that I had the nurse swaddle her completely and I held her and sobbed.

The nurses said we could have her for as long as we wanted, and after the initial few moments of checking me over, they left us alone. How do you know when it's time to hand over your baby to be taken away?

After a few hours, we felt that it was time to give her to the kind man who came from the chapel we had chosen.

I will forever remember my husband tenderly taking her in her soft pink blankey with the bright red cherries on it and carrying her down the hall to where the man waited.  My husband had to hand over his teensy baby daughter to be buried in the ground.  He says he still can't think about it because it does still hurt.

I never, ever wanted to go through an experience like that again.  I was certain the Lord would never call on us to repeat that very wrenching trial.  I was sure that we had paid our dues, as it were, and done what, in my broken mind, I viewed as penance for some horrible unknown sin.....

So that when I saw Olivia's still body on that ultrasound screen three weeks after discovering her in my womb beside her sister, I whispered

"Please God, not again"

I remember Janie Rose.  I will always carry her in my heart and in my mind.  The pain and heartache is a part of me now.  I love her just as much as I love any one of my earthly children.

And until that day when there are no more tears and no more pain for me......

I'll store her precious name in the locket of my heart.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Okay, this post may be.....stepping on toes a bit?? I hope not, and that is truly not my intention.  It's just that this topic has been swirling round in my mind for a few days and this blog is my outlet.  So, I apologize in advance if any of you are offended or upset after reading it.  Please keep an open mind.  I base this post on my observations in my daily travels and on what I see around me, especially in church.


What I want to talk about is the way we as women dress.

I want to bring to your attention something that really irritates me, and it's probably something most of you never think about because it's so normal and so accepted nowadays, even in church.  Maybe you're actually participating or doing it to.

Let me start by coming straight to the point of what I'm getting at, and then I'll offer points to defend my observation.

The Bible says in the New Testament that we as a congregation are not to cause our brothers to stumble.  I mean, if you had someone over for dinner who was a recovering alchoholic, would you serve martinis or offer them beer? If your friend was struggling with gluttony and she was trying to lose weight, would you shove food down her throat? And one more example: If your uncle was a former gambler and had formerly been addicted to it, would you take him to a casino?

Has anyone out there even thought about this issue?

By trying not to cause our brothers or sisters to stumble, this means that we are very careful as to the way we behave in front of different people.  I believe this is the essence of loving each other.  You're actually, by not leading people into the situations I mentioned above, you're simply doing your Biblical duty to love them and to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.

And this applies to the way we dress as women also.

Stay with me here.

If the Bible says that the eye of man is never satisfied, what do you think that means? I think this applies to men and women both....but specifically, for my post, I think it means that we all have areas we struggle with, whether it be shopping or eating too much or gambling or drinking or abusing drugs.....

Or looking at the opposite sex inappropriately.

These days, men have a veritable buffet for their eyes, if you just look around you at the way women dress.  They see tight shirts.  Cleavage hanging out right before their eyes.  Miles of leg.  Tight slacks/yoga pants/skirts.  Alll over the place, even in church.  Women are dressing however they want to, without a thought as to who is looking or watching.

I've seen women of varying ages, in my church and previous churches we've been at, wearing all sorts of really inappropriate clothing.  Sitting in the front row with see-through shirts on.  With thighs and legs fully exposed.  With cleavage blatantly visible.

And not even having a clue as to how inappropriate this is!

And men are looking, believe me.

If the eye of man is never satisfied, do you expect them to look away when we show our skin? If he's hungry, is he going to get up and leave the banquet?

This is a lot of temptation for men, ladies.  It's disrespectful to our Christian brothers to offer them a feast for their eyes, as it were.  It's disprespectful to dress in a way that draws attention to body parts that should otherwise be covered and only exposed for our own husbands.  As a wife, I'm disgusted by the way many of the women in my church are dressing, and possibly causing my honorable and virtuous and upright husband's eye to be drawn to you.

I've seen it all, in my time.  I've wanted so badly to gently and privately pull so many ladies aside and ask them why they wore something or if they have any idea how much skin they're showing.

The Bible tells husbands to make a point of drinking from their own wells and being satisfied with the wives of their youth.....but how can they do this faithfully when, every single day and everywhere they go, there's all this skin and cleavage and butts before their eyes??

Dressing inappropriately is causing our brothers to stumble. Period.

Do you know how many men struggle with pornography? I bet you don't.  Do you know how many men have a wandering eye? I bet you don't.

One of the things that really gets me angry is when I see women walking around in revealing and inappropriate attire, and I see all these guys just totally staring!

Have you ever noticed that? If not, it's time to notice! Those men are someone else's husbands or boyfriends or fathers! And your attire is causing them to struggle with keeping their eyes to themselves!

Now, please hear me here, I'm NOT defending men who cheat on their wives and I'm NOT saying it's all our faults that men stare at sexy women......

But I AM saying that we can cause our brothers to stumble into sin in their thought lives if we aren't paying attention to the way we dress and the skin we show.

And I AM asking you to be aware of this issue for yourself.  Do you want YOUR husband staring at another girl? Do you want to be that girl that they're staring at??

I for one do not want to be the one that all of the guys stare at because I'm dressed like a tramp.  Yep, that's what I said. In my opinion, Christian girls who dress in the popular skimpy fashions which leave little to the imagination are no different.

Look ladies, God calls us to be different! He calls us to be set apart! He calls us to exude His likeness.  He demands that we look different and talk different and live our lives differently!

How can anyone tell if Christ is the love of your life if you dress just like the girl on the cover of Glamour magazine??

Please be aware of the clothing you wear.  You don't have to suddenly turn frumpy and dowdy and start dressing like a nun! I love cute clothes and I love to look elegant and stylish (my OWN style) and I love to be girlie.....

But I like to do it with my assets covered, cause they're for my husband's eyes only!

Don't show your cleavage.  Don't wear the new really short dresses without leggings.  Don't wear the short waisted pants that show your butt crack every time you bend over.  Just don't.

What I want to know is:

Is this topic worth a bit of discussion? Leave me a comment!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


This recipe is one my Kellie created.  She created it when she was 8.  I think that's pretty amazing....but then again, I love to create recipes and maybe she's going to be like that too!! It's a short one that doesn't involve a lot of ingredients, as those are the best kind of recipes! We always have this stuff on hand at our house because I bake a LOT.  I'm not quite sure how much this is per serving, but I know that it is ridiculously cheap for our family, and you know we have a BIG family!! So here it is!

Kellie's Karamel Sauce:

1 can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk!!!)
1 C firmly packed brown sugar
2 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt

In a small pan, melt butter of low heat.  DO NOT let butter come to a boil or scorch! When butter is melted, add brown sugar and condensed milk.  Simmer gently, WITHOUT BOILING, until melted and combined, about 10 or 15 minutes.  Stir the sauce a lot.  Add vanilla and salt.  Let sauce simmer for about 15 more minutes.  The sauce is done when it is no longer grainy but smooth and coats the back of a spoon. 

We use this sauce on ice cream (of course) but it can also be drizzled over apple pie and used in shakes. I personally love it over my gluten-free brownies and on my gluten-free pumpkin chocolate cake!! We love the buttery, salty taste and the thickness of this sauce.  I hope you enjoy it!!