30 August 2013

Are You An Introvert?

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Recently, I read an article called, 23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert. I just had to smile at all the similarities I recognized within myself. Unlike what some believe about introverts, not all of us are shy. I’m definitely a closet introvert. Well, maybe not so “closet” anymore.

Here’s an example… Last week, I had absolutely no reservations about instantly declining an invitation to a Mom’s Night Out. Granted, the proposition was extended by a sweet friend of mine but the fact remained that there would be many women there I didn’t know. Believe me, I’ve been to quite a few MNO’s in my life. I’ve even organized my share of them.

The thought of getting ready to go hang out and make idle chit-chat with a bunch a people I don’t know… So not my thing anymore. Come to think of it, I don’t know if it’s ever been my thing?

Call it age, call it whatever but I’d much rather spend the evening with my precious family or occasionally, with a few close friends… or (gasp!) even by myself. :) 

Here are some signs you might be an introvert, too!

1. You find small talk incredibly cumbersome. Introverts are notoriously small talk-phobic, as they find idle chatter to be a source of anxiety, or at least annoyance. For many quiet types, chitchat can feel disingenuous.

“Let's clear one thing up: Introverts do not hate small talk because we dislike people," Laurie Helgoe writes in "Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength." "We hate small talk because we hate the barrier it creates between people.”

2. You go to parties -– but not to meet people. If you're an introvert, you may sometimes enjoy going to parties, but chances are, you're not going because you're excited to meet new people. At a party, most introverts would rather spend time with people they already know and feel comfortable around. If you happen to meet a new person that you connect with, great -- but meeting people is rarely the goal.

3. You've been called "too intense." Do you have a penchant for philosophical conversations and a love of thought-provoking books and movies? If so, you're a textbook introvert.

"Introverts like to jump into the deep end," says Dembling.  

4. Downtime doesn’t feel unproductive to you. One of the most fundamental characteristics of introverts is that they need time alone to recharge their batteries. Whereas an extrovert might get bored or antsy spending a day at home alone with tea and a stack of magazines, this sort of down time feels necessary and satisfying to an introvert.

5. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those people afterwards. (I’ve experienced this first hand!) Introverts can be excellent leaders and public speakers -- and although they're stereotyped as being the shrinking violet, they don't necessarily shy away from the spotlight. An estimated 40 percent of CEOs have introverted personalities. Instead, an introvert might struggle more with meeting and greeting large groups of people on an individual basis.

6. You'd rather be an expert at one thing than try to do everything. The dominant brain pathways introverts use is one that allows you to focus and think about things for a while, so they’re geared toward intense study and developing expertise, according to Olsen Laney.

7. You screen all your calls -- even from friends. (Sorry, friends!) You may not pick up your phone even from people you like, but you’ll call them back as soon as you’re mentally prepared and have gathered the energy for the conversation.

"To me, a ringing phone is like having somebody jump out of a closet and go 'BOO!,'" says Dembling. "I do like having a long, nice phone call with a friend -- as long as it's not jumping out of the sky at me."

8. You notice details that others don't. (Sometimes, to a fault) The upside of being overwhelmed by too much stimuli is that introverts often have a keen eye for detail, noticing things that may escape others around them. Research has found that introverts exhibit increased brain activity when processing visual information, as compared to extroverts.

9. You have a constantly running inner monologue. (Oh, I can so relate!) “Extroverts don’t have the same internal talking as we do,” says Olsen Laney. “Most introverts need to think first and talk later."

10. You’ve been called an “old soul” -– since your 20s. (Yes!) Introverts observe and take in a lot of information, and they think before they speak, leading them to appear wise to others.

11. You look at the big picture. When describing the way that introverts think, Jung explained that they're more interested in ideas and the big picture rather than facts and details. Of course, many introverts excel in detail-oriented tasks -- but they often have a mind for more abstract concepts as well.

12. You’re a writer. Introverts are often better at communicating in writing than in person, and many are drawn to the solitary, creative profession of writing. Most introverts -- like "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling -- say that they feel most creatively charged when they have time to be alone with their thoughts.

So there you have it. It was kind of fun to see a lot of my personality traits written out and identified in this article. It also helped me to see the differences within each of my family members. Even amongst the twins, one is definitely more introverted than the other. And the longer I’m married to Morgan, the more I realize he’s way more extroverted than me!  

In His own image, God created each of us with our own unique bent and personality. What a beautiful thing to recognize, nurture, accept and appreciate.       

29 August 2013

a LITTLE celebration!

[it's the little moments] all the accolades, big celebrations etc. they may be great...but nothing beats the smile of patient leaving your session, or the light bulb that illuminates when a child or a loved one understands something or experiences love

We had a little thing happen to us today.

We got the call from our adoption agency saying that we have been assigned our social worker!!

We spoke with her today and our final interviews have been set for next week!! Although there are several more requirements that need to be met, we are ONE SIGNIFICANT STEP CLOSER to meeting our BOY.

This was our desire by the end of summer so yes, even though it’s a little thing, it’s actually a pretty big thing to us!

In the meantime, we’ve been praying that wherever our little man is, whatever situation he’s in right now, that God would keep him safe, healthy, and in His perfect care.

We’d love for you to pray with us!

Hang on, buddy...

We’re comin’ for you.

26 August 2013

Pioneer Woman’s Easy Chicken Pot Pie!

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So, last week was a great week in my kitchen. At least that’s what the 3 people I live with tell me.
I made 3 new recipes and all three were a hit! This, however, was the show stopper.

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The yummy filling.

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One night last week, we had planned on going out for sushi but at the last minute, I decided to make this instead. Why? Because when it rains here in the desert, we can look outside and pretend the weather has turned cool and maybe, just maybe, fall is around the corner! (Even if it’s still 90 degrees outside).
On our recent road trip, we stopped at a local diner in Richfield, UT where Morgan and the girls ordered a chicken pot pie, which they all split. They devoured the entire dish and practically licked the plate afterwards. It was that good.
So, when I saw that the Pioneer Woman had her own version of easy chicken pot pie, I decided to give it a whirl.
To tell you the truth, I’ve always been a bit intimated by anything pie related. After all, pie involves baking and baking requires science. So not my thing.
Anyway, when I was given the go-ahead by the Pioneer Woman to make this dish with rotisserie chicken and store bought pie crust-- well now, that’s how I roll!
I’m not much of a meal planner to begin with. Sure, I think about a few dishes I’d like to make for the week before I shop and yes, I’m always thinking about food. However, often times, I fly by the seat of my pants. I suppose I like spontaneity.
Anyhow, back to this easy and delicious creation. The girls helped me chop the veggies and shred the chicken. The whole thing came together rather quickly. In fact, including the 30 minutes of bake time, it only took an hour from start to finish.
The PW’s recipe only uses a top crust so I feel like it’s a tad healthier than the traditional chicken pot pie. And of course, you know I had to tweak the recipe a little, too.
My family was OVER THE MOON. In fact, they’ve all requested this meal for Christmas dinner.
Pioneer Woman’s Easy Chicken Pot Pie (adapted)
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1/2 cup Finely Diced Onion
  • 1/2 cup Finely Diced Carrot
  • 1/2 cup Finely Diced Celery
  • 1/2 cup green frozen peas
  • 1 ear of fresh corn kernels
  • 3 cups Shredded Cooked Chicken Or Turkey
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 2 to 3 cups Low-sodium Chicken Broth (start with 2 cups and see if you like the thickness)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric (a must!)
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Dried or fresh thyme to taste
  • a splash of Half-and-half Or Cream (optional)
  • 1 whole Unbaked Pie Crust
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 Tablespoons Water
Preparation Instructions
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat, then add the onion, carrots, celery, corn, and peas. Stir them around until the onions start to turn translucent, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the chicken or turkey and then sprinkle the flour over the top and stir it until it’s all combined with the turkey and vegetables. Cook for 1 minute, then pour in the chicken broth and stir it around and let it cook and thicken.
Once it starts to thicken add the turmeric, salt, pepper, and thyme.
Add the half-and-half or cream, then stir the mixture and let it bubble up and thicken, about 3 minutes. If it seems overly thick, splash in a little more broth. Turn off the heat. You can also omit the cream altogether or add arrowroot to thicken the filling.
Pour the filling into a 2-quart baking dish. Roll out the pie crust and lay it over the top of the dish. Press the dough so that the edges stick to the outside of the pan. Use a knife to cut little vents here and there in the surface of the dough.
Mix together the egg with 2 tablespoons water and brush it all over the surface of the crust. (You will have some egg wash left over.)
Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until the crust is deep golden brown and the filling is bubbly. To prevent the crust from getting too brown, you might want to cover it lightly with foil for the first 15-20 minutes of baking time.
Let it rest for a good 15 minutes then serve it up by the spoonful.
The second time I made this, my family requested a side of biscuits for dipping into the juices so I was happy to oblige. I have to say, everything I’ve made from the Pioneer Woman has been easy and super tasty. And, I am no longer intimated by chicken pot pie… Win!
So, whether you use a homemade pie crust or the “semi-homemade” version like me, I hope you enjoy this recipe. It’s definitely a new family favorite around here. Ah, comfort food at it’s finest!
Is it fall yet?









22 August 2013

Artist Spotlight: Vincent Van Gogh

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Faith’s version of Van Gogh’s most famous work, “Starry Night”.

 

*the original.

 

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Grace’s version of Van Gogh’s, “Sunflowers”.

 

*the original.

Everyday seems like art day around here (the girls LOVE creating art) but I’ve designated some time on Wednesdays to focus specifically on art, different artists, drawing, painting, projects, and anything else that comes to mind, creatively speaking.

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

  • Vincent Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands.
  • His earliest career aspiration was to be a pastor in the Dutch Reformed Church like his father and grandfather.
  • Although he enjoyed drawing as a young boy, he didn’t decide to devote himself completely to art until around age 27.
  • Vincent sold only one painting during his lifetime and only became famous after his death.
  • Vincent committed himself to a mental hospital and it was there, he painted one of his most famous paintings, Starry Night.    
  • Vincent did not cut off his ear. He only cut off a small portion of his ear lobe after an argument with fellow painter and friend, Paul Gaugin. He then wrapped up the ear in a cloth and presented it to a woman as a “gift”.

The girls thought that last fact was both strange and hilarious all at the same time.

I’d have to agree.

Homemade Flower Cards

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These turned out even more adorable than expected! Who doesn’t love a homemade card?

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First, the girls painted watercolors on plain white paper (front and back). A two step process but watercolors dry quickly.

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These are the 4 colors we chose.

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Then we traced circles in 3 sizes (big, medium and small).

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Next, the girls cut out the circles.

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For added texture or a 3D effect, they crumbled up each “petal”.

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Grace was simply using the “sticking her thumb in the center” method. That worked nicely, too!

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All the petals.

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Then we found some old buttons and jewels for the center of the flowers.

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Glue each layer.

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The flowers are ready!

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Draw a stem and some grass onto scrapbook paper and glue the flower to the top. This one happens to match Faith’s shirt!

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Pretty as a flower!

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It seems like we’re always in need of thank you cards around here-- not that I’m not complaining at all. That just means we have SO MUCH IN LIFE TO BE THANKFUL FOR!!
I personally love sending out a handwritten note. It seems like the written word is a dying art anymore but I’m determined to carry on my joy for expressing gratitude with my pen and a forever stamp.
Over the years, my kids have learned to love it, too! And that just warms my heart.
The girls usually like to make homemade cards that include their artwork but these flower cards were a fun project as well.

20 August 2013

Poetry Tea Time Tuesdays

Poetry tea time

 

Tea time

We’ve started a new weekly tradition in our home. It combines two very lovely things… tea and poetry!

This past week, I spent some time getting my mind (and heart) in order about what I wanted to focus on during the “school” year for the girls. Typically, I’m not a person who has specific plans each and everyday but with the addition of a new little one to our family (sometime soon), I figured I should probably have some kind of “plan” or “schedule” going forward.

Consequently, without sacrificing too much of our freedom, I’ve designated daily, albeit general focuses.

Tuesday’s focus: Reading

I am blown away by how well the girls are reading these days. They have a voracious appetite for books and can often be seen with their noses in them.

Poetry Tea Time is a fun activity that only takes about 30 minutes. Although some days, I can see us lingering a bit longer… especially when the weather gets cooler outside. It’s really perfect because the girls love getting dressed up and setting the table for tea. They’re also enjoying the broadened imagination and language poetry so often brings.

This is definitely one of those many sweet traditions I hope the girls will fondly remember as they grow older.

Today, we shared together lovely poetry, joyful giggles, yummy cookies, and Emily Dickenson.

“Emily Dickenson wrote about hope, as well as flowers, birds, people, life, and death—ordinary things. She chose to spend day after day in the same house, doing the same things—ordinary, seemingly unimportant things—for she seemed to know that there are wonderful possibilities in the most ordinary life if we just take notice.” (Hmm, I can somehow relate!)

“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.” ~Emily Dickenson

19 August 2013

5 Things I’m Loving Right Now

1. Baked Barbeque Potato Chips from TJ’s- We’re not big chip eaters around here but these chips may actually change that fact. I limit myself and my family to about 5-6 chips per serving. Otherwise, the bag would be GONE in a hurry! I love the fact that these chips are healthier than most, without sacrificing taste. Win-win!

 

2. Nature’s Path Envirokidz Peanut Butter Panda Puff Cereal- My friend, Connie introduced me to these. These are not only tasty but they stay crunchy in my almond milk. Score! I like that because I am notorious for setting down my cereal and coming back a few minutes later. No more soggy cereal. Yay! And FYI, the Gorilla Munch is good, too!

 

3. Spaghetti Squash- Where have you been all my life?! Sure, I’ve heard about spaghetti squash but I’ve never tried to make it myself. It’s SO easy. I’ve enjoyed it about 4 times in the last week. Top it with a lean meat and marinara sauce and some torn basil. Oh my!! I’m a HUGE fan. I can’t wait to experiment with it in other recipes…Even the girls liked it. Morgan? Eh, not so much. 

 

4. Fit to Burst: Abundance, Mayhem, and the Joys of Motherhood- Another great read by author of Loving the Little Years, Rachel Jankovic. This little book packs a punch. I appreciate her gift for straightforward and easy to understand writing and the short chapters are perfect for any busy mom!

 

5. Eucharisteo- My friend, Kristen whom I met in bible study this summer made me this sign. We learned about this word in Ann Voskamp’s, One Thousand Gifts. The root word of eucharisteo is charis, meaning “grace.” In Luke 22, “Jesus took the bread and saw it as grace and gave thanks. He took the bread and knew it to be gift and gave thanks.” Eucharisteo, thanksgiving, envelopes the Greek word for grace, charis. But it also holds its derivative, the Greek word chara, meaning “joy.” Therefore, Eucharisteo means grace, thanksgiving and joy. I have hung this sign between my kitchen and dining/living room (the place where we spend the most time together as a family). Lovin’ this great reminder!

Ok, is it any surprise that 3 out of the 5 things on my list are food items? Ha!

Disclaimer (and rant): I love to eat. I always have and I hope I always will. And I love to eat healthy (yet tasty) food because I truly, truly enjoy it. In the last few years, our culture has been consumed by food. In some cases because of real medical issues that arise but others are finding themselves bound by a set of rules, regulations and ever changing new discoveries... Can you say? “Exhausting!”

Listen, every mom wants to feed her family healthy food but making food an idol or being in bondage over food (healthy or otherwise), is simply not the way Jesus would want us to live. With Christ in us, we have to remember we are FREE and no food can make us unclean. Our sin does that. And nothing aside from Jesus alone (not even a juice cleanse) can save us. Amen?  

Ok, I’m done.

The End. Winking smile

17 August 2013

Goodbye, Goldie…

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The girls’ first pet, “Goldie” passed away while we were on our road trip. Apparently, it happened just a few days after we left. Grandma & Grandpa were fish-sitting (as they always do). I know they felt really bad about it,too but maybe, just maybe, it was better this way.

The girls received Goldie (and another fish, Nemo) on their adoption day 3.5 years ago. They ended up gifting Nemo to their friend Vivien over a year ago. Unfortunately, Nemo didn’t last too much longer after that but Goldie kept hanging on. Here she is in all her glory, the day the girls got her.

Losing a pet (especially the first one) is always difficult on a child. I still remember losing my first fish!

The girls sobbed big tears and grieved deeply when we broke the news. Since grandma wasn’t sure what we wanted to do with her, she saved her for us (in the freezer) in a pretty gold box. Eventually, it was decided that we would hold a brief memorial service, say a nice prayer of thanksgiving, and flush her down the toilet, along with some flowers.

Goldie, you were a great first pet. The girls learned some valuable lessons through you… responsibility, love and loss… It was nice to have you for as long as we did.

When I woke up the next morning, here’s what I found stuck to the fridge.

So sweet… Goodbye, Goldie.

Two little girls loved you and they will miss you very much.

Zion National Park

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Saved the best for last? Perhaps…

 

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Saw lots of squirrels along our hike.

 

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The Narrows.

 

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Cute little thing.

 

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We started making our way back from Colorado and hit Zion on the way back. Zion is Utah’s first National Park. This is where ancient native people and pioneers walked. There are natural sandstone cliffs in cream, pink, and red that soar into the brilliant blue sky.

We wanted to make it back home in 3 days so unfortunately, we couldn’t stay here all day. We had to pick just one hike for the day so we chose to test our adventure skills on The Narrows.    

Hiking the Narrows means hiking in the Virgin River. At least 60 percent of this hike is spent wading, walking, and sometimes swimming in the river. There is no maintained trail because the route is the river. The current is sometimes swift, the water is cold, and the rocks underfoot are slippery.
They say flash flooding and hypothermia are constant dangers. Thankfully, the sun and summer were on our side.

I must say, it got a little dicey at times with the slippery rocks underfoot (and two little ones in tow) but the girls absolutely LOVED this adventure. They didn’t mind getting wet and wanted to stay ALL DAY.

We only covered a small fraction of Zion and I could easily see us returning to spend a long weekend here. Someday.

Funny, after driving all the way to Colorado, Utah doesn’t seem that far away.

We drove through 5 states and visited 5 Nat’l Parks. We saw all kinds of incredibly beautiful scenery and learned more about the American West. We spent some wonderful time with friends in their gorgeous home and Morgan got some business done as well. We put over 2,700 miles on the minivan and shared some fantastic memories as a family.

I’ve decided to make our summer vacations into photo books for the girls and wrap them up as Christmas presents. By that time, they’ll get to open up their gifts and relive the memories, all over again.

Glory to God for keeping us safe and giving us this opportunity to travel, to wander, to explore, and to see… What a road trip!      

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