Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
1 Corinthians 3:17

Friday, July 3, 2015

BERRY CRUMBLE PIE RECIPE

Hey Hey! Popping in to share this fabulous pie recipe with you. We are in full-on summer mode over here, living every hazy, hot moment to the fullest! Happy 4th of July tomorrow!


This Berry Crumble Pie could alternatively be named Impossible to Photograph Pie. The crumble topping is so, so good, but it doesn't cut through evenly, the berries roll all around, and well, it's just a mess. But worth it. It tastes fabulous! (It did retain its shape better after spending the night in the fridge.)

Yeah. Attempt #1 to get a good slice cut. HA

What You'll Need
Pie filling
3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 - 3/4 cups fresh strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp flour 
Crumb Topping
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp butter, cubed, room temperature

pastry crust (frozen premade one would work fine, but I did attempt my own for this)

What You'll Do
Prepare pie crust if needed
Preheat oven to 425 F degrees
 Place berries in medium bowl; add the sugar, cornstarch, and 1 Tbsp flour, tossing gently to coat berries. Pour berry mixture into pie crust.
Combine the next ingredients for the crumb topping, cutting in the butter with a fork (I used the same bowl). Sprinkle all over top.
Place a baking sheet on the bottom shelf of oven to catch spills/juices. Bake pie at 425 for 12-14 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 and bake for about 35-40 minutes.
 Cool slightly before serving, and garnish with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Yum! (Or eat it straight from the fridge the next morning, plain and cold...it's got fruit in it, it counts as breakfast. Don't judge me.  ;) )


 Here are our other favorite festive desserts for celebrating the Fourth of July. Enjoy!

 Another variation Jonah made:
 

You can find the recipe for this cake in the link above.

Friday, June 26, 2015

AN ORDINARY DAY IN THE LIFE

Every now and then, I like to keep track of an average, ordinary day so that I can look back on it and remember all the details. Yesterday was that day. I think it's so much fun to get a glimpse into other Moms' lives,so I hope you enjoy this look at mine. Have a super weekend!

It's not very light out at 4:28 am, which is when I started the laundry and changed some bed sheets. This is Ethan's room downstairs...good thing Diego has his heat lamp on! ha ha


Working on a baby shower gift, which I meant to make earlier int he week and just forgot.

I looked over and saw this guy. My faithful sewing companion.  ;)

Such a love bug!

By now the sun was shining brightly and I headed outside to water some things.


I'm really excited about these little garden beds beside our garage. I asked the boys to bring me back some bamboo shoots from their trip to Maine so I can make some arbor/teepee stands to support the sweet peas and beans.

First load of laundry done and hanging out to dry.

As I walked past this area in our yard, I remembered that I'd been planning on pulling out some of those ferns. I love them, but boy do they get invasive! So I yanked some out...much better!

They're growing! I made the cardinal mistake of not labeling my stuff, and now I really can't tell what's what. Oops. I'm also having a hard time telling weeds from actual plants, so...double oops.

Sunshine woke up and got to her job right away.

In between watering and dead-heading, she got distracted by some of the petunia flowers that hadn't shriveled up and was having a grand old time "painting" the deck rails with them in the little puddles of morning dew.


Isabelle wanted to help make our lunch for our girls trip to the beach. Packing for two is way different than packing for my usual army of boys!

And we're off!

But we didn't get very far. Construction, heavy traffic, not fun. I let her watch a movie so she couldn't have cared less.

I wish I'd written the year...oh well.

My pretty girl. She was thrilled to have me all to herself. She had a whole itinerary of things for us to do, and it was no joke. She's an extreme task manager. Wonder where she gets that from...

I forgot our beach umbrella so we improvised. How MacGyveriffic of us.

Wild and free!

Once home, I got all the deets from my boys about their trip. Then I finished sewing and packaged this up. Everything about this had me itching for babies. Just bring me all the babies.

Cooking salmon and steaming carrots while finishing up the gift...

 If you can't tell, she did not find out the gender- I think this turned out so cute.

Just a pretty closeup.

Then this cornbread was ready to come out of the oven, which was fortunate, since I had just one egg in the fridge, and virtually nothing else... (During this time I was also getting ready for the shower and having a major sobbing fest little meltdown over my hair. This is seriously the worst cut I've ever had- it does absolutely nothing for my hair's texture and just works against me on all fronts. So frustrating! I felt so yucky and unattractive, I was seriously considering not going at all. It's hard being a girl sometimes.) Time for supper!

 Our dinner guest. Jealous, aren't you?

He was extremely active and didn't understand that I wanted to get a good photo of him. Silly snake. Even if he makes you a bit squeamish, aren't his colors so pretty?

I brought Isabelle to the baby shower and she had so much fun with two of her friends from church. It was such a nice evening. (I thought posting pictures from someone else's home was kind of strange...and it is a beautiful home!)

I ended the night by putting in some of the boys' incredibly foul-smelling laundry, chatting with my man, and reading a little before hitting the hay. It was a really fun, productive day. I forget how much I get accomplished in the early morning hours when I'm not fooling around on the computer- it might be time for more mornings like those! And now, after a before-7am trip to the grocery store in the pouring rain, and then a french toast and eggs breakfast, I'm about to bring Isabelle to a friend's house. Have a great Friday!

Oh, I just posted a little preview of my current handmade favorites for Isabelle over on my sewing blog. I also promised some upcoming tutorials and tips, so be sure to check back for those!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

SHARING MY HEART: ORPHANS AND ADOPTION

Today marks the 7-year anniversary of our family packing up and moving to Guatemala so that we would never have to be separated from our Isabelle ever again. Though the process was anything but easy, the passage of time, as well as our happy ending, have dulled all that I was feeling back then. The wait was the most agonizing, inhumane thing to endure. Then there were the times we almost lost her. Governments shut down. Courts arbitrarily moved cases through while others, like ours, stood painfully still. Embassy problems, lying attorneys, inconsistent processes, little boys with second degree chemical burns, littlest boy so sick he couldn't eat or drink for five days straight, 2+ month long separations from husband and sons- so many hurdles to combat and try to push through.

And we did.

Do you know that there are some families still waiting on their children from Guatemala? Not just a handful. Hundreds. This grieves my soul. And like so many other places around the world, these children have never experienced the safety and security of family.  Government, greed, and policy have forever changed the landscape of international adoption. That doesn't mean we should give up; it means that we will have to work and fight harder.

My husband and I proceed with a certain amount of caution when discussing the personal details of adoption with others, especially online, because we feel it is our job to protect our daughter and the story of her life. She is our child. Period. We will not portray her as some type of missions or ministry project- because she is a human being, not a project- so there is a fine line between advocating for adoption and orphans, and knowing what and how to share.  

I suppose what I so desperately want people to understand is that the statistics we've grown accustomed to seeing and reading about are actual human beings. Those numbers- over 150 million... 150 MILLION - represent human beings. People who feel and yearn and dream, who are hungry in every way imaginable. Children who have faced the most horrific, gruesome conditions, who ache for someone to love and for someone to love them. So it is with those things in mind that I will share our daughter's beautiful face here. She was once a statistic, but when you put a name and a face on a statistic, I don't think you can look away quite so easily.

I hope you can't.

Looking at her, no one would question whether she matters. Of course she has value. So often lately, my mind wanders when I have her in my arms, holding on tightly, my cheek resting against her silky hair: Where would she be if she weren't here with us? Would she still matter? The answer is a loud, resolute YES! But her life would be very different.

If you're not an adoptive parent, can you imagine looking at one of your children and wondering how she or he would be surviving from day to day? If they'd survive at all? These thoughts grieve my soul. 

Every child should know the love and security of family. Nobody is a perfect parent. You don't have to be perfect in order to provide a loving home.

Adopting a baby, toddler or older child will impact your family in tremendous ways. There will be challenges- there always are. But there will be such love.

Adoption has become so costly. I know. It's a huge burden, seemingly impossible. There are risks. There are doubts. There are even moments of sheer panic. Please don't let the fears keep you from pursuing adoption. It's perfectly normal to be excited about adopting one day and then the next, to be worried and wonder if you're doing the right thing. Everything in life comes with risk, and sometimes our emotions get the best of us. For me, personally, I struggle with selfishness when I let myself get swept away by the latest home improvement trends or the things I think I need in order to feel fulfilled. When I shift my focus onto more meaningful things, I get inspired by reading about missionary families or talking with other people who are adopting. When I surround myself with materialistic pursuits and goals, then I feel very materialistic and I struggle with the thought of disrupting our current, comfortable life, of spending all that money, etc... I think this is all very normal. It becomes a matter of what matters most.

People should always matter most.


I'm sharing some articles from Show Hope, an organization created by Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife. You can keep up to date on orphan care and other adoption issues by visiting www.showhope.org. 
There is also lots of information about affording adoption on the site.

Simply click on the links below to read more:

If you don't feel called to adopt a child, there are other ways you can minister to children in need.

Don't hesitate to ask me anything about adoption at 3sonsplus1(at)gmail(dot)com. I would love to be an encouragement to you or offer help in any way I can.

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
Hebrews 10:24

If you'd like to read some other popular posts about adoption, click on the links below:




Monday, June 22, 2015

FUN AND EASY IDEAS TO BANISH SUMMER BOREDOM

School just finished up last week and we celebrated with our tradition of ice cream sundaes for supper  (supper then becomes the dessert) and a movie. This weekend was quite full, with Father's Day outings and such- we're blessed to have such wonderful Dads in our family, and my husband is one of the most caring, thoughtful and involved fathers ever.

I stumbled upon this photo from one of our sundae dinners from what feels like a lifetime ago and just have to include it. Where have the years gone? I'm really thankful that I began blogging all those years ago to have a record of our life, something to help me remember how we spent our days. They haven't all been sunshine and roses, but I have tried to be an intentional Mom and I hope that when my children are all grown, they'll look back on our time together with fondness and joy.


And now it's summertime! I love summer, I really do. There is a freedom and fun factor prevalent during the summer that just doesn't seem to exist during the other parts of the year. But I think it also tends to get romanticized a bit. Multiple late-night activities/bedtimes reek havoc on little personalities. As the heat wears on, moods shift and temperaments darken, and then we're in full-on cranky-pants mode. Boredom sets in and -well, I know you know. It wears a poor Mama out.

Here are some of the fun things that we've done together. I hope you find something you'll want to try with your own family. Enjoy...


This is one of our absolute favorite things to do! So much fun!


 Such a fun way to stay cool and get some exercise!



You can also make individual frozen treasure cups for each child. 

Anything involving water or ice in the summer always feels so good. One other very low-key, fun activity we did when the kids were smaller was to "paint" water all around our house's foundation with big paintbrushes. We painted designs, wrote out our names...anything! It was lots of fun watching the water evaporate, and then we'd just do it all over again.

And never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned squirt gun fight (or water balloons, but then you're left with itty bits of balloon plastic all over the yard)!


Outside Story Time
 I used to set the timer for 15 or 20 minutes to read, and then we'd all have a popsicle or some other summer treat. This is a lot of fun. Now there's no need for timers- they read for a long time!



Backyard Cornstarch Goo (& other random fun things)

You can Google recipes for Goo- it's water and cornstarch in varying amounts. This is a perfect messy activity for the backyard.

Create your own Word Searches or Crossword Puzzles




 Older kids can choose a theme for their puzzles and come up with a list of words based on that theme. You can either make photocopies for everyone or simply switch papers.

Painting Rocks
 Search around your yard for interesting rocks, or go for a walk in search of some. Washing them off in sudsy water first was almost as fun as painting them!



Make Tea-Stained Scripture Pictures
 Help your younger children copy a verse onto plain white paper and encourage your older ones to try writing theirs "fancy." Lay the papers in the tea solution for a half hour or so; remove and let dry in the sun. *Optional: carefully burn the edges of the dried paper with a lighter or match for an old-time scroll look.
Frame them and put them up on the walls in your home- my kids love seeing their work proudly displayed.


Pick Flowers to Press & Make a Card
 Lay another paper towel on top and cover with some heavy books for about a week. Use tweezers to pick up petals, dip in glue- or dot the card with glue- and carefully place petals.

Have a Picnic by the Sea
I love spending the day at the lake or beach, but sometimes you just need a break from all-day outings. A picnic is a great way to break up a loooong day, whether at the ocean or anywhere!

These are just a few of the fun things we enjoy doing during the summer- be sure to check back for more ideas, or follow along so you don't miss anything!

Here's a quick link to two of my favorite summertime snacks. Enjoy!


sharing with:
Sugar Bee Crafts
Tip Junkie 
DIY by Design