Friday, December 19, 2008

we're having a snow day!

Yeah for no school, tunnels, snow angels, eating snow (I think you can guess which kids liked which activities best) and most of all....yeah for a VERY white Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

good thoughts

Because I am in the midst of trying to mail out Christmas cards this post really spoke to me on simplifying. While I love both the sending and the receiving of cards (because I'm a bit extroverted and love connecting) I thought this lady's thoughts were really good to read in the midst of the process. And the following quote relates to so much more than sending (or not sending)/receiving cards:
I will assume my friends will be understanding and gracious, and they will still like me, even without cards. Benefit of the doubt is a gracious gift: it makes it so much easier to live with others. When you give benefit of the doubt to others, you are saying, "I am looking at the best in you."

"I am looking at the best in you"...I love that line.


Overheard on the way out the door this morning to take the boys to school:

Maddie: "Mom, why do you look prettier than me this morning?"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Gingerbread Houses

Yesterday we were really impressed by the Build & Grow program at Lowe's. Our kids were able to participate and build (from wood) gingerbread houses. Your child gets goggles, an apron, a badge for that day, and the project kit for that day. On future visits (they offer programs 2x/month) your child can earn additional badges to add to the apron for every workshop they complete. And, I would have to say that this is a pretty foolproof program...Tom was traveling this weekend so I took all 4 kids by myself (with no idea this would involve hammers and nails). I was proud of the boys for completing their projects by themselves...and impressed with Lowe's for designing real projects that teach building skills yet remain age appropriate. Isaac enjoyed his sucker immensely during all the pounding and banging...when he decided to start exploring under the table, fortunately the boys were almost through and we were able to make a quick escape before bringing down the store.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

How we remember advent...

You ask what I am doing to celebrate advent? I'm searching for Jesus. Every day. Literally. We have a nativity that has a minute sized Jesus that is removable from it's manger and can be placed in Mary's open arms. This nativity set is plastic and made for children to manipulate. While last year the thought of Jesus possibly being a choking hazard was an issue...this year we are passed that stage. Little Isaac is obsessed with finding Jesus each morning upon waking. Usually he gets placed in the other nativity...but sometimes he goes missing. Hence my searching. Although it initially amused me also packed a punch. Am I searching for Jesus? Am I helping my children develop skills to strengthen faith or hinder it? So I am thankful for my daily (or multiple times a day) reminder to stop and look for Jesus.

Thanksgiving Trip

These pictures are not complete (hopefully I'll be back to add more later) as I was using our old camera (remember "rolls" of film!) for most of the trip. We got a new camera (yeah!) at a Black Friday sale....only to be disappointed greatly in it's performance (to be returned)...and my sister offered to gift us with her old one (yeah again). So the pictures I have are from the one day I used it on vacation and show our visit with Krys & Jeff.

Not shown:
Tom and I completed a 6 mile run Thanksgiving morning, making that officially a new annual tradition for us (began last year). What fun to run together...something we are never able to do...through beautiful pennsylvanian snowy woods. Unfortunately I still managed to eat enough to gain weight over the holidays. But I'm still workin' at it...down 17 lbs. from when we started...with a long ways to go.

We enjoyed congregating with lots and lots of relatives. My mom's family is a living testament to family ties and enveloping love. So fun to bring our kids home to be with all of them.

A quick drive down to West Virginia allowed us to spend the night with Jamey & Cara and kids. It is so funny how we've been friends for so long now that we inevitably tell the same stories when we are together...they only seem to make us laugh harder. The boys are so into football, the girls so girly...and Isaac and Karis just can't seem to keep their clothes on around each other (see here). I know, I know...this could be a problem.

We were so surprised by Beth making an extreme effort to fly from TX to be with us. Amy & Steve coordinated their flights to come in at the same time. Unfortunately Beth's luggage is L-O-S-T as in not yet found (have you even heard of that before?)! Beth did a lot of soul searching that week and made the huge decision (that we are so excited for her about) to move to Denver, Colorado in the new year, pending her house sale. She is a fantastic nurse practitioner that either hospital is lucky to have. We are already dreaming about camping in the Rockies with her (the boys thought the decision was a no-brainer). While at my mom's I reveled in her famous french toast, and also enjoyed Amy's dutch babies recipe...I guess we Coleman's know how to do breakfast! Mostly, I delighted in watching our children be loved so richly by those I love so deeply. So much to be thankful for together.

The night before we were to leave, we were able to connect with Tom's sister Krys (on their way back home), her husband Jeff, and their really fun, sweet kids. Becca & Maddie just love each other. Neither of them has any sisters to "get" the whole girl thing...but they surely get it going on when they are together! The pictures will tell more than I could ever say...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

To be with you

The following lyrics are from Sara Groves new Christmas cd, O Holy Night. Although the song is referring to Christmas...I think any holiday where you congregate with family applies. We are heading to Grandma's in Pennsylvania today.

"To be with you
To be with you
I love this time of year
It always brings me here
To be with you
I fall in with my sisters
Just like when we were young
Grandma holds the baby
She rocks and softly hums
We gather round the table
We close our eyes and sing
'Praise God from whom all blessings flow'"

Maddie is excited to sleep with Grandma, make cookie dough and go shopping in her car.
Josiah is counting the days until the Boise Broncos play and he gets to watch the game!
Cole wants to read Dawn Traeder over vacation. Both boys are so excited to talk/play football with Cam & Cade!!
Isaac is getting very successful at potty training himself (mom's not sure he's really ready to do this). It may be an interesting visit at grandma's...
Mom & Dad are so thankful for time to be together with nothing to do but enjoy our family...both immediate and extended.

Pausing to give thanks....we must first learn to pause.

"Gratitude... goes beyond the "mine" and "thine" and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy." ~Henri J. M. Nouwen

Monday, November 17, 2008

photocards deal

I had never heard of until reading in Real Simple magazine today that this website was at the bottom of their price comparison chart for being most economical at $8/20 (and that price includes the 4x8 or 5x7 sizes). Tonight (or this morning) I hurriedly placed an order through their website before Tom leaves tomorrow with the computer again. Unbelievably their prices are 40% off right now making them $4.60/20! I figure if I order the cards now they just *might* get mailed out by Christmas...but don't hold your breath or anything.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

sharing our day

Tom is teaching away this weekend, but the kids and I decided to try and surprise him and get the leaves raked while he is gone. I thought it was a good way for me to get exercise too (unfortunately I also purchased a bag of my all time favorite Christmas candy last night...Hershey's candy cane kisses...and can never stop with just one)!

Where's Si? While I had the camera out, he was watching the Notre Dame game (and calling Dad to give him updates)!

Friday, November 14, 2008

wonderful piece of info...

This deal is now over if you haven't already registered. Hope I didn't lead anyone astray when I updated (with faulty info) this post last night!

You can get a free photo book (20 page, 8 1/2 x 11) from by registering to be a part of Peter's clutter crew from the Oprah show. My friend, Mary Ellen, passed on this news to can read her post here.

1. Go to
2. Click on a link about oprah helping you clean your house (something like that) which is on the far left about halfway down the main page
3. Click next until you get to page 8 (of 22).
4. Click get your free photo book

If you already have a snapfish account this is literally as easy as signing your e-mail and password. Registration ends Friday at midnight but you have until Nov.22 to upload and finalize how you want your pictures to look in the book.

It's a $29.99 value.

Just do it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

best chili recipe ever

Ever the prepared chef, I called my friend Kate on Saturday night on the way to the store to get this recipe. We had eaten this at their house a while back...but it had lived on in my memory. Well oh joy that when I made it, it indeed tasted wonderful and the kids (and hubby) all really loved it. They serve their chili over cooked elbow macaroni and topped with a little shredded cheddar cheese. It is so good that way! This is a really easy, economical and delicious meal. And, knowing Kate gave it to me is special in and of itself. She is someone who takes whatever trials of life she faces and views them as opportunities to grow her faith and worship the Lord with her life and voice. Her beautiful daughter babysits our children.

A pound of ground beef
1 can Brooks chili hot beans ( I couldn't find Brooks, but used Bush's) and I crushed these a little to eliminate the "ew, beans" comments
1 can stewed tomatoes, chopped so there are no big chunks of tomatoes (use pampered chef chopper for this)
Up to 2 small cans tomato sauce
¼ tsp garlic powder, celery seed, ground mustard
½ tsp cumin, salt, sugar
1½ - 2 tsp chili powder
Bay leaf

Simmer till flavorful…..enjoy!

You will definitely want to double this recipe if you have a larger family. We didn't but wished we had.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

the big hunt

Tom took our 2 oldest boys to MT (along with uncle Jeff who drove from PA to meet them here) where they all met up with Grandpa and a friend. Everyone limited out with deer and antelope and the boys thought hiking along behind dad and their uncle was just the coolest thing ever. They came home wanting to tell me all about the biology lessons they learned from watching the animals field dressed...I politely declined more information, I guess even moms have their limits. We are thrilled with a freezer full of meat that is low in fat content, easy on the budget....and the knowledge our suppers once lived a happy life on the range (the latter point is probably mine alone in case you were wondering). In all seriousness, the trip was a very meaningful time of male bonding between the generations. I am so grateful.
Unfortunately all I have to show are these two pictures...but Tom assures me that more are on uncle Jeff's camera.

Josiah with "Sam, the cowdog"... amazing to think that this little dog has been trained to guide an entire herd of cattle.
Cole guiding a horse on the ranch of a family friend, Bruce. We first met them when Tom's dad was their pastor in eastern MT. Bruce is pictured behind Cole, and Tom Sr.'s profile is at the far right.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

what I'm listening to

Christmas is coming...and yes it is time to organize/find all those great Christmas cd' sure to check out Behold the Lamb of God by Andrew Peterson. That cd along with Michael Card's are my personal Christmas favorites.

My dear friend Laura suprised me the other day by sending me a new cd of Andrew Peterson that I didn't even know existed. It is called Resurrection Letters Vol. 2 and I have been listening to it exclusively. It wasn't what I expected at first, but it is deeply narrative and I think that is what has always drawn me to his music. The older I grow, the more I am appreciating the gospel in the narrative sense and think sometimes we miss the forest for the trees by not stopping to see God's story in it all.

I also liked this review by CT and agree that it sounds like some of his earlier work at times but as a long time fan that is a good thing to me. I think Don't Give Up on Me is the best melody on the album. I can't quite figure out who it refers to either, but agree with the review writer that his artistry really shines here. We need more of the "don't give up on me, I won't give up on you" mentality in our world, particularly among families, churches, political parties, you name it. The Good Confession is definitely my favorite song. I close with a quote from the latter that I resonate with:

"All I know is that I was blind but now I see that though I kick and scream, Love is leading me. And every step of the way his grace is
making me;
with every breath I breathe, he is
saving me.
And I believe."

my dear girl

Tom rarely is able to take or pick up Maddie from preschool so a couple weeks back they were both excited when the chance arose. Tom and I had both been amused/disturbed by a song she had learned at school that she constantly sang around our house. This is how she sang it:

"Shake, shake, shake your baby,
shake, shake, shake your baby,
shake it on down to New Orleans."

We were sure something was lost in translation but for the life of us both couldn't figure out what. So we shared a few chuckles every time we heard her. On this morning Tom was able to take her to class he asked her teacher what the lyrics were to said song. She got a great laugh and then told us the lyric actually went "shake IT baby" a play on New Orleans jazz, I suppose. Another mom heard the entire exchange between Tom and the teacher before adding, "We sure were wondering, too, because our child has been singing "bake, bake, bake your baby!"

A better little mom there has not been since Maddie came into our world...someday her rhetoric will develop to match her mothering skills.

In the meantime, she has aspirations of one day becoming "a mom, a ballerina, a doctor, and a teacher." Although today (upon eating a beloved cheesy roll-up) she also declared she would also "like to work at taco bell."

look who's two

Loves his goggles...
and new toolbench from Nana & Gramps.

Licensed to drive...scary thought, eh?

trick or treat

a little nemo
a mountian climber ("get high on the rockies" bumper sticker on the back of his pack....of course, dad's idea!)
an enthusiastic davy crockett
and a lovely princess

Thursday, October 23, 2008

falling in love with WI

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd wind up living pretty much in the middle of metro suburbia when I dreamed about raising a family someday. Especially when I fell in love with a guy who only wanted to talk about mountains, 3rd world countries and places like Tibet. So it's kind of funny that we winded up where we are now. My husband loves teaching at TEDS and we both thoroughly believe that it was a divine appointment that moved us here. I remember the first time we drove around looking for homes (after living on 2 acres in beautiful rural Michigan and where all of our church community literally lived within a 5 mile radius of each other) here in the burbs and we knew family life was going to be an adjustment. Now, four years later we still find heartpangs for places like Alaska & Africa but we are blessed to have made Wisconsin a home and especially blessed by the friends and community we've established here. Earlier this month we were able to slip away as a family and do a fall camping trip to Devil's Lake state park near the Wisconsin Dells. It was one of the most beautiful camping weekends we've experienced and as we drove home our hearts were grateful for our new "homeland".
Playing football with Dad at the campsite. The boys are in love with football...what is it with Josiah? is all or nothing with that kid. First he was obsessed with trains, then dinosaurs, then wild animals, and now football. The other night I had to read an entire book about the Seattle Seahawks to this boy. And twenty times a day he asks me "What's your favorite NFL team, mom?", only to be followed up by "What's your favorite college football team?" I have very limited knowledge (not to mention lack of desire to learn more) about football...but then again I have learned quite a bit about carnivorous animals over the past few years. I suspect I'll learn a bit more about football...
One of the beauties of having a larger family is the ability to have lots of when Isaac wanted to play in the back of the suburban at our campsite. Josiah happily obliged him...and especially enjoyed cleaning up (make that eating) the bag of chips Isaac had dumped out. Josiah is wearing his coonskin hat (prized possession) with which he wants to be Davy Crockett for Halloween this year.Cole helps Maddie organize her beautiful leaf collection.In the parking lot getting ready to head out for a hike. Isaac was very excited that he was "free" on this trip due to the fact we forgot to bring the backpack carrier for him.
The four kids in front of the infamous "balanced rock." The pictures made it look huge but when you got up close it wasn't even as tall as Tom or I. The hike there was beautiful, though, a reminder that the journey is the destination sometimes.
"Mr. I-Can-Do-It-ALL-by-Myself!"

More to come...

Chicken Continental

Okay, I think up to this point most of the recipes I've shared have been desserts (and I wonder why I struggle with my weight?) but I am excited to share a main course this time around. I love this recipe for many reasons. First it is from my dear friend Jill (does anyone else love recipes more because they come from someone you love or is that just me?), second it uses instant rice so it cooks in 30 minutes (move over Rachel Ray) and most importantly it is delicious! It is comfort food to the core.

4 boneless chicken breasts
1/3 c. butter (I use half olive oil, half butter to keep butter from burning)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 T. grated onion
dash pepper
1 T. chopped parsley
1 t. salt
1/2 t. celery flakes
1/8 t. thyme
1 1/3 c. water
1 1/3 c. instant rice

Roll chicken in flour; brown in butter. Remove chicken. Stir soup, seasonings and water into drippings. Cook and stir to a boil. Spread instant rice in 1 3/4 quart shallow casserole. Pour all but 1/3 cup soup over rice. Stir to moisten. Top with chicken and rest of soup. Bake, covered at 375 for 30 minutes or until tender (I usually bake mine a little longer provided I have the time).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

lickin' the brownie bowl

Precariously perched to get a piece of the action(lack of pants due to I think just getting up from nap)...
Aw man, who needs a spoon!