Category Archives: around the house

Working . . . Cooking

So I have been at the full-time job for 10 months now.  Wow.  When I was working full-time at home taking care of the house and children, I was always wondered how all those women who work full-time outside the home do everything.  I always thought it would be very hard.  And, I was right.  But, I have found with 10 months under my belt, that it is ok to let stuff go sometimes, and planning ahead really does help with getting more stuff done.

So a few weeks ago, I got just a little more deliberate in my meal planning.  In 3 weeks, I have done much better than I was doing, with just a little planning.  If I have all the grocery shopping mostly complete and a planned menu for every night, we save time and money.  I know.  It is nothing new.  I just rebelled against it for a long time.  I am in danger this next week of not being prepared, but I am giving myself grace until Monday night to get the full plan for the week underway.  Plus, my planning over the past month has me armed with a chicken enchilada casserole in the freezer.

I leave you with this recipe that I tried during week one of my “more deliberate meal planning” experiment . . .

Savory Grilled Pork Tenderloins with Herbed Vegetables


 2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2teaspoon pepper

 2 to 2 1/4 lb pork tenderloins

 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 large red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

16 medium green onions, diagonally sliced (1 cup)

2 medium bulbs fennel, cored, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1/4 teaspoon salt


  • Heat gas or charcoal grill. In small bowl, mix onion powder, 2 teaspoons thyme, the garlic salt and pepper. Sprinkle thyme mixture on all sides of tenderloins. Immediately place on grill over medium heat. Cover grill; cook 15 to 20 minutes, turning 3 times, until meat thermometer inserted in center reads 160°F.
  • Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook remaining ingredients in oil 4 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender.
  • To serve, cut tenderloins into slices. Spoon vegetable mixture over slices

When I made this, I used the broiler, and it worked great.  I also did not have fennel available, and we liked it fine without. Enjoy!

Time Passes


School, overall, is going well for the children.  The middlers (Nevin and Evangeline) are hitting a few bumps as they adjust to their new school, but I believe they are not insurmountable.  Charis and second grade get along well.  Yes.  I said, “well,” not “good.”   (That’s a topic for another post.) Calvin is still happy with homeschooling, and it is working out for us, too.  So no complaints on the school front!  Phew!


Our church lost an important part of the congregation last week when one of our members was killed in a house fire.  It was a shock to our system, and we will miss all this talented man added to our worship through his music and all he offered in terms of service as a deacon and beyond.  This came only a month or so after we lost one of our elderly members to cancer–another man who had served Christ and His church faithfully for 80+ years.

Also, Mark’s grandfather passed away in July, and several folks at the church where I work have been seriously ill, and some have passed away in the last couple months.  I am feeling a bit weighed down by all the sorrow around me–even when I am not one who is/was particularly close to those who have died or are sick.  I am praying for the families touched by these sorrows, and I know God is changing me through that.  One thing I am learning is to be more purposeful in what I do and to be thankful for each day as a gift from God.


We had a great visit with Mark’s parents in the first half of August.  It was wonderful to have 2 weeks with them being a part of our routine–however mundane that may be.

I have lamented not being able to get away to see my mom and brother since last July when my sister Katherine passed away.  The new job, kids’ schedules, Mark’s work schedule, finances–none of it seemed to work together to make a trip possible.  So, we are planning to have Mom and Dave out to visit at the end of October.  Mom had eye surgery this past Monday, and she needs to wait a month before making the trip.  I am looking forward to seeing them!

Nothing Earthshattering

So time marches on in my life . . . nothing big to share.  God continues to give me and our family gifts of grace and mercy.  I pray that I will not squander them, and I pray for forgiveness for the times that I have and will inevitably do it.

1 Thessalonians 4:9 -12 (esv)

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

Psalm 16:5-11 (esv)

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.


The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.


I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have(N) set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.


Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.


You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.





Obligatory Back to School Post


Despite my absence from blogdom and my presence on Facebook, I am a blogger at heart.  So as I have been posting back-to-school entries since my kids started school 9 years ago, I feel compelled to continue the tradition.

Last Monday, Nevin and Evangeline had their first day at Grand Center Arts Academy, a new charter school in St Louis.  Here’s are their pre-commute photos before heading out the door:

Nevin and Evangeline ready to head off to their first day at Grand Center Arts Academy.

Goofing around!  I think middle school is the beginning of the “need to be goofy” stage.

Charis, a week later, heading to day one of second grade.

Calvin is our homeschooled high school boy–yes, I said HIGH SCHOOL!!!  So far, I have no photo of him at his computer doing school work or on his way anywhere, so this shot of him at the Missouri Botanical Gardens last week will have to serve as his first day picture.

Brighter Outside–Better Inside

I know it is more important to have the inside cleaned up (attitude, character, faith, etc.), but sometimes, cleaning the outside helps with keeping the inside stuff in sync.  Lately, balancing the work-family life schedule has been challenging, so the housework has fallen by the wayside.  At last, yesterday, I had a free Saturday–no items on the agenda.  So I cleaned a good portion of the house.  Ah . . .  I feel so much better waking up to a clean house.  I hope to keep up with the tidying enough this week that I can keep feeling better about life.

Now that I am feeling a little better about the basic maintenance cleaning items, I making a list of small projects to tackle in the coming month.  Here it is:

1.  Change out the chandelier in living room with a ceiling fan.  Here’s one I like:

2.  Change out the light in the den from a very dim pendulum-style chandalier that my 14-year-old bumps into all the time to a brighter light fixture that is flush with the ceiling.  I’m thinking of something like this:

3.  Come up with a plan for repairing the water-damaged plaster in the den and, at long-last, remove all the “Laura Ashley” wall paper and replace it with something else.  (Yes.  Paint is my preference.  But plaster walls are particularly challenging to paint after removing wall paper.  A friend suggested a white bead board or paneling.  New wall paper might also work.  We’ll see.)

4.  Find the time to tackle these relatively minor projects.

Mundane Monday Musings

I like alliteration . . . can you tell?

This is going to be stream of consciousness, so be prepared.

Word of the week — myopic:

Myopic — lacking foresight or scope; “a short view of the problem”;

Why myopic?  I have just been struck by how we all live in our own little bubbles, and we seem to think that what happens in our bubble is the most important thing in the world.  Dwelling on life in the bubble keeps us from thinking about the big picture, keeps us from reaching out, keeps us from being kind and charitable to people outside our bubble.

New Diet

No.  I am not going on one and telling you all my weight-loss goals again.  But a friend told me about a diet her sister is on, and she said it is working.  Here’s a link.  My friend is thinking of trying it.  It is interesting to consider.

Book Recommendation

I haven’t read this yet, but the same friend with the dieting sister recommended it, and it is now on my list of books I would like to read this summer.   Him Her Him Again The End of Him is a clever title, and I love the cover.  So why wouldn’t I read it?


Easter was good this year in many ways.  We attended a lovely Maundy Thursday meal/service at the church where I work.  I spent the day Friday hanging out with the kids, and we attended the Good Friday service at our church in the evening.  Saturday was busy with Breakfast with Bunny at the church where I work and then a few hours of relaxing and egg dying before going to a bonfire for the evening with church friends.  For Easter Sunday, after worship we had just our family at home for a traditional Easter meal.  It was much less stressful than cooking for company or even going to someone else’s house (though I want to do one of these most years).  We then went to a park for a bit in the afternoon, and just hung out at home in the evening.  I am so thankful for the Hope of Resurrection in my life, and I am reminded that I really didn’t understand how significant this hope is until I was an adult. Sure, I knew about Christ rising from the dead, but I didn’t really get how important His resurrection is to my life, to my salvation, to my eternity. Christ is risen, indeed!

Some pictures to close . . .

Wassup Wednesday 19 — a month in the making and posted on Thursday

The last month has been full of kids activities and work.  That’s it.  Nothing has been going on other than that . . . oh, a little sickness and a basketball trip to Nebraska were thrown in just for good measure.

Is life bad?  No.  We’re doing ok.  We’re once again at that time of year where we have to figure out what to do about school next year.  There are multiple variables in the mix.  We are mostly just waiting to see how things turn out . . . and praying.  We are used to living by faith around here, so we’re just trying to do that some more.

I have been at the new job for 3.5 months now.  I still like it.  It is challenging enough to not be boring, and I don’t have to take it home with me.  I have great co-workers, and it is expanding our circle of social contacts in St. Louis.  We are grateful that this job came along when it did.  It is a blessing to us.

On the home front, the girls got their first report cards from school since their return, and they are doing well.  The boys are busy with school work, sports, and drama/music classes.  Their drama group will present Tom Sawyer next month, and they are looking forward to that.  The laundry is in a manageable state, and last Saturday, I caught up on some housework.   I am feeling pretty good about where things are right now in the balancing act, but not every week, day, moment is like that . . . However, I’ll take it when I can get it!

Other Stuff

Do you remember last year about this time?  Maybe a month or so later in the year because Easter fell a bit later, and that is the marker I am using.  I posted an entry about my big walking goals with thoughts of running.  Oh how I hate posts like that!  If you know me, you know my big plans didn’t materialize.  I didn’t keep up the walking, and I didn’t reach any of my goals.  So from now on, I won’t post any lofty goals because I hate eating my words.

Tonight, I walked 23 minutes at the park while the girls were at Awana and the boys were in the library.  I am trying to walk again, but my goals are much more measurable.  There’s a walking program through the health insurance at my job in which employees can register to get a free pedometer, and then each day, you upload your steps onto their website.  By meeting certain criteria, employees can win awards.  So I got the pedometer last month, and I haven’t done any walking other than the daily getting around stuff.   I have seen how many steps I walk in a day on average, so I have set a goal of walking 7,000 steps a day for the next 10 days.  I hope to add more steps once I do the 7,000 steps for 10 days.  This seems doable to me.  I hope I am more successful with this attempt than my last one.

So that’s it for this now . . . life keeps moving forward.

Wassup Wednesday – 16 A Week Late

So Christmas has come and gone, and I missed posting last week.   This will be quick, but I felt a need to check in with the blogosphere before the year ends.

The new job continues to go well.  I have been “baptized by fire” in starting a job at a large church in the midst of the advent/Christmas season.  Then next week, I am heading to New Orleans for a conference with other staff members.  I will be there to serve as a helper in registration, etc., but I am sure it will be enjoyable in some ways.  I am not looking forward to airport security, though.  If at all possible, I might squeeze in a meal with my older sister Sandy who lives 90 minutes from NOLA.

Mark’s parents were here for the Christmas holiday.  They came a week before Christmas and left yesterday.  It was great to have them here even if I only saw them evenings and weekends. As usual, they were a help to us.  I sure did appreciate meals being made while I was on my way home from work, help with the laundry, some babysitting, and even the preparation of Christmas treats for my co-workers.  The children enjoyed having them here, and the boys have headed back to Dallas with them for an extended visit.  Below is a photo of the 3 younger children with their Granddaddy on his birthday which he was able to celebrate with us. (Calvin was off at basketball practice during the photo op.)

Just to keep life from getting boring, our new-to-us-for-8-months van died a sudden death over the weekend.  Mom and the girls and I were out the day after Christmas to fulfill the promise of Build-a-Bears that were under the tree, and the van just stopped in the middle of the road in an upscale St Louis neighborhood.  Because we were in the middle of the road, the police had to come.  The van was towed, and we awaited news of its diagnosis until Monday.  Late Monday morning we were told it would not be fixable as the time belt had broken and took some pistons and valves down with it.  So the drama of our life continues to unfold.  Perhaps photos of a replacement vehicle will appear sometime soon.  We’re praying for that to happen.

Bedtime has come, so I leave you with more pictures from Christmas.  Happy New Year!

Wassup Wednesday – 14 Advent, Activity, Affirmation

Here are a few things I am thinking about this week  . . .


We managed to get out the Christmas decorations before the Advent season began this year.  So for two whole days, Charis begged me to let her “do” the Advent calendar before the first day.  The first day to use the calendar came on Tuesday, which also happened to be the first day I started my new job.  I got up at 6:15 that morning, and I was relaxing and thinking about my day when Charis appeared in the living room at 7:15.  She said, “Do you know what day it is?  It’s Tuesday.  It’s the first day!”  I asked her if she wanted to “do” the advent calendar without the other children, and she did.  So she went over to the calendar, pulled out the scripture card and ornament for the day.  The scripture was Psalm 100, and the ornament was a trumpet.  We talked about what it means to make a joyful noise to the Lord, and how joyful we are that Jesus was born.  I didn’t think of it then, but the trumpet is often used to announce the arrival of royalty.  What a great way to start thinking about the coming of King Jesus!  It was also a great way to start my first day of work.


The new job obviously brings more activity to our household.  I am now gone for the whole day, and for the month of December, Mark has all 4 kids home for homeschooling.  Beginning after Christmas, we hope to send the girls back to the Christian school they attended last year, and the boys will both continue homeschooling.

In addition to the job, we have basketball for Calvin.  He had a game Monday evening, and their team played well and won.  I am so happy with the homeschool basketball program he is in.  It is so refreshingly different than youth league football.  The coaches are Christian men who really care about the team members.  I don’t worry about bad language or  vulgar conversation.  I don’t worry about the coach using inappropriate motivators to make the team work harder.  It is a good thing.

Evangeline’s choir has several performances with the orchestra for the Nutcracker this weekend at the fabulous Fox Theater in St Louis; Calvin has an away basketball game;  Nevin and Calvin have a choir concert, and we are throwing Nevin’s belated birthday party on Sunday afternoon.  I’ll be grateful to rest at work when Monday comes!


Now for talk about the new job.  Affirmation is the word that best describes how I feel in this new position.  Day 1 was full of information and new people.  My head was spinning with details.  But in all that spinning, I felt very welcomed and appreciated–affirmed over and over again of my skills and gifts.  I am not big into all the warm fuzzy talk, but I have to say I have been blown away by the consistent kindness of the people I am working with and the church members I am meeting this week.  Part of the pastoral staff’s philosophy of ministry is something called “radical hospitality,” and the way I have been treated this week makes me feel like they really know how to communicate it to the church’s membership.

Day 2 was much more calm as I had more time to absorb information and look at things on my own.   If I take things one day at a time, I think things will come together over time.

It is strange to not see the kids until late in the afternoon, but Mark is holding everything together well.  Thanks to all who have been praying for us.  It makes a difference.

One More Thing . . .

I wrote most of this post on Wednesday, but I didn’t get it up yesterday because I wanted to get the photo of the Advent calendar uploaded before hitting the “publish” button.   So, today is actually Thursday, and it is my wonderful husband’s birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mark.  I love you.

Wassup Wednesday – 13 Giving Thanks, etc.

Big News:  I accepted an offer for a full-time job.  It is an administrative position with a large church.  We are thankful for the opportunity.  If you think of it, pray for all the adjustments to our family life in the weeks and months ahead.

Kids: Girls will hopefully go back to their school of last year.  We’re working on the details.  The boys will both stay home with Mark and continue homeschooling.  As I said, adjustments . . .

Thanksgiving:  We are thankful for many things this year.  The new job is one, but we are also so grateful to God for the way he has consistently met our needs by providing Mark with writing projects these last 6 months.  We are praying for more of the same.

We are also thankful for family and friends who care for us.  So many times we call on people for help, and they come through.  God uses people graciously in our lives, and it is a blessing that can’t be overlooked.

A little less important, but on my mind–I am thankful for the delete button on my e-mail application.  If I couldn’t delete all these ads for Black Friday specials, I would have to cancel my e-mail account!

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all!

Wassup Wednesday 10 – Late again!

Being late twice in 10 weeks is actually not too bad.  Right?

Reading:  Not to page 200 yet in HP4 and have re-read the first page of Chapter 2 in Simply Christian 10 times.  Let’s just say reading has fallen by the wayside this week.  Hoping for more time in the next week.

I have been thinking about re-reading a book I read about 6 years ago–

Home is Always the Place You Just Left is a memoir of a young woman who was raised in an evangelical home by a homemaker mom and busy often-absent pastor dad.  Betty Smartt Carter is vulnerable with her readers about her deepest fears and concerns as she grew up trying to understand how to live out the faith her parents led her in.  It wasn’t until she was a young married woman that she really came to understand how God could really work in her life and give her the home she always longed for.  I liked this book because I related so much to Carter’s struggle–her discomfort within her own skin.  I want to read it again to revisit how God led her to a more contented life.  If you like memoirs, you might enjoy this one, too.  (If you’re a member of a PCA church, you might also appreciate some of the details Carter shares about her father’s ministry as he was one of the founding pastor’s of the denomination in the early 70s.)

Kids:  Halloween was the big event of the week for the kids.  I don’t have any really fun pictures of the kids dressed in costume because we just didn’t get ourselves together.  We did attend a great block party on the street of one of Nevin’s friends in the Webster Groves area of St. Louis.  This was quite a shindig.  The family lives on a cul-de-sac, and everyone from their street and a couple adjacent streets join together to have lots of great food, games, pumpkin decorating, a hayride,  a pinata, a scary storyteller, and a balloon artist to entertain the kids.  After the festivities, our three younger kids trick-or-treated in Webster and brought back quite a haul.  Calvin and I headed home to hand out candy, and we didn’t get one trick-or-treater.  It was sort of a downer after our fun day.

Here are a couple shots I did manage to get:

Charis (dressed in pioneer dress/apron) at Halloween Party being pushed by a martian

Action shot of Calvin and Nevin playing ball at Halloween Party

Charis & Evangeline the night after Halloween playing battleship with Mom

Football:  Calvin played his last regular season game on Tuesday night.  He got to start, and he played more than he has all season.  There are 2 post-season games for him, and one post-season game for Nevin, and then we will be done with our foray into the gridiron.  Next year, we hope Calvin is playing for some high school program, but Nevin will be taking a break with football until he head to high school himself.

Lots on my mind and my plate:  I have a lot of stuff going through my head right now, and several activities to keep track of, but I lack the energy and the know-how to share it right now.  Perhaps next time . . .