Friday, May 25, 2012


O precious is the flow of the sweet half-n-half. Especially when your own son biked to the store, bought it with his own money (earned from other people), and wrapped it up as Mother's Day Gift. 

Coffee is all about the half-n-half and the teasing about mommy's 'precious', a safe subject that a 13-year-old son and mom can joke about. Makes it all the more precious.

Mother's Day morning was filled with many other delights.

Every good and perfect gift is from the Father above. 

So thankful for these ones. And the extra one that has been given for me to mother for a little while 
(I took a pic with all 'five' of my kids but am posting this one due to privacy.)

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Quick & Easy Recipe to Fill the Masses

Today, I wanted to share a yummy but easy recipe: the World's Easiest Homemade Mac-n-Cheese. I especially like  to make this when lots of children are here.  Kids run around. Moms 'talk'. I mix-it-up and throw it in the oven. While it bakes, I feed the begging, very hungry children apples, carrots, or something green. 

To clarify: I was born in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, where mac-n-cheese was served from a box. I love this recipe but I don't have great grandma's treasured family recipe that I'm comparing it to. Don't worry,  my feelings won't be hurt if you just can't even try the recipe.   

But, I will say this: This is one of the easiest recipes I have, more moms have asked me for this recipe than any other (perhaps its because it's what I serve when they are over?)...and...even my child that doesn't like macaroni & cheese loves this recipe! 

I must give credit where it is due, I originally got the recipe at  Gayle's blog: the Grocery Cart Challenge. A great place to be inspired to live well-within your means. Check it out. But for those of you who do not feel like linking over, here it is as well
Homemade Mac-n-Cheese from the Grocery Cart Challenge
16 o.z. water
16 o.z. cottage cheese
16 o.z. shredded cheese (either cheddar or a mix)
16 o.z. noodles ( I use penne, original recipe called for elbow)
Mix all four ingredients into a greased 13x9 pan, pasta is uncooked. Bake @ 300 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir and bake for an additional 10-20 minutes. It's important to stir at the 30 minute mark and watch it after that to keep the casserole creamy.

Note: Each item being the same quantity makes it easy to remember. Yet, it is a versatile little recipe and can handle substitutions. My default has become 24 o.z. of cottage cheese container (because it comes that way at my Aldi grocery store)  and the shredded cheese is 12 o.z. The recipe turns out just as yummy this way, too. I have added bits of pepperoni but the kids like it best just as mac-n-cheese. Have fun with it! If I am cooking for more than 6-7, I will make two pans. It helps.

Happy Baking & Eating.

What's cooking for your weekend? Do you have a favorite, easy recipe?

Love, Kathleen

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

When God calls, God provides

The toothbrush holder pictures the coziness of our home during 25 days of ten people.
When He placed four extra children in our home quite unexpectedly, sources of provision also came unexpectedly. Gift cards, buying groceries from my list, a babysitter or two, socks & underwear, extra meat, hands to prepare extra meals. Lots and lots of prayer.

When God calls, He provides.

Yet, how can one be prepared to do something that they are woefully inadequate to do? On the one hand, it seemed that everything that I had ever done in my life prepared me for such a time as this. This time of having eight children in our home; our number of children doubled in one evening.

Every skill that I had ever had was called on.

The days of Three Under Three that taught me triage skills: upset tummy, potty training issues, and a baby in need of nursing. What do you deal with first when They. All. Really. Need. Something. Now? This skill comes in handy when one has a hurt wrist, dinner is on the stove, there's a headache, and two boys are tumbling in an angry fight.

The days of Just Hubby & I where I learned to get up off the couch, make a meal, and load the washing machine. The days of Two Under Two where I learned how to just do it: follow the instructions in the Once-a-Month Cookbook. I followed the recipes, the directions, and in the process I learned how to stock a pantry, cook in bulk, and feed my family.
Each child listed by name & birth order (hidden here for privacy).

The days of Sales Rep Administrator taught me how to set-up files and organize, and be excellent at the mundane tasks no one else wanted to do. I needed to set-up files for girls who had papers from school and appointments with doctors and counselors. I needed a list for the shower so that we could get ten people through one shower.

When God calls, He provides.

He even provided a clean house and a short to-do list. The week before the extras came I had thought to myself, 'I feel caught up.' When have I ever thought that? One daughter had vacuumed the van, a rare occurrence that happened just before we drove 45 minutes to get the extra kids. This year in school we were further along academically than we ever have been in the calendar year. It allowed me to focus on the needs at hand while knowing we were able learn about serving others and reading on our own. I haven't been stressed about where we are in our books, we still have time to finish up.

When God calls, He provides.

This includes inspirational encouragement! Friends had gone before me, I knew I could follow their paths: I have a friend who also took in four children for a long obedient season. Another who homeschools two and takes two to public school (which we would do for 25 days).  I have a friend who is the guardian of her niece. I have a friend who has eight children, sometimes nine. And there are others but these are the folks I texted on our way to pick up the children. The ones who knew what I was walking into better than I did at that moment.

And there was a dinner -- planned before the children came but eaten after they came. Each person at the table had fostered children in some fashion. The five of us had never before been just the five of us. Yet there they were sitting at a table -- not just to encourage me -- but man, oh man, it sure seemed like it. God is so amazing to give us what we need when we need it.

When God calls, He provides.

He prepared me to need Him fully,  so greatly. To utterly fall on my face. To do these tasks imperfectly. To see the need. To see the tears and the heartache. To be unable to fix the problem, to be at the end of myself with nothing, absolutely nothing left of me to give. And it was in those moments, that I saw God's hand most convincinly -- beyond what I could do. At the end of me, He shows up. Isn't that just what II Corinthians 12:8-9 says? My grace is sufficient for you. My power is perfected in weakness.

He didn't call because I was capable but because we were willing. Willing to be undone when a friend calls to ask what can I do for you and I can't speak because I want to break down sobbing. I want to weep because someone sees that I have a need. He sent a friend at just the right time.
So why do I worry? Why do I get overwhelmed when my daughter comes in all muddy from her mid-day school break and needs a shower? Why does that make me weep in these days of 'only five'?

Does not my soul remember that when God calls, He provides?

When He calls, He provides through His people, through His grace, through the power in the inner being, through the strength given to those who wait on the Lord (Isaiah 40:31). Even to those who cry the tears of the overwhelmed and the tears of those who try harder still fall short. He provides His sufficient grace for me and for all who call on the name of the Lord.

He called, He provided. He is still calling and still providing.

* * *
Linking up with Jen at SDG and Emily at Imperfect Prose.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Luxury of Choice

At least twice during the past month, I went to the grocery store with eight children. Yep. That's right. Eight kids in the grocery store between the ages of 5 and 13. Sound crazy?

Well... yes. Unless you realize that it is much crazier for the momma to be at home with eight children and no food.

At the end of the trip, my oldest slams the back doors of our big purple van and says, "I don't know if they're exactly how you would put them. But they're in."

They are exactly where I want them. In the van, loaded. Because... you see... the youngest of the eight decided to run away in the store. He was following a couple of older children that had been given an assignment. That I do understand.

But, I called his name. And he didn't come. He didn't answer. He ignored.

I had to go to him. He didn't run fast or far. I caught up to him quickly and held his hand. He flopped on the floor.  He did not want to walk. Which he expressed loudly. I called his name. He still didn't answer me. So I calmly finished the grocery order.

"Get a bag of apples." "Get four cans of tomato soup." I said to the others.

Both instructions were executed smoothly. No delay. No complaint. We were at the end of the list. So the olders walked the cart to the check-out line. I walked with the disobedient to the line. They put the groceries on the conveyor belt.

Meanwhile I held the disobedient's hand. He flopped. I lifted. He sat down. I held on gently but firmly, not letting go of his hand the whole time.  He moved this way and that trying to be released from my hand.

He kept expressing "I don't want to." Rather loudly. Yes, people looked. I didn't raise my voice. I stayed calm.

I handed my wallet to my oldest. "Pay for the food, please." I could trust him to pay correctly and get the right change. I handed my keys to one daughter and asked both of them to walk to the van and have it open and ready. They did.

I held the disobedient's hand. He fussed and wrestled. Even as I type this, my back aches just a little bit as I think about it.

Eventually we are all back at the van. Groceries loaded. A disobedient five-year-old also buckled into his seat. I hold his hand while he screams. And that's when my son had told me that the groceries may not be where I want them but they're in.

Who would care about such a thing? About exactly where all of the groceries were loaded?

Of course they are exactly where I want them. Paid for and loaded. I needed help. Help the other seven gave to me that I am so thankful to have. I had no room to care about how the groceries were loaded into the back of the van.

I did not have the luxury of being so particular.

I needed to discipline. Stay calm. So thankful that they were able to get the groceries paid for and loaded into the car and not to have to abandon them in the store until a later time. So thankful that I would not be a momma at home with eight children and no food.

Who would care about such a thing? About exactly where all of the groceries were loaded? was me. You know, me, the Queen of the Just So. The one that is usually saying, with a big sigh, "Don't you know that you should put the cold stuff by the milk. "And "Why are you putting that there?" Fussing all of my help away.

When I wasn't desparate for help. When I wasn't maxed to the utmost to meet the basic needs of ten people, I had the luxury of choice, of time, of being paricular about the just so.

That day, I really didn't care how the groceries were in. I grasped the bigger vision. I needed their help, however they could give it to me. And I was grateful.

I know that in my head all of the time. It doesn't really matter how.

But...ohhhhh...the luxury of the Just So. The ruining of the offer of help from my children as I sigh and fuss about so many things that are really no big deal.

As things mellow at my house, since there are only five children here now, may I not go back to the land of Just So a mother, I have spent way too much time there.

It took a moment to say yes to a phone call. Yes to four more children in my house. Yes to the help as it was offered. 

Now, no matter how many people live here, may I continue to live in the moment of being grateful that the groceries are loaded, no matter how it is done.

* * *
Linking with Emily at Imperfect Prose. 

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