May 31, 2011

This just in....

I've gotten several comments about being intimidated b/c people are too out of shape or it's been years since they've worked out.  If you're in this category, please see Jordan's response below:

Please encourage people, not to be intimidated by the program! All of the movements that we do are functional, so everyone CAN do them. The workouts are scalable, so depending on the person, we can make a movement less challenging or more challenging. Even if you have not worked out in a LONG time, this is a great/safe place to start. We encourage you to listen to your body and become aware of your form and how you are feeling. You know your body the best, so we encourage open communication. We are not a military style boot camp, but we do push you to do your best! Please do not be intimidated. 

Make a decision to treat your body well! There is no better time to start than now!

Who ELSE is coming tomorrow?

May 30, 2011

Who wants to workout with me?

A little over a year ago, Heather and I completed our first month of Crossfit with our friend, Jordan. I love her. So much as a friend. And almost just as much as a trainer. Jordan and her husband, Danny, own a gym in town.

I blame Crossfit (and also thank God for it often!) for getting me pregnant with Oliver. Okay, okay...I know that's not how I got pregnant...but it sure did help. I had gotten pretty good about figuring out the timing of "my cycle"...and after a month of working out at BlackBox Strength & Conditioning (then Crossfit ATM) it completely "threw me off." The following month, I was pregnant.  I continued to work out the entire nine months of my pregnancy with Jordan and my crew at her 6 a.m. class....all the way up until 4 days before Oliver was born, when I tore my meniscus.  Other than running and a few Jillian Michaels workouts, I haven't done much the past few months because my knee was too tender.

Now...3 1/2 months later my knee is FINALLY feeling better and I'm ready to get back to The Box!  Who wants to join me?  Jordan is offering another Women's Summer Challenge that starts in 2 days!  This is for women all of ages, whatever shape you're in, sizes, and even women with children! Because guess what?! Childcare is provided! 

Women's Summer Challenge

During this time we will focus on healthy lifestyle, 
nutrition, exercise, stress, posture and so much more! 
There is no better time to start than today! Enjoy the 
environment of a supportive community by signing up 
for the challenge!

When:   June 1st - July 13th
Where: BlackBox Strength & Conditioning 
7610 Eastmark Dr. 
College Station 77840
Time: 9am-10am on M/W/F
Cost: $200 for the 6 week program! Come ready 
to learn and have fun!

Email to participate in the 


But, wait, there's more! If you tell Jordan that you read this blog post when you email her, she'll give you 15% off!  That's 6 weeks of a personal trainer, nutrition counseling, childcare, a better posture (and getting to work out with me) for $170! 

Like Heather said in her post a year ago, you really will feel like a new person.  When I've worked out physically, I tend to be a much nicer wife and more patient Mommy.  Truly, everyone benefits.  I guess you could say that I work out for the safety of my family.

Contact Jordan to sign up or for more information. And leave a comment here and let me know if you'll be joining me over the next six weeks!

May 4, 2011

Summer of Celebrations (Part VI); July 3rd

What a busy day this last July 3rd was! McKlayne turned two, Charlie and I celebrated our 5th anniversary and Charlie's sister, Ashley, and Kevin got married!  (It was also Kevin's birthday!)

Sweetest Two Year Old,

In these last two years, you have completely captured our hearts, Princess.  You are the epitome of girliness and I could not be more pleased. You adore dresses and all things accessories-shoes, purses, jewelry and bows.  When the color pink is mentioned, you say, "That's my favorite!" (As if we've never heard it before.)

You love taking care of your "baby dear" and playing with your dollhouse and Princess Figures.  Currently, you favorite Disney Princess is Princess Aurora from Sleeping Beauty and you have already requested to be her for Halloween.  You often put your hands on my cheeks and tell me, "Mommy, dance with me!  Sing me my song, my I Know You song!" And you make me sing it several times as we twirl around in circles in my arms.  The truth is you have many songs that you like to sing and all of them are "your song(s)" we often have to decipher which one you're referring to.  You love to jam out in the car to Barlow Girl's Hello Sunshine.  And we often hear you singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" to yourself as you play.

If a nightgown is not clean for you to wear to bed, you will often throw a fit.  You have told me that you, "just like to wear dresses-even to bed," when I've asked you why you get so sad about wearing "regular" jammies. Before bed each night, Daddy or I will sing your hymn to you, which you call, "Come Thou Founta" and you know every word. Sometimes, if I accidentally skip a verse, you will tell me, "you forgot the fetter part" and I must go back and sing it.

You love getting your hair fixed, especially braided, and always want to look at yourself in the mirror when I'm done.  Sometimes, you spend a long time inspecting yourself.  You compliment others, grownups and children alike, when they are dressed up and tell them that they look "pretty" or "cute". You definitely notice when I have actually fixed my hair and put on makeup and are pleased with the results.

There aren't many foods that you don't like.  At the top of your lists are pepperoni pizza and spaghetti.  You love almost any kind of meat and really are not too big of a carb/sweets-girl.  (You did not get that from me.) You aren't too big a fan of tortillas, bread, biscuits, and you eat your hotdogs and hamburgers bunless most of the time.  You are initially excited about dessert, but, if it's not Blue Bell, you only take a few bites and Asher is always eager to finish off your portion.

You adore your Asherboy and your feelings are terribly upset if, for some reason, he doesn't want to play with you. You have pretty much charmed him into getting your way 90% of the time.  He often tells you that, "You look beautiful!" and is totally smitten with you.  You two spend most of your day playing together in one of your rooms or outside.  He is always eager to help you when you ask him for help.  You are truly his best friend and neither of you would be the same without the other.

Bathtime with Daddy is one of your favorite parts of the day.  It's the sweetest sound to listen to as I'm cleaning the kitchen. I love your girly screams and giggles as Daddy gives you and Asher a bath...splashing, tickling, singing to love when he wraps you up like a baby in your ladybug towel and calls you his "Little Lady".  You also love when Daddy picks you up to help you tee-tee on the tree.You are very proud of that accomplishment.

You love helping me cook in the kitchen and often ask to perched upon the counter to watch.  Otherwise, you'll push up a chair and tell me that you're going to help.  You love doing laundry.  Laundry day may truly be your favorite day of the week.  You will shake out the warm clothes from the basket and help me lay them on the couch in piles, accordingly.  When those are finished, you move onto the already neatly folded clothes.  You are always eager to run the laundry back to the designated bedroom.  You truly are such a sweet blessing as my little helper. I often have to ask the Lord to change my heart to serve this family as purely and joyfully as you desire to.  I pray that your heart is filled with this much joy as you lovingly run your own household someday.

You are quite the sass and often stubborn about wanting things done your way. (I guess that's generational stuff that we have to work out.  And I'm sorry for that.)  I love you, my precious princess.  You have captivated us with your beauty, sweetness, and charm...and you are the only other girl that I would gladly surrender my title of "Princess" to.

We love you with all that we know how,


We started out the morning with Pioneer Woman's coffee cake.  We have tested MANY breakfast cakes in this last year in search of the perfect one for our birthday/celebrations breakfast cake and this one was unanimous. It's even better than the boxed crumb cake, if you can believe that!

We quickly started getting ready for the big day.  Forget our 5th anniversary, there was no time to celebrate that.

And this was not only Aunt Ashley's wedding day, it was also the day that McKlayne and Asher were getting "married"!!  They walked down the aisle together as ringbearer and flower girl, so McKlayne thought they were getting married, too.  In fact, I think she thought this whole day was just for her and Asher. I mean, she was wearing a white dress!  She was in heaven....wearing her favorite "Cinderella" dress and getting to marry her best friend.

Both of the kids did great throughout the entire ceremony and reception.  (No running out of the chapel, this time!)  They each had their bag of gummy bears to keep them quiet.  McKlayne did lay down at one point out on her tummy, watching the whole show with her chin in her hands.  But, I didn't really care. She was behind all the bridesmaids and was quiet during the sermon.

We had a fun little photo shoot of the "newlyweds." They were both so ready to poise for their big day. 

And the history.

Summer of Celebrations (Part V): Yonderway Farm you remember the Summer of Celebrations series that I started...oh, you know, a long time ago? As I was making scrapbook pages in Picasa for my hopscout video, I was reminded of how I have NEVER posted some of these things I actually finished MONTHS ago on my blog.  So, if for no one else, they'll be documented for my family for years to come, but get ready for the rest of my posts. This first one was dated January...I don't know why I never posted it!

I have not been NOT blogging for lack of nothing to blog about, but wondering how I will dump all of these thoughts down before they leave my memory.  I am well aware that pregnancy, children and age all cause holes in my I am bad combo of sorts for remembering little details right now.  The whole reason, I started (and continue) to blog in the first place is so that I can remember these sweet and sometimes difficult years of having young, funny, precious little ones. And for those precious ones...I want Asher, McKlayne and Baby #3, even if they can't remember, to be able to read back over the funny things they said, and look at sweet pictures of themselves and get a glimpse into this crazy home of two sinful parents who desperately loved them and tried to teach them to love Jesus, as best as they knew.  (And hopefully, they will all be able to overlook my, sometimes, poor grammar and constant overuse of "......"  I know it. I admit it.  I'm a lover (and abuser) of the "dot, dot, dots" and just cannot forsake them.  As long as I type, they will always be there, so if you've been reading this blog for longer than two posts, you've maybe learned to overlook my misuse of them, as well.)

So, for this new year begins, I will continue on in what Charlie and I decided months ago was our current life motto, "To be finishers..." I will finish blogging about our "Summer of Celebrations" before these sweet memories escape me...and maybe, just maybe, you won't feel so dreadfully cold in this crazy winter weather as you browse these pics from our warm summer days.

Next stop: Yonderway Farm.  Two of our very dearest of friends lived there this summer and they just so happen to be related: the Kramer's, who permanently live there, and who my kids refer to as "Farmer Jason" and "Farmer Lynsey" with their three beautiful (and about to make it four...Lyns is due two weeks before me!) girls.  Our beloved Hendrick's (Jason and Heather are siblings) lived on the farm this summer before they moved to Haiti (click on that link to read more about how God lead them to Haiti) with their four precious (and oh, how we miss them already, again) boys.

Between all the shower throwing and matrimony making, we got to sneak out to the farm for a few days and just soak up our friends...sweet friends that have become like family to us over the last almost seven years.  Somehow, long ago, even before I knew that I would marry my Charlie, when I was a silly, wreck of a college girl, Heather adopted me.  I, quickly, got to know and adore Lynsey, who is a wealth of information of all things natural.  (When needing a natural remedy or recipe, this is the girl that I call.  I also adore her for so many other things....but that's a whole 'nother blog post.)

These several days at the farm, were complete bliss spent with precious friends treasuring the last days of possibly forever living in the same town, laughing, dreaming of what the next several months would hold, remembering how deeply God had used these people to help us rethink how we live life and retrain our thoughts on family and marital roles, eating bowls of husband-sized portions of Blue Bell,  watching those boys love on my children...trying to preserve those moments in my mind, and even some ugly crying.  The kids roamed the farm in wonder of all the animals, the acre upon acres of beauty to behold, and rode in "the buggy" as many times as an adult would drive them around.

(Want to know what makes me want to ugly cry some more? I only have ONE picture from the entire time we were there. ONE picture...and it's of our family...not even of all the people that we love.  I must have been soaking them in so much that I thought that I'd have a permanent imprint of them in my mind.'s fading.)

I discovered that I do have pictures from the Summer of 2009 out at the farm:

Asher was so blonde and LITTLE here!

My precious boy.

(I know I took this exact same picture this summer except with more kids piled on...Heather, is it on your camera?)

When our babies were still babies!
Okay...back to Summer are a few things that were documented.

Asher perfected his swimming at the farm:

We also made strawberry jelly...and lots of it.  I believe this was our third batch to make in the last year and half and Heather decide that it finally needed to be documented so that we could look back at it the next time we made some, so I am completely hijacking the following from her blog:


Before making your jelly for the love...start with a crystal clean kitchen.  Trust us.  This makes a huge difference.  If your kitchen is a mess before will break down and lose it once your jelly making is in progress.  Jelly making is messy.  Kids decide to do the most awful things when momma is in the kitchen making jelly.  No matter how excited you are to get started, trust us...clean that kitchen up little lady! 

What you need for one batch of jelly (four 16 oz. jars):

2.5 one pound cartons of strawberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
7.5 cups sugar (you will need a four pound bag of sugar per batch)
2 pouches of certo (liquid fruit pectin)
4 mason jars
4 rings
4 flat lids
large canning pot (try to use a real canning pot with some sort of rack in the bottom of the pot so that the glass jars do not get too hot)
jelly funnel
jar gripping tongs
lots of clean dishtowels and rags on hand

Wash your jars and rings in the dishwasher.  Start making jelly once your jars are drying on high heat in the dishwasher.  Keep the jars toasty hot in the dishwasher until you need them.

Put water in your canning pot and begin to bring it to a boil.  This takes some time.  Add the lid to speed up the boiling process. 

Wash strawberries. Remove tops.  Cut in half.

Put strawberries in a food processor.

You have to take it easy with the food processor.  You want the strawberries to look chopped...not pureed.

Your mixture should look like this....

From your blended strawberries you need to measure out 3 3/4 cups.  Pour 3 3/4 cup chopped strawberries in large bowl.  Add 1/4 cup lemon juice and 7 1/2 cups sugar.  Set aside.

That's a lot of sugar.  I know.  You are welcome to experiment with other sweeteners, however changing the kind of sweetener or reducing the amount of sugar has the potential to adversely affect the way your jelly sets.  We can only guarantee your jelly if you follow these directions exactly.  If anyone experiments with other healthier sweeteners and your jelly sets up well, please let us know.  We'll gladly try your recipe and link to it.  We have used organic sugar and it worked great, but have been too chicken to try other healthier sweeteners.

Boil a small saucepan of water.  Once the water is boiling, turn the water off and place your flat  lids in the hot water.  Let those sit in the hot water until ready to use.

Once the water in your large canning pot is boiling, turn the water down to simmer.  Now it is time to start cooking the strawberry mixture.  Place the strawberry/sugar/lemon juice in a large, separate pot.

Bring mixture to a full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling even when you stir it).  Use high heat.  STIR CONSTANTLY.

Here's where things get a tad pit stressful.  It's only stressful for a few minutes though.  Sort of like a jelly making contraction.

Get your certo packages ready.

Once the strawberry mixture is boiling (full rolling boil) stir in two packages of Certo quickly.

Return to a full rolling boil and then boil exactly 1 minute (set the timer on the microwave or your phone).  Stir constantly.  After one minute, remove from heat.

With a metal spoon, skim off any foam.

Put the foam in a small bowl.   Once the foam cools, find a cute little kid and let him eat it right out of the bowl with his finger.  It's a must.

Remove four hot jars from the dishwasher.  There are six in this picture, but you get the point.

Pour the heated strawberry mixture quickly into the jars using your jelly funnel.  Leave 1/8 inch of space at the top of the jars.

With a wet rag, quickly clean the tops of the jars.  The tops of your jars need to be nice and clean so wipe off any jelly that got on the tops while you were pouring the mixture in the jars.

Remove flat lids from hot water and dry the rubber seals really well with a dry rag.

Cover jelly jars with two piece lids.  Screw bands tightly.

Using your tongs, place the jars of jelly into the canning pot and bring water to a boil.  There needs to be an inch or two of water covering the tops of your jelly jars.

As soon as water is boiling, set a timer for 5 minutes.  Let the jelly sit in the boiling water for a full 5 minutes.

After five minutes, remove the jars of jelly with your tongs.  You may need to set the jars on towels so they don't harm your counter tops.  Let cool.  After the jars have completely cooled (this takes several hours), check the seals by pressing on the top of the seal.  If the seal pops up and down, the jar is not sealed.  If that happens, place the unsealed jars of jelly in the refrigerator.  For the jars that have sealed, let them sit for 24 hours before moving them.  Then you can store them in your pantry up to one year.

Random tips:

We bought tons of mason jars from garage sales.  That's the way to go.  Then all you have to buy is new, flat lids.  The first time you make jelly it will be more expensive because you'll have to buy jars.  However, once you invest in jars, you'll use the same ones over and over.

You can use your rings and jars over and over again (unless the rings get rusty).  Every time you can something you have to buy new, flat lids.

Borrow.  Borrow.  Borrow.  This is the perfect time to email all the older ladies in your church and ask if they have the supplies you'll need for making jelly.  Maybe you could even ask them to come help you.  Once you decide if canning is going to be your "new thing" then you can slowly collect the canning items.  We bought lots of supplies (big pots, pressure cookers) at garage sales. 

We've been told that Certo is the best liquid pectin if you are trying to eliminate high fructose corn syrup from your diet.  The other brands are basically high fructose corn what's the point?

For jelly, we have found that the jars need to be no bigger than 16 ounce.  Any larger and the jelly does not set well...probably from not getting hot enough in the hot water bath (the method for canning we use for jelly).

It's no fun to make jelly by yourself, and may be impossible.  Invite a friend.  You'll need extra hands.  If you have small children you will need someone there to watch them.  For real.

Jelly making is fun, rewarding but a huge mess.  We make giant batches.  This time we made 29 jars between the two of us.  However, you should only do one batch at a time (no doubling or tripling the recipe.  It will mess up.)  Kirby and I will make jelly one more time this summer with peaches and do about the same amount.  So...two jelly days for us and we have jelly for the entire year and some to give away at Christmas.  We have found it's better to mess up the kitchen twice and have a couple long days than to make a huge mess several times a summer.    

The end result.  Yum.  Who wants a biscuit?


This post was written MONTHS ago, but I just realized that I had never posted it.  Not sure why...but now the countdown is on and in 2 weeks the Hendrick's will be home from Haiti for the summer and we'll be packing our bags to live for DAYS at the farm.

Get ready, Lyns and Heather, we may just never leave Yonderway.