Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November moments

On this last day in November, I thought I would share some moments from the month.

Playing outside {something we can't do for long}
Are you seriously standing in my way? 

Thanksgiving dinner - Ella ate the whole drumstick.
I can totally handle this.

Ella's new winter hat, made my my good friend, Joslyn.
You can never say no to a face this cute. 

Ella and Jack reading to eachother.
We're just hangin', Mom.

And family pictures:

A rare picture with both of us smiling!
The Lewis ladies

He wasn't happy about it, but he at least looked at the camera.  Jack, not H.H.
The Lewis men, photo taken by Ella.

I hope your November was wonderful, and that you are looking forward to December as much as I am!  Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year!  I am having to pace myself so that I don't decorate everything too early and then get sick of it.  Any of you diehards already decorate?  Has anyone else been listening to Christmas music for a couple of weeks now?  Bing, Nat, and Frank serenade me daily, a true delight.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What I learned at Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Our dear friends, the Martins, came to visit us over the Thanksgiving weekend.  I learned a lot from their stay.

1.  I think I take more pictures than I actually take.  These were the only ones I took from the whole weekend.

The spread included {from the top} cranberry salad and ceasar salad {not shown}, casserole bread, cheese grits casserole {family favorite}, green beans, sweet potatoes, gravy, turkey, mashed potatoes {talk about gilding the lily - two kinds of potatoes!}, and blue fluffy stuff.

 The Martins and the Lewis's

2.  Having a dog is in our future {albeit, far future}.  After playing with the Martin's dogs for several days, Ella tries to take Jack on walks.  Why can't I put a leash on him, Mama?  She now uses one of her purses to pick up pretend doggy poo.  Seriously, where does she come from?

3.  I miss the loving wisdom that comes from living near those with a heart to disciple.  I crave that guidance.

4.  Just because something is wheat-free doesn't mean it's gluten-free.

5.  I want my kids to have the same kind of relationship with us that those girls have with their parents.

6.  I have now heard Justin Beiber's Christmas album.  I won't be buying it.  If that was ever in question.  Sorry, Caroline.

7.  If it has cool whip in it, my son loves it.  Case in point, blue fluffy stuff above.

8.  I want my kids to grow up with the same servant-heart that these girls have.  I didn't do any dishes all weekend.  I didn't clean.  I hardly parented.  It was lovely.

9.  I love Christmas shopping for the kids with Handsome Hero.  We went out BY OURSELVES on black Friday {we weren't hardcore; we didn't leave the house until after 8} and shopped for the kids.  It was a real treat.

10.  Great friends who can pick up where they left off are invaluable and should not be taken lightly.  We thank our God for these friends and look forward eagerly to the next time we can see them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Oh, I'm so doomed

I wasn't going to post this week, but, well, I am.  Just this once. 

You know how there are those women who hardly show until they're almost done with a pregnancy? 

I'm not one of them.

How far along am I?  Eight weeks, friends.

Friday, November 18, 2011


I think I will take next week off and enjoy the family and our friends who are coming to spend Thanksgiving with us.  I will leave you with a few things for which I'm very thankful.  I'm limiting myself to five serious and five non-serious things, because when you start down this road of thanks, you could think of things for days.  While that's a great exercise, I don't think you would care to read all of mine.

The serious things:
1.  I am thankful for my Lord and Saviour, who saw fit to save me from my sins.  Hallelujah!

2.  I am thankful for my Handsome Hero, who loves me unconditionally, even when I'm losing my breakfast, lunch, and dinner right in front of him.  I have become accutely more aware of his love during this pregnancy, where he has had to take over the role of Dad and Mom often. 

3.  I'm thankful for my children, who humble me and bring me such joy.  I have laughed more {and cried more} since having kids than I thought possible.  I am excited to meet this new little girl or boy addition to our clan.

4.  I'm thankful for my parents and siblings, whom I love and miss very much.

5.  I'm thankful for my friends, the local ones who have stepped up en mass in our time of need, and the not-so-local ones who love us so dearly.

The, well, less than serious things:
1.  I'm thankful for Cheez-its and Triscuits, which have made me so happy thus far this pregnancy, and for Veggie Tales, which have entertained my kids more than I would like recently.

2.  I'm thankful that eggnog is back in the stores, and that it is pasteurized so that I can drink it.

3.  I am thankful that I have socks to keep my toes toasty, and I think I'll go put them on right now.

4.  I'm thankful to have a vacuum to clean our dirty floors.  Because knowing that we have one is almost like using it.  Right?  Right?

5.  I'm thankful for toothpaste.  Aren't you thankful for toothpaste?  Where would we be without toothpaste?  Staying pretty far away from eachother, that's where.  Bad breath and yucky teeth.  Yup, I'm thankful for toothpaste. 

There you have it.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  I have to go brush my teeth.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I've lost Jack!

How's that for an attention grabber?

Well, I haven't really lost Jack, but I've lost the equivalent.  Over the last few months, I've been working really hard and have lost over thirty pounds.  I am very happy, obviously, but I'm not writing to brag about my accomplishment.  I find it to be unmotivating when people do that {envy, maybe?}.  To tell the truth, I took my sweet time starting the weight loss process and have been less than stellar throughout.  What I have learned has been more spiritual than anything.  Here's the lowdown.

How it began:
I'd been the same size {give or take a few pounds} since my senior year of high school.  Not fat, not thin, but just right for me.  After two pregnancies and not a lot of consistent exercise, I had gained more than I would care to admit.  I decided to start working toward losing ten pounds.  There was more to lose, but ten seemed a manageable goal. 

Christmas 2010

The problem was that after several months I wasn't getting anywhere, though I was eating well and had begun exercising regularly.  It was really discouraging to see the scale stay stuck at such an, well, unattractive number {picture me with an expression that says I've just come across Handsome Hero's gym socks}.

Then I got pregnant again.  After we lost the baby, my body remained bloated and I was very discouraged.  I had already begun going to the gym around four days a week, so the only thing I knew to do was attack my diet.

April 2010 - 10 lbs down

I should say here that I don't believe in dieting.  It never seems to work long term, and isn't that what you want, long term results?  I was determined to eat in a sustainable way, reducing but not eliminating foods I loved, even though it meant I might lose weight more slowly.

How I did it:
My diet had been a seemingly sensible one consisting mostly of lean meats, fruits and veggies, and whole grain breads.  Lots of whole grain breads.  A plethora of whole grain breads.  I began by changing my main snack, a bowl of cereal, to something like an apple and peanut butter.  I have always resisted the thought of limiting my bread intake.  I am a Breadavore.  I come from a long line of Breadavores.  I could eat my weight in bread, which was becoming considerable, if you know what I mean.  This was changing the family tree.  Still, what I was doing wasn't working, so I gave it a try.  I didn't eliminate all carbs by any means, but became careful of them.  And started losing weight.  Immediately. 

What I've learned:
When I said that the process has been more spiritual than anything, what I mean is this.  I have found that I cannot resist anything sweet in the house.  Anything.  All bad food had to be purged.  I would reach plateaus where I would think I had this under control, and when Handsome Hero would bring home ice cream, I would think I was okay.  Even as I reached for the spoon.  The biggest spoon in the drawer.  Right after breakfast. 

August 2010 - 20 lbs. down

I have no self control.  None.  Nada.  Nonexistent.  I can no more resist a delicious morsel of chocolate than I can a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream.  Wait, were those the same?  I can no more resist a Cadbury egg than I can Reese's cup.  Mmmmmmm.  Chocolate... 

I was a bit startled by this.  Self control is a fruit of the Spirit, an evidence of my growth in the Lord!  As I began to think of it that way, I started to give all my temptations to the Lord each morning.  I knew I couldn't leave the ice cream alone by myself.  I needed help.  I began to commit to the Lord not to eat certain things, and asked for strength to keep my promises. 

September 2010 - 25 lbs down - with Lydia, who had lost the same amount.  Don't we look fabulous?

Please don't think this is a formula.  It isn't.  God isn't a genie who grants wishes.  He is Master and Creator of the Universe, to be feared and held up as Holy.  But he cares for us and our struggles, and desires our growth.  For me, weight loss has been and continues to be more of a spiritual battle than a physical one.  I am thankful for a God who sustains and gently teaches.

So there you go.  Now would be the time for some embarrassing after pictures.  But I don't have any.  I got pregnant before I reached my goal, and I already have a baby bump, which doesn't make for great after shots.   Check this post and this post and this post for a few shots.  Wow.  I really need to get better at getting in front of the camera.

I've had this post in progress for awhile, waiting until I had reached my final goal to publish it.  Now that I'm in growing mode and not losing, I thought I should probably share it before I look like a watermelon has sprouted in my belly.  I hope this post accomplishes what I would like for it to do - be encouraging. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The things a pregnant woman thinks about in the shower

How's that for a title?  Well, I was standing in the shower today, hoping the water would wash my headache away, when I started to think of a song.  I was trying to think of Christmas ideas for various family members, but sometimes songs just come to you.

Standing in the Shower {to the tune of Row, Row, Row your Boat}

Standing in the Shower,
Wasting lots of time!
Pondering, Conjuring, Wandering, Laundering -
Those are words that rhyme!

Then I thought to myself, "You've been standing here for twenty minutes, and all you've come up with is a verse of a song that makes no sense?  It's not even your own melody, and you couldn't come up with a cohesive verse?"

Then I thought to myself, "You're pregnant and you thought of four three-syllable words that rhyme?  Good job!"

I got out of the shower with head held high, knowing that I had done something remarkable.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mum's the Word

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of conducting a piano monster concert.  That means lots of pianists, all playing the same duet, on ten pianos, at the same time.  Monster.  At the end, they gave me a monster mum.

It's nearly three feet in diameter!

A couple of months ago, I would have stuck this puppy outside and loved the extra color.  Now, though, it's too cold for it to survive.  So the kids and I went through the house looking for the perfect spot for it. 

On the kitchen table? 

 Hello?  Is anyone of the other side of the forest?

Maybe in the dining room?

 Pass the salt, please.  Is there a body attached to that hand?

I know!  The coffee table!

Great headstand, babe!  Sure I can see it.

Finally, we found the perfect spot for it.  The piano.  It looks quite pretty there.

Want to know how to dwarf a grand piano?  Put a massive mum on it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Snarky little thing

Ella:  Mama, Jack was eating during the prayer.
Me:  How do you know?
Ella:  I was watching him!
Me:  What are you supposed to be doing during prayer?
Ella:  Keeping my eyes closed.  But you can't expect me to do that, Mama!  I'm just a little kid!

No, no.  Not twelve.  Four years old.  Just {sigh} four.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The news lately

Today was my due date.  Did you know?  Baby Lewis was scheduled to make his entrance on 11/11/11, but God had other plans.  We will meet him in Heaven, and I bet he looks like Handsome Hero, because the others do, though Jack has branched off into his own look by now.

How appropriate, on my due date, to announce another upcoming birth.

The news is good.  It's really nice.
We have a happy tale.
We're glad to say that not once, but thrice
We're delivering stork-mail.


A baby is coming!  He's due in June!
Or maybe it's a she?
Who knows?  Who cares?  I just might swoon!
No, really, I feel queasy....


We are so very thankful that
this baby soon we'll see.
I'm still in shock.
The stork doth knock!
He's come to visit me!

*For those of you whom I would normally have called personally, I apologize.  I have been laid up with a bug of some kind for the last several days and haven't been able to talk.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Recipe - Baked brie

Do you like Brie cheese?  Me, too!  This recipe, with only three ingredients, is one of my favorites.  It's gorgeous, tasty, and always a hit.

One round of brie cheese
One puff pastry sheet {found in the freezer section with pie crusts.  Make sure you get sheets - there are shells, too, and the boxes are similar.}

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and allow your puff pastry to thaw for twenty minutes or so. If desired, cut rind off of brie. This is a matter of preference.

I cut off all of the rind, but forgot to take a picture, in case anyone was confused and thought I only took off the sides.

Place brie in the center of the puff pastry and fold it over to seal.  I usually bake it with the seams down, but put them up this time to see what would happen.  Don't worry about an egg wash. 

Bake until golden brown, 25-35 minutes.

Place on a serving plate.  Serve with apples and/or crackers.  I have also used grapes.

Oops!  Should have put lemon juice on those apples!

Drizzle honey over the brie.  There's the sheen we were looking for!  With the honey there is no need for an egg wash.  Serve. 

This could be made as a savory appetizer.  There are lots of recipes out there.  You could also put chopped nuts and dried fruit inside before baking. 

Don't you love having really easy but beautiful things to serve?  The kind that make you look like a rockstar when you put in no effort?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thanksgiving centerpiece

I decided to make our Thanksgiving/Fall centerpiece with Ella this year. 

We picked up some branches that were by the side of the road and put them in a vase.  They kind of flopped everywhere, so we filled a vase with navy beans {which are white, ironically} that we dyed blue for a fun school project.   The beans kept the branches secure.

We cut up leaves and attached them to the branches with floral wire.

It's hard to photograph branches. 

I had Ella make a list of the things she is thankful for, and she put them on the leaves.



It was a fun project, and very easy.

Yesterday, I saw this post with free downloads from Jones Design Company and think I might use it for next year, or maybe find a place to incorporate it this year.  We really can't be too thankful!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ella gets glasses

I had a fascination with braces when I was in school.  I didn't have them, and Jill Fisher looked SO CUTE in hers!  In the same way, Ella loves the idea of wearing glasses.  She has no idea how much I would love to have lasik...

Note to lazy self:  Fix hair.  And wear make-up.

So, when we were making the alphabet out of pipe cleaners last week, she asked me to make her some glasses.

She loved them!

She wore them to the library later, so that she could read the books.

She did not get one single funny look.  Not one.

I was checking.  Because I thought she looked hilarious.

But then we went to the grocery store.

You get lots of strange looks in the grocery store when you wear glasses made out of pipe cleaners.

And I just said to those people, "I don't know where she gets it."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Entertaining 101

Now that we are in the season for entertaining, I thought I would post some recipes over the next few weeks that are easy "go-to's" for parties. Most of them come from my mom, who is the hostess to beat all hostesses. Or, as my sister would say when she was little, "She's the hostess of the hostess of the hostess."   But that got me to thinking about entertaining, and how few people actually do it anymore. 

These are just some pretty entertaining pics I found.  No idea where they came from.

My mother was born to entertain. She has the gift of making people feel completely at home and special at the same time. It's incredible to watch.  I always look to her when I'm preparing for a party.  She's full of helpful hints and advice. 

I say she has a gift, but, truly, it is a learned art.  An art form anyone can grow in.  It requires a heart bent toward fellowship and a desire to serve.

Many of you do not feel comfortable entertaining.  How sad!  You really get to know people when you are in a comfortable environment, fellowshipping together.  Welcoming people into your home is an act that makes people feel very special, no matter what kind of home it is.  If you are unsure of yourself when it comes to entertaining or hosting a gathering, you will never feel better about it until you try.  Shocking truth: you have to practice to get better.  Handsome Hero and I love to entertain and wish we could do more of it.  We were not always comfortable with it, however.  Here are our first two attempts.

Our first company as a newly married couple was our pastor and his wife.  We cleaned our tiny apartment for days.  Handsome Hero was very nervous about them not liking the food, so just in case they didn't like our entree, we made two.  We also had four side dishes, two kinds of dessert, and lots of drink options.  I think we ate leftovers for two weeks.  I'm sure they left our house shaking their heads and laughing.

Our second attempt at company was a young family with kids.  Before they came, I asked Handsome Hero to clean the bathroom.  He said, "What needs to be done?"  I answered, "You know, sink and toilet.  That stuff."  He did it, and that evening when our company was gone, I went in the bathroom.  When I closed the door I saw, to my horror, my dirty underwear that had been hiding behind the door the whole time.  When I showed it to Handsome Hero, he said, "What?  You said sink and toilet.  You never said check behind the door."  Point taken.

We kept at it and got better each time.  It's a team effort for us.  And it's fun!

I've made a list of a few tips to help get you started.  If you have any tricks that work for you, please add them to the comment section.  We'll all benefit.


Do a party or gathering with someone.  It cuts down on your stress.  If you are going solo, bounce your ideas off of someone.  My mom and sister and I often call each other to brainstorm showers or parties.  It helps immensely.  Like last year when I held a Christmas cookie exchange for the ladies of the church.  I had the great idea to provide fuzzy socks at the door until my sister said, "They would all be new, right?  Not coming from your sock drawer?  Because that would be gross."

Clean your house, but don't worry about perfection.  Focus on the important things, like the bathroom everyone will be using.  No one notices if you didn't have time to dust.  I have been known to get Ella to pick up bits from the floor when I didn't have time to vacuum.  And guess what?  No one noticed.

Wedding reception table, centerpiece ideas, pink weddings, carnations

On that note, it's usually not worth mopping your kitchen floor, especially for large gatherings.  Just spot clean.  It's just going to get dirty when everyone comes.  Don't you like this tip?

Develop some go-to, never-fail recipes, even if it's as simple as a store-bought dip that you scoop into a pretty bowl with some veggies or chips.  If you love it, others probably will, too.  Keep your entertaining recipes in an easily accessible location so that you're not frantically searching for that awesome sausage ball recipe.

If you have room, and you have recipes that will freeze well, make double next time and freeze the leftovers for the next gathering.  My mom often does this with cookies or other desserts, and even casseroles.  Impromptu company?  No problem!

Schedule your parties close together.  That way your house is already clean, and your second party could even be a leftovers party!  It could be a fun way to eat through the goodies.

Do something to make the gathering special.  In the age of paper towel napkins, use cloth, or make place cards.  A pretty centerpiece can have great wow factor.  A little effort goes a long way.

Plan ahead.  My mom often sets her table a day or two ahead for a dinner party.  That way she can think more on the decorative aspects of the event.  If you don't have a separate dining table, or you have small kids like me, this may not work as well for you, but you could try to figure out your centerpiece or other decorations {if you're using them} ahead of time.  We are having company for Thanksgiving, and Ella and I made our centerpiece together.  You could also plan ahead what serving dishes you will use, or how you will serve {buffet? family style?}.  It's often the little details like making sure you have extra toilet paper {Handsome Hero says to make sure it's Cottonelle} and a fresh hand towel in the bathroom that can be the stressers if you don't have a plan.  This is one of those areas where experience helps.  Once you've left your dirty underwear behind the bathroom door, you never forget to check there again.  I promise.

The party or gathering is not about you.  It is about your guests.  If you focus on them, they will feel special and warmly welcomed.

I hope this was helpful.  Of course, this list is not exhaustive.  Feel free to share your ideas.  We would all love to hear them!