Sunday, September 26, 2010

Parenting Duggar-style

I’ve written briefly before about the Duggars from the TLC program 19 Kids and Counting. I, like I’m sure millions of other people, find this family so inspiring, especially the parents Michelle and Jim-Bob. I would like to share some of the advice they give on both their tv show and their website that I’ve found to have a positive impact on my family.

If you’ve watched 19 kids… even only a few times you may have heard someone mention the family motto “Jesus first, others second, yourself last.” If you look closely you’ll see it’s an acronym for JOY. I’m sure somewhere deep down in my repertoire of Sunday School jargon I have this phrase filed away but since hearing it on 19 Kids… I’ve begun to put it to use. It’s been particularly helpful with my oldest as he’s old enough to understand the concept. I often catch him saying it if he realizes he’s being greedy or inconsiderate. It helps us all to remember to put others above ourselves and that by doing this we are most importantly putting Jesus above all.

Another resource that I’ve just recently begun to use from the Duggars is a list of character qualities they have posted on their website. It’s a chart listing positive qualities that we all hope to instill in our children versus the negative behavior we wish to discourage. You can view it or download it here. The list briefly describes each character quality and refers to a Bible verse that corresponds to each. The emphasis is placed on the positive, not the negative behavior, which the Duggars stress often: “Praise your children 10 times more than you correct them”.

I’ve found this chart most useful in being able to identify and label what it is my children are doing that is good. Rather than just saying “What a good job you did helping to bring the groceries from the car,” I can now say “What a good job you did helping to bring the groceries from the car. When you help me with the groceries like you said you would, you are being very dependable.” The child will not just know they did good, but what it is about their action that was good, in this case the child was being dependable and responsible. The second way I found this chart to be useful is simply that I’m looking for opportunity to praise my children. I’m not sure if the praise is working to encourage my kids to do even more praiseworthy things, or that I am simply noticing the things they always did but didn’t take time to praise them for.

So my final piece of advice is to check out the Duggars website at . In regards to parenting, the FAQ section questions 7 & 14 are particularly helpful, as well as the Duggar House Guidelines. They also explain how they manage their day to keep their household running smoothly (advice I certainly need :) and a list of their favorite recipes. Char out.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Words of Encouragement

Some days you just need to hear, or in this case, read some words of encouragement. The other day was one of those days for me. On another one of these days in the past, I took it upon myself (I make it sound like a monumental task, huh?) to write out some words of encouragement for myself when I need it. Usually these days are when I’m overwhelmed with housework and I need some motivation. Some days, like a couple of days ago, it’s just “One of dem days that a girl goes through” (shout out to Monica) when I’m just not feeling top notch about anything. Days like this I’m thinking “Why on earth have I ever thought that I can mother and nurture four children?” It’s not even that the kids are the problem, it’s just my frame of mind and my own negative outlook. I admit, my son tried my patience today and I just deleted 16 lines explaining why because that’s not the focus of this blog.

There was a time when I would have those kinds of days nearly constantly, until God freed me from an existence of anxiety and depression. And yet, that too is a topic for another blog. Right now I would like to list those words of encouragement. Mostly it’s just feel-good-about-yourself stuff (psychobabble I call it:) but some are scripture inspired or words of my favorite worship songs or quotes I’ve read. I hope that you too will find encouragement in these words if you ever need it. I’ve put it in table format so if you like, you can print and cut the phrases out, place them in a box or jar and pick one (or ten) at random. That was my original intention for this list, as I’ve done it before with favorite Bible verses and find it comforting. I urge you to add to this list or even create your own words of encouragement, perhaps also adding Bible verses that give you hope.

Quit feeling sorry for yourself. Play the pumpin’ music. Get your body moving.
Holy Spirit - help me, help me, help me. God has created you to do more and be more.
You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. You are worth more. Your children deserve more.
I am who God says I am: Beloved! Your children deserve the best you can give them.
Do one thing that’s more positive than what you’re doing right now. Other people may not struggle like you do - but they fail in other ways.
It just takes one step - do one thing differently.

You’ve been blessed! Count them right now.

I am loved, therefore I am. Live! God spoke it,
now do it!
Sing! Sing! Sing like you used to. You were meant to live for so much more. Don’t lose yourself.
I know I’m better
than this.
I can find the strength to beat this.
Read as long as you have to, to know you deserve better. Stop blaming others - you are responsible for your actions.
Kiss and hug your children – then pray with each of them. Kiss and hug your husband/wife – then pray with them.
You can be that strong mom/dad for your kids. You can be the wife/husband your spouse is proud of.
Do, do, do- just do one more thing. Sing a love song
to Jesus.
You are not your mess. The Father sees His lovely child. Stop, and sing “If you’re happy and you know it” with your kids.
Happiness is being blessed, and you are so blessed. Read one more line; read one more reason why you’re worth it.
He sees how lovely you are – a beautiful mess. Your mess does not define you. Step out of it.
Be your Father’s child. You are safe in His arms.
Gather your children together to pray for you. Benefit from their unwavering faith. You may not always be shown, but your family loves you and cannot live without you.
Create quietness. Calm yourself and your children. Kneel before Him now. Relax and breathe in His presence.
Clear your mind and listen for God’s voice. I am MORE than a conqueror through Christ Jesus who loves me.
Slow to anger. Abounding in love. I am better than this.
I can do it!
Calm mother. Calm baby. Save me Jesus, once more.
I can rise above. God created me to conquer. How blessed I am to have found my Savior.
He is mighty to save! Oh how He loves us so.

You’ll notice above the inspiration for stailing; slow to anger, abounding in love. It’s my mantra some days. Peace!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Meatballs Carbonade

I haven’t posted in my Kitchen and Cooking tab yet, so I thought I would start with what I made last night. I got this recipe from some old books my husband bought years ago at Value Village (he used to work there and we still have issues that he just has to go there every time we visit the city, but we never seem to get time to visit the book and bible store. I sing and it’s the only place to buy soundtracks for church).

Okay, sorry, back to the point of this blog. If you ever come across a Better Homes and Gardens recipe book volume I would strongly encourage you to pick it up. It isn’t fancy cooking. It relies on canned goods, and powdered boullions, and dried herbs and spices (who buys fresh anyways?). But it is good simple, family cooking. I’ve used dozens of recipes from them and this is one I found for meatballs that isn’t like totally awesome, but it’s really good. This one is from BH&G Beef Recipes. I tried it because I had non-alcoholic beer that I wanted to use up (I also use it in my fondue broth that I’ll have to post another time), and I remembered at a night shift potluck years ago a co-worker brought a beer-based meatball sauce that was awesome. It should be a requirement at potlucks to bring copies of the recipe your making, don’t ya think? I’m thinking hers had BBQ sauce too and who knows maybe I’ll be able to mimic that some day. Anyways, I’ve tried this recipe a couple of times and last night tasted the best. I’ll include the main recipe and little alterations I made which I think make it taste better. The alterations to the ground beef mixture are ones I got from another BH&G cookbook called Barbecue Recipes in a recipe for Barbecued Beef Burgers. Makes the most moist, awesome handmade burgers ever.

First a little history on Carbonade. And you thought you were just getting a recipe. I thought Carbonade was a dish that contained bacon (like an Italian Carbonara) but it is actually a Spanish word for a Belgium dish that contains beef, onions and beer with thyme and bay leaf for seasoning (thanks Wikipedia). This recipe doesn’t have bay leaf which may be a nice addition, but it does add bacon. Cow and pig. . . mmmm. Now for what you’ve all been waiting for: The Recipe . . .

Meatballs Carbonade


Items in brackets are alterations from the main recipe.

  • 3 slices of bacon (4)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 12-oz can of beer or 1 1/2 cups (355ml can)
  • (2 tbsp. each of milk and ketchup if not adding beer to meatballs)
  • 1 lb. ground beef


  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced (1 large)
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour (2 tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp. instant beef boullion powder
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar (1 tbsp.)
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar (1 tbsp.)
  • (2 tbsp. ketchup)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
  • (1 bayleaf)
  • 2 tbsp. snipped parsley for garnish

In medium skillet cook bacon till crisp; crumble and set aside, reserving drippings. In bowl combine 1/4 cup of the beer (or milk and ketchup), egg, bread crumbs, 3/4 tsp. salt, and pepper; add ground beef and mix well. Shape meat mixture in to 24 meat balls. Brown on all sides in bacon drippings. Transfer meat balls to 1 1/2 quart casserole.

In same skillet cook onions til golden; stir in flour. Add remaining beer, boullion, brown sugar, vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt, thyme, and dash pepper. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly. Pour over meatballs. Cover and bake at 350 deg. for 45 minutes. Top with parsley and crumbled bacon just before serving (and remove bay leaf).

My notes:  -I just leave the bacon in the pan and mix it in with the sauce for more flavor. -I didn’t use beer in the meatballs as they were premade. They will be too messy with both the beer and the added milk and ketchup, so I would choose one or the other.  Use the milk and ketchup for regular meatballs in other recipes.  -I mix the flour and remaining sauce ingredients in a blender or Magic Bullet. -I added ketchup to the sauce for a little color and flavor. -My meatballs were nearly cooked before I put them in the oven so they were only in there 20 minutes or so.

PS. I tried everything I could think of to make a printer-friendly, 4x6 recipe card but I'm not techie enough to figure it out. My best advice is to highlight and select the recipe and then click "selection" under the print window before printing.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Summer is over…better blog.

So, I’ve been a slacker, yes, yes I have.  I haven’t posted all summer although I’ve thought about it a dozen times.  Sitting at a computer for any longer than 15 minutes isn’t exactly summertime fun in my opinion, but school is back in full swing now, kids are in bed and I have a few minutes to write a few words.

So what did I do all summer?  I travelled; camped; sat around in a slump for a few days here and there; and went to the beach.  That’s pretty much it really but it was great.  Some of the sitting around in a slump was due to our exciting news that we are expecting our 4th, count ‘em, 4th child!  If I were to ever get pregnant again (which we are aren’t planning on, 4 is our ideal), then I would not like it to be in the summer.  At least not for the 1st trimester.  So tired and sick and lazy, I felt like I wasted a bit of my summer.  But only in between travelling and camping trips so it wasn’t so bad. 

But we are super-excited!  As you know, I have a now 15-month old and she is still my little baby so I’m really happy to be having another baby in a few months.  I think it will be interesting to have a near 2 year old and a newborn, especially since my little one is so jealous of her older brother and sister, I can’t imagine how she is going to react to another baby.

All my kids are just about 3 years apart except for these last two which are going to be just 21 months.  The reason my husband and I planned this is because we are 30 now, been having kids for 7 years and we just wanted to get it all over with.  We would have gotten pregnant earlier but I am one of those that breast-feeding is actually contraceptive.  I mean, I guess so, because I don’t start my, you know, monthly, until my babies are about 11 months old, and didn’t get pregnant until then, although we had been trying for about 5 months before that.  Well, not preventing is a better description.  It’s hard to try when you have no idea when or even if you are ovulating.

I told that rather personal story to lead into my real story which is why I had to get an ultrasound at 12 weeks.  Because I had, I think my doctor called it, an inconsistent menstrual history, he wanted me to have an early ultrasound to confirm gestational age.  This ultrasound was probably the most impactful of all 4 of my pregnancies simply because it was at such a young age.  Here was this tiny little 5.76 centimetre, 2 oz person just moving around inside of me.  At the usual 18-20 week ultrasound you can feel movement, and of course I can’t yet but still here was this little being jerking about, and putting his or her hand up to their eyes.  It was so amazing to see him/ her in there with lotsa room to move their little arms and kick their little legs.  I could even see something I’ve never seen before and that was the blood from my body pumping through the cord into his/her little body.  It was just wonderful.  Such a blessing for myself and my family to see this little miracle growing inside me.

Well should be heading off. Laundry is in the washer/dryer and it’s my goal to get it all done before bed.  Hubby is out watching a movie so to sit here in near absolute quiet since 8:45p has been blissful, but it’s now 9:45p and time to say Char, out.  Thank you Lord for life’s precious, quiet moments.