All Natural

I feel like such a cheapskate at times. Cheapskate in the sense that I love a good bargain and I do everything I can to save a buck or two.

I have a confession to make. I'm not using cloth diapers on Anna to help keep disposables out of landfills and save the environment. It's great and all but the real reason is so I don't have to spend $20 buying diapers each week. I'm also not making Anna's baby food just because it's healthier...gasp! I feel horrible just typing these words. It's amazing that I haven't had to buy one jar of baby food yet because I've given her food we already eat (bananas, avocados, and brown rice). And it's so easy!--well so far. Maybe I'll cave after she begins eating a wider variety of foods but for now I'm thankful I can throw what we already have into our little Ninja food processor, save a few bucks, and know it's the best we can give her. That's the thing I love about introducing foods to Anna, the best foods we can give her are the cheapest! Why wouldn't I do this for her? Why wouldn't I give her the best? Why wouldn't I save money? Some may say it takes longer than just popping open a jar. And they'd be correct. But like I said in my second sentence above, I'll do everything I can to save a buck or two and that means I'll take a little time to prepare Anna's food knowing it saves money plus it's better for her. All I see in front of me is a win-win!

Since Anna's only 6 months old we're just now introducing solids to her. She's had bananas (come to find out she doesn't like them at all! No more Anna Banana **sad face**), avocados (which she loves!), and brown rice (we're still on the fence). This week I'll be introducing pears which I'm hoping she'll just gobble down. I've been reading Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron who shares everything you need to know about feeding your baby including age appropriate foods, offering a balanced diet, and recipes. It's been a great resource as we begin this new stage with Anna. After reading some of Yaron's tips and advice I'm realizing that not only does it save money preparing Anna's food it really is the best option for promoting a healthy life. And that makes this Mama happy!

Super Porridge from brown rice with avocado (brown rice makes 3 servings)
1. Measure a cup of water on the stove to boil.
2. Measure 1/4 cup of brown rice into blender. Grind it very well, for about 2 minutes.
3. When the cup of water starts to boil on the stove, turn the heat down to the lowest setting. Sprinkle the ground rice into the water while stirring briskly with a wire whisk. Cover the pot and keep it over low heat for about 10 minutes. Stir frequently with the whisk to prevent scorching on the bottom and to remove lumps.
4. After letting the cereal cook over low for 10 minutes, it's ready.

Wait, it was that easy?! YES!!

I make Super Porridge the night before and store in the refrigerator in individual serving bowls (it lasts for 2-3 days). In the morning I pop a bowl in the microwave for 15 seconds, add Anna's vitamin D, and it's ready to eat! For a little flavoring I add avocado--and hopefully later this week pears.

Preparing and freezing avocado
Take a sharp knife and cut avocado in half crosswise so that you have two "cups". Remove the huge seed. Use a spoon to scoop out flesh from peel and place on a flat dish. Use a fork to mash flesh on dish. Spoon into ice cube trays and pat flat with your clean fingers. Freeze for up to 3 months. Serving size: 1/2 to 1 food cube every day. When ready to serve pop a cube out and into the microwave for 20 seconds. Then I stir the avocado into the super porridge for a yummy breakfast for Anna!

Wow! Super easy, super healthy, super cheap! Now that's my kind of meal :)

I'd love to hear what you've served your little one! What are your favorite recipes?


Girl Power!

Thursday nights have just gotten an upgrade! 

I decided about a month ago to have a night where the girls in our neighborhood could come and hang out in our apartment, just us, no boys allowed! There are so many girls in our neighborhood and I had been getting a lot of knocks on the door asking to hang out--girls I hadn't even met yet were coming to my door, how cool is that?! I prayed about it for a couple of weeks and after listening to a good friend explain why she started a girls' night in her neighborhood I knew the Lord was answering me with a resounding "DO IT!" She told me that she wanted to provide a specific time and place where the girls in her neighborhood knew they could come and hang out without being told "not today, not now, maybe another time". With all the girls that had been showing up at my doorstep I knew I needed to provide the same thing. Now it was time to see if the girls actually wanted to do it. I asked a few of the girls I've gotten close to if they'd be interested in a girls night. I should've known the reaction was going to be positive because when I asked they screamed and yelled "YES!" And every day leading up to the first girls night I was asked "When's girls night again? What are we doing? Oh my gosh, I'm so excited!" 

The first night was amazing. I loved having the girls in my home, watching a movie, eating popcorn, and getting to know one another better. Last week was really special because my sister, Emily was in town for her spring break and was able to participate in girls night. We baked cookies and painted our nails. It was a blast! 

I'm so excited for what girls night will bring. I really believe God placed this specific gathering on my heart for a reason even if it's just to love these girls and to provide a fun place for them each Thursday night. So don't be surprised if you stop by Forest Hills on a given Thursday and hear giggling and laughter and smell the sweet aroma of chocolate chip cookies coming from apartment A--it'll just be us girls having a great time!


Travis in SE Asia

Today's post is very special and near and dear to my heart. I've asked Travis to write about his experience in SE Asia. Thank you for all your prayers and encouraging words while he was on the other side of the world! I hope you are blessed as you read his story:

It was funny, as I sat down to write this several weeks ago Jess asked if I could have it finished within an hour. I laughed and thought to myself, “try to sum up two weeks of adventures on the other side of the world in one hour? HA!” If you know me then you know it takes me a long time just to blink.  So, it has taken me much longer than an hour to regurgitate all my thoughts and pull out some highlights of my trip that I can briefly share with you.

Let me begin by saying, the other side of the world is REALLY, REALLY far away! We spent what seemed like a week either in airports or in planes but finally made it.  It is fascinating to enter another world full of people who are so similar to yourself and at the same time so uniquely different. Strangely though, I found myself feeling at home. SE Asia was incredibly familiar. In many ways it was like stepping into a much bigger Forest Hills, the community we live in. The cultural norms in both Thailand and Vietnam just didn’t seem that strange to me. A year or two ago that would not have been the case, but I was acquainted with this environment. It is now my life. The trip was all the more enjoyable and exciting for me because I met people who were like my neighbors and the players on my Urban Eagles team. What a great chance for me to understand my community, the people I serve in Forest Hills, more fully. To get a better idea of where they have come from. To experience the sights, smells, tastes, and sounds of their world. Things I could be aware of as I went back home.

Our primary goal in SE Asia was to train coaches in sports ministry. To teach them how to use the sport of soccer to love, disciple, and empower. To take the insight and experience the Lord has given to us and impart it to those serving in their communities throughout SE Asia. We had the privilege of meeting and sharing with over 200 coaches during our trip. When we were not teaching, much of our time was spent just hanging out with our new friends and sharing the grace, joy, and love of the Father with one another. We worshipped and prayed together often, our conversations were rich and encouraging, and there was definitely a lot of laughter.  I sensed that the coaches received new vision and renewed excitement for their ministries from our being there.  Equally, we were encouraged and blessed by them. I am so thankful for the diverse global family of God.

The unique platform the Lord has given the Charlotte Eagles to share the love of Christ through the game of soccer provided our team opportunities to play in games against a few professional and club teams.  It’s amazing the power of that little ball and the doors it opens. In Chaing Rai, one of the cities we visited in Thailand, we were welcomed by the mayor or as they called him, the President.  Also, we were hosted by the top footballer in Vietnam. We encountered the Lord together and encouraged this player and his family.  Many of us left his home feeling that our time with him was one of the most significant reasons for our being in Vietnam. The Lord has given him tremendous favor in the game of soccer and with man and we believe the words the Lord spoke to him during our time together could be a catalyst in his ministry and influence. God is so good and so fun! He loves to play and I think it is just like him to use silly games and child-like people to change the world.

Speaking of which…what a joy it is to hang out, laugh, and play soccer with youth! It’s hard to think of many places where I so tangibly experience the love of God. We partnered with several coaches and community leaders to host clinics for children in various communities in both Thailand and Vietnam.  One of these clinics was for 30 young men in a Karen village in Thailand. There are several Karen refugees in our community in Charlotte so this was one opportunity I was pretty excited about. Again, it opened my eyes to the world of my neighbors and the kids on our team. It was also great because we witnessed 13 young men step into faith in Jesus. Our Father is such a wooer.

I have taken so much away from this trip. I feel better equipped to do what I have been called into. I have been blessed by relationships that were formed and changed by the many lives I brushed against.  I am different now then when I left.  And I am more convinced then ever that the Lord is using trivial soccer to promote his unbelievable Kingdom.


Anna in the City

Dear Uncle Troy and Aunt Carly,

Remember when I came and visited you at your home for Thanksgiving? Even though I slept for most of it I had so much fun with you guys! Thank you for taking the time to show me your favorite places and for giving me this adorably cute onesie that always reminds me of you when I wear it. I loved seeing the bear at Yosemite, the sea lions at Monterrey Bay, and walking along the San Fran bridge. Again, I was asleep for most of it, but I love hearing my mommy and daddy tell stories of all the exciting things we did. I promise I won't sleep as much the next time I see you! I love you both so much and can't wait until we meet again!

Forever Yours,

Little Miss Anna Jubilee

P.S. This picture may look all too familiar as I'm very sleepy this morning

That's more like it!


mornings with my tiny dancer

While routine isn't a term we use a lot around here we have found one that I'm cherishing more and more everyday. Around 6 am Anna begins to cry in her crib calling out in hunger. I stumble out of bed prepping myself for her morning meal. I bring her to bed with us and allow her to nurse as we all fall back to sleep. Soon after I feel tiny fingers swipe my cheek, the sun shining through our curtain-less window and know that my time of slumber has to end. Anna is at her most cheerful state in the morning and I love it! While I'm a night owl rather than an early bird, those smiles, coos, and leg kicks perk me right up.
Dermatologist check up for Travis today. Please say a little prayer for him. Much obliged.