Hopeful Thoughts

Craft Fair TODAY

Come see me at the Mulberry Street Cantina in Denton, TX today from 2-5.

Where did the Summer Go?

Yes, it’s still BLAZING hot here in North Texas, but there are several signs that the summer “break” is pretty much over. I tutor math when I’m not chasing my toddler or sewing. (You can check out the details about that here!) I thought I was going to have a few weeks off before school started…well, before PUBLIC school started. Turns out a bunch of my kids went back to school YESTERDAY at a local private school. Which means, I have to go back, too, so my kids don’t fall behind. It’ll only be one day a week, but still! Not to mention, G’s Mom’s Day Out program finished up this week, so there’s 10 extra hours with my little guy until that starts back up at the end of the month.

It’s been a roller coaster of a summer. On the upside, we’ve been blessed with a lot of cool things this summer. Having G in Mom’s Day Out was such a blessing. I had a nice easy tutoring schedule…just 7 hours a week if they all were in town! I was even able to have 5 hours to myself every Thursday for 8 weeks. My kiddo finally weaned at the end of June, just a month before turning 2, which has lead to much better sleep for the whole family! I also enjoyed a great two week visit with my mom! On the down side, my dear friend Lori, the wife of our pastor, was diagnosed with stage 4 Melanoma and a very poor prognosis. This has hung a pretty dense fog over the last 4 weeks.

Death hit me the past fall when both of my grandparent on my Dad’s side passed away within 10 days of each other. That was hard, but I’m used to their absence. I live 1300 miles from home, so I hardly even saw them. It’s not strange to be away from them. Yes, I was sad, but their passing doesn’t affect my daily life. I’ve spent so much time with this family over the last 9 years, they have become part of my own adopted family. This blow is hard to take. God has perfect plans for her. This I know. We will be together for eternity in heaven when He calls us both home in His perfect timing. I hope to spend the time we have left making more precious memories with her, but I rest in the hope I have in Jesus.

I’d thought I might post a few sewing projects, but I think I’ll leave you here. God bless you, all!

Crafting in Between

As I have a few minutes here and there, I’ve been working on a few crafty things since G’s arrival last year. I’ve continued to make the flannel receiving blankets, but I was forced to cut back on my crochet and knitting due to some pretty painful postpartum carpel-tunnel syndrome. I have a few projects on hold that I hope to get back to, but this post is about my newest focus: sewing.

I was fascinated by the diaper pail liners and wet bags that my sister made for me. When my friends Allison decided that she was going to cloth diaper her new baby, I resolved that I was going to make a few things for her. With the help of my little sis, I got fabric ordered and cranked out four diaper pail liners (2 for Allison and 2 spare for myself) and 4 cute little wet bags.

Upon seeing how cute these turned out, I kept going back to the site where we ordered the fabric, Kids in the Garden, and just looking. The lady who runs it makes and sells cloth diapers. She also sells a couple of patterns for making your own. I’d noticed LOTS of sellers on Etsy who make cloth diapers. It was so tempting, but I was completely freaked out by the idea. The idea of working with the elastic scared the heck out of me.

Eventually, curiosity got the better of me. I HAD to try. So, I ordered a pattern (The Nikibaby One Size Diaper)… it was less than $10. I purchased some cute fabric, and a set of snap pliers with plastic snaps.

Yes, the elastic is a super big pain, but it turned out not to be as difficult as I’d expected, and I quickly cranked out this cute little number:

I was SOOOOO excited! Here’s a shot of my little guy modeling it. Sorry for the bad photo. It’s really hard to get him to stop moving!!!

After getting comfortable with this pattern, I thought about how to modify it to make a cover for pre-folds. I took some measurements of the covers I had around the house and made a pattern. Putting the diapers together turned out to be another challenge, as there is the added difficulty of binding the edges with fold over elastic (FOE). After 3 attempts, I finally got it down in time to make a gift for my friend Paige. Wish I had a picture of that one, but here is G in one of the first attempts:

Making diapers has turned out to be a lot of fun. You can do so many creative things. If you are a wanna be cloth diapering expectant mom and a friend of mine, expect some cute “fluff” in your baby gift!

A Plug for a Friend

Kevin Roden for Denton City Council

I’m not into politics AT ALL! But, a friend of ours is running for city council in District 1 and we are totally behind him. We want Kevin Roden in office. For Real. Vote for Kevin.

32 Week Update


I just had my 32 week appointment at Inanna today. I can’t believe I only have 8 weeks to go! Our graduation from birthing class is next Tuesday, so I guess we should be ready after that. We’re physically prepared in that we have a house, diapers, a car seat, a few clothes, and a way to feed him.

Here are answers to the most common questions I hear for this point in my pregnancy.

1) Weight gain? My goal to stay under a gain of 25 pounds is pretty much shot. I weighed in at a gain of 24 yesterday. My midwife told me to cut out more bread products. That’s going to be hard. Most of what sounds good right now is carbs. 🙁

2) Cravings or aversions? Not so much. I do have to watch my protein intake, though. I get really light headed if I don’t get enough.

3) Boy or Girl? Name? We had another sonogram on May 28th, and actually got to see the proof that this child is most definitely a boy! We have decided on the spelling of “Grayson.”

4) Is he kicking? YES! Often. For awhile he was content to jam his head up under my right rib. He was actually in a breech position at the sonogram, but was head down at my appointment today. As I write this, he must be flexing his back muscles.

5) Belly button? It’s pretty much gone. There’s still a small indention that I would call an “innie.”

7) How am I feeling? I’m very tired and finding it more and more difficult to do physical activity. Since we bought the house, I really want to be out in the yard clearing up the weeds, but I just can’t bend over to do the work. It’s too uncomfortable.

8 ) What are you doing with the baby’s room? Now that we own the house, we will be doing something with the second bedroom that includes a place for baby. We are still working on a plan. Grayson will sleep in our room for a few months, but we are getting a crib and some storage furniture for baby stuff to go in the second room. However, Grayson will still have to share with Daddy’s office space. There is plenty of room in there for both of them. We’ve registered for some nice long baby gates to divide the room. We’ve even discussed painting a shade of blue.

9) How are you sleeping? I sleep good while I sleep, but I’m waking up a LOT to go to the bathroom. I also wake up several times and have to turn over because my legs ache. I had a good system with my pillows up until last night when I had to add another one.

30 Weeks Update

We’re in the third trimester home stretch!

The last few weeks have seen lots of milestones in the pregnancy.

On May 11th, Ryan and I started out birthing classes through the Inanna Birth Center. We meet once a week for 6 weeks. So far we have covered various pain coping techniques as well as the different stages of labor. Tomorrow is movie night. Oh, yeah…you know what I’m talking about!!! Overall, this has been a great experience. It’s taught by the midwives from the birthing center, so it’s been a great chance to get to know them better before our big day.

On May 14th, while I was at my reunion, my dear college friends threw me a little shower for Grayson. This was his first shower so far. We met at a restaurant near campus for a casual celebration. Thanks so much to all my college girls for your time and thoughtful gifts!


So cute! I can't wait to see Grayson in this! Thanks Susan and Erin~


These will be fun in the tub when Grayson gets a little older.

This week we were able to have a sonogram to see how the baby is growing. He’s much bigger than the 16 week shots, weighing in at over 3 pounds! Our little guy is a wiggle worm, and he’s changing position on a regular basis. When the sonogram first started, there was some concern about the baby being breech. However, he rotated to being completely transverse within a matter of minutes, so he’s still got plenty of room and time to get into the right position!

I count 5 toes!!!

I count 5 toes!!! His foot is up right by his head!

Such cute little feet!

Such cute little feet!

Glad to see that he's using his time wisely!

Glad to see that he's using his time wisely!

I think that I am falling in love.

I think that I am falling in love.

And if all goes well, our Roly Poly bundle will come home to a house all his very own. We are set to close on our house this Friday, provided all falls into place. We think we’ve overcome all the obstacles at this point, but the deal is not done until all the papers are signed.

A Recent Right of Passage: Brunswick Stew

This post goes out to all the young women who loved her mother’s and grandmother’s cooking, but was always frustrated when no one could pass down an actual recipe. I’m here to encourage you that you CAN recreate your favorite dishes with just a list of ingredients. It takes time, planning, patience, and lots of taste testing, but it can be done.

Here’s the list my mom gave me:

  • One 3 lb whole chicken (pre-cooked either in a crock pot or pressure cooker, then freeze with its stock)
  • 2-2.5 lbs chuck roast (also pre-cooked and frozen in it’s own stock)
  • “Maybe” 2 gallons worth of canned whole tomatoes (this goes in pot first with the frozen meat)
  • ketchup
  • sugar
  • water
  • red and black pepper
  • potatoes (also cooked, but not frozen)
  • frozen butter beans
  • frozen corn


Here’s what I did:

I started by pre-cooking my meats in the crock pot early in the week. I only used about a pound of beef roast and a small fryer chicken. I began putting the soup together at about 9:30 AM. The frozen meat went into the stock pot with 3 24 ounce cans of tomatoes. I couldn’t find whole tomatoes at my store, so I bought some diced and some crushed. While the stock melted away in the big pot, I boiled my potatoes (about 3 pounds).


At this point, I began adding seasonings. I added salt, black pepper, red pepper, and 4 tablespoons of sugar. I don’t actually know how much salt and pepper I added. Once it was hot, I started tasting it, and I added more of whatever was needed. My mom always used dried whole hot red peppers. She would add them whole and just make sure not to eat them later! I didn’t have any whole one, but I did have some that used to be whole. Years in my pantry left them in pretty rough shape, so I sent them through the food processor and whirled them to fine bits and mixed in the whole bit. It was probably 2-3 teaspoons. But, once again, taste. My pepper was old, so I’m sure it had lost a lot of spice. Cayenne would have worked fine as well, but since I had this, I used it!


About this time, my potatoes were done, so I drained and peeled them and added them to the pot. I wasn’t worried about chunks, because this soup cooks so long that they completely break done anyway.

The soup was getting pretty hot at this point, so, while the butter beans cooked, I started tasting it. Since it wasn’t acidic enough, I added the last can of tomatoes and started adding catsup. I wound up using an entire medium size bottle by the time all was said and done. It still wasn’t quite right, so I went through my pantry and fridge for any other tomato products I might have. I found an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce and some tomato paste. I added the sauce and about 3 tablespoons of the paste. I also ended up added another 2 TBs of sugar.

At some point I decided I didn’t have enough potatoes, so I cooked and added 2 more large ones. Since I added these late in cooking, I ended up with a few more chunks. I like this effect, so it was a good thing.

I cooked two bags of frozen butter beans (on the stove top) and two of frozen corn (in the microwave). I didn’t realize how long the butter beans would take, or I would have cooked them a lot sooner. When they were done, I mashed them in the cooking liquid and added the whole thing to the pot. The corn can be added at any time, but I added it at the very end because I was sharing stew with a friend who is allergic to corn. So, I got the flavor I wanted, scooped out her portion, and then added the corn. I cooked it for another 30 minutes or so after adding the corn so the cooking liquid cook cook off a bit. It’s important to use the cooking liquids so you don’t lose all that flavor!


You may notice that, even though it’s in the list, I never actually added any clean water. Water added has to cook out, so I only added cooking liquid from the veggies. This saves some time. I finally had everything off the stove and into freezer containers by 2:30. Total time: 5 hours (not including the pre-cooking).


If I was going to do it again, I would have added one more bag of butter beans, but leave them whole for a bit more texture.

All in all, this stew was a success.

Good luck turning your lists into dishes!!

Argentina Day 8, September 12, 2009

Today was a little more laid back than the rest of our trip has been. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day.

Evelyn and Emily got up early to meet Maria Elena from the church to go visit a local jail. They had to meet her at 7:45 AM.


Ken, Don and I left about 9:30 to go with Kurt to the Conversational English class that he teaches each Saturday up at the church. So far he still only has one student, Herman, who has been helping us out some this week as a translator. We had hoped there would be more since we passed out flyers on Thursday, but no more came.

The class is a very informal setting. There is mate, coffee, snacks and conversation. Kurt teaches just by engaging students in conversation. As we talked, it was interesting to see what new vocabulary came out of our discussion. We taught Herman about “gadgets” and “knick-knacks”!!

Around 11:30, we finished up the class and headed back to Kurt’s house to pack up and move our things back to the hotel. The other girls arrived back at the hotel just as we were unloading all of our stuff.

We went down to the main street and got some cash at an ATM, went to Thionni’s for some lunch, and then spent a couple of hours shopping on Cantila street. All five of us got mates (“Ma-tays”) to take home, as well as several souvenirs to take home to our friends.

We were pretty tired after all that shopping, but only had about an hour at the hotel before we headed back to the Grothe’s to meet with the Sunday School teachers from the City Bell church. This was our chance to really sit down with them and explain how they were going to be able to use all of the stuff we brought them. DBC will be sending them a curriculum, but they needed to know how to break it down and make it work in Argentina. There are lots of things that work great in a big church, but needed to be fine tuned to be used in a little church. They were very excited to see all of the things we had brought for them.

Kurt grilled some sausages for dinner that he called “Argentine Hot Dogs.” I’m not sure it was really very similar, but they were skinny sausage links that we put on a roll with catsup and mustard!

Kurt's grill sort of broke in the middle of the grilling process, so he's showing off the soot that was all over his face!

Kurt's grill sort of broke in the middle of the grilling process, so he's showing off the soot that was all over his face!

The teachers at the City Bell church are really excited to be working with the kids and they are a great bunch of folks. We have really enjoyed getting to know them.


Argentina Day 5, September 9, 2009

Today was a big day. We had to split up in the morning to complete all of the tasks.

We all met for coffee in the hotel restaurant. The Nigerians were all there, and we were able to talk to some of them. Lawson and Emmanuel are the older leaders of the group. Lawson is a pastor who does sports ministry. Emmanuel seems to be like the team parent. He’s the oldest. Before they left the restaurant, they wanted to take a picture of us. They may go to church with us on Sunday.

Don, Emily and Evelyn went to Tina’s to get as much of the work done there as they could. They were able to get the grass cut back, pick up most of the trash, and start getting an unwanted plant pulled up out of her front yard. We will need to go back to finish the rest of the work, but I’m not sure when that will happen.

Tina was so grateful that she made Empandas and a strawberry dessert for them. She also sent them each with some Argentine treats that are packaged like candy bars, but resemble snack cakes.

Ken and I had to stay back to work on plans for the training we were to do that evening. We had been asked to train the leaders in a church in the city of Hurlingham, outside of Buenos Aires on how to lead a children’s ministry. This was a difficult task for us, because all of our work before coming to Argentina was done based on churches who would be allowed to use materials provided by DBC back home. This church would not have access to those materials, so we had to rewrite much of our work to generalize it for this church.

We left City Bell around 1:00 to travel to Hurlingham, and our time there was a whirlwind. We began by visiting with the pastor, Gaston, and his wife. She served us soda and cookies as a welcome.

Our main mission there was to teach on Sunday School programs. We taught them about learning styles and gave them an outline and suggestions for how to plan a schedule. Ken and I pretty much did most of the teaching on that part, while Evelyn and Emily helped demonstrate the songs and games. Don was busy preparing to teach a BTCP lesson later that night.


After the workshop, we went to spend time with some neighborhood kids that the church is working with. Two twin sisters who attend the church open there home each week to the local kids. The sisters and others from the church play games with the kids and teach them about God. There were nearly 50 kids in attendance. We were able to see them sing some of their regular songs, then Evelyn taught them one of ours. We taught the lesson that we’ve been presenting since Sunday on God Protects Baby Moses. We weren’t able to get through all of our activities due to the sheer number of people.

hurlinghamKids1 HurlinghamKids2 HurlinghamKids3

Emily using the wordless book to share the Gospel with some of the kids.

Emily using the wordless book to share the Gospel with some of the kids.

Our team with some of the volunteers and kids from Hurlingham.

Our team with some of the volunteers and kids from Hurlingham.

Later, we went back to the church in Hurlingham where the men taught two sections of BTCP from thePersonal Spiritual Life” text.

Don teaching about time management.

Don teaching about time management.

The Hurlingham BTCP class.  There were a few students missing due to the big soccer game.

The Hurlingham BTCP class. There were a few students missing due to the big soccer game.

We visited with the church members there and ate HomeMade Argentine pizza. Who knew tomatoes and boiled eggs could top a pizza?

Ham and Cheese

Ham and Cheese

Tomato and Egg

Tomato and Egg

During this time, we were able to talk to Romina and Elizabeth. We exchanged e-mail addresses and will be finding each other on Facebook!


It was after 10:00 when we finally left to drive the hour and a half back to the hotel in City Bell. Late night, but a blessed day.

Counting Down?

There are so many big events coming up in my life that I am finding it difficult to focus on the here and now. Here’s a list of what’s coming up:

  • Less than 4 weeks until BTCL graduation
  • Less than 7 weeks until my LAST day of teaching
  • 7 weeks until I go home to visit NC and see my nieces!
  • A little over 3 months until I go to Argentina for a mission trip and to see my friend Emily and her new baby.
  • About 4 months until our lease ends and we move into a bigger place!

With all of these fun things to look forward to, you can see how I might be struggling! In the mean time, I am trying not to rush through everything and to make the most of the gift of time that God gives me each day.