Friday, May 30, 2008

Hubby-Wifey Questions and a Training Check-up

I wanted to share some good resources I found recently. The first is for married couples and the second for parents. We are very grateful for these tools!

First, I found some great questions to ask your spouse on some blog via an internet search. The first ten or so are from Family Life but the rest are from the author of the blog. Unfortunately, I do not remember the blog address to give you that link or to give them credit. William and I had a good time asking some of them during our little mini-retreat this past weekend and found them very helpful. We will more than likely refer to this list of questions in the future.

Good Questions to Ask Your Spouse

1. Name one thing I do that makes you feel loved.
2. What could I do to cause you to feel more loved?
3. Name one thing I do that causes you to feel respected/honored.
4. What could I do to cause you to feel more respected/honored?
5. Name one thing I do that causes you to feel understood.
6. What could I do to cause you to feel more understood?
7. Name one thing I do that causes you to feel secure.
8. What could I do to cause you to feel more secure?
9. Name one thing I do that causes you to feel confident in our future direction.
10. What could I do to cause you to feel more confident in our future direction?
11. Name one way I serve you that brings you great joy.
12. Are there specific ways that I can serve that I am not already doing?
13. What attribute would you most like me to develop?
14. Name one attribute (or mannerism or idiosyncrasy) that you most like me to change? 15. What attribute would you like me to help you develop in yourself?
16. What achievement in my life would bring you the greatest joy?
17. What mutual goal would you like us to accomplish?
18. How is our sex life?
19. Is there anything I can do to make our sex life better?
20. How are we doing with our family budgeting and finances?
21. What is one thing we can do to improve our budgeting and finances?
22. How does it feel when I… (Name something that you know displeases or discourages your spouse.)
23. What goes through your mind when I…(Name something that you know displeases or discourages your spouse. This can be the same as question 17 or something different.)
24. What specifically would you like to see me do to change…(Name something that you know displeases or discourages your spouse.)
25. How does it feel when I… (Name something that you know pleases or encourages your spouse.)
26. What goes through your mind when I… (Name something that you know pleases or encourages your spouse.)
27. Name one personal goal for your life that I can help you achieve this year.
28. Name something new we might do together that would bring joy to our marriage/family? (Hopefully this is different from question 17).
29. How are our relationships with our extended family (parents, siblings, etc.)?
30. Name one thing I can do to improve one of these family relationships.
31. Name one way that God has blessed our marriage.
32. Name one way that we could make our marriage more Christ-like.
33. Name one sin that you continue to struggle with.
34. What could I do to help you with this struggle?
35. Name one sin you see that I continue to struggle with.
36. What would you encourage me to do to deal with struggle?
37. Is there some way that you can help me with this struggle?
38. What would indicate to you that I really desire to be more Christ-like?
39. How has your love for God grown?
40. How is your devotional time going? (Specifically Scripture study & prayer)
41. Is there another spiritual discipline that you would like to develop? (fasting, scripture memorization, etc.)
42. What can I do to help your love for God grow?
43. Name one thing about our church that brings you great joy.
44. Name one thing that would increase your joy in church?
45. In ten years where do you hope to be spiritually?
46. In ten years where do you think I should be spiritually?
47. Name one way that my leadership/submission has strengthened our marriage.
48. What could I do to lead/submit better in our marriage?
49. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate our marriage?
50. What would make our marriage a ten?

The second resource is from a lady in our church named Lynne. (Lynne, if you happen to read this, thanks for sharing this!) If you go to our church and attended the last Homeschool Meeting you are familiar with this tool she shared. It's called a Training Check-up and the youngest child she used it on was four years old. We've gone through it for all of ours though none of them are four yet and I've found it very helpful to see what it is we, as a couple, are working towards with each child. It allows you to see each child individually and to focus on what that child needs, where that child is gifted, where they are experiencing growth, and helps me see where God might be calling me to help them. I believe she and her hubby revisit this WITH their kids every 6 months or so.

Note: this is a useful tool regardless of what type of schooling you are doing (public, private, homeschool)!

Anyway, the Training Check-up consists of asking yourself (and your child, if age-appropriate) to list Accomplishments, what they are Still Working On, and what New Skills need to be added for six areas:

1. Life Skills
2. Physical Growth
3. Service
4. Spiritual
5. Character
6. Academic.

(Please email me if you'd like me to send you our Word doc.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Do You Have A Great Camera?

So, our camera broke yesterday as William and I were taking our hospital tour. Talk about bummed! But, thankfully, it broke NOW opposed to when Baby #4 arrives!

My question to all you in cyberspace is: do you LOVE your digital camera and IF so, what do you have? We're looking to not spend a lot (obvious, I know!) but get a camera that zooms well, allows us to capture those kid-moments which come and go all too frequently, and takes a decent short video.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Suggestions?

We are having a mini Hubby-Wifey Retreat in a week and I'm busy compiling "stuff" for us to do. God has been kind to allow us to get away before each new baby arrives. Each time we have been incredibly blessed by uninterrupted time of being able to build-in to one another. If you and your hubby have not had any extended (meaning at least a night away) time alone in a long while, I HIGHLY recommend it!

While I think we've got MORE than enough to occupy our two-night get away, I would love to hear things you've done with your spouse that have been a blessing to your marriage.

Please share your ideas!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Welcome Cousin Hamilton Ibrahim!

He's arrived! Hamilton Ibrahim is here! Go to Uncle Freeman and Auntie Jenny's blog to see the cutie!!!

Congratulations, Freeman and Jenny! We are rejoicing with you at his arrival!

Baby Cousin on the Way!

Would you lift up the Chi-town Whitneys in prayer with our fam? We just got word that they are at the hospital and that labor is ON.

No matter how many women have been through it, the birth of a child is always, always, always a MIRACLE, a gift from God, as "all things are created in him and for him."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Baseball, Planting Flowers, Tulips at the Park

Ahhhh! All's quiet 'round these parts except for the sound of the dryer in the basement and the pressure cooker. All the kiddos are down for a nap. Yep. Even Joshua today. They all have a cough which I'm praying will be gone in time for church on Sunday.


Note: in the time it took me to upload these pics I had to go upstairs to discipline 2 of the 3, wipe 1 bottom, and deal with 1 injury. So much for quiet!


With a few moments to spare I thought I'd upload some pics I've been meaning to share. Enjoy!

This first set is of Joshua's first Cubs' game. He attended this big event with the Whitney Men (Grandad, Daddy, and Uncle Freeman).


Daddy and Joshua at home before the game



Joshua and Daddy at the game




Joshua with his grandad who made this event possible

Some tickles for Joshua




Smooth Uncle Freeman




Joshua experienced eating a hot dog like the big guys do... on the bun.
And since then he requests eating it this way! What improvement!



And, of course, cotton candy!!!




Dazed on the bus

The next group of pics are from a visit we had with Grammy. Grammy taught the kiddos how to plant flowers.



The next shots are of us checking out Phillip's Park down the street.

A WONDERFUL Cinnamon Bread


I recently tried a new recipe that is healthy, easy to make, versatile, and doesn't use eggs! And if you've got dairy allergies in your fam, no dairy is used either! Enjoy!



Oh- quick warning. This recipe does indeed make FOUR LOAVES of the bread. I had to throw away some of it as we got tired of it. I might try halfing the recipe next time OR being prepared to give away a loaf or two as our fam is not quite ready for that much bread.

One more note. Be sure to roll out your dough fairly thin to get as many layers as possible of the yummy cinnamon-sugar filling.

Click HERE for the recipe.



Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Another Eggless Recipe to Try: Strawberry Oatmeal Bars

I got THIS recipe from The Pioneer Woman (beware: she's a wild woman!). Of course, I don't follow directions (I just couldn't add all that butter or sugar!) so here's what I ended up making...



Strawberry Preserve Oatmeal Bars


INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 stick of butter (almost 1/2 of what the recipe called for!)

2/3 cup applesauce

~3 T honey (I didn't measure! Oops!)

a few healthy sprinkles of cinnamon

1.5 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1.5 cups (or a bit more) oats

a little less than a 10-oz jar of strawberry preserves

WHAT I DID:

Mix butter and brown sugar together till smooth. Add applesauce and stir.

Add salt, baking powder, flour. Mix till smooth and then add oats.

Once all combined, pour 1/2 of the oat mixture into a buttered 8" dish and then spread the preserves over evenly.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool completely and cut into squares.

NEXT TIME...

~ I'll keep the butter cold. I melted my butter and so it turned out kinda cake-like.
~ I'll try to decrease the butter even more.
~ I'll add a bit of vanilla to see if that makes a difference.
~ I'll decrease the sugar a smidge.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Coffee Slow-Cooker Roast

This may be a no-brainer for most of you but I had no idea people actually used COFFEE to cook meat. Anyway, seeing how I've become HIGHLY fond (okay, really addicted, slightly!) of that "black gold" I had to give it a shot. I've made it twice with a few differences because of what I had on hand but overall, very simple and very flavorful. And if you don't dig coffee, trust me when I tell you you can't taste it at all! I was actually wondering if the kids would notice but... NOPE! And it didn't keep them awake either!

BASIC COFFEE SLOW-COOKER ROAST

INGREDIENTS

1 Beef roast (I used a 1.5 lb the first time and a 3 lb roast the 2nd time)
2 - 4 cups coffee (nice and STRONG!!! amount depends on how much gravy you want)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 large onion quartered

Any other vegetables that sound good (green pepper, garlic, celery, carrots)
½ cup beef broth (omitted this the 2nd time b/c I didn't have any on hand)
~ 1/4 cup flour to thicken the gravy (used whole wheat)
~ 1/4 cup water for the gravy (depends on how much liquid you used and how thick you want your gravy)

Any other seasonings that sound good (rosemary, basil, chili powder, etc.)

DIRECTIONS

1- Brew your strong coffee


2- Cut onion (and any other veggies) and place in bottom of slow cooker

3- Wash roast and place on top of onion (and other veggies). Pour brewed coffee on top.

4- Slow cook on HIGH for 6 hours. Turn once or twice.

5- Add beef broth after ~3 hours (if using)

6- Once beef is done, remove and shred/cut. While beef is out of pot, turn cooker on LOW.

7- Mix flour and water (and any other seasonings) in small measuring cup till no lumps and add to sauce to thicken up. Add meat back to slow cooker and cook till thick (or till dinnertime!).

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Amazing Homemade Wheat Bread!

It's been a busy morning here in Whitneyville. We're anticipating hearing some exciting news (one day soon!) of the newest addition to the Whitney clan as Freeman and Jenny are expecting their first little one at any time! If they come to your mind, please do pray for a safe arrival for Baby Whitney and health for the new Mommy Whitney. And to F & J, in case you read this, we are praying for you guys!!!

Aside from waiting for some exciting news like that, the kiddos had an early playdate at Nat and Hanna's (our care group leaders) so that Daddy could go to work (he had a 9 am meeting) and Mama could get her back cracked (she went to her first chiropractor care session).

Now that we're all home, I'm thinking about what I think about too often... FOOD!!!!!!! And I couldn't resist sharing this AMAZING WHEAT BREAD recipe. Another recipe on Cinnamon Bread is forthcoming!)

Why is it AMAZING??? A few reasons...

1- It's ridiculously easy to make. And that's coming from me, someone who is not a baker. But I am learning!

2- It's ridicuously sweet, soft, and even delicious the next day.

3- It doesn't leave you with all this bread you've gotta figure out how to eat before it goes bad. It's a recipe for ONE loaf! Yipee!

4- It's HEALTHY!!!!

No need to make this any longer. Here's the link to the original recipe.

My NOTES:

1- I added a BIT more brown sugar and honey. Just a smidge though. I wasn't sure it would really be sweet. But my Hubby thought is was delicious and didn't put any jam on it!

2- I messed up by adding the first six ingredients together along with the yeast. Oops! I'm bad at reading directions. Oh well! Not a first on my part. Too much going on around here.

3- I nuked my water to make sure it was warm and it was probably nuked too long. Again, oh well! The bread did come out fine.

4- I had to add a bit more flour. Likely b/c of the previous mess-ups I made!

5- My bread never doubled in size. I was worried but needed to throw it in the oven anyway b/c dinnertime was quickly approaching. I was shocked to see it rise!

Let me know if you decide to make it. It really is a great bread to serve with your dinner! I think I'll bake another loaf now that I'm thinking about it! Taa Taa!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Barriers Now Opportunities

At various times this week I had interactions with people who only spoke Spanish and I really was troubled by my lack of ability to communicate with them. I desperately want to learn Spanish. Indeed, if we are calling this house 'home' for even the near-future (though we have no intentions of ever moving again) it seems it would behoove me to learn Spanish. So, I'm trusting the Lord to open up an avenue that would allow me to learn conversational Spanish.

But, let me share the interactions with you.


#1 - At the park with a friend. Two of our three are in the sandbox with some children we do not know. I look over and see an older boy gently yet pulling Joshua. Joshua pulls away in the other direction. I walk over and say something like, "What's the problem?" or "What's going on?"


The boy then stops and looks questioningly at me. Joshua's hand goes up to his lip as his eyes stare down at the sand, nervously. Both looks are familiar yet I can't figure out what the problem was or why the boy was tugging Joshua. I ask Joshua if he's being kind and he ever so quietly says a quivering, "Yes." Not sure he's telling me the truth. I ask the boy, "Is he being kind?" Finally, I hear the boy's voice say something I can not understand... at all.


Oh no! No hable espanol! (Don't laugh! I don't even know if I'm typing that correctly!)


#2 - The two little girls we've been playing smile-tag with for a few weeks are out at the same time we are. Saraina and Kadin are very intrigued and want to go up close but nervously come back quickly to homebase, me. I silently thank God for kids' curiousity for I would've stayed in my fear and not moved from my chair. But, nervously I get up. What's the fear all about? I don't like when adult strangers approach my kiddos so I just am (overly, perhaps) aware of how the Mom may feel awkward with my engaging them in a conversation and asking them to play in our yard. But, again, I quickly find out they only "hable espanol."

What opportunities I have though, Lord. Help me to be focused on You, the God of the universe who holds all things in the palm of His hand. Open my eyes to see where You are at work and increase my desire, compassion, and trust so that I can be used by You in just where You would have me. May I not miss out on the opportunities You are providing me, allowing me to join You in kingdom work. For Your glory alone!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Enjoying our Time Inside and Outside

We have spent a good little bit of $$ on our backyard lately. Each week the month of April we seem to have added something to it. And what a blessing it is using our backyard this year! I have no idea how things will be once Baby #4 arrives but as of now, we are using our little backyard space and loving it! In fact, we are taking advantage of having this house! It was not that long ago when we lived on the third floor of our beloved, little condo back in MD. Sweet memories, indeed, but we cannot help but thank God for "expanding our territory!" And now, to invite the neighbors!!!!


Below please find random pics of the kids during the second part of April. Enjoy!



Daddy and Kadin. Kadin gets a kick out of talking on the play phone that came with the Clubhouse.
This sandtable has been a BIG hit! I was so nervous that I made a poor purchase. I got it from Craigslist and William got a $2.50 bag of cheap-o sand. This proves how much kids enjoy building, creating, exploring with their hands. All three play at the sandtable for a LONG time. My handy hubby hopes to build an actual sandbox later this spring/summer! Oooooo!!!!!

Kadin has gotten into coloring lately. And he also likes sitting at big bro's desk.

Outside on the Clubhouse Climber...

Just playing in the rain! Of course, they got sick after this and we had to miss church the next day. Bummer. But, what a joy to see and hear them delight in part of God's amazing world!
Hello? It's me, Saraina...



Saraina-bug...

Before we got the sandtable this is what they did. They pulled up our grass and "made dinner." And this was another Craiglist find, a kid picnic table with umbrella.
Joshua mixing his food very carefully.
Saraina's turn...
We got tulips! Who knew!? Oh- and wild violets!



The first tulips in our yard were located right in front of our broken basement window. How funny is that!








More flowers...






THE THREESOME SHOTS


KADIN (THE MANIMAL) SHOTS






SARAINA-BUG SHOTS






JOSHUA