Wednesday, December 30, 2009


"The woe and the waste and the tears of life belong to the interlude
and not to the finale."
-F.B. Meyer

Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens;
and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's not a fruitcake

Believe it or not, it is not a fruitcake. Can you guess what it is?

It is our nativity set readied and waiting to be put in the attic. (Bet you feel really silly now.)

When we took the meager decorations for this Christmas (two wreaths, one nativity set and one 18 inch pre-decorated tree) down from the attic, the overabundance of dust was killing me. My right eye was red, itchy and swollen halfway shut for 2 days.

It was so bad, people were staring at me in public.

And not in a you-are-a-hot-mama kind of way.

I have a secret weapon for avoiding this debacle next year.

First is to lose a little weight. Second is this...

Plastic wrap.

But not any old plastic wrap, nosirreeeebob! See the word "professional" up there? Yup, that's me. A pro at wrapping. I am such a pro, you can almost sometimes let me demonstrate my expertise in a court of law. Fo shizzle.

Safe and sound and snug as a dust mite in a Christmas tree skirt. This wrapped tree will then be stored in a red plastic bin (red bins are only for Christmas things-- makes it easier to find for next year). I'll let you know next year if it helped. Assuming I remember.

Don't be jealous that you didn't get this brilliant idea before me. You may borrow it if you like. They say that copying is the greatest form of flattery.

Have you put your decorations away yet? Are you a stickler like some people and have to have "Christmas" put away ASAP? Or are you the type that will be trying to convince everyone that these are very special "Valentine's Day" decorations?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Closer Look

It's finally beginning...

to look...

like Christmas!

Look closer...

and you will find...

that there is so much more than just lights and sparkle.

There is so much more than just a baby in a manger.

The Son of God came down to earth to become the son of an ordinary man, to be born in an ordinary stable, to come from an ordinary town... and all to do something so completely extraordinary!

He came to save YOU. And ME.

Can you imagine what would've happened if Jesus Christ had never been born?!

I'd like to share with you the entry for December 25th of Streams in the Desert.

(Read to the end... it's worth it!)

"A few years ago a striking Christmas card was published, with the title, "If Christ had not come." It was founded upon our Savior's words, "If I had not come." The card represented a clergyman falling into a short sleep in his study on Christmas morning and dreaming of a world into which Jesus had never come.

In his dream he found himself looking through his home, but there were no little stockings in the chimney corner, no Christmas bells or wreaths of holly, and no Christ to comfort, gladden and save. He walked out on the public street, but there was no church with its spire pointing to heaven. He came back and sat down in his library, but every book about the Savior had disappeared.

A ring at the doorbell, and a messenger asked him to visit a poor dying mother. He hastened with the weeping child and as he reached the home, he sat down and said, "I have something here that will comfort you." He opened his Bible to look for a familiar promise, but it ended at Malachi, and there was no gospel and no promise of hope and salvation, and he could only bow his head and weep with her in bitter despair.

Two days afterward he stood beside her coffin and conducted the funeral service, but there was no message of consolation, no word of glorious resurrection, no open heaven, but only "dust to dust, ashes to ashes," and one long eternal farewell. He realized at length that "He had not come" and burst into tears and bitter weeping in his sorrowful dream.

Suddenly he awoke with a start, and a great shout of joy and praise burst from his lips as he heard his choir singing in his church close by:

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,

O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem;

Come and behold Him, born the King of Angels,

O come let us adore Him, Christ, the Lord.

Let us be glad and rejoice today, because "He
has come." And let us remember the anunciation of the angel, "Behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people, for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11)."

Isn't that amazing?! Let us remember that Christmas is not just about the birth of Jesus Christ, but that He chose to be born, so that He could die, so that WE may LIVE. With hope. Eternally.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Traditions

I am #2 out of five children in my family and we are spread out on both coasts of the country-- California, Oregon, two in New York and yours truly in the Lone Star State (that's Texas for those that haven't seen the commercials).

Throw in marriage, children, pregnancy, in-law's, jobs, distance, money and time (or lack thereof) into the mix and you find that family gatherings where we are ALL together become more difficult with each passing year.

So we have learned to take turns!

This year, my sisters and brother (and their families) are sharing Christmas together, while Thanksgiving was spent with our in-law's. Next year we will all get together for Thanksgiving and spend Christmas with our in-law's.

It has been an easy way to guarantee at least one full family reunion a year. :)

This year we'll be minus one sister and her familia. But she's got a good excuse.

We think Lulu will make her appearance before 2009 is over. Maybe we should take bets on when her birthdate will be? If I win, I think baby's name should be Lucy Marsha. I know it doesn't flow at all, but that's not important right?

The Hodges family Christmas traditions are a simple mix of both old and new. Pizza and presents on Christmas Eve (so no one has to cook). Christmas Day has stockings filled with goodies, a traditional turkey dinner, and a birthday cake for Jesus.

There is Santa on Christmas morning for the ones that choose to do the whole ho-ho-ho thing. Personally, we don't with our kids and have taught them to not ruin it for their cousins. Kinda makes me nervous though! I think I need to remind them again (pretty much every single day) to not blow Santa's cover. Yikes.

What does Christmas look like at your house? Any tips on fusing traditions from different families together?

The theme of this week's challenge at I Heart Faces is Holiday Traditions. Pop on over to I Heart Faces to join in the fun or to read and see other people's entries!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chocolate Chip PB Cup Cookies

With only 2 ingredients, Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cups are a favorite treat in our house!

Hello, fellow female. I'm glad we can ignore the boys and make cookies together today. They are too busy playing video games to even notice that this recipe makes almost 3 dozen cookie cups.

Between you and me, we'll just tell them that it only makes one dozen.

Ready to see the magical duo?

One tube chocolate chip cookie dough. One bag mini peanut butter cup candy.

(Or homemade if you have more time on your hands than I do.)

Divvy up the doughy goodness into greased mini muffin pans.

Resist the urge to eat the raw dough. It is bad for you!

Or so "they" say.

Personally, I like to live on the edge.

Bake in 350 degree oven until nice and golden. For us, that takes 11 minutes and 23 seconds.

While you are waiting on the cookies to bake, unwrap one bag of mini peanut butter cups. We throw budget out the window and go for the big dog of pb cups-- it's Reese's, baby!

If you waited until 11 minutes and 24 seconds to remove the cookies from the oven, fret not. All is not lost.

Just don't let it happen again.

You have to listen very very closely to this part. Remove the cookies from the oven and IMMEDIATELY(!!!) push a pb cup right in the middle of the hot cookies!

(If you are doing this with your kidlets, be careful with the hot pans.)

Let the cookies cool completely before removing. Since I have waited long enough by this step, I like to throw the pans in the freezer to move things along more quickly.

(Do you recognize this pic from Thanksgiving? When my helper and I made them this time around, we ate them all up before I realized that I didn't take a pic! No biggie. Except for my gut anyway.)


11 oz bag mini peanut butter cup candy (unwrapped)
16.5 oz tube of chocolate chip cookie dough

YIELD: 33 cookie cups
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease the bottoms of 3 mini muffin tins (a total of 3 dozen cups).
  3. Fill each cup to 2/3 full with cookie dough.
  4. Bake for approximately 11 minutes, or until cookies are done.
  5. Remove from oven and immediately push one peanut butter cup into the center of each cookie.
  6. Cool completely before removing from pan.
  7. Eat up before everyone else figures out they are done!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Jacket

I bought new hoodies for Austin and Noah the other day. As I went to hang them in the front closet, I noticed the brown one with sleeves shorter than all the others.

I remember the last time Christian wore that jacket. It was on our trip to Buffalo, NY the weekend before he passed away.

(Notice his backup blankie?)

When I took his jacket out, I saw a white spot on the sleeve. At first I thought it was paint. The closer I looked, the more I realized it was toothpaste.

I couldn't help it. I just HAD to smell it.

(I know, how weirdo is that?!)

But I did it anyway.

It brought to mind thoughts and memories of Christian's last visit to the dentist the week before... how he picked out sunglasses to wear under the bright exam lights... how they said he had perfect teeth... and how excited he was to have his own silly old floss card.

As my nose got closer to that toothpastey spot, I remembered the eskimo kisses that we shared at bedtime. My nose touching his nose, followed by tickles and laughs and him always asking "Way down with me, mommy? Pweeease?"

Ack. Who could resist that combined with that grin of his?!

I always said yes. And my intentions of only lying down with him for a minute or two were always foiled! I wouldn't trade those minutes (or hours...) for anything.

Austin and Noah have outgrown all of their clothes and shoes over the past 16 months. I look at them and it is easy to imagine the kind of men they will be one day.

What is difficult for me is the realization that Christian will forever be 3 years and 9 months old in my mind.

He will always fit that jacket... the jacket that seems smaller and smaller with each passing day.

" know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." - James 4:14

Be ready for the morrow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Even more

Today I came to the realization that God loves Christian even more than I do.

And that is saying A LOT.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Heart Faces: Pets Only

I think there is some truth to the idea that over time, you might start looking more and more like your pet. What do you think?

Mosey on over to I Heart Faces to see even more pet pics!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The yucky day

I was eating a hot dog the other day and thought a bit of mayo had dropped onto my hand. So I did what any classy southern girl would do-- I licked it off.

Except it wasn't mayo.

It was this:

Blech! Patooie! Soap tastes gross, y'all.

Especially when I didn't even do anything bad to deserve it. Like the time I called my sister the f-dash-dash-dash word while sitting on the swingset in the backyard circa 1981.

"Green tea extract" my foot! It did not taste anything like green tea. OR butter.

Have you ever had your mouth washed out with soap? If so, what did you do to deserve it?

(Or were you punished for saying a word that you really didn't know was bad, it just somehow came out of your mouth when your big sister made you really mad? If I told you that Dial soap tastes even worse than Bath & Body Works, would I be considered a connoisseur?)

And was there a real washing of the mouth involved or did you just have to bite down on the bar of soap a la Ralphie in "A Christmas Story"?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Layered Chicken Enchiladas

A cheesy family favorite, this dish uses convenience items to make dinner a snap to prepare!

It's amazing how so few ingredients, can be combined to make kid and husband friendly gooey-goodness.


  • corn tortillas
  • 16 oz cooked, diced chicken (I like to use fajita chicken)
  • 16 oz shredded monterrey jack cheese
  • 1 - 15 oz can green chile enchilada sauce*
Yield: one 8x8 pan (or double for 9x13 pan)

1. Heat oven to 350.
2. Spray bottom of an 8x8 square baking pan with oil.
3. Layer corn tortillas, 8 oz diced chicken, 1/2 can green enchilada sauce, 8 oz shredded monterrey jack cheese.
4. Repeat layers. For variety, you can use pepperjack for one layer, although it is too dry of a cheese to use on both layers.
5. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
6. Serve immediately. Would be delicious served with black beans and corn salsa!

Cut the corn tortillas into squares. This makes it easier to dish out of the pan than a single round piece would be.

Place a single layer of the tortillas in the bottom of a greased baking dish. Look at how cozy the squares look. Since we don't want to discriminate, be sure not to waste the odd triangular-ish guys.

Add ze chicken. I like to use John Soul's Fajita Chicken Breast Strips.

(Anyone else have the Souuuuul Train song in their head now? Anyone else old enough to know what Soul Train is?)

Drizzle half the can of green chile enchilada sauce evenly over the top.

*I use Old El Paso brand because it is a relatively mild green enchilada sauce. The Hispanic brands are generally spicier, so choose according to your heat preference.

Now it's time to spread 1 cup of the shredded cheese. I like to use monterrey jack but you can do a Mexican blend or some pepper jack for a kick.

Repeat the layers of tortilla and the rest of the chicken, enchilada sauce and cheese.

You can stop here, cover and put it in the fridge to bake later if you like. Just be sure to bring it to room temp or add extra minutes to the baking time.

If you are hungry, just pop it uncovered into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly and hot.

Like me.


I kid! I kid!

Serve immediately. Ideally, you would serve it with something fresh and healthy like a salad. But since we aren't fresh or healthy at our house, we just eat it with corn.

I KNOW. We are so very bad.

I think extra jalapenos, corn salsa or even black beans would make a nice addition. This is a rather gooey dish so if you can think of something crunchy to add, feel free!

Enjoy this warm, ooey-gooey-goodness on a cold day. Or if it's summer when you finally get around to making this dish, just crank up the a/c and let me know if you like it or not.

This is one of the few dishes that tastes just as good or better reheated than it does fresh out of the oven!

Review: Robot Wars

I am always on the lookout for well-written books that would appeal to my boys. No Avonlea or Grandma's Attic for us! Nope, we need more adventure to capture our attention.

While our usual genre is historical fiction, I was excited to receive a copy of a science fiction book to review-- Robot Wars: Death Trap by Sigmund Brouwer.

Death Trap is the first book in the Robot Wars series that chronicles the adventures of 14-year-old Tyce Sanders. Tyce is a virtual reality specialist that lives in an experimental science station on Mars.

From the very first paragraph, Austin was drawn into the story of Tyce, robots, aliens and the how the space station is running out of oxygen. I asked Austin (10yo) what he thought of the story.

"I really liked how he could control a robot with his mind! I can't believe they had a space station on Mars. I think the creepiest part was when..."

Sorry, I had to leave out the rest of what he said. I don't want to give the story away!

I will say that *I* enjoyed reading this book as well! Not only did I find the story to be modern and exciting, but the personal relationships in the story were both interesting and complex. Like they would be in real life.

Tyce struggles with his belief in God-- a struggle that is all too common in those that have a love of science and an interest in the vastness of the universe. This is not a preachy book where God is oddly and overtly plopped right into the middle of it all. Rather, Mr. Brouwer weaves faith in a logical and natural way in the story. Much like how we as Christian parents would and should breach the subject with our own children... naturally, not forcibly.

I think this book would make a great gift for your tween, teen or reluctant reader. While I was given a complimentary copy of this book to review, we will definitely be purchasing the rest of this series for Christmas this year!

While you are checking out Sigmund Brouwer's site, your kids can check out Tyce's interactive site to learn more about the universe, God, science and Mars.

Did I mention that it only took Austin 2 days to read this 267 page book? He was that interested in it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Heart Faces: Sweet Dreams

This week's theme at I Heart Faces is "Sweet Dreams."

Car sickness, fighting for arm rests and constant noise is quickly forgotten when this sweet scene is beheld in the back of the momma-mobile.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Fighting for Joy

After writing Christian's birthday post, I had an entire week that was full of just plain joy. It was like breathing the air of summer after months of winter.

Thanksgiving came and I was still full.

Later that afternoon, Austin was hovering around me and constantly giving me hugs and telling me he loved me. While much of this is normal for my affectionate 10 year old, there was a quietness about him that told me something was bothering him. When I asked him what was wrong, tears immediately filled his eyes. He squeezed me tighter.

I just miss Christian! He was such a good brother! No matter what we're doing, I think about him all the time!


Me too, baby.

I have a whole list of things I miss about Christian...

  • -How he'd say "Awww... dang it!"

  • -His constant shooting sounds.

  • -Always playing with the water hose.

  • -The door slamming in the hallway and him shuffling up to us with his thumb in his mouth and blankie in his hand. Then he'd say "Can't sweep. Boys make too much noise!" No matter that his brothers were already fast asleep!

  • -He would always correct me if I accidentally said "Here you go, baby." His reply was always "I big boy. You fowgot, mommy!"

  • -Whenever David was home, Christian would be sure to ask me "Are these my work clothes, mommy? I need my work clothes!" He was always daddy's little helper and buddy, especially while the big boys and I were having school.

I think my list could go on forever.

I have many friends that are mourning the loss of sons, husbands, and parents right now. This will be their first Christmas with their precious family member missing. I am sure they too could write an endless list!

No words of mine can take their hurt away. Only Jesus can give them peace in their hearts and joy in their sorrow. Sometimes God uses other resources to comfort, like this poem from Streams in the Desert today.

E'en for the dead I will not bind my soul to grief,
Death cannot long divide.
For is it not as though the rose that climbed my garden wall
Has blossomed on the other side?
Death doth hide,
But not divide;
Thou art but on Christ's other side!
Thou art with Christ, and Christ with me;
In Christ united still are we.

I can't hold Christian's hand right now or feel the weight of him in my arms. No more tickles, water balloons or jumping on the trampoline. No more sneaking into our bed in the middle of the night or exclaiming how his thumb is wrinkly like a raisin.

Still, I am thankful for the memory of those tickles and giggles, the wet of the balloons and the funny spazziness of his bounces and games on the trampoline.

There is one thing that we do have, that we can do together-- and that is to worship and praise God! If we know Christ personally, death does not divide! This is but a temporary separation.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:15,16)

By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (Hebrews 13:15)

And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. (John 16:22)

When your heart is bursting with grief, offering up praise is a sacrifice. It is a sacrifice in that we must look past our hurting heart, past the here and now. Yes, we have sorrow now but one day our faith will be sight! Our hearts shall rejoice! And that joy no man can take from us.

Let us praise Him and thank Him in all things. This is how we FIGHT FOR JOY!!!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wrandom Wednesday

Cease and desist on the rolling of your eyes at the title of my post. You know you love yourself some bullet pointed (bulleted point?) wrandomness!

+Sometimes I am not the only girl in the house. It's fun to do girly things like crafts and painting and baking. I know that you can do this kind of stuff with boys too, but it's more peaceful with girls.

They don't make sound effects.

+ Do you think it's sad to be completely excited over a poster?

What if the poster was this one? (Or dost thou discriminate against all-things-geeky?)

I am going to get this for my boys.
I am even going to wrap it.

Not to worry, it'll be a more attractive gift when I throw these into the bundle to use as placemats!

(You may now breathe your collective sighs of relief. You're welcome.)

+ I thought it was momentous to leave my boys at home alone so I could go get donuts the other day. Karen has me beat though. Her 9 year old left today to go to the Congo for a month! But he's going with his daddy so no need to worry about all of that unaccompanied minor stuff... or that it's a very long flight to Africa(!). I love missionary families-- their sacrifice and courage and willingness to give all to tell others about Jesus. And most of the ones I have met are fun and interesting and complete awesome-neighbor-material! (Are you reading this, Amy?)

+ Christmas cards might be a complete no-go this year. I just can't work with these people!

David looks really mean. And Noah? Very thrilled to be here.

Too bright! Too bright! And Noah? His poor head is almost cut off.

Too blurry, too bright and too goobery. And Noah? He blends into the crowd with this shot. (Austin? Don't ask.)

Ah well. At least it's proof that the poster of the Periodic Table of Elements isn't so far fetched of a gift idea after all!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My momentous morning

I felt compelled to write about today. More specifically, this morning Sunday, November 29th, 2009 at our house.

Even more specifically, what occurred from 8:35am to 8:45am this morning.


As in full blown home alone!

Except this was on purpose and I didn't get all the way to France before I noticed they weren't with me.

Yup, I ventured out to our neighborhood gas station to get a couple of things.

I bet you are wondering what sort of things...

But if you have known me for any length of time, you know that much of my life revolves around food (and coffee) and totally saw that coming.

(FYI, the gas station also houses a Church's Chicken and is adjacent to a tatoo parlor that also does teeth whitening and a donut shop. I had to tell you because it's funny.)

For those that haven't reached the "leave my kids alone for a second" stage, here are some details that might put your worrying heart at ease (ahem, mom and dad/grandma and grandpa!).

My boys are 10 and 8. We have 2 dogs, our property is gated, we have an alarm and fire detection system and we live a bit in the country. Having said that, I don't think I would venture much further than the gas station that is 1/2 mile down the road. At least not yet. While the law is that you can't leave children alone in the car unless they are 14 years old or have a sibling that has reached that age accompanying them in said vehicle, apparently there is no minimum age for leaving them at home. I also required them to stay inside the house and only answer the phone if David or I called.

Wow, all that for milk and donuts?!

My boys thought it was totally worth it. And for me, it was a first step towards training them to be independent.

Who am I kidding? It was a first step towards training ME to LET them be independent!

How old were your children when you first ventured out with them at home? Did you have any special rules? Did you venture very far?