Monday, December 17, 2012

When Dolly is Defiant

We called it right when we gave Brooke the title of Diva while I was pregnant. She had the little neck roll, hand in the air, "whatever" down at a very early age. What was so cute and silly when she was 2 is not so cute at 5. I will admit, she gets it from her momma. I am was a handful at times. Having a good attitude and be respectful is something we are working hard at these days, and Brooke has been doing a lot better. But recently, Dolly has been having some trouble with it.

Dolly's time out spot in the kitchen cabinet.

In an effort to speak her mind, without worry of getting in trouble, Brooke has been using her toys and stuffed animals as her scape-goats. At first I didn't know how to handle it, because I know that the disobedience is coming from her heart and it isn't just "play". So I sat her and her toy down, and I let her lead the discussion with Dolly about why her actions were not good. Initially, she thought it was funny and that I was just playing into her game, but then I reminded her what happens when SHE acts this way, and it was off to time out Dolly went. Now this was as much a punishment for her as it was Dolly, because now she didn't have her toy to play with. After this little exercise, I was able to see how much she really is understanding, and the things that are still being lost in translation. I now know what is truly being defiant and what areas I need to show a little grace and forgiveness for.

It also leaves me wondering, how many times do I try to blame my disobedience on an outside source, maybe even unintentionally. I am so thankful that God shows us grace, but also that he points those areas out to us in a loving way, because honestly, I just want to make my Daddy happy, just like I know Brooke wants to make me happy.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Pizza Night!

It's Friday, which means it's pizza night here in the Ham house. We try to spend Friday nights at home as a family. Brooke and I make homemade pizzas, Maddux mixes up a salad and Daddy gets Ellie Grace ready for bed early. When dinner is ready, we all pile on the couch and pop in a movie (tonight its "The Grinch"). Yes, this is a tradition I hope we keep for years and years to come! We make our pizzas from scratch for 2 reasons, 1) it's cheaper and 2) it tastes better. I am aways on the look out for new topping combinations, but we have been stuck on this "White Pizza" for a while now. I initially looked up a recipe for it, but now we just wing it. (hmm, just made me think... maybe we should try a take on hot wing pizza next week). Focus Kelli! Anyway, here is my recipe.

Loaded down with chicken, spinach and cheese... it's a hearty meal without being too heavy.

White Pizza

2 to 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
white cheese ( I use a mixture of mozzarella and Monterrey jack cheese)
bunch of fresh spinach or small package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
salt and pepper to taste
homemade pizza dough (below)

Over medium-high heat, drizzle a large skillet with olive oil and add onion and garlic. Saute until onions become translucent (3-5 minutes). Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook the chicken through (10-15 minutes), remove from heat. Spread olive oil over the dough, add the chicken mixture. Top with a few handfuls of spinach and then cheese. If you really want to kick it up a notch you can also sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Pop it in a preheated (350 degrees) oven for 20 minutes. The last two minutes or so, I like to turn the oven on broil to get a nice golden hue to the cheese and crust.

Pizza Dough

3 cups All-Purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 cup  hot, tap water
1 package active dry yeast

In a large bowl, mix together flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl or cup, dissolve yeast in hot water for about a minute. Add yeast mixture and oil to the flour and mix (don't be afraid to get your hands in there and get dirty!). On a floured surface, knead dough slightly, then roll or press dough into a pizza pan or shallow cookie sheet. Top as desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. No rising needed!

There you have it, easy as pizza pie!

Do have any weekly traditions or rituals with your family? I would love to here from you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ministries for SAHM's

In my late teens and early twenties, I spent a lot of time serving in different ministries at our home church. It was my passion. My own life had been so impacted by others who had invested in me, I wanted God to use me in the same way. Then, I had our first daughter, we did some moving (4 times in the first 4 years of marriage to be exact), and I stopped serving all together. My ministry had become motherhood. I am so thankful that God has blessed me with the chance to make this my full time mission field but I still felt this desire to be serving my church family as well. I also feel like it is SUPER important for our children to see us being an active member of the Body of Christ. So I began praying about areas where I can serve, without taking away from my family.

One of my middle school girls, Caroline, all grown up. I have been so blessed by my time as their Sunday School leader.

Providing Meals- The women's ministry in our church organizes Care Calendars for families that have just had a baby, lost a family member or has been very sick. I never realized how important this was until I was on the receiving end of it after Ellie Grace was born. This is probably the easiest one for me and the one that my kids can actually help with. I usually just make a double portion of what my own family is having. I let my littles wash fruit or bake some goodies to pack up and I take them with me to drop the food off. In most cases, the families are not up for a lengthy visit, so we just hand it over at the door and make our way back home for our own dinner. I try to leave any instruction on a little note, just in case they don't eat it the night it is delivered. If something comes up, you can always call in something for delivery.

Prayer Warrior- Sometimes we will have people at church announce prayer requests or praises they would like to have lifted up. But for the "smaller" (nothing is too small or too big for God) everyday requests we tend to keep them to ourselves. Whenever God places someone on my heart or when I see a new mommy who looks just as frazzled as me, I try to make it a point to ask them "how can I pray for you?". I know that I have needed prayer but felt that it was too silly to ask for it, when I finally do, God comes to my rescue. Not that I am saying God can't answer my prayers before they are lifted up, but I think sometimes he is just waiting for me to humble myself and ask for help. Case in point, when Brooke was 2, I was struggling with potty training her. It was my first time doing it and was at a loss. I was talking to another mother about it and she asked me to be praying for her and her son who were going through the same struggles. I was amazed that she was praying for potty training!!! I thought I was the only one! So we started praying for each other as mothers and for our children, wouldn't you know that in less than a month both kids were completely out of diapers!

Mentorship- This is something that I have gotten most out of practice doing. Most of us know that God calls us, in Titus, to mentor younger women. Sometimes we think that this is just for the "elder" women in church but it is for all of us. There is always a younger woman to reach out to. It doesn't have to be anything super formal. In fact, I have found that the less formal, the better. Prayerfully consider who God would like you to invest in and make a connection with her. Invite her over to your house to hang out, take her to grab a coffee before church one Sunday, ask her to come with you to the grocery store, go watch her cheer at a football game. I know initiating the relationship can be intimidating, but what she really needs is an older friend she can talk to. Most of us have faced similar issues and insecurities, she needs to know you can come out on the other side a stronger person. I know one of the things I worried about when I taught middle school girls was that they would ask me a question and I wouldn't have an answer, but I learned that it's ok. God can teach you through them. When you honestly say "I don't know, but lets figure it out together." It shows them that we are still learning, we are human and only God has the all the answers. We show them that we love them and care about what is going on in their lives so much, that we are willing to devote our time to helping them find the answers. Just make sure you keep her trust. If there is something that you feel her parents should know about, offer to stand by her while she tells them. If she refuses, prayerfully consider how God would have you handle the situation.

All of these can be done in your home, with your children, and can have an eternal impact. I truly feel like you are blessed ten fold when you devote time to blessing others.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ready to Step Out

I started this blog almost 4 years ago. I had been a stay-at-home mom for a year and a half and wanted a place to share pictures of our family and document our journey. I have been posting a bit here and there throughout that time. I started another blog for a little while, as I wanted to get into design and event planning, it was pretty short lived. But lately I have been feeling like I need to focus "This Little Piggy". I began praying about what I should do. I am putting my voice out there for the world to read, but what is it saying?? What do I want to put my focus and energy into?? I still want to share our families journey, but more than that, I want to share how God is working in and around us. I want the words that are put here to glorify God. I want to write Truth and encourage others. I want to share fellow believers journeys as they are following after Our Heavenly Father. I want document my continuing testimony of Christ's love and grace in my life. I want my life and ministry to be an overflow of Christ's love into my family, my community and the world.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45

It is my prayer that God will use this little blog to impact someones life, even if it's just my own.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

God's Grace Delivered

I have never really mentioned much about my pregnancy with Elliot. I didn't know how to put into words all that happened and what I was feeling. As I spend time thinking about Jesus and the grace that God gave us all through His birth, death and resurrection, my mind goes the grace that God showed me through Elliot's birth.

Matt and I stared trying to get pregnant in April of 2011. I had gotten pregnant with the first two without even trying so we were expecting to conceive fairly quickly. Three months in, without a positive test, I had become defeated and desperate. Every night I spent hours praying that we would get pregnant, for patience while we waited and for contentment if we never did. I started following an ovulation calendar, but even when we did everything science said would work, we got nowhere (this just goes to prove how much pregnancy is a miracle). In the middle of my struggle, the unthinkable happened... we lost our sweet niece, Desi, at 34 weeks gestation. This was extremely hard for our whole family, our eyes had been opened to fact that there are no guaranties in life. Even while mourning, my heart ached for my own child, the missing piece to our puzzle. We quietly continued trying until November came around. I knew that the absolute last thing I wanted was to get pregnant at the end of November and be due around Desi's birthday, it wouldn't be fair for my sister or my baby, but God had other plans. Just before Christmas I got the double lines I had prayed so hard for, but the news was met with many mixed emotions from everyone, including us. My tears and prayers of longing had turned into tears and prayers of anger and fear. How could this be God's timing when so many would be hurt? Why couldn't he have answered my prayers 6 months ago? Would he do to my baby what he had done to my sisters precious baby girl? I spent the first trimester in an angry daze; angry at God, angry at my family and angry at myself. I felt so alone, I had secluded myself. I saw my mood had begun to effect the older two children, so I put on a happy face. I began to convince myself that all would be ok as long as I was having a boy. God put another kink in MY plan and my 20 week appointment revealed a little girl. I tried everything in my power to make things better. I posted her ultrasound pictures around the house, talked to her and rubbed my belly all day, I still could not connect with her the way I did with Brooke and Maddux. I had accepted that she was coming in August, and that she was in fact a girl, but I still lived everyday with the fear that she would be taken from me before I even got to meet her. My prayers became pleas for forgiveness. Asking for protection over my little girl and comfort if I lost her. I wanted so badly to shop for baby items and set up a nursery, but I couldn't stand the idea of coming home to it empty handed. Desi's birthday came and we were able to put all of our focus on remembering her. It felt like God had finally answered one of my prayers and spared me from going into labor that day. A week later I was induced, and as an emotionally and physically draining pregnancy came to a close, I still worried about connecting with this child God was giving us. Then I was given a gift, God's grace. Even though I was so angry with God and doubted him every step of the way, He gave me a healthy, happy, beautiful baby girl. I was blessed with two amazing months of nursing in which that missing bond was built. My love for her is so great that it brings me to tears. It isn't just because of who she is but what she represents, a gift that I surely don't deserve. My God is so good and His timing IS perfect.

Today, my little Ellie Grace turns 4 months old and the last year seems like ancient history.

My Sweet Princess, My Saving Grace.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Warm Bellies!

I love soup,it's a fact! One of my absolute favorite recipes is my moms Broccoli and Cheese soup. This one is so quick and easy, I am planning on using it before candle light service next Christmas Eve. I have modified my moms version slightly to meet my families taste but it is still oh-so-yummy!

Broccoli andCheese Soup

1-32oz box of chicken broth
2- bags of frozen california style veggies
1-package smoked turkey sausage
1-small block Velveeta cheese, cut into small cubes
1-can diced tomatoes (if you like more bite, use a can of Rotel)

In a large pot, bring chicken broth, veggies and sausage to a boil. Turn off heat. Stir in cheese and tomatoes until cheese is creamy. Enjoy!

*Important note: don't bring the cheese to a boil or else it will curdle.

I like to pop a few Sister Scheubert dinner rolls into the oven while the cheese is melting and dinner is done!

I am linking up to Ashley's Holiday Recipe Party at Domestic Fashionista.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Under Construction!

I am going to working on updating the look and feel of my blog. So if you check by and it is a mess, please forgive me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

5 Gifts That Keep Giving

One of my favorite things about Christmas is giving gifts, whether it is a box of little treats for the neighbors, an awesome toy my kids have been asking for all year or shopping for something nice for the moms in my life. I think I get even more excited seeing others open presents, than opening them myself. Those gifts are even more special when I know that they are helping others as well. Here is a list of five companies that help my gifts go the extra mile.

Here is a little bit of what they are about:

 At Noonday Collection, we believe every child belongs in a family. While the owner is no longer raising money for their Rwandan adoption (though they think more adoptions will come), the vision remains the same. We advocate for the orphan by:

◦Providing jobs that create a pathway out of poverty for families. A stable income means a family is less likely to abandon their child.

◦Help families raise money for their own adoptions. We give 10% of trunk show sales directly to the adoptive family when they host a trunk show.

◦Aside from donating 10% towards qualified adoptive families, Noonday Collection also gives towards orphan care and prevention. Watch the video to see one of our beneficiaries.

◦The dream: Take YOU on a trip to visit artisans and visit orphans in their distress.

To read more of their story and check out their gorgeous collection, click here or on the link above!

This ain't your average cup of joe! Just Love goes above and beyond by making sure their coffees are fair and sustainable. They also help adoptive families raise money.

In our first two years of business, we have given away over $200,000 to adopting families, orphan care, and non-profit organizations. Every bag of Just Love Coffee you purchase, every cup you drink at a café, is a blend of coffee and love. Thank you for helping us Share the Love!

To read more about them and their mission, follow this link.

 This sweet girl is donating part of her proceeds to the Moorhouse family to help with their adoption. I love supporting small businesses, it's just a plus that she is willing to help one families call to adopt. Not to mention how cute these prints are! I may need to get one for Elliot's room!
 This company has some of the most beautiful scarves I have ever seen! FashionABLE empowers women fleeing a life of prostitution, creating a better life for themselves and their children. Watch their video story here. Hurry over to view their stock, styles are selling out FAST!

I am loving these super cute bracelets made by at risk youth, paying their way through school. The Threads website says it best:

Threads is a cause driven business that changes the future of at risk youth. They come from various backgrounds, but all have one thing in common, they want to break the cycle. By employing them, we instill values of self reliance and hard work. They are paid fair wages for the bracelets they make, and in turn are able to pay their way through school. Many of Threads employees are first generation college students. They dream of becoming nurses, broadcasters, writers and engineers.

Your purchase will directly impact a student. Even beyond financial support, your belief in them is a symbol of hope and trust that they can achieve what for so long seemed impossible. By purchasing Threads you are wearing more than just a bracelet, you are wearing change.

Check them out here.

Now I would be lying if I said I found all of these shops by on my own, a big thanks to these bloggers who have featured these companies over the last month or so.

All three of these women have awesome stories and faith to move mountains. Check them out when you have time!

Happy Shopping everyone!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Seize the Moment

Stealing a candy cane from the Christmas tree.
Where normally, I would see two little ones getting into candy without asking, I decided to use the moment to help them link the shape of the candy cane to the shepherds at the manger. When it is hard for a babe to compete with Santa, it is nice to find ways to get them excited about the true meaning of Christmas.

It's also a lot more fun being a mommy who doesn't sweat the small stuff... something I should try to do more often.