Cinnamon Orange Fudge

Cinnamon Orange Fudge Recipe | Through Clouded Glass



In my family we have a classic chocolate fudge recipe.  I have no idea where it came from (if I did, I would credit the original recipe here), but it is good stuff!  Even though we traditionally have it at Christmas-time, I sometimes cheat and make it in other seasons as well.

A couple months ago I decided to mix it up a bit, and I came up with this new cinnamon orange fudge recipe - it turned out pretty well!  It has just the right amount of spice to it - I think it would be especially appropriate for the fall or Christmas season.  Even though I'm posting it in January.  Just pretend this is a few months ago.


Cinnamon Orange Fudge


3 cups sugar

1 1/2 sticks margarine

2/3 cup evaporated milk

10 oz. bag cinnamon flavored chips

1/2 bag mini marshmallows

1 tsp orange extract

2/3 cups walnuts (optional)



Cinnamon Orange Fudge Recipe | Through Clouded Glass


1. Grease a 8x8 baking dish and set aside.

2.  Mix together sugar, margarine, and evaporated milk in a saucepan and place over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.

3. Bring to a boil - once mixture is boiling, let it boil untouched for 5 minutes.

4. After five minutes, remove from heat and stir.  Add cinnamon chips and stir until melted (don't freak out of they don't seem to be mixing in well at first, just keep beating mixture until smooth).

5. Quickly stir in 1/2 bag of mini marshmallows until they are melted and mixture is smooth (this takes some elbow grease - your arm will probably get tired).

6. Add in orange extract and walnuts (if desired).

7. Spread in prepared pan.  Mixture should set within 20 minutes.  Cut into squares and enjoy!

Cinnamon Orange Fudge Recipe | Through Clouded Glass



17 Ways To Make Your Oldest Feel Special


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Transitioning from one to two kids can be harder on your first child than it is on you sometimes.  It's a big change to all of a sudden not be the only kid int he house anymore.  Add in to that all the attention that the new baby inevitably gets, and the first child can end up feeling ignored.

Whether your child has a really hard time adjusting or they fall into the role of older sibling with no hiccups at all, they still need to know that they are important.  Here are a few ideas for reminding your first baby that they are still special to you!



1. Sit on the floor and do something your toddler wants to do while the baby naps.

2. Buy some craft supplies.  Put the baby in the pack-and-play for a while, and do a craft together.

3. Recognize all the cute things your oldest does and tell them how adorable they are!  Everyone exclaims over the new baby, make sure you exclaim over both of your kids' cuteness.

4. Give them opportunities to help you with things. Praise them whenever they do!

5. Let them cuddle with you on the couch while you are feeding the baby (no reason you can't snuggle both of them at once).

6. Watch one of their kid movies with them.

7. Make them cookies or some other special treat, and make a big deal about how you are making it especially for them.

8.  Take the opportunity to buy them that apple juice at Starbucks or little toy at the grocery store.  You have limited time left while you only have to buy one thing instead of two!

9.  Take a minute to sing them a silly song or dance with them around the kitchen.

10.  Strap the baby into the carrier and go exploring outside with your toddler.

11. Take them on a "date".  Leave the baby with your husband or other family member, take them to the movies, take them out to eat - do something special just for them.

12. Don't change their bedtime routine after baby - still read to them, sing them a story, pray with them, or whatever else!

13.  Let them climb in bed with you sometimes.

14. Play their music in the car.

15.  Discipline them when they misbehave.  Don't ignore bad behavior just because you have your hands full with the new baby.

16. Treat them like a treasure, not a nuisance.  Even when you are in the middle of something.

17.  Tell them why they are special.  Tell them they are cute, tell them they are sweet, tell them all the things you love about them.

Those are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling, but the bottom line is that little things matter, so look for opportunities to show them you love them just as much as the new baby.  

What things do you do to make your older child{ren} feel special?  If I get enough suggestions I'll compile them into another post!

Blocking Blog Images From Search Engines

I'm still getting back into the swing of things when it comes to the blog after a rather crazy December and my big blog changes I've been implementing.  

To start off with, would you mind voting in a little poll for me?  I'm just trying to get an idea of what you all would like to read about as I get this series going again.  These are topics I've thought about covering - I'll write some of these posts sooner if one of them is more interesting to you guys.  I'd love to hear anything else you'd like to read about as part of this series too, so feel free to let me know what you think!
To jump-start this series in the New Year, I'm going to cover an update to my other post on blocking your images from search engines.

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I've talked before about why I made the decision to attempt to block my blog images from Google, and why I finally decided to put some images on a separate photo blog - in a nutshell, I don't really like pictures of my kids showing up in Google searches.  If seeing your child show up when someone searches for "toddler crafts" or "big brother pictures" bothers you too, read on.

I posted previously about one way to tell search engines not to index your images.  While that method may still work, and I recommend giving it a go, for some reason after Google changed their algorithm it no longer worked for my blog.  I searched high and low for a new method to block images from searches, and I found this helpful information on preventing image indexing.

After implementing this new method in my blog a lot of the images that were showing up again are not now.  Some images of the kids still show up in searches but nearly as many as there were, so I think it's working.

Please read my other post for things to consider before you implement this method - if you want to proceed, here you go:


1. Go to your Blogger Dashboard, then go to Template.

2. Select "Edit HTML".

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3.  Back up your template if you never had before by highlighting all of the text and saving it somewhere!  This way if you accidentally mess something up, you can just paste it back in to fix it.

4. Click in the text box, and then press CTRL-F (or Command-F for Mac).  A little search bar will pop up.

5. Type <head> in the search box and click enter.  The <head> tag in your code will then be highlighted.

6.  Right under the <head> tag, type in this line of code <meta content='noimageindex' name='robots'>.

7.  You need to close off the tag, so scroll down to the end of the head section in your code and find this bit: </head>.  You can also search for it in the search bar if you don't see it.  

8.  Right before the </head> tag, type this:  </meta>.  That closes off the tag so it will work.


Click on the image to enlarge.


9.  Preview your template, and if everything looks good, click save!


Adding this code to your template will tell all search engine robots not to index your images.  However, it does not keep search engines from indexing images from other sites where your posts may show up - so it can still index images from Facebook and Bloglovin.  Just make sure the first image in your posts (that show up in Bloglovin) or any images on your blog Facebook page are images that you don't mind them indexing.

(Click on image for more posts in this series.)

28 Weeks - Baby (Boy) #3


I am seven months pregnant and officially in my third trimester this week!

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I don't know why, but 28 weeks always feels like a good milestone to me.  I always feel pretty-pregnant right around 28 weeks, I know baby's chances of survival go way up at this point, and it feel like the countdown begins.

This week baby is blinking more, with lovely eyelashes growing on his eyelids.  If he's anything like Wyatt and Gwen he'll get those nice thick lashes.  He also can see light through my stomach now!  I don't know why, but I find that exciting.  Maybe I'll have to shine a flashlight at him and see if he reacts at all.

As for me, the third trimester leg cramps and loose joints have started.  I always get these awful muscle cramps in my foot or legs in the third trimester, and my fingers and toes start randomly popping out of their sockets (more than usual, because I have loose joints to start with).  Yes, it hurts.  Not so fun.  One of the pregnancy symptoms that I truly mind.  But it's pretty short-lived, so I can handle it.

I'm still getting occasional Braxton-Hicks contractions, which is funny because this is the first pregnancy where I can really feel them.  With Wyatt I never felt any, and with Gwen it was only at the very end.  My back is feeling so much better than it was, which is a blessing!  I haven't even been to the chiropractor yet, but I haven't had an sciatic nerve pain for a couple weeks.

The biggest thing this last week was my little trip to the hospital!  It ended up being a non-event, but you can read about it here.

Baby Boy is moving around so much more all of a sudden!  He kicks and rolls and pushes to one side of my stomach.  I love being able to feel him better!  I mentioned this in my post last week, but he hates when I rest things on my stomach - whenever I rest my book or plate on my stomach he tries to kick it away.  I think it's cute.  

However, I discovered this week that he likes getting his feet rubbed!  He stuck a little foot or hand out the side of my stomach yesterday, and I put my fingers on the spot and just rubbed in little circles.  At first he wasn't sure and pulled his limb back, but a few seconds later he pushed out the side of my belly again and just stayed there while I rubbed his foot (I think it was a foot).  It was a sweet bonding moment for me.  I loved having this little way to connect with him as his mama before he even gets here.

These last couple weeks this pregnancy became real for me.  For some reason up to this point the fact that I'm pregnant again and that I'm going to have another baby in April has seemed surreal.  Between 26-28 weeks it finally sunk in for me - I'm having another sweet baby boy.  Another unique human being to nuture and fall in love with.  And he is coming soon!  

This is the point in pregnancy where my excitement really starts to build!  I can't wait to see his little face, and smell his little newborn smell, and rub those little feet on the outside.  Women have expressed amazement throughout the ages at how much love they can feel for someone they have never even met - and I have to say, it's that way whether it's your first baby or your third (or any number you want).  It's special, waiting for a little one.  I love it.

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And just for fun, here is a comparison of the belly at 28 weeks in all three of my pregnancies!  

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I feel like it's a little rounder-looking with the boys?  

Final Thoughts On The Hunger Games

Disclaimer: While I don't particularly like the Hunger Games books, I have no moral problems with them, just idealogical.  I don't think they are bad books, I just don't think they are necessarily good either.  If you like them, I don't have a problem with that, so don't send me e-mails!  These are just my thoughts on them, take it or leave it.


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Last year I read the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and I wrote a post with my thoughts about it here.  I had very mixed feelings about it.  After reading the first book, I really wasn't sure I wanted to read any more of the books.  

However, I did go see the second movie in December, because I still wanted to find out what happens between Katniss and Peeta!  This was the only part of the story that really interested me, and I wanted to know if/how they ended up together.

After seeing the movie I decided to go ahead and just read the other two books in the series to get it over with.  The second two books did not really change my mind about anything I said in my first post, but I have a few more thoughts that I just need to get off my chest. 

First, what about Peeta and Katniss?  Like I said, this was pretty much the only part of the plot I did enjoy, and I did feel like the way it ended with them was good, all plot elements considered.  I read a review that said the resolution of things between Peeta and Katniss wasn't very satisfying, and I have to disagree with that.  I think Collins wraps up their story nicely, which I am very glad of, because if that hadn't ended well I feel like the whole series would have been a complete waste of time to me.

However, taking the love story out of it, the rest of the story was disturbing to me at best.  These are a few reasons why.

First of all, I have to say that while I know Collins says the books were meant as a cautionary tale about out of control government/media, I still didn't get that from the books themselves.  People can add meaning to the story in that way if they want to, but in the actual content of the books that point was poorly made, in my opinion.  The out of control government and media were necessary plot elements, but no "cautionary" point was clearly stated.  

I found this very disappointing, because I know Collins does indeed know how to insert a point in the text when she wants to.  She did it twice - once with an inner monologue about how the people that came before Panem must not have cared much about the planet or people who would come after, and once about how something is seriously wrong with a society that sacrifices it's children to settle it's differences.  The first point is rather political.  The second is obvious, and while I'm glad she said it, it made me wonder why we're spending three whole books on such a society in the first place.  

Graphically described violence is prevalent in these books, and the "games" seem to be glamorized - maybe not intentionally by Collins but by the fact that everyone plays to the cameras throughout the books without ever questioning it.  It is a parade of horrors, and Collins describes every bit of violence in detail while the characters in the book stand by with a video camera.

I also couldn't help but note the lack of anyone to really look to as a good example in this series.  Haymitch is a drunk.  Gale is vengeful.  Coin is corrupt.  Plutarch only cares about the games.  Minor characters who might have been good examples are killed off.  Katniss is completely self-absorbed through most of the story, with only glimmers of heroism here and there.  While this might be understandable considering all the trauma she has endured, it is not very inspiring.  The only one who possibly could have been a good example of selflessness throughout the series would be Peeta, but I don't think Collins focused on him nearly enough to make him stand out as a role model.

This is one series where (so far) the movies are far better than the books, in my opinion.  In the movies, you can still keep an illusion of heroism and interpret the motives behind people's actions how you want.  In the books, you know all the selfish details of Katniss's thoughts.  The reasons why characters choose to do certain things are explained.  It isn't pretty.

I will give the author one thing - I think she very thoroughly (and probably accurately) represented post-traumatic stress disorder.

The book ends with an intimate encounter between Katniss and Peeta, and while (thankfully!) not described at all, it is not preceded by marriage either.  I don't appreciate that in a book that is meant for teenagers.

When I'm not sure what I think about a book or movie, I usually find myself referring back to Philippians 4:8 and going through the list of things we are supposed to be thinking about.  Is this book noble?  Is it true, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy?  I think the answer to that here is a no, as a whole.  While someone may be able to argue that certain moments in the book fit with these themes (Katniss taking her sister's place, etc.), those moments are brief.  As a whole, Panem is filled with cutthroat, selfish people who will do anything to reach their goals.  

If I had to pick one word for the books, I would choose the word "hopeless".  

It is an interesting story, and I can appreciate the imaginativeness of it.  As I said in the past, I have no problem with stories written purely for entertainment purposes.  Not everything has to have a clear takeaway point.  

But the hopelessness was disturbing to me.  

Even the ending didn't resolve the overall depression, and the only glimmers of hope that were given to us were in two final points in the last chapters.  First, that life must go on despite our losses.  And second, that you can fight the hopelessness by remembering the acts of goodness that people do.  That second point is ironic considering there are precious few examples in these books of anyone doing acts of goodness without ulterior motives, either personal or political.

The bottom line is that when you create a world without God or eternity, where the lines between good and evil are blurred and survival is key, this is what you get.  You get Panem.  And it is hopeless without Him.  

I'm not saying I don't think these books should be read at all.  I am saying that I don't think they should necessarily be read by someone who does not already have a firmly established worldview, which I think rules out a large part of the target audience - younger teenagers.  Kids that age need hope.  And they won't find it in the Hunger Games.

Don't Fall When You Are Pregnant

This is just a little update for those of you who wanted the full story.

So yesterday was just a day at home with me and the kids. Derek had been gone all week, but he was coming home last night! I was excited he would be home, so I spent some time cleaning the house and just got a pasta dish going for dinner - I wanted him to have something good to eat when he got home.

I decided to take out some of the trash that had piled up because I wanted our basement to look cleaner, so I started out the door to bring the garbage can back up our driveway. It had snowed the night before, and I didn't even think about the fact that the snow could be covering up ice. I slipped and fell down flat on my back in about 3 inches of snow.

I wasn't hurt badly, I was just cold! I jumped up and ran back inside, kicking myself for slipping because I try so hard to be careful not to fall when I'm pregnant. I also know my doctor gets concerned about falling later in pregnancy, so I called and left them a message.

A little while later a nurse called me back and asked me some questions. Any bleeding? Fluid leakage? Pain? No, no, no. Then she asked if I had felt the baby move much and I kind of stumbled over my answer. The truth was I hadn't felt him that I noticed since I fell. She said she'd call me back.

This, of course, freaked me out, so I drank some cranberry juice and laid down, and almost immediately Little Man started jumping around. I was pretty relieved!

The nurse called back and I told her he was moving. She said that was reassuring but that they wanted me to come in to the hospital for some monitoring.

I had a minor meltdown when I hung up, because dinner was still cooking and Derek wasn't home yet, and I just really wanted to spend the evening with him! I called my mom and arranged for her to watch the kids, and then got us ready to go before we headed down.

Thankfully a few minutes before my mom came, Derek arrived home from his trip early, bearing gifts (a huge box of chocolates for me and toys for the kids)! my husband is o sweet. So my mom ended up taking the kids home with her, and Derek got to go with me.

We grabbed some dinner and finally got to the hospital around 7:00 PM. The nurse hooked me up to the monitors and asked a bunch of questions. It was hard to get a heartbeat on our little guy at first because he was moving around so much!

Derek sat on the couch and read, I ate some chocolates and watched King Of The Nerds and Parenthood (what is Joel thinking? Come on, man, fight for your marriage), and we just hung out for the next four hours. I didn't ave any contractions, my doctor decided I didn't need the blood work to check for internal bleeding, and baby looked great. It was scary hering about all the things they were watching for though! Falling when you are pregnant can be serious.

I loved hearing our baby's little heartbeat galloping along while we were there, so that was the lovely silver lining for the whole thing!

Also, I knew he didn't like things pressing against my belly because he occasionally kicks at my book if I rest it on my stomach - but I didn't realize how much he hated it! He basically just kicked the monitor over and over until we took it off. I felt bad because I knew he didn't like it. My poor little guy.

I was so glad Drek was there to keep me company, otherwise I very well may have lost my mind. I knew the monitoring was a good thing because I wanted to make sure our little guy was okay, but it is so boring sitting in those awful labor and delivery beds and not being ale to move because they might lose track of the baby's heartbeat again.

They finally let us o at 11:40, with instructions about preterm labor and to check in with my doctor soon. We climbed into our own bed around 1:00 AM.

Not exactly the way I wanted my evening with Derek to go! But at least we were together and our little guy is okay He's been kicking me all morning as I sit in a lecture at my dental conference today (that I had to wake up at 5:45 AM for). Why yes, I am exhausted! But very thankful that the Lord protected us.

Two (Or More) Kids - Out And About


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I think one of the biggest questions I had (and that I heard from other moms), about adding a second baby was how it was going to affect 

shopping!  When all you've ever had to do is get one baby in and out of a store, it can be scary to think about handling two.

I am here to ease your mind.  You can go (almost) anywhere with two kids that you went with one.  All it takes is a little strategy.

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Go to places that have carts.  

It can take a lot of energy to carry a car seat around and keep a hold of your toddlers hand.  Especially in the first few weeks when your baby is little, limit your excursions to places with carts.  And then park right next to a cart in the parking lot - wholla!  Not a problem.


Make use of your baby carrier.  

Trip to the mall?  Strap the baby in the carrier and stroll your toddler around like normal.


Grocery shopping?  

If it's a quick trip, put one child in the top seat of the cart, one in the basket.  You would be surprised how much stuff you can fit into the cart around a car seat or toddler.  If you know it's going to be a big grocery shopping trip, use the baby carrier again and put your toddler in the seat on the cart.
  
Note: My plans for grocery shopping with three?  Carry baby, put Gwen in the seat on the cart, and have Wyatt either walk or put him in the basket.  


Clothes shopping?  

Just try to get the big dressing room so you can fit your cart or stroller in there with you.  Personally, I think clothes shopping with two young kids is technically doable, but more effort than it's worth.  I mostly order clothes online now, or find a time when I can go shopping by myself.


Keep the less secure child in the car for as long as possible.  

The less secure child usually translates to the older children who have the ability to run around in a parking lot.  When Gwen was smaller and confined to her carseat, I almost always got Gwen out of the car first and put Wyatt in the car first, just because I felt like it was safer that way (though Wyatt is pretty great about staying right by me in parking lots).  

Now that Gwen is bigger and I have my hands full carrying her, I usually get Wyatt in the car, close the door, put Gwen in her carseat, then go back around and buckle Wyatt in.  Unless I have the cart or stroller handy - then I just transfer them to the car one at a time.


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Overall, it's more energy, but it's not very hard to wrangle two kids by yourself while going out.  Three will be more challenging, but I have a plan in my head for most situations!  Enter heavy use of the baby carrier and the double stroller.

Now, if I had Wyatt, Gwen, and then twins, I don't know how I'd manage any of this.  So if that's you (Taara?) - comment below!  I want to know how you do it!

Nevermind, Taara just posted this week about how she handles four kids on the go, including twins - go check it out!

That's all I have.  Moms of 2+, leave your comments below with more out-and-about tips!

Praying For Boys Review


I had the opportunity recently to review Praying For Boys by Brooke McGlothlin.  Brooke writes over at the MOB Society - I feel like I've come across that site before in my blog travels, and after reading this book I'm definitely going to have to make it one of my regular reads.

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This book is divided into twenty-one sections, each with a different subject to pray for your children - including the fruits of the Spirit, different elements of good character, as well as things like a soft heart and salvation.  Brooke gives an illustration or thought about each attribute, but my favorite thing is the ten prayers that are included in each chapter - these short prayers are based on Scripture verses.  I really like that.  I like the idea of praying directly from God's word for my kids.

I loved this book.  Praying is something I struggle with.  Finding the time, figuring out what exactly I want to pray about.  This book is a practical guide to praying for your children.  It is written from the perspective of praying for boys, but I feel like everything in it can also be adapted to praying for girls as well.

I kind of powered through this book so I could write this review in a timely matter, but my plan is to go back now and re-read each chapter - maybe one a day, maybe one a week - and focus my prayers on each topic for a certain time period.  I think this is a great tool to use if you want to get in better habit of praying more intentionally and meaningfully for your children.

I also liked that at the back of the book she includes chapters on how to use the book as a guide for a prayer challenge in a group setting!  I'm mulling over the idea of starting one myself.

I'd highly recommend this book - specifically for moms of boys, but I think girl moms would find it helpful too!

Note: I received this book for free from Bethany House publishers in exchange for this review.  This is my honest opinion.

On Complaining

Attitudes matter.

I keep starting and re-starting this post, because I'm not exactly sure how to say what I want to say here.  I've written before about the problem with venting and about being careful not to spout off careless words.  But this week I was reminded again of how much I stink at controlling my tongue.  And my attitudes - because the venting, careless words ultimately come from my poor attitudes.

What I hadn't thought about before was how much my bad attitudes can wear off onto those around me.  And it's becoming painfully obvious as I think over the last few weeks.

This has mostly taken the form of me over-explaining my woes to those I love, to the point where they start to get irritated for me.  Although sweet in a way, it's not good that I'm recruiting others in my life to carry my self-imposed burdens.

Most of the things I'm frustrated about or disappointed with are indeed frustrating or disappointing things.  But does that mean I have to display my frustration for all to see and to pour my burden onto someone else to the point where they start to adopt my attitudes about the whole situation?  

Something happened this past week that made it all the more obvious to me that my bad attitudes don't just affect me.  They affect those around me, especially those within my own household.  

The truth is, complaining about certain situations can make it more difficult for those close to you to remain at peace with the circumstances.  In my case, though they try to encourage me, I just won't be encouraged, and my complaining eventually changes their attitudes as well.

It's a power I never consciously realized I had - to affect the attitudes of those in my family in a negative way through my own attitudes.  I haven't been handling that power responsibly.

It's a fine line to walk - the difference between bearing one another's burdens in marriage and unnecessarily burdening one another with our complaints.  We really aren't supposed to be complaining anyway (Philippians 2:14).  Even to our spouses.

I think it would be much better to discuss situations with my spouse, take it to the Lord together in prayer, then let it go.  

It's the letting go part that is hard.  Instead I continue to sit there even after supposedly handing it over to the Lord - griping about things I can't change.  That's not helping anyone - not me, not my family.  I need to give it to Him and then stop complaining.  Just stop.

Goodness knows the psalmists did quite a bit of venting to God when they were scared or frustrated or lost.  But one thing I noticed as I was reading through some of the "complaining" psalms - once they poured out their hearts to God, they remembered God's power.  They remembered His faithfulness.  They let Him be the one to bear their burdens.


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He needs to be the One I go to first - I need to give Him my burdens from the start instead of letting the default be dumping things on my family (and then maybe remembering to pray about it).  

If I'm feeling irritated or overwhelmed about something, a little private "venting" time to God would be okay I think.  

Because I can't change God's attitude, but He can change mine.  And that's what I need help with in the first place.

17 Books

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I'm finally getting around to posting about the rest of the books I read in 2013!

In August I wrote about the books I read in the first half of the year - thirty-two books.  Unfortunately, my reading groove got thrown off, and I only read 17 books in the second half of the year, for a total of 49 books in 2013.  I'm pretty happy with that number though!  It's the highest number of books I've read in one year since I started keeping track several years ago.  I wish I could have made it an even 50, but oh well!

Anyway on to a quick review of each of the books.  I tried to keep this short, but if you have any specific questions about any of these, let me know!

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Faking Grace by Tamara Leigh - Christian Chic-lit.  Read full review here.

Stranded by Dani Pettrey - Good suspense, read full review here.

Unforeseeable by Nancy Mehl - I liked the mystery, read full review here.

Return To Me by Lynn Austin - Loved it, read full review here.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers - Liked it, but I wouldn't recommend it for just anyone.  Read full review here.

Stars Collide, Hello Hollywood, and Director's Cut by Janice Thompson - These three books are part of a series, and each one is just a fun Christian romance.  Nothing too deep, but fun.
I'll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark - Need I say more?  I love Mary Higgins Clark's books.  They're always good.

Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - I watched Catching Fire in the theaters, and I got sucked into reading the last two books.  I still have mixed feelings.  Post with my final thoughts on the Hunger Games saga coming soon.

If Tomorrow Never Comes by Marlo Schalesky - Very good book.  In this book the main character is struggling with infertility, and I felt like the author hit that desperation to have a baby that can grow from infertility right on the head.  Probably because the author herself has struggled with infertility too.  This is a married love story with a twist, and I think it would make a great movie.

Echos Of The Titanic by Mindy Starns Clark - I actually started this book right when I found out I was pregnant with Gwen, but I never finished it because I started to associate it with morning sickness and I felt nauseous whenever I picked it up.I'm glad I got over it, because I really enjoyed this book.  It got a little slow in parts, but the story line picked up again quickly and I liked the mystery.

The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp - This book is meant to be read through advent before Christmas, and I really liked it!  Lots of good thoughts from Voskamp, just like in One Thousand Gifts.  I feel like sometimes she gets a little overly poetic though, and makes the gospel message harder to understand than it has to be.  But for those who already know Jesus, I think it's a great book.

Catch A Rising Star by Tracey Bateman - Just another chic-lit Christian romance book.  It was a fun read.

The Secret's In The Sauce by Linda Evans Shepherd (not pictured) - It wasn't my favorite.  Just a little slow for me, and it felt like a lot of the story lines weren't going anywhere.

A Billion Reason's Why by Kristin Billerbeck - Christian romance.  It was full of mysterious drama that you didn't quite understand until near the end, so it kept me interested.  I enjoyed it.


26 Weeks - Baby (Boy) #3

Another late post, since I'm 27 weeks now!  I'm hoping to catch up next week.

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Not too much new to report this week - the munchkin is moving a lot stronger all of a sudden though!  He's getting big enough where he can push to one side of my belly and make it look all crooked!  I love that.  It's just so fun to watch him move around in there.  I've also been able to feel a few tiny body parts, like hands and feet, through my stomach this week.  He does not like it when I rest my book against my stomach - he tries to push it out of the way!  

I'm feeling good, no new symptoms.  Except that the weight is coming on alarmingly fast this time.  I'm probably 3-5 pounds heavier at this point than I was in previous pregnancies (that's just an estimate, I'd have to go back and look at my old pregnancy posts).  Yikes!  I'm attempting to cut out all simple sugars to try to get a handle on it.  I'm okay with an extra 3-5 pounds, I just don't want it to continue on this track or it will be an extra 15!

Mostly the last week has been filled with me trying to work on baby projects around the house (which is why it's been a little quieter around the blog lately).  I am probably 75% done with piecing together his baby quilt, and then I just have to take it in to get quilted.  Last week I cleaned up the house, organized the kid's clothes, found new places for some of their toys, and took a bunch of random things out of the nursery since it was kind of our dumping ground for presents throughout December.  Now we're actually getting somewhere.  

I also ordered a little outfit for his newborn pictures over the weekend, and it is so cute!  I can't wait to see him in it.  I've got the family's outfits planned for his newborn session, so now I just have to figure out what we'll all wear for my maternity session in a month.  Picking out clothes is the most stressful part of taking pictures to me.

The goals for this week: sort through Wyatt's old baby clothes to see what I still need to get for this little guy, wash baby clothes and organize them in his dresser, and start to organize his nursery!

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Linking up here today.

White Chocolate Caramel Corn

White Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Recipe | Through Clouded Glass


When we were getting ready for Christmas, I really wanted to have some sort of popcorn treat for Christmas morning.  An idea had been floating around in my head for a while, and I decided to give it a try.  I basically took a couple different jello popcorn recipes, smooshed them together, changed and added a couple ingredients, and this is what I came up with!  White chocolate caramel corn.


White Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Recipe | Through Clouded Glass


I have a disclaimer - this popcorn is less white chocolate and more caramel.  Even though I used white chocolate pudding mix, I felt like we couldn't taste the white chocolate much - it ended up tasting more caramel-y to me.   If you are looking for something more chocolate-y, see the variation at the end of this recipe!


White Chocolate Caramel Corn


8 cups popped popcorn, plain

3 tbsp. light corn syrup

1/2 stick margarine

1/2 cup brown sugar

3.3 oz. package white chocolate pudding mix 

Nutmeg (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (Fahrenheit).  Line a baking pan with tin foil and grease with cooking spray.  Set aside.

2. Put margarine and corn syrup in saucepan over medium heat.

3. Once butter has melted, stir in brown sugar and pudding mix.  Continue to heat, stirring constantly.

4. Once mixture has reached soft ball stage (if you put a little of the mixture into cold water you will be able to form a soft ball with your fingers - you can also tell when it's getting close to this point when the boiling mixute looks like it is pulling away from the sides of the pan), remove from heat and pour over popcorn.  Mix well.

5.  Spread popcorn into prepared baking pan. 

6.  Bake popcorn at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir popcorn.  If desired, sprinkle nutmeg into popcorn.  Let cool and break apart if necessary.  Serve immediately or store in plastic bag.  


White Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Recipe | Through Clouded Glass


Variation: If you want this to be more white-chocolate-y, I think one way to accomplish that would be to let the popcorn cool, then melt some white chocolate chips and mix them in with the popcorn, lightly coating it with chocolate!  I haven't tried it personally (yet), but I think it would be a pretty yummy addition!

Enjoy!

White Chocolate Caramel Popcorn Recipe | Through Clouded Glass

Two Kids - Balancing Things At Home

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Before you ever even venture out of the house with two kids, your husband will go back to work.  And you will be left alone in the house.  With two little ones depending solely on you.

In the end, every mom who has ever had two kids figures this out, and you will too.  Here are just a few things I learned (so far) about taking care of more than one young child at once.

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They will occasionally cry at the same time.  

You can sit down and cry too (don't think it hasn't happened before in my house), or you can buck up and handle it!  Don't let it freak you out when it happens.  

Obviously if one of your kids is crying because they are in danger or hurt, help them first!  Just thought I better say it.  

In non-injurious situations, take care of the kid whose fix is quicker first (i.e. - hand the bottle to the baby, or give your toddler a snack).  

If you are not sure why they are crying, take care of the toddler first.  They will remember, and you don't want them to feel like they are not as important as the new baby.


Don't worry too much about what to do with your oldest while you are nursing the baby.
Go ahead and make sure your toddler is taken care of first (i.e. - they don't have to go potty, they have a snack).  If your child knows how to play independently at all, they'll be fine.


There is no reason that you can't take a shower.  

Put the older one down in front of a video (it really is okay), put the younger one down in a bouncy chair/crib/pack-and-play, and there you go.  It's not being a bad mom to let other things entertain your kids while you take a five minute shower and blow dry your hair.  Really.  It's okay.


If at all possible, manipulate schedules so they nap at the same time! 

I think this is probably a lot easier for some families than others.  Thankfully I've been able to work this out with my kiddos from the start, and they've cooperated.  I try to push Gwen off until after lunch for her nap so that she and Wyatt go down at the same time.  Wyatt is fairly flexible on his nap time too, so that helps when Gwen gets tired early.  But even if it only works out for 30 minutes, that time alone can be so refreshing and give you energy for the rest of the day!  (It's also how I still manage to blog, in case you are wondering - we might have more of a challenge after this baby arrives.)


Take your opportunities to spend time with each child individually.  

Your love is not split with the second baby, it doubles.  Your attention, however, is a different story.  You will have to split your attention when both of the kids are awake.  Don't beat yourself up about that, because it's just the way it is, and it's good for kids to learn that they have to share.   But if you get some time ( for example, if one of them is still napping) do something with your child who is awake.  Every kid needs some one-on-one time with mom every now and then.

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It seems really overwhelming when you only have one to think of handling two, but it's really not hard.  It's a balancing act, and it might take practice, but every mom eventually finds her mom-of-two groove.  Give yourself time, figure out what works best for you, and thank God for this precious time at home with your kiddos!

My 2014 Word

Last year I tried picking one word for the year.  It was the first year I had done the "one word" thing, and I really liked it.  I felt like it helped give me focus for the whole year, whenever I thought about my word, but it was less pressure than setting resolutions (which I avoid doing at all costs). 

I decided I'd like to pick another word for this year.  As I was thinking about my word, my mind drifted to a podcast I listened to a while ago that had a big impact on me.  The message was given by Joni Eareckson Tada, and she talked about this verse:

(Click on image, then right click to save the 8x10 printable to your computer.)


She talked about how we often focus on the part of the verse that says that with the Lord "a thousand years is as one day".  But what about the other half?  The part that says with Him "a day is as a thousand years".

I could never quite figure out what that part of the verse meant, except for a general "there is no time with God" kind of way.  But Joni had a great perspective on it, something I had never thought about before.

She talked about how God gives us these days here, and how each 24 hour period can resonate into a thousand years worth of eternity.  

We have this one day - this one day to invest our minutes into things that matter.  The thought made me think about how what I do with my individual days here is more important than I realized.  If each day is worth a thousand years, I want to make it count.  

So my word this year?

Invest


I want to invest my minutes wisely.  I want to pour myself and my time, into things that are going to last this year.  

Those things that are going to last?  It's mostly people and my relationship with Jesus.  

I want to be more intentional with my time with the Lord this year, in studying my Bible and prayer. I want to make sure I use these little days at home with my kids wisely.  I want to pour God's word into them, to strive to turn their little minds toward Him.  I want to reach out to new friends, and take time to let my good friends and family know that they matter.  I want to find little ways to brighten the days of people around me, even strangers.  I want to be all there

Because those minutes with others and how we use them count - for us and for them.


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The other thing that Joni said that really stood out to me is that if we are going to invest in others in a way that is going to last, it is our job to make God real to them.  I love that - that is our job while we are here.  People can do that without even realizing it (I know my kiddos have done that for me even unintentionally), but I want to be intentional about it this year.  To show Jesus to others, in any little way that I can.  Invest is my word - I want making God real to those around me to be my focus.

I have this one day - I want to spend it on things that matter.

I'm looking forward to seeing how God teaches me to invest my life better over the next year.

If you'd like to listen to the Focus On The Family broadcast I'm talking about, you can check it out here.

Simple Birthday Punch


Simple Birthday Punch | Through Clouded Glass


For Gwen's party I decided last minute that I wanted to make some punch.  When I say last minute, I mean the morning of the party.

I went on a hunt for a good, simple punch recipe, but I didn't like any of the ones I found.  Most of them were too complicated (like requiring freezing some of the ingredients beforehand, which I didn't have time for), or they wouldn't go well in my drink dispenser because of sherbet or ice cream that had to be added to it, or the ingredients would just be expensive.   I wanted something fairly inexpensive, something that I could prepare in five minutes, and something that wouldn't clog my drink dispenser. 

 So I invented my own recipe!  


Simple Birthday Punch | Through Clouded Glass


I wasn't sure if it was going to be good or not, but it actually turned out pretty well - several people at the party told me they liked it!  So I thought I'd post my recipe here.  

Easy Birthday Punch


1 can of pineapple juice concentrate

1 packet of strawberry-flavored Kool-aid

2 liter bottle of ginger ale


1. Prepare pineapple juice according to directions.

2. Mix kook-aid in with the pineapple juice.

3. Add the ginger ale to the juice mixture. Serve cold.



Simple Birthday Punch | Through Clouded Glass


That's it!  The good thing about this punch is that if you have to add ice to it, it's just strong enough that it will still taste good even after the ice waters it down a bit.

When I added the ginger ale it fizzed up really nicely and made it look more party-like, but my ingredients weren't cold.  I had to add the ice, which also took down the fizz a bit.  If you want it too look more foamy, just start with cold ingredients and mix it right before serving!

Simple Birthday Punch | Through Clouded Glass

From One To Two - Labor and Delivery

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It has been a couple months since my last "From One To Two" post!  I apologize to you mamas who were waiting on me all this time.  Now that gender reveal and Christmas craziness is over, I'm finally getting back to this series!  Today I'm going to talk about what to do with your older child{ren} when you go into labor and right after the baby is born.

This is obviously going to be a little different for each family depending on the situation, but here are the main things to have in order before you go into labor, plus some other random tips.


Find someone to watch the older child while you are in labor or at the hospital/birthing center. 

 This is going to look different depending on what kind of birth you are planning to have, but it's best to have someone there for your older child.  I think it would be a little overwhelming, especially for younger children, to see their mama in so much pain.  Having someone take care of your older child during labor/delivery is a good thing (unless they are old enough that you want them to participate in the birth).  If you are going to a hospital/birthing center you need someone to stay with your child.  Or if you are having a home birth I think it would be good to have someone there to take care of and distract the older child (since you and your husband will be occupied with, you know, having a baby).


 Don't wait too long to call your child's care person.  

This is probably just me speaking from my crazy labor experience, but it's better to have whoever is taking care of your child come over a little early (or take your child early on if they are going to someone's house).  Especially if the care person lives more than 15 minutes away.  Play it safe so that you don't end up going from contractions-12-minutes-apart to ready-to-push in the span of an hour, leaving for the hospital too late because you didn't call your person soon enough, and having the baby on the highway.  Ahem.


Think about how you want your child to meet the new baby and plan it out.  

I think it's important to make a plan for how you want this to go, because if you just fly by the seat of your pants and the first meeting doesn't go well . . . well, postpartum hormones are flowing, my friends.  You don't want to be disappointed with something like this with those hormones raging.  For us, we planned to have my mom bring Wyatt to the hospital first thing after Gwen was born, then Derek went out into the hall and brought Wyatt in so that we could introduce him to the new baby without distractions.  It was important to us to have Wyatt be the first one to meet her.  Our plan went off without a hitch.


Make sure to give the older child some love when you see them again after delivery.  

I made sure that Gwen was safely in her hospital basinet when Wyatt came in so he could climb onto my lap and I could give him a big hug.  Derek picked Gwen up and introduced her to Wyatt while he sat with me.  I think it's important to let them know that they are still your baby too, and they haven't been replaced by the new baby -  being available to hold them right away is a good way to do that.


Don't freak out if your child doesn't want much to do with the new baby at first.  

This is no indication of what kind of relationship they will have in the future!  Wyatt didn't want to touch Gwen when she was first born.  He just kind of looked at her.  I think it took almost a week before he finally reached out one finger and touched her head!  Don't push them, and don't worry about it, just let them adjust.


Should you bring anything for your older sibling to the hospital?  

I think it's a good idea to make sure you have a movie or a few toys for your older children in your hospital bag.  We had some alone time with just the four of us in the hospital before the visitors started streaming in, and we put on one of Wyatt's movies and just snuggled in the hospital bed.  It was a special time for us, and it made it more fun for Wyatt.


I would not recommend having your older child stay the night in the hospital with you.  

I don't think most moms would want that anyway, but it's just not a good idea.  They won't sleep, you will sleep even less, and nobody will have fun.


Should you buy a big brother or big sister gift for your child?  

We didn't, but that's only because my family is really good about remembering to bring something for older siblings when a new baby is born.  Several of our relatives brought Wyatt a gift, in addition to the gift for the new baby.  I knew they would, so I didn't worry about it.  If you aren't sure if your family or friends are going to think of this, I think it would be good to have a little present on hand to give to your older child.  It's hard for a kid to watch a new baby get lots of gifts if they don't have anything to open themselves.


Bring them home together.  

This might not always work out, but after Gwen was born we met up with my mom to pick up Wyatt and then brought both the kiddos home together.  It was meaningful to me to have us all arrive home for the first time as a family.  I liked that Wyatt was a part of our ride home, instead of having him come home later with a new baby suddenly there.  It was good for family unity.  This isn't completely necessary, but I thought it was special, and I'd recommend arranging your plans this way if possible. 



Moms - anything else about labor/delivery/hospital stay that you thought was important?

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Here is the itinerary for this series (so far). 


11/18/13 - It Is Not The Same


1/9/13 - Labor And Delivery (this post)

1/16/14 - Balancing Things At Home

1/23/14 - Out And About

1/30/14 - Ways To Make Your Oldest Feel Special

 If there is anything else you would be interested to see me cover, comment below! 

Winter First Birthday Party!




 Last weekend was Gwen's first birthday party!  As I've mentioned previously, I went back and forth on themes for a while.  Having a birthday right after Christmas makes it a little tricky to me - I wanted it to be wintery and fit in with the season, but without being Christmas-y.

I finally settled on a "These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things" theme!

For those of you who are not familiar with the song, it's from The Sound Of Music, and you can read the lyrics here.  

I tried to incorporate as many of the things from the song into her party as I could!  We had:

-Brown paper packages tied up with string.

-Whiskers On Kittens, Bright Copper Kettles, and Warm Woolen Mittens candles, from Yankee Candle (which I already happened to have).

-Snowflakes "that stay on my nose and eyelashes" (actually they just hung from our chandelier and her birthday banner).  I made the mosaic snowflakes with Wyatt several weeks ago.

-Sleigh bells, which I strung along with the balloons and spread onto the table for decorations.

-Schnitzel with noodles (otherwise known around here as Chicken Noodle Soup - I was just trying to think of something with noodles in it).

-Crisp Apple Strudel muffins (which I thought were going to be a disaster when the first batch flopped - thank goodness for the mason jars to make them look pretty!  I just baked them straight in the jars).

-The weather even played along and we had a "silver white winter" that will eventually melt into spring!

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Overall it was a really fun and easy theme to do, and I'm really happy with the way everything turned out!  

If you have any questions about any specific elements, let me know.  Aside from Gwen's birthday banner, I made the rest of the decorations, invitations, etc.

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We had a really nice time, and Gwen especially enjoyed her birthday cupcake!  It was nice to be able to celebrate our sweet girl with our closest family and friends!

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Punch recipe here.

To see cake and present pictures, head on over to my photo blog.

(If you aren't a follower of my private photo blog you'll have to request an invitation here first.)
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