Thursday, December 27, 2012

This Week’s Menu


We had a lovely Christmas with our family. It was fun and memorable in so many ways. Here was a group shot of everyone on Christmas Eve …

I’m a few days behind on posting my menu due to the holiday celebration. I posted my Christmas Eve dinner in my last post and we ate the leftovers on Christmas Day and had enough food and goodies for more family that came on Wednesday. So today brings a new menu to cover the next few days…

Thursday
Tacos w/all the trimmings, chips & salsa

Friday
Turkey veggie soup, crackers, salad

Saturday
White bean chicken chili, garlic cheese biscuits, salad

Sunday
Leftovers

 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

T’was the Week Before Christmas..




… or should I say the day before the day before Christmas.. ha, ha.. wow this week is flying by and has been busy (the reason for my lack of blogging).. We also had a little unexpected snow storm.. wreaked some havoc for a bit but did make things look so pretty…



As for Christmas preps… I have made food ahead of time and it is in the freezer, lots of gifts have been wrapped but still I have more to wrap. With as many family members as I have it still equals a lot to assemble and wrap! My daughter Sierra has been so much help this year! She loves to wrap gifts and so she has helped me to get much done.



I’ve been cooking and baking too. Here is my Christmas Eve menu:

Ham
Lasagna
BBQ meatballs
Coleslaw
Brussel sprout salad
Spinach salad
Potato Casserole
Dinner rolls
Cookies for dessert

So far I’ve made Cranberry Bliss Bars (using this recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/cranberry-bliss-bars-starbucks-copycat-203229 )


I also have my lasagna and meatballs all made and all of these items are in the freezer. Today Sierra and I will be making Hershey Kiss cookies and sugar cookies. Tomorrow I will assemble the rest of the meal and take the frozen foods out of the freezer.

My family will be here on Monday evening for our Christmas. I am sad that Leanne and my daughter Carolyn and her family will not be here. Leanne is in S. Korea and Carolyn and family moved to Kentucky last month. I do believe it will be awhile before I have everyone together at the same time again. I am thankful for the family that will be here. Most of my children (other than Hannah and her family) will be spending the night and we will enjoy Christmas Day together as well.

Now it’s time to turn on some Christmas music and head to the kitchen to finish up the baking!!


 

Monday, December 17, 2012

This Week’s Menu



 

I know I’ve been absent in blogging this last week. Life has been busy for me with holiday preps. But we must eat! So here is my menu for the week.


Monday
Chicken & gravy (I’ll be using my canned chicken for this) over brown rice, cooked carrots, green salad

Tuesday
Beef stew (my home canned), dinner rolls, salad

Wednesday
Korean pork (I’ll be sharing this recipe soon), egg rolls, brown rice, salad

Thursday
Leftovers

Friday
Spaghetti (using my home canned sauce), french bread, salad

Saturday
Chicken & bacon crockpot chowder (another recipe I'll share if it turns out good), dinner rolls, salad

Sunday
Leftovers
 


Monday, December 10, 2012

This Week’s Menu




Monday
Roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, salad

Tuesday
Chicken enchiladas (using my canned chicken), tortilla chips & salsa, salad

Wednesday
Bbq beef sandwiches and tomato soup (using canned beef and canned tomatoes) & coleslaw

Thursday
Leftovers

Friday
Lasagna, french bread, salad

Saturday
Beef & veggie soup (using my canned beef ), dinner rolls, salad

Sunday
Leftovers
 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Canning another Round of Beef Stew


Earlier in the year I canned up some beef stew. It was so good and we ate it all up in no time. Last week I decided to get some more stew canned up. I use my canned foods so often that I’m inspired to continue canning convenience foods. It has been fantastic to have quick and easy option for feeding my family lunch and dinner.

You can find my step by step instructions for canning beef stew HERE.

This time the only changes I made to the above recipe was to add peas instead of the celery. I forgot to buy the celery when I was shopping and had some frozen peas in the freezer. I used about 3 cups of frozen peas between all the jars. I just let them sit on the counter to defrost a bit.

I started the day by making a batch of veggie broth. I had frozen veggies in the freezer for just this purpose. I used about 3 gallons of veggies and 3 gallons of water (plus salt) and let this simmer for about 6 hours. You can find my instructions on making veggie broth/stock HERE.

I made 14 quarts of stew. I had purchased 12 pounds of beef from Costco. I cut this up into chunks. I also used potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic and the peas. I layered the veggies in the jar…



Poured my hot stock over the jars. Put on a lid and ring and canned them for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure for my altitude. I had 2 pints worth of beef left from my 12 pounds. I stacked the 2 pint jars on top of my quart jars when I canned the second batch of stew.

I ended up with 14 quarts beef stew and 2 pints of beef



And had 4 quarts of veggie stock for the freezer when I was done..



 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Meatball & Veggie Soup


I had a box (Pacific brand, 1 quart) of chicken broth that I had bought over the holidays in case I needed it. I was out of chicken stock in my freezer. As it turns out I did not need it. So awhile back I used it make some yummy soup for us.

I started by making a batch of meatballs with 1 pound of hamburger. The recipe can be found HERE. The recipe is for meatloaf but I use it for meatballs as well… I mixed it, shaped the meatballs and baked them in the oven at 350 until they were done (20 minutes or so)….




While the meatballs were baking I chopped up some veggies. I used what I had on hand. But you could substitute any type of veggies you would like. I had about 6 to 8 cups or so of veggies. I used sweet potatoes, onions, celery, carrots and garlic (I also added spinach to the soup at the end). You could use regular potatoes, broccoli, corn, peppers, peas, mushrooms etc.. lots of options on this soup.



Then I heated up some olive oil in a 6 quart stock pot and added the veggies. I sautéed them up until the onions and celery were soft.



Then I added the 1 quart of chicken stock and added 4 cups of water….



I brought this to a boil and let is simmer until the carrots and sweet potatoes were cooked. Then I added the meatballs, a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach leaves. I let this simmer for a few minutes until the spinach was wilted. Finally I added a small amount of half n half, just enough to give the soup a creamy look and tasted it and adjusted the seasonings (added salt and pepper and few splashes of Tabasco to give it some kick)



I served this with some french bread slices and a green salad.
 

Monday, December 3, 2012

This Week’s Menu

 



Just when I thought it was all going to settle down life was a bit hectic last week. SO.. now I’ll try my hand at our menu for 4 this week and see how it goes.. :)

Monday
Spaghetti, salad buffet, french bread – I have some leftover spaghetti from last week in the freezer and I plan to use it up. But it is not enough to make a full meal from. So I am adding a salad to the meal similar to a chef’s salad or a buffet type salad.. here’s how: Sierra is going to sauté up some onions and garlic in olive oil and then drain a pint jar of my home canned chicken, chop it up a bit and add this to the onions and garlic .. when it is all browned up then it will be used to top our salads.. I will also have other salad toppers like grated cheese, sliced olives, chopped nuts, chopped hard boiled eggs, 3 bean salad, etc.. and homemade ranch dressing ..

Tuesday
Crustless ham and veggie pot pie with biscuit topper (similar to this recipe HERE only I’m using leftover ham from last week), salad

Wednesday
Parmesan chicken, dinner rolls, garlic roasted brussel sprouts, salad

Thursday
Leftovers

Friday
Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, salad

Saturday
Navy bean and ham soup, crackers, salad

Sunday
Leftovers

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Monthly Newsletter and Menu Planning Calendar











The December issue of Homestead Happenings is out!  If you did not receive yours or would like to sign up you can do that here:  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/HomesteadHappenings/

 
 
And the December Menu Planning Calendar can be found here:  http://thefamilyhomestead.com/MenuDec2012.pdf 

Monday, November 26, 2012

This Week’s Menu



We had a great Thanksgiving and had lots of leftovers.  We’ve been eating them all up over the weekend and now it is time to change gears and come up with some non- turkey related meals!  :)

Monday
Chili, chips & salsa, salad

Tuesday
Crockpot pork roast, baked potatoes & sweet potatoes, salad

Wednesday

Thursday
Spaghetti, french bread, salad

Friday
Leftovers

Saturday

Sunday
Black bean soup, crackers, salad

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tomorrow’s Cooking Plan and a Few of My Favorite Recipes




I try and do a good deal of the cooking and prep work the day before Thanksgiving.  I like the fact that it makes the day go smoother and I can spend time with my family and friends instead of all my time in the kitchen.  Here is what I have planned to do tomorrow:

I will be making the mashed potatoes a day early. I make them, put them in the fridge and on Thanksgiving Day put them in the crockpot to heat up and be ready. One less thing to stress about before serving the meal. I also pour a little milk into the bottom of the crockpot before adding potatoes. This helps prevent crusting and burning. If they heat too much a crust along the sides will form. So stir them every now and again while they heat up on low. 

 

Sweet potatoes: I make up my casserole and put it in the fridge. I heat it up shortly before the meal is served: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/favoritesweetpotatoes.htm 

Dinner rolls: make them and reheat the next day: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/wwoatdinnerrolls.htm 

Stuffing: I will be making crockpot stuffing and cooking the bird unstuffed. I make it up the night before and put it in the crockpot on Thanksgiving morning.

Crockpot Stuffing
12 to 14 c bread cubes ~you can use homemade whole wheat bread
1 large onion, chopped
2 c sliced celery
2 c chopped and sliced mushrooms (opt)
1 c butter
1 t thyme
½ t sage
½ t marjoram
2 t salt
½ t pepper
2 eggs, beaten
3 to 4 c chicken broth

Put bread cubes in a large mixing bowl. Cook onions, celery and optional mushrooms in butter until all veggie are soft. Add to the bread cubes and gently stir. Add spices and stir. Add remaining ingredients, mixing well. 

Put in crockpot and heat and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours.



Pies: I will make my Bosch 4 crust pie crust recipe: My family loves pumpkin pies so I will make 4 of them. Pie Crust – the recipe: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/wwpiecrustbosh.htm  and the tutorial: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/wholewheatpiecrusttutorial.htm  and of course the pie: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/pumpkinpie.htm  



My daughter Emily will be making my cranberry sauce: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/spicedcranberries.htm  and bringing an apple pie: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/favapplepie.htm 

And no holiday is complete for my family without our traditional 24 Hour Fruit Salad. My kids loved this salad while they were growing up and still feel like no holiday meal is right if it is not served: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/24hrfruitsalad.htm 


 

Monday, November 19, 2012

How to Roast a Turkey

I've posted this before and I had a link to it in my newsletter...  but thought I would post it here on my blog in case anyone needed the information.


I am sure a lot of you reading this already know how to cook a turkey.  But I also know that many ladies have never done it before.  I was in my late 20’s before I cooked my first turkey.  My grandma or mom or mother in law had always done that part.  When I went to cook my first turkey I was reading lots of cookbooks and talking with my mother to learn.  It is not like we have the opportunity to practice turkey roasting too often!  

I thought I would just share from my own turkey roasting experience how I have done it.  There are lots of ways to do this and tips, etc..  and I am sure I won’t cover them all but will share what has worked for me. 

First is the actual buying of the turkey.  I typically have purchased frozen turkeys.  The week before Thanksgiving you can find turkeys at the best price of the year.  In fact I usually take advantage of these great prices and buy another turkey or two for the freezer. A mini Thanksgiving dinner at another time of the year is actually kind of fun.   A couple of years ago I bought a fresh turkey from Costco and it was good too.   

If you buy your turkey frozen you will need a few days to let it defrost.  Do not sit it on the counter to defrost.  The outside of the turkey will start to spoil before the center has completely defrosted.  This is especially true for bigger birds. I put my turkey in the refrigerator to defrost.  Two days ahead of time for a small turkey (say 12lbs or under) and three to four days for a bigger turkey.   

The night before Thanksgiving I open the turkey up and wash him and remove the giblets.  I put those in a bowl and put them back in the fridge.  The next day I boil those with some salt and use the broth for my gravy as well as cutting up the giblets to add to the gravy.   I rinse the turkey off in cool water making sure he has defrosted completely.  I put him in a large roaster pan, cover him up with plastic wrap and put him back in the fridge until the next day.   

I also make up my stuffing the night before.  Don’t put the stuffing in the bird the night before to save time.  This can once again cause spoilage.  After I make the stuffing I store it in the fridge.   

On Thanksgiving morning I pull the turkey out, preheat the oven, remove the plastic and stuff my turkey.  I find the easiest way to do this is to set the turkey in my clean sink and use a big spoon (or my clean hands)  to spoon in the stuffing.  Then I set the stuffed turkey on my roasting pan.  I melt a cube (we call them cubes here in my parts.. some call them sticks) of butter and if it is a big turkey I melt 2 cubes.  I take a brush and brush the top of my turkey with this melted butter.  Cover the bird with foil and put him in the oven to start baking.  

After he has baked for about an hour I use my trusty turkey baster and baste him with the melted butter that has drizzled to the bottom of my pan along with any other juices that have also accumulated. 

I continue to cook and baste for the required amount of time.  The closer I get to the finish time the more frequently I baste.  I also take the foil off for the last couple of hours so the turkey can brown nicely.
 
Now for some specifics: 
Temperature to Bake a Turkey: 
325 is what I have always done
 
How Long to Cook: 
If your turkey is stuffed:
8 to 12lbs  about 3 hours
12 to 15lbs  about 4 hours
15 to 18lbs about 4 ½ hours
18 to 24lbs  about 4 1/2  to 5 hours
 
If you don’t stuff your turkey you can subtract about anywhere from 15 minutes to a half hour off the above times.  
However my experience has been that this is a rough estimate. I have had it take longer or shorter..  Your very, very best guide will be your thermometer.   

The temperature of the whole turkey, no matter where you put the thermometer (but not touching bone) should read a minimum of 165 (and that includes taking the temp of the stuffing).  I actually like it when the temps are a bit higher than that say..  180.   

I also wiggle the drumstick and it should move very easily.   When the turkey has finished cooking, take it out of the oven and let is sit for 15 to 20 minutes.  This will give you time to make the gravy and mash the potatoes.
 
I hope you all have a wonderful day of good food, family and much thankfulness.

This Week’s Menu


 
I am beginning my journey into cooking for 4 people.. instead of a big house full..  I suspect more nights of leftovers as I work to adjust my mindset to what it takes to feed a smaller group.  As I said to a friend..  who knew you could make spaghetti with less than 3 pounds of hamburger!!  :)  That was the norm for feeding adults and big teenage appetites.  Of course Thanksgiving is this week as well and I'll be serving up a big meal to family and friends on that day..  So here goes my journey and this week’s menu…

Monday
Veggie Soup with mini- meatballs ( I am making a few adjustments to the recipe link, one is I am using this recipe to make the meatballs: http://www.thefamilyhomestead.com/beefveggiemeatloaf.htm   and I am using my own homemade stock instead of water and bouillon cubes), bread of some sort, salad

Tuesday
Leftovers..  soup is one of those meals you don’t mind eating again. 

Wednesday
Sandwiches and tomato soup..  I will be cooking all day in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner so I wanted something simple.  I make the tomato soup according to the recipe only making it with my own home canned tomato puree. 

Thursday
Thanksgiving Dinner!!  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls, salad, pumpkin pies (I'll be sharing my favorite recipes in the next blog post)

Friday
Sierra’s birthday!  Sushi (her favorite, purchased from Costco), pot stickers and a few other Asian type foods and maybe a small pizza for those that are not fans of sushi (is it possible that there are people who are not fans of sushi??!!  ;)

Saturday
Leftover thanksgiving dinner

Sunday
Black bean soup, crackers, salad

 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My Daughter Arrived Safe and Sound






What a crazy week.  It was lots of last minute details getting Leanne ready to leave for S. Korea.  Packing, checking items off her list, weighing the suitcases, deciding what to leave behind, visiting family one last time, spending as much time with her as we could…  and then very early Friday morning we took her to the airport.  We stayed and watched as she went through security and waved “good bye” one last time.  I thought I would hold it together..  but the tears came.  It was hard to watch her walk away and know I won’t see her for a year.

We came home and it was little melancholy for all us during the day.  We kept busy with household stuff and I got my hubby off to work in the evening.  During the day we were watching her flight progress online.  The internet is amazing in so many ways.  Her first stop was San Francisco.  Her layover was only 2 hours and she had to go through security again.  Her first flight was delayed by a half hour so she had no time to let me know she had arrived.  She did not have a cell phone as her plans were to get one after she got to S. Korea.  She did have her laptop, but no time to talk.  She boarded her Asiana Air flight at 12:00 in the afternoon and then had a 12 hour flight.  Her plane landed in Seoul at 12:am our time, 6:pm S. Korea time.  Then it was customs, and someone from the school picking her up. 

I waited all morning to hear from her.  Finally at around 3:30 this afternoon I heard from her.  She was safe and sound and at a hotel resting.  That wait nearly did me in!!  It was so hard to go all those hours and not hear from her or hear if everything was all right.  I prayed a lot and just trusted that the Lord was watching out for her.  And He was!! 

She starts a week of training on Monday morning (our Sunday afternoon).  Not a lot of time to recover from jet lag.  But I know she will do fine.  I will be happy when she is in her apartment and is settled into her new routine (and I know she will be too!). 

That’s all from the homestead for now..  soon life here at home will settle down and we will start working on “normal” again..  :)


Monday, November 12, 2012

This Week’s Menu



 
Monday
Bbq beef sandwiches (using my recently canned beef), tomato soup (using this recipe and adapting to use my home canned tomato puree), salad – it was a busy day today and I wanted an easy meal

Tuesday
Tacos w/all the trimmings, salad

Wednesday
Crockpot chili, chips & salsa, salad

Thursday
Leftovers

Friday
Lasagna, french bread, salad

Saturday

Sunday
Leftovers

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Canning Chicken


I just can’t let my canner sit idle for too long! :) I actually just love having my canning shelves full of food choices for quick meals, soups, casseroles. It makes life just a bit simpler and still allows me to feed my family good quality homemade foods.

Yesterday I canned about 14 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. A few weeks back I did this with beef (blog post HERE). I have already used several jars for soup, enchiladas and bbq beef sandwiches. I figured it was time to add some chicken to the canning shelves.

I cut most of the fat off the chicken pieces and then cut the thighs into 3 or 4 pieces each. I planned on canning this in pint size jars. I added ½ teaspoon salt to each pint jar..



I began to pack the jars with the meat. I packed them tightly and worked to make sure there were no gaps and air pockets. I did not add any liquid. The chicken will cook and make its' own yummy broth.



I then wiped the rims clean and added a lid and ring…




And put them in the canner…



And canned them for 75 minutes (it would 90 minutes for quart jars) at 10 pounds pressure (for my altitude). You can check the correct pressure for your altitude here: http://www.simplycanning.com/altitude-adjustments.html

I ended up with 14 pint jars of chicken. 
 

Friday, November 9, 2012

One Week



I’m sitting here in my quiet house this morning trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Leanne will be leaving for S. Korea in one week! The time is going by too quickly. I am very happy for her as she is so excited for this adventure to begin in her life.

I’m a little sad to see my sweet daughter leave and know she will be gone for a year. It seems like a long time (and I'm ever so thankful for Skype.. :). I remember when Emily left for Denmark and I remember when my oldest son headed off to Iraq for a 15 month deployment (and when he left for Cuba for a 12 month deployment). It seems like such a long road ahead when it begins. One thing I remember is that life does move forward and time goes by faster than we realize. Before I know it the seasons will change and we will be here at this time of year again welcoming her home.

For now the adventure is just beginning and I have been busy helping her get many last minute needed things checked off her list before she has to leave. My blogging may be spotty for another week or so until life settles down again…

 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Wedding!


Wow!! What an experience for our family! Tobin and I and our two daughters Leanne and Sierra flew down to Sacramento, CA on Friday. Our sons and my sister in law Debbie and her daughter (our niece) Megan drove down.

On Friday night we all enjoyed a BBQ at Brandon’s parents’ home, meeting many of his family members and friends. It was a fun time.

On Saturday morning we had the wedding ceremony at Brandon’s parents’ home. It was attended by close family and a few friends. Brandon is Vietnamese and we experienced a traditional Vietnamese wedding. It was very beautiful and a whole different cultural experience for our family. Then on Saturday evening we had the reception. Again, it was full of culture and a glimpse into this amazing family. We were awe struck by the love, devotion and honor to family and the support and encouragement that we saw among the many family members and friends who attended the reception. There was a 10 course Asian meal served that was absolutely delicious! Followed by much dancing and fun.

On Sunday it was time to head home. My boys and my sister in law got an early start (it was a 10 to 12 hour drive for them). The girls and Tobin and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast at our hotel and then caught our afternoon flight back home. It was an exciting, blessed whirlwind weekend!

Many, many pictures were taken that day by a couple of great photographers. I got a few but nothing as nice as theirs, I just don't have the official wedding pictures yet.  But I wanted to share a little look into our special day with you. My daughter Sierra got in on the photography action as well and these are a few of the pictures she took (except for the first one, that is only one I have so far of Emily in her traditional Vietnamese wedding dress) …  I hope to share a few more when the official pictures come my way..








Leanne & Isaac (my ballroom dancers) did a dance special...


 

Monday, November 5, 2012

This Week’s Menu



 

Monday
Chicken curry, rice, salad

Tuesday
Pork chops, baked potatoes, salad

Wednesday
Spaghetti, french bread, salad

Thursday
Crockpot rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, salad

Friday
Leftovers

Saturday
Enchiladas, tortilla chips & salsa, salad

Sunday
Breakfast for dinner: waffles, eggs, bacon, fruit salad




Monday, October 29, 2012

This Week’s Menu



 
This week’s menu is short.  On Friday my family and I will be heading to California for my daughter Emily’s wedding and will not be back until Sunday. 

Monday
Asian chicken, rice, salad (Leanne’s is cooking this night)

Tuesday
Sautéed sausages w/onion & mushrooms, baked potatoes, salad

Wednesday
Taco’s w/all the trimmings, chips & salsa

Thursday
Spaghetti, french bread, salad

Friday to Sunday
Out of town..   :)


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Becoming an Empty Nest





A while back a nice lady sent me an email asking me to write a a blog post on how I handled the difficulties of watching my children leave home and my thoughts on the empty nest topic.  At this point I’m not an empty nest yet, but I see it quickly approaching. After raising 8 children the thoughts of soon being down to the last 2 at home makes the empty nest much more of a reality. In this post I’m sharing my thoughts on this subject.


I was 18 when I had my first child and 33 (almost 34) when I had my 8th and last child. I have loved having a big family. I’ve spent my life devoted to raising them, caring for them and educating them. In the years that all of them were at home the thoughts of them someday growing up, beginning their own lives and moving away from home, honestly never occurred to me. I felt like the life I was living would go on forever; which was ok with me. I enjoyed it. Then my oldest son moved out. He had a job in the city and was going to college full time and he moved in with his grandfather to be closer to work and school. I cried myself to sleep that first night that he left. Then the reality hit me. Someday this will come to an end. All the children will grow up, move out and move on. It was a sad sobering thought to me.


Another reality hit me soon after this. As I was thinking, contemplating and praying about my son leaving home and in the years to follow the rest of my children leaving home, I realized something more important. This is exactly what I am raising them for. I am raising them to become their own people. Not my emotional crutch. Not my emotional stability. Not my emotional fulfillment. I am raising them to become independent, capable, God fearing, Jesus loving, people that can care for themselves, their families and step out in this world as prepared as much as I am able to prepare them.
 

One by one my children have begun to move out and move on with their own lives. It is always a little sad for me when they move on. But, I’m not sad for long knowing that they are stepping out in this world and fulfilling their own desires and purpose. I soon look at them and feel blessed to see adults that are productive, happy, achieving their goals and God given purpose in life.


This year I started out with 5 children still at home. Emily had come home after her year in Denmark working as an au pair and Jacob had lived with Hannah and her family for a short time while he was working full time in the city and not wanting the very long commute that living at home would have been. But the job ended for him and he moved back home. My house was full again. Then Emily got a job that was an hour and half away and moved closer to her work, Jacob began community college and working 4 to 5 nights a week and once again moved in with Hannah & her family to save on commute time and gas. Now Leanne will be leaving in less than a month for South Korea. As it stands at this point I will be down to my last 2 children living at home.


I have to admit that after 30 years of mothering/parenting I’m actually a little excited about what life with a small family looks and feels like and the prospect of being an empty nest in a few short years. You see, long ago I realized that I am my own person and not completely defined by my children but defined by many things. I think the empty nest issues result when we feel like we are only defined by our children and our role in raising them. Part of who I am is a mother and one who has dedicated her life to them, but there is so much more to see and experience. There are things I’ve wanted to do but not had the time to do, volunteer work I would love to do but not have had the time, home business ideas I would like to explore but have had no time, writing I’ve wanted to do but not had the time. You see the “me” that I know is proud to be a mom but also knows there is more to me as well. 


That is not to say I am in any hurry to see my children leave. Not at all, I am excited to spend one on one time with the youngest children. Sometimes in a big family the last are the ones that receive the least attention because as the older ones grow they seem to require so much to help them launch and begin their own lives. Now I have the time to invest more into them and this excites me. But I know that the same I’ve seen with the others will happen with them… they will move out and move on. And that is the way it should be!


Another part of who I am is a wife. During 30 years of raising children it’s easy to forget that my husband and I were a couple before we had children. We look forward to the years of freedom to be “us” again. I’ve seen many couples let their marriage take a back seat to raising a family. My husband and I have made a point over the years to nurture our relationship. We knew it was important to care for and invest in. We did not want to wake up after 35 years of raising children and look at each other and have no idea who “we” were any more. Part of becoming and empty nest for us has meant more time spent together and more time invested in our relationship and that has been such a sweet reward.


Life seems to be about seasons. There is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven). There is a season to meet and marry the man you love, a season to have a family, a season to raise them and a season to let them go… and a season to embrace and enjoy what God has still for you to do. We all want purpose in life. And certainly having children and raising a family is an incredible purpose. As that season begins to change then it is good to know that the Lord has another purpose for us. Another season for us to walk into. Just like the seasons of the year we walk from summer into fall and it is different, but it is still full of beauty, joy and excitement if we allow the Lord to guide the way.