Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year!!

I love the New Year. A fresh start, time to think, God's story of your life ready to unfold day by day. 

Last year was a good year. After a few discouraging years in a row it was a much needed blessing for us. The birth of 3 grandson's was the highlight! 
I'm excited for the year to begin. I have my word for the year picked out (you can find info on this HERE if you are not familiar with this). 

My word last year was “intent”. It was a perfect word for me. My desire was to be intent on all that I pursued. To be focused on the areas of my life that were important to me.

This year my word is “purpose”. I desire to live my life with purpose, to live it purposefully. 

This year I have goals and desires, plans and direction. I need to live my days with purpose in order to see accomplishments.

I hope to share more about these topics throughout the month of January.

Also, as I start my 11th (or is it 12th :) year of blogging I want to say a huge thank you to all who follow my blog, visit here, leave comments. I am truly grateful for you and the friendships of so many. I'm always amazed by the number of ladies that tell my that you've been following me from the start. God bless you all!

My goal to share and encourage other women is a blessing that has more then given back to me over the years. Every time I hear anyone tell me they've been encouraged by my blog and writing and sharing, I am encouraged as well.

I look forward to stepping into 2017 with you all!


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wednesday Snap Shot

Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)

So Far This Week
This year was probably the most relaxed Christmas I've had in years. :) Mostly because the big family celebration was the prior week. So Christmas day was just my hubby, youngest daughter, her boyfriend and my sons. Hubby had worked the night before and slept until 3:00 and we opened gifts after he got up. I had cooked the day before and just set out food and everyone just ate as they got hungry, we enjoyed coffee, hot cocoa and goodies. And we visited a lot.

As the week the started it was time for me to do a little clean up around the house. Usually I put Christmas away the day after. But on Monday I just picked up the house and went and visited my daughter Hannah and my grandbabies.

Yesterday hubby and I hopped in the car and drove north to to Port Townsend, Washington to visit his parents. We just did a day trip. It makes a long day, a 4 hour drive each direction. But we do love a road trip and don't mind the drive. It was good to visit with them. My mother in law was celebrating her 81st birthday and it was a blessing to spend it with her.

On My To-Do List
Today I plan to put Christmas away. I love the feeling of getting my home back in order and ready to walk into the New Year.

So, I have two goals for today..

~Grocery Shopping
~Put Christmas away

Projects I'm Working On
I'm focusing on 2017 right now. I'm getting my journals (prayer journal, household journal) together. I'm also working on my word for the year. Does anyone else do this? I came across the idea of a yearly word a few years ago. If you are not familiar with this you can see more info HERE.

Today's Weather
High of 35, low of 28. The snow is slowly melting. We had more snow fall on Monday night but it was short lived.

The View from my Deck (or window)
The clouds hovering above the river (the Columbia River is nestled down past the tree line) and on top of the mountains made for a pretty view this morning.

What I'm Reading
I did a happy dance for a few minutes when I finished The Count of Monte Cristo. I LOVED the book, but it was long! However, the authors writing talent just amazed me. As you can see I really love older novels. I go through phases where I read more modern books and then go back to classics. As happy as I was to finish the book and see how it ended, I was also sad to come to walk away from all those wonderful characters.

I've now moved on to another book. Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet. It's shorter and I love a good mystery and am enjoying the book! It's another freebie from Amazon for the Kindle. :)

I've finished the book of Joshua. I love the Old Testament.. It can seem, sometimes, as you read through it that it really does not apply to us today. But it does. All Scripture has a message for us. In the book of Joshua, the lessons I saw.. Inheriting the Promised Land, it was given to them.. fighting their enemies with God on their side, dividing the land between the tribes, their blessing.. and it was a blessing that extended to those gentiles that believed (Rahab and her family and Caleb). A picture of salvation and God's blessings to us today.

Now moving onto Judges. :)

What I'm Listening To
My daughter just left for work, my son headed to work a couple hours ago so I'm listening to clocks ticking, hubby humming :) as he's restocking the wood stove, the bathroom fan running, the dishwasher. Funny the sounds you hear when you stop and just quietly listen.

Something Frugal I've Done This Week
Again it was not a week of doing something new and purposful to be frugal. I'm working on using up leftovers again so food does not go to waste. :) As the new year is starting I'm making a goal to be purposely frugal in more areas of my life.  I think I'll add a "frugal" section to my homemaking journal! :)

Fitness for the Week
I lost my Fitbit charger for a few days. In all the hubbub of Christmas and prep I misplaced it. It felt so strange. I've had it for almost 3 years now and realized how much of my day I think about moving and walking. I am always so encouraged by my Fitbit to walk and move on a regular basis. I was very happy that in my general clean up of the house after Christmas I found it, recharged it and was back in business. My focus, now that the holidays are over, is to get back to my goal of 10,000 steps or more each day.


Monday, December 26, 2016

Menu Monday!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was relaxed and enjoyable. We did not open gifts until about 3:00 in the afternoon. We waited for my hubby to wake up for the day (he works the night shift). It's nice that my kids are adults and can handle the wait, ha, ha! :) That would never have worked when they were younger.

On Christmas Eve day I baked a ham and made a potato casserole and a salad and had the leftovers from that on Christmas day.

Meal planning this week won't be to difficult. I'll use the leftover ham that I have and add it into a couple other meals. In fact tonight I'm making mac & cheese w/ham mixed in it. I'll add a salad on the side. After a few days of rich, sweet foods I've had my fill and am desiring some fresh veggies.

Also  after tonight I'll be ready for a few nights of something other than ham! :) So I have a couple good looking chicken recipes to try out. Here is what I have planned for the rest of the week...

Lemon Garlic Chicken
I found THIS recipe for my Instant Pot (IP) and want to try it out. I'll serve rice and broccoli along with the chicken.

Salsa Verde Chicken
This looks super easy and sounds yummy and super quick made in my IP. Tortilla chips and a salad will be the side dishes. You can find the recipe HERE.

Navy Bean & Ham Soup
I'll use the ham and any meat leftover to make the soup. I'll serve crackers and either a veggie tray or a salad on the side.

If I need another meal this week I'll make tacos. I seem to always have on hand what I need for them.

That should do it for us. How's your menu planning coming this week?


Friday, December 23, 2016

Little Christmas Socks

I wanted to share the Christmas socks I made for my grandchildren. I've always loved Christmas socks and it was my tradition to fill socks for my children every Christmas and they have fun memories of this.

I wanted to do something similar for my grandchildren, but on a smaller bases. I wanted my own children to be able to carry on the tradition they had for their children. So I had this idea.

How about using childrens socks and fill them with a few goodies? So I purchased the socks...

I rolled the mate of each sock and put them in the bottom of the other sock. Then I assembled the goodies...

I filled the socks..

And hung them on the tree...

My grandchildren loved them..


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Wednesday Snap Shot

Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)

So Far This Week
We had our family Christmas celebration on Saturday. My hubby and my son's girlfriend have to work on Christmas Eve so we decided to celebrate early. It was so much fun to have my house full of family. Lots of laughter and lots of grandchildren noise.

Sierra took a family photo of everyone. And it was a big group even though we were missing some of children who live out of state and out of the country. One of these days when everyone is here I don't think we are all going to fit in the living room! :)

After that it was major house clean up. But our time together was well worth the mess.

On My To-Do List
I do have a few more gifts to wrap. The big Christmas is done, but the small one with my kids at home will be on the 25th. So that is on my list today.

~Wash guest room sheets and remake the beds
~Vacuum both the upstairs, and basement stairways
~Grocery shopping

Projects I'm Working On
I was so happy with both my projects I've made recently, the foaming hand soap and the homemade vanilla extract. I purchased bottles for both and had them for gifts to give on Saturday. I ran out of time to label them, but they still were pretty.

Here are the links to the foaming hand soap bottles

And the glass bottles I used for the vanilla..

(Both of the above are affiliate links)

Today's Weather
Our snowy weather held a grip on us for a couple weeks. On Monday at 6:00am it was 27 degrees and by 9:00am it had jumped to 37 degrees. It was raining and the snow was starting to melt. It was a relief to me. It has been nice not to have to stress about my kids or husband driving on icy roads.

As for today, High of 44 Low of 30, and sun is promised for this afternoon.   Works for me!

The View from my Deck (or window)
My deck is icy and slippery this morning, so it's a view from my window.  :)   we still have some snow left but it is slowly melting

What I'm Reading
I'm about halfway through the book of Joshua. I'm also now on chapter 95 of The Count of Monte Cristo, of 117 chapters. I'm in the home stretch and it is so good! I've spent a couple nights up way to late making my way through this book because I could not wait to see what would happen next! The mark of an excellent book for sure!

What I'm Listening To
The sound of my husband restocking firewood in our wood bin and my daughter getting ready for work.

Something Frugal I've Done This Week
The weeks before Christmas is a hard time to be frugal. But as I've said, there are a lot of frugal things I do in my life that are just part of my lifestyle. So the one thing on my mind this week was packing my husbands lunch. My hubby has been working for the last 34+ years and pretty much every day I've packed him a lunch. He was telling me the other day of the lunches that so many buy at work.. and the cost! My son was telling me about this too. He packs his lunch but sees his co workers spending $5 to $10 a day for lunch. Not only is that totally outrageous when you add it up on a monthly basis but so unhealthy. I'm happy to see my kids carry this on.. my sons make their own lunches, my daughters pack lunches for their hubbies...  It costs very little to pack food for my husband.. and those $$$$ saved can be spent in so many other more important ways.

Fitness for the Week
I'm not on my game, because I've been in a busy family mode. And I'm totally ok with this. Family is always the priority in my life, so the walking with a purpose will have to wait. I am, however, itching to get back on top of it as soon as I can.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Menu Monday!

My family had our Christmas dinner on Saturday and we had a LOT of food. And I swear I still feel stuffed, ha, ha!! :) So I'm going to attempt to figure out what to eat when nothing is sounding particularly good.

Tonight will be easy. I still have some leftovers from our dinner to serve. So we'll be having a buffet of kaula pork, meatballs, macaroni salad and I'll make a green salad to go with this.

I have more leftovers to use up but after a few days we've pretty much had our fill. So I'm going to freeze the rest for a couple future meals as well as a meal or two for my husband's work lunches.

The rest of the week is looking like this..

Chicken Soup
I love making chicken soup in my Instant Pot. So easy, so good. I'll serve biscuits and a salad along side.

Basic hamburger tacos with all the trimmings. I'll serve tortilla chips and salsa along with the tacos.

I'll probably not be making it, but picking up a pizza when I'm out grocery shopping. Costco has very good pizza and you can buy a whole, baked pizza for $10. It makes an easy, inexpensive fast meal. I always serve salad with pizza meals to balance it out. :)

Split Pea Soup
I'll make this split pea soup with bacon and maybe even try making it in my IP. French bread or biscuits will be served on the side.

That should do it for the week! How's your menu planning coming along this week?


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Wednesday Snap Shot

Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)

So Far This Week
What a weekend it was! We don't get a lot of snow over the winter. But when a snowstorm does hit, sometimes it can be a big one. It started Wednesday afternoon but only left a dusting and I thought that might be all. But no, it began snowing again on Thursday and all day Friday and well into the night. By the time I got up on Saturday morning we were in a winter wonderland.

I might appreciate snow more if it was not such a challenge here. And if I did not have children out driving in it. My husband grew up in the Midwest so he seems to manage well in adverse winter conditions. But here in the Northwest we never seem to have snow hang around long enough for drivers to get much experience in it.

My daughter was working in town when the storm hit and decided not to try and come home but went to her sister's house instead. The highway to our house has curves, hills, drop offs and can make winter driving particularly challenging and scary. Then there is the uphill road to our house and our driveway that can be a bit of a trick to get up.

The next morning things were not much better but she and a friend decided to head home. It was slow going but she made it as far as the end of our driveway and it was too slick for her car to make it up the hill.

With some teamwork and help from the tractor we got her up to the house.

My son works closer to home so he was able to make it to work but a friend and co-worker could not get back to his house so he came home with my son and spent the weekend with us.

My hubby was able to make it back and forth to work, but not without chains and plowing the drive way, twice, in order to get home.

I'm happy to say that the weather warmed up rather quickly, the roads cleared and all is normal once again.

On My To-Do List
Dealing with the weather, keeping the fire burning and making sure my houseful of people were fed over the weekend had all my attention.
However today another snow storm is suppose to come in and hopefully it won't be as big as last weeks.

Now I'm getting back to cleaning up, dealing with clutter and getting the house prepped for the family Christmas gathering next weekend. I'm really looking forward to the family time.

~Guest room clean up
~Vacuum and mop floors
~Wrap a few more gifts

Projects I'm Working On
I made my own vanilla last week. It was very easy! I have not tried to use any yet. I ordered some cute little bottles from Amazon to put the extract in and will be filling them up, labeling and putting pretty ribbons on as soon as they arrive.  

I'm also planning on making a few bottles of foaming hand soap from my own homemade liquid soap.  I also ordered a few bottles from Amazon for this and will do the same thing, label them and put ribbons on, to hand out to guests.

Today's Weather
High of 33 (in the city, I doubt we'll see 33 where I am at), low of 26. Snow in the afternoon and wind, lots of wind

The View from my Deck (or window)

What I'm Reading
I'm in the book of Joshua and enjoying that.  I'm also still making my way through The Count of Monte Cristo, excellent book and I'd love to make more progress through the book, but reading time has been minimal lately. 

What I'm Listening To
The washing machine going, hubby in the kitchen warming up some breakfast and occasional wind gusts outside.

Something Frugal I've Done This Week
Hmm...  I'm not sure this was a week where I did anything extra frugal.  My lifestyle is pretty frugal as it is so it was a week of burning wood to keep the house warm which also makes hot water for us as my hubby has the water pipes from the hot water tanks piped through the wood stove.  Both of these things helps to keep our winter electricity bills very low. 

Fitness for the Week
I have good days but with all the snow and people to take care of my fitness goals have not been at the top of my list.  I do find December with all it has going on a hard month to keep up with my walking.  But, no worries it is just a season and I'll get back on it soon. 

I'll leave you this week with some pictures, taken by my daughter Sierra,  from our winter wonderland...

Monday, December 12, 2016

Menu Monday!

We had an eventful weekend with the weather (which I'll share more about on Wednesday) and I had extra people in my house waiting for the storm to end. I ended up doing a lot of cooking to keep tummies fed. I made chili and soup, breakfast foods and more.

This week my attention is focused on our family dinner and shopping and making final plans for that. We we'll be having our meal on Saturday. I'll be doing easy meals for the rest of the week.

My plans for this week...

Roasted Chicken in the Instant Pot
I'm hoping to make a video of the roasted chicken in the IP. We'll see how my week goes and if I have time for that. In any case I'll be serving my chicken with stuffing and a salad

Basic, quick and simple. I'll serve it with french bread and green beans.

Pan Fried Petite Sirloin Steaks
I'll make garlic roasted potatoes and a veggie of some sort to go with this.

Christmas Dinner
I'm making kalua pork in the IP and saucy meatballs in the crockpot. I'll use the chili sauce & grape jelly combo for the meatballs. I will also make some macaroni salad as well. The rest of the meal is going to be pot luck style. I have others bringing a crockpot bean dish, another side dish of choice, veggie side dishes and dessert.

That sums up my week. How's your menu plan coming along this week?


Friday, December 9, 2016

Instant Pot Potato, Corn & Bacon Chowder

Oh this was good!! I just kind of put this together as I was going along. I had about 3# of potatoes that needed to be used up and about 3/4# bacon in my fridge. The measurements are simply based on what I had. The end result was eaten up in no time at all!

I peeled and cut up my potatoes, fried up the bacon and then put everything in my IP...

I let this cook on "manual" for 10 minutes and did a natural pressure release for about 10 minutes and then did a quick release of the pressure after that.  I used a potato masher to mash up some of the potatoes to thicken the soup.

Then added the cream and it was ready to serve...

If the chowder is to thick for your preference, add more cream.  If it is to thin, mash up a few more of the potatoes. 

Perfect meal for cold winter evening.

Potato, Corn & Bacon Chowder for the Instant Pot

This recipe could easily be made on the stove top as well or the crockpot. The IP just made the whole process much quicker and infused all these wonderful flavors much better as well, in my opinion :)

3# potatoes, peeled can cut up
1 can corn, drained
¾ # of bacon, cut up and fried until crisp
3 cups water (or chicken broth)
2t salt (you can omit if using chicken broth)
½ to 1t pepper
1t garlic
1 cup cream or half n half

Put everything except the cream (or half n half) in the Instant Pot. Put the lid on, set the sealing knob to “Seal”. Select “manual” and set the time for 10 minutes.

When cooking time is done let it sit for about 10 minutes then release any remaining pressure.

Open the lid. Use a potato masher to mash up some of the potatoes to thicken the broth. Add the cream, stir.. serve with some thick slices of toasted french bread and enjoy!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wednesday Snap Shot

Wednesday Snap Shot is a quick peek into my week.

If you'd like to join in on my Wednesday Snap Shot.. copy and paste my post, add your answers (you can also copy the pic).. link your post to my blog and then come back and let me know you shared your week. I'll come and visit you and read about your homemaking week!! :)

So Far This Week
I was still in vacation mode for the end of last week. My hubby had 2 weeks off and then went back to work for 2 nights and then back on his weekend. The break was so nice. With him being home we did more things together and that kept me busy.

This week so far I've got the groceries in the house and have been focused on finishing up my Christmas shopping and planning our family Christmas. My husband and my son's girlfriend have to work on Christmas Eve (our traditional time to get together) so I'm planning on the 17th (the weekend before) for our family time.

On My To-Do List
Vacuum carpets
Sweep & mop floors
Wrap a few Christmas gifts

Make vanilla extract :)

Projects I'm Working On
I found something to make for Christmas!! I like to have small gifts to give to people who come to my house or when I go to someone's house. I saw an article on how to make vanilla extract in the Instant Pot. Sooo easy. Normally you have to let the beans and vodka sit for 6 months. With the IP it can be made in 1 hour.. yay!! :) Went shopping yesterday and found the vanilla beans at Costco and then bought the vodka. I'm super excited to make this today.

Today's Weather
High of 35, low 26 ..  it's chilling down!  Feeling winter coming on.. 

The View from my Deck (or window)
It's a frosty morning and there is some snow on the mountains.  It tried to snow here yesterday but it was short lived, at least at my house. Higher up there was snow.

What I'm Reading
I finished the book of Deuteronomy. It was long and interesting. So many laws. But so many messages.. Remember your past, remember God's redemption, get rid of idols, don't let them into your life, write God's Word on your heart. Lessons for us as Christians to follow today.

What I'm Listening To
It's one of those quiet mornings. I hear my clock ticking, and the fire in the wood stove crackling and my hubby doing a few things around the house.

Something Frugal I've Done This Week
Keep a handle on leftovers. Managing a fridge is not easy.. ha, ha. I really dislike waste of food. Sometimes it is hard for it not to happen. Things go bad before you can eat them, you buy to much of something and it goes bad, you make a meal bigger than you can eat in a few days, etc. The key for me is to know what I have in there at all times. It's easy for things to get pushed to the back and forgotten. So I evaluate my fridge ever couple of days and search for things to use up. Sometimes I have to figure out ways to use up small amounts of things. I can add them to another meal, freeze them, make a new meal from them in some creative way.

Fitness for the Week
It has been an off week for me. I'm ok with this.. there are two ways to look at fitness... 1) pass or fail... you make plans to get fit.. you work hard at it for a time and then life throws something at you and you lose your focus.. this equals a fail.. and you give up. The second.. 2)you look at the big picture, life has it's ups and downs and changes, but your desire to improve yourself and be fit does not change.. you accept that life can be like this and you give yourself permission to have off times and this does not equal failure.. just life and reality.. I'm a number 2... In January I'll start my 3rd year of making the decision to get fit.. and in the last 2 years there has been many ups and downs.. times I excel and times I don't... the most important thing to me is simple.. NEVER GIVE UP.. keep on fighting.. keep on walking.. :)


Monday, December 5, 2016

Menu Monday!

I survived last week without a menu.. :) but I've been doing menu's for so long now that I don't like the feeling of having no idea what I'm cooking every day. But, it was a good opportunity to be creative!

I had about 3#'s of potatoes that needed to be used up. They were starting to grow eyes and few felt slightly soft. I also had about ¾ of a pound of bacon in the fridge that was an open package and thought potato soup sounded good. I used my IP to make it and it was delish. I have pics I took and will try and get it posted with my super easy recipe later this week.

I also took a 2# pork roast and sliced into thick slices, layed it in my IP and liberaly sprinkled it with Cajun seasonings (Tony Chaceries brand) a little salt, pepper and garlic. I added about 1 ½ cups of water and pressure cooked it for about 10 minutes. When it was done I shred it into chunky pieces. We used this to make pork sandwiches and wraps and used it to top salads.

The other meal I made was my own rendition of Summer Pasta in the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker (IP). Normally this is made in a pot on the stove. You put chicken broth, chicken (raw), veggies (onions, tomatoes, greens, etc) and spices in and pasta. You cook everything at the same time, drain and serve. It is an easy dish as it is but it turned out way more flavorful and the chicken much more moist doing it the IP.  However I had to more water in there then the pasta could absorb so it was more soupy but still good! 

Anyway.. now on to this week and my menu...

Tonight we are eating up the leftover Summer Pasta. I made that on Sunday. I'll serve some french bread with it and a salad.

Pizza Bread & Tomato Soup
I plan on taking pizza crust dough, rolling it out and filling it with pepperoni and cheese and rolling it up (cinnamon roll style) and baking it (basically just my pepperoni bread recipe made with pizza dough.. LOL). I'll serve this with homemade tomato soup and a salad.

Asian Chicken Tacos
Sounds different, I'm sure it will be :) But every now and again it's nice to add a new twist to a favorite. Here is my plan, cook up some chicken thighs or breasts in my IP with Asian spices and shred it up. Fill corn tortillas with the meat, chopped red and green cabbage (mixed up with a little Asian flavored dressing), and top with some chopped up cilantro. I'll post the recipe and how to's if it turns out. Not sure yet what I'll serve with it. Rice would be traditional or maybe some egg rolls or ??? I'll have to wait to see what seems the best when I get there.

Sausage Rice Pilaf
I typically make this meal by frying up my sausage and veggies while my rice cooks and then mixing them together. Nowadays I do it all in the IP. It is a family favorite meal. I'll serve a veggie some biscuits along side.

That should do it for the week! How's your menu planning coming along this week?


Friday, December 2, 2016

The Birth of Raylan Truong

Oh where do I begin. The birth of my grandson was amazing in so many ways. Birth.. in today's society we've stripped women of the spiritual experience that it really is. God has something to show us, to take us through, to accomplish in each and every baby that is born. We walk through more than we had thought we would and we deal with more than we ever, ever thought we'd deal with. To know you have a God that loves you and is there for you is how you grow. The answer today from the medical community is simple.. epidural.. take the pain away.. take the suffering away. But it comes at a cost for so many. Not for everyone, but it is known that induction, epidurals, and such lead to C section for many women. And more importantly it takes away from the growth that God has for you through the process of birth. It is an incredible time in life to see the hand of God and to walk away feeling empowered and see growth in so many ways you never thought were possible!

I have this amazing daughter that wanted a natural birth. She did not want it to be invaded by doctors time lines and schedules and intervention. Even before she hit her due date she was being pressured to schedule an induction.. just so she would know there would be an end date. The Bible says.. there is a time to be born. Is it really so bad to wait for His timing? For His plan? My other daughter, Hannah, went 43 weeks and 4 days.. waiting for God's time.. and it was a beautiful birth. Emily knew our family has a history of being late. So she was prepared for this. She ended up being 13 days late.

After walking through every minute of this with her I can only say that I have NOTHING but the most admiration for her. She is much stronger than she ever thought she was.

From the beginning I felt like God had a plan for this baby's birth. HE had something to accomplish in all of this. I felt a total peace about this. I told her.. while every woman walks through the same process.. every woman has a different story.. their birth story.. and God was writing her birth story and we needed to just move through this and take it all in. Don't think about all the contractions you've had, or how many more are coming.. just deal with this one.. the one you are having, right now.

My daughter had a very, very long and hard labor. It was, undeniably, hard on this mama to watch at times. I've had 8 babies, I've attended many of my friends births, I've been with most all of my children for their births, I've delivered 2 of my grandchildren. I'm no stranger to labor and birth. And this one took the prize for endurance from everyone, especially mama.

She was in labor for 48 hours. Yes, 48 hours. From the time we had time-able contractions until this little man was born was.. 48 hours. We had a trip to the hospital when we felt things were moving along only to be told she was at 1cm.. and sent back home.. to labor more.. we walked, we rested, we fed her, we held her, we cried with her, we took every step with her. I would not have missed this for the world.

I saw my son in law as the most amazing man ever.. never left her side, encouraged her and helped her through each and every contraction. At one point she could not talk or walk through her contractions and would just stand and put her arms on him and he would rock her back and forth .. and after 3 hours of this he said.. “I know this is the longest slow dance we've ever had”.. aww.. how that touched me.. I saw love, real, powerful love. You make a baby and then you bring them into the world. It's a complete cycle. And the sweetest thing to walk through but even more precious to watch your child walk through.

She pushed for an hour and half. When she, I'm sure, thought she had nothing left to give to this process it was time. And she gave it everything she had. And finally, we had a baby.. laid on her tummy.. the reward for all that work, for all that pain, for all that love... a baby.. the sweetest reward imaginable.

Little Raylan Troung weighed 7lbs 9oz and was 21 inches long.

He was born on Thanksgiving Day... what a blessing!! While Emily was in labor we got hungry and the guys (my hubby and Em's hubby) went to seek out some food for us. The only place open on Thanksgiving was McDonald's... and that was our dinner.. It will go down as one of the most memorable Thanksgiving's for all of us!

I was surprised once again that the nurses in the hospital were so in awe that she was having a natural birth. I remember when my daughter, Hannah, was was having one of her baby's in the hospital. There were 2 student nurses that came in to watch and see a normal unmedicated birth.. because it is such anomaly today.

In the end all I can say is that birth is an empowering and spiritual experience for women. It is robbed from SO many women today. God has a plan, He created this process, it is normal... it is God's plan. He has something to accomplish in each and every birth.. if we let Him. And to have the blessing of experiencing this myself and then to watch my children experience it... is nothing but amazing to me. My heart is overflowing with God's love and grace.