Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Today I am linking up with Kelly's Korner for a Crockpotalooza where bloggers are posting our favorite crockpot recipes! I'm finding it hard to cook with two little ones who need my attention right at dinnertime. Most nights this summer Brian has grilled something delicious that we make into a salad. He's definitely the chef in our house and I am so grateful for it! But now that warmer weather is headed our way I am looking forward to pulling out the crockpot again! Here is one of my fav recipes that my friend Shanna gave me.

Easy Creamy Beef Stroganoff


1 lb cubed beef stew meat
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed golden mushroom soup
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 c. water
4 oz cream cheese
Egg Noodles

1.In a slow cooker, combine the meat, soup, onion, Worcestershire sauce and water.

2.Cook on Low setting for 8 hours, or on High setting for about 5 hours. Stir in cream cheese just before serving.

3. Cook egg noodles separately per package. Serve stroganoff on top.

Enjoy! Now do tell -what are your favorite crockpot recipes????

Let's Go Swimming!

Happy Wednesday everyone! Just time for a quick post while Isla is sleeping. Teagan's favorite Goldfish song says, "Let's go swimming, let's go swimming. Hey, let's go swimming!" On Saturday mornings she and Brian are going to a new daughter/daddy toddler swim class. I am not sure which one loves it more! They come home tired and happy out!

I snagged this picture one night at our pool. We have to ditch the floaties as the swim instructor said it kinda confuses what they teach them but Tea loves the independence they give her! She kept shouting that she was "flying like an airplane!"

Have a great day there!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Isla is 4 Months Old!

You were four months old this week my sweet baby Isla! I never posted your earlier milestones so this entry captures some of my favorite pictures of you since your birth on April 20, 2011!

The first six photos were taken by my friend Jennifer who lives next door. She is a wonderful photographer and these pictures will always remind me of the happy times our families shared while living in our little cul-de-sac. I am so grateful to her for capturing your newborn self as you changed so quickly!

*Today you weigh 14 lbs 6 oz

*You wear a size 6 mo and even 9 mo for onesies that your Auntie Angie bought you on our trip to Texas! You are my chunky monkey and seem bigger faster than I remember with your sister Teagan.

*You wear a size 2 diapers but you are busting out of them so as we finish up this pack during the week you will graduate to size 3!

You do so love your sleep! You wake up around 7:30 am. I try to give you one tablespoon of rice cereal (which still makes you cry, I'm sorry about that!) and a bottle. On weekdays Teagan and I sit down to breakfast while you watch from your bouncy chair. We read a Bible story together and then you go for a snooz in your crib until around lunchtime! You sleep again in the afternoon when Teagan takes a nap at 1:00 and then you are down again around 8:00 pm after your dinner. You and I get up in the night between 2:30 and 4:30 for another bottle. This is my favorite as we get time just to ourselves while the rest of the house is quiet. You still love to be swaddled but you sqwak while I am wrapping you up. No matter how agitated you may be you settle down into a sleepy dream state as you turn your head toward my voice and snuggle. I love that!

I remember taking this picture of you on Easter Sunday. You were just four days old!

Isla you are my little poof of happiness rolled into a cuddly sweet package! This month you started cooing and giggling when we smile and talk to you! Last week your sister got so excited when she tried to give you her stuffed lamb snuggle toy. You became so animated and "talked" back at her for the first time! This week I also heard you experiment with your voice trying to make high pitched screams. Daddy is going to LOVE this new development (as if the house wasn't noisy enough with three girls in it)!

Ann-Marie and Valerie gave you this soft and cozy bath towel! You love snuggling in it after bath time!

Your legs are strong too and this week you are all about trying to stand when I hold you! I can't wait to see what adventures Month Five brings!

I love you, Mommy

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

There is a Season

To Every Thing There is a Season
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
Ecclesiastes 3. 1-8

My favourite season is fall. It is a sigh of wonderfulness with its cooler weather, apple festivals, pumpkin patches and gorgeous colors that grace our trees. But most of all I love it because it signals that I have survived my least favourite time of year. In my mind I could do without summer at all. I hate when the sun turns everything including my pale Irish skin crispy, the air becomes oppressively hot, and bathing suits that seem to get smaller each year taunt me from the storefronts. Yep. I am no summer girl.

But this has been an especially cruel summer for so many of my family and friends. It had me thinking today that I've had enough of this season already. I am ready for the fall to arrive and bring with it some relief and new beginnings. In the meantime, I thought I'd dedicate today's post to prayer requests. I believe in the power of prayer. Yessiree I do. Would you help me by whispering a few names to God? These people are so very special to me and yet I know my tired momma brain must have left someone off the list. I suspect there may be some of you reading who need a prayer or two as well. If so please leave a comment or email me at I promise to pray for you and if you are ok with it I'll post your need on this site in an upcoming post.

• Shirley - My stepmother recently lost my dad who was her husband for 37 years. This has been such a tough transition for her. As if that were not difficult enough she is in the midst of her own intense fight against cancer. Pray she finds peace and that her treatment is working. We so hope she'll be able to head our way this fall for a much needed vacation.

• Dave, Shanna, Caleb and Liam - After waiting two agonizing weeks to see if toddler Caleb has the ALD gene which leads to degenerative brain disease they were told the hospital made a mistake. The lab did not run the correct test so they are having to wait again as a new round of testing became necessary. We pray both Caleb and baby Liam are spared this horrible disease and that instead Caleb has something that is curable or manageable with medicine.

• Kaitlyn B and Family - I have actually never met this family but have been following beautiful Kaitlyn's story after participating in a silent auction fundraiser for her family a few months ago. She has Niemann-Pick Disease (Type A), a rare, fatal genetic disease with no cure. The past week has been difficult for her family as she has had several medical scares. Please pray for peace for them as they cherish each moment with their baby.

• Brianne - Prayers for my sweet friend who has been out of a job for some time, is open to a career change and has an interview this week! You can do it Bri!!

• S.M. - I'm using initials here as I am not sure if she's ok with my publishing her "bidness"! She's having digestive issues which run in her family so please say a prayer she'll get some relief and quick!

• My aunt Toshiko - She is having surgery this week on her foot so please say prayers for a speedy recovery and no pain!

• Darling - He is a child that my friend Amy sponsors through Compassion International. We always include him in our family prayers at dinnertime. Darling lives in the Dominican Republic so today we are praying that he and his family are safe from any impact hurricane Irene may have on the region.

• Amy and Alden – (Speaking of Amy) These must be the sweetest sisters ever. They lost their father suddenly just before my dad passed away. By all accounts he was a wonderful man. This has been a painful transition for them so please keep them in your prayers

• Pascaline - This is our little girl that we sponsor through Compassion International. I recently got a letter that her mom has been sick for nine months with something concerning her stomach. This so worries me as ultimately it was a gastrointestinal problem that killed my dad. I pray her mom is getting better and I pray that there will be no additional impact from the instability and famine in the regions around Rwanda. I pray our little Pascaline has the food, water, shelter and safety that should be available to any child in our world.

• Krissy - (You didn't think I'd forget you now did you girlie??) She has an upcoming medical procedure she is nervous about. Pray it will be the peace o'cake I know it will be!

Ok...who have I left off? I know I am gonna be lying in bed at 4:00 am and think of someone...

Have a great Thursday everyone!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Isla's Big Bite

Isla is officially four months old now! We took this video thinking it would record a life-changing moment where she discovered solid food! Baby tears and one red face later has me thinking we better keep looking before declaring rice cereal her favorite meal!

After a week on this we get to try veggies. The pediatricians in the United States have us start with a color such as orange and make our way through it by introducing the baby to a new food every 2-3 days. For example,we could start with pureed pumpkin followed by carrots, parsnips, squash before moving onto the next color. In a few months we'll do the same with fruits but the idea is that if we start with fruit there is no way we'll get her to eat spinach! Who could blame her, right? Is this the same in Ireland, Japan and elsewhere? I'd love to hear what doctors in other countries recommend.

Hope you are all having a great week so far!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

August Fun and More on Watermarking

After our trip home for my dad's funeral we were worn out and in need of a few happy play dates! Last week on a super hot day we had Lera and Caleb over to make arts and crafts, Teagan's very favorite activity! I love these sweet tea pot picture frames!

Isla got sweet cuddles from Natasha who fed and changed her too! Natasha is wonderful to my baby girl!

We also made Cheerios bracelets! Caleb didn't have one to take home because he decided it was much more fun to eat his than make it!

This takes a lot of concentration!

I love little Lera's smile!

The big kids love Isla's swing! They took turns waiting to try it!

Lera waves goodbye with all her craft goodies! We had a great time!

Teagan's aunt Melissa never lets me take a pic so shhhh!! I am sneaking this cute one into the blog....

Another play date day and Lera's expression is priceless. Not sure she was ready for a Teagan hug at that bright hour!

Again, Natasha being so sweet to my Isla!

We also had a play date at my friend Polly's house. Her little Daniel and Ashleigh are so much fun and they have a total kids paradise at their house!

They even played dress up! Daniel looking fierce in his dino costume!

Sydney, Teagan and Daniel had a "party" for lunch!

I love this pic of neighbor Olivia. Isn't her apron so cute? They had us over for dinner recently!

We love you C family!

Adorable picture of Jackson at Melissa's new house! This so says The Joys of Summer!

Polly gives Isla lovin' too and you can see its effects! She fell right asleep on her shoulder!

Pick-a-boo Jackson!!

Sweet picture of Brecken and Krissy!

Teagan is a little worn out from all this fun but looking forward to fall festivities! Tomorrow is Isla's 4 month checkup so I'll be back to making special posts for her and Teagan to mark their milestones. I can't believe how much they have changed over the summer!

More About Watermarking....
In my last post I linked to an article that discussed the importance of protecting our online images. If you want to take a look at the article I referenced click here. I promised to follow up with some easy ways to watermark images so here's the scoop as I know it. Special thanks to Kelly's Korner which is one of my very favorite blogs. Kelly provided a ton of information on how to do this. You may have a better or faster way and if so please let us know in the comments section. I am always looking for ways to make this blog better and more effective especially when it comes to security features!

For now I am using It's easy and free but the downside is you have to edit each picture and resave it to your computer. To do so follow these steps:

Upload a picture onto Picnik
-Select Create
-Select Text
-Add your blog address or other marker
-Pick your font
-Position & resize the watermark
-Click Add

On the right side of the screen
-Fade to 50%
-Under Advanced Blend Modes select Overlay
-Select Share and Save
-Save watermarked photo back onto your computer

Some photo programs like Lightroom can be set up to automatically add a pre-set watermark as you export your pictures.You can also load pictures on your blog from Flickr or Photobucket and use a private account. This would ask for a password to see the picture.

Two more steps would be to disable right click and left click on pictures. Disable right click

Disable left click

That's the scoop I have! Hope everyone is off to a great week! I can't wait to see how much my chunky monkey weighs this morning! My bet is she is at least up to 14 pounds!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Elsa's Birthday Bash and Watermarking

Happy Friday everyone! I just noticed this marks my 101 post! Wow! I love being able to capture our family's life on this blog and hope one day it will provide great memories for Teagan and Isla as I have nary an additional second to keep up with baby books!

We had a great time at Elsa's 2nd Birthday Bash last weekend! Elsa is a sweet little angel and part of our Thursday play group. She also became a big sister recently to baby Eva. We love her and her family to bits!

I thought it way cool that Luke and Linda said in lieu of gifts we should consider making a donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation. This is a non-profit that grants wishes to children with life-threatening illness. What an amazing way to recognize and celebrate our sweet Elsa while making other children's dreams come true! Kudos to you Linda and Luke!

The party was at a My Gym and Teagan just went bonkers! She couldn't decide just what to do first. They had a trampoline, bubbles, ball pit, zipline, airplane swings hanging from the ceiling and so much more! It was so cool. And to top it off she had a cupcake and way fun party favor bag filled with lots of goodies.

I caught this cute video of Caleb and Teagan going crazy over the bubbles!

I love this picture of Melissa and Kaden. They are also part of our Thursday play date group. Kaden is lightening fast and I usually get the back of this head. Gotcha Kaden!!

His little brother Grayson is my photo buddy and always has a smile for me no matter how many pictures I wanna take!

Caleb and Dave watching Kaden and Grayson brave the zip line!

Linda's former boss made a career change and has a business making these too cute cupcakes!! They were such a hit!

This is such a cute video of the birthday girl! She was going to put on a special outfit for her guests including a tiara and wand...but got a little shy!


You may notice today my pictures have watermarks on them saying I have been thinking about doing this for a few months. After reading this scary article Posting Pictures Online Safely I'm a believer and will be doing this going forward. I'm still playing around with the sizing of the watermark but the most important aspect is to place it in the center of the photo so it can't be cropped out. It's a bummer we have to do this but it helps me sleep at night. In addition I never put the real scoop on my profiles for this site, youTube or anything associated with this site. And I try to be super careful about mentioning our home state or city, cropping any references out of photos. If you have a safety tip please post as I am always looking to learn more and protect ourselves!

Tomorrow I'll post options on how to watermark. It's easy-schmeasy so move on photo stealers, move on! Any friends who want a copy of pics of the kids should just message me in the comments or on FB.

Have a great day and hope you are off to something fabulous!

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Little Help From My Friends

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

Sometimes I struggle with words to write on this blog. The last few months have just done my head in. But nothing has been as hard to put into words as my emotions tonight. And yet writing is so important at this time. We need your prayers sweet readers. Real fervent, powerful prayers in this city, on our continent and beyond.

If you've read my blog over the years you've seen Teagan growing up from her baby phase into toddlerhood with buddy Caleb close by her side. He lives just a few streets over and our families have become very close. It seems we are always "in each other's pockets" which is an Irish way of saying we do life together.

In the past few months little Caleb has had episodes that left him in pain, confused and at times unable to walk and talk. As of today the doctors are trying to rule out a rare disorder that leads to progressive brain damage. Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) is an inherited disease so if Caleb has this gene it is possible that his little brother is a carrier as well. This is just a devastating possibility.

Shanna and Dave will have the results of genetic testing within two to three weeks. Would you please say prayers for them and add them to prayer requests at your church? We pray that he will have something that can be cured or managed with medicine. And we pray this family will have peace during this waiting period. We pray they can continue to care for the children despite the incredible stress this has placed on their hearts, body and souls.

Thanks so much everyone. This means so much to these parents and to our family as well! I will keep you updated! In the meantime, perhaps you have a prayer request? Please leave a comment and I will add you to our prayers!

In Jesus' Name, Michelle

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Baby Steps

Hello everyone! I had a serious case of writers block after baby Isla's birth in part because I was (and am) a sleep deprived mama trying to figure out life with two little ones under the age of 2.5. So far the best tip I have is that a triple espresso works wonders to bring me out of a mommy fog when my toddler wakes up with not one but two million thoughts to relay at the bright hour of 7am!

But in addition to this happy adjustment my father had a heart attack on Easter Sunday just four days after the baby's birth. These past three months have been bittersweet with a roller coaster ride of emotions and two trips home. As we celebrated his 69th birthday we rejoiced that he seemed to be on the road to a solid recovery having been moved out of ICU and into a long term rehabilitation facility. Unfortunately he passed away just one week later.

Oh friends, it is never easy to say good-bye. Still, I don't think I could have ever imagined the sense of loss or prepared myself for the pain of saying goodbye to a parent. I know I am sadly not alone in this experience. All I can say is my heart is with anyone who has been through this before. The saving grace is the beautiful truth - he is with Jesus and we will meet again in Heaven for eternity.

In the meantime I haven't taken many pictures, haven't blogged. I have just been still. Thinking. Observing. Cherishing this time with my small babies, my husband, family and friends. As always Brian has been just stellar and so supportive. To cheer me up over the past few weeks I have been finding little notes like this around the house, hanging out with a cup of cappucino, a bowl of oatmeal, et. This one accompanied a rose from our garden and I found it in the kitchen as I staggered bleary eyed toward the coffee made me smile. I do indeed like taking pictures. In fact, I kinda drive people around me bonkers with my incesant need to capture each...and every...moment. So with a brand new camera under my arm I set off for new adventures. Stay tuned friends! There is much to be thankful for, much to explore. We're back!