Monday, April 25, 2011


                                         Easter Crafts
                                                   Egg wreath
Lilies grow all over the place here.  We even have some behind our house.  Everytime I pick them we think of our friend, baby Lily, and we sing "He's the Lily of the Valley".  I just love Lilies.

                                         Coloring Easter Eggs.

                                                   Ann and David

                                                   Elijah and Hannah


You know those plastic sleeves that come with the Paas decorating set?  Well, we lost the directions and Paul thought you must microwave them on the egg to get them to shrink on.  I remembered something about boiling, but how can you argue with a man whose made up his mind.

It blew up! It was so loud, we all screamed and jumped.   It was so funny, but it really stunk up the house.

Twas the night before Easter.  The girls had been making pictures and "crafts" for the Easter Bunny since Christmas it seems like.  They laid them out for the Bunny to take.  On the left are Elijah's Resurrection Eggs he made at school.

Bunny grass and "droppings".  Mini-marshmellows really.

Early Easter morning I went and did a Sunrise Service, when I came back the kids were still sleeping.  Very nice for me ;)  They started pouring out of bed around 7 (that's sleeping in for them!) and were so excited to see if the Easter Bunny left anything for them besides droppings.  Daddy read the Resurrection Scriptures before the hunt began.

  It was fun to search for the baskets in a new house.  All brand new hiding spots!

       I was so mean and made them take a picture before they tore them up.

        They were all so pleased with their little trinkets and candy. 

We headed to services at the Center.  Church Service followed by a fabulous Easter Brunch.  It felt so very good to me to be in fellowship with the men and the women and our Comrads this holiday. 

                                                    He is Risen!

Mary got into her chocolate on the way home.  She had it stuffed in her shoes and she was a disaster by the time we finished our 20 min. drive home.

                                                   Captain Daddy

Captain Mommy's self-portrait.  Since I can't wear an Easter dress for Easter Sunday,
I always put on lipstick and gloss.

Easter afternoon, we watched The Blob (1958). Ate a ham.  Putzed around.  And before bed, shared the Resurrection Eggs.

We had a wonderful Easter. It felt very different to my family this year not being absolutely exhausted by the end of the day.    We still followed our usual traditions at home, but it was very sad to me not having all of our Corps(Church) traditions and people.  Even the older children were reminiscing about all of the things we would do in the Corps and community.   We have a new life in that sense, one that we haven't yet fully experienced until we get our stride as ARC Officers.    I wonder if, when Jesus rose from the dead, if it hurt?  I wonder if his body was stiff and resistant while God was restoring his flesh to life.  I wonder if Jesus was even aware that He was being brought to life, until he was fully alive...  

"The resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances."
                                        ~Robert Flatt

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Make a Nest... 3 Easy Steps

Brown Lunchbag
Runny Glue
Nature such as twigs and leaves

1.  Take a nice long walk outside with the children.  Collect twigs, leaves and whatever else they want to use to build their nest.  They can collect it into their brown lunchbag.

2.  Smush their lunchbag down into a rough circle.

3.  Glue all the bits of nature onto the lunchbag.

Hannah putting her nest in the tree.

Ann putting hers in too.

Later they added some sunflower seeds to lure the birds into their nest, really though, it lured the squirrels and 'coons.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dinner... An Event

"And indeed... this woman is now turning a dinner into a kind of love affair-into a love affair of the noble and romantic category in which one no longer distinguishes between bodily and spiritual appetite or satiety!"
-From Babette's Feast by Isak Dinesen

It really doesn't take much to turn meal time into an "event".  Most nights it is for us and I swear I don't spend every minute of the day in the kitchen.  I just plan and prep ahead a lot.  I have responsibility outside the home too, and I just love my crockpot for days like those or make ahead freezer meals.
For dinner, I always light candles on the table.  Easy peasy!  Also, using fancy dishes, we have to use dishes anyways, might as well use maybe fancy glasses, or dessert plates or something "special".  How about a tablecloth (saves times washing down the table anyways) or send the children out to pick some flowers or pinecombs for the middle of the table.  The possibilities are endless really. 
Lately, I've been trying to put interesting things as a centerpeice.  Right now you would find a spring toned placemat with 2 Ceramic birds perched in the middle, 3 candles and a Lily the girls and I picked from the park.  Makes me sing "He's the Lily of the Valley" everytime I pass by!

My goal in all of this is to keep my family at the table for at least 30 minutes, to make dinnertime an event to be looked forward too, and to give everyone the opportunity to be satisfied:  physically, emotionally, and spiritually.    And on a spiritual note... early on in Genesis, God walked in the Garden of Eden in the "cool of the day" (Genesis 3:8).  Most commentaries agree that this the time before dusk.  When do most people eat dinner? Before dusk.  God is present at our table when we break bread together (or mac-n-cheese, or whatever ;)  And how about the signifigance of all of the celebrations that God instituted... feasts.  And even when our Lord Jesus came, He ministered in meals many times, especially His last Passover.  

The Family Meal Table is an excellent video that I bought a few years ago.  I would suggest it to anyone who needs a boost in their family meal time.  I've even used this video in Women's and Family Ministries too. 

Veggie Potstickers

                                                    Brown Fried Rice

                                    Dipping sauce for Potstickers

                                      Rice Krispie Treats

"There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves."
~ Thomas Wolfe


Monday, April 11, 2011

What's For Dinner?

I remember when Paul and I were first married, every night I would pack our lunches for the next day that we would share together at our first Corps (Church). Around Noon, we would steal away into a Sunday School room, and eat our lunch, talking about our day, our people, and making plans. At home, I studied my recipe books to make meals that we would both enjoy. All too often, I'd cook way to much of it.  We still laugh over the humungous pots of Spaghetti I'd make.  Or cooking an entire Roast Beast for just the two of us, leaving us ample amounts of leftovers.   I guess it was always in me to feed an Army!
We would sit (and stay!) at our dining room table and conversation flowed uninterrupted for an hour +.

Then, our firstborn, David, came along.  The very night we brought him home from the hospital, I remember the reality setting in that I may never get to sit through a meal again.  The second I would sit down with my mom and Paul to eat, David would start wailing, and of course, being my first babe and all, I just had to respond to his every little whimper.   (I'm over that now LOL!)
But dinnertime didn't go out the window, we just had to adjust it.

We have always shared at least our dinnertime meals together.  We just do.  We're Chouinards. 
I learned it from my family.  Paul learned it from his.
We don't answer the phone, we don't get up from the table, we don't bring toys, or books or whatever. 
We just eat and enjoy each other. (Well, most of the time on the latter ;) There comes much restoration from sharing a meal with family members you don't enjoy too.  

Now, the quiet dinners that Paul and I used to have are a faded memory.  But I smile as I type this, because we feel so bigly blessed!  Around our table you will hear "quit interrupting", "keep all four legs of your chair on the floor", "use your napkin", "it's gonna SPIIIIILLLL!!", "who is smacking their lips?" and more.
But you will also hear laughter, stories, thank yous, prayers, Bible reading, dreams, realities, and lots of heart-checks.  Praise God!

The older my older children get, the more I'm so glad that we have established the habit of sharing our meals together.

is part of the family's daily rhythm and balance,
something to be longed for and looked forward to." 
-Kelly Morris

Cheesy-Bacon-Noodle Delight
with crunchy bread topping.

Darn-Good Deviled Eggs


                 Grand Finale Chocolate Pudding

We are all busy... noone seems to have enough time in the day...
family members all going in different directions are hard to herd up for a dinnertime meal.
I encourage you to give it a go and make it a habit.  Noone's going to do it for you.  It won't just "happen".  Like so many important things in life, you really do have to be intentional about it.
Even if it's as simple as paper plates and a frozen pizza,
there is nourishing done at the family meal table that goes beyond our hungry stomachs.

Remember... when you are building up your family, you are building up the Kingdom!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Capacity To Love

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels,
but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,

it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but
rejoices with the truth

always protects,
always trusts,
always hopes,
always perseveres.

Love never fails.

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.   Full, Mature, Whole, Strong, Enduring  LOVE

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.
But the greatest of these is love.

Oh, Lord, would you increase our capacity to....
Love YOU
Love our FAMILY
and love OTHERS
sincerely, deeply, genuinely

for real.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Horror!

When I came home last night from the Center,
ready to greet my family,
this is what I opened the door to!

My whole family slain by butterknifes.

The horror!

                            This one giggled a lot.

                              These ones too.

                        Thank you Paul for the April Fools!
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