O Holy Night...

I love being pregnant at Christmas time! This year, especially since I am pregnant, I have been thinking a lot about Mary and her pregnancy with our Savior. I think about my son all the time. I talk to him and pray over him. I think about his arrival when I get to hold him in my arms and see his face for the first time.

One of my favorite Christmas songs comes from The City on a Hill: It's Christmas Time. It's Sara Grove's song, Child of Love. Every year when I play the CD, that particular songs moves me. It has even greater meaning to me this year at Christmas. The lyrics are so beautiful, and I get goosebumps and teary-eyed every time I hear it.

Child of wonder, close your eyes

Rest here in my arms tonight

Someday you will save the world

But tonight I'll hold you right here in my arms

Precious miracle of life, child of love

Gift of hope, the gift of life from the Father above

And you were made for all mankind

You will always be mine, child of love

Gabriel's promise has come true

God has blessed this world with you

And as I humbly hold You now

In my heart I know I'm holding Heaven's child

Precious miracle of life, child of love

Gift of hope, the gift of live from the Father above

And you were made for all mankind

You will always be mine, child of love

Child of wonder, close your eyes

A Christmas craf tthat I made is actually something that I made a school with my fourth graders called light bulb ornaments. All you need is an old, light bulb that has burnt out, some paint, hot glue, and fabric scrapes.

Last year we made snow men by painting the light bulbs white, then putting textured snow over the paint, painted on a face, used some fabric scrapes to make a stocking cap over the metal part of the light and used yarn to make a scarf. We attached an ornament hook to the back of the hat with hot glue.

This year we made penguins. We pained the bulb black and white, painted buttons going down the middle, used hot glue to attached the eyes, pipe cleaner nose, and mittens cut out of fabric. We attached the hat to the metal again and then attached a pom-pom to the corner of the hat. They turned out so cute this year. I can't wait to make these ornaments with my children someday.

I hope that you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


3 B's: Bread Baking, Birthday and Baby Boy

This week was quite an eventful week for me. All three events starting with the letter B! The best thing about the week happened on Monday when Brett and I had our first ultrasound of the pregnancy. We had been waiting anxiously to see what our little one looked like and to make sure he was developing healthy. We also got to find out that Baby Osborn was, in fact a boy! We were so thrilled. Both Brett and I wanted a little boy more than anything. Everyone kept telling us that it was going to be a girl through. Even our Bradley instructor thought it was going to be a girl. So I was mentally preparing myself for a girl. I knew that I would be delighted to have a girl, but there is family significance to having a boy. I even had a dream the night before that it was a girl, so I was pretty sure that I was having a girl. When we got into the room, the nurse told us she wouldn't tell us, rather let us try and figure out on our own. At first it was hard to even figure out what I was looking at, but then he moved his legs. I couldn't believe what I saw! I was speechless when the nurse asked me what it was, because I was afraid to jinx myself. Then Brett boldly asked, "Is it a boy?!?" The nurse said yes, and I burst out into tears of joy I couldn't believe my eyes, it was the second best thing I heard since becoming pregnant (the first being when we got to hear the heartbeat for the first time).

Here is a picture of his little, perfect foot!

and here he makes his grand debut with his first picture.

The second fun thing about this week was bread baking day at school. Every fall the fourth grade makes Bread-in-a-Bag. A retired teacher provides all the supplies and she even makes each student a jar of jelly. She and two other retired teachers (one who I got to teach with my first two years) come up to school to teach the fourth graders how to make bread. The kids love it and the whole school smells so good for the day. At the end of the day the students take home a bag with a whole loaf of bread that they made, a jar of jelly and the directions with the recipe so they can try it at home with their family. It really is an easy process!

Here is the recipe:

Mix 4 cups of flour, 1 package of yeast, 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large gallon zip lock bag. Close the bag and shake to mix well. Open the bag to add 1 1/2 cups of hot water and 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Close the bag, and with your fingers, knead the dough until well incorporated. (The students loved this part, and since everything was in the bag, no mess on the desks or their hands!) You may add more flour if the dough is still sticky.

Spray bread pans with vegetable spray. Divide the dough into two equal halves. (Each bag makes two loaves of bread.) Put the dough into the bread pans and spray with vegetable spray. Let rise in a warm place. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes. Let cool, then remove from pans. So easy! Plus you could easily add other spices like fresh rosemary or cinnamon.

At the end of the day we let the student try a little bit of the bread with the jelly and butter. We made our own butter too. All we did was put heavy cream in small little containers, seal tightly, and passed them around the classroom as the students took turns shaking the cream until it harden. We added a little salt for flavor, but it was pretty easy. Our kids loved the day! I loved the day too, except I was totally exhausted at the end of the day being on my feet all day and leaning over their desks to help knead.
Along with both these events, yesterday I celebrated my birthday with wonderful husband. He brought flowers home from work the night before, and we had dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant (we both agreed on no birthday gifts for each other this year as we are saving money and getting ready to bring our little boy into the world!) It was the end to a perfect week!


October Bliss

I love fall. It is one of my favorite seasons of the year. I love the way the leaves change colors. I love the crisp, cool change in the weather. I love all foods and beverages that contains apples, pumpkins and squash. I love how October leads into the holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I wish that parts of fall were not overshadowed by what our society has placed on Halloween. There are parts of Halloween that I enjoy and think are fun and festive like pumpkin carving, dressing up as a favorite character and trick-or-treating. However I hate the evil, scary side of Halloween too. I hate that every time I sit down to watch TV, I have to turn the channels during a commerical because of the evil images of movies or other advertisements. Despite all the evil images around, I focus my eyes and heart on what is Good and True, and that God has blessed me greatly this year.

Tonight on our walk with Rocco, I collected a handful of colorful leaves for a fall craft. Brett said that the sight of me, a pregnant woman, binding over to pick up leaves every few feet was quite entertaining for him:), and now my back is killing me, so maybe it wasn't a good idea after all, but I'm still excited have time this weekend to work on my fall craft!

Speaking of Rocco, Brett took this picture the other night as I was practicing my tailor sitting.

Apparently he enjoys it when I'm snacking on his level! Fall Blessings!



Every August comes the season of pure business for me. In fact I often call August the non-existent month because it just flies by before I even know what hit me. Don't get me wrong, this "back to school" season is my favorite time of year. Even though I greatly enjoy the refreshment and relaxation of summer break, I love to get back into a schedule again. I love school and I love teaching. I love the anticipation I get before school starts as I begin to make plans and preparation. I love how nervous I still get after five years of teaching for the first day of school. I love meeting my students for the first time.

Well as usual, I am full swing into the school year. This year the beginning of school has been a challenge for me as I am coming out of my first trimester of pregnancy. I have been battling exhaustion, nausea and mood swings. I have been calling myself a "slug" because it seems to take me twice as long to do things than I normally require. Even grading papers is taking me longer this year!

Now that I am (finally!!!) starting to move out of the first trimester slump, I am really enjoying my students, our daily routine and just being back at school. I'm trying really hard to stay in the moment and capture all of the memories and joys of teaching. This will be my last year teaching for a while, at least teaching other children. I have always wanted to stay home as soon as my children are born, and I finally get that opportunity next year. With Baby O due late February, I will take off two months of school this spring and return in May to finish the year. Then I will begin the process of packing everything up and saying goodbye to the profession that I have longed for my entire life. I was one of those people who always knew I would be a teacher. It is something that I have worked for very hard and waited a long time to fulfill. God graciously gave me the opportunity to serve at my school for five wonderful and challenging years.

I am confident that as soon as I hold my baby in my arms I will be fully ready to give up my career. To be honest though right now, I am really struggling with the thought of not teaching again for a while. I know that God will be working in my heart this year to begin the process of re-prioritizing things in my life and I know I will be a better mom because of it. Until then though, I am going to enjoy my final months of being a fourth grade teacher in the public school system.


A Love Story

Next Wednesday is mine and Brett's three year wedding anniversary and I have been thinking about how blessed I have been to have Brett in my life and to be his wife. Brett is the calming presence in my life, the logical thinker, the planner and the saver. He balances my quirky, impulsive, klutzy ways. He is so patient with me and incredibly gentle. I have never once heard Brett raise his voice to anyone (except for our dog Rocco, and then I kind of laugh because it is really cute).

Brett and I had a whirlwind courtship. We had known each other from high school youth group at Colonial Presbyterian. I was a freshman and he was a senior who was also friends with my brother. While I was in college I would run into him at church occasionally while I was home on breaks or when I interned at the church during summer. The summer before I graduated SBU was my last summer to do an internship at the church. I was the summer staff administrative assistant so I wasn't assigned to any particular group of kids. On Sunday mornings I would go to the single and married young adult class. That was were I started briefly visiting with Brett on occasion. That winter, December 2005, I graduated from SBU, moved back home, started grad school, begin working as a Title I math teacher at the school I currently teach at, and begin to regularly attend that same Sunday school class. The more I started visiting with Brett before class, or when I would listen to him during class, I started developing a "little crush" on him. I remember one day when he was talking to another girl before class my heart started to sink. Silly, right?

My "little crush" started to dissolve late spring as I started interviewing for jobs and then once I was hired, I jumped head first into planning for my first class. Brett and I were still friendly to one another in Sunday school class, but I wasn't feeling that "nervous school girl" feeling anymore. Then September came and once again I was smitten again.

Once Sunday after church I stopped to get gas before heading home. I saw Brett's car a few pumps over. I smiled and nodded my head at him. Then he walked over to my car and asked if I had a group of friends that I hung out with on a regular basis. In my mind I was thinking, "Why is he asking me this?" and "Answer him so I don't sound like a pathetic loser!" Before I even answered, he went on to say that he has a group of friends that get together and was wondering if I would like to join them sometime? I said sure and gave him my phone number. (After we were engaged he showed my that he saved that piece of paper!) He called later that week and I met up with Brett and his friends that following Friday.

I quickly realized that this was a set up and that him and his friends don't get together all that often when it became apparent that his was a reunion. Several months into dating he admitted that another friend and him frantically made phone calls all week to get people together!

Brett started calling me regularly and a week later we had our first date. We dated the remainder of September, October and November. I spent Thanksgiving with his family, and then he met my dad a few days later. I was living with my mom while we dated so Brett got to know her early on. It was in December that Brett and I started to talk about marriage and I knew that he was the one for me. Brett took my parents out to dinner and asked for their blessing to marry me. On December 29th, Brett asked me to marry him, only four months after we started dating.

Our courtship was fast but it was also incredibly sweet and tender too. Brett pursued me with purity. He always asked to hold my hand and it wasn't until the night that we got engaged that we shared our first kiss. I remember that fall of 2006 with such fondness. The following summer we were married on July 21, 2007 at the church were it all began, Colonial Presbyterian. We laugh when we explain to people that we re-connected, started dating, got engaged and then married in under a year, a little more than 10 months to be exact. But we both knew early in our courtship that we were going to marry each other.

As we head into a new season of our family we realize that we love each other more today than we did three years ago (cheesy yes, but so true). I can't imagine my life without Brett. I feel incredible blessed to be his wife. Three years down, a life time to go...


Hungry for Him

Today in church we sang a song, We Are Hungry, that I haven't heard in quite some time. In fact I think it might even have been as long as my SBU days since I have heard this song during worship. As the church was singing I just sat and meditated on the words as a prayer to God to know Him more. I wanted to share the lyrics with you also to meditate on.

Lord I want more of You
Living water rain down on me
Lord I need more of You
Living breath of life come fill me up
We are hungry We are hungry We are hungry for the more of You
We are thirsty, oh Jesus We are thirsty for the more of You
Lord I want more of you
Holy Spirit rain down on me
Lord I need more of you
Living breath of life come fill me up
We are hungry We are hungry We are hungry for more of You
We are thirsty, oh Jesus We are thirsty for more of You
We lift our holy hands up We want to touch You
We lift our voices higher and higher and higher to You


My little urban garden

I'm excited about my small little container garden that I have started this year. It is my hope that in the next few years I will be able to build an actual garden in our backyard, but the list of home improvement projects on our house is quite long. We hope to re-do our backyard in the next few years, so for now I'm very content with a few containers to start building my garden skills.

Last year I started a window herb garden. This year I added to my herbs that I am growing. I have grown parsley, chives, cilantro and basil last year. This year I am continuing to grow those, as well as the additions of thyme, oregano and rosemary. They are growing quite well and I have already been using them in my cooking. One of my favorite ways to prepare summer hamburgers on the grill is to mix the ground beef with minced garlic, wor. sauce, salt, pepper and an assortment of my fresh herbs.

Along with my herbs I am also growing tomatoes! I used to hate tomatoes growing up, but in the past few years as I have begun cooking with fresh ingredients, I have grown to love the versatility of the tomato. I'm growing my tomato plants in two different ways, an experiment to see which way works best, in a container and in a Topsy Turvey!

Next to my tomato plant I am also growing some more rosemary and thyme, two herbs that I use the most of.

My Topsy Turvey plant already has two little tomatoes sprouting!

I'm excited to enjoy my harvest this year and hopefully continue to research more and expand my little urban garden in the future.


Summer Recharge

For me, summer is a time of rest, reflection, relaxation, reconnecting with friends, planning and rebuilding. I just came off probably one of the most draining years of teaching. It sounds pretty funny to say that since I have only been teaching for four years. Here is a little background on my teaching history.

My first year of teaching was filled with the typical first year nerves and mistakes, along with a very challenging class which my principal admitted that I should have not been given that "class" as a first year novice. Add on top of that dating, engagement and planning my wedding. I ended that year with a severe case of strep throat that wiped out my energy which stayed with me for over a month after school let out. My second and third year were wonderful. I loved my class, had a great teaching partner both years and my desire to teach was affirmed daily. Then came the 2009-2010 school year.

This year came some new challenges and conflicts that I had to face and struggle through. Once again I had a challenging class, not necessarily all behavior problems, but enough to wear me out. Plus my class was academically low this year, much lower than I have experienced before. Once student, will call him C, really gave me a run for my money. In fact every night Brett would lovingly ask me how my day with C was. Along with my actual class was dealing with a teaching team with conflicting personalities. A lot of tension and conflict resolution was experienced.

My desire and love for teaching was not present in my life this year. I spent a large amount of the year longing to be in a different season of my life. About 2 months ago I realized that this discontentment and lack of joy came from the absence of spiritual disciplines in my life (prayer, God's Word, fellowship). I said to myself, "Duh! I of course that makes sense."

I view summer as a time to recharge, to spend large amounts of time reconnecting my relationship with God, meditating on and memorizing scripture, preparing myself for a new school year in August, and doing things for myself so that I can be a better wife and teacher, as well to build other disciplines for motherhood hopefully in the future.


What's cooking at my house

So now that it is summer, my absolute favorite thing to do is spend time pondering over cookbooks and going through my recipe clippings, to try out new recipes. During the school year I also try to do that to, I just don't get to try out as many as I would like. Back in March I discovered three wonderful recipes and combined them together to make one delicious meal that is now one of our favorite dinners:
Oven-Fried (Baked) chicken, oven fries and spicy gravy, salad with home-made vinaigrette and rosemary biscuits.

Oven-Fried (Baked) chicken I found in the Food Network magazine, but I adapted it a bit.
1 1/2 cups of crispy rice cereal (like Chex)
2 1/4 cups bagel chips or Melba toasts
5 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 tsp paprika
sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 container of plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp dijon mustard
skinless, boneless chicken breasts of thighs ( I have used both in this recipe and both are very good, I usually just choose which ever is cheaper at the store)

1. Preheat oven to 475F. Coat the baking sheet or glassware with cooking spray.
2. Grind the cereal and bagel chips in a food processor and transfer to a large resealable plastic bag.
I have also substituted rice chex with corn chex and it tastes really good too. Once I had pita chips instead of bagel chips and that tasted great too. My dad has also uses pretzels to bread with, I haven't tried that one yet, but he said it was great. I have also thrown in bread crumbs to on occasion.
Add 3 tsp olive oil, the paprika, 2 tsp salt, and pepper.
3. Whisk the yogurt and mustard in a shallow bowl. Add the chicken and coat. Transfer chicken to bag, seal and shake to dredge the chicken until well coated. Transfer chicken to baking dish and mist with cooking spray. Bake until the chicken is crisp and done, about 30 minutes.

I have always loved breaded chicken, but Brett is allergic to eggs and most recipes call for soaking the chicken in an egg mixture. I was glad when I found this recipe, because Greek yogurt is so good and good for you.

Oven Fries and Spicy Gravy- I found this recipe watching the Rachel Ray Show (www.rachelrayshow.com/food/recipes/oven-fries-and-spicy-gravy/
4 medium starchy potatoes cut into 10 wedges or so (I usually use Russet)
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Steak seasoning or salt and pepper (I use the Hy-vee brand steak seasoning and it is so good)
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp grainy mustard (I use French's spicy brown mustard)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cups chicken stock (I have also used vegetable broth when I was out of chicken stock)

Heat oven to 450F. (When I cook this with the fried chicken, I just leave the oven at 475 and just watch the potatoes.
Cut potatoes and drizzle with oil, and seasoning blend. Arrange on foil lined baking sheet (foil allows for easy clean up, and I found that if you spray the foil, then the fries do not stick. Bake 40-45 minutes or so, turning pan and flipping the potatoes halfway.
Heat a medium pot over medium to medium-high hear. Melt butter, whisk in flour and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in mustard, W. sauce and stock. Let gravy thicken a couple of minutes or so until it coats the back of a spoon ( I have found that this usually takes a while, the longer the sits, the thicker and better it gets. This recipe has taken me a few tries to get it to the perfect constancy).
Pour into individual cup and serve for dipping. Dipping the chicken into the gravy also tastes great!

For the salad, just chop up some greens and make your own dressing. I found this dressing in a Martha Stewart magazine.
Rose's Vinaigrette
1 tbsp minced garlic or shallot (I use garlic because I always have garlic around)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1tsp light-brown sugar
3/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black ground pepper
1/4 tsp W. sauce
2 1/2 tbsp red-wine vinegar (I prefer the taste of red-wine vinegar but I'm sure you could easily switch is out for balsamic vinegar)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (about a half of a lemon)
3/4 cups of extra virgin olive oil.

1. In a small bowl, mash together the garlic, mustard, sugar, salt, pepper, and W. sauce.
2. Pour in the vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil. Pour mixture into a jar or cruete. Over tightly and shake well to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator.

Lastly for the rosemary biscuits I just use a box of Jiffy buttermilk biscuit mix (usually less than $0.50!) I make the drop recipe that is on the side of the box. I follow the recipe as written and add freshly snipped and chopped rosemary, bake and enjoy!

Hope you enjoy these recipes as much and Brett and I have.


Little blessings

This week I got a package in the mail from my great-aunt Dean, my Granny's sister. Inside the package was a letter and a beautiful baby quilt.

While I'm not yet pregnant, my aunt wanted to send me this while she was still living, which I find very sweet and little funny since she is in really good health. She hand-made it and there are Winnie the Pooh emblems on it.

Last fall at my cousin's baby shower, my aunt made a similar quilt for her. I thought it was beautiful. My aunt most have noticed my fondness for the quilt, because in her letter she explained that is the reason why she made this quilt for me. I felt very blessed and loved, I started crying when I saw the quilt before I even read the letter. Now I can't wait to use the quilt someday on my little ones.


A love for books

My Papa always said that the best thing you can do for yourself is learn to read. He instilled in me a love of many things: cooking, family and of course, books. Papa had bookcases overflowing with books, and boxes tucked away in the basement packed full. He collected, and read every single one, books of all genres.

Papa passed away this March and yesterday I spent a rainy afternoon going through his book collection. My Granny was very generous to let me take as many as I wanted. I found books that Nick and I had given him for Christmas presents, cookbooks that were almost falling apart, and books on his favorite president, Harry S. Truman. Granny also gave me several old "readers", textbooks dating back to the early 1900's! She said that he wanted his "teacher granddaughter" to have them. I also have books that he had given me for Christmas presents as a child.

I was the child who would rather curl up and read a good book then play outside. I would save my allowance for a trip to Barnes and Noble on the plaza, instead of the toy store. I remember Papa reading aloud to me and taking my cousins and I to the library when we would spend a week at my grandparent's house during the summer. I love Papa and I will miss him very much, but I have many memories of him, and now I have a small part of his book collection.

My love of books is still in demand today. I love to read and get caught up in a good story. I love to encourage my students to read as well. I wish that there was more time during the school day to read aloud or let my students read independently. That is a goal of mine for the next fall. During college and the first few years of teaching, reading took a back seat to to other pursuits and time restraints. Last year I read my first "adult" book for pleasure in over three years. Since then I have rearranged schedule time in my evenings and on weekends to make reading more of a priority. I have already made my book list for this summer, 25 plus and counting! (It may take me more than the summer to read all of those.)

One day I look forward to passing on my love for books and reading to my children and telling them of the legacy, and the impression Papa left.


It's Mother's Day

I am thinking about today and why we celebrate Mother's Day. I am very grateful to my mother for the love she has given to me.

This is a picture of me and my mommy

My mother is not the only influential person in my life. I was lucky to have two loving grandmothers in my life, "Grandma" Marilynn Martinson and "Granny" Jeanette Dattilo. Granny lived here in town, so naturally I got to spend a lot of time with her, and still get the pleasure to do so.

This is a picture of Granny and me.

When I married Brett, I gained a Mother-in-Law, Sherry Osborn. It is a different kind of relationship, one that is still growing and takes time. She is also a very loving and naturing person. It is never a dull moment when Sherry is around :)

This is a picture of Sherry with my mom.

I have a lot of other very special Mother's in my life: family, friends, co-workers and church family members. While I am not a mother yet, I am a ...

Doggy Mommy!
(that is Rocco and me)
Happy Mother's Day!!!!


So it begins...

In college, I blogged for a short time, then left once I started teaching. I decided to start blogging again once I realized that I enjoy reading other people's blogs. I've learned that this is a good way to stay connected to old friends despite distance and even time to communicate personally. I must admit that I feel a little silly for blogging, but I'm willing to give anything a try (again).

I chose James 1:17 as a reminder of God's grace and love that He poors over me daily.
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." ESV

I have been blessed so much by my Father and I have taken so much for granted. I have been married to Brett for almost three years. We live in a lovely, charming, older home in Overland Park, Kansas. I am about to finish up my fourth year of teaching fourth grade. While I have been experiencing some rather challenging days of being a teacher (more so this year than any other) I love my job. I love teaching, but I also look forward to the day when I get to be a mother to train and teach my OWN children. Right now I am embracing my role as a wife and homemaker. It may sound crazy, but I enjoy keeping a home. I love to cook and experiment with new recipes. I also love to clean and keep my home tidy and uncluttered. I believe that a home should be a place of rest and fellowship. I hate coming home from work knowing that the breakfast dishes are still stacked high and the bed is still un-made. I also love to bake, which I do believe is different from cooking.

Every day I try to live life to the fullest and honor God in all I do. I'm not perfect and I stumble along the way. I'm grateful to have a savior that continues to love me despite my imperfections.

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