Posts Tagged ‘James’

  • Christmas recap

    Date: 2013.01.28 | Category: Christmas, crafts | Response: 0

    Hello friends!  I know, I know… I’ve fallen off the face of the earth.  Frankly, this past year I’ve had to cut WAY back on all non-essentials.  And blogging just didn’t make the cut.  Now that James is almost a year old I’m hoping I’ll have a little more time for writing.  We’ll see.

    I decided that today was the day to write a quick post to show you the Christmas ornaments I made this year as well as the card we ended up sending out.  I can still blog about Christmas in January, right?  Good, because I’m so pleased with both projects! I have to say that it is SO GREAT having Pinterest to turn to- both my ornaments and cards were inspired by pictures I found on Pinterest.  It’s so nice to have hundreds of other’s ideas to inspire me and a place to keep them to refer back to later!

    For our Christmas card I combined a couple of cute photo ideas into one card.  You can see my inspiration here and here.  I thought that this pose was so sweet and this was the year to do it, with a baby in the house!  It also helped that JT took ownership of it and really wanted to act out the nativity.  He can be pretty tricky to capture photos of right now (he loves to turn his back to the camera and give a stinky face) so I tried to get him excited about the photo shoot and let him contribute ideas and be a big helper.  We also bribed the big kids with the promise of a candy cane before dinner if they cooperated- I’m not above bribery!

    All we did was round up a few brown and tan and blue blankets, wrap them around the kids and set them in front of the tree before we put the ornaments on it.  They really enjoyed being Mary and Joseph and seeing James as little baby Jesus.  I think that part of it’s charm is it’s simplicity- it gets the idea across without actual costuming.  I was thrilled that one of the cardstore.com templates included the phrase O Holy Night with a bible verse- it was the theme I was planning to use and I thought I was going to have to design it myself.  Turns out they did all the work for me!  (Please excuse the cellphone pics- our camera is on the fritz again and we’ve decided to make due with our phones.  It’s hard to complain about not having a working camera when we both enjoy the luxury of new iPhones!)

    When it came to the message on the inside of the card I went around and around about what I wanted to say.  I try to be real and don’t want people to think that our kids are always sweet and “holy”- we took 40 some pictures and only got the one that I was happy with!  Plus I was taking advantage of an awesome deal from cardstore.com- by having them send the cards directly, each card cost less than the price of the stamp, but it also meant that I wouldn’t be hand writing any messages on them this year.  So I ended up using one of our funnier outtakes and writing a short message about how most of our pictures weren’t picture perfect.

    I am really pleased with how they came out.  What do you think?

    For my ornaments this year, I had been pinning every idea that I liked for months and months.  Nothing really spoke to me until I saw this ornament in late October- I knew instantly that it was the one!  I ended up using 4 different fabrics that I had on hand and a variety of trims- no two are alike.  Unfortunately, I seem to have given away all of the ornaments with green fabric!  I didn’t realize it until I went to take pictures and discovered all of ours are white!  (When I make ornaments I always keep one for Chris and I and one for each of the kids.  When they grow up and move out each kid will have a nice little collection of ornaments for their new home.  I also make one for each of my nephews for the same reason.)

    I found the little trees and the salt shakers online and then used fabric and beads and trim I already had.  I tried filling them with regular table salt first, but it didn’t have enough sparkle, so I ended up using a mixture of half table salt and half epsom salt.  I think they turned out darling!

    I ended up making a second batch of ornaments this year.  My group of girlfriends loves to celebrate with sprinkles and when I saw this idea I knew I had to make it happen!  When I ordered the trees I also ordered a package of clear glass ball ornaments.  I already had a big jar of sprinkles, so all I had to do was fill them up, hot glue the tops and tie them with a cute length of ribbon!

    I was glad that I made these this year, because the gifts I ordered for the kids’ teachers didn’t come in time.  I ended up making four more sprinkle ornaments at the last minute and tucking each one in a pair of Christmas socks for a cute little teacher gift.  Of course the gifts I ordered came the next day… so I’m keeping them in reserve for the next time I need a teacher gift!

    So there you have  roundup of my December creativity.  I hope it inspires you!

  • Juarez update

    Date: 2012.11.05 | Category: faith | Response: 0

    We make small plans: God multiplies and magnifies and the truly incredible happens!  He is not limited by our imaginations!  When we started talking about going to Juarez several months ago, we were basically inviting ourselves to tag along with one other family so we could cook a meal.  Now, less than 2 weeks before we leave, we are expecting 5 families to make this journey with us- for a total of 10 adults and 18 children, ranging in age from 6 months (yes, another baby even younger than James is coming!) up to 17!  The momentum that we are gaining (no blog title pun intented!) is nothing short of miraculous.

    On Friday night we gathered with a house full of people for an information meeting about our upcoming trip to Arbol de Vida.  The Schrimps are a couple with whom Chris works at Cherry Hills, they have lived at Arbol de Vida and continue to faithfully serve the orphanage from Colorado.  They will be heading up this little adventure, and they were able to give us more specifics regarding the mission and purpose of Arbol de Vida, our safety risks while in the Juarez area, travel to and from Mexico, and the needs at the orphanage.  We were also able to meet all of the families who will be joining us and to brainstorm about the difference we can make together. We’ve had so many great questions in response to our first letter I thought I’d put as much information as possible into one place for you.

    The goal of Arbol de Vida is to provide a safe, family environment to youth who would otherwise be on the streets where they would surely turn to the gangs and/or to prostitution just to survive.  Because these boys and girls receive an education, learn job skills, and learn about Jesus, there is hope for the future of Juarez.  These youth are life in a town that is desperate for revival.  Arbol de Vida is literally fostering the future of Mexico.  Unlike many orphanages that cut off services when the child turns 18, Arbol de Vida is committed to the long term success of it’s charges.  They provide a safe home for as long as it’s needed, they continue to provide training and support into adulthood, and they serve as a resource when life outside of their walls gets complicated.

    In regard to safety, we will not be using the main border crossing into Juarez, but a small crossing well outside of town.  The compound where we are headed is less than 7 minutes across the US/Mexico border.  We will not be taking our kids into the city of Juarez- and in fact I doubt if any of us will go into town at all.  If we do have needs that arise, it is safer and easier to cross back into El Paso, Texas to get what we need.  The property that the orphanage is on is protected by armed guards who are loyal to the children of the orphanage and to anyone who is coming to serve them. Despite all of the well deserved bad press that Juarez gets, the orphanage is much safer and is apart from the main areas of danger.  The town knows and respects the people who run Arbol de Vida and the gangs and drug cartels have left them alone (and in some cases support them!).  We have been told that they have only ever had one problem- years ago some looters came in and stole and damaged some property and roughed up one of the workers- and that actually served to increase the protective nature of the surrounding community and the guards.  We will be sleeping in the dorms, Chris and JT will be in the boy’s wing in their own bedroom, and I will have Kate and James with me in a private room in the girl’s wing.  We will have access to clean, safe water- for drinking and bathing.  The orphanage has it’s own aquifer well and reverse osmosis filtering system.

    We have made one change to our itinerary- we decided to leave on Friday (Nov 16) to get a head start on the drive.  We would like to meet up with all of the other families and cross into Mexico together on Saturday afternoon well before dark sets in.  We decided that it is unrealistic to attempt the entire 11 hour drive on Saturday since we are expecting stops at least every three hours to feed James and to keep the kids from revolting.  This means we will require an extra night in a hotel and does add to our expenses, but it seems like a more feasible itinerary.

    Regardless of all that, we feel strongly that there is no place safer than where God has called us.  We are trying to be as smart as possible in our planning, but we also have to trust that since God has put it on our hearts to go that He will protect us as He sees fit.  Truly, I am more concerned with the logistics of the drive and time at the orphanage with three small children than our safety due to violence.

    As to what we’ll be doing while we’re at Arbol de Vida, it turns out they have plenty for us to do!  Because of the unrest in Juarez over the past 5 years, most of the U.S. support to the orphanage has dried up.  People have stopped coming to serve, people have stopped sending money, and the youth there feel forgotten and abandoned.  We hope to change that- by spending a few days with them and showing them that they are not forgotten and that they are important to us!  We are planning to provide a big festive meal for them, repair some damage to their buildings, provide sporting equipment, and do some craft projects with them (we’re thinking we will make no-sew bags, duct tape wallets and purses, and hair accessories).  We also will be bringing some specific items that they have requested- bras and underclothes, church clothes, toiletries and hygiene items, new bedding, etc.  I believe that they deserve better than our cast offs, more than a check sent from afar.  They deserve for someone to spend time with them, to look into their eyes and to show them that they are valuable.  That they are beautiful.  That their life is worth something.  That they can make a difference in their community.

    If you have already sent us money to help cover our expenses, THANK YOU!  As of today our family’s budgeted travel expenses are completely paid for ($800!).  As a group, we are hoping that we will raise enough money to purchase ALL of the supplies and goods that we have on our wish list.  Our  group goal is to raise $1500 for the building supplies and I estimate that we need an additional $2000 for the rest of our purchases.  Specifically, we want to pay the orphanage for all of the food and expenses related to our group’s stay, buy food for a turkey dinner, paint, building, and roofing supplies, toiletries, undergarments and hygiene items for the girls, dress clothes for the boys, bedding, supplies to make crafts, and sports equipment.  If you have considered making a contribution toward our trip, there is still time and we would love your support!  We would also love to know if you have decided to partner with Arbol de Vida directly, it would mean so much to us to know that because of our trip you have decided to support their work.

    We definitely appreciate and need your prayers.  Of course, please pray for our safety.  We are facing long hours on the highway, border crossings, and the risks of Juarez.  Pray for good health for each member of our family.  Please pray for unity among those of us serving together.  Pray for the Spirit of the Living God to fall on Juarez- not just while we are there, but that revival would occur and that the community would be renewed.  Please pray for the boys and girls who live at Arbol de Vida.  Pray that they would reject the lies that they aren’t valuable, that life on the streets is the best they can hope for, that it’s time for them to strike out on their own.  Pray that they will be encouraged by our visit and that they will continue to have hope for the future.  Pray that our children would have soft hearts and develop a love for serving others.  Please pray that us parents would have extra patience and wisdom as we are facing extra stresses there.  Please pray as we continue to prepare for our trip, that the essentials will not be forgotten and that the details will fall into place.  I’m sure that you can think of many other blessings to pray over us, and I encourage you to do so.  I would love to know if you are committed to praying over our trip- please let me know!

    I understand that we will have some cell phone coverage and internet access while we are in Mexico.  I am hoping to keep my blog and Facebook updated while we are there so that you can know how to pray and what we are accomplishing along the way.

    If you would like to support us financially, you can mail a check directly to us-
    Melody or Chris Benschoter
    2285 Wynterbrook Dr
    Highlands Ranch, CO 80126

    If you want to learn more about Arbol de Vida or would like to support them directly you can access their facebook page at www.facebook.com/TreeofLifeJuarez or their website at www.treeoflifejuarez.org.

    Thank you for your love and support!  I have loved hearing your reactions and responses this past week!

  • Juarez

    Date: 2012.10.29 | Category: faith, marriage, parenting | Response: 1

    When Chris and I got married we set some short and long term goals for our family.  One of our short term goals was to serve on a mission trip together before we had children.  Sadly, we didn’t meet that goal- in the busyness of life it is something that got pushed off time and again.  As JT and Kate are growing old enough to understand and follow our example as Christ followers, it has become more and more important to us to live out the gospel intentionally with and before our children.  Our desire is to love our neighbors both near and far and to serve widows and orphans the best that we can as a family.

    A few months ago Chris was chatting with a coworker about Arbol de Vida, the orphanage that he works with in Juarez, Mexico and that our church happens to support.  During the conversation it was mentioned that last year the children had oatmeal for dinner on Thanksgiving.  It’s like a lightbulb went on and we saw a need that we could meet.  Why not provide Thanksgiving to these children?  Why not bring our family down and serve it to them ourselves?

    Chris and I have decided to answer God’s call to take our family on an adventure in serving Him over the week of Thanksgiving this year.  On November 17 we will be joining the Schrimp family, the Babb family, and possibly two more families in driving 11 hours south to Juarez, Mexico to serve the children and staff at Arbol de Vida.  We will be returning on Thanksgiving day, hopefully in time to celebrate with family at home.

    We are excited for an opportunity to expose JT, Kate, and James to another culture, to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others, to love some children who can use extra love, to help meet practical needs at the orphanage, to show our children how God gives to us so that we can give to others, and to provide a turkey dinner with all the trimmings to the residents of Arbol de Vida.  (Thank goodness I cooked Thanksgiving by myself for the first time last year!  God knew what was in store for us this year!)

    We are nervous about spending 22 hours+ with our three (very young!) kids in the car (especially since James is still breast feeding every 3 hours!), border crossings and travel in another country, safety on the road and in a town known for violence and drug wars, spending 4 nights in a dormitory (no naps = cranky kids!), exposing our children to the older children of the orphanage (most of the orphans are middle and high school aged), and living and sharing the gospel when we have so much to learn ourselves.

    How can you support us on this adventure?  First and foremost we need your prayers.  We know that all things are possible with God and that prayer is a powerful agent of change.  We will face many challenges during this adventure and will need an extra measure of wisdom and grace and patience as we face the unknown.  Second, we would appreciate your financial support.  We will require gas for the round trip drive, a hotel stay for one night, and groceries, toiletries, and goodies (all of which must be purchased in Mexico) for the children of Arbol de Vida.  We would like to lavish the kids and staff with love and practical goods while we are there.  If you feel called to support us, whether through prayer or gifts of money please let us know before November 10.

    For more information about Arbol de Vida or to partner in supporting them directly, please check their facebook page at www.facebook.com/TreeofLifeJuarez or their website at www.treeoflifejuarez.org.

    Thank you for your love and support-

    Chris, Melody, JT, Kate, and James Benschoter

    benschoter@yahoo.com
    melschoter@gmail.com
    2285 Wynterbrook Dr.
    Highlands Ranch, CO  80126

  • Spinach with Black Beans

    Date: 2012.07.17 | Category: recipes | Response: 0

    I mentioned previously that I struggle with low carb side dishes.  Unfortunately, when it comes to vegetables I don’t typically venture very far beyond frozen corn and peas (although I did develop weird cravings for asparagus during my pregnancy with JT and I still love it!).  So, we’re trying to explore new frontiers and I’m trying to be a little more creative with using vegetables in my cooking.  I’ve been perusing the www for inspiration and pinning like a madwoman to my South Beach board on Pinterest. I decided to make a yummy balsamic glazed salmon for dinner tonight from my South Beach 30 minute cookbook (one of my go to cookbooks) and literally came up with a brand new veggie/bean side dish on the spot.  For someone who doesn’t usually create new recipes out of thin air I was pretty impressed!  Chris said that both the salmon and the spinach with black beans were winners.  Culinary victory!

    Spinach with Black Beans

    1 TBS olive oil
    2 cloves crushed garlic
    1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
    1 handful of  bacon bits (I use the large Costco bag)
    several handfuls of fresh spinach
    1 dash lemon juice (I get mine in a bottle!)
    2 dashes cheesy garlic

    Heat the olive oil in a skillet, add garlic and bacon bits and cook for 2 minutes.  Add black beans, spinach, lemon and cheesy garlic.  Cook until spinach is wilted and everything is warmed through, tossing several times.  Serve warm.

    yum!

    In other news, this is what my kids are doing as I type up this recipe…

    and James started solids a few weeks ago- so far he loves avocado and banana!  He is so sweet.  If only he’d take a bottle when I’m at work!

  • What Life is Like With 3

    Date: 2012.05.01 | Category: homemaking, just blabbing, parenting | Response: 1

    Well, I admit it. Having three kids is kicking me in the butt. We’re actually doing fine; we eat 3 meals a day plus a snack, we change out of our pajamas (most days!), we’ve made it to church every week since James was 3 weeks old. You know, we’re fine. But I am exhausted! Chris has track season right now, so 4 days a week he doesn’t get home til 5:30 or 6 which is when I try to serve dinner so I’m doing all that without help- and with the addition of my 2 nephews on Mondays and Thursdays. Plus he’s gone all day Saturdays at track meets. James is doing great at giving me long stretches of sleep at night, but JT has started having nightmares and calling for us in the middle of the night several times a week. Gone are the days of sleeping in until 8 or 9, at least one or two of the kids is up by 7 am most days. Which makes it awfully hard for me to take a shower, so I’m lucky to get one every other day lately. Odds of me getting more than half an hour of all three (or five) kids resting at the same time in the afternoon are pretty low. Maybe twice a week I get a decent break- so then it’s always a big decision… do I sleep? shower? start dinner? catch up on email? pay bills? blog?

    Anyway, all that to say- Hi. I’ve missed you. Here’s what’s been happening around here lately…

    JT has started showing a lot more independence. He’s dressing himself most days, using the potty on his own, helping with snack and meals, doing little things to help with James and Kate. He is a great big brother!

    The other day we got the kids loaded up in the car to head to church. While clicking JT in to his seat we noticed he was wearing socks, but no shoes. So I ran in the house and grabbed a pair. Once we got to church I was helping him put them on and I discovered that he was wearing a pair of jeans under his khaki pants! This week he wore his pajama bottoms under his pants. Silly silly boy.

    JT watched me using the toilet the other day and asked “Mama, is that tricky how you go pee pee without a penis?”

    We had an exercise bike in our foyer and JT pushed it across the room. I asked him how he did it and he said “Well, I was doing really hard work!”

    JT climbed up so his feet were higher than my head at the playground!

    JT broke out in some wicked hives in the middle of the night all over his legs. He started calling them his “bubblygerks”.

    Kate gets super possessive of James. When she’s holding or hugging him she doesn’t want any help and heaven forbid someone else wants a turn!

    Kate was watching me breastfeed and noticed the blue veins on my breasts. She became very concerned and said “Blue! Blue! No drawing!” She thought someone had drawn on me.

    (please note that two of us are still in our jammies!)

    Kate loves to pick out her own hair bows! She has also taken to carrying a pair of footie pajamas around as her lovey. Lucky for us she’s not picky about which pair!

    Kate is definitely two- she’s got a real willful streak and she’s likely to melt down over any small injustice. But she’s still super sweet, so kind, really funny and loves to cuddle in with me every chance she gets.

    The good news is we’re all happy. The kids love James and don’t seem resentful of the time he takes at all.

    We loved having Grandma and Grandpa here for three weeks in March and then our friend Daniel here during spring break. That added some nice variety and was a lot of help!

    (please note the kids are actually fighting over the baby- and they’re in their jammies!)

    Both big kids are go go go all the time. They are super adventuresome and always climbing and jumping and creating and getting into stuff!

    We’ve been having lots of fun playing hide and seek, coloring and using stickers, playing outside (Oh thank you God for the warm spring weather we’ve had!), building with blocks, and reading books.

    It’s nearly impossible to get the kids to sit still long enough to take a picture.

    This is the best Easter picture we got of the family- do you see how crazed we look?!?

    The sweet boy who tipped us over the edge!

    James just turned two months old, he weighs 13 pounds 11 ounces which is 87%. He’s a great eater!

    He’s smiling and noticing his toys and the people around him now. He’s a great sleeper and he’s pretty easy going.

    So you see why I haven’t been on the computer much lately. Most of my Facebook and email time is on the phone while I’m breastfeeding. The blog has just had to go for now. Thanks for understanding, I’ll be around as often as I can!

  • Menu Plan April 29-May 5

    Date: 2012.04.28 | Category: meal plan | Response: 0

    What are we having for dinner this week?

    Sunday- grilled lemon dill salmon

    Monday- lasagna (from the freezer)

    Tuesday- orange beef

    Wednesday- gnocchi soup

    Thursday- creamy salsa chicken

    Friday- dinner with friends

    Saturday- dinner with pastoral search team and elders and church staff and our NEW PASTOR!

    I’m so sorry that I’ve been such a negligent blogger.  Something about having baby #3 and my husband coaching track and watching my nephews 2 days a week and blah blah blah…  Chris was asking me why I haven’t been posting lately and I laughed out loud.  Then I said “I haven’t had two moments to put a coherent thought together, more less write it down!”  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  You can always check our family photo website for the latest pictures.  Or, I have been randomly chatty on Facebook lately, so if you’d like to follow me there you might have better results!  You can see the soap that Kate bit, hear how JT did in his first week of bribing him to stay in his room during nap time, find out how much it costs to deliver a baby in Colorado, and see a cute picture of Kate and her fashion accessories.  Maybe I’ll get my act together and do a compilation post for you here.  Don’t hold your breath though.  I realized on Thursday night that I had experienced less than one hour of awake and child free time in the previous 48 hours.  Oof.

    In other news, we are so excited to meet our new pastor next weekend.  Chris served on the search team for about 10 months and walking through the process has been wonderful, but boy are we glad it’s finally wrapping up!  We are looking forward to the next season at our beloved church and are thrilled to have been part of the decision making process.

    And in other other news, James is 2 months old!  How the heck did that happen?

  • James Daniel is here!

    Date: 2012.03.01 | Category: parenting | Response: 1

    James made his appearance on Feb 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm.  He was 8 pounds 5.3 ounces and 20 inches long with a 14 inch head circumference.  James has proven to be a champion eater.  Unfortunately, he prefers to stay up eating all night long rather than sleeping.  Mama is working on that!

    James was due on the 24th, and I was starting to think that he was never going to arrive, when I suddenly developed blurred vision and difficulty speaking and thinking.  Everyone sprung into action and in less than hour  we had childcare for all the kids (thank you LaLa and Kristin!) and I was at the hospital getting checked out.  By that time most of my symptoms had subsided and my blood pressure was only slightly elevated.  The very kind labor and delivery doctor said that she suspected I was in the earliest stages of labor (I was dilated to 4cm and having strong but irregular contractions while on the monitors) and offered to save me a trip back that night or the next day and to induce labor.  We agreed and they started the Pitocin.  About 2 hours later they broke my water and an hour after that James was here!  It was a VERY quick delivery- I went from 8cm dilated to having a baby in less than 15 minutes!  I have new respect for women who forgo the epidural- even with mine this one hurt!  Everything was very fast and very intense there at the end.  James came out in great shape and was strong and healthy from the get go.

    JT and Kate adore their new brother and are constantly touching, kissing, tickling and holding him.  It’s one big love fest around here!  We are all settling in nicely and enjoying our new family of 5.  JT keeps saying he thinks that he should have 2 little brothers.  I told him that we’ll have to wait and see- let’s just enjoy the one we already have!

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