Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Easy Tomato Sauce

I love to can.  I love putting away food for my family that, for the most part, is free.  Pretty much all we buy are the seeds for the plants.  There is the time factor but The Doctor loves outside work so, I let him have fun in the garden.

My family also uses a lot of tomato sauce.  From spaghetti, to pizza, to chili and soups, and, and and.... we go through A LOT!  The fist time I made sauce it was full of seeds and runny... I hated it.  So I went on a quest to find and easier way to make sauce.  After reading many blogs and searching Pinterest, I found 2 ways that looked perfect for me.

So, Monday I decided to do something about all the tomatoes that we picked over the past week.

First I put them in my steamer juicer.  I love this gadget.  It has made juicing grapes and all manner of fruit easy.  I filled it to the top and turned the stove on.  In the end I had 1 1/2 gallons of juice.  You can see the the juice had a bit more color to it toward the end.  This I will freeze to use in vegetable soup instead of water.


Then I put the tomatoes from the steamer into a strainer and let them drain a little more.

The last thing I did that day, was to put them in my Kitchen Aid Vegetable Strainer.  I love this as much as I love my steamer juicer.  I just put the tomatoes in  and out comes tomato pulp on one side and seeds and skins on the other.  It is a tad messy, but most of my canning is.

Here you can see that I got 1/2 gallon of tomato meat.  I will cook this down a bit more and put it in jars.

I did mention that there were 2 methods that I wanted to try. The second was to puree your tomatoes first and then put it all in a clear container and set in your fridge overnight.  What you will have in the morning is all the tomato pulp floating on top and juice on the bottom.  You can then skim the pulp off the top and process as normal.  I did this with my jar and had a scant amount of juice on the bottom.  I then warmed up the sauce and canned it.

I want to add here that I love my 1/2 gallon jars.  They are perfect for storing all my dry goods in.

After I cleaned up my kitchen and started dinner, The Dr and I went out to the garden and brought this in.........  Good thing I didn't put everything away!!

Lydia inspecting the tomatoes

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How I make Gumbo

It's been a tradition since The Dr started teaching that I make the first gumbo of "the season" on his birthday.  In LA, school starts later than here, often it started on his birthday.  So, how do I make a Cajun gumbo..well first a lesson in Cajun cooking.  Cajun gumbo is thick and brown and has any variety of meat in it.  It is served with rice with a side of potato salad.  If you are like my mom and I, we take a bit of potato salad and and a spoonful of gumbo all at once.  Cajun gumbo does not have tomatoes in it, that is Creole gumbo.  It may have okra, but I can't stand the stuff, so I leave it out.

So, how do you make Cajun gumbo... Well, first you start with a Roux.....  Well, ok, actually I don't.  First I put a whole chicken in a stock pot, cover it with water and simmer for  2 hours.  I'll spare you a picture of raw chicken in a pot of water.  I think you can visualize it for yourself.

When that is almost done, I make my roux.  Now... I don't really "make" my roux... I can.. I just don't.  Now, before you profess that I am not a real Cajun let me give you a short genealogy of my life.  My mom was a Thibodeaux, her mom a Picard.. we go way back.  In fact, my Thibodeaux ancestors were one of the families that Canada kicked out when they refused to bow to the king of England (yes, there is still a bit of bitterness..LOL). My dad is from Texas but has lived in LA for so long that he sounds Cajun, plus he learned to cook from Cajun he knows what he is doing.
My Grandma Therese Picard Thibodeaux

Back to why I don't make my own roux.  Back in the day my mom made her own roux and after burning it (which is easy to do) she discovered that this nice man by the name of Savoie made roux and sold it in jars.  Voila' no more burned roux.  Well, fast forward to about 30 years and I had 3 kids 3 and under and decided that I wanted to be friends with Mr Savoie (shut up Gene) I bought my roux.

Ok, back to how to make gumbo....

So, once the chicken is cooked, I remove it from the pot.. skim out all the stuff and add the roux to the pot and cook it for an hour or so while the chicken cools enough that I can pick it apart.  This is also when I add onions and bell peppers to the water.  After an hour, I pick the chicken apart and add it to the stock pot.  (save the carcass to make stock later)  Then I let this whole pot cook.  How long?  Until dinner time.  A word of warning.. don't let the gumbo boil...whatever you do, don't let it boil.... trust me.  I let it come to a boil and then lower to a slow boil/fast simmer.  I rarely cover it but I keep checking it and adding water if I think it needs it.  I serve it over a scoop of rice and with a side of potato salad.... yum..

Happy Birthday to my favorite Dr.  I love you oh so very much!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back at it

When I finished up my 10th grade year in high school, my mom asked me if I wanted to be homeschooled for the remainder of my high school years. This was back in 1985 and there weren't many homeschooled kids.  We met with one family who homeschooled and I was hooked.  My mom later revealed to me that she had wanted to homeschool us when we were younger, but only hippies did that and she was a good Catholic girl who sent her kids to Catholic school.  Looking back, her desire to homeschool explains all the workbooks that she had us do in the summer...  Anyway, I loved being homeschooled.  I loved having the freedom during the day to do what subjects that I wanted to do when.  I loved that we took the whole day off and watched the news when the Challenger exploded right after it took off.  I loved that mom and I would watch The Price is Right every day!!!  I loved that she planned my work so that I could take Friday off and help with the hot dog sales that our youth group did to raise money for missions at the school I previously attended.  I loved everything about it.

I knew that when I had kids, that I would homeschool them.  When A was old enough, I purchased K4 materials and dove in head first.. and I loved it! I continued with Z and L.  They did attend a supplemental program for a few years and I missed having them with me, so we stopped.  Fast forward to his 7th grade year.  His dad started teaching at a new Christian school at our church.  The  kids all started going.  The kids enjoyed being with friends and playing sports.

At the end of Aaron's 9th grade year he asked if he could be homeschooled part time and still attend school for math and play basketball.  We talked to the Headmaster and he supported us.  So, for his 10th grade year he came home.  Halfway through, Zane asked the same question.  I then had both at home.  At the end of the last school year, Lydia needed to come home.  She is still struggling with discipline issues and it became to the school and us that she needed more one on one.

So, today I had all 3 home for the first time in 4 years.  This morning went smoothly. The boys will leave so that they can take 2 classes each and then head to football practice and workouts.  I know that this is the perfect combination for us.

I am glad that God has given me this opportunity once again.  I have missed my kids and I am happy to have them home with me.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

I'll never be perfect...

and I am ok with that... But how, how do you survive when you hear constant judgement.  "You show too much grace to that child."  "You don't show enough grace to the other child"  "You are neglecting that one"  I have heard all of it about each of my children.  And yes, I do discipline each child differently. They are different and respond to different punishments, to different types of love.  They speak different love languages and I know each one. They are treated differently, yet equal.

I rarely discipline my children in public. Because, honestly, it isn't any of your business.   I have two children whose love language is gifts, so you may not see that when they are punished because it is usually by the taking away of privileges.  Their second language is words, if I speak harshly to them in front of other people, then that would humiliate them.  That is not love.  That is pride on my part. That is my boasting in front of others how I can bring my child low.  It also pushes my child farther away.  I don't want to do that.

My other child is words first.  So, they will not get a "tongue lashing" in front of other people.  Second is quality time.  This child is most like me... I get them.

I think about how God loves each of us.  How He is so good at speaking each of our love languages so perfectly.  I know that there is no way that I can speak to each of my children the way that He does.  I wonder sometimes, if Satan approaches the throne and says, "you are giving Rachel too much grace, she will never learn if you keep showing her grace" I would love to know what God says back.  I would love to know how to respond to those that tell me I give my kids too much grace.... Discipline isn't about showing how great of a parent you are to all the other parents, it's about teaching your kids.  It's about pointing them to a Father in Heaven who loves them so much and who isn't about performance and making Him look good.  It's about letting my children know that I too make mistakes and sometimes don't live up to the expectation of others.

Being a parent to 3 adopted children is different.  They have baggage.  Yes, they were adopted as babies, but there are questions that other kids will not have.  Being a mom who has never given birth is also different.  I also have baggage, I have constant doubts and fears that a mother whose children only have one set of parents doesn't have to deal with.

My desire is to be a parent like my Father... to point them in the right direction when they mess up and yes, they may lose a privilege or an item for a bit, but I will not brag about it to anyone... I will not boast in their failures, I will not boast in their punishment.

Proverbs 24:17  Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A revision to my last post....

So, just a few days after I posted my last update something happened.....

The Dr and the boys were in the pool chatting, and the boys asked if they could homeschool part time like they did last year.  So guess what I started doing? Yup...planning for 3 being home.  I love homeschooling and I love that my kids love it.  This year is a bit different.  Aaron will be a junior and Zane a freshman.  I will have 2 in high school.  That means transcripts....and keeping better records.  So, I have been diligent in making sure they have all the credits that they will need to graduate on time.  They will still be attending Grace for some subjects and, oh course, to play sports.  Grace has been a huge blessing for us and I cannot imagine being connected to them in some way.

But, know that Aaron has just two more years of school, I am grateful for the time that I will have with him.  It's hard to believe that my kids are getting this old.

So there you have it.....


Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Last year around this time, our oldest son asked to be homeschooled for "just next year"  I agreed and we re-started out homeschool journey.  Around Christmas our middle asked if he could come home for the rest of the year.  It has been a good year, an awesome time for me to spend a little quality time with each of our sons.  They are 16, and 14 and growing up way too fast, so it was nice to slow down just for a bit.  Well, they both want to go back to Grace next year and will most likely stay until graduation.

But, we decided to bring our daughter, 13, home this coming year.  She has some problems with anxiety and has been acting out in ways that are harmful to her and hurtful to her friends.  We came to the conclusion that if we could take the year to work on her anxiety and build her confidence, then she can return before feeling get hurt deeper and resentment sets in with her friends.  They all love her so much and I know that many of them pray for her.  There is baggage that comes along with each child that is adopted.  While not all cases are alike, we now know that each of our kids had dealt with it in their own way, our daughter has the most trouble dealing with it.

I am grateful for the adoption support community at Grace Chapel. It is also good that many of us also homeschool.  It is the kind of support that I have been looking for

While praying for her and trying to decide the best route for us to take, I feel like we need to focus on her artistic skills.  We know that there are some people in her birth family that were art teachers so it came as no surprise that she can draw better than me... ok, that doesn't take much....  But I want to focus on her love of reading and drawing, so I decided on the Charlotte Mason approach.

Please be in prayer that our girl can come to some peace in her life.. She has a good heart and wants to do what is right, but needs to learn to give her thoughts over to her Savior.  I am excited about getting to spend some time learning with her and spending some time with her... maybe she will teach me to draw...LOL

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hey, how are you doing??

It's a question we ask almost everyone we see, but do we really want to know HOW they are?  Recently I was sitting at the front reception area where my husband teaches and someone walked by and said "hi, how are you doing" and walked out the door.... I didn't even have time to reply.  Did they really want to know, or were they just being polite?  I say neither.  Now, I have also been very guilty of the same thing.  But after this incident, God convicted me of not being available to listen. To listen to understand.  

I don't want my life to be so busy, that I cannot take a few minutes out of my day to hear a hurting heart, to listen to someone's  cries and to take the time to pray for them...right there...not say I will and then walk away, but to stop what I am doing and to pray.

In this world of social media, we often fall into the trap of thinking that we have lots of friends, or that we are "friends" with someone because we are connected through social media.  Yet, many times we have no problem passing that person in the hall or on the street and not taking the time to connect with them.  To greet them, to love them and to get to know them a little more.  

1 peter 2:17
Honor all people.  Love the brotherhood. Fear God, Honor the king.

Without going all Greek on you....t his love is agapeo.  Thayers Greek Lexicon says that this mead to: have a preference for, to wish well to, and to regard the welfare of

Webster defines Love as: unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another

....unselfish concern....

Am I showing that to those that I call my friends?

So, if I pass you in the hall and say, "Hey, how are you doing?".  Feel free to stop me and let me know

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Our Story Part 3

We made the decision to adopt in February of 1997 after 8 long years of trying to get pregnant. We looked at several agencies and decided to apply to Mercy Ministries in Nashville, TN and Catholic Social Services in Lafayette, LA. We filled out all the paperwork, got fingerprinted, had friends write awesome things about us and had a complete stranger tell us that we would be good parents…… and sent it in with pictures of us, our home, and our lives…. It was a very humbling experience. And we waited…… And waited.

Making the decision to adopt also meant that we had to morn the death of a dream. We had to morn the fact that we would never see a “+” sign/ we wouldn’t be able to go through 9 months of preparation. There would be no childbirth classes, no labor and deliver. No seeing our baby on a screen and hearing his heartbeat. Non of the things that most parents experience. Adoption does not cure infertility. It did, for us, fulfill our desire for children. Our mourning was soon replaced with rejoicing.

I told you that this felt like the longest part of our journey. It did, but during that time we had hope. We had added onto our little house the year before. When the decision was made to adopt, we fixed up the nursery. This was the first time that I allowed myself to do this. I had been saving up a bunch of baby items that I would buy here and there. I love elephants, especially Dumbo, so if I found a baby item with an elephant, I would buy it and stick it in “the box”. Friends and family would buy items for the box. That box grew to several by the time I started unpacking it all. Our friends, Brian and Dawn also in the adoption journey, came over and we put up the border in the nursery, set up the crib and hung things on the wall…Then I closed the door… after a few months, it was hard to even go in that room.

In September, my best friend told me about a lady that she knew who adopted from an attorney in Baton Rouge. We called them and applied with them in the hopes that maybe this was it. We told Brian and Dawn about them. They had applied to a home that this attorney was affiliated with before, but they also decided to apply with the attorney.

We waited together.

Brian and Dawn got the call first, their son was born in November and we all rejoiced! What an exciting day it was. Adoptions do work! People do get babies! We were told that we would have to wait YEARS!

And we waited….

1998 and James and I celebrated 9 years together! 9 years of growing together, of growing up together, of loving each other and walking a hard road together.

I had settled into a routine. I was a stay at home wife. It was a decision that we made when J graduated from college. I had worked off and on while he was in college and then retired. All my life, my dream was to get married, have kids and stay home. As I got older I knew that I wanted to home school. I waited 9 years for a baby and I wasn’t about to send them off to school when they were 5.

We got a call from some friends of ours who knew a girl that was pregnant. The birth father had Turrets and it seems that nobody wanted her baby. We spoke to her and she said she would get back to us. The agency called us and told us that she chose to parent her baby.

Mercy called, we were couple #2 to a baby already born. The birth mom gave birth early and the bills were going to be higher than normal. They had contacted the #1 parents and were waiting to hear back, but they wanted to give us a heads up just in case they said no. They said yes.

February 1998. My typical Friday consisted of me getting ready and meeting J at the door. He would change and we would go out to eat and watch a movie or visit with friends. I didn’t want to be home. But the first week of February was different. I had called our agencies on Tuesday and did my “every couple of months check in” Mercy informed me that lots of girls looked at our file, but none chose us. The attorney had no available babies, they were all spoken for. I was depressed. Friday rolled around and J came home. I was in my jammies on the sofa. He got the hint. We settled down with J working on our taxes and me flipping through the channels. 6 o’clock at night the phone rings. J picks it up and says “oh hello Tina” Tina? The lady from the attorney’s office?? He then proceeds to say that Yes, we can meet you next Tuesday. WHAT?????? They wanted to “go over our file” that is what they told Brian and Dawn when they found out that they were getting a baby!!! Talk about going from Rock Bottom to Walking in the Clouds!! We called my parents and J’s mom and friends and asked them to pray.

That was the longest weekend of my life!! We arrived at the attorney’s office and sat down with his assistant. She began to tell us about a girl who was due February 17th… 2 weeks away!!! She was having a boy. Here is where God was all over this. She begins to tell me that when I call Tuesday all the babies were spoken for. Then, the next day they get a call from the couple that was supposed to adopt this boy saying that they had just arrived home from California with a baby girl and that they would not be able to adopt the boy. So, everyone at the attorney’s office and the lady in charge of the home got together to pray about this boy’s parents. We were still on Tina’s mind while they were praying. The lady from the home looks up and says “what about the Quebedeauxs?” Tina told them that I had just called and that we were on her mind all day. They present our file to the birth mom and she agreed, we should be her son’s parents. Tina, gave us a few details about his birth mom and told us to go home and pray. PRAY? We have been praying for 9 years!!!

Now if you are following this story, then you will realize that it is now exactly one year from the time we decided to adopt. ONE YEAR!! We were told the wait could be years.

We knew that we wanted to name him Aaron. J’s parents had lost their first son when he was just 6 months old and his name was Aaron. During the whole time of us trying to get pregnant I prayed that nobody in the family would use that name. We knew that our first child would either be an Aaron or an Erin. We hadn’t decided on a middle name yet. We were leaning toward Michael (not after Mike…can’t have him getting a big head)

J’s dad was in the hospital in Baton Rouge battling cancer. We decided to stop in and tell him our good news. Due to the type of cancer that J’s dad had, he couldn’t talk. When we told him that we were getting a baby boy, he just clapped and smiled. Then we asked if he would mind if we named him Aaron, he cried and gave us a big nod. I honestly think that Aaron’s birth brought about healing in his life.

February 17th came and went. The attorney kept us up to date on her visits and told us that she was going to be induced on March 2 if he didn’t come by then, Two weeks past his due date on March 3rd and little baby boy was born. I received the call while eating lunch with my mom and sister in law. We were on our way to buy newborn things. Things that I would need right away before our shower. My 5 year old niece was with us and coloring when we got the call. I borrowed a color and a paper napkin and wrote 10.5 lbs 21.5 in long, born by C-section. Their jaws dropped. So much for newborn clothes!

They would let us know when they would be released from the hospital and call us to come and get him. We got a call a day later, his birth mom had developed a fever and would have to stay in for a week. This was a hard week, having to wait, knowing that we couldn’t see him until he was released into our care.

We were talking about names. We had his first name down but the middle name was harder to decided than we thought. Then it came to us, David, after my dad. My brother had 2 girls and this was my daddy’s first grandson. Possibly his only and our only child. Aaron David Quebedeaux. Aaron meaning, Strong and Exalted and David meaning Beloved.


We got a call Sunday that they were going to be released from the hospital that afternoon and that we would need to be at the attorney’s office Monday morning, March 9th 1998. I don’t think I slept a wink that night. We got up early and left…and arrived super early. We talked to the attorney for awhile and then they moved us to the inner office when they arrived. We sat in that office for what seemed like an eternity. They wanted to give her time to say goodbye.

They led us into the living room and there he was. It took all I had not to run forward and grab him…and run… but I was composed and I sat near his birth mom. I never realized how hard it could be. Here was this 17 year old girl giving us her baby. She was making a decision that I just don’t think I could have made. My heart ached and still aches for her. She gave us part of her. The first thing that I noticed about her were her eyes. He has her eyes. Dark and piercing. Then her height. She was a tall girl. Her mom told me that every man in her family was over 6 ft. We made small talk, we told her how honored we were, that we would tell him all about her when he got older, and that we would never forget her and always be grateful for this precious gift that she was giving to us. They told her it was time and she handed him to me. Our son, he was ours now. She said her final goodbye. There was not a dry eye in the house. I cry every time that I think about what she sacrificed for us and her baby.

We loaded our precious cargo and headed home. A Family! No longer 2 but 3. He was the most perfect baby. Black eyes and black hair. Perfect!! We asked our friends and family to give us a few hours to just enjoy the moment. To look over our baby and just enjoy this wonderful little bundle that was ours. I love being a mom and I thank God every day for allowing us to experience being parents to a newborn. A year later, we stood before a judge and he declared him officially Aaron David Quebedeaux and us his parents. Happy Day!

Aaron, 2 Weeks Old

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Our Story Pt 2

Disclaimer: There are going to be parts of this post were I sound bitter… I was and sometimes, I still get angry about the things that were said to us and done to us…but I let go faster and realize that God never left us. I realize that people will say stupid things when you are hurting. Especially if it is a hurt that they have never experienced.

We told just a few family members of our decision.. Just one month after our decision we found out that my brother and his wife were pregnant. Surely we would be next. Then just a few months later we found out that dear friends of our and J’s brother and wife were going to have a baby…Surely we would be next. Doubts began to cross my mind. What was God’s plan? Did children even fit in this plan? During this first year, we watched our friends make grand announcements and then visited them in the hospital and rejoiced when their babies were born. It was hard year. We were asked the question over and over by unknowing people in church. “When are you two going to have a baby?” It was an innocent question, but it hurt. We would mumble something about not wanting kids yet, or God’s timing, or some other excuse, all the while wanting to run out of the room and cry.

Then it happened, our friends began making announcements again. AGAIN!!… and we never got to make our first. It was then that our good friend/youth pastor suggested that we go to the doctor. It was more of a threat, but I am glad that he made it.

My first Dr was HORRIBLE! He made excuses, told me I was young, “saw” nothing wrong, etc. So, I found another that specialized in infertility. How I hated looking at that word. But we were now on 3 years trying. J was back in school and we had no money, but I needed answers.

Early in our journey, we made several decisions about how much we were willing to do. And we always knew that we had no reservations about adoption, if and when God gave us the go ahead.

My next Dr was awesome! He listened to me and showed concern. He ran all the necessary tests and he showed compassion when he gave me the news. I would not be able to get pregnant without help. We would start small, and try the easiest route.

During the next few years we tried everything he suggested. I do have to say that we would try for a few months and then take several months off. I couldn’t handle to emotional rollercoaster month after month. That and J was in school so the “rush” wasn’t there.

During these years we lost a lot of friends. They had children, kids birthday parties, mom’s nights out and play dates. Things that didn’t include us. We hooked up with single friends, who later got married and had kids…and didn’t include us. This was the time that we learned that WE were the most important people in our marriage. Not friends. J did have one friend from high school who we couldn’t seem to get rid of. We tried, but he wouldn’t leave. He and J had the same major and took most of their classes together. We joked constantly about having to “baby sit Mike” Mike was a constant.. We needed that.


I learned that a church can be encouraging, but also discouraging. While the people there meant well, for the most part they spoke before thinking. I also quit asking for prayer. Asking for prayer also meant asking for advice, and boy were they full of it. I won’t go into what they said, but let’s just say they were trying to be funny…but were stupid. I also quit going to church for Mother’s Day.. Another time for elders and deacons to say stupid things. If you are a greeter or a pastor, please train your people to be sensitive to everyone. And to keep their opinions to themselves.

J graduated from college and we bought 5 acres. We moved a sweet little bungalow onto the property and began fixing it up. This was a sweet time. A time for me to pour my energies into something else besides a baby. Oh how I loved that little house.

J's first day teaching

Just when I thought that we were the only ones going through this, God brought a couple into our lives. They were our age and had been married just over a year longer than us. They had no children and were beginning their adoption journey. They were new Christians and their faith was strong. Since they didn’t know our history it was easy for them to encourage us where our other friends had given up.

In Dec of 1996, I was told that I needed surgery. Apparently all the treatments had done a number on my system. It needed to be repaired. God reminded me that once again, I was blessed with the man that he had given me. Seriously, having your husband walk you to the bathroom at 12, 2 and 4 in the morning is proof that he loves you….LOL


Genesis 30:1-2
Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die!” Seriously this is how I felt. It took a few years before that changed. I learned that prayer isn’t always about asking God for what you want. I began to pray His will and His plan for our lives. I also learned that J and I could be alone. No kids and it would be fine. If it is what God had intended then we would be able to do it. This lesson is something that I still carry with me. I know that no matter what happens, God has a plan and He will carry me through it. God gave me the perfect man to travel this road with. Although, he likes to make a decision and GO, he was steady in all that we did. Pride never got in the way and I love that he chose to walk side by side with me. Even to this day, if we have a choice to be with a group of people or to be alone, we choose us.

My Dr gave the go ahead for us to try again the next month. We signed up for the procedure and got my meds… maybe the surgery was successful….. Or maybe not…. Feb 1997 we tried again… I remember when I realized that it didn’t work. I was shopping with my mom and just lost it. She brought me to J’s work and he took me home… after a drive. Driving is where we talked best. No distractions.. Just us and the road and good conversation. It was then that he asked me the question that changed my thinking. “what is it that we want? Do you want to get pregnant or do you want to have a baby?” I answered “I just want to be a mom”

Here is where we took a turn on this journey. It was the best move that we had made. They journey didn’t get easier…in fact, although this was the shortest leg of our journey, it seemed the longest.