miles to go…

snippets from the zellner family

Emma quote March 31, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 8:45 am

I always let the girls watch a dance or two from Dancing with the Stars on Monday nights.  They just get home from dance themselves and in between dinner, homework, and showers they are allowed to watch a couple of minutes of the show.  (heavy editing by mom)

Tonight the girls got to see Melissa warm up and do her lindy hop- a fast dance with lots of lifts, tricks, and spins.  Emma looked at us and said,”A warning to all of you, don’t try these tricks at home.”

Where did she learn that warning?!  Eric and I laughed and told her that she and her sister were actually little enough for us to still do those tricks with them, and Eric proceeded to throw her up over his shoulder and march her off to bed.  🙂


Camp Grainger, spring ’09

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 2:53 am


Well the girls got to go to Camp Grainger again (my dad’s house) during Spring Break.  Dad took them in full knowledge that Emma had a fever virus and needed Ibuprofen all through the day, as well as her asthma medicine.  In spite of all I had to load for them (the medicine bag alone would have made some stop in their tracks!), my dad and marian gathered the two girls and took them for a two night spend the night party.  That is the most nights away from home that the girls have ever done!  They got to eat at McDonald’s, go to the McWane Center, and see the Statue of Liberty (at least the one that is in Birmingham :)).


 tug of war at the McWane Center


Huntsville’s next weather girls….


Emma had just studied the Statue of Liberty while they were studying the letter “U” for “United States of America” in her Pre K class.  Imagine her surprise when she got to see the statue right here in Alabama.  A local park- Liberty Park- has a version of the statue and the girls got to see what it would look like.  How fun!

As always, many many thanks for my dad and marian for all they do for us.  I love that the girls have such awesome memories playing with their grandparents!


this week March 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 1:23 am

We have had a busy week- It started with Lucy falling out of Eric’s arms on to the pavement after church on Sunday.  It was terrifying for all of us.  I took her to the ER while Eric took all the other kiddos home.  Thankfully, she is fine. Praise the Lord for His goodness.

Youth group met at our house Sunday night after church.  We  had about 65 people in our house eating BBQ and getting to know each other better.  I love fellowship times with the youth families, and I am looking forward to having more time to do that now that the babies are getting a little older.

Wednesday night, Olivia had choir and we had fellowship group.  We have several fellowship groups that meet throughout the week at different locations and at different times. Ours is on Wednesday night.  We discuss the sermon from the previous Sunday.  This week we had a lively discussion about infant baptism, God’s Sovereignty, and human responsibility. 


Olivia’s class performed a play called,”Irish Stew” on Thursday.  She was really excited about us getting to come to her school and watch the performance.  Her part consisted of tying an apron on the king, holding a bowl for the royal tasters, and saying one line.  It was a great lesson in theater for them.  Good stuff!

With the beautiful weather, the neighborhood kids have been out in full force.  We have loved that on Tuesday and Thursday we had lots of kids in the yard jumping on the trampoline, playing hopskotch, and digging in the yard.  I am learning how to be a mom who can watch the babies, but also make sure our visitors are taken care of.  Olivia and Emma are learning alot about what it means to have a friend over. 


I had book study last night with my friends from church.  We are studying Respectable Sins by Jerry Bridges.  We looked at the chapters on judgmentalism, envy, and sins of the tongue (lying, slander, gossip, etc).  As always, very convicting.   Why do we tear down others, wish we had what they have, repeat things that (even if true) are harmful to them?  At the heart of all these things is our heart.  Our heart that wants to elevate our own self and at times, play God.  One of my favorite points in the discussion was when we were challenged that once you enter into someone’s heart (assigning them motives or believing that you know why they do what they do) you are in dangerous territory.  You are trodding on God’s ground.  We cannot know another’s heart; therefore, we are called to look at the log in our own eye, rather than examine the speck in our brother’s.

A lot of random thoughts in this post, but that is about what a normal week looks like in my world.  Just thankful to still have a few thoughts in this crazy momma brain.


Freezer cooking explained March 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 3:59 am

I have had a couple of requests to write an explanation of how to do freezer cooking.  We use the planning sheets from 30 Day Gourmet Freezer Cooking Workbook.  I have found that it works best to cook with 4 people.  We usually have three meetings each time: the planning meeting, the shopping meeting, and the cooking day. 

Planning meeting: We gather for a planning meeting and decide which recipes we would like to cook.  We try to do a couple of recipes that can be prepared easily.  This time we cooked:  baked ziti, sweet and sour chicken, raspberry chicken, craisin tacos, chicken and salsa soup, meatloaf, porkchops, and chicken kabobs.  We have a recipe page that allows you to fill in the ingedients,as well as instructions for cooking, freezing and serving.  We fill in the chart (kind of like a recipe card) for what one recipe calls for and we multiply it by 8-that way each of us ends up with 2 bags of each recipe.    So if craisin tacos call for 1 pound of ground turkey in the recipe, we will need 8 pounds of ground turkey to make our recipes.  We do all the ingredients for all the recipes that we will be cooking, multiplying by 8. 

After the meeting, I keep all 8 recipes and create a master ingredient list to total all of our ingredients we will be buying at the store.  If chicken salsa soup calls for 16 chicken breasts (when prepared for 8 recipes) and raspberry chicken calls for 16 pounds ( for all 8 recipes) and the sweet and sour chicken calls for 24 cups (for all 8 recipes) and the Kabobs called for 32 chicken breasts ( for all 8 recipes), we end up needing 112 chicken breasts.  Salt may be 8 teaspoons in one recipe and 4 teaspoons in another, so we will need 12 teaspoons total to cook.  The conversions for cups, pounds and breasts of chicken are found in that book. 

Shopping Meeting: After I have tallied all the ingredients for a master shopping list, we meet to decide where to buy all the ingredients.  One of us usually goes to Sam’s, another may go to Walmart, and another may fill in at the local grocery store.  We have also used Aldi’s, the commisary, and bread outlets to make the cost cheaper.  At this meeting ,we also claim two recipes each to prep the ingredients for before we arrive on cooking day.

Shopping:  We shop right before we cook so that the fresh ingredients stay fresh, but we all also need the ingredients so the we can prep before we get there.  That means that we may shop on Wednesday, prep on Thursday, and cook on Friday.   I send an email that tells who needs what to prep.  I usually find a way to shop by myself because it takes a lot of brain power to do the conversions (and a great calculator).  We keep our receipts for the cooking day.

Prep: Prepping for your two recipes usually involves chopping onions, cutting raw chicken, chopping vegetables, browning ground beef, etc.  Some recipes can be fully prepared ahead and brought in freezer bags to the cooking day.  For example, for the chicken kabobs we cut the raw chicken into kabob size pieces, divided them evenly into freezer bags that are labeled with the meal’s name, and mixed the marinade.  We poured the marinade over the raw chicken and the meal was done.  The more you can do in your own homes, the better.

Cooking Day: We meet at 8 am at a large kitchen (usually a church kitchen).  We bring all of our ingredients and all of the meals that we were able to prepare ahead.  We try to start with the longest meal first.  We cook in the big pots and pans there.  Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised to have a recipe make 12 servings instead of 8 and we end up with more meals!  If we end up with an extra meal, we label it ministry meal and we give it to someone we know who needs it.  Whatever ingredients we have left over, we divide if we can and we keep the extras in my basement for the next freezer cooking time.    It has been cheaper and cheaper each time because of all that we have had on hand and have not had to buy.

Payment: We total all of our receipts and divide by 4.  Like throwing a shower, we reimburse those who spent over the total.  This time we spent $420 total on 18 meals.  That came to $105/person.  The last sheet we fill in is one that hangs on your fridge.  It shows what is in the freezer.  We mark how many bags of each meal we have.  There is another column that tells you what you need on hand to finish the meal.  For example, tacos will need shredded cheese, lettuce, tortillas, sour cream and salsa to serve.  Some won’t need anything on hand to serve.  Most meals make enough to be eaten for two meals.  We may take one out Monday and eat the leftovers on Tuesday.  There may be enough for Eric to have lunch on Wednesday.  We may take another out Thursday and eat it on Friday too.  Somewhere in there we may eat at church or on a date or out to eat.  So we end up using 2-3 meals a week.

If you are still interested in knowing more, let’s talk so I can give you a few more tips for making the process go more smoothly.  I love being able to pull one out in the morning and heat it up by 4:30 that afternoon.  I don’t have to cook when the kids are the most needy 🙂 Hope this helps!


Spring Break at Home March 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 8:18 am

This year we are spending Spring Break at our house.  We had a great trip two weeks ago and now we are enjoying a little rest while the kids are out of school.  It seems like we are always saying to the kids that we don’t have enough time to do whatever it is that they ask- go to the library, play tag, etc.  So I asked the kids to make a list of what they would like to do this week, while we have lots of time and no homework!

Here’s the list:

( x) Spend the night at grandparents’ house

( x) Go to St Patrick’s Day parade

( x) Eat out

(  ) Go shopping

( x) Learn multipication

( x) Go the the library

(  ) Color

(  ) Play tennis

(  ) Learn to ride our bikes without training wheels

(  ) Play LIFE

(  ) Go to the office with Daddy

The (x) mark the ones that we have had the chance to do- we still have a few to go 🙂  Yesterday we had time to draw all over our driveway with chalk, set up Olivia’s webkin (wow),  and play tag.  Tonight we got to play Connect 4, study the constellations, and read lots of our library books.  I think I like Spring Break at home.


Missions Conference March 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 2:08 am

This past weekend we were blessed to be at our church’s mission conference.  Our keynote speaker was Dr Cortez Cooper.  Our family has been blessed to know him from his time at Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashhville and from his time that he served at the Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church in St Louis.  He is a gifted speaker and such a warm, humble man. 

On Sunday morning, he spoke from Philipians 1:1-11 and entitled it “An Amazing Partnership.”  One of the helpful illustrations that Dr. Cooper used in his sermon was the idea of a partnership.  Thinking of a business partnership, he reminded us that God is actually the Senior Partner.  He put in ALL the capital in our partnership.  We actually have nothing that we bring to add to the business.  This revelation should give us great confidence because what could be more sure than the blood of Christ- having already paid the price of our sin and winning us to himself.  We have a sure partnership- a never-failing partner.  Our mission work, and actually all of life, operates out of that confidence.  Are you operating with the knowledge that God has predestined purposes for you, that He has powerful promises for you that are found in his Word, and that He perseveres us to the end?  Dr Cooper asked us the very powerful question,”How is it going with you, partner?”

He reminded us in this partnership- in our walk with Christ- there is no such thing as a silent partner.  If we are silent, if we have no motivation to share what our hearts have known to be true, we have to ask ourselves “Why?”.  Maybe we are not looking at the amazing things that have been done on our behalf by a holy, loving, merciful God.  If we really knew how bad our situation was without Him, and we really understood that we can not change our situation without His work on the cross, we would really be unable to be silent.

The image that comes to my mind is from the movie Schindler’s List .  In the movie, Oskar Schindler is a greedy businessman in Germany during the Nazi regime.  He morphs from wanting money, power, and glory for himself into a savior for the Jews who work in his factory.  The factory becomes a refuge for those workers and he maintains their life by doing all he can to keep them in this factory.  By the end of the film, he has run out of money and has to close the factory.  He has a powerful farewell in which he looks at those things around him and he has these terrible realizations:
Itzhak Stern: Oskar, there are eleven hundred people who are alive because of you. Look at them.
Oskar Schindler: If I’d made more money… I threw away so much money. You have no idea. If I’d just…
Itzhak Stern: There will be generations because of what you did.
Oskar Schindler: I didn’t do enough!
Itzhak Stern: You did so much.
[Schindler looks at his car]
Oskar Schindler: This car. Goeth would have bought this car. Why did I keep the car? Ten people right there. Ten people. Ten more people.
[removing Nazi pin from lapel]
Oskar Schindler: This pin. Two people. This is gold. Two more people. He would have given me two for it, at least one. One more person. A person, Stern. For this.
Oskar Schindler: I could have gotten one more person… and I didn’t! And I… I didn’t!

He looks at his material possessions and wonders how many Jews would that  have saved?  How much could he have gotten if he had sold that pin.  A life for a pin. 

I wonder how many things I could do without so that someone else could live? What do I think I need that could send someone to those who need hope?  What do I casually spend in Starbuck’s that could keep a missionary on the field all year? A life for a pin.

Thank you Dr Cooper for your lifetime of ministry and for your challenges to us.


Hollywood Studios March 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 8:44 am

OK- I promise this will be the last post about Disney.  Our last day was spent at Hollywood Studios.  The weather took a drastic change and it was rainy and cold!


The kids woke up to find a note from Mickey.  He left a musical snow globe and picture frame for them to remember their awesome trip.

We packed up and headed to the park…


Thankfully, the kids had jackets in the car. 


The park had a great Beauty and the Beast show.  We saw it twice. 


These are the kids at the “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” playground.  Everything is huge.  The girls are next to a paperclip.


Hollywood Studios has a great parade and I loved that the kids were invited to join in. 


They are doing YMCA.


And twisting and shouting 🙂

We ended the day with ice cream- shaped like Mickey, of course!


It’s never too cold for ice cream in the Zellner family.