I love family. I love learning. I love food. This is simply a collection of thoughts, memories, and recipes that are a piece of me!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cool By Association.

Did you know that I'm married to a DJ?  That's right.  He's a legit scratching-up-some-genuine-vinyl kind of DJ.  He does the...cuts...mixes...?  I have no idea what they're called.  Once he even asked me to do something called "drops" for his internet radio show.  No seriously.  I swear my husband is cooler than your husband.

He has been on real life tours.

He has performed in front of thousands of people over the years.

He knows people who know people.

None of this stuff does he willingly talk about though.  He's all humble and stuff.

Somehow, I tend to think this means I'm cool.  I'm not.  Not in the least.  (Need I remind you that I'm at home on a Saturday night geeking out about starting Advent and writing a blog post?)

I'm a total generic white girl.  I can't rap, but I try.  I can't dance, but I try.  I can't DJ, but I did try that once.  It's not as easy as it looks.

Today, he turned on some music while we were hanging out with our kids.  He was holding Eva, and I was dancing with her and rapping along with the song.  She and I were having so much fun, and I glanced up and saw my husband's sweet face.  He wasn't making fun of me.  He wasn't laughing at how ridiculous I really must have looked and sounded.  He had a genuine sort of smile on his face as he looked at me as though I was really someone.  I wasn't generic to him.

It always amazes me when I have these realizations, and this is one I tend to have over and over.  Once upon a time, Bird chose me- not because I'm the prettiest or the smartest or the funniest- but because he loved me and all my crazy.  I am one seriously lucky gal.

I will very happily take being cool by association.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Beauty And The Beholder.

I'm beautiful.

I know what you're thinking.  Stop it.  I'm beautiful.  I know it must be true because my daughter said so.

I've never been a big fan of the way I look.  Makeup every day.  Always fix(ish) my hair.  Clothes can't hug the wrong places.  These shoes with these pants.  Wear a dress and an apron.

My idea of beauty was skewed.

A few days ago, I was feeling particularly like Quasimodo.  I swear I noticed a hump on my back that Bird keeps telling me I'm imagining.  My hair was flat yet miraculously frizzy.  My nose was too big.  My eyes looked too small.  My makeup didn't cover the imperfections I loathed.  The shoulder of my shirt was covered in Eva crust, and my pants were members of the pajama family.  I wasn't Hot Mom.  I wasn't even in the Hot Mom zip code.

I was playing with Izzy and letting her climb on me.  It was a passive Mommy moment, really.  We tickled and laughed and hugged and all of a sudden, she threw her arms around my neck and said something, very much in passing, that I will never ever forget.

"You're the most beautiful girl there ever was."

And she kissed my cheek, and she was done.  Off she scampered, having no idea what she did.

Me?  I am the most beautiful girl there ever was?  I didn't correct her.  I couldn't- not because she wasn't wrong to you, but because she was right to her.  I...me...her mommy...is the most beautiful girl there ever was.

It literally took me days to really process what she said.  Those words have popped back into my mind like a relentless weed.  I didn't want to meditate on them.  I didn't want to ponder them.  They stung somehow.  I just kept thinking, "One day she'll realize..."

But then I thought of my mom, and I remembered that she's the most beautiful girl there ever was. (save maybe the two that have rooms in my house...)  So I prayed.  And I thanked God for the beauty Izzy sees with her heart.  I asked for forgiveness for it being a reflex to "correct" that.  Then I tried to see myself through her eyes.

After spending the last few days in the mind of my three year old, here is what I'd like you to know if you have a daughter (or even if you don't):
Your dresses are gowns.  They make you her queen.
Your shoes are magnificent and something she aspires to fill.
Your movements are something she studies, but she only sees the grace.
Your hair is amazing.  You're practically Rapunzel.
Your face is perfection- no eyeliner required.
Your smile is bright, and she will imitate it every chance you give her.

I might as well own my beauty because my sweet-hearted girl already does.

And I think you should own your's, too.  After all, you are the most beautiful girl there ever was.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Just A Minute.

This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately.  

I'm a busy mom.  Just today I made waffles for breakfast, I did four loads of laundry, I made pasta for lunch, I homeschooled my older two kids, I made homemade monkey bread (Enter shameless self promotion here.) I went to our homeschool co-op, and I did it all while holding onto my one year old and praying she didn't grab something off the floor and stick it in her mouth without me noticing. You know, like a cricket...or a nail...

Being so busy, I've found myself constantly saying one thing over and over..."Just a minute!"

Can I have some juice?

Just a minute.

Can you turn on cartoons?

Just a minute.

Can we read a book?

Just a minute.

I hate it.  I cringe when I hear myself say it.  It makes me feel like the worst mom.  Don't get me wrong- I'm all about teaching my kids patience, but there's a point when it stops being about making them wait to build character, and it becomes more about making them wait because I can.  

I started wondering today how my children would feel- or even how I would feel- if instead of saying "just a minute" I told them the whole truth.  What if I replaced that dreaded phrase with "what I'm doing right now is more important than what you want or need."  Let's try it...

Can I have some juice?
I'm making waffles, and that's more important.  I'll make you juice when it's also time to eat. Well that's not so bad.

Can you turn on cartoons?

I'm in the middle of a homeschool lesson.  You'll have to wait until we are done.  I can live with that, but let me be a bit more realistic...

Can we read a book?

I'm in the middle of the good part of this show, and that's more important. 
I'm on Facebook trying to figure out why this person changed their relationship status, and that's more important.
I'm writing a blog about how I don't pay enough attention to you, and that's more important...

I guess it's all about prioritizing.  There are legit reasons to make my kids wait for things.  It builds character. It teaches them that waiting for things is a necessary evil in life sometimes, but if I'm being honest, it also can easily teach them my priorities.  

I want to write a better, more thought-provoking ending to this blog post, but it's my kid's bedtime, so you'll have to wait...just a minute...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thanksgiving: An Act Of Giving Thanks.

I wanted to share with you something I'm super excited about.

Like, nerdy-level  excited about.

Last year, right before Thanksgiving, I had this idea, but it was too late to start it.  I've kept it tucked safely in the back of my mommy brain since then, and I have been biding my time all October to finally bust this out.

Every year my family goes all out on Christmas.  We do the whole shebang: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, circling things in toy books and ads, scouring stores for the perfect gift, awesome wrapping parties, huge dinners, a million decorations, tons of traditions...you get the picture.  It be gettin' cray cray up in here.  

I'm sorry.


Because it can be easy to spend way too much focus on what we don't have and what we want, I wanted to create a season of thankfulness that will (hopefully) transfer well into the Christmas season, too.

I started by making a rather crude looking "turkey."  I'm going to go ahead and warn you that I'm using that term pretty loosely.  I used a rolled up piece of brown packing paper, but a paper towel tube would be peachy.  I then added a beak and some eyes.  Remember, people, kids don't care if your crafts are Pinterest-worthy.

Then I cut out about a million "feathers."

Every night before bedtime in the month of November, we are coming together as a family (after Eva gets put in bed...no need to make this harder for ourselves...).  We will start with reading Psalm 100.

1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
5 For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.

I just thought this passage was so appropriate.  I want myself and my kids to remember why we thank and praise the Lord: because He is God.  His love endures forever.  We will spend a little time each night breaking this passage down a bit so that it's more understandable to a 3 and 6 year old as well as give us parents some time to really chew on it.

Next, everyone in the family (sans sweet baby Eva) gets a feather, and every night, we will each write one thing we are thankful for.  We will go around the room and tell what we wrote and why we wrote it.  I'm already tickled at Izzy's "I'm thankful when Mommy lets me have candy."  Remind me again why we spend a small fortune for Christmas gifts...  Then we glue our feathers onto the "turkey."

Finally, Bird leads us in prayer to simply thank God- our provider- for these things, no matter how trivial they may seem to others.

It's pretty simple.  It takes maybe 20 minutes or so, but for 28 days at least, we will have a tangible and constant reminder in our home of things we are thankful for.

And I'm thankful for that.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Jesus And Sciencey Stuff.

You're about to see what a glorious nerd I am.

Our kids are involved in a homeschool Co-Op with several other like-minded and awesome families in our town, and we, as the parents, get the awesome chance to teach sometimes.  And apparently, when I get to teach, I opt to go as stereotypical and nerdy as I possibly can take it.

But it's a little bit fun.  And a teeny tiny bit educational.

I just finished up a class where I taught characteristics of God through science.  Stop rolling your eyes.  It was awesome.

We went through six different attributes of God's character: Omnipresence, holiness, omnipotence, omniscience, merciful protector, and never-changing.  Every week, I did an experiment to try to drive the point home.  I had an age range of 3 to 3rd grade, so it was a great way to get on each child's level as much as possible.

Now first, I want to say how amazingly impressed I was with these kids.  I had small kids walking around knowing how God is omnipresent...so He's everywhere. I didn't dumb it down for them, and for the most part, they totally got it.

I just wanted to give a brief overview of what we did every week, and I will attach my crudely written notes that have the verses I used. (just click the week)

Week 1: Omnipresent- God is everywhere, even if we can't see him.  I used yeast and sugar and warm water to inflate a balloon.  Just like we couldn't see the carbon dioxide, it was there!

Week 2: Holy- God is holy and perfect, but we are not.  I used acetone to dissolve styrofoam balls to show that no matter how many good works we attempt, we will never reach heaven through them because of our sin. (the kids really loved watching this one!)

Week 3: Omnipotent- God is all powerful.  Without Him, we have no power at all.  We used D batteries (God, the power) and strips of foil (connected to God through Jesus) to light a light bulb (we are the light of the world, after all).

Week 4: Omniscient- God sees everything, even what we try to hide.  We used a coffee filter, a black marker, and a spray bottle of water to see that the black ink was really made up of all different colors of ink.  We may see black, but God sees the reds, blues, and yellows.

Week 5: Merciful protector- In His mercy and grace, God protects us.  I blew up several balloons and used them to show our connection to God.  I then used a candle to represent sin.  I popped the balloons with the candle to show what happens to our relationship with God because of sin.  I then held a balloon with water in it up to the candle to show how the Living Water (Jesus) changes the situation.  He protects us and keeps our relationship with God in tact.  (Seriously, the balloon didn't burst.  It was awesome.)

Week 6: Never changing- God doesn't change- He changes us.  This was, by far, the favorite experiment of the entire semester.  I gave the kids a bowl and had them pour a bottle of elmer's glue and water into it.  (This is us.)  Next, I gave them another bowl had borax that I'd dissolved into water in it.  (This is God.)  They poured the borax water into the glue and stirred it up.  (The point was that God changes us.)  The kids went ga-ga over making slime...and maybe I liked it a little bit, too...

In all, this class was so much fun.  I'm sure the kids didn't really grasp all the theological points I made, but I hope I was able to plant some ideas that will eventually make lots of sense.

Go ahead.  Go nerd it up with your kids.  I won't tell anyone.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Bread For My Monkeys.

I've been a little bit obsessed with making bread lately.  I've made it 4 times in the last 6 days.  I've been trying to perfect the most amazing garlic cheese bread (that I will eventually share...the recipe....you have to make your own loaf).

My sister had mentioned a few times lately about how much her and her husband have loved the monkey bread she makes.

Now, let's pause here.  Let me see a show of hands for how many people know what "monkey bread" is.

I had no idea.  Kinda.  I knew it was sweet bread, but that was about it.  I googled it, and it sounded amazing, so I decided I wanted to make it. ..But alas, I had no biscuits.

But I did have a bread recipe.

Oh.  My.  Word.

It's like...like a cake made of the inside of cinnamon rolls and covered in a delicious sticky candy syrup coating.  At least that's what my three year old called it...

What you'll need:
1 and 1/3 cup warm water (hottest from the tap)
2 tsp yeast (or one packet)
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
4 cups flour

2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar

I apologize...I didn't snap pictures this time because I had a baby on my hip...

First, mix your water, yeast, and sugar in a bowl.  Let it bloom for about ten minutes.  Next, add the oil and mix it up.  Add a cup of flour and blend it.  Add in the salt and mix it for about 2 minutes.

I use a stand mixer to do all my dirty work.

Add in 2 1/2 cups of flour and mix.  If you're kneading it in a mixer, leave it on for about 3 minutes.  If it's sticking to the sides, add the rest of the flour and knead it for another 3 minutes.  If you're kneading it by hand, you'll go for about 10 minutes.  Don't be scared of this.  It's therapeutic.

Once it's been kneaded, put the dough in a greased bowl and let it rise for at least 2 hours or until it's doubled in size.

Meanwhile, mix up your cinnamon sugar mixture.  When the dough has risen, punch it down.  Also therapeutic.  Break off tablespoon sized balls of dough, roll them into a ball, and roll them in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  This doesn't take nearly as long as I expected.  Drop the dough pieces into the bottom of a greased bundt pan.

Let your bundt pan full of goodness rise for a bit while you melt your butter and brown sugar together.  Once it's melted, pour it...the whole thing...over the top of your dough.

Bake at 350 for half an hour.  Let it cool for a few minutes and plop that sucker out on a serving dish.

Watch the monkeys go nuts.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Favorite You.

One of my favorite books that we read our kids is called "You Are All My Favorites."  After we read it, I always think Man...I could've written that book...

It wouldn't have been nearly as eloquent or beautiful, but I could have because I totally get it.  

We have three kids, and I'm constantly thinking about how I need to parent each child differently, how I need to teach each child differently- how I need to love each child differently.  They are all beautiful.  They are all smart.  They are all my favorites, and I wanted them, one day far from now, to understand why.

To my dearest Eva,
You, sweet girl, are such a joy to my heart.  You were a beautiful gift from God when Daddy and I didn't even ask for anything else.  You were an added bonus.  I love you for that, and for that, I praise God daily.  In the last year, you and I have been through so many great and not so great moments.  Looking back, those many many months of middle-of-the-night feedings were amazing bonding times for you and I.  

I love your laugh.  

I love how you take your time to do things.

I love playing peek-a-boo with you over and over and over....and over.

I love how you reach for me and are completely content for a moment after you have me.  You don't want to be anywhere else in that moment, and neither do I.  You hold my heart, Eva Grace.  I love

To my dearest Izzy Belle,
You, my dear, have given me every grey hair and wrinkle I have, I think.  I adore you for that.  You never cease to entertain and amaze me.  God gave you to me (to our whole family) in a moment when He knew we needed an Izzy the very most.  He helped heal so many broken hearts with you, and I praise God for that amazing gift.  You drive me crazy, but in such a wonderful way- and I wouldn't want you any other way.

I love your free spirit.  I envy it, honestly.

I love your hair.  Thank you for being my doll.

I love your imagination.

I love that you live in your own little world where everything is wonderful and God is big.  I pray that a fear of God and His amazing vastness is always something you recognize.  Thank you for the sweet moments where you show your vulnerability to me.  Thank you for making me work at being a mommy.  I'm a better mom because of you.  You hold my heart, Isabella Ahavah.  I love you.

To my dearest son,
You, sweet Isaiah, are...excuse me while I wipe away the tears...such an amazing gift.  From the moment I knew you were growing in my womb, I knew you were given to me to love and care for and teach and parent.  You were not given to me for me to keep forever and ever.  That is a struggle for me.  I want to keep you.  As I have watched you grow over the last 6 years, I have fallen so deeply in love with you as you.  I praise God for giving me a first born son who is so much like me- so much so that I know how you will react in most every scenario.  That's an amazing gift.  You were the very best introduction to parenthood that I could ever wish for.

I love that you are so loving.  God has used you to help me learn to love others better.

I love that you're so kind.

I love how you smile.  I love your dimple.

I could not get through my days with such ease without you, dear boy.  You are the best helper a mother could ask for, never complaining and always willing.  I can't get over you.  You hold my heart.  I love you, Isaiah Matthew.

You are all my favorites...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Creepy Crawly Hair

I get so into holidays.  All holidays.  I love them.

Almost to the point of silliness.

Bird would say well past the point of silliness. No way.

But I digress...

Anyway, I love them, so I love to extend the season as much as I can.  In our house, Christmas season starts after my birthday (which just happens to be just around the corner...) and includes Halloween...

That being said, I love the idea of being festive with Halloween for more than just one night.  Because of that, I wanted to share this super quick (seriously, this took me less than 5 minutes) hair-do that you'll most certainly see on my little monster this season! (mostly because she says it makes her look "reawwy cweeeeeepy" and I like hearing her say that.)

What you'll need:
4 pipe cleaners
googly eyes (I used two, but this would be cute with lots)
some bobby pins (I used 8 in all)
A hair donut
You'll also need a bit of hot glue, a brush, and a ponytail holder

First, you need to hot glue your eyes onto the ends of bobby pins.  Make sure that they look like this picture.  You need to be able to see the eyes when you stick the pin through the hair.

Next, pull the hair wherever you want it.  I like a high ponytail.  This would be cute on the side or even smack on top of the head, too.

Ooops....I forgot to add that you need a willing participant who can be really really scary!

Once the hair is pulled up and secured with a ponytail holder, it's time to twist the pipe cleaners around the base of the ponytail.  I pulled two around the front and two around the back.

Please disregard my very messy table.

Now for the hair donut...these things are so easy to use, but they are hard to get pictures of how to use them.  If you don't know how to do a sock bun, I'd suggest checking out one of the upteen million youtube videos showing you how.

But for this 'do, a sock won't do. (how punny!)

Just be sure to secure with bobby pins.

PS, I got this one at Dollar Tree, but you can also find them at any beauty supply store or online.

Separate and bend the little spider legs...creepy.

Stick the pins into the bun with the eyes sticking out...tada!  Spider bun!  (You could add fangs, but I wanted cute, not scary.)

How funny is that?!

My creepy-crawly lover loved it, and I hope your's does, too!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Our School Room.

This is our school room table and chairs.  My husband and I built
the table together, and I found the chairs at a resale shop
and painted them myself!
When we bought our home, we knew we were in it for the long haul.  We also knew it wouldn't be long before we started to homeschool.  I sort of avoided thinking about it hoping the problem of space was going to just work itself out.  On top of that, I was crazy naive.  I had a table we had made out of an old suit case, and I just knew that was all the storage we were going to need.  I was so cute.

Fast forward a few years, and we started Kindergarten out with a fun setup in our living room.  It was really cute, but it didn't take me long to realize how it was a bad idea to have everything just out in the open.  Isaiah had no privacy to do his work in, it was never quiet for him, and the mess was a constant headache.  Now, if you have your school setup in your living room and it works for you, I sincerely applaud you.  I have no idea how you do it.

After a few months, we decided to have the impending baby sleep in our room for the time being, move the older kids into a room together (which they adored) and change our third bedroom from a nursery into a real-life school room.  This was a dream...at first.  Honestly, this would have lasted as long as we needed it to, but the room isn't big and I knew we would be needing some room to grow soon.  Everything was stacked on everything else, and the loss of usable play space for the kids became difficult.

I had always had a far off dream of converting our attached garage into a school room, but I honestly thought it was going to be more like when the kids were in high school.  Amazingly, we were fortunate enough to be able to do all the work ourselves.  In addition, buying our house from my grandparents came with the added bonus of some really awesome finds that they had left for us!  We have now used this room for many parties, family gatherings, and of course, school.  It's been such a blessing....I hope you like it, too!

I knew exactly what I wanted this room to look like in my head before we ever began creating it.  I knew I wanted a vintage school room feel, so I went online and found the perfect fabric.  I used it to recover the chair seats, the background of our calendar, and in various other places as ribbons and such.

We had a perfect little alcove built in already for a freezer.  It has its own light and everything, so we decided to fill it with an awesome reading nook.  We went one step further and went for a reading loft.  We already had some white cabinets (below), so I simply painted the fronts with chalkboard paint and added new nobs from Hobby Lobby.  This entire area cost us around $100!

We got these letters with Isaiah's homeschool curriculum.  I loved how they had a bit of a vintage look to them, but I soaked them for about 10 minutes in coffee just to stain them a bit.  I also soaked the clothes pins in very very strong coffee to darken them.

I wanted an area where I could display the kids' artwork and achievements, but I couldn't figure out what would go.  I went through so many ideas in my head until I was walking through Lowes one day and saw these amazing...I don't even know what they call them.  Wire grids?  I don't know.  Anyway, I knew they would go perfect on either side of our French doors, and I was dead on.  I just clipped clothes pins all over (which can be removed or moved).  These have been wonderful!  We can change out artwork all the time, and it's easily changed for party decor!  These, by the way, are right around $7 each.  That, coupled with the clothes pins, we only spent about $20 on a huge,  functional statement piece in our room!

I knew we were going to need desks for individual work, so I went on Craigslist and found these.  They had been modified by a previous owner by taking off the original desktop and replaced with a big piece of wood, creating a much larger work space.  I picked two of them up for around $20, and I simply sanded and repainted them with chalkboard paint.  I found $1 galvanized buckets and screwed them down to hold chalk and an eraser.

Speaking of erasers...

These were legitimately my favorite project of the entire thing.  These were so inexpensive but so much fun!

I simply got a yardstick and used my circular saw and cut it into measured pieces.  I then glued them onto the backs of inexpensive chalkboard erasers I got from a local teacher supply store. It gives the kids a nice little handle to grip onto, and I just adore how they turned out!

This chalkboard was mine when I was growing up.  I could not believe my mom had kept it all these years, but when she offered it to me, I jumped!  The history behind it is so much fun, and it fit perfectly with the decor in our room.

I found this clock at Cracker Barrel, and I loved it so much.  I loved it even more when I realized it was half off!

It was super important to find a clock with actual numbers and not roman numerals...which proved to be much more difficult than I expected!

I really wanted to find a vintage library cart to store books that could be pushed all over the house.  Unfortunately, I never found one within budget, but I did find this little gem at The Container Store (more on that awesome place soon!), and it worked out perfectly!

In the background, you can see our lockers.  These are my favorite part of the whole room.  These were left to me by my Grandpa in our back garage.  They are so special, and since he isn't here to see what all we have accomplished with our building skills, it really means a lot to me to get to incorporate some things of his!

Plus, vintage lockers went perfectly!

This was another awesome artifact left from my grandparents.  Apparently, I sat in it as a young child, and so did my mom.  I simply recovered the seat and cleaned it up.  Now it's the perfect Mrs. Teacher chair!

In addition to all of this, we also have a huge lower cabinet set and a large, long work table, both of which I refinished with wooden tops that I stained the same color as our loft.  These are great for storage, but they also have served as the best serving areas for parties!

We also have lots of fun little odds and ends that really helped to pull the room together.  We have a great globe that will get used all the way up through high school, the most adorable vintage-inspired pencil sharpener, and this amazing wire basket I found in our garage when we were cleaning it out.


We absolutely adore this room, and it has been the most amazing blessing.  We are all looking forward to many many years of learning some wonderful things here!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Isaiah The First Grader.

Well after a whirlwind vacation to California, we got a whole day at home to get our school room in order before it was time to start our new school year.  It was really great, actually.

Maybe it was great because my sweet little Eva slept the entire time we were working...either way, it was a perfect first day of school!

I'm a big fan of letting the kids sleep.  No need to set alarms for us when we have all day to get all of our stuff done!  That being said, we started a bit later today than we did last year.  That was totally okay with Mrs. Teacher.

Eventually, we did wake up, and I made them a yummy treat for breakfast...cinnamon toast sticks.

...with icing, of course.

Isaiah is starting first grade, and Izzy is doing Pre-K this year.

Then we made our way out to our school room where the kids found new school supplies waiting!

This was always my favorite part of the first day of school.  My mom was so great about making those things really special, and I try to carry that tradition on for my kids.

Then it was time to work!

I am so excited about all the things we have ahead of us this year!  Both kids have so much to learn, and I pray I can teach them with grace and confidence and understanding.

2013-2014 school year...here we go!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Dinner For Daddy Bird.

One of my favorite things to do is to watch cooking shows- also known in my house as "cooking movies."  Izzy will come in and sit with me, all cuddled up, and give her cute little opinions.


"I wike dis girl cause she makes chocolate chip cokies!"

"Oooo I wooooove strabewwies!"

Sometimes she will see something and ask me to make it, and I'm always a big fan of that.  Today, however, we were watching a show, and the lady cooking was making chicken soup.  She was very intently paying attention to every detail.  Finally, she was finished, and as the show ended, Izzy looked at me with the biggest eyes.

"Maw Maw...will you help me make that for my daddy this night?"

Uhhh yes.

We promptly went to the store and picked up what we needed.  As we cooked the soup (and added grilled cheese sandwiches), she was so pleased.  She was serving her daddy, and she didn't even realize what that meant.

At times...or most times in her short little life, I have fretted over her heart.  She can be a tough kid to parent, but I am watching daily as I see God work on her heart.  I think this one just might be okay...

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Surprise Adventure.

Every so often in life, the opportunity presents itself to be a bit spontaneous.  These are always my favorite moments.  These moments are even better when they include kids.

Bird and I decided we wanted to take a trip to California before we started back with school.  He had some time off of work, and everything really just fell into place to allow us to go.  We opted to keep it a secret from the kids because we wanted to really surprise them.  So, we meticulously planned out an adventure...

On a Thursday night, the older two kids spent the night with my parents so we could have the time to get everything ready and pack without them realizing what was happening.  They loved this part.

On Friday, I waited until around dinner time to go get them.  We had dinner with my family, and then it was adventure time! (Skip to the video at the bottom if you'd rather just watch how it unfolded!)

First, we gave the kids a gift.  Inside was a new puzzle (something my kids love doing), and we had them put it together.  They realized there was a message on the back while they were working on it, so when it was done, we flipped it over.  It read:
It's time to have an adventure,
So get ready and let's begin!
You love to play Wii with Grammy.
Now let's see how fast you can win!

We all proceeded to the living room where it took about a minute for Isaiah to beat Grammy at a mini game. Then, she pulled out an envelope with a card inside.  This card said:

Now that you've won your game,
It's time to find an Aunt
Who will turn the music on and up
Cause it's a party, and it's time to dance!

They found Aunt Kara, and we all danced away.  It was so much fun to get all our wiggles out!  When the song was over, Kara gave them another envelope.  The card inside read:

If all that dancing has made you hungry
And you really want some kind of treat,
Go find Grandpa!  He is waiting
With a sweet treat to eat!

They ran and found grandpa waiting with ice cream sandwiches for everyone to share!  This was a sweet and welcomed surprise, and it was so funny that the kids thought THIS was the climax to this whole adventure!  Of course, he then gave them their next card, and it said:

Now that you had something yummy
And you had some food that was real,
Go with Grandma to the back porch
And make us a play-dough meal!

This thrilled both kids, but Izzy especially loved it.  She would sit and play with play-dough for hours at a time!  They made pizza and hamburgers and pancakes, and then Grandma gave them their next card.  It said:

Playing play-dough was so much fun,
But it's time to tell everyone "bye!"
Put on your shoes and have a peek
In the black thing Mom and Dad drive!

They quickly put their shoes on and ran outside!  They found their last envelope taped to the window of our truck.  They tore it open, and we read it together.  It said....

Our truck is packed with clothes and snacks
And a way to watch some shows.
We even included your Mickey Mouse ears,
So where do you think we should go....?

It was hilarious how long it took them to figure it out.  We stuffed our truck with all kinds of new things (and I will do a post soon on how to successfully travel with small children), and they were so enamored with everything, they couldn't even think of Disneyland!

The next morning, very very early, we headed to California for a week!  We spent time with friends and family, saw princesses and Carsland, spent time at the beach, and made some of the best memories as a family.  This was, by far, one of the best experiences for us as parents!  

But I think the biggest achievement in all of this was my ability to keep it a secret for weeks...

If you'd like to watch our adventure, here you go! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Finer Things.

I got a fun little glimpse into my future with Izzy today.

Well, it might have been fun had I not been switching off arms I was using to hold my rock of a 9 month old and trying to keep her from grabbing every cardboard and shiny thing within reach.  And had it not taken so long.  And had I not had a 6 year old little boy constantly asking how much longer he had to stand there because this was a "girl store."  (Don't worry.  I quickly repented of my terrible attitude.)

Okay, so it wasn't very fun.  But I see how it could be fun.

A few months ago, Izzy and I were walking around the mall alone while Bird and the two other kids went looking for boy things.  (Sorry, Eva...)  We looked at dresses and shoes and purses, and I finally made it to jewelry.  Then the idea came to me.

"Hey Iz...you want to get your ears pierced?!"

Now, this has been a point of contention for Bird and I for years.  I wanted it done.  He wanted it done.  We both wanted the other to be the one to take her to do it.  I finally worked up the nerve, and I decided I was ready.  She was so excited, and she kept telling me, "I have brave stuff inside me!"  She sat up straight in her chair, held my hand tightly, and CLICK!  Both ears at once and not a tear was shed.

Brave little thing.

Fast forward to this afternoon.

After having her original earrings in for more than 6 weeks, she could now change them out.  It has taken me weeks to talk her into it, but today, we decided to stop by Claire's and let her pick out a new pair.  I had no idea what that was going to entail.

It took forever.  I can't believe I'm not still there, honestly.  I think she looked at every single pair of earrings in that store twice, and after each pair would say, "Nope.  These aren't for me!"  Then she'd put them down, and move on to the next pair.  I tried showing her some.  Nope.  Isaiah tried showing her some.  Nope.  At one point, I'm convinced Eva grabbed a pair to show her.  Nope.  She wanted me to keep showing her what I liked, though.  "Maybe we can share!" she'd say.

In the end, she picked out the first ones I ever picked up and showed her, but the sheer joy in her little eyes during the entire tryst was priceless.  She was so thrilled to have her new sparkly jewelry, but to get to browse with her Mommy looking at all the pretty pieces of art, well, to her, that was the finer thing...and I think it will be to me for years and years to come now, too.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Chicken Caesar Salad Sliders.

Look, it's not that I hate salad.  I don't.

Well, I kinda do.

I just feel like salads have their place, and that place should not ever be a main course.  Except chicken salad.  Chicken salad is fine.

Every once in a while, I will get the itch to make a salad for a main course.  I'm always awake by midnight to have some s'mores.  I just need more substance than what a salad can generally provide.  My problem, however, is that I actually really love the flavors of some salads- Caesar in particular.


So I made it into a sandwich.  I can't promise that I won't have s'mores later, but I can promise that it won't be because I'm feeling famished.

What you'll need:
Mini ciabatta rolls
Garlic powder
Romaine lettuce
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Grilled chicken
Caesar dressing

First, let's talk about the proper ingredients in a chicken Caesar salad.  The lettuce is important, and it's got to be Romaine.

You have to have shredded Parmesan cheese.  Do not add grated Parmesan cheese to this salad.  Just don't.  That's good and all on some yummy pasta.  It has no place in this salad.

You have to have croutons.  Garlic is best.

You have to have a Caesar dressing.  Anchovies or not, this is kinda what makes the salad a Caesar.

You have to have chicken.  Now, excuse me while I rant for a moment.

There is a right way and a wrong way to grill chicken.  I will be doing a separate blog post on this in the near future...it's no big deal, but if you do it the wrong way, we can't be friends anymore.

Now for the sammich.

When putting together a sandwich or a burger, order is key.  I had no idea either.  I learned that from Todd Wilbur from Top Secret Recipes.  I make his In-N-Out burgers, and that's no joke.  Put it together wrong, and you do not have a double double.  You have a random burger with thousand island on it.

Keeping this in mind, my sliders start with a toasted mini ciabatta roll. Butter it, sprinkle the slightest bit of garlic powder (don't over do this, fellows), and toast.  Tada!  Croutons.

On both sides of the rolls, spread a bit of Caesar dressing.  I used Kraft because I had Kraft.  I'd suggest going a bit better quality.  It's not that this is bad...it could just be better.

Add a layer of shredded parm.



Top on.



The Waiting

This summer has been...interesting...

I have spent the last several years being very busy.  I have been finishing up my college degree (and by finishing, I mean not finishing at all), having babies, starting homeschool, buying and renovating a house, getting involved in our new church home, investing in relationships, planning multiple trips, and all the other countless little things that life has thrown our way.

Then this summer hit.

For the first time in a very long time, I found myself at home with nothing going on around me except our normal home lives.  (Something, by the way, that I did on purpose.)  For about the first week or so, it was awesome.  Hello, HGTV.  Look at all the new shows you've been hiding from me.  Shame on you.

Then, it was less awesome.  Lately, I've taken to making Izzy sit quietly in front of me so I can perfect french braiding.  She loves it.

And by loves, I mean hates.

I've been going stir crazy for a while now, but what is worse, it seems like the kids are catching my crazy bug.  There are only so many times a 3 and 6 year old can play with play dough or watch Veggie Tales without wanting to explode.  This has resulted in a less than pleasant time at home, and I hate that.  How can I make a home that is peaceful and full of grace when the kids have taken to screaming and biting?!  (Answer: I can't....not when I feel like biting them, too.)

Don't worry.  I'm working on my biting issues.

With another month until we planned to start school, I fear I'm going to have to up the date just to save Izzy's hair from falling out...

HGTV, you can have your secrets.  I want my full schedule back, please.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Italian Loaf.

You know that moment when you realize your Pinterest addiction caused you to burn your bread that was baking?

Yeah.  Me, too.

I wanted to share this anyway because it's still so good...we just won't look at the bottom of the loaves.

So I've posted this link before with the bread recipe I always use. It's very simple, and it's very yummy, but sometimes I just need....more.

I'm sure Bird could attest to how difficult that makes me at times.

Tonight for dinner, I'm making lasagna (which I'm doubling the recipe, packaging it, and freezing half for another day) but I wanted some bread to go along with it.  Since our grocery budget for the week is maxed, I opted to make some, but the basic bread just wasn't doing it for me.  I decided today, I'd go for an Italian-inspired carb.

I started with my normal recipe, but instead of vegetable oil, I used pure olive oil.  This will change the flavor, but not drastically.  I also added about a tablespoon and a half of dried Italian seasoning.

Instead of putting the loaves in loaf pans, I free-handed them onto some parchment paper to have more of a rustic feel.  I covered them, let them rise, and then brushed a layer of olive oil on top.

Now here is where I did a step that I've discovered I truly love doing when I'm making bread that I want to be crusty yet chewy.

I preheated my oven to 400, taking care to make sure it was completely heated.  Then, I placed the bread in on the top rack, all the way to the back.  I filled a bowl with about 5 cups of ice cubes.  After I put the bread in, I threw the ice cubes directly onto the bottom of the oven.  IMMEDIATELY close the oven door and DO NOT open it again until you can smell the bread.  Reduce the temp to 350, and it will bake for half an hour or so.

As soon as it comes out of the oven, butter up the top crust.

This bread is so good.  Totally worth the bit of extra work, but really took me no less time in all than running to the store would have!