Tuesday, May 27, 2008

no power

our power chord died. i am using the wii...ridiculous. see you next week blog! going to grandmas's house!

Monday, May 26, 2008


Check out this blog: Freebies 4 Mom
This blogger keeps the best running list of coupons, rebates, links, and samples! Try it out!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Seven

It's a quiet Sunday afternoon today! The boys are napping, Cloe's watching a movie, and Cody is buying meat for the church picnic tonight...ah, peace!
Here's a few sillies for the Sunday Seven:

#1. I'm really thankful for DVD players and cute, entertaining cartoons...can't ever get enough of Mater!

#2. I'm thankful for our Wii that I stood in a long line to pre-order a year ago at Christmas, then sold it on Ebay and made enough to get one for our family! :) We rented the new Mario Kart and even got to play it against Cody's brother and his wife in Michigan! That almost made the miles not seem so far!

#3. After spending some time walking at the mall this week, I'm really thankful that I have pretty friendly children (most of the time). So many people didn't even respond to our "excuse me" or "hello" or even just a smile. Rude! I thought Iowa was suppose to be a friendly, down-home type of place to live! I'm trying to do my part to help that!

#4. I'm thankful that even when I stumble into feeling materialistic and greedy, God still finds grace enough to allow me to find great deals on some new clothes! Here's one of the shirts I found at GAP for $3.97 this week! Yeah!!! (Of course, I look just like this model in it, too!)

#5. Coffee...lots and lots of coffee this week...need I say more!

#6. Pop was on sale at Fareway last week! That may seem like a silly thing to be thankful for, but pinching the pennies means that pop is a luxury not a necessity. So for the next month, I'm going to try and stretch out the wonderful, sweet fizzy goodness as much as I can!

#7. Most of all, I'm thankful that God accepts me for exactly who I am: a sinner saved by His grace and dwelling in it each and every day! Most days, I say or do at least one, if not a dozen, things that I later rehash or regret in my mind. Sometimes I wonder just how big of a dork I am perceived to be by those around me. At the same time, I know Satan is working hard to make me feel insecure so I won't be confident in Christ. SO, I love to dwell in the fact that yes, I am a dork, I say and do silly, dorky and moronic things, BUT I'm totally covered in grace and loved endlessly and unconditionally by my Savior. I think that's probably the best thing ever!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I'm sure blessed!

This week was kind of a frustrating week. The boys had allergies turn to colds turn to asthma problems turn to behavior problems. Then they shared it all with me (well, maybe not the behavior problems...)! It was yucky weather when we wanted to be outside. Errands took forever. Gas was and still is too expensive. Money is in short supply. Obviously, my pity party's starting to really take off. Then tonight we spent some time with a group of people from church. I absolutely LOVE these times together. We get to see each other's houses, get to know each other better, and it's just fun to have the company of friends. It also helped me put things into perspective. A couple of the moms in the group work full-time and leave their precious babies behind at daycare. I am NOT writing a blog to pass judgment on moms who work--that's totally between them and their husbands and God--you do what God leads you to do. That said, as we drove home, I couldn't help but think about how hard it would be to drop my kids off at daycare every morning and leave them for a WHOLE day. Sometimes, I'd die for just an hour away--but 8 hours. No thanks! The more I thought about it--the lunches alone at work without sticky fingers, no naptime snacks, no cuddles and kisses, no wiping anyone's nose, no coloring with markers and crayons, no stories...it seriously made my stomach hurt so bad I felt nauseous. I am so in love with my children! I am totally dreading having Cloe go to kindergarten for the whole day this fall. Missing her is the only thing that would ever make consider homeschooling right now. (Not that I'm against that either...boy am I insecure about my own opinions or what!) All I can say is, "Thanks Lord for giving me a fresh perspective on these seemingly endless days where I've realized I would want nothing else!"
Here's a few photos from our messes and our sweet times:
This may look like a mess to most people, but it kind of made me smile. Cody had been trying to teach the boys to take a little toilet paper and wipe their own noses. (I don't know why he chose toilet paper, the kleenex are in the front room...but that's beside the point!) McClain was SO sad that he couldn't get just a little--evidently I bought the too strong kind of toilet paper. It only took us a couple of days to use this bunch . The boys also found the real kleenex and are doing much better!

The boys are both back on breathing treatments which mean absolute hyper-activity almost 24/7. When they finally crashed last night, Carson just couldn't seem to let go of his best buddy. He's also our little sweaty monkey, but we're not chopping those curls--sorry Mom!

Cloe may have ants her in pants everytime we absolutely MUST sit still, but she sure put out a cute grin for this one. Cody just took this right during the service while the guy was preaching--it was getting a little long and the kids all needed some extra form of entertainment!

There are my blessings. Hopefully when I'm feeling overwhelmed by the "blessing" of 3 whiny, cooped up, snot-nosed, endlessly hungry children, I'll remember that I could be stuck in a cubical for 8 hours...ugh! Thank you Lord for the best occupation I could have--MOM!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Rhubarb Muffins...gone healthy!

I had two big stalks of rhubarb left from our neighbor, Mr. Do-te-do-te-do. I really wanted to make some breakfast muffins, so I googled rhubarb muffins. The first recipe that came up looked so good! It had all yummy sounding ingredients and a great picture. Then I realized it was from a lady's blog in Scotland = metric system for cooking. Now, as much as I'd love to claim to be that smart, when I started trying to convert, I did ok until I came to "grams" for rhubarb. I could do the ml, but not the grams. So back to the start--but I found a recipe that was super close and in our good ol' American system. I also tried to adapt the recipe to be more healthful--it sort of worked, but I'm sure the original way would have been a little better. Oh well, I've gotten a full serving of whole grain, dairy, fruit, and fiber, just from a muffin. Some things are worth the small sacrifice!

Rhubarb Muffins (my healthy changes in italics)

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup butter (+ 1 heaping T. ground flaxseed)
1 (8oz) cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour  (1 cup oat flour + 1 cup oatmeal)
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 T brown sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Heat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, combine brown sugar and butter. Beat at medium speed until well mixed (1-2 min). Add sour cream and eggs; continue beating. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and cinnamon. By hand, stir flour mixture into sour cream mixture just until moistened. Fold in rhubarb. Spoon into greased muffin pans. in small bowl stir together 1 T brown sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, sprinkle onto each muffin. Bake for 25 to 30 min or until lightly browned. Cool 10 min; remove from pans.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Meandering Mind

Whew--turn off the TV! I was just flipping through channels and saw Senator John McCain on the Ellen Show. Ellen was trying to nail Senator McCain for his views on marriage...sickening! At the same time I'm so totally filled with compassion for where Ellen will spend eternity. So lost!
The boys and I are snot-nosed creatures today! I think what started out as allergies has morphed into some nasty colds. We are popping the vitamin C tablets like crazy! I hate it when we get colds! I had just been a little too confident in our cold-free winter...that bit me in the bud!
I know I should just take it easy and rest, but I get this weird freakishly clean streak when someone has a cold. I've dusted, vacuumed every square inch of our house, washed all the sheets in hot water with a little extra detergent, cleaned all the bathrooms...Cody probably wishes someone had a cold everyday! Not really--although he does LOVE a clean home!
I had a few slight heart-palpitations this morning when Cody called and told me the price of gas! Holy Toledo! If you see a bag-lady with a bike cart headed for Target, that will just be me! We're trying to hold out as long as possible on getting a new vehicle since the one we have is paid for--however, sportin' 14 miles to the gallon is sooo not cool right now! This is putting every inch of me to the test to commit even my worries about gas prices to the Lord! I know HE is in control and will continue to provide for our needs...I just hate to have to be testing that SO much! BUT, I have to remember God is good! When we are wise with our money and generous to give back to HIM first, HE will take care of us! This morning I was able to save $35 with all my hoards of coupons...I have to belief that God dropped those coupons in my lap and provided me with wisdom to find the deals...
The kids enjoyed this simple little meal for lunch. It's not my favorite, but it is a nice warm comforting meal...Bubble Pizza.

Bubble Pizza
2 tubes of biscuits
pizza or spaghetti sauce
Hamburger, (browned and drained)
Mozzarella cheese

Pour a generous amount of sauce in bottom of baking dish (8x8 or a round dish).
Top with meat. Cut biscuits into quarters and place on top. Top the entire thing with cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Gotta run--the boys have awakened from their slumber...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


I think I feel frustration about more than any other feeling. I feel frustrated for myself, for my friends, for perfect strangers...I just pick up frustrations and feel them...news, blogs, magazines...I find the frustrations...So guess what! Today I was reading this amazing book by Jerry Bridges, Respectable Sins. I have no idea why I have never realized it before, but FRUSTRATION is a sin! It's easy for me to commit my anxiety and fears to the Lord and know that they come because I am not fully trusting His Will for my life. Frustration usually comes out of some situation where I feel someone has made a bone-headed move or someone has been jipped out of something in life.
So, here's what good 'ol Jerry says about it: "Both anxiety and frustration are sins. They are not to be taken lightly or brushed off as common reactions we have to difficult events in a fallen world. Can you picture Jesus ever being anxious or frustrated? And whatever in our lives is not like Jesus is sin. Granted, we will never achieve complete freedom from anxiety or frustration in this life. But we should never accept them as just part of our temperament any more than we would accept adultery as part of our temperament. Keep in mind that even though anxiety and frustration may not be as serious as adultery, they are still sins. And alls in is serous in the eyes of a Holy God."
I kind of put the cart before the horse. Here's what the very respectable Dr. Bridges had to say first about frustration--read on--he gives a solution!!!
"...Frustration usually involves being upset or even angry at whatever or whoever is blocking our plans...Actually, this type of reaction has its roots in my ungodliness at the moment, for at that time I am living as though God is not involved in my life or my circumstances. I fail to recognize the invisible hand of God behind whatever is triggering my frustration. In the heat of the moment, I tend not to think about God at all. Instead, I focus entirely on the immediate cause of my frustration."
He goes on to say this: "This passage of Scripture that has greatly helped me deal with frustration is Psalm 139:16, which says, 'All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.' 'Days ordained for me' refers not only to the length of my life but to all the events and circumstances of each day of my life. This is a tremendously encouraging and comforting thought. So when something happens that tends to frustrate me, I actually quote Psalm 139:16 to myself and then say to God, 'This circumstance is part of Your plan for my life today. Help me to respond then please give me wisdom to know how to address the situation that tends to cause frustration.' Note what resources I have brought to bear on the circumstance that tends to frustrate me: specific applicable Scripture and dependence on the Holy Spirit expressed through prayer to enable me to respond in a godly manner. Then I pray for practical wisdom to know how to deal with the situation."
One more paragraph...this is good stuff! "It is also beneficial to ask God if there is something I need to learn, or if there is something I need to be attentive to. Sometimes God uses events that tempt us toward frustration to get our attention, or even to push us further in an area we need to grow in. In any case, there are no events in our lives that do not ultimately come to us from the invisible hand of God, even though they may come through some visible cause."

So, there you have it: my newly learned lesson for the day! I was seriously getting ready to post this huge thing about the frustrations in my life (church, family, friends, etc), when God had me read this! You can't tell me that God isn't busy everyday in our lives helping to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ--if only we're willing!
I guess I'll be going out and getting a tattoo of Psalm 139:16 soon!

A Friendly Little Neighbor

Last night our family was out for a walk and our neighbor 2-doors down was out getting ready to garden. He's a sweet older man, but we can't remember his name for the life of us. So, until it's not awkward to ask, we've been calling him Mr. Do-te-do-te-do...say it sing-songy for the real effect...that's him!
We told him we were going to try our hand at gardening a little plot in our back yard this year, so he invited us back into his garden....HOLY BUCKETS! Their backyard is like a miniature park...a wooden swing, a new wooden trellis, a picnic table, a fire pit...pretty cool! We oooed and awed over his strawberry bed, hot pepper bed, insulated tomatoes (ready by the 4th of July!), and all sorts of other growing things. He was so nice to explain everything to us. As we were leaving, he gave us a ton of the most beautiful, brilliant red rhubarb that I have ever seen. So, of course, we had ourselves a little treat after the 3 musketeers went to bed! Here's the recipe--in case you happen upon some rhubarb!

Mom's Rhubarb Crisp

4 c. chopped rhubarb
1 small package raspberry gelatin

1 c. sugar
1 c. water
2 T. cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla

1 c. brown sugar
1 c. flour
1 c. oatmeal
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter

Place chopped rhubarb in a 9x13 pan and sprinkle with gelatin. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, cornstarch, and vanilla. Bring to a boil and stir until thick. Pour over rhubarb.

Mix brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, cinnamon, and butter into a crumbly mixture. Sprinkle over top.

Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Serve warm with a nice scoop of Bryers Vanilla Bean Ice Cream! Yum!!!

....I feel a deep post coming...recipes are just an escape for me from the burdens of every day life!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes

Here's what's for dinner at our house tonight thanks to Rachael Ray and inexpensive produce at Fareway!

Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes

1 pound pasta cavatappi or orecchiette or whole-wheat penne
2 pints grape tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, grated
A few drizzles of extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Freshly ground black pepper
20 leaves fresh basil, roughly chopped or torn
1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Preheat oven 425°F.
Place a large pot filled with water over high heat and bring up to a boil to cook the pasta. Once boiling, add some salt and the pasta, and cook until al dente according to package directions. Reserve about a 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid before draining the pasta.
While the water is coming up to a boil to cook the pasta, place the tomatoes on a cookie and grate the garlic over them.
Drizzle with some EVOO and season with some salt and pepper. Transfer cookie sheet to the oven and roast tomatoes for 8-10 minutes or until the tomatoes start to burst. Remove from the oven, discard the garlic cloves and transfer roasted tomatoes to a large serving bowl. Add the reserved pasta water and, with a potato masher or a fork, lightly smash the tomatoes. This is a great job for a K.H. (kid helper)!
Add basil, drained pasta and Parmigiano cheese and toss to coat.
Toss to combine, taste and re-season with some salt and pepper then serve.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Dentist

This morning I had one small filling done, and my mouth is KILLING me! I think getting that shot in my gums is totally in my "Top 5" of things I hope to never, ever have to go through again! At least going through child labor is quite rewarding! This, so far, has not been in the least! I do want try and look on the bright side, though...I have a fresh pan of blondies on the counter and my mouth hurts way to bad to eat them! Maybe I'll lose a pound or two out of this misery!
What a beautiful day--complete with an amazing storm rolling in! I love spring!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


This could quite possibly be the coolest blog for freebies ever! I think it also could get a little obsessive!

Sunday Seven

#1: On Monday we got to take a little trip Iowa City. The boys were SO excited to ride in Cody's car (better gas mileage)! Cody dropped the kids and I off at the mall while he went and visited an old friend in the hospital. It was so nice to get away as a family--even if it was only for day!
#2: The funeral yesterday was for a very sweet lady who greatly impacted me as a mom and pastor's wife. I'm so thankful for the opportunity to know her even if it was for just a short time. The one thing she told me that I will always remember is that just because Cody is a pastor doesn't mean my children have to miss out on exciting things in life. When her boys were young, she made a list of things she wanted them to experience before they left home--it included a major league baseball game, a ballet, an opera, a Broadway show, a "good" amusement park, a trip to the nation's capital, and many other things. She proudly told me that everything on her list and more had been accomplished before the boys graduated. That may seem little, but I loved that she set goals & worked hard to achieve them for her children's benefit.
#3: I'm so thankful for my sweet little niece, Abby. She has alopecia areata and will soon probably lose all of her hair, but God has given her a sweet spirit and a special oblivion to this. She's our little miracle anyway because my sister was never suppose to have children. Abby came along on Mother's Day in the afternoon six years ago. I know God made her just especially for our family and I know He will protect her through this condition also.
#4: My friend Dana surprised me with a Starbuck's Mocha at church today! YEAH! I just love her! (and the mocha, to0!)
#5: I am so thankful for the WEATHER! Just when I was ready to despair, spring beauty has come to my rescue! We've got the freezy pops--we're officially ready for summer!
#6: I'm REALLY thankful for our MOPS group and especially all the moms from our church who helped make it run so smoothly! Friday was our last meeting of the year, but it was exciting to have five moms who don't know Christ all show excitement in coming back next year. Seeds have been planted and I know God is going to work through our group!
#7: I'm thankful for a God of second chances. I screw up, act selfishly, and do many other various things, but He still shows grace to me! AMAZING!

Friday, May 16, 2008


I'm a dork. Not that it really needs my confirmation, but today it's especially true. It was my marathon day. My niece and nephew arrived promptly this morning 15 minutes early...I'm sure I looked stellar. We made it to MOPS, made it through MOPS, and safely made it to lunch. So far, not too bad. I managed all 5 kids on the dollar menu at Wendy's. Came away for $7! I was feeling pretty proud! Then we made it through the agonizing decisions at Build-A-Bear for Abby's little mini party. Away we went with a bright pink bunny with sycadelic ears and a complete outfit...then the over-confidence set in. "We're doing all right...I should swing in New York & Company and try to find a black shirt for the funeral tomorrow..." Painless... grabbed 2 shirts to try on at home.
An hour later, the boys were sleeping, Nathan was playing the Wii, and the girls were watching a movie. I slipped into the bathroom to try on my hasty purchases. Now, the first problem was that I usually buy a medium, but they only had small or large. So I tried the small one on. At first I didn't realize the problem. It seemed to fit nicely...then I went to adjust the arms. Pretty snug! Really snug! PANIC! It took a nano-second to realize I was totally trapped in this shirt. I obviously couldn't ask my 8-year old nephew for help and I knew Cloe and Abby wouldn't be of much help, either. I wriggled and wormed and tugged...augh! Finally I started trying to put a finger in the arm hole to somehow give it a tug when I had the worst pain my little flabby inner arm has ever felt! I thought I was going to tear up! I really started praying that God would somehow help this stupid shirt come off! Finally it did, but not without some war bruises! Of course, the whole greedy situation had been so ridiculous, I actually took a picture as a memento! The shirts are going back. I know better than to be so greedy and hasty, why do I have to keep learning this lesson in hard ways! (I have no idea why I post these humbling moments from my life!)
The rest of the day was seemingly a breeze! I whipped together 2 things for the funeral dinner at church. Then some friends popped in around 9:30 pm (they obviously don't have kids yet) and chatted until midnight! What a day!

Here's my recipes in case you have to make a salad or dessert to feed a small army!

Key Lime Cooler Dessert

2 c. graham cracker crumbs
1 stick of butter (melted)
Combine and press into a 9x13 pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool.

8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
1 c. powdered sugar
1 small tub of Cool-Whip

Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar. Fold in Cool-Whip. Spread evening over cooled crust.

Top with 1 can of Key Lime Pie Filling. Spread top with Cool-Whip. Keep chilled until serving.

Pasta Salad (this really does feed an army!)

2 lb. Tri-color rigatoni--cooked al dente and chilled
1 bottle Kraft Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
1 block of cheese (cubed, small) I used Chipotle Cheddar--spicy!
Summer sausage (cubed) ham, pepperoni, or chicken would work great too
Assorted vegetables--I used green pepper, celery, cucumber, carrots, and tomato

Mix together pasta, meat, cheese, and vegetables. Top with dressing as desired. Toss and serve.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I'm getting ready for my marathon the next 3 days! I don't know why everything has to fall all together! The most crazy part will be tomorrow when I'm watching my niece and nephew for the day. We have MOPS in the morning, so they'll be all good and zipped up. Then we're going to Jordan Creek to celebrate a birthday...$1 menu at Wendy's, here we come! Then this part really scares me--my niece, the birthday girl, gets to pick out a bear at Build-a-Bear, make and dress it--while the other 4 "contently" watch. We'll see. I have no extra cash for extra bears, so I may have to bribe them with bubble gum.
Maybe if I weren't so fried about what I see on the news, I wouldn't be in such a toot that my schedule is so busy. I could have taken the time to sit and read my Bible, place it all in God's hands, and peacefully ride it all out...instead I'm stewing about the ACLU investigating if any illegal immigrants' working "rights" were broken during the last raid. Seriously, they hopped a fence, stole an identity, and are here ILLEGALLY, I don't think they have very many rights. Then I feel bad because how should I, as a Christian feel...I don't know and now I'm too busy to work it all out in my head! Any thoughts?
I've gotta run! I think I need to spend a little time with someone else!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Italian Vegetable Salad

My little sleeping beauties! This warm weather has provided just right environment to wear them out! Yes, the boys have conquered yet another awkward pose that will now forever be available for posterity to laugh at!
Last night we had one of my favorite vegetable salads. It has kind of been tweaked over the years, so I'll post the original and the updated versions.

Italian Vegetable Salad (original)
1 head broccoli
1 head cauliflower
1 small jar pimento
1 small can button mushrooms
1 small bottle Italian dressing
Chop vegetables into bite size pieces. Stir all ingredients together and let marinade over night.

Italian Vegetable Salad (updated!)
1 head broccoli
1 head cauliflower
1 large tomato
1 small bottle fat-free Italian dressing
Chop all vegetables into bite size pieces. Add dressing to taste. Toss and serve.

The kids loved this salad! It's like "dip" on every bite! It also tastes so fresh and healthy!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Deep and Wide


Deep and Wide is the boys' favorite song right now. McClain has successfully mastered the whole thing and Carson just gets a kick out of the "hmmm" and "hmmm" version!
Back in college, I remember sitting in a class one day and tearing this poor little song to shreds on the lack of "theological value" it provided. (This discussion was led by a professor--not self inflicted!) I've always kind of disliked that it was a song that my kids picked up so easily and then sang it repeatedly...until today! As they sang this song over and over and over in the car on the way to school, I thought there must surely be some sort of depth to this song. "Deep and wide. Deep and wide. There's a fountain flowing deep and wide..."
My first thought was that this song pretty much sums up all of God and His attributes...grace, mercy, love, supremacy, sovereignty, holiness, faithfulness, and many more...they are all pretty deep, wide, and flowing endlessly like a fountain.
Then these verses came to mind from Ephesians 3:
16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
I think that may be it--although the first thought made sense too. I want my kids to know about the love of Christ--it's deeper than my feeble understanding and fickle thoughts, it's wider than my prejudicial, selfish mind can comprehend, and it never stops flowing. There is nothing I can do that would make God not love me. There is nothing my children can do that would stop God from loving them. I think "Deep and Wide" might just be a pretty good song after all!

Snack Time!

The other day, my sister found tortillas for 25 cents a package at Hy-Vee! So, of course, we loaded up! Tacos, enchiladas, burritos, sandwich rolls..we like them all! I wanted to get creative and try making my own tortilla chips. I cut the tortillas into pizza wedges, lightly salted them, and baked them at 350 until they were crisp. THEN I found an actual recipe! So today it will be tortilla chips and spinach dip for a snack!
These recipes are taken from Wondertime Magazine. I get their free e-newsletter! Much cheaper and less "stuff" to have laying around! Enjoy these recipes! We are!

Mean Green Bread Bowl

Written By Catherine Newman
Okay, we secretly call this "80s Potluck Dip." Remember? With that sweet Hawaiian bread? And the Knorr soup mix? Yum. This version is healthier — with wheat bread, no MSG, extra spinach, and yogurt and cottage cheese swapped in for some of the mayo — but it's still totally scrumptious. If your children are repulsed by spinach, then don't let them wring it out— a process whereby a large soupy packet of vegetable turns into a fist-size ball of green dryer lint — but otherwise, this is a fun job. As is hollowing out the loaf, since the fact that the bowl is really bread — and you can tear it up and eat it afterward — will blow your kids away.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup plain Greek 2 percent yogurt (if you can't get the Greek kind, then drain regular plain
yogurt in a coffee-filter-lined sieve for a couple of hours so it gets nice and thick)
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 10-ounce box frozen spinach, thawed, drained, then squeezed dry by the handful
1 (8-ounce) can water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
Black pepper
1 round loaf bakery wheat bread, the top sliced off and diced into 1-inch cubes, and the
inside torn out and cut or pulled into pieces.
Heat oil in a wide frying pan over medium heat and saute onion with salt, stirring frequently,
until it's very nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Add garlic right at the end, and saute,
stirring, another minute before turning off the heat. Meanwhile in a food processor whir
together yogurt, cottage cheese, and mayonnaise until smooth. Add the slightly cooled onion
mixture and spinach, and whir until nearly smooth. Scrape dip into a bowl, stir in water
chestnuts, then season to taste with pepper, a squeeze or two of lemon juice, and more salt.
Scoop into the hollowed loaf or — good-bye germs! — individually hollowed-out rolls, and
serve with raw veggies and the bread innards or pita chips.

Homemade Tortilla Chips
Written By Catherine Newman
These are a revelation. Honestly. If they weren't worth the trouble, I wouldn't bother giving you the recipe. But then, they're surprisingly little trouble after all. And you'll love them.

8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas
Olive oil or olive oil cooking spray
Kosher salt
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Let your child use a pastry brush to paint a light coating of oil on one side of each tortilla, or have her lightly spritz it with the oil spray. Stack the tortillas, oiled sides up, and use a pair of kitchen scissors or a large, heavy knife to cut them into 8 wedges. Arrange in a single layer on a large baking sheet, oiled sides up, then sprinkle lightly with salt and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until browned around the edges.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday Seven

On Saturday, the boys found their Thomas undies in their closet that Grandma had bought awhile back. They were smitten with these little funny things, SO we put them on and tried our luck! TWO HOURS of dry undies! Woo-hoo! No tinkle on the potty yet, but it's a start! I'll have to admit that I don't think I've seen anything cuter than these skinny little boys sportin' new undies! They were pretty tickled with the whole thing, too!

Then, Cloe decided to turn all big girl on me and start taking showers--all by herself! She loved shampooing her own hair and thoroughly enjoyed the whole echoing "singing in the shower" thing, too! What a big girl! I didn't think I would ever see the day that she wouldn't care if water got in her eyes! Maybe there's hope in the swimming area after all!

I feel pretty blessed by these little munchkins God has given us to take care of! I totally miss having my babies, but yet feel pretty overwhelmed at the little cutie patooties they have turned into! They got a huge crack out of repeatedly telling me Happy Mother's Day today! I even heard several wonderful renditions of Happy Mother's Day to you...

(So, there's 3 of my Sunday Seven!)

The next one may seem kind of weird, but I found this little nest in the wreath by our front door. I'm not really a bird lover (or any animal for that matter, sorry!). So, I was trying to get the wreath down to shake out the nest, when I saw these three little eggs. Even I, in my total non-bird-loving state, couldn't shake that nest out and take the life of those three little growing eggs! SO, back up went the wreath. We've been watching Little Wilma Wren come and take care of her babies. It's pretty amazing how God designed birds and even weaved in beauty and uniqueness in each nest and egg. (Notice, 2 are solid colored and 1 is speckled--pretty cool!)
Today was a great Mother's Day! I am really thankful that I have a wonderful mom, a super mother-in-law, the most amazing grandma ever (she's 92!), an incredible sister, and 3 great sisters-in-law! The coolest part is that they all know Christ as their Savior, love God, and want to live lives that are pleasing and glorifying to God! I believe that's probably a true miracle to have in today's society!

Today, I also got to spend some time with Lydia--Ruby's mom, my great friend, and most of all--my "co" pastor's wife! I really didn't have a lot to say to her--I just totally enjoyed being in her company! I love the little bond we have as the "L" sisters! I'm also so thankful that Ruby continues to do well!

Lastly, I'm super thankful for a night out last night with CODY! We went out with some friends from college that we haven't seen for YEARS! We both live in Des Moines--but they're "EAST SIDERS!" I know...it was tricky! I love how easy it is to pick up with old friends when CHRIST is the common bond! We had tons of laughs, but also both went away feeling so encouraged! I hope it's not another 8 years before we go out again!

Well, tomorrow starts another new week! It will be a packed one--Cody has jury duty (in Adel--isn't that like an hour away!?!), possibly a trip to Iowa City to see our friend who just had a brain tumor removed, a field trip to the zoo, our last MOPS of the year, and a funeral on Saturday for our dear friend and a super mentor to me, Marilyn Jensen.

Maybe I'll have baby birdies on next week's Sunday Seven!!!

Friday, May 9, 2008


Today my sister-in-law Calli graduates from college! I can't believe how fast the last four years have gone. (I know everyone says that...but seriously!) It makes me really sentimental as a mom for how fast this whole raising my babies is actually going to go! I hate the feeling that once Cloe starts kindergarten I'm going to blink once and she'll be graduating!
One thing about going to Faith for graduation...you're sure to see half of the people you went to school with. Therefore, I've been stewing about what to wear, got a new haircut, and pulled out all the tricks for cute kids, too! I guess there are probably all sorts of spiritual applications that could be applied (pride???). I am excited to see old friends!
Last night, I made a Lemon Crumb Cake for graduation party! Yum!!!! I'm glad that Calli and I happen to have a lot of the same favorites!
Here's the family last night at Cloe's program. She did a great job! I'm so proud of her! I can't believe what a little lady she's turning in to...however, as you can see in her face here, she's not really thrilled with picture taking instead of eating cookies with her friends! (See the new hair!?!)
Well, as much fun as it is to chatter along on here, I've got to bust a move so we can make it to graduation on time! More later...
One sneaky tip for the day: I hid a piece of gum in the bottom of Cloe's little purse. Hopefully she'll find it during graduation!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Cloe and the caterpillar

Tomorrow is Cloe's preschool program, so she practiced for me this afternoon. It was funny, she had done it perfectly four or five times, so I decided to record it. Then of course, she got camera shy. Oh well! She's a cutie pie!

A boo-boo and a great summer salad!

Today the boys and I enjoyed a really long walk--with both of them actually walking along! (I felt pretty brave!) Just as we were rounding the corner to go home, Carson tripped on the sidewalk. (This was strange since McClain is usually the clumsy one, but he was holding on for dear life to my hand because of a Fed-Ex truck zooming by!) Carson hopped up and a few steps later he said, "My leg's owwy!' I looked and sure enough, it was all scraped up! Our first bunged up knee of the summer! The silly part was that Carson was totally fine with his scraped knee until I put a band-aid on it. Then we had about 20 minutes of crying, whining, wanting daddy, saying owwy....I guess next time I'll just leave it alone and hope we don't get too much blood on anything!
On a good note, we enjoyed a super yummy pasta salad today! I had some left-over grilled chicken that I cut into cubes. Then I boiled and chilled some whole-wheat elbow macaroni (Barilla's is the best--it's got little ribs on it). I cut up some broccoli and celery--I wished I had more veggies, but tomorrow's grocery day! Then I tossed it all together and added a little Light Caesar dressing and a few sprinkles of parmesan cheese. Everyone loved it, and it tasted so fresh and healthy! The boys loved that the veggies were "covered" in dip! We'll be having this again next week--only hopefully we'll have a whole bunch of other fun fresh produce to throw in!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The little white legs are back!

Today we broke out the shorts! I love my kids' little leggies! Of course, they keep getting longer and skinnier every year--but they're still cute! It has been so beautiful out so far this week! We've spent a lot of time in the backyard playing with our Batman and Superman bats and balls. I love this weather!
For supper, of course, we'll be grilling! Then I'm off to make bracelets with little Ruby's picture on a pendant. They'll be our little reminders to pray while Ruby has her chemo treatments. I'm really looking forward to spending time with the girls from church tonight!
Maybe I'll have a sneaky recipe for tomorrow! Too nice to cook today!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Another Sunday Seven!

Doing these Sunday Seven has made me realize how fast the weeks really fly by! I'm so glad that God continues to just fill me up with great things to be thankful for and to praise Him for!
1. I'm so thankful for our friends, Trent and Lydia. Baby Ruby started her chemotherapy on Friday, and it's so amazing how God is sustaining their family with so much grace, endurance, faith, and peace! They are having an incredible testimony! I feel so privileged to have them as friends!
2. Carson and McClain are already able to be off of their breathing treatments! Yeah! Praise the Lord for how quickly their little lungs recovered from this last round of trouble!
3. Praise the Lord for tulips! Spring is such an awesome reminder of the handiwork of our Brilliant Creator! Really--didn't HE do an amazing job with all of nature!
4. Tonight, my sister-in-law Calli brought me supper after I put the kids in bed. It was really sweet of her! Selfishly, I had wanted to stay at church and be able to socialize with the girls during the guys' basketball game...but I knew I should put my children's needs first and take them home to bed...it was cool to see how God gave me that little reward for doing the right thing!
5. We have one amazing Young Marrieds Class! As my friend Lydia has said when she's overwhelmed with gratitude, "I could just kiss you if that wouldn't be super awkward or anything!" We are doing meals for Trent and Lydia to have in their freezer and we got an overwhelmingly huge response! Such generosity! It's humbling and challenging to see their gift of mercy come through during this time!
6. This may seem silly, but I'm so thankful that God continues to help me find great bargains on kids' clothing! At the right time and at the right place, I'm always finding exactly what we need for exactly what I have in the budget to spend! I love price tags that end in $ .97 or $.04 or have a highlighted slash! Good deals!
7. Hmmmm...already to number seven! I'm really thankful my parents are home safely from visiting my brother and his family in France. They had a great time, and I get to talk to my mom on the phone every day again! I missed that! I did get in really, really good with my grandma by calling her multiple times a day while my mom was gone! I call them both a lot, so it's nice when their both at my every beck and call! They both are totally my secret support system for encouragement, advice and unconditional love for everything!!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Tulip Time!

The Tulip Festival is my favorite little spring trip to take! Cody and I have gone every year (except one) since we started dating...May of 1997! Augh! I'm so old! I'd post pictures, but, of course, we didn't even had a digital camera back then!
The most exciting year was the first year we took Cloe! She was just 7 days old! I tell you what, that car ride hurt like the dickens! I nursed her in the car when we got there, then we ate yummy pizza at George's (where I nursed her again), then we walked around a little, watched the parade, and decided to head to the car (where she would need fed again!). The joys of a newborn! The only bad part was that we couldn't find our car! This had never before and has never happened again! (It does make a good story, though!)

Each year as she gets a little older, it just gets better and better! She LOVES those beautiful tulips and is so animated about each little batch we come across! The boys are becoming just as fun, too! We loaded up for the "ooo-whip festiball" today! They hated to leave the "festiball", too!
I could write more and more about our wonderful little adventure, but I'm totally worn out! I'll let the next few pictures tell the rest of the fun memories!

Sure the tulips are beautiful, but Smokey Row Coffee and Dutch Letters are the real draw!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Happy May Day! (Still in the mood for breakfast!)

Today is seriously my favorite silly made-up holiday! Every year for as long as I can remember--way back to my little girl days, I can remember making May Day baskets for all my friends and one special one for my grandparents who lived next door. These baskets usually consisted on Dixie cups filled with popcorn and M&M's with a Twizzler handle on the top. I loved taking them to school and exchanging baskets will all my friends! We would usually all go home with a dozen little paper cups filled with fun goodies!
This holiday also had several weird memories...my freshman year in college, I had a yellow station wagon with purple tinted windows in the back. (Yeah, that gives too much of a mental picture of what a nerd I was! I didn't think it was cool--it was the old family car bestowed on me!) On May day, I was going to my sister's house to start delivering my back seat full of baskets, when I was in a really bad car accident. This poor kid rear-ended me going 50 mph as I was stopped waiting to turn into the driveway. Unfortunately, I also had my steering wheel already turned, so I skidded into oncoming traffic and got hit and spun around the other way. I was super shaken up and crying--mostly because my May Day baskets were completely dumped in the back seat! After a lovely trip to the emergency room and nice in the hospital, I recovered with only having to wear a silly neck brace for a few weeks. So, no baskets delivered that year!
The other memory is that May 1st was my due date with Cloe. I was SO excited! I thought for sure I would have her right on my due date--a May Day Baby! I was going to put her in a basket and every year she would take May Day Baskets to school for birthday treats! I guess God had other plans--she came early on April 24th! We did put her in a basket on her first May Day, though!
Today, Cloe made cute little foam flowers that we stuck in a blue can and ran over to our little neighbor, Ben. He is SO super cute! Of course, he made a basket and left it on our door step, too.
The coolest surprise today was the May Day treat from our favorite little dating couple at church. Ashley and Stephen left us two big bags of candy--all of our favorites too, on our front door step! They are so sweet! I love that things Cody and I did when we were a dating couple and still wish we could do are now being done to us by the new dating couples! It makes me feel old and happy all at the same time!
Well, those are my May Day memoirs! I love this special day!
I actually wanted to post a super yummy breakfast casserole that Bobbi McCaughey (yep, I'm name dropping) makes for her family. It is so good--probably not the most healthful option--but still really yummy and totally a comfort food! I'm taking it to MOPS tomorrow! What mom can't use some comfort food--actually any breakfast that's warm, flavorful, and hasn't already been on someone else's plate!

Breakfast Hashbrown Casserole
1 lb. sausage, bacon, or ham (browned and drained if needed)
1 medium onion, chopped
6 eggs, beaten (I used 10 eggs because it seemed to dry with just 6)
1 package frozen hash browns, thawed (approx. 4 c.)
2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 c. cottage cheese
1 1/2 c. Swiss cheese

Cook meat and onion and drain. In a bowl combine ingredients and mix well. Pour in a 9x13 greased pan. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes or until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

**I've made a lot of variations of this: sausage, green peppers and onion; fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, and spinach for a vegetarian mix; ham and extra cheddar cheese...