Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bottle Redemption Day

I wish my experience outside on this windy day looked as whimsical as this little lady's day! Of course, then I wouldn't have a good story to share!
A couple weeks ago, I read a very touching, inspiring blog from one of you on your grocery shopping trip to Hy-Vee. Today, I prayed for that same strength and joyful attitude to accomplish a less than glamorous task: taking in the pop cans!
As I pulled in to the parking lot, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I should get shopping cart. However, I thought I would just have the boys stay close by and carry all the sacks on my own.
I got the boys out and gave them their "spot" to be frozen until I said to move. Then I opened up the back and grabbed out the first bag. As I went to set it down, there was a huge gust of wind and then the sound of pop cans wildly tinkering through the parking lot--almost like wind chimes.
Somehow, the first bag had gotten caught on the stroller ripping a huge hole in the side of the bag. That's when the dreaded feeling set it: mommy paralyzation. It's that moment when you know you need to move but you can't leave your child just standing there alone. I think at the same time, my heart goes into weird palpitations. The boys obviously took this as a sign that a game had begun and they started to chase the cans. I first yelled, "Go, grab them!" Then stopped, coming to my senses that we were in a parking lot and yelled, "NO, don't move! We're in a parking lot! Let them go!"
All this time, I was stooped over trying to hold the remaining cans in the bag. I had no idea how I was going to move from that spot without another rush of blowing cans. We all stood there in a daze for a few seconds while I tried to gather my wits.
Then, this fragile old man came hobbling to us out of nowhere with a shopping cart. We all shared big thank you's with him. He then offered to go after the cans that were blowing away. I felt bad because I knew I couldn't chase after all the cans and this poor old man probably shouldn't chase after them. I told him not to worry and I would try to get them. He insisted that we go on in, and he would get them.
Sure enough, he came back in a few minutes with quite a few cans. Then awhile later, another kid came in and handed me some cans and said an old man told him to bring them to the lady with the little boys. This kid came back two more times with cans. I think we actually got them all back!
In the end, it turned out that the boys loved all the crushing and popping noises that the bottle/can machines made. They were as good as gold! The rest of the day, they both enjoyed reminiscing like two little old men about the bag of cans mommy let blow away in the parking lot and about how much noise it made. Then they'd look at me and giggle.
Silly boys! God sure uses them to bring joy to my days!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Seven

This morning in church, Pastor Mike spoke on Memories that Last. Here are a few memories that I am thankful for:

I'm really thankful for this fun memory! On vacation, we all loved a fun little shop called Kitty Hawk Kites. Cody bought a stunt kite and got pretty skilled at it...I think the beach atmosphere helped! I have to be pretty thankful for his example of patience and endurance, too! We were waiting in line for a ferry to take us back to another island, so Cody decided to fly his kite on another beach. The ferry arrived about 40 minutes early and started loading vehicles. We were afraid we were going to miss it, so Cody grounded the kite and just grabbed the string up as fast as he could. It all ended up in a horrible, huge knot. We went back to the store to grab some new string and they were all out. It was pretty funny hearing Cody telling the kite guy how the knot happened, "I was about to be left by a ferry..." I think Dave giggled first and then the rest of us followed! That night, for about three or four hours, Cody and Dave worked meticulously to undo the massive knot. It was pretty amazing to watch them both working so diligently at such an overwhelming mass of string, yet never lose their patience. I'm thankful that my boys have just awesome examples to follow (especially because I know they have "knots in their kites" someday!).
After seeing Abby and her beautiful little Harper last week, I couldn't help but be thankful for my own memory of our baby girl! I'm realizing that loving my children is similar to loving Cody--just when I don't think I can love them anymore, my heart just keeps stretching and that love keeps growing deeper and deeper! I'm so proud of the little lady that Cloe is becoming and so prayerful that she will continue to love God and always live for His Glory!
The memories with these little butterballs are often cluttered with thoughts of the tiredness and a stranded helpless feeling, but I want to preserve the memory of being overwhelmingly blessed. There's nothing quite like looking at two little people and having them both grin from ear to ear right back at you. God truly blessed us with happy, content little boys! I am so thankful for McClain and Carson!

I know this is suppose to be a Sunday Seven, but here it is, actually Tuesday evening and this is just getting posted! I have more great memories to share, and one very special one has an anniversary coming on Easter Sunday. So, I'm leaving it at three this week but more are coming!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Opinions Needed!

Normally, I'm a pretty plain 'ol earth tones and sepia photo loving type of girl, but I recently discovered a new photo editing software. I'm kind of being drawn toward this "boost" effect. What do you think?

There are these bright, vibrant photos.

Then there are these nostalgic photos.
Which style should go up in the hallway?
Could I mix and match the styles or would that be tacky?

Either way, it'd be fun to still be here!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Healthy Treat!

My friend Lydia shared this yummy treat with me a few weeks ago, and I've been dying to try it again. It is super tasty and healthy!

Wholemeal Buckwheat Bread
1/2 c. buckwheat flour
1/2 c. soya flour or powder* (I could only find soy flour)
1 tsp. celery salt (I left this out)
1 t. cream of tarter
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 c. millet
1/2 c. whole buckwheat grains
3/4 c. sunflower seeds
1 1/2 c. rice milk or carrot juice or almond milk (I used vanilla flavored almond milk.)

squeeze of agave or honey (optional)

Sift buckwheat flour, soy flour, raising agents, and seasonings in a large bowl to introduce air and make fluffy.
Add millet, buckwheat grains, sunflower seeds, and milk. It will be of pouring consistency. Pour into an 8 or 9 inch circular cake pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Slice like a pie and drizzle with honey or agave nectar. Freeze any uneaten portions after a day.

*Soy flour is made by grinding whole dry soybeans into flour in the same way wheat kernels are ground into flour. Soy flour is often dry-toasted after grinding to improve flavor and digestibility. It may be used in baking recipes.

Soya Powder is made by cooking the soybeans before grinding. Soya powder is finer than soy flour and usually has a better flavor. It may be used to make soya milk and it may also be used in baking recipes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Treats for our Drake Kids

I've seen this recipe for Peanut Butter Cookies before and thought it must be too good to be true. Only four ingredients--could it be that easy? Yes! Even better, Cloe helped me stir these up and get them onto the cookie sheets. They seemed to go over pretty well! I did notice, the bigger I made the cookies, the better they turned out. Enjoy!

Best Peanut Butter Cookies

2 cups peanut butter (1 jar)
2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets.
2. In a medium bowl, stir peanut butter and sugar together until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the baking soda. Roll dough into 1 inch balls (or bigger), roll in sugar, and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Press a criss-cross into the top using the back of a fork.
3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sunday Seven

The last few weeks have flown by so quickly and almost feel like a dream! I have so many things to be thankful for! God is continuing to do awesome things and provide wonderful blessings!
1. I am really thankful for a fantastic family vacation! We had so much fun together seeing the Outerbanks of North Carolina! I'm am in love with the ages of our children right now! They are so much fun! It was great to see them soak in all the new sites and experiences. Seeing and experiencing life through their little eyes is just the best!
2. Grandparents are wonderful! I am so thankful for Cody's parents and their involvement in our children's lives! It was fun to go on vacation with them!
3. I am so thankful for the ocean! It is one of the most amazing sites to see and hear the waves crashing into the sandy beaches. We all loved it!
4. Two weeks ago tomorrow, my sister-in-law lost her job. It was a complete shock and quite devastating. However, God provided her with a new job within the same week. I'm so thankful for God's provision of a new job that she already loves! I don't know why I ever doubt God's goodness or His control of a situation. His way is really always best and His plans are completely higher than we can ever imagine!
5. Being gone from Willow Creek always makes me realize how grateful I am for these people. Today I realized that they all have such amazing stories of grace in their lives. We have moms and dads who have lost babies, people who have overcome ensnaring addictions and sins, marriages that God has restored, and so many many other stories of grace. I love these people and the glory they bring to Christ through their lives!
6. This is old news now, but I'm so thankful that little Ruby's scans have come back with such great results! The cancer is completely on its way out! As I snatched her up today and hugged the sweet little baby girl, I was struck with what amazing things God must have planned for her! She has already been a testimony of God's love and His power to so many people!
7. I'm thankful that spring is here! Our daffodils are coming up and green grass is peaking out! I can't wait to enjoy being outside more!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Favorite!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Our internet connection here has been p.a.i.n.f.u.l.l.y slow. The Outerbanks of North Carolina is a *must visit again* location! We only had two sunny days, but the beaches are so beautiful! I never grow tired of hearing those powerful waves crash against the seashore. We have such an amazing Creator! I also never grow tired of hearing our children soak it all up! Where else can you go that free souvenirs just abound at your feet and endless digging is allowed and encouraged? I can't wait to post some of the cute memories we made this week! The only bad part about a family vacation is *going home*!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Here's my favorite shot from today!
Bodie Island Lighthouse, North Carolina

Friday, March 13, 2009

And we're off!

I'll check in when we get HERE!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Since Monday night, I've totally had one of these:

Today, Cody strongly suggested that I should suck it up and go to the doctor. It wasn't a sore throat--just literally a terribly painful lump right on my Adam's apple. I went to a walk-in clinic (boys still in their pj's--I thought we might get in faster if we looked really pathetic). I had a wonderful new doctor who quickly ruled out my fears of some thyroid problem and found that the little pieces of cartilage around my adam's apple were horribly inflamed. He questioned all my activities to check for some sort of injury. Bingo: a chiropractor appointment on Monday where he adjusted my neck. It was with the guy from MOPS, so now I feel weird about going back to him... I'm on BIG doses of steroids to nab the inflammation and pain quickly--it also causes serious jitters! You should see me packing...I'm like lightning! Hopefully they'll work or I'll just be freakishly strong and fast for the next five days!

READ THIS LINK...it's too funny!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

As dark and gloomy as the weather has been lately is exactly how my heart has felt, too. Do you ever have times where life is rolling along just grand and then one by one, like a domino effect, trials come rolling in. I'm not doubting the goodness of God or the sovereignty of His plan, but my heart is heavy for so many different reasons: sin ripping apart relationships, new believers being persecuted by family, negativity creeping in where it shouldn't, heavy parenting decisions, a sudden loss of employment...things being felt by our immediate family, extended family, and family in Christ. Psalm 30:5b says, "Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning." I'm anxiously awaiting the morning! Until then, I'm singing this song with all I've got...Jesus WILL lead me all the way!

All the way my Savior leads me;
Who have I to ask beside?
How could I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?

All the way my Savior leads me;
Cheers each winding path I tread,
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.

You lead me and keep me from falling.
You carry me close to Your heart.
And surely Your goodness and
Mercy will follow me.

All the way my Savior leads me;
O, the fullness of His love!
O, the sureness of His promise
In the triumph of His blood!

And when my spirit clothed immortal
Wings it's flight to realms of day,
This my song through endless ages:
Jesus led me all the way!
Jesus led me all the way!

All the way my Savior leads me.
All the way my Savior leads me.

"A Season That Will Pass"

When God is over all the year,
White snow and virgin grass,
We know that ice will disappear,
And winter soon will pass.

When God is over all the year,
And lakes are crystal brass,
We know the melting too is near,
And frozen spring will pass.

When God is over all the year,
And trees are dipped in glass,
Each twig will shed its April tear,
And icy wind will pass.

When God is over all the year,
And March is dark, alas!
We know that dismal skies will clear,
And darkness too will pass.

When God is over all the year,
And wintry days harass,
We need not dread nor need we fear
A season that will pass.

from Velvet Steel by John Piper

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Poor Clainey!

This little man just can't seem to catch a break! After he started having a fever on Sunday night, it never really went away. Today, I took him in to see Dr. Coggi. (Have I mentioned how much I love this pediatrician! He told me he called ahead to the ER on Sunday night before I got there and told them they better not call DHS because we were very good and careful parents and this was a total accident! He actually said it more choice words, but I'll take the support!) He listened and looked and seemed to have a hunch right away that it was influenza. Bingo. Influenza B = breathing treatments every six hours around the clock for the next four-six days. Evidently the flu shots didn't work this year.
I think the thing I hate the most about my children being sick is that it makes me feel like I haven't done my job as their mom. I'm suppose to protect them! Yes, this could be a pride issue, but it's also a horribly overwhelming feeling of guilt and sympathy for the pain they are going through. Tonight McClain patted his chest and said, "I just want sick to go away!"
Me too, little boy, me too!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Here we go!

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!
This week is Dr. Seuss week at Cloe's school, so the boys and I joined in on the fun! One of our favorite books by Dr. Seuss is One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish! Our other favorite book is Green Eggs and Ham. We'll have to see what sort of fun that one leads to!

Then it was time to get serious...cream puffs were calling my name! Caitlin came over and we got started right away on our treat for Bible Study tonight. Unfortunately, something was not working right. Our cream puffs were more like cream cookies...no puff! I even tried making the recipe again but to no avail. Caitlin graciously helped me prepare our little flat pillows with a fluffy pudding mixture (2 boxes of pudding, 3 c. milk, 1 container whipped topping, sliced strawberries) and we sort of gave up.

Here's where I think I must have a little OCD in the baking area. After the kids were in bed, I called my mom (again) and had her walk me through the directions. We decided my water/butter mixture must not have been hot enough. Sure enough, I added flour to a boiling mixture and it worked like a charm. Too bad I was the only one around to enjoy one of the most delectable treats I've ever had...if I can say so myself! Here's the recipe! If you're water's hot, this recipe is so simple and the end results are beautiful!

Cream Puffs [Chouquettes]

1 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Glaze: 1 egg yolk whisked with 1 teaspoon milk
Toppings: decorating sugar and/or miniature chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a cookie sheet with a reusable nonstick baking mat or parchment paper.
Heat the water, sugar, and butter in a medium saucepan, stirring, until the butter is melted and mixture is just coming to a boil. (This is the step that is pretty important for success!!!) Remove the pot from the heat heat and dump all the flour in at once. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a smooth ball and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Let the dough cool for five minutes, then briskly beat in the eggs, one at a time, until the dough is smooth and shiny. [At this point you can cover the pot and chill it in the fridge for up to a day.]
Using two spoons scoop the dough into walnut-sized mounds spaced evenly on the baking sheet.
Brush the top of each mound with some of the egg glaze then press coarse sugar crystals or miniature chocolate chips over the top and sides of each mound. You want to be generous because the puffs will expand a lot, and you’ll want that area to be covered.
Bake the cream puffs for 20 to 35 minutes, or until puffed and well-bronzed. (Yes, this is a rather long range in baking time but baking times can greatly vary depending on the heat of an oven and how fast it browns the top of items. Watch for that nicely bronzed color rather than a precise cooking time.)
Do ahead: Cream puffs are best the day that they’re made. I find if they’re stored overnight in an airtight container, they get damp on top and the sugar and chips will slide off, though you can easily re-crisp them in the oven. If you can deal with them being a bit dryer on day two you can leave them out unwrapped. Chouquettes can also be frozen in a freezer bag for up to a month, and re-crisped in the oven once defrosted.In addition, you can store the unpiped/scooped dough in the fridge for up to a day.

These are the salvagable ones from the first and second batch that we made. They looked pretty but were a little flat and heavy!

For supper, we had a fun little fondue meal! Rachael Ray had made this meal a couple of weeks ago on her show and I had really been looking forward to trying it! It was super yummy! I love how fondue makes everyone eat vegetables like they're going out of style!

Welsh Rarebit Fondue
Ingredients (tweaked to our liking, but use any vegetables, meats or breads that you prefer)

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 small head broccoli, cut into florets
About 1/2 loaf pumpernickel bread, cut into large cubes
1 lb. round steaks cut into cubes (season how you like and cook in a little olive oil)

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 tablespoon hot sauce
2 cups milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound shredded extra-sharp yellow cheddar cheese

Fondue forks or additional long skewers for dipping

Place a medium-size saucepot filled with water over high heat and bring up to a boil
for the cauliflower and broccoli. Cook for 2 minutes. Drain and keep warm. Season meat cubes and saute in olive oil. Arrange the cubes of bread on a baking sheet and lightly toast them in the oven, about 7-8 minutes.
Once you have all the dippers ready make the fondue: Place the yolks in a mixing bowl and reserve. Place a heat-safe fondue pot or a medium saucepot over medium heat with the flour and butter, cook for a minute, then whisk in the Dijon, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and milk.
Right before the milk comes up to a simmer, turn the heat down to medium-low and add in the cheese, slowly stirring in figure-eight motion.
Once all the cheese has melted, remove a ladleful of the hot cheese mixture and whisk it into the egg yolks then whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the hot cheese mixture. Remove the pot from the heat.
To serve, place the pot on or alongside the platter of dippers. Using fondue forks or more long
skewers, dip in and munch away!

Stay tuned...

Today, my sous chef, Caitlin, and I will be attempting these... I'm a little nervous!

Monday, March 2, 2009

It's never a good sign when the Poison Control lady calls you back and says, "I'm not feeling real comfortable with this situation anymore. I think you need to head on down to the emergency room." So, off we went! One "nice" thing about my children's "emergencies" is that they always seem to be the type of "emergency" that warrants a bypass of the waiting room. We were quickly whisked past a completely packed waiting room right into our own little room.
They hooked McClain up to a heart monitor and ran an EKG on his heart. Things were quite elevated. We spent a couple of hours just monitoring his heart and eventually things started to slow down. He did spike a low fever of 100.4. The doctor said his body was recognizing the "poison" and doing its job of burning it out. The workings of the human body never cease to amaze me! God's handiwork displayed again! Thankfully we didn't have to have any charcoal for the poison either.
We had an incredibly nice paramedic helping us. He really took a liking to McClain, too! As we were leaving, he pulled out a special chief sticker from his fire department. McClain proudly displayed it on his chest the whole way out and was whispering to himself, "I got a sticker from a real fireman. I gotta tell Carson. I got a sticker from a real fireman. I gotta tell Carson. I got a sticker from a real fireman." He came home, ran up to his room and put it on his brother's shoulder so he wouldn't feel sad in the morning that he didn't meet the real fireman.
So I guess the lessons learned here: drink small viles of medicine--get a cool sticker from a real fireman...and mom and dad will be storing all medicine at the neighbor's house. Good grief!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Please excuse me for skipping the Sunday Seven tonight. I have ornery little boys who somehow grew super long arms and got a hold of a little blue suitcase containing their breathing treatment medicines. Little Mac ingested several vials of albuterol and steroids--we guessed it by his rapid breathing, thumping heartbeat, and now low-grade fever. I'm currently becoming best friends with Jennifer at Poison Control.
Please don't think I'm a bad mom! These type of things never happened with my little girl. I just can't figure out how these boys keep turning into great houdinis! Could be a long night!