Thursday, April 26, 2012

The recipe for Cloe's mini birthday cakes came from one of my favorite "sweet bloggers".

Kristan over at Confessions of a Cookbook Queen regularly cracks me up with her quips and provides daily opportunities to blow any diet or healthy eating pattern I am trying to establish here.  She's quite amazing with all things sweet!

Here's the recipe for her Mini Lemonade Cakes.  They got 10 thumbs-up at our house!

Mini Lemonade Cakes

1 box Duncan Hines White Cake mix
1 cup sour cream
3 oz cream cheese, softened
12 oz frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed (I used raspberry lemonade which gave the cake a girly pink hue)
3 eggs
1 cup powdered sugar for glaze

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter and flour mini cake pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, sour cream, cream cheese, eggs, and HALF of the lemonade concentrate. Mix on low speed for one minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl and increase speed to medium. Beat for 2 minutes.

Pour batter into prepared pans and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for about 15 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.

Remove pans to cooling racks. Allow cakes to cool to just barely warm, remove from pans, and place warm cakes on racks. Prepare glaze by whisking 5 tablespoons of the leftover lemonade concentrate with 1 cup of powdered sugar. Drizzle over warm cakes.

*Serve with a nice dollop of Cold Stone Creamery's Sweet Cream with fresh raspberries mixed in.  Delicious! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Birthday Girl!

Happy 9th Birthday to my most favorite girl on the entire planet!

 We love you so very much, Cloe!

Recently, it's become very apparent how quickly you are growing up.  You are so helpful with your brothers.  Maddox has completely fallen head over heals for you and Carson and McClain drop everything to be in your company.  Responsible. Loving. Caring.  These are just a few words that describe the beautiful little girl you are.  Because you are half way to 18, as you let me know today (sniff, sniff), it is my desire to continue to grow and learn how to be a better mom for you everyday.  Your daddy sent me this article from The Resurgence this week.  I'm posting it here to remind me of these goals daily and to encourage other moms in this journey, as well. It's my prayer that God will continue to strengthen our relationship as mom and daughter--and as friends.  
With all my love, Mom

by Jen Schmidt

Respect for daughters has its roots in the same place respect for sons does: the image-bearing equality that both sexes reflect given at creation (Gen. 1:27). That said, respect just looks different in some ways for daughters who are growing into women than respect for sons who are growing into men.
Respect is a deep admiration for someone elicited by his or her abilities, qualities, or achievements. This honor is not shown because of gender or deservedness but because of love and grace, specifically, love and grace that find their origins and power in Jesus Christ. Treating daughters with respect trains them to be women who offer respect to others. It models for them that they have dignity, value, and worth because God created them. It urges them to grace others with respect because God loves and values his creation.

Similar and Different

Respecting daughters has some similarities with respecting sons. I have seen, however, in my daughter, a different core heart desire. She deeply desires to be loved and the deep admiration of respect is most profoundly felt for her in words and acts of love. She is comforted and secured by the knowledge that God and her parents love her.

Practically, here are 10 ways that respect can be lived out for your daughters:

1. Lavish Her with Love

That deep longing for love was designed for God to fill. Lavish your daughter with love while continually pointing out that her heavenly Father is the one where love originated. You love because he loves; she is loved because he loves her more than you ever could (1 John 4:10).

2. Help Her to Learn Submission

Submission isn’t just for wives. We are all called to submit our hearts and lives to God (James 4:7) and the earlier your daughter sees that in you, the sooner she will rest in the sweet protection of God’s will for her life.

3. Teach Her to Tame Her Emotions

Big feelings are hard to manage. The devastation over losing something, anything from a favorite earring to a dear friend, can be all-consuming. Daughters need to be instructed and discipled in expressing emotion without being owned and identified by those emotions.

4. Differentiate between Truth and Lies

In my own heart and my daughters, I have watched the battle play out time and time again. We are easily lured into the snare of unbelief. Urging your daughter to verbalize the thoughts in her head will allow you the opportunity to separate what is true and what is untrue with her. Apply the truth of Scripture to the distortions that your daughter may be believing about God, you, or herself.

5. Involve Dad

A daughter’s relationship with her dad is a source of great joy or heartache. He plays an integral part in treating her with respect and teaching her what respect from a man looks like. Regular daddy dates and heartfelt conversation with him helps her trust and respect a man. If Dad is not present or available, seek a godly man in your church who would give your daughter the respect of his time.

6. Emphasize Inner Beauty

While there are few more purely sweet moments in life than dressing your daughter in a frilly pink dress and putting her hair in pigtails, teach her that true beauty and respect come from a changed heart. Jesus transforms ugly hearts, emotions, and attitudes into beautiful reflections of himself.

7. Develop Her Voice

Our girls need to be given opportunities to grow into and speak about who they are and what they believe so they can articulate themselves to the world. Speak with her often about what the Bible has to say about her joy or crisis of the moment. Help her express herself clearly about what she is thinking or feeling.

8. Model Female Friendships

You are not her friend as an equal, but you can be friendly in a way that she trusts. Enjoy each other in a mother-daughter friendship. Give her plenty of opportunity to foster female friendships so she can experience being known, loved, and helped by godly women. This is an invaluable life experience that will serve her well.

9. Name Sin Biblically

These last two principles are no different for girls than boys. What may be different are the sins that your daughters are prone to, as their hearts may struggle in more feelings-oriented or relational ways. Differentiate between childish foolishness and downright rebellion. Instruct the former and correct the latter. Name their sin with accurate descriptions from Scripture so they can repent. Moodiness is vague, while demonstrating a quiet, gentle, spirit is specific and pleasing to God (1 Peter 3:4).

10. Name Character Biblically

Read to them and have them study passages of Scripture that speak to women (1 Peter 3 and Titus 2). Be careful not to turn passages of Scripture into to-do lists that your daughters strive to accomplish on their own. Have them memorize passages of Scripture that describes their identity and riches available to them in Christ (Ephesians 1) so they can rejoice.
Respecting our daughters will instill in them a respect for the cross as they receive grace and forgiveness from their sins and develop the capacity to offer that same respect to the men and women they are in relationship with. Deep respect for Christ is the well from which respect for and from our daughters will flow.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Once Upon A Time... a month ago...
(where does the time go?)
we took a little family vacation over spring break.
Our destination:  Branson, Missouri.

This wasn't just any vacation.
This was a vacation on a dime!

We pinched pennies and saved our nickles and dimes...and any "extra" cash we came upon.  This included some birthday money, extra babysitting money, money from selling used clothing on (check it out today!)...anywhere we could save, we did!  We also planned out our vacation meals and scoured the internet for tourist deals.  It made this vacation seem extra rewarding! 
Here's how it all went down:

 Leave town:  enjoy a coffee bought with a saved birthday caribou gift card. (Thanks, Joy!)
 Three cheers for lunch at McDonalds using our giftcards that were in our Christmas stockings!
We really enjoyed all the brilliant colors along the scenic drive South!
Our destination was the Ozark Mountain Resort in Kimberling City, Missouri.  A friend let us purchase a week at this condo through their time share membership.  It was a lovely little two-bedroom place with a deck just perfect for drinking coffee, watching the kids explore, and enjoying the view!
We took in the Table Rock Fish Hatchery and Dam and watched some fly fishing.
 Table Rock Lake was so beautiful.  Nature is free...enjoy it!
 On our vacation, we also hit up some great outlet shopping.  (This was even in the budget!)
See how happy they are when we're shopping?  Clearly, they are my children!

For meals, we tried to take as much along as we practically could.  We let the kids pick out three boxes of "fun" cereal (aka the sugary kind I never let them have!).  We purchased things for sandwiches, string cheese, tons of vegetables, and some chips to have for our lunches.  (Picnic style!) 
 Then for dinner, we took along a few freezer meals and a crock pot.  This worked perfectly!  I'll share the freezer recipes soon.

Of course, we couldn't resist a meal at Lambert's Throwed Roll Cafe.  

Everyone enjoyed the fun of catching their rolls and trying fun sides like fried okra and black-eyed peas!

The BIG treat of our vacation was a day at Silver Dollar City.  We hunted for deals quite awhile before finally catching an online deal right on their website.  It was perfect!
The bravest dudes around...rockin' the coasters and water rides!
The smallest dude took in all the people and napped for three delightful hours!

All of Cloe's dreams came true as this lady painted a special parasol for her.

Pretty sure she was floating the rest of the day!

We all took a ride on the train and enjoyed a little show.

Our Lollygaggers found themselves in a bit of trouble!
We had a great day and enjoyed shutting the place down!

The sunset was beautiful over Table Rock Lake!

We were also able to score some great tickets to the amazing Dixie Stampede for *free*!  Because we were enjoying our condo stay so much, we decided to look into the cost.  For just a couple of hours, we were wooed by the beautiful accommodations available...but not wooed by the price!  Maybe someday!  The tickets were a gift just for looking into a timeshare. 

One rainy day, we took a scenic drive down to Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  What a beautiful little town!  We definitely want to explore more there someday!
A lot of the city is built right into the stone.  Waterfalls were springing up everywhere with all the rain.

Our last night, we headed into Branson for one last look (a tornado had ripped through town right before we were there) and enjoyed Andy's Frozen Custard! 

So delicious!

We also enjoyed a treat on the last morning from a local bakery...a fresh Bear Claw with our coffee!
Everyone was all smiles for the ride much togetherness!
So many smiles!
 We're all ready to start saving for the next vacation!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Recap!

Our Easter weekend was
Here's a little glimpse...

A beautiful Good Friday Service
 Lovely painting by Abby!
 Bright and early Saturday:  A quick game of Baseball!
 Then off to the Easter Extravaganza
 Someone (who is shy and doesn't want to be named) thought it was pretty dandy to wear the Bunny Head!
Late night Easter preparations included stuffing the Carrots for our Easter Baskets!
(aiming for less sugar!)
 Sunday morning clearly came way too early!
We were out the door by 6:50!
 Our first sleep attempt at a picture...
 After a nice morning nap, Maddox became quite cooperative!
 ...and then it got close to lunch time and we were still snapping pictures...
Nothing short of a miracle to get a quick family photo!
Then it was home to tear into our Easter Baskets!
Fun cheddar-filled  carrots and Egg-changables from here.
 Love this little guy!
 ...and just for the record, not a crawler yet, but giant leaps in pulling himself up today!
Whoa boy!  Slow down!

That's all for now!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Another month!

9 months old today!

These months seems to be flying by faster and faster!
I am trying to savor every second with this sweet baby boy.
Even though he's our fourth child, he seems to be finding plenty of things at which to be the first.

He's our first baby to weigh 20 pounds before a year!  
20 1/2 pound yesterday = Fatty McButterPants

He's our first baby to be 9 months old and still a non-crawler.
He scoots and spins and rolls and pulls himself all over...but no official crawling!

He's our first baby to beg for table food--even without a single tooth!
He gladly "traded" his applesauce for Cloe's broccoli the other night.

He's our first baby to have so much hair at this age!
It's also straight--his brothers had curly hair.

Maddox is our first self-proclaimed Mama's boy--always wanting to be held and always patting and squeezing my arms!
I'm okay with that...except for the non-stop backache it's caused!

Many times, our family finds ourselves sitting in a circle around Maddox just doting on his every smile, coo, and antic.  
He's a little ham, and we're eating him up!