Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Black Bean Soup

I love black beans! So when I recently came across this black bean soup recipe, I was so excited to try it out! It more than met my expectations! It's not a "pretty" soup because the black beans color it all murky, but it is super tasty and packed full of good things like tons of fiber, protein, even vitamins A & C, calcium, iron and its has less than one gram of fat and only 193 calories per serving!!! Now I'm sure you want to try it! Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you--they all get dumped into the crock pot and left alone. You'll love this! (The kids will love it too!)Black Bean Soup
Ingredients:
1 pound dry black beans
18 cups water (divided)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped (1 cup)
1 cup celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 (14.5 oz) can Italian style diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can stewed tomatoes
2 Knorr Chicken Bouillon Cubes (or 4 small cubes)
2 T. sugar
2 T. vinegar
1 T. ready-to-eat minced garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. black pepper
1 c. uncooked brown rice

1. Wash and sort beans. Put in a large bowl with 12 cups of water. Cover and soak 8-12 hours in the refrigerator.
2. Thoroughly drain the soaked beans. Place beans and 6 cups fresh water in slow cooker.
3. Add the carrots, celery, onion, tomatoes, bouillon, sugar, vinegar, garlic, oregano, chili powder, and pepper. Cover and cook on high for 8 hours.
4. If using long grain brown rice, stir it into the bean mixture about one hour before soup should be done. If using instant brown rice, stir it into the soup about 20 minutes before soup should be done.
*This soup can be frozen and saved for later.
*For Black Bean Burritos take 4 cups of Black Bean Soup and fill 8 tortillas with 1/2 c. of soup. Top with 1/4 shredded cheddar cheese and wrap up tortilla. These can be frozen for later. To use right away, wrap each burrito in foil and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5 more minutes. These can also be microwaved for 2 to 3 minutes until heated through.

Something to think about...

Birth control: it seems to always be the age old *silent* controversy among Christian gals. Do we or don't we use it; do we follow a calendar; do we blow caution to the wind and leave it all up to God? (As if we can somehow "not" leave it up to God because He so often loses control of who's having babies...sorry, that sarcasm just crept in.) Now, that I've probably officially offended anyone who lives by the last method...that is not my intention at all...here's what we found.
The other night Cody and I listened to this birth control question be answered by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA. He has just recently become my favorite guy to listen to. He doesn't mince words (at all!), but he does love God and teaches God's Word in a way that is so easy to listen to yet cuts right to the heart. I'll let you take a little listen...hope you enjoy it and gain a whole new perspective on this birth control topic!
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN

Monday, September 29, 2008

We're Back!

The weekend trip was fantastic! All weekend, I kept thinking, "I've got to blog this so I don't forget it!" But, alas, Carson's ear drum burst yesterday and a lot of today was spent with our wonderful pediatrician...hopefully we're on the mend! I feel horrible for Carson! The dr. said he must have had a terrible screaming fit of pain when it burst, but not so. Carson has a freakishly high pain tolerance. Cody's mom said the only time he acted different was at lunch on Sunday. His eyes totally glazed over and he looked as if he would pass out. Dr. Coggi said this was probably from the intense pain that he was experiencing as his ear drum burst. It started draining super yucky stuff shortly after this. He suggested we teach him to show some other signs of pain to help us out...poor crazy boy! SO, we're using ear plugs during bathtime, special drops to rebuild the ear drum, super strong anti-biotics and lots of extra cuddling. Then it'll be back to the doctor in two weeks to have his hearing checked to make sure no damage occurred. Ah...the stressful life that my children cause me to lead. I wouldn't trade it for the world...but I do appreciate health!
SO, maybe tomorrow we'll catch up on all the great things we saw, heard, learned...even tasted!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good-bye!

In just eight and a half short hours, we'll be taking off for a spectacular weekend in Minnesota! Cody and I get to go to the Desiring God Conference at John Piper's church, and I am *oober* excited! We'll be hearing John Piper, Mark Driscoll, Bob Kaufflin, and other amazing speakers!
It's going to be great!!!
Hope you all have a great weekend! I'm off to pack!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I just noticed...

We live in a chocolate milk brown house.
We relax on a deep caramel brown couch.
We have another sleek espresso brown couch in the front room.
We sleep between coffee brown sheets.
We put sweet pictures of our kiddos in *all* brown frames.
We have carpet with coffee bean brown flecks in it.
We painted our walls paper bag brown.
We eat whole wheat brown bread.
We have all honey brown wooden furniture.
We don't pay for highlights, my hair is plain 'ol brown.
We look outside through speckled brown shades.
I post on a brown blog!

Is it any wonder I am always craving CHOCOLATE?

Need a chocolate fix? Try these! My friend Carrie has perfected this recipe--I'll even give you her little tips! Watch out, you made a shot of insulin after enjoying one of these!
Chocolate Krispie Marshmallow Treats
1 Brownie Mix
1 Jar of Marshmallow Cream (put back in oven turned off for 5 minutes)
1 bag of milk chocolate chips
1 c. of creamy peanut butter
2 c. Rice Krispies
Make brownie mix according to directions on the box (9x13 pan). When the brownies come out of the oven, spread the jar of marshmallow cream over the top. (Soften the cream 15 seconds at a time in the microwave so it will spread easily.) Turn off the oven and place the pan back in the oven for about 5 minutes to melt the marshmallow cream. While pan is in the oven, melt chocolate chips and 1 c. peanut butter. Add Rice Krispies to chocolate mixture and spread over marshmallow layer. Refrigerator for one hour. Serve with a fresh hot cup of joe! Yum!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I love Uncle Ben...

Last night, we had some friends over for dinner. The pregnant lady chose the menu, and I cooked. We were both happy! It was fun to get out some of my trusty old soup recipes and to try a new one. The soup that always goes over so well and is embarrassingly easy is the Chicken and Wild Rice Soup.

Here's the secret:
2 boxes of Uncle Ben's Wild Rice (any variety or flavor)
1 large whole chicken breast (still on the bones--like from Fareway)
2 Knorr bullion cubes (dissolved in water) or 2 cans of chicken broth
1 c. diced or sliced carrots (optional)
1 c. diced celery (optional)

Cook chicken and take off the bone. Mix with the broth and vegetables. Bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, make the rice according to box directions. Mix with chicken, broth and vegetables. Serve quick before the rice gets all bloaty and soaks up all the broth!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ouch!

Today was a super fun day and tomorrow promises to be even more fun! Only one problem: I burnt a couple of my fingers REALLY bad and it's killing me to type... I don't think Cody would be too thrilled if the ice dripped on the computer.
So, try the soup from this post--it's amazing! (Kudos to the chef! You got me rave reviews!) I have a couple more recipes to post from tonight's yummy supper, but they'll have to wait!
Have a great day! I'm off to *aloe* up!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This is amazing!

If you have a chance, please check out this blog! This couple was in our church awhile back, and we all just adored this sweet wife. It was painful to hear of the severe health issues she was suffering and the bleak outlook that the doctor's had for her. Check out their site to see what happened! This totally surpasses anything I've ever witnessed! I'm amazed at the awesomeness of God--the Great Physician!!!

Sunday Seven

There's so much to continuously be thankful for! Thanks to those pilgrims, fall always puts me in that "extra thankful" mode. So, seeing as tomorrow begins Autumn...
1. I'm thankful for a little trip Cody and I get to take this week to MN for a Desiring God Conference! I'm excited for the opportunity to get away, relax, hear some awesome speakers, and hopefully fit in some great shopping, too!
2. I'm thankful for a great kick-off for MOPS. I couldn't ask for a better group of moms to help plan and run it and for better moms to come! It's going to be an exciting year!
3. Speaking of friends, I'm pretty sure I've found the best girls around! I'm really thankful for them--especially after spending some time last night with some "other" gals...there's just something about friends who take you as you are, have lots in common, and love to laugh!
4. I'm thankful that my allergies will go away as soon as it freezes! (Is that wishful thinking or what!)
5. I'm thankful that Cloe has gone two nights without having her terrible nightmare. I'm praying it will just go away all together! Those are awful times!
6. I'm thankful for a little *family vacation* we are starting to plan for the beginning of October!!! More to come on that soon!
7. Lastly, I'm thankful that the boys are not needing breathing treatments right now...it could change tomorrow, but it's always a blessing to have a day off of the nebulizer!
That was a quick seven! I hope you all can list off at least seven things to be thankful for today!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Did you know this little gem existed on PBS?

Beyond Curious George, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Bob the Builder, I didn't really think PBS had a whole lot to offer. Until today! A friend who loves to cook even more than me and shares the same love for a new tasty recipe tipped me off to the Everyday Food Show at 10:00 am on Saturdays. I love the Everyday Food magazine and have way too many issues saved on my shelves! This show is like the book turned into a movie!Today they made Canadian Bacon Strata, Orange Ricotta Pancakes, Yogurt with Strawberries and Honey, and Sour Cream Coffee Cake. The food all looked amazing, and the recipes didn't seem that difficult! I'm going to be trying one of them out on Monday morning...I can't decide!
Thanks, PBS!

Perky Playdough

Here's my tail of the Perky Playdough from MOPS:

I was hoping it would happen like this. I love surprises for Cloe!

Into the fridge it went to "settle" for awhile. So of course, we had to make...

Now we're all set to play!

This playdough kind of scared me at first. We had just handed out 30-some kits to a lot of moms at MOPS--moms we want to come back, moms we like, moms we care about, moms we want to like us...you know. We wanted this playdough to be COOL! So, I went home and set to making it (maybe this should have been a step taken a few weeks ago...). As we stirred it up, it sort of stayed as this weird gloppy goo mess. Then when we put it in the bag, it started to take on a little firmer texture. Thankfully after cooling in the refrigerator, it works just like playdough!

I think tomorrow we may try *G*R*E*E*N*!

Perky Playdough
1 c. flour
1 T. cream of tartar
1/4 c. salt
1 package Kool-Aid (any flavor)
1 T. vegetable oil
1 c. boiling water
Mix all dry ingredients. Add oil. Pour in boiling water.
Mix thoroughly. Wrap in a plastic bag or place in an
airtight container. Store in refrigerator.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Happy Friday!

I wish I had some yummy recipe to post or a whimsical story of my day or a charming quote from my children...but this is all I've got! MOPS was great this morning--all thanks to our super moms at Willow Creek. The moms who came were all so sweet and fun (I'm butterin' you up, Alisa and Mickie!). It's going to be an adventurous year! I can't wait! Have a great weekend...I'm taking a nap!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I need these...


It never fails, whenever one boy is on the toilet, the other boy MUST GO NOW! We have a small potty chair, but those are SO gross! Whoever thought that having children do their business in a plastic bowl that has to be dumped and rinsed out must not have been a clean freak! Then, of course, each little man must be wiped, poopy flushed (2x--each one must do it, of course!), underwear up, pants up, hands washed with soap to the Happy Birthday song, hands dried...boys sent out. Clorox wipes over the whole room...repeat in 15 minutes...
I think two toilets would be amazing.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Olympic Recap

Remember my personalized olympic events? Today, I believe I became a medalist in one of them! We got our MidAmerican monthly statement and our budget billing is dropping $4o a month! Woo-hoo!!! Thank you very much! It sort of helped that this summer wasn't unbearbly hot, but there were sure days I wondered if I should shut-it-up and cool-it-down!
Now, we'll be sliding to the other spectrum soon of layers and socks and slippers...it'll all be worth it though!

Because I'm getting in the fall mode so much, cinnamon is popping up in all my recipes! Here's the treat I made today for our Drake students. I think it needs some apple cider to complement it. Mmmm!!!!

Praline Pecan Crunch
8 c. Cinnamon Life Cereal
2 c. pecan halves
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Heat oven to 250 degrees. Mix cereal and pecans in an oven-safe pan (roaster or jelly roll pan). Mix corn syrup, brown sugar, and butter in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir well and microwave another 1 1/2 minutes until boiling. Stir in vanilla and baking soda. Pour over cereal mixture. Stir to coat evenly. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

**If you want to use the whole box of cereal it equals out to making the recipe 1 and 3/8 times...weird math. Double the ingredients and back them off a little. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sunday Seven

Lately, I've really been reminded of God's gift of grace on my life. Whether it's during the evening news, watching the political campaigns, or hearing of tragedies, I know it's all because of God's grace that I'm where I am...
I'm thankful for God's grace...

...because of it, I can KNOW that I will not have to spend an eternity in hell, but one with my Savior, worshiping and glorifying Him!

...because God has given me a wonderful family. As I watch the media criticize Sarah Palin's daughter for her teenage pregnancy, it's only because of grace that I was not in that spot.

...because He provides for all of our needs and many of our wants despite my failure to always act and think in a way that would please Christ.

...because it's His grace that gives me reason and motivation to forgive others and love unconditionally.

...because it's not just for me. It's for anyone who places their faith in Christ and His work on the cross to defeat sin and death.

...because it gives me (and you) second chances.

...because it's completely undeserved yet completely unlimited.

I know some of these overlap, but have you ever tried to come up with seven reasons to be thankful for an attribute of God on a lazy, hazy Sunday afternoon? Grace!

In college we learned about Calvinism. Calvinism is a system of biblical interpretation taught by John Calvin. Calvin lived in France in the 1500's. The system of Calvinism adheres to a very high view of scripture and seeks to derive its theological formulations based solely on God’s word. It focuses on God’s sovereignty, stating that God is able and willing by virtue of his omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, to do whatever He desires with His creation. So, that's a mouthful that I really just cut and copied from another site, but the point of Calvinism that I really like is from a TULIP acronym I learned in college (for a test and it somehow stuck). The "I" is for Irresistible Grace. Isn't that cool? I want to represent grace in such a way to people who don't know Christ that it is irresistible.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Free cookie!

I'm in love with Kashi products! They taste great and they're extra nutritious!
Today, I found a link where Kashi is giving away a free cookie! Who wouldn't love a free cookie? Click HERE to get yours!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Pizza Night!

With all this dreary, rainy weather, I knew we needed something warm and cozy for supper. Usually, I would pull out the soup recipes, but it seems a little early to be in soup mode. So, we opted for homemade pizzas! I found some Rhodes dough dinner rolls on clearance at Target, and I think they make the best pizza crusts! Thankfully, I had the pizza idea early enough in the day to allow them time to thaw and raise in the proper fashion, too!
As I was getting everything out for Cloe and I to assemble the pizzas, I, of course, realized I was missing a key ingredient to pizza: the sauce. Augh! Why does that have to be my lot in life?
So, to google we went and typed in "homemade pizza sauce." It was to my happy surprise I found a recipe that used fresh tomatoes! Thanks to our little productive garden, we have plenty of tomatoes! This recipe also uses tomato paste as its thickening agent--thankfully, I did have that on hand. I'm not sure when or why I bought it, but it's a good staple item, I guess!

Here's the recipe:

Homemade Tomato Sauce


2 pounds tomatoes (about 4 to 5 medium)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tablespoon oregano, chopped
1 tablespoons basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon tomato paste, or more for thicker sauce
Crushed red pepper to taste (none for kids; lots for Cody!)

1. Place the tomatoes in a blender. Puree to desired thickness (longer for thinner, shorter for a thicker sauce).

2. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the garlic until light brown, about 1 minute. Carefully add the pureed tomatoes. Mix thoroughly, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.

3. When the tomatoes are cooked, add the remaining oil, herbs, salt, tomato paste, and pepper, if desired. Simmer an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Spread as much sauce as you like onto the crust, add toppings, and bake at 375 degrees until cheese is bubbly and golden. Makes 1 1/2 cups of sauce, enough for 2 to 3 12-inch pizzas.

I made our sauce a little on the thick side. It tasted so fresh and yummy! Much, much better than the canned stuff that has a lingering taste of added corn syrup...ugh.

I let Cloe be totally in charge of the toppings. It was funny to see what she thought each person "needed" on their pizza. Cody's pizza is the one smothered in pepperoni 'cuz dad's need a lot of that stuff. Notice, my pizza has three pepperonis...awesome.
Here are the kids' pizzas. Cloe gave Carson three pepperonis because he's kind of small, McClain got four because he's a little bigger and Cloe got six because that comes after five years old. There was a lot of logic going on in her little mind!

I didn't get a picture of the kids eating the pizza because they devoured them before I could remember to get out the camera. They were a hit! Cody loved the homemade sauce, too. I have enough sauce for one more pizza meal! I think I'll save it in the freezer until the next rainy pizza night comes.

The rest of the night turned out to be more fun than we had planned, too! Cloe got to pick out her first Bible. She needed one to take to Sparks every week. We found a super cute hot pink and purple Bible with embossed flowers and sparkly things. It's so cute I think it would make me want to read the Bible more! ;)
Next we ran to the mall for a minute ran into some church friends out for the night. Their niece is stranded in Houston because her college didn't evacuate the students in time. How scary is that!?! I can't imagine how helpless her parents feel not being able to protect their daughter during this major storm. We're praying she'll be safe!
Last, we met some other friends at Caribou for some nice warm coffee and a little treat. I LOVE Caribou's Lemon Cake! (Don't we sound so popular with all the friends...we won't mention all the nights we sit at home...alone! Thanks to those willing to be our friends! We love you guys...and your willingness to hang with the three little crazies!)
So, this dreary rainy day turned out to be quite a cheerful one! Sometimes I shy away from doing things with friends and our kids because I don't know how the kids will act or behave, but usually in the end, it's a wonderful time. I love my children, but we all need conversations with complete sentences, proper use of the English language (as in whole words not ending in "y" or "ing"), and lots of hot coffee. I guess need to challenge myself to be more gutsy in taking them and doing normal "adult" things...we'll see!

Free Cookbook!

I love cookbooks! I really love Gooseberry Patch cookbooks! Today, I found a link to receive a free Fall Favorites cookbook from Gooseberry Patch and Sunmaid Raisins. Who can resist a FREE cookbook! Click HERE if you want one, too!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tuscan Grilled Chicken Sandwich

Today was BLUE day in Kindergarten! Doesn't she look cute? Thanks to whomever returned this little gem of a shirt at BabyGap, we got a steal of a deal on it yesterday! I think I've got the rest of the clothes covered for "color" day. So much pressure! I wouldn't trade seeing the sparkle in her eyes when she puts on the day's "color" for anything!


Tonight we had a meal seasoned like nothing I have ever cooked before. It was a HUGE success! Around 4:30 I kind of panicked about supper ideas, so I googled "grilled chicken sandwich." The first option was a "Tuscan Grilled Chicken Sandwich." I knew it would have to be a quick idea. This recipe was quick, easy, and best of all, everyone loved it! The flavor was so amazing--it was probably the best grilled chicken we've ever eaten! This one's a keeper!

Tuscan Grilled Chicken Sandwich

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 T. dried oregano
1/4 C olive oil
1.4 C balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp hot sauce
mozzarella, sliced or shredded
tomato slices
bread for sandwiches


Cut slashes across both sides of the chicken breasts. Mix the oil, vinegar, salt, hot sauce and oregano. Marinate the chicken in the oil and vinegar mixture for 30 - 60 min. Grill on medium hot grill about 10 minutes on a side.

Slice chicken and place on grilled bread. Top with the cheese and tomato.


For the kids, I cooked some whole-wheat penne pasta and tossed it with fresh tomatoes and basil. Then we topped it with some of the extra chicken slices and cheese. They loved it, too!

This meal was so out of the ordinary for me to cook, but definitely makes me want to be more adventurous everyday!
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bulldog Chow

Here are the results from this week's Drake Treat: Bulldog Chow! (On top of not being a great photographer, we have a pretty old camera...so it looked a little cooler in person!)

Bulldog Chow (a.ka. Puppy Chow--thanks, A!)

9 cup Chex
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

Put cereal in large bowl. Melt chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Pour over Chex cereal, put into a large plastic bag with powdered sugar and shake well to coat.
Spread mixture evenly on wax paper and allow to cool.
The coolest part about this treat: while the college students snacked, Cody was able to share the awesome news of Jesus Christ with one of the girls. She has an amazing life story--one that I cannot imagine having lived. She's searching for hope...which we just happen to have because of Christ and the sacrifice He made on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins, to give me eternal hope, to be my Savior!
It's a cool ministry and I'm glad I can share in it--even if it's just a ministry to their stomachs!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Servants!

Are you ever humbled by the people around you and the amount of sacrifice they make to serve others? Lately, it seems as though every where I look I am finding amazing examples of people serving. Tonight, we had a MOPS Steering Team meeting, and I was overwhelmed by the sacrifices these 9 moms are making...to serve. Giving up a night with their families, many paying for babysitters, taking on time-consuming year long tasks, doing mundane projects with joy, smiles, and lots of laughter! The reason? An opportunity to be a part of something much bigger than MOPS, much bigger than Willow Creek...an opportunity to serve moms and build the Kingdom! It's so exciting! I think my heart could burst with pride for OUR moms! I love them!
So, what did God teach me today? Well, on Sunday night Pastor Mike had people share testimonies of what God was doing in their lives. One particular sentence from Pastor Trent stuck with me. He was actually quoting our sweet Linda Pausley on money. It went something like, "Well, it's God's money...and if that's how He wants to spend it..." This is probably a far cry from the actual quote, but tonight it worked for me. I was getting out the money to pay the babysitter and realized I only had a twenty dollar bill. Which was fine, I just sort of needed some of it... BUT, I decided it was God's money and this girl had done us a huge favor in babysitting tonight. So, I folded it and head in the door. As I tried to hand it to her, she completely refused me. What teenage girl refuses babysitting money?!? I love her! Actually, I think I love her parents for teaching her to be sensitive, caring, loving, and totally generous. It was a huge blessing and great lesson in trusting God--it IS His money! So, now, I feel like I should totally use this money to be a blessing to someone else...we'll see what happens!

Here's a recipe for a Pumpkin Dip I made for our MOPS planning tonight...this is another story of God's great blessings! My brownie bites were sticking in the pan and I was out of time and options...when my sweet friend Lydia called. "Could I make some molasses cookies for tonight?" I love it when God shows His plan even in the mundane things like treats...although fresh molasses cookies are anything but mundane! Yum!

This dip is super easy and tastes really fresh with apples. It's also good with graham crackers...next time I'll try graham cracker sticks.


Pumpkin Dip
1 regular size can of pumpkin
1 8 oz. block of cream cheese
1 8 oz. whipped topping
Pumpkin pie spices (to taste)

Mix pumpkin, spices and cream cheese well. Fold in whipped topping.
Keep refrigerated until serving.
Makes a LOAD of dip!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunday Seven

What a great week! This was one of those weeks where the weather was changing and it made me feel all reflective and truly blessed.
I'll never get over the goodness of God to me...everyday! I'm thankful that God is answering prayer and making it easier everyday to send Cloe to school because I know that nothing will happen to her that is not totally in God's plan for her life. On Friday, Carson said, "Mommy, I not cry anymore when Cloe leave..." Me neither. Thank you, Lord!
I'm thankful for Cloe's growing understanding of her sin and her need of a Savior. This week she was whining excessively and I took her little face and said, "Cloe, you are whining. Whining is sin." To which she replied, "Well, if those people hadn't eaten that fruit, I wouldn't be having this problem." Yes, true...sort of. I'm praying that she will have complete understanding of her need for a Savior soon and that she will place her faith in Jesus Christ.

I'm thankful our new pastor and his wife have arrived. It's sort of a flash back to the past...here's a picture of them in college. I've got a few funny pictures to save for the "right" time...I hope they don't have any retaliation pics!

The first summer after Cody and I got married, we got to travel on a music team from Faith. It was amazing, to say the least. We loved all of our teammates and had 10 of the best weeks traveling on the West Coast. On Saturday, we had a little reunion at our house. Seven of us (out of nine) were able to get together with all of the super cool spouses (how often does that happen!?!) and TEN super cute children with two more babies on the way. (Obviously we've had no problem figuring out how to procreate!) It was so fun (the reunion...although I'm sure the procreating was a fine time, too. Seriously, gutter issues here.)! I'm so thankful that God has given us friends that we can pick right up with--even after eight years! They are the best people in the world! I think we'll always love them! (I hope you're all reading this, too! Go FA2K! duh, that was weird!)All of us before kids...
I think this little girl gets the cutest kid award for the night! Isn't Julia so cute!!! (There were several runners-up, but seriously, she's smiling and laughing at me...)

The girls...sorry I don't think I let the camera focus...I was just so excited!
The four bores (I'm not quite sure how they got that nickname)
... these are some of the funniest boys I know!
My favorite memory was staying at a lumberjack's house in Northern California and Josh was wearing a "Save a Tree" shirt that he got free from a computer show. It just made for good awkward fun!

Today after church, McClain thought it would be fun to body slam Carson to the ground. I'm thankful the injuries weren't any worse than this. At first glance, the blood was just running out of his mouth and his teeth were bloody. Everyone was sort of in a calm "panic" mode. Thankfully, he cleaned up nicely and only a few bumps, bruises, and carpet burn are left (I'm so paranoid about those pearly whites!).
Yesterday, a dear lady that I use to teach with at Grandview lost her husband unexpectantly to a massive heart attack. I grieve for her loss, yet I'm thankful that she has hope because of Jesus Christ. She is a widow now but is not alone--because of her relationship with Christ. I'm sure the next few weeks will be very tough. She has four daughters--two sets of twins born nine years apart. They are so sweet but all live very far away. Pray for also for her first grade class that their little minds would find comfort in their teacher's loss and that they would be sensitive, obedient, and loving...

Lastly, I'm thankful for all the people at Willow Creek that truly making God "look good" through the trials they are facing or living. HIS NAME is being proclaimed and HIS LOVE is being shared! It's an honor to be apart of a family like that! We love it! (Sorry, I need to get a collective picture of all the awesome people at WC!)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Some Random Cute Things

Ahhhh...who doesn't love a little hand holdin' on tight!
That circus at Adventureland is pretty intense!

McClain said, "Ah, I crashed."
"And now I dead." What a morbid kid!
Tuesday was a pajama day since Cloe didn't have school. The kids played "train" all morning...
New shoe...cute feet!
New jeans...cute bottom!
Trying on our winter coats 'cuz mommy's a little crazy about the cold weather coming...gotta be prepared! Don't they look too grown-up?
These cute little boots were a steal of a deal! I hadn't really gone garage saling all summer, but during our power walk on Thursday, we can across a fun little garage sale. A girl can always use more shoes, right!?! To top it off, we got a great tip on a sale with twin boy clothes! (Thanks, Abby!) Garage saling can get a little addicting, I think--it's a good thing it's toward the end of the season!

A Super Supper!

A couple of years ago we went to What's For Dinner, Des Moines? We loved every meal we made there, but it's a little too spendy to do often. However, the place does leave you trying to steal their ideas like crazy! This is one that we loved and I finally made it again...on my own!
Focaccia Bread is SO yummy, but it also tends to be expensive! We recently discovered the Gateway Market, and we love it! We especially love that after 8 pm they mark down all their fresh bread to 50% off! So, my first ingredient was taken care of! The rest is pretty easy...here it is!

Bake Focaccia Bread Sandwich
1 round of Focaccia bread (sliced)
1 to 2 cups cooked chicken (slightly shredded)
1 sliced tomato
fresh pesto
provolone or mozzarella cheese slices

Layer bread with cheese, tomato, chicken, pesto and more cheese. Place the top on. Wrap the whole sandwich in tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until heated through.
Slice into wedges.
We served this with steamed broccoli and the kids ate like I'd never cooked a homemade meal before! It was pretty cute!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Some funny cheer!

It's kind of a gloomy day out today, and I thought you might be needing some cheering up. SO, here's something funny: this little guy is the Estherville Midget--our high school mascot. You may or may not have already known that, but somehow, just seeing him makes it more funny and more real. When I was in high school, the girl teams were the Midgettes. Yep! They've now caught up and go by the Lady Midgets. It also always cracks me how there is so much controversy over mascots like the Indians, Redskins, etc. But Midgets...nope, no one seems to have ever been offended by that one. Maybe someday they'll have to change to the Little People. Who knows...
Anyway, enjoy the gloomy day! Pull on a hooded sweatshirt and make some soup!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Smoothies!

The other day Carson came up and said, "I wuv smoovies, mom!" Well, who can resist that! So, we brought out my favorite red kitchen appliance and dug out some various mysterious ingredients. My favorite part about smoothies is that they are pretty fool proof while instantly providing vitamins and good nutrition. We used fresh pineapple juice, blackberry yogurt, 3 frozen bananas (yes, I'm the kind of person who keeps those dead looking things in the freezer and then magically pulls them out for breads...now they work for smoothies too!), and my super secret ingredient: one yellow summer squash. Weird, I know. It's such a bland vegetable on its own that no one even noticed its presence! We blended it up and noticed the color wasn't super pretty. Of course, we had to add some blue food coloring because we have boys.

Results: yummy!!!


Our next project was a treat for the students at the Drake Bible Study. With the weather change, it just felt like CHEX MIX time! Who can resist that salty treat!?! I love Chex Mix because it's so extremely easy and always tastes much better than the pre-made stuff at the store! Here's the recipe:

Original Chex Mix
3cups Corn Chex cereal
3cups Rice Chex cereal
3cups Wheat Chex cereal
1cup mixed nuts
1cup bite-size cheese crackers
6tablespoons butter or margarine
2tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4teaspoon garlic powder
1/2teaspoon onion powder

Melt the butter and add seasonings. Mix well and toss with cereal, crackers and nuts. Bake for one hour at 250 degrees--stirring every 15 minutes. Cool and store in airtight containers.

I was so excited to find these blue polka dot bags in my stash. Thank you Target for having great Christmas clearances! (Thanks Abby for the call!) The students loved the Drake loyalty and were able to pass out the extras to their friends. We're praying we'll have more students come next week. What treat should they get next week?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

CHECK THIS OUT!

www.howmanyofme.com

So, how many of YOU are there? As my family use to ask of my brother, "Did God 'break the mold' when He made you?"
Guess what...there's just ONE of all of us!